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Kilgour has closed its flagship showroom on Savile Row. Passers-by were surprised to see equipment, including sewing machines, on the steps of the flagship store as it was being emptied at the end of last month.

This week, the doors remained locked with a sign telling visitors to contact the law firm Critchleys for further information.

The company blamed “challenging trading conditions in the bespoke clothing market” and cited, specifically, “supply-chain issues affecting the delivery of garments to and from markets in the Far and Middle East that seem unlikely

But it insists it will continue to operate and is contacting customers to make arrangements to fit and deliver clothing orders currently in hand and to take orders for new garments.

It is known as a heritage brand with strong values and not one scared to take on a modern approach, writes William Field.

A streamlined ready-to-wear aesthetic made the old school way using proper materials, including British wool (supporting British textile industry and campaign for wool), they have also been great supporters of the BTBA (British Tailors Benevolent Association) and have coached numerous apprentices through their careers, including the current cutter of Huntsman “Campbel Carey”

The company’s roots can be traced back to the 1800s although in more recent times its reputation has been shaped by its links to Hollywood’s best-dressed.

Recent modern patrons include: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jason Stratham, Luke Evans and Daniel Craig. It has been Hollywood go-to outfitter since the golden days.

Originally known as Kilgour & French when tailors AH Kilgour and TF French united in 1923, its biggest claim to fame was providing the tailcoat for Fred Astaire in Top Hat in 1935. The likes of Louis B Mayer, Rex Harrison and Cary Grant followed.

Kilgour has closed its flagship showroom on

The multi-faceted Ibiza-style venue that is IT found itself a Mayfair home just before Christmas, offering a multi-faceted venue with bar, restaurant and private-dining options in what was a former art gallery in Dover Street.

Next month (March) it moves into a new phase when it officially introduces its weekly brunch menu with the backing of its Michelin-starred chef Gennaro Esposito whose influences are clearly entwined into its authentic Mediterranean style.

The menu will be served across different stations: a rich salad bar with a wide variety of eggs, cold cuts, cheese and other typical Italian classics, meaning it’ll be one of the few places in London where you can find one of the popular Southern Italian’s delicacies frittata di pasta.

But at the heart of it lie the sort of family ties that typify a London IT brunch. The upstairs private lounge will be transformed every week into an oasis for children who will be entertained by magicians, karaoke or games sessions.
Founder Alessio Matrone describes IT as having “given the city a totally different experience where fine Mediterranean cuisine meets the Balearic beat of Ibiza”.


The experience is augmented by the restaurant views guests enjoy; those that entail the chefs cooking in the kitchen, the pizza oven station and the IT fish market counter which boasts a range of fresh produce.
As well as the bar and restaurant which can accommodate 150 seated guests, there is a 36-seat private dining room, featuring a dramatic skylight and an upstairs private lounge with a 3am late licence.

The multi-faceted Ibiza-style venue that is IT

Malcolm Folley with David Coulthard in Monaco

Award winning sportswriter Malcolm Folley gets under the skin of motorsport’s most fabled race in his new book, Monaco – Inside F1’s Greatest Race. The book is not a conventional history but rather a companion of stories and shared memories from those most intimately associated with Monaco such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Ross Brawn, Martin Brundle, Nico Rosberg and many more, including the most unlikeliest winner of all, Frenchman Olivier Panis.

The day Lauda had Senna in his sights

The entrance to the Automobile Club de Monaco is located on Boulevard Albert 1er, barely 100 metres from the first corner of the circuit, Sainte-Dévote.  In the foyer is a portrait of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II and his wife, Princess Charlene; indeed, portraits of the ruling monarchy are omnipresent throughout the principality. Poignantly, before you reach the ground-floor restaurant, there is a painting capturing the alluring beauty of Prince Albert’s mother, Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, which is a reminder that her marriage to Prince Rainier III, in front of the world’s media in April 1956, elevated the monarchy of Monaco to the global stage as she became Princess Grace.

Beyond the reception desk is a corridor leading to the library. On the right-hand wall is a photographic gallery of winners of the Monaco Grand Prix. A photograph of the late Ayrton Senna is prominently displayed, his rightful privilege as the man who has won a record six times on these streets. Another man whose history is reflected on this wall of fame is Niki Lauda, a victor twice. The careers of the men overlapped as Lauda neared the end of his pre-eminence in the paddock and Senna made his introduction.

Lauda recalls their earliest encounter as though it occurred yesterday. He was in pursuit of his third world championship – with McLaren then – after winning two titles for Ferrari. Senna was in his first season in Formula One in an uncompetitive Toleman. Only Senna knew – knew for certain – that greatness beckoned. It was 1984: in this scene Lauda is Big Brother.

“I was on a quick lap on Thursday . . . and I came round a corner to find Senna driving in the middle of the road,” says Lauda. Back in the pits, Lauda went in search of Senna. His question to the young Brazilian was typically brusque. “Are you one of us?” he demanded.

“What do you mean?” replied Senna. Lauda explained the fundamental requirements – and respect – expected from a new arrival on the most elevated stage in motor racing. “You can’t sit in the middle of the road in qualifying,” said the Austrian. He had a manner that did not invite debate.

Senna was unusually self-assured, though. “Niki,” he said. “This is the way I am.”

Lauda left without another word. In qualifying on Saturday, he knew his moment would arrive. “I did my quick lap and stayed out,” he said. “I was looking in my mirrors and waving drivers through. Then I saw Senna approaching from out of the tunnel. I stopped my car in front of his. After Senna stopped I took first gear and went. In the garage I waited for him to come to me this time. He did.”

Senna began to make his feelings known, when Lauda interrupted him. “Ayrton,” he said. “That’s the way I am.”

Great rivals Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna showing some mutual respect

The Austrian, these days a driving force behind Hamilton’s acceleration to greatness with Mercedes, has never compromised his individuality in a sport that long since surrendered its personality to corporate conformity. Lauda has never been measured for a team uniform.  “Senna had a belief that he was right, but I told him that I could do the same if that is what he wants,” he explained. “From this moment, we never had a problem.”

To trace the winners at Monaco, from Juan Manuel Fangio to Stirling Moss, to Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart is to follow a lineage of motor-racing aristocracy which runs through the labyrinth of these streets to the barons of the sport these past 40 years: Lauda, Prost, Senna, Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel and Nico Rosberg, all world champions bar Sir Stirling, and all multiple winners at Monaco.

Hamilton always claims to feel the spirit of Senna infiltrate the soul of his driving when he is negotiating the swift changes of elevation, and tight, twisting corners around the harbour after screaming on the rev-limit through the artificial light of the tunnel. The first of his two victories, in 2008, the last win in Monaco for the once invincible McLaren team, evoked an outpouring of emotion from Hamilton that perhaps will never be surpassed no matter how many times he wins the world championship.

Monaco mattered because of Senna, yes; but, more, because of its historical significance to all who have driven a Formula One car on these streets normally governed by a 50kph speed limit, or less.

 

When every night was party night

Michel Ferry is a link to the past and more pragmatic present in Monaco, where a Grand Prix has been held uninterrupted since 1955. Beside his desk in the inner sanctum of the ACM is a photograph of him with Prince Rainier, and another with his son Prince Albert II. Ferry, aged 72, a silver-haired, debonair Monégasque, who is Commissaire Général of the Monaco Grand Prix, has held office within the ACM since 1962.

He recalls with fondness the days of Stirling Moss, who won three times on these streets, and Graham Hill, who wore lightly the epithet Mr Monaco, given him for winning five times between 1963 and 1969.  “It was another time, a different way of life, a lot of fun,” says Ferry. “Every night there was a big party with the drivers. Graham was at the Hotel de Paris on Friday and Saturday nights. Drivers were playing cards and drinking.”

Stewart and his wife, Helen, were an exception, says Ferry. “The couple were very close with Princess Grace,” he explains. “They were received at the palace and stayed there, more than once, during the Grand Prix.”

Jackie Stewart opens a bottle of champagne rather more sedately than usual, much to the amusement of fellow Formula One drivers Graham Hill and Jim Clark, and Provost John Campbell of Dumbarton

In contrast, the late, colourful James Hunt never knowingly missed a party in the Seventies. Remembering them was another matter. “James smoked drugs – everybody knew that,” says Ferry. “Lots of girls were around. The access to the track was free. You could approach the drivers, you could touch the cars. It is finished like this today: the cars arrive in the pits and the teams close the doors. Today you need to ask ten people to apply for a pass!”

For some years it has been evident that the only people not partying in Monaco until after the flag has dropped are the drivers. With car manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault investing at least $1 billion in Formula One between them, that is the least surprising factor of Monaco over a grand prix week.

Each year the armada of ocean-going yachts and floating palaces that motor into the harbour becomes larger and more ostentatious. Often these boats are registered in tax havens. It is rumoured – but never openly admitted – that oceans of money exchange hands to claim a prime berth on the quayside during the grand prix weekend. It is the race every Formula One driver most wants to win; and for those with power and influence it is the race to be seen at.

Celebrities from down the ages, including Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, The Beatles, Sylvester Stallone, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, have been seduced by this motor race by the shores of the Mediterranean.

As veteran broadcaster and PR executive Tony Jardine suggests: “Monaco is the glittering prize because everything associated with Formula One is epitomised in Monte Carlo: boats, champagne, success and excess.”

 

Monaco: Inside F1’s Greatest Race by Malcolm Folley is published in hardback by Century, available to buy from Amazon or any good book store now, priced £20.00

[caption id="attachment_4252" align="alignleft" width="300"] Malcolm Folley with

Robin Dutt recalls a stroll he took with Richard James down Savile Row. here, he reflects on James’ career as an undisputed master of style and cut.

Looking languid and comfortable in his eponymous shop, Richard James strikes a familiar pose. That air of natural ease and elegance has not deserted him in a quarter of a century since the company’s founding and even before that, when I initially encountered him as a chief buyer for the internationally acclaimed boutique, Browns.

At this time, Browns was a magnetic go-to for shrewd shoppers who wanted edge – not shock – and James was part of a team which really knew what was what. Their judicious choices made the shop eclectic and unusual and James played no small part in the appreciation of Sydney and Joan Bernstein’s idea of what a fashion store should be on that once natural London catwalk, South Molton Street.

But perhaps one in retrospect cannot be surprised that with his eye for detail and knowledge of cut, this graduate of Brighton College of Art would want an emporium of his own – a playground where the message is stridently serious. He is master of cloth and cut and in fact, has been described by writer and academic, Colin McDowell as ‘the best colourist working in menswear in London today.’

James is often referred to as the first of the ‘new establishment’ or ‘new bespoke’ of Savile Row. Even more than 25 years on, his beaming face and ready chuckle impart a sense of mischievous charm – boyish and high-spirited despite the travelled years and much hard work. The business runs smoothly and the knowledgeable staff, a definite cut (or more) above the norm. Everything exudes peace and civility. But like the proverbial swan which glides, one can conjure the purposeful action of the feet beneath the water’s surface.

James shows me some mannequins in the window sporting a selection of stage clothes for Sir Elton John, proudly pointing out the exquisite details and for a second referencing the splashes of crystals ‘each one applied by hand,’ he opines, even the seemingly most insignificant example. Then he invites me to consider the slicing exactitude of the company’s bespoke best. As he describes these garments, there is a undoubted sparkle of nostalgia and pride in his eyes.

Many commentators immediately refer to Richard James as a ‘celebrity tailor’ and whilst this may have more than a modicum of truth about it (customers include Mark Ronson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Tom Cruise and Bryan Ferry) this is not the only (however important) element of Richard James, the tailor.

Such clients as master couturier, Christian Lacroix, shoe supremo, Manolo Blahnik and designer, David Linley – fellow creators – have been more than happy to be measured up for that James silhouette. But it was not from day one, exactly plain sailing. In an interview with Gentlemen’s Journal, James says, “We were not very well accepted at the start. People thought that we were using the name of Savile Row to better ourselves. We just came into Savile Row to do things in different ways.”


Looking languid and comfortable in his eponymous shop, Richard James strikes a familiar pose

Savile Row is undoubtedly a family and like most families, not everyone pledges undying allegiance to all members. As a street of tailors it stands alone in the world – a rich seam of the uniquely precious knowledge and skill running through the mediocrity of fashion. But James would be the first to both celebrate its over 200 year past and court the contemporary – with taste. He recalls one incident. “Sir Hardy Amies was marvellous,” he says. “I well recall his chauffeur-driven car pulling up outside Richard James and Sir Hardy emerging like Lady Bracknell. He’d cast a lugubrious eye over the bright pink and acid green jackets in our window before shaking his head at us in mock disbelief. And then he smiled.”

As I know only too well, having interviewed Sir Hardy and enjoyed his company, the mischief is evident. This was typical Amies – with pomp and circumstance and a little show of cheeky disapproval from the man who set up his establishment in 1946, was Dressmaker to Her Majesty the Queen and had seen little change in the Row. But that mock disbelief and the eventual smile seem to carry with them some affection and regard for what a younger James was doing.

Deep, vibrant, jewel colours have always been part of James’ sartorial autobiography. In fact, three Richard James pieces, greatly loved and sadly loved by moths too, used to hang in my wardrobe – a royal purple cashmere jogging suit, a duck egg blue blazer with mother of pearl buttons and a two-piece suit in subtle candy coloured stripes. Moths are famous for choosing the best.

But there is more than a place for a classic navy blue suit – Richard James style. I was once consulted where to find such a suit for a special occasion and I immediately said James’ establishment. I accompanied the gentleman, the cloth was chosen, the form measured, the deal done and all in the space of what seemed minutes – though not rushed – with expert hands and eyes constantly vigilant. Then he took me for an overly extravagant lunch to celebrate.

Richard James takes his role as a creator on the Row seriously and feels that he has more than a responsibility to do so. He was a founding member of the Savile Row Bespoke Association and ever with an eye not to revolutionize the street but maximise its allure and charm, pioneered Saturday opening times. Perhaps one might imagine the sound of tailor’s shears crashing to the wooden floors in horror, initially.

It is also Richard James’ pioneering spirit which has seen some unusual elements of the business such as controversial advertisements, one was banned, depicting a sartorially perfect gentleman throwing himself off the top of a building, perhaps inspired by artist Yves Klein’s performance leap, ‘Into the Void’, the sharp camouflage suit – a uniform in its own right and the ‘Naked Suit’ in collaboration with mass nudity photographer, Spencer Tunick. The cheeky boy in James has always found outlets. There is seriousness, irony and humour in much of his work – larger than average window pane checks, outsize dot motifs and again those electric, fizzy sherbet hues.

And James certainly has been recognised for his talent and business acumen. In 1996, he was awarded the Evening Standard’s Eros Award as Retailer of the Year. He was Menswear Designer of the Year, awarded by the British Fashion Council in 2001. He won the Best Advertising Campaign for Autumn/Winter 2007. In 2018, he received an OBE. Real estate developer and film producer, Charles S. Cohen took a majority stake in Richard James in 2017 and assumed the role of chairman. Last year, Richard James opened on Park Avenue, New York.

James and I decide to take a stroll down Savile Row and he reminisces about the people he had known and knows and the changes which have come about. It is all too evident that he loves his home turf. Appropriately, we come to a stop at what used to be the House of Hardy Amies – a beautiful building which would make a stupendous town house. We both talk about the unrivalled salon shows held there – all gilt and mirrors – ‘Just like my bedroom!’ he laughs.
There seems to be a twinkle in his eye, as he looks at the old building again.

Robin Dutt recalls a stroll he took

Rhône Valley reds are easy to love. In the north, spiritual homeland of the Syrah grape, wines are brooding and silky with characteristic notes of violets, herbs, plums and grilled meat. In the ‘blender’s paradise’ of the south, Syrah is just one of a trio of grape superstars, sitting majestically alongside Grenache and Mourvedre as the three kings of most blends, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape (the most famous wine appellation in the southern Rhône). Follow Helena Nicklin as she sets out a 4-day itinerary starting from Lyon for enthusiasts to savour the best of food and wine in the Rhone Valley

Rhône is one of the three most revered French wine regions and yet when you travel there, it doesn’t feel like ‘wine Disneyland’ in any way. It’s super easy to drive around and there’s no need to find highfalutin food establishments to drink the best wines. In fact, the Rhône is where you can put together a picnic from the most incredible fresh food markets you’ve ever seen then head to the hills with a great bottle. Do this at least once with some good friends and have the most memorable food and wine experience ever. Having said that, there are some fine dining establishments that alone are worth the plane ticket. My suggestion would be to go for a long weekend and do a bit of both. I know this, because I just came back from doing precisely this with another foodie couple. There are many ways you can do a long epicurean weekend in the Rhône Valley, but here’s one itinerary that’s tried and tested…

Helena Nicklin and Patrick Henriroux

Helena with Patrick Henriroux

Thursday: Fly into Lyon from London, to arrive late morning. Pick up a hire car (nice and simple here) and drive for 30 minutes to La Pyramide: a 4-star Relais & Chateaux hotel with impeccable service, a bistro for easy-going meals and the unmissable icing on the cake: Patrick Henriroux’s 2-star restaurant. Leave the car here, unpack and get a cab five minutes down the road to Bistro de Serine for light-ish lunch. This is a cosy bistro with a great outdoor space and a view of the vineyards in Ampuis. It also has pretty good, affordable food and an epic wine list. Do with this last bit of information what you will. It is around Ampuis that some of the greatest Rhône wine producers are located (think Guigal, Ogier, Rostaing, Gerin). Tastings at these places are often by appointment only but the prices for their wines in Serine’s enoteca are sensible enough to buy some to try at your leisure. Take a little walk, get a cab back to La Pyramide where you can freshen up, have a stroll and be back in time for a cheeky little Viognier in the garden before your 2 Michelin star meal.

Friday: You won’t really be hungry but the breakfast at La Pyramide is photogenic and completely delicious. There are lots of little quirky homemade bits of this and that, from tiny cakes to mini cheese plates, bread, omelettes and edible flowers. After breakfast, jump in the car and take a slow drive (1hr ish) down south to Valence in the Drome, perhaps stopping off to take some photos of the iconic vineyards of Condrieu, which produce world famous Viognier-based whites. Carry on down to Valence, a delightful town with authentic, French shopping, stunning views of the gorges and an old town where you can get lost in the rickety, narrow streets looking for pretty little churches, art galleries or a cosy spot for a cool beer. In Valence, there are plenty of charming, low key eateries serving tagine, pizzas, fish… whatever takes your fancy. There are also plenty of decent, basic hotels that over deliver for the price, such as the Hotel de France, where we stayed. This place was central, with its own car park and we could walk to the old town in five minutes. You’ll probably want to reign it in a little bit during the day because in the evening, you could find yourself at the 3-star restaurant Anne-Sophie Pic at Maison Pic, just down the road. Now, this was an experience. Anne-Sophie Pic’s dishes are so delicate and beautiful, with Japanese influences. This restaurant has been awarded 3 Michelin stars since 1933 and remains a fabulous gastronomical experience that’s best not rushed. You can stay here too in the beautiful hotel rooms if you’re feeling flush.

Map of the Rhone valleySaturday: Chances are, you will be feeling the need to eat simply today and Valence is the best place to do that. After breakfast, head out for a stroll to take in the sights. Every Saturday morning in the centre of the old town, there is the most gorgeous food market. Full of locals buying their weekly fare rather than tourists, you’ll see the plumpest red strawberries, tomatoes bigger than your head, fresh bread, crazy cheeses, dried fruits, charcuterie and more. This is where you can stock up for a picnic. Check out and take your goodies to the car to drive back up north towards Lyon. On the way, there is an unassuming, pretty little town called Tain, that red wine lovers will get very excited about. When there, look up to the hills full of vines. You might just be able to make out the tiniest of chapels. This teeny building is ‘La Chapelle’ of Hermitage wine fame and the vines surrounding it make some of the best red wines on the planet (look for producers Jaboulet, Chapoutier and Chave). You can drive the zig zag routes through the vines to get relatively close to La Chapelle for your picnic. From here, you can see the whole of the Rhone Valley with vines and the river in the foreground. There is no better place to feast on the simple delights you brought up with you from Valence.

Make your way slowly back and hop into the car to head back up to your hotel in Lyon. An evening stroll pre-dinner through Lyon’s old town is an absolute must before a typically French bistrot meal such as Daniel et Denise at the top end or the simpler Café Comptoir Abel.

Sunday: Lyon is a great place to explore briefly or all day. If you have some time before your flight, the Roman Theatre of Fourviére is an interesting stop as is the famous 17th century Musée Des Beaux-Arts, but even just walking around is an absolute delight.

The Rhône Valley is the wine and food tourism road less travelled and it’s so easy to do. I’m going back for more in the Autumn and suggest you do the same.

Helena Nicklin is an award-winning drinks writer and presenter of The Three Drinkers TV show on Amazon Prime. Tweet her @thewinebird or @the3drinkers of find her on instagram @winebird @thethreedrinkers

 

Rhône Valley reds are easy to love.