Fashion: Shopping with...Lisa Armstrong - The tailors of Carnaby St revealed
Sunday 16 August 1998
Lisa confesses to an obsession with shoes - she loved this summer's collection at Miu Miu, she loves Jimmy Choo's shoes, she loves Shelly's flip-flops and "sparkly tart's trotters". When in New York, she stocks up at Unisa (701 Madison Avenue, NYC, tel: 00 1 212 753 7474) where you can find brilliant copies of "everything" for about $50. The own-label shoes in American department stores also get her vote because they are "much better value than they are over here, and they're much quicker off the mark, too."
When travelling in France, Lisa can't resist the "really cheap and fantastic chain", Du Pareil au Meme (00331 47660331) where she buys clothes for her two young daughters, Kitty and Flora. Children's wear is evidently her great weakness. Pippers (00 1 516 286 1310) she claims, is the best mail-order catalogue of all, and there's good stuff in La Redoute (0500 777777) when she's "wheedled through the stuff with logos". The "super treat", though, is Cookie (designed by Denise Hirst and stocked in The Cross, 141 Portland Road, London W11, 0171 727 6760). "It's a wonderfully quirky and reasonable new label. Kitty was a bridesmaid recently and I bought her a Cookie dress - it's expensive but I love their simple lines."
A self-proclaimed sitting target for mail-order companies, friends of Lisa are likely to receive rose plants as gifts. "If someone's just had a baby and I can't think of what to buy them, I send them something from Peter Beales Roses (mail order: 01953 454707) in Norfolk, or David Austin Roses (mail order: 01902 373931), based in Wolverhampton. When she's not jetting about for Vogue, Lisa shops by mail order at Toast (01558 668800) for pyjamas she can lounge or write in without feeling like a "total slob". Her new waffle ones were bought there.
Bed linen comes delivered to the Armstrong family courtesy of The White Company (mail order: 0171 385 7988) - "it's really good, simple and easy", but her daughters' bedrooms are much more fussy, decked out in a real Armstrong/Vogue favourite - Cath Kidston (8 Clarendon Cross, London W11, tel 0171 221 4000). Ikea basics, which are bland but can be painted over, make Armstrong feel creative.
In New York's Crate & Barrel (Madison Ave, tel: 00 1 212 308 0011) Lisa picks up stuff for the kitchen, but most of her crockery tends to be quite plain. "I used to collect antique coffee cups but they're all in a box in the attic because my husband likes to keep the kitchen sleek, he doesn't like clutter." Hence the household's three cats have bowls in plain beige ceramic, painted blue inside. "I know it sounds a bit anal but it's the children's rooms which are my outlet for twiddly stuff."
So what is Lisa Armstrong's key shopping secret? "I've recently discovered that if you look above the doors on Carnaby Street there are names of tailors printed in tiny letters. They'll take up your trousers in half an hour for pounds 6, I never struggle with hems and threads. They are the last undiscovered joy in London."
Lisa Armstrong's first novel, "Front Row", is published by Hodder & Stoughton, pounds 16.99
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