Shop Tactics with Kally Ellis

Ever wondered who provides the magnificent floral displays at any given fashion launch, red carpet event or room in a leading luxury hotel? Chances are it is  Kally Ellis, the owner of floristry business – McQueens.  Visitors to Claridge’s for instance, will know that McQueens has a boutique here. It opened at the end of 2011. As for the fashion pack, they, along with countless events managers, have Kally on speed dial.

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As one of Britain’s top florists, Kally set up ‘McQueens’ in 1991 with one aim in mind: “I wanted to sell simple, stylish flowers, beautifully presented, to the London market. And I knew people would love it.”

Kally drew on her business experience working in the marketing team of a large international French merchant bank. With a strong sense of colour and design, and a genuine passion for flowers, it has proved to be a winning combination, establishing McQueens as the premier name in the UK flower market – and beyond.

The florist is also a hit across the Pond where she creates the floral arrangements for all Vanity Fair events as well as the Post-Oscars party and The TriBeca Film Festival.

“It never fails to surprise me when I receive calls about our flowers from Hollywood or Japan,” says Kally. “It’s amazing to think that from a small shop in Clerkenwell we’ve built a reputation for quality and innovation that’s known the world over. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved.”

Unsurprisingly, Kally’s little black book is positively bursting with fashionable addresses, five of which she shares below:

Smythson, 40 New Bond Street

My life would be an utter mess without my Smythson diary. I like the week on one page (so you can see everything at a glance) with a blank page for notes opposite. It means that when I go to meetings I always have a notebook, plus they are the perfect size to pop in your handbag.  Smythson makes such brilliant gifts because you can personalise them too, which is a lovely touch and always makes them look so special.

Fenwick, 63 New Bond Street

I could not survive without Fenwick. Whenever I’m at Claridge’s it’s such a handy one-stop shop for all kinds of essentials. These include pashminas, perfumes, wonderful Clarins skincare products and those gorgeous Shiseido compacts, and tights of course! They always have the best selection of tights.

Mulberry, 50 New Bond Street

I adore Mulberry. It is British, beautifully designed and the products are so well made. . Like all fine leather products, they look better and better with age, and that’s always a test of true quality. We’ve worked on many Mulberry fashion shows and the team there is wonderful, they are creative thinkers with a fabulous eye for colour

Fera at Claridge’s, Brook Street

Simon Rogan has created a wonderful space at Fera and the food is just delicious. Each plate looks like a work of art but there’s always something there to surprise and beguile you. Getting restaurant spaces right is always tricky, but I love what they’ve done here. It feels elegant and sophisticated without being stiff and starchy and that’s a fine balance. We provided the central manzanita tree, which brings a wild, natural element to the room and serves as a reminder that the provenance of the food is equally as important as the taste.

La Petite Maison, 54 Brook’s Mews

This is one of my favourite restaurants in London. It is super-stylish and always has such a fabulous buzz about it. La Petite Maison is a lovely place for a lunch on a Saturday after a little shopping. I always think it feels a little tucked away, and I’d like to say it’s one of Mayfair’s best kept secrets but it’s always packed so that can’t be true! I especially love the way they dress each table with delicious ripe tomatoes and fresh lemons so you can create a little salad of your own. It’s the nearest place to the South of France that you’ll find in the capital.

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Magic and Sparkle

Chanel’s newly renovated watches and fine jewellery boutique is a triumph of shimmering architectural delights and exclusive pieces to set the heart a glow.

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I never knew that the late Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel was quite so superstitious or fascinated by symbolism, until that is, I visited the newly revamped watches and fine jewellery store at number 173 New Bond Street.

Celebrated New York architect Peter Marino, gives subtle nods to Mademoiselle Chanel’s sixth sense throughout the softly lit interior. Many of these meaningful details – as well as the tweed wallpaper and gold and bronze colour theme – are derived from both the townhouse on Faubourg Saint-Honoré and her apartment at 31, rue Cambon, where the fashion designer once lived.

Take the wheat sheaves for example, which sit beside the ground and first floor marble fireplaces. Gabrielle saw them as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune – as well as a reminder of her humble upbringing. Elsewhere, weighty crystal balls sit atop glass coffee tables, while ornamental frogs, supposedly a reference to love, health and money are dotted around shelves. There are also references to lions in many of the latest jewellery collections, indicative of the zodiac sign Leo, under which she was born.

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There is also a real sense of sophisticated homeliness about Marino’s new space, which provides the perfect backdrop to the current Chanel horological and fine jewellery collections including; Coco Crush, Sous le Signe du Lion and the new BOY.FRIEND watch. For me though, a real standout piece has to be the Comete star clasp-less necklace.

The new Chanel space has been expanded from the original single floor to three floors, spanning over 418 square metres. Marino chose to remove the existing second floor to enable the first floor to have a double height ceiling. Suspended high above, sit a pair of “Couronne” chandeliers made by one of Paris’ oldest workshops, Goossens.

Each room, boasts works of contemporary art commissioned for the house of Chanel, as well as interior design works and antiques which Marino has scoured the globe for. A series of 17th century Coromandel screens, which adorn the walls of the ground floor reflect Mademoiselle Chanel’s lifelong love of the Orient. Elsewhere there are more recent nods to the Far East in pieces such as a gold and black lacquered custom cabinet with floral and abstract patterns by interior designer, Alasdair Cooke.

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Meanwhile, snaking between the floors is a stairway with an impressive rock crystal and bronze balustrade also created by Goossens. Other highlights include a hand-painted coffee table in silver leaf finish signed by Max Kuehne and a pair of side tables by Laurence Montano in bronze and ebonized wood with mother-of-pearl inlay.

The Bond Street opening comes at a time when sales of watches and fine jewellery are being buoyed by a fast-growing international market. Chanel’s decision to dedicate a beautiful new space to its collections would no doubt, have been viewed as an auspicious move by its stargazing founder.

Bond’s Best

DKNY’s short cape with satin peak lapel

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A light dusting of high-octane glamour never goes amiss at this time of year, and with party season in full swing, DKNY has something rather special in store. This show-stopping short cape with satin peak lapels (£495) is crafted from wool twill and cuts a dash in black. Easy to slip on over a cocktail dress, it really is the perfect topper for this Christmas and beyond.

DKNY, 27 Old Bond Street

Bags of Style  – Jérôme Dreyfuss

“I design for women who lead a normal life – handbags which are as practical and useful as possible to them,” says French accessories designer Jérôme Dreyfuss at the opening of his new London store. Set in a former bank at the end of Bruton Street facing Berkeley Square, the gleaming, new flagship is the perfect showcase for his signature slouchy totes and shoulder bags cut from the softest leathers.

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The amiable designer with his mop of curly grey hair adds: “It is all about the lightness and the softness of the bags as well as the functional details.” These include built-in flashlights, which illuminate the inside of bags. He tells me that the inspiration for such practical touches stems from his female friends and his wife who just happens to be the fashion designer Isabel Marant. “In a way I’m lucky they all kept losing things – keys, lipstick, pens… as it made me provide an intelligent solution with my designs,” he muses.

And here’s another quirky fact. Each bag in this season’s collection has a male name intended to be their owners ‘indispensible’ life partner. There’s ‘Mario’ for example – a fringed suede shoulder bag – and ‘Albert’, another handy number cut from leopard print ponyskin. Both styles have my pulse racing.

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Dreyfuss also has stores in New York, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei, but London is his first European store to open outside of Paris and judging by his enthusiasm, he couldn’t be happier to be here.

“I love walking around the streets, looking at the architecture and seeing the stores which are so beautiful,” he says. “All the trends come from London – music, art, fashion… everything! I think all designers fantasise about opening a store in London, so being in Mayfair is a dream come true.”

Tonight the store is thronging with a stylish home crowd. Guests include; fashion illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve and Royal Ballet soloist, Eric Underwood. Elsewhere, I spy models Lilah Parsons and Doina Ciobanu along with stylist Kim Hersov and celebrity PR Salvo Nicosia.

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As for the store itself, while the structure of the former property has remained intact, the space has been reconfigured to reflect the modernist spirit of the ‘50s and ‘80s. There are high-rise vestibules, inspired by the work of Italian architect Carlo Scarpa, father of the Brutalism movement.

“I like simple materials such as wood and concrete but wanted to put a modern spin on them here,” says Dreyfuss who has a deep understanding of architectural details.“ It is really important that everyone feels at home when they come into my stores.”

So what does he like most about his new London space? “I really love the wood slatted window screens. When it is really sunny outside, the shadows from the trees in Berkeley square flicker around the store.” My eyes however, are fixed firmly on the contents of the shelves.