diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The interior of the Millennium Dome is now (almost) complete. Took long enough.

Ever since 2007, when New Labour's Teflon tent reopened as an entertainment hub, it's only been possible to turn right on entering. A crescent of dining opportunities curved round to the far side of the complex, past numerous restaurants and the occasional cinema, but the only shopping experience on offer was a tiny newsagents which excited nobody. Now suddenly turning left has become an option, with a lengthy shopping mall finally completing the circuit and giving visitors something entirely different to do.

It was going to be a super-casino, back in the Blair era when super-casinos were the thing, so the O2's owners kept 120° of their circumference empty in readiness of planning success. But London's super-casino went to Westfield in Stratford instead, and North Greenwich was left with a hole nobody's got round to filling until now.

It's called Icon, and looks very much like you'd expect a shopping mall to look. Over on the Dome's restaurant boulevard it's impossible to escape the feeling that you're walking through a cavernous tent with boxy infill, but this new addition is overhung by a chain of illuminated ribs which acts as a suspended ceiling, making it feel more like Bluewater, Westfield or Intu Somewhere instead. Ascend the escalators at either end to enter this brave new retail temple.

The arcade nearest the main entrance is solely at first floor level, and lined by narrow-fronted shops on either side. Many of these are already open but many are not, partly because there's a recession on, but mainly because it's still early days. The shops are almost exclusively of a type - slightly upmarket clothes and accessories - including such non-necessities as Calvin Klein undies and Aspinal handbags. If you're wondering why the shops get micro-thin opposite the artisan coffee outlet, it's because the mall has to bend around the ventilation tower for the southbound Blackwall Tunnel. I counted up the shops along this first section and tallied ten units open and seven closed.

Things got even quieter through the central section, the furthest from each entrance - thirteen units open and twelve closed. Temporary frontage and low footfall meant it all felt a bit dead, even for a weekday morning, but on opening weekend the place was no doubt buzzing thanks to numerous 'brand activations'. Hackett were offering complimentary monogramming, GANT were dishing out a free Duffle if you spent £200 or more, and Cath Kidston had installed a flower wall as a prize-winning selfie backdrop. You may already be getting a sense of whether this place is for you.

Eventually the mall reaches a gaping atrium where one of the Dome's big yellow spikes plonks down, and where one of the entrances to the O2's main arena is located. Beyond this the shops continue at ground floor as well as first floor level, although only the upstairs lot are open at present. Ten open and three closed is a better ratio than we've seen thus far, and the clothing emphasis isn't quite so strong, with tea and perfume and smelly candles thrown into the mix. It's also worth noting that the overhead decor's different at this end, here bedecked with a net of floaty white quadrilaterals which reveals more of the actual roof.

The last shop, or the first if you're wandering anti-clockwise, is the only store to brand itself as an outlet. Everything in the Gap Outlet store is 50% off, which is a pretty substantial discount, with handy ready reckoners above the shelves in case you're no good at halving. Even I was thinking "oh, that's not actually a bad price for a shirt", so will be back, relieved I no longer have to trudge over to Wembley Park for something similar. Apparently the whole of Icon is supposed to offer "a variety of premium brands all at accessible outlet prices", but not one single other store has made this obvious - their racks unflashed and their windows unpostered.

Downstairs is odd, even eerie, with the entire run of twenty-odd shops still covered up. That'll be because this is phase 2, opening 2019, as the retail offer ramps up another notch. For now staff are washing piazzas nobody's using, and plugging in amplifiers on a stage nobody will be flocking to, and wondering what anyone's doing down here when there are trainers and chocolate advent calendars on the floor above.

In summary, Icon isn't a must-visit, more somewhere to spend surplus cash on non-essentials if that's what you enjoy. It appears ideally targeted at parties from the Home Counties here to watch U2 or Andrea Bocelli, if only there weren't rules about taking large bags into the auditorium. It's also hoping to attract eager foreign tourists who don't want to have to schlep all the way to Bicester for cheap designer goods, but the overall vibe isn't yet outletty enough for that to succeed. Icon's certainly a more interesting way to pass the time than the restaurants round the other half of the circumference, and has its moments, but has yet to prove it could become a regular hangout for ordinary Londoners.

And Icon is about to be outshone next weekend by a fresh opening at Granary Square - Coal Drops Yard. This former carbon depository and nightclub to the north of King's Cross is reopening as a 'curated' retail experience packed with snobby brands at unreconstructed prices, aiming at sluicing the plastic of warehouse-dwellers and Eurostar travellers. Icon may be one step down the luxury ladder, but it cements the future of the Millennium Dome, and might even contain something you actually want.

» Another review of Icon from @fromthemurkydepths

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream