A SECOND-hand clothes shop in Edinburgh has become a must-visit for celebrities including Hollywood A-listers.
The vintage clothing on offer at 175-year-old W. Armstong & Son has attracted stars of the calibre of Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon, Anne Hathaway and Kylie Minogue.
Musicians, models, comedians and actors – who also include Kate Moss and Debbie Harry – snap up items of clothing up to a century old for as little as £7.
Stars love the store because the vintage clothes give them an immediate distinctive look.
The most recent visitor was comedian Noel Fielding of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Mighty Boosh fame. Fielding turned up in his own red fluffy coat, tried on a velvet cape, and bought a Ramones T shirt.
He signed the guest book last week, describing the store as a “wonderland of vintage nuggets”.
Singer Sophie Ellis Bexter signed the book last year writing: “I always come here when I’m in town. Great for a rummage”.
Despite being visited by some of the most wealthy people in the world, items such as a 1930s lace gown bought by Kidman sell for anything between £10 to £35. The store says the source of its clothing is a trade “secret”.
Manager Jane Barrow, who has worked for Armstrong’s for over 18 years, said: “Debbie Harry popped in around six years ago.
“She ended up buying kilts but I’m not sure what they were for. The hilarious thing is we were actually playing her music while she was in. She was like, ‘turn that off’, but was just having a joke.”
Jane also revealed that one of the nicest customers she has ever met was none other than Absolutely Fabulous star and activist, Joanna Lumley, who popped in last year.
“She was just lovely, what an amazing woman. She’s so polite, graceful and humble, just lovely.
“She ended up buying a top, it wasn’t even really vintage, just quite plain. I was so in awe and tried to give her it for free but she just wouldn’t have it. She insisted on paying but in the end I managed to get her to accept it at half price.”
Nicole Kidman signed the visitor book in 2012 after buying a 1930s vintage lace gown.
And Les Miserables actress Anne Hathaway even managed to take a piece of Armstrong’s display back to the states with her.
“When Anne came in she was very Hollywood, she had this great big hat on. She was in Edinburgh for a film at the time and had took some time to come shopping.
“She seen a vanity set that she liked but it was one of our display pieces. We aren’t actually meant to sell anything out of display but as it was her, we did.
The store has attracted dozens of musicians such as Jarvis Cocker, Kaiser Chiefs, Florence Welch and Noel Gallagher.
“Jarvis Cocker popped by about eight years ago. He was brilliant. I showed him a few cord jackets as obviously that’s what he’s always seen wearing and he just said yeah and started looking at other things. I was thinking oh no, I must have been stereotyping him.
“Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine has been in quite a few times. She’s lovely, just really nice and takes time to engage with staff when she comes to the counter.”
And supermodel Kate Moss and her rockstar hubby Jamie Hince visited the store back in 2008 before buying a number of “novelty” items.
“She came in with Jamie and looked obviously fantastic. She was dressed quite plain in jeans and a plain top but still looked amazing, but she could make a sheet look great couldn’t she?
Pint-sized Australian singer, Kylie, bought a pink cashmere cardigan from the store – costing only £7.
“She had her hair scraped up and didn’t look glamorous at all. It was only when she came over and started chatting to me that her accent came out that I recognised her. I said to her, ‘Is it you?’ and she just replied, ‘Yes it’s me’.
Jane puts the high level of celebrity clientele down to recommendations from friends and nearby hotels.
“I think it’s a lot to do with word of mouth – famous people must talk to each other.They don’t want to wear things that everyone else is wearing. Like when you’re in a band, you just gravitate to stylish, vintage clothing and Edinburgh is such a little place.
“I also think that sometimes hotels tell them to come here as we are kind of like a secret shop – a little underground secret.”