FT: How To Spend It

August 2010

FT: How To Spend It

E-cquisitions: For the click-witted,
by Dominic Lutyens.

As its name suggests, ShopCurious is the online equivalent of "ye olde curiosity shoppe". Filled with often unique, quirky and sometimes downright bizarre curios, it’s the prefect site for those who couldn’t be wallflowers if they tried. Founder Susan Muncey is a Cambridge geography graduate – which, she says, “possibly explains my eclectic taste and interest in collecting and curating unusual things from all over the world” – and a former City investment manager, who doesn’t know the meaning of dressing down. And her site reflects her fearlessly flamboyant taste.

Neo-Victorian typefaces give it an aptly Dickensian charm, yet it’s clearly signposted with gift, homeware and fashion categories. Some items are vintage, others created by contemporary designers. Among the former are an eau-de-nil flapper’s Charleston dress (£580) and Lolita-style, heart shaped shades (£55). Every sort of retro-loving gent is catered for: the more classic dandy will surely crave a cream vintage silk scarf (£22.50), outright peacocks a suitcase emblazoned with a map of the Brighton coast (first picture, £425).

The homeware, old and new, is exotic, often Oriental. Take Cassandra Ellis’s sumptously pretty patchwork quilt incorporating fragments of vintage kimonos and Indian fabrics (£1,100); or a hand-carved stone box adorned with a wave reminiscent of Japanese artist Hokusai’s famous woodblock print (second picture, £85).

Muncey’s multilayered world becomes curiouser and curiouser as you continue delving, yielding perfect gifts for the unashamedly eccentric – from a “fashion designers” charm bracelet dripping with oval-shaped photos of Zandra Rhodes, Karl Lagerfeld et al (£44.20) to Caroline Perrin’s seaside-souvenir kitsch, shell-encrusted boxes (£750).