“What does Madame Matovu mean?” one might inquire. In Hebrew, it translates to “what is the good for the lady”; in French, the translation is “a woman who has seen everything.” The meanings are oddly fitting for the small shop located in Greenwich Village, a veritable paradise brimming over with vintage finds collected from everywhere around the world.
Rosemary Wettenhall, the owner, opened Madame Matovu in 2007, after a long career in fashion as a merchandiser working with designers. She explains that love of vintage is in her blood, and that, back in Uganda, people don’t throw anything away — everything is considered useful. This inherited eye has helped Wettenhall to cull a wide-ranging private collection of beautiful things, from dolls to vases to apparel.
As a long-time resident of the West Village, Wettenhall has always wanted to open a neighborhood business. Her penchant for fashion and past experience working with designers played a role in opening the classic boutique. The shop is unique, with walls decorated by fashion memorabilia and elegantly-framed vintage fashion sketches. Here, one can expect to find high-end vintage pieces and couture, mostly from Europe. The collection also includes a fine variety of accessories, handbags, jewelry, gloves and hats.
Wettenhall’s favorite vintage period is the 1970s, when clothing was well-made with impeccable proportion, and the usage of prints on clothing formed a crucial part of the design. Her tastes and her affinity for beautiful things manifests in the meticulous care of every garment in her shop.
For the past five years, she has been designing a signature line of dresses under her own label, Madame Matovu. Each dress is one-of-a-kind and constructed from gorgeous vintage silk scarves. Some of the shorter tunic styles can be worn over jeans, whereas others can be worn alone. Wettenhall also rescues blemished vintage designs and painstakingly brings them back to life by revamping them into new pieces.
In Madame Matovu, customers are rewarded with Wettenhall’s attentiveness. Her patrons consist of fashion-forward vintage enthusiasts who trust her opinions as well as the merchandise she provides. For women who enjoy finding wholly unique treasures for a superb value, this boutique is perfect.
Edited by Rebecca Benison & Bonnie Chan