Regular readers will have guessed that I was counting down the days until the opening of the BeautyMART at Boxpark pop-up, on Bethnal Green Road. Much as I like trolling around London, to have BeautyMART on my doorstep is a treat and a half! I visited (twice) on July 1st, when they opened … As a regular visitor to the Harvey Nichols BeautyMART, I was intrigued to see how Anna-Marie and Millie would fit out the long and lean Boxpark unit. I was hoping for a different feel, and wasn’t disappointed. The Boxpark unit is far more low-tech than the Harvey Nichols space: white walls, wooden shelves, and butchers’ hooks rather than glossy black laquer and neon. (I nearly wrote ‘and under-lit dance-floor’ – BeautyMART HN does NOT have an under-lit dance-floor, but fills Devoted Beauty Shopper me with so much joy that one would not seem out of place.) If you’re a regular visitor to BeautyMART HN, you should still visit BeautyMART at Boxpark! It’s fascinating how you look at the products with fresh eyes when they’re laid out so differently. My first purchases are here – I’m sure there will be a few more before the pop-up’s scheduled closure in August. Events are promised over the next few weeks, so keep your ear to the ground by following BeautyMART on facebook or twitter for updates.
And whilst you’re in the neighbourhood, why not take a trip round some of our other marvellous destination shops?
A few doors down from BeautyMART at 27 Boxpark are Playful Promises, at no.14, who’ve been keeping the femmes of East London in gorgeously designed (and very reasonably priced) silk and lace lingerie for some years now. They’re also great for daywear, swimwear and accessories. Playful Promises manage to suit the tastes of the woman of the world and the ingenue, as their designs are sexy and saucy but never tacky or trashy. Add to your address book as they are brilliant when gift shopping for girl friends: who amongst us doesn’t love to be surprised with a pair of silk or frilly knickers?
At the north end of Brick Lane (across Bethnal Green Road, leading to Columbia Road), you’ll find Bernstock Speirs and Tatty Devine. Bernstock Speirs hats have been adding elegance to heads in the know for decades, and they are featured in the up-coming exhibition at the V&A, Club To Catwalk. You might, like me, be partial to browsing their gorgeous hats at Liberty’s. But a visit to the shop is even better, as you get to see ALL the hats in ALL their glory, AND you might very well get to see them being made, which is even more thrilling.
Next door to Bernstock Speirs is Tatty Devine. The shop is a visual treat and is sure to amuse any under-10s you might have in tow. Their range of perspex, mirrored and glittery jewellery is unmistakeable, but whilst you might have browsed it in stockists, or cooed over it in editorial, to see it in their own shop is even better. Their name necklaces (starting at £27.50) appeal to the egoist in all of us, and make wonderful gifts.
Head back to Bethnal Green Road and keep walking eastwards until you get to E. Pellicci, (on the same side as Boxpark). The Pellicci family have been keeping Bethnal Green well-fed and feeling loved for more than a century. E. Pellicci’s beautiful interior is listed by English Heritage and has featured in World of Interiors, so it would be worth visiting just to moon over the marquetry and fawn on the formica … but the food is AMAZING. I’m not even going to try recommending particular dishes for you – it’s all gorgeous, and cooked with love. However, it is worth noticing that the fresh sea-bass and hand-chopped chips offered on Fridays can sell out pretty quickly (and should NOT be missed). Pellicci’s is small, crowded and bloody great – you will almost certainly have to share a table and that’s part of the joy. (Ladies and gentlemen with an eye for beauty might like to know that Pellicci’s is a regular haunt of handsome men from Repton Boxing Club, so you might like to artfully manipulate that table sharing …) It’s the only cafe I know with a Ferrari badge on the espresso machine, and gives the very warmest welcome in the world. Oh, and portions are delicious and huge, so it can be a struggle to leave room for pudding, but it’s worth doing. Staggering out from Pellicci’s, belly full and heart warmed, you can turn to your right and head down to the Central line at Bethnal Green. But what I’d do in your place is turn left, and hit BeautyMART all over again en route to Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street – because at BeautyMART – there is always just one more must-have!