With the festive season approaching, we invited local savvy shophound, Lily Oliver to The Old Cinema to hunt out some desirable gifts…
Ok, I give in; illuminated Santas twinkle above crowded streets, trees, baubles and tinsel are everywhere and the heavy scent of cloves,
cinnamon and roasting chestnuts hangs in the air. Christmas is definitely coming. But this year, instead of sticking my head in a box of Heston’s mince-pies and leaving everything to the last minute,
I’m determined to be more organised, and I’ve also got a new present-buying strategy.This year I intend to eschew the Serengeti-like stampede into the West End; all that pushing through crowds
in hot department stores; hastily grabbing random items which I later find myself trying desperately to match to names on a list; ‘hat for her, socks for him’ etc. These are my nearest and dearest; surely they deserve
a little more care and goodwill than this?
My Christmas shopping experience this year, will be altogether more enjoyable and rewarding. To start with, I’m staying local. As well as an enviable selection of
restaurants – including the odd Michelin star – we Chiswickians, also have a fair smattering of interesting and unusual shops, so buying needn’t become a chore but can actually be a pleasure.
My plan is to buy gifts that are special, and unique; that speak of another world or a bygone era; something different to the usual high-street offering. So, after a fortifying cappuccino at High Road House;
favoured hangout of cool media types, I wander next door to The Old Cinema; a West London bastion of freer thinking spirits (and the occasional celeb), who come in search of something unusual, interesting or fun.
It’s all here; retro, vintage, antique, up-cycled, contemporary chic, or plain eccentric and hard to narrow it down to just a few suggestions – but here are some of my favourites.
A MEAN MARTINIFor hard-to-please men in your life, who maybe aspire towards a little Bond-like glamour, (or who could do with a little shaking and stirring) a cocktail shaker is a handsome and practical gift –
and will also help the party go with a swing! There are lots to choose from here, in all styles and to please all pockets. Cocktail shakers from £45.
DIG THE PIGHere’s one to bring a smile. Anyone would be charmed by these wonderful farmyard animals, cleverly made from old tin oil barrels.
They come in an assortment of colours and sizes and make delightful and unusual house gifts – or maybe an amusingly appropriate one for
a couch-potato brother-in-law who never offers to do the washing-up! Selection of tin animals from £45.
The Old Cinema has a trove of delightful brocante pieces which are always welcome and unusual presents.
Photo frames are perennially popular and almost impossible to go wrong with and you’ll find many to choose from here.
These, in gloriously decadent Art Deco-style are a dream for starlets and divas, or in fact anyone with memories to cherish.
Even Great Uncle Rodney will look grand in one of these.
Art Deco-style frames from £45.
CHRISTMAS BY CANDLELIGHTThere is no better way to add warmth and atmosphere to a room than a glorious array of beautiful brass candlesticks.
And use them to maximum effect by distributing as many as you can in different shapes and sizes, wherever you have a dark corner.
The effect is magical – and somehow everyone looks so much better in candlelight.
Edwardian brass candlesticks from £10.
NORTHERN ROCKSThis stunning agate pendant, suspended from a simple silver choker is a real statement-with-style piece.
Fabulous worn with an evening dress and bare shoulders; it would also look great with a simple shirt and jeans
Part of an intriguing collection of 1970’s Scandinavian silverware – now becoming highly collectible – this has an understated Nordic cool.
1970‘s Silver pendant £180.
WHAT A DISH…For those who like a mix of contemporary, up-cycled and delightfully non-shabby, chic – Ines Cole offers a deeply desirable collection of stylish homeware.
These bowls make a beautiful rustic centrepiece are individually carved from solid marble. You’ll also find chunky re-cycled glass rummers in different colours,
quirky wooden candlesticks, upholstered stools and ottomans; colourful vintage storage tins, woven rugs and an array of unusual lights and lamps. Marble bowls in various sizes, from £45.
TOP OF THE TREEInes also has some fabulous hand-blowntree decorations for the smartest trees in town – but get them quick; they are going fast!
Glass tree decorations from £8.
Paul always enjoyed frequenting junk shops, and he particularly remembers a quirky place in a Georgian house in Brentford in the 1980’s; piled high with furniture, glass and bric-a-brac, which opened just two days a week. The owner would advise Paul on what to look for, and the tricky business of buying and selling. “She’d say, ‘there’s this auction in Guildford – meet me there and I’ll show you what to do’” he recalls. He was grateful for her help: “It was a different world and it’s daunting when you start out.” Paul then began buying and selling in earnest and was especially drawn to Art Deco, which was still fairly easy to come by, and reasonably priced; whereas now there is a much higher demand for it.
The arrival of the Swatch in 1983 revolutionized time keeping. In the late 70s, wristwatcheswere synonymous with Swiss jewels of careful craftsmanship, with few changes as they passed through generations. However, the introduction to the market of low cost Asian alternatives that challenged the Swiss in quality, saw a rapid decline in fortunes of the Swiss wristwatch.
Nicolas G. Hayek saw a solution. His curiosity with a “second watch”, an inexpensive yet uplifting time piece that captured the personality of an individual, would prove to be the saviour of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Radical and vibrant designs (not to mention the move to plastic), catalysed a growing trend of the Swatch Watch amongst an entire generation’s youth.
Over the years, Swatch has quickly established itself to be the trailblazer of watch brands. Continuous innovation in relation to texture and colour, including invitations to artists to design their own watch, has guaranteed that Swatch remained at the top. The establishment of the Collectors Club as well as limited edition releases, have fueled a society of collectors that continue to see the value in their favorite Swatch watch. From the very beginning, the connection between Swatch and art through Pop culture was inseparable. In 1984 Kiki Picasso was the first artist commissioned to design a piece, followed by a series of Keith Haring designs. Other notable contributions come from Akira Kurosawa, Spike Lee, Renzo Piano, Yoko Ono, Vivienne Westwood, Not Vital and Annie Leibovitz. As swatch continue to write the future of watch design, the fascination with vintage swatches will always remain. As numbers dwindle vintage classics rise in value, and with so many keen collectors, it’s never too difficult to track down the swatch that best describes you. We currently have a large collection of Swatch's available at The Old Cinema, ranging from £60 each.
For those interested in the mid-late 20C there are many treasures. Scandinavian design is ever-popular, and pieces such as a Georg Jensen hand mirror or a set of 1950’s silver-gilt Danish teaspoons
make wonderful gifts. And the occasional piece of delightful kitsch
can also be found: A vintage Larry the Lamb porcelain figurine sits
demurely between a Gothic Revival brass lidded urn and a Viennese 1930’s brass pin tray from which a miniature female golfer swings a tiny club.
Born into an antiques background; Lesley’s mother was an antiques dealer with an eye for decorative glass, whilst her step-mother had an Art Gallery in Church Street selling 20th Century art and ephemera, so Lesley learned the practicalities of the business from an early age. She began a career in media but indulged her interest in the decorative arts running weekend stalls in Camden and Portobello. Eventually, she packed in the job, launched a website and started collecting in earnest. She now juggles her time visiting antiques fair to buy pieces for her collection and running her busy website; with dashing to and from music festivals in a camper van, with her record label boss husband – for whom she works two days a week.
Graham, co-founder of furniture and interiors emporium, Graham & Green, has always been surrounded by beautiful objects. Her mother was an artist, whilst her grandmother, who lived in Cairo between the wars, and was part of the smart social set, had an eye for interior design and a knack for doing up houses. Glamorous and beautifully dressed, she always wore fabulous jewellery, which made a vivid impression on the young Antonia. Inspired by these early memories, and having handed the running of Graham & Green over to son Jamie, Antonia now has her own collection of contemporary Indian jewellery which she sells privately and to selected shops. Luckily for denizens of W4, a large selection of Antonia’s beautiful pieces can be found at The Old Cinema, where a surprisingly reasonable sum will buy a pair of square-cut, ruby drop earrings, or a pretty peridot ring.
Pieces are mainly contemporary although antique or vintage pieces may also be discovered amongst the shelves of treasure. Made mainly in India, and hand-finished by a team of craftsmen, the collection includes gold-plated necklaces, earrings and bracelets, studded and hung with twinkling semi-precious stones from all around the world. Pale, blue-grey Labradorite, rose quartz, amethysts, garnets, carnelians and rubies; are mounted in gold-plated silver and create an exquisite array of colour. Pieces are surprisingly affordable; as Antonia says, these stones, despite their decorative appeal, are often less expensive than people might expect.
Antonia works closely with her artistic team and sometimes designs her own pieces which she enjoys doing; “I like the different colours of the stones and putting them together in unusual combinations”, Antonia says. She has, in general, a particular interest in the creative and mechanical process of how items are made and assembled and how different talents and disciplines can be combined to create beautiful and unique pieces; whether they be furniture, textiles, homewares or jewellery.
Behind Antonia’s mild, quietly-spoken manner, lies a steely determination to succeed. This, and a natural creative flair were to stand her in good stead, as she often found herself battling against the odds. Antonia’s career began working as a translator for cookery writer Elizabeth David, who ran a business selling French crockery and cookware. David was a exacting employer, but Antonia proved herself to be both resourceful and capable and was soon handling much of the running of the business herself – sourcing culinary items from around the world, arranging deliveries, and drawing up supplier agreements; skills she was later to find immensely useful.
After some years running a business selling Mediterranean homeware to the trade, Antonia and her friend, Henrietta Green, founded Graham & Green in the mid-1970’s. Despite the problems women in the 70s faced trying to launch a business – including landlords and banks who would only talk to men – determination and perseverance won through. The pair acquired a shop in Notting Hill and began selling kitchenware and crockery to smart West Londoners. The business expanded, and a second shop opened opposite; specialising in bathroom and bedroom furnishings imported from India. A select range of luxury clothing followed, and the Graham & Green brand, of affordable exoticism became a great success. Antonia still enjoys regular trips to India where she has a beautiful house in Goa, but her time is her own and she isn’t missing the pace of running a large successful business. It doesn’t stop her from being busy and making plans; “I always thought that once I had more time I might learn to make my own jewellery” she says. And one gets the impression that once Antonia has an idea to do something, it won’t be too long before she does it.