A tale of the unexpected, Mouki Mou in Marylebone is a chic celebration of the understated and quietly luxurious. “It’s about exploring a turning point in your life when you are confident about what you like,” explains founder Maria Lemos, who opened this bijou multibrand boutique on Chiltern Street in May 2013. She named it after her daughter and added Mou, the Greek word for “my”.
The minimalist opening space belies a warren of partially tongue-and-grooved rooms painted in calming colours, which fan out and contain a compelling array of under-the-radar shoes, clothes, jewellery and accessories from a concentration of Japanese and American labels.
“The Japanese have a certain aesthetic that I really love and the idea of the shop came from Japan via Brooklyn and Portland,” says Lemos. “I wanted to showcase wardrobe-keepers that can be built upon, rather than things you might discard in six months' time. It’s the craftsmanship – the time and effort that go into making these pieces – and original design that makes them special.”
Simple yet coolly sophisticated pieces for spring include a dress (£300) in crisp Japanese denim by 45rpm, a jacket and trousers (£695 and £485) by Zero + Maria Cornejo, a cross-over dress (£345) with long sleeves by Dosa and a structured navy leather bowling bag (£900) by Arts & Science.
As a long-time champion of young fashion talent under the auspices of her successful fashion showroom RainbowWave, Lemos is no stranger to retail. But though RainbowWave represents designers such as Tim Coppens, Marios Schwab and Peter Pilotto, the only London Fashion Week designer from her stable is the Korean/Canadian designer Edeline Lee (particularly chic is the black silk sleeveless Architrave cocktail dress, £715).
The repertoire also includes stylishly cool household items that make great gifts. There are blackened-stainless-steel kitchen utensils by Japanese brand FD Style (wine opener from £25), divine hand-embroidered toys (£80) and cushions (from £80) by New York-based label Coral & Tusk, and Welsh Hafod Grange paperweights (from £30) that might encapsulate dandelions, cornflowers or gossamer-like goatsbeard.
Trunk, Monocle and, more recently, Sunspel have helped Chiltern Street become a destination for men, so Mouki Mou caters for them too. Temptations include Siberian Snow cologne (£76) from Brooklyn-based DS & Durga or a handmade leather wallet (from £200) or weekend bag (£735) from the chicly simple collection by Isaac Reina.
The anti-logo credo that Lemos espouses is somewhat at odds with the celebrity scrum associated with, say, Chiltern Firehouse, just a few doors away. That said, returning customers are celebrities of sorts – famous authors, restaurateurs, journalists and designers of all disciplines, including Tricia Guild. “They’re very sophisticated and very certain of their style,” says Lemos. “Though they may vary in background and age, they are united in that they all know exactly what they want.”