If you want to visit one of London’s most prestigious shopping areas, you’ll need to hustle down to Bond Street – perhaps the best place in the capital for designer shopping. Chanel, Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton… if it’s a luxury brand worth its salt, it’ll have premises somewhere along Bond Street.
But in actual fact, Bond Street doesn’t really exist – it’s the generic term used for the shopping area that encompasses Old Bond Street and New Bond Street! Like any area in central London, it’s got a rich and fascinating history – and there’s evidence to show that there have been settlements there as far back as the Roman era.
Since the end of the 18th century, Mayfair residents have enjoyed its fashionable boutiques, and the area has been home to some of London’s most famous residents, including Jonathan Swift, Lord Nelson and William Pitt the Elder.
While Sloane Street used to host gangs of Sloane Rangers, here you were more likely to encounter Bond Street Loungers. Their favourite pastime was to parade up and down in ornate wigs and fancy clothes – but their days are long gone. These days, Bond Street is the stomping ground of everyone from tourists, to window shoppers and the fabulously rich.
Many of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favoured luxury brands have flagship stores here, including British favourite and designer of her wedding dress, Alexander McQueen.
The store is still carrying the Obsession print worn by Kate at Wimbledon this year, which is available on a variety of items, from shirts to dresses and bags.
Equally beautiful in any colour, the print is definitely an edgier offering from the brand than Kate usually wears – even her red satin clutch worn at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee River sailing had to be divested of its customary skull clasp to make it suitable for the event. Eagle eyes will notice, however, that the Obsession print does include some of McQueen’s signature skulls, along with a variety of other items meant to represent a woman’s obsessive collection of trinkets and nostalgia from yesteryear!
Although Kate often sources her designer items from outlet stores like Bicester, many of her newer items are current season (have the days of thrifty Kate come to an end?), so a walk along Bond Street might turn up plenty of items in the Duchess’s wardrobe – or on her wish list. But don’t expect any shop assistants to let you in on her style secrets – royal brands are often chosen thanks to the discretion of the staff…
Bond Street is also home to London’s only stand alone branch of Tory Burch – not including their Bicester Outlet store. Is the brand’s current popularity down to the Kate Effect? There are certainly plenty of shoppers who hadn’t heard of the Pennsylvanian designer before Kate debuted their designs!
Apart from Chanel, my favourite Bond Street store is Mulberry’s flagship shop – although the brand is definitely undergoing a bit of upheaval at the moment. New creative director Johnny Coca has caused controversy amongst long-time fans of the brand with his alterations to the logo and branding – particularly the change to the famous post-man’s locks which adorn many of Mulberry’s iconic bags. Removing the traditional Mulberry tree logo and replacing it with the brand’s new font, as seen above, Coca has attempted to breathe new life into the range. Mulberry is also gradually replacing or updating many of the staple styles, including Kate’s favoured Bayswater Clutch, the various replacements for which are pictured above. At his debut fashion week for Mulberry, Coca placed a greater emphasis on the clothing ranges instead of the leather goods – an interesting direction. Will Kate favour Coca’s new Mulberry, or will the changes press her into finding a new go-to brand?
If there’s only one thing we know for certain, it’s that fashion is a cutthroat business, and these days, the patronage of a Duchess can make or break a brand!
Bond Street is a short walk from Piccadilly and Oxford Street, and makes a great destination for browsing… or, if your wallet can handle it, a very expensive, and very luxurious spending spree!