What’s your favourite place in London? Mine might be Marylebone High Street, which we used to live parallel to, when I was a little girl. Has it changed in the last 40 years? Well yes of course it has. The place that used to sell marzipan frogs is now a Patisserie Valerie, the Wimpy bar is now a Prêt-a-Manger and the newsagents where we bought our Bunties and our Jackies has changed beyond recognition. But the cozy, upmarket, London-y vibe it always had, still very much exists. In other words, any excuse to visit, I’ll go there. My latest excuse? Aesop , the Australian based skin hair and body range which has just opened right opposite Beaumont Street where my friend Rosemary Beard used to live.
If you’re not familiar with the name Aesop then you’ll know it by its austere, somewhat medicinal packaging, brown bottles, black rubber stoppers and all. The brainchild of Dennis Paphitis, the company was established a quarter of a century ago in Melbourne. Now, well, there’s nowhere it isn’t. If I were going to buy it though, I’d buy it from here, because I like the pear-wood and rose-bricked shop so much (every Aesop shop is built in the area’s vernacular – the one in Soho is all steel girders and white brick). It’s like a proper little botanical apothecary with a raw concrete basin right up at the front, ferns sprouting everywhere and even, a nice architectural touch, some moss growing where one floor plank is missing.
My eye is immediately drawn, of course to their signature ‘Post-poo’ drops, concocted most effectively out of tangerine and mandarin peel (I don’t know why more companies don’t do these, they make SO much sense and are the perfect stocking filler). They have been created to drop into your loo to ‘effectively neutralise disagreeable smells.’
But I’m also on the look out for a good facial cleansing oil/eye make-up remover that does not sting. Here is another market that is not particularly saturated. Apart from the one I’m using at the moment by Shu Uemura there really doesn’t seem to be much out there. I’m also looking for a super rich booster moisturiser to use both at night and during the day because middle age and too much sun has made my skin so horribly sere.
Well, what do you know, Aesop has just the thing… a facial cleansing oil made out of parsley seed, macadamia nuts and carrots which is gentle enough to use round the most sensitive of eyes. To go with, the nice lady (they’re all nice in here, like they have nothing more pleasurable to do than rub unguents into the back of your hand) recommends a vial of the Damascan Rose Facial treatment, an intensely hydrating, lovely smelling oil of rose petal, neroli blossom and violet leaf to give one’s regular moisturiser a little boost. Okay, so do I look different this morning? Steady on. Even Botox doesn’t work that quick, but it sure doesn’t sting and it sure got my mascara off (NB if you use waterproof you might need something a bit stronger).
Meanwhile I do wonder what happened to my friend Rosemary Beard. Rosemary, if you are reading this, do get in touch.
Find Aesop Marylebone at 69 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5JJ (02079354249).