A chat with Karen Elson in her new Music City shop~

British model and Nashville resident Karen Elson is settling into Music City even more so, after joining forces with Amy Patterson of the vintage store Venus and Mars. Elson was a frequent customer of the small store in Berry Hill and when she got word that it was closing she contacted Patterson via text about starting a new venture.

“I am the queen of sending three page text, ” laughed the porcelain-faced beauty while sipping from a wine glass at the new location on Belmont Boulevard.

Elson welcomed me in the new store, Venus and Mars: The Showroom, by first offering up a glass of Champaign. Her long flowery dress brushed the wooden stairs that led up to a quant low-lit room, where the tunes of Cab Calloway filled the air and classic pastel prom dresses decorated the walls. We casually chatted on the Victorian furniture.

“I like to pretend like we are in Paris in the 1930’s,” Elson explained of the mood the room breathed.

Elson says some of the items in the store are her own and others she picks up at estate sales in New York or London.

“I love 1930’s classic vintage clothes. Some may have wholes in them, but that gives them character.”

She then laughed about stitching the dress she was wearing, in the bathroom, just before the store opening.

Patterson decided to close the old location after feeling the clothes weren’t being appreciated.

“The location took on a life of it’s own that was disheartening. It felt like a novelty store,” Patterson explained.

The business partners said they wanted a space that was interchangeable. Space is one factor that I truly enjoyed about the store. There are so many times you go in a vintage or thrift store and everything is crammed in, making it difficult to find anything. The ladies credited store manager Talvin Beville, who worked for Louis Vuitton, for the spacious lay out.

There is clothing and accessories for men, women and even children downstairs that range in price from $15-$200. The pieces offered upstairs are more for special events, some can even be rented. The space allows for Patterson to work with styling clients, if needed. Eventually they would like to have an in house seamstress.

During our chat, the Mrs. Jack White and mother of two also expressed her love for Music City.

“I’ve spent almost 15 years of my life on a plane. I like Nashville, it’s lovely, brilliant and the people are very sweet. New York is one of my favorite places to be, but the quality of life here is better, more peaceful.”

The model and performer says now she only leaves town once every couple of weeks, depending on her work demand.

When asked who are the designers for next season Elson responded with, Kate & Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.

“I think they will be visionaries for 10 years to come,” adding that “with the recession I think people will also be looking to spend less.”

The red head nonchalantly admitted that she is not a fan of malls, “I’ve been to Green Hills Mall, but I get panic attacks. Malls freak me out.”

She also confessed to buying Halloween costumes for her children at Pottery Barn last year, which was another uncomfortable shopping experience.

However, there are some local places she loves- Escape, Pangea & The Iron Gate in Franklin

Elson had a tough time describing Nashville’s style, but admitted to liking some of it.

“Nashville has it’s own particular style. It’s glam, but more earthy. I Love the country stars, Loretta and Dolly and the glam dresses of the Opry stars”

She also noted the talent of Nashville’s Country Couture designer Manuel, who recently designed a suite for Jack White.

“I popped in on Manuel when he was designing the suit and was like can you put more rhinestones here and there.”

No doubt, Elson’s fashion vision ups the profile of the store that’s been voted “the best clothing store in America” two years in a row in GQ.


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