England: London: Where to Shop: Neighborhoods A-Z: Knightsbridge & Chelsea
Knightsbridge & Chelsea
Knightsbridge and Chelsea, two of the oldest and prettiest areas of London, are where well-heeled Londoners go to avoid the chaos of Oxford Street. Start the walk at Harrods but skip this behemoth, which frankly has not aged well, and instead head straight to sleek, buzzing Harvey Nichols, one of the world’s great department stores (ladies who lunch love the organic juice bar and chic Fifth Floor restaurant).
All the major league fashion houses are just outside Harvey Nics on Sloane Street, but don’t miss Gina which sells the hazardously high shoes coveted by London’s party girls, Pickett filled with an eclectic mix of gorgeous accessories and handmade leather luggage, and Jo Malone the epic purveyor of delicious scents.
Continue down Sloane Street to the King’s Road (during the 17th-century the road was King Charles II’s private thoroughfare between his London and country courts). Two high-end boutiques with glam designer labels are Austique and Mimi. Just down the road is Steinberg & Tolkien, a vintage clothes hot house spanning the 1940’s to the 1980’s–John Galliano himself occasionally pops in for inspiration. Further down you will find the iconic Vivienne Westwood boutique where high drama meets the outrageous. Those in search of gifts should look out for the Organic Pharmacy, offering a selection of wonderfully pure, natural products.
Rococo is a chocolate heaven of flavors ranging from violet creams to passion-fruit truffles. Just opposite is Bluebird located in a garage built in 1924 and complete with a brasserie, pit-stop café and deli bursting with delicious French and Italian treats. It now also boasts its own impeccably-edited fashion store, with an ever-changing mix of fresh designer labels such as Bella Freud, Mint and Park Vogel.
The next stop must be Brompton Cross, home to a chic enclave of designer stores and cafes, including arty Walton Street. At its center lies the magnificent Art Deco Michelin Building housing British designer Sir Terence Conran’s superb flagship store. Around the corner, little Walton Street offers some of the most eclectic shops in the city. Blossom is London’s hippest maternity store with exclusive pregnancy pieces by top designers like Diane Von Furstenberg; Laurence Tavernier sells luxurious nightwear in old-fashioned styles. Nina Campbell, London’s leading interior designer, showcases elegant knick-knacks for the home. Monogrammed Linen Shop sells superb sheet sets, table linen and nightwear while old-fashioned Bentleys brims with expensive antiques, vintage luggage, bowler hats and 1920’s airplane propellers.
While in the area, shoppers can ease tired feet at Reflexions a walk-in massage parlor with good reflexology. And fashionistas must not miss the fashion exhibits at the Victoria and Albert Museum – just a short taxi ride away in South Kensington. The exhibition charts the history of dress from 17th-century ball gowns to the latest trends fresh off the catwalk.— Daisy Finer 05/28/2007