Most – if not all – of the Boutiques Bijoux I’ve documented on La Femme Eclectique have been shops that I’ve stumbled across entirely by chance (excluding Unicorn Vintage in Oxford which, in this instance, hardly counts considering its social-media and website-free existence). Prime examples would include Om Diva, undoubtedly one of my favourite boutiques to profile (see my treasure trove of related posts “here” if you don’t believe me) which I came across during a regular stroll through Dublin’s Creative Quarter; Stone Mad Emporium, unearthed in Kinsale a few months ago by sheer luck (admittedly, its vibrant shopfront that attracted me from afar rather helped) and Vintage Desir, a soon-to-be-chronicled Boutique Bijou that is the true sense of the phrase, found while wandering the streets of Montmartre last year.
The initial allure of all these shops was their non-overly-hyped statuses, the fact that not every reputable fashion-lover had already claimed the spot as an old haunt; with every little gem of a boutique I uncovered, I created this unrealistic fantasy of a shop being my little secret, at least until I shared my findings with my readers (obviously not the case with much-loved boutiques such as V.V Rouleaux and again, Om Diva, but a girl can dream!). After a long period of hearing endless appraisal of Kilkenny-based boutique Shutterbug Vintage, however, I soon decided it was time to break my unofficial vow and make a visit. While travelling back up to Dublin after visiting the John Saul Picnic & Vintage Fair in Castlemartyr, I detoured into the medieval city and found the boutique housing a prominent, columned building on the main street; its star-spangled banner and sparkling garments luring me further into the entrance:
When I walked through the entrance and absorbed the shimmering, kaleidoscopic scene that lay before me, my thought process divided in two: firstly, marvelling at how colour-bursting and diverse each rail was (the initial section I tackled held an endless quantity of sequinned pieces in every shade of the rainbow, the styles all very 70s & 80s influenced) and yet, the organisation was immaculate. Not a single, jewel-encrusted piece lay on the floor, and slowly but surely I banished pre-set thoughts that shopping for authentic vintage had to include diving into a sea of garments. The second thought was of how, even having researched the store online prior to visiting, I was seriously taken by surprise at the boutique’s vibrancy – while I love their online incarnation, Folkster (and even included it in a LFÉ summer feature “here”), it gives a mere glimpse into Shutterbug‘s vintage-abundant world, the vivid displays and ambience only properly captured when one is in-store. Similar to online, the shop’s vintage stock is joined by a few carefully-selected labels from across the globe that embody an equally diverse vibe. The first brand that greeted me was London label Sister Jane, its print and embellishment-focused pieces recognisable from my many trips to Topshop’s Oxford Circus, where it takes residence. Two additional brands lay waiting in all their iridescent shoe glory, and it certainly wasn’t the first time I’d laid eyes on them:
Sauntering past a dazzling range of costume jewellery and blooming flower crowns (I would turn my attention to those later) I ran my eyes over larger-than-life heels, unicorns and metallic doses, all courtesy of proclaimed shoewear god Jeffrey Campbell. It goes without saying that any girl worth her fashion salt strives to own a pair, regardless of her ability to walk in chunky platform heels, but while the stand-out collection was enchanting enough, I couldn’t contain my excitement at being mere inches away from one extra-special brand that Folkster can take full credit for informing me of its existence: London-founded, Spain-produced label Miista has some of the most individualistic shoe designs I’ve ever come across – who could resist those perspex heels (especially with prices like £150) – and ever since I discovered them on the site in June (and wrote about them “here”), it’s been a long-distance love affair that finally came to realisation when I browsed the S/S ’13 collection in Shutterbug. Miista’s new A/W pieces take a darker, more gothic turn with rich floral velvets and deeper shades of its synonymous holographic brogues – and I for one cannot wait to view the coveted designs in-person next week. To check out the sultry, new-season lookbook, click “here” – you can keep up-to-date with sneak-peek collection previews and inspirational images by following Miista on Facebook & Twitter (you’ll be hearing a lot more about this hot upcoming label in the next few months if you haven’t already- from La Femme Éclectique also!) ❤
Focusing my attention on Shutterbug’s own label once more, I noticed a couple of creatively-dressed women organising the stock with ease, all smiles: part of the high-powered female team at Shutterbug & Folkster, these ladies do justice to the belief that women are better multitaskers (their roles encompassing far more than just keeping the boutique spic-and-span). Being so caught up in the colourful, sequin-filled items of the entrance room, I almost didn’t notice the archway leading to another clothing space!
While the next room was more compact, the showcased items were just as dazzling – the now-mandatory sequins were joined by pink tulle & lace dresses and leather/neon bustier combos, for a seriously eclectic mix of styles that would cater to opposite ends of the fashion spectrum. At this stage, I’d accumulated a few pieces to try on, and further added to my selection when I found a suitcase filled with lace-edged slips in sorbet shades for just €10 (even the changing rooms were designed uniquely, the exterior featuring grey embossed walls). One of the Shutterbug girls, Carol, seemed to assess my style perfectly as she kept on producing items that I instantly felt I needed to have – an emerald-green muff shot with black being one highlight – in such a non-intrusive manner (which says a lot coming from someone who normally finds ‘helpful suggestions’ from staff to be quite off-putting). When I asked Carol where she had purchased the soft blue fur shawl that lay fastened over her lime gingham dress and discovered it was Shutterbug stock, however, I knew I’d fallen in love.
Though I bid adieu to a few treasured items once I left the boutique, there were certain key pieces I undoubtedly would’ve lost sleep over had I left them behind. The Shutterbug earrings were a mere €7.99 each, and made an excellent addition to my costume jewellery mass (you can find the orange-blue and green-yellow pairs “here” & “here” respectively); the Versace-esque top was priced at just €15, a true steal; the gorgeous floral dress held court in the €10 slip suitcase when I found it, and was bought for as much – its black lace-rimmed edges are a stunning detail. While I coveted the choices above (and their price tags) it was two additional purchases that captured my heart:
Yes, this was the fur shawl Carol had been sporting! It’s unbelievably soft to the touch, and the milky blue shade really comes alive when paired with vivid colours like indigo and gold. At €26, it was an incredible little gem of a bargain – you can either wear it loose or fastened with a statement brooch, and the colour perfectly compliments the shade of the season – pink – be it fuchsia, clover or dusty rose. ♥
The final piece I picked up was decidedly the most expensive of all (around €70), but it was genuine leather and gave off such a unique feel (only a handful of the pinafore dresses were uncovered in Paris and brought back to Shutterbug). The midnight blue shade and button-up, button-down feature means it’s seriously versatile: whether worn on its own with suede ankle boots and a golden tan, or semi-buttoned to reveal a printed skirt, the options are practically endless and guarantee you’ll make waves in whatever venue you enter. Amazingly, because the stock changes so often (the whole boutique was filled with Parisian pieces, which was documented in each individual price tag – lovely attention-to-detail once again), there was a high chance that the clothes and jewellery above would’ve vanished by the time I returned to Shutterbug – so if I needed a more urgent excuse to treat myself, that one was certainly valid!
Upon leaving the boutique after some lovely chit-chat with the Shutterbug girls (and slightly more laden down than when I was entering!) I felt a serious urge to go back in again: there was so much to take in, so many colours and textures to photograph, it felt near impossible to capture everything just in one visit. Blanaid Hennessy, Shutterbug’s uber-stylish buyer and co-founder alongside her photographer brother Eoin, was in London when I made the trip – much of her time is spent sourcing diverse pieces for the boutique in a variety of global locations (Paris isn’t the default place for Shutterbug & Folkster to seek out produce, though it’s a dear favourite – pieces could hail from the U.S one month, and Asia the next) and it’s no mean feat considering the abundance of what’s on-offer. With a plethora of discerning tastes and ages catered for – though the latter is really just a number, anyone with conviviality could wear top-to-toe sequins – Shutterbug Vintage is a sui-genesis breed of vintage boutique, and stands out a mile from its Irish peers (if you’re skeptical, just ask its 32k+ Facebook fans). To keep up-to-date with Shutterbug and Folkster’s ongoing news, item previews and so forth, you can follow the shop on Facebook and Twitter – and you can check out Folkster.com for a carefully-selected view of boutique stock & additional labels.
For those who still feel lazy when faced with making trip to Kilkenny, Dublin residents can rejoice in the fact that one of Shutterbug’s famous Vintage Kilo Sales is taking place tomorrow in the heart of the city! Bringing an entirely new initiative to Ireland, vintage shopping by kilo has become a rather popular novelty in boutiques across diverse European cities such as Berlin, wherein you hand-pick garments from the range available and, when you’ve made your final choice, weigh the items to judge their ultimate price value. The clothes are €20 per kilo – you could leave with a few lightweight dresses or a couple of heavy-embellished pieces, depending on your selection – and with a Folkster pop-up shop featuring brands such as Miista & Jeffrey Campbell also present at the event, it’s set to be an unforgettable day filled with amazing fashion picks. Entry is free, and you can find further details on Shutterbug’s Facebook page “here” – Blanaid did a brilliant interview with the Prowlster for the run-up to the Kilo Sale as well, where she gives tips on preparing oneself for the event – you can check it out “here”.
With Shutterbug having only been in business for circa two and a half years, one can only imagine how vast its loyal and already-large fanbase will grow in the coming months. Granted, it isn’t the undiscovered gem I would have normally strived for in a Boutique Bijou – but now, I can safely say it’s the best fashion secret Ireland never kept. ❤