Spotlight: Famous Mr. Selfridge Visitors
If there's one thing we learned from four seasons of Mr. Selfridge, it's that Harry certainly knew how to entertain! Throughout the series we've seen him play host to glitterati, tastemakers, and celebrities alike with his signature flair--and whether that meant creating a new product or designing the perfect store display, it seems there was no challenge too great for the King of Retail.
Take a spin through all four seasons and look back on some of the most exciting, glamorous, and downright outrageous visitors to grace the halls of Selfridge's. Though most of these guests are only inspired by true events, look for notes about those who truly stepped on the shopfloor!
Catch the Mr. Selfridge series finale on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 10:30/9:30c on MASTERPIECE on PBS. #SelfridgePBS
1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Staff and Selfridges alike were star-struck when legendary author Sir Conan Doyle, best known for the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, came to London in Season 1 (watch a scene from the episode). Though he was commissioned for a book signing, the most memorable part of his visit was an in-store séance by candlelight.
The real Arthur Conan Doyle was indeed an avid spiritualist, an interest that dominated the last decade of his life, after he had penned the final chapters of Sherlock Holmes’ story.
2. Anna Pavlova
When Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova twirled into Selfridge’s, she brought more than glittering tutus and silk ballerina slippers (watch a scene from the episode). Her breathtaking performance sparked an awakening in Rose Selfridge, who declared that every woman in London should have a “Pavlova moment.” Harry took note, booking Miss Pavlova to make a press-fueled appearance in the store. The staff of Selfridge’s also rose to the occasion, as the fashion department developed a new product—capes that captured the ballerina’s signature style.
3. Sir Ernest Shackleton
The whole staff was thrilled to meet Arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton—but perhaps his biggest fan was Harry’s son, Gordon Selfridge. Luckily, the adventurer was happy to oblige, giving the young enthusiast an insider take on his equipment—which had been painstakingly collected for an in-store display (watch a scene from the episode). As Shackleton regaled spectators with harrowing tales of his expeditions, he ended up teaching Harry bigger lessons about hardship, courage, and what it takes to be a leader.
4. Louis Blériot
One of the inaugural celebrity guests to grace the halls of Selfridge’s, French aviator Louis Blériot—the first man to fly across the English Channel—visited the store with his plane in tow. But Harry can’t take all the credit for this exhibition: Gaiety Girl Ellen Love sparked his imagination when she highlighted Selfridge and Blériot’s mutual love for modernity and daredevil antics. The opportunity to see the plane for free drives London to the floors of Selfridge’s, and Miss Love gets her moment in the spotlight, flying high in Blériot’s plane as the “Spirit of Selfridge’s."
5. Madame Jeanne Lanvin
Haute couture got even hotter when finicky French designer Madame Lanvin visited Selfridge’s in Season 3. Tasked with impressing the style queen in order to land a merchandizing contract, Harry struggled to achieve that certain “je ne sais quoi” in the wake of staff drama. Luckily for him, his daughter Violette rose to the occasion and dreamt up a stunning fashion display.
The real Harry must have done something right—LANVIN garments are sold in Selfridges today!
6. Elizabeth Arden
Cosmetics maven Elizabeth Arden appeared at Selfridge’s in Season 4, and brought her bold, brash brand of business management with her (see her in this scene). Though Kitty immediately fell under her spell—and eventually took a job with her in New York—but not before learning the true toll of being a businesswoman in the Jazz Age.
In Harry’s true story, Elizabeth Arden was in fact a valued friend and business associate. Her makeup counter was popular in the Selfridge’s store!
7. A.A. Milne
Beloved children’s author A.A. Milne, of “Winnie the Pooh” fame, stopped by Selfridge’s in Season 4 to do a public reading of his latest book. With his son Christopher Robin in tow, Milne delighted the children of London with his stories of life in the quaint Hundred Acre Wood. With his grandchildren on his lap, the touching moment reminded a wayward Harry of what truly mattered—the love of those closest to him.