Super Woman – Max Mara’s brand ambassador and family member, Nicola Gerber Maramotti on empowering women in film, art, fashion and beyond


Ph. Elodie Nizon / Foxall Studio

Nicola Gerber Maramotti glides into Max Mara’s Old Bond Street flagship looking as cool as a cucumber on what is officially the hottest September day since 1911. Immaculately dressed in a white trouser suit, white silk T-shirt and white platforms, it’s hard to believe that she has just braved the London Underground – the heaving Central Line no less. Anyone else might have thought she had descended from the heavens on a fluffy white cloud.

Today, German-born Nicola keeps tabs on the company’s 300 plus stores across Europe. Her involvement in the company began soon after she married Ignazio Maramotti in 1993. His father Achille Maramotti founded the brand in 1951 and is widely credited with introducing ready-to-wear to Italy.

Nicola’s dedication to educating retail staff and ensuring warm and inviting retail spaces is clear to see in Max Mara’s Old Bond Street store. Recently revamped and expanded, it boasts an upstairs garden terrace – a rare find amongst Mayfair’s urban sprawl. Every little detail is Nicola’s doing, right down to the dressing room lights. “Women want to look pretty in the changing room,” she says adding that it took 20 meetings with her designer team to create the most flattering light.

Here, as in every Max Mara store, staff are well versed in the brand’s heritage and know the collections inside out – right down to the cut, stitch and fabric composition. Max Mara’s new e-learning programme, in which all employees are kept up to speed on such matters, and later tested and scored, can be thanked for that.

Meanwhile, over at the company HQ in Reggio Emilia, the Max Mara Retail Academy attracts postgraduate students from around the world. As part of this intensive in-house training course, they spend one year in Italy and one year in one of the company’s European locations. When selecting students, Nicola instinctively knows if someone has a service-orientated mindset or not. “The job of retail manager is as much about psychology as it is numbers, and if you are not interested in people, then you can’t be in retail,” she notes.

It is this investment in its workforce that makes Max Mara so unique – that and its ongoing commitment to empowering women, which starts with the clothes. The current autumn/winter 2016 collection pays homage to the 1920s Bauhaus and the women painters, textile designers, filmmakers and artists at its heart. Other hits include the ‘Whitney’ tote bag. Designed in collaboration with Italian architect Renzo Piano, its sumptuous geometric form is inspired by New York’s celebrated art museum. “It looks just like the Whitney,” she says with a smile, picking the shimmering bag up and swinging it lightly from her wrist.

Then there is the Sartorial Project – a capsule collection comprising of tailored jackets and trousers constructed with all the precision of a man’s Savile Row suit. The collection has evolved to accommodate the new working wardrobe. Describing this, Nicola says: “Women are pairing a smart blazer with a crisp white blouse or trousers with a cashmere jumper and interpreting masculine looks in far more contemporary ways.”

As a passionate advocate of championing women in the arts, Nicola also oversees the brand’s pioneering creative awards. The Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with London’s Whitechapel Gallery is the only visual art prize for women in the UK that aims to promote and nurture female artists. This year’s gong went to British artist Emma Hart. As part of her award, she will take up a six-month residency in Umbria and Lombardy, where she will create an artwork to be presented in major solo exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy, next year.

Support is also given to women in the male-dominated film industry. Since 2006, Max Mara’s Women In Film Face of the Future Award has been held in LA to annually honour outstanding women in the entertainment industry – women who lead by example, are creative, groundbreaking and excel at their chosen fields. In June, Nicola presented the 2016 award to Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer.

Finally, I ask Nicola what she loves most about London and Bond Street. “Bond Street with its relaxed luxury vibe and glamour is unique. It attracts the best of the best – the best fashion, the best art, the best windows… And of course I love the tube!” she jokes before floating off in a white haze.

Shop Tactics With Oliver Barker


Ph. Elodie Nizon /Foxall Studio

Oliver Barker joined the celebrated international auction house in 1994 and moved to the Contemporary Art department in 2001, rising to the current post of Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe, Senior International Specialist. As a key figure on the rostrum, he oversees major auctions in both London and New York – some more memorable than others.

In 2008 for example, on the same day as the Lehman Brothers collapse, he oversaw the market-defining sale of the contents of Damien Hirst’s restaurant Pharmacy. Recalling the auction Oliver said: “As the sale started it was clear we were definitely onto something… The sale had an estimate of around £3 million and it made £11 million with everything sold. Importantly, it established a bond of trust between Sotheby’s and Hirst.” Five years later, he brought works to auction directly from the artist’s studio for another landmark Hirst sale ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’, which achieved £111.5 million and established a world record for a single-artist sale.

Later, in 2015, Oliver set a new auction record for any work on paper by Frank Auerbach with an early portrait of his cousin Gerda, (Head of Gerda Boehm from 1961), which soared to £2.2 million. Most recently, he was responsible for bringing to auction Lucian Freud’s masterpiece Pregnant Girl which sold for £16.1 million against a pre-sale estimate of £7–10 million in February 2016.

Meanwhile, Oliver, together with the ICA’s Gregor Muir, turns quizmaster at the much-loved Dover Street Arts Club annual arts quiz. The non-profit fundraiser is a memorable, often raucous affair, where international gallerists, museum directors, critics, curators and artists battle it out to prove they have the sharpest mind in the London art world.

Next month, Sotheby’s London will stage a sale of David Bowie’s private art collection. The sale takes place in three parts on November 10th and 11th, encompassing some 400 items. At the heart of the sale is a remarkable group of more than 200 works from some of the most important British artists of the 20th Century, including Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland.

And when he is not slamming the gavel down on eye-wateringly expensive art, the affable Oliver can be found perusing Bond Street in search of exquisite writing instruments or savouring a fresh lobster sandwich in the Sotheby’s cafe. He reveals more of his favourite haunts below:

Sotheby’s Café, 34-35 New Bond Street

I welcome guests from around the world to explore the art hanging in our galleries and they are always equally enthused to discover another of our hidden gems, the Sotheby’s Café. The café walls are hung with stunning photographs from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive and we have a superb seasonal menu alongside a wine list curated by the incomparable Serena Sutcliffe, Honorary Chairman of Sotheby’s Wine. An ever present on the lunch menu is the lobster club sandwich – a favourite of our former chairman Alfred Taubman.


The Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly 

I will never tire of walking through the beautiful spaces of The Royal Academy, just a stone’s throw from our own offices. You always get a sense of its incredible history, but it’s also an institution that continues to define the landscape of contemporary art; from the revolutionary “Sensation” show that introduced the YBAs to the world, to the current Abstract Expressionism show, staged under the visionary artistic direction of Tim Marlow.


H. Huntsman & Sons, 11 Savile Row

As an auctioneer, standing on the podium at the front of packed room, a perfectly tailored suit is an essential. Huntsman, on Savile Row, is an historic gentleman’s tailors, famed for crafting suits for the likes of Winston Churchill, Lawrence Olivier and the Royal Family. I love the bespoke experience you get when being fitted for a Huntsman suit and their classic, timeless look.


The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly 

The breakfast here is so special that it even inspired A.A Gill to write a book dedicated to the subject!  The service and surroundings are impeccable – and it’s quite remarkable to think that Jeremy King and Chris Corbin opened the Wolseley as recently as 2003 as it has the feel of one of those great London institutions that has existed for decades.


Montblanc, 119 New Bond Street

A Montblanc pen is an icon of European craftsmanship. The fact that the finest, handmade examples now appear in our auctions is testament to the esteem in which the brand is held among the world’s collectors. The style, quality and workmanship of Montblanc stationary is unmatched, so should they ever decide to create an auctioneers gavel it would be top of my list!



‘The Pearl Necklace’ published by Maison Assouline in collaboration with Mikimoto


In The Pearl Necklace, the latest coffee table tome from French art house publishers Maison Assouline, the history of pearls and, of course, the pearl necklace is traced through the story of Japanese pearl specialists, Mikimoto.

Award winning journalist and jewellery historian Vivienne Becker has penned the forward, in which she reminds us why these rare sea treasures have long been the ultimate object of power, beauty and legend. And, numbering 300 pages, this coveted hardback, is also the most authoritative volume on the subject of pearls to date.


Of course, nature’s precious white orbs remain very much in vogue. On the autumn/winter 2016 runways, Chanel, Gucci and Rag & Bone, to name but a few, accessorised looks with layers of pearl strands, single pearl earrings and lavish pearl headpieces. It just goes to show how far pearls have come since their regal image.

The book looks back at the history of Mikimoto and features stunning photos and illustrations from its archives. The cover shot, meanwhile, features strands of Mikimoto pearls draped on a model’s naked back. The brand’s founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, was the first to successfully culture a semi-spherical pearl in 1893. The method in which a tiny bead made of polished shell and a piece of mantle tissue is introduced by hand was so radical it even amazed the legendary inventor, Thomas Edison.


Indeed, Mikimoto’s development of cultured pearls in the late 19th Century put Japanese jewellery on the map. He devoted his entire life to these precious gems, having always held the dream ‘to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.”

And if there’s anything that links some of the world’s most famous women – from Her Majesty The Queen to Jacqueline Onassis, Grace Kelly and Michelle Obama – it has to be their pearls. The Pearl Necklace features rare portrait shots of some of the most celebrated pearl aficionados. We guarantee you’ll be digging out those pearly white heirlooms after reading it.



The Pearl Necklace is available to purchase at ASSOULINE boutiques worldwide and through

Bond’s Best – Penhaligon’s The Coveted Duchess Rose Eau de Parfum


In the whimsical world of fine fragrance, casting animals to portray a family of eccentric English aristocrats isn’t quite as barking as it sounds. British perfumer Penhaligon’s does just that in its new ‘Portraits Collection, Chapter 1’. In doing so, it creates a tale of love, mystery and intrigue around each fictitious character.

One standout fragrance from this four-piece collection is the Coveted Duchess Rose (£178 for 75mls). Topped with a fox head bottle stop and created by Penhaligon’s master perfumer Christophe Raynaud, this cunning blend of rose, mandarin and musky wood, is an autumnal delight.

Penhaligon’s, 16- 17 Burlington Arcade

Shop Tactics with Jonny Dodge


Photography: Foxall Studio / Elodie Nizon

Jonny Dodge is an F1 events entrepreneur, adventurer and founder of the Dodgeball Rally. 

Earlier this month, shoppers charging around Mayfair may well have been stopped in their tracks by a stunning array of sassy supercars cars prowling around Bond Street. They belonged to the Dodgeball Rally, a bi-annual car rally organised by Jonny, which takes place on public roads across Europe.

Jonny kick-started his career in London, organising celebrity parties and events. He then went on to buy the Aura nightclub in Mayfair. As the events grew in scale and number, Jonny formed GP Management, a global events and experience company. Over the years he has organised everything from F1 Festivals to ‘Superyacht’ at the Monaco Formula One. GP Management and its sister company ‘Life Prive’ create some truly unique experiences such as a one-off private shopping day on Bond Street in December together with the Bond Street Association.


Before Jonny and the other participants taking part in the rally embark on the next leg of this road trip to Monza via the Italian Alps, you might find him making a last minute pit stop in the Polo Bar at The Westbury hotel or shopping for new season knits at Hermès. He reveals more of his favourite Mayfair destinations below:

Mews of Mayfair, 10 Lancaster Court

I could write a book on Mews! It’s an amazing concept, which has grown and grown and taken over most of Lancaster Court. Many an important F1 deal has been made here – a haunt for those in the industry. Back in the day, Jenson Button had a private party here after winning a race and that was pretty incredible. I recommend getting a table outside at the courtyard restaurant and ordering the halloumi and meat platters.

The Westbury, 37 Conduit Street

I’ve been meeting clients and friends for dinner or drinks at the Westbury hotel for the past five years. The Polo bar is the perfect spot for business meetings and entertaining clients. Unlike some places you go to in Mayfair, which tend to be a little loud and crowded, the Westbury is both refined and comfortable.

Mappin & Webb, 1 Old Bond Street

I recently designed my fiancées’ engagement ring here. I went through the bespoke process of designing the piece, which involved starting at the Mappin & Webb store on Bond Street and then visiting its Hatton Garden design studio. I had an idea in my head as to how the ring should look and saw the design through from scratch with the help of its head jeweller. To create something so unique was an amazing experience. And my fiancée likes it, which is a good!

5 Hertford Street, 2-5 Hertford Street

I think 5 Hertford Street currently holds the top spot among London’s private members clubs. The crowd from Annabel’s has migrated across there and now that it has opened up the roof it is just beautiful. To have a roof terrace in Mayfair is perfect – definitely a plus. The food is great as are the people. You meet so many different characters. It’s where you’ll find me on a midweek night chilling.

Hermès, 155 New Bond Street

I wish I were more of a fashion guru but I’m not. Instead, I go with a standard traditional look, so the Hermès aesthetic works really well for me. I shop here for key wardrobe staples such as belts, wallets and other coveted accessories, which are so beautiful and classic. I’ll go in again soon in search of jumpers – I mean ‘new season’ knits!


Makers House – Burberry and The New Craftsman join forces


When Burberry’s London Fashion Week show commences on the evening of September the 19th, for the first time ever, each piece will be available to buy straight from the runway. So, if you can’t wait until next year for your favourite new season trench, bag or scarf to land in store get ready to hit click.

The runway presentation also coincides with the launch of Burberry’s new show venue located in the heart of Soho. Called Makers House, it is the result of collaboration between the British luxury brand and British craft collective, The New Craftsman. Prepare to be wowed over the course of one week (Sept 21-27th) as the country’s finest craft makers bring the inspiration behind Burberry’s new ready-to-wear collection, through a changing programme of daily demonstrations and installations. And since Christopher Bailey’s inspiration is Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, expect plenty of leatherwork, embroidery and lacquer technics on show here.

As for the new space, Bailey says: “Just as Virginia Woolf’s Orlando is both a love letter to the past and a work of profound modernity, this week-long exhibition aims to nod both to the design heritage that is so integral to Burberry’s identity, and to some of Britain’s most exciting creators, and the innovation and inspiration behind their work.”

Of the talented British makers carefully selected by The New Craftsman to show off their handiwork here, several stand out. Take Pedro da Costa Felgeuiras for instance. All of Pedro’s contemporary work is imbued with his ever-growing personal library of pigment and lacquer knowledge. For Makers House, he will demonstrate traditional paint and lacquer techniques on an array of vessels that specifically reference the Burberry collection and its Boho inspiration.


Meanwhile, Rose de Borman’s iconic aesthetic of surface pattern and embellishment can be seen in a series of stunning silk cushions inspired by flora and fauna. She will also be putting on a display, live printing exclusive silk scarves, which will be available to purchase.


Finally, East London brand ‘Bespoke & Bound’ will also be here bookbinding live. Its team of makers will draw on Burberry’s rich military history as they combine traditional materials such as bridle leather with a modern aesthetic. Now that’s a wrap!


Makers House, 1 Manette Street

The Q&A With Yann Chevris, General Manager of ‘MNKY HSE’ restaurant and bar


Photography: Foxall Studio / Elodie Nizon


MNKY HSE (add a few missing vowels and you get the wordier version – ‘Monkey House’), promises great Latin American food, club class DJs, live music and dancing when it opens its doors later this month.

Designed over two floors in what was once the site of the Dover Street Wine Bar, MNKY HSE will house an upstairs bar/lounge area serving an impressive list of mezcal-fuelled cocktails. Downstairs in the ground floor restaurant, the open plan kitchen overlooks leather banquette-style seating. This can be adjusted to encourage table-hopping and who knows… some innocent monkey business?

Heading up Mayfair’s exciting new venue is Yann Chevris – a restaurant consultant with both commercial acumen and a passion for excellence. Yann has shared his knowledge of luxury hospitality and special passion for fine wines to some of the finest restaurants in Dubai, Bangkok and the Caribbean to Michelin starred establishments here in London including Nobu and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

Bond Street News caught up with the affable Frenchman ahead of MNKY HSE’s official launch to quiz him about the story so far and to gaze into the future.

Bond Street News: You’ve been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, what continues to make you tick? 

Yann Chevris: I started working in the business when I was 15 years old! What makes me tick? Well I guess it’s the excitement of never having the same day twice. This is due to the people, the concept, and of course the nature of operational challenges. I like the following quote, which I think sums up the job perfectly: “We are like actors in a West End theatre – when the curtains open, you never know what can happen”.

BSN: How long has MNKY HSE been in the making and what was the most enjoyable part of the planning process?

Y.C: MNKY HSE has been two years in the making, so it’s fantastic to see it finally coming together. The most rewarding part would have to be the ‘coming together’ of the build – but most of all the team. Everything takes a few weeks of training to reach perfection, but there is no better feeling than when you stand in a room that was a building site a few weeks ago and suddenly it is full of happy people and everything’s running smoothly.

BSN: Tell us a little about chef Pablo Peñalosa Nájera who has created MNKY HSE’s Latin American menu. 

Y.C: Pablo is a young and very talented chef, with great techniques and plenty of ideas. We wanted to bring someone to the table with a fresh perspective on Latin American cuisine, but also someone who could bring authenticity to the flavours. Pablo is very excited about developing new dishes for Londoners and we have really enjoyed the tastings!

BSN: Can you predict 2017’s next big thing in food/drink and interior design? 

Y.C: I see the organic movement getting stronger – both in food and restaurant design. In the last few years, Japanese and Asian cuisine has really taken over. A ‘family style’ way of eating with sharing plates will continue to grow, as it’s such a popular way of eating in all cultures and cuisines. This also ties in nicely with the rise in popularity of dining locally.

MNKY HSE, 10 Dover Street