Scandalous and Sexy in Somerset

Claudia Kapp, the owner of Frome boutique Deadly is the Female, has brought old-school Hollywood glamour to Frome. Alexandra Richards finds out more

Deadly is the Female is a boutique for any woman with an eye for true vintage Hollywood glamour and the desire to stand out in a crowd. It is run by young entrepreneur and designer Claudia Kapp, a graduate of the London College of Fashion and a vintage glamour enthusiast. Since the shop opened in 2008 Claudia has never been shy of causing a little scandal and often has stunning ‘live’ models in the shop front, demonstrating the gorgeousness of the garments on a range of different body shapes. The clothing is inspired by the divas of the 1940s and 1950s and is as individual as it is super-sexy, in that old-fashioned, understated way. Claudia began by telling me what she was up to before her move to Somerset.“I grew up in Bath so I knew Frome. After I graduated I worked as a designer for a small company in London, which was great fun and very creative but could be frustrating because of the size of the company. “I used to come home once a month to visit my parents in Bath and my mum would tell me that I really ‘had to’ visit Frome. So one day my husband and I duly went and absolutely fell in love. The St Catherine’s Hill area (now rebranded as St Catherine’s Quarter) reminded me of Portobello in London, with quirky bits and pieces that  you just don’t see on the high street. “We went into �poque, an interiors shop full of gorgeous French style and spoke to the lovely owner, Richard, who heard my musings about opening a boutique and strongly encouraged me to just do it! We carried on walking up the hill and there was an empty shop, as if by fate! Beforehand, I absolutely never did things on impulse, I’m a real planner by heart and I had no plans to leave London or have a shop. This was in August and we opened the boutique in November!”

Claudia went on to talk about her love for her new home town. “It’s the feel of the place that’s so lovely; it’s created by the people you meet on a day-to-day basis. There are artists, actors, musicians and other characters – you never know what your day will hold! People are smiling all of the time and everyone is so genuinely friendly. The encouragement and help I received when setting up Deadly was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

“Our philosophy is to celebrate curves, whether you’re size 8 or 18, and to get people back in timeless fashion that will last”

“Leaving London to set up the boutique was the scariest thing I have ever done but it was so worth it, everyone’s attitude made all the difference, it feels like everyone is working together to help you. In London, I never dreamt I could open my own boutique as it would have been too expensive. Moving to Somerset has given me the freedom to pursue something I never thought I would be able to.“My husband, Llewellyn, helps with the boutique too, in fact it’s a real family affair. My mum is our ‘Saturday girl’ and she’s brilliant. She absolutely loves doing it and she has a great eye, she’s really passionate. She tells people the truth,” Claudia laughs. “In fact, she can get rather bossy, but she’s great as she really helps people find what they look best and most comfortable in.

“So many men whisper to me ‘I love this shop’, as if it’s a confession! When we first opened, people weren’t too sure about what we were doing, as our clothes and underwear has a very burlesque feel to it, with a silhouette that hasn’t been in fashion for a while but there is a real move back towards that more hourglass shape and it’s fabulous. “It’s the most fantastic feeling when we style new clients and see their faces light up, and they stand differently too. We usually get people to try outfits on with heels as it gives the full effect and gives their confidence a real boost; a much better impression is created rather than standing in front of the mirror, posing in odd socks!

“So many men whisper to me ‘I love this shop’, as if it’s a confession!”

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“Our philosophy is to celebrate curves, whether you’re size 8 or 18, and to get people back in timeless fashion that will last.”I ask Claudia who her style icons are and she says, “It sounds a bit bizarre, but a lot of mine are cartoon characters! Jessica Rabbit is wonderful but I also love Cruella de Vil – without the dead puppies,” she hastens to add. “I also think the frivolity of fabric used in post-war clothing was just beautiful. I think we will start to see something similar, a backlash against disposable fashion, people choosing pieces that will last rather than having an item which you wash once then shrink it to Barbie doll size!”With Claudia at its helm, Deadly is the Female really is a one-stop shop for everything a retro Hollywood starlet could wish for.

My Somerset

Claudia’s favourite places“I adore going to Nunney, a tiny village near Frome with a castle. It’s just so beautiful, perfect for dog walking. And Shepton Mallet flea market is absolutely amazing. It goes on for the whole day and it’s full of amazing bags and jewellery and other lovely stuff. We bought the most gorgeous 1960s bedside tables from there, it’s just fantastic!”Your plans for Christmas?“We are definitely staying at home. The shop gets absolutely manic around Christmas so we have to be here, but it’s just gorgeous at that time of year, Frome gets even prettier! Walking down the street when the nights draw in earlier and the shop lights are sparkling is magical. The artisan market on 5 December is full of stalls and music, the shops will all be open and there is mulled wine and Baileys hot chocolate.”What do you love about Somerset?“That you can find little boutiques and towns that you feel people don’t know about, real undiscovered gems. I love the variety, you can go to places and discover things you had no idea were there, and of course the scenery is absolutely beautiful!”

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