• What to do

    A new production of The Importance of Being Earnest opened last week at the Harold Pinter Theatre.  Martin Jarvis and Nigel Havers play John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff respectively - roles they first played in Peter Hall's 1982 production at the National. 

    To account for the fact that these actors are no longer… ahem, 20-something whippersnappers, Wilde's screenplay has been wrapped in a further story written by Simon Brett, about a group of am-dram actors (named The Bunbury Company of Players), who each year come together to play The Importance of Being Earnest. The play within a play device adds a further humorous touch to this much loved comedy of manners as well accounting for why the actors are a little older than usual!

    To celebrate this production, Hotel Café Royal's head chef has devised an entire The Importance of Being Earnest   afternoon tea menu, served until mid-September in the hotel's Oscar Wilde Bar. (Try the cucumber sandwiches - pickled and in a savoury bun or the Lady Bracknell Lollipop.)

    When Hotel Café Royal reopened 18 months ago, the former Grill Room was renamed the Oscar Wilde Bar, to mark the place where Wilde first met his paramour, Lord Alfred Douglas in 1891.  The bar has been renovated to its original Louis XVI glory; a sea of raspberry velvet, endless gilt paneling surrounds the frescoed ceiling with mirrored walls and a stream of champagne skewed cocktails. 

    And if that wasn't enough, Smythson have designed a special edition diary, the cover embossed with a brilliant quote from The Importance of Being Earnest, 'I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read in the train.'

    One hundred and sixty years after he was born and still, you can never have too much Wilde.

    The Importance of Being Earnest  at the Harold Pinter Theatre runs until 20th September

    Hotel Café Royal - The Oscar Wilde experience from £1,250 is available until 20th September 2014.

    Hotel Café Royal offers all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance to win a one night stay for two people including breakfast at Hotel Café Royal, champagne afternoon tea in the Oscar Wilde Bar, a bespoke Smythson diary and two tickets to see The Importance of Being Earnest at the Harold Pinter Theatre (total worth £650).  Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.

  • What to buy

    There's a shop in Notting Hill that I've loved forever.

    It's a slither of space on the corner of Ledbury Road and Westbourne Grove, that I first visited in the 90s when a man called Simon sold vintage clothes.  You could hardly wriggle inside as there were so many treasures hanging, folded and stuffed in a shop that seemed to only open if and when it suited the dapper owner. 

    Since then it's been a jewellery shop, Orlebar Brown swimwear store (until they moved round the corner to a bigger space).  And this week the little gem of a space opened its doors as the new outpost for men's shoe designer, Mr Hare.

    Owner and Notting Hill resident Marc Hare has been designing and making the perfect Italian leather hand-tooled shoes for chaps since 2009.  As is so often the case, he started his shoe quest, when he couldn't find the trotters he wanted for himself.  Mr Hare's first collection was stocked at that thermometer of contemporary style… Dover Street Market.  And the first Mr Hare shop opened just two years later, in Mayfair.

    With the promise of coffee on tap, a river of Jamaican rum and a stack of newspapers on offer, Mr Hare is set to become the West London gentleman's hidey-hole of choice, wedged in the thick of Notting Hill's women's fashion shops.  Add to that, the irresistibly perfect pair of Oxford wingtips, tasseled python loafers or emerald green car shoes.  None of which need to be 'broken in' as the Italian leather is so banana-skin soft.

    P.S. Rumour has it, the new Mr Hare shop will be making men's shoes in ladies sizes.  So, winter brogues for all…

    Mr Hare, 178a Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH
    Tel: 020 7033 3650

  • What to smell

    Designer Bella Freud's sweaters are the school uniform of choice for some of the world's best dressed; Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, Laura Bailey, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Gala Gordon… the list goes on.

    And considering that Bella's clothes are so much about mood and moment - a sweater emblazoned with '1970' or 'The Last Poets' or 'Psycho-Analysis' - it makes sense for Freud to expand the atmospheric potential of her stylish world via olfaction.  

    Three scents were launched at Harvey Nichols this week as part of Bella Freud Parfum, each named after her most cultish sweaters; 'Je t'aime Jane', 'Ginsberg is God' and '1970'.  Each scent has been cooked-up in collaboration with nose Azzi Glasser (who has made scent for Agent Provocateur and Nicole Farhi amongst others).  And the flacons are of course, that elusive strain of chic… ie. seemingly effortless.

    My favourite of the scents is 1970 - the flare-wearing year I long for.  (Instead I teened in the unflattering 80s - a decade of mostly repellent tracksuits and bomber jackets that didn't suit me in the slightest).  1970 is the girl of my dreams; a slow burn of dusky rose, incense, with hits of frankincense, myrrh and benzoin. And Bella's inspiration for 1970; a girl dancing on a beach in Formentera until dawn.

    Bella Freud has provided the clothes to look cool.  Now we can all smell cool, too.

    Bella Freud Parfum, £65 for 50ml, is available exclusively at Harvey Nichols London and online at www.harveynichols.com and www.bellafreudparfum.com