Style - Bairbre Power: shopping techniques
Is retail therapy best done alone or in the company of friends?
For years I've been a firm believer in the 'shopping alone' policy. It's not that I'm competitive, or worried that my companion might buy the same thing - it's just I have my own way of doing things.
My go-it-alone policy is also coloured by memories of the Ralph Lauren-style blazer I spotted in M&S in London a few years ago. My shopping companion that day wrinkled up her nose in disdain and announced: "Nah, doesn't suit you." For peace on the day - well, I was staying in her house! - I decided to wait and buy it in Dublin. However, the gods were against me and the blazer never hit the M&S rails here. Nowadays, you could just go online and order it, but that afternoon, seething on Oxford Street, I made a mental note: never go shopping with friends. They may not share your style aesthetic or, worse still, see past what's hot with mums on the school run.
Putting my shopping-with-pals reservations aside, I recently experienced VIP shopping at the newly-extended Kildare Village - located at exit 13 on the N7 linking Dublin and Limerick. The ladies were curious on a number of fronts - to see the womenswear offer in the new Belstaff store (see right), a luxury brand which sparks lots of love among Irish women visiting its swish store in London's Mayfair. Some were interested in skiwear and headed for layering (see right) at the new Musto outlet, while others wanting warm, glam, winter accessories descended on the N Peal store. The VIP touches include valet parking which, at €10, is not over the top given that your all-day parking is free - a thorny subject which often takes the good out of a full day's retail therapy. Next came 'The Lounge' - a chic, intimate space beautifully fitted out with Irish fabrics and Georgian pieces by interiors whiz, Eoin Lyons.
Use of 'The Lounge' is complementary but the key here is that you have to pre-book it. There is a menu of options including afternoon tea. You can park your bags, come and go as you please and there is now a personal shopper, Natalie Svikle, who will do individual private consultations in her personal shopping room. She offers advice on how best to maximise your time in the Village, will set up a rack for you in advance, or take you on a supervised shopping experience around the stores.
Bookings for 'The Lounge' should be sent to Lisa Lane on firstname.lastname@example.org and for Natalie, email email@example.com. Further info from kildarevillage.com.
Hats off to Davina
Atrocious weather and high winds mean that our hat choices are moving steadily towards the pull-down beanie - and if it's super glam, all the better. That's where talented Irish milliner Davina Lynch comes into the frame. Davina knits all day and her distinctive 'Lynch Mob' bobble-tassle hats and matching embellished scarves/shawls have been the talking point of the Brown Thomas Marvel Room, which is a hive of activity as new stock continues to land in the run up to Christmas. Davina's black alpaca/merino shawl scarf in moss stitch with hackle feathers (€295) comes with a matching hat studded with Swarovski crystals (€225). The ruby red scarf (€265) comes in an acrylic/wool blend and the matching hat is €195. Davina looks to traditional Aran stitches like cable plait, horseshoe and the oxo stitch. In addition to chicken feathers, she uses ostrich feathers and also turkey feathers from her family farm in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. The addition of deep, tassel fringing adds to the textural experience of these handcrafted gems.
Talking about keeping warm, I couldn't resist these woolly jumpers for pets which are on
sale at Aldi this weekend. There are five festive styles and cost €6.99 each!