“A woman’s charm is 50 percent illusion,” Southern belle Blanche DuBois says in the classic film A Streetcar Named Desire. Belle Reve Boutique, the new fashion-forward boutique in the edgy, urban dwelling area of Northeast Minneapolis, features the remaining 50 percent of a woman’s charm: a plethora of eclectic clothes and accessories.
Named after the street DuBois considers her refuge and home, Belle Reve is the French-Creole-New Orleans-inspired showroom of Minneapolis.
Owner Aisha Ghanchi opened the shop with the intention of running a high fashion and sophisticated boutique suitable for workingwomen.
At first glance, one might think the doors of Belle Reve open into a palatial ballroom, the windows are so captivating. Mannequins are adorned with exorbitant guises that glow in front of the purple fringe hanging from the ceiling. Once inside, the enticing lavender walls are inordinately welcoming, along with the sparkling chandeliers that are equally charming. Filled purple wall to purple wall with dresses, jackets, camisoles, shoes, belts, and gaudy jewelry, Belle Reve is as captivating as New Orleans itself.
Ghanchi is the small, delightful woman who formulated the whole concept. Every item is handpicked by her.
“I feel like the karma is amazing,” Ghanchi says. “It’s all about customer service here. I want the staff to know the names of all the customers.”
Belle Reve has four main sections.
The first section, Missy, is stacked with clothing to fit women sizes 8 to 14. It ranges from dainty blouses to satin dresses to dazzling jackets.
The second section, Eco, consists exclusively of organic material made from bamboo or 100 percent organic cotton from all over the world, but still with a unique, edgy style. A table is loaded with leggings, canvas bags, and more eco-friendly clothing items.
The third and largest section, Contemporary, carries clothing varying from sizes 0 to 10, with low- to high-end prices.
“This season, purple is big, black is big, grey is huge,” Ghanchi shares.
Tuxedos, big ruffles, and exposed zippers are all very trendy this season as well, according to Ghanchi. Many of these styles are found in the Contemporary section, but also throughout the entire store.
The final section, Denim, is filled with jeans of every nature from various designers.
“I’m not that big on jeans and tees, but I carry them for layering,” Ghanchi explains.
Each of the four sections is designed to intermix with the others. Tops from the Missy section will pair beautifully with skirts or high-waisted shorts—certainly not scarce in Belle Reve—from the Contemporary section.
Although slightly ironic, Belle Reve has a gorgeous collection of animal-skin clutches.
“Crocodile, stingray, lizard, calfskin,” Ghanchi lists as she pulls a purse out of the packaging. “And this is eelskin.”
Vivid purple and as soft as a rose petal, this out-of-my-budget clutch is a must-have—this is, if you have $400 to spend in order to own it.
Clutch in hand, I consider Ghanchi’s immense savvy in having created perhaps the most delightful purse collection in all of Minneapolis.
Near the collection of leather boots, heels, and belts is the jewelry table. Each of its glass drawers contains a completely unique collection of fascinating statement jewelry. Rings the size of lollipops vary from Indian-inspired to childlike, as the Tarina Tarantino line is a bubblegum compilation of costume jewels. Each drawer is more outlandish and desirable than the rest.
Belle Reve is open until 7 PM Monday through Wednesday and 8 PM weekends, so workingwomen can shop at times other than their lunch break.
Belle Reve Boutique
320 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls