Wednesday, 17 July 2013

New Penhaligon's And Chanel Shops In London

Image: Chanel

Perfume is by no means the primary concern of the new Chanel boutique on Bond Street, but I'd recommend a visit even if you're not interested in the brand's clothes, shoes or handbags. When I first read that this was to be the firm's largest shop in the world, I confess I feared the worst. Would it be an oversized Chanel mall, I wondered. Would it diminish the 'luxury' feel which the company still manages to convey to most people? I'm pleased to say that the answer turned out to be No, because the space is a triumph of clever design. Yes, it's large, but it's been chopped up into small, intimate sub-sections. And boy, is it a feast for the eyes. From the 11 meter tall, Jean-Michel Othoniel glass necklace - the largest of its kind, apparently - to the rhinestone-encrusted, Marc Swanson deer in the jewellery section - inspired by the less blingy specimens Mademoiselle Gabrielle kept at her 31 Rue Cambon apartment - all the specially commissioned artworks are worth a second look. What's more, they pay homage to the firm's past whilst simultaneously pushing its aesthetic far into the 21st century, which would have satisfied Gabrielle's avant-garde-ist leanings, no doubt.

The fragrance department is small, but it's beautiful - take a moment to admire the gorgeous glass tiles - and it stocks every scented delight currently produced by the house, including Les Exclusifs. However, only a selection of testers is on display - all the masculines and many of the extraits are hidden away - so you'll have to ask for assistance if you'd like to sniff anything that isn't out in the open. The brand's perfume hall at Selfridges remains the best place in which to experience the entirety of Chanel's fragrance output - not least because it makes use of the eminently sensible ceramic 'sniffing rods' - but for a spell of total immersion in Coco's universe, Bond Street is a must-see.

Equally inviting is the new Penhaligon's shop at Covent Garden's Piazza. Those of you familiar with London's perfumery scene will be aware that a few weeks ago, this was the site of the UK's sole L'Artisan Parfumeur boutique. Although I still think it's a shame that the decision was made to close it down, I cannot deny that the work that's gone into transforming it into the home of Hammam Bouquet is very impressive. The decor is completely in keeping with the look of the Christopher Jenner re-vamp of the Regent Street store: lots of illuminated alcoves housing individual bottles; bow-tie motifs hidden in unexpected places; flacon-shaped lights; a mirrored fragrance profiling area; plush, padded seating. The basement has become a Penhaligon's museum of sorts, featuring old bottles of some of the brand's best known creations. But the best part is that the L'Artisan staff have all been retained. Okay, they're now selling Amaranthine instead of Al Oudh, but never mind, because Diana and co must surely be one of the friendliest, most enthusiastic and most hospitable fragrance teams in the whole city. So although I shall miss being able to pop in for a quick sniff of the Rose Des Indes candle, at least I know someone will always be around to listen to my geeky scent ramblings.

[The Chanel boutique is at 158-159 New Bond Street (telephone: 020 7493 5040; underground: Green Park or Bond Street); the Penhaligon's boutique is at 13 Market Building, The Piazza, Covent Garden; underground: Covent Garden.]


Image: Penhaligon's


  1. Carolyn Middleton17 July 2013 at 16:59

    Was very sorry indeed to hear that the L'Artisan store had closed - bought for the first time there a few years ago (their Mure et Musc) & thought the staff were great, so glad they are still gainfully employed. Will have a look at the new Penhaligon's when I'm in London in December, & must also check out their Regent St location. Will also be sure to have a look at the 'smellies' stores in the East End which have been mentioned on this site as they appear - all shopping info gratefully received here in the fragrance starved NE of Scotland!

    1. Carolyn, it is a shame that everything in the UK is so London-centric. But yes, the arrival of all these new stores is something to be celebrated.

  2. Is the L'artisan shop closed? And is anything replaced that place.

    1. Hi Carin, yes, the L'Artisan boutique has now been replaced by Penhaligon's.


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