Between 6pm and 8.30pm on 1 December, only ticket holders will be admitted to 17 Liberty shops, for an evening of civilised shopping in Britain's most civilised store. A wide variety of special offers, discounts, free tastings and entertainments will be available. And only Independent readers can apply for tickets. So if you like crowds, car clamps and the quality of Ratners, we advise you not to fill in the form on the right.
Liberty's flagship store in Regent Street has a British comedy theme for its Christmas window displays. On 1 December, the entertainment in the West End store will be enhanced by a string quartet, a gospel choir and a vocal jazz group; there will be a cookery demonstration and book-signing by Gillian Riley, the author of Renaissance Recipes and Impressionist Picnics; Le Meridien Hotel in Piccadilly is holding a prize draw (the winner will receive a pounds 95 voucher for dinner for two in its Oak Room), and offering a special three-course menu for pounds 16 that night in its Terrace Garden Restaurant for Independent/Liberty customers who book in advance (stating their credentials) on 071-734 8000; and anybody who brings a copy of the Independent to the book department could win pounds 100-worth of Thames & Hudson books.
Regular contributors to our Weekend pages - including Anna Pavord, Jonathan Glancey, John Windsor and Sophie Grigson - will be present. There will be free tastings of George Dickel Tennessee whiskey, Creme de Grand Marnier, Vittel Bonne Source mineral water, Orlando Carrington Australian sparkling wine (from the UK importers of Jacob's Creek), Perrier and Bri Creme Brulee liqueur.
Many departments of the Regent Street store will have their own attractions: in the Gift Room, a graphologist from Crane Stationery, and mulled wine served by Crabtree & Evelyn; in the Xmas Shop, tastings of Lurgashall mead, George Messer German wines and Christmas puddings (containing Suffolk ale) by Coles, plus advice from Gisela Graham decorations on how to dress the Christmas tree; in the Bath House, aromatherapy advice from Aromatherapeutics and a demonstration of skin-care products by Bilange; in the Kitchen Shop, Gillian Riley's cookery demonstrations and Taylors coffee brewed in La Pavoni machines; in the China & Glass department, wine tastings in John Jenkins glasses.
Special offers? Yes, there will be plenty of them. For a start, a pounds 5 Liberty gift voucher will be given for every pounds 50 spent in the store. A free gift-wrap service will be available. And all the following free gifts will be on offer on the fashion floor:
A pair of Ralph Lauren socks with every Ralph Lauren purchase costing more than pounds 100;
An Armani or Katharine Hamnett T-shirt with every pair of jeans;
A Nicole Farhi knitted hat with every Nicole Farhi purchase;
A pair of Kenzo jeans with every Kenzo Jungle purchase costing more than pounds 400;
Charles & Patricia Lester pillow with every Charles & Patricia Lester purchase of more than pounds 900;
A Pleats Please vest with every item of Issey Miyake clothing more than costing pounds 400;
A Bella Freud T-shirt with every Bella Freud purchase costing more than pounds 100;
Nightdress case for each item of nightwear purchased;
Pair of briefs with every underwear purchase of more than pounds 35;
A veil with every wedding dress purchased, and a garter with every veil and head-dress;
Each Liberty Tana Lawn long-sleeved shirt purchased entitles the buyer to a pounds 10 discount on a short-sleeved one;
A free Liberty varuna wool shawl with every coat purchased.
But the purpose of the evening is to enable you to enjoy your Christmas shopping - and that means finding perfect presents for your family and friends. As always, Liberty's buyers have stocked the store not with 'gift-shop' knick-knacks but with irresistibly beautiful things: a rich navy scarf in silk viscose by Jane Carrington Designs for Liberty, the abstract devore pattern down the centre underlining the lushness of the material (from pounds 145); a Swiss Army knife, on which a heavy ribbed-silver casing replaces the usual coloured plastic (small, medium and large, pounds 145, pounds 195 and pounds 245 respectively); large cotton-paper notebooks by Giannini, cased in soft green Nubuck or calf and protected by a travelling pouch (from pounds 27.50); designer bed linen from Angel Zimick, including the 'tie me up, tie me down' pillow-case with knotted corners ( pounds 59); the Dream Time sleep pouch, filled with mild herbs and spices, which slips inside a pillow-case ( pounds 9.95); and so on.
Last Christmas, the shopping evenings for Independent readers were a great success: every evening, at every Liberty shop, was fully booked. Apply now for a ticket to: Liberty Evening, PO Box 175, Carshalton, Surrey SM5 2WA.
If you cannot make it to the Regent Street store for all the activities, gifts and services listed above, 16 other Liberty shops around the country will also be holding exclusive shopping evenings on 1 December. Remember that each ticket admits two people. And that if you do not apply quickly, two of you will be out in the cold, suffering the Christmas crush once again.
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