Karl Lagerfeld’s Topsy-Turvy Tree For Claridge’s



It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the heart of the capital, now that Claridge’s has revealed its highly anticipated designer tree. This year, it has been given a quirky twist by fashion maestro, Karl Lagerfeld. Who better than the creative director of the Chanel and Fendi fashion houses, to add a touch of monochrome magic and luxe sparkle. You only have to look at the current Chanel collection for dazzling fabrics and one of the party season’s most coveted items, Chanel’s knee-high glitter boots.

This is the eighth year that Claridge’s has invited an iconic name from the world of design to create a unique installation in their own distinctive style. Previous guest designers have included Alber Elbaz, Dolce & Gabbana, Apple CEO Jony Ive and the industrial designer, Marc Newson.


For his design, German-born Lagerfeld has turned the notion of a freestanding tree on its head – quite literally – by hanging it upside down and high above the Claridge’s’ Art Deco staircase. And in case you were wondering, the tradition of hanging a tree from a ceiling by its base has its roots in antiquity.  As legend has it, the English monk Saint Boniface who went to Germany in the 7th Century to preach the gospel, first discovered this practice there. It is said that Boniface used the triangular shape of the Fir tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and by the 12th Century the fad for inverting trees had spread to Central and Eastern Europe as a symbol of Christianity.

Meanwhile, back in 21st Century Mayfair, Karl Lagerfeld’s magnificent spruce measures 16.ft tall and is festooned with metallic-coloured foil streamers and snowflake decorations. At its top, or should that be trunk, sits a large silver star, while at its foot lies a circular shearling rug. “Christmas trees are the strongest ‘souvenir’ of my happy childhood,” says the designer of his latest creation.



Elsewhere at Claridge’s, for the first time in its 151-year-old history, the celebrated hotel has created a series of Claridge’s Christmas hampers, packed with the same gastronomic treats that visitors can enjoy in its Foyer, Reading Room and Fumoir bar. Three sizes of lidded willow baskets are available to purchase: the Davies Hamper (£295) containing aged Negroni and a signature Christmas pudding amongst other goodies. Then there is The Brook Hamper (£495), which includes a bottle of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvee Brut and Pierre Marcolini Caramel & Praline Chocolate Squares. And finally, The Mayfair hamper, the largest of the three, which includes a Dundee Cake and a copy of the recently launched Claridge’s Cookbook. The latter features the Lobster Wellington, which was created for 2016’s Christmas tree launch party. Or if you prefer, skip straight to the cocktail section. Happy Christmas!


Samuel Bail and Abel Samet are the creative duo behind London-based leather goods label, Troubadour. They first met whilst working at Mayfair financial advisory firm, Lazard, where, after lamenting about the lack of durable business bags, they decided to embark on a journey to create their own. Today, to the delight of globetrotters everywhere, their exquisite handcrafted designs are sold around the world. And for those shopping on Bond Street, a selection of pieces can also be found at Thom Sweeney on Bruton Place.

Vegetable-tanned leather, derived from the finest tanneries in the Italian region of Tuscany, underpins each unique piece. As Abel notes: “This tanning method is an all-natural process that creates exceptional leather, so that our products wear beautifully, last for years, and actually look better with age. We work with highly skilled artisans, whose leather-working techniques have been around for generations and therefore stand the test of time.” Samuel is also quick to note a blend of old-meets-new. “By combining these techniques with many modern innovations, each piece is more functional and technical than the bags our grandfathers once carried,” he adds.

Meanwhile, several of Troubadour’s existing products have proven to be much more popular with women than initially expected. This pleasant surprise inspired Samuel and Abel to develop a line of women’s bags, which will launch this summer.

Work aside, this sporty pair are gluttons for long distance races – running, swimming and cycling – and have both completed Ironman triathlons. Samuel, who just happens to be a former professional Canadian cyclist, also swam the English Channel last year. Here, they take a breather and share some of their favourite Mayfair addresses:

Raw Press at Wolf & Badger, 32 Dover Street

This is the place for mouth watering and healthy breakfast bowls. Make them yourself with soaked oats, coconut yoghurt, fresh berries, quinoa cereal and lots of toppings. The coffee is great as well. We suggest adding some coconut yoghurt and almond butter on top.

Brown’s Hotel, 33 Albemarle Street

Brown’s is ideal for a morning meeting. We especially like the comfortable chairs and its relaxed, quiet setting. The tea is always good and is served beautifully.

Rapha, 85 Brewer Street

We have a very active team and enjoy a morning ride around Richmond Park and a weekend ride into Kent. Rapha, though not in Mayfair, is where we pick up most of our cycling kit. The clothing is thoughtfully designed, comfortable, wears well and looks good.

28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen, Maddox Street

Many of the early Troubadour discussions were held over dinners here. It provides consistently great food and great wine in a casual setting.

Thom Sweeney, 33a Bruton Place

This is one of our favourite tailors in London. It boasts a great team and a super strong ready-to-wear collection, featuring everything from suits and sweaters, to ties and a selection of our latest Troubadour bags.


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


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 


Trunk Call – The Berkeley’s New Complimentary Vintage Fashion Service


This month at the Berkeley, Knightsbridge, suite guests can enjoy rooting through a one-of-a-kind fashion trunk exclusively curated by digital vintage fashion boutique Vestiaire Collective.

Room service is pretty much the same the world over, but have you ever rung down for a pair of vintage Christian Dior earrings with your Earl Grey? At the Berkeley however, one call to the concierge is all it takes and a fashion trunk will be delivered straight to your suite full of rare vintage accessories to try on and borrow free of charge.

Fanny Moizant, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective the luxury resale site that sells pre-loved pieces to new owners, is responsible for curating the trunk’s coveted contents. Its drawers contain some of the most sought-after accessories spanning from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. These include a Chanel silk satin evening bag from the early 1980’s, a pair of Christian Dior earrings from 1985 and a Hermes lizard skin bracelet from the early 1990’s. If I had to choose though, I would probably pick the Celine necklace from the latter part of the 1990’s or the beautiful Yves Saint Laurent scarf from the same era.  It’s a tough call. So how did Moizant make her edit?

“We wanted to offer a good mix of designers and products for guests to play with,” says Moizant who spends her time between London and her native Paris. “I looked at our vintage catalogue and picked pieces that we imagined guests would want access to whilst travelling. Every item is a statement piece that will help elevate any look.”


Meanwhile, the stunning bespoke trunk is handcrafted in England by Norton MacCullough & Locke. There are eleven drawers of various sizes, an engraved mirror and a suede-lined tray on which the accessories of choice can be taken to the dressing table. Guests staying at the Berkeley’s new suites; the Chelsea, Berkeley and Terrace, can also purchase their picks upon check out. Alternatively, should they wish to explore Vestiaire Collective further, the digital boutique has an array of vintage pieces on offer to buy online from the comfort of their suite.

I’m curious to know though, in terms of buying vintage fashion, are there any particular pieces or decades I should be investing in now?

“The 1980’s and the 1990’s are having a strong moment right now due to the renewed popularity of looks on the international runways”, says Moizant. As for accessories she adds: “A classic watch such as a man’s Daytona Rolex or a mini Baignoire Cartier are a shrewd investment. The Cartier Love bracelet is another item that is also very popular at the moment. As for handbags, you can’t go wrong with a classic Hermes Kelly bag or a Chanel bag. Louis Vuitton luggage – a monogrammed Monceau or a Speedy Keepall – also have good longevity.”


Meanwhile, back at the Berkeley, where better to wear your pick from the vintage trunk than at its newly relaunched Blue Bar. Created by the late David Collins, this much-loved watering hole opened its doors again last month after a six-month restoration project undertaken by one of Collins’ former design protégés Robert Angell. As the lighting dims for evening cocktails flaunt that Saint Laurent chain strap bag – even if it’s yours just for one night!


The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge

Vestiaire Collective vestiairecollective.com

City of Art – Brown’s London Art Weekend, July 1st-3rd 2016

For the third year running, Brown’s Hotel has organised yet another truly exceptional weekend of art events in Mayfair and St. James’s’.

BLAW Launch_Dan Weill Photography-1

With just days to go until Brown’s London Art Weekend (BLAW) commences, curators are sprucing up their gallery spaces, and, in the case of those leading guided art tours, brushing up on their facts and digging out their finest walking shoes.

Over 60 galleries and auction houses, including Bonhams, Messum’s and the John Martin Gallery are taking part in the 2016 edition of BLAW, which offers free talks, walks, and exhibitions for all to enjoy. Aimed not just at collectors, but also at anybody with an interest in art, the event encourages visitors to explore the area and meet the specialists who work here. For 150 years Mayfair’s galleries and auction houses have welcomed the world’s greatest art collectors to this area steeped in art history. And thanks to BLAW, this tradition continues to flourish.

The weekend’s art programme begins on Friday 1st July with an after hours ‘Gallery Hop’, where visitors are invited to a number of exclusive Mayfair gallery previews. If that sounds like it might be thirsty work, La Perla’s stylish soiree in Burlington Arcade will be serving cocktails from 8-10pm.

Throughout the weekend there will be a number of the already established and respected Brown’s Art Tours taking place. Once again, former fashion designer turned sculptress Nicole Farhi will be setting-off from Brown’s Hotel to lead a themed walk around her favourite Mayfair galleries. Designer Sir Paul Smith, portrait photographer Gemma Levine and curator Kate Goodwin will also be doubling as local art guides.

There are over 100 independent art galleries in the area immediately surrounding Brown’s Hotel. As well as being frequented by artists, dealers, gallery owners, collectors and enthusiasts, the luxury hotel is also home to a huge array of artworks including photographs by Terence Donovan in the Donovan Bar, Bridget Riley’s in the suites, Tracey Emin’s in the dining room at HIX, and many more desirable pieces dotted across the walls.

A VIP programme is also running during BLAW, though be sure to RSVP. For example, Bellini’s and Bloody Mary’s will be served in the Collector’s Lounge, located in the Niagara Room at Brown’s between 11am and 1pm on Saturday 2 July. Art law specialists from Boodle Hatfield will also be on hand to answer any investment-related questions.

Of the numerous talks, of which there are too many to mention here, ‘Shakespeare Revisited’ by contemporary portrait painter Ralph Heimans (the only artist chosen to paint HM The Queen in her Diamond Jubilee year) will no doubt delight the discerning BLAW crowd. Running on July 1st at maze in Grosvenor Square, the 3pm discussion will focus on Heiman’s latest portrait exhibition of contemporary authors for the Random House Shakespeare 400 book series.

Further information on ticket bookings and a full programme of VIP events can be found here: www.brownslondonartweekend.com

Top Spin – Rooftop Hula-Hooping classes at The Berkeley

Tricycles, skipping ropes, and now hula-hoops. Once again the fitness industry is looking to the children’s playroom for new ways to get us adults in shape.

For a masterclass in the art of hula-hooping, head to the rooftop spa at London’s Berkeley Hotel. That is where you’ll find leading hula-hoop instructor Anna Byrne and founder of the HulaFit technique, running weekly 60-minute masterclasses from now until October 28th.


According to the HulaFit website, hula-hooping can burn up to 600 calories an hour and sculpt the waist. Your muscles should retain early hoop-spinning memories – so one should get into the groove fairly quickly – just like riding a bike. Speaking of great swing, who can forget Grace Jones effortlessly spinning a hoop while singing ‘Slave To The Rhythm,’ at the Queen’s Jubilee concert in 2012?

Back at the Berkeley’s rooftop spa with its panoramic views of Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, guests and non-guests can experience a wide variety of hooping styles aimed at toning muscles and teaching new tricks. These start with the basic ‘Waist Hooping’, progressing to ‘Turning & Pirouettes’, ‘The Limbo’, ‘The Vortex’, ‘Body Wraps’ and finally, the ‘Booty Bump’. ‘Hoopers’ can also enjoy a relaxing post-hooping dip and a well-deserved poolside lunch. What’s more, you get to take your hula-hoop home with you.


Need further encouragement? Next season’s ready-to-wear collections draw attention back to the waist after this summer’s more relaxed ‘70’s silhouette. Accentuated, nipped in, wasp-like, cinched… there’s only so much a big bold belt can do. So, let the spinning commence!


The Q&A: Olga Polizzi

Olga Polizzi is the eldest daughter of the late Lord Forte, arguably the world’s best-known hotelier. She is the director of design for the Rocco Forte Collection, which owns hotels worldwide including Brown’s in London, the Savoy in Florence and Tresanton in Cornwall. She is also a director of Miller’s Bespoke Bakery, which she and her daughter Alex Polizzi, aka TV’s ‘Hotel Inspector’ and ‘The Fixer’, established in 1997.


These days, the interior designer divides her time between London, Sussex and Cornwall. For her, the perfect weekend involves spending time in her country home with her husband – the author William Shawcross. Away from the hustle and bustle of London, she also enjoys long walks in the Downs and on the cliffs.

As one of the instigators of Brown’s London Art Weekend, (BLAW) Polizzi is a keen art collector with a penchant for Peter Blake and Paula Rego.

How did BLAW first come about?

Brown’s Hotel is so well located for art lovers – there are over 100 independent art galleries in the area immediately surrounding the hotel. We began by hosting monthly Saturday art tours (which we still do, and these are very popular!) and it was the success of these that led us to discuss a weekend celebration of the art in Mayfair.

What links Brown’s with Mayfair’s artistic past?

Brown’s is popular among the art crowd. It is frequented by artists, dealers, gallery owners, collectors and enthusiasts and is also home to a huge array of artworks, photographs by Terence Donovan in the Donovan Bar, three huge sculptures by Emily Young, Tracey Emin near the fireplace in the restaurant, and many more. We are also about to unveil a collaboration with the Gagosian Gallery – it has curated the artworks for The English Tea Room.


How do you pick the artworks for your hotels?

I like using local art in all of our hotels, to continue the feeling of the city through the hotel. For example, Hotel Amigo in Brussels has artwork by Magritte and subtle references to Art Nouveau throughout, while Brown’s Hotel in London has works by Peter Blake and Bridget Riley. We also work with local galleries. In Hotel de Rome in Berlin, we have collaborated with the Circle Gallery in the new restaurant La Banca. This allows us to have rotating contemporary art integrated within our space – our first installation is Olivia Steele, a neon artist.



Browns Hotel © Alice Lubbock

What was the first painting you purchased for yourself and what piece do you most covet?

Peter Blake – Tattooed Lady, but I have a mixture of art from Paula Rego to Paninni, from Conrad Shawcross to Lowry drawings. I love Carpaccio – I covet ‘St Augustine in His Study’. From the 20th/21st century I’d like something large and bright by Peter Blake.

What makes you tick creatively?

I have been rooting around antique fairs since I was a teenager. I used to have a stall in the Caledonian Market. I am forever on the hunt for unusual pieces for the hotels and for myself. I love going to Brussels because the Sablon area is a particularly good hunting ground for antiques and art.

Describe your design aesthetic.

My design style aims for comfort and is calm and classically contemporary – if there is such a thing! I like incorporating a mix of different eras and styles of furniture and objects.

Hotel design has to keep current, just like fashion, so it is important to keep up to date with trends. Colour and pattern are the rage now, just as beige and grey were a few years ago, and I incorporate this within my work. Although I am influenced by trends, my main inspiration for the design of our hotels always starts with the location and the style of the building, and it builds up from there. The hotel has to reflect the feeling of the city that it’s in.

Who is your greatest design inspiration?

I admire someone like Philippe Starck, who showed many designers a new way. As soon as you walk into a space developed by Starck, you know immediately that it’s his.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on our new project, due to open later this year, Assila Hotel and Residence in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. We are also renovating some of the suites in Brown’s Hotel, London and Hotel de Russie, Rome.