Eleven of the world’s best fashion boutiques
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The pieces by Lanvin or Chanel that can be found at Sylvie Chateigner’s Paris boutique might be from a bygone era, but they look and feel decidedly modern. It’s a carefully curated approach that has made the store one of the city’s most revered vintage destinations. “The clothes aren’t interesting just because they’re by a name like Saint Laurent,” says Chateigner. “I won’t sell a jacket with big padding on the shoulders because it’s not right for now.”
The store, tucked away down an unassuming side street near République, presents its racks like a colour wheel, guiding customers on a journey from punchy pinks to royal blues, through evening gowns and workwear. It’s not uncommon to find model and designer Inès de la Fressange flitting about the store, which attracts a wealth of other well-dressed Parisians and fashion-industry insiders. “I used to organise parties for Lacroix and Chanel and have kept the same customers,” says Chateigner. “Before, I was selling them vodka with orange; now I’m selling them skirts.” JESSICA BERESFORD 12 Rue de Lancry, 75010, Paris (thanxgod.com; closed until September).
No one embodies the maximalist fashion mood quite like Barbara Maj Husted Werner, the proprietor of Copenhagen boutique Holly Golightly. On any given day, browsers are likely to find Werner on the shop floor, ringing up sales and dishing out advice on how to style a cropped, ruffle-front cream blouse by Hofmann Copenhagen (about £190); a ruched two-tone dress from Stine Goya (about £435); or pyjama separates by Tekla (from about £85), another Copenhagen-based brand.
“I have an uncompromising approach to the pieces I choose – I go by what I personally like and what I think people will find interesting,” says Werner, whose space is at once homely and eclectic. One room hosts a dining table covered with jewellery – gem-studded necklaces by Orit Elhanati and recycled 22ct-gold wares from New York label Prounis are favourites – and ladylike handbags by Proenza Schouler or Marni; another area mimics a lounge, with cosy chairs, pot plants and bookshelves laden with shoes and objets d’art. JESSICA BERESFORD Borgergade 17B, 1300 Copenhagen K (hollygolightly.dk).
“People don’t come here for basics, but for glamour,” says Reni Folawiyo, founder of Nigerian concept store Alára. Set in the burgeoning Victoria Island district of Lagos, the space is a design lover’s dream: a multi-level theatrical building by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye that hosts an eclectic mix of fashion, art, furnishings and decorative objects – some sourced in Europe, but many more from other parts of Africa, including the mountains of Morocco.
Behind the striking glass façade, items are displayed exhibition style; the first floor is dedicated to women’s clothing labels such as YSL, Dries Van Noten and Duro Olowu, though it is the knee-length dresses from Kenneth Ize’s new collection ($500) that embody the Alára ethos. “Her collections [for Maki Oh] tell stories in interesting and contemporary ways and are very grounded in her culture,” says Folawiyo says of Osakwe’s locally dyed silk and adire creations. Meanwhile, Nok, the adjoining restaurant helmed by experimental Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam, takes classics of African cooking to new heights. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS 12a Akin Olugbade Street, Victoria Island, Lagos (alaralagos.com).
One look at the historic 17th-century building in bucolic Stow-on-the-Wold and Amanda Cutter Brooks was sold. “It seemed like a complete money pit, but I loved it,” says the former fashion director of Barneys New York, whose eponymous eclectic boutique draws a mix of locals, weekenders from Soho Farmhouse and tourists from further afield with her mix of interiors and find and fashion buys.
“My customers appreciate that I stock things you won’t find easily elsewhere,” says Cutter Brooks. Her stock includes designs by Ulla Johnson (tiered Claribel dress, £530), Khaite and Florentine nightwear specialist Loretta Caponi, whose cotton voile “granny nighties” (£350) in pastel shades are “old-school, smocked and very Shakespeare in Love”. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold GL54 1AB (cutterbrooks.com).
Tiina the Store
If Georgia O’Keeffe had opened a concept store in Tokyo, it might have looked something like the space Tiina Laakkonen has created – not in the Japanese capital, but in Amagansett on the South Fork of The Hamptons. Austerely chic, Laakkonen’s eponymous shop is the culmination of a dazzling fashion career – from working in the design studio at Chanel to styling at Vogue and modelling for Alexander McQueen. She now sells pieces by some of the world’s most exclusive fashion designers – many of whom she has personal links with. One such is London-based designer and friend Faye Toogood, whose Metalworker Jacket comes in bright cobalt cotton drill ($600). Blue is reoccurring theme: from Sofie D’Hoore’s striped navy and white poplin Braga shirt ($264) to the traditional Japanese indigo shibori cashmere cardigans (from $1,140) by Suzusan and the slouchy long silk/wool/cashmere dress ($2,120) by rarefied Tokyo label Arts & Science. MARK C O’FLAHERTY 216 Main Street, Amagansett, NY 11930 (tiinathestore.com).
Amid the quaint cobbled streets of old-town Montreal, a listed 19th-century building is not what it seems. Beyond the beaux-arts façade, an intriguing inner structure of grey concrete is the work of David Chipperfield – and the flagship of fashion-forward retailer Ssense. The statement five-storey space opened in May 2018, but Ssense (pronounced “essence”) was founded 15 years earlier by brothers Firas, Rami and Bassel Atallah to bring labels such as Maison Margiela, Givenchy, Rick Owens and Balmain to the French-Canadian city. Its online shop now serves 150 countries, and can be browsed in Japanese and Chinese as well as English and French.
Collaborations and exclusives are a strong point – from Prada and Maison Margiela capsule collections to quick-strike sneaker drops by Nike x Virgil Abloh. “What really differentiates us, though, is our appointment system,” says Firas, explaining that an online wish list can be summoned to the store and tried on for size in one of eight sleek fitting rooms – with the help of a personal stylist if one so wishes. CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS 418 Rue Saint-Sulpice, Montreal (ssense.com).
“It used to be difficult to buy interesting clothes in Dubai,” says award-winning architect-turned-art curator-turned-boutique owner May Barber. “Now, however, there is a fashion-forward movement in the city.” And at the forefront of this scene is The Cartel, one of Dubai’s most audacious stores, born out of Barber’s passion for avant-garde fashion. “The Cartel is a creative house, gallery and design studio as well as an incubator for fashion start-ups and, of course, a multi-brand boutique.” The shop opened in a large industrial space in Dubai’s urban-cool Al Quoz district in February 2013, before moving to d3, the purpose-built Dubai Design District. The selection for women features the likes of Gareth Pugh, Maison Margiela and Iris Van Herpen, alongside local designers such as Khulood. “We stock beautiful, timeless pieces,” says Barber. “I’m also a fan of layering – but that’s not so easy to do in the Dubai weather!” JEAN GROGAN Building 9, Showroom 105, Dubai Design District, Dubai (thecartel.ae).
A two-storey boutique in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina, might not be the obvious place to find the US answer to Colette or Dover Street Market. Capitol is a 6,000sq ft emporium full of fashion brands, haute joaillerie, cult accessories and even couture. “I have a Southern advantage,” Vinroot Poole says of her relationships with designers ranging from Giambattista Valli – he did his first couture show outside Paris with Capitol – to Alber Elbaz and Marc Jacobs. Little-known lines and one-off pieces from A-list designers have been carried at Capitol since its inception in 1998. “We do things a little differently here,” says Vinroot Poole. “Whereas in New York you might find the latest Balenciaga collection in black, we offer it in hot pink. Our clients want one-of-a-kind pieces. I want them to make discoveries here and linger for a while.” CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS 4010 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC 28211 (capitolcharlotte.com).
In 2002, Aizel Trudel opened a small shop on Stoleshnikov Pereulok, Moscow’s answer to Bond Street; in 2011, she relocated to a gleaming four-storey space with a sprawling roof terrace, a 10-minute walk from Red Square. The boutique features 120 labels at any one time. At first Trudel focused on American designers – Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs – before adding British talents such as Stella McCartney and Julien Macdonald to the mix. Among today’s broad sweep, popular brands include Balenciaga, Christian Louboutin and Chanel.
“Moscow is a ready-to-wear city,” says Trudel, adding that her diverse clientele includes actresses and high‑profile visitors like Naomi Campbell and Anna Kournikova, as well as local teenagers. “We have a DJ on Saturday nights – and often on Fridays – and the atmosphere is casual and open.” CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS Pereulok Stoleshnikov 10/3, Moscow 125009 (aizel.ru).
Susan Foslien opened her first store in 1966 in Alexandria, Minnesota, when she was just 22 years old. The Gear Shop was the place to go for wide-leg jeans, skinny-rib T-shirts and trousers with zippers that ran from the waist to the hem. “I was known as the cool girl in town,” she recalls. “I drove around in a white Triumph TR3 with a red vinyl interior and my golf clubs in the back.”
Half a century later, Foslien is still the cool girl. Her current boutique on Sacramento Street in San Francisco is a destination for women from all walks of life, from wealthy philanthropists to techies to the more expected creatives, looking for what Foslien describes as “interesting clothes that they’ve probably not seen elsewhere”. She was the first US-based buyer for Junya Watanabe, for example. “There were five American stores at that first show. They all said, ‘Oh no’, and I said, ‘Oh yes!’” She was also one of only two US stores to originally carry Vetements, and introduced the Bay Area to the Antwerp Six (including Ann Demeulemeester and “seventh” member Martin Margiela), as well as Simone Rocha. RIMA SUQI 3865 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94118 (+1415-922 3685).
When it comes to style advice, Alex Eagle is one of the few people who elicits widespread trust. From clothing and accessories to interior design, her taste is impeccable – as evidenced by her home-like eponymous boutique, which she has filled with a curation of fashion labels and own-brand collaborations alongside artworks, homewares and beauty finds.
Eagle first opened up shop in Walton Street, Knightsbridge, in 2014. “The Walton Street shop was like my house, and now my house has become a loft,” she says of the larger Soho space at the “wrong end” of Lexington Street that her store moved to in 2016. With flexible spaces divided by moveable screens, black-painted iron pillars, midcentury furniture and welcoming sofas, her current address has a very different ambience, but the philosophy is the same – to create “an entertaining, fun experience that is not provided by a traditional shop”.
In terms of fashion, this means a mix of tailored pieces from the likes of Giuliva Heritage Collection, or slip dresses and knitwear from the boutique’s own-brand. “Our customers want clothes that are lovely but real – and built to last,” she says. AVRIL GROOM 6-10 Lexington Street, London W1 (alexeagle.co.uk).