You can have a bit of a love-hate relationship with London’s department stores. The better known ones can feel a bit like an amusement park: lengthy queues, jostling crowds, bright lights – you get the idea. If you have the energy for all of this it’s great, but these aren’t necessarily places you want to frequent for some relaxing retail therapy.
Luckily certain establishments aim to be the opposite – Fenwick’s being one of them. Tucked away on New Bond Street, as opposed to the busting Oxford Street or Knightsbridge, it’s less of a tourist trap and all the better for it.
The beauty halls are no less the worse off for the slightly less obvious location – all the brands you’d expect are there - and perfumery is no exception. It houses a host of niche luxury brands, including Eight & Bob, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Agonist and newcomers Zenology, a collection of home scents looking (but thankfully not smelling) a little like fly spray.
Alas, I recently found out they’re going to discontinue stocking one of my favourite perfumeries - 4160 Tuesdays. This led me to believe perhaps department stores are perhaps missing a trick where exciting new indie brands are concerned. Despite this, there are still a good few classic names to keep fume-heads happy, including Houbigant, Cire Trudon and Annick Goutal. And to keep the mainstream clientele happy, you have some resplendent Jo Malone and Giorgio Armani concessions. The perfume hall was currently undergoing a refurb when we visited, so there will be an update on here when the finished space is revealed.
After having a sniff around the perfumery, we were invited to try a mini-facial with the founder of Immunocologie* Karen Ballou (part of their recent Meet Our Experts event). This ultra-luxe skincare line has French green clay as its flagship ingredient, together with a good glug of potent actives, its ethos being to boost the skin’s immunity to everyday aggressors. Definitely at the luxury end of the market (with many products having three-figure price points) they’re certainly pushing new ground in the “ageing beautifully” stakes - which may help justify the substantial price tags.
Their USP is a "Vital Oligo Science" delivery system, imbuing skin with nutrients and antioxidants in a way that’s similar to the skin’s own natural metabolic process. This way, you know you’re not piling on products that are going to sit on top of the skin and do nothing aside from adding a bit of moisture; at a deeper level, the formulas aim to boost collagen production (think of collagen as the ‘stuffing’ which keeps skin looking plump and radiant) and also calms inflammation which can lead to acne and fine lines.
Being somewhat of a ‘scrub-phobe’ I was most impressed with the Exfoliating Lotion, which is devoid of any granules, but instead chemically exfoliates with glycolic and lactic acids to properly put pores through their paces. By the end of the treatment, my skin was glowing and plumped, while my dark circles were diminished thanks to the addition of the hardworking Intense Eye Crème whose raw actives were like an espresso shot for my knackered, parched peepers.
Elsewhere their new Body Serum (currently a UK exclusive to Fenwick) is another fave. It’s super lightweight, absorbs in a flash (essential for speedy dressing) and contains a nourishing cocktail of African desert date seed oil, sunflower seed oil and - here comes the tongue-twister - Brazilian protium heptaphyllum resin. Perfect for those who are starting to worry about maturing skin and dealing with dry, crêpey texture *shoots hand up* it works to increase moisture levels and dials up the glow factor to get limbs ready for "short hem" season.
Fenwick is located at 63 New Bond St, Mayfair, London W1S 1RQ (nearest tubes Oxford Street, Green Park and Bond Street).
For more information on Immunocologie, visit immunocologie.com