70 Marylebone High Street, London W1
Who you need to know
Owner Kenya Cretegny (left)
Brands include Damaris, Fleur of England, Hannah Marshall, Marlies Dekkers, Pistol Panties
If successful retail is about creating an experience, then Apartment C is the doyenne of that mantra. Its location in the village-feel Marylebone High Street in London is spot-on, while the store itself evokes a boudoir feel through its sheer love of decadent whimsy.
Silk cushions, vintage chandeliers, varnished armoires and winged leather chairs welcome shoppers to a world of delicately scented airs.
But it’s not all fin-de-siècle aestheticism: underpinning this sumptuous lingerie specialist is the careful buying and razor-sharp mind of former Central Saint Martins graduate Kenya Cretegny.
“It would be much easier to paint the walls white and put out rails of black, white and nude underwear,” she says. “I want to make the lingerie industry more interesting. It’s a niche market, but we see ourselves as full-on fashion retailers.”
Cretegny knows she is at the vanguard of lingerie retail, sourcing emerging brands that go on to be picked up by bigger stores. She describes her mission as: “to make Apartment C the Dover Street Market of lingerie”.
It’s not always easy, says Cretegny: “I describe it as running through mud in high heels.” But here, amid the sensuous black walls and the lustre of gold furniture, it all seems worth it. Shoppers not only develop a heightened awareness of their fingerprints (the staff must be compulsive cleaners) but must be utterly persuaded by the scent and look of this wonderful store. Still, from Cretegny’s point of view, when devilish seduction is your stock-in-trade, you should be pretty darn good at it.