The new fragrance and beauty hall at Fortnum & Mason

fortnum and mason 03Over at Fortnum and Mason, in London’s Piccadilly, there’s been a revamp of the fragrance and beauty floor which is worth a visit. I know Fortnum’s is The Queen’s grocer so I’m risking treason here, but I’ve not been that impressed with the place of late, it’s turned into tourist central and the downstairs food hall always reminds me of a posh John Lewis. I thought it had lost a bit of its magic.

However, the store’s current floor-by-floor make over means things are looking up.

The new beauty space is a delight, full of light and extremely comfortable, with clever navigational design that replaces the ‘behind the counter’ service with more inclusive and welcoming central tables, laden with interesting fragrances to try and new beauty brands to discover. There are mirrored dressing tables scattered throughout the beauty area where you are encouraged to sit and play with the product and plenty of seats to just hang out in, including window seats where you can gaze down over Piccadilly.

Unusually for a fragrance hall Fortnum & Mason owns most of the stock, which means less of that ‘branded’ selling space you get in big department store perfume halls, making it  easier to dip in and out of different perfume houses and generally experiment as you meander through the space. It functions like a large independent boutique. Staff are excellent and there’s a personal shopping service for fragrance that allows you to discover your perfect scent, if that appeals.

For me it just feels like a grown up place to hang out with girlfriends, or for a mum and daughter shopping trip -and don’t forget there’s an ice cream parlour and those famous tea rooms downstairs if you need pepping up. it’a such a nice change from the over-lit, noisy and hyper-branded spaces we’ve gotten used to with beauty recently, not everything needs to be quite so LOUD. Just look at the peony floral display above to see what I mean, it kind of sums it up, beautiful, but relaxed. And isn’t that a neat way to use old decanters? I’m always seeing them going cheap in charity stores…..

fortnum and mason chandelierAt the entrance to the space there’s a rather neat perfume chandelier, which features many of the fragrance on the floor. I like the clever candle bulbs that flicker.

fortnum and mason 05The fragrance selection includes some terrific small and artisanal brands, such as 4160 Tuesdays, above ( try Tart’s Knicker Drawer! it’s fab) that you wont find on every other person you know…Look out for Bella Bellissima, who you may remember us highlighting back here and Avery, which has the new fragrance range we spoke about here. For a full list of the fragrances available, see here.

fortnum and mason 02Note those interesting sniffing chambers at Avery, below.

fortnum and mason averyOver in the beauty section, there’s lots of great brands, again smaller, interesting ones are favoured over mass market stuff and as you might expect at Fortnum’s we’re talking mid to high end price points, but don’t be put off by this, there’s plenty of well priced product to discover too. Don’t you love the floral design on the Paul & Joe nail enamel remover bottle below?

fortnum and masonAnd of course it’s a great place to pick up a gift, who doesn’t lust after a glamorous Caron goose down powder puff to play with?

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