April 25 2010
There are certain fashion buyers whose style is so distinct you instinctively know when they’ve had a hand in something. One such is Marcelle Symons, who brought the Paul & Joe brand to Britain and set up its trademark boutique look of vintage-inspired mixes, only one of each style on the rail. Then she launched One, with vintage items and her own designs made from exquisite vintage fabrics under her Mamie label, which really were one of a kind. Now she has D&Me, a mini-fashion empire in a deep but narrow building on four floors (the old Paul & Joe store) on London’s Brompton Road, which displays her flair for lesser-known labels and desirable styles, as well as providing a new home for One.
“I’ve always believed in unique and beautiful pieces rather than labels and trends,” she says. “We don’t imitate but we do play with ideas and extremes, so I might merchandise an evening dress with a leather jacket, or a minimal black coat with a flamboyant Anna Sui top.” Regular customers, who include Thandie Newton, Marion Cotillard and Jade Jagger, find this approach inspiring and the knowledgeable staff invaluable.
The ground floor sets the tone, its luxurious shagreen-effect walls spray-painted with cutesy graffiti-style motifs by Miss Led, a friend of Symons. On vintage rails and shelves jostle dressmaker-style fitted jackets in nostalgic colours by Nonoo Lyons (£540), silver lamé boyfriend jackets or silver-coated, sweatshirting bombers (both £400, by Gryphon), soft crêpe dresses in raspberry or jade with print cuffs and necklines (£400) by Goat and floaty tops in misty prints by Rebecca Taylor (from £190).
Interspersed is minimal tailoring (long black jacket by Helmut Lang, £720) and Symons’ Mamie party pieces mixing delicate vintage lace, tulle and beading (dress, below, £780). Other, mainly US-based, brands include Jill Stuart and Mint. Studded bags from Be&D (black, £620; tan, £995) or Buba, jewellery by Dicha (necklace with bow, £120) – made by Symons’ sister Diane Metta – and headpieces by Thea Grant (around £250) complete the eclectic mix. Downstairs is more casual – J Brand and Craft jeans, jersey basics by American Vintage and camis and knickers by Eberjey. The props, all for sale, are stunning, including original Barcelona chairs, and art-deco crystal lights from a Venetian hotel (£8,000).
Upstairs, past the stockroom, One has seamstresses and fitters to guide clients through the intricacies of making vintage fit perfectly, preferably by appointment. Many of Symons’ collaborators are also her friends and family – her mother used to help make the clothes for Mamie and her sister comes on her search-and-buy trips. Meanwhile, her global network of scouts for the quirky and new is second to none. Personal and passionate should be this store’s byline.