*This post was first featured on http://blog.loveisboutique.co.uk/616/tunbridge-wells-fashions-night-out/ – go and check them out!*
On Thursday 8th September 2011, I was lucky enough to be part of a very glittery, exciting evening at Love is Boutique. Apparently some people were heading to London for, oh, I don’t know – the Vogue-hosted Fashions Night Out, something like that. Well, Fashions Night Out most certainly came to Tunbridge Wells. At around 4.30, the sun had burst through an otherwise rainy day, the champagne was chilling, the goody bags were at the ready (more on those later), my shockingly bad playlist had starting to pump out of the speakers, and the first of many shoppers stepped into the shop.
Love is’ was looking on absolutely top form, at her shimmery, glamorous best, enticing in the hoardes of Tunbridge Wells. The window featured one of the most glorious tableaux I’ve ever happened upon. A mass of inky netting and lace formed into a skirt, topped off with the crispest of crisp white shirts, accompanied by oversized Louis Vuitton bag and a sprinkling of blood red shoes. Seemingly settling in the folds of this tremendous skirt were a host of pink metallic butterflies, and adding to the ethereal effect were a pair of fluffy angel wings.
Inside the shop itself was no different. The lights twinkled, the vintage brooches jostled for attention, snakeskin lay with eelskin, creaking antiquated vanity cases burst forth with a profusion of silk scarves and driving gloves, all watched over silently by the Gods – a gaudy Galliano tunic, a suave Dior dress, a Jean Varon confection in peach. Crowning this already sparkling glory were an army of sleek, musky furs – a distinguished presence on rails and mannequins. Our hosts for the evening looked just as stunning. Paula colour-blocking merrily away in tomato red maxi skirt and shoe boots the colour of blue hydrangeas, and Lynne walking her usual inspired line between edgy and elegant in black jumpsuit, biker boots and Missoni knit jacket.
It was into this warm and welcoming environment that a host of bloggers, press, and general darlings of Tunbridge Wells walked. As the champagne flowed, they walked, mesmerised, as ‘Love is’ began to work its unique magic on them. Almost instantly, jackets were seized, dresses were whipped away into loving hands, and a queue formed for the changing rooms. By 5.30-6ish, the boutique was absolutely teeming. Photos were taken of every dazzling surface, delighted treasure-hunters were holding up lace shirts, Moschino dresses, tuxedo jackets, and slipping into the embrace of those rather excellent furs. Item after unique item was carefully handed over, wrapped in tissue, and sent on its way. Customers were, quite rightly, charmed by the boutique. In fact, the only thing that slowed them down was pausing to consume an utterly delicious truffle (or two) from Little Treats Bakery (http://www.littletreatsbakery.co.uk/). These little stunners not only looked spectacular, but achieved the truffly ideal – not too sweet, so all the more reason for helping yourself to a few…My personal favourites were the coconut dusted version, although I did try all of them, just to make sure. Purely in the interests of research, naturally.
After the sheer joy of finding a vintage or designer item at a bargainous price, the next thing to put a smile on the face were the massively generous goodie bags, organised by both Becky Cowing (http://champagneandgoodbags.blogspot.com/), and Maria Matzeu, who you can find on Twitter as @nikemaria. I have to admit, I’m a huge one for a well-stuffed goodie bag, and these were just that. We were spoilt for choice with two types. I’m going to go into details, purely because I still keep looking at both of them and smiling.
Green goodie bag
Arranged by Becky, these contained some spectacular products from Nature’s Finest Cosmetics. (www.naturesfinestcosmetics.com) I’ll admit it – years of being a complete and utter beauty junkie have dulled my excitement somewhat when it comes to new products, and it takes a lot for me to get excited these days. Well – impressed I was. I squealed in delight on opening the pristine white box containing the Natures Finest bits and pieces. I can’t remember the last time I saw something quite as pretty as their ‘Purple Hills’ soap, a perfectly crafted chunk of heaven, in pink and purple, smelling of patchouli and lavender. Their slogan is ‘Nautral Needn’t Be Boring’, and quite right, I say. I’ve used that soap every day since getting it, and I think I’ll be buying many, many more. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve also got two tiny glitterballs to pop in my bath. Excellent job to both Becky and Nature’s Finest. I think I’m in love with my soap.
Pink goodie bag
These were courtesy of Maria, the resident Clarins goddess of Tunbridge Wells. I’d always been convinced Clarins was for older skin, but Maria set me straight and showed me the light. I was delighted to receive one of my favourite products, the Clarins ‘Water Purify One-Step Cleanser’ in mint, along with Clarins ‘Wonder Perfect’ mascara. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any luckier, I spied something divine. A perfect recreation of a dress, in biscuit form, devised by Emma Buchanan of Array of Cakes (www.arrayofcakes.co.uk). Not only did it look incredible, but, reader – I ate it, and it tasted just as fantastic.
Goodie bags aside, the evening really served to highlight the best assets of ‘Love is’ – the personal service. After the happy hoardes had scattered out into the night, swinging bags full of their new wares, just a few remained in the shop. One particular young lady was looking for a dress for an awards ceremony. She’d found a few nice but unremarkable dresses, and was nearly swayed by a perfectly luscious nude lace 30s style drop waisted number, but she didn’t feel it was quite right. Lynne cast her expert eye over the dresses in store, alighting on a beauty – a lurex maxi dress with squares of bronze, silver and gold. The ¾ length sleeves and collar detail made it an ideal choice for a daytime ceremony, and Lynne paired it with a biker jacket to give it a kick.
Lynne and Paula absolutely come into their own with this kind of informal styling service. There’s no pressure, shoppers are given an honest opinion, and will always be encouraged to take some time to think about it. Lynne suggested our young heroine gave it a few days before deciding, and that she should return with her own accessories to really get an idea of if it was right for her. As it happens, the cavalry was sent for in the form of a helpful friend, and Ms Awards Ceremony settled for the maxi, which she looked unbelievably gorge in. If you’re reading this, please send in a picture!
So, all round, a very successful night, and a great reminder about why this kind of boutique is such a treat to go to. Try getting that level of service in a standard high street store. Go on, I dare you. In the meantime, drop in for your very own styling session with the girls, and be sure to check out the truffles, biscuits and soap if you fancy treating yourself.
Lots of love,