Sunday, November 15, 2009

197 Greville St, Prahran

This is the vintage store with no name (well ... apparently no name). There are beautiful things in the cluttered oval windows and the store has some handsome, handmade pieces inspired by the 1950s.

The store is marked only by 197 on the glass pane above the doorway, its small and crowded, and was once most likely a living room. But all the furniture has been cleared away and the store is now populated by glorious jackets, dresses, shoes and embroidered creations.

There are heavy real fur jackets and mink round hats, but also a big selection of soft faux fur jackets. 197 actually has one of the most extensive and varied (in colour and style) collections of real and faux fur coats I've seen in a vintage store. The selection of vintage items overall has been well-crafted. With dapper lace-up shoes, small brown ankle boots, 50s dresses with layers of embroidered and sheer material, the store has this "old world European" feel.

I loved these soft round caps that could be clipped onto the hair and this little white hat with lace trimmings and pearl finishing. There was a beautiful white shift dress with pearls embroidered into the collar. The dresses were a mixture of fitted embroidered dresses, floaty crepe dresses with floor-length hems and colourful and pastel shift dresses.

A highlight was this deep plum, form-fitted dress (that gathered at the waist and puffed out at the hips) with a patterned layer over the bust and hips. It made me a little giddy. I also loved a black felt jacket with a heavy crushed velvet collar that "popped out"like a heavy scarf.

There were a couple of tartan pants and pointed cowboy boots and some obscure gold chains and big rings with opaque green centers. There were some lovely tuxedo and casual jackets for men and some of those pointed leather "tap shoe" style shoes, that were flat and lace-up. 197 has a fantastic selection of handmade leather jackets in black (with faded silver studs and ties), blue and "snakeskin" pattern.

It's vintage, and the items are expensive. Expect to pay between $100-$200 for leather, fur and faux fur jackets. $50 for dresses (up to $80 for the more delicate and embroidered styles.) The handmade leather shoes are around $145, but are beautifully crafted.

The store was museum-like when I walked in, it felt as if I came too close to the clothes, I'd be ordered to step back or struck with a taser. I felt awkward walking around under the watchful eyes of the store owner, who was pleasant, but a little edgy around customers. I was relieved she turned on a CD of 90s love and power ballads.

FINAL WORD. Amazing, expensive, crowded and a beautiful concept realised.

where is it?
197 Greville St, Prahran
how do i get there? Sandringham train to Prahran Station walk towards Chapel St, shop is on left-hand side.
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2 change rooms
whats on the stereo? Awkward silence, then "Fields of Gold."
i'm hungry? There is great little cafe/cheap eateries and pizzeria on the otherside of the street, just on the corner (I forget the name.) It has this awesome 1980s hip-hop vibe and on weekends pizzas are $4.

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