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.

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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

 

 

Bond’s Best

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Agent Provocateur’s Lexxi Swimsuit

With the crossover between ready-to-wear and swim collections becoming less defined there are some designers making an even bigger splash this season. As is the case with this red-hot statement piece, by British lingerie brand Agent Provocateur.

Earlier this year, Fabrizio Malverdi former managing director of Dior Homme and president and CEO of Givenchy, promised to bring his creativity and a clear vision to his new role as CEO for the lingerie and swimwear specialist. So far so good.

Meanwhile, the asymmetric bandage-style Lexxi, (£195), has been revamped for the new season in bold neon coral. The strategically placed swim fabric wraps diagonally around the body, tracing sensuous outlines against the skin. Other features include a daring cut out across the bandeau décolletage and a single shoulder strap. All you need to do is add shades and smoulder by the pool.

Agent Provocateur, 1-3 Grosvenor Street, London