FROM '40s siren to rockabilly bad boy to modern bride with a timeless twist, Kingly Court oozes nostalgia and, let's face it, fun. The open air collection of shops is curated with an eye towards not only all things retro, but beckons those who crave a shopping experience with a side of attitude. This is one Soho delight to partake of again and again.
Husband and wife team Mr. Ducktails and Miss Betty own this fabulous retro boutique hair salon, specialising in styles from the ’40s and ’50s. Clientele are, as Mr. Ducktails says, “a real mix of social class; rockabillies to fashionistas. We get all ages, last week we even had a seven-year-old boy who wanted a quiff after seeing Grease!” And being based in Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street, is a teenage dream come true for the French stylists. Having been customers for years, when they saw a space for sale, the self-confessed London fans decided to trade in their two salons in France for one here. “It’s really cool, central but with not so many tourists” says Mr. Ducktails “It’s like a secret place.”
Owners Laura and Emma were theatre costume supervisors who met on the West End’s The Lion King before going into business together on this exquisite vintage bridal gown boutique. Laura tells us “We’d worked on RSC plays with Judy Dench, with Kim Cattrall at the Donmar Warehouse and on shows like Joseph, Daddy Cool and Anything Goes.” What started out as a costume and prop store for theatre quickly developed into a bespoke bridal service “after brides would come in looking for alternative dresses for their big day,” says Laura. Now she and Emma travel all over the world sourcing vintage wedding dresses, “We attend auctions and vintage fairs. Our dresses range from £750-£1,500, then we quote brides up front for all the extra tailoring, customising and general ‘pimping out’ of the gowns, which can take up to three to four months.”
The London College of Fashion is launching its first ever pop up boutique in the heart of the West End, and Kingly Court has been awarded the honor of hosting them. Launching on the 8th September in the run up to London Fashion Week, College Shop, as it is to be known, will stock unique and one-off creations by its legion of multi-talented alumni. For three weeks only, London shoppers will be able to pick luxury, affordable pieces by future design stars. Stock will rotate daily and feature womenswear, menswear, footwear, accessories, jewellery, fashion photography and illustration. Prices start at just £20 and go up to over £400 – with most pieces between £100 and £250.
Rowena Howie owns this beautiful retro boutique specialising in vintage style reproduction clothing. Rowena explains “I handpick hard-to-find, exclusive international designs from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s and focus on timeless, classy, elegant pieces.” She feels her boutique fits in perfectly at Kingly Court as firstly, most feature ’50s clothes, and she also collaborates with other stores outfitting weddings, styling the bridesmaids and grooms. As Revival’s clothes are not vintage originals Rowena points out “they come in a variety of sizes, from 6 to 26 and you can wash and wear them again and again and they won’t fall apart.” Even the store was designed by Rowena herself, “As one customer put it, it’s like the Great Gatsby in here!”
Owner Lubna Madan originally created this quaint and quirky tea lounge as a unique experience for customers coming to London looking for a typical British tea room, but now they get so much more. The presentation of their bespoke teas are incredibly theatrical, Lubna explains “Tea drinking was a dying trend, people associated it with old ladies nattering in a dusty tea room, but for me it’s not about that. I wanted to make it cool and funky, very young and fashionable.”
With a diverse range of natural tea blends, which you can create yourself and enjoy in the lounge with gorgeous home-baked food or attractively wrapped if you want to takeaway the Camillia experience with you, Lubna feels her twist on tea drinking really fits in with the other stores at Kingly Court, “Everyone here is so individual and we all have a similar ethos behind our stores.” No wonder tea drinking is coming back into fashion, and now it’s not just for the grannies. “The store appeals to all sorts and ages from school leavers to 70 year olds, it has a very funky vibe.”
Bexy Lady finds unique styles and accessories by independent and emerging designers bringing them together under one roof at Kingly Court. Launched in 2007 by Jenny Lundberg, they feature funky, unstructured clothing, or as she puts it, “young, fun concepts with a slightly quirky edge while keeping on top of current trends.” The clothes are made overseas, but supplied by London based designers, each one bringing something unique to the boutique; “Yumi is designed by a Welsh girl, Wal G is Italian and Tfnc is French,” Jenny explains, who now has two Bexy Lady stores; one in the Whitely Centre and one at fashion central, Kingly Court. But this isn’t her first foray into fashion, with more than ten years in the retail industry, Jenny had traded at Kingly Court for a couple of years as Red Sparrow when she realized there was a large market in the area for the style she now specialises in, so Bexy Lady was born and she hasn’t looked back since!
Launched in 2008 by burlesque performer and lingerie designer Ruka Johnson, Sugarlesque is a luxury emporium filled with quirky and cheeky lingerie, corsets, hosiery and accessories, they even sell artwork and feature in store burlesque performances – now there is something you don’t get that in your average high street lingerie retailer. In 2011, Ruka joined forces with the headmistress of London’s Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, and now as well as being a shop, Sugarlesque boutique is also an intimate events space hosting regular “Parlours” such as life-drawing classes, craft workshops (such as nipple tassel making) burlesque lessons and tea parties.
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