I have still resisted the dark mark to join all the Harry Potter freaks at a showing of the Deathly Hallows. But it did get me pondering how cleverly J. K. Rowling has created a magical world with such parallels to real life. For instance, it has been noted that Lord Voldermort and I have rather a lot in common over and above red eyes and a capacity to fly. The whole story of the new film turns around a quest to find Voldermort’s Horcruxes. For those not in the know, Horcruxes are pieces of Lord Voldermort’s soul that he has secreted in various magical objects in various magical locations pertinent to his past.
At the risk of the odd fashion industry Harry Potter wishing to seek and destroy my Horcruxes (and I know who you are), I pondered where mine would be secreted. There’d definitely be one in the Savoy Museum hidden in Noel Coward’s compendium, another in the ledger vaults underneath Henry Poole & Co in a tin trunk, one buried under the BBC studio at Royal Ascot and possibly one behind the Lavazza machine in my publisher’s kitchen at Thames & Hudson. The one you’ll never find is hidden in the ivory DJ pocket of my favourite head barman in my favourite bar in London. Guess.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the one hidden in Lord Voldermort’s snake Nagini? Well, let me tell you I have Nagini’s twin brother, Negroni, wrapped around my little fingers on a nightly basis. So now you know where to look should you wish to see me off in a puff of black smoke.
Ignore my nonsense my darling. My imagination does have a habit of running away…and a damn good job too or I’d be unemployed. Apropos of this, I had an early morning call from Mr Haddon at the Savoy. It appears that the Art Deco showcase intended for the American Bar corridor is imminent. Not only that, the existing showcase is going to be moved into the Savoy Museum. I thought to myself, who else but Harry Potter could dress a gargantuan showcase with immaculate archive material in a matter of days? Fortunately, I have my very own Hermione Grainger in the shape of Mrs T who will work her usual magic.
What do I have to show you with this letter? Yes, it’s old purple tweeds again posing by a fireplace in the Grand Salon of Hardy Amies at No 14 Savile Row. I must say I feel terribly at home at the House of Amies: Savile Row’s answer to Hogwarts. I could and do spend hours gossiping and plotting with Darling Don in the Grand Salon. We have plans for 2011 so watch this space. I have also enclosed a snap of my Ede & Ravenscroft navy top coat acquired only last week. Do you love it? I do.
The final shot is of a magnificent gown tailored for the late, great Dame Barbara Cartland that presently stands like a guardsman in the Hardy Amies Archive Room beautifully curated by Austin Mutti-Mewse. I had a well-documented encounter with the Pink Dame at home in the early 90s. I pitched-up at her stately clutching a dozen pink roses and was ushered into her own Grand Salon that was decorated with those huge baskets of pink roses you used to see at Broadway first nights in Hollywood movies of the 1950s.
Dame Barbara appeared resplendent in a gown not dissimilar to the Amies. Bear in mind this was noon. She was caked in maquillage like Elizabeth I on her deathbed with her whisps of candyfloss hair upswept by an Alice band. I sat nose to nose with her on a chintzy sofa but even then she declared me too softly spoken. ‘You speak like a gel young man’. So DB ordered her servant to rig-up a microphone so we could do the job properly. I was mortified, Rowley, mortified! After our chat about her debutante days as chronicled in her book We Danced All Night we went in to tea where a mouldering Christmas cake was served. Bear in mind this was April. Miss Havisham wasn’t even in it.
Long story short, I adored Dame Barbara. She was an iron-fisted grand dame of the old school who believed in romance, glamour and guts. What’s not to like? She stood with me in the marble hall waiting for my taxi and told me that she would have my roses put on her bedside table. Then she batted those lashes like a Soho drag queen. I encountered the Pink Dame one more time at Sotheby’s when that august auction house sold her wardrobe after her death. My respect went even higher when I tried to pick-up her bead encrusted Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell pink gowns. They were built on a foundation of rubber that even a Coldstream Guard would have found hard to carry.
Soon there will be no more of these armour-plated butterflies left in English society. Dame Barbara may have become a caricature of her younger self but which of us does not? Until next time…