January 09 2010
Desperately searching for something to wrap myself in and hibernate during the cold spell – I hadn’t bought into the Missoni-style big-knit layered look because I’d foolishly believed the Met Office predictions of a mild winter; they couldn’t be wrong twice, could they? – I stumbled on a cashmere treasure trove in the increasingly interesting enclave of Burlington Arcade, off London’s Piccadilly. House of Cashmere has had a shop there for decades with good-quality but standard fare – shelves stacked with basic sweaters in every colour imaginable, plus girlie cashmere pieces for younger shoppers from Marilyn Moore and Gabby Harris.
Recently they have opened a smaller branch further down the arcade which is another matter altogether, packed with seriously luxurious pieces from a roster of top cashmere brands including well-known British labels such as Tania and Johnstons of Elgin, but also Cameron Taylor’s individualist Scottish handknits and, even more exciting, continental brands, many of which are new to Britain, such as Colombo, Pashmere and BP Studio (Italian) or Max & Moi (French).
Manager and buyer Silvana Palmegiani really knows her stuff after 27 years in the business and buys wisely. Colombo makes for high luxe brands but its own label is comparatively reasonable (classic cashmere blazer £695, first picture); Max & Moi is quirky and very good quality. The star of the store is Colombo’s ultimate classic coat, in woven cashmere and chinchilla with a detachable chinchilla fur collar (second picture, £5,000), but I drooled more realistically over their long charcoal cardigan, its belt chicly lined in tan suede (second picture; £550), and Max & Moi’s neat lavender cardigan with matching mink collar (£250).
The store is arranged with Silvana’s fine Italian eye for colour, mainly cleverly mismatched neutrals in shades of grey, brown, camel and beige with pops of bright orange and grass green. Looking ahead to spring’s love affair with pale neutrals, I was almost seduced by Taylor’s textured-knit jacket (£658), but in the end plumped for Max & Moi’s slim longline cardi in a delicious pale honey with a little appliqué vintage lace (£225). Even better, most of these are sale prices, though my cardi will segue perfectly into spring. But for now let it snow – I’ve got my knit to keep me warm.