Well versed: Sloane Street and Ella Frears

The lauded poet has written a poem to celebrate the tactile, experiential joys of in-person shopping, inspired by London’s finest shopping street

Style 17 May 2021

Sloane Street

Sloane Street celebrates the return of non-essential retail

The easing of lockdown means the return of many experiences Londoners crave, including the thrill of shopping for non-essentials in real, bricks and mortar stores: the chance to browse at ease and use all senses in discovering something covetable to take home and keep.

No one understands the innate joy of shopping quite like Cadogan, the landlords to most of Sloane Street’s collection of luxury boutiques. To celebrate the reopening of non-essential retail, Cadogan commissioned poet Ella Frears to write a poem, They Speak to Her. In the poem, Frears, who was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry for her debut collection Shine, Darling, evokes the excitement of browsing beautiful things and trying on the perfect piece of clothing you know will give you immense pleasure to wear.

Sloane Street, London's finest shopping street
Sloane Street, London’s finest shopping street

“I love clothes. I regularly fall head-over-heels for heels. I wanted to conjure the atmosphere of the shopping experience as well as that thrill you get when you try on something perfect and you can see your future self wearing it – the joyful, carefully wrapped weight of that purchase as you carry it home,” says Frears. “It’s been a difficult year for so many and there are lots of important things to worry about. Having said that, I have missed impulsively wandering into a shop and buying something beautiful.”

Sloane Street is the ideal shopping destination for Londoners looking to revive the experiential benefits of physical shopping. Not only is it home to a collection of the finest luxury boutiques, it also offers wide, spacious boulevards that make social distancing a breeze, and a collection of irresistible alfresco dining spots. Sloane Street boutiques have reopened with increased safety measures in place to protect customers including limited store capacities, careful product handling and disinfecting, and a wealth of personal and virtual appointments available. For more information visit the Sloane Street website.

And to further whet your appetite, read Ella Frears’ poem below…

Poet Ella Frears
Poet Ella Frears

They Speak to Her

When you aren’t looking for the dress, the dress
will appear. She swipes someone else’s name across
her lips, and the lights in her eyes switch to full-beam.
This long, draw-strung year she’s kept her wardrobe
on ice. A while since her talk was bolstered by a cinched-
in waist, her mood lifted by a slender heel. She drifts
along the Street, towards a mannequin,
impeccably dressed.

In the window her reflection tale on the look,
oh…most beautiful ghost of future me. She steps in.
A pair of patent mules are first to call. She takes one,
turns it over in her hands – a green to end all greens.
A buttery leather bag sings to her from a nearby shelf,
she falls for its perfect stitching. She allows
a necklace to be fastened at her nape – cool avalanche
of gems. It was always hers.

Running her hand over the rail, she listens
to a lace cuff, a beaded strap, a sheer sleeve,
but is stopped short by an embroidered neckline
so intricate it seems unreal. Behind the curtain
she makes her most private of faces wrapped
in a softly spoken silk shirt, the shimmering confidence
of a sequinned cape, a scarf in the duskiest of plums.
She drapes a light cashmere coat

over her shoulders, knowing she won’t leave without it.
Belting it in the mirror, she says, in this, I’d let the night
pull me out onto the terrace        and kiss me.

By Ella Frears, commissioned by Sloane Street
April 2021