July 04 2009
As a double shop, Couverture & the Garbstore exists almost by accident. Emily Dyson was looking for a site to expand her eight-year-old Couverture boutique at the same time that her husband, Ian Paley, was considering opening a shop for his own and other menswear ranges. Behind a small shopfront in Notting Hill they discovered a vast former timberyard that enables them to work separately from the same premises. In a year it has become a destination for local families, supplying clothes and homeware with a distinctive cool, nostalgic and authentic touch.
Although steeped in design — Dyson’s father is vacuum-cleaner magnate Sir James Dyson, and the pair met when they both designed for Paul Smith — Dyson asked Danish architect Merethe Kristensen to do the interior. “I didn’t have time because with such a wide remit I had a lot of buying to do,” she says. The homely yet modern design in shades of grey and cream makes great use of the space, with a double staircase leading up to the roofspace mezzanine, while the basement Garbstore area is more industrial in tone.
Quality and authenticity are buying watchwords for the couple and their research has paid off with a fine array of independent brands on sale. Womenswear fills most of the ground floor — “I moved away from fashion to home items but it’s come back” — and includes high-summer finds, such as linen-buttoned, gathered shirting-stripe dresses by Japanese designer Minä Perhonen (£569), fine white cotton sundresses with tea-towel stripe trim by Carole Fakiel (£109), finely embroidered vintage-looking silks by American designer Lyell (embroidered shell top, £279), vintage-style straw hats by Inverni (from £59) and strappy, flat sandals by Belle by Sigerson Morrison (from £389).
Upstairs, children’s clothes have the same wholesome, nostalgic mood — embroidered linen sundresses by Minä Perhonen (from £149) and hand-painted, rainbow-stripe sandals by Nathalie Verlinden (£109). There is a wall of toys — “mainly things from my childhood that are hard to find now,” says Dyson — and eclectic home items varying from cane-and-bentwood furniture (from £219) and vintage patchwork quilts from the South of France (£899) to lushly printed velvet cushions by Caravan (£89), 1950s-style lamps in the shape of squirrels and kittens (£49) and cotton bird-house mobiles (£45).
The brands Paley buys, such as Post Overalls updated workwear (cotton waistcoat, £159) or Hunting Jacket Research (unlined wax jacket with taped seams, £349), are mainly US-made with Japanese designers and fabrics and sit alongside his own-label T-shirts, knits and jeans. The Garbstore has its own faithful following, and what’s more this is one shopping destination where men won’t complain if their partners take ages deliberating.