When I was growing up, there was nothing less appealing than the idea of suburbia, being stuck on the fringes, peering in on the action. If you lived in the suburbs of London, your main life goal was to get the hell out as soon as possible. In fact, I grew up in West London, but in a way that had its own feeling of torpid detachment. I was desperate for the seedy exotic bright lights of Soho, at that time the epicenter of creative cool and a glowing beacon of potential. Potential of what exactly, it didn’t matter, just something more exciting than my mundane teen (non)existence. In that sense, you could even say that being a teenager, wherever you live, is like being in an alternative suburbia. So near to where you want to be – independent, in demand – yet so far.
Now, in a funny volte-face, London is turning inside out. The outskirts are becoming desirable destinations with endless construction sites and transport-links-in-progress that represent fresh, gleaming possibility. In turn, the centre of London is emptying of locals, as our beloved pubs, caffs and nightclubs are bulldozed for behemoth Shards and Gherkins. Should we stay or should we go? Or should we simply retreat into the safe suburbia of our nostalgic imaginations…?
The latest in the DRG film series, Petit Déjeuner takes us to the design studio of a different kind of fashion brand…
A winter Thursday in London’s cosmopolitan Paddington finds us filming in the bijou studio of twins Mandeep and Hardeep Kaur. These charming, fine-boned twins are sharing their design process and morning rituals (more…)
Contrary to popular opinion, some of us are still very much in favour of wearing a watch. Not always for telling the time, mind. In fact, these days a watch can almost be the opposite of a passing-of-time marker, instead serving as a symbol of slowing down and savouring the day. (more…)
For the third in my Petit Déjeuner film series, we’re celebrating the reawakening of the London Dior flagship store. Petit Déjeuner is all about new beginnings and reinvention, and after four years of renovation, we’re finally seeing the reawakening of this sleeping beauty.
What’s the role of a flagship store these days? The flagship (or ‘Maison’ as many like to call theirs) is more important than ever, in the era of bricks vs clicks. If the phone, app, website or e-commerce portal is the convenience store, then the Maison is the beautiful, leisurely experience that to me, is real luxury. As Dior’s Sidney Toledano says, “The real deal is time. The young generation, whether they are 15, 18, 20, they want everything fast. But maturity is giving meaning to time. Time is dreaming. We give the ability to the people to have a moment of dreaming.”
So enter the vast, four-level listed building (actually two buildings now co-joined) and you’re in a grand cathedral to all things chic and beautiful. From the jasmine-trellised conservatory (that had to stay due to listed building status), to the stately marble staircase, to the neo-Louis XV1 furniture (a nod to the elegant Parisian house codes), it’s like entering the most decadent, life size dollshouse. And fittingly, there’s an exclusive home collection to add to the Dior universe. Think crystal glassware, hand embroidered linens and a range of teas inspired by Dior fragrances.
On the subject of fragrance, the perfume department is decorated by the most wonderful porcelain sculpture wall by Beth Katleman. Yes, you will want to linger here for a while. And wait, did I mention the three private dressing room suites, decorated with Mats Gustafson and Christian Bérard illustrations?
Art was one of Christian Dior’s great passions so it’s fitting that this ‘house’ is filled with unique contemporary pieces. The ornate staircase is incredible, from the globular silver ‘Distant Cousin’ sculpture by Tony Cragg alongside it, to the curlicued railings, to the animated ‘mural’ by Oyoram, an ever-changing digital screen that brings life and energy to the space. Marc Quinn continues the colour explosion with his limited edition Lady Dior bags and small leather accessories drenched in a vibrant floral print.
And to balance the bursts of colour, of course there are several shades of signature Dior grey, another house code, here reinvented in silver leafed leather, bedazzling chrome and reflective surfaces. In this shining temple, there are mirrors wherever you look.