The Alice Boutique invites you down the rabbit hole

It is no exaggeration to say that Alice in Wonderland is having a bit of a moment. Alice Liddle, the little girl who was Alice, is profiled in this month’s Vogue, whilst the V&A museum of childhood will be hosting an exhibition next month entitled ‘The Alice look’ which will examine how Alice has been portrayed over the years. Even the Royal Mail is getting in on the Alice act with a commemorative set of stamps.

In Birmingham, last week saw the launch of a stunning new collection of ceremics and stationary from the wonderful Alice Boutique, a launch that invited selected bloggers to take a trip down the rabbit hole (actually the basement bar of The Bureau, but rather wonderful all the same. There, guests were able to peruse the collection whilst getting into the Wonderland spirit with a dressing up box, croquet played with the obligatory flamingoes and lots of wonderful cocktails just beckoning you to ‘drink me’. It was all rather surreal and pretty amazing.

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With Emily Jayne at The Bureau, Birmingham

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Earning my Rabbit Ears at the launch of The Alice Boutique

Fabulous Gin Sling cocktails

Fabulous Gin Sling cocktails

Getting ready for a game of Croquet

Getting ready for a game of Croquet

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The Alice Boutique is the brainchild of Tracie Bedwood, well known in the Midlands has the founder of the Handmade Boutique. Tracie is a huge fan of the Lewis Carroll story, and in particular, loves the beauty and charm of the original John Tenniel illustrations. She started designing and producing the Alice Tea Set in 2014 as part of the Handmade Boutique, and now the collection has grown to include stationary and birthday ephemera, cake stands and bone china mugs, and coasters to place those gorgeously delicate cups and mugs on.

Cake Stand £48 click to visit The Alice Boutique

Cake Stand £48 click to visit The Alice Boutique

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Love that large serving plate!

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Just so pretty!

 There are black and white designs, as well as full colour pieces, featuring a range of Alice characters, from the Queen of Hearts to Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee, and of course, the lady herself. My favourite piece is the exquisite cake-stand, which would make a fantastic centre-piece to any dinner party (or tea party if you prefer), but every piece is a stunning work of art that would totally delight any Alice fan.

Check out the Monochrome Alice pieces here

Check out the Monochrome Alice pieces here

Those cute Coasters

Those cute Coasters!

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You can find selected pieces of the collection at the Handmade Boutique in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade, and it is also available online at http://www.thealiceboutique.com/

Handmade Boutique finds a permanent home in Great Western Arcade

In the run up to Christmas last year, Birmingham gained a new pop-up gift emporium that promised a break from the mainstream and mass produced. Handmade boutique, the brainchild of Tracie Bedwood, offered unique, quirky, handmade gifts and products from a range of local artisans and crafts people, with price points that ranged from pocket money to affordable luxury. Handmade Boutique was a huge success and one which most were sad close once Christmas came.

But now Handmade Boutique is back, and this time it is in a permanent home. Birmingham’s Beautiful Great Western Arcade is the new home of the boutique, which has seen some designers returning, and has also seen some new designers joining the collective. Last week saw the official launch event for the Boutique, and I was lucky enough to be invited along to have a look around (and make a mental shopping list), and be able to meet some of the designers behind the products that make Handmade Boutique a such a champion of Independent trade.

Ceramics designer Jade Devall was on hand to tell me all about her collection, which is full of quirky, vintage inspired illustrations. I loved the Ice Cream Van design with the touching funny caption about the music playing only if the van has ran out of ice cream. Jade explained her mom used to say that when she was young and it is something she remembered. Jade also upcycles the sorts of glass milk bottles with straws that I remember from infant schools, these are just an amazing idea for summer parties and weddings, a cute change from an ordinary glasses.

Serendipity Candles makes a welcome return, using vintage china and glass to create exquisite candles. I also fell in love with the cake stands, created from vintage (and sometimes mismatched) plates and bowls that would just make a perfect centrepiece for afternoon high tea, so much so that MPW in The Cube is currently using these for their own afternoon teas.

Another new addition that I was instantly drawn to was Caramel Designs. A range of stunning, Cath Kidston style tote bags and glamorous evening clutches, Caramel Designs are simply wonderful and great for all ages. I think the quirky print totes would make fabulous back to school bags for fashion concious teenagers.

There are just so many beautiful and desirable items on sale at the Handmade Boutique, I would totally recommend a visit, I dare you to leave empty handed.

A few more of my favourite things from…

Miss Pitchy Patchy

Tigerlily makes

Kirsty M designs

Sew Moloney

Black Acres Soap Pantry

Agnes and Norman – Gorgeous Vintage style shoes in Birmingham

Do you remember how shoes used to be? Before the endless parade of platform heels, ultra wedges and flatforms? When shoes were a work of art, created by hand, in the softest of leather? Well, a new shoe boutique has opened in Birmingham’s most beautiful shopping arcade, and is turning the clock back in terms of shoe design. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to Agnes and Norman, now open in Great Western Arcade.

The boutique is the first to be opened by award winning Birmingham designer Rachel Simpson.  It is split into three showrooms, with a focus on classically beautiful, vintage style ladieswear, menswear that are classic and quirky in equal measures, and a bridal boutique filled with shoes to compliment every type of wedding dress. The store itself both compliments the vintage feel of the shoes, and the Great Western Arcade, a Victorian treasure in the heart of the city.

Audrey £135 click to visit Agnes and Norman

Betsy £140 click to visit Agnes and Norman

Agnes and Norman shoes combine the best of design from the past with the best of shoes now. So you get 1950s style peep toes in this years hot coral shade, or the 1920s ribbon tie design of Audrey, a shoe you would expert to be in black patent, instead in the softest of grey suede. Agnes and Norman is creating the modern classics, and to do that, sometimes you have to turn the rules on their head.

Claudia £155 click to visit Agnes and Norman

Choosing favourites from such a gorgeous collection is difficult, but as a fan of t-bar style shoes and Mary Janes, I have my eye on two very lovely designs. The Daisy shoes are mustard, which makes them a must for me, whilst the Art Deco fan on the front of the delightfully named Elsie’s appeal to my 1920s loving sensibilities.

Daisy £135 click to visit Agnes and Norman

Elsie £150 click to visit Agnes and Norman

 

You can visit the Agnes and Norman boutique at;

18 Great Western Arcade, Colmore Row
Birmingham B2 5HU

Phone: 0121 236 6924