* Prices may differ from that shown
If you are looking to fill your house with colour or your clothes with some style and character then have a look at Gudrun Sjödén- a Swedish company from Stockholm.
A very good friend of mine mentioned this catalogue to me and I sent off for it as I was intrigued by the descriptions she gave to me of colourful prints and unique pieces!
Just to put you in the picture the company has been around since the 70s, but is not that well known in the UK. I think the popularity is increasing though as they now have a UK distribution centre in Scotland. They are a design company with mail order sales in Sweden, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Finland and stores in Sweden and Germany.
The website is www.gudrunsjoden.com.
Owned by Gudrun who is the designer and managing director of the company, its roots began in the 70s with a chain of boutiques in Stockholm.
So what are the clothes and household textiles like? In a word different. They are mostly vibrant but they have some good plain basics too- the quality of which are excellent! Some of the layered outfits they show are, I must admit, a bit too hippy like for me but the garments individually are amazing!
The website is wonderful. The rooms they show are inspirational and even if the bold patterns are not to your taste there are many ideas to be gained from them. I actually think they remind me of what it must be like to live in a wooden house in the far north of Scandinavia where a Morso sits burning in the corner, and outside there is a patter of snowflakes against the casement windows. There are bright cushions and rugs and everywhere looks fun and youthful!
They have a wonderful blue eco house on the website built from straw, earth and cow manure and designed by an architect. They have decorated in beautiful shades of blue and the interior looks stunning.
The clothes are modelled by real women some of them shall we say not in their youth!
They have a range of Eco-jersey which is made without the use of chemical sprays, dyed with colour obtained from leaves, fruits, nuts and flowers and can be recycled and broken down naturally.
I sent off for some of the basic knits and was delighted at the quality, at full price a jumper is about £39 but there are some great bargains to be had in the winter and summer end of season sales.
They also have a club you can join which gives discount and if you order early in the season some items are offered at a cheaper price.
Postage is £5 per order which I think is a bit steep if you were only ordering a small item and they only take credit cards at the moment.
I am rating it at 4* mainly because it may not be to everyone's taste but I think most people would enjoy a look at something so unique.
So if you fancy brightening up your wardrobe or your house then have a look at Gudrun Sjödén as I think you will enjoy looking if nothing else. It's very different and Nordic and when I look at it I can almost see The Northern Lights!
If like me you are heartily sick of high street stores dictating what you wear and how you look each season then Gudrun Sjoden might just be the refreshing change you are looking for.
I discovered the company around 6 years ago and at the time was thrilled by the interesting, feminine and expressive clothing, accessories and home wares which Gudrun has designed herself.
Gudrun set up shop in a handful of boutiques in Sweden way back in the 70's. She is both the designer and MD of the company.
What I love about her clothes and catalogues is the use of colour, style and a slightly hippyish mode. I've got a lot of the clothing and shoes now and they are a staple in my wardrobe.
There's a lot of interesting use of layering of clothes - quirky and pretty with lovely prints and shapes.
Initially when I was ordering from a catalogue the delay in delivery was quite long - she didn't have a a UK base for distribution - but now she does. The website used to be full of glitches and hard to navigate, but is excellent now.
Not all the fabric is of as high a quality as I like - I'm not keen on viscose - but in general her products are really interesting and attractive. The shoes and tights particularly are excellent. All the clothes are a little bit different from anything else in the UK and can be added to most wardrobes to create some diversity of style, shape and colour. The colours are lovely - always vibrant or lusciously subtle.
I've got dresses, skirts, blouses, jackets, shoes, tights, socks, bangles and loads of the shawls and scarves. The sizing, if anything, is over generous. Last year I bought a plain cotton jumper and was so impressed by it I ordered 3 more in different colours. I did the same with the plain velour trsouers - the ywash very well, dry quickly and if you give them 5 minutes in the tumble dryer they come out soft and smoot and like new.
With all GS clothing I usually order a size that is a tad too large, but at least the garments can be said to be adequately fitting - not something we are used to in the UK, except at M&S, and perhaps Monsoon, where a size 16 seem to actually be a 16!
Her web and catalogue models are lovely, some not the usual skinny shiny girls and some are very beautiful older ladies. She uses women who are real people. Very refreshing.
Gudrun creates clothes inspired by the idea of functionally essential separates that have a natural place in a comfortable, versatile wardrobe and can be worn all year round, whatever the season, and whatever age you are.
Under her motto "more colourful women" she has been designing fashion and home collections for more than 30 years under her own name and always wears clothes from her own collection. she has hit a note of style that I think is sadly lacking in the high street.
You can place an order with GS from any country in the world. She has Customer Services departments in Stockholm & Malmö in Sweden, Harestua in Norway, Dunfermline in Scotland, and Zirndorf in Germany. You will find the addresses and telephone numbers under Gudrun & the company on her website. The UK customer order team in Dunfermline are very helpful and friendly.
The prices are OK. Not cheap, but not too expensive either. The Eco-jersey collections each season are inexpensive but I find that the skirts and trousers lose their shape when worn and get baggy around the bum area - not a good look!
Now orders arrive quickly and efficiently and there has never been a problem with sending returns and obtaining credit efficiently.
Watch out for the regular end of season sales. you can pick up fantastic bargains.