April 26 2011
Just occasionally, reality is even better than hype. Much has been written about Roland Mouret’s elegant Edwardian townhouse store, which opened in London’s Mayfair earlier this year, and the talented designer’s comeback after a period when he lost the use of his own name. Until recently I hadn’t been there, partly because I suspected that it would be out of my price league. Then, searching for a smart but laid-back top or dress to wear to a Mediterranean spring birthday celebration – and which would be good for occasions all summer long – I wandered in, more looking for ideas than expecting to buy.
The staff at the reception desk inside the grand entrance could not have been more welcoming and directed me to the women’s department on the first floor (second picture). Going up the wide staircase, I met the man himself coming down. “Welcome to my house,” he said, “go on up and I’ll come and show you round.” And he did – pointing out design features such as the modern square chrome tubing which is decorative until it goes right through the big double doors to the men’s department and becomes the rails in there, the beautifully restored mouldings and panelling, even the lucky mimosa tree outside. Then he listened to my brief, made some suggestions and left me to cogitate while he returned to design duties.
I wondered if, as a long-term acquaintance of Mouret’s, I had been given special treatment, but the staff assured me not. Roland Mouret is known for enjoying meeting the customers, and has long held client events at his top stockists, something he is now expanding at his own store, and clients can book private appointments with him. In the event I didn’t buy because I wanted to do more research. But I went back a week or so later, having been unable to get Mouret’s first suggestion, a glorious chartreuse green tunic, out of my mind. His staff were equally solicitous, offering cool drinks and a comfortable sofa. The silk crepe tunic (£520, similar to the one shown in first picture) – relaxed but in a typically interesting, asymmetric cut – is brilliantly versatile. It tucked into a drapy skirt for the birthday, softens tailored trousers and a jacket for work and I plan to wear it as a dress on holiday, with flat gold sandals. So justifying it is as effortless as buying it.