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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bond Street

photo credits: BBC

Bond Street is one of the most important streets in the West End of London that runs north-south through Mayfair between Oxford Street and Piccadilly. Bond Street is revered throughout the world for its wealth of elegant stores, exclusive brands, designer fashion, luxury goods, fine jewels, art and antiques. Set in the heart of historic Mayfair, in London’s popular West End, Bond Street has become a haven for gracious living.
Since its foundation in 1700, Bond Street has been a playground for society’s wealthiest, most stylish and influential people. Past residents of the street have included Admiral Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton as well as a number of renowned authors and poets. Today over 300 years on, Bond Street remains a much-loved destination for celebrities, socialites and the international jet set.
Bond Street and its surrounding area boasts a impressive number of Royal Warranties and is home to some of the world’s most individual and unique hotels and restaurants, including Claridge’s and The Ritz, as well fine establishments such as The Royal Academy of Art and the world famous auction house, Sotheby’s.
It has been a fashionable shopping street since the 18th century and is currently the home of many high price fashion shops. The southern section is known as Old Bond Street, and the northern section, which is rather more than half the total length, is known as New Bond Street. This distinction, however, is not generally made in everyday usage. It is one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world.

Image credits: Wikipedia
Bond Street takes its name from Sir Thomas Bond, the head of a syndicate of developers who purchased a Piccadilly mansion called Clarendon House from Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle in 1683 and proceeded to demolish the house and develop the area. They also built nearby Dover Street and Albemarle Street. At that time the house backed onto open fields and the development of the various estates in Mayfair was just getting underway. It moved predominantly from south to north, which accounts for the southern part of the street being "Old" Bond Street, and the Northern half being "New" Bond Street. The latter was added in a second phase 40 years later. John Rocque's map of London published in 1746 shows the whole length of Bond Street and all its side streets fully built up.

New Bond Street
photo credits: The Clothes Whisperer
At one time Bond Street was best known for top end art dealers and antique shops, clustered around the London office of Sotheby's auction house, which has been in Bond Street for over a hundred years, and of the Fine Art Society, present on the street since its foundation in 1876. A few of these remain but many of the shops are now occupied by fashion boutiques, including branches of most of the leading premium-priced designer brands in the world. In recent years Sloane Street, which is a mile or so away in Knightsbridge, the other shopping district in central London concentrating on items de luxe, has become a rival to Bond Street, with duplicate branches of many of the top boutiques.
The northern end of Old Bond Street, in particular, is also notable as one of the world’s greatest concentrations of outlets of upmarket jewellers, to the extent that presence on the strip may now be regarded as de rigueur for any brand wishing to proclaim the highest international standing.
The street features "Allies", an unusual statue by Lawrence Holofcener of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who are portrayed sitting on a park bench in conversation.
photo credits: Wikipedia
Shops currently located on Bond Street include Boodles, Smythson, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Graff Diamonds, Cartier, Dolce & Gabanna, Tiffany & Co., Hermès, Polo Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, DKNY, Ermenegildo Zegna, Yves Saint Laurent, Bulgari, Harry Winston, Dior, Anya Hindmarch, Jimmy Choo, Chopard, Mulberry, Longchamp, Anne Fontaine, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Missoni, Victoria's Secret and Miu Miu (I've just highlighted and linked my favourites, notwithstanding the fact that I can't afford most of them!).
Bond Street is mentioned in a number of works of literature, including Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility, Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway, and Suzanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It is also a square on the British Monopoly board, the same colour as Regent and Oxford Streets – green – and is the most expensive of the three.
In 2011, Bond Street was Europe's most expensive retail location. Rent rates rose 19.4% from the year before.
If you are going to London, Bond Street should be a 'must-visit' in your list! Click here for a printed guide and for maps to take you there from different places in the city.
photo credits: Visit London

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