Forgive the last ‘goodbye cruel world’ letter. I believe I had reached what is known in the writing trade as the ‘scrape the barrel and drain the bottle’ stage of completing my latest opus The Perfect Gentleman for Thames & Hudson. When the manuscript finally leaves my hands I think I will emulate Australian Open champion Novak Jokovich who after his six-hour defeat of Rafa Nadal ripped his top off and posed fist-pumping and gurning at the crowd in a gesture that had echoes of Vladimir Putin.
Mind you, I am going to miss my partners in crime Mr Dawson and Miss Condell (art director and editor) who it has been an honour and pleasure to work with. Jennie has a plane ticket booked for a three month voyage to India and is due to leave in days. A year out is quite tempting, no? I’m sending you a couple of images from the book. We’re currently hunting for the Sargent portrait of Sir Philip Sassoon in picture libraries. That portrait is to me the quintessence of The Perfect Gentleman. The second photograph is something of a lost treasure. It is a detail of a diamond and white gold cuff link made for The London Cut exhibition in Tokyo by Shaun Leane. The links and matching tie stud were subsequently sold to a Russian client.
Shaun is a mate. He’s also in the book as one of the younger London brands that has the makings of history. The struggle to write golden prose wasn’t helped this weekend by a dreadful Radio 4 arts programme that posed a question worthy of Private Eye’s Pseuds’ Corner: ‘can contemporary dance communicate the pain of being a hostage?’ Well, as a veteran of Saddler’s Wells I can answer in the affirmative. Is there anything more torturous than being trapped in a middle stalls seat and subjected to hideous contortions set to jarring music that would panic the cat? All one wants from contemporary dance is an Adonis in flesh coloured tights doing something with a bent wood chair that makes your eyes stand out on stalks.
Now riddle me this Rowley. The Davos Summit. Baffled by it, aren’t you? I can understand why the world’s power brokers might want to gather hugger-mugger in a glamorous Alpine location just after Christmas. It’s what power brokers do, no? But, admit, do you really think that any gathering that brings together politicians, PRs, Web masters and media moguls is in any way altruistic or honest? Your heart sinks to hear that Matthew Freud, Prince Andrew and Peter Mandelson were amongst the ‘delegates’. You might as well call it the AGM of Wrong ‘Uns INC.
I’m genuinely surprised more questions aren’t asked about Davos. We’re facing a global recession and what do our public servants do? Go on a jaunt funded by the British tax payer and plot world domination like low rent Bond villains. Mind you, Davos is always good value for a round of ’spot the random guest’ after your next dinner party. I understand why Boris Johnson, Tina Brown, Angela Merkel and Bill Gates might benefit from a couple of days’ moustache twirling in a swanky resort. But what precisely do Lily Cole and Ozwald Boateng bring to the party?
There’s always a few surprises on the Davos guest list. You half expect to hear ITNs correspondent to say, ‘George Osborne was joined at the Google party by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Rabbi Lionel Blue and Celia Imrie’. To dinner last Friday with my friend Judith Watt who has just finished a biography of Schiaparelli and is currently writing a new book about the late Alexander McQueen. Evidently, there is a wall of silence around the McQueen studio. The Gucci Group will inevitably want to protect its investment and build on the success of Sarah Burton and her association with the Duchess of Cambridge. Judith is a great fashion historian who will, I know, do a story such as McQueen’s justice.
I only met McQueen socially a handful of times and did one FT How To Spend It interview at his house in Islington. I recall McQueen being initially uncommunicative – shyness I thought rather than aggression – until I made friends with his dogs. Like many a great creative, he quite rightly thought everything that needed to be said about his work could be communicated by looking at his work rather than endless words. I must try to dig out the transcript of the interview for Judith.
What does this week have in store for you darling? I’ve got a pre-record to do for ITV about dressing for the season, a lunch with Brett at the Savoy, a day with the gang at Anderson & Sheppard working on the No 17 project and another shift with Pete and Jennie working on the layouts for The Perfect Gentleman. I’m sure you, I and Better Half will have a ticker tape parade when the page layouts go off to repro and our work is done. The best bit is not the book launch although my last two at the Savoy and Heywood Hill were a hoot and a half. No, the best best bit is celebrating a job well done with Pete and Jennie as we did at Royal Ascot last year.
We’re off to shoot royal shoemaker Lobb this morning for the book and do a cover test of yours truly with face obscured by a Lock & Roll trilby stating up and down St James’s Street in an enigmatic fashion. The terribly talented Andy Barnham is shooting the pictures today so it is entirely possible the shot will be a winner rather than a haunting echo of Don’t Look Now. Until next time…