Since I discovered Maison Assouline last April, this marvel of a lifestyle store/bookshop/collectors’ dream has become one of my favourite places in London. Showcasing French luxury at its best (and here I’m not talking about overly displayed logos and inflated prices, but of rarity and sophistication), this beautiful building, designed by Sir Edwyn Lutyens in 1922, houses a magnificent collection of rare books, vintage treasures, hard-to-find “curiosities” and lovely gifts. In brief, a place reminiscent of the Arts Deco library of a wealthy world traveller and collector, gifted with exquisite taste, which is well worth the visit.
Founded in 1994 by Prosper and Martine Assouline, this French publishing house specialises in luxury books, with a strong emphasis on arts and fashion, and has since expanded into lifestyle: not surprisingly, it’s Valentino Garavani (founder of the eponymous Valentino fashion house) who hosted the Maison’s launch party last October, to celebrate his book At The Emperor’s Table (of course published by Assouline).
The luxury offerings are presented in a Mondrian-style walls of books, while the rest of the room is decorated with items belonging to the Interiors Collection, an exclusive line of library furnishings from lamps and desks to sofas and carpets, as well as accessories and gifts, such as scented candles, a book trunk designed by Goyard and a slipcase created in collaboration with Chanel.
On the first floor is the Cabinet de Curiosités, a collection of one-of-a-kind antique objects to furnish a chic library. Last but not least, there’s a bar, serving breakfast to early dinner, which is a perfect place for a (cultured) date.
Maison Assouline, 196A Piccadilly, Saint James, Open Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm.