VIRGULE, a new lifestyle space in Claremont, challenges preconceptions of fashion and retail while inviting you to come along on the exciting journey. The space, owned by Marinda Lakhnati, is like nothing seen before in South Africa.
Avant garde shoes dangle from the ceiling, bespoke handbags of the highest quality leather beg to be fondled and sunglasses with a sense of humour call out for attention.
Virgule is French for comma, explains Marinda, “The comma marks a pause in a sentence and opens the door to all possible developments. In essence, it gives life and rythm. The comma is usually associated with a breath in time and our stage is designed to allow our customers to pause and experience something unique.”
With many years experience in fashion, marketing and retail, opening a high-end store has always been Marinda’s dream. Living in Europe with her French husband and son is what ignited Marinda’s passion for stylish lifestyle products of the highest craftsmanship and creative design. For two years she assisted a Swiss designer in her leather atelier in Geneva where she was initiated to the complex art of designing and creating hand bags.
“I’ve always wanted to create a space for discerning women. When we came back, I realised that my home country was the ideal place to give birth to this.”
The space is light and bright, open and airy, giving the bags and shoes, both classic and trendy, space to breathe. For the design of the space, Marinda teamed up with Johannesburg artist and jewellery designer Alheit Ströh, whose unique pieces are also stocked.
Steel beams run the length of the ceiling, which allow ropes and bars to be suspended. The entire look of the store can be changed in a moment by inserting a pin or adding another and allowing it to be transformed like a gallery or museum. Copper, the hot metal of the moment, provides the perfect surface to rest a pair of quirky heels.
“The space has to be edgy, international, original. Every element was thought through. We want a space that changes. It is not pretentious. Steel is honest,” Marinda says.
With this in mind, the copper was intentionally left unsealed so over time it will oxidise and change colour. VISI magazine refers to Virgule to a “swanky European store” and says of the space, “Now, imagine gorgeous French pumps and platform sneakers dangling from copper hooks and a range of sexy French sunglasses perched on laser-cut shelves. Imagine a bespoke metal table with two whimsical cups and saucers arranged on top. Imagine the surprise when it’s all changed tomorrow.”
Marinda carefully selects the brands carried in the store from the well-known to the up-and-coming. It is important to her that the products are made in the European style centres of Italy and France.
Footwear brands stocked include Polini, Costume National, MM6 by Maison Martin Margiela, Fausto Santini, Vicmatie, Puro, Stephen Venezia, and sneakers by Candice Cooper and YAB.
She describes them as tongue in cheek, avant garde with a little twist.
It is her intention for every person who walks into the space to enjoy the experience.
“We like them to take their time. For me, time and space are luxury. I want people to walk in and take the breaths they are supposed to take to relax; to sit back and get inspired and surprised. It is not just about a transaction, it is more about exchange and connection.”
Shoes are served to customers in an elaborate ritual like an order from the most decadent tea trolley.
The store also houses Marinda’s “coups de coeur” ( as she calls them ), these are original objects that she sources during her trips and that she believes are relevant to the “Virgule women.”
“I believe women should dress from the feet up. Your day starts with the shoes you are wearing today, based on what you are doing today. And then comes the rest. It is my life philosophy. You always start from the bottom, it is a bottom up approach.”
photos © Virgule
As they say in French “entrez dans la dance!”, get on the dancing floor! It is time to really experience something different, make this stage yours.
16 Cavendish St
+27 21 671 1423