It’s farewell to top frocks after three decades

Eleni's mother and daughter team Mandy Aristodemou (left) and Barbara Hall
Eleni's mother and daughter team Mandy Aristodemou (left) and Barbara Hall

It’s been almost like a bereavement.

Ever since it was announced that Eleni’s, the iconic occasion wear shop in Dunstable Road was to close, shellshocked clients – some of them weeping – have been trooping in with cards, gifts and flowers.

Owners Mandy Aristodemou, 55, and her octogenarian mum Barbara Hill have been overwhelmed by the response.

“It’s our customers we’re going to miss the most,” Mandy said. “They’re like family.

“They tell us all their stories – it’s a like a problem shop. They really open up and say they don’t like their new son-in-law or whatever and we have a long chat.

“We have to be very discreet – what’s said in the changing room stays in the changing room.”

She added: “We even helped organise a fundraiser for Esther Rantzen when she was an aspiring MP.

“She’s very forceful but we had a giggle together. She also told me how much she missed her husband.”

It’s 30 years since mother-and-daughter – both Luton born and bred - opened the upmarket emporium and named it after Mandy’s then two-year-old daughter.

The former Challney High pupil said: “My dad was a building contractor and had an office upstairs. Mum was a hairdresser and a people person, like me.

“We decided to turn the downstairs into a shop. It only had one fitting room and everyone said we wouldn’t last five minutes. But we’ve been here three decades and loved every minute.

“Now it’s time to move on. Mum has decided to retire and it wouldn’t be the same without her.

“We’ve always visited suppliers together and mum’s clinking bag at exhibitions is famous – they all say ‘Here comes Barbara with the wine and glasses.’”

The business goes under the auctioneer’s hammer next month.