A nice cup of tea is the perfect pick me up, but the cuppa that Rosie Richer sipped in Scarborough one afternoon was an intoxicating brew that sparked the revival of a whole street.
The transformation began two years ago when Rosie and her husband Julian discovered a quaint little tea room tucked away on South Street in Scarborough. It was a gem, but looked lonely and incongruous opposite an old laundrette and surrounded by buildings that had clearly seen better days.
But there was something about South Street and Rosie and Julian, a businessman who has invested heavily in Scarborough property, could see it had enormous potential. "We both love Scarborough and Julian was keen to invest here. We got talking to Liz Diver, the then owner of the tea room and she said the 1970s laundrette was for sale. That's how the interest in South Street started," says Rosie.
Julian bought the laundrette and then the wine shop next door. While the upper floor flats were renovated and let, the ground floor commercial space was free. "We decided to open a gallery and Julian let me have the wine shop section as a vintage boutique. I've always been interested in fashion and vintage," she says.
They opened 18 months ago and the gallery, which has been a success, leads directly into Rosie's Boudoir. The boudoir is dressed in soft colours with an abundance of pretty pinks and powder blues. Outside, the striking canopy and window displays are seductive promising a shopping experience laced with nostalgia and hints of a past that had romance and elegance and smelled of Soir de Paris.
The contents are the best of vintage rather the worst (the musty smelling variety) and include dainty leather gloves, glamorous marabou scarves, chiffon dresses from the 1940s and silk gowns from the 1920s together with carefully chosen costume jewellery, corsages, ornaments and endless collectibles that prompt reminiscence.
All of them are sourced by Rosie and come from her trips around the country and the world, with some forays onto eBay. "I often act as Julian's chauffeur and drive him round his stores and while he's busy with business I'll hunt out the nearest vintage store. I love vintage fairs too. We were in Amsterdam the other weekend and there was a giant car boot sale, where I found some fantastic dresses and tops for the shop.
"I love shopping but Julian isn't keen. He doesn't mind tramping around though and he now brings a little picnic stool and his phone so he can get on with making business calls while I shop."
She also makes some of the stock in her sewing room at home where she creates little knitted handbags, makes belts using vintage buckles, designs jewellery and customises new vest tops and twin sets with ribbons and roses to give them a vintage look. She has always been a creative dresser, preferring to mix vintage with modern long before it
Rosie's love of fashion was enhanced by her career as a top model that took her from her native North Yorkshire to London at the age of 19. While working for glossy magazines, being photographed by the likes of Norman Parkinson, Patrick Lichfield and Terence Donovan, and starring in pop videos, she met Julian there and they married in 1982.
He owns Richer Sounds, has a host of other business interests, a property portfolio and is well known for his philanthropy.
Although he is from London, Rosie was keen to move back to Yorkshire and they now live near York. She still models occasionally, oversees Julian's charitable foundation and sings in a band that Julian plays drums for. But she was looking for another interest. "I'm really enjoying the shop. I've always loved vintage fashion and wearing something a bit different and I collect old crockery. I love pretty, girly things from the past. I get down here every couple of weeks and I am continually sourcing and making things for the shop.
"You could call it a hobby in that I am not under pressure to make a living from it. But I want it to be a success and I get immense pleasure seeing people enjoy it and enjoying a street that is becoming interesting and attractive."
The boudoir and the gallery are managed by Angela Chalmers and overseen by Liz Diver, the former tea shop owner and South Street resident who introduced the Richers to South Street and its possibilities.
They bought the Francis tea room from her and leased it to its new owner, before buying another property further down the street and renovating and painting it. They also rent the shop window of the car parts business at the end of the street and have been trying to persuade other landlords to smarten up the exterior of their buildings. Inspired by the South Street revival, artist Ken Wood opened a shop, restoring, framing and selling paintings. Liz says: "South Street was thriving in the 50s and 60s but it had become a bit depressed and shabby. Rosie and Julian have made a big difference to the street. It's looking great."
It is also slowly being discovered and Rosie hopes this little enclave off the South Esplanade is a welcome addition to one of Yorkshire's favourite seaside towns.
"I love Scarborough. It's got so much going for it. It's not just the seafront and candy floss. It's pretty, with good restaurants, a great theatre and a growing artist community," says Rosie, who spent childhood holidays in the town.
"I hope this street adds to that. It's hidden away off the South Esplanade, a little bit off the beaten track, but I'm hoping it will become a destination outlet."
Open Thursday to Sunday, noon – 5pm. www.rosiesboudoir.co.uk; www.southstreetgallery.co.uk