Updated: May 21
It is hard to write about fashion and green shopping tours in Barcelona, when the only shops open in Barcelona are food and medicine shops. Covid-19, a strain of the Coronaviruses is an acute respiratory disease which is said to have emerged from infected animals to a human at a wet food market in the city of Wuhan, China last year and has since caused a large scale epidemic that has now wormed its way into 160 countries. I do not think any of us thought we would live through a period in time, March 2020 when different states have people under house arrest, while police patrol the streets, hoping self-isolation will flatten the curve.
It is human nature to socialise, so it feels particularly peculiar not having our freedom to do so. Spain at the moment is a very policed state as it is day six of full-time lockdown on a Saturday morning here in Catalonia. We are only allowed outside one by one to pick up food, medicine or walk a dog. Hospitals are becoming increasingly overwhelmed as the death toll rises from 800 to 1000 this morning. If we go outside for any other reason, other than food or medicine we are fined 600 euros or ordered to go home by the Police.
We can't go out and explore right now, but we can be supportive and we can be, creative inside our homes, while looking forward to the curve flattening so we can go outside again.
I had a rather elaborate list of fascinating shops on draft, but as we are on lockdown, consumed by Covid-19 all I can think about is mutation, face-masks, soap and the possibility of Covid-19 becoming a part of our lives forever. On this fruitful note, the following four boutiques feel very fitting right here, right now.
1. Ornamente lab-shop this lab-shop instantly popped into my head this week as it was created by two guys from Barcelona who like me, love decoration, art and animals. They say, they accidentally stumbled upon some neglected folders in an antique shop containing classified documents from a science project dating to 1916. The study was how to merge human and animal DNA to create humanized, highly evolved creatures which would integrate human traits and features. The aim was both to avoid the extinction of endangered species and, simultaneously, to provide help for patients suffering from what at the time were incurable diseases. When you walk into this lab-shop you feel completely surrounded by these little alien-like mutations, who appear to just steer into you. Next time you visit, do not leave the gothic quarter without experiencing this place. Ornamente lab-shop is truly fascinating and fairly affordable.
2. Happy pills - Right now I can't think of anything more fitting than a dose of Happy Pills. I discovered Happy pills some years ago in Madrid. The first time I saw this place, I almost walked past it thinking it was a chemist. This shop is perfectly branded like a clinic. It is spotless. It is pick 'N' mix at its best. Happy Pills is franchised in Japan to Manchuria, from New Zealand to Greenland, in Amsterdam, Paris, Seattle, Cape Town and Seville. It is, similar to most pick-N-mix concepts, however, the physical shopping experience won't fail to excite you, and you can refill and reuse the containers, which are transparent. Keep your eyes peeled for this contemporary vision or browse for Happy pills online.
3. Arlequi Mascares There is a shortage of face masks available locally and online so I might make one for my husband this afternoon. This made me think about a traditional carnival face mask shop on Carrer de Princesa. This is one of those shops that you wander into and leave an hour and a half later with something you did not need, but something whimsical you will keep forever. The shop is comprised of a collective of craftspeople who work in shifts from a small workshop in the corner of the shop. Spain is renowned for carnivals, festivals, theatre and parades and this gem of a shop is one of the traditional suppliers. I feel completely privileged when I am inside this shop. One of my favourite pieces is a black and white face mask with a draw you can pull open in the forehead. It reminds me slightly of The Burning Giraffe painting by Spanish surrealistic Salvador Dali.
4. Sabater Hnos. Fábrica de Jabones soap, soap lets wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap. Okay, so soap, as well as mutations and face-masks are on my hit list this week. This shop is right next to Placa de Sant Felip Neri, a small shaded square where one of Franco's fascist bombs fell killing 30 innocent people. People often get lost shopping in Barcelona so find this place and use your nose to sniff this shop out. The aroma will draw you in.
There is no website for Sabater Hnos. Fabrica de Joabones at the moment but next time you visit head to Placa de Sant Feilp Neri (nearest Metro Jaume) and the Fabrica address is : Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, 1, 08002 Barcelona.
Last night I lite these five vegetable wax candles below to mark five days in lockdown. Where ever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, happy and healthy and if you are on lockdown do the same, light a candle and stay safe.