All posts by kirk

Streets Winter 19′by PAUL SMITH">

Streets Winter 19′

Words & Photography Kirk Truman


A seasonal style edit

Carlo Sestini, Matteo Baldi Agency @carlosestini


  Lee Jay Hoy, Ballet Dancer & Model @leejayhoy                Kiera Court, Singer/Songwriter @kieracourtt
Richard Biedul, Model & Creative Director @richardbiedul              Kit Reeve, Model & Actress @kitreeve
Kit Reeve, Model & Actress (Middle) @kitreeve
Tommy Brady, former Team GB Athlete (First) @tommybrady7
Rob Green, Model (Last) @robhgreen

Lux in ruby, £187
Brookmeyer in amber havana, £177
Brookmeyer in black, £187
by Black Eyewear

Harvey James, Model & Writer @harvjam
Wander Winter 19′

Wander Winter 19′

The South Downs. The Canary Islands. To the end of the world.

Words & Photography Kirk Truman


50.7338° N, 0.2415° E

This car is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off, and thats saying a lot. The G63 looks as if it has been pulled straight from the 1970’s when Mercedes originally launched the G series. Its tough and rugged, sharp on the edges and loud as hell. Taking this into consideration, you may wonder why the G63 were to be my perfect companion while visiting the South Downs of Sussex.

The G-class was developed as a military vehicle from a suggestion via the Shah of Iran to Mercedes, later offered as a civilian version in 1979. The first military in the world to use it was the Argentine Army beginning in 1981 with the military model 461. The G-Wagen (Geländewagen) was face-lifted in 1989 for the 10th anniversary of the G Model. 30 years on, persevered in the G63 iteration is much of the rugged and tough soul which helped forge the reputation of the original G Class. This companion to the end of the earth bares the interior and technology to rival the Bentley Continental GT, and a frightening off-road multi-terrain durability to rival any of the Range Rover iterations. Above all, what defines the G63 is its unmatched charisma. Picture Sean Connery in 1964. He’s ruthless, ready to explode at any second, and underneath all of this he’s a gentleman, charming and the best dressed man in the room with an accent and words that could kill. Thats the G63 entirely; a little misunderstood, and totally enviable.



50.7756° N, 0.1533° E


Saltmarsh Farmhouse is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the Seven Sisters Country Park. Founded by Nina Mastriforte, the hotel is a beautiful 16th century farmhouse with guest rooms and a café set in the marshland of the South Downs. The produce on offer is sourced locally by the proprietor from the neighbouring villages and towns. All the rooms are carefully curated, as is the guests lounge; as a result, Saltmarsh Farmhouse feels more like a home away from home than a hotel. Happy guests seem to concur. The hotel is also something of a rarity in the area, as there are few places to stay overnight in close proximity to the Seven Sisters. As dusk falls, the area becomes a stargazers’ paradise, with zero light pollution for miles around, making an evening stroll to the English Channel a must.



50.8303° N, 1.7011° W


The quiet country lanes and hills of Leicestershire are where I grew up, so it’s an area I know better than most. Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands, more than 100 miles in any direction to reach the ocean; as a young boy, I dreamed of the sea. But coming back, it’s a fascinating landscape; much of it is littered with former slate mines which became disused when cheaper slate became available via the railway lines to Wales. Since then, they have flooded to become dark, forbidding waterholes.

The county borders Nottinghamshire to the north, Lincolnshire to the north-east, Rutland to the east, Northamptonshire to the south east, Warwickshire to the south-west, Staffordshire to the west, and 102 Derbyshire to the north-west.

Bentley Continental GT

As you leave London behind, if your pockets are deep enough, Bentley’s £151K (OTR) new vision for the Continental GT offers an ideal way to travel. As you make your way onto the quieter roads beyond the M25, the Continental GT comes into its own, and it’s soon apparent why this is perhaps the most elegant British grand tourer on the roads today.

Originally launched back in 2003, as its name boldly implies, the Continental GT is a Bentley that’s built to carry passengers across continents in as relaxed a manner as possible. It’s a thing of beauty on the outside, and fun to drive, quick, comfortable and extensively luxurious on the inside.

The interior is laden with more leather and wood than you’ll find in Soho House. There’s a feeling of tradition about the interior that perhaps only a Bentley is able to deliver. Chrome buttons and knobs feel appropriate for the cockpit of a Spitfire, not to mention the revolving dashboard and old-school dials that are completely hidden behind a large wooden panel at the touch of a button. It’s a fitting homage to Bentley’s 100-year history.

This is not a Ferrari or an Aston Martin. There’s something startling and practical about the Continental GT that makes you feel as if you could drive it every day. In one light, it’s monstrously powerful, and in another, elegant and startlingly economic if you switch to Bentley Mode. A must for escaping the capital and enjoying the open road beyond.



28.3587° N, 14.0537° W


One of the Canary islands off the coast of West Africa administered by Spain, Lanzarote is known for its year-round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape. Timanfaya National Park’s rocky landscape was created by volcanic eruptions in the 1730s. Cueva de los Verdes has caverns formed by an underground river of lava. East-coast resort Puerto del Carmen is home to whitewashed villas, beaches and dive centers.


28.3587° N, 14.0537° W


La Oliva is a town on the island of Fuerteventura, in Spain’s Canary Islands. It’s known for the Colonels’ House, an 18th-century building with crenellated towers. Nearby, the protected Malpaís de La Arena Natural Monument features diverse flora, a 10,000-year-old volcanic crater and lava formations. It’s close to the island’s extensive beaches and dunes, like those in the Corralejo Nature Reserve.

Essentials Winter 19′

Essentials Winter 19′

Words & Photography Kirk Truman


A seasonal essentials edit

Bacio Scented Candle
£240 by Fornasetti

Portofino Automatic £3,950
by IWC

Midnight Saffron, 100ml
£155 by Tom Daxon

Tonic of Gin, £49
Lumira Glass Dome, 
by Lumira

Impression Cedarwood Heart,
£85 by Ostens

Bacio Scented Candle
£240 by Fornasetti

Magic Circus, 15ml £220
Long Board, 15ml £220
Dune Road, 15ml £220
by Tom Daxon

B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel, £85
by Aesop

Dagger Rose Facial Treatment Oil, £34
Dagger Rose Facial Treatment Balm, £34
by Guy Morgan

Digital Detox Face Mist, 100ml £45
Nourishing Cleansing Balm & Mask, 100ml £52
City Screen Face Serum, 30ml £62
by Amly Botanicals

EauTriple, £138
Lait Virginal, £42
by L’Officine Universelle Buly

My Wardrobe Customizable set Bespoke, POA
by MFK

Dining Winter 19′

Dining Winter 19′


Words & Photography Clerkenwell Boy

Clerkenwell Boy chooses his favourite places for a delicious breakfast in the capital. From hole in the wall eateries dishing up organic porridge, to the best pastries in town, there’s something for everyone.


1 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP


Inspired by Scandinavian cooking, this tiny restaurant in Neal’s Yard specialises in wholesome porridges (both sweet and savoury), smoothie bowls, home made bircher muesli and delicious coffee.

Highlights from the menu include their roasted peach porridge with almond milk oats, orange blossom cream with pistachio and fresh mint.


197-205 Richmond Road, EC2A 4AQ


Pophams is a cosy artisan bakery and local cafe specialising in sourdough bread and super Instagrammable pastries made from croissant dough. Famous for their bacon & maple swirls, impossibly layered rosemary and sea salt twist, and seasonal fruit specials (think Nectarine & Custard or Rhubarb and Ginger), they also work with local ceramists and serve up fantastic coffee.


7 Boundary Street, E2 7JE


Dishoom pays homage to the Irani cafés that were once part of the fabric of life in Bombay. Iconic breakfast dishes include their legendary bacon and egg naan, brilliantly spiced keema per eedu (vegan options available), and the Big Bombay (a clever twist on The Full English) ~ all washed down with freshly brewed bottomless chai.


160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB


The much missed restaurant critic A.A. Gill once observed “Wherever, whenever breakfast comes, it is a mouthful of stoic optimism”. He couldn’t be more right. I love the European grandeur of The Wolseley. Everyone is immaculately dressed at 7am, dining on perfectly cooked eggs (fried, poached or scrambled). You can’t go wrong with the classic English, but my favourite has to be the smoked haddock kedgeree.



From casual Michelin starred dining (where food is booked only over fire), to a hispter seafood feast, follow these recommendations from our new Food Editor Clerkenwell Boy to impress your foodie friends.


4 Redchurch Street, E1 6JL


One of the hottest restaurants in London right now, BRAT specialises in food cooked over fire - inspired by traditional cooking techniques and dishes from the Basque region - but using the best British ingredients, including day boat fish from Cornwall (the signature whole roasted turbot is great for sharing) and beef from Wales. Everything on the menu is worth trying. Save room for the ‘burnt cheesecake’!


1 Bedale Street, SE1 9AL

From the team behind Michelin starred Lyle’s, Flor has opened to critical acclaim in London’s Borough Market. Foodies, TV chefs and food critics have flocked to the restaurant for *THOSE* Scarlett prawns, truffle flatbread, anchovy toast with lardo, plus the small but perfectly formed brown butter cakes.  Although they do take walk-ins, advanced bookings are highly advised.



3 Prince Edward Road, E9 5LX


Double winner of TV’s ‘Great British Menu’ and the protege of multi-Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw - chef Tom Browne serves up some of the best seafood in the capital at his hip East London restaurant. The menu changes daily and champions produce from sustainable fishermen, whilst showcasing modern, delicious and innovative dishes including *THAT* crab crumpet. The marble topped bar is a great spot for getting up-close and personal to all the action of the open kitchen.



152 Old Street, EC1V 9BW


Husband and wife team Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves have mastered the art of cool fusion food via their recent pop-ups and residencies. Creators of one of London’s most Instagrammed dishes (the Iberico Pork Katsu Sando) and with an ever growing fan base, you can currently find them at Tayēr + Elementary in Old Street (with drinks by the award winning mixologists Alex Kratena and Monica Berg) or at the Arcade Food Theatre (London’s fantastic new dining destination).

Sam Way

Sam Way

Interview Kirk Truman

Photography Lauren Luxenberg

Sam Way and I first met in Hackney about a year ago, and it was immediately apparent to me that this familiar face on London’s menswear scene was a natural wordsmith and a musical talent. Sam is a musician and songwriter based in London’s East End who has made a name for himself both in style and in music – two worlds that complement one another perfectly. With a compelling dedication to his craft, writing music has become his root to reflection. As we meet up again, he shares his thoughts about music and talks about his relationship with our capital.

Tell me about your youth.

Youth to me felt like freedom – it felt like good friends and family, growing up with and alongside them. I moved around a lot with mum, but still there was a sense between us that wherever we were we would find ‘home’ together. Books always seemed to keep me company. Youth felt like… playing rugby every Sunday, covered in dirt, being addicted to video games, falling asleep every day after school in front of the TV. Devon was home; we spent as much time outside as we could. It was small-town life. It was a good time. I felt like anything was possible.

How did your career start out?

It was a random one – and I’ve spoken about it before in other interviews. I was 15, in London on a weekend trip with my mum and one of my best mates. A scout from Models1 just approached me and asked if I was interested. Mum threw it out, examining the flyer suspiciously and saying, ‘You know someone tried to scout me to be a model when I was in London in my 20s and he just tried to get me naked! I walked out. He wasn’t a photographer, he was just a pervert!’ It took a little while and a bit of research for us both to feel educated enough to see if this was something I should consider. Music, I carried close to me throughout my youth, and came to pursue much later. I moved to London to open up more opportunities, and music just started to come to me. It felt like an unfolding as much as an antidote to much of what I found hard to deal with in the modelling industry. A few people helped me on the way, but I didn’t need much of a push to throw myself into music with as much of myself as I could. I think I needed it. I needed something to put my heart into.

Tell me about the journey.

It’s been a lot of embracing the unknown. A fair amount of solitude, especially when travelling. To counter that, it’s been made up of ridiculous experiences in strange and amazing locations with some incredible humans at the top of their creative game. It’s taken me to the lowest lows, made me face my fears, and made me feel so lucky too. It’s been a whirlwind. Saying yes to opportunity has been a big part of it too. Music has had a massive grounding influence – something I truly love that has brought a different sort of richness to life, and something that’s caused me to settle more in London, to really find my friends and to stop just reacting to life the entire time.

How did you begin to start out as a musician/songwriter?

I was always writing little poems and raps as a kid. Hhaving piano lessons was the next step in developing my musicality, I guess; but because I hated my piano teacher I never went beyond grade 3. I think sometimes this concept of ‘getting it right’ in anything creative can kill the joy of it. So I’ve pretty much learned as I went along, grown into my musicianship through a process of discovery as opposed to learning. I didn’t know I had a voice. I didn’t want to be a singer/songwriter. It just happened because I followed what felt good, and stayed curious. My first songs were funny things; weird, unconventional, heartfelt ramblings set to melodic guitar plucks. I think meeting some people at the right time, having them outside my nucleus of family and friends, and hearing them say “you have something here… keep going” was kind of all I needed – to trust that I should give more of my time to developing this musical instinct.

Tell me about how you begin to write a song.

Sometimes it starts with an idea, sometimes a feeling. Sometimes you just need to find any way in – any way: a chord progression, some words you underlined in a book – just start somewhere and then feel it out. It might be awful, it might come quick; the best ones normally do. I often collect words from the things I’ve read, almost like a painter preparing his palette. When I’ve started writing a song, it goes with me everywhere. I look like a madman, humming the melody on the tube and scrawling and re-writing lyrics over and over, bent over my beat-up notepad.

What in your life inspires you to write?

People and their stories, this lived experience and all it brings. Pain is often a great motivator creatively for me, a way to transform the challenges into something good. Books and poems are often inspiring too, reading a lot will frequently inspire my writing.

Tell me about your relationship with our capital as your home?

London is the best city in the world. Sometimes I need to get out of it though. It’s that dance of balance for me, making sure it doesn’t get overwhelming, that I go back to Devon or get back outdoors and breathe in nature so I can come back to the hustle and grind – something I love too – with passion and tenacity. It’s a city that’s brought me so much, and with 10 years in the East End, it’s become home.

What are your future aspirations?

I hope I can contribute something of value to others with my art, and keep on deepening that connection with my own work too. I want to take things as far as they can go with music, for my songs to sit in people’s hearts and fulfil or speak to some part of them. The rest of life is important too: I always come back to the word balance. If I can find that, I trust the rest will be there. On a very practical level though (with myself so prone to drifting into philosophical vagueness), there are some people and brands I’d still really love to work with, festival stages I’d love to grace, and things to strike-off the bucket list. I’m pretty sure getting lost in the Amazon is at odds with recording an album, but maybe there will be time for both.


Ciinderella Balthazar

Ciinderella Balthazar

Interview & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

Photographer’s assistant Paolo Navarino

Weaving her way through London’s early morning traffic, guitar in hand, Ciinderella Balthazar joined Journal in the Georgian splendour of Blacks Club, serenading us with one of her recent compositions and telling us about her musical journey…

Tell us about your early life in Belgium.

I was born in Brussels, but my father came from Morocco and my mother was from Chile. I grew up in the capital, in Antwerp and in the French-speaking countryside. I’m the eldest of nine children – three boys and six girls – and we were poor. My parents were both on benefits and I received scholarships and food from shelters and got by with second hand clothes. H&M was a luxury for me! But it meant that I was really driven to be a role model for my younger siblings. I went to the music academy and studied music theory and piano for almost 10 years. Music was a passion from very early on. Because I was a very introverted child, it was my way of communicating my feelings.

Why did you leave Belgium?

In the end, I left because I felt I was living my life for the sake of other people. My parents didn’t consider music as a possible livelihood and I realised that even if I went to university to please them, I would never be happy myself.

And what drew you to London?

Belgium is also a very small country, so opportunities were limited. As a mixed-raced woman, I was expected to sing R&B – but I wanted to be exposed to a more open-minded music industry and to discover new cultures and meet new people. London was perfect: not too far, not too close and with many labels around the city. I left Belgium with less than €200, and so for the first three months I was couch-surfing. My first week here, I asked the person whose sofa I was sleeping on to help me with my CV, then I went to a local Internet café and printed it 20 times. I googled music venues to find bar work and walked in off the street, asking if they needed anyone. I’d leave my CV there whether they did or not! I worked as a bartender for two years while jamming at every open mic I could attend and entering a singer-songwriter contest. I got to the last five finalists in Open Mic UK, and went on to have meetings with labels until l found the right fit.

And now you’re preparing your first album… 

I signed a publishing deal in 2015 with Last Ten, an independent London label owned by Noah Francis Johnson, a former boxer and dance champion with an incredible soul voice. The first two years were about my development as a songwriter, and starting work on recording the album, which will potentially be released in January 2021. I’ll be releasing my debut single on 21 January 2020. I got the opportunity to record at Abbey Road Studios and Eastcote Studios and met and worked with some incredible people in the industry.

What sort of venues in London do you feel are best for the kind of music you play?

I love churches. It’s hard not to feel reflective when you enter a church. It’s hard not to listen to the beautiful silence. The acoustic of is usually phenomenal, too, and it’s so much easier to connect with a crowd in a space which encourages a feeling of shared humility. I did a lot of open mic nights when I moved to London. They’re a great way to test out new material, but the crowd is usually there for a cheap pint or to support a mate who’s playing rather than to listen to music. Now, I prefer nights with rules, where they stop serving at the bar when the acts are playing and where the MC makes sure the crowd stays quiet. It’s hard for an artist to play when the people at the tables in front of you don’t give a shit the music – but it’s a wonderful feeling when you connect. Play where you are celebrated, not tolerated!

What was the last great gig you saw in London?

During London Fashion Week at the Richard Quinn show in February, Freya Ridings was playing the piano and singing while the models were running the catwalk. She was accompanied by a trio of violinists and her voice was extraordinary. Her dress and the outfits of the models were magical too – I absolutely loved it!

Tell us about some of the artists you’ve loved and who’ve inspired you…

Because of my cultural heritage, I love the Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa, the voice of Latin America, and Oum Keltoum, the great Egyptian diva. I also love Jacques Brel, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin and Etta James. For a more contemporary artist, I’d choose Ben Howard.

How would you describe your album?

It is very melancholic and soulful with a twist of experimental deep house. Parts of it will have an acoustic feel, other parts will more produced. An artist should never be defined by one genre! The album is called “Tough Journey”. It comes from a song I wrote with the same title, which is about the journey of an individual trying to find her way through the trials of life. The songs are all autobiographical – they’re about love, friendship, painful family memories, loss, struggle, respect. But also, they bring hope because at the end of the journey I am alive, I am healthy, and I’m making a living from something I truly love – music.




Words & Photography Kirk Truman

A highly respected and prominent business in the global fashion industry, London-based womenswear and menswear brand Reiss was established in 1971 by founder David Reiss. Having taken over his father’s small tailoring business at the corner of Bishopsgate and Petticoat Lane Market, David purchased the neighbouring store and transformed it into a contemporary outfitter, forging the beginnings of the brand as we know it today. As it approaches its 50th anniversary, Reiss has expanded exponentially with touch points across more than 208 locations in 17 countries around the world, operating across multiple channels including owned stores, online, wholesale, licensing, franchises and concessions. At the centre of the Reiss story and philosophy is its Creative Director, James Spreckley. He speaks to me about the brand’s origins, its future and his vision for Reiss.

Tell me the story of your career.

While I was studying at the Royal College of Art I won a competition, which led to me working in tailoring for six years in Italy. I had the opportunity to work at Ermenegildo Zegna, which was a serious, fabric-run business. After being in Italy for a few years, though, I decided I wanted to return to London with what I had learned. Back then, menswear wasn’t on the grid as it is today. I was looking for a vehicle for my creativity and a way to inspire a new generation of men to dress well. It was around this time, after taking on a freelance role at Reiss, that I met David. He asked me to join the business permanently and I’ve been here now for some 15 years.

Describe Reiss and your relationship with the brand.

Reiss designs real clothes for real people. We’re behaving like a premium designer brand, but ultimately keeping the price reasonable. The role of a designer isn’t complete until the consumer wants our product and that cycle is always changing for us. When I first met David, I saw a freight train of passion in him. He had his feet on the ground and I admired his entrepreneurial spirit. We had a mutual agreement on a dreamy aspirational aesthetic for women’s and men’s clothing. 

Tell me about your life away from Reiss.

I live in Kent, quite literally in the middle of the woods. I don’t have any neighbours; it’s just me and my family. The commute into London is an opportunity for me to prepare for the day ahead. I’m forever hungry for information, so I spend my downtime reading, listening to music and watching films, all of which serve as a key source of inspiration for my work. Music, particularly, has had a profound impact on me. I’m classically trained on the guitar, so I’ve absorbed influences from folk music and poetry since youth. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen were the soundtrack to my upbringing and their aural storytelling still inspires me in creating mood boards and colour-curating each season at Reiss. Music has taught me much in life and educated me about the zeitgeist of culture and the need for perfectionism, which in turn has fed into the products we create here.

Tell me about the origins of Reiss and the future of the brand.

After he inherited his father’s store, David became a leading name in the King’s Road buzz in the capital. From a business point of view, he saw the potential in developing a thriving menswear outfitter, which subsequently evolved into womenswear over time. Innately competitive, David wanted to dominate the market in good taste and also make it affordable to consumers. Now, as we near our 50th year as a brand, sustainability is integral to our future, as is continuing Reiss’ tradition as a purveyor of timeless pieces and lifestyle products. In terms of sustainability, we will be considering fabrics going forward as well as packaging across the company. “Relevant” is a crucial word and a bold task.

Define Reiss to me.

Fantasy, not reality. We try to nurture all of the pockets of people’s time by making them feel fantastic in their own skin.

Are there plans to celebrate Reiss’ 50th anniversary?

We have discussed the idea of producing an archive collection on a very limited run, which may go on tour globally. It would be based around a capsule collection. Although we’re London-based, it’s important for us to celebrate our brand internationally. For our 50th year, we are also dedicated to ensuring our packaging is almost entirely sustainable. I think we will be honouring 50 years with an eye to the future, rather than celebrating it.


Jason Atherton

Jason Atherton

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Alistair Guy

Jason Atherton is one of London’s most successful and respected chefs. He started out working alongside leaders in the industry such as Pierre Koffmann, Marco Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and Ferran Adria at el Bulli, before joining Gordon Ramsay Holdings in 2001. Nine years later, Jason left to launch his own restaurant company. His flagship restaurant, Pollen Street Social, launched the following year in Mayfair and earned a Michelin star within just six months of opening. I talked to Jason about his youth and his journey as a restaurateur.

Tell me about your youth.

I was born in Sheffield but when I was three we moved to Skegness, where my Mum set up a B&B. Although Skegness had a bad reputation for food, my Mum could cook and I’d help out with the breakfasts, then go out and do the donkey rides for kids on the beach, and afterwards I’d help with dinner. My mum and stepdad both worked very hard, and without realising it, I was learning hospitality. I was only 16 when I left home for London, my family didn’t want me to leave so young but I knew if I wanted to be a good chef I had to go there. That’s why I left while my mum was on holiday, my sister tried to stop me but I had my mind made up. Once they saw I was working and in a decent youth hostel they were OK. Once I got to London there was no going back for me.

How did your career as a chef begin?

When I arrived in London, I put myself out there and started to get whatever experience I could working in kitchens. I knew I wanted to be creative and was very eager to learn. One of the greatest experiences I had was working with Ferran Adrià at El Bulli in Spain. He’s the most creative chef I know – he’s a living legend. I also worked with other great chefs including Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis and Marco Pierre White. I learnt from the best!

Tell me about the journey.

Following my time with these top chefs I joined the Gordon Ramsay Group in 2001 as the executive chef for Verre in Dubai. Four years later, I opened Maze with Gordon in London, which went on to be the most successful restaurant in the group. After nine years, it was time for me to leave and open my own restaurant. I had always dreamed of having my own restaurant so when Pollen Street Social opened in 2011 and was a complete success, I was ecstatic. However, it gave me even greater determination to continue and open more restaurants under The Social Company banner.

Tell me about your relationship with our capital?

Since I moved to London it has been home for me. I live in Balham with my wife Irha and two children, Jemimah and Keziah. It’s an exciting place to be in our industry; as the dining scene changes daily, there’s always a new trend making an appearance – it’s very competitive. London’s hospitality industry has so much to offer, it’s incredible. We also have access to some of the finest ingredients in Britain, such as meat from the Lake District and fish from Cornwall, meaning the produce on our restaurant menus is always of the highest quality.

Tell me about The Social Company, your London restaurants, and Pollen Street Social.

The Social Company is eight years old, and now has 16 restaurants worldwide, including Shanghai, New York, and Doha, as well as London. Even though the company has grown massively, we are still a family business and we’ll stay that way. All my chef patrons feel like they don’t work for me, they work with us – this relationship has been key to the success and growth of The Social Company. I think The Social Company has made Michelin-starred dining accessible to everyone. Pollen Street Social started this: the whole point was that you can get the very best food and service but the atmosphere is fun, lively and you don’t have to be dressed up. As well as Pollen Street, Social Eating House offers a very informal and social setting with rustic, moody interiors and a vibrant Soho speakeasy bar upstairs, but still serves out-standing Michelin food. The Social Company also focuses on the finest ingredients; all my chef patrons invest time in their cooking and in sourcing some of the finest ingredients from around the UK.

How has your career evolved since you became a restaurateur?

Through becoming a restaurateur, naturally I needed to take more time out of the kitchen to oversee restaurants from concept to opening, and then maintaining the high standard guests expect to receive when they dine with us once the restaurant is open. That’s why none of my restaurants have my name, as I’m not cooking there all the time. I build a strong team and put my trust in them to run the restaurant to my standards. However, when I’m in London, you’ll find me in the kitchen at Pollen Street Social – I’m still a chef as well as a restaurateur. Opening restaurants all over the world has helped me to develop by discovering cultural food trends, visiting competitors and being able to bring elements of my existing restaurants to the new ones, whether it’s a signature dish or a drinks concept.

What are your future aspirations?

To continue running successful restaurants with the team and family I have around me.


The British Museum

The British Museum

Words Harvey James

Photography Alan Schaller

The British Museum is a monolith in the heart of Bloomsbury, London. Its Greek pillars stand proud and imposing. The black (technically, ‘invisible green’) railings that surround, make it a sanctuary amidst the blaring London streets. While the queues of excitable tourists, the nearby fish and chip shop and the various gift emporia would suggest we have arrived at any other tourist attraction in England; any museum, The British Museum is not. 

Once inside, any semblance of the quotidian further dissipates as the majestic domed roof, designed by Lord Norman Foster, soars overhead. The Reading Room, nestled in the centre, is the fulcrum around which the crowds and exhibits pivot. As Hannah Boulton, Head of Press and Marketing, explains: ‘The British Museum is a museum of “things”,’ but the physicality of objects, while often beautiful, withers in comparison to the curious and powerful tales they bring with them.

Hannah continues: ‘An object like the 2,000-year-old Warren Cup, for example, is able to tell us about Roman drinking – and sexual – habits, the extent of the Roman Empire, and prejudice in the early 20th century when it was discovered. Now, it’s an object that can tell important stories about LGBTQ histories throughout time.’ It is these stories that make The British Museum a compendium of human cultural history, and truly a place for your mind to get lost in.

Despite the large – indeed, often overwhelming – geographic and historic span of the museum (it covers ‘the whole world with over 90 galleries’), adept categorisation and specificity help break it up, creating many museums in one: a Russian doll of tourism. ‘In 2019, we are hosting exhibitions on Norwegian print making, Japanese Manga, the myth of Troy, money-based board games, collecting in the Solomon Islands – and many more!’ As Hannah points out, that means the herd of tourists will tend to skim over some gems, or miss them entirely. ‘Whilst we are busy, there are always quieter spots that can be sought out. My favourite is the Percival David Foundation Gallery of Chinese Ceramics. It’s a stunning space full of wonderful ceramic pieces but is a bit off the beaten track!’

The British Museum itself has a history of devolution. Sir Hans Sloane, whose bequest of his vast collection of antiquities instigated the founding of the Museum in 1753, had also amassed a huge number of natural history specimens. But in the 1880s, with space in Bloomsbury at a premium, it was agreed that these collections should move to a new site in South Kensington, now known as London’s Natural History Museum (it was officially called ‘The British Museum (Natural History)’ until 1992). Similarly, the large number of manuscripts and books in the founding collection continued to grow until it became too large, leading to the creation of the British Library in 1973.

The Museum’s combination of scale, specificity and free access means everyone can trace their collective histories here, as well as more personal ones. As Hannah says, ‘What ties this all together is a focus on human stories and human interaction. At its heart, the Museum is about being human.’ But despite its honourable humanitarianism, controversy has never been far away from The British Museum. ‘The Museum’s collection goes back over 260 years. Many objects entered the collection during the period of the British Empire, so there is, of course, debate about how some objects came into the collection. We need to acknowledge this and provide visitors with enough information about collecting histories so they can make up their own minds. But I do believe the strength of the collection is in its breadth and depth, it is a place – freely available – where you can see the whole world under one roof and learn about the human experience.’

As well as wrestling with its past, the museum must keep looking over the horizon to stay relevant in modern society. With everything imaginable having the potential to be digitised in some way, surely this changes the way people interact with the physical world, or at least offers some practical benefits. So, what does the future hold for The British Museum? ‘We have always been a global resource but we have the ability now to make that promise much more of a reality, sharing the collection through our online database, website, social media, YouTube etc. Within the Museum we look to use digital means to provide visitors with contextual information, to help them make more sense of the objects and the periods and cultures they come from.’

If this has piqued your interest, then visit The British Museum and see the wonderful collections for yourself. It is, after all, the material reality of things that is paramount in our very human fascination with history.




Words & Photography Kirk Truman

Boxcar has made quite a name for itself in London’s Marylebone area, where owner and founder Barry Hirst has created two collaborative sites which complement one other perfectly: a butcher and grill at New Quebec Street, and a baker and deli at Wyndham Place. 

Boxcar is very much a local business, and one that places a strong emphasis on sustainability, honesty and simplicity. All Boxcar’s products and ingredients are carefully selected and ethically sourced, celebrating the best of British produce. 

So launched a butchers with an in-house restaurant. Boxcar’s first iteration was born in the heart of Marylebone, nestling among the local cafes, restaurants and bars. Once a historical centre of Bohemian life, Marylebone was in more recent years a bit of a West-End secret. But now, this once-forgotten neighbourhood has leapt back into life with a growing reputation for bringing some new blood to the central London scene. Today, Marylebone – and Portman village – has emerged as a thriving residential and commercial district. Home to a diverse mix of artists and writers, it has emerged as a new creative village – and the perfect home for Boxcar.

In the renowned Portman Village, on New Quebec Street, Boxcar Butcher & Grill has become a local fixture, as well as a dining room for the surrounding area. On entering, you find fridges of meat lining the walls, full of rare breed beef, pork and lamb from Mount Grace Farm in Yorkshire. You may feel as if you’ve walked into a butcher’s shop, but then you discover that it is perfectly complemented by a restaurant area. All of the meat at Boxcar is a premium selection of ethically sourced produce from British farms that share the restaurant’s ethos of proper animal welfare, and it’s available to pre-order for collection. 

The butcher’s shop is what powers the restaurant’s menu and daily food offerings. Impressively, all the produce is independently sourced, with a regular dialogue kept up with every farmer & producer to ensure quality, provenance and a fair price for all British producers. Butcher & grill is open every day for fresh pastries, lunch, dinner, Saturday brunch and Sunday roasts, such as succulent roast pork with crackling or whole roast chicken to share. The menu celebrates the best of British meat while remaining vegetarian-friendly with light and seasonal dishes to suit. Menu highlights include superbly grilled Galloway steaks, signature burgers (beef and veggie) and homemade pies, which can be enjoyed alongside a wide-ranging list of local craft beer, artisan wines and seasonal cocktails. Downstairs is a private dining room, The Salt Room, which overlooks the kitchen and can be privately booked for a drinks and canapés reception or a three-course feast. It can accommodate groups of up to 18 seated or 25 standing – perfect for Christmas parties.

Building on the success of New Quebec Street, the decision was made to open a second iteration of Boxcar with a difference. At the corner of Wyndham Place, in the shadow of the sandstone St. Mary’s Church, lies the latest Boxcar site to offer a stylish communal setting – Boxcar Baker & Deli. This is where baker meets deli, leaving behind the butcher element, swapped for an on-site bakery.

Having opened in the summer of 2018, the second Boxcar site is open daily for breakfast, lunch and after work nibbles, with the option to eat in or stock up on home essentials. The on-site bakery drives the daily offerings, with classic and innovative pastries, breads, cakes, and savoury baked goods available to eat in or take away. Come lunchtime, the counter is laden with seasonal salads and sandwiches showcasing the best of British seasonal produce. At the weekend, visitors can enjoy brunch dishes such as the Swedish Breakfast and Fenton Eggs Florentine with a glass of Buck’s Fizz or a Boxcar Bloody Mary. Like its sister site, Boxcar Baker & Deli is a local hub for the community, serving up familiar dishes with a signature Boxcar twist. And in the evening, this is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine or craft beer until 7pm.

The two Boxcar sites in Marylebone are just a short walk from each other in Marylebone, and both share the same ethical values and passion for showcasing the best of British seasonal produce. Both have become firm neighbourhood favourites, providing a thriving dining table for the neighbourhood and a shop where you can buy homemade goods, locally sourced groceries, top quality meat, pastries and wine.



David Gandy

David Gandy

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“You know, if you were ask me about the history of fashion, I probably could tell you very little…”

Over the past two decades, David Gandy has established a deserved reputation for having a careful eye for detail. Catching the attention of leading designers such as Dolce & Gabbana for Mario Testino’s Light Blue campaign, the London-based designer has built an unmatched career in the British fashion industry. He’s an intellectual, a gentleman, and a businessman who finds escapism in motoring. David and I met in Nice, 868 miles away from our capital, and from here we drove the Jaguar XE to St Tropez; on the way back, we drove the F-Pace SVR through the Route Napoléon, shooting en route. Along the way, we discussed life in London, David’s career and Jaguar’s iconic designs, which have captivated his imagination since his youth.

Tell me about the early years of your career.

I was at university in my early 20s. The only thing I learned there was that I shouldn’t have gone to university! Unbeknown to me, a friend entered me in a competition with Select Model Management. I won, and received a contract with the agency. I knew nothing about the industry, and, at first, I was a very much an observer wending my way through a world I didn’t understand. I dressed in a utilitarian way. I didn’t know anything about it and hadn’t ever aspired to be part of the industry.

What was the turning point in your career?

I’d spent a lot of time going to castings which weren’t for me. I suppose I wasn’t really doing what I wanted to be doing and, to be truthful, I felt that at times I didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was the brilliant Tandy Anderson at Select who gave me the guidance I needed. I began to think about how I could work toward achieving a lasting effect in the industry and doing something nobody had ever done before, something iconic.

To me, that meant becoming the best in my game and getting a chance to work with the greatest creatives in the industry. I left behind all of my commercial work, earning nothing for months and months: it was the chance I needed to take to open up a bolder opportunity. This led to me working with Dolce & Gabbana, and subsequently becoming the face of the Light Blue fragrance.

With your work veering in a new direction, what did you take from this experience?

It was an education for me. I was passionate about photography during my youth, so I already had my own ideas of creative direction. I told myself to walk before I could run. I was just very genuinely curious about everybody I was working with. I wanted to understand the role and every element of each individual I worked with. Photographers such as Mario Testino to Steven Meisel – their intuition and creativity captivated and inspired me. More than anything, I listened, which I don’t particularly feel people do so much today. Working with Dolce & Gabbana and creatives who inspired my own thinking and direction, I knew that one day this would lead me to curate and creative-direct my own projects.

How should others interpret your work?

I’ve always described myself to people as the middle ground between an average guy on the street and the fashion industry. I hope that I can be a voice between the two. You know, funnily enough, I really don’t enjoy having my photograph taken. More and more in life, I’ve become increasingly selective about who I work with. I’d like to say that I’ve gotten to where I am now with a bit of luck, but in fact it was hard work.

What does our capital mean to you as your home?

I can walk down any street in  London and I still feel like I see something new each time. Everybody has this vision of the streets of New York, Paris and Milan being paved with gold. I’ve always felt that London is the most creative and influential city in the world. I’ve reflected this in my work, working primarily with British brands such and M&S, Jaguar, and Aspinal of London. We’re an inspiration – we’re multicultural and the greatest capital city in the world.

How did you develop a passion for motoring?

How do you begin to explain a thing like that? Cars have been ingrained into my psyche from my youth. They just have. It’s an obsession. You know, if you were to ask me about the history of fashion, I probably could tell you very little. If you were to ask me about the brake horsepower, the designer, or how a car was developed, I’d probably be able to tell you everything! My family have always been into cars. I can remember going to my grandfather’s house before I could ever even properly read, looking endlessly through car books. It’s part of who I am, and my route to escapism.

Tell me about your relationship with Jaguar. How would you define the spirit of a Jaguar?

I believe that you can’t have a one-night stand with a brand. Anything I work on with a brand is authentic and long-term. I have fond memories as a youngster of driving around Europe with my family in a Jaguar. I started working with Jaguar in 2009 and the relationship has grown from there. It started out with just a conversation and has organically progressed. More and more, I have had the privilege of being able to see behind the scenes of the design process of each model, and now I work closely with the design team. From being shown the clay models of the vehicles prior to production with Design Director, Ian Callum, as well as racing their cars, Jaguar has become part of my family and my life. To me, Jaguar is the defining British motoring designer. As with the F-PACE SVR, each and every Jaguar is designed in such a way that, even when standing still, it looks as if it is about to leap towards you. Every time you get behind the wheel of a Jaguar, you should feel that look and character.

What are your future aspirations?

There are some in life who are happy to sit and watch the world pass by. I just can’t do that. I always have to be doing something. As I’ve become more selective in life, I’ve thought about this at length. Many people have asked me whether I would consider developing my own brand in time. Doors open, doors close. I’m open to it. Life is a game of chess, and hopefully I’m making the right decisions to take me toward checkmate. I’ve invested over the years in a number of brands, and my gut tells me that one day I will perhaps have to put my money where my mouth is and start my own.


Wander Spring 19′

Wander Spring 19′

Journal leaves London to wander and explore the beauty of England and the Canary Islands during the Spring months.

Words & Photography Kirk Truman



I’m driving through our metropolis on route to the suburbs and the trees. My companion of choice was built in the midlands and designed in Coventry. The Velar looks a little like what you would’ve imagined kids in the 1980s would’ve thought a Range Rover would’ve looked in the 21st century. With its concealed door handles, its as sleek as you’d desire an SUV to be and I feel shows a new design direction for Land Rover; above and beyond, refined and capable.

Producing the first mass-produced civilian vehicles with doors, Land Rover is a reputable British icon and Royal Warrant holder which has become the motor of choice for both the British military and for families around the UK. Today, the Defender, Range Rover, Discovery and Range Rover Sport are icons of British manufacturing, motoring and design. Benchmarks for luxury off-road vehicles, Land Rover is famed worldwide.

My companion leaves me a little shaken and a little stirred for Journal’s Spring wander. The Velar’s interior is elegant and simple. From optional Configurable Ambient Interior Lighting to the split sliding armrests, everything has been designed, crafted and carefully thought out to maximise relaxation. As I leave the city behind and emerge into the trees, I sight the dirt track and the pines engaging the Mud Ruts programme. Nerved, I make the turn off road passing through the South Downs of Sussex. The Velar is durable and dynamic on and off road. Torque-on-demand All Wheel Drive (AWD) delivers outstanding on road performance and full off-road capability. The wheels pull me through the soil, the water and the scraps of flint rock which emerge from the dirt as a I approach the trees.


52.0298° N, 2.3875° W


Leaving our capital behind, after just over 3 hours behind the wheel I reach Eastnor Castle in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the same distance from the tripoint of the county with Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Greeting me? The Range Rover Vogue SE at Land Rover's test centre; 66 miles of carefully managed trails, steep slippery inclines, articulation tracks, ruts, open ground and deep water. I am told that a special agreement has been reached between the family whom built Eastnor Castle and Land Rover, granting the Royal Warrant holder special permissions to refine and rest the off-road capability of every new Land Rover on this varied terrain for decades. Where better than to kill time with the Land Rover Experience.

Whatever the conditions, the new Range Rover’s exceptional performance and capability are undiminished while customers benefit from reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, along with entry to areas with restrictions on combustion engine-only vehicles. Peerless ride quality, regardless of the terrain or conditions, is a core part of the Range Rover experience. Its needless to say; the Range Rover even more pretty-faced covered in mud off-road.  A class-leading suspension system combines poise and stability with exceptional ride isolation for flat, confident cornering and delivers a natural and intuitive feel behind the wheel. Comprising a lightweight front and rear design, the suspension layout perfectly complements the advanced aluminium construction. Its fully independent layout features a wide-spaced double wishbone set-up at the front and an advanced multi-link layout at the rear. Translation? This is a purpose built master of off-roading which for the average Londoner, will never see the dirt to its fullest capacity.


51.7848° N, 2.1931° W


Through the mullion windows of this Grade-II listed mansion you take in breathtaking panoramas of the lovely Painswick Valley. The Painswick is situated on a quiet lane behind the main street of one of the prettiest towns in the Cotswolds. Painswick’s famous church is a hop and skip away and the exquisite Painswick Rococo Garden is within easy reach. Decked in a medley of greys, blues and greens and with striking prints and graphic artworks on the walls, The Painswick exudes chic comfort. It has been a hotel since the 1950s and until recently was called Cotswold 88, a whimsical name matched by eccentrically avant garde décor. 

In 2015 it was acquired by the Calcot Manor group, whose other hotels, such as Barnsley House, encapsulate gorgeous, easy-going luxury. After a major makeover it reopened in spring 2016, soothed, smoothed and devised as a more affordable option compared to the group’s high-end properties. The 16 bedrooms are individually styled and have retro-chic flourishes – an Art Deco table here, a 1920s-style lamp there. Seven in the garden wing are smaller than those in the main house.


50.8303° N, 1.7011° W


Driving through the New Forest feels a bit like going on safari while making your way to Burley Manor. Built in 1852 by a Verderer (a custodian of the New Forest) this grand home became a hotel in the 1930s, and apart from briefly being requisitioned by the military during the Second World War, it has welcomed guests ever since.

A £1.8m refurbishment was completed in recent years, and Burley Manor relaunched as a restaurant with rooms. Competition is fierce in this area, though, with dining favourite The Pig and its sister property, Lime Wood nearby. The decor combines bold modern fabrics with traditional artwork, while some of the larger rooms in the main house have features such as roll-top baths in the bedrooms, or exposed floorboards. Out in the gardens, a small pool is open from June to September, with two spa treatment rooms inside.

Leaving Burley Manor behind, Burley village is lined with quaint shops, many of which play on the area’s witchcraft connections. But the real appeal of the area is the walking; there’s a great circular route that takes you from opposite the cricket club on the edge of the village, out across windswept moorland, and along a disused railway line guarded by gangs of ponies.


29.0469° N, 13.5900° W


One of the Canary islands off the coast of West Africa administered by Spain, Lanzarote is known for its year-round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape. Timanfaya National Park’s rocky landscape was created by volcanic eruptions in the 1730s. Cueva de los Verdes has caverns formed by an underground river of lava. East-coast resort Puerto del Carmen is home to whitewashed villas, beaches and dive centers.

28.9957° N, 13.4895° W


After a major refurbishment in 2015, this boutique hotel in Costa Teguise Lanzarote stands out for having hot tubs in most of the 305 rooms, either inside the room or on the terrace. Inspired by the local architecture, this addition to Barcelo’s portfolio offers guests an avant-garde room by the sea, with all the light and tranquillity which Lanzarote has to offer.

The adults only hotel has also refurbished its bars and restaurants, giving it a new modern, state-of-the-art feel. In addition, many new activities and services for adults have been included, such as a magnificent U-Spa, 2 infinity pools and a fitness studio. The adults only Barceló Teguise Beach provides its guests with a special and unique experience, just like the island itself. An island of beautiful volcanic lands known as the “Black Pearl of the Atlantic”, which formed César Manrique’s way of seeing the world. This multi-talented artist said; Lanzarote is the most beautiful place on Earth and I am going to show its beauty to the world.




Interview & Portraits Kirk Truman

Christopher Raeburn and I meet on a grey day at his studio in Hackney Central, better known as the Raeburn Lab. Brightening the gloomy morning, he tells me a compelling story of innovative and responsible design in the heart of East London. Christopher is a designer whose work was born out of a passion for utilitarian garments that utilise and repurpose military fabrics, and almost by accident he has found himself engaging with some of the most important ethical and environmental issues of the day. He explains to me how Raeburn, with his brother Graeme Raeburn now on board, plans to evolve into a unique brand in the future and about their new SS19 collection.

Tell me about the origins of Raeburn and your founding concept.

I studied at the Royal College of Art. After I graduated, all I knew was that I wanted to work for myself. I had a pattern-cutting job up in Hendon and I was offered a space in Luton. I set up a studio there where I continued to work on ideas I had already played with at the Royal College with my brother, Graeme. At the time, I had no commercial concept in my mind. I was reusing German snow camouflage to create garments. I begun to look at what other brands were already doing, like Maharishi, and realised that my ideas weren’t too disconnected from this world. I already had my eyes open to sustainability and my own thoughts about it. The Ethical Fashion Forum ran a competition that I was fortunate enough to have won, which helped me to become recognised as a designer.

Remade. Reduced. Recycled. Tell me about this process and how this idea came about.

What we do is a happy accident for me. I have always been in love with military fabrics and the idea of repurposing something. With our first parachute collection, we started with this concept of Remade in England only. As the business has grown, we have evolved to develop the quality of the product, while enhancing and expanding our collections. This in our 10th year is clearer than ever for us. Remade, Reduced, Recycled for us is about responsibly sourced fabrics, manufacturing, and improving the quality of our product wherever we can. I feel the functionality of the product blends with the fashion element to deliver a unique aesthetic in the market. That said, what we do will never be linear. We create responsible, utilitarian, adventurous streetwear.

How do you go about sourcing the fabrics which Raeburn uses in its design process?

There isn’t anywhere I haven’t tried to source fabrics from during my career to date. I’ve spent a lot of time sourcing fabrics from military warehouses in the UK. It’s fascinating now how fabrics can be sourced online from all over the world, often by weight. You can buy anything from ex-military fabrics and materials which were once anything from a jacket, to camouflage, a parachute or even a dingy. It’s a broad way of sourcing fabrics. You would be surprised to hear that you can actually find some of the most interesting fabrics out there on something as well-known as eBay! However, I should point out that if what we did with Raeburn was solely about producing Remade products, we would probably be so niche so that we wouldn’t have a business!

How can the design industry as a whole help to move towards a more sustainable and responsible future?

If you think about it, what fashion and design does as an industry is totally bonkers. Taking garments and putting them in physical spaces in the hope that somebody, somewhere will come in, like it, buy it and take it away – the risk is phenomenal and the need for more is frightening. As a business, I feel we have an obligation to be challenging and to push through the industry however we can. There is an unprecedented change in our world which is occurring right now. It is real; it is happening; it is a threat. Fact. We have to open our eyes and we have to begin to think differently. I’m not saying that we have to create products which are totally Remade, what I’m saying is that it’s about trying to do your part. It’s about rethinking the where, the what, and the why of design as a whole. This is something I have also taken into consideration when wearing my other hat as Creative Director of Timberland. I suppose that sustainable isn’t a word I like to use. For me responsible best describes what we do with Raeburn, and I feel the design industry as a whole needs to embrace this, for its own good and that of our planet.

Tell me about the Raeburn SS19 collection.

Entitled React Now, our new collection reflects the current changes in our planet. Things such as climate change are totally real and our SS19 collection addresses this in a confident, responsible manner, utilising recycled materials throughout and featuring NASA satellite imagery of the disappearing Arctic ice and glaciers.

What is the future of Raeburn?

I think that it’s important to always feel uncomfortable and to remain humble in my work. We are always looking to review how we operate and how we go forward, though now it feels like we have come full circle after 10 years. My brother Graeme is now joining Raeburn permanently, coming from Rapha as Performance Director, so from now on we’ll lose my forename from our title and will be known simply as Raeburn Design. The future for us isn’t just about fashion – it’s about design as a whole. And that will mean expanding beyond fashion and becoming more of a lifestyle business which utilises our founding philosophy: Remade, Reduced, Recycled.


Derek Ridgers

Derek Ridgers

Interview Gary Kemp

Portraits Kirk Truman

“I’ll tell you one thing though; vulnerability is very photogenic. You can see that 

in people…”

Derek and I are talking at Fitzrovia’s Berners Tavern, a few yards from the Soho neighbourhood where both our careers were born. Derek Ridgers is not a photographer – he is more than this. He is a social documenter and Londoner. His work has now spanned five decades of youth culture in our capital and beyond, appearing in the NME, GQ, The Face, Time Out, Loaded and The Independent.

Gary Kemp: Have we actually ever met?

Derek Ridgers: Oddly, no. I photographed your first gig at The Blitz Club in the late 1970s. If I remember right, I think I only got about three frames.

GK: Tell me, how did you get into this?

DR: When I was young, I didn’t really want to be a photographer at all. I wanted to be a painter. I knew the basics of photography and when I left art school, I became an art director in advertising. I started to carry a camera around with me, and one day I took it along with me to the well-known Eric Clapton concert he did with Pete Townshend and Ron Wood in 1973 at Finsbury Park Rainbow. I was right at the back, but decided to go right to the front to take some pictures with the camera I had with me. Back then, there was hardly any security at gigs. You could get as close to the artists as I see you now. When I got the images back from the lab, they weren’t all that bad, but they weren’t brilliant either. The following year I lined up a commission to shoot Betty Davis at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. This really felt like the beginning of me establishing myself as a photographer.

GK: You’re most famous for your pictures of youth culture, especially street and club photography. When did that interest spark in you?

DR: I went to see the The Vibrators in ‘76. As soon as they came on, the audience went wild. There was a lot of Punk types there. At this point I hadn’t really developed the confidence to turn the camera away from the stage, and onto the people – though this was the night where I made the change.

GK: Tell me about your work in clubs and your documentation of youngsters. How did you manage to get into the clubs as a photographer?

DR: When clubs like The Roxy opened in December 1976, I didn’t quite have an obsession at this point, but it soon developed and the Punk movement became key to my work. Youth culture was as much about the individual as it was me. I was able to relive a much more exciting, much more dangerous youth as a photographer that never existed in my own life.

GK: Would you say that the camera helped you with a certain level of shyness in yourself?

DR: Yes, totally. Like many teenagers during my youth, I was trying to avoid getting beaten up. Luckily, I never did. I spent my youth trying to avoid the Mods, Teddy Boys or the Skinheads in fear of a beating. I toyed with dressing up a little like a Mod as a kid, to dressing like a skinhead, but never felt like I got it right. Thus, I’ve ended up spending my life looking at other people.

GK: What was so exciting about that period I guess was that there was something happening on the street which was stepping up onto the stage. I suppose to me it makes total sense that you would want to photograph these kids who were trying to find their tribe.

DR: Dressing up was never really my thing. The camera became something I could hide behind. I could go up to Skinheads, or Hells Angels and talk to them as a photographer, whereas I wouldn’t have been able to have done that without a camera.

GK: How did you obtain the trust of these individuals in order to photograph them?

DR: I started photographing the Skinheads in 1979. It was accidental really. I went down to the club Billy’s expecting to arrive at the Bowie Night, but it’d been moved. There were a few skinheads and a few New Romantics hanging around. So, I started to take their pictures. I’ve always stuck to the same approach: be kind, be friendly, don’t tell them too much and if they say yes, take their picture!

GK: For me, what always captivates me about your images of these kids, is that there’s a sort of ordinary, working-class look about them. I feel that I can see an innocence and naivety in them. Do you look for that?

DR: Its never been something I’ve looked for. I’ll tell you one thing though: vulnerability is very photogenic. You can see that in people, especially some quite hard people, too, who are quite happy to go round beating people up. I just try not to do anything. Usually I just ask somebody to stand there, be still and be themselves. I will ask them to stand away from their friends so that I can capture them alone, regardless of their tribe.

GK: What do you think about most in taking your images – fashion, reportage or social history?

DR: Once I got properly going, I was told about the German photographer August Sander who I’d never even heard of before, and had come to realise there was a similarity between what I was doing and what he had done. I wanted to try and make my work a social document, though in the beginning there was little intention of doing so.

GK: Is there still youth culture today?

DR: Yes, definitely. They’re all over the place, but of course the Internet has changed how you find your tribe. Though I have this belief that when it’s warm, everybody comes out. And then you can see them. However, as a street photographer I have found that the level of access to images today makes it much more difficult to stop and photograph somebody.

GK: When the New Romantics hit, how did you get into The Blitz? I thought we were very quite strict about who we let in…

DR: Steve Strange didn’t want to let me in at all. Eventually I wore him down. At first he said to me, “Not tonight. It’s a private party,” which is what he said to most people. He kept me out there on the pavement until he eventually let me in. That’s usually the case anywhere I go. After an article was published in The Sunday Times about my documentation of that scene, Strange never excluded me again.

GK: Is there a frisson between yourself and your subject?

DR: Yes. I don’t think its any different to any relationship between the subject and the camera lens. There’s always an interpersonal frisson there. For me, my work is as much about London as it is portraiture and social documentation. I’ve been all over the world to take photographs, though I see myself very much as a London photographer. I’m a creative who wanted to become a painter. At a young age I guess I believed it was destiny… until I picked up the camera.


Jordan Mooney

Jordan Mooney

Interview Mark Wardel

Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

I’m in the lobby of the famous 100 Club on London’s Oxford Street waiting for the first female ambassador of punk culture, Jordan Mooney, or simply ‘Jordan’ as she became known the world over, with her iconic makeup and iconoclastic attitude. She has been muse and inspiration to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Derek Jarman, The Sex Pistols and Adam and the Ants among others. Long gone is the famous peroxide beehive hair and in its place a punky crop of violet spikes. Jordan applies a violent slash of bright red Chanel lipstick for the photo session, and once the shoot is over we repair to old-style Soho drinking den Trisha’s to talk about her forthcoming memoir entitled ‘Defying Gravity’.

Mark Wardel: You’ve always looked great and have made some outrageous style statements – like the famous see-through skirt and no-knickers look of 1976 – and I wondered what, in today’s climate of blandness and conformity, the reaction might be were you to do that now?

Jordan Mooney: I think things have gone in a very retrograde direction since then. Obviously, it was seen as very, very shocking back then – although to me it wasn’t shocking because I felt very free and happy in my own skin. 

MW: What were the sources you drew on to put together that amazing look?

JM: It started when I was very young – my parents really wanted this pretty little girl but they actually got someone who was messing up really lovely vintage stuff and combining it with sort of Eric Stanton-style fetishy gear… I just felt absolutely comfortable, even though people in the street would look at me. I’ve always disliked nostalgia but I believe the history of fashion and music has to be worked upon… I was the transformer of the 50s look – I mussed it up and took it somewhere else.

MW: I saw the early punk movement as almost more of a fashion and art-based thing than the music…

JM: Yes, it was born out of the art movement, and its nucleus was Vivienne and Malcolm’s shop at 430 King’s Road, which is somewhere that’s always been a kind of moving and shaking point.

MW: Certain areas of London seem to historically always attract certain types of people or energies…

JM: I interviewed Vivienne Westwood for my book and she said the same thing – historically, something had always been there at 430 King’s Road, and because it was so inaccessible punks had to make that long pilgrimage from Sloane Square, often accompanied by tooled-up policemen because of the danger of violence from Teddy Boys.

MW: The 70s were violent times. People now don’t realise how violent that decade was, but it must have been incredibly exciting and stimulating when the whole Sex Pistols thing exploded…

JM: It was! And they were head and shoulders above anything else at that time because of their uniqueness. I always liken them to a great TV series like Star Trek with the perfect cast… They would never have become so famous if they hadn’t had those exact people in those parts, and the Pistols were like the perfect band.

MW: One of the main social hangouts for Punks in the late 70s was Louise’s in Poland street. What was it like?

JM: Louise’s was a lesbian club. When you walked in, your first impression was that it was full of very well turned out men in tuxedos dancing with each other, but suddenly, as you looked around, you realised they were all women… no men at all! It had a very Berlin type of vibe, and Louise was this very grand Marlene Dietrich type – but a little worn around the edges – sitting at a little table at the top of the stairs. 

The punks more or less took over Louise’s and there was a really great DJ, a gay girl called Caroline. At the end of every night she’d play this song – “Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise” – and you knew the evening was ending, and I swear I’d almost be crying because I didn’t want it to end!

MW: I find it very weird retracing our footsteps in this city which has changed so much…

JM: Same here – it is a weird sensation. We were just at the 100 club, which is still going strong, but so many other places I used to frequent such as the Marquee on Wardour Street have all gone…

MW: Your memoir is due out soon, but I hear you almost lost a huge treasure trove of archival material from it.

JM: Yes! I went to my publishers with a bag containing a lot of irreplaceable photos and documents, including love letters from Adam Ant and a book of his handwritten lyrics for the ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ album. Basically, my entire life was in that bag and while rushing to get the train I left it on the platform. As the train pulled out I looked down and realised the bag wasn’t there – and the next stop was Gatwick! I was in compete shock. Fortunately, about four days later, I got the most wonderful call from a lady called Gladys who said “Ere luv, is that Jordan Mooney? We’ve got your bag!”


Jordan Mooney’s memoir Defying Gravity is out April 25th

Charity Wakefield

Charity Wakefield

Interview & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

Hair and Makeup Justine Jenkins

Photographer’s Assistant Paolo Navarino

Charity Wakefield, who most recently made history as the first woman to play Shakespeare at The Globe in an all-female production of EMILIA, joined the Journal for coffee at her favourite Soho spot, Bar Italia,  to discuss sonnets, period dramas and independent cinema.

Tell us about Emilia and your role as Shakespeare?

Emilia is a play by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm about the imagined life of 16th century poet Emilia Bassano. We performed it at the Globe last summer, and are now transferring to The Vaudeville in the West End. Emilia was one of the first women to be published in world run predominantly by men. What little we know of her indicates that she was a very early feminist, using pamphlets and other means to educate other women and to bring them together in solidarity. Our play supposes that she was the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s Sonnets; which, if true, suggests that he was infatuated with her and may well have known her intimately, drawing on her talent, intellect and experience when creating his work, perhaps even using her words.

As a 21st-century woman, the themes Emilia wrote about 400 years ago – fighting against male hierarchies, being used for inspiration but not credited for your own work – still feel pertinent to me. At the Globe, audiences connected with her character so viscerally that there was an audible roar of solidarity at the end of each show. I play Shakespeare as a version of him that comes from Emilia’s perspective. He lives in the play as part of her memory and experience. But it’s also my own take on a figure often played romantically. I see him as a trickster and impresario, and I’m interested to explore how different a man he was at home, compared to his public self. 

Will a play centred around Emilia Bassano seem subversive or shocking to some conservative academics? 

What’s shocking is that there are so many real-life female stories that remain untold. Alongside Emilia Bassano our play features Susan Bertie, who fought for equal education for woman; Mary Sidney, who hosted a “paradise for poets” at her country house, was expert at falconry and shooting, had a chemistry lab and invented invisible ink, finished her brothers book of psalms, wrote and published an early translation of Anthony and Cleopatra; and Margaret Clifford, who as well as being a force of nature in court life, set up an almshouse to provide accommodation for impoverished widows. It remained in use until the 1970s due to her clever use of the law in its organisation. Our play is asking why these stories have been buried. Probably because women have been excluded from writing history. We want to shed light on these real life women and encourage people to get writing to share all this delicious historical detail.

You’ve worked on a number of period dramas, from The Halcyon, set in the 1940s, to Wolf Hall and Emilia set in the 16th century. Is there a historical period you’ve particularly enjoyed discovering?

I visited Hampton Court as part of my research for Wolf Hall and I was blown away by the experience of walking around the Tudor buildings. I was surprised at the close quarters everyone kept. The servants would have seen and heard everything that Henry VIII did – all the deals made, all the drama unfolding, the bed-hopping, the death warrants, the art, the culture, the debauchery. Life was tough and everyone was so interconnected, because they relied on each other, rather than technology, for everything. But it was also a time of so much innovation and great artistic and scientific leaps being made. Very exciting, but also terrifying in its own way. 

You once worked in Soho at a cinema… 

When I first moved to London I worked at THE OTHER CINEMA on Rupert Street. It was one of the last little independent cinemas left and it closed, unfortunately, but not after a fight from the people who worked there and loved it so much. I loved that place and it was a perfect introduction to filmmakers’ London. We showed small films and let them run, building up a word of mouth momentum rather than a funded marketed campaign, and we championed documentary before the mainstream: it was the first place to show Buena Vista Club, for example. We’d have all sorts of Soho characters come in and I got to know the area quite well. Fantastic artists, musicians and film makers would tell us about other things going on nearby, and I spent more time in Soho in those years than at home in South London.

Tell us about your upcoming series THE GREAT. 

It’s gonna blow your socks off! It’s a 10 part series for HULU with Elle Fanning playing Catherine the Great and Nicholas Hoult playing Peter Romanov, the Emperor of Russia. Catherine the Great ousted Peter and ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796. Her story is amazing, and I am so glad we have a TV show to explore it all! It’s written by Tony McNamara (The Favourite) and it has a similar feel in terms of its historical irreverence and comedic style. I play Georgina Dymov, Peter’s lover. Other cast members are Gwilym Lee, Phoebe Fox, Douglas Hodge, Adam Godley – a really terrific bunch of actors. I wish I could tell you more, but no spoilers allowed!


Emilia runs at the Vaudeville Theatre from 8 March – 15 June 2019. Bounty Hunters is back on @SkyOne and @NowTV from 13th March.



Words & Photography Kirk Truman

Located above New Oxford Street, high enough to avoid making eye contact with the passengers on the top deck of the 55 bus and low enough to create a buzz from the street, VIVI Restaurant and Bar is the new all-day dining brasserie in Centre Point from rhubarb, a high end catering company who are the team behind Sky Garden in The City. The huge restaurant spans the old walkway that joins the main tower to the original residential block. 

Designed by Gordon Young Architects, who have worked on projects in The Shard, including sky-high Chinese restaurant Hutong, the sweeping space that is VIVI is divided up into different areas. At one end, a grand marble floor sections off a huge gold topped bar. Slick teal stools are neatly aligned around the counter and you can choose from a wide selection of champagnes and killer cocktails; their signature being the Pink Floyd, a playful twist on the classic Cosmopolitan made with a punchy blend of rhubarb vodka, Cointreau and vanilla.

In the middle of the space, circular teal banquettes create a neat dining room. There is a contemporary feel, with dark marble tables and oversized, pastel pink armchairs. Above, a bespoke Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt chandelier frames everything in a soft golden light. With a bright and breezy feel, light floods into the restaurant from New Oxford Street on one side and a newly developed square to the other, which will be the main entrance to Crossrail on Tottenham Court Road. 

Different zones have been created on either side of the main dining room. Overlooking New Oxford Street, The Gallery is a narrow walkway with an impressive black and white tiled floor and huge sign directing you to Take Your Pleasure Seriously. It’s laid for dinner service.

On the other side, overlooking the new development is Liquid Lounge, a sunken section with pink booths and a little bar. This is a place to have breakfast or lunch and then roll into drinks and dinner. In truth, it’s an extension of the dining room but feels more appropriate for an early morning meeting than perhaps the more grown up central space. 

VIVI is part of the revamp of the rather ill-fated Centre Point, a London landmark that everyone knows which was for long a centre of all and nothing. Built in the sixties, the thirty four floor building was called ‘London’s Empty Skyscraper’ on account of it being predominately vacant from completion in 1975. The building was Grade II listed in 1995 and in 2015 a decision was made to turn it into luxury apartments. Property developers, Almacantar, have taken on the project, converting the lonesome landmark into eighty two swanky apartments and 45,000 square foot of retail and restaurant space. As well as VIVI, which comes complete with private access for residents, they are expecting dim sum maestros Din Tai Fung on the ground floor, Pret a Manger, a gaggle of street food stalls and Black Sheep Coffee. 

The menu is contemporary comfort food, with classic dishes like starters of quiche Lorraine and twice baked Cheddar soufflé. The salmon gravadlax, sourced from Var in the Faroe Islands, comes with a light fennel, dill and pink grapefruit salad. A rather silky smooth horseradish and creme fraiche sauce accompanies the fish, giving it a much needed kick of seasoning. Take your pick of signature dishes from the mains, including their duck a l’orange or chicken kiev with braised lettuce and perfectly quenelled mashed potato. If that’s not your vibe, they have a more mainstream section of the menu with Madras roasted monkfish, a cheeseburger or breaded Dublin Bay langoustine scampi.

Dishes are well presented; the dark plates against the backdrop of the bright pink and blue seats make very feed friendly shots for Instagram, a thread that has most likely been taken into consideration throughout the restaurant fit out. With prices for their signature dishes ranging from £17.50 for the kiev to £34 for the hereford steak, this should be a given. 

Perhaps the best dish of them all is the Millionaire’s Chocolate Bar on the pudding menu. This decadent dessert is the ultimate home made Galaxy Bar. Layers of chocolate sponge, Florentine and rich salted caramel, bound together in a shimmering cloak of caramel, served with tangy chocolate sorbet and a wafer thin chocolate touile biscuit. I can see myself returning for round two of this epic eat and a glass of bubbly imminently.




Words & Photography Kirk Truman

Once the home of London’s rag trade, Great Titchfield Street has more recently become home to a wave of thriving new businesses, ranging from dining – some of the best cafes in Central London are to be found here – to health and fitness. PerformancePro, co-founder Anthony Purcell tells me, arrived in Fitzrovia six years ago, because this was where its clients lived and worked.

After a career in fashion, Anthony went back to university to begin a new career as a personal trainer. “I gave up my role as a buyer at Paul Smith and took on a job as a cycle courier, which ignited a new passion for fitness and cycling,” he says. While working at a private personal training business, he met his PerformancePro co-founders Mat Grove and Daniel Boulle, and they decided to unite in creating their own fitness space and gym. “We always had a view of making the space a full circle of care for clients – physio, nutrition and science-led personal training,” explains Anthony. “At PerformancePro, we are a group of educated trainers who understand the science behind training. We believe in training people as if they were athletes. Basically, we train Londoners – and that can be anybody from financiers to creatives, from Fitzrovia and beyond.”

One such Londoner, no stranger to exercise himself, is Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, a keen cyclist. In 1981, Spandau Ballet’s first album, Journeys to Glory, turned the band into a household name and launched Gary’s career as a popular musician, respected songwriter and successful actor. Away from his life in the music industry and the stage, Gary has developed a passion for life on two wheels, and keeps up a regular training programme at PerformancePro. “I got into cycling about 10 years ago and discovered a real passion for the sport. I guess you could say it quickly became an obsession. I came to realise that cycling wasn’t only about spending time on the road, but about strength training to enable this. You might say that cyclists often forget about their top half, putting their energy below their waists. Originally, I begun working with PerformancePro to develop my cycling technique, stamina and general fitness,” says Gary. “Anthony and I met through our mutual passion for cycling, and later embarked on a number of group cycling trips in the UK and Europe. Since my mid-twenties I’ve tried to work out at least three times a week, maybe more – sort of essential and difficult at the same time when you’re spending so much time on and off stage in a band. I have trained with Anthony for a number of years now at PerformancePro. For me, having a trainer encourages me to push myself, and continues to further educate me about my own physical health.”

Gary explains that about 20 years ago, he had “an embarrassing rollerblading accident” in Toronto in which he broke his wrist and injured his shoulder. The injury, combined with years of playing guitar on tour, later required surgery to fix his broken shoulder tendon. “I spent six weeks with my arm in a sling. Though the real recovery from the injury itself came from the rehab I received, and the fitness regime built around my injury by Anthony and PerformancePro. It was key that I took the time to build up my strength again, otherwise I could’ve easily have ended up with a frozen shoulder in the long run. I guess this is a consequence of nearing 60 – you need to seriously take care of yourself!” he laughs. Luckily for Gary, he can call PerformancePro his local gym and Anthony his trainer.

As a regular myself, I can report that sessions are led by trainers who help with nutrition and realistic health goals in an environment which is tailored to your individual needs, and with no more than six people in the gym environment at any given time. PerformancePro is bespoke, small and highly praised by its regulars, who value its focus on rehabilitation as well as personal goals.

Thanks to all of our readers who attended our recent panel discussion with Gary Kemp at PerformancePro. For those of you who didn’t we would like to offer you a FREE 75 Min consultation with the team at PerformancePro which involves a little bit of investigation and a gym based assessment. After the consultation a 10% discount will be added to any purchase of 10 or more sessions.

Get in touch here…

Alex Eagle

Alex Eagle

Words Kiera Court

Portraits Thea Caroline Sneve Løvstad

“Less is more when there is so much choice wanting new things…”

Summer slips past the cutting clouds of a winter morning, through the apartment window and scatters onto the floor beside my feet. The Soho home of fashion designer and tastemaker Alex Eagle radiates innate warmth. To my right is a bounty of stacked records. In front of me, an island table-top decorated with fresh, seasonal vegetables stretches across the room.

Eagle coos softly to her second child, Columba, who’s delicately perched on an adjacent high chair, while her make-up is finessed. “You’ve blush on your cheeks already; you don’t need any more. You’ve a natural blush.” An elated Columba giggles in response. When Alex Eagle launched her own label in 2015, it was by no means an instantaneous decision. The success of her slick, classic designs, as well as collaborations with other artists, comes down to a native drive paired with a fashion fixation that kicked in at a young age.

“I’ve endless scrap books full of 90s pictures from Vogue, different magazines all ripped out and stuck together,” she muses as we recline into a sofa below a peering print from Alex Prager’s Silver Lake Drive collection. Unsure of what sector of the industry she preferred, she continued to study art in school and went on to achieve a History of Art degree, which she found to be impeccably relevant. “My first job was assisting a stylist. I later worked at Tank, then Then Harpers Bazar. I was writing, styling – a mixture. I always liked doing a mixture.”

Afterwards, Eagle went on to work in PR for Joseph. “I sat with all these amazing women – the CEO, the Creative Director, Communications Director and Buying Director. It was a really close team and I got to see the 360 of how the fashion industry works. From the design, to shooting the campaign, to the marketing.” She cites her time at Joseph as the main source of inspiration that spurred her on to embark upon her own shop.

Eagle’s pieces are timeless staples. They’re worthy investments and make for a handsome uniform. On shop floors, she witnessed multiple fashion seasons change. “It was a reaction slightly against the fashion industry. I didn’t want the whole seasonal thing. I was turning 30 and I felt like people were almost wishing their whole life away as they were always waiting for the next season. Less is more when there is so much choice in wanting new things.”

Columba lets out a fierce wail from the kitchen and Eagle’s attention is entirely stolen for a split second. She clearly agrees. When all is calm again, Eagle continues. “I wanted to develop a place where you could always go and buy the white silk shirt; the black trousers that make you feel just divine; the blazer that you could wear with everything, everyday, all day long.”

The collaborations offer the opportunity for fabulous minds and incredible talents to join forces and create refreshing items. Eagle works with ceramicists, artists and records to name a few. “I love working with people who are just so good at what they do – something that I can’t do. They’re so inspiring. Your wardrobe could be cohesive building blocks in a luxury way and then other things that means it’s always fresh or there’s always something new to look out and be inspired by.”

Her store sits in the heart of Soho’s Lexington Street. Soho has always been Eagle’s home, so it makes sense. “I was born in London. I’m a Londoner through and through. I would love to open a store in America, in LA, and in NYC, and somewhere else in Europe but my home is here. You have all walks of life; all generations and mixes. It’s such a creative hub being in Soho. You’ve got everything at your doorstep.”

Soho’s diversity and unapologetic determination to defy the norm makes it the perfect home for her studio, where her shapes and silhouettes are very identity neutral. Men’s and women’s fashion are blurring. “We always said that when we opened the store in Berlin four years ago that the whole concept was men and women shopping together for each others’ clothes,” she explains. “It was marketing menswear to women that’s already menswear but making women realise that men buy quite cleverly. They buy things that they keep forever and wear forever. There’s not this constant erratic behaviour about buying around seasons, buying around what’s fashionable, buying around what’s in the sale. Men tend to buy classic things that suit them and fit them, that they just wear to death.”

As for her own style, during the early stages of her business Eagle’s busy schedule demanded accessible clothes. She reached for sophisticated suits and a colour palette of black, white and navy. “Something put together without having to worry about accessorising. I buy a lot of The Row. It has beautiful fabrics and I mix that with my own brand. I make bespoke suits for myself so I can always have them. We have a Savile Row trained tailor called Chandni who works with us and makes the suits. You sit down with her and choose the fabric and it fits like a glove.”

Eagle has the remarkable ability to get a unique inkling of an individual’s taste and tailor both clothes and conversation to them. She must, I imagine, be the perfect host.




Essentials Spring 19′

Essentials Spring 19′


Oliver Proudlock, Founder


Half light.


Beauty for the home.

Designers we adore.

Words & Photography Kirk Truman




Compass Ring £60

Siler Link Ring £55

Silver Thistle Ring £60

Gold Plated Rope Ring £60

Serge DeNimes is a design-led brand providing exclusive seasonal collections of urban apparel and accessories of premium quality. Founder Oliver Proudlock has had two passions from a young age: fashion and art. They were the two constants in his upbringing, passed on to him by his mother, a designer and photographer. For Oliver, Serge DeNimes is the expression of his creativity and his ambition to create styles that appeal to the creative, streetwise and fashion-conscious around the world.





Turf Pocket Bomber / Tan £650

Dean Shirt / Khaki £110

Tearaway Trouser / Cream £140

Groundhog Jacket / Black/Brown £250

Market Check Trouser / Black/Brown £165

YMC, or ‘You Must Create’, has become one of the most popular brands among young men and women wanting to look and feel good without having to try too hard. With a simple philosophy – you must create your own style – most of the YMC clothing can easily be mixed and matched with any existing piece in your wardrobe. This multi-functional, modern take on design gives the brand’s pieces a timeless yet relevant feel, and leaves the wearer comfortable in the knowledge that any of their pieces will stand the test of time.




Carrington Jacket / Kemble Blue £319

Theobold Jacket / Kentridge Black £369

Fishtail Trousers / Kentridge Black £179

Robin Crew / Harrop Navy £110

Spencer Sunglasses / Tortoiseshell £185

Self-taught tailor Oliver Spencer launched his eponymous label in 2002, fast becoming the favourite of rock stars and politicians alike. With over 40% of production based in the UK, he champions British industry and marries inspirations from London subcultures, English heritage and American and Japanese urban youth. The result is a signature look straddling streetwear and smart dressing.




Camp Collar Overshirt £225

De Coeur T-Shirt £75

Founded in 2011 by the Parisian designer Alexandre Mattiussi, AMI offers a stylish and comprehensive wardrobe that blurs the boundaries between casual and chic. AMI – meaning ‘friend’ in French – stands for a relaxed, authentic and friendly approach to fashion and captures that particular type of Parisian nonchalance that is young, cool and carefree. In 2013, Alexandre was the first men’s designer to win the prestigious ANDAM prize.





Baltazar shorts £100

Powerphase Trainers £90

Wood Wood’s collections are built around new takes on iconic silhouettes and a sports-fashion approach that remains true to the sub-cultural heritage of the brand. Wood Wood mixes high fashion, sports and streetwear with youth culture, art and music. Always aiming to find the perfect balance between style and functionality, the Wood Wood collections have evolved into tailored and sophisticated expressions while retaining their playful graphic profile that often revolves around juxtapositions and iconography.





Soild Signet £275

Surface Signet £275

Cefalu Signet £250

Clerigo Signet £250

Established in 2018, Bleue Burnham is a London-based men’s jewellery brand named after its founder. Through his continual development of form and quality, Bleue explores the notion of British modernism and the role that jewellery plays in this concept, referencing British cultures and traditions to create contemporary and finely crafted pieces of jewellery.

Bleue’s background in sustainability also heavily informs the brand. Environmental and social performance are core elements of its perspective of success. Currently all jewellery is hand-made in London using recycled precious metals and is designed to last multiple generations and be handed down accordingly.





CODA, 75ml,  £220

 Established in 1999 by Chad Murawczyk, MiN New York creates and curates niche fragrance, beauty and grooming products from around the world. In 2014, MiN New York launched SCENT STORIES, a collection of limited-edition fragrances composed of the finest ingredients from around the world, with a range of 11 scents available to members only for the first year. MiN New York currently has 17 perfumes in its fragrance base. The earliest edition was created in 2014 and the newest is from 2017.





Gentle Fluidity, 70ml £150

Globe Trotter in Zinc Edition, £95

Globe Trotter in Gold Edition, £85

The Maison Francis Kurkdjian collection is a wardrobe of fragrances, representing myriad facets of emotions. Designed in the tradition of luxury French perfumery, it nevertheless represents a contemporary vision of the art of creating and wearing perfume as realised by one of the world’s most celebrated perfumers.





Impression Cedarwood Heart, £85

 In an age where we all want to know more about craftmanship and provenance, Ostens gives you access to ingredients previously unavailable to consumers. Ostens has an aim: to celebrate and open up access to the ingredients that lie at the heart of so many perfumes and to create sensory wonderment that’s available to all. Their exceptional ‘hero ingredients’ are shared with some of the most talented perfumers in the industry, without any limitations to their creative impulses. The result? Unique olfactive compositions, full of charm and intensity, showcasing creativity in its purest form.




Purifying Hyaluronic Face Hydrator, £75

Nourishing Body Mist, £110

Each product in Aman’s new skincare line is made from powerful natural ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin to nourish and rejuvenate. Together, they work holistically on a deeper level, to meet emotional needs and enhance overall wellbeing.

The rare and precious ingredients used in Aman’s skincare products include actives such as argan stem cells, Kalpariane seaweed extract, and hyaluronic acid, and essential oils ranging from sandalwood, amber, rose and palo santo, to juniper, jasmine and tuberose. Aman Skincare products are suitable for men and women of all ages and skin types.




Vide Poche, £29

Scented Matches, £18

Double Pommade Concrete, £51

Buly is a little bit bonkers – but aren’t all the best things in life? Founded by Jean-Vincent Bully, the brand began in 1803 in a shop on the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Now, after an absence of over a century, the most famous of French beauty dispensaries has risen again to conquer the world. In a spirit of innovation, l’Officine Universelle Buly offers products that draw on the most innovative cosmetic techniques and on the virtues of natural ingredients.




Darsana, £49

Infused with the highest quality fine fragrance oils reminiscent of places both near and far, Lumira’s luxury lifestyle essentials are a celebration of beautiful scent, sophisticated design and the spirit of travel. Founded by Almira Armstrong in 2013, Lumira is the manifestation of a life-long love affair with beautiful objects and the differences small details make to our everyday lives. The power of fragrance to trigger the senses, a memory and even a person’s emotional state are the inspirations that led to the creation of the Lumira brand.




Wander Spring 19′

Wander Spring 19′


Journal leaves London to wander and explore the beauty of England and the Canary Islands during the Spring months.

Words & Photography Kirk Truman



I’m driving through our metropolis on route to the suburbs and the trees. My companion of choice was built in the midlands and designed in Coventry. The Velar looks a little like what you would’ve imagined kids in the 1980s would’ve thought a Range Rover would’ve looked in the 21st century. With its concealed door handles, its as sleek as you’d desire an SUV to be and I feel shows a new design direction for Land Rover; above and beyond, refined and capable.

Producing the first mass-produced civilian vehicles with doors, Land Rover is a reputable British icon and Royal Warrant holder which has become the motor of choice for both the British military and for families around the UK. Today, the Defender, Range Rover, Discovery and Range Rover Sport are icons of British manufacturing, motoring and design. Benchmarks for luxury off-road vehicles, Land Rover is famed worldwide.

My companion leaves me a little shaken and a little stirred for Journal’s Spring wander. The Velar’s interior is elegant and simple. From optional Configurable Ambient Interior Lighting to the split sliding armrests, everything has been designed, crafted and carefully thought out to maximise relaxation. As I leave the city behind and emerge into the trees, I sight the dirt track and the pines engaging the Mud Ruts programme. Nerved, I make the turn off road passing through the South Downs of Sussex. The Velar is durable and dynamic on and off road. Torque-on-demand All Wheel Drive (AWD) delivers outstanding on road performance and full off-road capability. The wheels pull me through the soil, the water and the scraps of flint rock which emerge from the dirt as a I approach the trees.



52.0298° N, 2.3875° W


Leaving our capital behind, after just over 3 hours behind the wheel I reach Eastnor Castle in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the same distance from the tripoint of the county with Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Greeting me? The Range Rover Vogue SE at Land Rover’s test centre; 66 miles of carefully managed trails, steep slippery inclines, articulation tracks, ruts, open ground and deep water. I am told that a special agreement has been reached between the family whom built Eastnor Castle and Land Rover, granting the Royal Warrant holder special permissions to refine and rest the off-road capability of every new Land Rover on this varied terrain for decades. Where better than to kill time with the Land Rover Experience.

Whatever the conditions, the new Range Rover’s exceptional performance and capability are undiminished while customers benefit from reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, along with entry to areas with restrictions on combustion engine-only vehicles. Peerless ride quality, regardless of the terrain or conditions, is a core part of the Range Rover experience. Its needless to say; the Range Rover even more pretty-faced covered in mud off-road.  A class-leading suspension system combines poise and stability with exceptional ride isolation for flat, confident cornering and delivers a natural and intuitive feel behind the wheel. Comprising a lightweight front and rear design, the suspension layout perfectly complements the advanced aluminium construction. Its fully independent layout features a wide-spaced double wishbone set-up at the front and an advanced multi-link layout at the rear. Translation? This is a purpose built master of off-roading which for the average Londoner, will never see the dirt to its fullest capacity.



51.7848° N, 2.1931° W


Through the mullion windows of this Grade-II listed mansion you take in breathtaking panoramas of the lovely Painswick Valley. The Painswick is situated on a quiet lane behind the main street of one of the prettiest towns in the Cotswolds. Painswick’s famous church is a hop and skip away and the exquisite Painswick Rococo Garden is within easy reach. Decked in a medley of greys, blues and greens and with striking prints and graphic artworks on the walls, The Painswick exudes chic comfort. It has been a hotel since the 1950s and until recently was called Cotswold 88, a whimsical name matched by eccentrically avant garde décor. 

In 2015 it was acquired by the Calcot Manor group, whose other hotels, such as Barnsley House, encapsulate gorgeous, easy-going luxury. After a major makeover it reopened in spring 2016, soothed, smoothed and devised as a more affordable option compared to the group’s high-end properties. The 16 bedrooms are individually styled and have retro-chic flourishes – an Art Deco table here, a 1920s-style lamp there. Seven in the garden wing are smaller than those in the main house.




50.8303° N, 1.7011° W


Driving through the New Forest feels a bit like going on safari while making your way to Burley Manor. Built in 1852 by a Verderer (a custodian of the New Forest) this grand home became a hotel in the 1930s, and apart from briefly being requisitioned by the military during the Second World War, it has welcomed guests ever since.

A £1.8m refurbishment was completed in recent years, and Burley Manor relaunched as a restaurant with rooms. Competition is fierce in this area, though, with dining favourite The Pig and its sister property, Lime Wood nearby. The decor combines bold modern fabrics with traditional artwork, while some of the larger rooms in the main house have features such as roll-top baths in the bedrooms, or exposed floorboards. Out in the gardens, a small pool is open from June to September, with two spa treatment rooms inside.

Leaving Burley Manor behind, Burley village is lined with quaint shops, many of which play on the area’s witchcraft connections. But the real appeal of the area is the walking; there’s a great circular route that takes you from opposite the cricket club on the edge of the village, out across windswept moorland, and along a disused railway line guarded by gangs of ponies.




29.0469° N, 13.5900° W


One of the Canary islands off the coast of West Africa administered by Spain, Lanzarote is known for its year-round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape. Timanfaya National Park’s rocky landscape was created by volcanic eruptions in the 1730s. Cueva de los Verdes has caverns formed by an underground river of lava. East-coast resort Puerto del Carmen is home to whitewashed villas, beaches and dive centers.


28.9957° N, 13.4895° W


After a major refurbishment in 2015, this boutique hotel in Costa Teguise Lanzarote stands out for having hot tubs in most of the 305 rooms, either inside the room or on the terrace. Inspired by the local architecture, this addition to Barcelo’s portfolio offers guests an avant-garde room by the sea, with all the light and tranquillity which Lanzarote has to offer.

The adults only hotel has also refurbished its bars and restaurants, giving it a new modern, state-of-the-art feel. In addition, many new activities and services for adults have been included, such as a magnificent U-Spa, 2 infinity pools and a fitness studio. The adults only Barceló Teguise Beach provides its guests with a special and unique experience, just like the island itself. An island of beautiful volcanic lands known as the “Black Pearl of the Atlantic”, which formed César Manrique’s way of seeing the world. This multi-talented artist said; Lanzarote is the most beautiful place on Earth and I am going to show its beauty to the world.



Dining Winter 18′

Dining Winter 18′



Words & Photography Jacqui Walker



15 Eastcastle St, W1T 3AY

Quiet time – 8-9am

Appeal – coffee

Inspired by the amazing coffee culture in Australia and New Zealand, Kaffeine is an independently owned cafe and espresso bar with two locations in the Fitzrovia neighbourhood.



Unit 109, Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AQ

Quiet time – 8-9am

Appeal – location & coffee

Their coffee tastes good because it’s made by people who try harder. Redemption Roasters work with young offenders who know their coffee to craft each batch. They try harder because they know that, on the outside, they’ll have to be better than a barista without a record.



58 Redchurch St, E2 7DP

Quiet time – 8-9am

Appeal – coffee

Allpress Espresso is built on relationships. Their success as a coffee roaster is down to the success of the people they choose to partner with – from their first café customer, to their staff around the world.




3 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP

Quiet time – 9-10am

Appeal – bakery

Their first permanent bakery shop, St John Bakery features a counter laden with their famous doughnuts, for both elevenses and that teatime pick-me-up, as well as morning pastries and afternoon Eccles cakes. There are also much-loved sourdoughs, raisin loaves and rye loaves to be whisked away for office launches.




32 Berners Street, W1T 3LR

Prime time – 7-9pm

Appeal – setting & menu

Flesh & Buns is the creation of acclaimed chef Ross Shonhan. They are driven by a desire to deliver memorable, stand-out Japanese-inspired food. Think Japanese Izakaya reimagined for London – a lively, social place, offering drinks and a cross-section of delicious Japanese dishes designed for sharing with friends.




47-51 Caledonian Rd,  N1 9BU

Prime time – 7-9pm

Appeal – menu

Steakhouse staple Flat Iron expands to King’s Cross. Self-taught butcher Charlie Carroll originally started Flat Iron as pop-up; now, the steakhouse has become a cult favourite, with six sites across London. Besides their famous flat iron steak, Flat Iron serves other cuts like the underblade fillet, tri tip and rump cap, alongside a line-up of tempting newcomers.



51 Lamb’s Conduit St, WC1N 3NB

Prime time – 8-10pm

Appeal – wine

Noble Rot Restaurant & Wine Bar is located in an atmospheric townhouse in Bloomsbury. Head chef Paul Weaver and Consultant chef Stephen Harris, from the Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Whitstable, oversee a full à la carte menu of fine Franglaise style cooking in the restaurant, and a selection of small dishes in the bar.



71 Blandford St, W1U 8AB

Prime time – 7-9pm

Appeal – menu

Split across two buildings and five floors, this revolving creative hub is home to a carefully curated programme of chef residencies, art exhibitions and all-round fantastic experiences, morning, noon and night. Not to mention the best lunch in Marylebone. Big name chefs from all over the world, wildlife drawing, terrarium building, pasta making; no two days are ever the same here.



The Marylebone, 108 Brasserie


Set in the heart of Marylebone, 108 Brasserie, just off Marylebone High Street at the top of Marylebone Lane, houses two distinctive areas: the bar, a chic and sophisticated drinking and dining area, and the brasserie’s dining space, where its modern British dishes take centre stage. 108 Brasserie represents local dining at its best – hearty, uncomplicated food made from the highest quality ingredients, centred around the restaurant’s Josper grill. 108’s dining area offers brasserie-style dining and is open all day, seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; great food, good wine and friendly service are the order of the day.

The menu, inspired by food that’s foraged, farmed and fished from our great isles, includes a wide selection of dishes where the emphasis is on fresh, seasonal produce. It’s balanced with a hand-picked wine list with something for everyone. The restaurant experience, from the service to the ambience, make this unfussy space a local favourite.


The Marylebone

108 Marylebone Lane




Oliver Cheshire

Oliver Cheshire

Interview & Portraits Kirk Truman

“I guess you could say it was an overnight success, you know? It opened doors which I never knew I could walk through…”

After becoming a modelling sensation at the tender age of 16, Oliver Cheshire has gone on to enjoy a hugely successful career as the face of any number of major brands. As he gets ready to launch his first clothing line, he looks back with Journal at half a lifetime in menswear modelling. It’s a grey, autumnal morning when we take a walk through the park. Oliver and I are talking about menswear, his youth and the career which has been his life for almost 15 years. Represented by Fitzrovia-based Select Model Management, Oliver Cheshire is a familiar face on London’s menswear scene whose career as a model and designer has spanned almost half of his lifetime.

Tell me about your upbringing.

As a youngster, I wanted to be an actor so I studied drama. I had a fairly normal working class upbringing. I grew up in a council house with my family. I had a passion for clothing from a young age. I always felt the need to customise my clothes; jeans, shirts, trousers – everything! I can remember my parents thinking I was totally mad at the time. Clothes were a big part of my upbringing. They defined me and my identity.

When were you scouted and what were the immediate effects on your way of life?

I was scouted by Select Model Management when I was 16. I suppose I didn’t really think much of it. I was so young, and at the time I was studying. A few polaroids were taken of me by the agency, and then a few weeks later I visited their offices in Fitzrovia. I’d never been out of the country before in my life, and right then I was told I needed to go to New York City! I was booked by Calvin Klein and then became the face of the brand for a year. As you can imagine, my studies took the back seat and the modelling took over. I guess you could say it was an overnight success, you know? It opened doors which I never knew I could walk through. I was just an ordinary guy standing on the shoulders of giants.

Tell me about the journey.

I was still at school, so the reality of what this becoming still hadn’t really struck me. My first campaign with Calvin Klein was in the first couple of pages of GQ at the time. I was starting to realise that this was definitely about to become a full-time venture for me; the doors to the fashion industry were opening to me. In 2008, I then went on to work on a campaign for Jack Wills in Rajasthan, India. Dolce & Gabbana followed, along with Missoni, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and Vivienne Westwood. A personal British favourite of mine has always been Marks and Spencer. Today I do a few editorials every couple of months. I’ve become much more selective as time has gone by. What I did when I was younger felt like my apprenticeship years. Now feels like real life. I feel totally secure and ready to explore other ventures.

How do you feel social media has changed the way brands think and reach out to consumers today?

The reality of an image and a marketing campaign is romanticised. Life isn’t this way, and its important for consumers to remember this. Instagram has totally changed the way in which brands strategically think. I guess the reality is now that anybody can become a ‘model’ through platforms like Instagram through creating their own content. What it means to be a model has totally changed now, its become much more human. Character, personality and opinion has perhaps never been more valued in my role. My gut tells me that something like Instagram can’t last forever. I suppose in my heart I feel like there will one day be another platform which will take the throne.

What are your future aspirations?

I’ve always been passionate about clothes. Its been an obsession of mine way before I was scouted or thought this could become a career for me. I’ve always pulled my clothes apart, modified them and personalised them to suit me. What can I say, I’m a total perfectionist! I think I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to start my own clothing line, and now its finally become a reality. My passion for menswear and design was the impetus without a doubt. I’ve worked with some incredible creatives over the years and been a part of this industry for sometime now. It is in part a way to give something back and to also fulfil a dream. The brand is based around simplicity with a focus on sustainability. The designs play with colour and wearability, and encourage men to use colour in a masculine way. The price point is affordable and accessible. The name of the line is taken from the first 3 letters of my surname and the revolutionary, Che Guevara. Che’ will launch in early 2019 and at first will only be available online.




Words Kirk Truman

Photography Alan Schaller

“I see it as more about being a fisherman than a hunter…”

Alan Schaller and I are wandering in the metropolis. To be precise, we’re walking through the streets of Soho. Alan is watchful and observant, seeking every possible opportunity for the next image in his signature monochromatic style. He cradles a Leica in his hands, just as he does every day as he travels around our capital. He takes street photography seriously. He lives and breathes his work, and has a killer sense of humour. A modern-day Fan Ho, he creates stunning black and white images expressing the emotion, pace and character of contemporary city life in London and beyond.

Alan didn’t start out as a photographer. In fact, in his early 20s he had his heart set on music. “I was writing music for TV and ads. I’d been playing since I was a kid, and that already felt like my dream. I guess I began to get tired of the way musicians were treated in the industry. For me, none of the commissions I was taking on felt relevant to me, my style, or the music I enjoyed making,” he explains. “If the truth be told, my ex-girlfriend had a camera and I wanted to begin shooting like her. I wanted to have a hobby, and street photography felt like an obvious choice for me at the time. All I knew was that I wanted to take pictures of things I liked. I remember going to an exhibition close to the time I got my first camera and I was totally blown away by what I had seen. I knew it was something I wanted to chase. And from there, I shot whenever I could. I saved up, and spent what cash I had on a Leica and I’ve shot with them ever since.” Alan began shooting a bit of everything in order to appeal to a range of people and brands. He soon felt that it was better to not be a jack of all trades. “I liked black and white photography, so I shot what I liked and developed my own style as a photographer.”

As his work has grown and he has developed his own defining characteristics and style as a photographer, London – where he was born and bred – has become vital to his work. “It wasn’t long before I had built up a body of work and was discovered by one of the picture editors at Time Out, which led to my first ever interview. This was about six months in, and it focused mostly on the London Underground and quickly led to other things. After I worked with The Independent, I was beginning to build an audience. Music had now become totally phased out, and photography took over,” says Alan. “I had hit a style that I felt was my own and identifiable. What still gets me today is when people say they know my images before they see the name.”

A couple of years into his new career, Alan and a number of select collaborators formed SPI (Street Photography International). The idea was to create an online platform for street photographers to submit their work, and have the opportunity to see their photos appear on the SPI feed as the winner of weekly competitions. “We wanted to use 90% unknown photographers’ work as a way of recognising genuine talent from the online bubble of Instagram. As the three members of SPI, our work makes up the other 10%. For us, what was key was to create a community of street photographers,” he says. SPI is the biggest resource for street photography in the world. Today, it has an Instagram following of around 750,000 and is set to hit a million followers in the coming months.

Soho in particular has become an important canvas for him and his work. “Semi-planned, thought out, watching, waiting and occasionally in the moment; my images are the product of thinking. I see it as more about being a fisherman than a hunter. Soho is a fascinating place for any photographer. For anybody who shoots street [photography], they should come here. Its particularly good at night; the neon lights and tight streets make it a photo haven. There’s always something going on, from someone in a coffee shop window to the range of people going about their day-to-day lives. I’ve spent a lot of time here these past years, and I’ve really wanted to begin documenting the time I’ve spent here. I’ve always been into people watching since I was a kid. It was like a game to me. I’d try and spot the person wearing the silliest hat or try to guess someone’s background or profession based on how they were dressed. Photography gives you that perspective, especially in Soho. It’s a place where life, emotion and culture from all sorts of backgrounds are united.”

Alan explains that he has certain elements that he looks for in an image, and that without these limitations, great pictures won’t always fall into your lap: a street photographer needs more than just serendipity. His understanding of light is first and foremost, at the heart of every image. After that, Alan cites emotion, timing and patience as the key elements of his style. Most of all, though, he jokes that he gets his biggest kicks out of photographing dogs and pigeons. “Pigeons are kind of horrible, but if you watch them mid-flight they’re actually incredibly beautiful,” he laughs. Alan is currently producing an ongoing series about the Soho neighbourhood. Beyond that, he is an official ambassador for Leica and works internationally as well as hosting an array of talks and street photography workshops, mostly in London and New York City.



Universal Works

Universal Works

Interview & Photography Kirk Truman

“A well-dressed man who keeps me in a job; and I’m very grateful to him for that…”

David Keyte is the co-founder, director and designer of menswear label Universal Works, a brand that’s synonymous with the small-scale production of uncompromisingly honest and well-designed slow-fashion design that’s found a growing following around the world. I spoke to David about breaking into the business, world domination and the importance of being a man of style.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I worked in the clothing industry for 20 years, going from Saturday shop boy to production director. I worked in retail, sales, production and product development, until 10 years ago I started my own brand with my partner Stephanie.

How did you get into menswear?

I grew up in the Midlands and left school at 16 with almost no qualifications. I did all sorts of different jobs – painter, fishmonger, coal miner – but they were all just to earn money… most of which I spent in clothing stores. One day I said I should work in one and save some cash – so I went into retail!

What made you decide to launch your own label?

I fancied working 18-hour days, seven days a week, for no money! Seriously, I had – and still have – a mission to get men to dress better, but to be comfortable and confident in that clothing, and I thought I could design it, make it and deliver it. Those long hours were also really appealing, of course…

How would you describe the wearer of Universal Works?

A well-dressed man who keeps me in a job; and I’m very grateful to him for that.

How should your designs make men feel?

Confident, happy, stylish. They made a good choice, so, clearly, they must be intelligent too.

Tell me about your London stores; how did your Bloomsbury and Soho sites come about?

Bloomsbury was our first store. It’s tiny – too small for a clothing store really – but we love it. To be honest, it was on Lamb’s Conduit Street – a street we loved – it was affordable, and we wanted to get a start in retail at the time. It was really all we could afford. The Soho store was a bigger step for us, but at the time Berwick Street was not so expensive. In those days, it was a little dated and run-down. In the five years we’ve been on the street, it’s got a lot cooler; and, of course, more expensive. But we love being on Berwick Street and being part of a real Soho community.

What is the future vision of the brand?

My only plan is to have no plan. Plans can get in the way of taking opportunities as they arise, of pushing yourself further; it’s important to be quick and nimble as a business.

But if I did have a plan, it would be global domination, followed by world peace. If I can’t achieve this in the next few years I’ll settle for continuing to make well-considered, well-designed, well-made, nicely-fitting, interesting clothing. The hardest part of any business is not just doing it well once but doing it well again, and again, and again – and that’s what we intend to do.


Jing Lusi

Jing Lusi

Interview & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

“Comedy is an unbelievably powerful tool…”

After appearing in Crazy Rich Asians, one of 2018’s biggest surprise hits, British-Chinese actress Jing Lusi hasn’t been resting on her laurels but landing roles in major new series like The Romanoffs and The Feed. Journal met up with Jing at the Marylebone Hotel, to discuss Hollywood’s newest Asian talent invasion and to reminisce about her student days in Fitzrovia.

Tell us about how you got your role in Crazy Rich Asians…

It was quite a straightforward process. The first time, I was asked to audition for Rachel Chu. As soon as I read the script, I saw Constance Wu as the perfect Rachel, but at that time she was tied to Fresh Off the Boat. Later they asked me to tape for Astrid, a character I thought Gemma Chan was born to play. Then a few months after that, casting director Terri Taylor Skyped me for the role of Amanda. And that was it. For such a huge, ground-breaking movie, the audition process from my end was very, very painless. I know the production spent considerable time gathering their perfect cast, considering the ensemble synergy as well as individual merit – and I may be biased, but I think they absolutely nailed it.

Had you played a comedic character before?

Yes. My favourite was the Valley Girl type millennial art student – also named Amanda – at Theatre Royal Bath in the Pulitzer shortlisted play 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog. I’ve also been involved with a few comedies such as Josh (BBC) and Zapped (Dave) and have written and played sets at Edinburgh for the award-winning show Immigrant Diaries.

I began my career playing serious roles. I thought I was a good actor if I could move people to cry. I drew so much on my own traumas that I was diagnosed with depression. During my recovery, through a chance meeting with a comedian, I was offered the opportunity to play at Edinburgh, and discovered a whole new world of creativity.

During my first Edinburgh Fringe, I made my depression the focus of my set, and it became a very healing experience. When you make fun of something that once owned you, supported by the audience’s laughter, you realise there is nothing to be ashamed of. The most rewarding part was when audience members came up to me after the show and opened up about their own battles with depression. Comedy is an unbelievably powerful tool and, when used well, can connect strangers, tackle taboos, and break down stigmas.

“Crazy Rich Asians is not a film it’s a movement” said the director Jon M Chu. Do you think this film is a turning point for Asian representation in Hollywood?

Absolutely. But it is just the start. Crazy Rich Asians alone could potentially be a flash in the pan like The Joy Luck Club in 1993. It then took Hollywood another 25 years to make an all-Asian contemporary studio film. For Crazy Rich Asians to be number one at the US box office for three weeks, proves that Asian-led films will make a profit. Now that this film has defied all box office expectations, a new precedent is set. What’s important now is to ensure the conversation Crazy Rich Asians started continues. There have been a lot of Asian-led projects green lit since our film’s release, and this is exactly the kind of momentum this movement needs.

You actually studied at UCL in Fitzrovia, a few streets away from where Journal was born… What memories do you have of the area? 

My years at UCL were one of the best chapters of my life. I started off at Campbell House East halls, just across the road from Euston Station. Our first night, our welcome to London, was a major pub crawl through Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury. There were more than a dozen pubs and all I remember is being lost in the streets with my roommate at 3am trying to find our way home. I then moved to Ramsay Hall, just off Tottenham Court Road – also known as the party halls. I spent most of my nights at The Court, strawpedoing Reefs with friends. On Wednesday nights, we’d be at The Office (now called The Roxy, I believe) on Rathbone Place until closing. My friends in the upper years had their own flats on streets like Hanson, Cleveland and Whitfield, so sometimes the party would carry on at theirs into the early morning.

You studied law but ended up following through on your dream of being an actress… were you a rebel growing up?

I think so. I started smoking at 12, drinking at 13, got suspended from school, which did not help relations with my parents. The more I rebelled against their authority, the more authoritarian they became. It was a vicious cycle. I ran away from home when I was 13. The police picked me up the next day and took me back.

In the long term, it marked a turning point. My parents realised that immigrating meant their child was growing up in a different culture to what they knew. Over the years, as I matured, I learnt to see it from their side too. My dad grew up during the Cultural Revolution and escaped the Communist regime when he was granted a scholarship to study abroad, which is how we ended up in England. So, for him, education was the only way he knew to a safe future, and it was killing him to see me squander mine. I went on to study law at UCL, but enrolled in acting classes as soon as I graduated. That was my way of respecting my parents’ tumultuous history, but also following my own dream.

Your latest project is Matthew Weiner’s The Romanoffs… Was it a dream to work with the creator of Mad Men? 

In a word, yes. Not only is Matt a genius, but he’s also the nicest guy. It was one of my favourite projects to work on, and it’s a great feeling to be part of the Romanoffs alumni with such a stellar cast.

Tell us about The Feed, which comes out next year on Amazon.

The Feed is a psychological thriller based on a book by Nick Clark Windo. It is set in a dystopian world where all technology is implanted into your nervous system. I was drawn to the project because the world it depicts is a terrifying foretaste of our future if we continue to live like we do – embedded in our phones, opting to text friends instead of call, knowing more about their breakfasts and gym workouts than their personal lives. It also highlights the dangers of humans becoming over-reliant on machines. I don’t remember the last time I drove without a GPS!

The Romanoffs out now on Amazon Prime.

Damien Frost

Damien Frost

Interview Kirk Truman

Portraits Joseph Lynn

“I feel that just as my subjects often exist outside of traditional notions of gender, they also sit outside of time…”

Damien Frost’s stunning photographs apply the techniques of classical portraiture to the larger-than-life denizens of Soho’s nightlife. Journal talked to him about the importance of documenting London’s threatened club scene and its colourful characters in an age of gentrification.

Tell me about your upbringing and how you came to pick up a camera.

I grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney and I remember being fascinated by this melting pot of subcultures, of old school punks, skinheads, metalheads, revheads and surfers. I have vivid childhood memories of walking with my father at night through the seedier areas of the city, wide-eyed at all the prostitutes and transvestites working the streets, hanging about with the bikies, which seemed to embody this total rebellion against suburban normality.

I studied fine art at university and majored in painting, and kind of came to photography through painting. I would paint in a very formal, renaissance-influenced style and would get people to pose for me; but because it would take me so long, I’d photograph people and paint from the photos.

After university, I worked as a graphic designer and dabbled in both painting and a bit of photography. Then, in my mid-30s, I had a health scare that made me reflect on what I was doing to document my time here. I realised that I regretted not having photographed the people from my past. As a teenager I mixed with a lot of goths, punks and freaks, and while I had a camera I had zero money to develop film and so didn’t take many photos.

Around the same time, I had a friend who was travelling the world; and looking at the photos they were taking, I was drawn to the portraits of people they encountered. It made me think, “Well, here I am in London, surrounded by all these fascinating people I pass on the street each day; what’s to say that I can’t document them?” So, in 2013 I decided to take a portrait every day for a year of a person I’d come across on the street. Each day, I’d find someone who stood out from the crowd, stop them and ask for a portrait. I’m a shy person, so it was no easy process, but as the project progressed I found that I was drawn to more colourful and ‘extreme’ personas; and in searching for people to photograph I’d have to stay out later and later. And that’s more or less how I fell into documenting club kids, drag queens and other ‘night flowers’.

Did you have any particular influences when you got behind the lens?

I’m probably just as influenced by painters like Odd Nerdrum, Caravaggio, Velázquez and Rembrandt as by photographers like Sophie Calle. Dianne Arbus and Joel Peter Witkin, Roger Ballen and Bill Henson have all been very influential throughout the years.

What is it you try to capture with each of your images?

What attracts me to the people I document is this idea of reinvention and transformation through dress and make-up. I’m drawn to people who aren’t just dressing up as ‘fancy dress’ but who feel the need to express themselves in this way, whether it’s a desire to be something else or just as a flying fuck you to what’s expected of them. As loud as some of the looks I photograph are, what I’m trying to capture is the quiet self of the person underneath the make-up.

Tell me about your relationship with Central London.

One of the things I’ve always loved about London is that you can be invisible and that, really, you can wear whatever you like, walk down the street in your pyjamas, and people won’t bat an eye. But in the process of taking the portraits, when I’ve been out and about with one of my subjects, I’ve had people shout abuse as they walked past. It made me realise that it’s not quite as open and accepting as I’d thought. I’m constantly hearing stories of the abuse people have to endure on public transport or the anger that’s directed at them on the street; so, I’m not being flippant when I say that when someone walks down the street looking like this that it’s a defiant and brave act.

How did your Soho series come about?

The Soho series came about purely due to geography. I work in Soho and after work each day I would wander the streets looking for interesting characters to photograph. Much has been written about the increasing pressure of gentrification and in the last five years the nightlife of the neighbourhood feels very different. There are fewer parties catering to alternative queer subcultures, which have mostly moved east, not just because they’ve been being priced out but also because they were made to feel unwelcome.

Define your own style.

I would describe my work as documentary, but it’s kind of filtered through a classical and formal style. It’s extremely rare that I do any pre-arranged shoots, with the majority of my shots being taken on streets and in clubs. I’m just documenting how people look on that particular night, so there’s no styling involved. In a way I’m trying to make images that somehow feel timeless. I feel that just as my subjects often exist outside of traditional notions of gender, they also sit outside of time.


Serena Rees

Serena Rees

Words Kiera Court

Portraits Simon Melber

“…this is saying: be your own self because that’s the sexiest and best you can ever be.”

It’s an unseasonably mild morning for October, and the quaint streets of Marylebone feel crisp and cheerful. I’m greeted with a similar degree of effortless warmth by Serena Rees, founder of lingerie label les girls les boys, when we meet for the first time at her studio. It is a basement beribboned with rails of garments slinking off of their hangers and walls decorated with clipped photographs of millennials laughing, loving, kissing and co-existing.

Marylebone has been Serena’s working home since she left her Cambridge-educated parents, aged 16, and went straight into work. “I think they would’ve liked me to have gone too. I just wanted to work and do exciting things and learn about the world – to be responsible for myself and not really have anyone telling me what to do. I haven’t changed much since then,” she explains with characteristic self-assurance.

When she was five years old, during the holidays, Serena used to go to work with her mum at Gallery Five on Great Titchfield Street. “I used to be sent round the corner to get things from the newsagents and the food shop for everybody in the office. They paid me and I loved it. I got a feeling for work very early on. Then, you could send your five-year-old round the corner on their own! It was totally fine! It wasn’t a weird thing.”

Her first port of call in Marylebone was working with a retoucher on Marylebone High Street, at a time when a scalpel was used to scrape away at black and white images. She chuckles and muses, “There was this crazy, gay and funny retoucher that used to live above the shops in this really cool flat. I’d take the retouching over to him.”

It’s difficult not to feel inspired by Serena; her work ethic grew quicker than she did but her intuition kept up. So much so, in fact, that she went on to work for designer Vivienne Westwood, where her knowledge and experience within the fashion industry bloomed. “I worked across the board in her business. I loved the clothes. They’re brilliant. I wore them and still wear them to this day.” She nods her head slowly and I assume it’s in acknowledgement of her then-husband, Joseph Corré, son of Vivienne and Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, with whom she co-founded the lingerie label L’Agent Provocateur in 1994, when she was just 26.

“It was a very different idea in the beginning. It was supposed to be a lifestyle store where everything was erotic or sensual in some way, shape or form.” Due to the recession, she and Corré were continuously outbid on the large stores they’d find in Soho. “We were down, as we’d done so much work, so we took one element of the original idea, which was the lingerie, and opened up a tiny shop in Soho, on Broadwick Street. We painted it ourselves. Then, in 2007, we sold it for a large amount of money. It was a very different time. What we were doing then back in the 90s was saying, don’t be afraid of your sexuality – it’s okay to be sexy.”

Soho was the perfect place to do this, I suggest: in Soho, you can just exist. Serena agrees enthusiastically: “Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, all that gang of artists – we were all happening and bubbling together at the same time. All of my friends who were at St Martins round the corner used to come and hang out at the store. Everyone was in that store and it was really fun! Old Compton Street was almost like a sexual revolution for the gay movement. They could go to a café where no one was going to beat them up. It was very different then and it was exciting. It’ll always be exciting, Soho.”

It’s clear Serena has always embraced change, and continues to do so. It’s what inspired her current brainchild and latest brand, les girls les boys, 10 years after she sold L’Agent Provocateur. “Although, ultimately, I’m making underwear again, which I didn’t think I’d ever be doing, les girls les boys sends a very different message to back in the 90s. Too much has been shown and put out there; it’s been abused somewhat. Now we have the #MeToo movement – it cannot continue like this.”

The new label, aimed at millennials, champions comfort over erotica in the form of undergarments of all kinds, coined bed-to-street wear. Les girls les boys takes things back to basics. It’s a collection that basically enables the wearer, regardless of gender, to strip off in a way that allows them to fully be themselves. “Boys and girls are expected to look like these unattainable, unrealistic body types. So, this is saying: be your own self because that’s the sexiest and best you can ever be.”

Serena is watching political and social change unfold in front of her, and is evolving with them. She understands the need for authenticity and honesty, for accurate portrayals of reality. As she looks me in the eye, I feel the words she speaks address not just me, but everyone in my generation: “Don’t ruin your life thinking you’re not good enough, until suddenly you’re 50 years old, having wasted all those years not doing things because you were down on yourself, because you weren’t what you saw in a magazine.”

She reclines back into her seat as I take one last glance at the Polaroids on the wall. They meticulously fit the aesthetic of community and whisper an unspoken understanding of insecurity. “Design is having an eye,” she remarks. “Having an understanding for the detail in things and a passion as well. If you put all those things together, it helps you create an experience. I think, ultimately, that’s what I do. I create experiences.”


Wander Winter 18′

Wander Winter 18′


Journal leaves London to wander and explore the beauty of Turkey and Spain during the winter months.

Words & Photography Kirk Truman



Chiclana de la Frontera is located in the Andalusian province of Cadiz, south of the Gaditanian Bay. It’s just a half hour drive from Jerez de la Frontera airport, and an hour and a half from Seville. The urban centre of Chiclana has good amenities and also boasts a wealth of important cultural attractions. There is a commercial centre, markets, handicrafts, wine cellars, restaurants, bars, and much more to keep you busy.


Beaches, pinewoods and salt marshes of great ecological importance make up the protected area known as the Natural Park of the Bay of Cadiz. Its long sandy beaches helped the development of high-quality tourism, while the pinewoods alongside the coast are the ideal complement: sea and country sit in perfect harmony. Inland, vineyards, oak woods and meadows dominate the landscape. Within the nature reserves and lakes, such as Jeli and Montellano, you find a wealth of different bird species, some of which are in danger of extinction.

Chiclana de la Frontera is a traditional agricultural town, with excellent wines and health-giving waters. Its urban structure is of a typical Andalusian style, with narrow streets and courtyards full of flowers. Chiclana preserves its Andalusian customs and traditions well: the processions, bullfighting, flamenco, and wine production are all part of everyday life for the inhabitants.

The area is home to some of the best cuisine in Andalusia, with fine restaurants serving locally caught seafood, which should be washed down with one of the excellent local wines; Moscatel and Oloroso are particularly popular with Spanish visitors. Spanish sausages, such as Butifarra and Longanizas are typical of Chiclana, and also not to be missed are the almond pies made by the Augustinian nuns. Best of all, Chiclana de la Frontera enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, with little rain and more than 3,000 hours of sun a year.



Part of the Barceló Hotel Group, The Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri is located in Novo Sancti Petri-Chiclana (Costa de la Luz), on the seafront of the long sandy Barrosa beach, awarded a blue flag and rated as one of the 10 best beaches in Spain by TripAdvisor users. Its privileged location ensures that it is well connected, with Jerez airport just 50 km away and Cádiz 39 km away.

Its 195 magnificent rooms have a modern and elegant design and are equipped with all the latest technology and an exclusive intelligent automation system, as well as all the facilities you’d expect of a 5-star establishment. The original architectural design of the buildings, its five outdoor swimming pools with hot tub, the natural lakes and more than 35,000 m2 of lush tropical gardens make the Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri a unique resort. The hotel’s four restaurants specialise in healthy cuisine, with a special focus on high quality ingredients and local cuisine. One of the hotel’s outstanding features is its U-Spa, a world of luxury and relaxation with more than 3,650 m2 of space making it the largest in Andalusia. The range of leisure activities includes the lounge nightclub Siddharta, the Dublin Bay Irish Pub, a bowling alley, and a packed entertainment programme for adults including sports and cultural workshops.




Tucked away in a peaceful bay on the glorious Aegean coast in southwest Turkey, you’ll come across the charming village of Özdere. For many, holidays to Özdere are all about miles and miles of golden sandy beaches where you’ll always find the perfect spot for relaxing in the sunshine. And if you do want to pick up the pace, you could always give watersports a try or head into the lush green hills that surround the town. You’ll also find yourself within easy reach of the ancient city of Ephesus, which is an absolute must-see while you’re in the region.



Club Marvy, set in the magical landscape of the Aegean, offers a brand-new holiday experience inspired by its local roots. From entertainment to art, from architectural design to locally sourced ingredients, the resort has combined everything that makes Özdere special with a modern approach to creating a bohemian holiday resort.

The unique Turkish resort opened in 2017 in Kesre Bay, a 160,000 m² wonder of nature with its protected landscape of pine and palm trees. Every aspect of this unique environment, where sandy beaches meet a crystal shimmering sea, has been designed to create carefully crafted memories for visitors, whether families, couples or solo travellers. The simple lifestyle of Aegean and Mediterranean towns is kept alive in its purest form here, in rooms designed with a modern architectural approach. Club Marvy values local products, principles and craftsmanship. They have built their own culinary concept inspired by traditional Aegean villages, bringing rich homemade food and street flavours together on the same table. The resort boasts a variety of ways to savour this unique culture, enriched with all the fresh products of the region.


No. 5 Maddox Street, Mayfair


Rivalling those of the top hotels in our capital, the 24-hour concierge are always on hand to provide any help or assistance required by guests. No.5 Maddox St. is tucked discreetly behind London’s iconic Bond Street, a minutes walk from Liberty and Hamleys. It boasts 12 contemporary suites that offer complete discretion and the building has a dedicated 24-hour concierge, who is happy to organise anything from in-room spa treatments to a grocery delivery from Whole Foods. Situated in the heart of London’s shopping destination yet retaining absolute tranquility, a home away from home simply does not get better than this.


Essentials Winter 18′

Essentials Winter 18′


Journal captures this Winter’s unique and beautifully crafted essentials in the heart of Central London.

Words & Photography Kirk Truman




Neist Overshirt / Khaki £129

Reverse Fairisle / Tonal greys £229

Victoria Pant / Olive £155

Kestin Hare is a Scottish menswear brand from a designer who gets what works and is inspired by the clothes men want for everyday life. The brand was launched in 2014 when Kestin returned to his hometown of Edinburgh. He grew up watching his grandad, a man with a distinct style who took great pride in his appearance and ran pubs in Leith. This inspired Kestin’s degree in Fashion Design BA Hons and Marketing, which led him directly to the industry, where he instantly felt at home. Kestin has steadily created his signature look for Kestin Hare, and has continued to nurture his core values of vintage research, seeking out the most unique and technologically advanced fabrics, road testing every garment for fit and purpose, and is in constant conversation with his customers and the best of the industry.




Suede Jacket / Red £450

Suede Skirt / Red £350

Bloomsbury Jacket £350

Creole Trouser £195

YMC, or ‘You Must Create’, has become one of the most popular brands among young men and women wanting to look and feel good without having to try too hard. With a simple philosophy – you must create your own style – most of the YMC clothing can easily be mixed and matched with any existing piece in your wardrobe. This multi-functional, modern take on design gives the brand’s pieces a timeless yet relevant feel, and leaves the wearer comfortable in the knowledge that any of their pieces will stand the test of time.




Brookes Jacket / Evering Stone £340

Drawstring Trousers / Everying Stone £170

Conduit Tee / Raspberry £70

Conrad Sunglasses / Havana Tortoiseshell £185

Self-taught tailor Oliver Spencer launched his eponymous label in 2002, fast becoming the favourite of rock stars and politicians alike. With over 40% of production in the UK, he champions British industry and marries inspirations from London subcultures, English heritage and American and Japanese urban youth. The result is a signature look straddling streetwear and smart dressing.




Osa Jacket £310

Anesia Skirt £150

Laszlo Jacket £200

Tomi Shorts £110

Wood Wood’s collections are built upon new takes on iconic silhouettes and a sports-fashion approach that remains true to the sub-cultural heritage of the brand. Wood Wood mixes high fashion, sports and streetwear with youth culture, art and music. Always aiming to find the perfect balance between style and functionality, the Wood Wood collections have evolved into tailored and sophisticated expressions while keeping their playful graphic profile that often revolves around juxtapositions and iconography.




Charlotte £425

Cleveland £425

Fitzroy £425

Rathbone £425

Cubitts frames are made in the traditional way, and go through 50 crafted stages of production over a period of six weeks, including four separate stages of polishing to ensure a glorious lustre. Most of their frames are constructed with custom Cubitts pins that secure right through the acetate. It’s a process called pin drilling; it’s done by hand and takes more time and skill than other methods, but means hinges can be easily maintained. Attaching themselves to the areas in which they’ve opened stores, their frames are named after nearby streets. For their latest opening, Cubitts have chosen the names Cleveland, Fitzroy, Charlotte and Rathbone for their Fitzrovia collection, celebrating their new store opening at the corner of Charlotte Street and Goodge Street.




Pablo Extrait de Parfum £150

Pablo Candle £145

Black Spice £145

Curionoir carries integrity, that is ingrained in the brand and has been since its organic inception. Placing value in the relationships of all people and makers, prioritising ethics and sustainability, striving to source local to its home of New Zealand and continuing to push boundaries its at the heart of the brand. Curionoir does not follow trends. This is not just a theory or philosophy, it is the brands life long commitment which it is proud to hold.




The Familiar Horizon Gift Set  £60

Aesop’s minimal packaging meets maximum posturing ethos stems from the rigid edicts of its founder, Dennis Paphitis, who started life as a hairdresser in Melbourne before turning his hand to all-natural hair and beauty products. Grab some straight-talking Post-Poo Drops, Mouthwash or Room Spray to complement the perfect home environment.




Pencil Shavings Diffuser £99

Pencil Shavings Candle £50

Anya Hindmarch candles launched back in November 2017, and as far as we were concerned it was love at first sight. Now, Anya has added three new scents and a diffuser to the collection. All have their own unique twist, but our personal favourite was Pencil Shavings, available either as a candle or in Anya’s new diffuser. Either way, your home will be full of the most delightful scent.



Daphne Guinness

Daphne Guinness

Interview Mark Wardel

Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

“I’m on a huge adventure in sound and vision, seeing how far I can take myself…”

What seems like a billion people, a swirling, boiling mass of rainbow colours, whistles and chaos has brought London’s West End to a standstill on this hottest Pride day ever. But a few minutes later I step from the blowtorch heat and melting tarmac into the home of musician and high-octane muse Daphne Guinness, and it’s like stepping through the wardrobe into another realm where all is cool, calm, spacious and hushed. Soft light filters through leaded windows as billowing nets cast a diffused, ever-changing light onto Japanese screens, framed butterflies, glass bell jars, a series of top hats and various other arcane, museum like pieces that contrast with the cutting-edge contemporary art hanging on silk-papered walls. An eclectic outward manifestation of its owner’s inner psyche? Perhaps; because, in common with her friend and mentor David Bowie, Daphne Guinness has a super-bright and enquiring butterfly mind that skips from one subject to the next. Musician, model, designer and art collector, she’s as happy to talk string theory as string arrangements, and her knowledge and enthusiasm for all things creative shines as clearly as does her scrubbed, sculpted beauty.

Mark Wardel: Your new album is named ‘Daphne and the Golden Chord’ – so what exactly is ‘the Golden Chord’?

Daphne Guinness: It’s the secret of sound, and the mathematical, scientific and artistic routes you can take to reach all the magic numbers that exist in the universe. A sort of golden chord string theory… It’s that unanswered question, that reaching for something – the idea of God, or the universe. It’s a spiritual quest really.

MW: How do you set about writing your songs?

DG: I go in with an idea and often words will come to me in the booth. On the first album I just had bits of paper all over the floor all over the walls – automatic writing – then I cut it up and put it back together. The bottom line is you’ve got to understand what you’re trying to say – for me, these are emotions that I’m going through – in order to bookend it into a song.

MW: You have said that you need visual stimulation to create music and vice versa. I’m the same, when I make my art I always have music playing; I wondered if there’s a metaphysical connection, or is it just coasting on emotion?

DG: There is a metaphysical component, but all of the above is true. I observed this in my photographic world, which is a very silent world: I’d always have to have my headphones on and be playing Wagner or T Rex or the Stones or the Beatles to get some emotion from the music and create a mood: I want to set the scene in my head before I start the shoot. If you think about it, we all used to dress up to the music and we all kind of discovered who we were – you’d find each other through your clothing, clubs and what you listened to.

MW: Exactly, and your music dictated what you wore, who you mixed with and your whole life philosophy.

DG: Precisely. And through music you found your ‘tribe’ and created your look. When I was growing up we didn’t have access to fashion. The world wasn’t like it is now. I didn’t have very much pocket money when I was little, so you’d make it up out of plastic bags or whatever, you know? Kensington Market was about as rad as it got.

MW: But it fostered creativity.

DG: That’s what I liked! It’s nice to have money and be able to do these things, but if you took it all away I’d still be creating out of whatever I had available.

MW: Exactly! You don’t need money to be creative.

DG: No, you don’t. A lot of these brands… what they are looking for is talent, and that’s why I approach the industry with caution. The executives have a completely different idea of what creativity should be; but what have they created? Reality shows! Well, I’m sorry but that’s not me. If you want reality, look out of the window! Artists create fantasy – we don’t want to know how it’s all done. Who wants a television camera on them all day long? We want some mystery.

MW: We were the Bowie generation and he was launched on a tide of mystery. We knew nothing about him in the 70s.

DG: And who wants to know what celebrities had for breakfast or what the state of their relationship is? That’s not what I’m about. I’m about creation and illusion. The art should speak for itself, and people either like it or not. Somebody recently said to me: “People should know how hard you work on this!” But that’s not why I do it. I don’t want people to know how hard I work – that’s beside the point. I’m on a huge adventure in sound and vision, seeing how far I can take myself, and that’s what interests me.

MW: I believe Bowie encouraged producer Tony Visconti to work with you…

DG: Yes, he did! I was reading Götterdämmerung in the studio – I read a lot of music scores – and David came in and he was reading Parsifal… it was very spooky! There was immediately this connection. He was a magical creature… he is a magical creature. He’s still around, he really is!

MW: I love real strings and I get the impression they are very important to you in your music.

DG: Tony Visconti is the most brilliant string arranger on the planet, which is one of the reasons I wanted to work with him. I solo all the strings and just listen to them. They are things of divine beauty that I have written out. Tony conducts them, 24 strings, and just it’s so beautiful sitting in on those sessions.

MW: Coming back to your songs, I get the impression there’s a lot of messages encoded in them and wondered whether they were aimed at any specific person or persons, or maybe even aimed inwards at a facet of yourself…

DG: Interesting! All of the above. I’m having conversations with myself, working things out in my head and also describing what is happening to me at the time and coming to terms with… well, thank goodness I’ve come to my senses and I’m actually back in the room now!

MW: Yes, they are quite triumphal messages. Have they hit their target?

DG: Well, I have a good time singing them and that’s the only target I want to hit!

Hair styling by Tom Berry
Makeup by Paul Rodgers using ByTerry
Photographer’s assistant: Paolo Navarino


Daphne Guinness’ new album ‘Daphne and the Golden Chord’ is out now.

Just Suppose…

Just Suppose…


Words Kirk Truman

Portraits Geoff MacCormack

“As I remember, David and myself were fairly wired, yet this shot belies this…”

Just suppose that your Brilliant Pal, David Bowie that is, said to you: “Will you join my band (The Spiders from Mars) and come on a tour? And would you mind awfully if we travelled (first class) by sea to New York, and then sailed from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Canada, Hawaii and on to Japan? And then, from Japan to Siberia, through Russia (on the Trans-Siberian Express) to Moscow (for the May Day Parade), Poland, East and West Germany, and arrive in Paris just in time for tea at the George V Hotel? Followed by a relaxing holiday in Rome, just to chill out?”

Geoff MacCormack (aka Warren Peace) was asked just that. And then, just suppose, when you thought all the fun had finished, your Brilliant Pal said: “Would you mind being a dog (Diamond), and coming back to New York on an even better ship, eating caviar every day and joining another band, then another band, helping out on a few albums (six), and generally hanging out and having the time of your life for a couple more years? Suppose all that happened… Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have kept a photo or two?


Jonathan Daniel Pryce

Jonathan Daniel Pryce

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“I want to photograph people who look genuine. Subjects who look like they live a full life…”

Jonathan Daniel Pryce and I are walking around a three-bedroom apartment in New Oxford Street’s Centre Point. Beneath our feet lies Soho, and beyond it a stunning vista of the capital city which has helped him become an award-winning photographer of high fashion and street style. He takes out a vintage Canon camera and begins to photograph the skyline; meanwhile, I capture him at work from behind my own lens.

“London is constantly evolving. I feel like there’s something new and undiscovered emerging every day,” he says, looking down onto the city streets. “My mother is from London and when I was growing up she would tell me stories of walking down Carnaby Street in the 1970s, all dressed up. At home we had a stack of photographs from her modelling days, in a folder hidden at the back of a cupboard. I loved to take them out and look through them. To this day, I remember being amazed by these foreign-seeming images from another world: the poses, the clothes, the way the light looked – everything. At the time I didn’t realise it, but now I understand how important images were to me.”

Jonathan grew up in Glasgow. He was given his first camera when he was seven – a plastic 35mm point-and-shoot. As a youngster in Scotland, he was fascinated with the process of taking an image: you shoot, you wait and you don’t know what you’re going to get. In some ways, nothing has changed for Jonathan and his work today. The wait may not be as long, but with every new photograph he takes, he’s still hoping for that perfect end result.

As a youngster, his greatest passions were painting and drawing. Photography re-entered his life at the age of 17. While at university, he made use of the darkrooms and studios on campus and thus a fascination was born. “Do you remember Flickr? It had a huge effect on me. I became interested in blogging, and ended up launching Les Garcons de Glasgow with my best friend Daniel,” he says, “It focused on club, music and street photography mostly. I studied in the United States and whenever I’d tell the people where I’m from, they’d nearly always say, ‘But isn’t Glasgow dangerous?’ When I returned home, I wanted to present a different side to the city – show the artistic and creative place that I knew it to be.” The blog took off in ways that he could never have envisioned, building a strong following in Scotland and, over time, finding international acclaim. It was at this time that Jonathan really cut his teeth as a photographer. “Approaching strangers on a daily basis and working with an ever-changing environment was the best education; I began to realise just how much I enjoyed street photography. The camera provides a passport into other people’s lives. I’ve heard incredible, personal life stories from subjects I’ve only known for five minutes!” he tells me. “When my best friend moved to London, I began to visit him on a regular basis. This opened up my world and the reality of working as a photographer full-time was within reaching distance – something I didn’t even consider to be a viable option in Glasgow.”

In order to have a stable income in the early days, Jonathan took a job as an in-house photographer at a small design e-com company. “London’s reputation as being unaffordable made me approach with caution but after three weeks, I already hated my job,” he recalls. “Luckily, the company went into administration and I was made redundant the same day I won Photographer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards. I took that as a sign and it gave me the push I needed to make it on my own. From here, I decided on a policy: learn as you go, be positive and say yes to everything.”

At the start, Jonathan worked on small portrait jobs but, as his network grew, he began getting assignments from brands such as Selfridges and Reiss. “Most of the briefs were to shoot ‘street style’ imagery for online use. At the same time, I was beginning to regularly attend Fashion Weeks in London, Paris, New York and Milan. I was perceived as a ‘blogger’ at this point, so would often get invites to shows. My first Paris invite was for Issey Miyake – I couldn’t believe it!” Since those early days, Jonathan has gone on to become Vogue International’s resident street photographer, covering the collections globally four times a year.

A significant turning point in his career came in 2012 when he launched his project 100 beards, 100 days with the aim of photographing a different bearded man on the street, every day for 100 consecutive days. “About 10 days in I stopped a chap and told him I’d like to take a portrait for this project. His response was, ‘Oh that’s my favourite Tumblr right now,’ and I wondered how he had already found it, let alone how it could be a favourite; it had only been online for a few days. It was at this point I realised I was onto something bigger than myself.” What started as a small personal project, quickly hit the cultural zeitgeist, being mentioned on Newsnight and written about in the New York Times. By the end of the 100 days, he had amassed over 250,000 followers on his site and a photo book was already in the works. “We exhibited the work in five cities around the world and by 2013 we had a second book, which sold out within weeks. It was a whirlwind at the time.”

Jonathan’s long-term fascination with taking images remains. His work in menswear has become well recognised in London and attracted praise internationally, having been published by TIME Magazine, the New York Times, GQ, Vogue, Esquire and Mr Porter. Earlier this year, to celebrate 10 years of his work, he worked in partnership with Vogue Hommes to showcase a selection of his images at Men’s Fashion Week. “My work is somewhere between the bubble of street photography and romanticism of fashion photography. I want to photograph people who look genuine, subjects who look like they live a full life; which is why London is such an incredible place to be based. One short walk down a side street in Soho and I find a handful of characters I’d love to shoot.” Jonathan is currently working on a volume of photography to celebrate the first 10 years of his career. Focusing on men’s style in London, Milan, Paris and New York, the book will be published by Laurence King and released in 2019.


James Jonathan Turner

James Jonathan Turner

Interview & Portraits Kirk Truman

“Dressing well shouldn’t be elitist. It should be accessible to all…”

James Jonathan Turner was born and bred in the capital; he’s that rare thing – a genuine Londoner. When we meet, he’s impeccably dressed, as ever, just as you’d expect from a gentleman whose knowledge of men’s style is second to none. His distinctive approach to clothing feels like something elegantly plucked from a previous century –and his care and attention to detail is what shines through in his has work as a tailor and designer. As we sit by the canal in the blazing early autumn sun, before taking a walk towards Islington, we talk clothes and style, inspirations from the past and aspirations for the future.

You’re a Londoner – tell me about your upbringing in the capital.

I’m was born and raised in the East End. We lived in Poplar, Bethnal Green for a while, and then Hackney. Generally, when I was growing up, in a certain class, people wanted to groom and present themselves in the best way that they could do. Kids were dressing preppy. I guess the music was different back then too in the 1990s. Given the musical influences at the time, there was more emphasis on tailored clothes and generally dressing the part.

What did clothes mean to you growing up, and how did they define you?

Clothes were important to any working class youngster. I remember if my tie wasn’t tied properly, or my shirt wasn’t perfect, my mum would give me a clip around the back of my head. I didn’t want to look the way I felt. When I was growing up, kids respected aesthetics much more and valued it. You always made a real effort to not look like where you were from. Today, I’m confused. I sometimes feel like young kids consider it a badge of honour to dress as scruffy as possible.

How important was London to the way you saw the world?

London has always been everything to me – still is. It’s the centre of my life. It’s changed in a way that you can’t deny. It’s evolved, it’s advanced, and moulded itself to each era. It’s my home and it’s where I’ve learnt my trade.

How did you come to work as a tailor? 

Tailoring, for me, was an amalgamation of a lot of things coming together. I’m a traveling tailor. Initially it was music, especially jazz, that influenced me. Secondly, it was cinematography and a string of film references. Figures such as Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart really made an impression on me. I loved their look, their style – everything. I mean, how couldn’t you? I suppose you could call it elegant masculinity. I knew that it was clothes I wanted to get into. I guess I just didn’t know which route I’d take.

How would you describe your own style? What are your personal influences?

My style? Ivy. Jazz. Classic. It’s a mixture of things. As I said, classic Hollywood and jazz influenced me, but also the music of the 1990s when I was growing up. In terms of the modern brands I gravitate towards – and I don’t say this just because I work for them, but because I truly believe it – Private White VC is one of the best menswear labels on the market today. Everything they produce is made in Britain. It’s minimalist and stripped back. They produce clothing for the modern man, which is made to last.

When you piece together an outfit, what does it say about you?

I’m a big believer in dressing appropriately. Today I’m wearing a suit, because I knew it would be right for our meeting. I think style is style, but you have to make a certain amount of effort. I don’t like to make statements with my clothes; I like clothes to speak for themselves.


Which parts of Central London resonate with you the most and why?

Jermyn Street, in Mayfair, and Soho have always felt important to me. Soho and Mayfair have both changed so much, but they still remain quintessentially London. Central London has evolved and grown, and somehow kept some of its defining characteristics; it’s lost some, too, but it’s retained its spirit.

Tell me about your earliest memories of the area.

Coming into the centre of town always felt like a big day trip when I was young. It was always a big day out. We’d pass through parts of Soho, down towards Drury Lane. It felt like a million miles away from the East End, and always made an impression on me as a place I wanted to be.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I want to be bold: I intend to grow what I’ve learned as a tailor and launch my own brand. I suppose I like the idea of starting something that is available to everybody. I believe that right now there is a real gap in the market for mid-century-style tailoring. Dressing well shouldn’t be elitist. It should be accessible to all; and that, for me, means producing ready-to-wear garments and not just limiting myself to made-to-measure and bespoke.


The Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury

Words & Photography Kirk Truman

“The Bloomsbury is about staying true to Lutyens’ design, to the neighbourhood itself and to the era in which the building was born…”

We’re sitting in the once underused hotel reception area, today reincarnated as The Coral Room, also known as Bloomsbury’s ‘grand café’. Michael Neve is talking to me about The Bloomsbury, the hotel in the centre of the eponymous neighbourhood. It’s his second home, and as the hotel’s General Manager he probably knows all there is to know about the place: every corner of every room, every single detail of the building’s history, its past and its present.

Michael tells me how The Bloomsbury’s story began back in 1928, the year that English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned by the YWCA Central Club to design the building. Lutyens’ projects ranged from country houses in England and to the restoration of Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland to India’s new imperial capital in far-flung New Delhi. Today, the area is still called ‘Lutyens Delhi’ in his honour. The old Central Club building on Great Russell Street is perhaps Lutyens’ major contribution to London. The building’s rich historical detail, sturdy foundations and elegant, pared-down façade has led to it being lauded as his ‘finest neo-Georgian building’ in the capital by Chairman of the Lutyens Trust, Martin Lutyens.

Lutyens, faced with the colossal task of designing the YWCA’s Central Club, responded with an essay in austere and materially rich neo-Georgian architecture. Years later the building was listed as a striking example of the inter-war style by an international master. As Michael guides me about The Bloomsbury’s corridors, it is clear to see that Lutyens’ legacy lives on in the building today, its rich heritage clearly apparent from the moment the hotel comes into view. “The Corinthian pilasters that flank the doorways, the original windows facing outwards and the street-lamps which line the hotel’s side lane reveal something of the internal aesthetics; bold and beautiful without ostentation,” he says. “We may be in The Bloomsbury today, but the YWCA’s spirit is still very much at the centre of how we operate as a hotel.”

The Doyle Collection, which Michael explains is very much a family concern, bought The Central Club in 1998. While staying faithful to the original building, a major renovation was carried out. Key features of the original building, including the old Chapel and the Library, now dedicated to Irish poet Seamus Heaney, were retained. The structural and decorative features were fully renovated and the building was returned to its former glory. The Bloomsbury was born, opening in September 2000.

Michael has been The Bloomsbury’s General Manager ever since that turn-of-the-century opening nearly two decades ago. “I’ve been here since it was a blank piece of paper,” he tells me. “The building was originally opened in 1932, and is today Grade II listed. We’ve remained faithful to Lutyens’ concept for the building. I guess you could say, it is today as we feel he would’ve liked it.” Michael explains that The Bloomsbury is very much about staying true to Lutyens’ design, to the neighbourhood itself and to the era in which the building was born. This is a hotel that is as much about literature and the arts as is it is about hospitality. “Every change, every project at The Bloomsbury and The Doyle Collection, is overseen by our owner, Bernadette Gallagher, and her design team. We’re a small company really, and it’s a refreshing feeling to have our owner so involved every step of the way.”

Bloomsbury is  obviously a key neighbourhood and vital factor too. The hotel is not simply connected to the area by its name but is central to it in other ways, with a number of key partnerships in place playing homage to Bloomsbury’s creative, artistic and literary DNA. “It’s been a conscious effort for us to tie ourselves to the character of the neighbourhood which defines us. Poet in the City and the Royal Society of Literature are just two of the organisations we work with in partnership. Given our positioning, it is important for us to connect and work together closely.” Today, The Bloomsbury continues to stay true to the spirit of its creator and its neighbourhood, with carefully curated bars and restaurants on site, including Dalloway Terrace and the recently opened, Martin Brudnizki designed, The Coral Room. As Michael guides me around and tells me the story of the hotel which has become so central to his life, he reminds me that The Bloomsbury’s success is mainly on his team members. His knowledge of the place is unmatched, as is The Bloomsbury itself among the area’s hotels. I for one count myself as a regular, and so should you.


Richard Biedul

Richard Biedul

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“…I didn’t consider myself to have any distinctive features. I was a normal bloke.”

Its early on a May morning when Richard Biedul and I meet at Fitzrovia’s Mandrake, one of London’s newest and most distinctive boutique hotels. We’re looking through a selection of his favourite personal wardrobe pieces, including a two-piece suit from Jack Davison Bespoke and a military-green matching shirt and trousers from Savile Row tailored essentials label Basic Rights. Biedul is a British style icon, a figurehead of fashion whose story as a model is as fascinating as the brands he works with. In the Mandrake’s blood-red private dining room, we meet to talk modelling, menswear and just what it means to be a Londoner.

Born into a working-class family, Richard is a north west Londoner with a Polish heritage. His mother and father met in London, where they settled and raised Richard and his two brothers. “We had everything we ever wanted. It was the perfect upbringing,” he says. “My mother was a lawyer before she became a teacher. She had an influence on me, which led me to take on a law career. I suppose I never truly understood the value of education at that time. I hung out with the cool kids and tried my best to keep out of trouble… which wasn’t always the case.” Richard took a law degree, which led to him becoming a fully qualified solicitor at a leading London law firm. From an early age, while dividing his time between north west London and Soho, Richard was fascinated by the look and feel of men’s clothing. “Clothes are important to you in a working-class upbringing, you know? I guess you could say it started when I worked in a clothing store as a teenager, which grew into an adult fascination with tailoring and style,” he says. “One evening after work, about seven years back, I was standing outside a pub in Hoxton where I had a strange encounter with a model scout. I didn’t think much of it really; in fact, I neither took it seriously nor believed it at all.”

This was the beginning of a transition from office to runway for Richard, who after being signed by the agency Select and moving on to Elite, found himself booked by some of the world’s leading brands within weeks. “All within six months, I had begun walking in Paris, Milan and all over the world, and moved to New York. How else can I describe it? It was crazy; just that. There’s nothing in life which can prepare you for such a change. I didn’t look at myself to be what I perceived as a model. A model to me while I was growing up was someone who almost looked like they had been carved from stone, and that wasn’t me. It wasn’t the 27-year-old, average build man that I am. I didn’t consider myself to have any distinctive features. I was a normal bloke. You know, if I think back, I remember my first fashion week, where I closed Oliver Spencer’s show in London, then rushed to Milan to work with Brioni and to Paris to do Berluti. I thought I must be on to something. Really how can you top that now? It became a thing where if one big client wanted you, so would another.”

Richard came to prominence at a time in the early 2010s when the British fashion industry was gravitating away from sculpted perfection and towards normal, relatable individuals to model clothing. After all, customers are more likely to desire clothes when the person wearing them on the runway is someone they can recognise as being like them.

Currently, Richard splits his time between his London life, working with fashion labels worldwide and a new personal project. Given his long-term experience in the industry, he has taken the opportunity to produce his first capsule collection. “Sustainability in clothing, especially in British brands, is something which has always been central to my interest in clothing and always will be,“ he explains. “This industry has given me an education in style and clothing. I love to learn, and in learning I have contributed further to my level of involvement with brands. It’s become more of a partnership, and now I want to take some part of that and give something back.”

Richard has set up a production company, working with brands such as Hackett, and will launch his first capsule collection this summer in collaboration with contemporary London based label King & Tuckfield. Founded by Stacey Wood, the men’s and women’s brand takes inspiration from the style of the 1940s and 50s paired with modern elegance and meticulous workmanship. “Designed here in London, King & Tuckfield is driven by its focus on British craftsmanship and sustainability,” says Richard. “My collection is inspired by mid-century fabric and design; it’s modern workwear with a sartorial twist. The first collection will be released this summer, followed by another later this year.” I ask Richard whether in the coming years, given his experience in the industry, he may look to move away from the runway and towards a design career. “Although this would be the dream, I’m far off that. At the moment I am somewhere between an art director and a model. I feel like I’d need to go back to ground zero and learn the business from the bottom up,” he says. Perhaps he’s being too modest. As Richard talks me through each of the outfits, his inspirations and aspirations, I suspect that his knowledge and eye could definitely lead him to create further collections in the coming years.

Today, Richard is represented by IMG, based close to Soho, where he has spent much of his time – both work and social life – over the years. “The heritage of London is there in the spirit of the neighbourhood. The streets of Soho have been and always will be for everybody and anybody. Its rich wash of colour embraces style, race, sexuality and community. It has stood the test of time. Everywhere I go, and in everything I do, I like to be engaged, and in Soho anybody can find themselves,” he says. “The music, the people and the clothes; it was central to my youth and upbringing, and to me as a person. It was new, it was mind-blowing, and I fell in love with it.” Keep a close eye out for Richard on the runway and with his King & Tuckfield collection this summer: this proud Londoner and figurehead of British style is ready to make his mark.


Sophie Cookson

Sophie Cookson

Interview & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

“You just have to throw yourself into it wholeheartedly and fearlessly and not be self-conscious about what you create…”

Sophie Cookson caught the world’s attention with her film debut in the 2014 spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service. The young British actress, who is clearly going places, has since appeared in the Kingsman sequel and worked with Dame Judi Dench in next year’s film Red Joan. Journal caught up with her in the West End to discuss her new play Killer Joe and her love of London’s theatreland.

You’re making your West End stage debut in Killer Joe. Tell us a bit about the play and what drew you to it.

Killer Joe is a play by Tracy Letts, set in the early 90s. It follows the story of a poor family living in a trailer park who, in order to pay off their debts, decide to hire a contract killer to murder their estranged mother so they can get her life insurance money. I play Dottie, the sister of drug dealer Chris who has hatched the plan. She’s had a childhood trauma and definitely isn’t like most other 20-year-olds. She’s been kept infantilised and as a result of this is often underestimated. It was really Tracy’s muscular, visceral writing that drew me to the project. The pace and intensity builds and builds to the point of explosion. It’s incredibly thrilling to watch and be a part of.

Is it an emotionally demanding role? How did you prepare for it?

Incredibly! I’m not sure how I prepared for it, to be perfectly honest! Sometimes with things like that you just have to throw yourself into it wholeheartedly and fearlessly and not be self-conscious about what you create.

What does having a live audience bring to your performance?

It’s really interesting in an intimate space like The Trafalgar Studios. It’s a very immediate, confrontational play, where at moments you can feel the whole audience almost holding their breath. The audience’s reaction creates an even more intense, claustrophobic atmosphere.

Do you find that re-living the play daily brings an evolution to the role of Dottie? 

Absolutely. There’s no way that can’t happen. There are hundreds of components that make every single moment and if just one of those are different (which they inevitably will be) then you’re always creating something entirely fresh. As long as you carry on listening and doing the work every night, you discover something different.

Was there a defining moment that made you want to become an actress?

I wouldn’t say there was a bolt of thunder where I knew, but I had several teachers over the years who encouraged me and then I finally reached a point where I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t give it a shot.

I read that you love nature. Are there any greener parts of the West End you like to escape to?

Well there never seems to be quite enough time to escape too far from the theatre, so I’m very lucky having St James’s Park next door.

Now that you’re based in central London, what are your favourite haunts in and around theatreland?

Well, Bar Italia is an institution! There’s nothing more fun than just sitting outside and observing all of Soho’s colourful characters.

Have you explored the area’s galleries and museums?

In the past yes, but not so much recently. I tend to get quite absorbed with whatever project I’m involved in and find it impossible to absorb or learn about something which isn’t connected to it in some way. But now we’ve settled into the run there’s lots of stuff I’ve got my eye on.

What was your first taste of London’s theatre? 

I think the first thing I saw was Beauty and the Beast. I remember running through the auditorium and being in awe of the sound coming from orchestra pit, then singing in the cab on the way to the station. It was absolute magic.

You sing in your role in Gypsy. If you could do a musical, what would your dream role be?

Any Sondheim! Sign me up! I’ve always fancied a go at Sally Bowles in Cabaret too.

You’ve been described as the kick-ass English Rose; what film genres that you haven’t yet tackled appeal to you?

God, have I? As to genres – all sorts! I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface.


Tell us about your new film, Red Joan. How did it feel to play the younger version of the character played by Dame Judi Dench?

It’s set in the 1940s and early 2000s. It’s about a young girl called Joan who studies physics in a male-dominated world. She ends up working on the atomic bomb for the British government and subsequently passing over secrets to the Russians – not for the reasons that you might assume. It’s loosely based on a true story and Judi plays Joan in her 70s, which is when she finally got arrested. She lived her entire life with not one person suspecting her of anything like that, not even her son. Obviously, it’s a very intimidating prospect being a young Judi, but she’s so funny and gracious it was a great challenge to step up to.


Ann Wixley

Ann Wixley

Interview Kirk Truman

Portraits Si Melber

“…It seems a leap, but the habits that I learnt as a dancer still apply.”

A distinctive looking and impeccably dressed redhead with a wicked smile, Ann Wixley can usually be seen making her way through Fitzrovia, the neighbourhood she now calls home. But long before she was the Executive Creative Director at media agency Wavemaker UK, Ann was a ballet dancer, born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Taking elegant puffs on a cigar, she told me about these two very different careers and the unexpected qualities that connect them…

Tell me about your upbringing back home in South Africa and how you ended up becoming a ballet dancer

I remember when my mother suggested that I grow my hair. I was about eight years old, with a thick bowl cut which offset my fat cheeks unflatteringly. It was after winning a prize at the annual ballet eisteddfod in Cape Town, where I grew up. This was the start of a 17-year calling to become a ballet dancer.

My hair finally in a bun and stubbornly hairsprayed earned me the short-lived nickname at primary school of ‘Ethel Hairspray’. I realised then that peer pressure simply wasn’t for me. The notion of wanting to be a part of a large group in order to pick on a smaller group that was slightly different seemed ludicrous even then.


My career as a principal ballet dancer was relatively short but rich, if not in earnings. I joined CAPAB (Cape Performing Arts Board) at 17 as their ‘baby ballerina’ to perform solo and principal roles. After four magical years I moved to Pretoria to join PACT (Pretoria State Theatre) to enjoy their diverse repertoire of Balanchine, Sir Ronald Hynd, Roland Petit and a favourite Fokine classic, The Firebird. I performed a soirée for President FW De Klerk’s wife Marijke’s birthday, for Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration Ceremony at the Union Buildings, and for Princess Caroline of Monaco in Lausanne, alongside Darcy Bussell as a fellow Prix de Lausanne winner.

How did you transition from your career as a dancer to working in media?

I now work in advertising at Wavemaker UK where I create and direct ideas and content that work with media and technology to solve marketing problems for clients.

It seems a leap, but four habits that I learnt as a dancer still apply. The drive for finding empathy with a character and my audience; the knife edge of performance under pressure; a love of context – the bigger picture of a narrative within which one, or one’s ideas, can play only a part. And stamina.

The hops and skips in between make the leap less dramatic. I created events as a freelancer, joined a creative PR agency to work on clients like Levi’s and Smirnoff, followed by a media strategy agency where I started up their ideas division. From Africa’s big sky I moved to the Big Smoke of London and joined a large media agency where I created this current role and have been practising it for the last eight years.

It still gives me pleasure to wear ‘normal’ clothes not ballet togs every day. I like to bend them to my will; after all you should wear the clothes, not the other way around. Colour, line and clothes that move appeal to my senses. I have an archive of treasures that I rotate: my favourites are usually Vivienne Westwood and Y3, mixed with vintage pieces found by my mother when I was 17.

What does the Fitzrovia neighbourhood mean to you as your home?

I live in Fitzrovia now with my partner, a fashion photographer. From this thin sliver of town, we can glimpse the green of Fitzroy Square and stroll through the seasons in Regent’s Park. We are regulars at Bobo Social for their simply delicious burgers, caffeinated at Charlotte Place’s Lantana and stay sane thanks to the friendly Fitness First on TCR. A stone’s throw from the Virginia Woolf blue plaque, I’m proud and grateful to be in a room of my own.


David Newton

David Newton

Interview & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

“With the rise of social media, Instagram has become my agent.”

David Newton is a hugely successful still life photographer based in Central London. His clients include Dior, YSL, and Maybelline, with editorial commissions from the New York Times, Harrods and Wallpaper. He’s a long-term resident of Marylebone, where he lives with his gorgeous Basset Hound Rupert and also finds time to edit and publish his supersized glossy fashion/interview magazine Wylde. Journal met up with the maestro over cocktails at newly-opened La Brasseria on Marylebone High Street.

You started off professionally as an illustrator, is that right?

Yes, and people say they can tell I used to illustrate, as my photos do tend to contain a bit more than just objective representation; there’s often a little story or narrative in there too.

Are you happier creatively as a photographer?

I made more money doing Illustration – it bought me the flat in Marylebone – but I’m happier doing what I do now. One of the reasons I changed to photography was the fact that illustration is so subjective you are constantly being told by art directors that you got it wrong. But with photography you very rarely get it wrong: 9 times out of 10 it’s an objective view of something. Though, like I say, I do try to put a little story into the pictures.

Your work is ridiculously creative and consistently original; where do you get all your ideas from?

I often get asked that question privately on Instagram, and it makes me a bit sad to hear that from another creative, because it seems to imply that there is a physical place where you can go and “get” inspiration from. As if it can be ordered online or bought in a shop, or something. My response is that you have to constantly keep your brain on, and open, like a sponge. You have to not discount anything that you see or think. Then it’s a case of cleverly working out how what you’re curious about can be in a picture.

Do you have an agent?

I’m regularly approached by agents; I’ve had two in the past. But with the rise of social media, Instagram has become my agent. I did a big ad campaign for a major Paris luxury cosmetics house earlier this year… they found me via Instagram.

Has moving your studio from Shoreditch to your home in Marylebone changed the way you work?

I got forced out by Shoreditch’s greedy landlords and spiralling rents; but as it happens, it changed my career because now I don’t have to wait to implement my ideas. The literal distance between idea and execution can now be measured in feet, rather than miles! When my studio was in Shoreditch, I might have lost the idea overnight, or it got replaced by something else. It would often have to wait until the next day.

What led you to start up Wylde?

I started Wylde in 2011 purely as a showcase for my work and the work of other photographers that I admired. It’s changing and evolving all the time, but still massively about images. That’s why it’s huge (A3) and printed on the best quality glossy stock.

How has Marylebone changed since you moved here 15 years ago?

I got in just before the Marylebone boom happened. When I first moved here, it was a bit of a down-at-heel backwater. Charity shops, little old ladies; it was quiet, no tourists… or bankers.

What do you love about Marylebone now?

It’s cool, and it’s very friendly, especially if you’ve got a dog. It’s very villagey, to use estate agent-speak! But it actually is – people do stop and talk. Really good for parks. It’s fun. Much livelier than Mayfair. Other “posh” areas are not as interesting.

Any favourite shops?

I’ve just discovered A Society on Chiltern Street. It sells old coffee table books, things like Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdain, Alan Jones… exactly my cup of tea! You have to see what’s in the back room – this most bizarre 1960s stereo that looks like it’s landed from space. John, who works in there, is so friendly… bizarre, as it’s such a cool place! High-end candle shop Cire Trudon, also on Chiltern Street, is an occasional treat.

Any other favourite stores?

It has to be Selfridges. I call it my corner shop; I believe in supporting local businesses! Wylde is stocked there so I often pop into the mag section to check it’s on the shelves.

You have a rescue Basset Hound called Rupert; where’s your favourite place to walk him?

We cover the whole of Marylebone, but always head towards Paddington Street Gardens, as it’s the only park in Marylebone where you can shut the gate and let your dog run free and meet other dogs.

Favourite restaurant?

A couple: Delamina on Marylebone Lane – it does Modern Israeli dishes – and La Brasseria Milanese on the High Street; a very smart Italian with fantastic cocktails. I recommend the saffron vodka.


30 Cleveland Street

30 Cleveland Street

Words Kirk Truman

Illustrations Ross Becker

“…when you come across real talent, it is sometimes worth allowing them to create the structure in which they choose to labour.”

The late Felix Dennis was a legend in the publishing world. The same could be said of the publishing house he founded, which has outlived its creator and continues as an industry leader to this day. The story of Felix Dennis and Dennis Publishing is one that takes place almost entirely in Fitzrovia – the story of a golden age in publishing and of a Fitzrovia institution. From Rathbone Place to 30 Cleveland Street, Felix and his publishing house have left their mark on the neighbourhood, just as they have on publishing in the UK. There are a number of well-known titles you may know from the Dennis empire: Viz, Fortean Times, Cyclist and The Week to name but a few. Today, the site of Dennis Publishing at 30 Cleveland Street is undergoing a vigorous restoration, to again offer an exceptional and inimitable working environment at the heart of Fitzrovia. But as John Stacey of UK & European Investments, which is undertaking the refurbishment, notes wryly “Fitzrovia attracts many of the brightest and best of creative businesses but we’re not expecting the new occupiers to have quite as vivid a story as that of Felix Dennis…”

The son of a part-time jazz pianist who ran a tobacconist’s shop, Felix grew up in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London. His upbringing was a humble one; his dad took off when his son was 12, and Felix lived for a time in his grandparents’ tiny terraced house in Thames Ditton. After brief stints at art college and as a rock and roll drummer, the start of his career in publishing was equally inauspicious: selling copies of the counterculture magazine Oz – a heady mix of sex, drugs and politics – on London’s Kings Road. By 1969, after a couple of years selling advertising and writing music reviews (including the first review of Led Zeppelin’s eponymously titled debut album), he had become one of the magazine’s co-editors. For Felix, the 1970s began with a bang when Oz became embroiled in the longest conspiracy trial in British history. For their infamous ‘Schoolkids Issue’, Felix and his co-editors Richard Neville and Jim Anderson invited a bunch of public school fifth and sixth formers to edit the magazine: a sexually explicit Rupert the Bear cartoon strip proved too much for the authorities, resulting in the arrest and trial of all three editors. With John ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ Mortimer as their defence barrister, the ‘Oz Three’ were initially found guilty on a charge of ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’ before the verdict was overturned on appeal and Felix’s convictions were quashed.

As Oz magazine folded in 1973, Felix started his own Cozmic Comics, publishing work by underground cartoonists including Robert Crumb as well as British artists such as Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland. And then came a fateful moment that proved instrumental in his career: Felix saw teenagers queuing for a Bruce Lee movie, and something in his mind clicked. He conceived the idea of publishing a martial arts magazine in a format that would open up into a poster – perfect for adorning the walls of teenagers’ bedrooms. First published under the auspices of H. Bunch Associates, Kung-Fu Monthly became the first publication of the newly-founded Dennis Publishing in 1974. Being eventually sold in 14 countries, the magazine was an immediate success, making over £60,000 in its first year. From here, Dennis Publishing begun to build a burgeoning portfolio, producing within its first few years of business an array of bestselling titles capitalising on the international obsession with Kung Fu and Muhammad Ali’s legendary fight with Joe Frazier. Helmed by British expat Peter Godfrey, Dennis Publishing began selling its publications in the US. It was the start of a highly profitable relationship that led to a decades-long partnership between the two men.

Beginning with Which Bike? in 1976, a number of special interest consumer publications were added to the growing Dennis portfolio. Again, Felix followed his keen commercial instincts; he spotted a good idea, thought about it, and presented it to his team, allowing them to develop it as a title with real market potential. It was a simple but effective formula that resulted in one successful product after another. In his words, “when you come across real talent, it is sometimes worth allowing them to create the structure in which they choose to labour. In nine cases out of ten, by inviting them to take responsibility and control for a new venture, you will motivate them to do great things…”

Through this period Dennis Publishing was based at 39 Goodge Street, but with continued success that showed little sign of stopping, they had finally outgrown their first Fitzrovia nest. Next, the company relocated to 14 Rathbone Place, not too far afield; Felix had discovered the site one day while walking from his Soho flat to the Goodge Street offices. By 1979, amid the success of multiple new titles, the team had grown to 16 strong. It was at this point that Felix struck gold once again. Following his instincts, as usual, he purchased Europe’s first home computer magazine, PC World, for less than £100,000. Growing the title and its readership, Dennis Publishing sold it three years later for a colossal £3m. Adding another title in 1983 in the UK and the US, MacUser was sold in the US two years later for close to $20m.

Dennis Publishing had come to establish itself as a major UK publishing house, but by the dawn of the new century, it was bursting at its seams and the business was spread across a number of sites. With an eye to the obvious benefits to management, overheads and team spirit, it was in 2000 that Felix chose to house almost the entire company’s activities under one roof, over five floors at 30 Cleveland Street. The location was the very beating heart of Fitzrovia, directly opposite the now demolished Middlesex Hospital. The new premises had itself once been used as a private clinic for military officers, which gave it all the more appeal in Felix’s eyes. The publisher remained on the same site for 17 years until relocating to a new site a short distance away in Bloomsbury last year. During this time, Dennis Publishing cemented itself as a leader of the industry in the UK and beyond, with Felix becoming renowned as a publishing legend, famed for his maverick entrepreneurial style. Later in life, he developed a taste for writing poetry, a perhaps surprising new venture in which he enjoyed considerable success before he passed away in 2014.

In the autumn, the revitalised and restored 30 Cleveland Street will emerge from behind its current carapace of scaffolding. Alongside 40,000 square feet of new office space, the building will feature terraces on the upper floors with vistas which should prove suitably inspirational for visionaries from any walk of business. John Stacey observes: “Given its art deco style and rich history, we want to keep the spirit of the building. Certainly, Felix Dennis will always be on any list of great Fitzrovia characters.” Enhanced and rethought, 30 Cleveland Street’s future is assured in Fitzrovia, while keeping true to the legacy of Dennis Publishing.

La Fromagerie

La Fromagerie

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Si Melber

“I wanted people to walk in and feel excited to find out more about the produce, and especially to walk into the Cheese Room…”

Lamb’s Conduit Street is steeped in history; diverse, charming and engaging, it is considered by many to be one of the best in all of Bloomsbury and indeed London. Then, almost a year ago, it got even better. Sarah Bilney, a director at La Fromagerie, together with founder Patricia Michelson, had longed for another outlet and set their hearts on Lamb’s Conduit Street for the third iteration of their cheese, wine and produce shop, one that would be as enticing as the street itself. La Fromagerie first opened in Highbury Park 26 years ago, having evolved from a market stall in Camden Lock. Today, the three sites are thriving as their Bloomsbury showcase nears its first birthday.

There’s a charming back story to the venture, and it goes a little like this. Founder Patricia Michelson discovered her love for cheese while skiing atop a mountain in Meribel, in the heart of Savoie, France. Having tasted Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage, she brought a wheel of it home – winching the 38kg monster into the back of her car. Today, this is the raison d’etre of La Fromagerie; the yearly trips to Savoie now are to select cheeses by tasting the forms made with the summer milk from cattle grazing on the high mountain pastures. The May, June and July cheeses are quite different in flavour, so Patricia chooses some to sell at one year old and ask for others to be kept for a further year, giving the tasting style a real burst of herbaceous flavours. Going back to the origins of La Fromagerie, Patricia placed her first cheese in her garden shed and started the business from there before upgrading to a stall in Camden Lock market around a year later.

This became the motivation for the eventual opening of the first La Fromagerie outlet in Highbury Park in 1992, which also encompassed a wholesaling business onsite in the basement of the shop. After 10 years in business, Patricia and her husband/business partner were ready to open their second site in 2002 and chose Moxon Street – a side street off Marylebone High Street – mainly because Patricia loved the building, particularly its huge double ‘garage’ doors. The site has since become world famous, as has Patricia’s knowledge, since the publication of her two award-winning books, The Cheese Room (2001) and CHEESE (2010). “There are several key elements that have been instrumental in the success of La Fromagerie,” she says, “one being Sarah Bilney, who is now a director, and came on board a few months before the opening of the Marylebone shop. We had already known each other for over five years and my recollection of our deciding to work together was that it happened after rather a lot of cocktails and the wish to do something new and exciting with La Fromagerie. Sarah has the same view as me when it comes to produce, producers, seasons and also visual impact. I have always trodden a path of authenticity and being respectful to the people and place as well as what is being made or grown, and Sarah embraces this too. I have never liked serve-over counters and I didn’t want to be a ‘deli’ as such. I wanted people to walk in and feel excited to find out more about the produce, and especially to walk into the Cheese Room, read the descriptive labels of the cheese, taste and then buy. It is labour intensive, but everyone who works with us has to be greedy for knowledge as well as wanting to talk about the produce. I tell our team that they are the PR for the business as their engagement is the link between the product and the customer.”

The success of La Fromagerie’s Bloomsbury opening is due to two main components; the setting and the location. The site is different from the two others, with a focal point provided by the marble bar where you can sit and enjoy wine, cheese and charcuterie. There’s a small but perfectly curated Cheese Room, with chilled cases outside the room for tender cheeses to sit alongside other key products and a wall of shelves with larder essentials too. The wine list reflects its identity with the cheese to make perfect pairings, and the few tables on the ground floor are just sufficient to allow those who wish to linger a little longer to feel part of the surroundings too. Freshly baked items sit on ledges and counters ready for breakfast, lunch, dinner or brunch. This new opening is tailored to a more social setting as well as shopping. Another vital element to the interiors of their stores is the décor, which Patricia and Sarah source from their travels visiting Brocantes and Markets and work with independent carpenters and joiners to realise.

Below ground, an extensive renovation and re-modelling has taken place; installing a glass roof and restoring the 18th century beams has produced a wonderful space for private events, tastings and workshops, as well as providing an area where the homewares and vintage items can be viewed. The signature La Fromagerie green paint is Shop Front Green from the famous Papers & Paints shop in Fulham, specialists in historical colour palettes. Patricia and Sarah have made Lamb’s Conduit Street their home from home and the traders and local community have responded to their arrival warmly and made them feel part of the community. The La Fromagerie story feels destined to continue, with much, much more to come both in Bloomsbury and beyond. While Patricia has already honed her wealth of food-centric knowledge to perfection, it’s certain that the shared vision she and Sarah have of La Fromagerie will surely take it even further – who knows what will happen next? So, when you’re next in Bloomsbury, take a walk down Lamb’s Conduit Street to see their new opening; and then you’ll find yourself wanting to visit Marylebone too, or take a trip to Highbury to see where it all began… all three are havens for lovers of good food.


The Lighterman

The Lighterman

Words & Photography Kirk Truman

“Cooking was a part of my upbringing, and part of my family. So really, going into a kitchen felt quite natural to me…”

If you visit Granary Square, just over the Regent’s Canal from King’s Cross station, you will come across The Lighterman, a very modern venue for eating and drinking. The name was inspired by the neighbourhood’s industrial past, when Victoria Lightermen worked on flat-bottomed barges known as “Lighters”, on the canals and rivers of London. Located on Regent’s Canal, The Lighterman looks over Granary Square and offers stunning views across the canal and towards King’s Cross. I talked to chef Tom Kelleher, who tells me the story of The Lighterman and his role in commanding this fast-paced dining environment.

There’s something about The Lighterman that gives it the feel of a 21st century European villa. Perhaps it’s the way the glass-encased space allows the light to stream through it, a rarity almost anywhere in London. Whether at the height of summer or the middle of autumn, the views from The Lighterman’s wraparound terraces are unparalleled. Comprising a pub, a dining room and a bar, The Lighterman opened its doors in summer 2016 and has become a prominent fixture in the area. Founders Open House have allowed their openings (The Lighterman, Percy & Founders and The Larder) to evolve naturally as local restaurants, bars and hangouts in the neighbourhoods in which they are based. Percy & Founders, for example, is in an equally appealing location, located less than five minutes from Oxford Street; it offers a carefully crafted addition to Fitzroy Place with a beautiful outdoor terrace that is a welcome haven from the busy streets of Central London. Its dining room is situated adjacent to the recently restored Fitzrovia Chapel, with views of the surrounding square.

Since its opening, The Lighterman has become the pub and dining room of King’s Cross, offering all-day food and drinks from morning coffee and breakfast to lunch, dinner and evening drinks. Food is fresh and seasonal, with much of the menu sourced locally or from the very best of British suppliers: meat makes its way down from the Lake District, and fish comes from the Maldon-based speciality smokehouse Lambton & Jackson.

The Lighterman has continued to evolve its menus and extend its private hire opportunities. Since joining Open House in January this year, chef Tom Kelleher has been dividing his time between The Lighterman, and Fitzrovia’s Percy & Founders. “It has given me the opportunity to constantly challenge myself and help to curate the menu offerings of both sites,” he says. Tom first found his way into the kitchen as a youngster growing up in Portsmouth, and names his mother as his key inspiration. “I was one of many children, and my mum was always cooking. She had a very nifty approach to it. Cooking was a part of my upbringing, and part of my family. So really, going into a kitchen felt quite natural to me – I felt part of a team, I guess. I definitely feel more comfortable in a kitchen environment than anywhere else!” he laughs.

With 19 chefs spread over two kitchens, The Lighterman is Open House’s busiest location. All food is fresh and produced on site, just as it is at Percy & Founders. “At Percy & Founders, the space is divided between being an informal bar and a restaurant environment, whereas at The Lighterman, each of the three floors offers something different to the customer,” Tom explains. “This is split between a canal-side bar on the lower ground, a more brasserie feel approach on the ground floor, and a restaurant up on the first floor.” Tom helps lead The Lighterman and Percy & Founders through the seasons, curating the menu offerings and building the teams; and in the end, it’s team spirit that ensures the success of the whole venture. After all, Tom’s key influence in the kitchen has always been family.


Robert Montgomery

Robert Montgomery

Interview & Portraits Kirk Truman

“…I wondered if you went halfway between Jenny Holzer and Philip Larkin what would you get?”

Rob and I ran into each other a couple of months back. Then, we talked a little about Journal, a little about his publishing venture New River Press and quite a lot about his art. I wondered why he hadn’t graced our Fitzrovia cover yet, and suggested it was about time we got around to it.

So, Robert Montgomery: poet, writer and artist. He’s a Scotsman who insists he’s a Londoner, a “melancholic Situationist” whose work brings together a personal poetic voice and public interventionist strategies. From billboards, and solar-powered light pieces to woodcuts and ‘fire poems’, Rob’s work is fiercely diverse; though to me, he’ll always be the artist who burns his own words to the ground.

Tell me about your background and influences…

I grew up in Scotland and I lived there until I was 23. I did a BA in painting at Edinburgh College of Art, then I got a scholarship to do an Master of Fine Arts, so I stayed in Edinburgh for that. After my MFA I got a place on this amazing post-graduate programme in America, the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. It’s a fantastic residency programme for young artists funded by the museum, similar to the Whitney Program in New York. I had incredible artists come to my studio there to critique my work; James Turrell, Roni Horn, Jack Pierson – these real heroes of American art. The best thing was that you had a studio in the museum surrounded by an incredible collection of masterpieces – Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, rare works by Gerald Murphy – so it was also an education in American art history. The artist Joseph Havel and the curator Alison de Lima Greene became my mentors there.


How did you start out as an artist?

Well I decided when I was about 15 that I wanted to be an artist, but I had been quite an academic kid so persuading my father to allow me to study art at university was a bit of a challenge. I had to make a deal with him: he would only let me go to Edinburgh to do art if I got the grades to do law. So, I had to take economics at school and do five Scottish Highers/A Levels, and I had to get two As and 3 Bs, or something like that. Those were the entrance requirements for the Law degree; for the art course I would have only needed something like 3 Bs. I got the grades for the law course, so he had to let me go and go do the art course! That was our gentlemen’s agreement. From art school onwards, I was set on the path. I had a great experience at Edinburgh College of Art that gave me lots of tools to draw on, a particular way of thinking about the world.

How did you come to spend time in Fitzrovia and eventually end up living here?

Well, I met my wife – the Fitzrovia poet Greta Bellamacina. She already lived here, and when we had our son Lorca I had to stop living in the craziness of my art studio – so we moved in together to our small flat right under the BT Tower. The flat is pretty tiny, too small for us really, but it’s very old and has good vibes so we’re very happy in it. Niall McDevitt, the Irish poet and poetry historian, discovered Arthur Rimbaud’s first address was next door to us; the first time he came to London, before he came back with Verlaine on their wild love affair/escape from Paris, he lived on Maple Street when it was called London Street. Partly because the streets of Fitzrovia are so steeped in it, I’ve been making work recently revisiting early London Modernism. I just did a work called Estuary Poem for Wyndham Lewis for the gallery at One Canada Square, where I revisited Lewis’s 1914 BLAST manifesto. It was a giant wooden sculpture that said ENEMIES OF THE ICEBERGS AND THE STARS. We burned it on Shellness Beach at the very end of the Thames Estuary then rebuilt the burnt fragments in Canary Wharf.


How did you come to bring poetry into your work and installations?

Well, I started working with text in my paintings at Edinburgh College of Art and then I became really obsessed with the text art of Jenny Holzer. I loved how she disseminated her words on little posters in the city; that was such a beautiful idea – messages to strangers. So I began to make work similar to Jenny’s, and then I wondered how close I could take the voice to poetry. I’d always been privately obsessed with a few poets: TS Eliott, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin and John Ashbery. I wondered if you went halfway between Jenny Holzer and Philip Larkin, what would you get?


Tell me a little about New River Press and its backstory. How does it differentiate from your work as an artist?

Well, me and Greta were inspired by the story of Leonard and Virginia Woolf starting the Hogarth Press in their dining room. The Hogarth press published Mrs Dalloway and also the first British edition of Eliot’s The Wasteland, so I had the idea that writer-led presses could do important things. We’ve set up New River almost like an indie record label. If the Hogarth Press was one inspiration, Sub Pop and Factory Records were the others. The poets get 50 per cent of the income from their books, which is a much more generous percentage than big publishers can give. I’m very lucky in that I can make a living from my art. I can sell paintings and do public commissions, but for my poet friends I noticed that’s a lot harder. So, my work as an artist is able to support the press, and I hope we’re doing something important. Really, we wanted to make a press for contemporary page poetry. There’s been so much progress for spoken word in London in the last few years that we wanted to do something for page poetry, or poetry in the Modernist/Beat tradition. We’ve had a very dynamic first two years. We’ve published 11 books so far. We did a night at Pentameter’s Theatre in Hampstead just before Christmas that I think brought back the spirit of 60s poetry happenings and the International Poetry Incarnation, with around 30 poets reading and some musicians whipping the whole thing up in to a kind of mad Bohemian theatre.

Serge *et le phoque

Serge *et le phoque

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Si Melber

“Great food begins with the suppliers…”

When the Mandrake Hotel opened on Newman Street last September, it was the place that everybody was talking about. Entering through the long, dark corridor entrance, you are greeted by eccentric stylistic flourishes, surrealist design and hedonistic luxury; there’s even a stunning courtyard with its own hanging gardens and a greenhouse full of exotic plants. Founded by Rami Fustok, the Mandrake is a new breed of hotel in Fitzrovia, every bit as magical as its name would suggest, and at its heart is a new breed of restaurant: SERGE *et le phoque. Compared to the eclectic make-believe of its surroundings, the restaurant is a surprisingly understated and relaxed space, although it also boasts a stunning red lacquered private dining room that is a feast for the eyes.

SERGE is the new London outpost of French duo Frédéric Peneau and Charles Pelletier. Having opened their Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name in Hong Kong, this is their first overseas venture. Centre stage as I arrive at the restaurant is co-founder and interior designer Charles. Dressed to a tee, he’s full of charm and radiates intellect and enthusiasm from behind his rectangular glasses. It’s his strong entrepreneurial spirit which has guided SERGE from Hong Kong to London.

Also on hand to greet me is head chef/restauranteur Frédéric Peneau. Fred started his career at the Cafe Burq in Monmartre, later opening Le Chateaubriand, which was considered an industry benchmark in Paris and helped lead an evolution of the city’s restaurants. “Le Chateaubriand was a small bistro in Paris. Nothing posh really; it was a neighbourhood bistro but people would come from all over the world to dine there,” says Fred. He then headed East to Hong Kong to launch SERGE; within its first year of opening the Wan Chai market district restaurant had gained a Michelin star. No wonder Rami Fustok wanted to get Fred involved with his long-planned Fitzrovia hotel. “Rami had heard about me, and we agreed to meet. He asked me about myself and my work. I said to him that I don’t really like to talk about myself – instead I offered to cook for him a dinner,” Fred recalls. “So, I did. He loved what I cooked, and he told me about the project and becoming involved with the Mandrake Hotel. He told me straight: I want you!”

Fred explains to me that the food at SERGE begins with the suppliers (58 to be exact). “It’s all about getting the best we can get from the best people at the best time. I could just buy all of my vegetables from the same supplier, but what would be the point in that? I go to specific suppliers for specific ingredients. It’s about finding the best, not just settling for what is easily available.”

“It’s very focused. It’s not just about freshness, it’s about where, when and how,” he says. “You cook with your mouth – everybody should cook like that and only like that, you know? As a restaurant, we cook everything à la minute to ensure the freshness of the dish. Everything happens there and then. There are few restaurants in Britain that do this, and we are proud to count ourselves as one. For us, the menu is ongoing. It’s never finished; for us, it’s just the beginning of a story. My kitchen and my menu are reactive, to London and to our diners.”

Ingredients and menu are vital, then, but equally important, says Charles, is the dining experience itself. He believes that, in effect, the way you’re feeling will have an impact on how your food tastes. In the restaurant business a meal is easily turned tastes equal to that of your dining experience, which I’m delighted to say, at SERGE *et le phoque was on par. “The taste of the food reacts to the experience. Think about it like this: why should we have to put on evening dress to listen to classical music? Our dining experience is high-end, but it doesn’t mean it should be exclusive. We want SERGE to be enjoyed by diners from all walks of life,” he explains. “Dining is not just about eating, but also coming to a restaurant – it’s about the whole experience. And the taste of the food changes with the experience… I guess you could say we’re still working on that. Any good restaurant always should be!” he laughs.

At SERGE, every element of the meal – from the sourcing of ingredients and well-planned, modestly priced menu to the work of sommelier and the expertise of the waiters – helps ensure a social and culinary experience that is as unstuffy, relaxed and satisfying as possible. Fred and Charles hope that what they’ve achieved in their ever-evolving quest is a restaurant as reflective of contemporary London as the first SERGE is of Hong Kong: fantastic ingredients, a menu as diverse as our capital and a modern style of cooking in which no particular tradition dominates. It’s a winning combination… and one which your mouth will definitely understand.

Visit Serge *et le phoque at The Mandrake Hotel at 20-21 Newman Street or online to read more or enquire about bookings.

Ten Health & Fitness

Ten Health & Fitness

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Si Melber

“Ten has become the Dynamic Pilates and Physiotherapy destination of choice for discerning Londoners…”

What is Ten Health & Fitness I wonder? Fitzrovia has evolved and adapted to the times through the decades. Once the home of London’s rag trade, today Great Titchfield Street has given birth to a wave of thriving businesses ranging from dining, some of the best cafes in Central London and a growing centre of health and fitness. Ten Health and Fitness is on a mission to celebrate endorphins in London. With 8 sites throughout our city, they arrived in Fitzrovia around mid last year on Great Titchfield Street, in the heart of the neighbourhood.

As you enter Ten on Great Titchfield Street, this perfectly designed and light-filled space quickly captivates you. Neighbouring one of the best salons in Central London, The Kings Canary, the space is light and welcoming. At ground level is the reception and retail space, with a private training room on a skylit mezzanine. Changing rooms and a Reformer Pilates studio are on the floor below. At Ten, all classes are intimate – with never more than 10 people in a session – with workouts designed around your specific needs and goals. The Ten experience is very different from the typical London gym offer. Instead, its all about you: when you want to train and how you want to train. Ten is open 7 days a week, with no dedicated membership or joining fees.

All too often we find we’ve been slumped over a desk since, well, forever. The harmful postural effects of our sedentary working lives are well documented. So if that’s you, it’s probably time to stand up and visit Ten Health and Fitness when you find the time. Ten offers Dynamic Reformer Pilates classes, Private Pilates, Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy. They are able to reverse damaging postural patterns while building strength, conditioning your core, and sculpting your glutes. Their new Fitzrovia studio is super sleek and well positioned along one of the most dynamic streets the neighbourhood has to offer.

For Ten it’s all about helping their clients enjoy the time they spend exercising. Ten wants their clients to love that post-workout buzz, and love how quickly they’re able to see and feel the benefits. As we all know perhaps all too well, if the experience of exercising isn’t positive, welcoming and enjoyable, there’s little point at all. Everything at Ten is designed to help clients feel  this way, and help them achieve their body goals. A big part of this lies with the carefully selected trainers at Ten, chosen for their attitude and approach as well as their expertise. Whether teaching small-group classes, or bespoke one-to-one sessions for clients looking to enjoy the privacy and individual attention required to work toward their own personal goals, Ten’s trainers are amongst some of the most expert and highly trained in their field that you’ll find just about anywhere.

Another area of focus for Ten is their in-house Physiotherapy and Sports Massage. Therapists are an integral part of all Studio teams, with Physiotherapists recognised by all the major private health insurance companies. This integrated combination of therapy and exercise feeds into Ten’s latest venture, TenClinical, which provides specialist clinical exercise prescription to clients with life altering clinical diagnoses (primarily oncology, cardiac, diabetes, and women’s health issues). With strong relationships with London’s leading hospitals, consultants and surgeons, many of their clients are referred directly to them. Sessions are led by qualified and clinically experienced physical trainers, with fully integrated physiotherapy support. To explain the difference between a personal training session, and a TenClinical appointment, the latter are focused on improving quality of life post-diagnosis, during and after treatment, and goals are dictated by the client’s needs rather than their wants. It’s that simple.

“…it turned out to be genuinely and positively life-changing for me… and so the idea for Ten was born. Call it fate if you will.”

With a background in Marketing, the impetus for Ten came from a car accident for founder Joanne Mathews back in 2006. “It didn’t feel very happy at the time, but it turned out to be genuinely and positively life-changing for me” she says, “I was in in a rehab gym where I was recovering from back and pelvic injuries, and so the idea for Ten was born. Call it fate if you will.”

Joanne started the business as TenPilates, with the first studio opening in Notting Hill in 2007. Over the years it evolved into Ten health and Fitness as she added more products and services, and more Studios.  10 years on, Ten Health & Fitness has more than 160 team members spread over 8 London locations. “Ten has become the Dynamic Pilates and Physiotherapy destination of choice for discerning Londoners…” she says, “As a former county-level swimmer and squash player, sport and exercise has always played an important role in my life. With first-hand experience of the challenges and frustrations of trying to remain fit and healthy while managing injury, I know the importance of a holistic approach to health and exercise.” As Ten expanded and grew, Joanne’s commitment to an expert, energising and empowering end-to-end fitness solution, combined with a love of business and people, has enabled Ten to become the boutique fitness destination we know today, across London and here in Fitzrovia.

Visit Ten Health & Fitness in store at 83 Great Titchfield Street or online to enquire about bookings & treatments.

The Ward

The Ward

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Gideon Mendel

“Allowing a photographer onto a hospital ward of this nature was an extreme act of trust…”

During the small hours of a dark January morning, I begin to turn the pages of Gideon Mendel’s photographic record The Ward. It’s a harrowing experience, at once profoundly beautiful and powerfully shocking. The book tells the story of four patients at the former Middlesex Hospital, each suffering from AIDS. The photographs it contains follow John, Ian, Steven and Andre over a number of weeks in 1993 on the hospital’s Broderip and Charles Bell wards. South African born Gideon Mendel is a hugely talented photojournalist, and it is through his eyes that we see moments of pain, suffering and love between patients, staff and loved ones prior to the introduction of antiretroviral medications.

The Ward has been published by Trolley Books, an independent in the field that focuses primarily on reportage, contemporary art and photography. Based in Fitzrovia’s Riding House Street, Trolley Books was founded by publisher Gigi Giannuzzi in 2001 and is led today by his brilliant successor, Hannah Watson.

Hannah met Gideon Mendel during the summer 2017 at the Arles photo festival in the south of France. She approached him with the idea of revisiting those 1993 images and exhibiting them at The Fitzrovia Chapel, going on to produce a limited run book based on the series of unforgettable photos. “It all progressed quite quickly,” says Gideon, “although I must insist that the book very much owes its inception to Hannah.”

Born in Johannesburg, Mendel has won considerable renown as a contemporary photographer. His style is intimate, with his long-term commitment to the projects he undertakes earning him international recognition and numerous awards – most recently, the Pollock Prize for Creativity. At the beginning of the 1990s, he was with an agency called Network Photographers. Network was beginning work on a project entitled ‘Through Positive Eyes’, which told the story of HIV/AIDS, providing a photographic record of people living with the disease in major cities around the world. “At this point, there was a huge stigma around HIV. I had a personal experience with the disease after returning from a trip from Somalia. I was taken ill and went through the experience of having an HIV test,” he says. “I contemplated what it might mean to have the disease and how it might impact my own life. Back then, you had to wait three days for a result. Even though I wasn’t gay, I was well aware of the risk factors of the disease. I found out that I wasn’t HIV-positive, though my eyes had been left opened by my experience.”

While in hospital, Gideon met a number of doctors who were working in HIV and tropical diseases, which gave him further insight into the illness. “We managed to obtain permission to photograph the Middlesex Hospital. At the time, the media was sort of besieging the ward. There were some papers trying to obtain defamatory images of individuals who were suffering with the disease, thus there was this real sense that the camera was the enemy at the time,” he recalls. “So understandably, allowing a photographer onto a hospital ward of this nature was an extreme act of trust. I was at first terrified, and then struck by the loving nature of the environment created by doctors and nurses.”

Issues around consent were obviously vital to the process. Gideon was only able to photograph patients who gave their permission willingly and knowingly. Much of his time was spent socialising on the ward and talking with patients, building relationships and learning from their experiences – perhaps one of the reasons why his images were so strong and meaningful.

The photographs in The Ward were taken over a six-week period on 53 rolls of film. It was a limited timeframe, but his experience at the Middlesex Hospital changed Gideon’s outlook on his work, his career and his life forever. “For me, it was the beginning of a 20-year journey. It alerted me to the sheer importance of the issue and led me to cover and photograph it in other countries too,” he says. “And, of course, it was where I met my wife, who I’ve subsequently had children with.”

Gideon’s images first surfaced as part of the ‘Positive Lives’ project, and it was not until years later, when Hannah approached him about exhibiting them and later publishing The Ward, that these powerful photographs were once again widely seen. The only remaining part of the original Middlesex Hospital, the Fitzrovia Chapel in Pearson Square was the most appropriate environment to exhibit Gideon’s work and mark the release of the book in November last year. On display until early December, the exhibition gained considerable attention from both the media and the general public. In attendance were many doctors and nurses from the Broderip and Charles Bell wards, as well as relatives and close friends of the four patients – John, Ian, Steven and Andre – all of whom died within a year of Gideon’s images being taken.

To read more about Gideon, his work and The Ward visit

Merlin Labron-Johnson

Merlin Labron-Johnson

Interview & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

From helping out in the school canteen to earning a Michelin star at the age of 24 just nine months after opening his first restaurant, Merlin Labron has come a long way in a short time. It’s a journey that has taken him from Devon to Fitzrovia via a culinary education in the regional cuisines of Switzerland, France and Belgium. Journal talked to him about the joy of vegetables, reducing food waste and his passion for pickling…

You grew up in South Devon and started out on your culinary journey helping out in the school kitchen – can you tell me about that?

I came to an agreement with the school cook whereby I would wash the dishes and be paid in lunch. She was a terrific cook. I started helping her prepare the lunches and eventually graduated to cooking them by myself while she tended to her other duties – she was also the school receptionist. I’d have a budget and I’d head into town to buy the goods – organic and vegetarian. It was a strong start.

Has she ever come to eat at Portland or your second restaurant, Clipstone?

She did! It was a very special moment for me but sadly I couldn’t be there on the night. She wrote me a very sweet letter afterwards, though, with some feedback on all the things she ate…

Did your fascination with cooking start at an early age? 

I wouldn’t say I was always fascinated by cooking but I certainly loved to eat. I would cook for myself a lot at home and it didn’t take me long to figure out that the better I cooked, the better I’d eat!

Are there any particular ‘food memories’ from your Devon childhood that you hold dear?

My father has two dishes in his repertoire: pheasant casserole and apple crumble. We ate a lot of both. He’d haggle for pheasants in the farmers’ market and he’d use apples from our tree to make the crumble. It was very rustic; he wouldn’t bother peeling the apples and the crumble was made with oats and soft brown sugar. We’d always eat it with double cream and he’d make big trays so we’d have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It hasn’t put me off – I still do love a good crumble.

How did you end up working in Switzerland and Belgium? 

I went to Switzerland to do a ski season when I was 18. I only planned on staying there for four months but I fell in love with the region and stayed for two and a half years. After that, I moved to the Haut Savoie region of France. I worked in fine dining restaurants, cooking very classical French cuisine. It was extremely serious and disciplined but I loved it. I learnt things that I could never have learnt working in the UK and I’m very grateful for that. After France, I found myself working at restaurant In de Wulf in Belgium which was incredible. It was there that I found my love for pickling, fermenting, curing, foraging and vegetable cookery. We cooked a tasting menu of about 22 courses using only local ingredients and wild foods.

Did you travel around Europe a lot when you were based there? Any other favourite ‘local’ cuisines?

Yes, when I lived in Switzerland I’d often cross the border into Italy, and when I lived in Belgium I was just a 20-minute drive from Lille in France. From Lille you could get quickly to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London. Of all of these cities, Brussels was probably my favourite to visit. I’d go on a Monday when the restaurant was closed and come back on the Tuesday night. I’d hang out in the Bourse district and I’d always eat at a restaurant called Viva M’Boma which I believe translates to “long live my Grandmother” in local dialect. They specialise in offal and Bruxelloise cuisine and I’d eat things like veal kidneys in mustard sauce with dripping fries and brown sugar tart for dessert. It was totally joyful and there was a lovely blues bar around the corner where all the washed-up musicians would come down to jam with each other and get drunk on good beer. Things would get a bit loose after that!

You earned a Michelin star very quickly. Has it been constricting or liberating?

It hasn’t really been either. The star was bestowed upon us, which, needless to say, we were rather pleased about. Since then, we’ve just carried on doing what we do, but always striving to get better at it.

You have a keen interest in making your own vinegars. Can you explain the process?

I love acidity in food, because it allows me to produce dishes that are rich and indulgent whilst being clean and not too heavy. At any one time we’ll be using 10 or so different vinegars in our tiny menu. There’s two ways we make vinegar at the restaurant: one is by infusing basic white wine vinegar with flavours – fruit, herbs, aromatics – and the other is by mixing fruit scraps with a little sugar and water and allowing it to turn naturally into vinegar. Both methods are really a way of reducing our food waste. Fennel and other vegetable tops, old herbs and soft fruit get infused into vinegars, and fruit peelings, scraps and cores get turned into natural vinegars. It’s really easy to do at home, and naturally made vinegar is really good for you.

Tell us about your work Skye Gyngell as well as with Food for Soul. Are there any other similar projects you are looking to start yourself, or be involved with in the coming year? 

I did an event with Skye where we looked at many aspects of food waste within restaurants and their supply chain, and then cooked a delicious feast using things that are often discarded and overlooked. The profits went to a charity called the Felix project, who go around collecting surplus food from business and then distribute it to shelters that feed the homeless. One of those shelters is called the Refettorio Felix and is founded by Massimo Bottura and Food for Soul. I cook there once a month, and we do a three-course meal using produce that has been rejected by the supermarkets – which is, of course, perfectly edible. It’s terrifying what people are throwing away these days!

Fitzrovia has always had a vibrant restaurant culture. Do you have any favourites in from roaming the neighbourhood? 

I have to say, I don’t do a lot of roaming in Fitzrovia – but if I did, I’d roam into Honey and Co and eat all of their cakes.

You are known for your beautiful plating – do you have a clear idea of how the dish will look when you create the recipe or do you experiment with the ‘design’ once you’ve perfected it?

Yes, I often have an idea of how a dish will look when I create it – it’s part of the fun. There are lots of chefs who will tell you that it’s not important that food looks good, it’s all about the flavour. They are right! But I like making food look good too. Why not?

Finally, if you hadn’t become a chef, are there any other artistic avenues you think you might have wanted to explore?

No, If I wasn’t a chef I’d be a Farmer. Back home in Devon, where I belong!

Visit Portland at 113 Great Portland Street or online to read more or enquire about bookings.

Brontë Aurell

Brontë Aurell

Interview & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“There are no problems that can’t be solved over a session of kneading dough or cooking something…”

Before Kaffeine, before Riding House Café, when Great Titchfield street was still the quiet home of Fitzrovia’s last rag traders, a warm and cuddly Nordic invader brought cinnamon buns, strange groceries with crazy names and a Scandinaian welcome to the neighbourhood. It’s been 10 years since Brontë Aurel and her husband Jonas opened Scandinavian Kitchen in 2006. We spoke to Brontë about Fitzrovia, baking and her successful publishing ventures.

Scandi Kitchen was really a bit of a pioneer coming into this quiet area of Fitzrovia back in 2006. What drew you to Great Titchfield Street?


We chose the spot on Great Titchfield Street because, to be honest, it seemed entirely ludicrous that you could have a space so close to the centre but with no footfall. In 2006, we knew it was only a matter of time – we knew about the BBC plans, so we had a hunch. We also really liked the area – and quickly got to meet some lovely neighbours.

Your cooking and your incredible cakes are one of the major reasons for Scandi’s success. Where did it all start? 

My earliest memory is from my grandmother’s kitchen. It was warm and cosy. She was probably baking buns of some kind. I felt nothing but love. I always remember her wearing her blue apron, her hair always perfectly curled and styled, always smiling.

I think I grew up on food and love and warm kitchens. Even now, with my own family and a young kid, I believe there are no problems that can’t be solved over a session of kneading dough or cooking something. I’m a cook, not a chef. I just love food and I love feeding people. Nothing fancy – just stuff that fills bellies and make people happy.

Hygge seems to be the new Scandi buzzword. I see it everywhere! Can you set the record straight on its meaning? 

Hygge means to appreciate the moment you are in – while you are in it. No other spaces – no phones, no Facebook, nothing. Just you feeling content – and realising that there’s nowhere else you want or need to be. No time. Just being.

You can feel hygge on your own or with friends or family. Usually, there’s some sort of sharing of food involved – wine, snacks, cheese… anything that means you share the moment even more.

I think some people in the UK misunderstood hygge – as if it was going to be an automatic thing if you spent £40 on a candle or hygge knickers, hygge blankets, hygge jumpers… nonsense, the lot of it. Hygge is something you feel, not something you buy.

I feel hygge wherever I feel good. Hygge isn’t forced, it just happens. It’s like saying “What place do you go to for feeling happy?” Everyone has a different answer – it’s a personal thing. There are plenty of hyggelige places, though – places where you might find it if you go and you just chill out and spend time with people you like. (could add a few lines about her own favourite places here)

And what about Fika, another Scandi word that’s on everyone’s lips?

Fika is a Swedish word that means to meet up for a cup of coffee and something to eat. It is both a noun and a verb – you can have a fika and you can fika with someone. It can be super casual, it can be at home, with colleagues, at a café. You can even have a fika date – very casual, and no new dress needed. We tend to fika both once in the morning and again in the afternoon. The thing to remember about fika is that you have to stop what you are doing in order to do it. And you can’t do it alone – it’s a social thing. Stop, have a break, speak to some people – and then go back to what you were doing. I think we could all benefit from more fika in our lives.


Speaking of something to eat, Scandis do love their salted liquorice… but it’s an acquired taste!

It’s our marmite! You love it or you hate it. You can grow to love it, but you need to eat a lot of it to make that happen – so most decide it is not worth the hassle and pain. Scandinavians have a love of salty things – it’s said to come from back when we had to salt and smoke things to keep the food safe to eat during the dark months. Perhaps this is the reason we have such a love for salmiakki, as we call the salty liquorice. We sell lots and lots of it – to Scandies and Brits alike. There is quite a cult following for salty liquorice. The strongest one is called Djungelvraal – most non-liquorice lovers really hate that one! It means Jungle Scream.

Add to that the bewildering number of sweets with names that sound, well, quite naughty in English… like SPUNK and PLOPP, both of which are sold in your shop…

Ha ha! Those sweets we mainly stock because of the names. They’re some of our best sellers. Back home, they don’t raise an eye brow because, well, it means nothing to us! You can add Skum to the list – it means marshmallow. We have Christmas Skum, Banana Skum, lots of other kinds of Skum, too. And chewing gum called Sor Bit! Which is also entirely a serious brand.

Another local favourite you’ve brought over from home is the Crayfish Party (kräftskiva)

Crayfish Season is August and September. We meet up, sit outside and eat crayfish and sing songs as we drink aquavit. The song is called ‘Helan Gaar’, and it’s a Swedish drinking song. We actually sing it at Christmas, Easter and Midsummer too.

We drink aquavit – a strong grain based alcohol flavoured with caraway and fennel and aniseed. Mainly we drink it with pickled herring, but also with crayfish and general smorgasbord fun. It’s a tricky drink if you overdo it – it tends to get people sozzled from the waist down! Always take advice from Scandies on how to drink it or you might end up playing footsie with Bjorn from Halmstad under the table.

You’ve been in Fitzrovia for a decade now. What do like about it, and what are some of your favourite shops and restaurants in the area?

Ten years – I can’t believe it! We have such nice neighbours – we love the guys at Mac & Wild, and our team often go to Homeslice after a busy day at work. We love the people over at the Green Man for after-work drinks. We love King’s Canary for great hair, and KallKwik for always helping us out. I think we appreciate all our neighbours – the other food places and bars, full of people who just work as hard as we do every day. Being in retail is tough, whether you make sandwiches or pull pints or sell clothes. We have seen people and places come and go, but what makes this area, our little spot, so amazing is the people who live here and those who make it happen, day in and day out. We couldn’t wish for a better neighbourhood.

From Scandi kitchen to publishing – you’ve become an author with four beautiful books under your belt…

It’s almost five now. Phew! It has been a busy two years. The first two were cookbooks about Scandikitchen. The third was about Hygge. My most recent book just came out – it is called North. We started writing a blog when we opened and have sent out a silly weekly newsletter every week for 10 years… over 500 newsletters! Over time, these took shape as funny little cultural explanations and snippets. So, eventually, it became a book. It was so much fun to write. It’s basically a tongue-in-cheek look at Scandinavian culture. And in March, we have the final cookbook in the trilogy – ScandiKitchen Summer.


And finally, speaking of cooking… what is your favourite recipe? 

I think it has to be cinnamon buns. After all, who doesn’t love warm buns?

Charlotte Street News

Charlotte Street News

Words & Photography Kirk Truman

“…they need almost everything they can get their hands on from the print world. Magazines are their bibles…”

I wasn’t a publisher when I first set foot in Charlotte Street News as a teenager, just an unpublished writer without a readership – a nobody, really. At that time, almost a decade ago, I didn’t know whether I wanted to start a magazine; but what I did know is that I was already fascinated by the smell of ink, paper and creativity that came off the titles on the rack. I scanned from bottom to top, and if I recall correctly, I noticed an early issue of publisher Tyler Brule’s Monocle sitting there. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was almost certainly lust. The different kinds of paper stock, the endless pages of content, the elegant layouts; I examined page after page in awe. And a seed was planted.

Print magazines are not a dying breed, as we’re often told; if anything, they’re on the rise. However, the newsstand is in decline. In Central London, there still are a number of speciality newsagents, but throughout much of the UK, newsstands are being priced out by big high street competitors. Here, within a matter of yards of each other between Soho, Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia, you can still find some of the most successful niche newsstands in the whole country, selling the finest publications and print products in the world. You can walk into Soho-based newsagents such as Wardour News and Good News, or Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street News, and pick something up you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, from leading names such as Cereal and Kinfolk, to lesser known niche independent publications such as Intern Magazine and Drift. These newsstands feel like timeless outposts of creativity and individualism on a competitive high street where independents are always trying to survive in the face of fierce mainstream competition.

Originally from India, newsagent Perry Thaker started out on Charlotte Street in the late 1980s. Having just sold his newsagents in suburban New Malden, Perry was looking out for a fresh opportunity in central London when he stumbled upon the leasehold for what was to become the home of his new business on Charlotte Street. “Back then, Fitzrovia was a very different place from how we know it today. I moved in January 1988, and Fitzrovia was far from the media village some would describe it as now,” he tells me. “It was a mess when I moved in, and I worked hard to get it into shape. We got off to a great start, and within a couple of months I began supplying names such as Channel 4 and Saatchi & Saatchi. Fitzrovia was becoming more and more of a hub, and I was picking up a number of supply chains to businesses in the area. Channel 4 become one of my biggest customers, and because of them ITV became a regular customer too. This is how it is for me – it grows organically.” Deliveries, supply chains and subscriptions have grown to be Perry’s biggest source of custom over the years, with Fitzrovia’s growing range of businesses requiring a large range of publications to be supplied on a regular basis. “These companies, they need almost everything they can get their hands on from the print world. Magazines are their bibles, and it’s our responsibility to get them to them,” he says.

In January 2018, Charlotte Street News will be 30 years old. Perry admits he finds it hard to believe that three decades have gone by, although he says he has seen major changes both in the publishing industry and Fitzrovia over that time. “It’s become one of the greatest neighbourhoods in Central London. I know it’s much more established now, but to me it still feels like a well-kept secret hidden between Soho and Camden. You have to search it out,” he says. “Print has had a tough time, which has meant that editors and entrepreneurs have had to go back to the drawing board to think hard about how they can make their products work, succeed, and ultimately survive. I’ve seen a lot of magazines disappear because of the Internet. Especially amongst the younger generation today, people don’t have to seek out information and stories from the rack anymore – they can find it their pocket or on their screens at home. Although the rise of digital has made it a tough market for print, seen in another light it may have helped to underline its importance. We survive on the back of a tangible and niche product, and digital will never be able to replace that special identity.”

Independent publishers trying to take a paid-for publication to market feel the squeeze. Distributors here in London, such as WhiteCirc and Ra & Olly, supply newsagents like Charlotte Street News with the latest publications on a sale or return basis; translated into non-business speak, this means that Perry will receive the latest publications from new publishers (around 10 or so copies) and will only pay the distributor once the copies are sold. For a new publisher, just like any prospective business owner, this means taking your product to market is highly risky. New publications require a large amount of investment and time to get right, with no guarantee of success. Take my word for it: it’s a lot of legwork! So, when you pick up one of those biannual or quarterly independent titles on the rack – titles that have been in circulation for a number of years – you can be sure that somebody worked themselves into the ground to make it happen. Today, Perry doesn’t stock tabloid newspapers, he specialises in rare, speciality and niche magazines or high-circulation publications such as The Week and Monocle. Charlotte Street News is undoubtedly Fitzrovia’s leading newsagent. You won’t find cigarettes and alcohol here, or the ramblings of the Daily Mail – only well-styled perfection in print form. This is a gallery of publishers’ dreams.

Ricky Richards

Ricky Richards

Words Kirk Truman

Portraits Oliver Mills

“Its always been about questioning creativity, and unearthing its mystery. The true essence of how somebody got somewhere is what my show is all about…”

I first met Ricky Richards earlier this year, during the summer. He’d taken the time to get in touch having read through our latest issues, with the intention of featuring me on his regular podcast. I agreed, and we met at Factory Studios on Fitzrovia’s Margaret Street. Having looked a little into his background, and the nature of his podcast, I’d expected to meet a hard-headed, thirty-something entrepreneur; instead, the Ricky Richards I sat down with was a completely different person from that of my imagination: an amiable young man still in his twenties. We spoke for about an hour in a recording studio, where Ricky quizzed me about various aspects of my career, the origins, concept and creation of the Journal and my future ambitions. He dug deep and went personal. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind in trying to uncover the secrets of my creative output and entrepreneurship. There’s a rare spark about Ricky: he’s the type who’ll go all the way.

Ricky is originally from North Devon, and from an early age gravitated towards creativity and sport. “I’ve never really fit the creative stereotype. I look more like a BNP member than a creative, so it’s a nice surprise when people discover I’ve got a visual eye and a love of learning.” His primary interest shifted from sport to graphic design following a bleed on the brain as a youngster. Starting out as a designer, before becoming an Art Director, Ricky put in time with a number of ad agencies, including Wieden + Kennedy, AKQA and Ogilvy, working on everything from global print campaigns and brand designs to directing TV and music videos. “After the brain bleed, I guess it gave me a different appreciation of life, and I vowed to never waste a day again. As a result of the incident, I stopped playing as much sport and focused on my design,” he says. “When I first moved to London my design was taking off, thanks to a little Behance hackery, and I became one of the regulars on the freelance circuit in the city. I was working my way through a number of agencies, always with other projects on the side.”

Living in London, Ricky was drawn to podcasts, which he’d listen to on a regular basis during his daily commute. “I found them to be an incredible way to learn while I was travelling. I became so obsessed with them that it felt like every sentence which came out of my mouth was made up of something I’d heard,” he says. “In the end, my colleagues kept telling me to start my own, as all I did was talk about other people’s!” He felt that there was no real excuse not to give it a try. After all, there were no obvious downsides – it was a viable idea which gave him the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people whose careers intrigued him.

Ricky has frequently come across branding commissions, and it was one of these that led to him meeting filmmaker (and now friend) Rhys Chapman. Chapman was working on his film Wonderkid, about homophobia in football, a high-profile project with Sir Ian McKellen set to record the film’s voiceover at Factory Studios. It was Rhys who introduced Ricky to the studio, where he soon began recording his regular podcasts. Ricky’s eponymously titled show, Ricky Richards Represents, is recorded on a weekly basis here in Fitzrovia. His conversational approach towards interviews has been put to excellent use in speaking with many of London’s leading creators and innovators. The podcast has featured the likes of Will Hudson, founder of It’s Nice That, David Pugh Jones, ex-Strategy Director for Buzzfeed and Microsoft, and Andrew Diprose, Creative Director of Wired UK and PPA designer of the year. “The very first guest was Rhys – it felt appropriate. We tested it out. It was all very low-tech stuff at this stage – just me with a USB microphone. We delved into personal questions, and tried to figure out the motivations behind his work,” Ricky says. “We only have so many days on this planet, so I like to uncover people’s motivations and philosophies, and, in the process, unearth the mysteries of creative excellence and entrepreneurship. The hope is that others can take that learning and steer their life in the direction they want rather than just being another cog in the wheel. I’ve always been fascinated by people and their path into what they do. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to do the podcast. At first, I started with what I thought were my most interesting friends, and then leveraged that to approach people who have carved out their own path or have interesting outlooks on life.”

Moving beyond his circle of friends and acquaintances, Ricky has continued to approach individuals whose work appeals to him and has now built up an extensive catalogue of interviews – which is how our own conversation began. The podcast goes out to an audience of professionals interested in personal development and strategic thinking. Like Ricky, his listeners seek out advice and unique insights that they wouldn’t perhaps get in their day-to-day lives. His work as a designer and his still relatively new podcast have helped demonstrate that, at the age of 27, Ricky has a bold future ahead of him as an entrepreneur. Ricky Richards is one of those people who possesses exactly the right balance of entrepreneurship, talent and enthusiasm to get things happening – to turn an interest into a successful business. I am confident that, given time, his commitment and passion will lead to great things.

David Moore

David Moore

Words & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“…as a kid, I was stubborn. I liked mashed potatoes and omelettes with raspberry jam!”

David Moore is a man unafraid of a floral pattern and a huge fan of the Human League – two facts I discovered almost simultaneously as he greeted me, decked out in a fedora and colourful shirt, at his Fitzrovia restaurant Pied à Terre. I found him thumbing through a selection of vinyl albums, one of which was the relatively obscure early Human League offering Travelogue. It’s always nice to find you share a common interest.

Pied à Terre opened in 1991, enjoying a meteoric rise that saw it earn two Michelin Stars within five years. Its illustrious roll call of chefs includes Andy McFadden, Richard Neate, Tom Aitkens, Shane Osborn and Marcus Eaves, all helping establish the restaurant’s impressive gourmet dining credentials – credentials that have attracted a number of big names over the years, from the Monty Python gang to Annie Lennox and John Hurt… though sadly not Phil Oakey thus far. “John Hurt was very entertaining character. He came in for dinner once and ordered a really expensive bottle of red wine, which he’d never done before. I was quite surprised. It was £265, and he got two or three of them! The bill came and he paid it, no problem. The next time he came back, I asked him about it. ‘I didn’t have my reading glasses,’ he said. ‘I thought it was £26.50!’ So, I said, ‘Dinner’s on me tonight’ and he was thrilled.”

Sitting down to eat, I soon find out what attracts such a crowd. Current head chef Asimakis Chaniotis’s creations are a revelation, with dishes like smoked quail with organic spelt risotto and girolles, whole native lobster with sweetcorn, seaweed and rouille, and red wine poached pear with almonds and Roquefort ice cream; each dish, plated as if high art, is as every bit as delicious as it looks. “The bizarre thing is that as a kid, I was stubborn,” David tells me. “I liked mashed potatoes and omelettes with raspberry jam!” These days, though, there’s definitely a sense of playfulness about both David and Pied a Terre’s offerings. It’s a quality that served him well when, at the age of 20, he went for his first big job interview with Alain Desenclos, restaurant director at Raymond Blanc’s Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. “I used to watch a TV programme called Take Six Cooks, and I remember Raymond Blanc talking about restaurants and food being like an opera… then they panned across to Alain Desenclos, and I thought ‘God he looks scary!”’

Undeterred, David came up with a novel strategy for the interview. “I had to drive 243 miles from Blackpool to Great Milton. So, I thought ‘This seems like too good an opportunity not to have lunch!’ I put my smartest Freeman Hardy and Willis shoes on and my Burton’s grey suit with very thin grey tie,” he adds, laughing. Once he’d finished eating, David called the waiter over and said, “Could you tell Monsieur Desenclos that his 3pm appointment is here and would he like to join me at my table?”

“Everyone came out to have a good look at this guy who’d invited Alain to join him!” He landed a job as a waiter, but his progress to head waiter was hindered by his lack of French. “I was the only English waiter! I remember in the first couple of weeks I thought the French waiters were all big Smiths fans… because how do you say ‘I’m pissed off’ in French? ‘J’en ai marre’ – Johnny Marr!”  The early 90s were a boom time for Fitzrovia, with big advertising agencies moving into the neighbourhood, but Charlotte Street in those days hadn’t yet scaled the gastronomic heights it’s now known for. “Pied à Terre was a kind of urban storm-trooper that started to turn the tide. In 1993, we earned our first Michelin star, followed by a second in 96. Now there are seven Michelin starred restaurants within half a mile of Charlotte Street!”

David met his wife Val just around the corner, making this spot on the Fitzrovia/Soho border even more of a special place for him. “We met at the Mexican Beach Bar, right where Soho Street turns into Rathbone Place… Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ was on the turntable and I saw this redheaded beauty with a fine figure… it truly was love at first sight… though she did object to my shoes, which got dumped in a bin that evening!”

Another enthusiast for Pied à Terre was local hero and publishing legend Felix Dennis, who even helped publish a book on the area in Characters of Fitzrovia. “Felix was a great supporter of ours when we first opened. He was local, with an office on Goodge Street, and I’d bump into him all the time. I was on the way to the bank one gloomy autumn afternoon in 1992, stressed out about our finances, when I ran into Felix. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him we had a cash-flow issue and that we urgently needed £10,000. Felix instantly told me to bypass the bank manager, head to his office and ask for a cheque for £10k – and that he’d be in with his Dennis Publishing team to spend it on Friday! He basically saved us from a huge financial crisis.”

In 1998, David decided to buy a property close to the restaurant. “I’d been engaged a year, we were getting married and had got a small deposit together.” He narrowed his search to a 20-minute circle around Pied à Terre. “We explored Soho, Marylebone, Camden, but we just loved Bloomsbury.” David and Val finally chose an “amazing space” on Gray’s Inn Road, close to many of the places they now hold dear in the area, from the small farm at Coram’s Fields to the British Museum and Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Back in Fitzrovia, David’s newest venture is a collaboration with Matthieu Germond, who has transformed the old Dabbous site on Whitfield Street to create Noizé, a quintessential, local French bistro with an emphasis on the food and wine of the Loire Valley. Its no-nonsense aesthetic and menu of elegant simplicity (squid, smoked bacon and apple; suckling pig belly with carrot and tarragon) brings a welcome touch of convivial French charm to the area. As we say goodbye, David has a parting suggestion: “We should get Phil Oakey to join us next time!”



Words & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

Pampered pooches and exotic cats on leashes… Fitzrovia’s pets are seemingly no strangers to the area’s gentrification. These furry citizens have taken a liking to the high life, freeloading snacks from strangers and local businesses, and using local trees as their observation posts, always on the lookout for Fitzrovia’s pet paparazzi and the chance to become local celebrities!

Frank, Foley Street

Frank, a seven-month old Springerpoo, is  a doggy dynamo.According to owner Laurence, Frank’s “energy is boundless –  there is simply no stopping him from running, running, running.  I think he takes after me. I should never have trained with him before I did the half marathon  –  he is just a high energy dog!” And though he does enjoy a  gentle stroll through Fitzrovia, the moment he gets a whiff of Regent’s Park, he’s off! “It’s that classic Spaniel nose,” explains Laurence. “It’s  a tug of war until he gets there!”

Frank is totally besotted with tennis balls , brooms and especially shoes. “If you have a pair of shoes, watch out! Frank will destroy them and proof of this can be confirmed by my adorable PA Susie who lost two pairs to him, so that’s another bill I have had to pay!” Laurence adds wryly. “But by 7pm, it’s crash-out time on the sofa, cuddles galore and finallya good sleep on his back with his paws skyward.” No doubt dreaming of the next exciting encounter with a broom or his favourite dinner treat, a special tuna recipe specially prepared by Laurence.

Monica Galetti

Monica Galetti

Words Laurence Glynne

Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“In the kitchen, she gender is irrelevant: once you slip into your chef’s jacket, everyone is equal

It’s a bright, sunny day and I’m sitting in Monica Galetti’s innovative new restaurant, surrounded by contemporary Samoan artworks full of mesmerising patterns and gorgeous colours. A typically vivid and meticulously detailed tapestry tells the story of Monica’s own life, depicting her husband David and daughter Anais in a way that exudes warmth and celebrates family ties. Somehow it seems to perfectly sum up Monica’s personality. Let’s be clear – this extraordinarily gifted woman is not the stone-faced judge familiar from that well-known reality cooking series MasterChef. In talking to Monica, you soon realise that she possesses humility, a bubbly sense of humour and a deep passion for her family and her staff.

Today, we’re talking about Mere, her latest venture, which recently opened in the heart of Fitzrovia on Charlotte Street. Her sous chef can’t come in and one of the steamers in the kitchen is being repaired, but Monica remains calm and unruffled. We’re laughing over a story from her childhood about when she would try out her emerging culinary skills only to end up burning all the potatoes and pancakes; even the most talented restaurateur has to start somewhere! Monica’s love of cooking certainly started in her humble home setting, where the family would gather together in the kitchen and bond over the preparation and eating of food. It was a typical Samoan way of life, with children encouraged to cook from a young age. Such early experience with the combination of flavours and spices was essential in developing her palate. The seeds of her future career had been planted.

Other aspects of her Samoan childhood played an equally vital part in developing Monica’s character. When her parents split up it was her mother, Meredith, and her aunts who raised Monica and her sister Grace. Meredith was a young mum and the breadwinner who supported the whole family, including an aunt who was wheelchair-bound as a result of polio. The tomboyish Monica was schooled in Samoa up to the age of 18, when she left to join her mum in Wellington, New Zealand, where Meredith had settled with her second husband. At school, she had loved geography, and one fond memory is of a trip to the snow-capped Mount Tongariro in New Zealand. The tapestry of Monica’s life was evolving, pointing her towards an extraordinary journey which would lead her, many years later, to Fitzrovia.

After school, she enrolled in a Hospitality Management Course in Wellington. Here, she realised she could start making her dreams come true. A committed student, she’d often work until midnight, socialising with friends taking a back seat until she’d finished: partying or hanging out would only begin in the early hours. She obviously had a lot of stamina. The mentor who helped her fulfil her dreams, and continues to influence her even today, was a lecturer called Mr Small. In contrast to his name, he was a larger than life character, playfully camp and with an infectious sense of fun; given Monica’s own wicked sense of humour, it’s no surprise the two of them gelled. She specifically remembers one day when he asked the pupils to write down what they wished to achieve in the future. This time, he was being serious, and the task had a significant impact on Monica, forcing her to focus on her plans. These involved a desire to travel and see as much of the world as she possibly could, all the while building on her growing experience in hospitality.

Travelling to various countries and learning from the wide array of cultures she encountered only fed her love of food and curiosity about the world’s many different cuisines. Returning to New Zealand, her first job in the kitchen was as a chef in Lower Hutt. It was an “inauguration”, another step on her journey, in which she not only developed her basic skills but learned to prepare food and cook and at a “rapid, rapid rate”. She excelled in culinary competitions, which brought out her perfectionism and competitive spirit. If she was told by someone that she could not do something, she would seek to prove them wrong – in other words, she says, “putting it in their face”. Such competitiveness, she points out, has nothing to do with being a woman in what is still largely a male-dominated profession. In the kitchen, she says, gender is irrelevant: once you slip into your chef’s jacket, everyone is equal.

Monica’s performance exceeded all expectations and her reputation spread; so much so that she was offered a position as a chef at Michele Roux’s London restaurant, La Gavroche. Roux’s respect for her obvious talent and strong personality, meant that she was soon offered the position of sous chef at the Michelin-starred establishment. Success in any restaurant is not only down to the quality of the food; another essential ingredient is the camaraderie created by a good team. The staff at La Gavroche tended to hang out together as a group of friends, and this is how Monica’s relationship with David, now her husband and partner, began. David trained in France and was working at La Tour d’Argent in Paris when he sent his CV to Michele Roux; soon, he had arrived in London and was working as a sommelier at La Gavroche. After a few months, Monica left to go travelling for a year.

As soon as she returned, David asked: “What are you doing tonight?” “Sleeping,” she replied. “Great – just what he wanted to hear!” she laughs. “He suggested meeting up after work at midnight! I told him, no way mate!” They ended up meeting in Covent Garden at 6pm. With such a busy life and the constant disruptions caused by work and travel, Monica had given up looking for a relationship. Then, when she least expected it, along came Mr Right! Now, the pair are happily married and a formidable team in the restaurant. Their daughter Anais, 11, has already shown a love of music and fashion; perhaps cookery will follow.

Monica’s dream has always been to create something special and to share her love of the restaurant business with an equally passionate staff. She would love to be the perfect hostess – and would doubtless shine at it – but front of house is not for her. That’s why she remains in the kitchen. Looking after her customers, though, is of the utmost importance: she wants to take away their worries for a while, make them feel good and share her home from home with them. This is where the idea of family still inspires her; the childhood memories of bonding in the kitchen are now a reality once more, as she and David produce beautifully crafted food designed to put a smile on people’s faces; the only thing that’s missing is the burnt pancakes.

Centre Point

Centre Point

Words Kirk Truman

Illustrations Ross Becker

“…a celebration of everything that makes London a world-class city.”

Here, in the few square miles which make up the West End, there is little that rises above 10 storeys. The Post Office Tower and Senate House are among the most familiar beacons in this part of London, though there is perhaps one architectural fixture that’s even more instantly recognisable. Sitting on the borders of Fitzrovia and Soho, Centre Point has been for half a century quite literally at the centre of London life. Praised, damned and often disused throughout its existence, the story of Centre Point is the story of a brutalist icon and a national treasure.

Designed by architect George Marsh of R Seifert and Partners, on a site once occupied by a gallows, the building was constructed between 1963 and 1966 at the crossroads of Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street, New Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road. Sitting atop distinctive angular ‘dinosaur legs’, at 117m (385ft) high it was one of the first skyscrapers in London, comprising a 34-storey tower and a smaller, nine-floor building to the east linked by a first-floor footbridge. With the popularity of Brutalist architecture on the rise in 1960s London, Marsh had a vision of a concrete honeycomb-inspired exterior. This sort of repetition of modular elements, distinctly articulated and grouped together into a unified whole was a key characteristic of the brutalist movement. Centre Point’s precast honeycomb segments were produced on the Isle of Portland in Dorset out of fine concrete utilising crushed Portland Stone and then later driven to London by lorry. The building was the first of its kind in the city, capturing the spirit and inventiveness of 1960s London. The result is a now iconic building that remains raw and unpretentious, contrasting dramatically with the highly refined and ornamented buildings constructed in the Beaux-Arts style that surround it. Though it hasn’t always been seen as an asset to the area, Centre Point received Grade II listed status from English Heritage in 1995.

Centre Point was built as speculative office space by property tycoon Harry Hyams, and despite its position at the heart of the West End and its then impressive height, the building remained empty for almost a decade after its completion and was dubbed ‘London’s Empty Skyscraper’. This was the result of Hyams’s plan that the whole building be occupied by a single occupant. He waited (and waited) for someone to meet his asking price of £1,250,000. At this point, skyscrapers were almost unheard of in the city, and the prominence of such a huge, empty, and unrepentantly modern building inspired many opponents in London. Hyams kept a distinctly low-profile, and when often flying into London over his creation felt that something was missing – a name. At Hyams’s insistence, several years after its completion, Centre Point was branded with its famed neon logo, with the lettering on the logo directly derived from the Optima font. In 2004 artist Cerith Wyn Evans utilised the logo for an outdoor art piece called ‘Meanwhile… across town’, with the replacement LED logo having been unveiled to Londoners this summer. Cerith will be returning to Centre Point with a neon light installation, his work ‘Forms in Space… by Light (in Time)’ is the 2017 Tate Britain Commission.

After remaining largely empty for many years – and even being occupied by housing campaigners for a weekend in 1974 – Centre Point eventually became a functioning office building. From July 1980 to March 2014, it was the headquarters of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), making them, at nearly 34 years, the building’s longest-standing tenants. More recently, it has provided space for US talent agency William Morris and gaming company EA Games. In 2011, Centre Point was purchased and then resold to property investment and development company Almacantar, who have a policy of transforming new acquisitions into prime products with sustained value. Centre Point stands as perhaps their most ambitious project since the company’s launch in 2010.

By this point, Centre Point’s status was uncertain: iconic – if not universally loved – and listed it may have been, but it remained as underused and underexploited as ever. Almacantar’s goal to bring to life a building that, despite being on a prime site right in the centre of one of the world’s greatest cities, had never fulfilled its huge potential. Perhaps now, with the redevelopment of the site for commercial usage at the base and residential in the main tower, we’ll finally see this essential part of London’s skyline celebrated and brought back to deserved prominence. It has undergone an intensive restoration, with every inch of its structure carefully restored and over 50 years’ worth of wear and tear removed in order to secure its future.

This means that for the first time in its history the tower’s famed beehive windows are to become living space. Almacantar began collaborating with Conran & Partners and Rick Mather Architects to restore and repurpose the landmark structure, carefully taking into account the character, neighbouring area and unique position of Centre Point on our city’s skyline. With stunning views of London to the east and west, Centre Point presents an opportunity for an unmatched home environment in Central London. When you enter the building, the first thing to get your attention is the sense of quiet. In the setting of the Conran & Partners designed interiors, this is a welcome break from the bustling chaos of the West End below. Under your nose is Soho, Fitzrovia and Tottenham Court Road station. To the west you can make out Kensington Palace, and to the east St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and the Thames. Such an escape from the sprawling city spread out below is a rarity anywhere in London, and to find it in the heart of the West End is practically unheard of. At the base of the building, residents will benefit from numerous amenities, including a club, 24-hour concierge, a spa and pool overlooking the newly renovated station below, screening and meeting rooms and a gym. Above ground, a series of 1, 2, 3 & 5 bedroom apartments make up the main body of the building. Spread over the 33rd and 34th floors is the duplex apartment; a rare opportunity to peer out over the city through Centre Point’s glowing eponymous logo. “The apartments at Centre Point are a celebration of everything that makes London a world-class city,” says Tracy Hughes, Residential Sales Director. “It is unmatched in terms of design, location and specification, and will benefit from an uplift from Crossrail. When we open Centre Point this year it will be a rare and distinguished residential address in London’s exceptional West End.”


Back at ground level, the area around St Giles High Street has long been a dull and slightly grimy spot and sometimes a magnet for anti-social behaviour. Repurposing the tower for residential use has also meant redesigning the base of the building, creating a 15,000-square-foot public space for the 21st century city. Looking back at the unexecuted building designs from the early 1960s, it’s possible to see how the new ground-level layout revisits and fulfils Seifert’s original vision for a true ‘centre point’ in London’s West End. This new public space at the base of the tower is to be lined with a series of restaurants and contemporary cafés, with names such as Rhubarb already set to join when the site opens later this year. The first-floor footbridge is also undergoing a transformation to make way for a restaurant overlooking New Oxford Street. The new Centre Point has not only restored this icon for future generations but created a space for the general public that will finally do justice to Seifert’s original vision. And with the upcoming Elizabeth Line providing links to Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf, Centre Point will finally live up to its name: a national treasure at the very heart of London.



Words Kirk Truman

Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“Every brand has a story to be told, and we love telling stories…”

I’m sitting with Oli Wheeler on Little Portland Street. We’re talking about public relations, his agency THRSXTY, and his secret life as a drummer and self-confessed adrenaline junkie. There are almost too many PR agencies to count in this neighbourhood, but this street is especially populous, filled with some of London’s biggest names in communications. We’re discussing Oli’s latest role as CEO of THRSXTY, the growing Fitzrovia-based agency whose clients are as dynamic as the company’s rapidly expanding young team.

A few doors down Little Portland Street are five or six other agencies gathered under the umbrella of the Exposure Group, helmed by joint CEOs Raoul Shah and Tim Bourne, who purchased THRSXTY back in 2008. THRSXTY had originally started out as a film PR agency, whereas today they are specialists in PR, digital marketing and event production across diverse sectors, from fashion to spirit brands. Until 2015 the agency just about broke even, but Raoul and Tim had great belief in its potential. “They thought THRSXTY could take a new and interesting direction. It was doing pretty well, and ticked over nicely, but it was always destined for more than that,” says Oli.

He started out working for Freud Communications in 1993, going on to become a board director for 14 years between 1997 and 2011. He left Freud to join viagogo, the live event ticketing company, as Global Head of Communications, launching it into 62 countries. In early 2015, he began having conversations with Raoul and Tim about THRSXTY. “I had started to think about what I’d like to do next when Raoul and Tim mentioned THRSXTY to me. They felt it needed new energy, vision and leadership to take it to the next level,” he says. “I took a good look at it and it was clearly an agency that had huge potential, and so I joined in January 2016. I had big ambitions for the agency, but it required a complete turnaround as it wasn’t where it needed to be. I actually don’t think it could have continued in its previous form. It was doing fine – and there are lots of agencies that are “doing fine” – but I don’t do “fine”. I only want to work with exceptional clients and exceptional people.”

Since joining THRSXTY Oli has taken it in a whole new direction, reshaping and redefining the image, clientele and culture of the business. In his first year with the company, its turnover grow by an impressive 71%: clearly, the agency is thriving under his influence. “Come to think of it, this is only my third proper job,” laughs Oli. His first task was to work out what kind of agency THRSXTY was going to transition into. “THRSXTY was just waiting to be taken on a growth mission. It was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. It had a handful of great clients, and a few that were not so great. We resigned those.” He set some serious growth targets, expanded the services that showed most potential (such as digital and event production) and, crucially, set about finding the right people to come on board for the ride.


“THRSXTY is still a PR company at its heart,” says Oli, “although digital and influencer marketing have both grown exponentially for us. Our production team has doubled in size as has our VIP talent team. After an explosive first year we are continuing to grow our client list and we have just employed our 20th team member. Next on the horizon is New York, which we plan to open in 2018.”

Oli is as charismatic as he is enthusiastic and driven, and this has been key in bringing on board a hefty array of intriguing and innovative brands and clients during his tenure. “THRSXTY clients have a challenger mindset – they’re ambitious, courageous and creative,” he explains. “They’re anything but ordinary, and all our clients share our energy.” Walking into the agency, you can immediately sense everyone’s pride in working with Evian, Lacoste, Original Penguin, and (a particular favourite of mine) Herschel Supply. There is an entire team dedicated to drinks brands, ranging from premium tequila brand Patrón, Piper Heidsieck champagne and Suntory Japanese whiskies to Drambuie, Sailor Jerry and Wild Turkey.

“Some of our clients have grown in size along with the agency, and others are brand new to us. The main sectors are drinks, lifestyle brands and high street fashion. We’ve become quite a specialist in the drinks category, which makes our Friday afternoon agency catch-up quite lively at times.

“We’re privileged to have a long list of cultural icons in the portfolio, but we also take pride in building new brand identities. Every brand has a story to be told, and we love telling stories. Our role is to communicate those stories to the right people via the most effective channels. PR is a bit like shouting “oi!” very loudly and then pointing at something, and we are very lucky to work on some innovative and pioneering brand campaigns. It’s a real privilege to work with such talented people.”

Oli has worked within minutes of the THRSXTY office for his entire career and he has seen Fitzrovia change over the years into the neighbourhood that it has become today. The agency’s location is not only popular with the team but, in Oli’s view, is key to its success. “I try and take a quick walk around the neighbourhood every day. After 25 years I am still seeing vibrancy and inventiveness at every turn. This morning, I noted that one sandwich shop had a queue down the street, yet others were virtually empty, so I couldn’t help ask someone why they were prepared to wait. He told me he just liked what they sell and he liked spending time in there. These are inspirational insights when you are running your own business. THRSXTY is a fun place to work and we encourage our clients to spend time with us here. Fitzrovia has a real edge to it – with a healthy dose of mischief thrown in too!”

“I believe it’s important that our people are multidimensional and that they all have interesting lives outside of the agency”. Oli is a perfect example of this multi-faceted approach to life: when he’s not working, he plays drums in a band called Westbourne Circus, made up of musicians such as Simon Le Bon as well as others who play for the likes of Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. He also rides off-road motorcycles in various adventures around the world, which he describes as “my personal choice for a midlife crisis”.

He co-owns THRSXTY with Exposure, and what started out as a friendship with Raoul and Tim has developed into a rewarding business relationship. He believes that he has found the right balance between his business and his interests and makes sure there’s plenty of time to spend with his wife, the actress and presenter Tina Hobley, and their children. It’s looking as though THRSXTY, still evolving and growing, could be his greatest adventure yet.

Fresh Lifestyle

Fresh Lifestyle

Words  Kirk Truman

Photography  Etienne Gilfillan

“This really began to give us a flavour of something much bigger… we’d only really started to scratch the surface with what we could do.”


In a prime location at the corner of Cleveland Street and Mortimer Street sits One Fitzroy. It’s home to US manufacturer and marketer of prestige beauty products, Estée Lauder, and at ground level you’ll find one of their highly-regarded collaborators. Few salon partners have warranted the respect of a leading hair care brand such as Aveda; Fresh Lifestyle, an independent boutique salon is one such partner, bringing the very best in premium hairdressing to the heart of Fitzrovia.


Fresh Lifestyle founders Wendy Lauricourt and Michael McLeod opened their first salon more than 14 years ago in Blackheath, South London. “It’s fair to say that the first location was very much the product of Wendy’s vision,” says Michael. “She’d always wanted to create her own marque, and when you have that drive things have a way of coming to fruition. We acquired the sub-lease on a tiny, run-down shop unit overlooking the heath, and with the help of family and friends we managed to create a distinctive space in which to launch our business. It opened in 2003, at that time Wendy was the only full-time hairdresser.”


Fast-forward two years and, with a team that had grown to 15, the fledgling project was now operating at near capacity. “We both felt we’d just started to scratch the surface with what we could do, and decided to take things to the next level,” says Michael. Wendy had previously lived and worked in Islington, and knew instinctively that the area’s demographics made it a perfect fit for Fresh Lifestyle’s brand. So, in 2006, Wendy and Michael took on their second location, this time in Upper Street, a stone’s throw from Islington Green. “The increased footprint enabled us to develop the concept from hair salon to lifestyle salon, with a dedicated retail zone at the front of the premises and a spa area to the lower level,” says Wendy. The success of this revised concept inspired them to acquire larger premises for their original Blackheath operation, and in 2009 the partners opened their second Lifestyle Salon in this well-heeled village setting.


The partnership with Aveda has been a constant from the inception of the original salon to the present day. “We originally partnered with Aveda because of the synergy between our two brands – a synergy that has fuelled the growth of our business,” says Michael. “It’s probably fair to say that we’re now one of Aveda’s most respected UK partners, to the extent that Estée Lauder invited Fresh Lifestyle to represent the Aveda brand within their UK and Ireland Head Office premises; for us, it’s a huge compliment.”


Fitzrovia’s unique mix of retail, business and residential premises, together with the neighbourhood’s bohemian heritage, meant the invitation from Estée Lauder was too good to pass up, and Fresh Lifestyle Fitzrovia opened its doors here in April 2016. The brand-new, double-height space, with floor to ceiling glazing on two sides, is bright and spacious. It looks particularly good from the vantage point offered by the comfy bespoke leather armchairs and with views onto Mortimer Street, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in one of the leafier portions of downtown Manhattan.


This bespoke salon space exudes calm and tranquillity, in keeping with the partners’ vision for the perfect guest experience. The faultless technical service on offer – be it cut, colour, or style – goes without saying, but Michael and Wendy feel that it’s equally important to create ‘me time’ for Fresh Lifestyle’s guests. From the stress-relieving rituals that accompany each service, to the hypnotic comfort of the full-body massage chairs in the secluded shampoo zone, everything is geared towards ensuring that visitors leave feeling great. And to ensure that you leave looking great too, each service is carried out by a specialist cut or colour professional dedicated to ensuring that you’re comfortable with and confident about the service you’ll enjoy. At this unique Fitzrovia crossroads spot, Fresh Lifestyle’s brand continues to thrive, showcasing the very best in all things hair for both men and women.

Jon Van der Mije

Jon Van der Mije

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“There’s always been an element of competition about food which I’ve enjoyed… it’s the challenge that I strive for.”

We’re walking around the busy kitchen at Percy & Founders. It’s midweek, and the place is still buzzing even at the very end of the lunch hour. While chefs cook, chop and stir at every turn, at the reins is the newest addition to this central Fitzrovia restaurant, Head Chef Jon Van der Mije.


Born and raised in Nice in the south of France, Jon’s relationship with food started early. “I was quite young, just 15, when food began to interest me. My grandfather was a chef, and he would show me a few things from time to time.”


Though his grandfather lived in Spain, Jon visited him on a regular basis, and the two would spend much of their time cooking together, trying new dishes and practising the traditional arts of braising and cooking with wine. “He always captivated me with his cooking, and after a while food took a hold of me,” Jon remembers.


“My first job in a kitchen was in Cannes and it became a love of mine straight away. There’s always been an element of competition about food which I’ve enjoyed… it’s the challenge that I strive for. The role of a chef isn’t necessarily the easiest. It’s very time consuming, but it’s a good life for me. Any chef should take the same pride in what they do that, say, a doctor would take in his work.” When it comes to the menu at Percy & Founders, Jon’s favourite dish is vegetarian: stuffed courgette flower, ricotta, pine nuts, tomatoes & black olives, the roasted lamb loin & shoulder with charred aubergine and sheep’s yoghurt is another dish he is particularly fond of.


Jon has lived in London for eight years, having worked for a while in Australia, and joined Open House as Sous Chef three years ago. “I originally started out at Percy & Founders, then moved to The Lighterman when it opened last year. The Lighterman and Percy & Founders have each naturally evolved into a local restaurant, bar and hangout in the areas in which they’re based.” After a year at The Lighterman, Jon was rewarded for his hard work and huge talent in the kitchen with an invitation to return to Percy & Founders – this time as Head Chef.


“The food is not too dissimilar; everything we use in the kitchen is fresh and well sourced, mostly from just outside London.” Having opened in the summer of 2016, The Lighterman was an instant success. A pub and dining room over on King’s Cross Granary Square estate, it offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, with three terraces giving fine views across the square and the Regent’s Canal.


Located less than five minutes from Oxford Street, just off the junction of Berners and Mortimer Street, Percy & Founders is in an equally appealing location with a beautiful outdoor terrace away from the busy streets of Central London. Its dining room is situated adjacent to the recently restored Fitzrovia Chapel with stunning views of the surrounding square. The restaurant is a carefully crafted addition to Fitzroy Place, and, like the square itself – the first to be built in London in over 100 years – has quickly established itself as a favourite spot among local residents and workers.


Percy & Founders offers all-day food and drinks, from morning coffee and breakfast to lunch and dinner. Food is fresh and seasonal, with much of the menu sourced locally or from the very best of British suppliers: meat makes its way down from the Lake District, and fish comes from the Maldon-based speciality smokehouse Lambton & Jackson. I’d like to single out their traditional Sunday roast for special praise – it really hits the mark!


Now a prominent fixture in the Fitzrovia neighbourhood, Percy & Founders continues to evolve its menus and extend its private hire opportunities. And Jon, a true free spirit, loves working in the restaurant’s open kitchen environment. Watching him at work, quick on his feet as he cooks, it’s obvious that he is respected by colleagues and remains a team player amongst his busy cadre of predominately female chefs. Jon’s return to his old stomping ground as Percy & Founders’ new Head Chef finds him perfectly at home – right at the centre of one of Fitzrovia’s leading restaurants.

Gary Kemp

Gary Kemp

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“There’s an artistic decadence about the area which still lingers – it’s the most artistically vibrant neighbourhood in London…”

It’s just shy of 10am and we’re siting up on the first floor of the Rebecca Hossack Gallery on Conway Street: me, Gary Kemp and Piper, his friendly miniature labradoodle. Gary has been coming to the gallery, just round the corner from his home, for many years. On this particular grey Monday morning in March, we’re surrounded by the work of the artist Barbara Macfarlane. But we’re chatting about fashion, not art, as Gary tells me how clothes have been an important part of his career, upbringing, and life. Designer Oliver Spencer joins us to dress him in a number of pieces from his latest collection, while Gary and I reminisce about Fitzrovia’s past, moving back and forth between Victorian London and the seedier side of the neighbourhood during the New Romantic era, when he first discovered Warren Street, Fitzroy Square and the Post Office Tower. To cut a long story short: we’re talking Spandau Ballet, music, fashion and Fitzrovia.

Born just up the road in Islington to working class parents, Gary was raised in a council house with his brother, and later fellow band member, Martin Kemp. As he was growing up and becoming a musician, place was everything. In his words: “You couldn’t find your tribe unless you went out the door. Today, you can find it on your laptop. In those days you couldn’t.” For Gary’s new wave band Spandau Ballet, the legendary clubs of Soho’s yesteryear – Billy’s, The Blitz Club and Le Beat Route – served as the colourful backdrop to the New Romantic era and helped propel them to massive popularity and lasting fame as one of the biggest British acts of the 1980’s.

Kemp’s relationship with music started at the age of 11, when his parents bought him a guitar from a shop on Holloway Road as a Christmas present. “I still can’t work out to this day why my father thought it was a good idea,” he says, “but for me, it was an immediate epiphany of wanting to write songs. I didn’t want to play anybody else’s songs, so instead I wrote my own. I think, in truth, I quite like being alone – I quite like the company of a guitar. When you’re a creative person, you sort of make your own friends, whether it’s a piece of art or a song.” Despite having started acting as a youngster, Gary now focused on a career in music, forming a band called The Gentry with school friends. His brother Martin was later to join the group as a bassist. After a friend of the band, DJ Robert Elms, saw a phrase scribbled on the wall of a nightclub lavatory during a visit to Berlin, The Gentry was renamed Spandau Ballet. Soon, they became a staple act of The Blitz Club in Soho, a hotbed of talent for new music and fashion, boasting an array of rising stars, from Boy George to Steve Strange.

Frequenting Soho during these early years of his career meant Gary soon discovered Fitzrovia: his first encounter with the area came in 1979, when he visited Boy George’s squat on Warren Street for a photo-shoot after a gig in Soho. “At this time, Fitzrovia was quite a seedy area. The square was a slum, the centre of the used car trade. It wasn’t residential, not in the way in which we know it today. Warren Street was where Boy George and his crowd lived. At the time it was the most famous squat in London, and we used to visit quite a lot. It was painted completely white inside, and they’d hung up lots of nets that would float around the place, with mattresses on the floor. It was full of the most interesting, cross-dressing, wild people. Costume designer Michele Clapton was there, stylist Kim Bowen, Steve Jones and Christos Tolera too; it was full of St Martins students, so it certainly wasn’t a squalid place like you might imagine,” he says. “The first time we went there was after we’d played at The Blitz that night for a photo session with the photographer Graham Smith. In those days, George – who wasn’t called Boy George back then – was a cloakroom attendant at The Blitz Club on a Tuesday night; he’d famously steal everything from peoples’ pockets. I remember him shouting down the bannisters ‘I can sing better than your fucking singer’, so I shouted back to him ‘Get your own band then!’ And of course he did,” laughs Gary.

Buying a synthesiser, Gary wrote what in 1981 became Spandau Ballet’s first album, Journeys to Glory, which led to the band becoming a household name. During the 1980s, Spandau Ballet’s success went from strength to strength, with Kemp writing many of the band’s early hits in his parents’ council house. In 1990, the band split – the same year that both Gary and Martin Kemp appeared in lead roles in the film The Krays, with Gary starring as Ronnie Kray. Tensions between the former bandmates spiralled over the publishing rights to songs, with singer Tony Hadley, drummer John Keeble, and saxophone player Steve Norman taking legal action against Kemp.

At this time, he lived in Highgate. By the early 2000s, many friends and acquaintances were beginning to move either to the then up-and-coming Primrose Hill or Marylebone, but Gary had other plans. “Even at this time, Fitzrovia was still run down. It’s always been this kind of no man’s land between Soho and Regent’s Park. It’s always had a kind of roughness about it, and has only recently become a decidedly upmarket area,” he says, “I like that Fitzrovia has a uniqueness about it. That’s what’s exciting about it; it’s inviting and is creating its own social existence. I suppose, the truth is I’m quite fascinated with the history and the people of this place. I like the idea of walking around the area and sensing the ghosts that came before us: the Pre-Raphaelites, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf. A pet topic of mine is the furniture, architecture and art of 19th century London, especially the work of architect-designer E.W. Godwin, which I am an avid collector of,” he says. Today, the area’s still full of creatives. There’s a very Downtown New York feel to the place now, that when I first moved here wasn’t around. There’s an artistic decadence about the area, which still lingers – it’s the most artistically vibrant neighbourhood in London. Fitzrovia has continued to pass the artistic baton down to the new generations.”

Gary moved to Fitzrovia about 15 years ago with his wife Lauren, having been drawn by the appeal of the area’s Georgian streets and squares. “The architecture and space of Robert Adam’s vision is embracing and wonderful. The square is like walking into St. Mark’s Square after emerging from the back alleys of Venice: the space just opens – it’s an embrace of oxygen. It’s a real pleasure to have Fitzroy Square as the centre and crown-jewel of the area,” says Gary. In 2009, Spandau Ballet reformed, with their reunion documented in Soul Boys of the Western World (2014), which Kemp co-produced. Following on from a nine-month world tour, relationships between band members are stronger than ever, and it looks as if there’s more to come: Gary and his band-mates are now talking about recording a new album and continuing to play live.



Words & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

Pampered pooches and exotic cats on leashes… Fitzrovia’s pets are seemingly no strangers to the area’s gentrification. These furry citizens have taken a liking to the high life, freeloading snacks from strangers and local businesses, and using local trees as their observation posts, always on the lookout for Fitzrovia’s pet paparazzi and the chance to become local celebrities!

Inci Ismail

Inci Ismail

Words & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

“We are very close to everything that leaves our kitchen, and the atmosphere that we create…”

Walking down Newman Street one morning, I noticed the colourfully painted interiors and neon lights of a brand new restaurant. The playful interior, with brightly coloured skeletons and sword-wielding warriors adorning the walls, immediately drew me in. But sitting down to breakfast, I quickly realised that despite the eatery’s modern look, the lovingly prepared dishes and warm welcome spoke of a far older and more traditional perspective.

A wondrous feast of varied meze was laid out before me, and as I tucked in, Inci Ismail, the owner of Firedog, explained how she’d always wanted to bring a modern twist to Turkish dining while staying rooted in family traditions. One of the clues to this ode to the Aegean past lies in the restaurant’s obscure, but seemingly modern, name.

“A firedog is a piece of stoneware that was used for grilling meat as far back as the 17th Century BC on the Aegean island of Santorini,” Inci explains. “But the main inspiration behind Firedog is our traditional style of dining – there’s no such thing as a ‘meal’, it’s always an eating experience with friends and family.”

Inci was born in Tottenham, North London, where she lived with her mother, father and three siblings, and her passion for bringing this noble culinary heritage to Fitzrovia can be traced back to her parents’ influence. They grew up in Sivas, a beautiful city in central Turkey known, among other things, for its distinctive regional dishes.

Inci’s earliest memories of food relate to how inextricably entwined eating and socialising are in Turkish culture. When she was growing up, her family hosted weekend breakfasts that usually blurred into lunch or dinner – “a never-ending breakfast feast”, as she describes it. Her household had an “open-door policy” whereby friends and family were always welcome – in fact, the more the merrier. This very Turkish sense of sociability and generosity had a profound impact on the budding restaurateur, one that became an integral part of her adult outlook and the primary inspiration for Firedog’s culinary ethos.

Though Inci later married a Turkish Cypriot whose mother’s cooking skills rivalled those of her own, she still sides with her own kin. “My mother’s expertise in Turkish dishes is greater than anyone else I know – but I suppose I am biased!” she says. Family loyalty aside, Inci was duly impressed with her mother-in-law’s considerable talents in the kitchen. “In fact, we flew Firedog’s head chef to Cyprus to meet her. We wanted him to learn to master the flavours, the cuisine, as well as the social significance that food symbolises.”

Such measures are unsurprising when you realise just how completely immersed Inci is in the business of creating food. “We are very close to everything that leaves our kitchen, and the atmosphere that we create,” she explains. This is a welcome return to a style of dining that sometimes seems to have vanished in the modern world, and a salutary lesson for a generation that has forgotten the sacred ritual of gathering round the table and prefers the company of a screen at lunch and dinner.

True to Inci’s family traditions, Firedog’s great innovation is dishing out this expansive Mediterranean eating experience for breakfast and brunch – all day breakfast is served until 4pm. “It sets us apart, and is a completely different way of dining to the regular London brunch scene”, she says. The main attraction here is the Firedog Breakfast Meze: their signature spread of traditional meze dishes and specials inspired by the Su’dan restaurant in Alacati, Turkey. We’re not talking a bowl of porridge or cereal, here, and the blandness of a workaday breakfast is made clear when Ismail explains the logic behind her approach: “Grazing on smaller plates full of flavour, mixing sweet and savoury, ensures every taste craving is fulfilled!”

Roast beetroot hummus, smoked and pickled aubergine, goat’s yoghurt, and pastirma are served alongside the authentic Near Eastern flavours of sumac, barberry, and sujuk, the spicy sausage popular in turkey and beyond. More than just the food, it’s that distinctive Mediterranean attitude to eating together that makes the concept so appealing. As Inci says, “Being able to share and pass dishes around the table adds to the social experience – and there’s no fear of having food envy!”

Drinks are also given the Firedog spin, with a range of exotic freshly squeezed juices Fresh mandarin, grapefruit and purple carrot juice add extra zing to daytime dining and bring a bit of the Aegean sun to London. Should you fancy something stronger, they’ve also teamed up with South London’s Partizan Brewery to produce a bespoke sumac and za’atar house beer.

Firedog combines dining and bar spaces. Inci was delighted with the mood and atmosphere of the space when they first came to it, but was keen to give it a fresh perspective too. Though eager to share her culture’s convivial dining habits, she wanted to do so with a humorous and contemporary edge by blending other cultural mores and styles, adamant that  “Firedog would have elements of London”. With this in mind, she enlisted an East London artist from Graffiti Life to daub the walls with images of the meaty, moustachioed warrior Tarkan, a character from a series of Turkish comics and films of the 60s and 70s. “Tarkan sort of sums up our identity,” she says. “ A proud Turkish warrior!”

Inci’s success hasn’t been down to luck: she’s a canny entrepreneur with her fingers in a lot of meze. Her hard-working parents instilled in her a rigorous work ethic, which has paid off in several other business ventures. Simply Organique, a coffee house and grocery business based in Manor House was her first, started in February of 2015. Since then, she says, she has been fortunate to support other business ventures, such as The Black Penny coffee house in Covent Garden, Firedog, and an upcoming seafood concept called Trawler Trash opening shortly in Islington.

Despite these geographically dispersed businesses, Fitzrovia is where Inci has made her home. She’s particularly fond of Store Street, where her morning caffeine fix comes courtesy of Store Street Espresso. “I take my hat off to them,” she says. “A flat white is my go-to in the mornings.” And she has a soft spot, too, for the buildings on South Crescent, explaining “I love the architecture… it looks beautiful at Christmas. One thing that would make the street complete, though, would be the revival of the old Petrol station.”

Meanwhile, back at Firedog, the vibe is fun, convivial and buzzing – just as it should be when good food is combined with good company. “We hope that everyone who visits us leaves suitably full of food, laughs and music,” says Inci. As restaurant mission statements go, I can’t really think of a better one than that.

The Museum of Modern Nature

The Museum of Modern Nature

Words & Illustrations Sophie Pelissier

It is often worth reminding ourselves that, as Londoners, we are lucky to have some of the world’s oldest and most important museums at our feet. We have the opportunities to know everything about anything, and have never been so spoiled for big blockbuster exhibitions. However, sometimes it’s all too easy to drift through a museum and feel that we are learning simply by dutifully observing what is put in front of us. How much of what we see really puts us outside our comfort zone?

The Wellcome Collection, overlooking six lanes of noisy traffic opposite Euston station, challenges this traditional approach to exhibitions by catching its visitors off-guard. As a free-thinking museum dedicated to making connections between medicine, life and art, it pushes us to question what it is to be human. And in doing so, it offers an experience that is two-fold; not only are we learning new things, but hopefully we might leave with a new perspective on ourselves. Wellcome’s mantra is therefore simple: it’s “a free destination for the incurably curious”, and an open mind is all you need to bring along with you.

These are not the dry, historical exhibitions of school trips, but presentations that bring together the bizarre and the unexpected. Take ‘Making Nature’, the museum’s first exhibition celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, which is also part of a larger study of our relationship with the natural world. Tracing our ancient attempts to ‘organise’ nature and how we have genetically manipulated it in the 21st century, it also challenges us, and our preconceptions, along the way. When reading about the history of zoos and circuses, we become aware of visitors in the next-door room behind a two-way screen. Interesting, too, to note the effect of taxidermy: how do we respond to a naturalistic tableau of fox cubs at play, compared to the fox lying on the floor nearby, with no pretence made at concealing death? Most arresting of all is the footage of a tiger as it paces forlornly through an empty house: is this the ‘Tiger Who Came to Tea’, Blake’s ‘Tyger, Tyger’, or something more sinister? Overall, the approach is so smart and subtle that you don’t even realise they’re doing it, but the exhibition’s organisers show us how our response to nature has evolved not only through the exhibits, but through our own behaviour.

By taking on big topics such as ‘Making Nature’, the Wellcome Collection inevitably turns our attention to modern problems of our own making – poaching and habitat loss, our weakness for fur or obsession with the #pugsofinstagram hashtag. The Collection does this equally well in its second temporary exhibition too. In ‘Electricity: The Spark of Life’, the final room leaves the question of sustainable energy hanging in the air, a perturbing afterthought to the model of the world’s first bespoke eco-city being built in Abu Dhabi.

This all feeds back into the Wellcome ethos: that great ideas in science and medicine can change people’s lives all over the world. As part of the Wellcome Trust, the charitable foundation aimed at improving global health, the Wellcome Collection was originally conceived by the 19th century pharmacist turned philanthropist Henry Wellcome. An eccentric who amassed one of the world’s most impressive collections of medical and health-related objects, he housed his treasures in the current building on Euston Road for the benefit of the science and medical communities. Henry Wellcome’s legacy is at the heart of all the exhibitions: eccentric ideas and artefacts that nonetheless highlight the importance of scientific research and developments in modern medicine.

The Wellcome Collection, then, is a place founded on big ambitions, one of which is the aim of creating a dynamic and engaging place of learning open to the wider public. Visiting on a Saturday, I encountered the usual weekend crowd of young families, teenagers louche and day visitors from out of London, but not all of them had come solely for the exhibitions.  A ‘Saturday Studio’ for 14-19 year olds hosts creative workshops making films or podcasts. Public talks and events featuring scientists, researchers and professionals run throughout the week, many of them in support of this year’s special study of the natural world, and all of them for free, of course. The renowned library upstairs attracts the academic community from nearby University College London, but more of a surprise is the adjoining Reading Room. Described as ‘a new type of gallery’, this extension to the library is an interactive space where the public can probe a little deeper in to what it means to be human. Amongst the collection of books, objects and contemporary artworks, visitors can work, read, spontaneously get involved in pop-up talks or even host their own.

All of this is representative of the impressive achievements of Wellcome’s first 10 years. There has already been a £17.5 million re-development in 2012, to accommodate the unexpected footfall of 500,000 curious visitors a year. One senses that the Wellcome Collection still has much to offer us, especially in this special anniversary year of 2017. So if you have never bothered to ponder the meaning of life before, then there’s never been a better time. You have until June to see footage of Parisians in 1900 excitedly hopping on and off the world’s first electric sidewalk in ‘Electricity: The Spark of Life’. Go along in the first week of May to the ‘Re-making Nature’ weekend with your own objects and ideas, which will be used in the forthcoming ‘Museum of Modern Nature’ exhibition. Then, in the autumn, why not learn about the surprising life-saving powers of graphic design, or ancient healing traditions in India? And don’t worry if you forget to arrive with questions: the guys at Wellcome will make sure you leave with plenty of them.

Joshua Kane

Joshua Kane

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“I wanted to sell, design and produce clothes with my name on them, with my own particular vision.”

It’s safe to say that Joshua Kane has been on my radar for a while now. Since hearing about him some months back, I’d been intending to find a way for us to work together. Friends from all walks of life, at least those with an eye for clothes, seemed to mention his name to me at every opportunity; and then, a pleasing coincidence occurred. Little did I know, but London’s dandiest tailor was about to leave his first store in Spitalfields Market and land on my doorstop right here in Fitzrovia.

Joshua is a designer trained in bespoke tailoring. He dresses the stars, has just finished producing the wardrobe for a Hollywood film and is now part of the Fitzrovia scene, having opened his new flagship store at 68 Great Portland Street, on the corner with Little Titchfield Street, in December 2016. ‘Blood, sweat and shears’ is his motto, and the underlying philosophy that has guided his journey to establishing his own eponymous label.

Taking a stroll around the new store, I note stylish ready-to-wear suits, leather jackets, coats, shirts and shoes for men & women all artfully arranged for maximum impact. The mannequins by the door and the spotlights that glare down from the ceiling make it feel like a show at London Fashion Week. In an area once home to London’s traditional rag trade, this is a new breed of retail space, and Joshua, ever a perfectionist, has nailed it. This new venture is just the latest destination on a journey he set out on many years ago, another step on the way to achieving his dream. “As a teenager, I was a semi-professional football, I skateboarded every day, and I loved sports. At that age, people start to think about what they want to wear and start going out to buy clothes,” Joshua says. “I remember the first time I went out looking in shops at things that I wanted to wear, and everything I tried on I never liked for a number of reasons. It’d be too long, or I wouldn’t like the colour, the cut or the feel. At this point, I really didn’t know what any of this meant, but I knew I wanted to do it differently. I’d spent my childhood making things such as toys and models, and then I turned to clothes. I’d buy things and try to alter them – making simple adjustments, gluing things and ripping things. I did whatever I could to make it more like something I wanted to be wearing. At school, in my fine art course, I had a fashion module. Like any young football-playing lad, I sneered at it at the time; though as soon as I started doing it, from a product and functionality perspective, I just fell in love with it. This was the beginning of me making things that I could wear every single day.”

Having won something of an affluent following, with wearers including TV presenter and comedian Alex Zane and actors Michelle Keegan and Jason Mamoa, Joshua has made a name for himself as the dandiest tailor in London. “After school, I went on to take an art foundation course, where I focused on textiles and design, at Oxford Brookes University. Following that, I went on to study fashion design at Kingston University. I fell in love with it, and worked myself into the ground for three years. By this point, anything sport-related was out the window. I’d discovered myself in fashion and design,” he says. “I went on to work at Brooks Brothers, and then Jaeger menswear. At this point, I had a little studio in my apartment in Islington where I was designing and making things for myself. I had dreams, and my own idea for a label; it was always the plan for me at the back of my mind, and the whole journey I was on. I wanted to sell, design and produce clothes with my name on them, with my own particular vision.”

Away from his day-job, the clothes Joshua was busy creating for himself caused a stir amongst his friends and peers. “I was obsessed. I was a perfectionist. I was meticulous about every detail that was going into what I was wearing. I was always wearing my own clothes, and work colleagues, friends, and people I knew were asking if I’d make something for them. They couldn’t believe I’d made everything myself,” he says. “People would look at what I was wearing, and they loved it. There was this great feeling of instant respect from friends and peers. It allowed me to climb the ladder, maybe quicker than I should’ve done, and gave me the confidence to move forward with my work. I had skills that people had trained years for, and I had them because I was an obsessive-compulsive, and loved the process of making things.” At this point, Joshua was working at Burberry, designing for the Burberry Prorsum line, where he worked for just under three years. Later he moved onto Paul Smith, working on the London and British collections for another nearly three-year stint. “Sir Paul was a hero of mine. He was the first person I ever sent a CV to when I graduated. He never responded! I told him that when he hired me actually,” he laughs.

Joshua’s plan was to start his label when he turned 30 – though when he was still only 28 a friend, Jimmy Q, approached him about making and designing him a suit. At the time, the idea of taking on extra work outside of his day job wasn’t feasible, so he begun to consider focusing on his own brand idea. “I explained to him that I didn’t make for anybody else at the moment, that I was exploring the idea of making clothes for people. He was a similar size to me, so he ended up borrowing one of my suits to wear on the red carpet, where he did an interview. He appeared in GQ magazine’s top-dressed of the week section wearing my suit. This was the first time I’d ever had any press for my work, which had always been a personal thing. After that, I decided it was time to move on and go solo. It was the weirdest feeling – I shat myself doing that! I didn’t have any investment, I didn’t have any finance, but what I did have was a range of contacts that liked what I produced. I didn’t know what was going to happen next – all I knew was that I was unemployed and had to try to make my label work. I began approaching people I knew had wanted to wear my suits for years, and it started to take off from my studio in Islington.” Joshua was able to make a living doing personal tailoring, carrying out fittings and making everything at home, selling the resulting range of suits to friends and contacts.

Having outgrown his Islington studio space, where he produced his first ready-to-wear collection, Joshua went on to open his store in Spitalfields Market in 2014, where he remained until late last year. “Our clients and wearers of the brand mostly had their lives oriented around the West End. I think being where I was in Spitalfields meant that at times I was pigeonholed as an East End tailor. With the store moving into the Fitzrovia neighbourhood, we’re bringing the clothes to the wearers of the brand, instead of them coming to us. Fitzrovia is where it’s at,” he declares. “What’s made it work is all the personal relationships we’ve built. Since we opened this new space, people have responded phenomenally. There’s been a real buzz, and a huge amount of support. It’s been a team effort from friends, family and our followers, coming together to do something much bigger than we would ever havr thought possible in the beginning.” Going forward, this year will see Joshua concentrate more on his womenswear line, with his latest collection due to be showcased at London Fashion Week in February this year. “I want to further focus on the lifestyle element of the brand. I want people to realise that it can be for him and it can be for her. Fitzrovia is a door to new opportunities for us. Opening this shop really feels like the beginning in some ways. We’re men’s & women’s tailoring with a difference – it’s as simple as that.” Fitzrovia in some ways still feels like new territory for Joshua. As he continues to build relationships from his Great Portland Street base, I’m certain that Fitzrovia’s newest tailor will flourish in the neighbourhood: there’s a perfect match between the growing brand and the evolving character of the area. Welcome to the hood, Mr Kane.


Daniel Bates

Daniel Bates

Words & Portraits Etienne Gilfillan

For years, Fitzrovia has enjoyed a sort of sleepy anonymity. While tourists flocked to popular haunts in Soho, Marylebone and Mayfair, this corner of the West End seemed somewhat neglected, the last refuge of a half-forgotten Bohemian London. But last June Fitzrovia’s streets and squares played host to a series of concerts, workshops and social events designed to highlight the area’s illustrious past. FitzFest was born, boasting a decidedly ambitious programme for a first-time Festival, and its organisers succeeded in producing an event that successfully celebrated the neighbourhood’s singular artistic heritage and remarkable cultural diversity.

“The main inspiration for me was finding the book Characters of Fitzrovia by Mike Pentelow and Marsha Rowe at the Fitzrovia Centre. Until I read the book, I had little idea about the history of the area – all the crazy, wonderful things that happened and all the fantastic characters who walked these streets”, explains Dan Bates, FitzFest’s artistic director. But its more recent past was just as important an inspiration. “Fitzrovia was an area which for many generations had been the home of inner-London, working class immigrants and Bohemian artists. I wanted to help remember the historical identity of Fitzrovia – its community and creativity, its social and ethnic diversity – amidst the changes happening in the area.”

Though the idea of a festival to celebrate the area had been gestating in Dan’s mind for some time, it was one of his neighbours who was instrumental in really opening his eyes to the possibilities. “My neighbour, Joyce Hooper, is in her 80s and has lived in the same Local Authority flat in Fitzrovia for over 60 years. She is the absolute expert on the area, knows everyone and is a fascinating source of oral local history. She explained how when she first arrived, the neighbourhood was considered a Jewish area; then it saw the arrival of Cypriot, Chinese and Bangladeshi communities; and further changes occurred when many Local Authority and Peabody flats were sold to tenants in the 1980s and 90s.” It was Joyce’s memories of the different types of music she had heard throughout her life in Fitzrovia that inspired Dan to start a local festival with an emphasis on music. But FitzFest is also more than a festival. Last year it offered music education workshops at All Soul’s Primary School, provided music for poorly children at UCL Hospital and organised performances for older members of the community at All Soul’s Clubhouse.

Last year’s FitzFest opening event brought past and future together in a tour de force elegy to the voices of Fitzrovia’s history by music pioneer Scanner. The public opening of the Fitzrovia chapel was accompanied by an extraordinary sound collage, running for 24 hours a day, evoking the history of the chapel and incorporating the memories and voices of all those for whom the Middlesex Hospital was an important place. Scanner composed a soundtrack to which was added recorded interviews with people in whose lives the hospital had played a significant role, while musicians working in shifts throughout the day added improvised elements to the proceedings.

But the Festival’s strength lay not only in celebrating Fitzrovia’s past but also in the diversity and eclecticism of its offerings, as Dan explains. “It being the first year I wanted to throw everything I could muster at the festival and try and include as many people as possible.” As a hugely experienced classical musician – he holds the position of principal oboe for the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, the City of London Sinfonia and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, as well as guesting with most of the country’s major orchestras and recording with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Rihanna and Barbra Streisand – Dan is in a perfect position to pull together all sorts of musical strands for FitzFest, calling on his wide range of musical colleagues to ensure a varied calendar of events. So it was that Fitzrovia’s local musical heritage became one of the main elements of the festival. A major highlight was a performance of Carl Maria von Weber’s brilliant Clarinet Quintet by world famous clarinettist Jörg Widmann in the very room in the Portland Place School in which the German composer is said to have died during a visit to London in 1826. Local resident Sue Blundell provided a piece for an actor and musicians about the life of local composer Eric Coates; his famous Dambusters March remains probably his best known work, but he also wrote a number of charming ‘light music’ pieces inspired by London life and locations, including ‘Knightsbridge’, which became the theme of the BBC’s In Town Tonight. Coates still has plenty of fans, it turns out. “The venue was the room above the Ship pub on New Cavendish Street, and it was such a sell-out success that we repeated it in early January this year and are going to repeat it in this year’s FitzFest as well.”

Of special note were performances by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), with all music played on authentic period wind instruments made in Berners Street. “The OAE play on instruments that would have been in common use in the composer’s day and age,” Dan tells me. “A lot of the instruments that the orchestra play these days are copies of the historical instruments, because though many originals survive, few are in playing condition now. String instruments generally improve with age, while wind instruments don’t last very long!”

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Fitzrovia was a centre of the furniture trade, and the two industries of furniture-making and musical instruments were strongly associated with each other, developing side by side. “If you think about it, a wooden flute is really just a hollow chair leg – with a few refinements of course! Many makers operated on Hanway Street, others on Newman Street, while Berners Street saw several generations of flute makers.”

This year’s Festival, made possible thanks to Derwent London’s support, will build on last year’s successes but add an interesting interactive element. “Last year, audiences seemed to like spoken word stuff particularly, be it dramatic performances or talks about the local area. I am hoping to build on this for the next festival and invite Mike Pentelow and Nick Bailey back to talk about Fitzrovia. I’m also planning a murder mystery treasure hunt around the neighbourhood – that will be fun!” Another of last year’s Festival favourites will return this time around: free yoga sessions at the Fitzrovia Chapel with teacher Andy Sotto. “They were very popular classes – people loved lying on the floor and looking up at the amazing ceiling.”

Daniel also hopes to extend his range of venues this year. “The BT Tower would be the ultimate – it’s the major symbol of Fitzrovia. I’m always on the lookout for interesting spaces that people might not normally have access to – car parks, disused swimming pools and so on.”

FitzFest 2017 runs from 8-11 June 2017.

Clifford Slapper

Clifford Slapper

Words & Portraits Kirk Truman

“I played the piano for what was to be his last ever television appearance in the world…”

The rain is tumbling down outside as Clifford Slapper begins to caress the piano keys atop Quo Vadis in Dean Street. It’s a familiar setting for him, one he played in every night for a number of years. Pianist, producer and now author, Clifford has strong ties with the Fitzrovia neighbourhood, as well as nearby Soho. The author of the first ever biography of David Bowie’s most frequent collaborator, pianist Mike Garson, Clifford is himself a well-respected keyboard talent, having collaborated with a multitude of singers and musicians throughout his career. Now, he has turned his attention to creating and releasing Bowie Songs One,an album in which a variety of vocalists join Clifford at the piano to celebrate the music of the late David Bowie in a collection of 10 of the Starman’s songs.

Born and raised in North London, Clifford has lived in Fitzrovia for the past 17 years, first on Cleveland Street and now on Charlotte Street, where he works from his studio. During his time here he has run a number of live club nights in venues around the area, from Bourne & Hollingsworth to Charlotte Street Blues, on the same site where, back in the 1930s when it was called the Swiss Club, David Bowie’s father ran a speakeasy-style jazz piano club in the basement. Clifford has made a name for himself as a go-to composer and professional musician, having performed at almost every club in this square mile of London, from the Groucho to Ronnie Scott’s, The 100 Club to The Ivy. “I don’t think there’s a single private members club around here that I haven’t actually played in,” he says. “I’ve come to find a balance between music and writing. It was a fortuitous chance that was I with Mike Garson, the long-term piano collaborator of David Bowie. We were talking for quite a while, and we got talking about Bowie, whom we’ve both worked with, and discussed the idea of me writing his biography. He said to me that I’d be the perfect person to do it, so I sort of jumped in at the deep end, and five years later, after a long labour of love, I published it.” The result, Bowie’s Piano Man: The Life of Mike Garson, was published in 2015 by Fantom Books and has been extremely well received.

Clifford discovered his love of the keyboard as a youngster, when his parents bought him a toy piano. Drawn to playing live, by his teens he was regularly performing in pubs all over Islington. “For some reason, Islington has more pianos per square mile than any other borough of London! It became my stomping ground, and I played in a hell of a lot of places over the years,” he says. From Islington’s pub music scene, he continued to expand his musical horizons, going on to collaborate with designers such as Marc Jacobs and Tom Baker and performing at fashion shows. More significantly, in recent years Clifford has been working both as a composer and a recording artist, much in demand as a session pianist. “I started being approached by producers, to play for people like Marc Almond,” he says. “I also began co-writing with Robert Love, who sung the theme song to The Sopranos”.

In addition to these collaborators, he has gone on to work alongside household names such as Boy George, Jarvis Cocker, Angie Brown, Suggs from Madness and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp. He also had the chance to collaborate with one of the major inspirations of his musical life, the late David Bowie. “Towards the end of the 1960s, Bowie was really struggling to get his career going. So, he came up with the ingenious idea for the character of Ziggy Stardust: an imaginary rock star from another planet. The character was everything he was trying to be, but was yet to become,” Clifford says. “With the Aladdin Sane album, he took the character of Ziggy on tour in America, which made his career really explode. Bowie’s entire band at this point was British, and then they recruited my friend Mike Garson, who is American, to join and play with them in the early 1970s. Bowie found America such an alarming and disturbing place to be. He was a true inspiration to me as a youngster – he inspired me in my music, and inspired me to pursue a career as a pianist,” remembers Clifford. “Some people say never work with your idols, as you’ll be disappointed, but David Bowie completely fulfilled my expectations. We spent two days together working on the set of the Ricky Gervais comedy series Extras, just the two of us. He was a complete gentleman: modest, a perfectionist and entirely unassuming. He was incredibly funny, and had the whole crew in hysterics. I played the piano for what was to be his last ever television appearance in the world.”

Clifford’s composing and production work has become the primary focus of his career in recent years. He started work on the Bowie Songs Project in 2014, with the intention of reinterpreting some of the star’s greatest songs in unplugged acoustic settings, arranged for just voice and piano. Now, just over a year since Bowie’s death, Clifford’s first collection of recordings from the project will be released on March 3rd this year. Bowie Songs One has already been attracting a lot of attention. An intensely personal project for Clifford, this alternative take on the musical genius of David Bowie matches a wide range of contemporary vocalists, including Billie Ray Martin, David McAlmont, Katherine Ellis and Ian Shaw, with Clifford’s distinctive work on the keys. The collection moves from early works like ‘Letter to Hermione’, from Space Oddity, to Seventies classics like ‘Time’, from Aladdin Sane and ‘Stay’, from Station to Station, providing a fresh view of classic songs that both complements and brings a new approach to the originals. From his earliest musical inspiration to this contemporary reinterpretation, Clifford Slapper’s keyboard journey has, after all these years, come full circle.

Fitzrovia Dawn

Fitzrovia Dawn

Words & Photography Kirk Truman

To me, London is at its best in the early hours when it is nearly deserted and all but silent. Fitzrovia at dawn can appear a harsh, even bleak place, yet it offers a varied and inspiring tapestry of visuals to explore. From the shadows cast by the day’s first commuters to the eerie shapes cast by the approaching morning light, Fitzovia’s streets take on an entirely different quality at this time of day from their later bustle. Compiled during the last few weeks of 2016, this series explores the sights of Fitzrovia between 5 and 7 o’clock in the morning.

Six Physio

Six Physio

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Pete Drinkell

“Call us old fashioned but we believe that prevention is better than cure…”

There’s a new addition to Fitzrovia’s growing health and wellness scene. Recent Mortimer Street newcomers Psycle introduced us to low-impact, head-to-toe bike workouts, while on Euston’s Drummond Street Ringtone Boxing Gym has continued a tradition of workouts and training methods used by old-school boxers. Now, Six Physio has relocated from its former premises on Harley Street to 19 Foley Street offering both 3:1 and 1:1 Pilates sessions with their experienced therapists.

“Don’t treat, cure”. This is the Six Physio’s watchword, and I admit that I was sceptical at first. Six Physio started out small in a room with a phone in SW6. Back then, the idea was to never, ever compromise on doing the very best for their patients – and the idea hasn’t changed. Six Physio aren’t out to be the biggest in their game; instead, they’re about being the best at what they do. To date, they have established 10 clinics throughout Central London, stretching from Chelsea, to Moorgate and Leadenhall. They have also made their presence felt in other ways, including holding onto Best Company and Sunday Times Top 100 Small Companies to Work For titles for an impressive four years in a row.

The ‘physio’ bit in the name is important; it’s the major part of what they do. Entering the Foley Street clinic, it quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t just a gym, but something much bolder. Although clients do carry out exercise at Six Physio, it’s the ‘physio’ element that sets them aside from other leading gyms and clinics in the area. Having now provided the very best physiotherapy in London for a quarter of a century, they’re experts in their field. Offering sports physiotherapy, help with back pain, and oncology physiotherapy, physiotherapists consult with patients about their specific issues with the intention of tackling the problem within three weeks. Furthermore, if there is no sign of a visible change within that period, the therapists won’t continue to treat, and will instead refer patients on for further investigation within their network of first-rate consultants; or as they put it: three strikes, and you’re out!

During my first ever one-on-one pilates session with Rehabilitation Physiotherapist Ailish Toomey, I was asked about any health problems I had. Following the equipment-based pilates, Ailish examined my recently sprained ankle, locating the cause of the discomfort. Advising me how to eradicate the problem, she clearly and effectively demonstrated how to massage the Extensor Digitorum Longus (what you and I would simply refer to as a muscle on our lower leg). I kept this up for a few days, and within a week or so was definitely on the mend.

As strange as it might sound, Six Physio’s key tool is talking people better. Their treatments are heavily dependent on a process of open and clear communication about health and fitness, which in turn provides the best results. Their physiotherapists provide patients with the relevant knowledge and support required to properly manage their own fitness or health condition – meaning you don’t have to keep coming back. Here, prevention is definitely better than cure. After 14 years at their Harley Street clinic, they have successfully nestled themselves in Fitzrovia, offering the same team and service in a bright, modern space, comprising six treatment rooms and a large, newly-equipped Pilates studio. Six Physio is a welcome new addition to Foley Street, and one for which residents with aches and pains or workers looking to improve their health will undoubtedly be grateful in the future.

Visit Six Physio in store at 19 Foley Street or online to enquire about bookings & treatments.

The Smoking Guns

The Smoking Guns

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Etienne Gilfillan


“We started something together that we were wholly in control of – it was the beginning of a new adventure.”

A transatlantic duo blazing their way through Soho’s music venues, clubs and bars, spinning Northern Soul, 60s rhythm & blues and old school rock-n-roll, Iraina Mancini and Samantha Michelle are an unlikely success story in an often male-dominated world. I talked to them about how The Smoking Guns got started, their Soho roots and the reasons behind their DJ venture.

Growing up in West London, Iraina Mancini has spent her life in the company of music. “My Dad was in a band with David Bowie,” she explains, “so I’ve always had something of a musical upbringing. He raised me on soul, and its been ingrained in me since I was a kid.” When she was just 18 she approached a band after a gig, telling them that their singer wasn’t the best and that she would make a better vocalist for the group. “I think I was very confident in those days for an 18 year old girl,” she says. “They turned around and invited me in for an audition. After that, I started a band called Mancini and toured around for a number of years, made an album and went on the road. I’ve been doing music ever since. As I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve become more of a songwriter for other artists. At the moment I’m recording an EP.”

Samantha Michelle, the other half of the duo, grew up in Toronto, spending much of her youth in Canada and the US, eventually settling in New York for sometime before moving to London. “Mine and Irania’s upbringings are polar opposites,” says Sam. “I didn’t grow up in a musical household at all. My father is a businessman, and my mother is a doctor. A creative life as an artist or musician was definitely not something that my family expected of me – it wasn’t a viable option. As a kid, I was always very artistically inclined. I would often paint, and I was a competitive dancer, but these were merely hobbies. I didn’t like the options that were presented to me in the world that I grew up in, so I wanted to build a new life for myself. The gateway into that for me was university. I worked hard to get into a good school, eventually studying in New York. My whole world became an incredibly different place for me as I explored the nightlife of the city, which had a strong influence over my taste in music. I felt like some of the music I was listening to was part of some kind of unspoken tribe. When I moved to London, I was instantly fascinated. It’s strange for me really, as I have no ties to the place at all, yet I’ve adopted it as my home.”

Sam and Iraina first met in Soho nearly five years ago at Dean Street’s Groucho Club. They quickly became friends, and their friendship became centred on their careers, with both of them working as actresses and DJing separately. One evening they discussed the possibility of starting their own project together. With their combined love of soul, rock and roll, and the music of the 60s and 70s, the two of them decided to pool their talents, forming The Smoking Guns late last year. “We thought maybe we could do something that we could be in control of, something fun,” says Iraina, “so we decided to DJ together. We made a pact: this time next year we’ll have really made this thing take off.”

“We were so fearless, and we believed in ourselves wholeheartedly,” says Sam. “In life, shit doesn’t go your way for whatever reason. At first it builds this distrust and lack of faith in yourself, and then something comes to you to make you realise your true potential. So together Iraina and I turned a new leaf – we started something together that we were wholly in control of. It was the beginning of a new adventure. We wanted to get to a point in our lives of primitive artistic pursuit.” And so The Smoking Guns was born. Once they’d decided to work together, Iraina and Sam wasted no time: in fact, they managed to land their first booking within five minutes. With their easy and approachable manner, perhaps it’s no surprise that the two quickly began to work with dozens of venues, particularly around Soho; and given their taste in music, The Smoking Guns carved out their own specialised niche. A female duo spinning Northern Soul, 60s rhythm & blues and old school rock-n-roll? Unheard of!

What might have been seen as a handicap in a musical scene that’s always been heavily male-dominated actually proved pivotal to their success, helping them to begin working alongside some of the most exclusive nightspots in the Soho neighbourhood, such as The Groucho Club, Soho House and Lights of Soho, with a number of weekly residencies all over London. “We were very lucky that we already had a core group of people that we’d already worked with in the past, so we had a good starting point. So much of my life has been spent here on the streets of the neighbourhood. It’s an incredibly important place to me. Its a personal experience, DJing for people we’ve grown up around and who are part of our lives,” says Iraina. “At the start, many of the people that we began working with or being booked by were people we already knew pretty well – it was a success on the back of our connection to Soho. The neighbourhood is dear to our hearts, and The Smoking Guns is a lovechild of Soho!”

What Sam and Iraina have created is refreshing and original, a shot in the arm for a music scene that has been losing some of its momentum in recent years. In just over 12 months, their friendship has blossomed into a successful musical collaboration covering all corners of Soho. Standing tall in their Joshua Kane bespoke men’s suits they give off an image of confidence and beauty that defies both expectations and odds, even in an ever changing and diversifying neighbourhood. The Smoking Guns have already begun to gain a strong following, creating a positive and uplifting atmosphere that echoes the neighbourhood’s yesteryear: crowds revel in the basement of Lights of Soho to the sounds of Bob Dylan and the Small Faces, while at the Groucho they scream with joy to the sound of The Doors and The Rolling Stones. Perhaps these two talented young ladies were destined to meet and combine to spread their musical message. As they continue to go from strength to strength, Sam and Iraina are two young guns to watch closely.

A Soho Office

A Soho Office

Words Griff Rhys Jones

Photography Archives

Some time ago, in the very early Eighties, Melvyn Kenneth Smith and I decided to go into business together. We had no idea what we were doing. Or what business to go into. We liked the idea of an office. Not the Nine O’Clock News had, I think, an audience of 18 million in one set of repeats. It was a pop phenomenon, like being a band. We were certainly arrogant, opinionated and ignorant enough to assume we could run anything. Mel and I had been producers and directors before we became performers. We were plucked from those jobs to do our party pieces on TV. This was our affinity. It bound us together. The late Harry Thompson paid us the compliment of saying, later, “you were the only ones who weren’t c*nts in the entire operation.” But then he didn’t really know us.

We were also pragmatic. I started producing commercials for the Not spin-off of records and tapes (this was before DVD). We decided we might make more, so we decided to make radio productions and we called it “Talkback”. We were starting a sketch show of our own sometime in 1982, working in the old Television Centre (the one they recently sold). The nearest place for lunch apart from a dispiriting staff canteen full of men with pints of beer was half way back to Notting Hill.

It was a round building. Once, trying to find a cup of coffee, I walked around three times before I realised it was a circle. The hutches faced out onto the central atrium. The only view out of the window was other offices full of people working. It didn’t inspire. I wanted to get back to the West End. I craved the glamour of a pub. Friends from university had a theatre promotions business with an office in the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm. I suspect they needed to offset the costs so they gave us a desk and we started making commercials and pieces for Soho-based companies like Saatchi and Saatchi. After a while and a couple of jobs we moved and settled into Brewer Street.

I probably still walk past the entrance to that office every week or so. It was on the north side, down the Aquascutum end, opposite the Stone Island shop where I sometimes buy Italian football supporter’s clothing to wear on TV shows. But which walk-up was it? I can’t recall. I have forgotten to even try to remember. We took two rooms or maybe more. People joined us to write commercials. Vicki my old secretary left the BBC. We pitched to agencies and recorded in Angel Sound or sometimes on the barge in Little Venice that belonged to Richard Branson.

It was up there, on the canal, we recorded about six scripts I had written for Tim Delaney of Leagas Delaney. We were busy so we had to suggest to Tim that he joined us at around 11 at night while we “knocked ideas around”. One was a simple but alarmingly racist shop sketch. I offered the customer, Mel, who wanted a Japanese “videocaster” a “Phirrips”. Like most successful commercials it was popular with advertising people so it won a lot of awards.

But here we were in Soho. We went out to eat in Greek restaurants and could take walks peering into shops. This was before the Groucho Club had been invented. We went to basement dives called “the Marie Lloyd” to get drinks when the pubs closed. You could buy smoked eels at Hamburger Products down the other end of Brewer Street. It wasn’t White City. There were strip clubs all over the shop then, instead of just corralled down the corner of Brewer and Wardour. Meard Street was still shit street. Late at night, it was possible to walk your mother through there, trying to get to some restaurant or other, and find yourself passing several blokes pissing in the gutter and another getting a knee-trembler in the shadows. (Mothers are more experienced in life than you think though.) The French Pub was a stand-up, fall-down boozer rather than a fascinating part-gourmet eatery. The inmates turned to stare if a stranger had the temerity to march himself in. You had to sidle up to the bar.

We had a Soho philosophy. You needed nothing more than a tea chest, a cardboard box to sit on and a phone. Make money and you took home a share. It generally worked. Not everybody paid us. Our manager, PBJ, pointed out that our first big contract was not paid, six months after the job was done. I went and sat in the office of a major advertising company until I got a cheque off the boss, a now world famous PR Lord. I was pretty drunk. That seemed to help. But we moved. When? I don’t know. We went to Berwick Street. We got some sort of pokey offices out of a deal with Warner Brothers. I know we were in that street, because I recall I was once waiting for Mel. We were supposed to be back in White City, but he hadn’t shown up so I decided to get in the cab and go without him. The cabbie said he knew my voice from somewhere. “You’re Jeremy Pascal, off the radio aren’t you?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Well you sound just like him.”

We drove off, turned right towards Oxford Street and passed the underground car park there. The cabbie said, “Look, look there! There’s that Mel Smith off the telly coming out of the car park.”  Mel was coming out. The cabbie was clearly in awe.

I pulled down the window. “Oi! Mel!!”

The cabbie was horrified. “Don’t shout at him. They don’t like it.”

“Get in the sodding car!”

Mel got in. The cabbie shut up.

But which order did this happen in? I don’t know. I remember I got my dad’s dog run over in Soho Square. Not something you want to do. I let him off his lead to run about a bit by the half-timbered hut and he chased a pigeon into the street. It was the squealing after he got hit that was the bother. Everybody looked at me like I was a murderer. The dog survived. It got its leg in plaster from a Soho vet somewhere. By that stage, we had first floor offices directly on the corner with Greek Street – big and airy rooms, with oblong-paned Crittal windows (now replaced by an ugly bank building), overlooking the dog-desecrating square. I went up to Star Warehouse in the old railway stables at the back of the Camden market and bought a pinball machine, a pool table and an orange jukebox. We believed they were essential to creativity. They went with us on yet another move to Carnaby Street. (Or was it the other way around? I remember the toys, but not the order of moves.)

The Soho Square offices had their charms. We were once taken up to the top floor where there was a beautiful darkened flat completely panelled out in shinny yellow satinwood that had belonged to Gracie Fields. But, ah, the joy of those Carnaby narrow 17th century rooms, poky stairs and clapboarded dados. Too many of the eighties edit houses and post-production facilities were squeezed into unsuitable 18th century listed houses with netted fire doors, glass partitions and grim noticeboards, but our place remained a house, with fireplaces in every room. We were always above a shop. Carnaby Street went on up into the roof. At a party crowding up the stairs, I watched a Harbottle’s lawyer patronise an anonymous-looking man about his music. “We sometimes represent groups. What’s yours called?”

“Pink Floyd.”

Carnaby Street was pedestrianised, like now, but in a yellow and black zigzag plastic. We kept taxis permanently hovering at one end or the other, waiting to take artistes to important lunches. Gradually the pool table and the pinball machines went. There was no room for creativity. They were replaced with desks. The company was doing all right. Nobody hung out and played very much any more. Mel had the orange, Sixties bubble jukebox transported off to his place. It was mine. I paid for it. But I didn’t say anything. He’s dead now and it sits in his empty Abbey Road house. I might try to get it back. It has pictures of the two of us wearing Greek costumes under its perspex lid. I don’t remember why the Greek costumes, or the silver boingers on our heads. Those should date it, but there is now no record of that headgear craze. It was around that time we decided to move to Percy Street in Fitzrovia. This was a big place. We even had the shop, with an old plate glass window looking on to the reception area decorated with pictures bought from Rebecca Hossack around the corner. That was the end of Soho for us. When was this? God knows. Must have been the end of the Eighties. It was in many ways.


Oliver Spencer

Oliver Spencer

Words & Photography Kirk Truman

“I wanted to open on Berwick Street. I really believed it was the high street of the neighbourhood.”

Farringdon, Portobello, Lambeth: familiar names of London districts, but also those of a range of garments designed by Oliver Spencer, whose clothes, full of stylish accents and practical details, have earned a reputation for distinction, comfort and sheer cool. Designing and making handcrafted garments for modern men and women, Bloomsbury-based Spencer has produced his own individual take on relaxed British style, and a special relationship with the Soho neighbourhood stretching back to his youth.

Having grown up in Coventry, Oli first moved to London in the early 1990s to study art. Frustrated by the limitations of art school, he abandoned his studies and enrolled in what he describes as the University of Life, selling second-hand clothes from a stall at Portobello Market. “Lots of things happened which I would describe as being pivotal in framing where my life would go next. I learnt lots of lessons – some good and some bad,” he says. He woke up at 4.30am every day so he could get his pitch, and it was there on the market stall that his relationship with clothes really began, giving him with an enduring love of the product and a passion for shopkeeping.

Oli spent a decade creating and expanding his first venture, formalwear brand Favourbrook, during which time he designed waistcoats for the 1994 film Four Weddings And A Funeral and began to establish his place on London’s design map. Eight years later, he wanted to embark on a new venture with even greater ambitions – success on the global scene. His plan was to produce a range of clothing that combined the quality and craft of traditional tailoring with a more relaxed modern style. His philosophy: quality needn’t mean formality; casual needn’t mean careless. “I have a feeling towards clothing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dressing up or dressing down – it’s involved in every step of my life in any case,” he says. “When my customers purchase something from us, I want them to feel a sense of belonging – as if they’ve bought something that’s like their best friend… something they’ve owned forever. Every season, I strive to get there. I want to create clothes that talk to people. Most of my customers like to be seen but not heard – that’s why I don’t brand my stuff.” The Oliver Spencer label was born in 2002, and its founder’s philosophy soon found a number of adherents in the heart of Bloomsbury and beyond. Oli’s arrival in Bloomsbury came about through friend and founder of Folk Clothing, Glaswegian fashion designer Cathal McAteer. The Oliver Spencer brand first came to Lambs Conduit Street in 2007, and Oli’s store at No 62 is home to the latest collection each season, with the original surviving shop fittings making for an immaculately dressed setting.

Since launching on Lambs Conduit Street, Oliver Spencer has continued to expand across London, opening shops in Shoreditch and Soho – an area that’s been important in Oli’s own life since 1989. “I first came here with an ex-girlfriend of mine who was a couple of years older than me. At this point, I was already into fashion. It was the middle of the summer, and I was wearing an old second-hand two-piece check suit with sandals – aged 18. I remember getting some strange looks! People could see I definitely wasn’t from the area,” he says. “My relationship with Soho has always been that of a stranger really. It’s always held this awe for me – I’ve always been a bit scared of it to be honest. When I was a kid at art school, Soho was this tricky place. It felt so grown up, with so much going on all around. To a young kid, it was a bit intimidating. It was full of many different tribes, and not everybody was necessarily nice, especially if you were an outsider coming here. Everywhere you turned, there were dark streets and characters lurking. Since then, my fear has turned into a fascination. On a Friday evening, I know if I get here after 9pm, I won’t be home until at least 3am. Its an absolute vortex.” After opening his Bloomsbury stores, Oli had always planned for Soho to be his next destination. “I knew exactly where I wanted to open: I wanted to open on Berwick Street. I really believed it was the high street of the neighbourhood. It was the first store we opened where the tills began to ring from the very first day… if the shoe fits, as they say.”

Oli is uncompromising in the standards he sets for production and provenance, sourcing the finest fabrics and yarns from artisanal British and Italian mills. He prides himself on producing his garments in only the best European factories and workshops, with around 40 per cent of the collection made here in London or elsewhere in England. Despite the emphasis on British quality, Oliver Spencer’s eye is firmly fixed on the global market. Today, his clothes are stocked in many of the world’s leading department stores, from Selfridges to Liberty of London, and he has opened shops in Toronto and Paris, as well as developing a profitable international online business. With wearers of his brand including Daniel Craig, Tinie Tempah, Alex James and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, Oli confesses that his next ambition is to become a household name.


Raymond Revuebar

Raymond Revuebar

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Behind its ever-changing façade, Soho’s streets still hold secrets; dig beneath the surface and you can find yourself transported back to a different time. Make your way through the daytime crowds of Berwick Street, head towards the seedy Walkers Court, and stick around until nightfall, when the infamous doors to The Box Soho are open wide. Step inside this relic of Soho’s not-so-distant past and you’re in what was once the Doric Ballroom, which in turn became the setting of the Raymond Revuebar, perhaps Paul Raymond’s most famous legacy to the neighbourhood he reigned over for so many years.

It’s a legacy that still haunts the streets of Soho today. As evening revellers pass along Brewer Street, most don’t look up to see the neon beacon of the Raymond Revuebar that still glows above their heads. But, in spirit at least, the centre of Raymond’s empire of erotic entertainment, sex, publishing and property lives on. Despite the change of name and ownership, The Box Soho remains true to the Raymond Revuebar’s legacy, serving up nightly helpings of titillation, nudity and sex. Paul Raymond pioneered Soho strip clubs and the soft-porn magazine trade and prospered for more than 40 years; it was perhaps an unexpected ascendency for an entrepreneur who started out as a wartime spiv selling black market nylons from a market stall.

Paul Raymond was a stage name he chose early in his career, but he began life as Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, born in 1925 into a working class, Roman Catholic family in Liverpool. His mother wanted him to have a sound job, something steady and respectable, like a railway ticket office clerk, and she never fully accepted his more risqué chosen career.

Despite his success and confidence in later life, Raymond was a shy youngster who often stammered. If his childhood taught him anything, it was the need to establish his independence, something that ultimately defined his character. He left school at 15, working at the Manchester Ship Canal as an office boy. After a stint in the RAF, he embarked on a rather different life. He purchased a mind-reading act for £25, billing himself as a clairvoyant, and in Liverpool became a theatrical agent and impresario. The manager of one theatre told Raymond that he would book his act – but there was a catch. Raymond’s two female colleagues would only be allowed on stage if they appeared entirely nude. He offered the two girls an extra 10 shillings a week and they agreed. At this point, the law stated that nudity was permitted in a theatre providing women didn’t move whilst onstage. Finding away around this obstruction became something of a creative challenge: by putting the girls on a rotating platform, Raymond found a way to make his early shows a success. This set him on a path through a changing Britain – one that led him to Soho and made him one of the richest men in the country.

Raymond saw that the Lord Chamberlain’s restrictions surrounding on-stage nudity could be simply bypassed by turning public theatres into private clubs. In 1958 the old Doric Ballroom at 12 Walker’s Court, Soho, reopened as the Raymond Revuebar, hosting an array of explicit daily shows. At the time, this was one of very few legal venues in London offering full-frontal nudity. Though homosexual acts between men were illegal at this time, the Revuebar also operated a Sunday night show targeted at a gay audience. The success of the club was inevitably controversial, and in 1961 the chairman of the London Sessions called the show “filthy, disgusting and beastly”, and fined Raymond £5,000. It might have been a setback, but it also provided publicity for the shows worth many times this amount. By the late 1960s, the Revuebar was solely hosting striptease performances. This in turn made way for big-budget erotic shows of the type presented by Continental clubs such as the Crazy Horse. Performances involved a mixture of solo striptease acts mixed with simulated boy/girl and girl/girl on-stage sex. Known The Festival of Erotica, the show ran for many years, often with three performances a night.

By this time, Raymond had become a British institution. His realisation that the naked female body could deliver far bigger box office once it was relocated from Soho’s seedy cellars to the world of the theatre was the key to his success. Taking over the Whitehall and the Windmill theatres, his stage holdings grew, while his formula of providing nudity without actionable crudity was also applied to print publications like Men Only, Mayfair and Escort. Raymond’s wealth and empire begun to spread throughout Soho: he purchased freeholds of buildings throughout the neighbourhood, and created Soho Estates, amassing around 400 properties in the Soho area and becoming a commercial giant that dwarfed other theatre managements.

With competition from the wave of table dancing clubs that opened during the 1990s, audience numbers for traditional striptease shows were dwindling, and by 1997 Raymond sold the Revuebar to former Marseilles Ballet dancer Gerard Simi. The Revuebar hung on for a few more years, eventually closing in 2004. After the death of his daughter Debbie in 1992, Raymond stepped out of the media limelight and began to loosen his connections with the organisation he had built. A recluse in his last years, he died of respiratory failure, aged 82, in 2008, his granddaughters Fawn and India inheriting an estate estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.

You can recapture something of the glory days of Paul Raymond’s Soho in a new exhibition from Getty Images Gallery, which unearths rare photos of Soho’s past, and particularly of its nightlife and entertainment venues. The Raymond Revuebar, of course, is one of the exhibition’s focal points. Running until November 19th, the exhibition will be a trip down memory lane for some and an eye-opener for many others, juxtaposing the neighbourhood’s seedy roots with everyday Soho-ites through a series of beautiful photographs carefully selected from Getty Images’ vast historical archives – from David Bowie at The Marquee Club, jazz greats at Ronnie Scott’s and stunning images of Soho’s nightlife.




Words & Photography Kirk Truman

“There’s an endless amount of inspiration within the Filson brand given that we’re over a century old…”

Filson is a brand that was born out of necessity: it arrived in the right place and at the right time, and with a sense of purpose that has kept it on course ever since.

Thousands of fortune hunters were stampeding through Seattle, heading north. Born in 1850 and inheriting his fathers pioneer spirit and love of the great outdoors, CC Filson was armed with a strong work ethic, a reputation for honesty and several years’ experience operating a small loggers’ outfitting store. He knew that quality was of vital importance and that the only thing good enough was the very best. It was said that if a man was heading north, he should come to Filson for his outfit.

The rugged quality of Filson products has been setting the standard for American outdoor apparel for over 100 years, as creative director Alex Carleton is well aware: he was a Filson customer before he even came on board the brand, growing up in New England with a love for the outdoors. “I was familiar with the products and always intrigued by the world they came from. I wanted to help reveal a lot of the untold stories that existed. I’ve always gravitated towards American companies that played in the arena of tradition and outdoor recreation. Filson is the perfect combination of both,” he says.

As creative director, Alex is a firm believer in working with what’s there and maintaining a connection with the company’s origins, purpose and sense of place. “I’m a creative, I don’t really feel comfortable working in a vacuum. It’s not my style. There’s an endless amount of inspiration within the Filson brand given that we’re over a century old. I’m cautious about not letting our narrative stretch too far away from where we are and where we come from. It’s really easy to keep close to the core when you love it,” he says.

As Alex explains, a book could easily be written about the story of Filson. Producing unfailingly reliable gear for outdoor work, the company’s golden age lasted for decades, with Filson kitting out the innumerable men heading north in the hope of making their fortunes. “The Cliff Notes go like this: CC Filson was a pioneer who, by way of Nebraska, landed in Seattle at the end of the 19th century. He and his brother opened what would be a modern day equivalent of a hardware shop in Pioneer Square. When gold was discovered in the Klondike, being the entrepreneur he was, CC targeted prospectors as his customers and outfitted them for the insanely harsh weather of the north. Filson is the original Alaska outfitter.” Come the 20th century, the brand introduced outdoor sporting goods oriented toward those quintessentially American pastimes of hunting and fishing. Today, Filson see themselves as offering a unique blend of products for both work and recreation – and not just in the wild northlands of the USA.

If London is the gateway to Europe, then Soho is the gateway to London, and Newburgh Street was where the brand came to open its first retail outlet outside of the US. “We opened our first store at 9 Newburgh Street in April 2013, and then our second store at 13 Newburgh Street in December 2015,” Alex explains. “At number 9, you’ll find our luggage, bags and accessories, and at number 13 our clothing, such as our famous Mackinaw jackets, cruisers and shirts.” Their Soho stores have managed to integrate into the surrounding neighbourhood in the same way that their US stores have done. It’s about establishing a feel for the environment and getting to know the local area and work with it. “Soho has a sense of adventure and discovery, and we definitely share those values,” he says, “We host an array of events that give us the opportunity to bring a slice of the Pacific Northwest to life, from Whiskey and Wax, where we will show you how to wax your jacket, to events hosted by people that live the Filson life, such as wild chefs and foragers.”

Over the decades, Filson has both maintained what works and continued to innovate. It’s interesting that while so many heritage brands have changed, and in the process lost themselves, Filson has concentrated on delivering what they always have: a guarantee of quality and a focus on making products geared for the wild. In the future, just as in the past, Filson will continue to serve those customers who demand the very best high quality apparel for outdoor pursuits, and the brand’s presence in Soho – bringing a taste of the far north to central London – will undoubtedly grow. “We shall continue to innovate our product offerings and foster that same entrepreneurial spirit that CC Filson had. We’ll continue to mine our archives and share our adventure stories while creating new ones today,” says Alex.


A Home of  World Culture

A Home of World Culture

Words Kirk Truman

Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“I’ve always had this love of human creativity, what people can create, and what nature can create…”

A few years ago, one Fitzrovian opened my eyes a little wider to the neighbourhood… and the world beyond. She encouraged me to look, to listen and to really see this village in the city through her eyes. Her name is Rebecca Hossack. She’s beautiful, seemingly ageless, and strikingly tall. She’s intellectual and influential, a respected businesswoman, an established art dealer, and a member of the local council. And considering how remarkably down-to-earth she is, it’s easy to forget the success of her eponymously named galleries here in Fitzrovia and across the pond in New York City. She’s remarkably open when discussing her business, and her abiding love of Fitzrovia, but Rebecca values her privacy too, especially when it comes to her home environment and her own personal art collection, so I was delighted when she invited me into this very special place.

Born in 1955, Rebecca has a Scottish family heritage and was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. She began studying for the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in the early 1980s when she first came to England, but soon after opted for a career in art. After borrowing £20,000 to open her first gallery on Windmill Street in 1988, Rebecca has gone on to establish two successful Fitzrovia-based galleries, on Charlotte Street and Conway Street, with another in the heart of Lower Manhattan, New York. Today, her presence and her mission are as uncompromising as ever: she wants to create a sanctuary where people can come to find themselves among the artworks, greenery and peace of her galleries.

The same approach to creating a unique space extends to her domestic environment. Just round the corner from Conway Street, in a classic, flat-fronted Fitzrovia terrace, she and her husband Matthew Sturgis have created a beautiful home that’s as full of the unexpected as her galleries, and filled with Rebecca’s extensive personal collection of non-Western art and artefacts. It begs the question: is her home is an extension of her galleries, or her galleries an extension of her home?

As we stand in the kitchen, Rebecca talks to me while making a pot of tea. “This is a house of world culture. Everything in the house isn’t just a thing – it has meaning and a personal touch. Everything is made or created by somebody I or my husband knows. In the kitchen alone, all of the cups and saucers are made by the octogenarian potter, Anne Stokes, from Hampstead,” she says, handing to me a plate inspired by the Aboriginal artist Jimmy Pike. We step down into the basement of the house, which Rebecca’s refers to as her ‘earth room’. “Everything in here is homemade. Because it’s downstairs, I wanted this to be the earth room. Everything down here is made from the earth. The floor is leather and the curtains are woven leather,” she tells me. From a rare wooden medieval chest, to a woven high-back Orkney Scottish chair and a Haitian voodoo flag, the contents of the earth room rival the displays at the British Museum or the V&A, both of whom have taken objects and artefacts from her home on loan through the years. Rebecca walks me to the end of the room, where she introduces me to a series of paintings, and two aboriginal funeral poles. “These are our hollow log coffins. When Matthew and I die, I’ll go in this one, and he’ll go in that one; your bones gone in there. Traditionally, the aboriginals would hang your dead body on a tree until you’d fully decomposed, then bleach your bones, and stuff them in the log. I’m hoping my log can be planted in Fitzroy Square. I’m not sure how the residents will take to it though!” she laughs.

Her relationship with art and collecting has been a long one, growing throughout her life. It began when she was a child in Melbourne. “Ever since I was tiny, I have been collecting. I’ve always had this love of human creativity, what people can create, and what nature can create. I’ve always had an obsession with flowers,” she says. “I’ve had many, many collections during my life; my first one was of glass animals. I have always loved collecting – what humans have made is a source of infinite delight to me. I am not delighted by many modern things: the public realm constantly disappoints me.”

Rebecca’s lifelong love affair with aboriginal and non-Western art   is an unmistakable product of her Australian origins. “I am from a family of three generations of Scottish weavers. My father was a doctor, and all of my family were tradespeople and factory workers. I was the first member of the family to break from the norm. It’s funny how suddenly that happens, and why,“ she observes. “Through the galleries I represent 40 artists, all non-Western. I kind of made it my mission to work with only non-Western artists. Today, I think we have more pictures and paintings than any other house in Fitzrovia – somewhere in the region of 430 – and an extensive book collection made up of my and my husband’s personal collections. I don’t know what to do now, because I really have run out of room on the walls. Each one is personal and like a jewel, with so much knowledge and meaning. That’s maybe my biggest existential problem in life now!” she laughs. “It’s really hard to have a minimalist house filled with this many books and pictures. Everything on the walls is rare enough to be in the British Museum – some of it has been at one time or another!” Rebecca and I walk through the entrance hall of her house. I am examining a series of solid bronze cactuses when she draws my attention to a painting that covers most of the wall space. “The picture you are looking at here is by the Spinifex people. I went to the most remote place on the earth on Christmas Day to meet them some years ago in the Great Victoria Desert. Little was known about these people – so much so that the British used the site for nuclear weapons testing,” she says. “The painting tells the story of a nuclear weapons test, in which they evacuated their homeland.”

The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery has been an established presence in Fitzrovia for almost 30 years now, and is renowned for showing exciting, often eye-opening work by international artists. Walking around Rebecca’s galleries, as in her home, you are greeted at every turn by figurative drawings, paintings and sculptures that go against existing trends in the art world and are quite unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. The galleries frequently show work on paper by Aboriginal artists from Australia, and are undoubtedly among London’s most enviably independent and original gallery spaces. Rebecca Hossack is a Fitzrovia institution. Despite her protestations about lack of space, I suspect her extensive personal art collection will continue to grow, just as her galleries will continue to showcase some of the most exciting and unexpected art to be seen in Fitzrovia. Home and gallery are, in the end, of a piece, and 100 per cent Rebecca.

Shrimoyee Chakraborty

Shrimoyee Chakraborty

Words & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“…I didn’t like studying, so my mum got me to the kitchen to do my homework while she cooked.”

The first thing you notice upon entering Calcutta Street is the colour: a bright aquamarine exterior, with menus like wooden window shutters in the same brilliant hue. The second thing is the menu: to those unacquainted with regional Indian cooking, the dishes may seem unfamiliar – after all we’re so used to traditional Indian restaurants serving the usual curries – but Calcutta Street aims to bring a culinary rarity to London diners: authentic Bengali cuisine. There are mains such as Panchmishali Torkari, seasonal vegetables cooked with panch phoran, a classic Bengali five-spice mixture, and billed as ‘Grandmother’s classic’; Kosha Mangsho, a rich and fragrant Bengali-style lamb Curry; and a delicious sea bass cooked in banana leaf – and all come with a personal touch. This is Shrimoyee Chakraborty’s sanctuary, and all her dishes originate “from her family kitchen on Gariahat Road”.

“When I moved to England, I hated the curry houses here. I didn’t like the décor. The style, it was far too… I mean, I wouldn’t go on a date there, and that’s not the India I grew up with. I was sick and tired of slum India, poor India… we’re all about reds and oranges, we’re all about wearing a sari and Bollywood.” Her response was to start a blog called Calcutta Street, which described itself as “a celebration of my city and a montage of happy memories growing up in a household obsessed with food and entertaining.” “I was like, right, this is real Indian food, not what you eat in those restaurants, and I think that’s why the blog got attention.”

Looking back, Shrimoyee credits her mother, who at the time was doing a PhD in philosophy, with awakening her culinary imagination.  “When I was very young, like every other kid, I didn’t like studying, so my mum got me to the kitchen to do my homework while she cooked. She used to sit there and say “Finish your homework!” but instead, everything else was more interesting and more exciting than my school books. My mother is a fantastic cook. She loves experimenting and used to incentivise me to learn to cook and try new things. She would say ‘Right, if you finish this paragraph you can make a dough or whatever’. That’s how I started enjoying it.” As she grew more confident, Shrimoyee became more adventurous. “When my mum wasn’t home, I used to go to the kitchen and make things by myself. Even now, if I’m confused about a recipe I call her up for advice.”

But Shrimoyee’s journey from childhood experimentation in the kitchen to full-blown restaurateur has as many unusual twists as her recipes. “I grew up in Calcutta and left at 16. When I was in my teens I had all sorts of ideas! I always wanted to do something a bit different from the norm. First, I wanted to be a female pilot. After that, I wanted to market independent films, because I was really into foreign language films – Bertolucci, Almodovar and especially Satyajit Ray.” But coming from a very academic family, her parents balked at the idea of her studying media. “It was a complete taboo! So instead, I did economics but with a media major for my undergrad degree.”

Though she had a taste of the media world in India, doing some presenting for the Disney channel, Shrim decided to move to Manchester, where she did a Masters in global business analysis. “I thought ‘I’m going to go the corporate route – I want to make a lot of money!’ But really, I was never a money-driven person.” She worked at Royal Bank of Scotland, then in advertising at WPP, before finally being poached by Yelp. “They said ‘Right, here’s the Yelp brand from America – launch it! It’s your baby!’ That was the best thing ever!” But after a year and a half, London beckoned. A stint at the Sunday Times was followed by a job at the economic think tank Asia House. “I was the head of programming, researching foreign markets and finally using my economics degree, dealing with big companies to do economic analysis.” But in the midst all this, Shrimoyee had also launched her food blog, yearning to get back to her passion for food. “At first, it was just a hobby. When I started it, I was looking at other blogs that were just generic recipes written down; there was nothing that was specifically regional, like the cuisine I make here.” Shrim started doing video blogs. From this came TV opportunities. “Channel 4, Travel, and Living, got in touch. I was doing shows here and there. And then the Independent came to interview me and asked me what’s the next step, and I said I want to do pop-ups!”

A soul-searching trip to the East and West coasts of America convinced her she needed to act on her instincts. “I saw these investment bankers who’d left their jobs to make their own cheese and stuff like that, and I thought Wow! This is very inspiring!” From this point, there was no stopping Shrim. Her first pop-up in Camden featured Bengali cuisine with a street food theme. “I was really just testing the market. I blagged my way in, telling the owner I have this blog with 1,700 followers and I can get you 50 people through the door on a Sunday afternoon when you’re not busy.” Instead, we got 100 people and ran out of food – it was complete chaos!” More pop-ups followed, from Bonnie Gull in Exmouth market to the South Bank Festival and live jazz events with sitar players.

“I barely had any time, but I realised I needed to stop the pop-ups; so I wrote a business plan overnight, thinking about how I could try and raise some funding. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?” Investors quickly saw Shrim’s potential and lined up to help her start her own business. “I saw this property on Tottenham Street and I thought It looked super cute! I always wanted to be near Charlotte Street. So we got the builders in and Fitzrovia’s Calcutta Street was born!”

For Shrimoyee, introducing the culture of Calcutta, as well as its cuisine, was one of the most important aspects of opening her restaurant. “That’s why our menu holders are Bengali books by great authors, because art and literature are a huge part of Calcutta’s culture. And all the artwork in the restaurant is by local artists from the region. Calcutta also has a huge amount of cinema history – the first ever Oscar for an Indian film was won by Satyajit Ray, a Bengali director, so I want to screen some of his films and showcase that side of our culture.” Ambitious, fiery, and most of all passionate about bringing the authenticity of her Bengali roots to her restaurant, Shrim is hoping her journey and her food will offer a different perception of India to London diners.

Romain Bruneau

Romain Bruneau

Words & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“I was working in the comics section and developed taste for the more indie type of graphic novels…”

There was something almost sacrilegious about asking Romain into a church to shoot some portraits of him, as he comes across as a kind of Barista Lord of the Dark. His drawings of Cthulhu-esque tentacled creatures and detailed observations of insects are pinned around Kin, the Fitzrovia café where he works, and provide some clues to this enigmatic character.

“I started drawing in December last year. I’m influenced by loads of things, like Black Metal imagery, occult stuff, the Italian Renaissance, and “outsider artists” like Fred Deux and Cecile Reims, as well as my friend Al Doyle.” Romain’s interest in comics was first aroused when he worked in a bookshop in Paris, where he grew up. “ I was working in the comics section and developed taste for the more indie type of graphic novels. Winshluss, whose Pinocchio won the 2009 Angouleme prize, is a particular favourite but I love American artists like Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes.”

Romain only developed an interest in drawing as a way to pass the time while taking some time out from another of his passions: music. He started playing guitar at 14 and formed his first band at 16. “It was a perfect way to get out of the suburbs, do stuff in Paris and it also allowed us travel a lot. As we were involved in the punk scene I spent loads of time hanging out in squats: the perfect place to meet weirdos who shared the same ideas and a will to live their lives in a different way. It was also a great place for creativity and the cradle of many musical projects.” A few years studying sound engineering were a bit of a disappointment. “ I thought I would find that as good as playing music … that wasn’t the case.”

It was in Ireland that his focus really crystallised. “I’d always wanted to live abroad. My friend Arnaud moved to Dublin, so I was visiting him quite a lot. When our Irish friends and fellow punks wanted to spend some time in Paris, they’d stay at mine. So I had strong connections before I moved. I started three bands over there – Rats Blood, Ghost Trap and Cat Piss Brain Rot – all of them through the punk scene.” As a guitarist and occasional vocalist, he still regularly plays with Rats Blood but has started two new bands: High Vis, a post-punk outfit, and Love Song, a more melodic project. “Most of my projects have a political stance, they are all based on a D.I.Y libertarian/anarchistic ethic I would say.” Though his influences include punk and death metal, he’s nothing if not than eclectic in his tastes, with jazz, hip-hop and classical all feeding into the mix. “I love watching the LSO at the Barbican Centre,” he tells me.

The extensive gigging with his numerous bands has taken him to an equally varied range of unusual venues. “From the middle of a forest in the north of Germany to a small local football stadium in Italy. We also ended up squatting in Barcelona, in tunnels built underneath a mansion. They told us they were built as an escape route during the Civil War. I remember sleeping in a room the squatters had discovered after knocking the walls down. There was a massive pentagram in the tiles on the floor. I slept within it – and all the people who slept outside it got bitten by bed bugs! Ahah!!!”

Now living full time in London, Romain divides his time between his day job as head barista at Kin, playing music and discovering London on his bike. “I kinda cycle everywhere in London – the best way to commute! I love skyscrapers, the mix of old and new architecture, the brutalist Barbican Centre is cool… the Tate Modern… also the old Battersea Power Station.”

Romain’s obvious interest in the unusual side of London becomes apparent as we do some more portraits, this time in one of Fitzrovia’s hidden gems, the Grant Museum of Zoology. “In Paris I used to love visiting the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, where you could find lots of strange creatures and skeletons,” he tells me. He looks strangely at home in in this Lovecraftian environment, surrounded by jars of formaldehyde and animal skulls. As we make our way out, a monstrous python skeleton winding its way across a display case catches his eye. “We should ask them if I could wear that as a scarf,” he jokes…

Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson

Words & Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“I started as a press office assistant and have done a huge range of things from press cuttings and press releases…”

The Independent has called him a minor British institution in his own right and a walking encyclopaedia of film, and friends and colleagues have delighted for years in his anecdotes, delivered in an unmistakable sardonic style; but soon, with retirement only months away, Brian Robinson’s 29-year residency at the British Film Institute press office will come to an end. In his role as press officer, Brian has met countless stars of the silver screen and interviewed such luminaries as Gene Wilder and Julie Andrews (“my favourite moment”) live onstage at the South Bank’s National Film Theatre. And as programmer for the BFI Flare (London’s LGBT film Festival) he has championed many a budding talent and programmed countless gems, including Derek Jarman’s Will You Dance With Me? and Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Theo And Hugo.

Brian grew up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, keeping his head down, working hard at school and always having etched in his mind a line from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “I know there is a world elsewhere.” For him, this was the world of film and entertainment, and from an early age it offered him a temporary escape from the violence around him. “Going up to Belfast to the cinema with a programme and a box of chocolates was a big event for our family. It seemed like the height of sophistication. I fell in love with Julie Andrews when I saw Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music and won second prize in a fancy dress competition as Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Belfast in the Seventies wasn’t the easiest place to be a gay teenager, and despite meeting the legendary Quentin Crisp – Brian helped get him over to Northern Ireland to perform his one-man show – Brian set out for the mainland. After a law degree at Sussex (“I spent most of my time shopping for vintage clothes”), his first years in London brought with them early, if fleeting, brushes with fame. “When working in Fortnum & Mason’s fruit and flowers department in the summer of the Silver Jubilee there were lots of famous people who popped in. I missed Alec Guinness, who wanted a pound of grapes, but saw Kenneth Moore and Clementine Churchill – and I got to say Sorry to George Harrison when I bumped his arm on the stairs with a tray of peaches.”

He would soon get to meet many of the stars he adored in a professional capacity when, in 1978, he joined the BFI press office, then in Charing Cross Road, though it moved to its current Stephen Street address later that year. “I started as a press office assistant and have done a huge range of things from press cuttings and press releases to event organisation.” In time, he graduated to “speech-writing and celebrity hand-holding” and conducting on-stage interviews with some of the world’s most celebrated actors, technicians and directors.

We asked Brian to share some of his favourite stories with Fitzrovia Journal.

Brian on Bette Davis,

Bette Davis was a surprise recipient of a BFI Fellowship shortly after I arrived at the BFI. I was tasked with looking after her, somewhat in awe that such a legendary Hollywood star could be in my life. She was about 80 at the time. We had agreed with Channel 4 news that she would do this quick piece and when we arrived at the venue, she looked at the floor and said, “This is linoleum! I need carpet!” I said I’m afraid there isn’t any carpet Miss D, and she said: “Get some!” So I went to the house manager and I said, I’m really sorry but Miss Davis doesn’t want to do the interview on a linoleum floor. Do you have any carpet? He said: “Actually we do have a roll of emergency replacement carpet.” From that I learned that however unlikely a thing might seem, that sometimes asking you can get it!

Her appearance at the Fellowship Awards was a complete surprise to the audience. Dirk Bogarde, who came on before her thought he was the star billing, but then Richard Attenborough said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please stay in your seats; we have another very special guest.” We showed a clip from Now Voyager and just before she was due to go on stage, she asked for another ashtray as she had been smoking continuously during the four and a half hours she’d been in make-up and hair. I rushed to the dressing room, knowing that we only had one ashtray and that it was full. I ran to the toilet and tipped her lipstick stained cigarette butts down the pan with a slight sense of misgiving. Years later I discovered that John Lennon’s cigarette butts had sold for something like £300 and the Smithsonian owned one half-smoked cigarette of Bette Davis. But I quickly flushed away those priceless relics and brought her a wiped clean ashtray.

Finally Miss Davis went on stage and received the most instantaneous sanding ovation I’ve ever seen. In fact, Vanessa Redgrave jumped up with such violence that she broke her own award!

Brian on Woody Allen

When Woody Allen came to the BFI to give a talk, the phone rang every day. It seemed as if people from every film magazine and newspaper around the world – people from Chile, Japan, France – wanted to come, but we only had about a dozen press tickets. A researcher from a show called My Favourite Hymns rang and said, “Oh, I hear Woody Allen is coming to see you. We’d love to have Woody Allen come on the show and talk about his favourite hymn. I said, “Are you sure?” And she said, “Oh yes.” I said, “You do know that he’s Jewish?” She said, “Oh we don’t mind. We’ll take anyone who has a favourite hymn.” So I told his agent and she said it was the funniest thing that he’d ever been asked to do, but he didn’t have a favourite hymn.

Brian on Quentin Tarantino

There was an incredible frenzy around Quentin Tarantino. He’d got famous very quickly. I remember just seeing him walking along the Croisette in Cannes before Reservoir Dogs took off. By the time of Pulp Fiction, he was voted one of the top 10 directors of all time in the Sunday Times readers’ poll. There was an insatiable appetite for him – he surfed the zeitgeist, and everyone wanted him. There was one particular time where I remember literally jogging around the National Film Theatre with a crowd of nearly 50 people all holding books and posters shouting  “Quentin, Quentin can you sign?” They were just rabid autograph-hunters. We were even offered a year’s supply of shampoo for the whole press office if we could get someone in to see Quentin Tarantino’s on-stage interview!

Though Brian will continue programming the BFI Flare festival, leaving the BFI’s Fitzrovia HQ means he’ll be spending far less time in an area he has many fond memories of.

“One of my favourite locations is Newman Passage, which features in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. In fact, a lot of the film takes place around Newman Street and Rathbone Street. The door that leads into the Newman Arms from Newman passage is where an actress paying a prostitute says to a blond man ‘Alright dearie!’ I once took the filmmaker Vicente Aranda around Fitzrovia and he was amazed that every street looks like a film location. When I took him to Newman passage he recognised it immediately from Peeping Tom. I always used to laugh with the Observer’s late film critic Philip French because of a scene in the film where the murderer’s hanging around taking out the body, and someone says ‘Who are you?’

He replies, ‘I’m a journalist?’

‘What paper?’

‘The Observer!’”



Words & Photography Kirk Truman

“My brain ticked, and I began to think about trying to do something with this…”

The first time I met Kieran Mithani, he presented me with a range of his latest products. As I admired these creations, he explained that the majority of them were made in the studio of his Fitzrovia home on Cleveland Street. Kieran is the creator of Lanyap, a new niche accessories brand specialising in high quality leather goods and knitwear.

Kieran is half English, half Indian, and was born and raised in Camberley. While studying engineering at university he came to realise it wasn’t something he wanted to pursue as a career. “After university, I came to London and managed to get a scholarship at the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi on Charlotte Street. This was the spark which led to me doing something much more creative,” he says. “After moving to Fitzrovia, I began to teach myself motion graphics. It gave me an edge, and post-production became something that captivated me. Despite this, it got to a point where I didn’t really feel like I was really making anything, just playing around on my computer. I had this desire to make a change.”

Strangely, what initiated the idea for Lanyap was a family Christmas a few years back when, one evening, Kieran began knitting with his mother. “She taught me how to do a few stitches, and there was something about it which captivated me. I’ve always been fascinated by the process of making things, for me it sparked this desire to create something raw and fresh. My brain ticked, and I begun to think about trying to do something with this,” he says. “I suddenly really got into it. I started to learn how to create numerous different patterns, which led me to research other brands and fabrics and to think of ideas for garments and accessories. I began to think a lot about the quality and manufacturing process, firstly of knitwear and then, later, leather goods. I quickly became aware that there were a lot of brands on the high street which were making mass-produced stuff that were wasn’t necessarily well-made or built to last.” Kieran’s brand concept was focused on quality and creating something niche, with products that would be made in limited numbers and to the highest level of quality possible from the best fabrics he could possibly source.

“I started looking into how big contending brands make their own products, from the hand-finished edges of leather goods to the stitching, gluing and the finished product,” he says. “I realised just how many levels there are to making a product as good as it can be, this led me to take a course in Norfolk which introduced me to industry techniques. What I was learning was cool, but it wasn’t at the level where I wanted to be. I wanted to create products that matched the quality of brands such as Hermes, or other French leather goods brands using beautiful leathers and incredible manufacturing techniques.” This led Kieran to take his growing expertise to the next level. Training in Switzerland, he learned how to maximise quality in the trade he was already beginning to master. “The attention to detail that you can apply to handmade leather goods can make it of infinitely higher quality than something that is made on a production line in a factory. That sort of potential, of something being better than a mass-produced item, was perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole process to me,” he says.

Since the brand’s inception, Kieran’s products for his small start-up have been entirely produced in his studio here in Fitzrovia. He has launched a range of leather bracelets and wallets, as well as purses and handbags for women. In addition to this, Lanyap’s knitwear line has seen Kieran create his Bear Paw gloves, inspired by the hand wraps used in boxing training. While at the moment Kieran mostly accepts only bespoke commissions for products, the coming year will see him begin the process of wholesaling Lanyap to major London retailers who share his vision of beautifully crafted, limited edition goods.

Bernie Katz

Bernie Katz

Words Kirk Truman

Portraits Edu Torres

“…Soho is a place of many emotions, a place of ghosts. A place you shouldn’t stay for too long… get in and get out.”

Bernie Katz lights a cigarette handed to him by Madness’s own Chas Smash as we chat in the smoking area of the Groucho Club where Katz has reigned as gatekeeper and host for almost a quarter of a century. Connected, intellectual and brilliantly eccentric, he’s inarguably one of Soho’s most familiar faces and one of London’s most famous hosts. There’s a story that, some years ago, an elderly lady arrived at the Groucho believing she was at Soho House. After Bernie had taken the trouble to walk her, at a steady pace, to her intended destination, he ran into a friend, actor Stephen Fry, who immediately dubbed him “the Prince of Soho”. The name stuck.

He looks the part too: the slickest, best-dressed and most charming fixture of the Groucho, clad head-to-toe in custom-made clothing by friend and tailor Chandni Odedra, a wardrobe that runs the gamut from leopard print to sequins.

It wasn’t always like this. Bernie was born and raised in South London, where his father was one of the area’s most notorious gangsters. The young Bernie saw drive-by shootings and extreme violence from an early age. One day, when he was just 15, a man burst into his family home in Kennington and shot his father dead right in front of him. The gangland upbringing his father’s way of life had exposed him to was now at an end, and Bernie moved on to another life. He worked for a period in a haberdashery store in Tooting, before getting a job at the long-gone Tiddy Dols restaurant (famed for its 18th-century Welsh Rarebit and gingerbread) in Shepherd Market. Thus began a career in hospitality that saw him move on to The Savoy and a restaurant in Italy.

At a time when private members’ clubs were archaic, men-only retreats, a group of publishers that included Carmen Cahill, Ed Victor, Liz Calder and literary agent Michael Sissons had an idea. They imagined a place that welcomed both men and women to meet, work and socialise – and so the Groucho Club was born. Almost a quarter of a century ago, Bernie was invited to work at the club by the late Dick Bradshaw, inventor of the espresso martini, to cover a waiter’s paternity leave. Despite describing himself as having been an awful barman and waiter, Bernie found himself with a permanent role at the club when the new father failed to return.

“There was once an amazing woman called Teresa Cornelys, a singer who became a lover of Casanova,” Bernie tells me. “She landed here in Soho in her late thirties, where in 1760 she invented the first private members’ club at Carlisle House, Soho Square, hosting a range of fashionable gatherings. Teresa and Soho is how members clubs came to be born.” It’s a tradition that Bernie takes pride in continuing. “The Groucho is like a family. Everybody looks after each other. Members, members’ children and members’ children’s children – it’s like an extended family for all. No matter who somebody is, if they come to see me, I’ll see that they land on their feet,” he says. “After being here for over 20 years, you get to know all sorts of different people. I’ve been captivated by the arts world, which has led me to work on numerous art auctions featuring everyone from Peter Blake to Damien Hirst. In addition to this, my sister has an autistic son, thus I’ve been able to organise auctions to benefit the National Autistic Society. I’ve dabbled a lot in the art world – hence I’ve got a great art collection. Let’s call that my pension!” he laughs.

In his time at the Groucho, Bernie has made the club his own, and in turn it has shaped him. “Without meaning to, without changing myself and remaining who I am, I have always kept my feet on the ground. I’ve never gotten too carried away… you’ve gotta remain as solid and as real as you can,” he says. “You do as you say, and say as you do. If you say you’re gonna do something, you’ve gotta do it and stick to your word. I think that’s what, for the want of a better word, has been the secret of my success as a host. I’ve always said I can do something or I can’t, and I’ve always delivered on what I say I can do. That’s been the recipe for my reign.” As well as having been shaped by the club, Bernie believes that Soho too has influenced him in many ways. He explains that while he loves working here, he likes to live at a “safe distance” from the area, finding comfort in his home in Kentish Town. “There’s so much you can say about Soho, and so little you can say that hasn’t been said before. Soho is like a Shangri-La: it’s music, art and fun” he says. “I can be anywhere in Soho and I feel at home, looked after. It’s a place of friendly faces.”

Bernie has noted how Soho has been changing in recent years, though for him this is part of its identity too and doesn’t affect the essential qualities of an area that will always remain close to his heart. “Soho is very fast-paced. It’s always changed and adapted to the times. It’s a place where you can be openly gay, black or white, whoever you wanna be: it’s a place for all. I’ve always thought of it as an animated film – it’s like a shop that changes every five minutes; though to my eyes, it hasn’t really changed all that much in hundreds of years. I think Soho will always remain vibrant and colourful,” he says. “Soho goes back as far as Henry VIII, hence the hunting cry ‘Soho!’ It began to modernise during the reign of King Charles II. Century after century, decade after decade, the characters haven’t really changed. It’s the most beautiful, magical, mystical and tragic place that there is.”

The many secrets and stories of Bernie’s life at the Groucho and beyond were revealed in the 2008 book Soho Society, in which he delves into the lust, envy and decadence of Soho’s party scene, and the lives of those who have joined him for the journey. Bernie’s future at the Groucho Club is uncertain; although he can’t imagine leaving the club any time soon, he explains that his long reign will eventually have to come to an end. His passion for the art world is something he’d potentially like to pursue further, launching his own ‘Prince of Soho’ exhibition, showcasing various artists’ work. For now, you’ll find him racing around the corridors of the club, or on his new regular show on Soho Radio. Whatever the future holds, the Prince of Soho’s reign is not yet done. As he says, he and Soho are “both colouring books that haven’t been coloured in properly yet… Soho is a place of many emotions, a place of ghosts. A place you shouldn’t stay for too long. Get in and get out.”



Words Kirk Truman

Photography Etienne Gilfillan

“…many of the distinctive fabrics used were originally developed and created by the company; these continue to be used for our designs today.”

Among the maze of Soho’s historic streets it’s hard to single out one that could be termed the area’s epicentre: would it be Carnaby Street? Brewer Street, perhaps? Wardour Street has a good claim. But arguably Old Compton Street remains the quintessential heart of the neighbourhood; and in the past few years the street has become home to a welcome new addition bringing yet another layer of history and a unique heritage to the area. Originating in Nottingham, Sunspel has been crafting its high quality garments from the world’s most luxurious fabrics for 160 years. I spoke to the company’s CEO, Nicholas Brooke, about Sunspel’s Midlands roots, pioneering approach and iconic boxer shorts.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, steam power had kick-started a period of enormous worldwide change. Born in 1822, Thomas Arthur Hill founded Sunspel in 1860. His father was a hosiery maker in Nottingham, and Thomas chose to follow in his paternal footsteps and enter the hosiery and lace trade. Hill found himself at the heart of one of the earliest manufacturing sectors to embrace the introduction of steam power – and he responded by becoming a fabric innovator, and one of the great early British industrialists. Opening a textile factory in Newdigate, Nottingham – which became the centre of British lacemaking – his vision was to create simple, everyday clothing from beautiful fabrics. It’s a philosophy that Sunspel continues to follow today. Hill’s use of lightweight and very fine cotton allowed him to pioneer the development of luxury undergarments as we know them today. In addition, some of the earliest garments produced at the Newdigate factory included some of the first T-shirts, tunics and undershirts ever made.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Sunspel had become one of the first British companies to export to the Far East, having built an extensive business across the British Empire. It was during this period that Sunspel came to develop its unique Sea Island cotton fabrics, sourced from the West Indies and used in its most luxurious products. “Sunspel became renowned for producing undergarments of exceptional quality,” says Nicholas. “Many of the distinctive fabrics used were originally developed and created by the company; these continue to be used for our designs today.”

Long established as a menswear label, Sunspel today is an authentic English heritage brand, making luxury wardrobe essentials for both men and women. Current CEO Nicholas Brooke became involved with the brand through a family connection, having been aware of Sunspel for some time and having a genuine admiration for the company’s heritage and history of innovation. When Nicholas and business partner Dominic Hazlehurst bought the company from existing owner Peter Hill, a relative of founder Thomas Hill, in 2005, it was important to them that the new owners would not close the existing factory, outsource the production or tamper with the fundamentals – but there was work to be done in bringing Sunspel into the 21st century. “The brand was not in great shape. We worked hard to bring it up to date. We had lots to work with: a great heritage, fantastic product and the potential for it to be restored to its former glory. It’s been wonderful to see how much the company has transformed and grown,” says Nicholas. “Cook pioneered the development of the T-shirt as we know it and also introduced the boxer short to Britain from the US in 1947,” he tells me. “The Sunspel boxer short was later immortalised in the 1985 Levi’s commercial with Nick Kamen, who was seen stripping down to his white Sunspel boxers. The brand has also come to develop a close association with cinema, working closely with costume designer Lindy Hemming to re-fit the Riviera polo shirt for Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (2006). It was an existing style, tailored to fit Daniel Craig – and the re-fitted version that he wore is the new standard for the polo. The brand has stayed true to its heritage, combining tradition and innovation to make exceptional quality, modern clothing for everyday wear.”

In 2012, Sunspel turned its eyes to Soho, opening at 40 Old Compton Street, on the site where the infamous Janus Bookstore once sold bespoke erotica. “Our next door neighbours are a vintage liquor store on one side and the original Patisserie Valerie on the other. Fine booze, fine pastries and fine clothing – what more could you ask for?” says Nicholas. As with their Chiltern Street and Redchurch Street stores, each Sunspel branch is the result of a carefully thought out process. Nicholas cites the Old Compton Street store as a destination for the brand’s fans and a place to be discovered by new customers. “The store stands apart as one of the only clothing stores on the street, and definitely the only store offering British luxury wardrobe essentials for men and women. It’s a vibrant area and I think Sunspel fits nicely into the architecture of the street,” he says.

If fits, too, into the way the ever-changing area is evolving. “It’s a place of neon lights and night-time haunts, eccentric characters and exotic entertainments,” says Nicholas. “Traditionally, Soho was known for its less salubrious offerings and over the years Old Compton Street has gone from a down-at-heel, seedy street to a more up-and-coming destination with a great mix of entertainment, food and stores. Albeit a bit more polished these days, I think it’s still an incredibly exciting area.” The Soho store is now established as an important and successful part of the brand, catering to a wide cross-section of Sunspel’s customer base. Nicholas feels that it has become an integral part of the fabric of the street and the wider neighbourhood. Having recently opened stores in Berlin’s fashionable Mitte district and in Omotesando, Tokyo, Sunspel is looking carefully at other store locations for the future, but Old Compton Street looks set to remain a major London home for the growing brand.



Words Kirk Truman

Photography Jamie McGregor Smith

Soho is a vibrant and culturally significant area… an ideal location for our first store outside of the US”

Curiosity got the better of me some months ago, and I entered a specialist emporium in the centre of Soho, above which hangs an eye-catching and distinctively branded timepiece. Inside, I found watches, leather goods, journals and bicycles. Priding itself on selling lovingly crafted products made in the USA, Shinola is a unique find even among Soho’s eclectic shopping streets. I asked Creative Director Daniel Caudill to tell me about Shinola’s Foubert’s Place store and to share the story of this quintessentially American brand.

Shinola is a relatively new Detroit-based design company dedicated to delivering world-class manufacturing jobs and making products of the highest quality and durability. A Bedrock Manufacturing brand, it was conceived in 2011 in the belief that products should be built in America and built to last; it’s a belief that emerges from the strong legacy of manufacturing in community-minded Detroit – a legacy that Shinola finds inspiration in. Standing for skill at scale, the preservation of craft and the beauty of industry, Shinola’s watch and leather factories are housed within Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, in the former Argonaut building.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Shinola’s Creative Director is responsible for each and every detail. Born in Trinidad & Tobago and raised in Montana, Daniel Caudill studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. He then went on to work alongside a number of apparel brands before moving into styling photoshoots for music videos and adverts, which in turn led to him becoming a consultant for a number of major American brands. Although everything at Shinola is a direct result of collaboration, it is safe to say that none of what makes the brand what it is today would exist without Daniel. “My role here is a culmination of my career so far,” he says. “A friend introduced me to some people when what would become Shinola was just an idea among a handful of friends. We would have conversations about what the aesthetics of the brand could be. These conversations went on to be the creative foundations of the brand.”

From Shinola’s signature watches to leather accessories, journals and bicycles, the brand’s crucial founding ethos is that their products should be built to last. Using high quality, labour-intensive materials, experienced craftspeople and the finest manufacturing processes available, Shinola’s products are more than just accessories for modern day living. “We wanted to make beautiful products,” says Daniel, “but more importantly we wanted to create jobs, which is still one of our proudest achievements to date. The company grew naturally when we made the decision to move to Detroit in 2012. From there, we found and trained people from within the community, built a factory and started manufacturing beautiful watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals.” Daniel and Shinola believe in the history of Detroit, but also in its future, which is why they’re based there. Investing in skill, Shinola is creating a community that is thriving through the excellence of craft and pride in work. The brand is reclaiming and redefining the meaning of American luxury goods: they are things that are made well.

London was the ideal choice for Shinola as the first bricks-and-mortar outlet outside of the US, with Daniel describing the city as the gateway to the world. “We opened our first store at 13 Newburgh Street in October 2014,” he says. “In December 2015 we moved to a bigger store just up the street at 28 Foubert’s Place and added a Shinola clock to the outside of the store, which is an oversized take on our original Runwell watch.” In establishing the store here in Soho, Shinola used the same approach that it had in the US, integrating and collaborating with the local community. “We throw great events and parties for our neighbours, customers and local agencies and always try to be interesting to them, be it through craft-maker events or book launches or whiskey and food tasting,” he says. “Soho is energetic and spirited, with adventure on every corner, including ours. We identify locations and stores based on the beauty of the raw space and the community we are surrounded by. Soho is a vibrant and culturally significant area with a strong sense of community – an ideal location for our first store outside of the US.”

In almost no time at all, the Shinola brand has gone from strength to strength, growing and evolving constantly in the process. It has gone from employing just nine people to 540, working in multiple factories across multiple new product categories. “The people who work in our factories are always learning new ways to improve how we make our products, as well as learning to make new ones,” says Daniel. “We are also opening a lot of stores in some cool places; we’ll have 22 by the end of this year.” Shinola’s future in the Soho neighbourhood is certainly bright, as they continue to interact with the surrounding area from their Foubert’s Place store. Moving forward, the brand is set to continue working on a number of projects, such as expanding their women’s line, and introducing new and exciting product lines: watch this space!

Mark Baxter

Mark Baxter

Words Jason Holmes

Portraits Kirk Truman

“Anyone can fit in up here in Soho. We’re all chameleons…”

He harks back to an age when a man’s word was his bond, when deals were sealed with a handshake and when the world turned, so it seemed, at a far slower pace. He’s the author of Elizabeth, Peter and Me, Tubby Hayes: A Man In A Hurry and the co-author of The A-Z of Mod and The Mumper, but he’s better known to the denizens of Soho as the über-connected, go-to public relations man who walks this small corner of central London with a rare, old world sensibility that sees him bring people together, be they bar owners, writers, rock stars or tailors – and all for the greater creative good.

Upstairs at the French House, Mark Baxter looks out into the mid-morning street, removes his spectacles, stirs his cappuccino and takes stock. “I live south of the river, and when I was a little kid my mum and my old man would bring us over here to do typical sightseeing stuff like Trafalgar Square and the lights of Christmas. Back then, I realised how close we were to Soho. It’s something like 25 minutes on the bus from Camberwell in south-east London, which to me is sometimes an angry place. Nothing’s ever been easy down there. It’s hard to make a living. There are some tough people. And me, I won’t take no for an answer. My old man used to say ‘If you can’t go through the door, go through the window’. In other words, don’t give up.”

But as a kid in the early ’70s, he was still taking it all in. “As I got a little bit older, and I’m talking 12 or 13, I used to get the number 53 bus from school on the Old Kent Road straight into the West End. That’s what I used to do, regularly. I remember Soho back then – I remember all the peep shows – but it was pretty seedy to be honest. But all my mates stayed locally, played locally and worked locally. I saw a different world up here, but it was quite hard for me to get people to come with me to see it.”

Baxter, like a lot of London kids, would play the Red Rover game: you’d jump on a random bus on a day fare and see where it took you. It broadened his horizons. “Coming here opened my eyes. When I had my first real job on Fleet Street in 1982, in the print trade, I started coming to Soho with a bit of money in my pocket and started enjoying the clubs and the clothes and record shops. Me being a curious person, I started checking out a lot of art galleries and museums. You had to seek this stuff out because there was no Internet back then, obviously. By travelling around London, I’d see posters for things like a Terence Donovan or Terry O’Neill exhibition. I’d check them all out and it was a big step for someone like me, from the place I came from. By exposing myself to a new world, the world of Soho, and walking around and seeing stuff, I began to meet like minds on my circuit.”

Baxter’s voice is a deep south-east London reverberation that fills the room. The words come in rapid waves, their sentiments unashamedly upbeat about what can still be achieved in this historic square quarter mile. “Anyone can fit in up here in Soho. We’re all chameleons. A lot of people I know up here, we meet for a coffee for an hour or so, and they’re either seeing their tailor or they’re here for a casting or a voice over. No one’s dwelling in the box for too long. Everyone’s flitting between things. I mean, this area is still full of great talent, but maybe back in the 1950s someone might have been in the pub all day, long drinking. These days Soho is a different place. You can’t live your life that way now, not if you want to make a pound note.”

He cites Mark Powell, Michael Caine and Paul Weller as inspiring working class figures who worked hard to prevent their creativity from being stifled. “Despite where you start, it’s where you finish that’s important,” he says. “I identify with guys like this. Most of my mates have moved to Kent or Essex, but I’ve always loved the multicultural atmosphere of London. I’ve always been a people person. I think that’s probably what it comes down to: what people bring to the mix, what they’re wearing, listening to or reading. To me it’s always endlessly fascinating. I always wanted to learn, but transforming ideas into making them happen is the hard bit. And trying to get someone to pay you is another matter. My grandad was a rag and bone man, and that is basically selling. So I’m convinced that it’s in my genes. It doesn’t matter what it is, I can find an angle to sell you something. I’ve always had that, and to me it seems fairly obvious sometimes. People like my grandad were the early recyclers. Everything was about profit. This comes from a really mixed background, that working class work ethic. It’s pure graft. There’s no other way out of this: you’ve just got to graft your way out.”

When asked about Soho’s future, he’s frank: “Soho’s on a tipping point. Family-run businesses are being offered silly sums of money for their businesses, and if you’re of a certain age and think that you might want to retire… I can see Soho changing very quickly as new money comes in and buys people out. So we should make the most of Soho now and get the best out of it while it’s still here with the last vestiges of the past. Places like the French House should be celebrated.”

The French tricolour outside the window is whipped into life by the wind, and Baxter eyes it. “You can still find a little piece of old London here in Soho, that’s evolved naturally, organically; but money always wins in the end. The pound note will dictate what survives and what prospers. Soho is trying to attract new people. Old locals are few and far between these days. The balance has been changed – and massively. If rents go through the roof, these agencies and businesses around here are going to go elsewhere. We’re hoping against hope this place is not going to change, but inevitably, it will. It always has.”

Kim & Paul Abraham

Kim & Paul Abraham

Words Jason Holmes

Portraits Edu Torres

“I’m an old punk… I socialise in Soho. It’s still got a buzzing community…”

The three cats come walking around the chairs and move up to me, the interloper. They look me full in the face before leaping onto the sofa to take an even closer shufti. Then, having seen enough, they lazily depart, mews proclaiming their hunger. My gaze shifts back to Paul Abraham who sits across from his wife Kim. We’re seated in their flat, perched high above Endell Street and within sight of St Giles, Covent Garden.

“I’m an old punk,” Paul tells me, “and I used to come to Soho to see punk bands. It was the lure of music, I suppose, that got me coming to Soho. One of the venues was the Marquee, another the Wag on Wardour Street. And near here, where we live now, was the Roxy Club on Neal Street. The West End in 1977 was an interesting time, quite a dark place. I would spend all day walking around Soho and the West End. And today, well, I still feel there’s a vibe in Soho that’s nowhere else. Originally, it was the music that attracted me. Plus the fact that It never felt like white suburbia.”

Nor will it ever, despite Soho’s growing residential aspect. And in Soho you can still spot the odd punk refugee who made it out of the maelstrom and lived to tell the tale. If you blink you’ll probably miss them – although you can see Kim and Paul walking through Soho most days, their combined sartorial flair setting them apart from the thronging pavement crowds. They’re the type of Londoners one rarely spots these days, but when you do, your eye is arrested. Kim and Paul come from a dying band of stylists who once inhabited the clubs, walk-ups and bars of a grittier, some would say more honest, era