All News & Blogs
Stressed by her commute, cancer researcher Paola Barral of Fredericksburg has turned her passion for fashion into a new business.
Tired of commuting, Paola Barral opened Cose Belle Boutique on Caroline Street in downtown Fredericksburg.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
By Cathy Jett
PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK cancer researcher Paola Barral where she buys her clothes.
The Italian native, who now lives in Fredericksburg, normally shops for dresses, pants and accessories when she's in Europe.
"I'm very passionate about fashion," said Barral, an avid reader of fashion magazines who has friends who work in the fashion field.
So when she grew tired of making the long daily commute to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to research ways to improve cancer treatments, she decided to turn her passion into a business.
Barral recently opened Cose Belle Boutique--the name is Italian for "beautiful things"--at 1002 Caroline St. The women's clothing shop is in the part of Caroline Street Cafe where customers used to place their orders. That business now focuses on catering and occupies the second floor of the building.
Cose Belle features clothing and accessories by emerging European designers whose comfortable, contemporary lines can be worn by all ages, depending on how they're accessorized. Because they aren't big names like Gucci and Prada, they offer quality at a more affordable price, she said.
Currently, Barral carries spring dresses that can be layered over organza skirts by Roshanara, a Parisian designer; feminine linen dresses by N & Willow, an English designer whose clothes are made in Italy; and vintage-inspired floral print dresses with matching fabric bags by Gabrielle Parker, a designer from the south of England.
One of the antique pieces she uses as display cases holds delicate crystal earrings with matching necklaces and bracelets. Another holds pearl jewelry perfect for a bride. The shop also carries hats and scarves.
Barral visited showrooms in Paris, Milan and London to find what she wanted, and ordered directly from the designers. She's planning to attend trade shows in London and Milan soon, and by fall hopes to add Italian knitwear, a modern line from Poland for mature women and a vintage-inspired line from England that any age can wear.
"I'm trying to discover hidden treasures in Europe," she said.
Running a boutique is a far cry from Barral's original career. She did cancer research first in Italy, then England and New York City because the opportunities were greater. When her boss in New York moved to Richmond to work at VCU three years ago, she followed.