Selfridges is (was?) one of my favourite shops to amble through aimlessly after a hard day at work, and obviously my first love was the make up floor, which was at ground level, very handy, no trying to find the right lift (elevator) to take you down and back up again. Second favourite department is food of course, especially the deli and their amazing queen olives.
Anyhoo, for some reason Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square (which is in the city centre) decided to re-vamp it’s beauty hall and give it a Londonstyle make over (ie. Lots more space, bigger counters) and moved it to the basement (bye bye olives).
The old brands are there like, MAC (who had a tremendous, eye catching spot previously in the corner of the ground floor, Bobbi Brown, Nars, Clinique, Clarins etc. and some new ones like Armani, Jo Malone, Illamasqua (previously only in the Trafford store) and 2 exciting exclusives to Manchester, Suqqu and Tom Ford (I know this off the top of my head, how sad?!).
There is also a new Fake Bake salon downstairs, the Blink brow bar (which I presume now will have a lot more room to play with).
As part of a £20 million pound investment, the stores new Beauty Hall has doubled in size to expand upon its previous offering, which was already renowned for its exclusive products, expertise and highly-stimulating experience.
So the beauty hall opened, and in typical Manchester style, a load of z-listers from Coronation Street attended. I pretty much avoided it in the first few weeks; I was too busy, and not really interested in what a lot of the counters had to offer. I heard some horror stories from a few readers who had Tom Ford makeovers and said they came out looking like RuPaul (I’d actually love that) but still I didn’t have any urge to have a look.
Then this week (Tuesday!) I had an hour to kill after work and made my way into the store which was pretty unrecognisable. The ground floor had become the handbag area; which, I love bags, but it didn’t feel comfortable to manoeuvre in at all. I made my way down to the basement, which did look very spacious, nice warm lighting, not a fan of the flooring and lots…and lots….of space.
Yeah, there’s no doubting the old ground floor was ridiculously full but it was also really cosy, and there was a warmth to it. The new ‘beauty hall’ has masses of space and feels incredibly cold. So I looked around to get my bearings and see where my kinda brands were; there seems to be a lack of structure; I tend to see Chanel, Dior, Estee Lauder in a similar section, MAC inevitably gets a big back wall (and they were the only busy counter I could see), Tom Ford is just plonked by the escalators with huge big stands that are intimidating to look at, and there’s a bit of Dior here (fragrance booth?) and a bit of Dior…somewhere else.
Suqqu, next to RMK, was a brand I was very excited to see in Manchester got one of the poorer counters although at least it seemed a bit less intimidating. However there was something a bit naff about how all the products had clear sticky labels (like the ones you print out at home)…not really befitting of such a luxury, expensive brand.
Anyway, so let me talk a bit about the atmosphere. As mentioned before the previous store had a cosy feel to it, this time there is almost too much room and space between each counter. As I passed the Clarins end of the counters, the girls were yakking FAR TOO LOUDLY ARE YOU WEARING YOUR NEW SHOES OUT ON FRIDAY NIGHT STACEY*.
I went over to Chanel, for I had my eye on one of the new cream eyeshadows where there were three sales assistants, (2 ladies and a gent) staring into what I would describe as, the ether, as I sort of waggled a big, waiting for some help.
I continue to swatch, pull out a few lipsticks I might get too on my hand but even though there is absolutely no one else browsing not one of the 3 SAs can be bothered to ask me if I need anything. As I walk away, irritated, one of the ladies approaches the mirror and tops up her make up.
So I start to wonder again…see everyone has comfort counters, and for me it used to be Nars (not gone off them just that my favourite member of staff left) so I started looking for a counter where perhaps someone could just crack a smile.
I browsed at Tom Ford…guy was too busy cleaning to notice me and I guess I didn’t feel like dropping £60 anyway on some powder, and a lady at YSL obviously saw the distress on my face and asked if I needed any help…bless her. If only I wanted something from, YSL.
Finally I wondered over to Armani, and decided their Eyes to Kill eyeshadows were FIERCE as was the red Megan Fox wore in the advert. A blonde gal comes over to ask if I need any help, and I ask which red Megan is wearing. Now…can I just say….the young lady was wearing a very bold red lipstick and all I could stare at was the giant clumps of dry skin which were hanging off her lips like shards of glass around a vegetable patch. Not a good advert.
Young lady shows me the red, quite a bright one so I um, and she pulls out and even deeper, deep blackened red so I say I’d prefer orange-reds instead. She looks huffy, puts the lipstick back into the display, and walks around to the other side. I think she’s going to show me an alternative colour and instead…I hear spritzing. Cleaning has resumed and she didn’t even say goodbye.**
Needless to say I left…I didn’t know cosmetics were supposed to sell themselves and to be honest with so many other stores selling cosmetics (ONLINE! Boots give points, Debenhams do discounts, Space NK do high end luxe) I don’t know why you would go to Selfridges other than for the experience. Which at the moment, sucks balls.
*Not her real name
** I don’t actually expect her to say bye, but just anything would’ve been nice, like ‘I really have to get on with my cleaning now’
Updated 6.10pm: Confirmed the food hall has gone!!!
Updated 6.16pm: Harvey Nichols are moving their bag section to the back of the store and make up to the front (apparently) which is the opposite of what Selfridges have done. The bag section of HN in the entrance is as cold as ice and has as much appeal as walking through Weatherspoons dressed as a Thai lady boy so – this is a clever move on HN’s part.