THE Q&A: Johnstons of Elgin’s Creative Director, Alan Scott

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As the nights draw in, the notion of curling up with a good book and the crackle of a log fire hold a certain allure. The Danes even have a name for this – ‘Hygge’. And while the term has become all too familiar in the mainstream, in fashion, there’s still something to be said for the feel of a luxurious knit. On that front, Scottish cashmere brand Johnstons of Elgin have this season all wrapped up.

Alan Scott, who took over the creative reins earlier this year, can be credited with putting a more fashion-forward spin on things. With an impressive design pedigree spanning 27 years, he successfully launched Donna Karan menswear in the early Nineties.  Other career highlights include consulting for Italy’s Loro Piana and for Barbour here at home.

Next year, the family-owned business celebrates it 220th anniversary so what better time to quiz Scott on what makes him tick and how he intends to drive this historic brand into the future.

BSN: Where does Johnstons of Elgin sit in the international luxury landscape?

A.S: Johnston of Elgin is an incredibly important player in the luxury market, currently producing private label collections for many British, Italian and Paris-based luxury brands. We are also keen to develop the Johnstons of Elgin own brand and keep our social responsibility in our manufacturing sites healthy. It is vital to keep British knitwear alive and on the map by having a broad business model.

BSN: Please describe the current A/W 2016 collection. 

A.S: The A/W 2016 collection takes inspiration from nature, landscapes and foliage and colour combinations that are very ‘Scottish’ in style. Figurative accents in jacquards are presented next to traditional tartans using colours such as fern, granite, Bordeaux and navy.

BSN: Are there any upcoming collaborations or exciting new projects that you can share with us?

A.S: We are looking at showcasing our interior collection in Liberty this Christmas and are currently working with Lock Hatters as well as many private label collaborations with designers and department stores that help to grow our brand awareness.

BSN: Where is home for you these days?

A.S: I live in Scotland, on the snow line up on Ben Aigen. My home is 500 metres above the River Spey with the most incredible view down the valley and is about 15 minutes from our Elgin mill.

BSN: You are also an accomplished artist. What do you paint? 

A.S: I have always drawn since I was a child and have used this gift throughout my fashion career. I still need to draw everything even today. It’s a great way to give original communication and illustrate ideas and concepts.  At home, I love to relax and paint in oil. My subjects are usually equine and my paintings are always hyper-realistic. I love to create paintings that make people look twice.

BSN: How will you steer the brand into the future? 

A.S: This is a very special opportunity for me to fuse all of my experience with this fantastic company. I intend to develop and drive new business and customers by moving the brand forward using our heritage and history to inspire new technology and innovation in all products within the collection.

SHOP TACTICS WITH KELLY HOPPEN

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Johannesburg-born interior and product designer Kelly Hoppen’s ever-evolving design style is underpinned by a fusion of East meets West: clean lines, neutral tones and a rich mix of texture blended with her signature charm, warmth and opulence. Together with her instinctive eye and her ability to mix vibrant colour with striking, simple beauty – she has built a design empire, which now celebrates 40 years.  With her blonde corkscrew locks and sharp business acumen, Kelly has also appeared on our TV screens, as a dragon on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

Kelly’s career began when, aged 16, she was commissioned to design the kitchen of a family friend. She has since earned a huge international following, a second-to-none clientele and numerous awards. She has put her stamp on the homes, tower blocks, yachts and jets of private clients as well as hotels, restaurants and commercial spaces all over the world. In 2009, she was made a MBE for her services to interior design.

Last month, saw the launch of Kelly’s latest interiors book – House of Hoppen – which takes a look back over her stellar career and her favourite projects, including previously unseen images of her most recent work as well as her own homes – past and present.

At home in London, Kelly’s penchant for cashmere and designer jewellery brings her to Bond Street and its environs in search of unique pieces.  Her little black book is bursting with glamorous haunts, five of which she reveals here:


Cartier, 175-177 New Bond Street

I have been going to Cartier for as long as I can remember. It is an institution – a huge part of Bond Street’s history. I have such wonderful memories of lunches and dinners there and of course its fabulous selection of unique jewels!

Ralph Lauren, 1 New Bond Street

I simply adore the Ralph Lauren store – it is so incredibly beautiful, almost like walking into a different world. I have been visiting this store for years and have never walked out empty handed! I am especially crazy about the cashmere.

The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street

What a stunning piece of history right there! The Royal Arcade has all sorts of hidden treasures however I specifically want to point out the extremely brilliant secondhand vintage watch shop, which is where I go for all my mends.

Stephen Webster, 130 Mount Street

Stephen’s atelier space in Mount Street is so chic. It is filled with amazing pieces of jewellery as well as art. You don’t just go there to buy – it is a whole experience within itself.

Gucci, 34 Old Bond Street

How could you talk about the Bond Street area and not mention Gucci? I can’t get enough of it! I don’t even want to admit to the amount of shoes I have bought from this store. Its footwear collection is outstanding.

Amanda Wakeley, 18 Albemarle Street

Such a beautiful space. I always adore going in and seeing Amanda for a chat and a catch up. I always make sure to pop in whenever I am in the area. And of course, I like to check out all the new pieces she has in store, which might look perfect hanging in my wardrobe!

Under the Apple Tree… Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson Design Claridge’s Festive Showstopper

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Nothing heralds the start of the festive season quite like a twinkling Christmas tree. Luckily, London has plenty of fine examples to admire, from Trafalgar Square’s towering Norwegian spruce to more artful creations, which crop up in the halls of many a boutique hotel. But as far as ingenuity goes, all eyes are on Claridge’s.

For the past seven years, the luxury hotel has enlisted a distinguished guest to create a showstopper tree for its art-deco lobby. This year’s masterpiece is the work of two heavyweights from the world of industrial and product design – Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Sir Jony Ive and his peer and colleague, Marc Newson.

London-based Ive is best known as the designer of the iMac, PowerBook, MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad and AppleWatch. Australian-born Newson, who resides in London, has been described as one of the most influential designers of his generation.  As Apple’s designer for special products, Newson has already worked closely with Ive on the AppleWatch and other projects. His work can be seen across a wide range of disciplines from furniture to private and commercial aircraft and bespoke sculptural pieces for clients across the globe.

Their tree design, which remains a tight-lipped secret until the official launch later this month, is the latest in a line of memorable installations, which began with John Galliano for Dior’s ethereal ‘under the sea’ creation in 2009. Since then, we have been treated to Alber Elbaz for Lanvin’s rendition in 2011, featuring a tableau of caricatures portraying the Lanvin family around the tree at home. Dolce & Gabbana put a unique Sicilian twist on things in 2013 and 2014, and last year, Christopher Bailey’s interpretation for Burberry featured a cascade of 100 silver and gold metallic umbrellas (frontispiece).

Paul Jackson, Claridge’s General Manager says: “Christmas has always been a truly special time of year at Claridge’s and we are delighted to welcome our friends Jony and Marc to spread their legendary creative magic this year. We truly believe their innovative spirit and ground-breaking approach will make this year’s annual tradition one to remember for our guests.”

All will be revealed on Friday November 18th in Claridge’s lobby. Prepare to be wowed!

Claridge’s, Brook Street 

 

Bond’s Best – Aquazzura’s Velvet Fauna Booties

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From sumptuous jewel tones to rich shades of berry and chocolate, fashion is awash with velvet this season. Such is the case with Aquazzura’s plush ruby red booties (£930), decorated with a glittering array of insect motifs and crafted in Florence.

Edgardo Osorio is the creative whizz behind Aquazzura’s latest collection. The Columbian-born designer boasts an impressive CV having previously designed footwear lines for Salvatore Ferragamo, and Roberto Cavalli.

With the party season just around the corner, you’ll be the belle of the ugly bug ball in this pair of opulent beauties.

Aquazzura, 38 Albemarle Street

Chairman’s Speech BSA AGM 2016

Welcome to the Bond Street Association’s AGM & lunch, an event that I particularly enjoy each year, as it is such an excellent opportunity to see our members and to update you on all the activity of the BSA over the past year and our plans for next year.

It is also a great opportunity to chat and network with Bond Street colleagues, friends, and neighbours in this beautiful setting. I particularly want to thank Paul Jackson, the GM here at Claridge’s, not just for working with us to host this AGM, but also for his commitment to working with the BSA and joining our Council.

2016 has proved to be a challenging year, many of us are concerned about the economy following the Brexit vote and of course we have not seen the real outcome of that yet. It is encouraging that in the past few weeks there has been an uplift in visitor numbers, which many put down to overseas visitors taking advantage of the weak pound, and while London is one of the most popular visitor destinations in the world, we need to work hard to ensure that London retail and particularly Bond Street remain the worldwide attraction they are today.

The £10m investment in Bond Street’s public realm is set to commence in 2017 spearheaded by NWEC and Westminster City Council. This work is key to ensuring Bond Street’s future as a world-leading shopping destination. We have seen Bond Street fall behind our neighbouring streets over recent years, as Grosvenor and The Crown Estate invest into Mount Street and Regent Street, so I am delighted that the funds have now been raised and the much needed public realm upgrade for Bond Street can begin. – This is something the BSA has been very instrumental in, and I am particularly proud of instigating with my team.

This street improvement work, together with the Crossrail project and the opening of the Elizabeth Line, will bring an additional 60m visitors to the West End annually, boosting retail sales by £10bn a year.

I am delighted to be part of the Bond Street Development Group, headed by Paul Dimond, Chairman of DAKS, collaborating with NWEC, Westminster City Council, The Mayor of London, the Metropolitan police, and other organisations to help create a thriving, safe and unrivalled luxury shopping destination.

I am often asked what the BSA does! So I will as quickly as possible tell you!

We are about connectivity, working with your neighbours, partners, and like-minded organisations to bring improvement, collaborations, and progression, and of course being a thorn in the side of inertia.

Now in its 92nd year, the Bond Street Association offers its Members a host of opportunities including PR & marketing, brand collaborations, professional seminars, workshops, social networking events, training and development, as well as links to Westminster City Council and other governing bodies.

The official Bond Street website attracts between 20,000 – 30,000 thousand visits per month and is supported by our growing social media platforms.

We have an on-going media partnership with the Mayfair Magazine, which sees BSA Members receiving preferential advertising rates as well as being listed in the magazine’s two annual Mandarin and Arabic issues. I also sit on the judging panel for the Mayfair Awards, which celebrate excellence across businesses in Mayfair.

Bond Street News, our consumer newsletter, edited by the luxury journalist, Lucie Muir continues to draw people to the street. This year we have interviewed many famous Bond Street personalities and celebrities who shop our street. If you don’t receive this, please let us know, as it really is fun and informative.

We continue to bring VIP shopping groups to Bond Street through the Bond Bespoke program, connecting with travel companies, Concierge groups, hotels, and businesses. This year’s groups have included; Morgan Stanley, University Alumni groups, a group of international F1 followers, as well as tour groups from Asia and America.

We have just instigated an exciting new partnership with Moët Hennessy, giving our Members preferential rates on purchases as well as access to their exclusive events and experiences. We will be revealing more on this partnership over the next few months.

In June we celebrated Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday with a special publication entitled A Royal Life, acknowledging Bond Street’s contribution to the Royal household via the many Royal Warrant holders and suppliers to the Royal family.

The BSA supported Brown’s London Art Weekend in July, a fantastic initiative – now in its third year – in which leading galleries and auction houses across Mayfair and St James’s open their doors to a weekend of tours, talks, walks and VIP parties. The event brings opportunities for innovative collaborations between galleries and retailers such as La Perla’s unique tour and Gallery Hop party for 200 young collectors.

Over the year Members were invited to business forums focused on Fraud & Theft Prevention, Retailing in a Multi-Channel World, and most recently The Art of Luxury Service in partnership with Debrett’s Academy.

The Bond Street Association’s diary of social events are always well attended and are an enjoyable way to network. From sales previews, Cheese & Wine Pairings with Berry Bros & Rudd, a performance of Shakespeare in the St James’s Square, to jazz and salsa dance nights at 100 Wardour St and Quaglino’s, and of course our annual Quiz Night.

Remember to add December 14th to your diaries for the final event of the year, the Three Associations Carol Service at St James’s Church on Piccadilly, which is a wonderfully festive end to the year.

I would like to thank the Bond Street Association Council who in attending our meetings give their valued time, ideas and opinions. My particular thanks go to Sophie Grounds for her amazing contribution to the BSA’s involvement in Brown’s London Art Weekend. Sophie, you have been a hugely valued member of the Council for many years, and we all wish you the greatest of happiness for the birth of your first child.

And remember to breathe…

I would also like to give a special thank you to the Directors of the BSA who attend very regular meetings and ensure that the BSA continues all its great work, my thanks to Pauline Hudson-Evans, Simon Fitzpatrick, and Alex Bergholz-Gander and of course to Katie Thomas who is responsible for all our PR, Marketing, and Communication activities.

The Bond Street Association is an important voice for the retailers and businesses in and around Bond Street, working with the NWEC and Westminster City Council to ensure your needs and expectations are met. We can only continue to represent and support you if you support us through your annual subscription and an on-going engagement with us.

On that note, may I wish you all a very successful Christmas trading period and very much look forward to working with you in 2017.

Lord Bruce Dundas.

 

 

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

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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

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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!