- Tower Hamlets
La Vie boutique on Broadway Market is easy to spot because of its green front, which displays the name of the shop in golden calligraphic letters. A little independent store offering a broad selection of vintage clothes, it also has all kinds of quirky jewellery, scarves, hats and other difficult to categorise fashion accessories.
Most people slow down while passing – it takes a few seconds for the brain to process all the colourful bits and pieces in the display window.
Inside, the shop is cosier than other vintage stores and feels more like a well decorated dressing room, with the smell of cologne in the air. The owner, Christiane (‘’with an ‘e’ at the end!’’) is from St Lucia and has been running it for 13 years.
She said: ‘‘It has always been fashion with me. I was working for an accessories company and I just thought ‘I can do this myself!’’
She designs her own jewellery using semi-precious and precious stones while some of the clothes are made by designer friends, and others chosen because she likes them. ‘’I wouldn’t do anything else,’’ she explains. ‘’I like to see people looking nice.’’
The shop is carefully arranged: every item personally handpicked by Christiane and carefully hung or exhibited, covering almost every inch of space.
‘‘In here, you can find something from five to five hundred pounds… it is affordable for all.’’ The prices depend on the materials, but she tries ‘’not to keep it too high’’. After all, the clientele is mostly young people looking for a nice vintage addition to their wardrobe.
Economically, ‘‘it’s very up and down. At the moment I would say… down. For the last two years it hasn’t been going that well but I think that’s in line with how the economy is with fashion and retail.’’
She is patiently creating her own scarf while talking.
‘’I am now teaching myself how to knit because it has been so quiet in the shop, so I needed to keep my hands and my brain busy.’’
But it’s obvious that she is determined to see the positive side of things. ‘’I’ve made two pieces already while sitting here!’’ she says.
Reluctant to pose for the camera herself, she points towards the doll standing at the entrance of the shop: ‘’Feel free to take a picture of my model, Cindy!’’