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The Fashion Pack’s Guide to Portobello Market

Penelope Chilvers’ friends guide us through the Notting Hill hotspot

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Penelope Chilvers calls on some fashion friends to give us a guide to Portobello Market…

‘Notting Hill still works like a village. Creative people in the area know each other, and many of us work together’ – Penelope Chilvers

In her latest collaboration, Penelope Chilvers worked with West London photographer Lily Bertrand Webb on a series of photographs featuring the creative community of Notting Hill to celebrate the neighbourhood’s talent. From actress and model Immy Waterhouse and Private White Founder Nick Ashley with daughter Edie, to legendary make-up artist Kay Montano who has shot with Bruce Weber and Testino, see what these sartorial stars have to say about Portobello Market.

Immy Waterhouse, Actress/Model

Immy Waterhouse

What is it about the market that inspires you?

I like the atmosphere in summer with the street food and music

How do you see the future of Portobello Road (with all the potential new developments)?

You can see the gentrification happening almost daily. It’s sad that small local businesses are being priced out by big chains, as if we need another Starbucks. It’s slowly becoming like the King’s Road and if it continues it’ll lose all the magic of why people love it in the first place.

Kay Montano, Makeup Artist and co-editor in chief of

Kay Montano

Why did you choose your style of boot/shoe? What is it about this style that you like?

I love my aubergine velvet Chelsea boots, I chose them because they have the elements of classic style, with a fabric and colour that’s not usually associated together-I like the clash.

What is your connection with Portobello Market?

I used to roller skate around the area when I was in my teens, then when I was 16 I started my relationship with second hand clothes and caught the bug of finding unique one offs. Nothing has changed!

What is it about the market/area that inspires you?

I love the diverse mix of people, both culturally and every other way. To me I’d go as far as to say it’s the nearest thing to racial and class harmony in the world. I love the local eccentrics mixing with immigrant families from everywhere who are still outnumbering the hedge funders-just!

How do you see the future of Portobello Road?

I have to be hopeful that the strength of the area’s inhabitants (and their collective will to keep its strengths) will find a way around the inevitable impossible rents that mean only chains can afford leases. It is happening like it happens to all cities, but I’m relying on our strong resistance to sustain the market stalls and bespoke, non-corporate food/clothes/coffee shops.

What is your best Portobello bargain?

I’ve been buying bargains there for 34 years now, so many. Perhaps the best was a pair of fabulous Gucci shoes for £8 and a matching handbag for £12, both of which I wore to death over my early 20s.

Penelope Chilvers, Founder of PENELOPE CHILVERS

Penelope Chilvers

What is your connection with Portobello Market?

I’ve lived just off the market most of my life; I’ve been a trader there too. Many of the traders wear my boots through the winter to keep their feet warm outside. Rubber soles and shearling linings do the job!

What is it about the market/area that inspires you?

The people in the market have an eye. Many have a past in fashion and have seen it all before. I always find something inspiring, be it an old pair of shoes or a blanket for the next mood board.

How do you see the future of Portobello Road?

If the high-street brands move in it would be a shame. What you find now is unique to Portobello. Many businesses have been there for years and years. e.g. The Cloth Shop and Rough Trade.  My shop is in Ledbury Road, two streets parallel to Portobello. The whole area thrives on being rich in independent, specialist, privately owned businesses. This derives from being close to the market – the heart of any neighbourhood.

What is your favourite Portobello bargain?

I bought a nubuck 70’s jacket with amazing pleated cuffs and rounded collar, in an amazing tan, that Gemma used to complete one of the looks in our Pre-shoot.  I will sell it ‘off the page’ or in the shop afterwards when the collection is out.

Nick Ashley, Private White Founder and Designer and Edie Ashley, Student

Nick Ashley

What is your connection with Portobello Market?

N: I have been going to Portobello market since the 60’s, I often take a stall there, it is one of the most special places on this earth.

E: Have gone to Portobello ever since I’ve been kicking about in London and recently did a stand with my dad which was real fun.

What is it about the market/area that inspires you?

N: Portobello is a community, the whole of humanity is there, the very wealthiest, and the poorest, all ethnic groups, we fight, we laugh, it’s like a family.

E: I like that everything is second hand, which means it tells a story. All the legends selling the stuff are so friendly, you have a relationship with the person you are buying from and they can tell you things about the product.

Is there a particular memory from the neighbourhood that you treasure most?

N: On my 57th birthday my wife bought some horses to town and we went on a pub crawl down Portobello. I am still laughing.

E: Riding around Notting Hill Gate and Portobello on horseback for dad’s birthday a few years ago, mum got the horses and got them out the trailer on Ledbury road and rode them round to dad’s best friend’s house for breakfast champagne, it was super grand but also really rouge, felt quite gypsy.

How do you see the future of Portobello Road?

N: I don’t spook myself about developers, I don’t have time, people vote with their feet.

E: I’m not too sure but all I know is that it’s the people that make it work, so if the people stick around, the energy will stick around.


Herbie Mensah, Portobello Vintage trader and part-time learning support assistant for adults with special needs & autism, Vivienne Westwood muse in 80s

Herbie Mensah

What is it about the market/area that inspires you?

It has been a great inspiration to me in the way I dress and ideas for sourcing & collecting clothing & seeing the many different styles, of the way people dress from all over the world.

Is there a particular memory from the neighbourhood that you treasure most?

Meeting & selling to a few of the world’s top designers has been my most memorable moments from being in the neighbourhood.

How do you see the future of Portobello Road?

The proposed development of the area could be a good thing if it doesn’t destroy the heart of the market.

What is your best Portobello bargain?

My favourite Portobello bargain was an original pair of Vivienne Westwood seditionaries’ bondage trousers, a steal at £5.


Bambi (Matilda Ringrose), Fashion Student and Portobello trader (banana split vintage) owner

Bambi (Matilda Ringrose)

What is your connection with Portobello Market?

I am banana split vintage and we trade at Portobello.

Is there a particular memory from the neighbourhood that you treasure most?

The carnival’s vibrant colours and the ability to bring people together.

How do you see the future of Portobello Road?

It will be interesting to see the developments coming in to action.

What is your best Portobello bargain?

At banana split we have a mixture of fantastic bargains including Swedish military jackets and many more exciting colourful pieces.

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