Are you a Tachonista?

August 19, 2009

I’ve just read in the papers that since the economy took a nose dive, facial hair has had a huge revival and is well and truly back in fashion – for men, obviously. (Not sure it’ll ever be a style statement for women!) From Brad Pitt’s trendy ‘door-knocker’ beard to Johnny Depp’s skinny ‘villain’ tache, every papp-able male celebrity worth his salt is sprouting stubble at the moment and September is now offically ‘TacheBack’ month in the UK, when blokes grow face fuzz to raise money for Cancer Research. The article went on to quote a psychotherapist who claims that facial hair is always popular during stressful times as men often ‘hide’ behind it when they’re anxious about job security blah blah blah, but by that point I had stopped reading because: firstly, I’m a girl, with no ability or desire to grow a goatee. And secondly, I wouldn’t have thought that this ‘Tachonista’ trend was one which could easily cross over from fashion to homes…but how wrong I was. Feast your eyes on this, lovely people. Now you too can enjoy facial hair in your home, regardless of your sex, with the fabulous Mr Moustache cushion, available on Etsy (where else!)

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The interchangeable velcro taches are stored in a handy pocket on the reverse of the cushion when not in use, so you won’t misplace your moustache. Choose from ‘Trucker’, ‘Gentleman’, ‘Fu Manchu’, or ‘Salt ‘n’ Pepper’. Hours of fun for all the family. – Ellie 

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Recession-proof Cath Kidston has defied the crumbling economy with her ‘kitchenalgia’ empire (apparently this is ‘kitchenalia’ blended with ‘nostalgia’, in case you are as confused as I am). This year she has sold more polka dot tea towels and chintzy fabrics than ever before and has smugly recorded profits of £4.6m, up from £2.9m in 2008.

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This is a big deal in the interiors industry. Other homeware brands have been hit hard by the recession – The Pier has disappeared. High street favourite Woolworths is a gonna (which of recent years was yawns-ville but in the past brought us such classics as the Ridgway Homemaker tableware collection) and MFI has tragically died. So, for Cath Kidston’s sales to rise from £19.2m to £31.3m is pretty impressive. She’s going from strength to strength and now has 27 stores in the UK and Ireland, with 10 new openings in the last year. And it’s not just us Brits who go crazy for her cute, floral style – she’s also huge in Japan and now has shops in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama.

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There have been articles in both The Guardian and The Sunday Times recently charting Kidston’s amazing growth and discussing what the secret of her recession success is. Do women turn to her cheerful designs for comfort in hard times? Do her vintage patterns remind us of our grandmothers, idyllic childhoods and homespun rosy days? Is the CK lifestyle ‘a way to nest, but without all the hard work involved in nesting’? In the Daily Mail recently, Leah Hardy, a self-confessed Cath-addict summed up why she’s obsessed with the brand: “In Cath Kidston world, surrounded by my Cath Kidston things, I can believe I am the perfect housewife. I live in a mullioned rectory. There are perfectly behaved, rosy-cheeked children and well-trained dogs at my feet. Carrots are growing in my garden and there’s a homemade cake cooling in my kitchen. The reality, of course, is somewhat different. I’m a harassed working mother living in a South London semi, with cats and urban children, at whom I sometimes shout, especially when I’m on a deadline and they are fighting over the TV remote control. There are no roses around my door, I wince when my bank statements arrive and my ironing pile is a disgrace. In my retro-styled sewing box I have a Cath Kidston floral-print tin button box but I can’t remember the last time I sewed on a button.”

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So, Cath allows us to fantasise and escape reality. But can she peddle this dream forever? There have been rumbles in the press that she’s grown too big – that her ‘pinny porn’ has spread ‘like ivy’ – that fashion will turn against her as it did with Laura Ashley in the 1990s – that selling spotty bags in Tesco, phones for Nokia, tents in Millets and opening an outlet store in Bicester is a bit too much and somehow, well, chavvy. It’s like when you hear a song you like on the radio. Every day. Twenty four times. It soon loses it’s appeal and becomes a bit annoying. It’s overload. Controversially, a former Cath-fan recently referred to Kidston as ‘a bit of a tart’ in the Daily Mail. She explained: ‘Cath Kidston is everywhere now – and there’s nothing more annoying than finding your hidden gem is suddenly a cheap bit of costume jewellery available on every high street.’

While I’m sure Cath won’t relish being labelled ‘a tart’, she might be glad of all this convenient media attention, as there are rumours flying around that she’s planning to sell her empire… so, what do you think? Have you had your fill of sugary florals? Are you all Cath Kidston-ed out? Or are you a complete convert? Do the new CK  images here still give you a thrill? Will you be rushing out to buy the new Cath Kidston Roberts radio (above)? So many questions! Let us know what you think! – Ellie

We’ve all seen the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, discovered by Barter Books and copied by just about everyone since…but this little mug from Mclaggan Smith Mugs seems more fitting for the economic crisis and it made me chuckle today! – Ellie

Now panic and freak out mug, MS Mugs

NOW PANIC AND FREAK OUT mug, £7.10, MS Mugs

David Cameron recently allowed BBC TV‘s Andrew Marr to interview him in his home, leading to newspaper features such as: Get Cameron’s kitchen look and How to collect a library fit for a high profile political TV interview. We are naturally nosy, so when a well-known MP lets us have even a small glimpse into their private home (albeit a styled, cleaner version of their real day-to-day household), we’re intrigued.

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But there’s a difference between an MP making their home visible voluntarily as part of a publicity campaign, and an MP’s privacy being invaded. The recent news about Members of Parliament making controversial expense claims has brought the shopping lists of our country’s leaders into the limelight and they’ve been scrutinised thoroughly. It seems MPs are spending money on their homes and nesting their way through the recession like the rest of us, but interiors industry ‘experts’ have muscled in already with cutting critiques of MPs’ taste.

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An opinion article in The Guardian this morning mourns the fact that MP Jacqui Smith displays a lack of ‘taste in the interior decoration department’. According to the article, her ‘two huge TVs’ and ‘antique-style fireplace’ bring to mind ‘disconcerting images of The Royle Family‘, while her sofabed and dining-room-table combo smacks of ‘DFS half-price sale’ which, according to the writer, ‘is not a good look’. Smith’s only saving grace seems to be her ‘Habitat stone kitchen sink,’ which the critic almost approves of.

I can’t help feeling sorry for Jacqui Smith. If she’d spent money on expensive, designer pieces for her home and claimed them on expenses, she’d be criticised. If she buys cheaper furniture, she’s accused of lacking taste.

This obsession with MPs’ personal lifestyle choices is worrying. They’re politicians, not celebrities. Surely whether or not our Home Secretary chooses to sit on a Conran chair or a DFS sofa is up to her. Whether or not tax payers should be financing her furniture shopping is another issue altogether of course, but who is arrogant enough to presume to decide what is and what isn’t ‘good taste’? Shouldn’t we be concerned about Jacqui Smith’s policies and her ability to do her job, rather than wasting time and column inches over what kind of sofa she prefers and whether or not Mark Oaten has bought an oven glove? Let us know what you think. – Ellie