It seems like a distant dream now, but a month ago I spent a lovely, roasting hot couple of weeks in LA, partly for work and partly for family obligations. Having moved back to my hometown of London four years ago after living in the States since I was 17 (a lonnnnng time!), it was lovely to go back and catch up with friends and family and check out all the great new shops and restaurants that have popped up in my old ‘hood Highland Park. I also did a book signing for Bohemian Modern at Hennessey & Ingalls in Santa Monica, followed by an hour on the beach before I hopped on the plane.
One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the super cool Hollywood studio of designer and blogger Joy Cho whose Oh Joy! brand is dominating right now in everything from baby booties and party goods to band aids/plasters and a best selling craft book. As an early adopter of blogging, Joy managed to build up a large and loyal following in the past ten years, even holding the very 21st century title of one of the world’s top pinners (Joy has over 13 million followers on Pinterest. Insane right?) Joy lives in Silverlake, a lovely part of Los Angeles, with her husband and their two little girls, both under the age of four. She manages a thriving business, an extremely popular blog, and a family, somehow without losing her mind. At least not publicly 😉
While juggling all of that and preparing for a holiday, Joy kindly agreed to let me show up at her studio, tip out her bag and style it up for Secret Life Of Bags. For someone whose passion for colour and playfulness is evident in everything she creates, it should come as no surprise that her bag was filled with lots of pretty little bits. No mouldy apples or cookie crumbs in this purse, people. Best of all is the fact that I was able to colour block it all – that’s how co-ordinated this woman is!
Here’s what Joy had to say about handbags…
I’m always on the lookout for interesting art and to be honest, I have a really hard time finding it. Mostly because I’m picky, my tastes change constantly, and I can’t just go out and buy a Cy Twombly, which is really want I’d love to do. Me being my usual bratty self, I don’t want what everyone else has, so you probably won’t find me with a mass produced print, even if it’s nicely framed, unless I absolutely love it. The kind of art I currently have at home: a huge Jackson Pollack-like painting that my son did in pre-school and I had framed; a Kim West (not THAT Kim West people. My friend, the brilliant LA painter) painting on glass that my husband bought me for our anniversary at least six years ago; and art by my brother Duncan (Simpson).
Now I can add to the collection what can only be described as ‘trash art’ because it was literally heading for the rubbish bin.
Earlier this year I styled a shoot in London for IKEA.com which is now live on their site. I already do a lot of shoots for IKEA Live magazine, traveling around and styling the homes of serious IKEA fans, but this was an ideas shoot for their main website. So, pretty exciting! My brief was to create clever ways to bring the outdoors into your home, be it through plants, fabric, or garden futniture. I love this idea below of hanging lengths of fabric from a curtain rod, either to divide a room or as a backdrop on a wall behind a bed. Great if you don’t have a headboard, like me. Now that we’re in the last days of summer, it’s a pretty cheap and easy way to temporarily add a burst of colour and energy to your home before succumbing to the dark depths of winter.
I’ve spent most of the day scouring airbnb looking for a flat in Paris for a work trip in September. For a group of my work colleagues, it ends up being so much cheaper for us to rent a nice flat rather than individual hotel rooms. We also end up saving on food because we do a big supermarket shop and have what we call our “Anthro girl dinner” (salad, cheese, bread, hummous, and other annoyingly healthy things) instead of going out to a restaurant every night. Over the past year we’ve stayed in three or four incredible apartments in Paris and Nice. The all white one above was tucked away down a cobbled mews and had a sunken living room perfect for after work wine and chit chat.
I didn’t think it would be fair to ask anyone else to show me what’s in their bag if I wasn’t willing to do the same thing. So photographer and friend Sarah Hogan came over a few weeks ago and shot the extensive collection of junk that I cart around with me for my very own Secret Life Of Bags reveal. I’ve tried to scale things back recently, but judging by these pictures, I’m not succeeding.
We also had a little fun with my collection of bags, some of which I’ve had for years (although most of them don’t see the light of day anymore), and hold a lot of memories. They tell their own story about how my taste has evolved – ten years ago I favoured vintage leather and kitschy prints. Today I prefer a more refined but still unique look. In other words, I am now a grown-up. Judging by Sarah’s pictures of me, I find the whole thing freakin’ HI-larious! What I’m actually thinking is “Why the hell did I ship all this crap over from LA when I moved back to London?” Ah, sentimentality is a curse.
I was thrilled when Abigail Ahern agreed to be featured in this, the debut post for my new column Secret Life Of Bags. A few months back she interviewed me for her blog’s Current Obsession column, so when the time came to launch what I affectionately refer to as S.L.O.B. Abigail was the first person to spring to mind. I loved the idea of nosying inside her handbag and seeing what treasures she totes around.