Monday, 18 April 2011

Shopkeeper of the Week - Tamara Fogle

Tamara Fogle's Bags have the ability to make you stop in your tracks and take a breath. This may sound dramatic, but not if you have a deep love for bags, antique textiles and old typography.

Established in 2007, Tamara's collection is entirely crafted in some of the last remaining, family-run leather workshops in London.

As well as the exquisite soft leathers in unusual tones
we love Tamara's use of antique textiles which date from the 1830's to the 1940's and include;
German flour sacks,
Hungarian grain sacks,
French mattress ticking and linen,
canvas military tents and hand stitched quilts.

A Tamara Fogle is the antithesis to the 'it bag', they are heirloom pieces which are to be treasured for years to come.

Here we take a few moments out with Tamara to discuss her collection


How would you describe your collection?

I produce entirely British made, heritage inspired bags and accessories using hard and soft leathers, and Antique textiles. Work is incredibly rewarding, seeing the bags from inspiration to design, through production and use, getting better and better at each stage.

Who/what are your biggest influences?

I find inspiration everywhere, through things, colours, shapes, and textures I see rather than people I meet or know. Antique fairs and markets offer a wealth of inspiration. So too does my amazing collection of Victorian and Edwardian leather coin purses. They have helped me play with proportion to create some of my most popular styles.

Where is your favourite summer place to visit for inspiration?

Stockholm is a place i visit, and stay with friends often, and in summer it comes into it's own. The harbour and its boats have inspired nautical elements, while the colours of the Archipelago, both earthy and bright, have often inspired moods for my leather colour combinations.

What is your favourite item from your current collection?

My favourite item is the German Flour Sack 'Weekender Bag' for its almost humorous oversize scale and vintage look, but it is the German Flour Sack 'Rambler Bag' that I use most often.

Do you have any new items/collections about to be launched?

I am about to launch a collection of bags made with tough, olive green, 1940's tent bag canvas. The 'Westbourne bag' is my favourite in the range. A voluminous day bag with a slouchy structure.

What do you enjoy most about being one of the shops in The Secret Arcade?

The Secret Arcade is such a stylish on-line destination. Carefully chosen 'shops' with interesting products displayed in an unusual and fun presentation.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Shopkeeper of the Week - Caroline Townsend of Mandarina Shoes

This week we are taking a look at Mandarina Shoes, a company which takes the art of shoe making to a new level. Caroline Townsend, the owner and designer behind Mandarina, has an exceptional understanding of what women want.

Historical shapes, heritage materials combined with vivid linings and accents ensure her collections remain classics.

Favourites in The Secret Arcade office include the Red Bow Tie Leopard Moccasin (above) and the Velvet Regency Mule that is lined in leopard-print and looks like it belongs in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Here we take a few moments out with Caroline and reveal the surprising places where she finds inspiration for these classic designs...

How would you describe your e-shop?

Shoe paradise! A fabulous and unique collection of fun, quirky and original shoes and boots in sumptuous fabrics and great colours.

The cute Dachshund printed linen ballet pumps

Who/what are your biggest influences?

Travel. Our range is all about originality, elegance and style. Our classic styles are European in feel but given an exotic twist with fabrics from India, South East Asia and beyond.

Where is your favourite spring/summer place to visit for inspiration?

Vietnam never fails to inspire with its innate sense of style and exoticism.

What is your favourite item from your current collection?

The pink/orange suede kitten slingbacks are wonderful and embrace the new trend for colour blocking.

Do you have any new items/collections about to be launched?

Yes, we have a collection of toile de jouy pumps which will be incredibly chic for summer

What do you enjoy most about being one of the shops in The Secret Arcade?

The exclusivity.

Mandarina Shoes can be found in Shop No3 in the Accessories Passage

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Get the flags out - Summer is round the corner!

The sun has been out (occasionally) this week, but enough to stir us to seek out all that is red white and blue for our summertime inspired blog. We've have had a wonderful time searching for brilliant gems to share with you from our favourite Secret Arcade shops. We are always thrilled at the range of products available at The Secret Arcade and have collected a few summer snap shots here, from homewares and a host of childrenswear to great accessories to get you into the summer mood.

We are in love with the new nautical themed fabrics and cushions from the talented Sarah Hardaker - all old faded flag designs and New England style. We adore the new 'semaphore' cushion!

Cushions and wallpaper from Sarah Hardaker at The Secret Arcade

A visit to Olive Loves Alfie in the children's passageway of The Secret Arcade will treat you to a feast of the cutest range of snazzy clothes - we challenge you to find anything more scrumptious! How can you resist the gorgeous vintage style 'Lilly Dress' - wonder if you can get it a grown up version - we want one!!

The 'Lilly' dress available from Olive Loves Alfie at The Secret Arcade

Sailor t shirt from Olive Loves Alfie at The Secret Arcade

And whilst you are in children's section pop into Tulip and Nettle - they have launched an exquisite summer range of classic blue and white stripped shirts and sweaters accented with red buttons that are quintessentially English - with their trademark crisp white girl's dresses all you need is a strawberry tea and you will have summer heaven!

New summer range available from Tulip & Nettle at The Secret Arcade

Continuing the theme, Ghost Furniture has produced The Sailor Chair. Transforming an old

chair found in a house sale on the coast of Northumberland - very fitting then to be decorated with a vintage sailor's uniform dated 1971. The chair has been upholstered with vintage mattress ticking and has been painted with matte dark ash grey, specially mixed for them in France and stencilled with a red number 71. The printed labels from the uniform have been fixed to the chair also to show it's origin. The top buttoned panel from the trousers have been fixed to the back rest. This chair looks as good from the back as it does from the front and would love a home back on the coast!

'The Sailor Chair' is available from Ghost Furniture at The Secret Arcade

To complete our summertime round-up are these gorgeous summer accessories and jewellery from the fabulously edgy Alexia Fashion and Jenny Hattersley of Dark Horse fame and the glorious Clara Francis. Alexia has included two great summer styles with her 'Georgia' scarf - it has a regal look in delicate chiffon. Available in two sizes to create different looks - wear it YOUR way!

Georgia scarves available form Alexia Fashion at The Secret Arcade

In homage to the traditional leather Brogue shoe this collection from Dark Horse represents a witty take on the classic detailing, using tassels and fringes to full effect. In fondant colours to capture the season’s mood, this chunky silver-plated chain necklace swings and hangs beautifully with hand cut leather tassels in indigo, coral, white, camel and azure.

These statement earrings of long dip-dye fringe accents make these shoulder-grazers striking indeed. Available in a summer palette of white/coral, white/navy, black/blue.

To view Dark Horse Jewellery go to the jewellery passage at The Secret Arcade

For something that completely epitomises a summer day go to Clara Francis where you will find her precious Air Balloon Necklace made from tiny glass red, white and blue beads that hangs elegantly from a long sterling silver chain.

To view Clara's jewellery visit her shop in The jewellery passage at The Secret Arcade

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Shopkeeper of the Week - Ciara Healy, Book artist and Illustrator

Exploring the delicate work of Ciara Healy is a perfect way to celebrate this time of year. Just as spring tentatively reminds us of warmer times ahead, Ciara's work ponders on the fragility of the changing seasons set against the permanence and history of the country village where she lives and works.

Skillfully naive illustrations of Kent Oast houses, hunting dogs, flowers, village maps and wellington boots make for a heart warming, uplifting collection.

Born in Ireland, Healy grew up in Cork and Oxford and studied Fine Art and Illustration in Dublin. She has received numerous awards for public art commissions, residencies and travel grants and has had a number of artists books published by

Her work is represented in public collections including the Tate Britain, Office of Public Works, Dublin and the National College of Art and Design as well as private collections in Ireland the UK and America.

Here we take a few moments out with Ciara:

How would you describe your work and shop?

My e-shop is a little haven for people who like handmade books, cards and prints with quirky illustrations inspired by nature, the good life and little white dogs!

Who/what are your biggest influences?
David Hockney, Maurice Sendak, Sara Midda and my collection of vintage ladybird books.

Where is your favourite spring/summer place to visit for inspiration?

Folly Wildlife Rescue, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the antique shops by the waterfront in Rye.

(Thanks to fantastic for this image of Rye)

What is your favourite item from your current collection?

My new book 'Life is good when you're a little white dog' was launched in March at the International Artists' Book Fair in Leeds.

Do you have any new items/collections about to be launched?

Two new books - 'My Ideal' and 'Life is good when you're a little white dog' two new illustrated handmade books about pigs falling in love and little white dogs living the good life.

What do you enjoy most about being one of the shops in The Secret Arcade?

A beautiful shop window, sharing a 'street' with such a wonderful group of exciting and talented artists and designers and having my work available to a new audience.
Visit Ciara at Shop No2 in the Books, Prints & Art Passage within The Secret Arcade, here...