When Lulu Guinness launched her eponymous brand in 1989, her handbags were a breath of fresh air. These feminine and practical ‘briefcases’ for women were an instant hit, their playful designs often nodding to the classic shapes of the 1940s and 1950s and the surrealist movement. The iconic ‘Florist Basket’ bag is now part of the V&A’s permanent collection, while her iconic Dali-esque lips clutch bag in Schiaparelli pink is also the brand’s distinctive motif.
‘The Lulu woman is confident with a strong sense of self,’ explains creative director David Hodgson. ‘She has a life-long love for vintage. She’s interesting and interested – she’s the person with the funniest stories at a dinner party.’ And so, it was vital that the new Covent Garden store on King Street, embody the joyful, uplifting spirit of the brand.
Hodgson and Lulu had both independently spotted Rachel Chudley’s work on Instagram and decided she was the interior designer to bring their vision to life. ‘We both loved her use of colour and proportions. There was never a proper brief. We sat at Lulu’s kitchen table and spoke at her for an hour. We knew it had to have a warmth and it shouldn’t feel like a traditional store. She instantly understood – it was the weirdest meeting. We all just clicked.’
For Chudley, who usually works on residential projects, this was her first retail venture, but she wasn’t fazed. She was excited to be collaborating with a brand she describes as ‘witty, fun and full of personality.’ And there was clearly synergy there. ‘In the initial creative phases David and Lulu didn’t show me the new bag designs – they wanted me to come in with fresh ideas that reflected my idea of Lulu Guinness rather than a branded brief,’ she says. ‘Amazingly what we’ve ended up with seems to reflect the colours and concepts of the bags.’ The interior palette features colours made especially for the store by Donald Kaufman, a New York-based paint brand favoured by Chudley.
The whimsical interior also features custom-designed display cabinets, fabrics by Dedar, Abbott & Boyd and Pierre Frey and curtain designs by Nest Design. Chudley wants ‘visitors to feel like they’ve stepped into a Lulu Guinness bag – with soft fabrics, intricate details and unexpected pearls. My goal is always to delight the people who use the spaces we’ve created.’ The galaxy of globe pendant lights comes courtesy of Mullen Lighting. ‘I felt that covering the ceiling in these “pearls” would be a great reflection of Lulu Guinness – taking something traditional and turning it on its head. I know that Lulu has been inspired by the surrealist art movement (as have I) and I wanted to capture the dreamy feeling of a Magritte painting.’
And what's next for Lulu Guinness? ‘There are so many exciting projects underway,’ says Hodgson, ‘but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Do look out for an amazing collaboration with illustrator Joey Yu in May.’ 14 King Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 8HR, luluguinness.com; rachelchudley.com
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