Couverture: A concept store introducing fresh talent to womenswear / Fashion
Couverture: A concept store introducing fresh talent to womenswear

Emily Dyson-Paley’s curated mix of labels captures the independent spirit of Notting Hill

Emily Dyson-Paley’s curated mix of labels captures the independent spirit of Notting Hill

Sifting through the vintage novelties on Portobello Road, it’s easy to miss one of Notting Hill’s stalwart retail institutions tucked away on Kensington Park Road. Couverture and the Garbstore is a creative concept store founded by husband-and-wife duo Emily Dyson-Paley and Ian Paley in 2008. Look up and the three-storey retail shop blends in with the handsome period architecture that gives Notting Hill it’s tell-tale aesthetic. Cast your eyes down and the off-black shopfront and gold lettering belies the carefully curated edit of independent clothing and homeware brands that await. 

Inside, the shop is split into two. Downstairs, browse through cult-favourites in the Garbstore. Work your way upstairs to Couverture, where rails of artful and eclectic womenswear and home accessories crafted by both emerging and well-established labels, sit. Here, you’ll find everything from Nordic-inspired cotton dresses by Skall Studio to delicate ceramics by homegrown, British artist Hal Haines. Recently made-over by decorated design studio Pernille Lind, the store unites three-dimensional Italian tiles with organic, rustic oak, hand-painted brass and playful terracotta pattens for a beautifully uplifting aesthetic – a nod to the signature style of the owners.

As the cherry blossoms reawaken and we welcome signs of fresh beginnings, our thoughts turn to how we can celebrate with a new look. With thumbs aching from endless internet scrolling, we’re excited to swap digital shopping baskets for real-life checkouts and as restrictions ease, supporting local businesses has never been so important. Inspired by her mission to champion new talent in the fashion industry, we spoke to Emily about how Couverture has continued its support during the past year. 

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With the world in flux, how do you continue to find and champion niche brands? What are your criteria? 

Yes, it has been restrictive not being able to discover new brands in person but on the other hand, we have had more time to search online. It’s great that most brands now strive to produce in more sustainable ways, so we do look for that, but our philosophy has always been to try to find emerging brands or less well-known brands. Quality is also high on the list.

How important are independent brands and what do local stores like yours contribute to the high street/community? 

Without independent brands we feel that there is less room for personal individuality. We like to be able to support smaller, more artisanal creators and in turn, we hope that brings some joy to our customers.

How has Couverture adapted to prevailing challenges like climate change, death of the high street, the pandemic? How much of your approach has been influenced by your position as a local business?

Most brands now have four collections a year and they tend to be less strictly seasonal. We are not really part of the high street but, of course, had to close during the lockdowns which has resulted in increasing online sales, so this has kept us very busy. We are very influenced by our local and loyal customers, who luckily have taken full advantage of our click and collect option. Our offering of homewares has become more important during the pandemic as people are enjoying their living spaces more. 

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Can you tell us more about the re-design of the shop by Pernille Lind? What customer experience are you trying to create? 

Our entrance area needed some TLC and I was very happy to find Pernille Lind and even happier to discover that she lived locally! I have always wanted the shop to feel warm, welcoming and almost home-like so Pernille’s love of natural materials was the right direction. Her suggestion of using rustic oak, embracing natural knots and keeping the natural tone for the counter furniture works well I think, especially mixed with patinated brass and handmade tiles with natural variations in the glaze. We want customers to feel inspired by visiting the shop and it’s important that the interior doesn’t overpower the product but adds to the whole experience.

What up-and-coming brands should our readers keep an eye out for?

We are excited about the hand-crafted feel to Story MFG and Untitled as well as the softness/easy to wear nature of brands like Skall Studio and 7115 by Szeki.

If you had a day off, what would the perfect day out in London look like? 

I can’t wait to see some art – Jean Dubuffet at The Barbican would be great, followed by the temporary forest at Somerset House and an early supper at Spring!

Stay: Read.