You might confuse the lingerie section at Tony, a swank women's boutique in the heart of Old City Philadelphia, with your bedroom - if your bedroom looks like a fun French boudoir. Visitors must climb the stairs to get to the Panty Parlour, a 250-square-foot, intimate setting made a Parisian version of feminine with pink walls, satiny seating, a small dresser stocked with panties and dainty pictures and mirrors painted with French phrases.
"The furniture belongs in the bedroom, as does most of our lingerie!" said Pamela Dollak, who opened the boutique in October 2004 after working in public relations.
Draped on a vanity mirror, displayed on busts or hanging from unimposing wall fixtures are lingerie, sleepwear, loungewear and shapewear from a handful of brands - the most popular are Montelle, Ascension Paris and Mary Green, which is particularly beloved by brides-to-be.
"Gals love our bridal selection - especially Mary Green's 'Something Blue' or 'Blushing Bride' silk boyshorts," Dollak says.
Tony's tag phrase, "a chic boutique for swanky dolls," applies as easily to the lingerie section as it does to the rest of the store. The vibrant personality of Dollak, who is also a curly-haired actress, shines throughout: The first floor, which stocks hard-to-find ready-to-wear by labels like Max and Cleo, Phyl Couture, Blaque Label and Anjali Kumar, is painted a sunny yellow with purple trim (Dollak's favorite colors). There is a giant mural on the main wall of a vintage Tattinger's Champagne poster titled "Grace Kelly" (a famous Philadelphian), along with quotes from famous fashionistas like Coco Chanel and Edna Woolman Chase.
The typical customer, lured in by word-of-mouth or snippets in the local media (Dollak's former PR clients include Georgia-Pacific and Glaceau Vitamin Water), buys lingerie as well as outerwear and spends $16 to $30 for panties and $20 to $55 for a bra.
The stylish streets of Philly are chock-full of competition (Anthropologie's largest flagship is less than two miles away, and boutiques abound). However, Dollak says she keeps her business strong by providing a fresh, selective inventory and a fun - almost theatrical - shopping environment.
"Tony has a very girly feel with more special occasion items such as dresses, lingerie and jewelry," she said. "Many of the other stores in our neighborhood, while great, are more casual. Tony is the girliest boutique in Philly!"