The more tanks roll, the better a boudoir sounds.
The boudoir--a private dressing room shuttered from earthly cares--isn't some fallout-shelter-style escape. The word, derived from the French bouder (to pout), goes way back to the Middle Ages. That's when the boudoir was where young ladies were sent for a "time out." For modern folk, it's a satin-quilted haven of serenity where one retires to matte one's complexion and steel one's nerves. A couple of hours before the mirror, imbibing the soft music and scented air (and maybe a wee nip of an adult beverage), restores the soul for the perversities of public life. And since we've got plenty of data to drink in these days, there's never been a better time to designate and decorate a space for private contemplation. Luckily, you have a new and invaluable resource--Jeffrey Kyle's Glamour Gallery.
The gallery, which opened on April Fool's Day, sits alongside the neighborhood anchor, Lady Luck Vintage. The latest business to bloom on this thriving eastside intersection, it showcases everything from shapely mirrors and '50s figural table lamps to ballet-dancer prints. The store is dedicated to offering accoutrements for styling your sanctuary. But the boutique's best find is its extensive collection of vintage cosmetics.
Kyle, 35, is a vintage-junk veteran in a vintage-saturated town. He's lived in Portland off and on for nearly 20 years (several of the "off" years were spent biting a chunk out of the Big Apple). He was the original owner of clotheshorse hangout Magpie and worked for years at Lady Luck, so this new store had to have a special Hedwig-meets-Gabor-sisters moxie. "Boudoir chic" it became: Lucite lipstick holders, gilded atomizers and drawers full of makeup from the golden age of mass-produced glamour.
With their wispy, gilt-script labels and Ÿber-feminine tuberose-and-talcum reek, these vials ooze the sotto voce intrigue of the boudoir--Germaine Monteil (Superglow Face Powder), DuBarry (makeup base in Bronze). Oh, the secrets that Lady Esther milk glass cold cream jar could tell!
Though the store also has a flair for kitsch oddities (poodle-shaped earring trees, Chef Boyardee throw pillows), Kyle's passion is beauty products.
"[I used to watch] my mother transform herself with liquid eyeliner. I was bewitched by all that fantasy and glamour." He points to a display bust with cat-eye makeup and that "we'll always have Paris" expression. "I did drag for years and used vintage cosmetics to emulate that look."
But Jeffrey saying he once did drag is like saying Martha Stewart used to be a caterer. His drag-spertise has helped to give this tongue-in-cheek boutique its campy oomph.
Business partner Jill Nicholson, 37, knows Kyle's taste intimately (she used to sell him shoes at Magpie). When combing estate sales for samples of midcentury ethno-chic, she makes sure to set her eye on Nana's cosmetic cache. Kyle implores housecleaners everywhere: "If your grandmother, mother or drag queen lover dies, please don't throw anything out. Give me a call."
Kyle has other advice for the first-time boudoir builder: "Start with a good vanity." (Sorry, the gallery's amply mirrored specimen is not for sale, but these forgotten furnishings are widely available at your finer junk shops.)
Second priority: "soft, flattering light." Revising one's face in daylight may be good advice for a barely there, au naturel look, but beauty the Lady Esther way calls for somewhat rosier illumination. Kyle recommends a pair of matched lamps made for those tiered shelves that flank dressing tables. Op-tions abound at the gallery.
"Everything here is beautiful and artist-designed," Kyle says. Even the Norelco Complexion Fresh console?
"[That console] is the kind of stuff most stores might keep as 'flavor' but would never sell to you," sniffs Kyle. "Customers should feel like they can take home anything in here. With so much anger and greed out and about these days, I want this store to be a bubble of positivity."
And so should your boudoir.