Archive for the ‘ SHOPS ’ Category

WHITE RABBIT

White Rabbit

WHITE RABBIT

Sugar and Spice isn’t it Nice/ Luring Disco Dollies to a Life of Vice (Soft Cell)

Sex Sells! Fact!

Realising that our carnal lusts and deviances are what makes the world go round- what’s love got to do with it? – Heather Craig and erstwhile partner Jim Anderson realised that Edinburgh lacked a high end erotic boutique which catered for those who find high street emporiums, such as Ann  Summers little more than an end of the pier, oooh missus !, ‘Carry On’ nightmare  about as sexy as spam fritters, and subsequently came up with the idea of White Rabbit.

Situated in an ideal locale-the bottom end of Broughton Street- the shop which opens this weekend is an enticing labyrinth of erotica twinned with exotica cloistered between purple walls and lit by fringed red lighting which gives off the vibe of the sinister Black Lodge from David Lynch’s television outing, Twin Peaks and the claustrophobic sensual heat of the director’s earlier work Blue Velvet.

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From the moment you enter these premises it is clear you have entered into some fantastical otherworldly environment which bears little relation to the grey drabness of the outside world.  Cocooning- I stop short of using the term cosy- in its ambience  an old fashioned haberdashery counter, complete with drawers, adds further class to the whole set up.

Meanwhile shelves struggle to contain leather dog masks which jostle for space alongside erotic based literary tomes whilst see through underwear competes for attention with candles which turn to massage oil when they hit the body and quasi-religious masturbatory art works complement diamante tipped whips. A Dylan Lisle artwork dominates the wall with its commanding presence and other artworks, including pieces by Kirsty Whiten, will soon be joining it alongside an upcoming exhibition in the very near future. There is even an aphrodisiac perfume, Bijoux, which once sprayed permeates the atmosphere with its heady aroma creating an even more sensuous and semi- seedy ambience.

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Setting itself apart from its competition Craig has sourced designers not only exclusive to White Rabbit but to Scotland in general. Thus Theresa Coburn- who has provided stage outfits for  big name clients such as Siouxie Sioux amongst others- will make her exclusive designs available through the outlet. Other popular names include duo Paul Seville and Steph Aman whose stock will also only be available from White Rabbit north of the border. Tamsin Lillywhite who is a current major influence and name to drop  on the scene, due to the success of her equestrian themed pieces. will also be promoting and selling  her classy designs solely from these premises.

Other events lined up for the very near future include evening workshops covering such intriguing subject matter as Japanese Rope Bondage and burlesque dancing lessons as well as musical one offs. Whether Craig and Anderson will be deploying their own talents for the latter-they make up two thirds of the impressive local trio Her Royal Highness- is unclear but they are open to suggestions and encourage ideas as to what people may want from such an outlet and a sourcing service will be available once they are up and running and ,of course, they have an online shop in the pipeline just awaiting its final touches and amendments.

Unlike most of their contemporaries White Rabbit also cater for the male end of the market and will stock clothing and items which they can purchase for their own devices rather than just their-ahem- ‘wives’ and ‘girlfriends’. A daunting Fritzl style cellar is next on the agenda for an overhaul and will provide further space for future events but at the moment the focus of these two young entrepreneurs is fully on the main selling area upstairs on street level.

To launch the shop there is a party tonight complete with a window performance by the provocative and evocatively named Wild Card Kitty which will hopefully heat up an otherwise dark and dreary February evening.  The shop itself is open to the general public on Saturday February 2nd at around midday and every day after this for an experience which houses an environment like no other in Edinburgh at the moment.

White Rabbit 44 Broughton Street Edinburgh EH1 3SA is open from Saturday 2nd February 7 days a week from 12pm-7pm

Check out http://www.white-rabbit-edinburgh.com for further information and daily updates.

Visit their Facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/pages/White-Rabbit/439219206151305

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The Dying Cult Of The Record Shop

The Death of the Cult of the Record Shop

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Although it was far from ever being my favourite music retailer or record emporium it nevertheless saddened me to hear the news that the HMV chain were calling in the administrators today. It is sad not only because of the news that up to four thousand jobs would be lost but also because it was yet another familiar beacon and landmark –as traditional as M&S- of our national High Street which has gone the way of so many others in the wake of the recession as well as the onslaught of the digital age, when so many have dispensed with buying music in a physical form and now download, or steal, as a means of attaining their chosen lifestyle soundtrack. What saddens me most of all however is that it signifies the end of the record shop lifestyle which accommodated  a generation with a place to hang out, meet people, flirt, see what others were purchasing, what they were wearing and perhaps also discover what gigs were on or upcoming.

It was in a record shop-Phoenix in the High Street- where as an early teen I overheard a conversation that the Clash were playing that night and promptly bought a ticket at the counter which was a passport for my own personal road to Damascus or rock and roll road to ruin,  depending which way you look at it, and it became the first gig I ever attended. It was also in a record shop-Virgin in Frederick Street- where I heard a rumour, and at that point it was only a rumour, that New Order were playing their first ever gig- also their first public appearance after the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis only several months before- at Valentinos that evening and promptly made my way to the venue to join the queue already forming in the late afternoon alongside fellow believers. As it turned out the band did play that night and the gig was probably as memorable for me as it was for everyone else who attended.

Saturday mornings of my youth, when being young still allowed me to get up after a raucous night out,  were invariably spent in Greyfriars Market which housed a huge second hand record department-Easy Rider- which allowed you to purchase albums at extremely cheap prices whilst also allowing you to take them back under any amount of pretexts including the fact you simply didn’t actually like them; thus allowing for mistakes and experimentation. This was only the preamble to the Saturday afternoon-after heading home for lunch and hopefully being further energised by the cacophonous noise you had just purchased- to head uptown for the prerequisite Saturday afternoon hanging out in Virgin to discover how the rest of the weekend could be spent.

Virgin in Frederick St. was somewhere exciting, simultaneously dangerous and safe, for me and others to hang out on Saturday afternoons as a teenager. It was more than a record shop it was an avenue toward discovery and find out what was happening over the next week as well as somewhere to develop my own sartorial expression without fear of being laughed at or intimidated.

Virgin was not then the corporate nightmare it became, simply being a shop with bare floorboards and records in cardboard boxes behind the counter. I remember being particularly excited the day ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ came out and I opted out of school to head uptown, buy the album, and being simultaneously thrilled and disappointed when they simply lifted a copy out of a box stacked next to several others in a makeshift space behind the counter. It didn’t diminish the experience as I spent the rest of the day with the sleeve positioned firmly beneath my arm like a Technicolor badge of honour and generational ‘Fuck Off’ motif, hanging out with similar minded souls, chatting and swapping experiences.

It is all so different today when music is so much apart of our everyday lives-like water or electricity as David Bowie, who knows a thing or two about such matters, once observed- and can be heard in virtually every shop, café and foyer in the high street and beyond. This was not the case during my youth and at times I feel such over exposure has diluted its impact if not its relevance.

Today’s generation have access to all recorded music via the pressing of a few buttons and whilst this is a great step forward it has also robbed the culture of some of its mystique. I can remember gazing at the covers of the Velvet Underground and Nico, the first New York Dolls album, Roxy Music’s ‘For Your Pleasure’ and ‘Horses’ by Patti Smith believing they held the entry to a secret universe, but unfortunately my own personal entrance had to be delayed  until the weekend when I could afford to buy them. That they are still among my favourite records, several decades down the line, shows that waiting for something heightens its appeal in a way that instant availability never can.

It is now we return to the method most people deploy when buying music in the modern age and the one which has probably hastened the demise of the record shop as a cultural experience; they sit on their fat asses in the comfort of their homes and probably forget about it an hour after it has been purchased. If there is a good thing to be attained by the loss of HMV- and there is nothing ostensibly good about a business going bust or people losing their jobs- are that it will drive those souls who still possess integrity and still want their music in a form of physical manifestation into the smaller independent stores. Unfortunately this reprieve never happened in time for Avalanche which closed its doors at the start of the year. It is a sad day for the High Street when a beacon of security like the ‘Nipper the Dog’ logo is about to disappear from our sights but it will be a sadder day still when the whole culture and cult of buying a record disappears from our lives entirely.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation Friday November  16th

 

 Wandering around town yesterday I felt as if I had been secretly abducted and hurtled, via a time machine, forward into the twenty fourth of December or at the very earliest the twenty third. So entrenched in Christmas was the experience with the incessant musical loops –if I hear Wizzard and Slade once more I will likely kill an innocent bystander thus, no doubt thankfully, shortening someone’s present list- constant references to the festive season wrapped up in inane chat and the frustrated and haunted look on most peoples faces giving away their true feelings toward this season which has lost so much sight of what it once was.

To be honest I enjoy Christmas as much as anyone else-probably more so by the looks on peoples faces yesterday as they apparently already pondered their New Year credit card bills- but the whole thing is out of control. After checking that the date really was only the fifteenth of November the next thing which struck me was the corporate blandness of what was on sale as far as the high street is concerned. As an antidote to this over the next few weeks I am going to feature several shops away from the mainstream which offer imaginative gifts which will act as an alternative to the standard offerings on offer.

Top of my list already are Tippi- a brand new retro emporium just opened in Bruntsfield this very week- and Iconic which has been fulfilling the same criteria but in a wholly different fashion for several years in the Grassmarket. Both shops are run by highly individual characters with unique and different perspectives and the shopping experience encountered on entering is a refreshing cure to the insincere, sycophantic and ultimately false posturing found on the high street which usually has the opposite effect- as far as I am concerned-of making me want to stay on the premises much less buy anything. A full review of Tippi can be found here whilst more info on Iconic can be found here. As stated before I will be exploring other retail outlets over the next few weeks hopefully inspiring more individual choices when embarking on the inevitable Christmas shopping experience.

Mind you my hatred of mainstream shopping will not include turning down an invite to the Harvey Nichols Christmas party next week. However it has become less of a party over the last few years and far more of a shopping experience which is what it was meant to be all along. I still miss the days of picking up a beer on the first floor before excessive amounts of champagne on the second floor then making my wayward way up to the fourth floor where a selection of snacks-including the inevitable and dreaded mince pies- accompanied by free flowing cocktails before making an impulse and completely inappropriate purchase. Actually the latter is more wishful thinking on the part of the retailers after plying us with such vast amounts of alcohol but unfortunately –for them at least- I never buy clothes under the influence as this tends to lend itself to mistakes.

Before that however I have to get this weekend out of the way first and the highlight looks like being the Opium Kitchen gig at the Citrus Club tonight at 7pm. Made up of five talented individuals and stalwarts on the Edinburgh music scene it looks as if it may be one of Edinburgh’s home-grown musical highlights of the year. Promising 1991 prices at the bar is only further incentive as far as I am concerned and favourable reports about  the support acts-The Wrong Boyfriends and The 23’s- are also emerging so it looks like being a memorable night for all concerned. A full preview of what to expect can be found here.

Unfortunately this means I have to miss Envelope 4 at The Institute featuring the amazing violin virtuoso Richard Moore playing alongside two silent movies one of which looks like it may be a selection by Harold Lloyd, although this has yet to be confirmed. These evenings have been a great success so far and this one looks like it will be especially memorable as it will be Moore’s last performance here for a while before decamping back to London for the foreseeable future tomorrow. A full review of Envelope 3 can be found here whilst the opening instalment is appraised here.

That is it then, the weekend starts here and it may well be the last one before Christmas takes over our every waking hour-what we have had to endure so far is only the beginning- so it is probably best to reclaim what is rest of your life before you have to involuntarily succumb to the inevitable.

TIPPI

Tippi- 144 Bruntsfield Place

 A dark, dank, drizzly and wet Wednesday afternoon in Bruntsfield was certainly brightened up this week with the opening of Tippi, a shop striving to make the past the present and one which succeeds wholeheartedly in its ambitions. The childhood dream of owner Anna Marchant it has been several years in the planning but since the start of this year, after her father sadly passed away, Marchant acquired the focus, time and wherewithal to turn it into a seriously viable proposition.

Originating from Cumbria and growing up in a household furnished with second hand furniture ,due to financial restrictions, Marchant from a young age recognised beauty in what others were prepared to reject as old fashioned or simply obsolete. Alongside the knowledge she was acquiring Marchant swiftly discovered that she also had great natural instincts in such matters and has spent the last several years attending auctions honing and using her adept skills to refashion, renovate and restore old furniture, antiques and other items of curio value alongside anything else which caught her observant and knowing eye.

The frontage of the shop-designed by her assistant Bill Dewar- is clever in the fact that it both stands out from a distance whilst blending in quite comfortably with its surroundings. The window display is eye-catching, innovative and slightly kooky but somehow remains welcoming and exuding a certain warmth which reflects Marchant’s personality.

This warmth translates to the name which is the name of her Border Terrier,Tippi, who greets you with a boundless enthusiasm-it is notably a dog friendly as well as friendly dog shop- when you enter.  The name also pays homage to the Hitchcock blonde Tippi Hedren and referencing her most notable film ‘The Birds’ there are a number of stuffed birds-and other animals-throughout the shop. This ambience is furthered by the fact that each section feels like it could be part of a Hitchcock-or some other- film set.

The layout of the shop is both fantastic and deceiving. From the outside it appears to be a regular curio and artefacts shop but after passing through the main body of the shop- where the feeling of stepping into another dimension where time is irrelevant due to the vast array of clocks all set at different times- and down a long deranged hallway which can’t fail to draw you in, decked out with some seriously funky leopard print wall paper, wayward coat stands, mirrors and even more taxidermy, you find yourself in a room which is straight out of the Ealing comedy classic ‘The Lady Killers’. Doubling up as storage space and shop some of the more notable features in this area include a random violin case, a roll top desk and refashioned kitchen units stockpiled with Hornsea Pottery and tea-sets whilst Babycham glasses jostle for space with Lurpak butter dishes.

                                    

Whilst this all may sound random it somehow all pulls together quite cohesively and is expertly arranged so that whilst there is always something to distract the eye everything has its own space so it is never cluttered but instead presented with a charm and style which is wholly unique.

As if this wasn’t enough there is also a downstairs section which houses some beautiful pieces of furniture including a chaise-longue, a spoon chair and a simply stunning Art Deco dressing table.

The great thing about this emporium of treats –think needful things you never even knew you needed- is that it juxtaposes the old with the new and this is an area Marchant is keen to pursue as she sees new items as antiques of the future. In a way her job will be to sort out what will be worthwhile from current and recent times and sell it alongside more established and not so established classics. She also offers a sourcing service so if you are unable to find whatever you want then she will seek it out for you. There is also a renovation and restoration service on some items as she believes it is better to offer the client exactly what they want and let them make the decisions concerning its final look.

Aside from the antiques side of things she is also planning on offering wall space to artists and selling hand made cushions. Seeing herself as an alternative to the bland uniform of IKEA Furniture, Marchant wants to awaken people to the fact they don’t need to follow a template for a lifestyle but can instead create their own individual look by merely jazzing up what they already have with a few select pieces.

As it turns out I was the first person in the shop after it opened and in the hour and a half I was there an impressively steady stream of customers made their way through the doors and I also witnessed her first celebrity sale to internationally renowned artist-and ex of Tilda Swinton- John Byrne as well as several others. The response from everyone who came in was beyond positive and most made purchases-much to Marchant’s uncontained delight- whilst promising to return at a later date. The window display was constantly evolving during my short tenure due to items being purchased showing that, with Tippi, Bruntsfield may well have a new top dog on its hands.

Tippi-144 Bruntsfield Place, EH10 4ER, Edinburgh.

Telephone-(0131) 229 4422

Opening Hours-

Monday -Thursday  10.30 am -6pm

Friday- Saturday      10.30am -5,30pm

Sunday                        12pm-4pm

A Tippi website is in the final stages of construction and will be up and running in the very near future. Details to follow.