Hot on the Highstreet Week 260 – Shopping in Edinburgh

Considering it is the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh’s highstreet has a poor selection of brands to splash your cash at. Students have to make do with H&M, Topshop and Primark, they isn’t even a Uniqlo for your basic buys. There are plenty of designer boutiques on offer, including the smart department store Harvey Nichols, and for tourists there is an abundance of tartan and shortbread stores. When I visited last weekend I went on the hunt for a few interesting independent shops for high quality, quirky designs that inspire you to spend.

Life Story – I loved the look of this concept store from the exterior and interior. This little design shop stocks a range of brands from all over the world, including interior items from Ferm Living from Copenhagen, Washi Tape from Japan and knitwear from Hilary Grant. The items are beautifully displayed and often have a paper tag explaining their existence.

Dick’s – A stylish menswear shop offering a carefully curated collection of clothes, accessories and homeware. Chic men can completely kit out their wardrobe and homes here with striped naval jumpers from Andersen-Andersen, crockery from Koninklijke Makkum Tichelaar and notebooks from La Compagnie du Kraft Mikro. I fell in love with the luxurious flannel grey cashmere scarf made by Begg + Co.

Hannah Zakari – This wacky shop sells affordable and fun handmade jewellery by Hannah Zakari. The perfect place to pick up a unique gift or souvenir of your stay in Edinburgh. I loved the perspex weather stud earrings, depicting varying weather conditions. The shop also sells art work, look out for the quaint prints by Kate Broughton.

Walker Slater – This beautiful shop stocks the finest tweed in Edinburgh. Promoting the heritage of Scotland but offering modern tailoring and bespoke suits, this is the place to get stunning Scottish outfit. Walker Slater also have a range of sophisticated accessories and sell a few select British brands like Albert Thurston. There is now a womenswear shop too, just down the road from the original store.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, V&A

The genius of Alexander McQueen is a mystery to most… which is perhaps why the new exhibition at the V&A is so popular, giving a rare insight into the renowned and courageous designer.

This grand retrospective of McQueen’s career has transferred from its original home at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. However as Lee was born and taught in London it feels even more monumental at the prestigious V&A museum. Appropriately named Savage Beauty, this exhibition illustrates the brutal but beautiful aspect of his creations. The artist said about himself: ‘I’m a romantic schizophrenic.’

The tailoring is stunning. There are several rooms which display pieces from Lee’s studies and earliest collections. He learnt from a variety of highly skilled masters and worked hard, using the classic techniques to create unique pieces. He gained experience at tailors Gieves and Hawkes and theatrical costumiers Angels and Bermans. McQueen strongly believed that before you can be creative you need to be technically en pointe.

The exhibition has little narrative, instead the rooms are divided by theme and collection. The Highland Rape collection was particularly memorable and shows Lee’s loyalty to his Scottish heritage. The sculptural outfits are daring and striking, made almost entirely in the McQueen tartan print, the clothes make the women look powerful and imposing.

The ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ is hypnotising, an enchanting room of fairytale accessories and garments made from unusual and unlikely materials. Each exhibit is a work of art, a technical tour de force. There is a dress made of razor clam shells and a headdress of butterflies. The clothes are intended to provoke and sometimes even disgust… but even the mud covered dresses and sinister leather zipped masks have sublime qualities.

The final room has a hint of the supernatural. Alien-like figures are dressed in figure-hugging animal print dresses. My favourite was a fully sequined iridescent frock which I stared at for ages imagining myself strutting down a catwalk beaming with confidence.
This is the immortal feeling that McQueen clothes give you, elevating you a magical version of your former self, brilliantly different and weirdly wonderful.

This extravagant exhibition immortalises the great Alexander McQueen, showcasing his imaginative and elaborate designs that will be forever inspiring to the fashion world. One thing’s for sure, there is so much more to McQueen than the commercialised skull print scarves. His vision is completely deserving of the V&A platform.

Exhibition continues until August 2, more information and book tickets here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 241 – Shopping in Warsaw

Galilu Olfactory – this airy and bright little shop stocks a wide range of wonderful perfumes. The sophisticated scents are from unique brands all over the world and the staff will give you expert help choosing the right bottle for you.

Horn & More – a seductive girls boutique stocking fine underwear, statement jewellery and aromatic scented candles. It is a treat for all the senses.

Likus Concept Store – located in the smart Vitkac shopping mall this concept store is seriously stylish stocking all the leading designer brands. When you’ve shopped head up to the delicious Concept 13 restaurant on the top floor.

Magazyn Praga – Located in a former glue warehouse this little shop features relics from its industrial past that mix with their high-profile selection of new and vintage fashion and furniture. There are irresistible design items everywhere, I wanted it all!

Wedel – this renowned Polish confectioner is the ultimate chocolate emporium. Leave the chilly streets and head inside for a the creamiest cup of hot chocolate or a taste of the famous torte which is handmade and layers with wafer and chocolate. We returned several times for more.