The Velvet House will offer a curated collection of affordable designer clothes on 20-21 October
“There’ll be Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Isabel Marant, Valentino...” explains Béatrice Miniconi. The luxury designer labels roll off the boutique founder’s tongue matter-of-factly, as though reading an Aldi shopping list.
As an aficionado of contemporary clothing, Miniconi admits her French upbringing has meant a first-hand education in fashion.
“French people are really into fashion, designer fashion in particular,” she says. “In France there’s a heavy concentration of independent and local boutiques that you don’t always see in the UK. It’s also really popular to buy or sell second hand designer clothes, and at the end of the month you collect your money. It's a great way to experience new clothing.”
Béatrice moved to Manchester from the South of France over a year ago and decided to launch her own pop-up ‘buy or sell’ boutique, The Velvet House, after stumbling on a vacated store at Barton Arcade on Deansgate.
“Barton Arcade is really beautiful, historic and very central. I couldn’t have found a better space,“ she says, with a natural romance.
"I also have items from H&M’s designer collaborations – so we have high-street clothing, but the really special items"
On the 20–21 October, The Velvet House will sell Miniconi’s curated collection of women's clothing sourced from her network of fashionable friends back home in France.
“I carefully curate every piece, and mix and match each item to create the ideal wardrobe for women. The store allows all people to shop designer clothing at affordable prices.”
Miniconi has also sourced mid-range French labels such as Sandro, Maje and Sessun. For any avid fashion girl, this pop-up will be a shopping experience full of stylish new discoveries and, as added benefit, some high-priced labels made more accessible.
“I also have items from H&M’s designer collaborations, so we do have high-street clothing, but just the really special items. I also hope to introduce people to some popular French high street brands that they may not have heard of before.”
Chic; that all-important, aspirational, overused term used to describe French and particularly Parisian style. Elegance and sophistication go hand-in-hand with French style, their aesthetic – classic, simplistic, effortless - as coveted as a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
So, what could we Brits learn from our French counterparts?
“That is a difficult question,” says Miniconi tactfully. “Style is very individual. In France there’s a lot of small and local designers and much more mid-range, high-quality, contemporary shops. The UK has a very large high-street with a lot choice, but there’s much more of a focus on fast fashion. Manchester does vintage stores incredibly well - it’s great to see people mix high street with vintage clothes.”
After her first pop-up back in July, Miniconi hopes The Velvet House will eventually become a permanent fixture in Manchester, with plans to collaborate with more Manchester designers and outfitters. With a focus on sustainable clothing and under-the-radar clothing brands, it’s certainly another French connection Manchester could really get acquainted with.