One of my favourite things about London is that history lies behind every corner – every street and passageway has a story to tell, you just have to find it! The Burlington Arcade in Mayfair is one such place, I’ve walked through the parade of luxurious shops countless times but I’d never stopped to think about it too much. The arcade was actually commissioned in 1819 by Lord George Cavendish, the official reason being to give public pleasure and female employment – though rumour has it the real reason was to stop ruffians throwing oyster shells into his property! It’s the oldest shopping arcade in England so you won’t be surprised to learn these walls could speak volumes!
Today the arcade is home to over 40 of London’s finest fashion, jewellery and leather goods stores – brands that value artisan production and tradition. Take Roja Dove for instance, a Haute Parfumerie occupying one of the spaces in the arcade and decorated in the most opulent crystal, silk and mirroring.
Only the very finest ingredients go into these perfumes with absolute no compromise. For example Rose de Mai and Ambergris, an ingredient so rare that it priced at seven times the amount of gold! Master Perfumer, owner and ambassador of the brand, Roja (pronounced Roger) Dove is responsible for hand selecting each ingredient and is totally committed to creating the world’s best fragrances.
Roja has created a collection of Parfums including Pour Femme, Pour Homme and unisex, there’s also a selection of Ouds which are rich and exotic. If you want something a very special you can purchase Roja’s signature scent, only twenty bottles are released every year on his birthday and the cost is £2000.
But if you want something utterly unique and exceptional, Roja Dove also specialises in creating bespoke custom blends. You’ll meet with Roja who will establish the perfect combination of ingredients to create a signature scent that is for you and you alone, you can choose the bottle and the Swarovski cap too – and that bespoke scent is yours forever!
I totally fell in love with the boutique, and I’m keen to meet Roja himself whose flamboyant style and character epitomises the lavish brand!
Moving on…sumptuous cashmere brand, N. Peal truly is best of British! Business man Nat Peal moved into the arcade in 1936 and three years later when World War Two broke out, his location in the Shetland Isles meant he could supply fine sweaters created from the wool of Scotland’s famous sheep. The scarcity in London at this time meant his brand became very much in demand and over the years has come to stand for the highest quality in cashmere. Personally I absolutely love soft clothing and all the beautiful jumpers and dresses in light spring and summer colours were a dream for me. Today the clothing is made from the finest Mongolian wool all sourced with the strictest standards in quality.
The store itself is created with timeless elegance with a hint of art deco that has endured as N. Peal has expanded into other areas of London whilst still remaining an exclusive brand.
The sweaters also famously appeared in two James Bond films, and Daniel Craig can be seen sporting the brand in Skyfall and Spectre.
Richard Ogden is one of ten fine jewellers in the Burlington Arcade. Stocking the most gorgeous jewellery from early Victorian through Edwardian to the Art Deco period, an incredible range of timeless elegance collected by a family with generations of experience in the jewellery trade.
I was fortunate enough to meet owner Robert Ogden who explained it all started with his grandfather James Ogden who opened the first family jewellery shop in 1893, passing the business to his son William who in turn passed it to Richard and finally now Robert. Robert explained that he’s a trained jewellery maker himself and an expert in precious stones, his favourite being the ruby! Though he doesn’t create jewellery himself anymore, a bespoke service is offered in the store especially for creating the perfect engagement or wedding ring. They can remodel existing or antique jewellery or create something new and original just for the customer.
You easily spend all day in the arcade walking down the beautiful stone floor and peering into the beautiful wood fronted stores. I think I’d pop into Chanel and Penhaligans for beauty, La Perla and Eres for style and I’d definitely do my shoe shopping a Manolo Blahnik! I could also fuel my shopping with popping into Ladurée for patisserie and macarons…
One of the most interesting facts about the arcade is that it’s looked after the world’s smallest and oldest police force. The Beadle Guards were introduced in 1819 to patrol the arcade and they still dress the same today as they did back then!
Just outside the Burlington Arcade is Burlington Gardens, home to luxury leather brand, Pickett, launched by Trevor Picket in 1988. As well as every single leather good you can think of, Pickett also now offers pashminas and slippers all made with the utmost care in specialist workshops by artisanal craftsman.
Bespoke and personalisation is important here too and Pickett have been providing these services for over twenty years. All materials are very carefully sourced and great attention to detailed is employed to create items just as the customer wants with great service from start to finish.
I have my eye on one of these handbags, perhaps with AS in silver leaf?
In an era of fast fashion when we want everything super quickly it’s great to know that there are still many traditional artisan brands focussing more on bespoke design and personal service. So many of these can be found in the Burlington Arcade, the perfect place for a luxury shopping trip in London.
I was invited on a tour of the Burlington Arcade