It's been a good week for lifestyle shops, first we had Anthropologie and then Few & Far invited us to take a look at its new summer range of clothes and homewear. We've written about Priscilla Carluccio's store before, we love its mix of tasteful ornaments, furniture and clothes, but it's been a tough old year in the retail business and since we last spoke to Priscilla she's been busy redefining what she stocks.
Fashion (or "Clothes" as she sternly told us she calls her collections, "It's nothing to do with fashion, it's just finding nice things to wear") has moved upstairs to play a more prominant role (it's been selling really well). The range of romantic, easy to wear cotton dresses and coats, heavily layered up and with lashings of long beads are increasingly popular with women who are tired of chasing trends. We love the fresh cotton dresses with fine embroidery and threadwork by Pero, which are made and inspired by traditional embroidery and weaving techniques in Rajasthan.
The basement has now been closed and the gorgeous homeware is scattered throughout the store, so you feel as if you have stumbled into Priscilla's own front lounge and kitchen. Is it this strong emotional connection to a recognisable 'homey' space that makes these lifestyle shops so engaging? It feels the same at Anthropologie, the mash up of aprons, china, books and cardigans all in close proximity to each other just feels a bit like a (considerably more stylish) version of home. Couple that with Priscilla's very good taste and it makes you want everything you see.
We love the way this store tries really hard to make everything beautiful, the displays, the stock, the welcoming cakes that greated us last week, the 300 origami cranes flying in the window. Matthew, the store manager and Ms Carluccio's right hand man told us that she 'absolutely knows what she wants out of the way things look' in the shop. That dedication and determination thins the weak from the strong in retail terms, you just have to LOVE what you do to make it look this good and want to show everyone how lovely all the goods are.
Same at Anthropologie last week, and we'd much rather shop in a place that works a bit harder to impress us with what it's got. This is not a cheap shop, it's very aspirational, but we thought the 6 silver wrapped Easter eggs sat on a grassy bed in a wire chicken at £48 were adorable and would make a lovely present.