The newly completed Accessories Hall in Selfridges’ flagship is about grandeur and luxury.
Selfridges has just completed fitting out another big area in the shop as part of an overall plan to transform what many consider to be the world’s best department store.
The new Accessories Hall on the ground floor is just one of many spaces in this massive shop that has been turned around, taking Selfridges from an elderly Oxford Street department store to what it is today.
There is a pattern to what has been done in this store; The Shoe Galleries, The Body Zone and the Wonder Room are examples of the continuous reinvention taking place.
Selfridges has the knack of keeping ahead of the game and this is, in part, because it is a bit of a Forth Bridge job – there will always be some part of the building that needs a revamp.
This means that this sparkling new area is a long way from being the last word, as the whole of the store’s eastern elevation has been undergoing remodelling for a while now.
Just the start
In regards to the Accessories Hall, operations director Sue West says: “We’ve been on a bit of a journey.”
What has been done so far at the eastern end of the building is nothing short of a trek, and this is just the first phase of a major makeover.
“The eastern side [of the store] is the closest to the Bond Street Crossrail station [due to open in December 2018] and is actually the most important thing to get right”
Sue West, Selfridges
Things started when the head office moved into a building on Wigmore Street, behind the store, immediately freeing up space for expansion.
Then the young fashion area, which used to house Topshop, was closed and the stage was set for the Accessories Hall, formulated by architects David Chipperfield, to be made a reality.
West says: “The eastern side [of the store] is the closest to the Bond Street Crossrail station [due to open in December 2018] and is actually the most important thing to get right.”
Traffic flow will be inexorably dragged east once Crossrail is up and running, and from Selfridges’ perspective it therefore needs as much wow about the east as it has in the west side where the Wonder Room is located.
West adds that it has always been “tight” to get shoppers in, and one of the challenges has been to open up this side of the building.
The upshot of all the movement and the relocation of the Topshop concession, from the ground to the second floor, is more space for womenswear.
In the old scheme, the accessories department was a largish space. It is now substantially bigger and much of it is more obviously divided into branded shop-in-shops.
Work started in early 2016 and David Chipperfield was asked to create a “brand envelope” that would house the 10 handbag boutiques and the marble hall that comprise phase one of the refurbishment project.
At 2,000 sq ft, the biggest of the shop-in-shops is Chanel. West says that the rest of the shop-in-shops are from 600 sq ft to 700 sq ft, and that this makes each of them comparable to the luxury stores that line nearby Bond Street.
“We’ve had to work with each of the brands to get them to deliver something different from what they’ve done before. We’ve also tried to deliver a different mix in the way we offer the brands to our shoppers,” she says.
Old and new
This means that the shop-in-shops are clustered, while a few of the British brands – Anya Hindmarch, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo – occupy mid-shop spaces next to each other in a large room that has a white, circular cocktail bar in its middle surrounded by red velvet bar stools-cum-chairs.
Dubbed The Fount, ‘infusions’ (water with fruit in it) are on offer here, as well as alcohol.
“The Fount is a very good-looking luxury feature and perfectly in keeping with the rest the store”
Quite aside from the fact that the average shopper would probably need something more than an infusion to recover from the strain placed upon the bank account if a purchase were to be made, The Fount is a very good-looking luxury feature and perfectly in-keeping with the rest the store.
Worth noting too is the fact that the pillars in this new area of the building are a modern take on the 1906 neo-classical pillars that form one of the defining features of the original shop.
West says this is about melding the old and new parts of the building.
The other thing that helps to give a sense of place to the new space is the floors that have been installed in the shop-in-shops, ranging from herringbone marble to oak and lending an air of distinctness to the whole.
When the £300m refurbishment of the flagship is completed in 2018, the handbag and accessories department will be three times larger than the space previously devoted to the category and, as Selfridges is keen on pointing out, it will be longer than the pitch at Wembley Stadium.
The real point, however, is that while the scale is large, it is just another part of the continuous reinvention that makes this emporium always worth a visit.
Shoppers may not be able to afford everything they see, but a walk around is always rewarding because there is usually something new to look at.
Accessories Hall, Selfridges
David Chipperfield Architects
Department store grand
Size when all three phases completed
61,000 sq ft
Cost of current refurb programme