In the West End, Mayfair’s Dover Street Market is the best starting point. The brainchild of Rei Kawakubo, it contains several floors of a wide selection featuring the best pieces from cutting-edge brands. A pair of vintage Kazal sunglasses is a bold choice for anyone with an eyewear fetish. For women, seek out a pair of Lanvin pumps or Alaïa wedges (to-the-minute style for that fashion swan), and for good stocking stuffers, Commes des Garçons candles and Jean Yu‘s unstructured silk underwear will do the trick.
Since a bit of tradition never hurt anyone, venture across Bond Street to Asprey for one of their leather buckles that instantly transform a favorite scarf into a belt, starting from £50 for basic leather up to £2000 for the diamond-encrusted versions. Then, on to Smythson, the luxury leather goods and stationery specialists, and look for embossed organizers or, for men, a "Blondes, Brunettes, Redheads" notebook. Indulge further in the bespoke experience by stopping in at Turnbull and Asser, where they will customize almost anything, including shoes, shirts, sweaters, umbrellas, and cashmere socks. Initializing any of these items is a nice touch.
For extra luxury, Liberty has the perfect leather evening clutch by Lara Bohinc with gold Art Deco-style casing. B Store is a good stop for less traditional ideas — look for Odd and Even knitted jewelry, Peter Jensen’s buckle-detail men’s scarf, and his snowflake-shape wooden bag for women. A LMMOP men’s rucksack with real rope handles, Ute Ploir knitted black wool deerstalker, and ’50s-style Christian Wijnants jersey cocktail dress cover a discerning selection for those directional fashion diehards.
Head from B Store up to Marylebone High Street and stop in at Kabiri, one of the West End’s chicest, most contemporary jewelry destinations. Anna Hiscox’s long cord or snakeskin necklaces are a hit, as are Natalia Brilli’s long strands of leather-covered beads and cocktail rings from Stephen Webster. The other essential stop for jewelry is über-contemporary diamond specialists Wint and Kidd in Notting Hill. Look for their yellow gold "Amour" pendant, which resembles an engraved ring on a chain. Down the road is Diptyque, the luxury French perfumers where good stocking fillers are "Baies" scented candles and "Tuberose" concentrated room fragrance for light bulbs. Nearby on Westbourne Grove at the Portobello Road junction is new Italian delicatessen, Negozio Classica, which provides much choice in gifts for the gastronomically inclined. They stock luxury Italian foodstuffs such as olive oils, wines, and pasta, all of which come in thick glossy carrier bags — which means no wrapping. The highlight is their "San Eustachio" coffee which tastes like the perfect Tuscan espresso.
In the same area at Simon Finch, there’s a comprehensive selection of rare art books, as well as books on modern literature, architecture, photography, and design. For a more extensive art book collection, go down to his new store at 319 Portobello Road, where you will find everything from medieval art to ’70s kitsch as well as contemporary works and prints. Further down on Portobello Road is OG2, an appointment-only boutique. Reminiscent of a David Lynch film set, and owned by maverick designer Duro Olowu, whose one-off dresses in vintage printed silks have become a must-acquire for fashion editors, it carries beautiful shoes made exclusively for the shop by Katarina Mootich, vintage Cardin enamel jewelry and nappa leather handbags as well as other luxurious separates. Any of these would be suitable for women whose taste leans toward labels such as Marc Jacobs, Marni, or Prada.
From there Rellik is only a few minutes away on Golborne Road. As London’s hippest vintage boutique, it has masses of clothing and accessories that are the last word in thrift chic. Look for Vivienne Westwood men’s T-shirts; if these are too steep, there are piles of repro versions with the same prints as the originals for £25.
Should you feel like something is still lacking, make sure you set out on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, so you can fill any gaps on your way home with a swing by Portobello Market, which has everything from old records and clothing to accessories and masses of bric-a-brac. While there, hop into Portobello Green and cop one of those amorphous sweaters from Preen, they’re sure to be a conversation piece for a very happy recipient.
-Mary Fellowes, Fashion Assistant, British Vogue
Jean Yu underwear
Vivienne Westwood shirt at Rellik
Turnbull and Asser bespoke shirts
Asprey leather buckles
Christian Wijnants a/w ’05-’06
Lara Bohinc clutch
Anna Hiscox necklace