Last week, the crowds flocked to London Craft Week in their hundreds. The week was a blaze of colour, creativity and ingenuity; talent and artistry from Britain and across the world was celebrated, upheld and placed in the spotlight. It was a much-needed antidote, both to the stifling mundanity imposed upon us all by three lockdowns, and to the hedonistic, indulgently wild ride that was summer 2021 (there’s nothing like a bit of culture to expunge the hangover and feed the soul).
It was a wonderful week, indeed; but there was one particular event that stood out from the rest. If you were lucky enough to be in attendance, you’ll know the event we’re talking about: it is, of course, the ‘Craft Behind British Luxury’ Open Day, which took place last Wednesday, 6th October.
The event took place at the Luxury British Craftsmanship Pavilion, at Chelsea Barracks’ Garrison Suite. As you’ll no doubt be aware, military-inspired Chelsea Barracks is one of the most enviable addresses in the world. The 12.8 acre site is now home to a brand new development of a variety of homes — from townhouses to apartments; penthouses to mews — which reimagine Georgian architecture for the modern era.
It’s a development that has long championed sparkling creativity and unique innovation; and last week, the Garrison Suite celebrated worldwide craftsmanship throughout the week through hosting plentiful panel discussions, talks and scintillating events, like ‘Why Craft Makes You Happy.’
The Open Day, however, saw five luxury British brands — Ettinger, Floris, Johnstons of Elgin, Jack Barclay Bentley and Edward Green — coming together to give an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. Bearing in mind the prevalence, appeal and global renown of these brands, such an opportunity was a golden one, indeed; it’s not often that audiences are privy to the inner workings of brands of such high, luxury repute.
Luxury leather accessories brand Ettinger was showcasing the meticulous care and expert craftsmanship that goes into each of its exquisite ranges — and especially its newest Capra Ecru Collection, which combines elegant exterior goat leather with a butter-soft, contrasting suede interior — and the brand offered custom bookmark monogramming throughout the night.
“It was fabulous to host our ‘Craft Behind British Luxury’ Open Day at such a stunning luxury location — the new residential development that is Chelsea Barracks,” Robert Ettinger (Chairman and CEO) tells Gentleman’s Journal. “We were also in great brand company and delighted to be working with such like-minded and craft-focused British brands, all of whom we have had the pleasure of working with before. The afternoon Panel Talk was also a really good insight into the challenges, opportunities and issues facing all of us today; especially as we emerge into a very much changed world post pandemic and post Brexit.”
Floris, meanwhile — the luxury, Royal Warranted perfumer that has a notable link with Britain’s favourite spy, having served as a favourite of Ian Fleming and popping up in Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever and Dr. No — is, like Ettinger, family-owned; so the opportunity to hear more about such a notable brand with its unique heritage was a treasured opportunity, indeed. Ingredients were showcased, and audiences heard from a ninth generation member of the Floris family about the perfumer’s phenomenal reach.
Classic Northampton shoemaker Edward Green has, as you’ll know, long been renowned for crafting luxurious, durable footwear. Luxury craftsmanship is at the heart of the brand’s ethos — and it’s meticulous to a tea. Take the signature Dover sole, for example; each one is hand sewn with a boar bristle. The brand is synonymous with timeless elegance and exemplary craftsmanship; and last Wednesday saw a hand-sewer demonstrating the immaculate craft first hand.
Scottish born and bred Johnstons of Elgin is another brand with a Royal Warrant, and in true royal fashion the brand showcased the new Highgrove scarf designed for the Prince of Wales, together with a talk from Creative Director Alan Scott about how the Johnstons have brought together generations of craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. Finally, Jack Barclay Bentley demonstrated the impeccably detailed craft that goes into creating these world-famous luxury vehicles; from the hand-stitched steering wheels to the pristine paintwork that glimmers through the interiors.
If you missed the Open Day this year, don’t be too downhearted; there’s always 2022. In the meantime, keep making the most of any opportunity to celebrate craftsmanship and creativity wherever possible. It’s the stuff of life; and it can’t be celebrated enough.
Looking to start with your newfound creative streak now? Take a tour of Lawrence Van Hagen’s latest exhibition…
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