Jermyn Street is a famed bastion of the posher London gentleman. Traditionally, it’s been about men’s hand-made shirts and accessories, and it’s still the place that James Bond would shop for something to go with his Savile Row suit.
In the midst of all this genteel male fashion, Czech & Speake is slightly unexpected. The double windows are full of taps (faucets) and sundry bathroom hardware items. Only the fact that the shop is right next to the back door of uber-swanky Fortnum & Mason would make you pause and ask yourself what this shop is really all about.
Czech & Speake’s mission is to satisfy all of a gentleman’s bathing requirements, from the porcelain basin to the bath foam. The range of toiletries they offer is the last part of Wooster’s toilette before Jeeves helps him into his dinner jacket.
Walking into the shop is a little disconcerting, as you can’t see the perfume section to begin with, just lots of bathroom furniture set against candy-stripe wallpaper. Round to the right, though, is a niche with a small counter, on top of which the scents are displayed. To the side is a cupboard with bath oils, room sprays and soaps.
The knowledgeable sales assistant told me that they’d had problems with their supplier in Italy, but now had a new producer in the Cotswolds, which the company felt would be a more workable arrangement.
Sample vials of the whole range are available, on cute cards not dissimilar to Penhaligon’s. Although there’s a clear slant towards men, I’d say the fragrances were all firmly unisex.
Fragrances: Citrus Paradisi, Cuba, Dark Rose, Frankincense & Myrrh, Mimosa, Neroli, No. 88, Oxford & Cambridge and Rose.
Best-seller: No. 88
Not to be missed: Fortnum & Mason next door. Don’t miss a trip to the second floor to enjoy the Caron urns.
Nearby: Geo. F. Trumper is just east of Czech & Speake.
Getting there: Jermyn Street runs parallel to and one block south of Piccadilly.
Czech & Speake, 39c Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6DN. Tel: +44 (0)20 7439 0216
Nearest tube: equidistant from Piccadilly Circus and Green Park.
— images & report filed by Nina.
See also: Perfume Shopping in London