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Birthday celebration draws the crowds to a treasure trove

Although a London and international institution, it might be hard to realise that LAPADA (The Association of Art and Antique Dealers) celebrated its 40th birthday last year.

Established – some might say, a mite audaciously – on December Friday 13 1974, dealer Gordon Savage was quick to wish the association well but wondered whether it would survive the launch ceremony. But if the hordes of conspicuously eager visitors were anything to go by, the enthusiasm and enjoyment of this fair has not diminished. As many observers and writers are quick to point out regarding the significance of the date of the launch, this certainly did not seem the most suitable time to garner clients and of course, impress customers.

1974 began with the Three Day Week, which many will remember for restriction of electricity, which meant doing homework by candlelight. Or not doing it at all! Television broadcasts ended at 10.30pm. And then there was the oil crisis. But despite all, business in the art and antiques world in many quarters was on the up. On reflection, the establishment of Lapada at this time of seeming negativity was not such a bad idea. At least there would be plenty of chandeliers to light up the darkness. And oh yes…the symbol of Lapada… precisely that.

If anything, the opposite is true. For seven of those forty years, the familiar Berkeley Square marquee has been such an integral part of the early London autumn scene that this part of the capital would look strangely denuded without it. Of course it is a given that even if attending every moment of every day that the fair is open, one still will not be able to see everything. The sheer variety of the exhibits – paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewellery, fugitive objets d’art and other oddities dazzled this year, buoyed up by the birthday celebration at the Collectors’ Preview. This witnessed a vast audience in attendance, sipping Lanson champagne (seemingly endlessly poured), whilst a glittering queue snaked around the Square. But the mood was one of bonhomie, expectation and excitement, despite the wait to gain entrance.

Although seasoned visitors can and usually are experts in their field and choice of collecting, it has always been a feature of the fair that the first time buyer should not be deterred but indeed encouraged. Accordingly, although one might not receive much change from half a million pounds for an item or two, for just £500 one can secure a precious treasure here. It will have great provenance and may be purchased from a dealer whose own enthusiasm marks him or her out – even among other dealers who might not be part of the association. The chief joy for many this year – as in the past – was the ingenious balancing of the antique world and the fervently, even feverishly contemporary scene. Curated with care and a precise eye, old and new worlds provided a not surprisingly contextual balance – the stridency of a pop image, say, informing the established assurance of a Regency extravaganza. Often, old and new actually needed one another – quite evident if one thinks about the collecting zeal of characters as diverse as say, Andy Warhol and Gianni Versace.

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An example last year might be the Butchoff Antiques competition to mark half a century in business. This took the form of a competition for students. The winning design by Kingston University’s Giulia Liverani was a portable laptop table called ‘E-Scritoire’ – an appellation that wittily united the antique and contemporary worlds. Other students were inspired by Butchoff’s history of providing customers with choice pieces from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras.

As a timepiece (more than) enthusiast, this writer found much to weep about – tears shall we say, not of jealousy but envy. In this sector, from a heritage piece for your wrist to the classic vestibule statesman in the form of a long case clock, there really was something for everyone. A cliché perhaps, but what is a cliché if not an often repeated truth?

What is particularly impressive here is not only the precision of the knowledge of these dealers but specification almost within specification. Craig Carrington’s Grand Tour pieces dazzled and Sandra Cronan’s unerring eye for the finest jewels reminded everyone of her authority. The indefatigable Tony Pontone of the Albemarle Gallery fused together several contemporary talents and Tanya Baxter displayed luscious jewel-bright oriental portraits. Philip Mould displayed divine portrait miniatures.

There were so many highlights that it would be impossible to list them all, but the carpets and tapestries on display provided that element of luxury and bursts of woven colour which perfectly partnered the
objets de vertu.

Mieka Sywak, the Fair’s Director, emphasised the event’s overall design – nature in an urban setting, balancing, “elegance and a touch of whimsy.” And a more desirable, timeless inspiration one might be hard-pressed to shake a very polished stick at.

Birthday celebration draws the crowds to a

There are faster, flashier, more luxurious, more expensive and more famous motorcars but to the cognoscenti, nothing beats a Morgan.

This small, sporty marque is the automobile equivalent of a Savile Row suit. It is completely bespoke, made by hand to the specifications of each customer, and is entirely British made.

Who said the British car industry was dead? Since 1909, the Morgan has been lovingly crafted in the old spa town of Malvern, still owned by family of the founder, H.F.S Morgan, and the only independent car maker in Britain. A skilled workforce of just over 200 produces some 1,300 cars over the year.

Its special blend of sporty style with traditional make has seen the Morgan become a cult car around the world, with a waiting list of eager buyers. Currently, the waiting period is around six to seven months, the actual production taking five weeks. Many more famous marques must envy such success.

morgan_fourThere are dealers scattered around the globe and in the UK – but curiously, for a few years there was not one in London. Last year, London-based dealer Anthony Barrell happened to be looking for a quality name to take into his South Kensington premises and, as a life long Morgan fan, thought of Morgan.

“I thought, they must have a London dealer but just on the off-chance, I rang them and was told no, they did not have a London dealer. It transpired they hadn’t had one for about four years. And so as a result of that call, we became Morgan’s exclusive dealer in the capital.”

Such happy chance has resulted in a highly successful first year of trading, he reports, with buyers coming from overseas as well as the London area. The showroom is tucked away in a mews that years ago would have housed a different kind of horse power, and on display are splendid examples of Morgan’s special style.

“When customers come here, we sit them down and go through the specifications available to them,” Barrell explained.

And this is quite an operation. For those who find selecting a cloth, deciding the colour, indicating the style and details required for a new suit a challenging operation, the options open to the Morgan buyer are indeed extensive. The colour choice is literally infinite, the desired shade achieved via a Spectometer. There’s an extensive range of leathers available for the upholstery, and then the trims – piping, embroidery, contrast stitch, seat inserts… Interior facings may be wood or painted. Heated seat mats? Subwoofer for the speaker? Wheels – eh, yes please. Then of course there is the car itself.

The somewhat spartan image of a Morgan sports car that some might harbour may be dismissed. It is a very smooth drive, comfortable, and even with the top down can be very warm and cosy by virtue of the high powered heating. Though true to the personal craftsmanship laid down by the founder, the very latest technological developments are incorporated where appropriate.

morgan_threeThe classic entry model is the 4/4 with 1.6 litre engine, the world’s longest running series production car. Though it has undergone many changes over the years since it was launched some 78 years ago, it retains its classic appeal and is instantly recognisable. Drive around London in one of these and suddenly even taxi drivers are accommodating, others politely give way and pedestrians stop to admire.

Other models range from the Plus 4 through to the Roadster 4 seater at 3.7. And then there is the Aero range. This was a major development for the company, the first Aero 8 launched in 2000, created to keep the company on the race track and in so doing providing a world class sports car.

Given the pedigree and bespoke nature of all these cars, the prices make them, if not exactly a bargain, then certainly reasonable. The basic 4/4 starts at £35,000, then at the top end, there is the Aero Supersports at £126.900.

“No two models are exactly the same,” said Burrall, “because they are made by hand. And with all the options available, it means each customer gets a unique car. And one with a heart! That’s part of its appeal.”

There are faster, flashier, more luxurious, more

Since ready-to-wear took centre stage from the 1960s on, a popular misconception has become established among the uneducated that Savile Row and bespoke tailoring was/is about boring suits, rich men and elitism.

While it is true that many of the men who opt for bespoke do favour the classic, traditional suit style that is accepted the world over in business circles, the essential fact about bespoke is that it is just that – you say what you want.

And though it helps to be rich in ordering on-Row, there are less expensive tailors off it who can also provide well crafted, exclusive clothes for the man who wants something a little different; a bit edgy.

Happily, the mood is swinging away from international designer brands that often price their suits at the same, or more, than properly tailored ones. Younger men are seeking out those who can provide original styling with quality. A new day has dawned and hallelujah.

The styles shown here illustrate that the basic suit and coat can be every bit as cool, strong and powerful as anything dreamt up for the more outlandish menswear designer collections. With bespoke, and to a certain extent made-to-measure, you can say what you want and get it.

Two of the names featured here are significantly based in Savile Row’s more raffish neighbour, Soho, but aspire to its tailoring craftsmanship. The third is in London’s latest hip centre, Shoreditch. It’s worth noting that they have all chosen models with the appropriate attitude, the difference between a good and a merely adequate one.

Mark Powell is something of a legend in his own lifetime, off the Row but of its standards, and known for making fine suits for some first class villains in his time as well as a raft of showbiz and other celebrities. He is to be seen about his Soho manor, in immaculate suits, often three piece, with gold watch chain, very classic and often with a touch of the Edwardian styling on which he is so knowledgeable.

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Did he make George Clooney’s wedding suit? The star is on his list of clients but he is not saying. But he did provide a collection for a style party in Ibiza this summer, at the annual Urban in Ibiza fiesta. This is a wide ranging festival that celebrates a variety of artworks with plenty of parties, and Powell chose this occasion to launch a bespoke service on the island.

Near neighbour in Soho to Powell is Sir Tom Baker, the brand name for tailor Tom Baker, who still awaits his knighthood. This long, tall fellow started off in Savile Row but favoured the more louche atmosphere of Soho when launching his own business.

It suits his clientele of showbiz and particularly music celebrities, strong on rock ‘n roll stars. He staged a catwalk show this summer to launch his autumn style designs, which turned into very much of a rock ‘n roll party.

Beggars Run is based in the fashionable centre of Shoreditch, with a loyal young following. It also has a shop in Osaka, Japan, where the mix of formal tailoring and edgy presentation is appreciated.

Headed up by Cian McAuliffe, it offers made-to-measure styles, based upon classical designs with a strong dash of the hit man. His aim is to offer quality tailoring at moderate prices.

Since ready-to-wear took centre stage from the

By Marie Scott

Staying at a hotel on the island of Jersey some years ago, I was asked by the son of the lady proprietor how I liked to start my day. “Well, I suppose a glass of champagne is always nice,” I replied. “What a good idea,” he said, and disappeared into the cellar and returned with a bottle of Dom Perignon.

I never found out what his mother made of this act of wanton indulgence, which is perhaps as well, but I have retained fond memories of Jersey ever since, and of course of Dom Perignon.

And as the Season gets into its swing, many more will be starting, and finishing, their days with a glass of bubbly, and this year with pink champagne in particular. Once the stuff of romantic novels, nightclubs, and the nouveau rich, there are now many fine releases of rosé champagne and a new one has just come onto the UK market in time for this summer’s occasions.

It is from that grand champagne house, Louis Roederer, and is the Cristal Rosé 2006. It took one hundred years after the creation of the first Cristal champagne before a rosé cuvée was produced by this house, in 1974, and others have only come along in the intervening years when the harvest was exactly right.

“Cristal Rosé is only made when the conditions are perfect,” says Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, executive vice-president and chef de cave at Roederer. “The grapes have to have reached perfect maturity to be right for a great rosé, only attained in very good years, and as achieved in 2006.”

It may be found at Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, plus selected independent wine merchants, price £495.

Ruinart, the oldest champagne house, took to rosé early in its long history, producing its first shipment in 1764. This came about in response to a customer specifically asking for something different from white champagne.

There have always been difficult customers. After early trials, a blend of white and red wines created the delicate pink to be found in the Ruinart Rosé and Dom Ruinart Rosé.

From Berry Bros & Rudd, and other fine wine merchants, a bottle of the 1998 Dom Ruinart Rosé is £225.

cattierCattier, a prestigious, family-owned champagne house, credits female drinkers with the rise in popularity of pink fizz and not just because they like pink. “They have liked prosecco,” marketing director Philippe Bienvue maintains, “but are moving on and looking for less sweet wine. The rosé is slightly sweeter than the dry champagnes they may have tried, so they prefer that. This is the case for younger drinkers but not with older women. They are more sophisticated and are used to a dryer champagne.” The Cattier Glamour Rosé is semi sweet. For those looking to limit their sugar intake, and financial out-take, Cattier’s Brut Absolu has zero dosage, and retails around £52.

Another name not so well known in the UK is Gratien & Meyer, yet their fizz has been popular here for over a hundred years through The Wine Society. It is the Society’s longest continuous supplier, and members have continued to like their champagne, sold to them under the Society’s own label. For those who don’t know of the Society, it is the oldest wine cooperative and aims to find quality wines to sell to members at a fair price. Life membership, which comes with a share in the Society, is £40.

The Saumur Rosé Brut pink champagne from Gratien is £35, the demi-sec white at £32.

A champagne favoured in the John Lewis gift department is Nicolas Feuillatte, a youngster in the champagne hierarchy but well respected. Great for summer picnic hampers is its neat little quarter bottle that comes with its own black ‘jacket’, with strap handle, or for the rosé, a shocking pink zippered jacket. The Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Rosé Vintage 750 ml is £120, and competes with other prettily gift boxed pinks at the store, including Bollinger’s La Grande Annee Rosé and Taittinger’s Hollographic Rosé, various sizes available.

Rosé Sauvage is the pink choice from Piper Heidsieck. This grande maison is celebrating its 21st year as Official Champagne Supplier at the Cannes Film Festival with a make-over for its classic Brut NV bottle in the style of a black tie and jacket. It has a long history of being popular in the cinema world, from early films through to Marilyn Monroe, who said she started the day with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck.

The black tie bottles are on sale from May at around £36. The pink is £31.50 from thechampagnecompany.com online and through other retailers.

By Marie Scott Staying at a hotel on

If there isn’t a technical term for an obsession with timepieces, there really should be. In these rather parlous times when, if you ask someone for the time, they very often reach for their mobile phone instead of consulting their wrist.

Since the earliest timepiece was created, humankind has had a fascination with capturing and perhaps, regretting the passage of time. Around the neck, set into a rock crystal cylinder in pairs of cufflinks, strewn across waistcoat pockets, nestling in a top pocket attached by a chain to the floral buttonhole and of course around the wrist, where it seems to have settled – mobile phone consulting apart. It has been quite a journey.

The art of watchmaking is appreciated the world over and even the ubiquity of quartz and battery cannot eclipse the lure of the consciously wound – or indeed the magic of automatic – a heartbeat on your wrist, adding more time-fuel with every movement.

The most respected brands are scions of good taste and judicious judgement. Somehow the price of a luxury watch from, say, Bond Street does not shock in the way a designer dress often does. The reason is clarity itself. Whilst, of course, a beautiful gown is constructed with often genius and prepared by many expert hands, it lacks the actual ‘life’, a vivacity which makes a great watch not only covetable but something one wonders why it has not always been there.

This year’s clutch of the most elegant and noteworthy examples, naturally one might say, includes all the usual suspects. And what beautiful suspects they are, each with that instantly recognisable provenance and style credentials and whilst it may be a competitive market, each maker, one suspects, respects its fellow.

When it comes to the man’s watch, if it must fizz with diamonds, trust the experts. Graff’s exquisite Diamond GyroGraff with its sparkling bezel and central triangular emerald for example. Dubey & Schaldenbron’s Coeur Blanc sports baguette cut diamonds, somehow reminiscent of a perfect circular ornamental surround to perhaps some monument. Well, one might say that the monument might be time itself.

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For sheer elegance, of minimalistic shape, the Da Vindice Geneve, the Vindex Tourbillon, has a honeycomb motif. The whole is in deepest black and the pointe finale…the company’s chic lily motif. Perhaps consider its stable mate, the Tourbillon Barometer watch, featuring a partial vacuum.

Watches like all accessories, although in the luxury category are objects of fashion too. Certainly, in the men’s department over the last few years or so, the trend has been for circular (of course), slightly oversized or indeed definitely so, with imposing faces and substantial cases – with a distinctly sportif air. Not sporty. And there is a difference.

Timeless slims always win, however, especially those offered by Gucci – their automatic range, effortlessly stylish. Cartier, Jaeger Le Coulter, Breguet and Patek Philippe offer elegant examples in this sector of classics.

When it comes to the shape of a watch, most would cite the circular. And it is a given that one must eschew the so-called novelty watch, as perhaps all luxury brands would attest to. But that aside, craftsmanship comes first and there are some interesting shapes and forms from some of the most established brands to consider. Look at stalwart maker, Rolex, or Ann Cleef & Arples with one of their diamond and mother of pearl pieces, or indeed the rather proud Kalparisma – a rose gold confection, set with diamonds and sporting a Hermes strap.

But whatever watch you choose, it really is worth remembering that it will almost choose you. Because of… you. They lend their personality to yours. Desmond Morris once proclaimed that if you drew a circle and placed two dots side by side, no one could not but see a face. And what does a watch have? A face. And by the by…scour any magazine, watch gallery catalogue or shop window on Bond Street and in the main, all the watches will be set to ten minutes past ten. The reason? The face has a smile.

On the hunt for your perfect watch? Take all the time you need.

If there isn’t a technical term for