The sun is making longer appearances in the London sky, dresses on passers-by are going mini or maxi, terraces are filled from early afternoon and strawberries are starting to taste of strawberries. Whilst the sap is rising and everyone is in the mood for barbecues, Pimms and summer, I am day-dreaming of Christmas.
The C world is an all year one at Artisan. As soon as festive decorations come down, I meet our wholesale clients to debrief Christmas gone and generate ideas for the next one over a piece of Galette des Rois or King cake (a puff pastry tart filled with creamy almond paste and a feve or ceramic bean that, if found, allows you to be King or Queen for the day and possibly a visit to your dentist). My galette comes from Poilane on Elisabeth Street, even though their rebel version is filled with hazelnut creamy paste. To date I have never found the ceramic feve. My dream of being a princess or treated like one for a day will have to wait another year.
By Easter, our lovely but demanding wholesale clients have approved their Christmas products and I can concentrate on to creating the collection for Artisan du Chocolat. I am often asked how it starts. In truth the answer is never the same way twice. This year a wonderful musical tin box found at a business exhibition in Germany captivated me by its shape, its tune and sense of wonder it gave me even after a whole day walking around a soul-less convention centre.
I fell in love with the surreal self-portraits by a young Hungarian artist called Noell S Oszvald. Her melancholic pictures reminded me of the dark side of fairy tales and legends. Another piece of the inspiration puzzle came in the form of a watch of pink fabric printed in Japan by Kokka and featuring a detailed black and white line repeat pattern of Puss in Boots.
From Little Red Riding Hood to Scrooge to the very British pantomimes, fairy and folk tales always seem to make an appearance at Christmas, a time for gathering and story-telling (as well as eating and drinking too much in my case). Perhaps we have to thank the Brother Grimm for that (the tale, not the overindulging part). In 1812, 4 days before Christmas, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm presented Grimm's Fairy Tales: the first volume of 86 stories that they had accumulated for 20 years. That is dedication!Now that our conceptual collection captured by the mood board below is being formed in my mind and dreams (literally I do dream about chocolate), I can involve our chocolatiers, packaging suppliers and designers to make it a reality that you will hopefully enjoy 9 months down the line. This Once upon a Christmas collection will evolve, take a life of its own shaped along the way by other people inputs, technical constraints and serendipity.
By summer it will be time to show our mocked up collection to members of the press in what is known in the trade as Christmas in July, the equivalent of a Fashion Show for designers. And from then on the countdown, the dread and excitement really start.
Have a warm enchanted week, Miss Anne x