Shop Tactics with Kate Racovolis

As editor of The Mayfair Magazine at Runwild Media Group, Kate Racovolis works closely with local businesses, brands and residents, to create a truly unique magazine, for those who live, work and visit the area.

REW_0547_v2 Image © Ruth Ward

Having received her training from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, this intrepid reporter-turned-editor has written extensively about luxury, with a strong focus on local reportage in unique production areas all over the world.

At the helm of The Mayfair Magazine, Kate launched the first edition in Mandarin earlier this year to tie in with the Chinese New Year. She also edits the Arabic edition of the publication and hosts the annual Mayfair Awards. This event celebrates the very best that the area has to offer, and champions the brands and individuals that make this part of town so unique.

Kate’s very own Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment tends to occur when browsing the jeweller’s windows on Bond Street. While more often than not, the inspiration behind an eye-catching front cover springs from Mayfair’s many boutiques and art galleries. She shares her favourites here:

The Jewellers of Old Bond Street 

No shopping experience is quite as dazzling as walking down Old Bond Street, past all the historic and contemporary jewellery brands. Perusing these shops – and their sparkling windows – is like my own Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment and never fails to impress me. This part of Bond Street is a concentration of beautiful objects and I always think of how many pieces here will be purchased to mark milestones and special occasions; engagement rings purchased as declarations of love, watches and jewellery destined to become family heirlooms… I love that the experience of visiting Old Bond Street becomes a memory in itself – just as timeless as the jewellery and watches in each store.

Halcyon Gallery, 144-146 New Bond Street

I draw much of my inspiration for the stories inside The Mayfair Magazine simply from walking around the streets of the area -making observations and talking to people. One Saturday, I was walking down Bond Street when a print caught my eye in the Halcyon Gallery’s window. It was a 1975 portrait of Paloma Picasso by Andy Warhol. We were planning an edition of the magazine dedicated to art and design, and the moment I saw this image I knew we had to have it on our cover. For me, shopping on Bond Street also means searching for inspiration and magazine covers too.

The Royal Arcade

Alongside some of the most famous global luxury brands on Bond Street, is the quaint, but elegant, Royal Arcade, housing some beautiful artisan shops. I love finding a contrast between brands that can only be found in Mayfair and those that have a presence all over the world. Ormonde Jayne has been in the Arcade for 15 years and her fragrances are sophisticated and chic – much like its founder the ever-stylish Linda Pilkington. Exceptional spectacles are made by E.B. Meyrowitz and I can never pass by Charbonnel et Walker without picking up some salted caramel chocolates.

Brown Hart Gardens

I love many of Mayfair’s public spaces, including the Mount Street Gardens, Grosvenor Square and Berkeley Square, but nothing is quite as enjoyable as spending time in Brown Hart Gardens, overlooked by the formidable Antony Gormley sculpture at The Beaumont Hotel. Grosvenor has done a tremendous job of rejuvenating what was a previously unused space, and turning it into a place enjoyed by all.

Hermès, 155 New Bond Street 

My first square silk scarf from Hermès, came from its New Bond Street store and while it has been closed for refurbishment for much of this year, when it reopened, it certainly was worth the wait. Housing all of its beautifully crafted interiors, ready-to-wear, fragrance and jewellery collections, Hermès continues to set the bar high for what an ultimate luxury goods emporium should be. When I purchased my scarf, I’ll never forget the way the staff would carefully unfold and then lift each one into the air, almost above their heads, so that the scarf would gently float onto the counter. What could be more elegant than the quiet sound of silk unfolding? It’s a shopping experience quite unlike any other.

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The Q&A: Laurent Feniou, Managing Director Cartier UK

Watches and jewellery are always at the heart of Cartier, but this year might best be described as the year of the diamond for the celebrated French jeweller

This can be seen in a series of launches and a new exhibition, ‘Le Diamant’, which opens at Phillips, Berkeley Square – November 25-26th. This exclusive by-appointment-only event will house the largest selection of Cartier diamonds ever to be shown in the UK.

36819Inside the Rue de la Paix Cartier boutique, the Swedish actress Anita Ekberg falls for a cascade of diamonds, 1956 © Rue des Archives

Phillips’ contemporary Mayfair HQ provides the perfect backdrop to this extensive collection of current and rare jewellery designs. These include an Art Deco inspired ‘Oriental’ tiara from the Tradition Collection, which dates back to 1911 and holds a total of 1,218 diamonds. Ornate pieces like these are a reminder of Cartier’s glamorous past and its glittering Hollywood heyday. The showcase also marks the launch of the new ‘Galanterie de Cartier’ collection, which fuses diamonds and onyx in modern settings. All pieces, vintage and new, are available to buy over the two days.

_Galanterie-de-Cartier-collection-1Galanterie de Cartier Ring – white gold & diamonds – £POA

According to Cartier UK’s Laurent Feniou, the brand is keen to embrace modernity and showcase continuous innovation and attention to detail. Here, the former investment banker sheds light on Cartier’s unrivalled craftsmanship and its plans to refurbish major stores in London and across the globe.

Mr-Laurent-Feniou-2_BWMister Laurent Feniou, Cartier UK Managing Director

Prior to Cartier you held the post of managing director at Rothschild Bank. Are there any similarities between the worlds of finance and fine jewellery, which have surprised you?

 As a banker my focus was on creating value for the customer and driving my team towards this goal. Making the transition into the luxury industry I find many similarities. The focus is always on the client and how to achieve long-term client satisfaction and loyalty. Quality, creativity and service are key in order to differentiate oneself.

This month, Le Diamant opens at Phillips. Are the lines between art and fine jewellery becoming increasingly blurred? 

Cartier has always been enveloped into art, be it through jewellery, watches, objects, digital innovation and more. In 1984, Cartier set up The Fondation Cartier, which expresses Cartier’s commitment to the arts as a corporate patron.  Cartier is a pioneer in the field. It invests greatly in promoting the arts of the time. This commitment to art echoes the reasoning behind the exhibition being hosted within Phillips.

At Cartier today, at least ten years’ experience is required to be able to work on unique pieces, which demand sound mastery of techniques. There are workshops reserved for solitaires, high jewellery, fine jewellery and much more. The art of jewellery requires patience and dexterity. At Cartier, the excellence of the final product is answered by the perfection of craftsmanship sustained by the exacting standards of the eye and hand, which I believe in itself is art.

How would you define Cartier’s relationship with London and in particular, Bond Street?

Cartier has been present on Bond Street for over a hundred years. In 1902, Pierre Cartier, founder Alfred’s second son, opened a store at No.4 New Burlington Street. Another store followed in 1909 at 175-176 New Bond Street. This has remained the UK flagship store ever since, alongside new openings in Old Bond Street, Sloane Street, Harrods and Selfridges. The Cartier boutique on New Bond Street hosts an exceptional range of high jewellery, timepieces and tradition pieces. The Tradition pieces are very special – these are vintage Cartier pieces from 1800 – 1960.  Only 12 boutiques around the world have the privilege to host these pieces and New Bond Street is one of them.

With regard to updating our stores, as Cartier New Bond Street is its UK flagship, this will be a really exciting transformation. Within this development there will be the ‘Watch Shop’ and the ‘Archive’ section, which will be up and running next year.

Are you seeing any new trends in the preferred style, or cut, or colour in diamonds, or shapes/designs in jewellery for 2016?

At Cartier our aim is to magnify the beauty of diamonds through the creativity of our designs as demonstrated in the new ‘Galanterie de Cartier’ collection. It is creative and very sophisticated with its black and white pattern – a characteristic that is also shared in the black and white trinity diamond pavé offer.

Light Fantastic – Christopher Bailey Designs Claridge’s Christmas Tree

For the past six years, Claridge’s has invited fashion’s leading lights to reinterpret its tree in their own distinctive style. This time, it is the turn of Burberry’s Christopher Bailey to put his unique spin on spruce

Claridge's-Tree-sketch-2015

In previous years there have been show-stopping creations from Dolce & Gabbana and Alber Elbaz, but this is the first time a British fashion house has held the honour of turning a humble tree into a work of art. All will be revealed at the official unveiling on November 16th.

Thomas Kochs, Claridge’s General Manager, says: “We are particularly proud to be flying the British flag this year with London being at the heart of both Claridge’s and Burberry, and it is this shared sense of heritage and the key part we both play in London life that makes Christopher’s collaboration with us so special.”

For his part in this year’s festive decorations, Bailey explores the relationship between light and dark reflecting around Claridge’s famous Art Deco lobby. Drawing inspiration from Burberry’s longstanding heritage of providing protection against the unpredictable British climate, Bailey’s tree design comprises more than 100 umbrellas, each finished in gold and silver metallic fabric. The lights around the tree are also designed to pick up movement as guests walk by – sending thousands of twinkling lights into life.

“Christmas is one of my favourite times of year so I was delighted to be asked to design the Claridge’s Christmas tree – the iconic hotel celebrating a joyful time,” says Bailey. “We wanted the tree to reflect the playfulness of the season with a little bit of the English weather thrown in.”

Burberry-Trench-Claridge's

Claridge’s partnership with Burberry goes back several years. The hotel suites famously offer guests trench coats to wear on jaunts around town. But there’s another treat in store this year. Burberry-clad bellboys will be on hand to help guests with their Christmas wish lists. A magical tree designed by Christopher Bailey will certainly be topping mine.

Bond’s Best

‘Strap You’ by Fendi

FENDI-STRAP-YOU_Special-Still-Life-shot

The fad for customisation shows no signs of abating. So, instead of changing your bag to suit your outfit, why not take a lead from Fendi and simply swap the strap? Its new ‘Strap You’ collection of interchangeable shoulder straps is designed to put the fun back into accessorising.

Take your pick from nine designs including classic leather (£320), exotic python, multi-coloured studs (£750) and embroidered versions. Each can be worn on bags in the current Fendi collection, or on any other brand you choose for that matter. There’s even the option to personalise things further by adding the holder’s initials.

Fendi, 141 New Bond Street