Vintage remains a big deal and times are still tough so it was only a matter of time before a vintage shop started dispensing stiff cocktails alongside 50s gloves and hats. The address for this new place? Where else but Shoreditch.
Paper Dress has been riding the wave for years: rather than second hand, this is a proper boutique, collecting rare original pieces from all eras of fashion. The prices aren’t second hand either but that’s part of the deal since what you get is quality and style rather than soon-to-be-disposable clothes. Despite occupying the ground floor of an ugly 70s tower - which has floor to ceiling windows as its only merit - the shop still makes the best of the space. With optical black and white flooring and red curtains covering all the walls, once they decided to stock vintage furniture, it was only a small step to turn the space into a café and then a licensed bar. The feeling is still slightly makeshift but that may be corrected with time. Open till eleven over the weekend, the clothes are simply hidden behind the red curtains as the cocktails shakers take over.
The clientele is varied: you might only expect east London fashionistas donning vintage hairdos, 50s skirts and the mandatory red lipstick, but that is not the case. Paper Dress Bar attracts a variety of people, including random groups of blokes in town for the night, curious passersby and more. The music is decent, they have regular live bands and DJs and the tunes are not necessary stuck in the past. And yet there is something amiss with this place: people look slightly puzzled by the surroundings as their mind fails to reconcile the drinking with the shopping. This vintage-shop-cum-bar is a really good idea but it may be too ahead of its time…
Afternoon tea is perhaps the better option during shopping hours, especially as they offer tasty looking cakes. They serve all the regular suspects – latte, americano, cappuccino, espresso, tea, hot chocolate, iced coffee - at a decent £1.30-£1.80, plus a few cold drinks (£1.60-£2.20) suitable for the health conscious: diet Coke, juice, water and more. In the evening, their own cocktails (£4.50-£6 each or £19 to share) are the focus. The choice is rather limited but it will surely rise with time. Beer is, at the moment, an excellent choice, with an unexpectedly good selection: choose from quality lagers like Lowenbrau, Viru, Brooklyn lager (£3.40-£4.20); Belgians of the like of La Guillottine, Trappist Rochefort, Timmermans Fraomboise (£3.80-£5.40) and Blue Moon, St Peter’s Organic and Innis and Gunn (£3.60-£4.10). A handful of wines (£15-£19 per bottle with glasses available) complete the satisfactory drink list.
The Last Word
The idea is great, but the execution isn’t entirely successful. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before Paper Dress Bar really hits its stride.