Sorry for the delay in posting... it has proved inordinately tricky to set up broadband here in the new house – even getting a landline has taken a fortnight. But on all other fronts it is great, and really energising, to be in Dublin.
I’m glad to report that the coffee situation here is looking seriously good. The Cake Café, off Camden Street, lives up to its excellent reputation. Hidden away in an unpromising alleyway, about five minutes’ walk from St Stephen’s Green, it’s pretty small but – in a spirit of optimism – has plenty of seats outside, sheltered by bamboo. You reach it by walking to the back of a stationery shop, Daintree’s, and then out through a tunnel of bamboo, like something out of a grown-up Harry Potter. With its home-baked bread, mis-matched crockery, black-and-white-tiled floor and shelves stacked with packets of flour, the cafe has the laidback, effortlessly cool vibe of Jones Dairy in Columbia Road. There are pretty fairy cakes in silver cases, huge slabs of brownie, great (double shot) coffees and a small selection of things you really want to eat for lunch: the day’s soup, tart or salad, plus a host of chunky sandwiches and hearty platefuls of Portugese sardines on toast, and hotpot. Well worth searching out.
Smock boutique continues to stock a fabulous edit, from Veronique Branquinho to Acne. The latter's short Pistol boots are a great staple for autumn/winter (the Acne online store is offering free postage this week), and the Zorah black dress epitomises the label's much-hyped wearable chic. There's a rail-load of Acne at Brown Thomas too, Dublin's finest, most glamorous department store. For many seasons now BT has catered purely for the super-rich, it seems – Lanvin, Gucci, Balmain – but new additions such as L'Agence, Thakoon, Isobel Marant Etoile, T by Alexander Wang (such gorgeous fabrics, such easy style, at Whistles prices!) and Carven offer a new layer of edge and wearability. Wang's current bag, the Darcy slouch hobo, is the best he's done yet, I reckon ($850 at shopbop.com, or around £547).
The stand-out collection in store right now, for me, is Paul & Joe. This label goes from strength to strength. Now healthy enough to advertise even in the most glossy of glossies, Paul & Joe have a strong a/w 2010 collection featuring the perfect little black dress in jersey, accentuated with a silver leaf (£465), a chic wool/cashmere coat, eccentric swan-print tops and a beautiful kimono-sleeved black and white print silk mini dress that makes a striking statement. They have teamed up with Pierre Cardin for a few pieces too.
Back on cardigan/coats for autumn (see post 5 August), M&S have come up trumps with a Rick Owens-esque long cardi with alpaca for around £50, plus a long waterfall cashmere cardi in grey or a latte colour for around £150. As usual with M&S these won't be easy to track down; though they're in the Dublin store right now they don't feature on the website. Their cashmere section is always worth a look, though.
Elsewhere, H&M have been doing a simple navy and red-striped Breton top for less than a tenner that nods to Marc Jacobs' bold stripes this season; it's worth rifling their chaotic store for.