by Paula M. Riley
Debbie Flynn carefully chose the name for her new high end consignment boutique on Germantown Avenue. She named it Statement.
“You can make your own statement by the clothes you wear,” Flynn said. “Instead of wearing Channel and letting Chanel make your statement for you, pick clothes carefully and make your own statement.” she said.
Most of the clothing for sale at Statement originates from Flynn and her sister’s personal collections. The pieces represent a diverse mix of clothing and accessories from designers and artists across the U.S. and Europe; each item has its own uniqueness.
“When I wore these clothes and when customers saw them in the shop, the reaction was the same: ‘I have never seen anything like that before!’” she said.
A soft yellow cashmere sweater with blonde mink on the collar and lapels came from one of Flynn’s favorite designers in Paris. Another standout is a hand-stitched raw leather skirt and matching shearling throw from Whistles, her favorite shop in London. As she moves across the boutique Flynn selects pieces and names the cities from which they were purchased – Barcelona, Paris, London.
Each piece has a story Flynn is happy to share, though at times she admits parting with a favorite coat or sweater can be painful.
“My rule is if they haven’t been worn in two years, someone else can enjoy them – these clothes are treasures I enjoy passing on,” Flynn said.
In addition to her own collection, Flynn accepts items for consignment and also sells many items from the annual and highly lauded Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. She is drawn to the Show because she likes to support the arts and always finds creative and unique items.
Flynn shows an Arlin black and tan cardigan sweater, wonderful scarves and interesting leather handbags – all treasures collected at past PMA Craft Shows.
With its bright yellow walls and purple accent wall, the design of this boutique makes a statement as well. Jeff Werner created the logo and designed the open, spacious boutique, taking many pieces from Flynn’s home for décor.
An oil-on-canvas painting of the Greek Goddess Nike Flynn bought from a PAFA student, hangs behind the counter, and the dressing rooms boast colorful and interesting mirrors. Creating the right space was just as important as selling the right clothes, she explained. Flynn worked hard to make the boutique feel like a gallery of artistic pieces. Her great grandmother’s jewelry is presented in gorgeous cabinets and handbags are displayed on tables lined with silk scarves.
With such attention to presentation, one may assume Flynn has decades of retail experience. Quite the contrary, Statement is her first retail venture. Her fascination with clothing began as a child when she discovered her grandmother’s cedar chest, full of vintage clothes and sweaters.
“In high school I wanted to be different, so I wore my grandmother’s vintage clothes and never bought a new coat for ten years,” said Flynn.
She went on to law school at Temple and later worked for the Decker law firm. She refused to look “androgynous in a blue business suit” and claimed she broke the barrier by dressing fashionably with contemporary clothing and accessories.
She built her own practice in commercial transactions and real estate law that was extremely successful. During these years, she took shopping trips to Europe and amassed her amazing collection. Flynn later lived in Paris for several years and returned to the States five years ago.
Many pieces at Statement do not have labels, although shoppers can find items not only couture, but also bridge wear by Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman, Jones of New York and St. John.
“I only accept clothes are that 100 percent perfect and, even if done by a recognizable designer, are so unique that they make a statement that is not recognized as the designer’s statement,” Flynn said.
Clothing and accessories at Statement range from $40 to $750, but a $20 rack in the store hosts a collection of women’s pants and tops that she considers good quality but not good enough for the main showroom. Flynn hopes to open the basement of the boutique, naming it “Understatement” and selling discounted clothing.
Follow the purple awning to Statement, located at 7942 Germantown Avenue. With its sidedoor entrance, it is just beside Windfall Gallery south of Willow Grove Avenue.