Chic to chic

Arresting fashion: manager Jean Constable with some of the upmarket clothing and accessories on sale

Rye businessman Louis Swann has just opened La Maison, a dress agency selling high-end High Street and designer label clothes. The elegant boutique on Fishmarket Road sells “pre-loved designer labels at affordable prices”, ideal for those looking for clothes for a special occasion or who just want to add to their wardrobe without spending a huge amount.

La Maison is managed by Jean Constable who for several years worked at Roomings, the furniture store, in Hastings. Although Jean’s background is in soft furnishings she clearly has an expert eye for fine clothing and personally selects each item that goes on sale. The shop sells everything from the little black dress to bridal gowns, and even has a traditional Japanese vintage wedding kimono for sale. There are rails of smart day dresses, casual clothes and prom dresses, and all manner of accessories. So far the best-selling items have been hats, scarves and daywear.

Jean explained that the business model is very straightforward: Jean and the client agree a selling price for each item and once an item is sold the proceeds are split 50/50 between the shop and the client. If an item hasn’t sold after three months then the client can collect the item or it can be transferred to other linked agencies in London and Woodstock.

The shop sells clothes that are “good as new” and under two years old, although they will accept older garments from classic labels, such as Jaeger, that are in good condition. There is space in front of the shop for clients dropping off items and customers can use the Alsford Timber car park next door on Saturday afternoons and on Sunday.

Keen to support other local businesses the shop offers a 10% discount to loyalty card holders from the George Hotel, Rye Retreat, Elegant Nails, Herald and Heart and the Swann Gallery as well as Tenterden’s Rising Star and Vintage Bird in Hastings.

At the moment La Maison only sells ladieswear but there has been considerable interest expressed about menswear, so that may develop in the future. Meanwhile owner Louis is busy working on La Maison’s next phase, planned for late July/early August, when a soft furnishings and antique shop will open on the first floor. La Maison is a stylish addition to the shopping opportunities available in Rye and Louis and Jean deserve every success with this new enterprise.

La Maison is open from noon to 6pm, Thursday to Monday. Jean can be contacted on 01797 458604 or by e-mailing

Tony McLaughlin