Laura Dols: Amsterdam's Bejewelled Aladdin's Cave

7th June, 2017

Ask any Amsterdam devotee to assess the city's style districts and, more often than not, the charming 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) will be cited as an indisputable show-stealer. Its picturesque nine-street setting - each avenue sandwiched between eye-catching canal banks - pairs quirky independent cafes with a diverse assemblage of boutiques. From ethical skincare specialists (with the most coveted packaging) to dainty, gold-laced jewellery purveyors, no design-driven stone is left unturned. Yet despite this abundance of unique retail outlets, singling out the crown jewel of 9 Straatjes' shopping scene is easily achieved:

Vibrantly claiming residency on Wolvenstraat {and putting its neutral-hued neighbours to shame}, Laura Dols draws its name from the style aficionado who first opened its doors. Clocking up over five decades worth of colourful vintage expertise, its speciality in procuring 1950s dresses becomes quickly apparent. A vivid selection of flouncy tea frocks cascade down the window-display wall, greeting visitors with whispers of chiffon and flashes of lace. One {read: I} could happily while away a morning deciphering the main features of this entrance display - a flower-emblazoned jacket here, a heavily-embellished handbag there - but the sartorial contents awaiting inside prove too tempting to hesitate:

Boasting four storeys of bewitching wares that are showcased, quite literally, from floor to ceiling, the boutique could easily double as a 20th century starlet's walk-in wardrobe. Each carefully-curated collection travels through style decades with ease; from a rainbow rail of 80s-esque leather jackets to an array of vividly-embroidered waistcoats (the latter evoking early 1900s Dutch costume). A generous assortment of textures find their home here, with colour-popping silk shirts and tactile woollen cardigans displayed beside a glistening selection of chainmail purses. Moreover, while the condition of pieces on offer is impeccable, affordability prevails; starting from the wealth of elaborate tapestry purses at €5-€10 a pop. This profusion of coveted garments and accessories was only set to increase, tenfold, as I ventured forth to Laura Dol's lower levels:

A sartorial appetiser of smoking jackets and faux-leather ties characterise the mezzanine floor, before a charming wooden staircase gives way to a basement filled with kaleidoscopic treasures. Possessing various genres of jewel-encrusted vintage finery, this space is the ultimate hunting ground for style *maximalists* - especially those searching for one-of-a-kind eveningwear. With displays effortlessly fusing all manner of 20th-century style eras, visitors could be forgiven for suddenly conjuring up false special occasions - giving themselves the perfect excuse to purchase that floor-length, sequin-covered, happiness-inducing frock or encase half-a-dozen glittering gowns into their travel baggage. As explorers of the boutique's upper level will concur, such enticing options are certainly not limited to grown-up consumers:

Those resilient enough to avoid complete distraction by the boutique's lower-tiered rooms will find a haven of colourful kidswear awaiting on the top floor. Positioned just above the entrance room as a visible sun trap - its far window pours brightness into each well-dressed nook and cranny - an abundance of print-based offerings are colour-coded on each display. This rainbow of childrenswear is eclectic enough to transform your little ones into any character they so choose: prince or princess, adventurer or Alice in Wonderland {cue an array of miniature tea dresses}. Accompanied by a selection of home textiles, each replete with equally vibrant patterns, these quality-driven designs tie in seamlessly with the core ethics of sustainability: buy less, but buy better. Such empowering morals permeate the entirety of Laura Dol's inspiring space: vintage shopping, in its most uncomplicated summary, lengthens the lifespan of pre-existing clothes and thus minimises their ecological impact. These concepts are further elaborated on in last month's Amsterdam vintage guide {see the concluding paragraph for more details}.

Whether you're a long-established vintage cognoscente or a newcomer to the 20th-century clothing scene, Laura Dols makes for an indispensable visit during your next Amsterdam voyage. Its style-infused cherry-on-top revealed itself towards the end of my boutique exploring: each Friday & Saturday afternoon, a specialist tailor arrives in-store, adjusting the coveted finds of each customer to their precise measurements. This wonderful feature echoes atelier practises of old, and gives an even greater sense that investment purchases - rather than mindless consumption and disposal - are celebrated here. Impending brides & bridesmaids-to-be can also avail of these made-to-measure services, via the boutique's sister shop which centres on antique wedding dresses. Make no mistake: once a vintage treasure captures your heart in this beloved establishment, it will reside happily - and vividly - in your wardrobe for many seasons to come.

Laura Dols is located at Wolvenstraat 7, amidst Amsterdam's 9 Straatjes district - its openings are 11am - 6pm, 12pm openings on Sundays & 7pm closings on Thursdays. The boutique website can be fully explored "here" {a reasonably well-updated Instagram details the in-house collections} while further details on its antique bridal atelier can be discovered "here". A careful selection of Amsterdam's vintage shops can be digitally toured "here", in a recent feature published for Fashion Revolution Week 2017

The manner in which you care for your purchased garments is key to making significant reductions on clothing emissions: the AEG Care Label Project is a brilliant initiative that can play an invaluable role on washing habits throughout your sustainable-design journey. Doubling the useful life of clothing from one to two years reduces emissions by a staggering 24%. No one consumer is too small, nor insignificant - we can make a crucial difference as individuals, but together we can generate even greater levels of positive change. Empower yourself with knowledge by visiting Fashion Revolution - their ethos is nothing short of life-changing.

Amelia xx

La Femme Éclectique