St. Paul’s newest boutique is making a case for quality, ethically made goods over trendy fast fashion. Valise Boutique and Apothecary opens this Saturday on the quiet intersection of St. Clair Avenue and South Albert Street in St. Paul with an understated, chic blend of women’s clothing, accessories, and skincare. The off-the-beaten-path location was a purposeful choice, explains owner Angel Chandler. The first-time retailer, who lives in the nearby Summit Hill neighborhood, says she chose the location over a busier thoroughfare such as Grand Avenue because “I really want to be able to pay a lot of attention to my customers.” Chandler, whose professional background is in real estate, was inspired to open her own store after years of struggling to find the kinds of clothing she preferred in the Twin Cities. The boutique’s name is inspired by the French word for a weekender bag–and, indeed, the store carries the kind of luxe wardrobe staples that a stylish woman would want to pack for a weekend out of town.
The store’s merchandise showcases hard-to-find European designer lines that Chandler describes as “subtle, classic, with a modern twist,” including silk blouses by Italian designer Luisa Cerano, trousers by German designer Raffaello Rossi (“He’s made perfect-fitting pants for 30 years,” she says), capes and dresses by German brand Marc Cain, and cashmere sweaters by Italian line Pomandère. The store also carries London’s Frame Denim, jewelry made in England, leather handbags by New York brand Tusk, and hand-finished silk and cashmere scarves by British designer Jane Carr. She took measures to ensure that all of the products carried at her shop were made in countries with high standards for ethical manufacturing, such as Italy, France, Lithuania, and the U.S. She’s also stocked the store with luxe cleaning products by the Laundress, skin care by Arcona and Odacite, and Jane Iredale makeup–“I’ve been wearing it for 13 years and I’ve never found anything that matches it,” she enthuses.
With prices ranging from around $200 for a silk blouse to coats for $575, the goods don’t come cheap. But to Chandler, a beautiful, timeless wardrobe should be about quality over quantity. “A lot of women are stuck in this trend factor–buying cheap things, wearing them for one season, and throwing them away,” she says. “These pieces are something I hope someone purchases and loves and wears forever.”
Opens Sat., Sept. 3 @ 244 Albert St. S., St. Paul, 612-749-5029, valiseboutique.com