An invitation to the Wallace Collection to preview the new exhibition The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe curated by Toby Capwell. Hertford House on Manchester Square is quite simply one of the most sublime museums in London: a treasure house of old masters, Renaissance bronzes, jewelled boxes, Rococo panels, gilded mirrors and glistening chandeliers. The state room interiors are fine examples of high Rococo taste and much of the furniture was acquired in the aftermath of the French Revolution.
The Noble Art of the Sword is a jewel of an exhibit displaying swords and rapiers of impossible artistry. The exhibits are presented in light boxes that give an almost religious aura to these deadly beauties; some of whose sword hilts were designed by artists such as Holbein and Durer. Do dash down to the Wallace Collection as fast as your Cleverley’s can carry you. Hertford House’s proximity to Oxford Street makes one wish gay blades could still carry both sword and rapier at their sides. As better half said of a Saturday shopping trip on Oxford Street, ‘most people are pigs’. This is I think a discourtesy to our porcine friends.
Since when did it become acceptable for people to spit, scratch, swear, shout into mobile phones and play music on iPods so loud you imagine a trickle of blood to emanate from their ear drums? The streets are as filthy as the people who litter them. I felt like an extra in Oh Calcutta! Some bright spark should set up shop selling oranges spiked with cloves to press against offended nostrils as one battles the fug of greasy burgers and cheap perfume. One yearns for the days before Facebook, fast food and Jessie J were invented.
Didn’t it make you weep to hear twenty something Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is now a multi-billionaire thanks to the company’s Stock Exchange listing? Surely a brain that can cure a cancer should be higher prized than a geek who has hijacked a generation’s privacy and replaced human interaction with virtual friends. The most depressing news from Planet Zuckerberg was the ‘status update’ after the sale saying Mark and his mates celebrated with Pizza, Red Bull and a Blue Sky Thinking session. What happened to the old days when young men struck gold and celebrated with a magnum of Bolly, a mountain of cocaine and a dozen Madame Claude girls?
Speaking of celebrations, my art director Pete Dawson and editor Jennie Condell took our usual seats at Sheekey’s Oyster Bar on Friday to celebrate The Perfect Gentleman finally going to print. The reservation was for 6.15pm. I think we rolled out just shy of midnight, moved on to cocktails at the Covent Garden hotel and rocked it out in the Phoenix Arts Club with carriages at 4.35am. Still, as Jennie said nobody was arrested, molested or sent to casualty and a good time was had by all. I think the secret of such stamina is to stick to Prosecco…or Prosssssssheckkkkko as it became known as the evening wore on.
I had some very good news from Thames & Hudson towards the end of last week. It seems they invite one author to speak at their bi-annual sales conference and this year they’ve chosen The Perfect Gentleman as the book they’d to showcase. This is terrific news because despite the book’s difficult birth, I am proud of the result. The cover is a beauty thanks to Pete’s persistence and the contents as polished as they can be thanks to Jennie. Team Mayfair as we have now become known are turning into the Three Musketeers of men’s style titles. Our motto? ‘We bear a grudge’.
May is the month when I give Bloomsbury Towers a top-to-toe spring clean; usually timed to coincide with the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution on May the 19th 1536. The major project was to remove frosting from the glass of one of the sash chord window’s panes. The frosting on the stairwell window was ostensibly to save my neighbours’ blushes as I tottered down the staircase wearing little more than a smile. But time had seen it bubble and chip with the overall effect of the Ipatiev House’s whitewashed windows in Ekaterinburg where the Russian Imperial family met their untimely end: too depressing.
When cleaning, I am possessed by the spirit of Joan Crawford. By the time I’d finished, the windows were as transparent as Gypsy Rose Lee’s lingerie drawer. Of course this now means I’ll have to remember to put on my Derek Rose jim-jams of a morning so the boys downstairs don’t choke on their cornflakes.
What does the next week hold? Better half has given me two tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show so I’ll be attending with the lovely Lara Mingay on my arm. We’ve also got more cabaret meetings at Brasserie Zedel, a Savile Row shoot with the Telegraph and more fun and games with Anderson & Sheppard at No 17 Clifford Street. I believe I’m also doing an interview with a Chinese magazine at Henry Poole & Co. The title? Elle Man. Can’t make it up can you?