Mount Street, the Lair of Luxury
Goyard a luxury designer luggage label is one of the most popular stores in Mount Street, attracting families and individuals. Photograph: Carolyn Kang
Mount Street, tucked in the wealthy neighbourhood of Mayfair, appears as one of the top shopping destinations in London. But instead of hoards of shoppers peering into windows or taking selfies on the sidewalk, the shoppers of Mount Street are far less in numbers and the streets are sometimes empty, yet designers are still aspiring to occupy a space along those infamous concrete tiles.
Its home to the flagship stores of some of the most recognisable designer labels, with glossy windows bearing the names of Lanvin, Marc Jacobs and newly opened, Dior, it’s the street where luxury lives. In the chilly air of a Saturday afternoon, a women seated in the outdoor area of Scotts was being served oysters and Champagne with an impressive stack of Dior paper bags occupying the seat next to her. It became apparent that the shoppers of Mount Street all shared the common understanding of beholding quantities of quality, doubled with a uniform of mink coats and designer handbags. “Its much quieter than Selfridges or Oxford street because there’s a selective customer as it’s obviously not a typical price point for most people,” said Isabelle Peart, a 20-something year old Londoner, seconds after departing Christian Louboutin with a brand new pair of stilettos packed into a bag carried in her fist. “I’m a working professional but when I was a student back in university, there’d be no way I could afford anything here,” she continued, “We’re in Mayfair after all and it’s not exactly the most populated area in London.” Yet with a smaller amount of shoppers than its rivals, what does Mount Street have to offer its select customers? “I guess Céline would be the main store for us, it’s the store we come for, “ says Carla and Roberta, a mother and daughter from Italy on holiday in London. Indeed the flagship Celine store attracted the most customers, with many going in and coming out, arms filled with coveted Celine bags. “It’s a nice street for my mum and I to come to since it has stores that we both like.” 16 year-old Carla said whilst a Mulberry bag sat prettily in the nook of her elbow, as if on a mannequin. She wasn’t wrong as most of the youths in Mount Street took the form of teenagers with their credit card holding mothers. “We really like Balenciaga, Celine and Louboutin, so we made a bee line for those stores when we came here.” Julie and Elsa, friends from Glasgow on a day trip to London said as they also left Christian Louboutin with a new paper bag. “I work in Goyard back in Glasgow so I knew there was a Goyard in Mount Street and that it was the go to for designer shops.” Julie added.
Mount Street has a reputation of holding the hottest designer stores with Victoria Beckham, Simone Rocha and Linda Farrow, all opening their flagship store there within the past year. However, Mount Street wasn’t always the haven for designer labels. “Back in my time, from 1986-1990, Mount Street was very different from what it is now, it was mainly serving ladies who lived around Mayfair.” Jennifer Yen reflected as she spoke about her past days of working and shopping in London. “It had the reputation for having traditional stores. It was filled with antique stores and galleries. You wouldn’t go there to buy designer clothes, you’d go there if you wanted something more traditional and high-end.” She commented. “I remember there being Douglas Hayward, the bespoke tailor, very famous in fact, that would serve the men who worked there and there would be cigar store since that’s what the upper class men would buy.” Hayward, having opened on Mount Street in 1968 is now replaced by Marni, which is opening sometime this year. This replacement indicates the change Mount Street has undergone from its former days. In 1990, the Duke of Westminster, the primary landlord, started an initiative to revamp Mount Street into a luxurious and hip shopping area. Mount Street, once the area of ‘old money’ and nobility, has become commercialized, adopting a new [endif]--mantra of sell, sell, sell with designer stores popping here and there. “I guess what’s happened is that it needs to go commercial to survive.” Yen concluded. ![endif]--
Sautter, a cigar shop, still holds the original heritage of Mount Street as being an area only afforded and servicing those who lived there. Photography: Natalie Chui
So has the former niche doors of Mount Street been dissolved by its need to succumb into commercialization? Mount Street still holds exclusivity, yet this time its exclusivity lies more in price than class. It’s commercialization has driven more youths, albeit with their mothers, to the area, focusing more on the hottest designers. Mount street has gone from being what was only a sight for the very rich to enjoyably behold to an area that can be searched, hashtagged and double tapped for anyone who possesses an account on instagram.