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collen and clare - Southwold's boutique

VANESSA COLLEN and CLARE ADKINS, the two young entrepreneurial girls who took Southwold, and most of East Anglia by storm, just fourteen months ago when they opened their cool funky boutique to widespread acclaim, have moved to much larger premises in this prestigious Suffolk coastal town.

The new ‘collen & clare’, a boutique department store was opened on Saturday 14th February by the Mayor of Southwold, Sue Allen with live models adding a touch of glamour by displaying lingerie in the windows. The shop, located in the picturesque market place, offers up to ten times the current selling space, with extensive windows offering tremendous scope for displaying their exciting range of designer clothes, many never seen in High Street stores.

Opening ceremony: from left, Sue Allen, Mayor, the Town Crier, Stephan Cornell (Chamber of Trade), Dudley Clarke (Roslyn Consultancy), Clare Adkins and Vanessa Collen

A large number of labels previously sold by the former owners will be retained, catering for the more mature customers who have been regular purchasers over the years. It is planned to introduce a new range of names to join the popular labels currently attracting a wide spectrum of customers at the original shop, Neisha Crosland, John Smedley, Omnia, Walford, Oui, Les Chemins Blanc, Nuxe, Filippa Scott, Huit, Mackintosh, Madelaine Press, Lola Rose and Amy Morris, to name but a few.

Exciting new names which will appear include PAULE KA, a Parisienne designer, simple, chic, cool clothes that were adored by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, event dressing, sophisticated, grown up. SEA FOLLY, a new, very popular Australian brand of swimwear and co-ordinated accessories currently found in top London fashion shops. These two labels are exclusive to ‘collen & clare’ in East Anglia.

Photo shows one of the live models that performed in the opening ceremony

Other new labels include FREELANCE SHOES from Paris. This is their first season in the UK and Vanessa and Clare were the first stockists to place an order in this country. The shoes, highly praised by the staff at Paris Elle, combine the new seasons bright colours with a chic shoe shape. Local designer CATHERINE FULLER who is based in Southwold, is introducing a sexy Myla style range of underwear under the label name of OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. The ‘baby doll’, 60’s feminine look is enhanced by the use of indulgent silks and chiffons.

TOCCA, straight from 5th Avenue is all about dresses and fitted coats for grown up girls, a highly popular label, much sought after by the Paris market. LUI JO, an Italian designer who is creating a cool, quirky summer collection with fabulous vibrant prints. ZEDEZZ fashions include silky ‘must have’ nightwear for grown ups.

Other labels destined for ‘collen & clare’ include DENOCK CASHMERE, vibrant FALKE socks, famous for not leaving sock marks on the leg, silk lined gloves from DENTS, MAGDALEN TYLER-WHITTLE bags and accessories, PETER SCOTT cashmere and ANNICK GOUTAL perfumes and fragrances.

Vanessa and Clare, having taken over premises reminiscent of the Grace Brothers era, have been immersed in a massive shop fitting and design project. The new boutique department store is styled on a Parisiene Salon, a Grand Dame feel.

Individual areas on different levels are fitted with 50’s showcases and cabinets, highlighted with vibrant lighting, picking out the colours, cloths and designs in each department, shoes, bags, lingerie, swimwear, perfumes, dresses, coats, leisure wear and more. Their aim is to attract grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters into the shop, being able to offer all ages a whole range of merchandise to meet particular requirements of the customer.

It is hoped that ‘collen & clare’ will offer the antedote to West End shopping, no pressures, laid back, in fact a ‘dressing up box’. Leather club chairs scattered amongst the showcases, changing rooms decked in sumptuous silks and French Begere. The latest fashion magazines, the opportunity to ponder a purchase over a cup of quality coffee or tea, possibly a glass of wine? There will be a full alteration service, the staff, all retained from the previous owner, are friendly, knowledgeable and live locally.

The girls see themselves creating a truly indulgent shopping experience for discerning visitors to this top weekend destination, who wish to sample the sea air, walk along the beautiful promenade, stay in quality hotels, even partake of a pint of Adnams! They have found the whole experience incredibly exciting, a dream that has come true, moreso as it was not until mid December before contracts were signed.

As guardians of a building that has been trading in clothing for over 150 years, they aim to preserve the history, possibly fulfilling another 50 years of retailing by filling the store with top quality clothes and accessories sourced from around the globe, created by top designers, and attracting a wide range of customers seeking a very special shopping experience in a very special place.

Visit collen and clare at

Press Release
Roslyn Consultancy Roslyn House, The Street, WENHASTON, Suffolk, IP19 9DP
Tel/Fax 01502 478633 Mobile 07990 634767