THE Q&A: Johnstons of Elgin’s Creative Director, Alan Scott

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As the nights draw in, the notion of curling up with a good book and the crackle of a log fire hold a certain allure. The Danes even have a name for this – ‘Hygge’. And while the term has become all too familiar in the mainstream, in fashion, there’s still something to be said for the feel of a luxurious knit. On that front, Scottish cashmere brand Johnstons of Elgin have this season all wrapped up.

Alan Scott, who took over the creative reins earlier this year, can be credited with putting a more fashion-forward spin on things. With an impressive design pedigree spanning 27 years, he successfully launched Donna Karan menswear in the early Nineties.  Other career highlights include consulting for Italy’s Loro Piana and for Barbour here at home.

Next year, the family-owned business celebrates it 220th anniversary so what better time to quiz Scott on what makes him tick and how he intends to drive this historic brand into the future.

BSN: Where does Johnstons of Elgin sit in the international luxury landscape?

A.S: Johnston of Elgin is an incredibly important player in the luxury market, currently producing private label collections for many British, Italian and Paris-based luxury brands. We are also keen to develop the Johnstons of Elgin own brand and keep our social responsibility in our manufacturing sites healthy. It is vital to keep British knitwear alive and on the map by having a broad business model.

BSN: Please describe the current A/W 2016 collection. 

A.S: The A/W 2016 collection takes inspiration from nature, landscapes and foliage and colour combinations that are very ‘Scottish’ in style. Figurative accents in jacquards are presented next to traditional tartans using colours such as fern, granite, Bordeaux and navy.

BSN: Are there any upcoming collaborations or exciting new projects that you can share with us?

A.S: We are looking at showcasing our interior collection in Liberty this Christmas and are currently working with Lock Hatters as well as many private label collaborations with designers and department stores that help to grow our brand awareness.

BSN: Where is home for you these days?

A.S: I live in Scotland, on the snow line up on Ben Aigen. My home is 500 metres above the River Spey with the most incredible view down the valley and is about 15 minutes from our Elgin mill.

BSN: You are also an accomplished artist. What do you paint? 

A.S: I have always drawn since I was a child and have used this gift throughout my fashion career. I still need to draw everything even today. It’s a great way to give original communication and illustrate ideas and concepts.  At home, I love to relax and paint in oil. My subjects are usually equine and my paintings are always hyper-realistic. I love to create paintings that make people look twice.

BSN: How will you steer the brand into the future? 

A.S: This is a very special opportunity for me to fuse all of my experience with this fantastic company. I intend to develop and drive new business and customers by moving the brand forward using our heritage and history to inspire new technology and innovation in all products within the collection.

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SHOP TACTICS WITH KELLY HOPPEN

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Johannesburg-born interior and product designer Kelly Hoppen’s ever-evolving design style is underpinned by a fusion of East meets West: clean lines, neutral tones and a rich mix of texture blended with her signature charm, warmth and opulence. Together with her instinctive eye and her ability to mix vibrant colour with striking, simple beauty – she has built a design empire, which now celebrates 40 years.  With her blonde corkscrew locks and sharp business acumen, Kelly has also appeared on our TV screens, as a dragon on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

Kelly’s career began when, aged 16, she was commissioned to design the kitchen of a family friend. She has since earned a huge international following, a second-to-none clientele and numerous awards. She has put her stamp on the homes, tower blocks, yachts and jets of private clients as well as hotels, restaurants and commercial spaces all over the world. In 2009, she was made a MBE for her services to interior design.

Last month, saw the launch of Kelly’s latest interiors book – House of Hoppen – which takes a look back over her stellar career and her favourite projects, including previously unseen images of her most recent work as well as her own homes – past and present.

At home in London, Kelly’s penchant for cashmere and designer jewellery brings her to Bond Street and its environs in search of unique pieces.  Her little black book is bursting with glamorous haunts, five of which she reveals here:


Cartier, 175-177 New Bond Street

I have been going to Cartier for as long as I can remember. It is an institution – a huge part of Bond Street’s history. I have such wonderful memories of lunches and dinners there and of course its fabulous selection of unique jewels!

Ralph Lauren, 1 New Bond Street

I simply adore the Ralph Lauren store – it is so incredibly beautiful, almost like walking into a different world. I have been visiting this store for years and have never walked out empty handed! I am especially crazy about the cashmere.

The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street

What a stunning piece of history right there! The Royal Arcade has all sorts of hidden treasures however I specifically want to point out the extremely brilliant secondhand vintage watch shop, which is where I go for all my mends.

Stephen Webster, 130 Mount Street

Stephen’s atelier space in Mount Street is so chic. It is filled with amazing pieces of jewellery as well as art. You don’t just go there to buy – it is a whole experience within itself.

Gucci, 34 Old Bond Street

How could you talk about the Bond Street area and not mention Gucci? I can’t get enough of it! I don’t even want to admit to the amount of shoes I have bought from this store. Its footwear collection is outstanding.

Amanda Wakeley, 18 Albemarle Street

Such a beautiful space. I always adore going in and seeing Amanda for a chat and a catch up. I always make sure to pop in whenever I am in the area. And of course, I like to check out all the new pieces she has in store, which might look perfect hanging in my wardrobe!

Under the Apple Tree… Sir Jony Ive and Marc Newson Design Claridge’s Festive Showstopper

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Nothing heralds the start of the festive season quite like a twinkling Christmas tree. Luckily, London has plenty of fine examples to admire, from Trafalgar Square’s towering Norwegian spruce to more artful creations, which crop up in the halls of many a boutique hotel. But as far as ingenuity goes, all eyes are on Claridge’s.

For the past seven years, the luxury hotel has enlisted a distinguished guest to create a showstopper tree for its art-deco lobby. This year’s masterpiece is the work of two heavyweights from the world of industrial and product design – Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Sir Jony Ive and his peer and colleague, Marc Newson.

London-based Ive is best known as the designer of the iMac, PowerBook, MacBook, iPod, iPhone, iPad and AppleWatch. Australian-born Newson, who resides in London, has been described as one of the most influential designers of his generation.  As Apple’s designer for special products, Newson has already worked closely with Ive on the AppleWatch and other projects. His work can be seen across a wide range of disciplines from furniture to private and commercial aircraft and bespoke sculptural pieces for clients across the globe.

Their tree design, which remains a tight-lipped secret until the official launch later this month, is the latest in a line of memorable installations, which began with John Galliano for Dior’s ethereal ‘under the sea’ creation in 2009. Since then, we have been treated to Alber Elbaz for Lanvin’s rendition in 2011, featuring a tableau of caricatures portraying the Lanvin family around the tree at home. Dolce & Gabbana put a unique Sicilian twist on things in 2013 and 2014, and last year, Christopher Bailey’s interpretation for Burberry featured a cascade of 100 silver and gold metallic umbrellas (frontispiece).

Paul Jackson, Claridge’s General Manager says: “Christmas has always been a truly special time of year at Claridge’s and we are delighted to welcome our friends Jony and Marc to spread their legendary creative magic this year. We truly believe their innovative spirit and ground-breaking approach will make this year’s annual tradition one to remember for our guests.”

All will be revealed on Friday November 18th in Claridge’s lobby. Prepare to be wowed!

Claridge’s, Brook Street 

 

Bond’s Best – Aquazzura’s Velvet Fauna Booties

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From sumptuous jewel tones to rich shades of berry and chocolate, fashion is awash with velvet this season. Such is the case with Aquazzura’s plush ruby red booties (£930), decorated with a glittering array of insect motifs and crafted in Florence.

Edgardo Osorio is the creative whizz behind Aquazzura’s latest collection. The Columbian-born designer boasts an impressive CV having previously designed footwear lines for Salvatore Ferragamo, and Roberto Cavalli.

With the party season just around the corner, you’ll be the belle of the ugly bug ball in this pair of opulent beauties.

Aquazzura, 38 Albemarle Street