Monday, 16 February 2009

Perfume shopping in London: Fortnum and Mason


I am very happy to add Fortnum and Mason to my list of London shops for the fragrance enthusiast to visit.

Fortnum’s has been undergoing a gradual transformation from what I can see. It has always been a must visit for me for food and wine but I don’t think I had ventured above the ground floor until about a year ago- and I suspect that is the case for many of their customers (I say customer loosely, I'm not sure if buying some rose petal jam once every 3 months is really going to keep them afloat).

It as beautiful upstairs, if not more so. It also has that wonderful hushed peace that some shops can have and makes you feel instantly calmer. They also have a divine ice cream bar but I managed to resist the temptation of the first floor and head straight up to the second- for beauty, perfume and handbags- oh my!

They seem to have added far more contemporary names to their general assortment of stock but I of course was mainly interested in the perfume. The first thing your eye sees as you step through the doors or lift is a divine carousel with all the Caron fragrances in decanters.

As I explored I found Penhaligon’s, Ortigia, Miller Harris, Creed, Annick Goutal, Serge Lutens, Tokyo Milk which I have mentioned below and lots more. It was the Guerlain counter that I most loved though. They have gold bee bottles and I was told they carry the full assortment of fragrances available to the UK market- they certainly had Apres L'Ondee which is increasingly hard to find, so I told myself I had better stock up, I had forgotten just how beautiful it is.

They also seemed to be, whisper it, very generous with samples at F&M and have them in bowls, like sweets to help yourself to! Why is it so satisfying to get free samples?

Dressing table picture courtesy of and available at Graham and Green

14 comments:

The Daily Connoisseur said...

There's nothing like a well appointed shop to make you want to spend some money... Sounds gorgeous- I'll have to stop by the next time I'm in England!

Rose said...

Hi Daily, it really is, I was a bit surprised. I always knew they had a nice department but I really enjoyed it this time. Although it was tricky resisting the chocolates downstairs on the way through. I am trying to support the shops I love when I'm spending money at the moment.

vicki archer said...

For a gal, Fortnums is the best refuge in London, xv

Rose said...

Hi Vicki, it is, such an oasis of calm and happy hushed peace. Bliss.

tania said...

Sounds like a trip to F&M is in order! (After payday, anyway).
I love trying perfumes which are out of the usual department store ranges, but would never have thought of looking there.

I'm wearing an off-the-beaten-track perfume today, actually - Lostmarc'h's Iroaz. Your blog got me into them, so thanks! I'm still working my way through their lovely samples. So far, Aod is my favourite.

Rose said...

Hi Tania, lovely to hear from you.

Yes they have obviously made an effort to have some unusual stuff that fits with their shop in general- as well as the more traditional.

I'm so glad you're enjoying the Lostmarc'h scents. I was so impressed with how carefully and lovingly packed the sample programme was although I prefer a spritz I though the tubes very generous.

I loved Aod too- and Lann Ael. They were a really happy discovery.

Perfumeshrine said...

It is a lovely store and I adore the tea salon. What a selection and one could perfectly well die there from the heavenly aroma!

Great reportage! :-)

Rose said...

Hi E, Yes me too! I love it all really. Maybe there should be an eau de fortnum's because it does have a particular classic scent all of it's own, coco, coffee, tea and perfume.

Thank you!

tania said...

Hi Rose,
yes, they are a nice discovery. I haven't tried Lann-Ael yet, but by sniffing the tube I can tell it will be a comfort scent.

I'm keeping the samples in a box, and judging by the waft which greets me when I open it, I better use them fast, as I don't think those corks are doing much to prevent evaporation! Luckily, it looks like the full bottles don't have corks.

Rose said...

Hi Tania
Lann- Ael is lovely, well to me, the cereal note is uusual but very more ish.

I did the same and put the tubes in a pretty box with the shells and heather that came with the samples.

After a while the corks weren't working for me so I decanted to atomisers. It's a shame because they look really pretty but they don't wear brialliantly. No the full bottles look like they have nice big atomisers!!

Cassandra said...

Ooooh this is great, I have been wanting to find a good Guerlain stockist in the UK - fab, thank you. I love F&M - always have. It transports a girl to a more graceful age...Cx

Rose said...

Hi Cassandra, the lady I met on the Guerlain counter was charming and very F&M!
She said they had the full UK range and they definitely looked like they had everything, the only thing I can't recall seeing is Nahema but I'm sure it's there somewhere.

Jayne said...

I had a lovely high tea in Fortnum and Mason once, made me feel ever so swish (and eventually rather full). I don't usually go and explore the rest of the store (although rose petal jam sounds worth seeking out!) but it does sound like a nice place to further discover, especially with that little lovely whisper of 'free samples'.

Rose said...

Hi Jayne, I could do a whole post on their jams, and jams in general. They have violet jelly, morello cherry, earl grey... I have only had the rose petal but one day would love to sit down with scones and test them.

Do you know there is actually a job being a chocolate buyer for Fortnum's- can you imagine? I'd be like a house (a large country house with out buildings) but so happy!