At the corner of two leafy streets, lined with period red brick townhouses, in a quite but interesting Dublin 8 residential neighbourhood, a mere stone’s throw from the city centre, is an alluring independent clothes shop – Dolls – owned by Petria Lenehan.
The shop has a gorgeous interior which is the absolute antithesis of bling. A number of understated elements: pale walls, a chevron parquet floor, grey painted woodwork, and some delightful items (a mirror with a carved wooden frame, a vintage doll’s house, an amazing colourful lampshade …) sourced by Petria combine into a harmonious, charming and unobtrusive whole.
Petria originally opened Dolls in a city centre premises on Dublin’s Clarendon Street in 2005: the shop moved to its current location in early 2011. Her many loyal customers have been happy to travel to this just out-of-town location to find clothes that are chic and stylish but also a bit out of the ordinary. An added bonus of the re-location is that Petria’s sister Maisha a talented chef opened a much-lauded café called Bibi’s in the same building.
As a child Pertia loved playing with her dressing-up box and in her teens was always interested in putting together outfits that were somewhat different. After she left school Petria studied English at Trinty College Dublin. When she had completed her degree she realized that career wise she really wanted to do something creative so she enrolled for a two year course in FIT (New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology) and spent a year in New York and another one in Florence studying fashion design. And so Dolls and Petria’s own clothes label was born.
Petria describes the stock she sells as ‘quietly unusual’ and Dolls as a place where she ‘tries to sell beautiful clothes for everyday use’ This is a very good description and gets in very few words to the heart of what Dolls is. The clothes may be for everyday but they are elegant and have a forever feel. I always leave Dolls with Coco Chanel’s maxim ‘fashion fades only style remains’ ringing loudly in my ears.
When it comes to stocking the shop Petria is a master mixologist hand picking clothes, accessories and other items from different parts of the world. This mix includes: Petria’s own designs (coats, tops, skirts, dresses and cashmere knitwear) which use traditional fabrics in modern way; clothes by Catherine Andre and You Must Create (YMC); bags by Mimiberry; natural candles by Geodesis; jewellery by among others Tatty Devine; pottery from the Made in Cley Co-operative; and much more besides…
Prices are somewhat above the high street but the quality is excellent, the style timeless, and every single clothes item in the shop is wardrobe enhancing. One thing in the shop is both free and priceless: style advice from Petria.
Note: Dolls address is 14a Emorville Avenue, Dublin 8 and the web address is http://www.dollsboutique.ie
UPDATE: Dolls is now closed and Bibi’s cafe has expanded its seating area by using the space previously occupied by Dolls