Best of French puts Camden Passage store among Islington’s favourites
14:05 17 August 2014
Unique gallic boutique blazing a trail among London’s independent shops
It seems we’re always being urged to buy the best of British, but two entrepreneurs from the south of France had to turn to their homeland rather than compromise on quality or price.
Delphine Reynaud and Karine Duverneuil have brought a touch of Le Midi to Camden Passage with Hexagone, an increasingly popular concept store selling the finest in French designs.
The little shop is a gallery of Gallic brands which cannot be found elsewhere in London, including knives favoured by Picasso and scents offered up by the oldest candle-makers in the world.
The pair, who both live in Lower Clapton, have already found their shop listed among London’s elite, with Shopikon naming Hexagone as one of the top 10 design shops in the capital and MatchesFashion’s head buyer Natalie Kingham calling it her favourite shop in London.
“We found everything in London was so expensive,” said Delphine, 41. “As soon as you want to buy quality, you have to pay a lot of money and get designer products.
“Being French, we are used to having good-quality products that are not designer, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we bring some of our favourite French products to London?’ We thought Islington would be ideal as there are a lot of creative people and we used to come to Camden Passage all the time.”
Delphine met Karine, 38, through mutual friends more than a decade ago. They spent years discussing the project, using their backgrounds in marketing and communications to get the business off the ground.
It sells six categories of goods: home, beauty, children, stationery, household and fashion.
The 30 brands in a 27 square metre space include Cire Trudon, which has been making candles since 1643, La Botte Gardiane, the last surviving maker of boots for those who ride the legendary white horses of the Camargue, and Opinel, whose knives were used for sculpting by Pablo Picasso.
“Our philosophy when selecting products is authenticity, durability and timelessness – products that don’t depend on fashion,” said Delphine. “People want to know how what they buy has been made and where it comes from.”
Both women also have great belief in their brands, which was evident when Delphine threw a Duralex school tumbler to the floor to prove its indestructibility. The cup, made of tempered glass, was unscathed.
Hexagone will join many of Islington’s best-loved shops to form the Islington Design District as part of the London Design Festival in September.
n Visit londondesignfestival.com/islington-design-district