Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
My latest discovery is this boutique on Chiswick High Road, sandwiched between a funeral parlour and a branch of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and near the intersection with Brackley Road. It’s called Iris and it stocks all sorts of niche French fashion labels, as well as some adorable (if pricey) clothes for tiny tots. Its owner, Annie Pollet (pictured left) is half French (her father hails from the Vosges) and has children at the French Lycée in London.
What I like about the shop is it’s strong on colour and the selection is cleverly chosen – it’s stylish and on-trend, but very feminine and (mostly) flattering. There are none of those humiliating outfits fashion writers love writing about and only coltish teenagers of exceptional beauty can get away with. I like, too, the fact that almost none of the clothes are black. Maybe it’s just me but black depresses me.
The shop stocks the French labels Isabel Marant (the Etoile range), APC, Soeur and Sessun and there’s a sale currently on, with up to 50% off (dropping to 70% next week). I love the Soeur smock top in a deep shade of apricot (£60, below left – sadly it made me look like a heavily pregnant earth mother), the striped tops, the t-shirts (below right), the ultra light cotton blouses (wonderful for the August heat if you’re heading south) and (below, centre) the baskets of sarongs and scarves (from £14.50).
Some autumn clothes are already in store – what fashion writers call ‘investment pieces’. One example is an Isabel Marant wool coat in blue (£380) that looks great on but can surely be found for much less at Zara (with the inevitable nosedive in quality. I do sometimes wonder whether shopping for key pieces at Zara is really worth it when they never last). Iris also stocks Jérôme Dreyfuss’s animal print handbags (below left) – he’s Isabel Marant’s husband. Prices start at an eyewatering £343 – and that’s with 30% off.
More accessible clothes include a casual chic dress from Sessun (£90) in a Bordeaux colour that would be a versatile office dress if you aren’t cursed with a rosy complexion like I am. I liked the navy leather clutch with strap (above right) that’s designed by Vanesso Bruno and is now half price (£73.50). It isn’t exciting but it’s the kind of bag that would last for years.
I’m going to be keeping my eye on this lovely shop over the next few months.
Iris is at 129 Chiswick High Road, W4, 8742 3811 (open 7 days a week). It’s one of four shops (branches in Queen’s Park, Battersea and Amersham – see website)
A great little beauty tip
I lucked out by visiting Iris on a Thursday when Lori, who’s a mine of beauty tips, was manning the till. Lori told me about an American hair product called Wow that’s designed to conceal grey roots and is sold at Space NK. I immediately zipped across the road to Space NK to try it out. They were out of stock but had testers I could try. The product costs £28.50 and comes in a discreet rectangular-shaped compact. Inside is a small paintbrush that you dip into a wax-based powder that’s available in six shades (from platinum blonde to brown/black).
On my parting the platinum blonde looked natural and took seconds to apply – it struck me as a useful quick fix for that tricky period between hair appointments when you wonder if you dare leave the house. If you buy it, my advice is to go a shade lighter than your hair colour.
There’s a slight sheen to it but it’s barely noticeable. According to the lady in Space NK it stays on until you wash it out and doesn’t come out in the rain. Opinion is divided between online reviewers who say it stains bed sheets and clothes and those who say it doesn’t.