Home Book editor Letter from the HTSI Editor: What’s on our Christmas wishlists?

Letter from the HTSI Editor: What’s on our Christmas wishlists?


It’s time to start thinking/All about Christmas shopping./Don’t stress. We have you.

For Christmas, I’m giving you a haiku—my contribution to the annual rush that accompanies the gift-giving frenzy. I promise you, somewhere in this 120-page issue, you’ll find inspiration for at least one gift. The HTSI The team has been compiling their Christmas wish lists for months to come up with ideas for everyone. I’ve put the giant terracotta pots suggested by Clare Coulson on my wishlist (in addition to stuff crammed on my own page) along with a Fair Isle knit from Old Stone Trade and maybe a pocket watch.

Elsewhere, Maria Fitzpatrick has rounded up the best advice on how to commission a portrait – because what better way to impress yourself on your loved ones than presenting them with a canvas of your face? Meanwhile, Nicola Moulton delves into the art of the perfume bottle and this year’s most beautiful bottles, as well as the best beauty oils.

The most beautiful perfume bottles of this year © Kristy Noble

Or maybe you fancy a classic car? Although I have only a fleeting interest in modern engines, there is something about the geometry of a vintage BMW 3.0 CS coupe, or the no-frills splendor of an Alfa Romeo 1750, that even I can to understand. Mark Gallivan has written a guide to what you need to know before buying your dream vehicle (“never get emotional about it”, for starters), while Julian Broad’s photographs of the vehicles assembled at the Goodwood Revival of this year are so beautiful that I hope they will one day become a full-fledged folio.

A classic Porsche 356 at Goodwood Revival

A classic Porsche 356 at Goodwood Revival © Julian Broad

Can’t afford to shell out for a real Ferrari? Maybe get a mini instead. Some 16 Hot Wheels models are sold every second and the line now includes more than 20,000 cars. Rory FH Smith delves into the phenomenon to find out what Mattel toys are that still bring out the kid in all of us.

Beatrice Hodgkin also focuses on the delights of childhood – in this case the books she reads to her sons and daughter. In a year in which we’ve lost giants of children’s literature, including Raymond Briggs and my beloved Shirley Hughes, Bea’s roundup of the next generation of writers and illustrators suggests names that might one day fill the shoes of these authors.

Parisian Chocolaterie À la Mère de Famille

Parisian chocolate factory To the Mother of the Family © Alexandre Guirkinger

Of course, some of you prefer feasts to gifts (I know my mother, who will be reading this, does). Alice Lascelles and Ajesh Patalay have selected things to digest from the Gift Guide. Ajesh also reflected on the custom of opting for dim sum instead of Christmas dinner: while he tries his hand at the dumplings, I think I’d rather eat the ones made at A Wong in London .

Old Stone Trade Fair Isle Knitwear

Old Stone Trade Fair Isle Knitwear © Maxwell Tomlinson

We also followed food writer Emiko Davies on the annual white truffle hunt that takes place around her husband’s hometown of San Miniato. Truffle hunting is a centuries-old geoculture now endangered by climate change. Emiko’s play is both a hymn to local rituals and traditions and a warning that this most celebrated luxury may one day disappear from its hills.

All that, and evening dresses. Cara Taylor makes her debut on HTSI‘s cover in appropriate party clothes. The model was born in Alabama and was a basketball and volleyball player and high jumper, and she’s been a charismatic presence on the catwalk since her debut in 2016. Love the shoot she did with James Brodribb and Jasmine Hassett. She remembers 80s model Bonnie Berman, a former vogue cover star and muse of Patrick Demarchelier. Cara has the same athletic confidence and self-control – I think she’s the epitome of modern glamour.


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