St. Clair Avenue is a long way from the Champs-Élysées, but when you step around the corner from St. Clair onto Albert Street and stroll into Valise Apothecary and Boutique, you may feel Paris just got a little closer.
Angel Chandler, the owner of Valise, has a very clear and simple vision for the store. “The clothes we offer are timeless and classic,” she says. “We focus on pieces that are well made and versatile.” Chandler believes in a “less is more” philosophy of fashion. “We want you to find a few things that you love and feel good in,” she says, “things that you wear for years, not disposable clothes.”
Chandler says the fashion Valise sells is not just for a season. She wants to help customers find blouses for May that can layer with sweaters in December. She also thinks that a few well-chosen pieces that really work can be combined and recombined to make a lot of different looks.
“I think you should be able to pack five pieces from our store for a 10-day trip,” Chandler says.
The clothes Chandler selects for the store have a European sensibility, but many are American-made. She seeks out lines that subscribe to a philosophy of quality over quantity and reflect the classic luxury sensibility of the shop. One of the lines she carries is Frame; the clothes are inspired by London and European fashion. The store carries a mixture of European and American made clothing. Helfrich LA is a self-described line of flexible, luxurious basics also made in LA. Avoiding sweatshops and the quick-cheap mentality is at the heart of the boutique part of the shop.
But what about the “Apothecary” in the store’s name? That refers to the skin care and makeup Valise carries—lines such as Arcona, a skin care line associated with a California spa that uses nothing but natural ingredients without dyes or added perfumes, and Kari Gran, a brand offering a full line of products that emphasize a “natural, safe, mindful approach to beauty.” All the skin care and make-up Valise sells is priced in the same neighborhood as department-store products. Chandler thinks that the targeted way these lines are organized—Arcona, for example, markets a concept they call the Basic Five Regimen which makes it easier for customers to find what works best. And, if some of the products are a bit more expensive, the individualized advice and guidance you get are part of the investment.
If you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift and can’t decide on the perfect thing, relax—Valise has gift certificates.
Chandler wants the women who shop with her to feel special, and she certainly wants everyone who walks through the door to realize that Valise is unique, but she doesn’t want anyone to feel intimidated by the elegance of the shop. “We love it when people drop in and just take a look around,” she adds. “We want our customers to feel they are doing something special for themselves, and we also want them to feel comfortable and welcomed.”