Farewell to Dover Street

Ever since its inception 12 years ago, Dover Street Market has been a mecca for an eclectic crowd of shoppers and fashion insiders. So last year, when news broke that this edgy multi-brand store owned by Comme des Garçons was to shut up shop on Dover Street and move into the old Burberry flagship on Haymarket next month, it put many a loyal follower in a spin.

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Home to a cool mix of international brands from Martin Margiela and Loewe to relative newcomers, Molly Goddard and Phoebe English, Dover Street Market, or DSM for short, has after all become synonymous with the street it sits on.  When the six-floor universe opened in September 2004, Dover Street was, for want of a better description, a retail backstreet, far from what it is now lined by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Acne and Wolf & Badger.

Comme founder Rei Kawakubo, the singular designer behind Comme des Garçons, has been instrumental in DSM’s success and its no-rule, beautiful sense of chaos. Her daring edit set the bar high in the competitive world of independent retail. At its launch over a decade ago, she said: “I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an on-going atmosphere of beautiful chaos; the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision”

In keeping with Kawakubo’s creative concept, design houses were given carte blanche to determine their own brand spaces within the store, whilst artists, film and theatre designers were also invited to put their stamp on existing spaces. A myriad of innovative designers and artists have passed through its doors; The Chapman Brothers, Ai Wei Wei, Marc Quinn, Tracey Emin (she launched her ’Serpentine’ fragrance here) to name but a few. Frieze London and the ICA gallery also staged pivotal shows here – often taking over every available inch of floor space.

Meanwhile, DSM recently expanded its jewellery section to include fine jewellery pieces from an array of new, independent jewellers, thus changing the way luxury jewellery is sold. And let’s not forget the incredible window displays. These range from Tim Walker’s toy soldier theme to Chanel’s set featuring cardboard cut outs of Karl Lagerfeld. Other personal favourites include Artek’s kooky taxidermy installation and the floral displays of Petersham Nurseries.

There are so many more memorable moments, for instance the time when Patti Smith and PJ Harvey played an intimate gig in the basement of the store to celebrate the launch of Ann Demeulemeester’s book. The Chanel invasion of Dover Street Market was another highlight, as was the store’s ten-year anniversary when brands created one-off pieces and a huge boarding took over the entire facade.

Personally, I’ll miss the Rose Bakery on the fourth floor with its views of a higgledy-piggledy central London skyline. Still, it’s not too far to stroll to its new home on Haymarket. And while it might be the end of an era for Mayfair, moving its stock of international clothing and accessories brands to Haymarket will no doubt do wonders for London’s less fashionable part of the West End.

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Bond’s Best

‘I Promise to Love You’ – 18ct Yellow Gold Ring by Tracey Emin for Stephen Webster

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Stephen Webster’s latest fine jewellery offering celebrates Tracey Emin’s signature neon works, as well as her intricate bird and animal sketches.

Titled ‘I Promise to Love You’, this unique Emin/Webster collaboration features a shimmering array of pendants and bracelets, ear cuffs, drop earrings and rings. Set in 18ct yellow gold, each unique piece bares heartfelt words including; ‘Love’, ‘More Passion’, ‘With You I Breathe’ and ‘I Promise To Love You’, all of which are scrawled in Emin’s distinctive handwriting.

Since love is definitely in the air this month, this coveted 18ct yellow gold ring (£500) says it all. It is available to purchase at Webster’s pop-up store on Albemarle Street until the end of March and then, from his new Mount Street salon.

Stephen Webster, 24 Albemarle Street

Shop Tactics with Carolina Bucci

It was the night of San Lorenzo and having witnessed the Perseid meteor shower in the inky skies above Florence, jeweller Carolina Bucci had a bright idea. She would take inspiration from nature’s annual light show for her latest collection and call it “Superstellar’.

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As part of her starry theme, the London-based jeweller with Italian roots, also looked to the 1960’s – to Jasper Johns’ flag paintings and the stencilled works of Mario Schifano. The resulting mix and match earrings come in various coloured pave finishes – with or without long shooting star earring backs. After all, no two stars are ever the same.

Founded in Florence by her great grandfather Ferdinando Bucci in 1885, the family-run jewellers has just celebrated its 130-year anniversary. Surrounded by jewellery and artisans from an early age, it came as no surprise when Carolina decided to continue the family line and pursue a career as a jeweller.

She studied fine arts and jewellery design in New York before returning to Florence to work alongside local goldsmiths. Her first collection, ‘Woven’, was created on a centuries-old Florentine textile loom. Carolina used it to weave gold and silk threads into bracelets and other signature pieces. She also applies the same methods and tools used by her great grandfather to combine the tradition of Florentine craftsmanship into one-of-a-kind designs.

Whether it’s taking tea at Sotheby’s café or admiring the work of celebrated artists and jewellers, Carolina likes nothing better than spending a day in and around Bond Street. She shares her favourite haunts below:

Hermès, 155 New Bond Street 

A brand to aspire to: traditional craftsmanship of the highest standard combining both heritage and innovation. I love its fun windows and displays. Here, craftsmanship is highly regarded and the quality of each hand-stitched leather article sings when you touch it. Exquisite silks are as precious as gold to me and Hermès continues to surprise with new designs and collections, which I find truly inspiring.

Harry Fane, 13 Duke Street, St James’s

A true treasure trove of jewellery awaits you at the top of a small staircase in St James’s. Harry Fane is a wonderful discovery. He is the UK representative of my all-time favourite jewellery designer, Fulco di Verdura. He was the cousin of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and got his break in jewellery when Cole Porter introduced him to Coco Chanel. The jeweller then went on to produce some of the most iconic and daring pieces of the 20th century. Whenever I am feeling uninspired I revisit his amazing designs to remember that anything is possible.

Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street

Sotheby’s is always in flux. One day it is hosting a contemporary art auction, the next old masters, then fine jewellery or sculpture. It provides the perfect 15-minute break between meetings and the building itself is rich with history and stories. Furthermore, it is also a great place to enjoy afternoon tea and watch the buyers and sellers coming and going.

Luxembourg & Dayan, 2 Savile Row

This is a small commercial gallery, which stages important historical shows in a tasteful and unpretentious way. It revitalises lost artists’ careers as well as putting an interesting slant on more established names. It is one of those galleries that avoids slavishly following fashion but at the same time manages to establish trends.

Chucs, 30B Dover Street

Chucs is one of my favourite places in Mayfair for an intimate dinner. It takes me straight to the heart of Italy with its simple, yet delicious, dishes. In my opinion it serves the best vitello tonnato in London. The interior design is wonderful. On a cold, wet winter’s night it can make you feel like it is July in Portofino and you are stepping out onto the deck of a glamorous friend’s yacht.

Manolo Blahnik’s New Mayfair Foothold

The last time legendary shoe designer Manolo Blahnik opened a store it was 1972 and fashion was embracing maxi dresses, knee socks and Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust alter ego in a big way. The Chelsea flagship still remains at 49-51 Old Church Street, but some 44 years later Blahnik has decided to open a second store – right in the heart of Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade.

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The new bijoux, double fronted space measures in at 1,000 sq ft and houses both men’s and women’s shoes, as well as the recently launched handbag collection. The interior is awash with delicate design touches. Here, shelves lined with soft grey-coloured pony skin are offset with candy-coloured ottomans and silk lamps. Blahnik’s love of the classical period can be seen in the Corinthian columns, which support walls throughout the space as well as the oversized mirrors. There is also a private room on the top floor where special orders for customised pieces are taken.

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At the opening bash earlier this month, guests including historian Mary Beard, model Yasmin Le Bon and fashion director Michael Roberts mingled with a chic, Manolo-touting fashion crowd. During the event, Vogue’s international editor Suzy Menkes staged an interview with the designer, who true to form, was dressed in a dapper lilac-coloured suit and natty bow tie.

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Burlington Arcade has been undergoing quite a revival lately, with brands such as Chanel and Frederic Malle all taking up residence. In total, the building houses around 40 boutiques and it is clear to see that Blahnik is delighted with his new home and neighbours. Built in the 19th Century by British architect Jamie Forbert, the arcade has always been one of his favourite London landmarks.

“I have adored the Burlington Arcade from my very first visit to London as a teenager,” he says. “It has that intimate feeling and one always feels welcome, especially when the Beadles greet you at the entrance. It is an elegant place with history and tradition and the shops that occupy it share the same qualities as I find essential in beautiful handmade products. Honestly, I could not think of a better place to be”, says the shoe maestro. And neither could we!