As a free spirit, Sandra Augsburger refuses to confine herself to just one decade. In her Powder Room boutique, she sells clothing in styles from the 1920s through to the 1970s, and makes sure she always has something new for her customers to try on.
Sandra Augsburger actually had a rather specific career goal. After many years in the fashion industry, she wanted to be a mortuary make-up artist. But the opportunities in Switzerland were bleak, so applying make-up and dressing people up is still her job just it was before, albeit in an environment that is very much alive: she owns Powder Room, a fashion boutique with a focus on vintage.
At Powder Room, vintage means clothing and accessories in styles from decades ranging from the 1920s to the 1960s and 1970s that have been reproduced: cuts and trends from yesteryear, made for the modern day. Sandra carries labels from countries such as Sweden, Germany, England and America. ‘When I opened the shop, these styles really only appealed to specific groups of people,’ Sandra recalls. ‘Retro fashion is now much more popular in this country.’
Old cuts, new clothes.
It was autumn 2012 when Sandra opened the shop on Goldbrunnenplatz. At the time, she had already been working in the fashion industry for over a decade and, having founded her own ‘50s-style label a few years before, she went on to sell these pieces in the shop as well. She had also trained as a make-up artist during her career – at the time still with the aforementioned goal of applying make-up to the deceased – and before the shop opened, she toured with the label around many of the Zurich clubs. But from 2012, her main focus was on the boutique.
However, this is not just a shop. Make-up and hair styling courses are also available, ‘modern as well as vintage,’ adds Sandra. It’s important to her that the retro theme isn’t limiting, but rather can be expanded as desired.
Sandra loves it when decades merge.
‘I don’t come from that scene, I’m in fashion and design. I want to remain a free spirit. When a customer is looking for a specific style and wants to stick to a certain decade, that’s fine – but I also like it when retro clothing is combined with modern pieces,’ says the Powder Room owner. ‘People often come into the shop who are going to a wedding and are looking for dresses that they can wear again after the event.’ The clothing at Powder Room is far too good to just wear once at a fancy dress party.
Even brides will find what they’re looking for.
Part of the range at Powder Room has evolved into a delightful success: vintage wedding dresses. Often ¬– not always – that means bridal gowns that are shorter than usual, reaching just to the mid-calf. The section in the shop became so popular that it now has its own dedicated room within the 100-square-metre premises. ‘It certainly wasn’t planned that way,’ grins Sandra, ‘but it seems to be a niche market that’s well received in Switzerland.’ Powder Room has even participated in Wedding Award Switzerland. The submission photos showed two women, for which Powder Room, who were newcomers at the time, scooped up third prize.
‘I want to remain a free spirit.’
But why retro fashion? Sandra starts gushing over vintage cuts: ‘A woman is allowed to have curves with many of these pieces. It’s cool to see what happens when people try on something new.’ When a customer is in the shop, she sometimes gives them a little nudge: try that one on. An off-the-shoulder wedding dress. A tight-fitting skirt. If they don’t like it, that’s OK. ‘But sometimes you then get to see how it changes a person in a positive way. How surprised they are and how comfortable they feel in an item of clothing they would never have expected.’ Sandra’s face lights up when telling such stories. How lucky we are that she carried on working with the living.