Entering into the premises of Psychomoda in the heart of the Old Town it feels as if you have entered into a fantastical secret place which you want to share with those who are unaware of its existence. It is not, however, an opportunistic new arrival occupying the vacated space of a business which has fallen by the wayside as the vampiric fangs of the recession have bit into the jugular of many others in the area. Instead, Psychomoda is a long standing established business of 20 years-it opened in 1992- which is doing very nicely thank you very much.
This is, in no short part, exclusively to do with the forward thinking and integrity of its proprietor, Alison Harm, who has made it a prerequisite to understand and accommodate her customers’ requirements whilst adapting to the demands of the current climate whether it be financial, cultural or the fickle dictates of fashion. The fact that she manages to do all this whilst maintaining the shops-and just as importantly her own- identity and integrity is highly impressive in an era when many others jump to the dictatorial demands of style mags and find themselves in competition with the corporate juggernauts TopShop , Primark et al.
Psychomoda manages to provide clothes unlike any others available and with all garments being designed and manufactured on the premises-there is a workshop in the basement- most are one offs or at the very least a slight variant on the same theme. There is no chance of that embarrassing moment when you turn up to a party and encounter someone in the same outfit and this is due to the individual nature of Harm’s designs and the sense of occasion they engender. Despite this, recent forays into a more accessible daywear collection are proving highly successful especially amongst those desirous of moving away from the high street generic automaton look prevalent everywhere you turn. There is also a children’s range which is flying off the shelves at a frantic pace due to its individual nature and extremely reasonable pricing.
So what does this cornucopia of fashionable delights actually contain?
First to catch the eye and the feverish imagination is the Tartania Collection-considering the ubiquity of tartan, in particular the lauded and seemingly derivative Corrie Nielsen designs, on the catwalk at last weeks London Fashion Week it would appear Harm’s long-time endeavours are not merely streaming the zeitgeist but have pre-empted it- which mixes together an eclectic fusion of the traditional with the more avant-garde to create something unique, exotic and ultimately stylish. The tartan contrasts with silk and satin panels and a further modern take on tradition is followed through with plaid brooches adding another dynamic to an already burgeoning clashing and blending of influences.
Another favourite is the Prom Dress collection which proves popular around this time of year as the Graduation season starts to loom its sartorially demanding head and young girls and women want that special outfit guaranteed to stand out from the highly competitive crowd. The Corset Range has been a stalwart favourite right from the shops early days and although they seem to have slipped slightly out of favour-possibly due to the Burlesque movement being slightly on the wane perhaps- it is still popular enough to warrant its own section. A Vintage Collection-adhering to the theme of nostalgia termed the New Romantics- is a recent addition wherein Harm jazzes up vintage clothes-particularly the eighties on my visit- with various modifications or appliqué to give it all a contemporary twist and capture simultaneously forward and backward looking pieces.
This method of juxtaposing disparate elements not usually associated with each other is perhaps the thing which makes Psychomoda’s designs stand out from the crowd and the shop such a unique experience and in a climate of austerity and, let’s be honest, conservatism in the fashion world this is highly refreshing. Harm has been expounding this sense of individualism since the shops inception and the fact she is able to incorporate so many distinctive styles alongside each other in such a small space without any one of them feeling incongruous is also an amazing feat which shows she understands fashion and –more importantly- style with an intrinsic depth. This alone should allow Psychomoda to stand its ground whilst others around crumble as they swiftly go out of the fashion they so slavishly follow.
psychomoda is located at 22 St. Marys Street Edinburgh EH1 1SU
Shop opens 11am and closes 5.30pm Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and 6pmThursday and Saturday
Telephone 0131 557 6777
Facebook Page 320133669767