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Flower Power fashion hidden behind a normal front door




This seemingly normal terraced house on the corner of rue Gwendoline has a fascinating history that not everyone knows.

In 1964, Sakina Ali, 76, moved into Toxteth’s house with her one-year-old daughter.

21 at the time and unable to afford her rates, Sakina decided to open a fashion boutique in her main room called Frilly Poppins Boutique.

The shop quickly became a huge hit with the locals, and Sakina started making all kinds of clothes for the townspeople.

But it wasn’t until 1971 that it became known as ‘The Flower Powerhouse’, with tourists traveling for miles to see the property Sakina had painted with a vibrant floral mural.

Photos of what the house looked like in the ’60s and’ 70s compared to what it looks like today were shared by Liverpool’s Twitter and Facebook page: Yesterday and Today.

The post sparked the interest of dozens of people who liked and commented on the post with fond memories of the property, before Sakina introduced herself.

Speaking to ECHO, Sakina said, “The store was called Frilly Poppins Boutique.

“I had an invoice for 13 tariffs and I couldn’t pay. I got on the slow train in Manchester with my little girl, she couldn’t have more than one.

“I bought some fabric, came back and made a lot of mod material and just opened my front salon as a shop.

“It was 1964 and at the time there was a huge seedling industry in Liverpool.

“In Duke Street there were lots of sewing factories. I left school at 15 without a diploma and entered a sewing factory.

“At that point, you could switch from one job in the morning to another in the evening.

“My dad worked on all the ships and he sold clothes and everything. I made rock and roll petticoats and he took them to the docks.

Sakina’s main room store quickly took off and she was making everything from dresses and jeans to children’s clothing.

She said, “It was absolutely amazing. I brought in the big dress stores to ask if I could design for them.

“People parked in big luxury cars, I was petrified. I wasn’t from that kind of background, so I lacked confidence.”

Shortly after opening the store, Sakina was approached by a Daily Mirror reporter who interviewed her for the newspaper.

The terrace on rue Gwendoline became the flower center in 1971
(Image: Sakina Ali / Liverpool Echo)

Sakina Ali, 76, opened the Frilly Poppins store at her Gwendoline Street home in Toxteth in 1964
(Image: Sakina Ali / Liverpool Echo)

She said that was where the photo came from of her and her sister-in-law posing outside the property.

But two years later, Sakina decided to close the shop and instead continued to make clothes at home that she would sell at the Great Homer Street Market.

It was in 1971 that the property became known as the ‘Florist’ after Sakina painted the facade full of vibrant flowers.

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Sakina said, “It’s the same house. I was a little better and thought I was going to have to paint this house and do something with it. It was absolutely appalling.

“So I thought I’d paint all the flowers on the front, let’s go for the Garden of Eden theme.

“I spent 14 for all the painting and a lot of imagination and the response was absolutely amazing.”

At first, opinions were divided towards the “ flower powerhouse ” and a petition was started after some people suspected Sakina had set up a nightclub inside.

But they soon realized that wasn’t the case and tourists traveled for miles to get photos outside the property.

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Sakina said: “Parliament Street used to have nightclubs in houses, but it was just a house.

“There was a petition regarding the house. I continued despite everything, still making dresses.

“It has become known as the flower powerhouse. I used to bring in tourists every Sunday. They just wanted to see the flower plant. It was amazing.

Sakina sold the house in 1978, but still has pictures of it today at her Sakina’s Dry Rain business on Prescot Road.

She said: “All the pictures of the flower plant are all on the walls and everyone is commenting on them.

“I am happy that the story of the Flower Center continues after all these years.”

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