At first I was appalled, for I am a rare breed of female who abhors shopping. However, I soon discovered that for such a girl, a personal shopper can be a gift from heaven. No more trawling malls in helpless anticipation of fashion disaster, just the simple joy of handing over the reins to an expert.
And miracle of miracles, I have found one. Leif-Erik works from a sumptuously sophisticated office on the fifth floor. I would like to have lounged lazily on the luxurious leather sofa, but I was supposed to be writing an article, so I perched instead, new iPad on knee. Such a waste.
Leif-Erik’s pedigree is arguably perfect for a Personal Shopper, and impressively cosmopolitan: Italian mother, Finnish father, British education, designer suit. And not only is he able to introduce you to just about every product in the store, he is knowledgeable on brands and styling and setting up photo shoots. So if you are off to a weekend wedding in Borocay, for example, that requires several glamorous outfits, Leif-Erik will have the answers.
For those of you who are fond of shopping and quite at home in a department store, there is still the sheer luxury of putting yourself into expert hands. No longer is there any need to consider ambling the length and breadth of the store: assistants will bring outfits to the dressing room, along with champagne, if required, and should you get a little hot and bothered from all that modelling, there is even a bathroom with a shower to cool off and freshen up.
Leif-Erik will quickly get to know your favourite designers, and can inform you as new collections arrive. He will let you know about make-up presentations and fashion parades, and all those secret Added Extras.
On a guided tour of the store, I discovered plenty of Added Extras. There is the opportunity to engrave that special gift for your significant other, or embroider initials on those wedding towels. They have gift wrapping on every floor, a kiddies corner where you can leave the children playing happily while you shop in peace; a nursing station, and a spa. The toy department even has its own specialized personal shopper called Pepper. Why did I not know about all this when my kids were tiny? I may then have been able to discard my unvaried tracksuits and happy pants!
We explored the immense array of scents, perfumes and aftershaves in artistic bottles; an impressive assortment of gifts for the man who has everything, and the colourful displays of gowns and dresses for the social butterfly. There was also a stunning pair of studded red stilettos of which P.L. James would be proud.
In the Philippines clothing sizes above an American size 10 can be problematic, and I do resent all the XXXs that the petite Filipinas add to clothes for me, but of course my new friend knows the best designers for more generous sizes and some can even be ordered in. Being the ignoramus I am when it comes to shopping trivia, I was delighted to be introduced to European, American and local designers I had never met before.
All in all, I spent a fascinating, indulgent afternoon, and finally decided I would never shop alone again. At least, not until the next time I am seduced by an inappropriate pair of high heels that will end up being discarded after their first outing, having pinched my toes, tripped me up and twisted my ankles!
* Adapted from an article written for Inklings, June 2012