The Liver Birds
“Look at this, I’ve just got to show you something,” says Daniela Rinaldi, Harvey Nichols Beauty Director, guiding myself and Vogue’s Kelly Gilbert towards the escalators. “Come this way!”
We’re in Liverpool for the opening of the new Beauty Bazaar, a first for Harvey Nichols with 22,000 square feet of nothing but cosmetics, skincare, fragrance and treatment rooms. Not a clothes rail or handbag in sight. No food emporium. Just beauty. I’ve already made a whistle-stop tour of the ground floor, (Tom Ford and MAC flank the front window spaces, then you have Nars, Shu Uemura, Benefit, as well as Sisley, Chanel, Shiseido, Soap&Glory and an array of beautiful white shelves crammed full with perfumes). There’s a sense of space uncommon in most department stores and a genuine excitement and enthusiasm among the staff. For the girls at the Bobbi Brown counter it’s their first day working for the make-up brand. Everyone’s face is awash with colour – pink cheeks, pinky-red lipsticks, fluttery eye lashes and hair piled high on the head, often set off with a jaunty bow. There are Liverpool exclusives, like the bespoke Swarovski encrusted Shu Uemura lashes. There’s a lot of sparkle here.
“I’m long in the tooth,” says Daniela, as we step on the escalator. “I’ve been doing this for years; I started out on the ground floor. By rights I should be jaded by now, but you know what? I’d want to shop here.” Up we go, no idea where she’s taking us. She makes her way towards the loos. “You go first,” she says, smiling. What can she be up to? We push open the door and for a second there’s nothing, just some mosaics, a large mirror, some Laura Mercier hand wash, some Lancome hand cream. Nice enough, but.. ? And then it comes. A loud, cheery wolf-whistle. We laugh.
Somehow this wolf-whistle – rigged with every door-opening to let each woman know she looks fabulous – sums up a new attitude towards beauty shopping. Glamour is back. A sense of fun has returned. “Where do you think it went wrong?” I ask Daniela. “The discounting at department stores of fragrances didn’t help,” she says. “Buying your fragrance in a supermarket, throwing it in the trolley with the rest of the week’s shopping doesn’t exactly make for glamorous shopping, does it?”
I stock up on beauty essentials at BeautyMart located on the first floor. Badedas. Batiste Dry Shampoo. Eos lip balms in four different colours and flavours. Some Bourjois nail polish remover (it’s in the top three of their best sellers). I check out the upstairs treatment rooms where James Read is giving first-day tanning treatments to assorted press and VIPS. I grab a croissant and a cup of tea at the Wow bar and marvel at the gathering of peplum-clad skater-skirted starlets, wishing I knew who they were.
At Nails Inc, my lovely manicurist’s eyes widen when I tell her I write for the Financial Times. “I’m going to read it now!” she beams. Everyone is having glitter polish; the holographic version is three-dimensional, almost leaping off the finger-nails around me. “Who’s that girl over there?” I ask. There’s a bronzed girl with bouffant black hair, tall, wearing a peachy-pink dress and clutching a gold envelope style bag. “I think it’s Danielle Lloyd,” she whispers back. “Who’s she?” I ask, knowing that I’m supposed to know. “I think she married a footballer. She maybe had a baby. But I don’t know for sure.” We giggle; the girl poses for pictures. She looks like she’s having fun. And inwardly, I’m giving Beauty Bazaar one big wolf-whistle.