The Cheltonian > Articles


Like nothing you’ve ever seen before. crack

It’s not often that a store will really make a big impression on my fussy self, however with one visit to Foundation on Montpellier Walk I was utterly captivated - beautiful bags and vibrant accessories in the window had my attention even before I had walked through the door! Entering the shop I had an opportunity to have a quick glance around; taking in all the pretty colours and vintage pieces I tried to make sense of it all. It really was like nothing I had ever seen before... and I loved it!

The Foundation business was formed by
husband-and-wife team James and Gemma Wiseman in 2003. After impressive combined
experience working in fashion, furniture
and digital design, they opened their first
Foundation store in Stow-on-the-Wold in
March 2003, with the Cheltenham store
opening soon after in December 2004. The couple say that, from the outset, they aimed to source and select the most beautiful, unusual
and wearable clothes and accessories by
British and overseas designers, coupled with one-off pieces and interesting home wares. In this, they have set themselves quite a challenge which could potentially spell disaster, but they really have pulled it off impeccably.

Foundation sells a mix of designer fashion,
including Vivienne Westwood and Paul Frank, as well as assorted vintage items which I’m told “Gemma just picks up as she goes along - she just finds them everywhere!” Other designer ranges include Nicole Farhi, Odd Molly and Libelula.

Foundation recently unveiled the converted upstairs of the Cheltenham shop in November 2009, which is now a a showroom for the “best in British design, coupled with vintage pieces, and stunning hand-printed wallpapers and fabrics”

Being shown around the new upper floor by a lovely shop assistant I can’t help but notice the absolutely exquisite interior; its beauty creeps up on you rather than instantly leaping in your face which is a style of visual display unfortunately prominent in so many ‘fashionable’ chain stores. Foundation’s subtlety works well. Several quirky features catch my eye such as the large heart-shaped wooden frame mirror hanging above the authentic fireplace (I’m told the top floor used
to be an apartment), and the hand-printed
bookcase wallpaper which from afar could
almost be real.

A great aspect of Foundation is that these beautiful pieces are not just there purely to make the shop look good, but are all available for customers to buy! Almost everything is for sale, from the authentic paintings that hang on the walls, to the large cushioned chair that sits by the window,
to the funky light fittings, to the cross-stitched pillows, to even the desk, tables and shelving; pretty much every item on the upper floor is available to buy – incredible. Some of the gems you may expect to find include hand-printed fabrics from Gloucestershire-based Rapture
and Wright, Bold & Noble screen-prints and
colourful Branksome China teapots.

If you’re looking for somewhere new to shop, Foundation is a refreshing and visually delicious alternative. Even if it’s out of your price range it’s still worth going to marvel at the vintage and
designer pieces.