Skull Harness. Image courtesy of Fleet Ilya
I have a spooky feeling that Fleet Ilya‘s Skull Harness is not just for Halloween. Yes, this gothic contraption is designed to be worn (those holes are for boobs, I’m guessing) which isn’t so surprising when you discover that Fleet Ilya is the home of ‘luxury bondage’. But even if the restraint look is a bit much for you, read on.
Fleet Ilya Cuff Clutch. Image courtesy of wheretoget.it
As well as having carved a niche for themselves in harnesses, collars and cuffs, Fleet Ilya‘s range of beautifully crafted leather accessories extends to elegant belts and edgy clutch bags (my favourite being the Cuff Clutch).
What I love about this brand is its exclusivity (thus far). The word exclusivity usually means – in fashion terms – stratospherically expensive, but with clutches and belts from around £400 they are well-priced for such craftsmanship and less recognisable than brands like Alaïa and Alexander McQueen.
This is the magic that happens when a St Martins graphic design graduate and a traditional saddle-maker come together. And I am a huge fan.
Image courtesy of Fleet Ilya
Photograph copyright Penelope Meredith
One of my favourite places to stop and sit is at Postcard Teas – a beautiful Georgian building in a most unlikely spot.
Just behind the bedlam of Oxford Street is this perfect little space for contemplation and exquisite tea. In a world of buzzy, too-cool-for-school coffee haunts (don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of those too) this place is refreshingly simple and quiet.
Today I had the most delicious Summer Darjeeling which I decided to send to my tea-loving British friend in Manhattan in the form of one of their Tea Postcards. In an age of texting and instant everything these are such a delightful, original way of saying hello.
Image courtesy of Postcard Teas
As C.S Lewis said – ‘Tea should be taken in solitude’. I’d say this place is the next best thing.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7629 3654
Image courtesy of Faliero Sarti
I hope that Monica Sarti wouldn’t be upset with me for the title of this post. But for me, the intrinsic beauty of a Faliero Sarti scarf lies not only in its sumptuous yarn and beautiful design but in the fact that it instantly looks – and feels – like something you’ve had forever.
Images courtesy of Faliero Sarti
They’re a totally indulgent purchase. I remember my first – a rich, petrol blue silk/cashmere mix with raw edges that I bought in Milan some years ago. It cost more than I could afford, looks like a rag but is gorgeous and comes everywhere with me. The second has only been with me for a few hours but already I am attached.
Photograph by Catherine Naylor-Leyland
These pieces don’t scream fashion and they don’t scream money. There are no logos and no recognisable prints (unless you count the current Mickey Mouse collaboration with Disney).
Scarves are great – you can wear them with nothing else (ask the girls at Liberty to show you how) or throw them on last to bring life to your look and warmth to your neck. What’s not to love?
I first found out about Solange Azagury-Partridge 10 years ago, when my friend Whitney Bromberg-Hawkings suggested I go to her for my engagement ring. I had been searching in vain for something sparkly and original and Whitney’s pairing was right (unsurprisingly – the lady has impeccable taste). I went to the exquisite little jewel box of a shop in Westbourne Grove and have since been the proud owner of a Solange Azagury-Partridge Muz ring in red gold with diamonds, which is about as far from a traditional solitaire as you can get. I adore it.
Image courtesy of Solange Azagury-Partridge
Since then, one of us has gone up in the world. Solange has a new home at 5 Carlos Place in Mayfair – an imposing, psychedelic boutique with Celine, Roland Mouret, Goyard and the Connaught Hotel for neighbours. The place has the same magical feel as her first boutique but on a much bigger scale – and still manages to retain its sense of intimacy. How does she do it?
Lapis Lazuli colourblock ring in 18ct gold and El Dorado gypsy bangle in 18ct gold
Of course, it helps that she has innate style and an eye for a gem. But for me, the beauty of Solange’s designs comes down to authenticity. She designs from the heart. It is pure expression, without recourse to trends or consumer pressure. It’s a courageous stance to take and this courage permeates her pieces, which have grace as well as grit.
Gold & diamond fringe ring by Solange Azagury-Partridge
So do her fans. I bumped into Sharleen Spiteri and Bay Garnett at the launch of her new Chromance collection earlier today. Such is the essence of her customer – modern, original, ballsy.
Personally, I’m dreaming of a Solange Christmas.