Working around Oxford Street, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the retail offer – big names, big brands, big shops – it tends to be in-your-face and loud.
However one of the nice things about London is that it’s relatively easy to get off the beaten track and find something more quiet and unique.
Chiltern Street, just of Marylebone High Street, is a great example of this. Only 10 minutes from Oxford Street, yet it feels like a world away with its eccentric selection of shops, including a whiskey shop (Cadenheads), oboe makers (Howarths), and the oldest candle-maker in the world (Cire Trudon).
With the launch of Trunk and Sunspel in recent years it is also beginning to become something of a fashion destination – not just for men however.
Mouki Mou, a concept store founded by Maria Lemos and named after her daughter, is really the gem of Chiltern Street’s fashion offering.
This bijou boutique, which stocks not only womenswear, but also jewellery, beauty products and gifts, feels like a sort of personal collection of Lemos’ discoveries from around the world.
There is a labyrinth of small, beautifully tiled rooms, which seem to lead away from, and back into each other. It’s easy to get lost among the selection of unusual, yet elegant items.
However, what I like most about this shop is the discoveries. Most of the brands featured are under-the-radar labels sourced from Japan or America. Brands like Dosa – a brand with a big focus on sustainability I have become really interested in – 45rpm and Isaac Reina were all new to me, and there are many other hard-to-find brands such as Arts & Science and Scha. Every time you visit, you feel as though there is something new to discover.
You can see with the choice of brands that this is a shop focussed on quality and craftsmanship rather than ‘fashionable’ clothes you might throw in the bin in a few months’ time. Lemos is looking for wardrobe staples that can be built upon.
One of the negatives of course with the focus on such quality is the price. Obviously it isn’t cheap, but then our concept of clothes and price has been so distorted by fast fashion, sometimes I find it refreshing to see clothes that require some saving up in order to purchase them. These clothes are supposed to last decades rather than months, and when you think about the amount of wear you could get out of the clothes, the numbers begin to add up.
Moreover the shop isn’t exclusive with its price point. There is an amazing selection of household items that make for perfect gifts, such as Scents of Land candles, hand-embroidered toys by Coral & Tusk, Hafod Grange paperweights and cushions from Mourne Textiles.
And the shop’s main attraction, the inspiration, is completely free of charge.