Shop Tactics with William Asprey

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William Asprey, the seventh generation member of the celebrated Asprey family, founded William & Son in 1999. With his penchant for shooting and love for the finer things in country and sporting life, he is as quintessentially British as the brand he has created.

At the Bruton Street flagship collections of the finest jewellery and timepieces, leather goods and silver and glassware as well as paraphernalia for elegant penmanship and gamesmanship are displayed over two floors. The gleaming store is also the first point of call for any country sports enthusiast in search of kit and tackle. It also stocks bespoke, handcrafted shotguns as well as William & Son’s own line of perfectly cut but suitably sturdy country clothing.

Speaking of which, the autumn/winter 2016/17 collection has a decidedly more contemporary edge than the traditional styles of past. Key pieces include women’s Orkney Tweed waistcoats and Breeks (breeches).  Then there are pea coats, cashmere shawl collar cardigans and Linton tweed field coats for men.  All tweeds are designed by William & Son’s in-house team and manufactured in Scotland, demonstrating further William’s dedication to home-grown craftwork and his mission to keep British manufacturing alive. Take the brand’s first knitwear collection for instance. The collection is produced in Hawick, in a factory William & Son recently purchased.

In London, William’s been known to stay longer than necessary at wine tastings and feels right at home in a hotel with a good signature fragrance. He shares more of his favourite haunts below:

 

Bellamy’s, 18 Bruton Place

Bellamy’s is just a stone’s throw away from our gunroom so it’s perfectly convenient to meet with friends or clients at William & Son and then walk across for lunch. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing whilst the food is outstanding. If you need a table last minute without a booking, they will always do their best to find you one.

Hedonism Wines, 3-7 Davies Street 

Hedonism is like a treasure cave full of unique and exciting wines. I love the interior. It matches the welcoming atmosphere with experts always on hand to offer their endless extent of knowledge. It’s my go to for a great bottle of wine, although the wine tastings always tempt me to stay slightly longer than necessary!

The Connaught, Carlos Place 

The Connaught holds many memories for me, as it is just a few doors away from where we were previously based on Mount Street. The service is second to none and the staff are extremely accommodating. Having held many William & Son events at the Connaught, nothing is ever too much to ask. Even after moving to Bruton Street it is still a place regularly visited. As soon as you enter the lobby and smell their signature scent you instantly feel at home.

Halcyon Gallery, 144-146 New Bond Street

The Halcyon Gallery is an amazing gallery for so many reasons. Firstly for working with so many emerging and established global artists – it represents artists from all parts of the world. It’s so easy to only see the work of artists around you when living in London, however Halcyon Gallery really champions the best from all over the world. By working with such varied artists, it allows guests to access art exhibitions, which they might otherwise miss due to lack of knowledge or interest.

Dege & Skinner, 10 Savile Row 

With 150 years of heritage and knowledge, it’s no surprise Dege & Skinner is the family run business I go to for suit tailoring. I enjoy visiting Savile Row and even more so now Dege & Skinner has introduced its first selection of ready-to-wear suits and blazers. As William & Son are for the craftsmanship, Dege & Skinner are passionate when it comes to protecting the traditions that have led to its success.

Time Out – Breitling’s New Customer Entertainment Space is the Perfect Place for VIP Guests to Kick Back

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Since launching in 1884, Breitling, the inventor of the modern wrist chronograph and aviation watchmaker par excellence, has shared all the finest moments in the conquest of the skies thanks to its sturdy, reliable and high-performance instruments. No surprise then that its New Bond Street flagship, which opened three years ago, reflects a cool aerial theme. With its American walnut wood floors and flashes of yellow lighting, it provides the perfect backdrop to the latest designs in its horology collections; Navitimer, Chronoliner and Avenger to name but a few.
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Throughout the New Bond Street boutique interior, bold Pop Art paintings by acclaimed artist Kevin Kelly for instance, illustrate pilots and bomber planes – reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein’s work. Elsewhere, statues of Breitling’s iconic pin-up girl, inspired by 1940’s Nose Art, sit on the shop floor and atop its sleek new cocktail bar.

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The bar takes centre stage in the store’s brand new customer entertainment area, which is designed to hold exclusive Breitling collection launches and VIP events. Constructed from walnut veneer and illuminated by soft LED wall and sidelights, it is the kind of bar you would could imagine an off-duty pilot perched at. No doubt they would be sipping on the aptly named ‘Upwards Ever Onwards’.

This toe-tingling tipple is based on the ‘The Aviation’ from the 1940’s and made a splash at the launch night for the first Breitling Professional Series. Sean Fennelly, mixologist at Soho cocktail bar and members club Milk & Honey, created it in honour of special guest Squadron Leader Hugh Nichol – pilot of the most advanced fighter jet, the F35 lightning II.

To make it you need Tio Pepe dry sherry shaken with fresh lemon, sugar with a dash of dry cherry liqueur, Dutch Violette liqueur and a splash of tonic water garnished with a Riesling, jasmine, orange and smoked Scotch mist cloud. At the event, Fennelly wowed guests by making said cocktail in a dynamic display, which involved creating puffs of vibrating smoke to mimic fluffy white clouds.

The bar is also well stocked with Tanqueray No.Ten Gin, Johnnie Walker Gold Label and Bollinger. Tea and coffee are also served throughout the day should you prefer to keep your wits about you.

Looking ahead, Breitling’s race team pilot Nigel Lamb, will be next month’s guest of honour at an in-store event to mark the latest Breitling Professional watch series. From a brand that consistently steals the show at the exclusive Baselworld watch fair, expect to see plenty more soirées held here.  

Breitling, 130 New Bond Street

Trunk Call – The Berkeley’s New Complimentary Vintage Fashion Service

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This month at the Berkeley, Knightsbridge, suite guests can enjoy rooting through a one-of-a-kind fashion trunk exclusively curated by digital vintage fashion boutique Vestiaire Collective.

Room service is pretty much the same the world over, but have you ever rung down for a pair of vintage Christian Dior earrings with your Earl Grey? At the Berkeley however, one call to the concierge is all it takes and a fashion trunk will be delivered straight to your suite full of rare vintage accessories to try on and borrow free of charge.

Fanny Moizant, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective the luxury resale site that sells pre-loved pieces to new owners, is responsible for curating the trunk’s coveted contents. Its drawers contain some of the most sought-after accessories spanning from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. These include a Chanel silk satin evening bag from the early 1980’s, a pair of Christian Dior earrings from 1985 and a Hermes lizard skin bracelet from the early 1990’s. If I had to choose though, I would probably pick the Celine necklace from the latter part of the 1990’s or the beautiful Yves Saint Laurent scarf from the same era.  It’s a tough call. So how did Moizant make her edit?

“We wanted to offer a good mix of designers and products for guests to play with,” says Moizant who spends her time between London and her native Paris. “I looked at our vintage catalogue and picked pieces that we imagined guests would want access to whilst travelling. Every item is a statement piece that will help elevate any look.”

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Meanwhile, the stunning bespoke trunk is handcrafted in England by Norton MacCullough & Locke. There are eleven drawers of various sizes, an engraved mirror and a suede-lined tray on which the accessories of choice can be taken to the dressing table. Guests staying at the Berkeley’s new suites; the Chelsea, Berkeley and Terrace, can also purchase their picks upon check out. Alternatively, should they wish to explore Vestiaire Collective further, the digital boutique has an array of vintage pieces on offer to buy online from the comfort of their suite.

I’m curious to know though, in terms of buying vintage fashion, are there any particular pieces or decades I should be investing in now?

“The 1980’s and the 1990’s are having a strong moment right now due to the renewed popularity of looks on the international runways”, says Moizant. As for accessories she adds: “A classic watch such as a man’s Daytona Rolex or a mini Baignoire Cartier are a shrewd investment. The Cartier Love bracelet is another item that is also very popular at the moment. As for handbags, you can’t go wrong with a classic Hermes Kelly bag or a Chanel bag. Louis Vuitton luggage – a monogrammed Monceau or a Speedy Keepall – also have good longevity.”

 

Meanwhile, back at the Berkeley, where better to wear your pick from the vintage trunk than at its newly relaunched Blue Bar. Created by the late David Collins, this much-loved watering hole opened its doors again last month after a six-month restoration project undertaken by one of Collins’ former design protégés Robert Angell. As the lighting dims for evening cocktails flaunt that Saint Laurent chain strap bag – even if it’s yours just for one night!

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The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge

Vestiaire Collective vestiairecollective.com

Bond’s Best – Rimowa’s Bossa Nova Cabin Multiwheel suitcase

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In 1937, luxury German luggage brand Rimowa revolutionised the world of travel by developing the first ever lightweight metal suitcase using aircraft aluminium. Its distinctive grooved outer shell and cool colourways have been a hit with fashionable jetsetters ever since.

Last month saw the opening of the Cologne-based brand’s first London concept store on Bond Street. The new ONYX range launched here, as did the new ‘Electronic Tag’ system. The latter allows travellers to check-in from home using their smartphones.

Meanwhile, back at its German HQ, of the 200 processes involved in making a suitcase, most are carried out by hand. Such is the case with the new Cabin Multiwheel priced at £805. Made from jet green polycarbonate it weighs in at 10lbs and is seriously groovy.

Rimowa, 153a New Bond Street

Stop Tactics with Richard E. Grant


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Ph. Elodie Nizon / Foxall Studio

When it comes to stellar performances onscreen, the legendary British actor, author and director Richard E. Grant needs no introductions. Who can forget his leading roles in the cult classic Withnail and I, The Scarlett Pimpernel… or my own personal favourite – A Christmas Carol? And while this may come as a surprise to some, away from the cameras Richard has been quietly building his own perfume empire. His debut unisex scent  ‘Jack’ launched at Liberty in 2014. A year later came ‘Jack-Covent Garden’ – a heady mix of spicy top notes including lime, mandarin and marijuana – yes, you read that correctly!

Meanwhile, Richard’s third fragrance, ‘Jack-Piccadilly’69’ launches this September, paying homage to London at the end of the 60’s. Says Richard: “When I saw the musical ‘HAIR’, people in see- through clothing in Soho, and the pungent smell of patchouli oil from the hippies crowded around the Eros fountain, it inspired me to combine patchouli, petrol, bergamot and leather into a hypnotic sexy scent. It’s one which Liberty MD, Ed Burstell, described as ‘utterly addictive’.”

Richard’s interest for making exotic potions began as a child growing up in Swaziland. “When I was 12 years old, I had a huge crush on an American girl called Betsy Clapp. I could not afford to buy her scent for her birthday, so I attempted to make my own by boiling gardenia with rose petals in sugared jam jars and burying them in the garden, hoping for magical osmosis. Fast forward four and a half decades and a fellow houseguest in Mustique, Anya Hindmarch, saw me sniffing everything in sight and asked if I had ever thought of creating my own fragrance brand. With her contacts and encouragement, I went ahead and took the gamble.”

With its pillar-box red packaging and Union Jack drawstring interior bag, Richard has created (and self-financed) a quintessentially British brand. So how does the perfume business compare to acting?

“The best bit is mixing scent combinations in my head and then mixing perfume oils together until you finally arrive at that ‘Eureka’ moment when it is precisely what you imagined. It’s very solitary and instinctive, led entirely by your nose, even though testing out various combinations on your friends and strangers is very social. However, the final decision is yours and yours alone. Whereas with acting, you have to rely on other people, not all of whom always have the same agenda in mind!”

Back home in London, Richard also likes to sniff out the finest Italian cuisine, art and fashion in and around Bond Street. He shares some of his favourite addresses from his little black book below:

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Cecconi’s, 5A Burlington Gardens

No better place to retreat to after a visit to the Royal Academy around the corner. If I never ate any other cuisine till my dying breath, it would always be Italian. There is something inherently familial and un-poncified about it, which makes it so delicious. I had booked to have dinner with my long-time friend Steve Martin. I got there for 6pm, as Steve likes to eat early before it gets too crowded and noisy. He is punctiliously punctual, which is why by 6.30, I called him, assuming London traffic and/or jetlag had got the better of him.

‘Where are you?’

‘In Manhattan, are you here?’

‘No, I’m waiting at Cecconi’s in London, to have dinner with you’.

Long pause. Couple of expletives directed at his new iPhone for having put our date into the wrong month. The maître d’ was very understanding, refused to let me pay for my drink, crostini and olives. I have since returned many times with friends who have mastered their mobiles!

Richard James, 29 Savile Row

The moment I could afford to, back in the last century, I have bought jackets and suits from Richard James on Savile Row. The personal service, immaculate cut and ease with which you can shop, make for an irresistible combination. Without exception, his clothes have stood the test of time and I’m wearing jackets and coats I bought two decades ago, without being laughed off the pavement!

Pickett, 10-12 Burlington Gardens

Ever since my luggage got ‘lost’ at Heathrow some years ago, I have only ever travelled with a carry-on, saving time having to endlessly wait at luggage carousels. My wife and daughter violently disapprove of this policy. So Picketts is the one-stop shop for beautifully crafted bags and those Kilim slippers I’ve always fancied, but somehow never got round to buying. Maybe next time.

Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street

Because a man can dream can’t he? Not only can you get a close up gander at the great art, antiques and jewellery, but also you can fantasise about actually buying it, whilst being informed and guided by experts in their fields. The turnover means that there is always something new to see and discover, which for an inveterate collector, is a magnetic pull.

Roja Dove, 51 Burlington Arcade 

When I investigated starting up my own unisex perfume brand ‘Jack’, three years ago, Marigay McKee at Harrods, introduced me to Roja, who instantly appointed himself as my mentor and benign Svengali. His generosity in sharing his story about how he started out and putting me in touch with Catherine Mitchell at IFF, directly led to my fragrance becoming a reality. His dream to open his bespoke perfumery in the Burlington Arcade recently came true, and I applaud his great success and am forever indebted to him for making mine a reality too.

Colour Drenched – The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016 and David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-Life

 

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The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016

Some things are synonymous with the great British summer – Wimbledon… Glyndebourne… strawberries and cream… But the real cherry on the cake has to be The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Luckily, there is still plenty of time to catch the 248th edition of this celebrated showcase, which runs until the 21st of August.

Curated by British sculptor Richard Wilson, this year saw 12,000 entries whittled down to 1,240 works by a committee of Royal Academicians. No easy task but the fruits of their labour can be seen covering the walls of the Main Galleries in Burlington House. Wilson has also invited a diverse group of more than 20 international artistic duos to exhibit at this year’s event. For example, Jane & Louise Wilson have created a haunting photographic installation using a number of large-scale works from the artists’ seminal series ‘Chernobyl (2010-2012).

With the majority of pieces for sale, art buffs and novices alike are given a unique opportunity to purchase original artwork by high profile and up-and-coming artists. It’s always fun to take a punt on a newcomer and hope they will become the next big thing. For the first time in the show’s history, many of the print editions featured in the exhibit are also available to purchase online via the RA’s website.

My pulse usually starts to race even before I have had my ticket checked and this year’s courtyard masterpiece doesn’t disappoint. Architect and sculptor Ron Arad’s site-specific installation ‘Spyre’ is a 16-metre high corten steel oval cone, containing motors, cogs, and slew-rings. Each segment moves at different speeds, ensuring that the unpredictable acrobatic postures of the installation are never repeated. At the tip of ‘Spyre’ is an eye holding a camera, the footage from which is relayed to a screen on the gallery’s façade behind. Just make sure you are happy for the world to see your face beamed out live to all and sundry before you stand too close though.

There is another reason for making a beeline to The Royal Academy this month. Following his blockbuster exhibition of landscapes in 2012, David Hockney is back, this time with a brand new body of work; ’82 Portraits and 1 Still-Life’. Held in the RA’s Sackler Galleries and running July 2nd – October 2nd, the showcase reveals an intimate snapshot of the LA art world and the characters who have crossed Hockney’s path over the past two and a half years.

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Barry Humphries – photo by Richard Schmidt

Painted over a specific timeframe spanning three days, subjects include friends, family, acquaintances and staff. John Baldessari, Celia Birtwell, Dagny Corcoran, Larry Gagosian, Frank Gehry, Barry Humphries, David Juda and Jacob Rothschild are all captured on canvas, along with Hockney’s siblings, John and Margaret.

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Celia Birtwell – photo by Richard Schmidt

Interestingly, Hockney uses the same size canvas for each portrait (121.9 x 91.4cm) with each of the subjects seated in the same chair against a background of signature turquoise or cobalt blue. In addition to exploring Hockney’s own development working in the medium of acrylic, the portraits give a glimpse into the personality of each sitter. According to show organisers, Hockney set himself a considerable challenge to complete this large body of work. His deep interest in portraiture and its changing role in the history of art are clear to see as he challenges the viewer’s perception of the value of portraiture in the 21st Century.

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Rita Pynoos – photo by Richard Schmidt

As you stand before each piece, it’s easy to forget the changeable British weather outside. And even if the summer turns out to be yet another washout, Hockney’s vibrant slabs of colour – the cerise pink of Barry Humphries chinos or Rita Pynoos’ scarlet-coloured skirt – are guaranteed to brighten your mood.

The Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly. 

Diamond Geezer – The Q&A with Mappin & Webb’s Brian Duffy

 

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Mappin & Webb’s First Brand Ambassador, Gabriella Wilde

Brian Duffy, CEO of Arum Holdings, certainly has his work cut out for him. Arum Holdings is the company behind Mappin & Webb, Watches of Switzerland and the Goldsmiths jewellery chain. It is also the largest distributor in the world of luxury watch brands including Omega, Tag Heuer and Gucci and is the UK’s largest distributor for Rolex, Cartier and Breitling.

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As far as Mappin & Webb is concerned, this year marks the 241st anniversary of the British silversmith whose story began in 1775, when Jonathan Mappin opened a silver workshop in Sheffield. Mappin’s intention to create the most beautifully crafted silverware for British high society was quickly fulfilled. This bold first step would see the company expand internationally, receive Royal Warrants and commissions from monarchs around the world and become synonymous with excellence, craftsmanship and all things truly British.

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Today, the British jeweller has been scoring hits with elegant pieces of fine jewellery under the creative direction of Elizabeth Galton. And while Mappin & Webb’s Old Bond Street store continues to draw jewellery connoisseurs from across the globe, in recent weeks, the brand has unveiled its newly revamped Regent Street store with all the pomp and ceremony you would expect of this Royal favourite. In other news, this grande dame of the British jewellery scene has also appointed its first brand ambassador in the shape of British model-turned actress, Gabriella Wilde. And, as it celebrates over two centuries in business, we quiz Duffy on Mappin & Webb’s past, present and future in the Q&A below:

Bond Street News: Tell us about the Regent Street store changes? 

Brian Duffy: It looks like a new boutique but it is actually a renovation of a boutique where we have been for 10 years.  Mappin & Webb has been in Regent Street for over 100 years.  Regent Street is now finally realising its potential as a major retail destination. The Mappin & Webb flagship boutique at 132 Regent Street perfectly represents the feel and taste of our 241-year heritage and is a perfect match with the John Nash architecture.

BSN: How has the aesthetic of Mappin & Webb’s collections evolved under Elizabeth Galton’s creative direction?

BD: Elizabeth and her team take their inspiration from the wonderful Mappin & Webb archives. The archives are perfectly preserved and now digitally recorded. Elizabeth’s interpretation is thoughtful and sensitive.  Our collections today are consistent in both the aesthetic and quality and the Mappin & Webb handwriting is evident to the consumer.

BSN: Are there any specific areas within the brand offering currently undergoing a refresh in order to attract more fashion-led customers? 

BD: Overall, we have more than doubled our jewellery collections. We have expanded significantly our offer of bridal; introduced a gorgeous range of coloured gems – ‘The Carrington Collection’; and expanded our silver jewellery. We have also launched our watch collections for men and women with prices ranging from £800-£2,500.  This includes our ‘A Campaign collection’, based on the watch that Mappin & Webb supplied to troops in World War 1 and the Boer War.

BSN: How well is the bespoke side of the business doing?

BD: Bespoke is a major focus for our re-launch. We have introduced ‘Mappin & Webb by Appointment’ whereby the consumer can build their personal choice of engagement and eternity rings with a range of coloured gems or diamond – all designed in our London workshop.

BSN: How important is it to keep British silversmith traditions alive by producing the Mappin & Webb collections at home?

BD: It is important to keep crafts and skills in Britain. We have expanded our London workshop and we are also actively supporting the ‘QEST’ (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) Programme. ‘QEST’ was established to help support craftspeople of all ages and from all backgrounds, at a critical stage in their careers and thus sustain traditional British craftsmanship. Her Majesty The Queen became patron of ‘QEST’ this year.

BSN:  What is the secret to Mappin & Webb’s success and what does it hope to achieve in the years ahead?

BD: Ten generations have worked for Mappin & Webb so the secret is the people.  Mappin & Webb has great employees who are proud and loyal to the brand.  A good example is Victor Bailey who retired recently after 56 years.  He started as a teenager and eventually become our Royal Warrant holder for more than 40 years.

www.mappinandwebb.com