Friday, September 12, 2008

The Fortnum & Mason Magazine

Do you miss the department stores you once found in every big city? I do. As a young lady, I enjoyed going with my mother to Atlanta to visit stores such as Davison's (later it became Macy's) and Rich's in order to buy "nice" clothes and "nice" shoes and visit the fine china department or perhaps (at Rich's) pick up a coconut cake from the bakery. Sadly, these once grand old stores declined, Rich's and Macy's merged, Lord & Taylor closed its doors, and in my neck of the woods, at least, what passes for "nice" today is Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. In my mind, these places aren't really elegant anymore, they're just expensive. It's Paris Hilton instead of Elizabeth Taylor. I still visit a department store occasionally, but rarely do I get the same rush I did from the classic stores of my youth. Then, in 2004, I went to London and walked in Fortnum & Mason. Now THAT, I submit to you, is a department store. And when I found out last year they were coming out with a magazine I was delighted.

After taking tea there (the only time I've eaten gold leaf, I believe), shopping for teas in the food hall, and browsing the silver wares on sale, I was in love. Everything about this store appealed to me, and I wish I could have been there last year when the store was remodeled in honor of its 300th (!) anniversary to see what they've accomplished now. That same feeling of wow-ness I got from entering the store comes to me from the pages of this magazine. The first issue, at top, I begged from a publicist at the U.S. Fortnum & Mason office. The second issue, shown here, I found on eBay.

By this time I knew I *had* to have a subscription, because every issue was featuring articles on tea, and I had to read them. I couldn't get the online order form to work (overseas subscriptions ARE available, no matter what the computer tells you), so I e-mailed asking for help subscribing. Soon, my voicemail had a message from a man with a beautiful accent, telling me he was so sorry he had missed me and would try again shortly to reach me. None of that call-us-between-9-and-5 business (or some operator in India) for these good people. I was impressed F&M made it *their* business to help me.

And now, a few samples. Here is one of the neatest "tea graphics" I have ever seen. Can you tell that this spread is teapot-shaped, and the handle and spout are made of teaspoons?

And here's another article talking about Fortnum & Mason's ongoing quest for new tea flavors (or "flavours," as they say).

Even this advertisement for subscriptions is just charming. If you want to preview issue #4, which is just out and should land in my mailbox soon, go here straightaway, and you can also subscribe if you are so inclined. Have a good day, Madam!


  1. I went to check out the magazine but I was unable to tell how often it is published. Quarterly? I love it... mother was just asking me what I wanted for my birthday. Thanks for the idea!!!

  2. Gerri, a subscription is three issues, and the first three are dated Summer 2007, Autumn 2007 and Spring 2008. Hope that helps!

  3. I remember the days of traveling to Lexington and Louisville for shopping in the big department stores. You are right! Fortnum & Mason has that same elegance! Now that I think of it, I describe almost everything in England as having "old world elegance." That is the appeal to us and keeps us going back.

  4. F&M was my favorite store, even over Harrod's when it came to tea selection, store layout. I adore their china department. I always left England with a suitcase full to the brim with tins of loose teas, primarily from F&M.

    Sigh, oh to be in England again!

    Thank you for sharing these details - it is exciting to see tea presented prominently!



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