The good old days


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Forward march

The good old days seem warm and cosy in times of uncertainty. Why so? Because in some ways (definitely not all), they were much simpler. I can vividly recall ‘my old days’ before cash machines when banks closed at 3.30pm, so people would queue around the block to withdraw their money via cheque! Telephone boxes were widely used for… yes you guessed it, telephoning other people as opposed to serving as impromptu studio backdrops for tourist’s photographs – particularly of London.

The yearning for yesteryear seems everywhere. In the luxury market, gone is the bling and pouting fatales with backless gowns and back is the master craftsman, cutting, stitching and shaping – by hand, not machine. And one can hardly of not noticed the success of TV programmes like Downton Abbey and the (stunning) interpretation of Sebastian Faulk’s classic WW1 novel, Birdsong. Their endearing themes of duty, integrity, honesty and friendship appear majestic, bold and worthy. That moral framework when put in a modern context seems dreamily romantic and applied to 2012 sits like cheap wallpaper, Betjemanesque, hanging by a watery paste ready to slide ungraciously to the floor.

When we look back wistfully, we often do so with this myopic blurring of the edges. In these margins we are over-looking the spectres of racial intolerance, religious bigotry, class division, poor social mobility and the non-existent child protection that blighted those eras. That said, there is an argument that questions the fact that everything in our increasingly lonely, digital existence is positive. For many Mr Albarn was right ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’.

If I can return to my place of work and expertise, the luxury brand sector, it was noticeable in 2011 that the biggest feedback from my clients and business people I met at events was that the digital world was in one sense helping them reach out to a greater audience and in another more poignant way, detaching them from their customers and suppliers. Many were uneasy that they had in fact never met people they had contracts with and although commissioned detailed spreadsheets of online research, had no real sense of the ‘virtual people’ who were purchasing their goods and keeping them in business. A little scary. This has made them redouble their efforts in 2012 to get out and meet ‘real people’ and talk to them, even shake their hand and if possible, make eye contact. I’m sure that’ll beat the numerous cardboard cut-outs hoovered up through data capture that fill their inboxes.

I’m about to catch my Hackney carriage (taxi to you) home, no doubt I’ll don my cravat and salute her Majesty and the Prime Minister as I sweep passed their respective residences and I’ll dream of a better England along the way.


Luxury jewellery trends at the Luxury Lecture at G.H. Mumm/ Perrier-Jouët Champagne Assembly, London


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Luxury jewellery trends at the Luxury Lecture at G.H. Mumm/ Perrier-Jouët Champagne Assembly, London

These guys were granted the Royal Warrant


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By Royal Appointment: Luxury silverwork by Veritas 

These guys were granted the Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen to produce silver work. Pretty cool links

What’s your family worth?


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After whispers of an official UK recession, many of us are tightening our belts and watching the pennies. Some of us are doing this out of necessity, others by default. The subliminal doom and gloom has got many thinking twice about their purchasers.

This takes me back to the apocalyptic crash of the late 80s. Those who were around at the time can certainly draw comparisons.

I remember a City Lawyer ‘confessing’ about his pay rise to me in hushed tones and then admitting he’d been flying to Italy at weekends to shop – thus avoiding the social embarrassment of bumping into a colleague on Sloane St or in fact being seen to be ‘free spirited’ with the plastic at a time when his peer group were taking a pair of scissors and a blow torch to their previously coveted collection of credit cards.

Later, he fretted about buying a gift for his brother. If he didn’t spend enough he was ‘tight’ and if he opted for a cool bit of British luxury from Paul Smith or Aspreys and indulged his sibling, then he was showboating. To make matters worse the brother in question had just been relieved of his ‘job for life’ in the City and was sat at home fighting thoughts of an alternative career that paid one tenth of his basic.

This leads me back to a similar quandary quite a few of my colleagues find themselves in some 20 years later. What does one do when buying a birthday gift for a family member? How does one avoid the potentially sticky tag of Showboat or Scrooge? Answers on a postcard. No, in fact that costs too much. It’s got to me too, just email.