Irma Kurtz Agony aunt and writer

I live in Soho. Berwick Street market is my favourite. It's part of my life. I just love shopping for food, just like a continental housewife. I like the new Tesco in Covent Garden, too.

Now that I'm older, clothes aren't so important. My favourite shop is Ally Capellino in Wardour Street, when I can afford it.

I love sales, too, especially those warehouse sales like Nicole Farhi - if you can get into them, that is.

I'm in the States at the moment and have been sitting around here leafing through catalogues. Almost everybody shops from catalogues here. They are so interesting, because they are selling whole lifestyles. It amuses me, but I don't take it seriously.

I think shopping gets less interesting as you get older. You hit the 'I Don't Give a Damn' age. I would never get swayed by fashion - fashion isn't for anybody much over the age of 20. It's interesting how habits change. I used to go out to get new outfits for every season. I just wait for the sales now - it seems more practical and exciting.

The friendliest assistants are in Ally Capellino (I'm not plugging them, honestly]). I go in and chat to the girls. The rudest are anywhere there is pop music playing - just awful.

London is great for shopping. It is so eclectic. Fun. There are markets, boutiques, products from all over the world. So much more fun than shopping in Paris, where everything is French. London is a market city - so many great street markets.

Martin Amis


This won't take long. I don't like shopping. I only go in dire emergencies. It's a drag; it's not what I want to be doing. I particularly hate clothes shopping and all the trying on.

I like buying wine, though. I go to Bibendum in Regent's Park Road. It's not a hobby, but I get a case rather than go to the off licence. It gives me pleasure in a way that shopping doesn't.

Sheryl Garratt

Editor of the 'Face'

I love shopping. It's a social thing. You're likely to bump into 10 people you know and have several cups of coffee.

I like food shopping. One of my favourite delis, Gazzanos, is in Farringdon Road, just across the road from the Face office. You walk past and the smell does your head in. And I like Lina in Soho. They have fresh basil.

I have always enjoyed the Conran shop. You can't actually afford to buy anything, but they always give you fresh ways of arranging a pebble in a bowl.

I enjoy clothes shopping but as I'm a size 18 I have to look around. I love Slam City Skates in Covent Garden which has really good trainers and clothes. Slam City is aimed at teenage boys. Everything fits me. With looser clothes around, it has been easier to get larger sizes in the past two years. I think things have got better. All Nicole Farhi larger sizes fit me easily, but they're expensive. I also buy Ghost clothes. Acupuncture is a good shop in Covent Garden which sells rare old sportswear and vintage Vivienne Westwood. But Sign of the Times, also in Covent Garden, is my favourite. I have a circuit - Covent Garden and Soho. At Sign of the Times it doesn't matter if you don't buy. They always have fliers for clubs and time for a chat. The assistants are great. I watched them struggle to understand a Japanese tourist until they finally did. They have such patience and enthusiasm for the clothes they sell.

I hate Harrods - this dress code is most ridiculous - I have been stopped with my back pack (which is Gucci, my husband gave it to me) even though it's very small and neat. And yet they let Americans in with huge great shopping bags. It's just so inflexible. I just think it's unpleasant, old-style snooty. I much prefer Harvey Nichols.

Bad shop assistants are ones who think working in a shop is beneath them - like those in some of the upmarket designer shops around Sloane Square.

Helen Storey

Fashion designer

I don't enjoy shopping in terms of the high street but I do in terms of discovering and rummaging. I'm very much a market and jumble sale person and tend to go mainly for old things rather than new. I like Antiquarius - the idea of markets under roofs where you can browse. I spend a lot of time collecting old clothes because of their construction and fibre.

Marks & Spencer is probably the only high street shop I go to because their clothes are so anonymous and classic that you can put your own stamp on them. And you can mix them. I don't tend to buy clothes much because I'm surrounded by them all day. I used to love Biba though.

There are some shops I feel nervous in. Like Joseph in Brook Street or Browns in South Molton Street, where you don't feel you can browse and where the sales staff are terribly skilled. You feel as if you should buy.

I buy food in Sainsbury's in Ladbroke Grove. It is good value. I wouldn't go to M&S for food except on rare occasions. I don't know if it is much more expensive but it feels more expensive.

I go to garden centres, too. I like Clifton Nurseries in Maida Vale. I go and buy up pots and paint them. I used to be more extravagant. The most I have spent recently is pounds 60 on a tree.

I hate the 'it's not on the shelf so we haven't got it attitude', but I think the recession has brought changes. Shops have to be nicer to customers - they have become more American.

Curtis Walker

Half of comic duo Curtis and Ishmael

I can't say I'm overly into shopping. When I go, I go with my girlfriend. I think that's what I don't enjoy about it. When I'm on my own I will visit one shop and purchase one item rather than walk around loads of shops looking at things I don't really need or want and then come back to the original shop. I'm more of a quick shopper. I like record shops and Sega Mega Drive shops. I buy computer stuff for my son but he doesn't get a look in. I also like going to Red Records in Brixton, which is a black music shop. It's good because it's one of the few record shops that doesn't mind playing you music these days. You can also sing the tune you are looking for for about five minutes before they tell you they have never heard of it.

I hate shops where, as soon as you walk in, you get followed by security or get asked if you want assistance about four times. I get a lot of that.

I go to Sainsbury in Purley because it is convenient and quick. When it's full you don't notice because its big. I can get in and out of there quick.

I love markets for knick-knacks, but not for clothes. I do a bit of photography and go looking for frames at Ridley Road Market, Petticoat Lane and Camden Market. I enjoy haggling a lot, even if I don't want it I haggle anyway to see how cheap I could have got it for.

Simon Fanshawe

Host of GLR's mid-morning Saturday chat show

I like shopping on my own. I think it stems from the days when my mother took me into the corset department at Marshall and Snelgrove.

Shopping is therapy, but it upsets my bank manager. If you get really upset, you can go out and buy a house or car. The other day, I had the day off and I went to a furniture showroom, only to find that it had closed down. So instead, I went to the MGB showroom. Shopping's great - shall I buy a table lamp or an MG]

The other thing is clothes shopping. It's good for racking up the assistants. Just go and try on every item in the shop. They give you that look. They say, 'What size are you?' You say, 'I'm a 31-inch waist', and they just give you that 'more like 31-inch thigh' look. The Paul Smith Sale shop is a double treat. Not only do I get a Paul Smith suit, but I get itcheap. I'm the person who will wear things other people don't want. I bought a jacket the other day, reduced from pounds 600 to pounds 100 - shame I don't look good in it.

My favourite shop is probably Randall and Aubin, a sort of charcuterie in Brewer Street. I'm capable of coming out of there with seven different kinds of mustard. And I like the Elizabeth David shop in Covent Garden.

Shops I hate most are the ones that sell life-size porcelain dalmations. My feeling is that people should go to Battersea Dogs' Home and save a puppy.

Will Self novelist

I really, really detest shopping. I hate it. Its the appalling quantification of choice. I studied economics at university and I'm well aware of the manipulation that goes into shop display and so on. I have been phobic about it for a long time. It fills me with an awful vertigo, a kind of existential dread. I suppose I quite like the bookshop in Islington because I like the manager there. I can't remember the name of it though. I also quite like the Face in Soho because they only sell about three different things. They are cheap, enduring and stylish. It reminds me of Repo Man - the scene where there is a can of beer labelled BEER, a loaf of bread labelled BREAD and a can of beans labelled BEANS - that's how it should be.

Vanessa Feltz

Writer, radio broadcaster and TV chat-show hostess

I have the fastest-moving credit card. My favourite clothes shops are Cognito, in Stanmore, and Pauline's, in Cockfosters. Both are bar mitzvah evening-dress shops, where, in terms of spangles and decoration, more is more and less nowhere to be seen. They make thin ladies' clothes in fat ladies' sizes. It's the sort of shop where you can say, 'I would love to have the kitchen sink on this dress'.

I love shopping for books most of all, especially at Waterstone's, and paintings, too. I love the smell of new books, with cracked spines. Although I can't afford to be a lavish patroness of the arts I aspire to sniff around minor Bonhams auctions.

I still love dressing my children, who look utterly beautiful; like little Renoirs. Allegra, who's eight, and Saskia, five, have long golden hair and round, blue eyes like gobstoppers. I like David Charles clothes for them. My eight-year-old is showing signs of mutiny, though. I hate the Gap. Their clothes look like clothes for road builders - very crude and ugly. It's sitting-on-the-fence dressing - fashion for those who are terrified that their own sense of style might offend.

Shop assistants at Liberty are nice. They are all resting actors or moonlighting Nobel Peace Prize-winners. They can always give you helpful information, even if the only thing you are buying is a door handle.

I live in my local Marks & Spencer food halls in Temple Fortune. I wait outside for them to open up, salivating. I buy their ready meals, like the 'Salmon en Croute', or 'Salmon in Watercress Sauce'. I also have a magnificent greengrocer called Buy Rite, in Hampstead Garden Suburb, who purveys the most orgasmic fruit.

Cynthia Payne, former Madam

I used to go shopping more than I do now because since I've been infamous, I get stopped to chat.

I like bargains from charity shops. Finding things like Marks & Spencer foundation slips that you can't get nowadays. I got a lovely vase for pounds 5 from a charity shop last week. But you don't get the bargains you used to.

Brixton market is one of my favourites and it is just down the road from me - so colourful. I buy fruit and veg there. For other food shopping I like Sainsburys - I'm a food-aholic especially when it comes to crisps. I go to Liverpool for really classy underwear from Foners, they make really good quality corsetiers. I always used to complain that I couldn't get a decent brassiere because my chest is too heavy (I'm an old-fashioned shape) but I spent two days in there and pounds 500.

I have a fetish for shoes. I've got about 200 pairs from all over the place. I used to have slaves in the old days and they used to love shoes. I have always been kinky for those.

Leo X Chester

Star of BBC2's 'The Real McCoy'

I don't really enjoy shopping because it takes far too much time. I only enjoy it when it's finished. The fact is, most of the time you can't get what you want. If you buy a suit off-the-peg then you can be sure the jacket may be OK but the trousers will need to be altered. I'm impatient - I just want it now. Having to juggle the finances is a problem too.

I don't think sales staff, generally speaking, are very courteous.

My favourite places to shop are markets. I like old stuff. I like the idea of taking something old and making it new.

I quite like going to Safeway. I go to the one in Chelsea or the one in Shepherd's Bush. I think I like it because my wife drives the trolley and I can just follow. We go at least once a week.

My worst buy was paying a lot of money for a do-it-yourself writers' course. It cost hundreds and I never got round to using it. Its on a shelf somewhere.

Helen Lederer


How much you enjoy shopping is dependent on your mood and state of employment at the time. If you haven't got much time and you've got important things to do then zipping into Liberty can make you feel brilliant. If you are out of work, it's very alienating.

I like to do things in a rush. I like going into Liberty because someone has done the selecting work for you.

I like bathroom things. I'm a sucker for different bottles and things wrapped in nice tissue paper; I'm very seduced by texture and colour. I like chutneys and really nice soap.

I think I would be overcome if I had a really expensive dress and I would worry I might spill something on it. I like things that can be used. Marks & Spencer is seductive - I like the way they peel vegetables for you; all those carrots and peas. I'm not good at scraping veg, so I am prepared to pay for it.

I get bad tempered with the layout of department stores. I can get overwhelmed by frustration if I want to go to the loo and can't find it.

I like any shop that sells things with gingham and wood. Even 4cms of gingham displayed in a window and I'll go in. I'll assume those people have superior taste. I also like wierd shops that have somehow survived - there is a shop near me that just sells oils - the sales assistants are so enthusiastic.

Imogen Stubbs


I enjoy shopping sporadically. If I see something I want I buy it instantly. I hate changing rooms and often end up buying something on the spur of the moment that doesn't fit.

My biggest failing is childrens' clothes which are ludicrously expensive. When my baby was little I went out and bought clothes and hats (which she hates and pulls off). I really like Marks &Spencer for for their food and convenience.

I don't like lingerie shops. It's really depressing when you don't know your size and have to get measured just to be told you are 32B or something.

I love hardware shops, the boxes of nails and the smell of the sawdust. I loved Cullens when I was little and I love shops run by families, all our local Indian shops are really nice.

I get a sudden urge to reinvent the way I look in make-up departments of big department stores where they spray you with perfume and you treat yourself to a new foundation that you convince yourself really is the colour of your skin.

Jane Proctor

Editor of 'Tatler'

I don't really like shopping. But I do like shopping for children's clothes. I have two small children, Tabitha, who is eight and Rollo, who's five. I buy them things when I'm in Milan or New York from wonderful little shops. It's like dressing up dolls. They loathe it.

Then there's the Gap in Oxford Street. My kids wear the stuff without fuss - it is practical and well designed. Anything I like and the children like is OK. I remember one time Jeffrey Archer was very rude to me at a W H Smith launch. I was in such a state I got a cab to take me to Marks & Spencer and spent pounds 70 on children's socks. He upset me so much.

I don't like going to supermarkets. I especially don't like going with the kind of people who read the tins or spend time choosing. I'm lucky my husband buys food from specialist food shops and cooks fabulously. Our children's nanny buys all the other things.

I don't like sales and don't want to buy things others don't want. Even when I go to sales I end up buying something that's not in the sale.

I used to be a fashion editor, so I'm aware of what's where. Mail order by phone is an enormous treat. Because I'm in the business I get frustrated as a shopper. For example, earlier this year a nice DKNY jacket was featured in one publication. I rang Harrods - sold out, rang Selfridges - they didn't know what I was talking about. I thought, my God, I'm a customer. It makes me terribly cross with the publication.

My best buys are items of clothing I have had for years and years. It sounds terribly Eighties, but probably the first Armani suit was the best purchase I've ever made. Clothes that make you feel great. You achieve. You get the job. You get the man]

(Photograph omitted)