IN CONVERSATION: Claudia Vispi, co-founding owner of ‘282 Portobello Road’
In the myriad of shops and stalls in Portobello Road, there is nothing quite like the one situated below the Westway. With its enticing cerise shop front and prêt-a-porter vintage on display, you are immediately transported into a portal of sartorial history. Aptly named 282, after the door number on the iconic street, the shop has recently become a haven for collectors, design houses, dandies, debutants, and everyone else in between; all after that one-of-a-kind piece for all occasions.
It’s Rude To Stare recently sat down with co-founder Claudia Vispi for an engaging conversation about fashion and inspiration. Wearing the finest Edwardian night-gown, Vispi invited me in to her flat in London’s Chelsea, placed the Jack-Russell on her lap, poured us both a warm leafy tea and continued as such…
What is the concept behind 282?
It was a natural evolution from our previous project; we’ve always made something beautiful out of nothing. By ‘we’, I mean myself and my business partner Paul Caren, we made beautiful garments out of natural, recycled fabrics. We’d use odd fabrics for simple silhouettes. The hunt for those fabrics would inevitably lead us to find other wildly beautiful things, and here we are with the boots, the leather and the fur, the tweed, the Gentry style.
And may I ask, what is the fascination with the English history, and adherence to British style?
Well, it probably stems from my surroundings, something as very simple as being born in Chelsea to Italian parents, you know? I totally absorb my environment. I spent a lot of my youth just hanging out in the V&A, developing an eye for beauty.
Was there ever a particular time when you were consciously aware of the impact that clothes make?
I was very lucky enough, growing up, to be living next to the most incredible people. It was the punk era, and they were musicians, producers, lyricists, and though I was too young to be a punk, I found it utterly fascinating. I used to get a thrill from watching them. And then there was New-Wave after that; so music was my first influence. This period in particular, when it was all happening and everything became more expressive. I was VERY lucky, in fact.
Was there anyone in particular that stands out from that period that has inspired you in any way?
Oh, without a doubt, Viv. I mean, you know? The design is an art form; I’m talking about the early days of Vivienne Westwood. The clothes had feeling, it was fantastic. See, that’s cutting-edge as opposed to classic, but what I do now is put classic things on cutting-edge people. When you place clothes out of context, it makes for sublime style.
And who are your regular clientele?
The fabulous, the rich in life, the fearless, the individual, the creative; from rock-stars to Earls, they all stop by.
What was the last thing that made you stop and stare?
I don’t know if I can answer that, I see amazing things all the time. In restaurants, in my shop as they come in, the wonderful people of the Portobello Road. It doesn’t often happen, but I like it when I’m shocked. Like when I see an upstanding member of the community being rather louche. It happens often. Other than that, it’s usually the beautiful things that come across my eyes every day.
282 Portobello Road
Monday – Sunday