Fashion: Racy, original and totally mad about glamour

Is it a sex shop? A film set? No, Joie is London's new fashion mecca, and it's worlds away from Bond Street.

"I'm a bit of a hippy chick really," says Joie Readman as she clambers up into her shop window to put the finishing touches to quite the grooviest mannequins known to man. With her Audrey Hepburn cheekbones and diminutive frame, she appears positively doll-like, surrounded as she is by an army of leggy, fibreglass sisters in spray-on jeans and waist- length wigs. "We're very Seventies-oriented here," she points out.

This, it turns out, is something of an understatement. From the crazy- paving on the floor and the spider plants sprouting from hanging baskets to the disco ball dangling from the ceiling and the trash-glam clothes, Readman has taken from that era and made it her sweet, and highly idiosyncratic, own.

Ruffled florals, crochet knits in brightest gold, suede shirts, and fringing here, there and everywhere all hark back to that decade. This means, of course, that Joie (pronounced Jo-eeey - the shop is named after its owner) looks set to take its place on the fashion map in the course of the coming season.

It may seem as if there's always some sort of Seventies revival going on somewhere in fashion (and Fifties, Sixties and more recently Eighties revivals, for that matter), but, like it or not, the Seventies are about to take off again in an almighty way. The likes of Gucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and, well, just about any other trend-inspired designer worth his or her salt, have once again plundered what many still regard as the most unashamedly riotous of decades - in style terms at least. Come autumn, once the high street has picked up on the new styles, we'll all be doing it.

Those who just can't wait that long might like to know that, while designer garments are likely to cost hundreds, even thousands of pounds, at Joie's nothing costs more than pounds 300 - and that's for a hand-made wedding dress crafted out of old denim jackets, or anything else that happens to take a customer's fancy.

"People can get a really nice top here for pounds 35," says the designer. "They can buy a dress for pounds 65. I don't want my clothes to be expensive. I want people to be able to wear them. I'd like to think that even if I did get big, my prices would still be kept really low. Now is our Jane Fonda moment, by the way." Joie picks a different icon each season and then dresses the mannequins - and indeed, the entire shop - in heartfelt tribute. "We've already done Mia Farrow. Next season is Kate Bush `Babushka'..."

Because of its location - hidden away in a backstreet sandwiched between Holborn and the British Museum - not many people know about Joie just yet. A handful of the British fashion capital's more exuberant stylists swear by the place. Otherwise, its proprietor says, Joie mostly tends to attract "Swedish tourists with blue hair".

And Joie is, of course, more than happy to oblige them. Her shop is quite definitely not the sort of place where anyone would be turned away. "I don't mind people coming in and not buying anything," she says, "and I'm always happy to open after hours. I don't want to frighten people off, or to be seen as `fashiony'. If someone's excited, I'll make anything for anyone."

Well, perhaps not quite anyone. When Joie first opened her doors to the public, she had the bright and characteristically kooky idea of covering the floor with black lacy knickers, spaced evenly like a wallpaper pattern, under sheets of Perspex. Her collection was equally racy, consisting of PVC dresses and baby-doll nighties - all intended to be worn in a knowing and ironic kind of a way, of course.

Rather than attracting the sort of swinging, fashion-forward clientele she had anticipated, however, the shop was suddenly flooded with gentlemen of a certain age who tended to wander in off the street and rifle self- consciously through the rails in hope of finding something a tad saucy that they could take home for the missus.

"They thought it was a sex shop," the designer confirms, not even remotely fazed by what might seem a catastrophically unfashionable turn of events. But then Joie Readman is no ordinary designer.

Now 30, she grew up on a working farm near Epping Forest (hardly fashion central) with her mother, father and two younger brothers. "There were cows in the way when we went to school," she says. From an Ursuline convent school near her home, she went on to study fine art at Goldsmiths, completing her degree in 1992, when the college was at its most heavingly fashionable.

"I was always into fashion, though," she insists. "I used to crimp my hair and wear tight jeans and lacy shirts to barn dances." She must have cut quite a dash. "Actually, everyone just used to laugh at me," she says. Or, in the case of a more savage breed of provincial disco dolly, simply clocked her one: facial glitter, Joie informs me, was not tolerated then.

By the time Joie left college, her love of "dressing up", her singular style and her eye for the screamingly kitsch and quietly subversive was entirely of the moment, and people stopped laughing. She had wardrobes full of clothes, and friends queuing up to borrow them.

In serious need of money, she turned this to her own gain, taking Polaroids of the said friends in complete outfits, and then packing everything - from hair accessories to shoes - into a see-through Perspex box with the snapshot stuck to the top so that punters would know just what they were buying. Named Pandora's Box, it sold like hot cakes from Bond in Newburgh Street - then the centre of the British fashion universe - at pounds 35 a pop.

Joie went on to design coquettish, barely-there dresses in fondant colours, frisky knits covered in pompoms, Calamity Jane gingham picture hats, marabou bras and knickers and, in an urban-cowgirl moment, fluffy pink chaps, selling through Nineties high-camp fashion mecca, Sign of the Times. Her work appeared in Elle, i-D, Vogue and, well, Playboy at the time.

"I'm mad about glamour," she says, changing her trusty French sheepdog Coco's red chiffon scarf to a green one. "When people come here, they can buy something original, something they can wear to a club where no one else will be wearing it. I want everything to be dripping with glamour."

From jewelled hairpins to fluffy mules, and from lacy tops imported from Thailand to flippy, flower-strewn skirts, Joie's stock is indeed a sight for even the most fashion-weary eyes.

Joie, 10 Museum Street, London WC1 (0171-497 5650)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born