The quirky Swedish label Acne’s flagship shop sits on Dover Street in Mayfair. Housed in a five-story, 19th-century townhouse, formerly an art gallery, the shop has an arty feel. There’s a grand piano, pine and concrete floors and splashy art on the white walls. The clothes are cool, too. What started out as a denim label in 1996 has grown into a collection of hip urban wear. The space is also characterized by Acne’s distinctive furniture designs and has a sweet roof garden.
Bourdon House, a stately Georgian mansion, once home to the Duke of Westminster, is the Alfred Dunhill flagship store and something of a gentleman’s club. There’s a lovely central courtyard walled off from the street that you pass through to enter the shop. Polished wooden floors, Oriental carpets and handsome brass columns offset the essentials of the well-dressed man that are sold on the main floor. Upstairs, a museum of the company’s artifacts complements the custom leather and menswear. After having a tailor take his measure, a man can also visit the on-site barber. His “shop” is outfitted with wood paneling, caramel-colored leather barber seats and plasma TVs. The basement boasts a bar and one of the sleekest private cinemas in the city. Alfred’s, a private members club in the adjacent wing, features four bedrooms, a stately restaurant and even a chauffeur driven Bentley. Membership is by invitation only.
Anderson & Sheppard
Anya Hindmarch, a favorite of the Camerons, now has an empire boasting four London stores as well as concessions in Harrods, Liberty and Harvey Nichols. The flagship store is on Sloane Street, where you’ll find her smart leather bags and accessories with their understated little black bow logo, and the incredibly useful range of travel and cosmetic bags and pouches with their quirky embossed labels. Much of the collection can be customized with your own photos.
Avery Fine Perfumery
Located on Avery Row, a quiet back street in Mayfair, this innovative perfume shop is a play on the word aviary, an airy home for exotic birds. And like birds, scents travel weightlessly through the air. As people pass close to the shop’s windows, interactive technology causes a perfume bottle to emit a virtual spritz of scent outside the shop. There are birdcages in the window and taxidermy birds on the shelves, but the collection, with lots of niche brands from Italy and France, is focused, beautifully presented and worth a sniff (or two or three).
Lady Bamford sells the kind of gorgeous clothes that she herself likes to wear, and the beautifully-made elegant objects that she chooses to be surrounded by–she is known for her luxurious organic farm, café and retreat center in the Cotswolds. Quality trumps trend here, where materials and lasting beauty are what matter. In fall, you’ll find seriously seductive fur jackets, cashmere wraps and loafers.
Berry Bros. & Rudd
Berry Bros & Rudd claims a Royal Warrant and to be the oldest wine merchants in the city. It opened in its current location just across from St. James Palace in 1698 and contains such historical artifacts as 200-year-old wine bottles, a centuries-old coffee mill and one of the city’s earliest scales along with the recorded weights of many legendary figures. The wine bottles sitting out for purchase range from inexpensive New World whites bearing the Berry Bros. label, for less than 10 pounds a bottle, to Sancerres for more than 3,000 pounds. The greatest treasures, of course, are in the 300-year-old cellars, which extend two floors below the main shop. Private dinners with tutored tastings or walking tastings can be arranged, and there are monthly wine tasting lunches and dinners. Since the shop delivers within London, it is also a good source of last-minute gifts.
Books For Cooks
A treasure trove of cookery books, old and new, niche and popular. Books for Cooks is a Notting Hill institution and you can settle in for a few hours of browsing on the sofa, fuel up at the café or sign up for one of the regular cooking classes.
The shops of this Scottish cashmere house are growing in number but each piece remains just as special. The gorgeous cashmere designs come in a range of mouth-watering colors and contemporary styles for men, women and children.
Founded by Joan and Sydney Burstein in 1970, Browns is truly a fashion institution in London. It was the first boutique in England to sell designers like Alexander McQueen and John Galliano (today you’ll also find Lanvin, Rick Owens and Maison Martin Margiela) and has grown from a small shop to an emporium that includes a bridal gallery, Brown Focus for edgier styles and a new jewelry section. The chic salespeople serve as personal stylists to many loyal customers around the world.
These lovely boutiques sell sophisticated children’s clothes, many of which are designed by grown-up fashion stylists, in neutral colors and high-quality fabrics. Unfortunately, the sizes only go up to age 8 so petite moms can’t fit into the collection. Also available in Selfridges and Fenwick.
Many of those who want bespoke shoes to go with their bespoke suits just go to cobblers on Savile Row. But those who want to meet the shoe craftsmen in person and see where the leathers are stitched can head to Carréducker. James Ducker apprenticed at John Lobb and makes custom shoes for Gieves and Hawkes. The process involves making a wooden model of your foot and choosing skins and styles and then a few month’s wait. The result is a pair of shoes that will last decades and be so comfortable that it will be hard to go back to store bought.
At the top of my birthday list is a pair of Charlotte Olympia shoes, ultra-feminine and glamorous creations that evoke 1940’s panache. And with her crimson lipstick and curled copper hair, young London designer Charlotte Olympia Dellal could be a pin-up from that era herself (she hails from a prominent London family; her sister is a model, her brother owns an art gallery and her Brazilian mother is a former model). For her stunning shoe collection, Dellal focuses on motifs like animal prints and motifs and detailing in hardware, beads and stones, as well as bold colors and a signature spider web on the heels (Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow are all fans). Best of all, the shoes are displayed in a gem of a store with hand-carved oak cabinets, an original herringbone floor, abstract Neisha Crossland wallpaper and ‘spider’ fabric blinds to compliment the Eames style sofa and antique brass lamps.
The world’s oldest and most esteemed candle maker opened its first permanent boutique outside of Paris in 2011. The gorgeous shop sells a full range of distinctly scented candles, sprays, gifts and wax busts including one of Napoleon and Marie Antoinette.
Cox & Power
This outstanding jewelry shop is a must-visit. While everything looks contemporary, the talented Tony Power and his assistant craft their pieces using traditional techniques. The exquisite wares highlight unusual stones and colors, colored diamond and a variety of tourmalines in different hues and textures.
Daunt Books is an independent mini-chain: it now has six stores around the city stocked with inspiring collections, focusing on travel but covering all bases. The original Marylebone branch is in a beautiful Edwardian building with the books showcased in long oak galleries, and hosts great literary evenings.
Domestic goddesses will adore Divertimenti, a mega kitchen store in Chelsea stocking all the best and most beautiful cookware and kitchenware brands as well as all those tricky to find unusual tools and accessories.
Emma Hope’s shoes combine sophistication with wearability. They have a bit more boho flair than their sophisticated brethren Manolo and Jimmy.
Emma Willis, renowned for her skills and fabrics, is one of the few female tailors. She also has a small women’s shirt collection, bespoke and hand-finished.
Designer Erdem Moralioglu's clothes are worn by Claire Danes, Jessica Chastain and Marion Cotillard, and no expense was spared in creating what is far more than a retail outlet. “The idea was to create a space about my woman—her pied-à-terre in Mayfair… It belongs to her.”
Formerly a corner bank with expansive windows on two sides, the space feels opulent, sophisticated and permanent. Moralioglu’s longtime partner, architect Philip Joseph, sourced the doorknobs from Ghent, ceiling lights from Beirut and blue bespoke hangers and alabaster mannequins from Italy. Art by Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Jean Cocteau hang on the walls. A sweeping staircase leads downstairs where a velvet sofa faces onto a fern garden. And then of course, there are the clothes. Regal purples and jewel-like hues are mixed in off-beat pairings. I especially lusted after a rib-knit long sleeve top morphing into a voluminous vibrant gown dotted with ostrich feathers.
Another one of the country’s historic department stores, this five-story emporium on New Bond Street has become renowned for showcasing hot new design talents at reasonable prices. Shopping the best of Mayfair can work up an appetite, so luckily Fenwick has a sleek all-day restaurant, Bond & Brook, serving light lunches and afternoon tea.
Hilary Fisher trolls markets and fairs around England to find treasures (“items of social and historical interest”) from the 18th and 19th centuries. What grabs her fancy may be a burl wood lap desk or ivory chess set. It could be Victorian glass lions made to commemorate the lions of Trafalagar Square or an enameled coat of arms of the City of London. There are porcelain plates and boxes as well as jewelry and furniture. She knows the history of each piece, and if you don’t have time to scour the markets yourself, a visit here will reward you with special finds in much less time.
The men’s and women’s outlets of this hip label are side by side on Lamb’s Conduit street. There is a selection of fashion and accessories.
Fortnum and Mason
Fortnum and Mason, a landmark in Piccadilly for over 300 years, offers a taste of old world England. Its food department is filled with traditional English delicacies and famous for its picnic hampers—perfect for summer season jaunts to the races, picnics at Glyndebourne and Christmas gifts.
Charing Cross Road, on the eastern end of Soho, is home to a strip of fascinating rare and specialist bookshops. There is also Foyles, Europe’s largest bookstore, with five floors, more than 2,000 titles, a great selection of gifts and stationery, and a particularly impressive stock of independent magazines and design and photography publications.