High street · Independent designers

Introducing…the House of Wonderland

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House of Wonderland online store

When it comes to shopping, I prefer to support locally owned smaller stores rather than the bigger chain companies where stores can be found all over the world. While larger chain stores like Primark, Topshop and River Island have a brand reputation, you don’t get the individuality and uniqueness from the products you get with a local business owner. I prefer to buy things that I feel suit my sense of style and would spend more for an item if it meant not walking down the street and one day realising another woman was wearing the same thing. This is most likely something you can avoid if you shopped in the smaller stores that offer limited availability of items.

As much as I’d like to claim the honour of having found this company, I must give due credit to my OH who knew about House of Wonderland through a friend of his who modelled items from the brand. The online store offers a wide variety of styles from tattoo-inspired pieces of jewellery (designed by tattoo artist Edward Staples from Den Of Iniquity Tattoo Parlour), to kawaii (which means ‘cute’ in Japanese, by the way) plush characters and printed accessories and other items like artwork and beauty products. Owner, Tessa Shearer creates her own limited edition prints and artwork while only stocking items from independent UK retailers.

If kawaii and tattoo-inspired products are not your thing, fear not! Whilst browsing through the store, I found quite a few different items in a range of styles that I believe would suit the varied style preferences of women, and men alike. I have tried to do this by pairing cities, or countries, with items that I felt most suited the theme I’ve chosen for each of the House of Wonderland products that caught my eye.

All Things Kawaii

The term ‘kawaii’ is Japanese for “lovable”, “cute”, or “adorable” and originated from the culture which brought us anime and Harajuku fashion. I remember most watching films by Hayao Miyazaki like Totoro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa (or Castle in the Sky) and Kiki’s Delivery Service among other anime films. To finally visit Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo was a dream come true for me, as I’m sure it would be, if you could see the place where Miyazaki brought all the anime characters I watched on TV come to life.

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Locations: Studio Ghibli, Mitaka, Tokyo (L) and Harajuku, Shibuya, Tokyo (R)

1. Bronze Hello Kitty bracelet, £1.34, LuckyJewelryBar 2. Dangling happy pill earrings, £5, House of Wonderland 3. Kitty Thief iPhone 4/4S case, US$39.99 (approx. £26.20), Tokidoki 4. Liberty x Hello Kitty Felicite fat quarter, £8.24, lilymeru 5. Mint Chip Tee, US$24 (approx. £15.73), Tokidoki

Feminine Grace

Whether you like shopping in premier designer stores, or like to wear dresses and feel feminine, girls like to shop for pretty things that make us feel good about ourselves and compliment our body shape. We like to occasionally treat ourselves to things that make us look good that also sets us apart from other girls, to show our sense of style and also get inspiration from others. Whether it be a new dress, shoes, jewellery or an accessory, it’s what we do with it that enhances our image to others and projects our individual style to others. Where better to go than the fashion capitals of Milan and Paris to experience a little magic wonder of Europe while gaining inspiration from the fashion of every day women?

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Locations: Duomo, Milan (L) and Paris (R)

1. Homemade Chanel Chance Bath Salts, £1.50, House of Wonderland 2. Make A Wish gold wishbone necklace, £8.74, handmadedezigns 3. Red Or Dead Lindy Hop peach glitter heels, £68, Schuh 4. Flower stud earrings, £4, House of Wonderland 5. Sleeveless lace pleated skirt chiffon dress, £9.99, imhappyus

Whimsical Wonderland

My favourite quote from Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland is from the Mad Hatter: “You used to be much more…’muchier’. You’ve lost your muchness.” No matter which stage in life you are at, a little bit of whimsy and fun helps keep your youthfulness in mind and spirit. When you’re a child, everything in the world seems to simple, until you come to exams, University choices and employment where stressors are everywhere in life. We all need a little ‘muchness’ in life to help deal with the pesky details and have the courage to admit to our interests when faced with ridicule from others. Alice in Wonderland reminds us that we meet different personalities in our lives and sometimes it’s a matter of accepting the diversity instead of discriminating it. Embrace your inner self with all your individual desires and interests even if it doesn’t follow the norm and be reminded that sometimes seeing the world in a simple way brings forth quite a bit of insight.

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Locations: Edinburgh (L) and Central Park, New York (R)

1. Irregular Choice Cortesan Sali floral court high heels, now £49.99, Schuh 2. Vintage 1950s purple flared rockabilly dress, £164.77, jessjamesjake 3. Vintage pocket watch, £3.36, luckyvicky 4. Alice In Wonderland charm bracelet, £12, VenicheDesigns 5. ‘Eat Me’ stud earrings, £5, House of Wonderland

Tattoo Inspired

The tradition of tattoos dates back to Neolithic times for various purposes including: healing/medicinal, protection, religious affiliation, marking status and rank, or rite of passage, cosmetic as well as commemoration of an event or person. In Western countries this is mainly used as to commemorate an event, such as sailors serving time on a vessel, Marines and members of the Army marking time spent serving their country, and has been made popular through reality TV series Miami Ink and LA Ink, whereas traditional Samoan tattoos were a rite of passage, mainly for men. Traditionally in Hong Kong, only members of a gang (or a triad) had tattoos as a mark of their brotherhood and a visual way of intimidating the general public. Although it is now slightly more common to see men and women displaying their tattoos, some generations still view having a tattoo as a negative mark on the body that instills fear. Personally, each tattoo has a personal meaning to the person wearing this badge of honour and given the time to speak of each and every one the person has marked on their body, you’ll find you’ll get to know that person quite well, quite quickly.

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Locations: High Voltage Tattoo Studio, Los Angeles CA (L) and Miami Ink Tattoo Studio, South Beach, Miami FL (R)

1. Til death day of the dead tattoo wedding invitations, £12, VickiliciousDesigns 2. Ed Hardy ‘Love Dies Hard’ tee,
£19.99, pennytopounds 3. Iron Fist Shotgun Siesta Skull T-bar high heels, now £44.99, Schuh 4. Silver Edward Staples skull tattoo necklace, £7, House of Wonderland 5. White Heartbreaker tattoo sleeve onesie, £15.47, Thetattoodtyke

Superhero Worship

From comic books to TV shows and coined phrases like “Good thinking, Batman!”, what’s not to like about superheroes? In a world full of corruption and crime, we all like to believe at one point or another that there truly is an altruistic individual who anonymously saves other people. Haven’t we all wondered or completed quizzes at some point in our lives what our superhero powers would be if we did have them? While completely innocuous and provides us with some form of entertainment, it still resides in our minds that in reality, there is the division of the good guys and the bad guys. Children are taught at a young age to choose right from wrong and as adults, reliving those childhood memories like you would with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, does it not give us some form of pleasure? Do we not at times want to be seen as a superhero in the innocent eyes of a child?

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Locations: New York City (L) and London (R)

1. ‘I Only Date Heroes’ Vintage Over Sized Heather Weekend Tee, US$16 (approx. £10.48), Junk Food Clothing 2. Hello Kitty Batman and Robin vinyl decals, £5.72, UniqueGraphix 3. 6″x4″ Batman Up-Cycled Art Print, £5, House of Wonderland 4. Superman Comic Black and Grey Wide Infinity Scarf, £16.81, RebelDowntown 5. Made to Order Wonder Woman Comic Book Heels, from £47.08, custombykylee

Wanderlust

Almost everyone enjoys travelling, to see the world, to experience new cultures, learn new languages and enjoy great food and shopping local delicacies and products you won’t find anywhere else. Travelling the world expands your knowledge of how other people live, how their past histories differ from your own home country and oftentimes you develop friendships in the most unlikely places. My fondest memories are of the quietly polite yet technologically advanced and culture-rich Japan, fashion-forward with historical architecture and the warm-hearted people of Italy who embraced me as one of their own for learning their language, the fascinating art and architecture of Gaudi and highly hospitable people of Spain, and the fondest of all, the friendly people full of sardonic humour laced with the varied accents of Scotland. I’ve been in the country for 5 years and although many countries are not aware of its geographical location (it’s a separate country in its own right to the north of England, the top hat to the gentleman so to speak) and believe it to be a region of England, yet it’s culturally rich (who can forget the kilts?) and the Scots brogue endears you to the majority of the population.

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Locations: Egypt (L) and Texas (R)

1. Personalized leather passport holder, £29.59, Loft852 2. 80s Red women’s FRYE cowboy boots, £65.91, SpunkVintage 3. Vintage floral travel weekend bag, £46.39, FiregypsyVintage 4. Vintage map heart earrings, £5, House of Wonderland 5. TRAVEL THE WORLD vintage brass locket necklace, £23.20, plasticouture

Which House of Wonderland item was your favourite? Which category do you most identify with?

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