Heavy Metal. March 2017.

Dear Rowley,

I was having a conversation with my friend the delectable Shaun Leane for my Jewellery for Gentlemen book and we both admitted that the older we get the greater the desire grows for heavy metal. Shaun wears  a substantial amount of his own work with a contemporary effortlessness that I think is the key to the book.

While researching images of the style icons past on Getty Images I was struck by how many of Hollywood’s testosterone kings wore serious jewellery both on screen and off. There are occasions when what I do really doesn’t feel like work for example spending an hour ogling Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire rocking a thick yellow gold ID bracelet with his skin-tight jeans and sweaty T-shirt. Be still my beating heart.

Clark Gable rarely took his gold ID bracelet off and wore a figured gold pinkie ring that looks masculine and refined. Paul Newman was photographed wearing a thick yellow gold band on his little finger and a plaid lumberjack shirt: the roughness of his civvies and the polish of the gold complimenting each other perfectly.

I am with Solange Azagury-Partridge when she says that a white diamond cufflink worn with black tie is unimpeachably elegant but the real test of  cool guy is how he wears jewellery with jeans. I’ve never been one for pendants having lost a yellow gold Sherwood family dog tag that my dad made for us all in the 1970s. What I wouldn’t give to have it now.

However, visiting the workshops of Solange, Shaun, Theo Fennell and Stephen Webster has got me rather excited about opportunities to wear pendants and bracelets in a dress-down fashion. Solange’s black diamond disco ball pendant is a beaut and Stephen’s yellow gold and mother-of-pearl switchblade necklace the kind of piece that says ‘don’t f*** with me fellas’.

You know I almost invariably wear my Nan Sherwood’s yellow gold, ruby and diamond three-in-one ring with the square shank. It stops traffic. But I’ve been rather tempted by gem set right hand rings by US jeweller David Yurman that have the gravitas and scale of those worn by King Henry VIII in the Holbein Whitehall portrait. There does come a time in every man’s life when garnets the size of gull’s eggs become a matter of urgency.

I had a rather nice call the other day from the editor of the Royal Ascot magazine for whom I wrote over the years when I was BBC fashion critic. It was a request to do an interview about the evolution of the dress code for the Royal Enclosure. It was heaven to talk about the Royal Meeting again and got me thinking how much I’ve missed it. We’ll leave that right there.

You were always so much better than me on the party circuit, darling. I loathe walking into a room alone and the thought of networking makes me shudder. But social occasions oil the wheels of London life so I accepted an invitation to celebrate the opening of the new Game Bird restaurant at the Stafford hotel in St James’s. Well, I have been a bit of a game bird in my time…

The Stafford was the first party that H and I attended together and it has to be said I had an absolutely magic evening. I was introduced to the Stafford by my Canadian friend Mary Symons and loved it ever since. Rather than a seated dinner, the Stafford did what London loves. Champagne corks popped all night like a royal salute and the rarest roast beef was carved from a trolley and served in brioche with lashings of horseradish sauce.

Within the hour we’d bumped into Anne-Marie McGrath, Ros Milani who always looks younger than springtime, Hugo Campbell-Davys, Trevor Pickett and Lady Zambuni making mischief and the lovely ladies and gentlemen from James Lock & Co the hatters. The nicest surprise was seeing Jo Foley on magnificent form who’d just seen La Farmer for lunch in Delhi.

If I hadn’t been with H, I would have done a couple of laps round the rooms and been off like a robber’s dog. As is we stayed until the end then decamped to the American Bar for a bottle of Pouilly Fume and a cigarette. I do love St James’s, don’t you? Of course you do. It’s where we met at Turnbull & Asser. Speaking of Turnbulls, I bumped into the ever-elegant Shaun sitting in the courtyard behind the Stafford smoking a cigar that would have defeated Churchill. St James’s is a village and so much more us than Mayfair.

The weekend is going to be spent cracking on with Jewellery for Gentlemen and if I am still in the mood will revisit my racy novel Tomster, KitPlay, Starboi & Me. I still love the premise but I’ve got a brand new idea for the plot that makes it more of a caper novel than Fifty Shades of Gay.

Off to a party on the South Bank this evening to break me into the working weekend. It is hard to believe that even a month ago I felt like leaping into the Thames rather than taking a taxi over it to a soiree. Life does twist like an anaconda doesn’t it? Until next time…