London's best new shops are quintessentially English: impeccably turned out, utterly style-conscious, and more than a little bit tongue-in-cheek. Here, six of our favorites for shoes, clothes, bags, and more.
THE SHOP Bamford & Sons 31 Sloane Square; 44-20/7881-8010; www.bamfordandsons.com. Tube stop: Sloane Square.
THE VIBE The label's four-story flagship is housed in a former bank, with museum-like spaces to showcase the beautifully crafted clothing for men and boys, and gadgets. For a quick bite, hit the downstairs café, which serves dishes made from organic produce straight off the Bamford family's Gloucestershire estate.
BEST FINDS Cashmere socks ($96) in duck's-egg blue; sterling silver iPod, exclusive to Bamford, complete with leather box ($3,422); motorcycle jacket in ultrasoft off-white leather ($1,476).
WHAT'S NEARBY The Royal Court Theatre (Sloane Square; 44-20/7565-5000), a traditional testing ground for the best new plays. This month, catch O Go My Man, acclaimed Irish playwright Stella Feehily's second drama.
THE SHOP Coco Ribbon 133 Sloane St.; 44-20/7730-8555; www.cocoribbon.com. Tube stop: Sloane Square.
THE VIBE This fantasy boudoir has Venetian-glass chandeliers, ornate mirrors, and feather-trimmed satin swags to put you in the mood for accessorizing your bedroom.
BEST FINDS Pink-and-blue floral silk kimono ($524) by Yes Master; Tea Lights' scented candles in vintage teacups with matching saucers ($61); Maisonette's throw pillows ($314) made from 1960's silk scarves.
WHAT'S NEARBY Award-winning bistro Le Cercle (1 Wilbraham Place; 44-20/7901-9999; lunch for two $174), which serves rich French fare in small-plate portions—perfect for a post-shopping pick-me-up.
THE SHOP Kirsten Goss 29 Holland St.; 44-20/7937-9855; www.kirstengoss.com. Tube stop: High Street Kensington.
THE VIBE Around the corner from busy Kensington High Street, this closet- size boutique displays Goss's vibrant jewelry designs against stark white walls.
BEST FINDS Renaissance-style ring ($79), made of rose quartz and green Swarovski crystal beads set in a bronze filigree band; Amelie Petite Grace Collier ($234), a short strand of rose quartz, freshwater pearls, and Swarovski crystals, with a lemon topaz pendant; gold-beaded Marina Cluster Cuff ($340), with dangling stones in cool blues and greens.
WHAT'S NEARBY Topshop (42/44 Kensington High St.; 44-20/7938-1242), where you can make like a true London fashionista by picking up runway knockoffs to go with your genuine jewels.
THE SHOP Saltwater 98 Marylebone Lane; 44-20/7935-3336; www.saltwater.net. Tube stop: Bond Street.
THE VIBE Rather than distract with outrageous design, this bright, understated, loftlike boutique focuses on the shop's weekend wear, which references classic British style—but with a modern twist.
BEST FINDS Poppy-colored raw-silk cropped jacket with raw-edged collar ($463); blue and red handkerchief-check voile skirt ($148); boatneck sweatshirt in red toweling ($103).
WHAT'S NEARBY Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecôte Porte Maillot (120 Marylebone Lane; 44-207/486-0878; lunch for two $86), the newly opened branch of the famous Paris steak frites joint.
THE SHOP Sac Frères 7 Grafton St.; 44-20/7495-9040; www.sacfreres.com. Tube stop: Oxford Circle or Piccadilly Circus.
THE VIBE The red neon sign is a beacon at the end of Mayfair's posh Dover Street; the moody black interior shows off striking handbags in spotlit glass cases.
BEST FINDS Burgundy buttoned-leather House of Lords handbag, designed to resemble the benches in Parliament ($511); ivory leather Continental weekender ($1,122), inspired by the seats of a Bentley; Suit of Lights evening clutch ($854) in red or black silk, embroidered with the same gold thread used by Spanish seamstresses to embellish matadors' jackets.
WHAT'S NEARBY Dover Street Market (17-18 Dover St.; 44-20/7518-0680), a six-story fashion emporium created by Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo.
THE SHOP Tracey Neuls 29 Marylebone Lane; 44-20/7935-0039; www.tn29.com. Tube stop: Bond Street.
THE VIBE For a store that peddles fashion-forward shoes, Canadian designer Neuls's shop has a surprisingly old-fashioned vibe—witness its Victorian-era storefront and the bread-baking done in the back on weekends. It also serves mulled wine in the winter.
BEST FINDS Black leather shoes with curved heel and oversize black leather bow ($349); tall lace-up boots with cut-out calf ($395).
WHAT'S NEARBY Mint (70 Wigmore St.; 44-20/7224-4406), one of London's best-loved contemporary-interiors boutiques.
Visit T+L’s Guide to Shopping in London for more shopping inspiration.
With a prime location in the bustling Brompton Design District and an interior that looks like a scene from a Dali painting, Mint is a contemporary housewares shop that's a favorite resource for London prop stylists and decorators. Owner Lina Kanafani handpicks the sleek furniture, textiles, glassware, and ceramics, many of which are specially commissioned. One-off and limited edition pieces are arranged in eclectic "living spaces" throughout the store, including items like stained birchwood tables and cabinets, hand-engraved crystal vases, and vintage armchairs with beechwood frames. Most of these items are more art than housewares, in truth, making them great conversation pieces.
Tracey Neuls's Marylebone shop offers a holistic synthesis of high art and fashion. An award-winning designer of some of London's most innovative shoe styles, Neuls personally oversees the arrangement of the shop, which has, in the past, been reconfigured for collaborations with renowned London artists like Boo Ritsen, who literally paints then photographs her "victims." Neuls's designs draw inspiration from old and new styles, and typically mix materials like metallic leather and aged, stretched skins. Items like the Nurse Jackie are charmingly retro but casual, while her low-cut Chelsea boots are winter-worthy and can be worn with jeans or tights.
Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecôte Porte Maillot
Situated at the center of the upscale residential village of Marylebone, Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecôte Porte Maillot flawlessly recreates the experience of the Parisian original, which has been serving steak frites in the Seventeenth Arrondissement since 1959. The snug dining room was designed with the brasserie concept in mind and features banquette seating, wooden tables, and paintings depicting scenes from Venice. Founder Paul Gineste de Saurs's legendary "secret sauce" accompanies each steak, and the hand-chipped frites are genuinely famous throughout the United Kingdom. The house red, Le Relais de Venise - Cotes de Bordeaux, goes brilliantly with the steaks (which are best-prepared rare.)
Saltwater specializes in English-style women's clothing that is classic without being stuffy or old-fashioned (think little-to-no plaid or quilting.) Located in the exceedingly livable Marylebone neighborhood, Saltwater prides itself on its separates, which is to say shoppers can mix and match the colorful knits with tunics and skirts and then accessorize with practical linen tote bags, scarves, or belts (all of which are sold here). Though Saltwater's designs can be found in most reputable women's clothing stores throughout the UK, the New Quebec Street boutique is the one and only location dedicated wholly to their line.
Subtle but definitive" is a motto of owner, designer, and founder Kirsten Goss, whose boutique shop is located on a Kensington side-street, just a stone's throw from St. Mary Abbots. Schooled in jewelry design and gemology at the University of Stellenbosch, Goss emphasizes simplicity when designing her handcrafted stone and metal jewelry. Pieces like the Sardine necklace (a five-stranded twisted necklace made of semi-precious stones, not actual sardines) and the Ella earrings (hand-cut earrings framing semi-precious stones on shepherd hooks) are always in abundance, though the store also has seasonal lines that make frequent visits a must.
Bamford & Sons
From the same owners as Michelin-starred Club Gascon, basement-level Le Cercle serves modern French cuisine in tapas-size portions. Sheer, floor-length draperies add privacy to the booth seating and elegance to the main dining room. In the lounge, padded ottomans and a fireplace create a cozy nook to sip on cocktails. The menu includes options like wild mushroom fricassee and squid ragout with crab bisque. Le Cercle is near Sloane Square, close to Cadogan Hall and the Royal Court Theatre and offers pre-theater menus.
A leader in the UK's high-street fashion, Arcadia Group-owned Topshop on Kensington sells affordable clothes with a "brave and irreverent" style, which brought the store from its basement beginning in 1964 to its industry-topping position today. The shop carries catwalk-inspired looks alongside its own line, Topshop Unique. As a supporter of British design talent, Topshop has featured designers like Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, and Marios Schwab, while also collaborating with icons such as Kate Moss. Merchandise changes multiple times each week, and the store carries shoes, jewelry, handbags, and sunglasses. A make-up collection was added in 2010.