Journalists are often asked where the best places in the world are, be they boutiques, bars, bistros, hotels, hideaways, activities, unusual museums and galleries or just great little neighbourhoods to get lost in. I think this is because we're often the first to know of such places, thanks to the helpful PR companies that keep us up to date. But we also hear about these places from bloggers - who are surprisingly quick to find out about them - as well as those industry contacts who trawl the world in search of these aesthetic treasures, such as photographers, editors, architects, designers, stylists and store owners.
I believe it's important to share these insider's tips, because what goes around soon comes back, as the old Creative Karma rule advocates. If we share our favourite finds, then others will share in the pleasure of them, and may even return a few style secrets of their own. So, every Thursday, I'll post some of my favourite 'Style Sites'; places in the world I love visiting for their inspiration, insights, great products and gorgeous design. Here, to begin with, are my favourite fabric stores.
1. MOOD FABRICS, NEW YORK This store is so big I always have to persuade my partner to come with me so he can kindly hold the bolts while I browse the aisles! (Such a gentleman. Nothing says love like a man holding a houndstooth for his girlfriend.) It’s the most extraordinary space; three enormous levels filled to the roof with fabrics of every kind, and most are discounted. I often buy Ralph Lauren linens here, marked down from $200/yard to $12/yard. There are chiffons, shirt fabrics, pin stripes, upholstery fabrics and an entire row of linings. It’s so popular, the owner is opening an outpost in London in 2012. 225 West 37th Street, New York.
2. TISSUS REINE, PARIS Where else in the world can you buy gorgeous silk-taffeta for this cheap? Last time, I picked up six metres of Pompadour-pink silk for a handful of Euros, which was then swiftly sewn into Parisian-style curtains for our guest bedroom. Very French. (It was just a pity we didn’t have the parquetry floors, high ceilings and a balconied view of the Eiffel Tower to go with it.) Filled to the rafters with inspiring bolts and bits (or passementerie, as the French call it. Just lovely. 3-5 Place Saint Pierre, Montmartre, Paris.
3. ULTRAMOD This store, or mercerie as the French call it, is too marvellous for words. Apparently Jean-Paul Gaultier shops here and that’s credibility enough for me. If JP’s here mooching through the millinery, then I’m here too. The store dates from 1890 and is like stepping back in time to an old-fashioned haberdashery. Sweetly atmospheric. 14 Rue Monsigny, Paris.
4. CLOTH HOUSE, LONDON I found this place by accident one day while wandering through Soho and now try to visit whenever I’m in London. It’s a pretty little place with cute window displays and several rooms full of lovely linens, cottons and woollens. Just try to resist. 47 Berwick Street, Soho, London.