Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Designer Bicycles: Riding Our Way To A New Style Trend

Have you noticed the proliferation of cute push bikes around lately? Every designer and their dog is now sporting a smart bicycle. Or designing one for their fashion label. Or – if they can't be bothered dealing with the aerodynamic details – collaborating with others to design one.

The rest, meanwhile, are simply put a few in their store windows to up the 'cute factor' on the merchandising.

Even magazines such as Country Style Australia are pushing out their prettiest bikes to feature in glorious photo shoots of the countryside in spring and summer. (Top image from this month's issue; just out.)

Here are some 'style rides' that I've noticed lately. They've inspired my partner and I to get our bikes out every night and go for rides in the warm spring air. As Australia heads into summer and daylight savings gives us those extra hours, it's perfect weather for a peddle around the parks, paths and streets of the city, smelling the jasmine and eying off the architecture. Now if only our little dogs would just stay in the baskets...

Blair Eadie, showing that a cute bike can do double-duty as a great accessory. {}

Dolce & Gabbana's designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana love a bit of cycling through Italy, and so, for S/S 2012, they decided to design their own glamorous version of the classic two-wheeler, which they dubbed 'The Animalier'. Of course it had to be leopard print, the emblem of their style. What what makes this bike different is that the mechanics of the bike, as well as the style, are taken from the traditional artisan process: there are no gears, the wheel has 18 radii and the rear and head lights are pedal activated. There's also 24k gold gilding, a black bell with Dolce&Gabbana logo, and a black basket on the front. Now that's what I call a racy ride! {Via Dolce&Gabbana}

Ralph Lauren is never one to fall behind on a spinning trend, so he, too, has come up with a fashionable ride. Collaborating with Pashley, the long-established bicycle company, he's created the Tweed Run Bike which, as its name suggests is to commemorate the Rugby Ralph Lauren Tweed Run. Tweed Run, if you didn't know (because I certainly didn't) is a day event where participants dress up in vintage preppy attire and ride with their vintage bicycles. All very Ralph Lauren. RL and Pashley released 50 of these limited edition and custom-designed Pashley bikes at 2,200 pounds. That's a big price for a vintage-style bike, but – being limited edition RL – it's sure to be a collector's item.

Hermès. Shot at the Faubourg St-Honoré store before the security saw. (Not recommended.)

Le Meurice Hotel, Paris. Le Meurice has its own bike permanently parked outside. I love this. Where many hotels (particularly those in Asia) sport a Bentley or a vintage Rolls on their grand circular driveways, Le Meurice has a turquoise two-wheeler. I always thought the concierge used it to peddle down to the boulangerie for a baguette during his lunch break, but then a friend told me that it's a symbol of the free bikes the hotel gives to guests to ride around Paris for free. The hotel is directly opposite The Tuileries, so it's perfect, really.

See Paris from the back of a bike. It's a great way to explore the city and it's quite safe since the bike paths went down, although it does take some bravado as well. Day or night tours available. The night tours are so much fun. {}

The best way to see Nantucket island is on a bike. This is because all the tiny cobblestoned streets and side lanes, the waterfront piers, and the winding paths that meander through the countryside and down to the beaches are built for bike riding. I always hire a bike when I'm here. It's the best way to get around. Pure bliss. {}

Another gorgeous island to explore by bike. I loved seeing the Vineyard this way. This was taken at the house of my friends  Jill Katz and Scott Miller, who live in a far corner of the island. It was the most superb day imaginable the day I rode out there to visit them. {}

Hunter, the company famous for making luxe wellington for luxe prices, has released a video showing models gallivanting about on... bikes. I don't know about you, but I've always found it a bit awkward riding my bike in my wellies? Still, the video is very cute.

Lonchamp's 'Oh! My Bike!' commercial. Two models. Paris. A bike. Montmartre. Some steps. And snow. If anyone can tell me what this curious video is all about, I'd be happy.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine

Kate Spade has always been known for its cute factor. The sweet cardigans and polka-dot frocks are often recognisable in the New York streets, as well as in the Hamptons, where the 'preppy chic' look goes down like a lemon gelati. Well, now there's another reason to pop into Kate Spade stores for some girl-next-door-style sassiness, and it's this: the Kate Spade bike. A collaboration between KP and Adeline Adeline, it's outfitted in Kelly green and full of retro lines. It's become so popular that Shutters on the Beach Hotel in LA now rents them to guests so they can cycle down along the beach boardwalk to the Venice canals and back.

Lastly, this was one of my favorite cycling experiences ever. While shooting some beach houses on Tybee Island, a gorgeous little island full of Caribbean-style architecture off the coast of Savannah, a friend called Jane kindly loaned me her bike to get around. Apparently, they use them everywhere on Tybee, as the whole island is completely flat so it's made for cycling. They even use them to cycle to the pub/bistro on the river, because it's the easiest way to get home. (Although I must say, riding while drinking is not recommended, not even on the dark, deserted streets of little low-key Tybee. It took me an hour to ride home as I kept getting lost!) Smart people like Jane even have their bikes kitted out with drinks holder, which do double-duty as flower holders when it's too early to pour a Pimms. So clever.


  1. I've got one, so I've jumped on that trend already! Mine's a bit like the one in your "bike as hotel transport". It's blue, and has a basket. I got it for Christmas last year - I had never had my own brand new bike (always got my older sisters cast off), so my husband obviously grew sick of me always going on about it and got me one of my own. Brand new! Blue! just what I wanted (except about 30 years after first asking for it). xx

    1. I had a cornflower blue one too, but gave it to my mother as hers was getting old.

      Yours sound beautiful. And probably far better than mine. Adelaide is tailor-made for riding. Do you go out with your kids?

      I've since bought a white Schwinn (an American cruiser) with 20 (?) gears, but I have no idea how to use it. Should have a P plate on the back, really. xx

  2. Next time you're in Adelaide you should pop into The Classic Bicycle Shop in Pulteney Street (Mr. Library will know). Their stock looks like those gorgeous Pommie Pashley bikes & their motto is: 'No Lycra, No Problems!' Gotta love that!
    Millie xx

    1. I'll ask Mr Library (love the name) if he knows. The 'no lycra, no problems' motto made me laugh out loud.

      I may wait until morning before approaching hubster though because we had a tiff tonight. About Christmas. (Isn't it always the way?)


  3. I think it is the influence of Scott Schuman of "The Sartorialist". He is a keen photographer of people peddling their bikes.
    Can't believe you did not mention the Chanel bicycle, which has 3 quilted bags!
    Many happy memories of cycling the Wangaratta Rail Trail and along the St Kilda foreshore, some years ago. However, I find it so much easier to just go for a walk, so my bike is sitting neglected and unloved and collecting dust.

    1. Can't believe I forgot Chanel! Clearly preoccupied with a million things, as usual.

      Louis Vuitton's done a bike too, I think?

      The Wangaratta trail sounds fab. Have you done the Warburton Railway Line too? St Kilda is so much fun on a Sunday, isn't it? Albert Park Lake too.

      Don't worry. We'll organise a bike tour of Tuscany next! My neighbour suggested it. (He's a keen gardener, and a lovely man.) He said we should do a "Gardens and Food Tour' of Italy. Think we'd need the bikes to work it all off... xx

  4. Hmm...well if I looked as stylish as these characters above while riding a bike, rather than going wobbly wobbly down the street, I would be very happy. Still, they are great fun - a bit like sailing in a way, with no sound except for the swoosh of the wind rushing past.

    I smiled about the Christmas tiff. For an occasion which is supposed to be about happiness, the season often seems to bring more family drama than any other. So ironical!! xx

    1. Your comment made me laugh. These models would make my old cruiser look like a million $!

      I love the sound of the wind too. xx

  5. Janelle - I'm afraid I have lumbered you with a blog award Q & A.
    Feel free to ignore it!

    1. That's perfectly fine Tabs. Q&A away. Shall wait to hear. x


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