Retail Therapy

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The Independent Online
'AT THE moment, everybody wants glass cheese plates. I know who makes them, where to get them and at what price,' said Nicole Hindmarch, holding up a Lalique example at the official opening of her shop. Like her sister, Anya, she has a lot to be pleased about. Their small, smart shop in Kensington, west London, is a model of style and attention to detail.

Each sister runs her own, quite separate business from the same premises. Downstairs, Nicole looks after the Wedding List Co, while upstairs Anya sells her handbags. Everything, including the floorboards, is painted white.

Nicole Hindmarch's company seeks to prepare wedding lists that are organised but flexible. A detailed list of hoped-for gifts is compiled with the bride and groom. The list aims to offer the couple more choice than they would have by visiting a single store.

The company will hunt for anything, anywhere, no matter how obscure. That often means rummaging around street markets for bargains or old silver, from shops in and out of the capital. 'We spend a day with each client,' says Nicole, 'discussing what they want, asking them questions such as do they want plain or cut glass, formal or informal china?'

The shop also sells a selection of gift items, including picture frames, vases and old silverware for people who just want to pop in and buy. The Wedding List service fee is pounds 200.

Anya Hindmarch's love affair with handbags started six years ago in Italy. She spotted a drawstring leather duffel bag - popular with Florentine women - sourced it and sold it through a special offer in Harpers & Queen magazine, raising enough to finance her own business. She went on to produce bags to her own design, and has also worked with designers such as Bruce Oldfield, David Emanuel, Tomasz Starzewski and Katharine Hamnett.

The shop houses her winter collection, which includes everything from the seriously useful to the purely decorative. There are sturdy, practical, tall briefcases, and roomy suede tote bags with bead detail in black or brown for daily use. Perhaps the most striking bag is a classic pigskin model with wooden dog-head carved handles.

Exports make up about 95 per cent of her business. Her team also offers a bespoke service and will make handbags in customers' choice of fabrics.

Bags are priced from about pounds 125.

The Wedding List company, 91 Walton Street, London SW3 (071-584 1222). Anya Hindmarch (071-584 7644).

(Photograph omitted)

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