The Genteel
October 21, 2017
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Celestine Eleven logo and store floor. Images courtesy of celestineeleven.com.

Product display within the store.
Photograph courtesy of Celestine Eleven.

Offering itself as an "alternative luxury store," Celestine Eleven opened last month in the fashionable Shoreditch borough. The East London-based shop marries fashion with holistic and spiritual thinking, aiming to not only reform our wardrobes, but also how we approach the experience of shopping.

Former stylist and founder of Celestine Eleven, Tena Strok, describes the store as "a new breed of holistic retail experience," which "cater[s] to the new customers' entire consciousness, whilst offering alternative points of view on both life and luxury."

For Strok, her daily motto comes from the title of Bhagavan Das's book, It's Here Now (Are You)? The thought not only summarises her uncompromising and innovative presence in the retail world, but also the deeply spiritual journey that she has embarked upon to reach this point.

The idea for the shop, she says, "was inspired by the eastern model of wellness, the mind-body dynamic, sub-cultural trend, long summers spent in Topanga canyon, Tibetan theory, the study of human consciousness and a lifelong investigation into the true nature of reality. [...] More than anything, it is a luxury store for the alternative customer."

People are beginning to understand that luxury stands for a certain way of living, of being, as opposed to simple possessions.

The shop itself has an industrial yet enchanting feel. The walls are soft grey with copper pipes and wooden surfaces. Bursts of vivid green shoot out from minimalist white plant pots, forming a bespoke plant garden. Gnarled tree stumps act as temporary displays in the centre of the room, while a glass desk can be found further down. London-based artist Philip Smiley, who has previously worked for the likes of Burberry, Comme Des Garcons and Stella McCartney, was chosen to illustrate a Celestine inspired in-store mural.

Within the concrete-clad shop, designer garments, including ready-to-wear labels such as Meadham Kirchhoff and JW Anderson, are positioned alongside healthy raw foods from Lifestream, apothecary products from Alexandra Soveral, Dr Jackson's, Sort of Coal, Stop the Water and Jao, natural candles from Nineteen Candles, vitamin supplements from Naturya and Higher Nature, and accessories from the likes of New York-based jewellers Wendy Nichol and Pamela Love.

When asked to describe the shopping experience at Celestine Eleven in three words, Strok replied: "enlightening, inspiring and rejuvenating." By providing alternative health and spirituality products alongside designer wear, Strok says that "people are beginning to understand that luxury stands for a certain way of living, of being, as opposed to simple possessions. For us, luxury is equated with a high quality of living, which mind and body wellness is still a relatively underrated, yet integral part of."

The products chosen for sale are based on "originality, authenticity and a point of difference." According to Strok, a "holistic retail experience is one that focuses on wellness, an integral part of the luxury lifestyle, which most retailers have not seemed to explore in great depth. It's about focusing on the shift in human consciousness [...] that has generated a huge surge of interest in the mind-body dynamic."

Racks of clothes on display.
Photograph courtesy of 
Celestine Eleven.

Celestine Eleven's spiritual ethos continues through the in-store opportunities available for customers. Tucked away in the basement is a clinic offering relaxing and spiritual treatments such as acupuncture and reiki, with renowned facialist Alexandra Soveral sitting at the helm. There are seminars from leading pharmacognosist Dr Jackson on the importance of skincare, the chance for visitors to create their own bespoke aromatherapy oils in the "perfume playground," and "New Title" by photographer Miles Aldridge was launched at the store. When speaking with Hunger TV, Strok also mentioned plans for a "Celestine Mystical Night School," which she claims will offer "lessons from an enlightened mind and keys to mastering the universe."

While visiting Celestine Eleven may not carry the same spiritual experience as a trek across India, or a long-term ashram stay, it does offer a brief moment of peace and tranquillity within the hustle and bustle of modern life. Importantly, it also allows those who shop within its walls to embrace their love of fashion, without forgetting (as Yves Saint-Laurent once said), that "what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it."

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