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ShopLocalSD: Melero Boutique - Like A Dollhouse

The "little dollhouse" with big designers.
Photo by Rebekah Sager

Melero Boutique and Gallery inhabits a demure green dollhouse on India Street in downtown’s Little Italy—a small slice of haute New York or Paris in a little neighborhood not far from the oceanfront.

The dollhouse, called the A.W. Pray House, is a Victorian Gothic built in 1888. It was moved here by architect Jonathon Segal to be added as a retail space to his current residential project in Little Italy. Fancifully, he calls the building “The Q”—a reference to James Bond’s fictional gadget guru.

The idea of a clothing boutique/art gallery is Ruth Melero’s latest brainstorm. Born and raised in Texas, Melero has previously owned a chain of restaurants, an interior design company, and now this unique storefront, which offers quizzical passersby a cornucopia of art, clothing and accessories. Melero is a strong woman who talks fast and knows what she likes. Lucky for the rest of us, what she likes is always impeccable.

Melero’s goal is to be a place where San Diego women can find a little piece of New York or Paris. She has worked hard to curry favor and develop relationships with designers and artists locally and worldwide; the store carries beautiful lines, some of which are found here exclusively.

For the woman who astutely watches for the “who’s who” in fashion, designer Diego Binetti is a well-known name found here. Italian born and Buenos Aires raised, Binetti grew up watching and assisting his mother, a dressmaker. He started his career in fashion as a stylist working for Antonio Bordonardo at Bulgari in Milan. A year later, he became the head of design for Jill Stuart.

When Binetti broke out with his own line, Women’s Wear Daily proclaimed him as “The One To Watch.” Binetti’s designs are an explosion of color. His dresses are in soft cottons and sexy hemlines. Binetti is fresh, feminine, immaculately appointed and extremely wearable.

The A.W. Pray House exterior.
Photo by Rebekah Sager.

Ankasa is a line that has blown up worldwide, and now thanks to Melero, can be found in San Diego. Husband and wife team Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia started in the home arena with a cozy-chic style using lush fabrics and well-placed embroidery. Their clothes are cleverly constructed to flatter a woman’s body, adding just the right amount of flash and vibrant color with classic softness.

The real standout at Melero are the accessories. Two jewelry designers in particular--Marijoli and Gas Bijoux--are destined to take the city by storm.

Marijoli designer Marielle Byworth married into the jewelry family, but her brothers-in-law listened to her inspired design ideas, and soon she became a name all her own. Her cuff bracelets made in steel and encrusted with Rubies, and other stones fuse her Swiss sophistication with the grace and sensuality of the years she spent living in the Japan.

Andre Gas of Gas Bijoux is a graduate of the Beaux Arts School. He opened his first store in St. Tropez. His accessories reflect his love of global travel and the inspiration in his exotic finds. From Mexico’s flair to India’s intricate handwork mixed with New York’s energy, all can be seen in Gas Bijoux’s floral charm bracelets and gypsy style pendants.

For the art connoisseur Melero boast’s a collection worth envy. Whether customers are looking to decorate with a modern painting by famed artist Ricardo Rendon or jazz up a cottage with a contemporary collage or sculpture by the young and well-established Pablo Helguera, Melero’s got it covered.

For spring, Melero predicts color will rule: emerald green, gold and coral. She’ll also have swimwear by St. Tropez designer Las Noches, and an Italian line by Delfina.

“My secret is this,” confides Melero, “I don’t carry anything that I wouldn’t die to have myself.”

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Name: Melero Boutique
  • Address: 1918 India Street