Emily Dyson, founder of Couverture & the Garbstore boutique in Notting Hill celebrates 15 years of supporting independent fashion and homeware designs
Couverture and the Garbstore is a Notting Hill institution. Tucked away on Kensington Park Road, the discreet shopfront belies the spacious boutique, home to founder Emily Dyson’s carefully chosen collection of men and womenswear, childrenswear and homeware. This year, she is marking the 15th birthday of the store in a celebration of the creativity and passion that has made it a force to be reckoned with.
Though the Couverture store has its roots in Chelsea, where Emily first set up shop in 1999, the relocation to Notting Hill has been a resounding success. It has allowed Emily and her husband Ian Paley, director and designer of the basement Garbstore for men, to create the city’s finest independent multi-brand boutique. Fifteen years down the line, Emily’s ethos for the store has not changed: ‘It’s part of the magic that it’s all independent, you know you are not going to see lots of other women wearing the brands. It’s authentic, niche and it’s not too serious, you come in and feel comfortable,’ she explains.
Designed by Danish architect Merethe Kristensen, the shop is dotted with colourful furnishings, patchworked throws and rails of tactile garments.
With her mother, an artist, and father, the inventor Sir James Dyson, Emily grew up on the outskirts of Bath, surrounded by creativity. She studied an art foundation at Nottingham Trent, before progressing into fashion design, where she worked with designer Paul Smith across different fashion lines. ‘It was a really fun company to work for. I learnt so much and I got to experience lots of things,’ she says of her time with the brand, ‘but I just got to the point where I needed a change.’ Inspired by the craftsmanship of Paul Smith pieces, Emily began designing hand embroidered bed linen and pyjamas, and launched Couverture soon after.
With two young children and a business to run, Emily is no longer designing, instead finding inspiration in sourcing new talent for her clientele. ‘It’s my favourite thing about my job,’ she says, ‘I get great inspiration from discovering niche brands rather than big labels and I think that’s why people like coming here.
‘I like finding people who are doing something different, where they are using a really interesting textile or there’s a sort of craft element to it,’ she explains. ‘For home we have Hopewell, who are doing contemporary patchwork cushions and quilts, and I love Von Sono, who has used a reflective yarn in her knitwear this season.’ Emily is also keen to collaborate with designers and artists, such as Cressida Bell, who is the great grandniece of Virginia Woolf and ceramicist Michaela Gall, who are involved with the 15th birthday celebrations.
‘We’ve had a cake designed by Cressida, a textile designer/artist who started off making beautiful cakes for friends and now has a book, so we thought it would be a wonderful idea to ask her to make it,’ says Emily. The store has also worked with ceramicist Michaela Gall to create a limited edition run of plates inspired by fashion icons including Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace.
The boutique is constantly evolving, but Emily and her husband are keen to maintain the authenticity of the store – a rarity in Notting Hill, where the surroundings are prone to change. ‘I’m very sad to see the antique shops dwindling, but we have a gorgeous little bookshop across the road, and I love walking up and down Golborne Road,’ she says, ‘I just hope it doesn’t change up there.’
With a myriad of store events on the horizon, including a string of Christmas shopping parties, and an online revamp, it is unsurprising that Emily Dyson has her hands full. ‘I don’t get time to relax, but I like to keep healthy with yoga, Pilates and tennis and I love Nama café around the corner, and The Electric, of course,’ she says of her favoured Notting Hill haunts.
While her husband has a shop in L.A, and is looking to open The Garbstore in Tokyo, Emily is more than happy to focus on her Notting Hill hub, making the store as special and welcoming as possible. One thing’s for sure, there’s no place in London quite like Couverture and the Garbstore. Here’s to the next 15.
188 Kensington Park Road Portobello, W11 2ES; couvertureandthegarbstore.com