The idea for Mr.Hare, the men’s footwear brand designed by the dapper Marc Hare, was hatched at a roadside tapas bar in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2008. The story goes that Hare was so taken by the woven leather shoes of an old gentleman sitting next to him, that he decided to recreate them despite having no formal training in shoe design.
The gamble paid off and today, Hare boasts two flagships – one on Stafford Street, Mayfair, the other on Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill. While London provides the lion’s share of inspiration, this season’s collection, which includes the classic Derby as well as woven slip-on sneakers, is currently handmade in Empoli, Southern Italy. As with all his designs, there’s a strong ethos behind them – mainly that they should be donned for nights out dancing, or lazy days with great food and good company.
Hare’s lifelong dream is to live in a beach house somewhere hot so that he can surf the days away before he gets too old. In the meantime, he’s happy to stay home and indulge in a spot of camping, shopping for bespoke suits and a good Martini. Oh, and more dancing. Working as he does right next to Bond Street, he explains his fondness for the following hotspots:
Hendrix on Brook Street
My favourite thing about Mayfair isn’t a shop or gallery or restaurant, it is the fact that 23 Brook Street is the only place Jimi Hendrix ever called home. There is the blue plaque to prove it. No 25, right next store, is where Handel lived back in the 1700s. Did you know that the first ever musical recording to be broadcast via radio on Christmas Eve 1906 was Handel’s Largo, effectively making this 10-metre stretch of Mayfair pavement the most Rock n Roll corner in the world.
Dukes, 35 Saint James’s Place
I know it’s one of the most famous drinking holes in Mayfair but the Martinis are just soooo good! I don’t even like vodka or gin, which just goes to show just how good they are. I am famously a rum man to my bones, but for some reason I have no problem drinking about half a pint of neat vodka out of a classic Martini glass if only to witness the theatrical lemon twist performed by the bartender. How James Bond author Ian Fleming ever got anything done here, I will never know!
Royal Arcade, Old Bond Street
Speaking of rum, Charbonnel et Walker in the Royal Arcade, famous for their Marc de Champagne Truffles, which incidentally is also my rap name, make a rather delicious Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum Truffle. At the other end of the Arcade is the William Weston print gallery. Not only is it a purveyor of print works from some of the 20th Century’s finest painters; Chagall, Picasso and Degas, but it also always has a small selection of perfectly priced antique bits and bobs in the window for that special last minute gift.
The Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly
Having one of the world’s greatest art institutions right on your doorstep is something one should never take for granted. From the mega blockbusters like Rubens, Hockney and Van Gogh, to the eclectic Summer Exhibition, there have also been consistently interesting Burlington Gardens exhibitions of late. These include Allen Jones and Richard Rogers. The RA is in my opinion the real beating heart of Mayfair and the thing that makes me love the area so much.
Cafe Murano, 33 Saint James’s Street
I travel to Italy a lot, so the spirit of Italian cooking is in me. Angela Hartnett’s lovely Italian restaurant on St James is about as close as it gets to being back in Tuscany after a hard day being a shoemaker. It boasts classic North Italian dishes, massive leather banquets and even a Ribolla on the wine list. Maybe it’s because the first time I ate there was in winter and I had Osso Buca. Or maybe it’s because the very tasteful classy interior is also worth noting. Anyway, there is something about this relative newcomer to the area that makes me feel like it could be a favourite for quite some time.