Even London's hipsters are buzzing about the royal wedding
Even London's hipsters are excited about the royal wedding.
Or at least they are in Shoreditch, recommended to me by three separate people (a Canadian, an American and an Australian) as London's cool, hip, arty neighbourhood.
Located in the city's East End, Shoreditch is filled with design stores, quirky boutiques, vintage shops and edgy tattoo parlours. It's also filled with royal wedding souvenirs — but not the kind you're likely to find in your more, um, traditional tourist destinations.
In Maiden Shop, on busy Shoreditch High Street, for example, you can find a "Royal Rumble" tea towel, showing William and Kate's heads side by side as if they're on one of those old-school boxing posters.
The store has a life-sized cardboard cut-out of William and Kate, books about William's childhood, and lots of mugs and cups. It also sells paper plates celebrating Wills and Kate... but Kate Moss, the model, not Middleton.
"We wanted to get a lot of design-led, kind of tongue-in-cheek, playful Kate and William merchandise," said Maiden Shop owner Noah Crutchfield, who happens to be a big royals fan.
"I've always been of the mind that the royal family, as ambassadors of the U.K. and the Commonwealth, are worth their weight in gold," he said. Besides, he added, "it's my shop. If I really like an event, I'm going to feed into it in a positive way."
Down the street at the Corner Shop pub, owner Giovanna Hussain was checking out the "hip-hop Will and Kate" hanging in the window: Kate in shorts, big glasses and a giant gold necklace; William in tight cheetah pants and red high tops.
"This is very much a Shoreditch, quite trendy-looking, hip-hop kind of vibe," Hussain told me. "We thought that rather than having the original pictures, we'll have something that's not disrespectful but a bit more updated and people would look at it."
Over on Hanbury Street, you'll find the Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency, which looks more like a bike shop than an office space. (A woman actually came in asking if the bikes out front were for sale.) In one of its large windows, Wieden+Kennedy has created what it calls "a celebratory installation."
The drill? Sidle up to the booth. Strike "your most regal pose." Press the button. Rush to Facebook to see your photo. (Here's mine. Not terribly regal, I'm afraid. Also, it was really sunny and I didn't see there were actual crowns to pose with. I may have to return this weekend. Likely won't.) At least two people stopped to have their pictures taken as I was watching. Hundreds more have already done so.
Not to be outdone, the Albion agency, which shares building space with a pizza restaurant and an art gallery, has its own non-William and Kate T-shirt: a red or blue number reading "I'd rather be at Zara and Mike's" — a reference to the July wedding of William's cousin Zara Phillips to English rugby player Mike Tindall.
The T-shirts aren't meant to be mean, of course, just a way to point out that William and Kate's isn't the only royal wedding in town. (The T-shirts are for sale, with all proceeds going to charity.)
It's possible that I invented my very own walking tour today, what with my scurrying around the streets and alleys of Shoreditch to find quirky royal wedding souvenirs.
Along the way, everyone I met seemed to enjoy having found their own role in such a huge event, even if they weren't taking it too seriously.
Come Friday, I suspect many of them will be watching along with the rest of us.