You’d be forgiven for thinking that with a job which has you jetting across the globe from one exciting alpha city to the next, privileged knowledge on recondite luxury finds in these destinations would be a given.
In reality, the amount of downtime a work trip ever bestows are those last five minutes before sleep when you check in with home to let them know you’re still alive… just. Fortunately, over the years, I’ve managed to accrue the odd afternoon escape to unearth hidden gems the luxury world has to offer.
I was saddened to see the closure of G. Lorenzi in Milan that sold the best collection of elegant antiquated accessories, from cheese knives to razor sets. Fortunately, Dunhill in London now carries all the stock, but it shows that so much about true luxury is the experience of discovery.
In Florence, I defer to Mr. Robert Spangle, regarded as one of the best street-style photographers who travels to every corner of the world for his craft and unearths some of the coolest stores, craftsmen, markets, tailors and the like. His find, Giannini & Kuwata, reads a little like a fairy tale: a 4th generation Italian book-binder and a Sorbonne-trained Japanese art restoration expert met and fell in love then started a business in Florence selling bespoke stationary combining their respective crafts.
As Robert explains, “Every option is afforded the customer; the leather used, paper, dimensions, dedication pages set in their hand-made marble paper, and stunning hand-set embossing with gold leaf… every order arrives so immaculately wrapped you will agonise over opening it.”
In Venice, Nardi is a family business of jewellery makers whose creations have been sought after for generations, and are worn by royalty and old Hollywood luminaries, including Elizabeth Taylor, no less. With Nardi’s art-inspired masterpieces, you’re not only investing in history but also being part of an exceptional group to wear or own these truly unique creations.
Another company continuing the use of traditional methods in their craft, is Paris-based Parfumeur, Will Inrig. A former fragrance designer for Chanel, he is one of the few perfumers using the traditional grande mesure method of creating bespoke scents. As he mostly creates for big companies, he only sometimes goes back to collaborating with individuals or designing your perfect fragrance, so it’s certainly worth sniffing out and booking in.
In the world of bespoke, New & Lingwood of Jermyn Street offers quintessential English history in every thread of their exquisite robes. It was and still is the premier Eton outfitter and its Eton shop is a colourful array of possibilities. Step next door for their remarkable dressing-gown creations in jacquard silks, where literally any design of your choice can be woven into a sumptuous silk robe with co-ordinated monogrammed velvet evening slippers to lounge around in style and lavish comfort.
For the most British experience yet, afternoon tea at Claridge’s in London is as softly unrestrained as you’d imagine. But for true tea connoisseurs out there, wander around the corner and pop into William & Son which offers a curated collection of exquisite homeware from around the world. My current item of choice is a hand-crafted tea humidor by Lotusier – unique in design and sold exclusively in the UK through William & Son. The humidors are crafted in France, Italy and Switzerland incorporating hand marquetry design on the wooden box, hand-blown crystal containers, German-made hygrometer and numerous bespoke accessories. The Mad Hatter would undoubtedly approve.
Stay in London to pick up un petit cadeau for a loved one, with bag maker, Innis. Exclusively by appointment only, the pure, understated architecture of each bag, created by designer, Victoria Innis Chandor. She takes her inspiration from her experience designing in Japan, and the result is a welcome alternative to overly stylised, ‘shouty’ Instagram It bags.
If you only have time to visit one shop, cosy neighbourhood Trunk Clothiers and Trunk LABS in London offers one of the best curated menswear selections in the capital, with modern classics sourced from the most revered global spots for men’s styles. Brands include Drakes, The Gigi, Caruso, CQP, The Merz b. Schwanen Shoyeido, and Camoshita United Arrows. All you could ever want, under one classic, tranquil, unassuming men’s space.
Casa Fagliano, a family-run business that was originally from Italy, has been in Buenos Aires for some five generations and are bootmakers for the world’s greatest polo players. What’s great though about specialist ateliers is that their other creations have the same level of detail, quality and heritage and their signature product, whether you embrace the sporting endeavours or not.