No 1 Savile Row December 2010

Dear Rowley,

I can’t help but agree with you about the nonsense surrounding the way we eat in Britain. I walked past Pret-a-Manger on New Oxford Street yesterday and they’d erected huge plackards in what looked like solid oak inscribed with ‘Handmade for you today’…presumably referring to their vacuum packed sandwiches. Personally, I don’t trust anything that isn’t made right before my eyes such as a half dozen Pearls shucked at the counter of Sheekey’s Oyster Bar. I saw the funniest signage on a van yesterday for a company called ‘Fruit Office’. The slogan read ‘Our Fruit, Your Office’. Sounded rather like my job application for work experience at the Daily Telegraph all those years ago.

When Susan took us all on a DeBeers trip to Venice a while back, we got an email asking if we had any dietary requirements. Mrs Moussaieff – London’s Queen of diamonds – wrote back ‘does anybody interesting have dietary requirements?’ Spot on Mrs M. So what’s new? Gieves & Hawkes at No 1 Savile Row has had what I can only describe as an extreme makeover. In fact I’d go so far as to say it has had a hip replacement. The MD John Durnin blew in from Hong Kong a mere matter of months ago and has transformed that august but tired listed interior from Austen Reed to Austin Powers.

Where to begin? The bespoke room has finally been returned to the Kent Room on the 1st floor: previously an austere white meeting room. Now it is a groovy David Hicks-style salon complete with retro 60s furniture and Pop art. I love it. No 2 Savile Row has been transformed into a barber’s shop (Gentlemen’s Tonic), a bespoke shoe-maker and a purveyor of Art Deco silver, leather goods and curiosities. The Oval Room has become a blazer room (a no brainer really – why did no one think of it sooner?). The map room is a work in progress but at least there is progress after a decade of sleep.

The product still needs some work but a new design director will sort that. My only criticism is the funereal curtain in the window revived from the Victorian era on Savile Row. It is a backward step and not welcoming. But that is a very minor quibble compared to the magnificent work on the part of Mr D. Funnily enough, I had met that arch decorator David Hicks back in the day when I used to date his gorgeous PA who lived in the set above his in Albany.

As you’ll recall, I have spent the best part of last week at the Apple Store in Covent Garden. You have to love those techies. While I was clearing my downloads with the help of a super chap who was showing me pictures of his new baby on the iPhone, a text came through for me from a female friend asking if I knew a good purveyor of, well, let’s just call them items that enhance your bedroom recreational activities. The poor chap was quite startled to say the least. Then again, I’m no prude and funnily enough…

I return to the Savoy after a sabbatical of about a month on Thursday to shoot a fashion portfolio for The London Magazine. The model is Oliver from Anderson & Sheppard and we are shooting in the Savoy Grill. I am down on the call sheet as a stylist which is laughable because styling is something I rarely did even back in the day. When Trinny & Susannah were at large, the Independent on Sunday thought it amusing to team-up Peter York and I as a T&S for chaps. I can’t even recall the name of the column but it lasted for over a year and was truly terrible. We even did Richard & Judy. I think I was the only makeover expert who made the men look worse after than before.

Monday sees the transmission of part one of ITV1s documentary about the Savoy for whom I filmed literally hours and hours of footage with the lovely crew. The evening before saw an email from the director apologising profusely that I am not going to be in the documentary after all. I have, like Marilyn Monroe in her early years, been left on the cutting room floor. Don’t watch it Rowley because I can’t bear to. Far too hurtful. Still, one shouldn’t be too sensitive. But one can bear a grudge.

Reminded me of that scene in the Judy Garland biopic Me and My Shadows starring Judy Davies. Miss Garland’s CBS television show was in danger of being axed. In a last ditch attempt to save a good show, Judy asks for a telephone and rings President Kennedy and sings eight bars of Over the Rainbow down the line. She was responding to ‘audience feedback’ that people rated her as a 1 compared to Lassie’s 5.

Judy stood to her full height, about five feet, and said this. ‘I’m not Dinah Shore. I’m not even Lassie. If you want the girl next door, go next door. Otherwise, gentlemen, I’ve got a show to put on’. Of course they axed her but it was worth it for those lines alone. Sometimes you have to take a stand and register your disapproval and worth. Nobody else is going to blow your trumpet. Sometimes one has to do it one’s self.