JUST AROUND THE CORNER FROM MOTH CLUB, PAPER DRESS VINTAGE IS A SHOP THAT CONSTANTLY SEEMS TO BE HAVING A PARTY. WALK PAST ON MOST EVENINGS, AND YOU’LL SEE PEOPLE LOOKING UP AT THE STEAMY WINDOWS, FLASHING WITH LIGHTS AND SHAKING WITH MUSIC - FOR THIS IS NO ORDINARY VINTAGE SHOP, BUT A SPACE THAT DOUBLES UP AS A BAR AND MUSIC VENUE.
First opened in Shoreditch eleven years ago, Paper Dress moved up Mare Street to open in its current location in 2015. “The gigs were never part of the plan - they just grew organically, says founder Hannah Turner Voakes. “We started doing the odd one-off party and it quickly became clear we were onto something, plus they were enormous fun... and we haven’t looked back since.”
During the day, the upstairs room of the shop has racks of menswear - coats, ties, scarves and suits - out on display, while a drum kit sits waiting at the back of the room. It can be a bit of a disconcerting experience trying on a hat for size in the large mirror only to be interrupted by a bunch of musicians turning up with all their gear, but having a venue in a clothes shop is really something of an inspired idea.
“Fashion and music have always gone hand in hand and we’re happy that people enjoy what we do,” says co-founder Steve Dix, “it’s a bit of a lifestyle business, combining our passions of music, vintage fashion and booze – and now yoga”. Past highlights from the Paper Dress Vintage musical racking include the record release party for Heavenly Records’ saucy electronic duo Audiobooks. Scuzzy lo-fi troupe Meatraffle, Slow Club, Public Service Broadcasting and Flamingods have also played rare intimate shows.
Steve and Hannah say they aim for a house party atmosphere, though the shop is always open for business. “Sometimes people leave more fashionable than when they turned up – we have clothes hanging on the wall that people can buy at any time during the evening,” they say. “We sell quite a few shirts and dresses to people after they’ve been staring at them watching a band - having had a few drinks might also help!”