Most people when they visit New York probably have a ‘must see/ do’ list that includes icons such as Central Park, the Empire State building or the Statue of Liberty. My list however, whilst still including the utter *essentials* of New York site seeing (Grand Central – tick, Gossip Girl tour – tick, sitting on the steps of the Met giving my best Blair Waldorf face – MASSIVE TICK) also had, fairly high up too I might add, a trip to Orla Kiely’s NYC shop. Now I know what you’re thinking, why treck half way around the world just to visit the shop of a brand you could pop to in London?! Whilst in theory this is true, my visits to London over the last few years have been sporadic and so jam packed that by the time I’ve seen all my friends for a catch up, there’s barely time left to marvel at the wonder that is the Waitrose cheese room (trust me, it’s amazing) let alone cram some retail therapy in too which is why I was stupidly excited about *finally* getting the chance to visit Mercer Street and dive headlong into Orla’s world.
I have to admit that up until a few years ago, I was only aware of Orla Kiely as the designer who put 60s style stem prints on a vast selection of homewares and didn’t have a clue that she also designed clothes too. At some point during the cold days of February 2013 however, whilst hitting up Google to keep updated with all things London Fashion Week, I stumbled across a couple of blogs carrying photos from her AW13 presentation (beautifully styled by the amazing Leith Clark) and fell hopelessly in love.
It’s probably no surprise that my love for Orla Kiely started around the same time as discovering Wes Anderson’s films (again, *very* late to that party) as both artists share the ability to create entire worlds around their ideas that are so appealing and considered it’s impossible not to be drawn in. Orla’s Fashion Week presentations (and supporting campaign films) are never merely just catwalks of clothes but instead feel more like snapshots of some wonderful retro dream that the viewer has stumbled upon. This sepia-tinged aesthetic extends to the New York shop where offerings from the AW14 collection sit alongside homewares in a faux-domestic setting that includes a kitchen, lounge area (complete with TV showing ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ – always a good thing in my book) and erm, caravan resplendent in Orla Kiely print.
After trying on a few bits and pieces from the current collection, I discovered a rail of sale items including a skirt from the AW13 collection I’d been lusting after and having purchased it, was brave enough to ask the very lovely sales assistant if I could take a few snaps of the shop interior to share on here (is it just me who gets slight sales assistant fear when I’m in shops that my budget wouldn’t normally stretch to?!?).
Thankfully my limited American budget meant that I couldn’t walk away with the whole shop (although I’m sure the little brushwood fox would look right at home in my flat…) but it was a lovely excuse to have a glimpse into Orla’s world and add one or two items to my every growing wishlist…
Since hitting the big 3-0 I have officially found myself at the stage of life where my entire yearly holiday allowance is spent attending friends weddings which is how a little over a month ago I found myself and the boy headed to New York for ten days of sightseeing, shopping and a Central Park wedding.
I will happily admit that previous to my trip, visiting New York was never particularly high on my ‘must do’ list. Yes I know it’s meant to be one of the best cities in the world and as a Gossip Girl addict and fan of all things Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Blondie related you’d think I’d have a burning desire to visit but for some reason the urge to jet across the Atlantic had never struck me. An invite to my friends’ wedding in NYC however finally gave me the push I needed to ‘cross the pond’ and I’m now kicking myself I never visited sooner as it’s now possibly my new favourite place in the world and I’m trying to figure out how I can justify another trip…
Having debated going down the Air B&B route when it came to accommodation, me and the boy eventually settled on Yotel which was located only a few minutes from Time Square and proved the perfect base for exploring the city. I’d heard nightmare stories of the tiny amount of square footage to be found in central New York hotel rooms but the clever use of space in our ‘Premium View Cabin’ meant that, although compact, it never felt cramped and gave more than enough space to stash away the multiple outfits, shoes, toiletries and books we’d both bought. Yotel’s bar also served a great selection of food, cocktails and craft beer (oh how I miss the happy hour!) which meant we didn’t have to drag our jet lagged asses too far to find nourishment on the first night. The Yotel was also just round the corner from a supermarket which was great for stocking up on yet more craft beer and nibbles as well as fresh croissants every morning.
Although we did a lot of the touristy stuff – Times Square, Top Of The Rock, Grand Central, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (which we definitely needed at least another day to explore it was so big!), Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, the ‘Ghostbusters’ Fire Station, a performance of Cabaret on Broadway and catching a free gig by the ever amazing We Are Scientists (seriously, those guys haven’t aged in 10 years!), the majority of our time was simply spent wandering around the city taking in the impressive range of buildings and sites it has to offer. We also decided to hit The High Line which is a public park built on top of a former freight rail line which snakes along the West Side of Manhattan and is a great way of getting a slightly more elevated view of the city. I’d thoroughly recommend hoping off at Chelsea Market for great food and even greater jewellery. It’s safe to say we definitely got our money’s worth out of our 7 day Metrocards which gave unlimited use of the subway and made getting around a doddle.
No write up of my NY trip would be complete without a mention of all the amazing food and drink we encountered. Aside from working our way through the US McDonalds’ menu and a good chunk of the Grand Central food court, we also ate and drank in the following amazing places – The Dead Rabbit, Blind Tiger, Hudson Malone, Beer Culture and Flatiron Lounge (fantastic for cocktails!).
Our amazing 10 days has cemented NYC in my heart and this is definitely the start of a beautiful love affair. xoxo