Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Last-Year Shops: Cenci, West Norwood, London

After my last shop visit, which was all the way over in Istanbul, this shop is closer to home. A lot closer to home. West Norwood is just down the road from me and fairly unremarkable other than for its amazing Victorian cemetery, the monthly West Norwood Feast and the occasional Jens Lekman gig.

And then there's Cenci. Despite an unlikely frequency of visits to West Norwood, I don't think I'd have ever known about it if my well-connected Brixton-based hairdresser hadn't whispered its name in my ear. Tucked away down an unassuming back alley, it's a warehouse stuffed full of second-hand clothes, mainly from the 1940s to 60s. There are frocks a plenty, novelty bags and patterned blouses but it's especially brilliant for menswear: Tweed jackets, flannel shirts, hats and scarves to complete the look.

As remarkable as finding this treasure in a sleepy Norwood street are its owners: husband and wife duo Massimo and Dede. She's a chatty American who will conjure up a character for a frock within a matter of seconds, he's a dab hand with the correct way to sport a pork-pie hat.

In fact, they're really what make the shop. It's so full of clothes (think piles of jumpers, stacks of shirts, jackets layered up over dresses) it's actually quite hard to browse. Ask and they can simply pull it out for you, along with fifty possible accessories, and tell you something about its history. Really remarkable.

It's not the kind of place where everything is neatly labelled, sorted into types and trends. And it's all the more fun for it. Thankfully the Cath Kidston-style embrace of 'vintage' seems to have yet to reach this particular corner of south London.

Pictures are taken from the Cenci website. 

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