Although I endeavor to stay current, I’m always happy for information from my admittedly small cadre of loyal readers. A kind lady forwarded an article published in the October, 2007, edition of W hailing the rebirth of sleepy old Mount Street in London as a hotbed of fashion, with the primary focus the opening of a Marc Jacobs store. With the Connaught at one end and Berkeley Square at the other and Scott’s right in the middle, I’d hardly say that Mount Street was off the beaten path, and sleepy? Not even the most jaded urban somnambulist could call it that.
You might recall my own blog entry from precisely a year earlier, October 11, 2006, in fact, when I decried the death of Mount Street as an antiques venue, with the just then announced departure of Pelham Galleries, and the loss a couple of years earlier of Stair and Company. Although longtime dealer Kenneth Neame is still in place and was mentioned in the W article, none of the other surviving dealers- Alastair Sampson or Blairman and Sons- were, and Pelham, the former tenant of Marc Jacob’s new space was not, either. In fact, dismissal of dismissals, the author of the article said the new shop moved in to ‘a former antiques store.’ Hmmm…the ark of the Lord has fallen into the hands of the Philistines.
What fractures me is that, in a section of W identified as ‘Fashion’, what is reported is less a phenomenon of fashion than the effect of aggressive brand marketing. One can’t argue with the success of LMVH, the French multi-billion dollar luxury brands conglomerate that is the owner of Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy, and Donna Karan, and Thomas Pink….the list is extensive. And, of course, it is difficult to compete with the amount of capital LMVH is able to throw at the development of a brand, including the establishment of storefronts. Mount Street is all leasehold, with the owner in fee simple England’s largest landowner, the Grosvenor family, whose patriarch is the Duke of Westminster. A leasing agent for the Grosvenor Estate waxed eloquent about the excitement associated with the arrival of Marc Jacobs, and a couple of other couture houses, and how this would revitalize Mount Street. Of course, His Grace needs to earn his daily crust, but I don’t really think Mount Street, or any other part of Mayfair or the West End generally, is in danger of becoming blighted.
But, as I think about it, ‘blighted’ might be thought a relative term. That the likes of Pelham Galleries are replaced by international, multi-outlet luxury brand fashionistas might be thought something of a blight. Of course, it isn’t like a McDonald’s or BurgerKing going on to Mount Street- but, then, those are international brands, too.