With its black and gold exterior and eccentric window displays, Collard Mason is a shop for the bleeding-heart individual and the modern-day pirate. Founded in 2002 and selling products online since 2003, what makes this hidden boutique unique is its relationship with its customers, taking their opinions and personal influences into account when choosing their stock. The website calls for the customers to make their contributions, wanting to know “what books your reading, what music you are listening to and what labels you love”. It’s appropriate to think Collard Mason as a business that wants to develop style for the fashion fanatic and kindle a love for unique and bespoke brands, with their modest yet intriguing stock of exquisite jewellery, accessories and house-hold decorative items.
Whittled down to the basics, personal style tends to be reflected in the details, the personal additions made to an ensemble – that’s what Collard Manson offers. Hordes of small unique individual accessories that can be worn independently or stacked up with each other to reflect your own statement in style are scattered across mahogany tables and draped over accessory stands. A silver anatomically-correct heart pendant, intertwined golden leaf necklace and bronze or beaded Aztec-style cuffs are some of the most striking pieces spied when entering the shop, hanging from skinny metal stands alongside raven-skill earrings and gem-studded rosary beads, laid out on top of old-looking books.
The steam-punk influence in the collective pieces make this shop feel more like a pirate’s treasure trove rather than a civilised shop, where you need to spend a while scouring every surface in search of a hidden gem. My find was a solid silver cuff, made up entirely of sculpted silver feathers, layered on top of each other; bold and tarnished looking, begging for attention. Worn with something delicate for the forthcoming summer would be considered daring yet it would also be perfectly at home with my leather jacket. It looks like something a Targaryen would hand down through the ages; one of many cuffs belonging to the Mother of Dragons.
Handbags are the other reason for shopping at Collard Mason. Straying away from the arm-candy swinging from the crook of your elbow, the leather pieces here are investment pieces to be carried with pride. I say staple pieces because the muted tones of brown, grey and classic black are no different from high-street tones but the embossed leather creates a who new character. The leather is scored with intricate detailed pattern, giving the bags texture and complimenting the gathered layers at the top of the bag’s frame.
Collard Mason is somewhere to shop when a statement is to be made. Comparable to the style influences of All Saints, what is more appealing about Collard Mason is the personality of the stock and how much it appeals to the individual customer. The tiny wrought iron-style butterfly earrings and pearl-studded rings clash completely next to the gothic chandelier earrings, hailing the beauty of aesthetic contrasts. A purchase here gives me confidence, a bold feeling that I made a choice that deviated from the beaten path – a rare and magnificent feeling that few other businesses have yet to achieve.