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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Christmas Gifts: Ethical Fashion and Skincare Ideas

Amongst a sea of competing goodies I bring you my top selection of luxury ethical Christmas gift ideas from Bonbi Forest, Tout Nouveau, Liv, Dr. Hauschka, Pai Skincare and Savonnerie.

Written by Amelia Gregory

I have no idea how this fella’s haircut works. I don’t know what bit of hair is attached to what bit of scalp. But I do know that you and I and the whole of London will soon be sporting this very style upon our heads because this… chap… is… the guy from… DD/MM/YYYY, search and those guys play music better than other people.

DD/MM/YYYY at Old Blue Last

They also write music that is pretty much unreviewable. It’s not that they don’t ever sound like any other band, erectile but when you do clutch at a glimmer of sound overlap, that’s not where these mighty Canadians are coming from.
So here is a list of the irrelevant comparisons I thought I could hear: Deerhoof, but less songy. Battles, but more songy. Early Foals, but tighter and more complex. Six Finger Satellite, but less clownish. Boards Of Canada, blatantly… for about three seconds. Tortoise with charisma. Perry Farrell in the bath. Squarepusher with the munchies. Forward Russia having attacks of Chik Budo. Zoogz Rift puppeteering Purple Stag on the grave of Truly. Gong molesting The Mars Volta for the amusement of King Crimson.

DD/MM/YYYY at Old Blue Last

All of it completely irrelevant since, as I had been warned, DD/MM/YYYY have a “no-style” approach to music-craft. I didn’t believe it, but it’s not far off as a description. The one idea I did have which stuck was that the whole band was synchro-hallucinating Frank Zappa wielding conductor’s baton above the audience’s heads. And they have practised really hard for a million years. In the rhythm of N/N. Most of these songs seem to exist to prove how bouncably groovy any time signature can be. Higher maths. One tune calculated Pi to 1000000 decimal places. But it comes out more as autistic space-jazz than math rock. Almost every song is rhythm-based, there are no solos, not too many motifs even, just additions to the groove, and instrument-interplay key-changes. The drums dominate, followed by guitar detail and big fat synths. Solid basslines and the variety-guy (sax/spare snare and beaten-up crash cymbal) fill the rest of the space, with cartoonish zero-ego vocals sitting on top..
Enough analysis. How did I feel? Did it work? Well… I felt entranced. It worked stunningly well. Nobody knows what any of the songs were supposed to be about, but I was so deeply cuddled up in their slipper of sound, and amazed by how thoroughly well they chugged. There was no attempt to tug at a emotional heartstring, just to uplift your tantric verve with hypno-intensity and complex brain-shuffling. Like I said, they’re nearly unreviewable. Go and listen to them.

Hymns at Old Blue Last

Support on the night came from two equally noisy but quite different sources. Hymns are a very sharp two-piece (guitarist vs. drummer) from the midlands. Without any notion of enjoying themselves, they martyred themselves upon their instruments, in precise fits of religious agony. “More bile, please” chanted one reveller as a song came to an end. “May the Lord have mercy on your soul” came the answer for the next three minutes. These beautiful, but perfectly serious, joyless songs of Apocalypse rely on the vocals of the guitarist, who screams as convincingly and genuinely as I ever heard. He surely watches the Exorcist every night. No smile or thank you after a song, just a swig of beer and twang-brap-”Wrrrrraugh!” again. Well worth a pilgrimage to get preached at with enough vitriol to fuel a thousand Death Metal acts.

Hymns at Old Blue Last

Opening the night were Part Dinosaur, who are insanely ambitious and courageous, winning them my coveted “one-to-watch” medal. If you, like me, feel a deep sense of loss at the passing of Youthmovies, perhaps you used to be in Youthmovies or were touched by the music they made, you will want to follow the trajectory of Part Dinosaur. It’s the same approach to rocking out with neglected time signatures, dynamic changes and instruments filling each others’ gaps. I’ll review them properly someday. It wouldn’t be fair now, as they were a man down, and were a little plagued by techie trouble (an out-of-tune guitar/a broken monitor failing to guide a vocal part). But I will come back for them, and I know it will be good. A first-rate drummer commands the other fellas through a strangely sensitive landscape of out-of-nowhere jolty emotion. Attention to detail and a very obvious excitable rapture in playing interlocking segments of thrilling musical action define a band that is part dinosaur, part hope, all rock!

Part Dinosaur at Old Blue Last

Illustration by Timothy Hunt
Illustration by Timothy Hunt.

A couple of days ago *ahem, ask more like a week* I put a callout on twitter for people to send me their fabulous ideas for Christmas presents – here, finally is a round up of the best clothing and skincare gifts alongside some of my own recommendations. My second post will cover art, homewares and jewellery.

Bonbi Forest equus scarf

Lee May Foster of Bonbi Forest never fails to produce delightful stuff, my current favourite of which is this stunning Equus scarf, new just in time for Crimbo. It comes in either a pink or blue colour way and will certainly catch people’s attention with it’s lovely sustainably handprinted pattern of horses and zebras.

Natasha Rae Richardson hankie

At the upper end of the market check out this rabbit skeleton organic cotton hankie from Natalie Rae Richardson at Tout Nouveau, a website which offers the work of some fantastic emerging designers – perfect for a super stylish man to flourish when out and about.

Natasha Wood cardigan

I wish I had discovered ethical clothing designer Natasha Wood in time to include her in my book… but alas it is too late. These upcycled leather trousers are made from old leather jackets and above is her special two cardigans coatigan. Just fab.

Bradley Beanie Hat and Bow Brook Top by Maria del Carmen Smith
Bradley Beanie Hat and Bow Brook Top by Maria del Carmen Smith.

Continuing on an ethical clothing bent I really do love the simple good designs of Liv. I’ve been wearing her delightful Bow Brook top non stop this winter, and her Bradley knitted beanie is oh so cute. Liv works exclusively in fairtrade and organic materials. Better still she is running a wee Christmas competition – just join her on Facebook for the chance to win a lovely Shell Ford Cardi in her Berrrry Christmas competition. (but make sure you do it this morning as the offer ends at noon today)

Dr Hauschka bath care kit interior
Dr Hauschka bath care kit

Over on the beauty gift set side of life I recommend the Dr. Hauschka bath oils set – I am a real sucker for a hot steaming sweetly smelling bath and these smell just divine. A Bath Care Kit contains small starter versions of the oils and costs just £12.50. What a blooming’ bargain for the bath lover in your life. Dr. Hauschka is running a similar chance for a Facebook fan to win a beautiful make up set. Just join their Facebook page before noon.

Dr Hauschka rose tea

Many of Dr. Hauschka’s lotions make use of the wondrous properties of rose, and I particularly like the Rose Body Hamper Body Moisturiser Gift Set, which includes Organic Loose Tea with Rose Petals – since I started drinking black tea on it’s own I’ve discovered that rose tea is absolutely my favourite, yet it is still relatively hard to come by in your average supermarket, making this gift all the more special.

Pai serenity kit

As you can probably tell I am a big fan of a long luxurious bath, especially in this cold weather. Pai Skincare is another fabulous organic brand that has produced a bath care kit – and the Serenity Bath and Body Collection will go down a treat with anyone like me.

Savonnerie-Naughty Weekend Kit

For the lover in your life, there’s always the Savonnerie Ever So Slightly Naughty Weekend Kit. Why wait for the wedding anniversary or Valentine’s Day when you can drop a ginormous hint at Christmas? This boxed kit includes yummy Love Soak bath bits, Vetiver massage oil, a tender kissing glaze… and a blindfold and feather for a truly erotic experience. All this pleasure for both you and the recipient comes at a very reasonable price.

Savonnerie-soaps

Savonnerie specialises in high end hand made soaps encrusted with all sorts of delicious goodies, and their beautifully packaged luxury handmade soap box makes the perfect gift. They are based over in Brushfield Street near Spitalfields Market so if you live in London there is still plenty of time to go and visit them. Yum yum yum.

For fans of yummy skincare products there are plenty more Christmas gift suggestions in some of my previous blog posts about ethical beauty brands, so do go check them out. And you can check out the companion blog to this one, featuring art, jewellery and homeware ideas, right here. My best art books round up can be found here.

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