London Flaneuse (3): Mayfair


Where Marylebone might boast an understated, genteel elegance, Mayfair is just full-beam glamour.  Start at its northern borders where Oxford Street turns into South Molton Street next to Bond Street underground station. South Molton street offers the legendary Browns boutique, founded in 1970 by Joan Burstein, famed for her expert eye for fashion and her uncanny ability to spot a promising new comer – she bought John Galliano’s entire graduation collection and put it in the shop window.

At the end of the street where it meets Brook street, look for a tiny alleyway almost directly opposite you.  Here you will find the Paul Smith Sale shop and it is always worth a browse.  The stock is mostly menswear, though there are usually some women’s accessories too.


Heading back towards Bond street, you will be assailed with an array of luxury labels: Hermes, Smythson, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton.  A brief diversion, turning left into Conduit street also offers Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood and Connolly (for luxurious leathergoods and meanswear).

The further south you go, the more the luxury quotient seems to rise, until you finally hit the jewels: Cartier, De Grisogno, Boodles, Tiffany, all arrayed around the Ralph Lauren flagship store.  I can never resist this one – even if only to soak up some of its atmosphere, redolent of one of Jay Gatsby’s parties.


It is about time for some culture, so continue south to Piccadilly, via the jewel encrusted Burlington Arcade if your wallet can stand it, to the Royal Academy.  The Summer Exhibition is particularly exceptional as it shows hundreds of works from both amateur and professional artists together. It is truly a source of the unexpected and the eclectic and most of the works are for sale too.


Finally, when you are in need of re-fuelling, turn your steps back up Berkeley street, past the legendary square and on to Brook street to find Claridges, the Art Deco gem of London hotels.  Afternoon tea is always popular, but my stilettos are pre-programmed to carry me to the Fumoir bar, possibly the only London bar with an artist-in-residence, acclaimed fashion illustrator, David Downton.  That sounds pretty much like a dream job to me.


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