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Getting an audience with the Red Empress isn’t hard. As long as you can work around stylists Asu and Aesha’s punishing shoot schedules, wind through Bandra’s lanes to locate the right bungalow, get to the 1st floor and make sure the dog is tied up.

But then that’s half the charm of locating two neat racks of vintage clothes now, isn’t it?

After a week of calling, we finally get an appointment with Asu, one half of vintage clothing enterprise, Red Empress, on a reign-y Saturday evening. On a white wrap-around balcony, sequinned tops shimmer and impossibly silky shirts threaten to slip off their hangers and turn into pools at our feet.

Asu wears one such shirt with denim cut-offs, making the vintage garment feel modern and entirely her own. “I always tell my customers that you don’t necessarily have to pair vintage shirts with dainty skirts and pearls.”

Last Sunday was the Red Empress’ first pop up at this Bandra address, a retail format that Asu and Aesha plan to follow in order to work around their day jobs (individual appointments will be entertained as well; follow their Instagram page for pop up dates).  Asu has always been a thrift shop scrounger and Aesha, though not present in court the day we visit, chimes in on the phone to say she’s organised many a heist in her grandma’s closet. This affinity to own special, pre-loved clothing is what brought Asu and Aesha together to start Red Empress. They source clothes from vintage and thrift shops around the world, particularly in New Zealand where Aesha grew up.

Rare Spotting: Blue Jays and Hot Birds

During your shopping appointment, you will be offered tea or coffee, while you browse prints that truly seem to have appeared from other decades: hand fans on red jumpsuits; link chains on shirts; lavender daisies on blazers. And velvet. There’s a lot of that; find the extremely stroke-able soft black blazer with a front tie bow; or Asu’s favourite multi-coloured abstract print jacket that would look great with a short sheath. Also fish out an emerald green silk shirt, lavender off-the-shoulder dress; and purple corduroy pants formerly used to style actor Jacqueline Fernandez.

We’re not big fans of the big sequined pieces ourselves, so we take solace in the fact that stocks are replenished every month. And in this post-Zara sale season, we’re particularly comforted that a purchase here will not result in us running into a clone at the coffee shop down the street.

Getting there: Red Empress, follow them on Instagram here or call 9167372912 for appointments, price ranges from Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000.

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