Désordre: The 14-Year Evolution Of The One-Stop Boutique For Showstopping Dresses

From humble beginnings as a travelling pop-up, to the revered home of your favourite designers, Désordre’s Shannon Thomas takes you inside the rise of her boutique, and why standing out is always key to fitting in
Shannon Thomas, founder of Désordre. Credit: Supplied

Before online shopping, before Instagram, there was Shannon Thomas and her travelling pop-up boutique. The year was 2009 and a then-20-something-year-old Thomas would talk her way into art galleries and wine bars so she could take over their spaces and sell some of her favourite designer pieces; there was a worn-down spot in Darlinghurst in Sydney, an art gallery in Brisbane, a wine bar in Bondi. Cut to 2023 and Désordre is an established brand with four storefronts and is the known spot for standout partywear; glamorous, chintzed-up pieces that you will likely see peppered along the Cotê d’Azur, inside one of Manhattan’s hottest clubs, and floating about a Sydney hot spot.

But in the boom-and-bust cycle that plagues so many Australian boutiques and online retailers, Thomas says the key to fitting in in this economy is indeed standing out. And for her, this meant nurturing relationships with designers to ensure her client base was receiving exclusive, hard-to-find, one-of-a-kind pieces. Because to her, feeling special and having the best night ever is the reason she got into this industry in the first place. Take a read.

GRAZIA: Can you tell readers a little more about Désordre’s origin story: the travelling pop-up boutique?
SHANNON THOMAS: As a fashion-obsessed 21-year-old who spent every cent on my wardrobe and who started a business without investors, a travelling pop-up was the best way to test the waters without investing in a fit-out and being locked into a rental. The first space was an incredible spot in Darlinghurst; simple timber racks, and shelving made from ladders, it was very DIY with incredible clothing doing the speaking. (This still speaks to the ethos of the fit-outs now.) We were lucky that designers such as AjeKym ElleryKit Willow, We Are Handsome and Maurie and Eve were supportive of the concept and supporting Australian retailers. Back then, online shopping wasn’t a thing—neither was Instagram! I used to shoot my girlfriends for our blogspot, and being seen on the street and out at bars in the outfits would sell them! From the Darlinghurst location, we moved into a Brisbane art gallery, a Paddington Art Gallery in Sydney—and even a Bondi Beach wine bar. It was a passion project from the beginning – and it still is.

GRAZIA: When we look at luxury multi-label boutiques in Australia, Désordre really has become that one-stop mecca for standout, showstopping pieces. Was this always the plan?

ST: It evolved so naturally. As I grew, the offering and elevation grew. That is, the need to step apart from every other boutique was imperative. I was so thirsty for emerging designers and would spend my time finding really cool ones via Instagram and runway shows. Désordre to this day doesn’t have investors, it’s just me with a passion project for sourcing beautiful designs for my very cool clients. I’m a visual person, and I am happiest at work when a client finds her confidence in an unexpected outfit—and when she comes back into the boutique saying that she has never received so many compliments and that it was the best night ever.

Credit: Supplied
Credit: Supplied

GRAZIA: When you are buying looks, what is it that you’re looking for? And has this strategy changed/evolved since 2009?
ST: I’m unpredictable, I don’t know what I’m looking for. Whenever I have bought for a specific customer, it has not been successful. Instead, I buy what I love and what I want to wear! It’s always that exclusive brand and piece that I focus on. The Désordre girl is feminine, we are all about showing off our curves in a tasteful way and with balance; it’s about showing off her waist and paring a tough aesthetic back with pretty. The well-made, high-investment pieces always sell best. The more accessible items often get missed in-store and online as they’re available elsewhere.

GRAZIA: We’ve seen you also do collaborations/exclusive capsules with designers like Alex Perry. Will we see more collaborations this year or early next?
ST: Always! I am buying for Resort as we speak, and we have plans with a few of our key designers on some capsules as we move into 2024. Alex Perry, Aya Muse and EB denim are on the hit list. We just received the Crochet Black Magda Butrym Mules which are a global exclusive—these are flying for Euro summer and are timeless. I used to work at Sass and Bide and I remember having this beautiful polka dot dress from the 2005 collection, but six other girls were in the same dress in a club. At Désordre, we are about stepping away from the crowd and keeping a look special. The big-ticket, investment pieces shouldn’t be everywhere, you want to know you have an archival investment piece.

Shannon Thomas of Désordre in a Alex Perry mini. Credit: Supplied

GRAZIA: How would you describe the Désordre girl?
ST: The Désordre girl is iconic, classic, confident in her true style and is not afraid of adding sparkle to complete her look.

GRAZIA: How has she changed post-pandemic? Can you see customers leaning into investing in more standout pieces?
ST: Post-pandemic, we are seeing more of a change now than we ever did. As the economy shifts and with interest rates soaring, our customer wants the well-made special items for special events—which is a killer combo for life. I’m always into denim—denim is not easy to get right! Khaite, EB and Magda Butrym have made it irresistible, and all of our staff and clients are buying up. You pair a great pair of jeans with a ‘wow’ Magda Butrym top, or a New Studios glitter crop, and you have versatility in a high fashion, effortless way.

GRAZIA: Which brands are your top sellers?
ST: Alex Perry, Aya Muse and Magda Butrym.

Désordre boutique in Armidale, Melbourne. Credit: Supplied

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GRAZIA: The Désordre girl loves a cut-out. But what are the biggest trends for this Australian winter?
ST: I never think about winter! Because our client is such a summer girl. She’s shopping for her holidays, and [compared with the rest of the world] we don’t get so cold here in Australia! I’ll call in a great black pant, key blazers and the occasional Khaite long sleeve knit. But honestly, the Désordre is more excited to buy a dress for a wedding in November. We’ve also been pushing into new styles—designers love to repeat designs but I don’t love to offer the same style again and again. So, we have some freshness coming with new silhouettes—with the signature ‘show off what your Mama gave you’ spin.

GRAZIA: Can you give us your favourite pieces to buy now and tell readers why you love them?
ST: I want women thinking long term. You don’t need to have 15 pairs of jeans that are average, that don’t live well, and that you need to dispose of after a season. My wardrobe only has the well-made, timeless pieces. Sometimes silhouettes are more relevant one year than another but give it a moment and it will come back. I mean, we have low rise jeans again? My current favourites are below:


A standout you’ll always love and one you can pass down to your daughters. There is no looking away from this wow dress!


A flattering fit, with the heart booty and split at the leg, the touch of crystal means you can wear these every day (I would!) and you can wear them to an event. They’re classic but don’t require much effort.


Create an orderly line, these jeans have flying. We already had to reorder. When you want to go out in the day and look cool but don’t have much energy, these are your go-to!



I would wear this every day to make every look more chic while being comfortable. Sometimes it is about an elevated piece that lifts a pair of pants from five years ago.

GRAZIA: You’ve really carved out a dream career. What’s your one piece of advice for young women who might be looking to follow a similar path?
ST: I never settle, and I really believe in action over talk. My advice is to be ready to work hard, never stop investing your time and your money, and believe in your vision. Find your niche! One step leads into the next, it’s about taking opportunities, using your instinct, and learning what works. It should also be known, I did it all slowly—the first pop-up was in October 2009! At 10 years, COVID hit, but in that time,  people living overseas discovered Désordre online. I see now how Désordre is different from other boutiques and online retailers, and I am continuing with this trajectory. I haven’t settled, I have my next list of improvements and plans. Making a path that is true to the brand and myself.

Shop Désordre online.

This article originally appeared on Grazia International.

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