If you’re lucky enough to have paid a visit to Encore Dress and Vintage Agency, you’ll know this is no ordinary shop.
You might not expect to find clothes once worn by people connected to the royal family, least of all in the Aberdeenshire village of Fettercairn, just outside Laurencekirk.
From the cream suit which Andie MacDowell wore in Four Weddings and a Funeral, to preloved designer labels such as Chanell and Dior, you never quite know what you may discover at Encore, with its enchanting window displays and nostalgic feel.
Of course that’s all part of the experience, and the reason why Encore has stood the test of time. Quite literally, as it was originally used as a Tailors and drapery shop in the 1990s.
Proud owner Carrie Murdoch is preparing to celebrate 25 years in business, having first come on board when she had three children under five.
Her love of vintage is infectious, but at the heart of Encore is sustainability.
You don’t need to be in the market for an immaculate 1920s flapper dress, with the shop offering a whole range of preloved styles from designer to mother of the bride outfits, alongside gifts and homeware.
We caught up with Carrie and found out why people are finally on board with her determination to give beautiful clothes a lifetime of wear.
“I joined the business when my three children were very young,” said Carrie.
“I was also running another business at the time and my husband worked away for six months of the year.
“It was all a bit crazy. When my business partner, Christine, retired from Encore, I took over.
“We had a mutual interest in vintage, preloved and sustainability.
“Sustainability wasn’t a buzz word back then, so it was very hard to get that point across. I’ve been banging on about it for years, and people used to roll their eyes at me.”
Carrie believes her upbringing means she has always been attracted to buying second hand as opposed to brand new, although Encore does stock a selection on new vintage style clothes.
“As a student in Aberdeen, I always used second hand and vintage shops,” she said.
“There weren’t actually many vintage shops around back then.
“As a young child I had very elderly aunts. They gave me their vintage clothes and jewellery to dress up in, I absolutely loved it.
“I was brought up in the generation of make do and mend.
“If things broke, you fixed them or you recycled. You passed things on and you passed things down.
“I’ve never understood the throw away mentality, so it’s fantastic to see more preloved shops opening.”
Encore did not offer vintage when Carrie first joined, partly because it wasn’t buyable in a rural location.
But with changing times, Carrie sneaked some glorious pieces in, and the shop has evolved from one small room to six rooms full of treasure.
“We class ourselves as a mini department store in the country,” said Carrie.
“We have everything, including top end designers. We’ve also recently expanded to offer small interior pieces. We took on the upstairs of the building for gifts and homeware.
I think people are coming out to the country more, they want a unique experience.
“City centres have demised somewhat, and people are looking for something more unusual.”
“It’s all about the destination and spending time in the shop.”
Carrie has built up a loyal fan base, with customers sending both preloved and vintage pieces from all over the UK to be sold at Encore.
“Confidentiality is very important to us,” said Carrie.
“We have a lot of high end clients, partly because we’re in an area where royalty visits.
Years ago we had the suit which Andie MacDowell wore in Four weddings and a Funeral, plus a few of the hats.”
“We’ve also had a very unusual handbag which came from royalty, and we’ve dressed people for some amazing occasions – from royal weddings to opening the Houses of Parliament.
“We’re very diverse, from dressing girls for their prom to providing outfits for an 100th birthday party.”
It is the pieces with stories to tell which truly make Carrie’s heart sing.
“Pre pandemic, a lady came into the shop. She must have been in her 80s and she had a suitcase with her,” said Carrie.
Inside was an original 1920s flapper dress, the beading exactly how it would have been.”
“I almost fell over in shock. She had things which she remembered her mum wearing as a child.
“There was also a parcel wrapped up in brown paper and string. Inside was a Burmese silk dressing gown, it still had the creases in it.
“She remembered her uncle sending it over from Burma.
“A few days later another lady came in. She was from Canada and she asked me if I had any silk dressing gowns, as she was a collector.
“I had just the thing, and was able to wrap it in the original paper.
“A beautiful white prom dress was also in the suitcase, originally worn in the 1950s. That was a very special day for us at work.”
Carrie believes her own style is best described as ecclectic, with a quirky mix of oufits depending on the occasion.
Encore is able to show some of its gorgeous items via social media, but Carrie is a people person at heart.
“There’s so much laughter in the shop and I’m all about personal selling,” she said.
“I think now more than ever, people are wanting to touch base with all that is real.”
You can find Encore Vintage on Facebook and Instagram @Encoredressandvintageagency.
Or visit the website at https://www.encoredressagency.co.uk/