If you haven’t been to Fortnum & Mason for a while, it’s probably time you did. Most of us think of it as that 307-year-old institution where tourists go to buy obscure teas and caviar, and while all that’s still true upstairs on the more rarefied floors, it also houses a band of exquisite niche brands. Head, for instance, to the millinery department and there you’ll find Fortnum’s very own Adrian Phillip Howard, who, besides selling vintage-inspired (he uses antique millinery blocks), ready-made confections of tulle and straw, will also create pieces to order (from £200 for ready-to-wear and up to £1,500 for bespoke versions). And the scarves are always worth a browse – particularly Sophie Digard’s knitted or crocheted designs (from £110), which are so arresting that each one is like a small work of art.
In the fragrance department, there are names you won’t find anywhere else. Check out the collection of four different rose-absolute-based scents by A Dozen Roses (£98 each for 100ml), the perfumery founded by Americans Lynn Emmolo and Sandy Cataldo. The recently opened candle room is also filled with lots of little-known brands. There’s James Heeley, who has six different scents in hand-blown glass containers (£60 each), of which the Mediterranean Fig and the Benediction (frankincense, labdanum ciste, grey amber, patchouli and vetiver) are my favourites. But look out, too, for Seda France’s offerings (£60 each) – especially its Japanese Quince – and Tiziana Terenzi’s six different scents (£55 each). Finally, some of the 35m people who pass through St Pancras station each year might like to know that a second branch of Fortnum’s is opening next month, right inside the ticket hall.