Your input is needed! Today we feature our latest Business of the Month — help us to select the next. Tell us which independent store you love in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo: click here to nominate your favorite. Want to help support small businesses? Share this post with friends.
New York is full of fashion and vintage shops, but few can fit as much magic into a jewel box-sized store as our December Business of the Month.
Madame Matovu at 240 West 10th Street is a portal from the hustle and bustle of the city and into a place of calm and creativity where both modest beauty and flamboyant fashion are equally on display.
The curator of this stage of fantasy and creativity is Rosemary Wettenhall, a longtime New Yorker by way of Uganda. Her many trips to Paris and across the world to satiate her taste for travel and things of beauty help to inspire and stock her unique West Village shop.
Open since September 2007 when Rosemary was living nearby, the shop has thrived with a local and international clientele thanks to her love for her work and her spirit. She opened this nook of a place in Greenwich Village because of the sense of community she felt here which she wanted to both tap into and strengthen. Rosemary noted that Greenwich Village is a place where people care about their neighbors and their neighborhood.
As to what kind of a store Madame Matovu is, Rosemary describes it as a stage or fantasy world. And one does seem to go back in time, or maybe into the future, upon entering. The shop is a place not of things you essentially need, but of curiosities you desire and perhaps find “a bit dangerous,” according to Rosemary. Brand names are not the driver behind the choice of items on the hangars, but quality is, though you will certainly see some designer names you will recognize.
The inspiration for the name came from one of Rosemary’s many travels after she perused an inflight magazine on a trip to France. “Madame France” was an amazingly fabulous and eccentric character in the magazine, mixing things in a manner that seemed to conjure up an alternate reality — one Rosemary felt she would like to replicate in the future.
Madame Matovu means different things to different people, but it typically evokes an image of a fabulous show-off of sorts. New customers regularly share with her what the name and reputation means to them, so even after over a decade, it is an evolving and malleable concept.
Rosemary mentioned that Greenwich Village reminds her of parts of Paris, with small stores in the bases of apartment buildings, each fulfilling different needs and markets, from high and low fashion. In that vein, everyone visits the expansive closet-sized groundfloor store, from celebrities to stylists, designers to local residents. Even 6-year-olds of all genders come in, attracted as they are by the fetching window displays, followed by parents who will then peruse and buy.
How has she survived and even thrived as a small, independent business in the Greenwich Village Historic District? She explains that she loves what she does and works hard and strives to give more and more to the customers and their experience. Some people come fresh from the airport with luggage in hand and make Madame Mortuvo their very first stop in the city.
She is humbled by such dedication and knows it is a real manifestation of her impact, that she is such an iconic destination for people all over the world.
Rosemary is motivated and guided by inspiration, not some static ten year plan. Madame Matovu is not like any other shop, its artistic spirit can be years ahead of the culture.
As an artist, Rosemary often designs or imagines new and unique configurations of existing pieces. Some of the items in the shop are hand-seamed locally by a couple with a couture background. Sometimes she will hand-dye pieces to draw out the color with which color she believes a piece will really thrive.
Of course people come in around the end of the year and for various holidays for special things to wear or adorn themselves with, but Madame Matovu is special all year round. Visit for the extra things you need for a wedding or party or just a fantastic time with yourself or friends. You will find the simple and classic, as well as the standout, blingy, fashionable garb that will make you shine in whatever way you choose. There is no doubt that Madame Matovu stands out, and that is why it is our December Business of the Month.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: