if there is anyone in this town who lives to promote all the local businesses in this town that have anything to do with fashion, art, decor, food, tchotchkeism, what have you... it is the lovely jen mccabe.
long ago jen did a lovely article for oregonlive featuring narcisse and i think it's high time we shared this little treat with you...
Noa Noa Available In U.S. At Narcisse
Now Americans can shop online for the once elusive Noa Noa label. Portland's own adorable boutique, Narcisse, is answering the fashion prayers of many by adding their merchandise to a new e-shop. Narcisse is currently the only U.S. retailer of the Noa Noabrand and the European chain has no plans to open any locations elsewhere in the country. We're so lucky to have lovely Narcisse right here in Oregon.
"Oooooh! I loooove your boots, where did you get them?" you blurt out to a stranger on the street. As the person looks down at their shoes and then meekly back up to meet your covetous gaze, you can almost predict the words that will slink their way out of their lucky gob. If they tilt their head ever so slightly and screw up their face a bit, you are undoubtedly about to hear that the most fetching boots in the most sublime color that you have ever seen are from somewhere far, far away. They got them while living or vacationing in blank (fill in the blank with somewhere amazing that requires a passport). With an on cue shrug of the shoulders, their polite response to your disappointed sighs will likely be, "I know. I'm sorry."
I think it is safe to say that most people will be on both sides of this scenario several times during their lifetime. I'd like to believe that the majority of the American population realize just how perturbing it can be to hear someone say, "You know, I just found them in this little town outside of Genoa..." or worse, "I can't seem to remember, maybe somewhere in Copenhagen?" Adding insult to injury that you are not at that moment—or in the foreseeable future—globetrotting and scooping up the dazzling nonpareil regalia found down the cobblestone lanes of other lands. As with many things in life, the dreamiest things that catch your eye and stand out as most bewitching, are often unattainable. Would you really want these things as much if they were more accessible? For the most part, the answer is a resounding, "Yes".
Nowadays, because of the internet, it is much easier to find treasures from all over the world. The web makes it simple for people to virtually visit the day-to-day life of other cultures. You may never see these exotic locales in person, but you can have their regional goods shipped right to your door. E-commerce makes buying beautiful imports just a click away, if you are willing to pay the exorbitant shipping fees. Even with the high price tag, this can be a great way to add interesting pieces to you closet or decor. That said, not everything is available. If you're like me and have a weakness for European magazines, there will always be the ones that got away. You'll find pages full of wonderfully simple wares that are readily available across the pond through chain stores (or even other U.S. cities - H&M!), but the distributors don't have e-commerce sites. Even worse is when you find that they do have an e-shop, but will not ship to the U.S.—no matter how much you plead.
This had been the case in regards to the Danish apparel and accessories label, Noa Noa. That is, until Narcisse came along. The dark and romantic boutique in downtown Portland's West End is the only shop in our entire country that carries the Noa Noa line. Since their inception in 1982, dozens of Noa Noa brand storefronts and thousands of boutiques that carry pieces from the label have opened in Europe. I can't tell you how many blogs over the years I have read with authors posting Noa Noa catalog pictures and shaking their virtual fists at the sky because they can't get their mitts on these pretty Euro basics. Each season on the net, devotees spread the word about the new softly hued must-haves from the line and American ladies are always in a tizzy because they can't have the pieces from this European equivalent to Anthropologie.
Before Narcisse, there have been one or two European sites that will ship their Noa Noa stock to U.S. clients, but the math can make you snap out of your pretty things induced haze pretty quickly. Convert your dollars into Euros and tack on the mad shipping fees and most people will not be able to justify the expense for these high volume garments. Once the cold reality of the massive final total for that sweet little sweater was in front of them, most people walked away from the online shopping basket empty handed and resolving themselves to making a pilgrimage when they made their way to Europe.
When Narcisseowners, best friends Dawn Bush and Heidi Goldsmith, were planning to open a boutique, they knew that they wanted Noa Noa to hold court over the retail space. Infrequent trips to Heidelberg to visit Heidi's sister had the ladies scrambling to the local Noa Noa shop to snatch up their latest soft, feminine looks from this Top 5 European apparel retailer. Dawn and Heidi are both romantics and the vintage inspired creations from the Danish company fit them like a glove. Smart nods to literature and specific points in history combined with high quality fabrics and construction always left them reeling for more.
Fast friends since meeting in high school in the small town of Sierra Vista, Arizona, the girls have always rallied for each other's dreams. Through high school and later as college roommates, the girls would fantasize about opening their own boutique someday. Life took them in different directions for more than a decade after college, but they always remained in close contact and the best of friends. Through all life's ups and downs they have been each other's biggest fans and supportive shoulders. It is rare to meet two people so eager to compliment the accomplishments and character of one another. In 2007, the timing was finally right for Dawn and Heidi to open their dream shop.
With fond childhood memories of visiting her family in Tillamook, Oregon, Dawn had already moved to Portland in 2005. Heidi was back living in Sierra Vista at the time, but the ladies knew that their small hometown wouldn't be the right place for their retail vision. Heidi moved to Portland in 2007 and at that point they were really able to start focusing on their shop plans. They scoured the city for the perfect spot and took the leap to open their storefront and join a small handful of emerging boutiques in downtown Portland's West End. The shop doors opened finally opened in September of 2008.
The name "Narcisse" was inspired by the tale of Narcissus. They wanted their customers to fall in love with themselves when they looked in the dressing room mirror. Narcisse is the end result of combining Dawn's background in visual merchandising, a love of somber music and their mutual affection for history, fairy tales and beautiful antiques. The undeniably girly shop is full of beautiful apparel and accessories from Noa Noa and Nick & Mo. Mixed in with these two labels are vintage estate jewelry and decor pieces, as well as the recycled vintage adornments by local designers, Veva Valentine and Brehan Todd.
Besides the Autumn/Winter 2009 Noa Noa and Nick & Mo lines coming in within the next week, there will be a couple of new additions to the shop. A couple of designers from Anthropologie have formed their own label, C Com Ca, and Narcisse will be stocking a few pieces from their A/W 2009 collection. Look for a new fitted winter coat from California company, Knitted Dove. The ladies have made the decision to keep their lines to a minimum and only choose pieces that work well together. Another wonderful thing about Noa Noa is that they work to create looks each season that will fit seamlessly into your wardrobe each season to compliment the looks from the previous season or year. The entire line is a cohesive collection of separates, highlighted by traditionally feminine details.
The dark and moody ambiance found at Narcisse may not be everyone's cup of tea and if you find that to be the case, you should look past the shop aesthetic. The clothing is really beautiful. Noa Noa and Nick & Mo will work for a wide variety of styles for office, getting all dolled up or casual weekends. Dawn and Heidi will be working tirelessly to get the new stock up on line once it rolls in. If you have already seen something from the Spring/Summer or Autumn/Winter 2009 lookbooks, give them a call to see if they have it in stock or if they might be getting it in soon.
Noa Noa's latest collection features four inspired themes. You'll find the fitted jackets, head scarves and longer skirt lengths typical of 1950's and 60's England. Woolly waistcoats and accessories of the Highlands. Bold colors in embroidery details and metal findings for Bohemian tunics and accessories. Then the soft tulle, lace, fine ruffles and soft wrap cardigans got their ballerina inspired pieces. They don't seem like they should all work together, but they do! Now, thanks to Narcisse, you don't have to go far to add them to your wardrobe.
Check the Narcisse blog for shop updates, merchandise photos and previews.
1015 SW Washington
Mon-Sat 11-6 Sun 12-5
Written by Jen McCabe
Photos © Jen McCabe, 2009.
jen was so sweet to sit down and interview heidi and i. it was really like talking to a long lost friend. only one tiny correction-it was my sister who lived in heidelberg that heidi and i used to go visit and wander around the hauptstraße and covet all the lovely wares at noa noa.
it was here that we would visit the absinthe store...some of which we smuggled back home pre-legalized absinthe period. tsk tsk.
and the bottle your own liquor store, h&m, and lots of candy stores.
we would stop for a minute to ward off travel vertigo with hot coffee, or stop in at tony's for the strangest yet best burrito ever. yep. a burrito in germany. shaved beef, yum tahini, tomatoes, lettuce, red onion wrapped in a tortilla. strange but true. and awesome.
right. back to jen. we love jen. she is all over this town and is a relentless supporter and shouter outer for narcisse. she's got mad style and a true love for all things portland.
check out her blogs...they are virtual encyclopedias!
thanks for the lovely words jen. much love!