Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shopping in London's West End

My lovely friend JK here in Manhattan does something rather important and glamorous at an international fashion company. She's off to England to check out their new London store tomorrow, and has asked me for some quick shopping recommendations based around her hotel on Conduit Street. She's only got one day tops, so I've given her a very short shortlist, based on the stores I try to visit when I am in town.

Fenwick on the corner of New Bond Street & Brook Street. Wonderful accessories department with huuuuge, soft as kittens, knitted cashmere scarfs in the sale, and a fabulous millinery section. Great lingerie, interesting small label buy, boutique beauty brands. The Henri Bendel of London. (They have other stores outside of London, but they are quite, quite different.)

Dover Street Market.
Owned by Commes, I think it’s probably the best curated fashion & design store in the world of the Corso Como/Colette ilk. I’ve posted about it before here. And the Rose Bakery on the top floor is home to delicious scones and cakes. Lovely cuppa tea.

B Store on Savile Row is one of London's brilliant independent boutiques, with a buy from some of England's most interesting & upcoming designers and a great place to get an overview of high fashion from the UK. Just seconds from JK's hotel on Conduit Street.

COS on the corner of Regent Street & Great Marlborough Street for brilliant everyday clothes with a high fashion nod. Forget that it is owned by H&M, and just gloat over the quality & fantastic pricing.

I could seriously care less about Topshop. I think it’s way over priced now, and the quality of the fabrics and make is conversely worse. Still, I guess the Oxford Circus store is worth a visit for the sheer scale of the merchandise. The shoes can be interesting.

Marks & Spencer
‘s flagship store at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street. Accept no substitutes, this is the only branch worth visiting in London. Brilliant bras & knickers at a quarter of the price I have to pay in New York (granted, I am pretty well-endowed, but still…) I stock up on piles of black lace knickers every time I go home. (Because bloody NYC laundries seem to boil/shred everything.)

New Look flagship store just by the Marble Arch M&S. The store was designed by Future Systems, and although they diluted the shopfit almost immediately (the original aisles were impossibly cramped), it still has a fantastic silver stepped entrance, & great wee shopping carts. 90% of the store is filled with fast fashion, and the new-ish Limited Edition range is really very good indeed if you can truffle it out. ( I am still wearing the black 100% wool bubble skirt I bought last winter, which everyone comments on, and only cost £35.)

Mid range shoe shopping: South Molton Street, top to bottom. Every shoe store on the British High Street.

Libertys first floor fashion & shoe department. Great buy. Glorious building. I do love a proper department store, even if this one is terribly grown up.

Just down the road from Liberty is Beyond Retro, one of the few vintage stores in the West End. Prices are obviously higher because of the West End location, but definitely worth a look.

Of course Selfridges is on the way to M&S and New Look from Bond Street, but you could spend days in there and not finish. I prefer to keep my shopping on a smaller scale.