Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hidden Treasures

Why is it that old-school boutiques seem to be the only retailers left that understand the idea of the “hidden treasure”.

Shops today over-indulge in the visual display of product and images. Shouting at customers to dance to their music and submit to their own experience. Shops of yesteryear seduced, like a strip tease, slowly revealing themselves to those that gave their time and attetion.

It is strange that these shops of yesterday are so much more seductive than the “tits-out” stores of today.

Le Louvre, Melbourne

A shop in Barcelona


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  1. Some Style...

    April 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    oh, i seen some here in my town as well! they are truly hidden treasure! thanks for the great time in Berlin! enjoyed your insider information and had a lot of fun! ;) hope to see you again someday! hope for an official book signing, maybe! (NYC Stripes!)

  2. envious desire

    April 8, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    So true. Time for them to make a come back!

  3. Justine Ray

    April 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I totally agree! I would much rather shop here than some ear drum busting over perfumed chain store!


    April 8, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Barcelona rocks and has many cute hidden shops. I agree that these should not be overlooked.

  5. Jordan

    April 8, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    I couldn't agree more. A friend and myself are creating a business plan for a boutique/cafe, and it is inspiring to see that small boutique stores aren't getting lost in the sea of big box stores.

  6. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Unfortunately, the iconic and fabulous Le Louvre is closing its Collins Street doors and moving to South Yarra.

    Dommage, indeed.

  7. Joan

    April 8, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    those doors make me want to go inside and explore.

  8. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Le Louvre is an amazing store – in the process of relocating at the moment.

  9. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Ah…Le Louvre. Those doors and the tressures behind them! A Melbourne landmark. But sadly I here they are to move (if they haven't already?).

  10. Janelle

    April 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I agree…much more appealing and enticing.

  11. Nedda Ebo

    April 8, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    lmao @ "tits-out" stores…I have to agree though, and its the old boutiques like these that usually have the nicest display; they'll have one or two gorgeous dresses out, and nothing else, but it really draws you in.

    Mustart x

  12. M.Kim

    April 8, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Lack of visual display makes you wanna go into the store even more….very mysterious.
    I love the curtain on the door.

  13. Lisa Petrarca

    April 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Yes the best treasures are always hidden. Let the masses rummage through the obvious while us gold diggers dig!

  14. Trudie F

    April 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    As soon as I saw the first pic I thought mmm that looks like that lovely little shop in the Paris Quarter in Melbourne! I've always love the mystery of that store.

  15. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Sadly, Le Louvre has a moving out sign in the window. I am not sure where it is going or what is moving in but hopefully something as beautiful and classic as thestore is now. Even more sad because it was the store that gave the name the "Paris end " of Collins Street.

  16. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Alas, Le Louvre is moving from this sweet location, where it's been for years to make way for big new development.

  17. i.c. blogspot

    April 8, 2010 at 8:38 pm


  18. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Old-school no longer! Le Louvre Melbourne has recently moved from this "hidden" boutique to a contemporary new retail space (announced by a flashy pink neon sign) closer to Melbourne's more commercial shopping district. A sign of the times perhaps?

  19. Yary and Sary

    April 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    i wanna visit barcelona(:


  20. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I completely agree…these shops entice one to walk in and explore.

    Retailers do forget the importance of intrigue.

  21. rachel

    April 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    You're so right! One of my favourite hidden treasures is David Met Nicole, a little antiques store in Sydney. The people who own it are so great, and the shop itself is like diving into a treasure chest filled with old british paraphernalia. I particularly like the old glass beaker collection and two surgery lamps from the 60s!

  22. Fashionista

    April 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm


  23. The Red Velvet Shoe

    April 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Whenever I envision "TRVS" as a brick & mortar shoppe, this is almost exactly what I see in my mind's eye . . . both wonderful examples of old~world style boutiques & that almost extinct intimate boutique shopping experience . . . sigh.

  24. lintmag

    April 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    As a person who has done visual display for 20-plus years, I completely agree! There are so few stores that are intriguing or even attractive in their displays. I have no idea why, even in luxury stores, people think customers will be more interested in an item if there are 100 of them out instead of just a few. Wouldn't that make you think they aren't special at all and also that they'd go on sale because no one wanted them?
    The windows of larger stores are now mainly done with the hideous "plan-o-gram" where the main office sends down the dictate of what goes in and every store looks pretty much the same, no matter where it is.
    It is a very sad time for display. I wish there were more innovative and daring people in power both in small boutiques and the large stores.

  25. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I must say these beautiful little hidden treasures are a little intimidating. I often feel like a bull in a china shop, too afraid to disrupt the preciously manicured environment… They are wonderful though!

  26. Anonymous

    April 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Actually sadly because I knew what kind of wonderful expensive designer clothes were in Le Louvre I never went in.. was too scared. I just used to walk past and sigh wistfully.. although if you are imagining a Breakfast at Tiffany's moment.. not quite.. I always felt to scruffy to be there .. I may as well go before it closes though.

  27. Jenny D.

    April 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I read this entry as a comparison to young woman these days as opposed to young woman in earlier years and I really loved the way you wrote it. As a twenty year old, I like to think of myself as more of a "hidden treasure" and agree with you in both aspects.

  28. Alison

    April 8, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you for featuring Le Louvre in Melbourne…it's always been a special place in a beautiful part of our city. What a shame it's moving – the Paris end won't be the same!

  29. NeNe In Style

    April 9, 2010 at 1:31 am

    HIdden treasure it is!

  30. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 1:58 am

    Le Louvre will live on in Melbourne folklore. I agree these stores are intimidating though if you're not in the market to buy. Case in point, I entered Le Louvre last week for the first time ever in my life, emboldened by the open door and empty shop, a few rolls of European silk and a tiny rack of clothes the only things left.

  31. Megan

    April 9, 2010 at 2:49 am

    I agree with everyone. I like it that it's old fashioned and it's like going through a wardrobe yourself (like in Narnia) and you try to find a treasure within. It creates an old of mystery.

  32. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 3:02 am

    The shop in Barcelona (Spain) is Bel y CĂ­a. ( stablished in 1842.

  33. Sara Bentley

    April 9, 2010 at 3:39 am

    So true… stores like these are hidden gems that need to be supported if they are to withstand the test of time. Most new stores try to be "unique," but there is such a thing as a visual and acoustic overdrive that can get in the way of the shopping experience. Good post!

  34. mc king

    April 9, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Bel y Cia is fantastic shop and top classy.

  35. Jack Daniel

    April 9, 2010 at 4:05 am

    Woah, never seen anything like this. But as a very nosy person that I am, I would definitely knock on the door and take a peek inside….

  36. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 4:20 am

    excellent post. completely agree!

  37. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Bel y Cia is not "a" shop in Barcelona. It is very well known and hardly hidden. It is on the paseo de gracia!

  38. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Este es el escaparate de hombre, el de mujer , que se encuentra justo a la izquierda, en el local de al lado, es muchisimo mejor , con una clase extraordinaria, muy chic….
    Es una opinion desde Asturias, España

  39. carolruga

    April 9, 2010 at 6:08 am

    As I was looking at the first picture and reading the text I was thinking about the second one you show us!

    I live in Barcelona and "Bel & Cia" (that's the boutique's name) is an amazing place and a perfect example of old school ratailers, they even have separated stores for men and women!

  40. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Rome! Rome is the epitome if hidden treasure shopping. Well loved new and vintage. The pride in production and presentation of the wares is evident. Its a pleasure to discover in that city.

  41. indianna

    April 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Totally agree Sart! There are still so many of us who are completely seduced by the mystery, beauty and art of fashion; not just the empty noise of 'The Brand'. Wonderful memories of Le Louvre in Melbourne….

  42. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

    So glad you've featured Le Louvre. I have never been in there: I never wanted to: when I was a little uni student I caught the tram up Collins Street every week to go to my singing lesson, and it was literally the highlight of my week to see what they had in the window, sometimes it was something unwearable; more often it was something just too fabulous for words.

    For the last 20 years I have always had to go and check out what is new in the Le Louvre window.

    But there was a sign up as we walked past tonight on our way to a show – they are moving from Collins St and that wonderful, mysterious shop! (of course, being Le Louvre, they have not said WHERE they are moving to…)

    end of an era – glad you captured it…


  43. Kathleen

    April 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I am reminded of a time in my early adulthood when my mother used to take me to boutiques, yes stores that existed downtown or on a street corner tucked away and hardly noticeable. We would walk through the doors, my mother holding my hand, tempted by something very special displayed in the window. Once inside, we would spend delightful hours trying on clothing, shoes, accessories, whatever stock they had available on that given day. The neat thing about these little store was you never knew what they were going to have when you went inside, this is what made it such an adventure. We would walk out with something special, smelling lovely because we had tried all the perfumes, and then have a lovely lunch together. Yes, the world used to move more slowly and was much less complicated. I miss it greatly. These words echo in my memory to this day… "Ah miss, I have something perfect for you. It's as if we ordered this just for you. You are going to love this dress!"

  44. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Bel & CĂ­a… Ah! The spanish elegance…

  45. Apollo

    April 9, 2010 at 9:37 am

    The new Le Louvre is in South Yarra? I was oh so excited by the thought of entering Collins Street.. Imagine the delights of the new Daly Street store..! je l'aime xx

  46. michael edwards

    April 9, 2010 at 10:07 am

    yes, you are right. These two you have here are much more inviting than what is the usual today. mind you, I'm never really opposed to the "tits out" approach in general :-)

  47. thebeautyphilosopher

    April 9, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Oh I adore this store! Classic Melbourne. I wish they were not moving out of that divine copper-skinned building; in fact out of the city.

  48. Margarita.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:36 am

    BEL is the perfect store for a man.
    men in my family get their suits done there, they're amazing. so classic, so elegant.
    i'm glad you uploaded this picture ;)

  49. Margarita.

    April 9, 2010 at 11:37 am

    BEL is the perfect store for a man.
    men in my family get their suits done there, they're amazing. so classic, so elegant.
    i'm glad you uploaded this picture ;)

  50. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    you're soo right…I completely agree

  51. La Feem

    April 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    That first door is amazing!

  52. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Bel & Cia is the best kept secret of all the true gentelmans in BCN. The quality is, far, far away from the other stores in the city, including ARAMIS in Rambla de Catalunya (that is the only serious option). A lot of man from the upper class of the city buy all his entire wardrobe in this store. A REAL, REAL CLASSIC!!
    Ahh, the store is really nice indoors!!! All wood furnished,plenty of pure cashmere sweaters, perfect suits, gorgeus shoes. I love it!!
    PS: Excuse my poor english …

  53. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    It is the same way a perfect tailored white blouse buttoned to the top is way more attractive on a woman than having your boobs hang out.

  54. Mumei

    April 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    larger stores aren't meant to cater to individuals. they're meant for fast fashion and what's on the cover of the tabloids that week.

    zara, forever 21, h&m and those hideous american apparel stores are just as bad as the gap because all they do is churn out poorly manufactured merchandise and the same look over and over.

    give me a small store in the basement of an old movie theatre or backalley that specialize in a few quality pieces any day.

  55. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    THANK YOU!!! As someone who runs a boutique, and we try to keep displays clean and neat. So many people tell us to clutter up our windows. Finally people who appreciate the clothes and not the displays around them!

  56. kristy

    April 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    i agree with you wholeheartedly. i'm a big fan of the art of window display, but i feel it should be done with that seduction that you mention. i want a shop to whisper 'come hither' to me, not scream for attention with every piece of clothing in their window and music blaring out the doors. i love the first picture you posted of le louvre, that one is my favorite.

    Vogue Gone Rogue

  57. Victor

    April 9, 2010 at 5:43 pm


    It makes me think "We have secret pleasures for you, but would you have money enough to pay for it???"

  58. Happenstance

    April 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I agree Scott. I love it when I can stumble upon a shop that shows enough but not too much. Thus luring me inside to peek and then ultimately make a purchase fueled by my intrigue. Instead you get A&F that you can HEAR and SMELL from the parking lot for crying out loud! Hideous.

  59. sherie'

    April 9, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    what we don't quite see is alluring

  60. Anonymous

    April 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I am in agreement across the board. Same for what is considered sexy in the States- the difference between US and any foreign fashion mag. Same for how people think it better to announce status over the practice of distinction.
    Everyone knows that humans have either, jugs or balls what about showing or appealing to those things by way of the biggest sex organ – the brain?

  61. Designer t-shirts

    April 10, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I've got a bit of thing for doors! Great post this.

  62. Isabelle

    April 10, 2010 at 7:37 am

  63. anne

    April 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    There's this small hat shop in the city I live in that's just like the last photo. It's been there for ages and I love wandering through the store.

  64. Lippy

    April 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I've never understood the concept of display windows so large that the passer-by can see everything inside without even going into the store. The most egregious example of this marketing ploy is the windows of the shops in Rockefeller Center that were grossly enlarged in recent years to no good effect on the architecture.

  65. Anonymous

    April 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Scott, I am so amused that you use "tits out" its so not you, but quite appropriate, captures what you mean perfectly…..

  66. Rita Finn

    April 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    These door images are exquisite … couldn't agree more with your take on the hidden treasure. I must remember to peek within to discover their riches!

  67. bird of light

    April 11, 2010 at 8:13 am

    ; )

  68. Christine

    April 11, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I live in Australia and this store is one of my favourties! It has been for many many years. To look at longingly from the outside of course! But yes, definitely one of the dying breed of dignified stores. For the lady with dignity perhaps.

  69. Ruth

    April 11, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Seductive would be an understatement…If I walked by, I would have to go in to see what is inside. Very interesting observation!

  70. Britta

    April 11, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Isn't mystery, a not showing-off all at once,(but by and by), the very core of seduction?

  71. the concept dresser

    April 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    What is interesting about Barcelona is that you still feel the traces of dictatorship mixed with wild excitement of new freedom

  72. Anonymous

    April 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    yeah!!! its one of the two best shops in barcelona, dont forget SANTA EULALIA since 1843!!!

  73. nitiz

    April 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    rightly said ..
    i concur

  74. nitiz

    April 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    rightly said …..
    i concur ….

  75. Girlosophy

    April 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    The old fashioned stores like Le Louvre have built a huge reputation on the basis that they are a salon – rather than just a retail store – and offer personalised service honed over years. They know that by having you come back again and again they will have a business for life. They rely on discretion and word-of-mouth which is the best marketing there is.
    They go for the relationship and not the one night stand, like other more, er, 'tits-out' stores.
    There's a mantra for life in there somewhere…

  76. Prutha

    April 12, 2010 at 12:29 am

    brilliant picture of the first door

  77. Irene

    April 12, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Your comperative description is so spot-on.

  78. iambloodthirsty

    April 13, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Umm do they make as much $$ as "tits-out"?

  79. kristi

    April 13, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Hahahaha I love that you said "tits-out," such an inspired (and totally true) metaphor.

    I love stores like this, and it's so sad that more of them don't exist in the U.S anymore. Everything is so corporate here. Personally I love finding a hidden treasure; a place that makes me feel like it's mine alone.

    Speaking of hidden treasures, Scott, have you ever seen American Pickers on the History Channel? It doesn't pertain to fashion, but definitely to this "hidden treasure" mentality. If not, you should check it out. I think you'd probably like it. You seem to be an old-soul like me.

  80. Amy E. Strodl

    April 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Truly beautiful store front. Barcelona is one of the most amazing cities in the world!

    • Mertxe Hernandez

      January 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      You were right about that.. Barcelona truly is one of the most amazing cities in the world!! Im not sure if your from the area or just a visitor but next time you are in this wonderful city be sure to stop by the Born district where you can find tons of beautifully made clothes made by local designers in tiny shops that truly are some of the last “hidden treasures” of the city. Specifically check out MTX located on Rec, 32. You won’t be disappointed I promise!!

  81. Fara

    April 14, 2010 at 7:36 am

    My grandfather bought all of his clothes in Bel and Cia, he used to order it from the canary Islands, best shirts ever,I am a girl but I have a Chaquet of his that I just modified to use as coat…..timeless

  82. Anonymous

    April 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Oh Scott. You are the King!

  83. Christie

    April 17, 2010 at 3:00 am

    What a concept? Their door has a curtain over it…they don't have a display in the window screaming out at you to come into their shop. It gives a homey and comfortable feeling. I would appreciate that.

  84. Sasha

    February 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    My Grandmother “Claudia” use to shop and at times work here…just iconic! So was she….
    /Users/sashacahir/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Masters/2012/02/11/20120211-220422/10852.jpg

  85. Rowena

    November 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Le Louvre has moved to 2 Daly street South Yarra in Melbourne. Apparently an equally fitting location though i have not been yet. The store on Collins st was responsible for creating the paris-end perception in my mind. The building itself is magic.

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