Browsing articles in "Shops"
Mar 1, 2012

The Natural Cut – My New Curlfriend

Being more of a hippy chick than a glossy girl, I have to admit that I hadn’t had my locks chopped for more than a year. I know… So there I was with a serious case of bedhead while trying to channel boho waves. Then I got a hair tip off from none other than the Bruv. I was very impressed with his new barnet, a natty makeover on his usual curly mane. He’d been sent to The Natural Cut by his flatmate.

Since our family resemblance covers matching tresses – my brunette curls are only longer than his – I was willing to experiment with his go to hair guru. Ask any lady, switching crimper is scary! One day last week, wrapping up a trip to town, I bit the bullet and nipped into The Natural Cut on Wicklow Street, across the road from Tower Records, to book an appointment. Yikes…

Main shears man Shane Boyd set up The Natural Cut over twenty years ago and their ethos is to keep hair organic and offer an alternative salon experience. As a low maintenance lass I never blow dry or colour my moptop. Just wash and go! The Natural Cut seemed my cup of tea. As it turns out Dublin’s top curl guy, Oliver Cunningham, was free when I popped by so I hopped into the chair then and there.

The antique feel room is such an ambient space – no mirrors, bright lights, loud music, blow dryers or acid smells. The perfect antidote to ghetto fabulous hipster salons. Oliver set about my crazy head with a water spritzer, explaining that curls cut better damp rather than wet. Makes sense! We chatted away about all sorts, having a laugh, as Oliver snipped the bounce back into my bonce.

He talked me out of a fringe too, good advice, and even told me I’ve got Rapunzel hair. Why, thank you Sir! I didn’t leave The Natural Cut with that “just stepped out of a salon” thing that women often get from a grooming sesh. Or a radical new ‘do. No, instead when I caught my reflection in a shop window I was pleasantly surprised to see really nice hair. Mine. Just better. Simples.

The Natural Cut, First Floor, Blue Door, 33-34 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2 /

Feb 28, 2012

Brownes – Sandymount Central Perk

Running an errand in Sandymount this morning I decided to stick around and have an aul potter. It’s that kind of place with the Green, all those pretty houses and a nice crop of little boutiques. Mira Mira was my first port of call. I just can’t walk past that place! Like an Aladdin’s cave of super girly stuff Mira Mira is my go to shop for presents and housey things.

Owner Bronwyn Thomson sources her eclectic stock from all over the globe and has an eye for unique jewellery, Fairtrade homeware and sweet babywear. In fact all of my friend’s kiddies own something from Mira Mira’s organic cotton ranges – thanks Aunty Lorna! Today I picked up a gorgeous mosaic mirror for Rainbow Cottage – a girl likes to reflect…

Next stop Butler’s Pantry where I bought a single wodge of Victoria sponge – very handy when I fancy a tea time treat, but don’t want to stuff my chops with cake! Then into Books on the Green for a quick browse. They always have unusual reads, lovely cards and a colourful children’s toy section that’s popular with locals big and small.

I had a mooch around the boutiques – just looking! – before landing in Tesco. Well I had to do something domestic… Every little helps but I don’t mind admitting cash register rage. The self service ones. “Unexpected item in bagging area” said robot chick. Shut up and give me my change!

Then over to Michael Byrne Fine Foods for everything I can’t get in the supermarket – artisan breads, fresh cheese and a well stocked delicatessen. A great epicerie if you want special bites for a dinner party – or Chez Emily chocolates for someone else’s. Ravenous after all my larking, I made my way to Brownes for a nice sit down.

Brownes is very much a Sandymount hub with Yummy Mummies, well groomed Dames and retired Gentlemen all jostling together in the twin dining rooms. It’s a top spot for weekend brunch and does brisk trade all day Saturday and Sunday. But during the week it’s easy pace is good for getting out the papers and enjoying a cuppa.

The breakfast and lunch menus offer plenty of choice and there’s smart French style bistro fare in the evening. I went for the veggie breakfast which came with big juicy mushrooms, a perfectly poached egg and lots of granary toast. Just what the doctor ordered! I needed a perk so I got a latte – coffee is a bold move for a tea lady y’know…

The service in Brownes can be as charming as the decor – country kitchen with paintings by local artists – or not. But I was looked after by a very efficient chap today. I strolled home a happy camper but couldn’t resist a cheeky peek into my local charity shop en route. Ooh, a red polka dot silk dress for a fiver – mad not to…

Brownes Deli and Cafe, 18 Sandymount Green, Sandymount, Dublin 4

Feb 24, 2012

Fiji Coffee Bar – Chocolate Heaven

If I was a housewife, in a parallel universe, then Tesco Merrion would be that world. Lost among the Family Size Daz I wandered into the “culture” aisle and got into character by flicking through the Mills & Boon. I’m not kidding! What was I doing here, like a fish out of water, only visiting at St Vincent’s next door. Apart from the supermarket, the Merrion Centre is seriously tumbleweed, so Fiji Coffee Bar is like an artisan oasis in Elm Park.

Fiji is so attractive I defy anyone to walk past and not indulge – pretty cakes, shards of chocolate in myriad flavours and the delicious aroma of fresh coffee. Billed as the ultimate coffee and chocolate experience, Fiji delivers with Badger and Dodo organic beans roasted in Fermoy, Benoit Chocolates handmade in Kenmare and Teapigs herbal and speciality brews. I picked up some Benoit raspberry white chocolate – ambassador you are spoiling me…

Fiji Coffee Bar, Merrion Centre, Dublin 4

Feb 23, 2012

Girl About Town – Tea in Keogh’s Cafe

With a few spare hours sandwiched in between appointments today, I decided to have a look around the shops. The Spring/Summer 12 collections are very yummy indeed. Florals and floaty things are it – lucky I already rock that look, so no need to buy. Score! Anyway this girl always enjoys a bit of window shopping.

First stop was American Apparel, which I’ve walked past a million times, but never been into. I must admit the lack of girly chintz had me making a sharp u turn in the direction of Avoca. Now you’re talking. Though I do miss the vintage section – their buyer is such a magpie. Had the prices been pocket friendly I think it would have worked out.

Topshop. You know you’re too old for this place when it feels like your teenage bedroom. Though I was curious to see a gang of Loretto girls in ankle grazing uniform – they looked like nuns! When I was a kid we rolled our skirts up at the waist to show off our pins. Time to cross town to a proper lady shop.

Clerys is officially my fave shop – it’s the Tea Rooms – but lose the outdoor piped muzac. Noise pollution. Once inside though I was immersed in lovely stuff – handbags, scarves and gloves, yes please! Clerys trumps Arnotts and BT in the department store stakes – it’s made for browsing, the shop girls are charming and style wins over fashion.

Back in the real world I made my way over the Ha’penny Bridge, through Temple Bar and over to Keogh’s Cafe. With half an hour left on the clock it was the perfect pit stop before my next meeting. Keogh’s is tucked away on Trinity Street, a small place with a big heart. The muffins here are famous, their aroma enticing passersby from brimming baskets atop the counter.

Banana and walnut, pear and vanilla, carrot and orange, I could go on… I went for plum and almond and a nice pot of tea. For a bigger bite, Keogh’s do delicious wraps and quiches as well as soup and hearty seafood chowder. But for just 4.45 euro Keogh’s has got to be the best value tea and cake in town, forgetting cardboard coffee shop deals. And a very nice chap to bring my tray to the table too – good service is priceless.

Keogh’s Cafe, 1-2 Trinity Street, Dublin 2

Jan 20, 2012

Hats Off to Kate Betts!

Having met the lovely Kate Betts and tried on some of her gorgeous hats last summer, I was delighted to bump into her again. A walk through the leafy SoCoDu hamlet of Monkstown saw me stumble upon Kate’s beautiful creations. Lulu French Vintage Boutique was the location – I’d been pressing my nose against window for a while, so finally inside I was like a kid in a candy shop!

The pretty salon is run by Veronique Piales, who sources her vintage treasures in Paris. It’s a very special place, with rows of couture pieces and handmade originals punctuated by silk scarves, chic handbags and delicious shoes. Kate’s hats are dotted around and it’s so much fun to match her hats to the lovely clothes. You could leave with a whole new look!

Kate’s a girl after my own heart – we chatted about the colours we could contrast, the way we can wear our hair and the joy of hats. Of which Kate is course an expert. She got into the millinery business after winning a hat making competition. Noting the great personal style of the judge, Kate took her prize as a sign and started producing her own head wear.

Creating one off pieces and bespoke orders, Kate has the hand for wonderful confections that are as well built as they are whimsical. When I bought her black and pink pillbox hat I knew it a unique piece as well as a hat for life. I also invested in one of her bows, pink with a small veil, it’s perfect for dressing up an outfit.

Kate’s background is in print making, having studied fine art, but she told me that her hat making is an outlet for her love of textiles. She is inspired by her materials – felt, silk, straw – and by the wearable styles of the 1930’s and 40’s. When everyday head wear, like a saucy little beret, were in vogue Kate smiled.

Originally from Newcastle in the North of England, Kate arrived in Dublin almost fifteen years ago and liked it so much she stayed. She told me that the attraction is being in a city where you can easily do anything – dancing, shopping, cycling. All while wearing a hat we agree! Whether it’s a quirky find or a for chic occasion Kate Betts is your lady. / Lulu French Vintage, 93 Monkstown Road, Co. Dublin

Dec 10, 2011

Cow’s Lane Designer Studio – Lovely Pretty Things


Cow’s Lane Designer Studio is one of those places I just can’t walk past – there’s always something in the window that draws me. I was on the way to a party when I spotted their open door – late night Thursday!

The shop is a lovely space, well laid out with lots of handmade designer goodies on display. It’s ideal for an unusual birthday or Christmas present, or just a little me present. I tried on hats by Shevlin Millinery, some Ann Tyrrell jewellery and a Daiva’s Textiles scarf.

But I was won over by an Astrid feather hairband. Hot pink and black, I popped it in my hair and instantly had a smile on my face – I was fully dressed for my night out. And my new accessory was the star of the show at the Lillie’s Bordello soiree.

Sep 17, 2011

Shotsy Vintage – Temple Bar Teasure Trove

Mooching through Temple Bar – the best way to shop I think – I discovered a diamond in the rough on Temple Lane South. Shotsy Vintage is like the ultimate dressing up box, with rails of rainbow dresses lining the walls and magpie boxes dotted around. All era’s from the 1950’s up are on hand, so you can choose depending on your mood. Seventies disco dolly or Eighties power diva?

At the moment I’m going through a Sixties phase, so it’s all hitched hemlines, canary yellows, giant buckles and collars. Shotsy doesn’t disappoint, with a sherbet pink mini dress catching my eye. Shop owner Lisa McGrath told me how she opened the shop with her cousin Katie Prior, having noticed a gap in the market for affordable vintage.

Lisa explained that the girls love of all things old started when they were young and inspired by their Grandmother’s elegant style. A seamstress in her younger days she had a collection of clothes that had converted the pair from Penneys to Oxfam. Lisa came to appreciate the craft that goes into a handmade garment and soon developed an eye for unique pieces, herself and Katie scouring the vintage shops of London on a regular basis.

Knowing what they like the girls have sourced some great stock and unusual bits, like the winged shades on display at the till. Lisa admits that she’s taken some risks when buying – like snapping up a mystery trunk at a clothing auction, the contents of which she only discovered on purchase. Luckily it all turned out well, with Lisa joking that she likes surprises!

Shotsy really is a treat and so different from the high street shopping experience, both in terms of atmosphere and service. I like the personal touch of a boutique and Lisa is delighted when I match a feather hairband I’ve just bought to one of her vintage pearl brooches. Sometimes the perfect thing just finds me! We both agree it’s a little retail thrill when a clothes lover meets a cute thing she must have. / Shotsy Vintage, Temple Lane South, Temple Bar, Dublin 2