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5 Brands To Make You Fall Hard For Personalisation

I’ve always been a sucker for all things personalised, from the Year 2 trip to the Science Museum where I got my name stamped into a hideous wooden pencil case (remember the ones with the sliding lids?), to when I was at Stylist and a PR who shall remain nameless gifted me a pair of velvet loafers with my initials embroidered on the toe. Sitting with me as I inelegantly shoved my feet into them, she happily told me that she was thrilled they fit because they’d been made for Olivia Palermo but were too small. Just call me Cinderella, I replied. Anyway, one OP’s loss was another’s gain, and I still delight in telling everyone who crosses my path that I’ve got Palermo’s shoes on.

1. STRAWBIA

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All the above has been rekindled after stumbling across my fabulous friend Lyndsey’s new hat, debuted in the Maldives, below. She’s trumped me already – how can I possibly beat ‘Blondie’? I’ll just have to resort to my actual name. Make yours at Strawbia, available via Instagram for a very reasonable Dhs250, although she does ship worldwide.

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2. RAE FEATHER

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Launched a mere three years ago, Brit brand Rae Feather has hit the nail on the head in terms of what we all want to swing along the beach when we’re on holiday. Its monogrammed pompom totes and straw clutch bags are what dreams are made of. They also personalise cashmere, so if you fancy the idea of being swathed in a bespoke scarf in Business Class on the way to the Maldives, look no further.

ra712_red_pom_pom_small_basket_lo_res ra418_navpin_monogram_clutches

3. CHROMA STATIONERY

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Who doesn’t love a personalised notebook? Chroma Stationery, an adorable little brand based in the UK, does it really well, printing books and pencil cases with names, initials and whimsical phrases. I’d likely choose something sarcastic, or irritatingly cryptic, but that’s the beauty of it – you can pick whatever you like. They ship internationally (music to our ears) and all their wares come in a rainbow of shades.

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4. HAPPY BUBBLE BALLOONS

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I claim to be a total sucker for a lot of things, but when it comes to balloons, I really am. Throw in the option to have my name on them, filled with confetti and attached to a string of bunting and I am yours. Based in Dubai, Happy Bubble live up to their name.

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5. DANIELLE GUIZIO

personalised bomber

There are certain designers you stumble across and maybe shouldn’t share because they’re just too damn good and you want to keep them all to yourself. I’m all about spreading the love though, so I’m going to introduce you to Danielle Guizio, an NYC-based designer whose commitment to tongue-in-cheek slogan clothing for the Instagram generation is admirable. Her personalised bomber jacket is the best I’ve seen, although major points also go to her ‘Heartbreaker’ leather jacket (sadly, not customisable – although could you realistically do better than Heartbreaker anyway?) and ‘Don’t Text Your Ex’ phone cover.

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Du-buy: 10 Cool Interiors Stores in Dubai (They’re Cheap Too)

Kare Dubai

I take no umbrage with Ikea. Far from it, I schlepped my flat-pack Ikea bed to no less than three houses in-between uni and psuedo-adulthood, and last I heard it’s still enjoying some very happy twilight years in my mate’s spare room in Putney. As I type, I can spot at least four items in my bedroom that are from Ikea’s UAE outpost  – although, if I’m honest, I’m not all that happy about it. At 31, I feel that the foundations of my decorating skills should have progressed beyond the realms of Pax and Billy and matured to represent the odd, slightly mixed-up taste that I have learned to call my own.

There remains a small problem, though. Well, two small problems. One, the lack of unique, quirky homeware purveyors in the sandpit, and two, my journo-funded existence being the very definition of champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget. In short; I’m broke, fussy, and low on options. So I did some research, and uncovered the best, most eclectic places to buy homeware in Dubai that will still allow you to have money left over for brunch. What more could one possibly want?

  1. The Bowery Company

One part Williamsburg to two parts Copenhagen, The Bowery Company’s urban online presence is a godsend in Dubai – not least of which because (let’s be frank), e-tail in the UAE is playing catch-up at a glacial pace. Not so with Bowery, though – their site is as slick as their offering: apothecary candles, bespoke neon artwork and clean, copper accessories for days. Warehouse chic, innit.

Bowery Company

2. Objects & Elements

Hidden in among the unassuming art galleries of Al Quoz is this absolute gem; a mixture of ultra-bold local art, offbeat, upcycled miscellanea, and even a sewing parlour upstairs. Ikea, Schmikea.

objects and elements

3. Dragon Mart

The Alpha and Omega of everything, everywhere, ever, Dragon Mart is a glorious beast where if you want something, you’ll find it, although you may have to walk 73 kilometers through de-humidifiers spraying out floral-scented chemical warfare first. I’d do it, though. Have you SEEN the horse statue below?

Dragon Market

4. Kare

So apparently (morning!), Kare is a pretty big deal. As in, they have stores all over the world. Loads of them. Still, it’s managed to escape my sheltered little consciousness til now and has just opened in Dubai, looking like the party-loving antithesis to Ikea’s magnolia reign.

kare

5. Typo

There was a serious stationery draught in Dubai when I first arrived, all spoilt from the multi-storey Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road and the glorious little corner in Liberty where I could lose hours fawning over pencils. Typo is kind of a home from home, then – although there’s much more to it than just novelty sellotape. Think cushions, trinket trays and wall-mounted antlers.

typo

6. Pinky’s

Aside from being very attracted by the name alone, Pinky’s wooed me with its selection of rustic, wooden furniture sourced from all over Asia. They’ve got everything from console tables to distressed, paint-peeling old cupboards with plenty of personality.

Pinkys

7. Dubai Garden Centre

I’m not exactly the garden centre type. All that nature makes me a bit uncomfortable to be honest, plus my rampant hayfever makes it awkward for anyone nearby. Having said that, I unearthed some pretty good gems in between all the gnomes and fertiliser; upcycled benches made from car parts (nicer than I’ve made them sound), industrial artwork and embroidered Moroccan pouffes for Dh100. Worth the sneezing fit.

Dubai Garden Centre

8. Cities Boutique

Cities Boutique is a real mixed bag, but that’s the beauty of it. Who wouldn’t want a kaleidoscopic, life-size rhino, or a bookshelf in the shape of the UAE? And one of the best things about it is that its buy is really heavily weighted towards supporting local artists and designers. Thumbs up.

cities boutique

9. Dubai Antiques Museum

I’m really sorry, but there’s no way I can write about this place and not say ‘Aladdin’s cave’ at least once. It’s not really a museum, either, although I like the gall of the place calling itself that when really it’s just an oversized souvenir shop. If it’s brass and looks old, you’ll find it here.

Dubai Antiques museum

Dubai Flea Market

As much as I love the clutter-free, Marie Kondo-esque existence that comes with leaving all your tat behind in the UK (sorry mum. It’s basically yours now), there’s always going to be a place in my heart for bric-a-brac. The Dubai Flea Market is probably the best place to re-fill your gaff with useless paraphernalia – or get rid of the stuff you’ve accumulated.

Dubai Flea Market

 

 

New Favourite Style Icon: Keith Richards

Keith Richards

I have a horrible habit of never finishing books. Put me in a bookshop, however, and I become mortifyingly overexcited, picking out tomes like I’ve been starved of them – which maybe I have. I buy them in bulk, each one promising to make my soul/ brain/ outlook better, then bring them home and read the first lonely chapter, before invariably getting distracted by Instagram and the fridge. It’s testament to my status as an awful human being. There is one, though, which I can proudly say I’m well on the way to completing – and that’s Life, the autobiography of one of the rock ‘n’ roll greats; a certain Mr Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Life Icon may be overplaying it (this is a man who’s done so many drugs that it’s a wonder he’s still with us at all), but Style Icon is a label I can most definitely ascribe to him. His book, written in the kind of nifty, gritty, straight-shooting language which you can imagine from a boy from Dartford, is a total joy, and full of the kind of one-liners which make him a living legend. “If you’re going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet.” “Some things get better with age. Like me.” “You can’t accuse me of anything I haven’t already confessed to.” They just don’t make them like him anymore – and that goes for his wardrobe choices as well. The ultimate kind of rock ‘n’ roll, too-cool-to-care gesture, he borrowed his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg’s clothes on a regular basis, which probably goes some way to explaining how he managed to perfect a dressing up box sense of style. You only need look at Hedi Slimane’s collections for Saint Laurent the past few seasons to see how his look still inspires fashion today. Keef, may you outlive us all mate.

Keith Richards Keith Richards, Mick jagger and anita pallenberg

Keith Richards Anita Pallenberg style

 

Sunglasses, River Island

Belt, ASOS

Trousers, Topshop

Dress, Mary Katrantzou at Matches

Coat, Saint Laurent at Matches

Hat, Saint Laurent at Matches

Shoes, Topshop

Ring, Brooke Gregson