Retail Therapy

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Get the picture by wearing the scarf

IN BRITISH Fashion Week, when every designer is complaining loudly about a lack of commercial support, it is good to see a large high street name backing some new talent. A gold star, therefore, goes to Tie Rack. Over the next few months it is introducing a small range of brightly coloured silk scarves featuring new work by young artists. The scarves are not being produced in the bulk quantities normally associated with major chains - each of the 250 stores worldwide is likely to get only about 10 of each scarf.

The designs include works on a circus theme by Jill France, fun childish animal shapes from Deborah Brill and more sophisticated still-life designs from Anna Benham. Each scarf will carry a little swing tag with the history of its designer. Prices from pounds 9.99 to pounds 19.99.

Another Tie Rack project, in association with the Royal Academy, involves putting art on to crepe silk ties. Not the more usual abstract work, but realist paintings by living artists - Karel Weight, Mick Rooney and Anthony Green - with more to follow later. These will sell for pounds 15.99 and are likely to hit the shops early in the New Year.

Crafts of South America

IF YOU want to celebrate Columbus Day in a politically acceptable fashion go to Bristol, where Tumi, the Latin American craft shop, is opening a new branch on Monday. A mail- order catalogue has also been launched for those who prefer armchair shopping.

Tumi sells traditional crafts from all over South America, including the traditional alpaca woollens, brightly coloured hand-woven woollens, silver jewellery, pottery and glassware as well as recycled tinware and balsa wood carvings.

It even has its own music label producing two titles of Andean music a month - and not just pan-pipes. The hot sounds of salsa, cumbia and original lambada are all in evidence. Or play your own zamponas (pan- pipes - 14cm pounds 3.95, 28cm pounds 8.50) or charangos (a 10-stringed instrument). For wonderfully soothing therapy, rain pipes are good sellers. They make a whooshing rain sound when tipped upside down (from pounds 39.95). Good buys include hand- carved balsa wood parrots and toucans (from pounds 6.95); recycled tin mirrors from Mexico (from pounds 16.95) and primitive herbal dyed wall hangings from Ayacucho (from pounds 4.95).

Tumi's head office is at 8/9 New Bond Street Place, Bath BA1 1BH (0225 462367). Branches at 23/24 Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, London NW1 (071-485 4152); 1/2 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HJ (0865 512307); 82 Park Street, Bristol BS1 5LA (0272 290391). Mail- order catalogues can be obtained by ringing 0225 466100.

Santa's all over the place

SANTA CLAUS is coming to town, but when? He can't be everywhere at the same time, though this year he does seem to be trying his best. Here is a brief itinerary:

London: Selfridges - Arrives on 22 October. Grotto theme Rupert the Bear. No charge to see Santa. Each child receives a badge (071-629 1234); Harrods - Arrives in style on 14 November, with a parade along Brompton Road. The grotto theme will be a New England Christmas. No charge. Free gift (may be sweets). (071-730 1234). Details of the parade from Amanda de la Rosa (071-225 5996).

Birmingham: Rackhams - Father Christmas arrives on 7 November. The theme will be Scrooge. Free entry. Small charge for the lucky dip, but let us hope the theme is not reflected here. (021 236 3333)

Glasgow: Frasers - Arrives on 7 November. Theme will be Iceland, complete with penguins, polar bears et al. No admission charge. Nominal charge for dips. Photographs optional. (041 221 3880)

Manchester: Kendalls - Arrives 7 November. Theme will be Santa's workshop. Free admission. Lucky dip pounds 2. Pictures pounds 2.49. (061 832 3414)

Cardiff: Howells - Arrives 9 November. Theme will be Wenceslas Station (a train station staffed by moving teddies). Free admission. Dip pounds 1.50. (0222 231055)

Croydon: Allders - Arrives 7 November. Theme Beatrix Potter. No admission charge but a voluntary donation to charity would be welcome. Small gift. (081-681 2577)

Debenhams stores nationwide - Arrives at the beginning of November. Traditional style - teddy bears and fantasy. No charge to see Santa. Gifts according to age pounds 1 (but worth more). Inquiries to head office (071-408 4444).

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