After looking forward to their visit for weeks, fellow blogger and dear friend Val the Cookie Queen and her wonderful daughter landed in London on Tuesday afternoon. I met them straight off the train from Stansted, so they hit the ground running.
Following a curry pit stop at Dosa World just off Brick Lance, we made for the DECIEM store in Spitalfields. I recently wrote about budget skincare brand The Ordinary and Val and Hannah were just as eager to check out the products.
I picked up the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to help balance out my combination skin. I also wanted the Marula Oil but it was sold out. I have patches of dry skin at the moment so opted for the Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex from NIOD (also a DECIEM brand) because it has twelve different molecules of hyaluronic acid, as opposed to The Ordinary’s three.
Hannah & Val checking out The Ordinary’s make-up which has a huge waiting list.
After this, we headed to Debenhams on Oxford Street because I wanted to show Hannah the make-up line by tattooist, Kat Von D. The Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are particularly popular and I purchased Double Dare, a rosy nude, for my holiday in Italy next month.
Don’t bother with Kat Von D make-up if you’re going for the natural look.
In the lanes around Carnaby Street we stopped at MAC and visited roll n’roll jewellery store The Great Frog . This was a very cool store which Val had bought a couple of rings from in her youth. We were rather taken with the skull and crossbones stud earrings.
After a M&S hummus run we called it a day.
Day 1 haul
The next morning we met at the perfume department (obvs) in Fortnum & Mason. This was with the sole purpose of checking out the Ormonde Jayne Exclusive, Jardin d’Ombre. It’s a dusty iris in a garden of soft florals which our pal Pia of Love To Smell is mad about. We both committed it to skin because at £195 for a 125ml bottle, you have to love it from beginning to end.
Next we stepped into Santa Maria Novella, also on Piccadilly. It’s a tiny store but packed with the Italian pharmacy’s gorgeous bath and body products. I was rather overwhelmed and should have done some research beforehand. I tried Iris eau de cologne, which was lovely, but it’s £90 for 100ml so I had to go away and give it some thought. It did actually last on the paper strip for a good while, so not bad value for a cologne.
When Hannah mentioned she liked the smell of petrol, the SA brought out Nostalgia. It’s a chewy birch tar leather with bergamot, rubber, sytrax and amber. Unfortunately It became more like aftershave when it settled.
Across the road at the Burlington Arcade, we went into the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stand-alone store. The lovely Pawel was incredibly helpful and even tried to get us to go away and think about our prospective purchases. He failed. I bought the brilliant 10ml travel bottles of Iris Poudre and the latest release, Superstitious (review to follow next week).
The Carnal Flower Hair Mist was amazing on Hannah
Pawel showed us the Coffret with 10ml bottles of each of the fragrances. It’s £450 which is actually good value for the number and quality of the perfume you’re getting. Frederic Malle is an exemplary line. Whether I would wear them all or not, I admire every single creation and as a niche collection, it’s hard to beat.
Superstitious by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
Val had kindly booked us onto the Highgate Cemetery tour, for which Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume was going to join us, but was poorly sadly. While the East Cemetery is open to the public for a fee at the gate, the West Cemetery can only be accessed via the tours, which are booked up weeks in advance.
This Victorian gothic Wast Cemetery has a really special atmosphere and you can see why a lot of famous people are buried here (most recently George Michael). The tour was a long wander around the pathways among the woods, which are packed with elegantly decaying graves. Highly recommended.
East Cemetery above, West Cemetery below.
The Sleeping Angel, my favourite.
Our last destination was Camden Market. It mainly appeals to younger people like Hannah, but I still enjoyed having a nose around and picked up a snake ring inspired by Undina.
On the way back to the station we stopped in at MAC again. Hannah works for the store in Salzburg and so I was able to benefit from her advice. She recommended the Cremeblend Blush in So Sweet So Easy and for a nude lip, Twig paired with Soar lip liner. I also took advantage of her youth to help me find a pair of trainers for spring/summer.
It was a fantastic day and a half. Happily, it felt much longer than that. We packed a lot in and it felt great to be in the company of these two fabulous females. I hope to visit them in Austria one year.
Keep an eye out for Val’s post covering her time in London on Australian Perfume Junkies in the near future.
Day 2 haul
Hannah, Val and I on our way to Highgate Cemetery
Have you tried any of the perfumes mentioned above? Do you have any recommendations for what to buy from Santa Maria Novella?