21 October 2021
'Decorate Like A Drag Queen on Acid'
by BGOffice

It might not yet be Hallowe’en but it is always festive in our nook of West London, thanks to Michael Horner, Alfie's King of Christmas.

Michael and his Christmas Tree

365 days of the year, whether the rest of London is swimming in the Lido, sipping Pimm’s or packing school bags for September, the best dressed Christmas store in the country stands proudly on our ground floor, flocked to by visitors, tourists and loyal disciples who come to admire the spoils of the shop.

The flagship of the store is our ever-present and evergreen Christmas tree, which is expertly, lovingly and thematically dressed on a monthly basis by the King of Christmas, Michael Horner of Horner Antiques.

Michael’s Christmas Wonderland is remarkable not only for its omnipresence but also for the careful curation that goes into sourcing, co-ordinating and tailoring his niche aesthetic. Michael deals and decorates primarily in 1950’s and 1960’s glass Christmas tree decorations from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Distinguishable by their bubblegum pastel palette, many of these decorations take the form of animated fruits and vegetables or characters from Eastern European folklore. Originating in an era of strict censorship, these figurines often narrate more political and cultural history than is at first apparent. 

The result is a tree of multitudes – delightfully whimsical yet studiously curated, aesthetically dazzling but historically illuminating.

Michael's Christmas Window

In Michael’s own words, he likes to decorate like ‘a Drag Queen on acid’, all the while pouring hours of research into determining the story behind every one of his objects. A busy man, we caught Michael for some quick-fire questions to unpick how his brain ticks.... 

Could you describe your current Christmas tree in three words.

[A] Riot of colour.

Could you describe your ideal Christmas tree in three words.

More is not enough.

That’s four words.... 

Ok then, Colour is King.

Michael's Christmas Wall

What is currently your oldest decoration? 

A pre-first world war German bauble.

Can I see it?

No, I’m saving it specially to unveil on the 1st of December.

What is your favourite decoration? 

This 1950’s Soviet era Pinocchio.

Pinocchio Decoration

Do you notice fluctuations in Christmas trends, despite how specifically you tailor your selection? 

Things do go in and out of fashion. This year it has been very difficult to find cosmonauts and figurines of the wizard Chernomor, who is a villain from an 1822 Pushkin story called Ruslin and Ludmila. 

Intriguing! Why did you decide to specialise in Christmas tree decorations? 

It brings me back to my childhood. 

Why are you so drawn to this particular era and place? 

I think it’s because we never had these baubles in this country, these expressive figurines, faces and animated fruits. Also, because they really tell a story. 

Well then, tell me a story about one of your most interesting decorations. 

There is a story behind this clock. In 1927, the Soviet authorities banned Christmas and then in 1935 decided to replace it with the secular holiday of New Year, to avoid any religious connotations. Therefore, clocks became more popular as festive decorations. They were always designed and set at a few minutes to midnight so that resolutions and midnight kisses would forever have time to be arranged. This decoration is made of Kremlin glass and dates to the 1950's

Finally, how many shopping days until Christmas?


Thank you Michael!