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Claire De Rouen Books, London

20 August 2015

A small bookshop that has been delighting collectors of fashion, art and photography publications since 2005.

Fashion photographers Juergen Teller and Tim Walker are just two of the big name artists who have worked with the shop, but most visitors to London are unlikely to have discovered the small room filled with new and rare photo books, signed prints, collectable vintage magazines and unique new independent titles at the top of the inconspicuous staircase at 125 Charing Cross Road.

Claire de Rouen, a respected London book dealer and a friend to star photographers including David Bailey – who called Claire de Rouen Books “maybe the best photography bookshop in the world” – and Bob Carlos Clarke, ran the store until her death in 2012, and current director Lucy Kumara Moore has done a fine job of building on de Rouen’s legacy.

With degrees from Cambridge, Chelsea College Of Art And Design and the Royal College Of Art, Kumara Moore was more than qualified to step in as director, despite never having previously worked at the shop. “I actually didn't ever work with Claire. But I knew her well and she was mysterious, warm, majestic and always there to impart her wisdom,” says Kumara Moore.

“I knew that Claire wanted me to move the bookshop forward, and from the outset I felt the best way to honour her and to continue her legacy was to be myself.”

Kumara Moore and her small team host book signings, magazine launch parties and reading groups in the shop, as well as advising young photographers working on self-published books. “I make no distinction between established and emerging photographers – if the work is good, I will support it,” says Kumara Moore. She also organises annual three-day art book fair Room&Book, which takes place every June at the ICA in London, and will launch an online shop later this year.

But it is Claire de Rouen’s loyal clientele that ensures its ongoing success. “The shop has a group of collectors, photographers, artists, writers and fashion designers at its core – they visit regularly and are engaged with what they find,” says Kumara Moore. “I think photographers appreciate this context, and feel confident that their work will be presented in the best possible way.”

“I think more and more artists, photographers and fashion designers understand the qualities that physical books offer ¬– and they are becoming ever more beautiful,” she adds. “Specialism, knowledge and personal customer service is the key though, and I think that is what specialist bookshops do best.”


Words: Gareth Rees / Images: Rebecca Rees

Local Knowledge

To eat like a local…
St John Restaurant is one of the best in London and is boldly British. The menu often includes black pudding, bone marrow and chicken livers – so is perfect for those who want to imagine themselves as medieval warlords at a feast.

Favourite way to spend an afternoon in London...
Lying under an oak tree on Hampstead Heath.

The three best London photography books…
Skinheads by Nick Knight, London Youth by Derek Ridgers and The British At Home by Bill Brandt.

The best advice I can give is…
Trust your intuition, which is actually our lightening-speed way of drawing on years of experience to make a decision.



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