Fashion, food, lifestyle and culture in St Albans
You may have noticed huddles of tiny blazored students gazing up at the buildings in the centre of St Albans, feverishly scribbling away on clipboards. As an offspring of St Albans, I remember this vividly. I remember sketching, what is now Chloe James Lifestyle, and thinking to myself how ‘cool’ it would be to live in a house that looked like it had been plucked from Tudor times. (I had a slight obsession with all things Tudor back then –I blame all the trips to Hatfield House)
Little did I know that older me, would be standing in the same spot, desiring the same building, except that now it’s what’s on the inside that I deeply covet. I want live in a Chloe James world, and the pretty exterior is simply the velvet bow on top.
However, as soon as you enter the shop, you realise that the exterior is just the wrapping on a much more substantial present. Do not be fooled by its modest shop front, this store goes onwards and upwards for days and packs a serious punch in every nook and cranny. It’s an absolute visual feast.
Bringing together fashion, interiors and gifts, Chloe James holds all the best bits of a department store, crammed under one little crooked roof. They have managed to create a shop that suits its home, the contents are as quirky and compelling as its exterior.
Lovingly named after owner Donna Nichols’s children, this shop is decked head to toe in tireless effort, impeccable and daring taste, oozing style and sophistication. Over the last two years, Donna and her business partner Maria Allen, have brought their bold and creative style to our little St Albans high street, rarely opting for traditional and always pushing the boundaries in their choices for Fashion, Interiors and Gifts.
On the Fashion side, they offer a myriad of deeply desired brands, such as Soaked in Luxury, Luke Lovely and Samantha Sung, whilst also transporting us to the heart of Paris, by bringing us classic pieces from wonderful Parisian boutique Sinequanone. They favour bold prints, exquisite cuts and luxe fabrics, from bargain everyday must haves, to special dresses to die for.
The interiors however, are my favourite, giving the people of St Albans an alternative design aesthetic to the softer, chic side of shabby style that is also popular in St Albans. The Chloe James look is very grown up, a contemporary twist on the traditional, with a dash of whimsy thrown in for good measure. Deep and rich colour palates, spill over the multitude of sumptuous textures as I gaze around the upstairs showroom in sheer wonderment and lust.
Now, I’m Greek so my urge to nest is pretty out of control. I like to blame my heritage for this main course of crazy served up with a side order of mental- but the truth is, when faced with such beautiful things, why wouldn’t you want to buy a house and fill it with sensational pieces.
Donna floated the idea that she’d love the opportunity to offer Interior Design consultancy, and to me this seems like the perfect progression for Chloe James.
It really is a lifestyle shop. You want the fashion in your wardrobe, the interiors to colour your home and a cupboard full of the gorgeous gifts that you can’t wait to hand over.
The store is very much a labour of love, but for me the most compelling part of Chloe James, are the fabulous women that run it. The success that they have enjoyed thus far, is truly a testament to their hard work and extreme talent. They take risks and graciously decline the offer to peruse the bestsellers at trade fairs, but rather follow their gut and plump for things that will stand them apart and that’s what makes Chloe James a brand and not just simply a store.
I will be back to write more in depth posts about each of the sections of Chloe James. Till then, why not pop into the store yourself and try on the Chloe James lifestyle for size.
Chloe James Lifestyle, 12 High Street , St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL3 4EL