Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today I am ... window shopping

Lucy in Disguise, 48 Lexington Street, Soho. Image: my own
Two long days before payday, a friend and I found ourselves walking aimlessly around Soho on a drizzly midweek evening to kill time before a gig at the London Palladium. Although the streets were quiet and the shops closed, the gloomy pavements were illuminated by alluring, colourful peep shows in each deserted shop front - shrines to cakes, dresses, jewellery, art and fantasies. Before we knew it, we were full-on window shopping.

One window in particular stopped us in our tracks, and in fact made us late for the gig trying to take a photo on our phones that did justice to the girly, blingtastic exterior.

The shop in question was Lucy in Disguise on Lexington Street, better known as Lily Allen's vintage boutique. Brilliantly, the entire shop front is completely covered in gold sequins, so even in the slightest breeze, the whole shop glimmers and twinkles invitingly.

Behind the golden curtain are racks of candy-coloured vintage prom dresses, silk slips and beaded gowns which I can't wait to rummage through after payday and when the shop is open. The glamour doesn't stop on the ground floor; apparently there's also a hidden vintage hair and make-up salon beneath the boutique where you can complete the retro look.

By day: Lucy in Disguise. Image from
Making our way slowly to the Palladium, we passed the Choccywoccydoodah store on Fouberts Street, a camp, kitsch and dramatic spectacle that looks like the brainchild of Willy Wonka on viagra. A 1950s pin up winks cheekily from the window to tempt you inside the store (as if the presence of the marshmallow pyramid cake wasn't enough), and once inside, I hear there's a bar and even a private boudoir upstairs where you can indulge in pure Belgian hot chocolate and taste some of their signature designer cakes.

Choccywoccydoodah, 30-32 Fouberts Street, Soho. Image: my own
Inside Choccywoccydoodah in Soho. Image: from
We then passed Liberty. The colossal department store on Great Marlborough Street is not exactly a hidden gem but Liberty's iconic Tudor facade can't fail to take your breath away, and their iconic displays are like art installations, combining design, fashion, marketing and art, going way beyond simply showcasing products.

Liberty, Great Marlborough Street, London, Image: my own
Finally we reached Argyll Street and passed my old high street favourite, Oasis. I constantly fall back on Oasis's feminine designs and flattering shapes. This season I love the romantic 'Print-cess and the Pea' window display, complete with floral mattresses, mannequin princess, a frog prince and a larger-than-average pea.

Oasis, Argyll Street, London. Image: my own
However, sadly I can never enter the Argyll Street store again after my recent clanger with a shop assistant... I was purchasing shoes from a Scottish girl at the till and was confused when she said, "Say sex". It seemed strange but when I asked her what she'd said she repeated, "Say sex!" so I dutifully said, "Sex"... Then she said, "No these shoes are a size six!" Ah...

Perhaps this was for the best anyway, at least it gives me a reason to avoid temptation: window shopping is only as free as your willpower will allow. It's a risky but indulgent form of escapism, and for those weaker-willed folk (myself included), I fear in the long-term it will only give you ideas of new places to part with your cash.

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