Cenci is tucked away in Nettleford Place, the street behind the post office. Appearances can be deceptive; there’s an unassuming warehouse facade, but ring the bell and you are buzzed into a vintage treasure trove. Bags, shoes, jumpers, hats are stacked up high on shelves above bulging clothing rails.
The business originated in Florence, Italy in 1971 and is run by husband and wife team Massimo and DeDe. From 1985, Cenci operated for years in Covent Garden with the later addition of the current premises functioning as a warehouse. Since 2005 both the retail and wholesale business have been based solely in our very own West Norwood.
DeDe gave a tour of their stock. It included knitwear from the sixties to eighties, suits, dresses, forties and fifties Californian ranch wear, vintage designer t shirts, as well as antique clothing kept stored away for the discerning. There was even a collection of Tyrolean clothing; authentic traditional clothes and hats from the Alpine region of Austria. This included an Austrian 1940’s fireman’s dress coat. From another corner of the shop, DeDe revealed her current favourite item; a unique hand stitched 1960s cotton skirt suit in psychedelic colours.
So who are Cenci’s clients? Well, the design teams of high end fashion houses, looking for style ideas. Theatre, opera and film costume departments needing authentic clothing for their productions. Musicians seeking a style before they’ve made it big. DeDe laughs; when they’ve made it big, they switch to contemporary designer wear. However, customers also include everyday folk looking for well made clothing. Breton boating jumpers are in big demand and accessories sourced in America like belts, bags, cufflinks, which make unusual gifts.
As our intrepid FEAST reporter was leaving, the Cenci team rolled into action to serve a customer. From suitcases and drawers items were rapidly located to meet their client’s very exacting shopping list of vintage.
Mon – Sat: 11 to 6pm and the first Sunday of every month