Connect with:

Standard Blog Whole Post

The team at Savile Row Gin were delighted to have received the most votes for the best gin, as voted by attendees at its first consumer gin event, The Gin Lounge held at the Oval Cricket Ground on the 11th & 12th May 2019

The team were joined on their stand by the founders of Savile Row, and the creators of the dinner jacket, Henry Poole & Co, who showcased many different cloths in addition to the original Winston Churchill fabric. Henry Poole were represented by front of house manager Anthony Rowland who gave visitors an insight into the history of Savile Row and the Henry Poole story which dates back to 1806.

Commenting on the award, Stewart Lee, CEO of Savile Row Gin told Savile Row Style: “This was an important test for Savile Row Gin as whilst many thousands of guests have enjoyed The Perfect Serve Savile Row Gin & Tonic at our partner events, this was our first public facing showcase, attended by a loyal, knowledgeable and gin-loving audience who certainly knew their Gins.”

“The overwhelming feedback over the two days was very positive for sure, and I could tell they liked it a lot, as many visitors came back at the end to buy a bottle”, added Lee. The team were joined by head mixologist Maurice Lawrence who gave visitors to the stand an in-depth talk about the gin’s twelve botanicals and what they can expect to experience when tasting this very smooth gin neat, and when served with tonic and a slice of pink grapefruit. “They loved our samples of the Perfect Serve”, Lawrence told SRS – 50ml Savile Row Gin, 150ml classic Indian tonic, a slice of pink grapefruit and a mint leaf. Lee also confirmed at the show that the brand will be exhibiting at this year’s Imbibe Live at Olympia in July.

To find out more, please visit: Savile Row Gin

Savile Row Gin winning at the Oval

The team at Savile Row Gin were

Robin Dutt celebrates the history of Mayfair nightclubs, from aristocratic Annabel’s to sexy, swinging Tramp.

In essence, London could be the only place on earth associated with the concept of “the club.” It created this night-time entity with a zeal which is internationally recognised and thronged to. The identity of a club and its sparkling denizens was and remains not British, not even English, but stands for London itself.

Annabel’s, Tramp, The Embassy and Titanic, for example, are emblematic names – along with a handful of others – even if some are consigned to history. The understanding of a club might be said to have found form in the St. James’s of the 18th century where the idea of being “apart” from society but with your “peers” took happy and healthy root. Who one knew, who one was – how much did you spend (or lose, which was no shame) are still hallmarks of today’s club scene. Arch froideur was a passport too, the dandy, Beau Brummell once exclaiming from the safety of his club’s bow window that he loved to see the ordinary people pass by in the rain.

The club is a sheltered world within a mass-populated one. The very word is thought to be traceable to the 17th century. Celebrated London clubs benefitted from the grand classical nature of the mostly one-time grand family houses they occupied. Every club wants to have that crucial slice of the social cake. As Bryan Ferry, who made the song The ‘In’ Crowd so famous, sang:

“I’m in with the in crowd
I go where the in crowd goes
I’m in with the in crowd
And I know what the in crowd know”

But the song might be said to have in equal measure, irony, and sarcasm when he adds, “Looking flash, talking trash…”

And yet, this is part of the whole purpose. Long-standing, even generational and loyal members might be culled to make way for the new blood. It’s as draconian as that.

Take me to Bel’s
Annabel’s began in 1963 in a Mayfair basement. Historian Harry Mount writing in the Daily Telegraph, quotes celebrity interior designer and socialite Nicky Haslam as saying how he had been asked to cover the opening party by one Diana Vreeland for Vogue. He recalls the aristo-mantra at the time by the debutantes, “Take me to Bel’s.” It is worth remembering that Annabel’s remains the only club that HM The Queen has visited for a cocktail. Basement coal hole as it surely was, it was a magnet. Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, George Hamilton, Princess Diana. Everyone in the know, simply knew.

“Once people had made it in London, everyone went to clubs – sportsmen, pop stars, actors. Anybody who was anybody, went to Annabel’s,” says one-time regular, property developer David Green.

Jackie Branston, another habitué, recalls the ladies at Annabel’s clearly: “Women dressed like women – stylish, sexy, international – something quite unique that has never been repeated. You always went to Annabel’s first and ended up at Tramp. Johnny Gold [Tramp founder] was the perfect host.”

And it is David Green again who remembers the cheeky signage there: “No Bird, No Tramp.” That’s why the girls went to Morton’s to pick up fellas, to go on to Tramp. The regime was that you went to Mortons, then to Tramp.

Art dealer and collector James Birch recalls his London clubland vividly, going to Annabel’s and Tramp “a lot” with his friend, Daisy Borman. Prior to that, it was The Embassy for him, sometimes every night, although he cites it as “a poor man’s Studio 54”. Tramp, he says, “always used to have a morose George Best sitting there, not speaking. There was always the Maître D – Guido – who liked to share a joke with you”.

Tramp regulars included, from the early days, Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minelli and Ringo Starr and they all had their wedding receptions there. Founded in 1969, it is considered to be one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. But the fact that London’s clubland was and remains same and different saw a criss-crossing of its selected clientele, however loyal they might be.

Embassy was started by Mark Fuller and he was vocal a couple of years ago when he lampooned the greed of some of the London club owners who have, he told the Evening Standard, “have killed our industry”. He cited free drinks and the hiring of attractive women as a disastrous move by some establishments.

And it is certainly not all roses for one-time club goer Demir Mustafa, whose views might in some way chime with Fuller’s. Mustafa points to the pretentious nature of certain establishments, their emphasis on celebrity – even saying pointedly that one (remaining nameless, naturellement) is “full of people who have an overinflated view of themselves”. He describes another venue as “dark, pretentious and unnecessary – a place one goes to merely tell others”.

But then, an exclusive club might be a circus ring or a psychiatry wing at the same time. Who are the players, who is the audience?

Andy Warhol certainly understood celebrity in a prescient way. He understood people’s hunger for it, their abject need for it. Clubs were – and are – ready stages for spangled performances; the manufactured reality more important than reality itself. When I interviewed him a year or so before his death, famed for his celebrity pop portraits and snaps at Studio 54 and clubland in general, of all the beautiful people, I met him in a London gallery. There were vast queues for his autograph – scrawled on paper, proffered jeans, catalogues – anything. To hold celebrity or a snatch of it, is to be rewarded, somehow, to some. As Bryan Ferry put it in the song, “You ain’t been nowhere till you’ve been with the in-crowd.”

Robin Dutt celebrates the history of Mayfair

Robin Dutt on a visual trick which works its magic

While Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode (whom I admire enormously) sang Everything Counts in Large Amounts, the opposite is so often true. The tiniest detail informs. Take for example, the Rope Shoulder.

In important tailoring, the silhouette has to be everything – not just fitted to the form. Working cuff buttons, that twisted thread hovering behind the lapel button hole, that third button on a 3-button coat cut so you can’t – or shouldn’t – close it, are all vital aspects of fine sartoria. The Rope Shoulder presents a coat sleeve top which stands proud, extending it and informing the line of the continuing shoulder plane as it makes its way to the lower or mid-neck, depending on the cut commissioned.

For the observant, it may remind of those cartoons and caricatures by 18th century masters such as Cruikshank, Rowlandson and Gilray who often showed politicians, royalty and dandies with exaggerated, raised shoulder “puffs” in light mockery of them. Engravings of costume, parlour prints and book illustrations were more what we are talking about here – a realisation of this tailoring device’s elegant purpose.

But this serious and un-mocked Rope informs and educates the whole costume and indeed the wearer and so, the observer. It draws the eye to it very subtly and also if the sleeve is cut to be just a mite narrower the torso itself will be narrowed and slim the body of the wearer. It also lengthens the arm and looks splendid when balanced by a judicious shooting of a white cuff. The Rope shows the nature of the fabric, suggests its feel and is certainly a visual trick. It is still much favoured by even designers and if you look, the odd example may be unearthed in the most unlikely high street temples of male dressing (ruined as they are). But of course, that poor rope in these circumstances, trapped into a dark place by the sharp, single steel tooth of a machine not the loving hand of a cross-legged tailor.

As Simon Cundey, MD at Henry Poole & Co, says: “The rope sleeve signature in cloths from Savile Row gives a mark of destination. It gives the feeling to the suit of the elevation and frames the shoulder to the head. This, with a high gorge, is synonymous in English suiting and recognised throughout the world.”

Although the Rope Shoulder is usually associated with Italian tailoring, Savile Row tailors are often asked for it. I know, I did when I designed my coat at James & James, overseen by Eric James but cut to perfection by the late, great Yvonne Nichol, a fiery, feisty Scotswoman I playfully thought of as “Thistle”. It is thanks to her that my roped shoulders are as they are.

Not exactly Leg O’ Mutton, never Gigot Sleeve and, heaven forfend, the Neapolitan, the sculpted, lovingly entombed rope that makes up the Rope Shoulder is a most masterful sartorial device.

Robin Dutt on a visual trick which

The allure of high-complication hand-crafted timepieces simply can’t be beaten – and yes, they’ll even outlive the Apple Watch too. Hazel Plush reveals why.

In an idyllic Swiss village not far from the Rhone River, there’s a small miracle in progress. Dressed in white coats, hovering over microscopes, and sealed from the outside world in their airlocked laboratory, this team of men and women look like scientists at first glance – but they’re engineers, artists, craftsmen, gemologists. Working to miniscule scales, they are creating some of the finest, most complicated watches on earth – timepieces that will fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe more. They’re the masters of watchmaking; creating the next generation of chronographs – miraculous, yes, but the real wonder is that they’re here at all. Because, if common sense had prevailed, their work would be obsolete.

Ask any horologist who invented the first mechanical watch, and you’ll never get a straight answer: The history books are muddied with conjecture, but one thing remains certain: The 1770s were landmark years for the craft. Hitherto, portable timepieces – hand-wound, and powered by a mainspring – had been heavy, temperamental, inexact. If you wanted precision, you were better off with a pendulum clock. But a small band of talented engineers were making strides.

Swiss-born Abraham-Louis Perrelet led the effort, inventing in 1777 the self-winding mechanism – powered by the movement of the watch wearer, rather than a hand-wound spring. “Just 15 minutes of movement is needed to power it for eight days,” claimed a report by the Société des Arts in Geneva. Revolution indeed. Other watchmakers, including Hubert Sarton and Abraham-Louis Breguet, forged ahead with their own designs – and development of the self-winding mechanism spread through Europe. It wasn’t perfect, but it was progress.

Over the next 125 years, portable timepieces became the hallmark of the elite. Men favoured pocket watches, while wristwatches were more fashionable for women – marketed as bracelets, and often adorned with diamonds, precious gems, and intricate hand-painted designs. However, few new patents were filed during this time: Watches grew in opulence, but not in accuracy.

But a watershed moment came in 1904, after Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to Louis Cartier that it was tricky to check his pocket watch while airborne: He needed both hands for flying. Cartier created a practical, flat, wrist worn design with a leather strap – the “Santos de Cartier” – and the pilot watch was born.

Changing fashions
During the First World War, the idea really caught on. Service wristwatches were issued, designed to withstand trench warfare with their reinforced glass faces and luminous dials. Military pilots relied on their timepieces just as Santos-Dumont had, with extended leather straps to fit over their flying jackets. In 1917, the Horological Journal reported that “the wristlet watch was little used by the sterner sex before the war, but now is seen on the wrist of nearly every man in uniform and of many men in civilian attire”. Fashions were changing, and the Second World War brought an even more pressing need for accurate, durable designs: A far cry from the frivolous diamond-clad wristwatches of the 1800s.

Innovation boomed. The village of Plan-les-Ouates, near Geneva, had become a hub for high-end watchmakers: The likes of Rolex, Vacheron Constantin and Piaget developed workshops there, and the post-war years saw them busier than ever.

Not content with merely keeping the most accurate time, watchmakers turned their attentions to more specialised functions, or “complications”. They included “perpetual calendars” to keep track of the date, “minute repeaters” to chime the time, altimeters, lunar calendars and auxiliary dials – to name but a few. The “tourbillon”, a mechanism to improve the timekeeping accuracy, was perhaps the most prestigious advancement – only available in the most expensive of watches.

Some watches were powered by the new generation of self-winding mechanisms; others were simply still cranked by hand.

Everything changes
The watch became, once again, a symbol of status and wealth, marketed to buyers all over the world with celebrity endorsements and sponsorships galore. Steve McQueen sported the TAG Heuer Monaco, while Paul Newman chose the Rolex Daytona. Elvis wore a Hamilton Ventura, while Miles Davis wore a Breitling Navitimer. Watches were a fashion statement, too: Andy Warhol was rarely without his 18ct gold Cartier Tank. But then came quartz – and everything changed.

Receiving power from a battery, with hands controlled by a circuit board rather than a mainspring, wristwatches had never been more accurate or lightweight. Analogue quartz watches were first toted at Geneva’s Baselworld watch fair in the early 1970s – but it was their digital counterparts (with LCD faces and no moving parts) that really caused a stir. Quartz timepieces, quickly became the new status symbol: Why rely on ancient craftsmanship, when you could wear the future on your wrist?

In the 1970s, there had been over 1,600 watchmakers in Switzerland; by the mid-1980s, there were fewer than 600. The end was surely nigh for Europe’s luxury timepieces.

Rolex and Blancpain persevered with hand-crafted movements – the latter spurning quartz completely. In 1980, Patek Philippe began designing a new exclusively mechanical pocket watch to mark its 150th anniversary in 1989 – though nobody was sure if it would ever make production.

Gradually, auction houses noted a slight trend for vintage mechanical watches. Now that they were almost obsolete, they’d become a nostalgic indulgence – and perhaps their impending rarity might increase their value?

By the mid-1980s, the prestige, rarity and craftsmanship of high-end mechanicals had weathered the quartz crisis.

Patek Philippe’s anniversary Calibre 89 – completed, finally, in 1989 – sold at auction for $3.1 million. In spring 1990, Swiss watch exports totaled $1.5 billion.

The rest is history. In Geneva, where the world’s finest watchmakers showcase their new designs, to see that the market for high-calibre, highly complicated timepieces is more buoyant than ever – even with the rise of wrist-worn computers, such as the Apple Watch.

Yes, based on their primary function, mechanical watches are obsolete. We no longer need them to tell us the time. But we do want them: To remind us of the power of the human brain and hands, perhaps, or
the joy of an exquisitely-engineered movement. The mass-production line is, quite simply, no match for handcrafted perfection: Some things really do stand the test of time.

The allure of high-complication hand-crafted timepieces simply

Classic Ferrari dealership Talacrest offers what have been called the most beautiful cars ever made. Superdealer John Collins gives SRS a tour of his fabled showroom.

John Collins can remember the moment he became infatuated with cars. He was just a toddler on a bus in Glasgow cradled in his mother’s arms when he lost the Dinky model car she had just bought him. He wailed so much they had to go back to the shop to buy another.

Jump forward and Collins’s dealership Talacrest he has sold more than 1,800 cars worth in excess of $1 billion. Collins sells cars priced from anything between £250,000 and into the millions, driven by demand from the Far East, the Middle East, Switzerland and the US.

His Ascot-based dealership Talacrest was awarded a Queens Award for International Trade in 2016 for earning £59 million in overseas sales the previous year. In 2018 Talacrest celebrates 30 years in business.

Not bad for a dealership that only employs three people.

Collins, a laconic Scot, has not always been the Ferrari superdealer. He grew up on a council estate and left school at the age of 15, before managing to get a job on the Scottish Daily Express “as a teaboy” before becoming its youngest-ever trainee reporter.

This led to a successful stint as a photojournalist, travelling on assignment around the world for Paris Match and Stern. His reportage included everything from Grace Kelly’s death in Monaco to seal culling in the North Sea and covering John Paul II during his papal visit to Ireland. Collins got himself into such a good vantage point that priests were passing their cameras up to him to snap a photo of the Pope.

He bought his first Ferrari – a Dino 426 GT – in 1977 for £7,000, which cost him nearly two thirds of his annual salary. Today, that same car is worth around £350,000.

Collins then moved to America and worked for American scandal sheet National Enquirer, where he covered Eighties icons including Joan Collins during her Dynasty years and the casts of Dallas and Miami Vice.

“Not blowing my own trumpet but I was one of the bestin the world. They paid me stupid money, six figures a year,” he says.

A friend gave Collins a duff share tip and he lost everything in the 1987 stock market crash. Even worse, he had just down a job as editor of National Enquirer which would have paid nearly a million pounds a year in today’s money.

Lightbulb moment
On his uppers, Collins had to sell his beloved Ferrari to a dealer for £41,000, only to find out it was back on sale the very next day for a whopping £70,000. That was his lightbulb moment.
“I thought, if you can do it, I can do it,” he says.

In January 1988 he raised £350,000 from friends and used the money to put 10 percent deposits on £3 million worth of cars, telling dealers he would settle the outstanding balance in six months’ time when he came into an inheritance. Amazingly, the dealers played ball.

Originally it was to be a unit trust with everybody buying a thousand pound share in a car, but the Financial Services Act meant that he couldn’t advertise the scheme. Collins was forced to advertise all 12 cars for sale – making £500,000 profit in the six months before he had to pay them off. Dealers rang him up outraged at his chutzpah, selling cars which were still on their forecourt. He drily advised them to check with their lawyers, which they did and found out that he was entirely within his rights.

What is it about Ferrari in particular that so enamours him?
Collins chuckles and says it was the red Dino 426 GT that Tony Curtis drove in Seventies TV series The Persuaders. “The other guy, Roger Moore, drove an Aston Martin but I didn’t like that,” he says.

In its first year, Talacrest turned over around £12 million, then £30 million the next.

Collins attributes his success to acting like a collector – which he is, having personally so many Ferraris himself – and only buying what he loves. He buys with his heart first and foremost, which is why some Asian clients buy off him sight unseen.

Rockstar customers
The Scot says he is not about the hard sell, which is why some of his customers have stuck by him for 30 years. It is said that Collins has one of the best Rolodexes in the world, with clients including the Sultan of Brunei. Celebrity buyers include radio and former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans, rock stars Chris Rea and Mark Knopfler and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

Yes, but why Ferraris and not an equally iconic Porsche or a sexy Lamborghini?

Collins says: “There are so many Porsches and they all look the same. A classic 911 looks like new ones you buy today. As for Lamborghinis, I never really liked them. For me, Ferrari is the best brand in the world. I love all Ferraris, even the new ones – what’s not to love?”

The Talacrest showroom has around 10 cars for sale at any one time. The most expensive car Collins ever sold was a £30 million classic Ferrari.

Indeed, Ferrari engineers used to come over to England and genuflect at what is, after all, an altar to their artistry and engineering.

Classic Ferraris are probably one of the best performing investments you can make, assuming you have a spare few hundred thousand in your pocket.

To illustrate, Collins says that a 250 GTO that he bought for an eyewatering £2 million in 1994 is worth an astonishing £45 million today. Two years later he sold a California Spider for £750,000 that today is worth £12 million. “It’s one of the most beautiful cars ever built,” he says dreamily. “You can’t make that kind of money on many other things.”

So, what would Collins say to a Savile Row reader thinking of buying a first classic car?
“It depends on the individual. Buy something that you love,” says Collins. “That’s the beauty of Ferraris. When buyers come here, I take them through the car’s history and also how they want to use it. Do they want to race or go on casual tours or even just Sunday driving? I want to sell to people who love the cars, not speculators.”

Classic Ferraris dipped in value in the wake of the Brexit vote in June 2016 but Collins claims it was overheated anyway. At one point prices quadrupled within two years. “The market rose too quickly and went too high,” he says. The price correction also weeded out of the speculators, he says, as opposed to the true enthusiasts.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti

Collins still goes to auctions or people approach him and sell privately. “I’ve been quite lucky at auctions with cars that have slipped through the net,” he says. One case in point being a
Disney 14 Louvre 250 TDF that he bought for $6.7 million and sold it within one day at a higher price.

Some of the best and rarest Ferraris in the world have passed through his hands, including – for the petrolheads among you – most of the P-cars, including the P3, P4; the 410 Superamerica; 250 GTO; and the 330 LMB – the rarest Ferrari ever made.

Like children, Collins is hard pushed to pick a favourite of the cars he has sold, but he does have a soft spot for the 250 California Spider.

He points out that the sheer amount of cash needed to have the number of classic Ferraris he once had in his showroom would be impossible today, now that a GTO costs up to £70 million.

“Nobody will ever eclipse what I’ve achieved,” Collins says with some satisfaction. “You couldn’t afford the stock I had back in the Nineties.”

Classic Ferrari dealership Talacrest offers what have