Liberty’s Mock Tudor building is instantly recognisable at the bottom of Carnaby Street. Built in 1875 (constructed from the timbers of HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan), the store is something of a breath of fresh air for Londoners who hate traditional department stores, with their strip lighting, white walls and whacking great cardboard marketing materials on every surface.
Originally conceived to mimic an Eastern Bazaar, this place is beloved for its scarves, haberdashery and accessories. The fragrance hall is not as legendary as by rights it should be, but with the growing obsession with niche fragrance, things are swiftly changing.
Beloved by perfume enthusiasts and passing tourists alike, you won’t find the latest Chanel or Dior in here. Instead this is where you come if you want to find something different – your signature scent, not the latest summer blockbuster. Most brands aren’t regimented into having their own separate counters, but gathered more-or-less together, in keeping with the rest of the store’s bazaar-style displays.
Annick Goutal, Commes des Garçons, Serge Lutens, Hermés and Creed are all there, together with Geza Schoen’s famous Escentric Molecules range (Molecule 01 is the store’s best-seller). Lesser-known delights include Nasomatto (small bottles of extrait de parfum concentration that seriously pack a punch), Orto Parisi (of which the earthy, volcano-inspired Terroni is a must-try), Tom Daxon and D.S & Durga as well as a number of exclusives such as Isabey, IDEO Parfumeurs and Vilhelm Parfumerie.
There are also concessions including Le Labo ‘bar’, Frederic Malle boutique and an entire room dedicated to Diptyque (oh happy day!). Again, there are no giant cardboard displays with various air-brushed celebrities – everything, with a few exceptions, is decidedly unisex.
You might call the Liberty fragrance room the antithesis to grabbing the latest "puff-piece perfume" from Duty Free. Once you’re done selecting your chosen scent, you can however, grab a coffee from Sacred on Ganton Street further up the road, which is so spectacular, it deserves a separate write up in itself, if only I had the time and inclination to do so...
Liberty Fragrance Hall is located on the ground floor of Liberty Regent Street W1B 5AH (Nearest tube: Oxford Circus) libertylondon.com