Shopping laidback hackney style

Shopping in London can be stressful, even with a platinum card and a waiting black cab. So Laura Henson and Hania Elkington, the people behind 44 Frocks, have devised what they claim is a new approach to getting kitted out.

They buy designer dresses from England, the United States and, uhm, Scotland, and offer them at bargain prices at what they call “exclusive parties” in stylish NE London rooms. Cost of entry is usually £5, which allows attendees to indulge in fairy cakes and prosecco, presented in  delicate tea sets (somehow, pop in a teacup works), in between trying on clothes.
Loving Dalston enjoyed the last salon, a relaxed affair held in a bare-wood-floored house overlooking Broadway Market. The other venue is a flat in Wapping — Tower Hill, as Henson terms it.

Henson and Elkington launched the business only a few months ago and say that already events have been well-booked.

The Daily Mirror fashion writer Dinah Turner comments: “It’s not an original idea. Selling and swapping frocks is very popular; parties are happening all over. Many of the organisers are turning the shopping and swapping experience into an event, with drinks and nibbles, holding them even in pubs or bars, often with bands and DJs.

“Still, it’s a fun idea and a sociable way for shopaholics tired of the high street and web-surfing to feed their addiction and save money.

“But it’s definitely a niche market and I can think of a lot of ladies who could be put off by a room full of frocks, fairy cakes and fine china.”

Booking: online. After-work event, in conjunction with Rewardrobe, off Broadway Market, Thurs 14 April  2011, 6pm-9pm, £15. Other events noon-4pm and £5: off BM Sat 7 May 2011, Wapping, Sun 8 May 2011; off BM Sat 28 May; Wapping, Sun 29 May

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