Four of the world’s top cities for Christmas shopping
November 11, 2016
The festive season is upon us, which aside bringing goodwill and cheer, means it’s time to hit the stores. Why not whet your appetite by combining your shopping list with a city escape?
Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Photo: Olivier Parent/Alamy
From London’s Mount Street, lined with stylish native flagships, to the vivid souks of Marrakech, there are so many places to go for those must-have gifts. Best explored in the company of a sharp-minded personal shopper, these are our top four global shopping destinations.
A day trip to London
London is a wellspring of creativity and the city boasts some of the most diverse, eclectic shopping you’ll find. Indeed, Naomi Smart, shopping editor at British Vogue, recently noted that British style ‘has never been one distinct look, it’s an attitude’.
Carve out your own with a spin around Liberty department store, known not just for its trademark prints, but also its innovative collection of hard-to-find designers. Another stalwart, Harvey Nichols revamped its beauty floor in 2016, and now offers a knowledgeable concierge service.
Take a stroll down Mayfair’s Mount Street, which teems with independent luxury boutiques, such as Roksanda, in a store designed by David Adjaye, and the hyper-minimal Christopher Kane flagship. Nearby, on South Audley Street, is Erdem, whose couture-esque dresses make for ideal party season garb.
Well-heeled Mayfair also has Paul Smith, offering gorgeous suiting and terrific socks inside a Georgian townhouse. Head to the West End and you’ll find chic boutiques, from Matches to Wolf & Badger, while the picturesque Portobello Market is the perfect spot to pick up one-off gifts.
Paul Smith offers gorgeous suits and terrific socks for the man who has everything
A train ride to Paris
Paris is, of course, the home of haute couture. At the leading fashion and beauty houses, the radical architecture is just as eye-catching as the clothes. The Hermès store on the Rive Gauche, which stocks the entire range of fashion and homewares, is dramatically fitted out with striking oak wood ‘tepees’, and shimmers with original mosaic flooring.
The Balmain flagship is hyper-elegant and graceful, while perfume and beauty house Guerlain’s Champs-Élysées HQ offers make-up and edible delicacies amid Calacatta marble and Baccarat chandeliers. Officine Universelle Buly – a 19th-century perfumery – is your one-stop-shop for stocking stuffers, from horsehair body brushes to exquisitely wrapped, paraben-free soaps. Perfume matches are de rigueur.
New-wave luxury can be found at L/Uniform, which crafts uber-utilitarian canvas totes. The trim can be ordered bespoke and initials silk-screened onto any model.
Of course, a shopping trip to Paris is not complete without a spin around a concept store. The idea was (arguably) born here, with the arrival of cooler-than-thou Colette – where you can refuel in the trendy basement café. Or perhaps you could visit Merci, housed in an 1840 former wallpaper factory, which is a treasure trove of casual-luxe lifestyle items. It’s definitely worth checking out their signature wrinkled linen bedding.
A long weekend in Dubai
Dubai trails only London as the world’s most popular luxury fashion hotspot, and has arguably the best shopping in the Gulf. With temperatures that often exceed 40 degrees, it’s too hot to stroll the street, so a gleaming, air-conditioned mall is, in this city at least, mighty appealing.
Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest, with 1,200 stores, and it attracts about 80 million visitors annually. Make a beeline, as best you can navigate, for Fashion Avenue, which houses more than 80 of the most covetable luxury global brands, including Carolina Herrera, Gucci and Burberry.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Book a personal shopper for expert fashion advice and a porter service. They can also show you to the Cielo Sky Lounge, which has a members-only feel, and offers you panoramic views of the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa while you snack on gourmet canapés.
Pleasingly, a clutch of fine stores is moving outside of the mega-malls; seek out Boutique 1, which stocks a thoughtfully curated list of international brands in a sleek setting. Make sure you save some energy for the souks and don’t miss the glittering upmarket Gold & Diamond Park if you (or your loved one) are in the mood for some jewellery.
With 1,200 stores, Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest
A journey to Marrakech
Marrakech is seductive for its souks, but it offers much more than just woven carpets, leather goods and sparkly slippers. Haggling is expected so you’ll need to come armed with your best bargaining skills — expect to pay between half and two-thirds of the starting price.
For the inside track, organise a guide. Khadija Benbourahel at Morocco Private Experience will take you to the best studios and local designers, and help you cut a savvy path through the markets. A stay at Peacock Pavilions will offer you a stylish riad set within an olive grove on the city’s outskirts. It also gives you near-private access to M.Montague Souk – founded by designer and writer Maryam Montague. It’s bursting with tribal-chic homewares.
For more contemporary stores, head to urbane Guéliz – the French-built ville nouvelle and heart of modern Marrakech. Here you’ll find Lalla, a chic boutique founded by Bordeaux-born designer Laetitia Trouillet. It’s the must-visit shop for fashion buyers and journalists, who come here to stock up on cultish fringed leather handbags and terry cloth clutches, which put a modern spin on ethnic prints.
Also in the Guéliz neighbourhood is fresh concept store 33 Rue Majorelle, where you can stock up on unique objects by young native designers.