Friday, May 10, 2013

Postcards from London 3: Shopping

Since we already have lots of good English things —Barbours, Hunter boots, a Simplex kettle, a stockpile of Yardley soap — we didn't buy very much in London besides books. We bought illustrated books about three of the house museums we visited: Dennis Severs, Linley Sambourne, and Leighton... and, somehow, lots of other books came along for the ride, adding up to an overweight baggage charge for my husband's previously half-empty suitcase. (I transferred a few from him bag to mine, and all was well.) 

We made a pilgrimage to Liberty, mainly to admire the store, which has an Arts and Crafts heritage that's still alive and kicking today. Since I already have a Liberty-print shirt and dress (J. Crew), I contented myself with a William Morris tray, although we coveted a Moorcroft vase and an antique Armenian rug.

Charming, inside and out.

Flowers greet you at the door.

The store is sprawling and full of pricey designer fashion, but this atrium area still has a wonderful, old-fashioned atmosphere.


We went to Harrod's on our last day, mainly because it was close to our hotel and we wanted to see the Egyptian escalator. But Harrod's is astounding in scale and scope; there's nothing like it here. There are about 25 different places to eat, for example, tucked here and there on every elegantly appointed and lavishly stocked floor.

Then there's the Food Hall — actually a series of huge, elegant rooms offering everything under the sun from chocolate to sushi. We wanted everything but we only bought tea.


Meat pies of every variety...

And a few dates....

Cherries and berries, including translucent currants.

The top floor of Harrod's has children's and pet departments. Guess where we made a beeline? We were disappointed to see that most of the fun was for dogs, but we did find fancy-looking cat food:


There were also two or three large displays of cat toys. We brought home a wind-up guinea pig, a German catnip hedghog, and a really silly giraffe pole toy, which the kittens love:


I'm kicking myself for not buying the flying squirrel and the charming catnip shrimp (prawn?). And what's that blue thing? A jellyfish? 

It seems Londoners have a taste for American junk food; I don't think this is a shop for tourists or ex-pats:


As usual in European cities, I noticed that most of the women's shops carry designs that look elegant and wearable for grownups, rather than sexy styles for babes going clubbing, as we have all over Newbury Street. Clothes in America seem to be designed to look good on store mannequins and very few female bodies. Clothes in Europe seem designed to flatter women in a wide range of ages and body types. I look in shop windows and constantly see outfits that look pretty and perfectly wearable, as I seldom do over here.

This white linen skirt and top with a trapunto jacket caught my eye several times as we walked from the Underground to our hotel at night:


Then there were these paisley slippers with little spikes across the toes... perfect for dealing with rush-hour crowds on the T or at Haymarket:

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