The £165m Victoria Gate centre opened in Leeds this week amid a flurry of launch events and for those who love shopping, we can confirm that it really is (to quote Cole Porter) the top, the Coliseum. It is, without doubt, the sparkliest diamond in Yorkshire’s retail crown.
What do we love about it? Well, for a start, the architecture is exciting. This is a steel and glass building with twisted fins, white hatched cladding and a glazed link leading to the equally striking John Lewis store. The interior is gorgeous and sophisticated (though watch out for the floor if you have no grips on your shoes – it’s a bit slippy)
The brands are top-notch and include two of our favourite clothing stores: Cos and & Other Stories, along with Maje, Hackett, Gant, Tommy Hilfiger, White Company and lovely Yorkshire-based wellbeing fragrance specialist Neom…and lots more.
The leviathan in the development is one of the largest John Lewis stores outside London and the department store is a day out in itself – along with shopping, there’s a beauty spa, interior design studio, coffee bars etc. It’s sensational and we are delighted that John Lewis is stocking work by Yorkshire designers and makers, including the Harrogate Candle Company, Myroo, Martha and Hepsie and The Art Rooms.
Our favourite outlet (as regular readers will know) is Anthropologie. It started in Philadelphia, was a big hit in New York, where it has a cult following, and has a flagship store in London. This is the first time it has ventured North and we think Yorkshire is going to love its refreshingly different, ultra-hip, boho style. We went along to the launch last night (Thursday) and the store looks amazing.
There’s the usual mix of boho and beautiful fashion, homeware, fragrance and accessories and the displays are exciting and inspiring. Anthropologie’s success is down to its striking individuality. Each store has its own “art room”/workshop, where staff make their own innovative displays and installations, so it’s great for interiors ideas.
They know how to stage an event too – it was relaxed, there was gin (they know how to please!) and a great Yorkshire singer that they found on YouTube. Katie Dean was brilliant and added to an already wonderful atmosphere.
Even more exciting was meeting Leeds textile artist Mister Finch – Anthropologie persuaded hm to do an exhibition for them and it will be in store until January 15. He has created a series of hand-sewn, soft sculptures in glass cases and the theme is “Thimble witch and her familiars”. My favourite is the albino moon hedgehog who “tidies the house and prepares food”.
In my dreams I’d be unwrapping it on Christmas Day…talking of which, Christmas has come to Victoria Gate, which is another reason to pop down and have a look. It will leave you feeling glowy and festive.