Created By: Elizabeth Brown
The results of F&M’s £24 million, two-year revamp (revealed in 2007 – 300 years after its opening in 1707) are stunning: the store retains all that was marvellous about its Georgian past while changing just enough to position itself as a 21st-century shopping experience.
A sweeping spiral staircase soars through the four-storey building, while light floods down from a central glass dome. The iconic F&M eau de nil blue and gold colour scheme with flashes of rose pink abounds on both the store design and the packaging of the fabulous ground-floor treats, including chocolates, biscuits, teas and preserves.
The first floor is for homewares: china- and glassware as well as finishing touches such as silver scoops for stilton, F&M coloured linen and cashmere hot water bottles; there are regular cooking sessions too.
The second floor is home to beauty rooms, fashion accessories, jewellery and a perfumery, while the third floor has menswear, luggage and writing accessories, along with an excellent wrapping service.
The five restaurants, all redesigned by David Collins (of Wolseley fame), are equally impressive, with the ice cream parlour a welcome addition. A new food hall in the basement has a huge range of fresh and dried produce, as well as top-notch wines from all over the world, meaning that Fortnum & Mason is no longer just a place for a picnic hamper, biscuits or an eye-catching jar of pickles.
Hampers were invented as traveller’s baskets in the late 1730’s when Fortnum’s customers would embark on long journeys to their country homes via Piccadilly to collect their provisions for the journey. In their original iteration they held delicacies such as game pie, scotch eggs, cheese and rich fruit cake.
At the end of the 18th century, the Romantic Movement encouraged the enjoyment of the English countryside and picnics and Fortnum’s began to provide delicacies that were fashionable for these events, encased in the traditional wicker baskets of course. Carriages queued along Piccadilly at 4am, to collect Fortnum’s picnic baskets before heading off to the Henley Regatta or the Epsom Derby.
Did you know that the roof of Fortnum & Mason is a hub of activity, with a collection of beehives, salmon smoker and an allotment (the produce of which is used in the restaurants). This all comes together to help with the ‘Made in Piccadilly’ concept of the brand.
This point of interest is part of the tour: London Shopping Tour