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French accent: Chic Jolie clothing shop opens downtown

Published 4:20 pm, Saturday, September 22, 2012

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  • Alla Ionescu, owner of Chic Jolie, a new women's clothing store, stands in her storefront at 24 Taylor Place. Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012/ Westport, CT Photo: Paul Schott / Westport News
    Alla Ionescu, owner of Chic Jolie, a new women's clothing store, stands in her storefront at 24 Taylor Place. Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012/ Westport, CT Photo: Paul Schott

 

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The French connection continues at 24 Taylor Place.

Alla Ionescu has opened Chic Jolie, an independent women's clothing shop that features a range of French designers. Chic Jolie stands at the corner of Taylor Place and Jesup Road, in the same space as the Westport franchise of the French-themed children's and baby clothier Jacadi, which Ionescu ran from 2004 until last month. Ionescu also formerly owned Jacadi's Greenwich franchise.

After Ionescu decided not to renew her contract with Jacadi, she sought a new challenge. With many of the women who shopped for their children at Jacadi looking for more sartorial choice for their own wardrobes, Ionescu said she gravitated toward women's fashion.

"If you walk on the avenue, there are great brands, but you can find them in department stores, you can find them in malls," she said. "Getting their input, it was very interesting to see what people were looking for. So that became an inspiration -- to do something different."

As indicated by the store's French name -- meaning chic and pretty -- Chic Jolie has strong Gallic ties. All of the shop's clothes are designed by French labels and all of the merchandise is made in France or Italy. Ionescu travels to Paris every two to three months, where she buys all of Chic Jolie's stock in designer showrooms, boutiques and the renowned department store Galeries Lafayette.

The store's design also alludes to the French capital: Its purple marquee shows a woman in an elegant dress framed by the Arc de Triomphe, while the Eiffel Tower stands in the background. Inside, Chic Jolie's fixtures evoke the Christmas lights that adorn Paris' famed boulevard, the Champs Elysees.

Chic Jolie's most popular designers include Yuka, Patouchka, On Parle de Vous, Le Petit Baigneur and Deby Debo.

Dresses and tops predominate in Ionescu's 1,100-square-foot storefront, but she also sells tunics, jackets and scarves. Most of Chic Jolie's merchandise is priced between $150 and the high-$300 range.

Chic Jolie also sells the Angels & Emeralds jewelry line, which is designed by Fairfield resident Michele Gramesty.

A diverse clientele frequents Chic Jolie, Ionescu said.

"Westport is all about the very young woman," she said. "And it doesn't mean that there's an age attached to it. There could be a 60-year-old grandmother who is extremely fit and athletic and looks amazing in these clothes. And it could be a young woman who just got married and moved from New York City and who is looking for a SoHo-type of shop."

Chic Jolie complements its next-door neighbor, Soleil Toile, an independent lingerie and swimwear shop that stands at the corner of Taylor Place and Post Road East, said Soleil Toile's store manager, Kristy Larson.

"We're very glad that we have them as neighbors," Larson said. "We feel that our businesses are a good fit. We're glad to have an upscale women's dress shop next door because we feel we can fulfill their customers' needs with their foundations. There's a synergy."

Chic Jolie and Soleil Toile are two of the handful of independent clothing retailers that remain in downtown Westport.

And, unlike many clothing chains in the town center, customers should not expect that items they see one day in Chic Jolie will hang from the racks even a few weeks later.

"Once we sell something out, we don't replenish it," Ionescu added. "There'll be new pieces and new styles coming in. We always want to be unique."

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott