In the intimacy of her posh love nest, Ellen seduces Harry with her own personal performance. Then, sitting at her dressing table among the pots of rouge and puffs of powder, she reveals her real name: Joyce Humphries. Later, Rose, applying expensive French perfume at her own dressing table, looks longingly at the portrait Roddy sketched of her, tucking it secretly away when her husband appears. The intimacy of a woman's dressing table (that, and the stench of Oxford Street) inspires Harry to revolutionize perfume and cosmetic sales: He will display and sell perfume at the entrance of the store.
Mr. Crabb, the voice of tradition, asserts that no respectable woman would buy makeup. But Henri suspends his judgment, curious to learn the opinion of his friend and lover, Valerie Maurel, a modern French woman who works for a New York advertising firm. Because Valerie is presently visiting London, she stops in at Selfridges to present various cosmetics to the department heads, and reactions are mixed; when Valerie characterizes rouge as used by stage actresses and ladies of the night, everyone's mind goes to Ellen, who has been a dramatic presence around the store, charging furs on Harry's credit. Ellen had even drafted Harry into an impromptu performance on the Selfridges floor, which his mother happened to witness with disapproval and concern.
But Harry's intoxication with Ellen intensifies. He brings Henri to her performance at the Gaiety, and later, in her dressing room, their mutual dislike is unmistakable. The three then venture to Harry's club where Harry gravitates to a game of cards. Ellen begs him not to play – she has other plans -- but he ignores her and proceeds to win a large sum of money from Lady Mae's sullen boy toy, Tony. Meanwhile, Harry's neglected friends talk, and although Henri tells Ellen she's trouble for Harry, they come to a truce of sorts, with Henri even offering Ellen her own choice of poses for her next photo shoot. Satisfied that she has won the power struggle with Henri, she goes home alone while Harry gambles, and fills the void with cocaine.
Because customers are unable to afford the perfumes in stock, Valerie suggests that Harry create a Selfridges house scent. Both Harry and Henri want Valerie to stay on – Henri for personal reasons, as revealed when the two are in bed together – but she refuses; she belongs in New York.
Agnes has been absent from the store, hiding while a nasty shiner, delivered by her drunk, abusive father, heals. When she returns, Henri taps her, as their target customer, to help him with the perfume development. As the two talk, Henri reveals that he'd once asked Valerie to marry him and been refused. When Valerie departs for New York, she leaves in her wake a Selfridges brand Lily of the Valley perfume and a bond blossoming between Henri and Agnes.
Meanwhile, Rose's dutiful domestic life is interrupted by the desire of her oldest daughter, Rosalie, to do the London season. Because Harry's nationality and ties to commerce make such an entrance difficult, Rose appeals to Lady Mae for help. Never one to turn down someone who will be in her debt, Lady Mae is happy to introduce Rosalie in society. And never one to miss an opportunity to needle Rose, Lady Mae reveals that Harry has installed Ellen Love in her own apartment. Deflated, Rose states that she finds it best to ignore these things – they go away on their own. But Lady Mae warns her not to underestimate the competition. She, too, had once been a showgirl. Rose, disturbed, goes to Roddy's studio and asks him to paint her. Posing her, he seductively puts a paintbrush in her hand and lets her hair down. By the time she returns home, she learns that Lady Mae has already set Rosalie's debut in action. The Selfridges are now further in her debt.
Lady Mae reminds Harry of this during a lunch at the Palm Court, where she expresses dismay at Harry's gambling defeat of Tony and winning of her money. In return for her favors, she wants Harry to endorse the cause of Suffrage, sell their items in the store, and reserve a Palm Court table each week for her Suffragette group. During their lunch, she sets her eye on Victor.
Meanwhile, the Spirit of Selfridges is up to her old tricks. Harry has convinced Ellen to be the face of the house perfume with the offer of her very own window, and Henri, as promised, allows her to art direct her own photo shoot. As she offers one seductive pose after another, fueled by cocaine, we see why he made that concession. When they bring the pictures to Harry, he hates them, as Henri suspected all along. Henri then shows Harry the Lily of the Valley art he created with the help of Agnes. Harry loves it, and the scent debuts with a beautiful window that Henri tells Agnes is hers. But Victor, seeing Henri and Agnes together, is jealous.