January 29, 2008
London shopping: Swarovski Crystallized Cosmos and Lounge
I’ve never felt compelled to step foot in a Swarovski shop before. It was always the domain of Nannas and their novelty crystal mouse collections, with royal blue walls completing the outdated and entirely naff package. On the other hand, I’ve happily paraded about and lusted after certain designer accessories adorned with Swarovksi crystals. It’s a brand that always seemed to be at odds with itself.
But the recent unveiling of the world’s first Swarovski Crystallized Cosmos and Lounge on London’s Great Marlborough Street has put paid to any fuddy-duddy image of the past. Indeed, this new store celebrates Swarovski’s various designer collaborations, and the results are quite breathtaking. The royal blue colour scheme has been replaced with layers of reflective surfaces that catch the light in the gleaming white minimalist space.
You can’t miss the tiny clear Perspex drawers lining the walls of the ground floor, otherwise known as The Cosmos. It’s like a space-age Chinese herbalist’s den. But pull open the gliding drawers and you’ll find small clear boxes of lapis lazuli, amber and turquoise instead of dried up bits of animals and roots.
This is where the fun starts. It’s a bit like pick and mix – or an upmarket bead shop – but way sexier and with loads of designer inspiration (by way of plasma screens around the store). The emphasis here is on being creative, and if you’re a dab hand at jewellery-making, you can browse the drawers for Swarovski loose crystals, semi-precious stones and beads. A box of 50 smoked topaz pieces will set you back £4.50, and there’s also all the design components and tools you need for making jewellery, including wires, clasps and pliers.
But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, the online tools in store will support you every step of the way. The Personal Stylist program is like jewellery-making-for-dummies, as it holds your hand through the creative process. It’s actually quite detailed, as you select your “style mood”, skin tone, eye colour, face shape, etc. Otherwise the Design Studio programme will assist you in creating your own bespoke piece. Choose from a selection of designs and customise it to suit. Once you’re done, Swarovski will send your order away and after two weeks it’s ready for pick-up. The “Dream” ring, for instance, featuring a delicate crystal and leaf design, can be customised in a range of colours for £20.
There’s also a range of jewellery-making kits, including rings, bracelets and necklaces. They come in three different skill levels, which is handy if you’re just starting out and don’t want anything too fiddly. A basic skill level kit such as the turquoise linear ring kit is £19, and the topaz and gold long earrings kit is £20. The Swarovski team have really hit the nail on the head with the whole urban craft trend, with regular jewellery-making workshops starting in February.
Head upstairs to the Crystallized lounge and it’s a different change of pace, with a relaxed café/bar area and an exhibition space. The current exhibition, Crystal Temptation Shoes, features a long white table adorned with thousands of loose crystals and a designer shoe at each place setting. The line-up includes designers such as Christian Lacroix, Gina, Nicholas Kirkwood, Vivienne Westwood, and Giorgio Armani.
The café has a surprisingly extensive menu, including breakfast, lunch, bar snacks and a traditional afternoon tea for £19.75 (£25 with champers). Crystal-encrusted bottles of Moet line the shelves, and there are a couple of computer terminals to contemplate your creative designs. With comfy lounge seating and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a rare oasis of tranquility just off Regent Street.
Swarovski Crystallized Cosmos and Lounge
24 Great Marlborough Street
Opening hours to come.
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus