Promenade in the Connaught Village
The Connaught Village is one of those neighbourhoods which went from unremarkable to very gentrified and trendy in just a few years. Arriving from Edgware road, you would never imagine there is this little gem of a village a couple of blocks away. And yet, tucked away, just a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of oxford street, is this lovely peaceful area packed with independent fashion and home designer shops, gorgeous quirky coffee shops, and even a Japanese fusion restaurant.
Shopping wise, located on Connaught street is ME+EM, which boasts amazing casual and workwear ranges based on a very clever layering approach. If you are looking for a nicely cut pair of jersey trousers for those lazy Sundays or classy knits and tops for the office, this is the place to go. 'Intelligent style for now and forever' is their moto and that's pretty much what they deliver.
If you are looking for something a tad more funky and eccentric then head over to Viola boutique next door. Viola is filled with carefully selected independent ready to wear brands (such as Tsumori Chisato, Roseanna, Saint James, Rupert Sanderson...). The shop itself is like an antique boutique hiding treasures waiting to be unearthed and each item feels unique and almost vintage. Viola also happens to have an amazing instagram account which is worth following.
Also on Connaught street is Kokoro taking inspiration from Japan and offering luxurious materials, striking patterns and contemporary designs. It's not for every budget but their black lace koko dress is probably worth the investment. Top of my Xmas wishlist at the moment...
Shoe lovers will obviously need to enter Lucy Choi's. Jimmy Choo's niece is clearly challenging the London master of heels with her snake print stilettos and her sophisticated ankle boots (love, love, love the Bouvier blue snake, the Viola red/black patent, the Knightley black symphony, actually the list is too long!). And it's cheaper too, what more can you ask...?
The home and design Australian brand MUD has also opened its first shop in the Connaught village. And it's an absolute delight to the eyes. Beautiful minimalistic hand made porcelain straight from Aussieland. The colours range from soft pinks and blues to bright poppy reds and emarald greens. It is the sort of shop you just can't leave without at least buying an espresso cup (exactly what I did...). And their range is not just beautiful as it's also conceived for modern day life so everything is dishawasher / oven / microwave safe. Perfect for busy and chic mums!
But Connaught Village is not just an incredibly quiet and pleasant shopping area. In the morning, or afternoon, it's worth stopping at Cocomaya for some delicious pastries or even be tempted by its chocolate delicacies. I would recommend actually sitting down at Cocomaya's to enjoy a cuppa in old fashion china and be surrounded by luxurious plants. Feels very exotic.
On the other hand, if you are in need of something a bit more substantial like a proper lunch or dinner, then be sure to reserve at Kurobuta. A tapas style Japanese fusion restaurant which is inspired from the traditional izakayas where drinks are casually enjoyed over small dishes. Whether you are a fan of sashimi or wagyu beef, your palate will feel spoilt. Kurobuta initially started as a pop restaurant but has become so popular with locals and beyond that it has now opened two permanent restaurants (Kurobuta Chelsea and Kurobuta Marble Arch). I really love this place.
These are some of my favourite spots in the village but you may also want to be tempted by fine grocery shops like Abasto and cheesemongers (Buchanans) or cashmere jumpers from De Roemer, second hand designer clothes from The Dresser, or even just wander through the lovely galleries ...
What I was wearing: Jersey Top with folded collar from Cos (£38) / Destroyed Skinny Jeans by Zara (£25.99) / Marc Jacobs Snapshot Handbag sold out, but available in black or white at Harvey Nichols (£250) / Velvet Bow Trainers from Claudie Pierlot (£209)