Nowhere is the Christmas spirit more passionately (and expensively) embraced than in the posh London neighborhood of Mayfair. Marked by some of the great city’s most exclusive boutiques,the local shops studding the stately burgh have special gift opportunities available to local shoppers and upscale bargain seekers around the world.
Mayfair sits snugly in between Green Park and St. James’s Park – a manageable walk to Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Parliament Square, Piccadilly Circus and the Thames. It’s always been known for its style and sophistication, but it’s more in the spotlight than ever thanks to the runaway success of the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall.”
Bond author Ian Fleming frequented Mayfair, buying everything from his cigarettes and alcohol to his shoes and suits along its quaint streets. An easy stroll through Mayfair allows Bond fans a chance to walk in Fleming’s footsteps – exploring how the man lived as he worked for British Intelligence and while he created the most iconic spy in fiction.
The son of a Parliamentary Minister and the grandson of a Scottish financier, Fleming grew up in a wealthy London family. Educated in prestigious military schools and at Eton College, Fleming worked as a journalist and junior editor for Reuters, stationed in Moscow.
Prior to World War II, Fleming returned to London to work as a stockbroker. But, with the global conflict looming, Read Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence, recruited Fleming to serve as his personal assistant. During his intelligence carer, Fleming would rise to the rank of Commander (a rank he’d share with Bond), planning operations for an elite team of British commandos, the 30th Assault Unit.
Though his desk-bound duties laid the foundation for his espionage fiction, they kept Fleming out of the field. When he turned to writing after the war, he poured that frustration into his fictional alter ego -- making sure Bond was always in on the action. Since Bond was essentially Fleming, 007’s tastes in clothes, alcohol and other accouterments are rooted in very real establishments still in business today.
Fleming fans can hunt down the 007 lifestyle first by visiting Floris at 89 Jermyn Street in Mayfair. “Purveyors of The Finest Perfumes and Toiletries to the Court of St James' Since the Year 1730,” Floris holds a Royal Warrant and provides exclusive scents to Queen Elizabeth II, including special concoctions for last summer’s Jubilee.
Fleming was a frequent customer who enjoyed Floris’ No. 89, a mix of orange, bergamot blended, lavender, neroli. nutmeg, sandalwood, cedarwood and vetiver. You can smell like Fleming (and Bond) for a mere £50 for 50 ml.
I’ve sampled No, 89, and it simply strikes me as the quintessential scent for an English gentleman. Immediately identifiable, yet not overpowering, it is the smell of sophistication.
For the lady in your life, blow her away with some thing from Floris’ Night Scented Jasmine line. For the holidays, Floris also unveiled four new exclusive gift sets comprising moisturiser, shower gel, hand washes and eau de toilette. Scents include White Rose, Cefiro, Santal and Cinnamon Tangerine, ranging in price from £35 to £70.
Less than a block’s walk from Floris, the tailors at Turnbull and Asser kept Fleming well-dressed and have made suits and tuxedos for every actor who’s portrayed Bond from Sir Sean Connery to Daniel Craig. The tailoring process takes several weeks as measurements and hand sewing take every garment from mockups, through alterations, to final personalized (and very expensive) product.
For your yuletide pleasure, a festive themed gift, Turnbull and Asser will make you made to measure pyjamas for £285.
With all of the walking in mayfair, you might want a pair of Foster & Son shoes – made just for you at the cost of £2850. They’ll be made just for your feet, and – at that cost – if anyone dares try them on, you’re welcome to kill them.
Finally, internationally famous culinary provider Fortnum & Mason is offering its traditional Christmas mix of ready made cakes and puddings. And they ship many of their products to the U.S.
A year from now, “Skyfall” will have settled down, and Mayfair be less highlighted by the mass media. So, consider snagging a gift from the area just so you can be suavely smug with your friends.