Saturday, 7 February 2009

Boots's amazing vintage archive

In Boots's vast Nottingham HQ, there is one very special zone: the precious archive, which even has memorabilia from the very first store opened by Jesse Boot in 1849. I was sooooo lucky to get VIP access this week, to take a look at the extraordinary wealth of swoonworthy vintage packaging and souvenirs they've assembled over the years. Archivist Sophie Clapp (I think she may have the best job in the world) and my best Boots pal Annabel Franks had put together a selection from what's almost an aircraft hangar (you could have lost me for days in there...) Did you know Boots made the most amazing silver dressing table sets? That they organised fantastic seaside works outings for their whole workforce, with printed cards listing the treats the workers could expect? Or that Florence Boot - Jesse's super-philanthropic wife - set up schools for the younger girls (who could start work at 14), as well as rest homes for Boots' workers who'd fought in the Crimea. Personally, I pine for the manicure set pictured here - and definitely think No. 7 should revive some of the Hollywood-esque packaging for nail polishes and deodorants. The archive inspired the new Boots Original Beauty Formula range, just hitting the counters: fab vintage designs (tomorrow's collectors' items), unfussy but sense-pleasing, do-what-they-promise formulations - and beauty steals, every one. Packaging junkies will love it - and for anyone who doesn't have Above Top Secret level access to the Boots archive, it's the next-best-thing.