Beyond the Pale


Love Is Boutique: Bloggers & Press Day

A veritable Tardis of designer goodies, Love Is Boutique has always been a must-visit destination for the bargain-hunting fashionista, but there have been subtle changes afoot since I last visited and now I had heard it’s EVEN BETTER. Along with a few other invited bloggers and press peeps, I sashayed along to see just how this could be so.
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If you are on heart medication of any kind, you may want to dose yourself up before walking through the doors of Love Is Boutique, as every rail, each shelf and cabinet the eye rests on is bulging with temptation in the form of DESIGNER BARGAINS.

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Be still my rapidly beating heart. Hopefully not literally.

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“Umm… Is that a Phillip Lim evening dress sparkling on the wall? Can that be a Chloe Paddington bag hanging up there?” your brain asks your eyes. “Just next to the several immaculate Louis Vuitton bags and adjacent to the cabinet of handmade couture Manolo Blahnik shoes…” your eyes nonchalantly reply.

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At this point, your palpitations are going to kick in, so it’s really handy if you have remembered that medication or have your inhaler to hand. Or a hip flask of gin, whatever gets you through. Yup, it’s all true, this place is piled up with the kind of high-end designer merchandise normally only sighed over in the glossy pages of Vogue, Harpers and their ilk. Only at VASTLY reduced prices.

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Paula Fry, the owner of this treasure trove, invited me, along with several other bloggers and members of the press, to come and see the changes Love Is has undergone. It’s always been good – the kind of Best Kept Secret you only tell your best girlfriend. And maybe not even then – so how could things get even better?

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“We’ve got a lot more picky about what we accept to sell for customers, now.” Paula explained. Love Is works as a dress agency, with clients gaining a percentage of whatever the boutique sells the items for. “We can afford to be really choosy because our reputation has spread, and the stuff people bring in for us to look at is unbelievable! One lady came in with her collection of Louis Vuitton bags. ELEVEN of them, all real!”

Paula has become something if an expert at sniffing out fakes “Most of them you can spot a mile off, because the shape or size is wrong, the stitching isn’t right. Some are a bit more difficult, but there are experts you can refer to, and the big brands are all very happy to verify their own merchandise if you’re really not sure.”

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Having built up their name, hosted hugely successful events and fashion shows, and been featured in Vogue magazine as a “must visit” destination, Love Is now boasts a celebrity clientele – “Top Secret, I absolutely cannot name names!” – who buy and sell their designer swag here. “Often the chauffeur comes and drops stuff off,” Paula whispers, “and oh my GOD it’s such amazing stuff…”

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Perhaps the most noticeable change is the fact there’s far less vintage stock in the boutique these days. It’s getting harder and harder to get top quality vintage to sell, and people put a ‘vintage’ tag on any old thing and expect it to be desirable, so I think this is a clever move on their part. Plus, in a wealthy area and with celebrities emptying their wardrobes, you may as well focus on the goodies surrounding you!

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The vintage pieces are still to be found: really cute little fifties fur collars, dinky enamelled bug brooches and incredible unique handbags from all eras, along with select clothes, but here the designer investment pieces now jostle with the very best high-end High-street items, so there really is something for every budget.

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It’s really interesting to note that real classics like the Mulberry Bayswater bags are flying out the door – “We just can’t get enough of them, as soon as we have them through the door, they leave again on someone else’s arm!” Iconic designer pieces such as Alexander McQueen scarves and tailcoats are also in high demand, as customers invest in designer stand-out pieces which won’t date, mixing these with far cheaper high street trend items.

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On this visit, I was quite selfless and restrained, buying an unusual necklace for a friend’s Christmas present, though I took rather a shine to the Bally, sheepskin lined ankle boots on the back shelf here, and may have to pop back in to, um, visit them. Yes. That’s it. *cough*

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I also have a massive regret that I didn’t get the beautiful enamelled ladybird brooch purchased by fellow bargain-snaffler, Bettina, AKA Mrs Anke (of Ladybits blog fame: she has a gin cocktail named after her, and that’s a REAL measure of fame, my friends). Que Sera, as Doris Day was wont to warble!

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Adored this darling little bobble-trimmed dress, too. Oh, and the cosy hooded cloak and the bauble charm bracelet and about five coats upstairs and… Uh, no, I mean it’s all awful and you wouldn’t like it at all so don’t go before I’ve got my mitts on all the goodies I saw, there’s nothing there. Yup. Convincing, eh?

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As the Champagne was quaffed and more people arrived to gawp and gossip (three of my favourite things to do, right there: quaffing, gawping & gossiping) I had to grab my purchase and get a wriggle on, sadly. Having ogled their latest wares, I shall be back again very soon. They have all manner of gorgeousness arriving every single day, so there’s always a good reason to pop in again.

Just to look. Obviously…

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UPDATE: I have now been back and purchased the Bally boots. Quite by accident.



1 Dress 2 Ways: All Saints Labyrinth
December 5, 2010, 2:57 am
Filed under: Fashion, Fripperies, Style, Trinkets, Winter | Tags: , , ,

Well, we meet again, dear hearts!

After a blogging break due to 1) being whisked out of the country to beautiful Bruges for a birthday surprise, 2) working six days a week at my Proper Job, and 3) prolonged illness (chest infection & horrid virus); I am back with trinkets & fripperies a-plenty…

1 Dress 2 Ways: Warm by day

1 Dress 2 Ways: Warm by day by Beyond the Pale featuring black cardigans

Labyrinth Dress
$218 – allsaints.com
Print dress »

Black angora cardigan
32 GBP – debenhams.com
Black cardigans »

Quiksilver Herring Buddy
$30 – swell.com
Beanie hats »

PINK FLUO CASHMERE SCARF
$915 – monamoore.com
Marni shoes »

Cashmere gloves
$36 – theoutnet.com
Cashmere glove »

Silk Thermal Long Sleeve Top – John Lewis
30 GBP – johnlewis.com


If you regularly flip through the glossies, you might notice they often suggest – to feeble minds, not us, darlings – that one key piece in your wardrobe will see you through every possible situation in life.

This is never a practical item like, say, a black cardigan. No, it’ll be a feathered trench coat that costs more than the deposit on a modestly sized starter home. This will be shown in a variety of ways, styled with everything from wellington boots to tiaras, in order to feed the self-justification of those handing over the dosh in the first place.

So practical, that feathered trench coat.

Poppycock.

Twaddle.

We know that of course, but I hope you will find that my little attempt at styling a dress two ways isn’t eyebrow-raising ridiculousness. I’d certainly wear both ways of styling the dress (though the first – warmer – selection would be my preferred option with snow & ice currently abounding ’round here).

The dress in question is one I lust after, yet fear of owning for the worry I may spoil it through drooling:

All Saints Labyrinth Dress: ÂŁ135 (in sale)

The gorgeous hand-painted toile de jouy pattern is inspired by 18th century French textiles, and is printed on pure silk.

All Saints Labyrinth Dress (close-up of fabric)

Yes, yes, silk isn’t the most practical thing in the world, but layer it up and it can be a choice for the colder months, too, I promise!

I hate to think of pretty dresses languishing in the backs of wardrobes, desperately waiting for the two weeks a year it’s usually deemed warm enough to wear them in the UK. Poor things. Shove a thermal top underneath, add thick tights or leggings & boots, and it’s transformed into the height of snuggly practicality. Well, nearly. 🙂

1 Dress 2 Ways: Cool by night

1 Dress 2 Ways: Cool by night by Beyond the Pale featuring ankle shoes

Labyrinth Dress
$218 – allsaints.com
Sleeveless dresses »

Givenchy Fetish Suede Pumps in Grey
$766 – shopzoeonline.com
Ankle shoes »

China Glaze Recycle Nail Polish – 5.50 Shipping
$9 – chinaglazediva.com


The evening styling is rather sumptuous – that Alexander Mcqueen clutch is the exact (and only) shade of pink I love – hot to trot magenta. It picks up the colour on the Labyrinth dress print really well, I think. I adore those Givenchy Fetish Suede Pumps, too, but I’d have to be carried everywhere in them. Sitting down shoes, those, for me. [nods sagely]

Not a feathered trench coat in sight, and I do hope you’ll agree that both ways of wearing this dress have their own charms.

Until next time, my chuckie-eggs,

Miss Nightingale

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