Thursday, 11 September 2014

Lady Crimplene

Nylon, polyester, dralon, velour, viscose and crimplene. Whatever happened to manmade fibres? Not that I have any nostalgic attachment to those jumpers that used to make sparks fly off the end of your nose, and your hair stand on end, when taking them off. But the names hark back to that mythical rose-tinted 'midcentury' world that many of us grew up in; in houses, furnished in G-Plan and Ercol, with avocado bathroom suites, Rediffusion TV, Tretchikoffs on the wall, and formica everywhere. Helen Desai, otherwise known as Lady Crimplene, has recreated this world at her 1930s semi on Patterson Road, just behind the former cinema. Helen and husband Steve, have lived on this friendly street since 1996, but the collecting of all things vintage goes back even further. A Dansette record player, a set of flying ducks and a boat shaped cocktail bar were among the first things she bought, and the collection keeps growing. Much is found locally at the shops on Church Road, but friends are forever contributing items too. However, it was in the wardrobe that collecting almost got out of hand, so much so that in 2010, Helen launched a vintage clothing boutique from her spare bedroom. The name, Lady Crimplene, goes back to her DJ days while at fashion college in Epsom. It was the perfect name for her venture, and comes with it's own cartoon logo image drawn by a friend, long ago. Currently the 'shop' only opens a few times a year, although you may have also caught her earlier this summer at the Overground Festival's 'Vintage up the Palace'. All has to be fitted round the day job, which for Helen, is Art Editor on You Magazine, while husband Steve is a Painter & Decorator. The long term goal however is to run the clothing business full-time, and make the home pay its way as a location for film-makers and photographers. And film is close to Helen's heart, overlooked as her home is by the brooding hulk of the former Rialto Cinema. She, like the rest of us would love to be able to walk around the corner to a local picture house. In the meantime, she has jokingly discussed with neighbours, the possibility of using the huge flank wall of the cinema building as a giant outdoor projection screen.
With autumn upon us, Helen is getting excited about Halloween. Pumpkins and other decorations will no doubt start making an appearance on Patterson Road shortly. But more importantly there are a couple of opportunities lined up, to rummage through the Crimplene wardrobe. At Christmas, Helen will be taking part in the vintage pop-up, upstairs at the Sparrowhawk Pub. But before that, on October 10th, is Penelope's Vintage Pitstop, an event in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support, being held at Goodliffe Hall on Highland Road.

Lady Crimplene

Lady Crimplene

You might also like Belle Coco & No.9 Crystal Palace Parade

These images originally appeared in Heart Home Magazine.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hollybush Stores

It's been almost 27 years since Raju and Daxita Patel took over the Hollybush Stores, coincidentally about the same length of time that the Shah brothers have been running their hardware shop, MacDonalds, around the corner. Their longevity in business here, is testament to their hard work, and the importance of such local stores. Hollybush had previously existed in the terrace of the same name opposite, but had moved to its current location under the previous owner. When the Patels arrived here from their previous premises in Chelsea, they inherited not only the shop, but also an invaluable member of staff, Susan Kieley, who is still there to this day. And in that time, not a huge amount else has changed. Generations of loyal customers continue to shop there, many of whom the Patels remember as children coming in with their parents. That sense of continuity is vital for the wellbeing of any community. Customers love the knowledgable service, and the fact that you can buy a couple of loose nails or picture hooks, rather than a box full.
One of the things that has changed, is that due to the popularity of double glazing, sales of gas fires, which used to be a big part of the business, have now evaporated. It's to be hoped that businesses such as Hollybush and MacDonalds, continue to thrive, and don't go the way of gas fires. Use them or lose them!

Raju Patel behind the counter

Daxita & Raju Patel

24-28 Westow Street
020 8653 1258

Thursday, 14 August 2014

MacDonalds (Palace Home & Hardware)

There used to be two MacDonalds in Crystal Palace, and it perhaps came as a surprise to many when the global fast food outlet closed down a few years ago. However, it's great to see the hardware shop of the same name, continuing to thrive.
Many of the posts on this blog have reflected an area which is fast changing. We've seen the opening of wonderful new delis and restaurants, super-cool cafes within vintage stores, vintage stores within pubs,  pubs brought up to date, and even homes, both new, and the most unusual of conversions. But in the rush to 'improve', let's not lose the elements that keep this a functioning town centre. There are parts of London where you can buy designer clothing, Italian furniture and Porsches, but it's almost impossible to buy a pint of milk, let alone mop buckets, ant killer, light bulbs and pyrex ovenware. So I figured it was time to champion the unglamorous world of hardware. In a two part post, next week I will feature Hollybush Stores, but this week we are starting at MacDonalds.
Before the present building at 57 Westow Hill was erected, some may remember the site was apparently a used car lot. Presumably it had been a bomb site since the war. The new building first housed a freezer shop, before becoming a homewards and furniture shop, under the name JR Homecare. Then in 1987, brothers Yogi and Tino Shah took over, and for the last 27 years have run it as MacDonalds. The name followed the brothers from their previous premises in North London. The shop is an extraordinary Aladdin's cave, it's like the internet in physical form. You can buy almost anything, and if they don't have it in stock, they can get it for you. Shops like this may lack the scale, and parking possibilities of an out of town superstore, but actually you're much more likely, with the help of the knowledgable owners,  to find what you want, and at competitive prices. It's not only supermarkets that price check their goods. One of Yogi's biggest joys is when customers find just what they've been searching for, in his shop. And soon customers should be able to find even more, when their new website launches. (Currently under construction by Tim Sharville at Gunpowder Studios). Also coming in September will be a catalogue full of offers delivered to 13.5 thousand homes in the area. So next time you need  something to unblock drains, or put up shelves with, or a food processor, a tv aerial, garden twine, or superglue, or something you haven't even thought of yet, go and speak to Yogi and Tino, they're bound to be able to help!

Yogi Shah

57 Westow Street
020 8670 0696
Website (under construction)