Category: Harvey Nichols


I hated that, just as we had broken up from school for the long summer holiday, the stores started their ‘back to school’ promotions. This year the stores were full of it even before the kids had broken up. The promotions in the big super markets are pretty basic, just rows of stuff you need and cheap uniforms for school. Not at all inspiring.

But Harvey Nichol’s has really gone to town on it. Though I’m a bit confused about which schools use Harvey Nick’s fashion departments to provide their students with uniforms. Their sweaters are a bit too pricey to be used for goal posts at a break time game of footie.

Harvey Nicks do wonderful windows and we look forward to seeing a new one. Other stores have a ‘here’s what we want to flog to you now’ approach to their displays. But Harvey Nicks is different. It’s ‘here’s a fabulous display and, if you look closely, you might actually see something you like that we sell in the store’ approach.

Here’s their back to school display. The girl mannequins have a ‘sixth form @ St. Trinians’ look to them while the boy mannequins look like the cool, bad boy that all the girls fancied. The teacher looks dumb. I like the outsize stationary. Enjoy…

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I’d done a couple of hours at work and then we met up in Manchester for lunch. After enjoying our discovery of The Whisky Shop, we headed for Harvey Nichols for a pre-lunch cocktail. I thought we might be the first ones there but when we arrived at about 12, there were already some people in their enjoying their cocktails after a hard morning’s retail therapy, those shoes won’t buy themselves! I had a Marmalade Cocktail. It was made of marmalade flavoured vodka, Campari, lemon juice, Cointreau and soda over ice. It was delicious. For those readers away from the UK or an anglophile country, Marmalade is a kind of orange flavoured jam (jelly in the US) that we like to spread on out toast at breakfast. Because it’s sold in jam jars, my cocktail arrived in a jam jar as well. Either that or Harvey Nichols are letting their standards slip badly.

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Harvey Nichols is noted for its wonderful windows that are always a treat to pass. The idea as shopping as theatre goes on inside as well. We passed through the menswear department where I spotted these wonderful, crystal encrusted crash helmets on the mannequins displaying the clothes.

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We didn’t have lunch at Harvey Nichols. Instead we headed for the Albert Square Chop House in a corner of Albert Square coincidently. It’s the latest in a small chain of chop houses that operates in the city that sells wonderful English food, beautifully presented and fine wines and delicious beers. There’s Mr. Thomas’s Chop House on Cross Street, Sam’s Chop House on Chapel Walk and now the Albert Square Chop House on the square facing the magnificent Town Hall. There’s another one in Leeds over the hills in Yorkshire as well

The building is an interesting one. It used to be called the Memorial Hall and was commissioned by a Victorian industrialist who had been on a trip to Venice and had seen the Ca’d’Oro (House of Gold) on the Grand Canal and thought it was perfect for this corner of Albert Square, The mixture of brick and stone, the different colours in the stones around the windows and the pointed arches are typically Venetian and the style is called Venetian Gothic. It was originally a meeting place and offices. In the 20th century part was turned into a Kardomah Café where nice Manchester ladies wearing hats and gloves (think the Women’s Institute does Madmen) met for coffee and cake while being serenaded by a string quartet.

Sadly that classy café closed and it was converted into a pub called the Square Albert. It was unpopular and closed down. The building was left for nearly a decade and parts of the intricate carving began to fall off. Luckily it was taken over by the present company who restored the building and turned it into this popular restaurant and watering hole. This is the exterior…

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They have a terrace outside which is popular on sunny days…

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Upstairs is the bar where you can eat as well…

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We were in the basement restaurant which is actually flooded with daylight. The upper floors have dining rooms and they are going to turn the rest of the building into a boutique hotel….

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The food was delicious. We just had 2 courses. I had Ham Hock and Parsley Terrine with Mustard Piccalilli. It was delicious..

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For my main course I had Salmon Fishcake with Tartare Sauce and (because we are in the north of England but in it’s trendiest city) a Quenelle of Mushy Peas….

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Check their website…

http://albertsquarechophouse.com/

It’s a busy weekend in Manchester with a lot going on. England playing Australia at cricket in the Ashes match at Old Trafford. Sunday is the Sky Ride, a big cycle ride though the city, hopefully avoiding the Old Trafford area. The Jazz Festival is still going on in Albert Square and the Dig The City Urban Garden Festival is in full swing across the city centre.

As a voluntary worker on the festival, I’m happy to do whatever they throw at me, though watering all 70 trees in Exchange Square one bucket at a time is vital but tedious. I’ve only ever crossed Exchange Square with nothing heavier than a Selfridge’s or Harvey Nichol’s carrier bag. 70 trips across it with two little green buckets sloshing water and you begin to realise  how badly designed that square is for that purpose! But the trees do look cool.

The Holy Grail of working on this show has been to get to work on one of the show gardens on New Cathedral Street. On Friday evening I was asked to help out on one of them. The Green & Wood Garden at the end of New Cathedral Street that faces into St Ann’s Square. I was delighted to go down and help where they were doing the planting up of the garden. In a show garden all the plants are kept in their pots and then the pots are covered with some kind of medium that hides them giving the impression that they are growing from the earth. In shows like Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace and Tatton, marks are knocked off for any pot that an be seen. One pot on show and bang goes your gold medal and you’re looking at silver. As the designer, Jo Wood, is using this event as a tester for a possible garden at Tatton next year, it was important that we get it right. Working partner, Shaun, did all the hard landscaping that Jo had designed. My job was to make sure that all the plants were surrounded by bark and no pots were on show. We worked late into the evening and ended up having a little pizza and beer picnic on New Cathedral Street where, by then, we felt quite at home in our garden.

Jo’s idea for the garden was that it was a garden for a young couple who had set up home in Manchester. They had managed to get on the property ladder and had a little space behind their home or a terrace or courtyard that needed to be gardened. New houses in Manchester tend to have tiny gardens as land prices are so expensive, if you want a large garden in a nice part of town you are looking at silly money. The hypothetical couple like to entertain and are time poor so they need a garden that, mostly, looks after itself. Jo’s beautiful garden, here in high summer mode, is the answer.  Jo did the design and planting and Sean did all the hard landscaping and the water features.

I think it is beautiful, I loved combination of the orange and purple flowers. I liked how it all made the most of the space and it was easy maintenance. The vertical herb garden was a clever idea and the water feature was cool. The seating lights up at night. We have had many great comments. During my time doing the bark I was able to identify most of the plants being used and was enthusiastic about what was being created. So I was asked to work on the garden for some of the next week. I get to water the plants and keep them in good fettle and get to chat to the passers by about the garden. Check out their website….

http://www.greenandwood.co.uk/

We are working our way along New Cathedral Street  and have sampled the delights on the pop up Malaysian restaurant next door (Ning ~ they have a permanent restaurant in the N4) and have got as far of the gin bar where we enjoyed strawberry flavoured gin & tonics. By the end of the week we expect to have got as far as Harvey Nichol’s Champagne Bar. You can see why I like living in Manchester….

Enjoy the pictures of us setting up and the finished garden…

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The Harvey Nichols department store on New Cathedral Street has unveiled its Christmas windows. As usual they are clever, witty and colourful. They have gone for a Chinese theme this year. Half is done in jade green, the other half in deep Chinese reds and pinks. There are lots of Chinese references, huge lanterns and fans and the like. The Christmas feel comes from the colours and the abundance of it all. What I like about Harvey Nichols is that the design of the windows comes first and what they are selling comes second. Other stores seem to design their windows around what they are selling. Harvey Nichols’ windows are a work of art designed to stop you in your tracks and make you gasp in wonder. This they do well. I can’t imagine any of the other big stores bettering them this year. They should all learn from them.

Once I actually go over the wonderfulness of the windows and actually looked at what was on sale I liked the purple sweater and tie on one of the mannequins  They might go on my list for Father Christmas. Or something similar. Nice colour to wear at Christmas and New Year parties. Whether I team them with a white, blond Mohican tipped with lime green, not to mention the lime green eyebrows, remains to be seen. But if I do, Manchester is a city that wouldn’t turn a hair if I did.


 Sorry about the quality of the pictures. It was bright sunshine and the sun was bouncing about New Cathedral Street off the huge windows of the stores that line it. So you get the Selfridge’s store reflected in Harvey Nick’s windows.

I’m not sure what Selfridge’s are doing for Christmas. They are the other big, expensive department store at the end of New Cathedral Street. They have huge windows facing Exchange Square, it’s a huge sheet of  glass really, but they don’t seem to do anything dramatic with them. At the moment they are celebrating the 175th anniversary of Tiffany’s & Co. this will be the New York store I guess and not the one in Selfridge’s. It looks a bit like Christmassy I suppose but not in the same league as Harvey Nichol’s. 

I bumped into a friend from ASDA in Manchester city centre. I was in Albert Square checking out the last weekend of the Manchester Food & Drink Festival when I met Louise, who works in the personnel department looking after all the people who work in the store. She was with her husband Paul, and they were in the city to celebrate her birthday. They were going to have some lunch and then go shopping for a birthday present. Louise is fond of Tiffany’s, she’s my kind of girl! We chatted for a while and then they went off to explore.

An hour later, just after I’d videoed Matty and Matt, I ran into them again at the bottom end of Market Street, where the tram station is and the street opens into Piccadilly Gardens. We chatted again and I asked if they had decided where to have the birthday lunch. They hadn’t. They know the main bits of the city centre but, being from out of town, they don’t know all the little places in the back streets.

They had never wandered into the N4 before so I took them down Thomas Street pointing out various places where they might have some lunch. We decided to go for a drink so I took them to TROF N4 which, as people who read this regularly know, is my favourite bar in the N4. It was busy and buzzy with the trendy, coolly beautiful denizens of the N4 out in force having some lunch and a drink and chatting with their coolly, beautiful friends. The atmosphere was good. The town where Louise and Paul live has a bar culture as well but the bars are full of scally and chav types who are bent on getting drunk as soon as possible and the best thing you can expect in the food line is one of those dreadful kebabs made from reconstituted meat that can only be faced having had about 10 pints of strong beer beforehand. Louise and Paul liked to relaxed atmosphere of TROF and the N4 generally.

We talked more about where Louise might enjoy her birthday lunch. I thought she might like a grander restaurant to the ones along Thomas Street so we finished off our drinks and I took them to King Street. Its only 5 minutes for the N4 but, lined with the grand Victorian commercial buildings of Cottonopolis, it feels like a very different city from the cool, chaos found in the N4.

I showed them Rio Ferdinand’s restaurant, ROSSO, beloved of the would be football WAGS of the city with their orange tans, tiny dresses, clunky gold jewellery and big hair. The guys are the same but substitute tight trousers that show off their gym honed butts instead of the dresses. Then we crossed the street and looked in Jamie’s Italian, spiritual home of the middle class Didsbury set but, on Saturday afternoon, something of a family restaurant with a scattering of people from out of town looking slightly overawed by the grand setting they are in and the ease that middle class Manchester exhibits when they get together in a social setting, the women and girls in Kath Kidston, the guys in preppy Brook’s Brothers weekend casuals. Further along the street, Louise didn’t want to experience Parisian rudeness and and the limited menu of La Relais de Venise.

We wandered along through the shops of King Street and looked at Brazilian buffet restaurant, Bem Brasil, and then onto Sir. Alex Ferguson’s favourite  restaurant in the city, Italian  San Carlo. Paul is a Manchester United fan and, as they weren’t playing that day, it might be that he would be in there having a vanilla pannacotta with Lady F. 

I wanted to buy Louise a birthday drink  so I suggested a trip to Harvey Nichol’s cocktail bar. Louise liked that idea a lot so we went. She wondered what to have and could I suggest anything? I said I liked their mojitos. She’d never had one so she ordered one. It went down well. Mr. Mojito is now Louise’s new best friend. I ordered a Mai Tai which they do really well and Paul had a trendy, Peroni beer. 

 

We got talking to a couple at the next table. A very rich looking elderly gentleman and his much younger, beautiful, blond, Russian wife. Not sure what was going on there but they were very nice and we swapped sips of cocktails as you do.

Mr. Mojito, Louise’s new best friend.

My Mai Tai.

If you want to learn how to mix cocktails, Harvey Nichols style, they have classes you can join. My kind of lesson….

http://www.harveynichols.com/hnedit/food-and-wine/whats-on-food-wine/second-floor-manchester-whats-on/cocktail-master-classes-3/

Louise decided that she wanted to try Bem Brasil for her lunch and I got invited along. That was kind. Its a good place. You are seated and then directed to the salad and vegetable bar to choose your food. You can go as often as you like. You are give little discs, green on one side, red on the other. While the green side is up, Brazilian waiters (mostly students at the university earning some extra money) come round and carve slices of BBQed meats that are cooked on a huge BBQ at one end of the restaurant. Meanwhile, little trolleys make their way around the restaurant fixing cocktails at your table. Louise had another visit form Mr. Mojito. The restaurant went down well. They have this one behind Kendal’s off Deansgate, another in the N4 and they have one now in Liverpool.

http://www.bembrasilrestaurants.com/bar_and_restaurants.php

They never did get to Tiffany’s…..

Harvey Nichols have done their windows for the Spring. They were full of frosted flowers and looked pretty. Harvey Nichols seem to want us all to wear blocks of bright colours this spring which, I am told, is bang on trend. This I can do as I like bright colours. What I’m not prepared to wear are those tight, long Capri pants that stop just above the ankle exposing just too much sock or bare ankle. I can see them going down well in some of the trendy hair salons in the city and on warm nights on Canal Street but apart from that, NO!

The city is gearing up for Christmas. Manchester likes to make a big deal of it. And they do it well. The atmosphere in the city is wonderful in the weeks running up to the actual day with the markets and all the celebrations and the like. And it is very important to the economy of the city with the money being invested in the celebrations bringing much more back into the local economy as people arrive from all over the country by the train and bus load to enjoy the city.

Harvey Nichols has already putup its Chrisytmas windows, They have gone for a white, blue and silver look this year. Quite restrained if you remember last years riot of colourful tinsel. I first I thought they hadn’t finished them. There were plastic bags of broken, polystyrene snowflakes lying about in he display. But I gradually saw the wit in the display. The bags wee intentional ans there were little men made of scrunched up plastic climbing through the display and axes everywhere, including axes made of ice. One of the mannequins looked as if she had fallen over but that was intentional as well. It all made me smile. They do put a lot of effort into their displays and they are always worth a visit.

It seems that I’m to dye my hair white blond this year and then comb some electric blue through it and then dust it with diamond glitter. Well maybe! I do like the scarf that the guy mannequin is wearing though. I will have to write to Father Christmas.

Dear Father Christmas,

I have been a VERY, VERY good boy this year. The other day I was passing Harvey Nichols and I saw…….

I was trying to get around to photograph the latest windows in Harvey Nichols. They always do such a good job. Last Tuesday I thought I’d lost my chance as I was certain that the store would come under attack. It did, but it was the side windows not the beautifully dressed ones on New Cathedral Street.

The windows on New Cathedral Street were as they were on Monday before the trouble except this had been added to the doors.

Back to the actual windows. There seemed be a a recycling thing going on in these windows which is a bit strange given that Harvey Nichols, wonderful though I think it is, it a store dedicated to conspicuous consumption. One window had a ‘back to school’ thing about it using books. But only if the school you were back to was the like of Eton or Bedales.

Another window had a huge tree made of pencils as if the pencils that had been made from the tree, had come back together to restore the tree they had come from. I liked this. They have used the kind of pencils that kids use in schools in England, the cool ones with the little rubber (eraser for American readers) at the end to getting rid of your mistakes.

In another window the clothes were displayed as if they were drying on a washing line. They had created a gown out of old fashioned wooden clothes pegs that we use to hang out washing to dry.

A bicycle had been made out of old spanners.

In another window the , in their expensive designer clothes were draped over a huge hammer which, in true Harvey Nichols style, was covered in sequins.

Harvey Nichols have done their windows again. I think we were spoilt by the over the top Christmas windows and the ones with all the funky wild animals that was there in the autumn. This set of windows is a understated and tasteful but I was underwhelmed by them. I like the pieces of knotted wood that curve through the windows and come out onto the canopy above the entrance. It seems that. by looking at the mannequins in the window, that I will have to spend the summer with bits of wood and feathers in my hair and paint my face like a budgerigar!

Meanwhile, across New Cathedral Street, Selfridges had this in their window! What can I say?

Harvey Nichols have none of the problems of Selfridges when it comes to windows where they can do eye-catching displays. This is their latest. It’s full of weird furniture  you can’t use all piled up together and nice clothes. It’s OK but a little tame after the OTT Christmas display with music and the wonderful one they had with the animals earlier last year. Maybe they will get back into form with their summer display? Check out the category, Harvey Nichols, to see their previous displays.