Mad Hatter mismatching crockery trend hits

Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:52am EDT
 
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By Michelle Martin

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons have liberated themselves from Victorian taboos about orderly tea sets and are now serving up dinner on artistic arrangements of deliberately mis-matched crockery, a survey suggests.

High street retailer Debenhams said a rebellion against the rigid dinner party etiquette of the last century was well under way in British households as the order of the Victorian tea set is swapped for a colorful array of plates and cups in various shapes, sizes and styles.

"It's the dining equivalent of creating a painting from scratch rather than painting by numbers. Young people want to eat meals where imagination hasn't been confined to the food," said store spokesman Ed Watson.

The mismatched crockery fad started in fashionable tea houses last year but sales have rocketed in the wake of the 2010 box office hit "Alice in Wonderland," in which Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's characters are seen using an unconventional tea set.

"It's a Mad Hatter's approach to formal dining," Watson said, but added that mixing and matching crockery was not easy.

"Choosing crockery with the same pattern imposes its own natural order. However deliberately mis-matching each piece requires much more thought, color co-ordination and artistic flair," he added.

The retailer suggested that Lady Gaga's use of a cup and saucer as an accessory in 2010 or the informal dining advocated by celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver may be partly responsible for the trend.

Even guests attending traditional celebrations like weddings, birthday parties and Christenings can now expect to eat off colorful assortments of crockery where no two pieces match, according to Debenhams.

The number of websites and social media forums dealing with the phenomenon increases on a daily basis, it added.

(Editing by Steve Addison)