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The London boutique scene is different, explains Mark Millar in his polite British accent; the shops he knew back home were less about department-store designers and more committed to the avant-garde and up-and-comers of the fashion world.

Vile & Valiant, an edgy new boutique recently opened by Millar and his American girlfriend, Mariel Westermeyer, strives to bring a streak of that experimental spirit to West Town.

The store’s inventory is small but the looks are bold. An LDB with a sexy but sweet heart cutout by Alexandra Grecco ($300), a lavender silk shirtdress by Laura Dawson ($300) and a chintz dress with bustle-like hip gathers by Ali Wall ($425) are among the highlights; most items are impossible to find elsewhere in Chicago and, in many cases, even in the U.S.

Vile & Valiant stocks a few vintage pieces (look for the pink hangers), and the couple has implemented some '50s department-store fixtures to display dresses, separates, unisex denim by Monkee Genes and even a few period wigs for sale.

Despite that, there’s nothing stuffy or faded about this shop--it’s fresh and original all the way.

Vile & Valiant, 1359 W. Grand Ave.; 312-972-2071 or  

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