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Best of London Shopping

The luminous printed velvets at Georgina von Etzdorf (4 Ellis St.; 44-207/ 259-9715) seem to share the sensibility of the Omega group, the decorative-arts collective begun by Vanessa Bell and other Bloomsbury artists. Strikingly Modernist jewel-toned chesterfields and redingotes start at $1,275. A long, chiffon-edged, rhinestone-flecked muffler ($270) is perhaps slightly easier to wear.

LINGERIE London may never rival Paris as the capital of unmentionables, but there are two lingerie stores not to be missed. Agent Provocateur (16 Pont St.; 44-207/235-0229), owned by Vivienne Westwood's son, has rose-colored walls, a scarlet carpet, and plush red velvet curtains, giving the shop the air of a highly respectable bordello. There's a full line of irresistible silk camisoles, knickers, and high-heeled mules sporting marabou pom-poms.

Saucier still is Coco de Mer in Covent Garden (23 Monmouth St.; 44-207/ 836-8882), a sexy shop with dark brown and red walls. Don't be put off by the black leather teddy bears or the peephole in the fitting room—there is wonderfully pretty lingerie here. A peach satin bra ($100) is subtly enhanced with faux peridots; another brassiere's bold polka-dot pattern seems to have been inspired by the packaging of Wonder Bread.

MODERN JEWELRY Just off the fashionable Westbourne Grove strip, two magically talented jewelry designers have set up shop. Fiona Knapp (178A Westbourne Grove; 44-207/313-5941), who hails from New Zealand, creates lovely trinkets in a store with mysterious black walls and backlit showcases—a space that is itself reminiscent of a jewel box. Her collection mixes such gems as cerise tourmalines, pink sapphires, and tsarvorites in pieces that borrow freely from nature.

If Knapp's is a glowing cave, then Solange Azagury-Partridge's boutique (171 Westbourne Grove; 44-207/792-0197) is a deep vermilion grotto, with velvet-padded walls and a red leather floor. Azagury-Partridge was, until recently, the designer for Boucheron; her droll pieces include a necklace featuring a cluster of tiny male and female symbols and a tempting enamel-and-ruby Union Jack ring.

ANTIQUE BAUBLES You can get up at the crack of dawn and haunt the seemingly endless corridors at Portobello Road (Saturdays only), but, if time is of the essence, head straight to the Silver Fox (121 Portobello Rd.; 44-207/243-8027) and Central Galleries (125 Portobello Rd.; 44-207/243-8027), where the estate jewelry is of superb quality. Get there early; dealers pack up by 1 p.m.

If you're seduced by vintage watches (London seems to have more than its share of old timepieces), visit Ric Saunders (Unit 1, 101 Portobello Rd.), whose stock of reasonably priced wristwatches includes Rolexes from the 1920's through the 1940's, and everything is guaranteed. A circa-1915 lady's gold wristwatch with an elaborate black and white enamel face recently sold (to me) for approximately $800. (If you're contemplating a flea market watch that is not guaranteed, set it, wait an hour, and then go back to see if it's working.)

On weekdays, more than 100 dealers at Grays Antique Markets (58 Davies St.; 44-207/629-7034) and the adjacent Grays-in-the-Mews offer a spectacular array of antique jewelry. John Joseph (Booth 345-346) has an especially eclectic selection: a fat, puffy Victorian heart brooch for about $3,600; three diamond birds on a diamond-encrusted pin at around $4,200. Michele Rowan (Booth 315; 44-207/629-7234) accommodates both tourists looking to spend under $100 and deep-pocketed connoisseurs of old English jewelry. Some pieces here date back to the 17th century. Love cameos?Rowan has some of the rarest in the city.

LYNN YAEGER is a contributing editor for Travel + Leisure.


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