Saturday 25 October 2014

Chic niche boutiques streets ahead

It's busy, it's buzzy, and it's jam-packed full of quality goods. Go visit Drury Street, says Lucinda O'Sullivan

Grafton Street Quarter plans - see story by Paul Melia 
PICTURED: Drury Street
Drury Street
THE GANG’S ALL HERE: Drury Street traders, from left: Sarisha and Tara Chetty, The Suite, Ruth Ni Loinsigh, Om Diva, Kara Maher, Frock and Fabulous, Chris Keegan, Kaph, David and Claire Dalton, Salon 19, Jeff Deeman, Fitz Alterations, John Rutledge and Pat Finegan, Drury Barbers, Derek Milner, Cezanne Hair and Beauty, Laura Caffery and Claire Grennan, Irish Design Shop, Marcus and Vanessa Macinnes, Industry Design and Donna McConville, Davey Davey. Photo: Tony Gavin

Drury Street, running parallel to Grafton Street, is rapidly becoming one of the capital's best niche boutique shopping areas.

Not only is this entire area a hotbed of hip restaurants, but Drury Street's red-bricked buildings are filled with a myriad colourful artisan-style businesses with enthusiastic entrepreneurial owners behind them – from an Asian market to ultra-cool interiors.

The area is dominated by the grand 18th-Century Powerscourt Townhouse, built by Richard Wingfield, 3rd Viscount Powerscourt, now a shopping centre, and it makes sense that it was decided in 1876 to build the South City Market – or George's Street Market and Arcade as it is now known – in close proximity to the 'big house'.

It was reputedly the first purpose-built shopping centre in Europe and it is an extraordinary turnaround that, having been built to encourage artisans to ply their trades, it is now reverting back to that ethos. I spoke to some of the traders on the street.

Having opened Cezanne Hair & Beauty salon in Drury Street in 1983, Derek Milner can probably lay claim to being first to recognise the street's potential. Derek was originally in the old Brown Thomas hairdressing salon and was hairdresser to the late society beauty Lady Miranda Iveagh, fashion designer Sybil Connolly, and visiting fashion icons Eleanor Lambert and Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine.

"It was all wholesale clothing when I moved in here. Now it is so trendy, it's wonderful. It always reminds me of London's Walton Street or Beauchamp Place," says Derek.

John Farrington Antique Jewellers has been in Drury Street for the last 25 years.

"When we first moved in it was pretty well Cezanne and ourselves. Each year we have seen the opening of new shops. The street has become a beautiful boutique street. People are seeking out individual shops that stock specialist items, and the tourist trail is now coming this way.

"We have all the new restaurants in Fade Street, and we have a lot of hair salons and that means a huge number of people. All the shop owners are investing in updating their shops. The whole area is building up into this lovely niche, but it's not just for a particular group of people, it's for everyone.

Across the road is the new Industry Home and Lifestyle Store, which is as cool as it gets. Vanessa MacInnes told me how she started.

"We were originally in Cow's Lane in Temple Bar, and after a couple of years we grew and moved down to Drury Street and my brother Marcus came on board," says Vanessa.

"We have the entire building, which we will be developing in time. We are selling unusual gifts, furniture, homewares. Everything is very well made. We have a good selection of vintage products, new products, and products made from recycled materials as well. All the materials are really beautiful, from the wools to the leather."

"I had been researching doing an independent coffee shop and saw really interesting stuff going on in New York and in London," Chris says. "I decided to introduce it here by way of a sort of neighbourhood cafe in the city centre.

"I'm trying to do something very authentic, very neighbourhood. The staff are completely into their coffee and artisan bakers do our pastries – we have a big Paleo range.

"We use Has Bean 3FE coffee beans, which I think are the best roasters in Dublin."

Sunday Independent

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