Mount Street: fashion’s new promised land
Last week, luxury eyewear label Linda Farrow fêted the official opening of their London flagship on Mayfair’s Mount Street with a swanky dinner at the seafood restaurant Scott’s.
Scott’s – infamous as the crucible of Highella-gate, but also purveyor of posh nosh in fashionably undersized proportions – is situated directly across the street from Linda Farrow Gallery. Scott’s is flanked by Marc Jacobs, while the Linda Farrow boutique is adjacent to the spacious new Celine store at 103, and the double-frontage of Moynat, a 19th century luxury trunk manufacturer relaunched by LVMH in 2010. Both of them opened their doors in the past month.
Down the street, a hoarding advertises the impending opening of a Roksanda Ilincic boutique. Christopher Kane is also setting up a stand-alone shop: both he and Ilincic should be retailing within the year.
What is it that makes Mount Street so different, so appealing? “Mount Street is the new fashion hub in London.” That’s a simple, direct statement from Tracy Sedino, who with husband Simon Jablon is joint creative director of Linda Farrow. It’s also the reason they chose the street for the location of their boutique. “It is a privilege to be surrounded by brands that we have not only collaborated with, but that we admire.”
Of course, it’s also conveniently adjacent to places like Scott’s for launch events, and a stone’s throw from the more established enclaves of Bond Street, Regent Street and the retail behemoth of Selfridges. Yet, it still feels self-contained and quiet.
Perhaps too quiet. One major retailer commented to me that they were leaving Mount Street “for another two or three years” before considering investment. At the moment, it seems the stomping ground of young brands – like Ilincic, Kane and the footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood – and those luxury labels that purposefully wish to be off the well-beaten track of other London luxury shopping streets.
That’s presumably what drew the likes of Lanvin, Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga, as well as the notoriously reclusive Celine. The house refuses to sell its wares online, will not release pre-collection imagery prior to store deliveries, and creative director Phoebe Philo grants only select interviews.
Their 600-square metre space stands apart from others on Mount Street: there was no flashy party, and there is no flashy window decor, just a wall of woven raffia and an expansive, expensive and seemingly endless stretch of variegated, inlaid marble flooring. There are also arty installations – lamps and tables, but not as we know them – created by the Danish artist FOS. It’s entirely in the Celine ethos, and a space you couldn’t imagine existing successfully anywhere else in London.
So retailers move for exclusivity, and elevation above the hoi polloi clustering the more mainstream streets of Bond and Sloane. It’s coming at a cost. Rents have tripled since 2006, squeezing out established names: after 21 years, hair stylist Nicky Clarke moved his base, albeit only round the corner to Carlos Place. The building is now a sweeping shrine to the American designer Oscar de la Renta, apparently obtained at a top-dollar price.
However, I wonder how many people are really willing to make the pilgrimage to these shrines to classy consumerism? That sounds sniffy, but Mount Street is removed from familiar hunting ground. It’s a trek from Prada and Saint Laurent on Bond Street to Marc Jacobs, even more so in heels. The saturation of fashionable names populating the elegant – if often empty – shop spaces, is providing a stronger and stronger pull. But is it strong enough?
I’ve been told that Mount Street is for the serious spenders, not the browsers. Regent Street gives you footfall, and a customer base looking for entry-level product. Mount Street clients lay down the cash, and keep coming back. It’s interesting to see the polarisation of contemporary luxury to those two extremes – fast fashion cash cows versus big spenders – represented so literally, and geographically.Tagged in: Celine, Linda Farrow, marc jacobs, Moynat, Roksanda Ilincic, Scott's, Tracy Sedino
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