About half way through my trip home to England I realised that I hadn't actually been into Exeter City Centre – shocker! We resolved that by ambling in, on a blustery day, family in tow, for some serious shopping, eating and sightseeing.
I moved to Exeter from the outskirts of London when I was 14 years old. Amusingly enough, despite moving to the countryside from a town 27 miles away from London, Exeter always felt like the big city. My suburban hometown (Amersham, Bucks) was far from exciting and Exeter had it's own Topshop, I mean c'mon, what more would a teenage girl want? Oh yeah, bars, clubs, vintage shops, coffee shops resplendent with cheesy chips and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Growing up in Exeter, in reality a city in miniature, was really great.
Topshops aside, Exeter is a truly historic city, a large portion of the original city wall, built in 200AD still stands and the litany of ancient buildings still glorify it's historic past. Much of the city was damaged during the Blitz through 18 raids between 1940-42, so many of the historic buildings were leveled. In their place came post war block buildings, a definite scar on the beauty of the city.
I moved to London, and subsequently Los Angeles in 2005 amidst controversial plans to regenerate an area of the city known as Princesshay saving it from it's post war ugliness and replacing it with an outdoor, pedestrianised shopping area, with cleared views of the cathedral. Despite protestations the plans did go ahead and the resulting area is lovely and invited in new stores, new restaurants, new housing and plenty of jobs. I don't think anyone is complaining today.
Remembering that this is fashion blog, and not a history or architecture blog. Exeter is a wonderful city to visit for a fashionista that wishes to remove themselves from the hub bub of London and be near the coast and the moors in the beauty of Devon. It boasts, amidst independent boutiques, all the major high street stores, Topshop, Reiss, Dorothy Perkins, Primark (mostly around the Princesshay and High Street area) alongside House of Fraser and Debenhams department stores and plenty of restaurants and café's.
A wander downhill to Fore Street (the former indie/hippie hub of Exeter) reveals more independant boutiques and vintage stores including the infamous Real McCoy complete with café (my favourite teenage hangout).
Gandy St, just off the main High St, is an adorable cobble-stoned street used to filled with independent boutiques, whilst a few remain, it's definitively become the preppy home to South West, Abercrombie competitors such as, White Stuff, Seasalt and Rampant Sporting. Exeter also boasts other infamous South West Preppy brands such as Jack Wills and Fat Face – all of which exemplify the coastal preppy aesthetic of the South West of England.Gandy Street is also home to the Exeter Phoenix, an arts hub, boasting a gallery, theater, cinema and restaurant and café.
Below are a few pictures from around the city – a city I am priveledged to call home.
P.S – Seen as this is officially a Pavement Princess post – you probably want to know what I'm wearing! Denim Shirt: Miley Cyrus and Max Azria for Walmart (with DIY'd collar tips), T-Shirt: Cotton On, Belt, Necklace and Skirt: Vintage, Bracelets: The usual suspects. Boots: Courtesy of BC Shoes, Purse: Courtesy of Fossil.