Our Senior Account Executive, Emma Short, takes in the brand-new pop up boutique by Mills and Boon in search of some 'fashionably romantic' gift ideas…
In the weeks leading up to February 14th everyone/thing/body/brand goes romance crazy. I’m single, so to get myself into the festive spirit, rather than speed dating, I visited the Mills & Boon Pop-up Shop at Selfridges. I have never actually read a Mills & Boon so I didn’t really know what to expect but had a feeling it would be adequately cheesy.
The pop-up shop is not in an ideal location, tucked away in a corner behind the watches (maybe it's just because I don’t often browse the Rolex’s) It takes me a while to find. The store is named “The Together Shop” An entrance board reads ‘Welcome to the together shop, an ode to togetherness. Here you will find objects that go two by two, stuff for sharing, matches made in heaven, happy hybrids and hearts entwined. Come in and share the love” Oh god I’m about to be immersed into sickening romance!
Luckily the space isn’t red, fluffy & starry-eyed, but sleek with white walls & stylish furniture, reflective surfaces, and huge mirrored lamps. Its more boutique then boudoir. Only one section of the shop is devoted to the Mills & Boon novels. A large bookshelf, decorated with giant images of vintage book covers, displays a few new titles two that caught my eye “Deserted Island, Dreamy ex” & “With this fling” are definitely a little cheesy yet I still read the synopsis on the back. There are also pricey original titles showcased, in glass cabinets, displayed as the jewels in the Mills & Boon crown. Yet this is the only branding and retail element from Mills & Boon in the shop.
The rest of the shop is filled with kitsch gifts & slightly random items - some befitting the theme: comical salt & pepper shakers, designer gloves, his & hers Calvin’s. Some have a more tenuous link… Rayban sunglasses? Lanvin figure dolls? - Maybe I’m just not getting the ‘hybrid’. To add to this there is quirky furniture, a vintage tandem bicycle and motorbike & sidecar - let’s just say pretty much every base was covered in terms of items sold.
So did I “share the love?" Well I actually thought the store escaped the valentines romance cliché and was well designed. The content’s was eclectic but I’m still not sure where everything fitted in, there where so many different items in there that I didn’t necessarily feel immersed In Mills & Boon but maybe I wouldn’t want to be/they didn’t want me to be? Maybe that’s the point – not to be too brand heavy. I’m uncertain what Mills & Boon want me to take away from the store because it certainly wasn’t going to be a book; but I did walk away with a different & elevated opinion of the brand.
Thanks for listening,