INTRODUCTION TO THE LONDON LUXURY INSIDER
Established in 2010 by Heart of London Business Alliance and New West End Company, the London Luxury Quarter has the honour of raising the profile of this extraordinary area across the retail, hospitality, real estate and business media sectors.
We began the summer season with a social on the exquisite new terrace at The Ritz London. It was a pleasure to provide members, as well as Conrad Bird, Director of No. 10’s GREAT campaign, with an update on the Quarter’s aims and the opportunity for businesses to work together to build a thriving luxury community.
This autumn we have an extensive calendar of London Luxury Quarter member events, including the launch of the Annual London Luxury Quarter Insider Report and the first annual London Luxury Quarter Conference taking place at BAFTA on 21st October 2015, where notable names from the luxury industry will discuss the topic, ‘Where does Luxury Go from Here?’
As well as news updates and information about new openings within the area, each edition will include an in-depth interview with one of the Quarter’s most highly regarded figures. In our first edition, we’re honoured to feature an exclusive interview with the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts, Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, written by noted luxury journalist, Claire Adler.
I hope every reader will find the first edition an interesting reference for the activity taking place within the London Luxury Quarter and I look forward to updating you in the next edition during what I am sure will be another exciting year.Back to top
LONDON MAKES PARIS FEEL OLD-FASHIONED
Dr Charles Saumarez Smith CBE talks to Claire Adler
Dr Charles Saumarez Smith CBE is secretary and chief executive of the Royal Academy of Arts. Currently no less than 14 portraits of Saumarez Smith hang on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery. Formerly head of research at the Victoria & Albert Museum and director at both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery, Saumarez Smith left school at 16 with five A levels, before gaining a PhD in 18th century architecture and a Harvard scholarship. Today he is leading the £49.8 million transformation of Mayfair’s Burlington Gardens and the buildings of the Royal Academy in time for its 250th anniversary in 2018. Plans include making the Royal Academy art school visible to the public and creating a 300-seat, naturally lit auditorium. Here he talks to Claire Adler about London’s art scene overtaking New York, nail-biting moments at the Royal Academy and why the government needs to take the London Luxury Quarter much more seriously.
How important is the London Luxury Quarter on the global stage?
Thanks to its huge numbers of foreign visitors, luxury shopping, hedge funds, art market and buoyant property market, the neighbourhood has as much economic significance as the City. Over the last 20 years, London has succeeded in making Paris feel old-fashioned. Meanwhile, New York’s influential art galleries like Pace, David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth and Gagosian, now all have a presence here. International investors who buy property here are attracted to our tax regime, quality housing, transportation – and culture.
But the importance of London is fragile. In recent years, the Lottery has helped modernise British culture, be it the National Gallery, the Tate, Wallace Collection, the V&A and now the Royal Academy.
Is there tension when global brands partner with a cultural institution?
It makes sense for us to have a symbiotic relationship with business. I’m pleased jewellers David Morris are sponsoring our Ai Weiwei exhibition this autumn. In the past Louis Vuitton has supported our educational programme. When Hauser & Wirth supported our Modern British Sculpture exhibition, Iwan Wirth acknowledged to me that his gallery benefits from its proximity to the Royal Academy. I’d like to encourage more galleries to see it that way too.
There are still purists who are sceptical. A leader in The Times recently said that instead of our Monet exhibition next spring we should show William Dobson – as if our duty is towards the three people in Britain interested in Dobson as opposed to the 300,000 interested in Monet.
How do the art world’s big spenders view London versus New York?
Many art buyers live in Russia, the Gulf States and Asia. The shift of wealth and power eastwards, London’s relative proximity and the fact that leading American galleries are ensuring they have a presence here mean London is perceived as lively, full of culture and great for shopping. Many wealthy individuals now prefer to buy property in London rather than New York.
What are your goals for the Royal Academy and the surrounding area?
I hope the reconstruction of this building by architect Sir David Chipperfield, including plans for new galleries for contemporary art, more public learning programmes, increased public space and our expanded café, will transform the neighbourhood, just like the Guggenheim did in Bilbao and the Neues Museum has done in Berlin.
In terms of the surrounding streets, there is currently too much traffic. We experimented by pedestrianizing Burlington Gardens for a Sunday recently which was a great success. We hosted Royal Academy alumni, art installations, music performances, food and drink stalls and activities including t-shirt printing and a Lego workshop, which re-imagined the Royal Academy building.
I’d like to see Savile Row, Cork Street and Burlington Gardens with better pavements, less traffic and more trees. We should encourage Westminster City Council and Transport for London to put the responsibility for street planning into the hands of architects, who would consider the quality of the overall urban environment, as opposed to traffic engineers.
Any nail-biting moments while the Royal Academy has transported unusually sized art works?
The Royal Academy routinely mounts huge exhibitions involving complicated installations. Visitors constantly look up in wonder at how we get things through the door. When I arrived at the Anselm Kiefer exhibition, which involved borrowing some enormous works, I thought the same thing. I found myself wishing I’d observed the fascinating process. There was a palpable feeling of relief amongst staff in the room once the exhibition was hung.
When I first started at the Royal Academy, we were encouraged to place a sculpture of a cauldron by Zhang Huan in our courtyard. I hadn’t realized it was an actual functioning cauldron. I arrived at work one morning to see our courtyard full of smoke. The cauldron was never lit again.Back to top
NEWS FROM THE QUARTER
As the spotlight continues to focus on the London Luxury Quarter, luxury French fashion house Balmain announced South Audley Street will be home to its first London flagship, meanwhile British luxury goods company William & Son selected Bruton Street as the location for their vast boutique department store. Jermyn Street was also selected as the destination for international polo brand La Martina’s first ever London store meanwhile Burlington Arcade played host to a Georg Jensen pop up in May, who will open a permanent store on Mount Street in September.
So far this year, the Quarter has welcomed an array of new hospitality openings. As the latest new culinary addition to the new St James’s development, contemporary gourmet Indian restaurant Chutney Mary took up residence on St James’s Street in May. In June, Le Chabanais, the first overseas outpost from the team behind Le Chateaubriand in Paris, opened on Mount Street and Sackville’s, specialising in fine meat and truffles, opened on Sackville Street in July.
Joining a wide assortment of established private members clubs, Hay Hill opened in the spring offering a base for London’s business elite in the central location of Berkeley Square. At the club, guests can enjoy unrivalled dining options devised by Michelin starred chef, Shaun Rankin. Furthermore, The Langham also launched the new, expansive Langham Club Lounge in July.
Before the end of 2015 more and more luxury brands will have made the Quarter the location for their flagship store. This autumn British fragrance house Jo Malone will open its first ’Global Premier Boutique’ on Regent Street, meanwhile the eponymous ready-to-wear brand Erdem will open its first store on South Audley Street and young Parisian label AMI will launch a flagship store on Duke Street as part of expansion plans in Europe, America and Asia. British design talent Simone Rocha will open a new store on Mount Street in August and Stella McCartney and Valentino will both be opening new flagships on Old Bond Street later this year. Finally, by early 2016 Dover Street Market, the high-end fashion store offering luxury labels from Christian Dior to Christopher Kane, will be moving to a brand new premises in London’s Haymarket, tripling its floor space at the edge of the London Luxury Quarter. On the culinary front, Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa will come to Piccadilly following its success in the City and Greek Seafood restaurant Milos will open on Regent Street.
Not to mention the hotly anticipated additions to London Luxury Quarter’s cultural centre. In October The Gagosian Gallery, developed by Grosvenor as the 16th gallery in their global collection, will open on Grosvenor Hill, part of London’s exciting emerging cultural district. Faithful to his principles, Gagosian intends to mark the gallery’s opening with an exhibition featuring works by Cy Twombly, a great American painter, sculptor and photographer. Dover Street tube station is also set to open as a new art gallery within the year. Originally opened in 1907 and closed in 1932 because it was too close to other stations to attract sufficient passengers, TfL now plans to optimise its commercial opportunity, aiming to increase revenue by £3.4bn in the next 10 years.
The Crown Estate is making great headway with its £500m investment strategy for St James’s. Since the vision was established, the Estate has completed a number of major redevelopments and refurbishments, including One Eagle Place the St James’s Gateway scheme, a £100m joint venture with the Healthcare of Ontario Pension plan, which was completed in 2013 and is now fully let to a range of leading international fashion and lifestyle retailers, as well as successful financial services businesses.
Work is now underway for the most ambitious scheme to date, the £320 million St James’s Market development in partnership with Oxford Properties. St James’s Market, which will provide 260,000 sqft of flagship retail, office and restaurant accommodation set amongst almost half an acre of revitalised public spaces, is set to complete in 2016. A proposal has also been put forward to redevelop Duke’s Court, a commercial block on the corner of Duke Street St James’s and Jermyn Street. The plans propose the creation of36,000 sqft of flagship retail and restaurant space at ground and basement levels and new modern office accommodation, from the first to sixth floor. As part of the same project, at 33 Bury Street, six new residential apartments have been proposed, restoring the upper floors of the building to their original use.
Bond Street’s multi-million pound improvement plan has been listed as a priority scheme in the recently launched West End Partnership vision. As the first revamp the luxury street has seen in over 30 years, the improvements will be led by New West End Company’s Bond Street Management Group working with Westminster City Council and TfL. The plans will see a transformation of the streetscape, targeting completion in time for the launch of Crossrail in 2018 which will see passengers using Bond Street station increase from 155,000 to over 222,000 daily.
Above the western ticket hall of Crossrail’s new Bond Street West station, Grosvenor is developing 63,000 sq ft of office space at 65 Davies Street, which will rise six floors above the station, served by a double height entrance lobby on Davies Street. Grosvenor has also welcomedan array of flagship stores to Duke Street, including menswear ready-to-wear brand E.Tautz and the eponymous luxury shoe designer Penelope Chilvers along with military-inspired menswear brand Private White V.C., milliner Laura Apsit Livens and The Duke Street Emporium by Jigsaw Group. In September 2014, The Beaumont Hotel, developed by Grosvenor and the first hotel to be operated by restaurateurs Corbin & King, opened at Balderton Street.
The Pollen Estate is refurbishing, extending and rebuilding a series of buildings on New Bond Street and Cork Street. The new additions will be designed behind existing façades, to retain the original character of the buildings while providing 18,000 sqft of new gallery space alongside 39,000 sqft of office and a further 6,000 sqft of retail space. Cork Street Mews will be revitalised with enhanced presentation thanks to improvement work across the public realm in the area.
Burlington Arcade has seen the completion of a multi-million pound restoration. Co-owners Meyer Bergman and Thor Equities forged ahead with a plan to overhaul the retail space, capitalising on the expertise of Westminster City Council’s planning department and historic specialists at English Heritage and the Georgian Society. The new floor, made from British stone, has been designed by Jamie Fobert, a leading British architect and designer who specialises in projects involving historic buildings. To complement the new décor, artist Zoe Bradley was also commissioned to create two striking hand-sculpted paper installations to hang as chandeliers above the arcade.
The Royal Academy of Arts revealed details of a redevelopment that will link the two buildings it owns – the historic Burlington House and the Six Burlington Gardens building purchased in 2001. Charles Saumarez Smith, the secretary and chief executive of the Royal Academy, said the project would cost £49.8m, of which it was currently £5m short. He said the physical transformation of the two-acre site would fundamentally change the 247-year-old institution. The work will be completed in early 2018, in time for the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary.
As summer descends upon London Luxury Quarter, the calendar is filled with unmissable annual events and new launches.
A key date in the fashion calendar, London Collections: Men, the UK’s fashion week for men, saw Jermyn Street transformed into an open air catwalk on 13th June, this year. St James’s London showcased four live fashion shows along the street featuring over 20 St James’s brands, from Aquascutum and Dunhill to Tiger of Sweden and Barbour International. The events attracted over 1,200 visitors who were invited to sit alongside the global fashion leaders, press and celebrities in attendance, for the very first time. www.stjameslondon.co.uk/lcm
As the leader in London’s art scene, on 8th June, the Royal Academy of Arts launched their famous Summer Exhibition, the world’s oldest open-submission exhibition offering annual snapshots of current contemporary art. This year’s exhibition is co-ordinated by Michael Craig-Martin RA – a leading artist of his generation and teacher who nurtured the talents of Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst. His distinctive creative vision has resulted in an exhibition where every room bursts with variety, colour and remarkable new work by leading and emerging artists – all handpicked from over 12,000 entries. On entrance to the Academy, visitors are confronted by a towering formation of steel ‘clouds’, created by Royal Academician Conrad Shawcross, before Jim Lambie’s kaleidoscopic stairs, which lead up to the Main Galleries. With over 1,000 pieces to admire inside and many works available for purchase, the show permits the unique opportunity to own original art while supporting the historic Royal Academy schools. A must visit for art collectors and an insightful start for beginners, the Summer Exhibition closes on 16th September.
Another important event in the calendar, 3rd July saw the galleries of Mayfair and St. James’s unite for a week of events hosted by the capital’s foremost art experts unveiling new discoveries and showcasing paintings, drawings, sculpture, and works of art, from antiquity to the 20th century. Sponsored by The Crown Estate, over 40 leading art galleries and three auction houses, including a selection of international galleries, took part, each within walking distance highlighting the distinctive nature and global importance of the capital’s art neighbourhood. www.londonartweek.co.uk
For art enthusiasts waiting for Frieze, another of the world’s leading contemporary art fairs to descend on London in October, upcoming exhibitions highly worth a visit include Joseph Cornell’s Wanderlust, a collection of work by one of the most innovative artists of the lastcentury open until 27th September at the Royal Academy, and following that an exhibition of the first significant survey work by the notable Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, opening on 19th September. www.royalacademy.org.uk
Due to popular demand, Grosvenor announced the return of the Grosvenor Film Festival presented by The Nomad Cinema in association with Chestertons. On select days from July to September 2015, Grosvenor Square, Belgrave Square Garden, Brown Hart Gardens and Wilton Crescent Garden will be transformed into open-air film festivals. Screenings will be silent, with audio provided by way of state-of-the-art headsets. The scenic locations offer the ideal backdrop for a summer evening gathering, complete with gourmet picnics from local establishments including Benugos, Madame Gautier and Mosimann’s along with frozen cocktails by LiC. www.grosvenorlondon.comBack to top