“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness, simply didn’t know where to go shopping” said in the words of Bo Derek, and quite frankly I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. It is hard to pinpoint what it is exactly about matching a silk cravat with a rich threaded cotton shirt or finding that perfect Cartier watch; it’s invigorating, a sense of fulfillment has been achieved at long last! In the wise words of Jean Paul Gaultier “I may be broke but alas, I am happy!”
In the retail haven, that is the city state of Monaco, I had a few days to be let loose on this town. For the occasion I hired the BMW i8 and for the love of god, it was a veritable coming home of the spirit. This car is new, electrifying, fast and utterly futuristic. It’s the exotic car of the millennium, and of course no-one could have pulled that off better than the black and white roundel of BMW. By the end of my shopping spree, with countless bags in tact, I had walked into gazillion stores. Thus, this is the list that i’ve whittled down as my favourites, chosen for the quality of the products and the retail experience they offered their customers.
Fred Boutique: Situated on the exclusive shopping strip of avenue des Beaux-Arts, this shop is in no way out of character amongst its high brow neighbours of Hermes and Dior. Fred Boutique is one of the official jewelers of Monaco’s royal family and a favourite amongst celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Rihanna. In fact, do you remember that stunning ruby red necklace that Julia Roberts, wore in “Pretty Woman”? Well, that little number was from this very same store. The genius behind the jewelry is that its founder, Fred Samuel is known for masterfully combining brilliantly designed white gold and platinum pieces with gems such as amethysts, citrines and diamonds. The final result really is something quite spectacular. What’s more a visit to the shop evokes the same indulgent luxury experience found in their jewelery. Guests are seated in cushy chairs and treated to a glass of champagne or a cocktail or two. A measure of customer service that was certainly not lost on me.
Boutique du Rocher: For homewares the award undoubtedly goes to Boutique du Rocher. As great minds think alike, it appears to have been the preferred homewares shop for Princess Grace as well, who first opened Boutique du Rocher in 1966. Products include embroidered tablecloths, hand-carved frames and colorful ceramic platters all exceptionally tastefully decorated in the locally handcrafted Monégasque and Provençal designs. However, aside from the genteel and relaxed manner of the shop what gave Boutique du Rocher its edge was that all of its proceeds go to charity. I just can’t resist when beauty and philanthropy just go so wonderfully hand in hand.
Davidoff: It has to be acknowledged, a man loves a good cigar. Perhaps it’s the woody aromatic taste that it leaves lingering, or perhaps because of the strong connotation with the patriarchal figurehead, either way, it is a truth universally acknowledged in all respectable piano bars at least. Davidoff builds on the cigar’s association with masculinity to perfect precision. The various types of Davidoff’s cigars all have a unique flavour, yet they all share a distinct scent that comes with being crafted by expert hands. Dedicated to the aficionado’s enjoyment of the cigar, guests can also pick up a number of accessories. The accessories that include humidors, cutters, lighters, ashtrays and cigar cases are each designed and crafted by experts who share a deep passion for the cigar. Their store in Monaco has a relaxed yet masculine vibe, filled with tan colours of leather and suede furnishings, what’s more staff are more than happy for you to try before you buy.
Moghadam: While I do like the ring of ‘carpet couture’, it does sound unusual, even for me. However as Moghadam was my first introduction to the world of ‘Carpet Couture’ I can’t say there is any coming back from it. Moghadam offered an awe inspiring display of rare, antique carpets, persian carpets woven by some of the most talented experts in the known world, to decorative and more contemporary carpets. Most certainly more than what I was expecting when I first stepped into their shop front on the prestigious boulevard des Moulins. The carpets portrayed hundreds, if not thousands of years of history, beauty and culture in the images woven into the textiles. Alexander Moghadam, the shop’s founder was there himself, willing to share with you some of his favourite in the collection along with a cup of Turkish coffee.
Pratoni: Undeniably menswear is my favourite category of shopping, and whilst the decision in Monaco was tough with the abundant array that was on offer, ultimately I gave in to Pratoni. Located on Avenue Princesse Grace, they offer an exclusive selection of clothes and accessories for gentlemen, but additionally they provide a wide range of a made-to-measure tailor services. I myself partook of the opportunity and had a strapping charcoal suit made up for myself with ariston fabric from Naples and a fully canvassed jacket, all prepared for me whilst I lounged in their sofa and smoked a davidoff cigar. With a design style that possesses a contemporary modern edge, all their clothing are made with the highest quality, with fabrics that are imported from nearby Italy. With numerous fittings and a host of measurements taken, if it’s the clothes that make the man, getting a tailored suit should be a birthright.
Hire an exotic car in Monaco for a shopping spree of your own!