Vert & Vogue has been a flagship of downtown Durham since they first opened in 2008. Located in Brightleaf Square, Ryan and Nadira Hurley brought us labels and designers made in completely eco-friendly fashion, brands with respectable missions on top of supplying high end, timeless pieces to stock our closets with. Vert & Vogue’s new location, Femme, inside the downtown loop at the Five Points intersection of Morris, Main, and Chapel Hill, is a specifically women’s boutique (don’t worry, menswear is still down the block at their Brightleaf location). New, fresh labels, eyewear, fragrances, ceramics, and books, come together to make a space that feels chic and timeless while still providing a welcoming, come-one-come-all air.
As Ryan Hurley, co-owner with wife Nadira, puts it, the theme at Brightleaf continues to be ‘luxury essentials,’ but the new store focuses on modern inspirations. Luxury essentials is a term we can get down with, as mixing fast fashion with unique treasures has become a way to introduce ourselves to higher-end retail. The best pieces I have personally added to my closet from Vert & Vogue are the ones I can pair with skinny jeans from H&M and, thanks to that touchstone staple, make the whole ensemble look unique and cover ready. Ryan and Nadira continue to provide these staple pieces to mix into your wardrobes at Femme.
“We’ve recently added new labels such as Ursa Minor, Black Crane, and Ace & Jig, all ready to wear designers that represent this vision,” Ryan said. “We’ve also introduced opticals into the new space with Raen sunglasses. Our aim is to create a fresh experience and mix of goods that creates a sense of discovery and delight.”
But in opening a new space, whether you’re a boutique, lunch counter, or bar, there are always kinks to work out. One of the funniest experiences Ryan and Nadira note while looking back at the expansion was settling on paint colors.
“It took about twenty-five different paint colors to decide on one for our bathroom. After testing at least fifteen samples, we made a decision, but when the color was up on the walls, we realized it didn’t work. We tested more samples, and repainted again. With banging and drilling in the background, our super on the job asked me the same question many times, ‘Did you just say you want to change the paint again?’ Yes, I did, and yes, we do.” Ryan said.
At the end of the day, the amount of time and care spent on designing Femme clearly shows. The space is bright with natural light from the glass front windows, it has exposed brick walls, moon glow white shelving, and is filled with the makings of a wardrobe to kill. Ursa Minor, designed by Elizabeth Hudson in Montreal, Canada, is one of our favorite new lines carried at the store. It’s a minimalist haven with stark but feminine lines and tailoring, soft, natural linens and cottons with just the right amount of blousy, airy effect.
Raen eyewear is one of the latest additions. They create all handmade, hand-cut products, and are sure to be your favorite new pair of sunglasses the moment you slide them on your nose. They’re heated and molded to achieve a special fit for any face that is comfortable and lightweight while still sturdy and stylish.
Ryan and Nadira are looking forward to connecting with the community more in this new location, and offering even more to the guys at their Brightleaf location, including a full sportswear collection with suits, sports coats, light jackets, shirts, and denim. As usual, everything is composed of fresh, breathable linens, with many lines using only organic cotton and natural indigo dyes. Care and craftsmanship are clearly emphasized in all products.
More women’s essentials are at Brightleaf, too, with crowd favorites Obakki and Coclico shoes, as well as home goods and books. Femme boasts a two level set-up, making it practically beg for special events and social gatherings, so make sure to keep an eye out for those in the future. Visit the beautiful location at the 353 West Main Street, and while you’re there, don’t worry if you find yourself short of breath. It happens to us, too.