Uzès is a picture-perfect southern French town whose elegant, honey-coloured houses and shady stone arcades bespeak centuries of prosperity. Recently, it has become a bolthole for chic Parisians looking for a laid-back alternative to the overcrowded Côte d’Azur, and the consequent smart little fashion and interiors shops have moved in. But the town has gone one step further, with its own “creative quarter”, a pedestrianised street of old stone buildings housing art galleries, jewellers, a hat designer – and Celia Lindsell, who has lived in France for a decade and saw Uzès’s potential three years ago.
She started from home, selling cushions and bags containing lavender from her garden (€10 each or €28 set of three), all made with quirky, faintly vintage prints. She has a fine eye for colour and design – she worked at Asprey and Tiffany in London, making her reputation with the latter’s innovative window displays.
By the time she opened her shop the range included what she calls “comfortable, elegant clothes for the summer lifestyle here”– kaftans and tunics in fine cotton (pictured: Celia wears embroidered tunic, €75; printed tunic on dummy, €48), finely tucked shirts (€55), A-line shift or halter dresses (€75), and skirts (€48). For evenings, there’s a glamorous, bustle-back silk skirt (€75) and hand-embroidered, pure wool shawls (Celia models one, €125). There are “mini me” dresses (€35) with matching headscarves for girls, Indian-style pyjamas (€32) and waistcoats (€32) for boys. Everything is timeless, of top quality for price, and in great colours – pastels, clashing brights and muted 1970s shades.
Her latest addition is nightwear in fine white cotton with a lace trim (nightdress, €45) or seersucker with a pastel-stripe trim (robe, €78). She plans to add bed linen; so far, there are pastel embroidered Indian quilts (doubles from €75) and brilliant silk print cushions with opulent fringing (€125). Other items include parasols (€35). Lavender products continue; doorstops contain up to 2.5kg of concentrated flowers (€40).
The shop is an airy two rooms, all white paint and ancient stone vaulting. It’s cool in summer, cosy in winter, when Lindsell adds darker colours and items in possum fur from New Zealand, where the animal is destroyed as a pest (fur-trimmed pashminas, €95, bags from €130, made-to-order throws from €1,600). But it’s the prints that bring in Parisiennes on an Indian-summer spree for lasting items that improve with wear and washing. For those stuck in the city – and for the wider world – Lindsell now has a website. You can almost hear the soupirs of relief.