Any person I've ever met that has visited Bicester Village has a story, including the editor of Harper's Bazaar UK Justine Picardie. Usually the stories involve finding the season's must have designer shoes for 90% off, or coming home with a whole winter wardrobe when all you came to buy was a new clutch. Justine's story, however, has resulted in a whole new world at Bicester Village. Yesterday, her story began again with the launch of the Harper's Bazaar Boutique at Bicester Village.
When I arrived on the scene yesterday at 8:30am, I'd never seen Bicester Village so quiet. This is what they call the calm before the storm. The shopping street was empty, unless you counted the beautiful Harper's Bazaar Boutique, which had just popped up that morning. The beautiful plum colours of the Bazaar Boutique are a wonderful contrast to the subtle grey tones of Bicester Village decor, and the wide open doors draw you in like bees to honey, or fashion girls to Prada.
I was able to get inside and sneak a peek at the merchandise before the crowds arrived. I'd been told the first crowd was actually the majority of the editorial staff from Harper's Bazaar. I know most of these woman and when they get around a good bargain, watch out! In having this time to myself, I took a few moments to really observe the edit in the boutique. Wonderfully, everything in the shop is from a British brand.
Harper's Bazaar have put together an edit of products for Bicester Village that are perfect for gifting, have a powerful discount and are all supporting our local industry. Bravo, Bazaar! From delicate wooden artistic creations from Linley to perfect skincare from Ila, there isn't a trick missed here. The shop is not massive, in fact it can most likely only fit fifteen at once and be comfortable. However, it packs one of the most powerful punches I've seen from a pop-up.
Now, let's get back to Justine Picardie and her Bicester story. I had a good amount of time to talk to Justine and our conversation all stemmed from one question - Why has Harper's Bazaar decided to work with Bicester Village? Her explanation was surprising. Most people probably would have said, "well, we're a glossy, we sell to the masses and now we have an opportunity to do that with a standalone shop." That wasn't exactly what I got. Justine asked me to remember back to the March issue (Bazaar is one of the last print magazines I read so this wasn't hard to do). You can read the article in full here. Trust me it's worth the time it takes to buzz over and take this all in. It's one of the best articles on the Village that I've encountered.
Justine first asked me if I remembered what the article said about Britain's top tourist attractions. I did not...not as good with my memory as I thought I was clearly. Apparently, the top three tourist attractions are Blenheim Palace, Buckingham Palace and Bicester Village. I kid you not. Bicester is one of the most visited attractions in the UK. If you've been there, you're at this point rolling your eyes at me and asking why I am sharing something that is so blatantly obvious. I honestly had no clue. Well, with such a massive footfall every year, it seemed a natural collaboration to match magazine and world famous shopping destination. The article sparked a relationship and the relationship led to the reason we were all standing in front of a sparkly new pop-up shop at Bicester Village yesterday.
Now for the nitty gritty. The Harper's Bazaar Boutique is open from now until Christmas at Bicester Village and will be refreshing with new stock regularly. It's located near the centre gate and is situated as such that truly you can't miss it. And trust me, you won't want to.
MORE: I was asked to pick my top ten items from the shop, which are available to view over on Harper's Bazaar's Website. Take a look!
All images courtesy of the very talented Alistair Guy