Harrods may not be under British ownership but, as one of London’s prime retailing institutions, it still has great enthusiasm for the nation’s traditions and has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the forthcoming diamond jubilee.
Its main ideas have neatly dovetailed together. One is to ask 31 designers, from luxury jewellers to interior designers and chocolatiers, to reinterpret in their own way the most famous of the Crown Jewels for a glittering window display; the other to launch a pop-up ballgown boutique window, with 13 specially designed gowns from top eveningwear specialists, to celebrate a new exhibition about to open at the nearby V&A museum.
Even just passing by the store is a treat for the next month. Since Tuesday May 15, every window has featured an imaginative take on the iconic St Edward’s crown, used in the coronation of all British monarchs. From silk flowers to chocolate and painted metal, the basic shape has been great food for design thought, with jewellers such as Boucheron and Tiffany & Co handpainting their designs like mock-ups for major pieces. But the highlight is De Beers’ unique crown (first picture). It’s cleverly based on the firm’s modernist Talisman collection and features, like the range, a mix of rough and cut diamonds: 974 in all, including, in the orb’s cross, a 73ct top-quality stone daringly left rough.
The crown, like the original, is symbolic, designed to represent the continuity of monarchy. The top is heavily textured and dense, with a number of ancient-style octahedral rough stones, while lower down it is lighter, with settings left empty “to be filled in by future generations”. No price has been set. The store has also produced an entertaining video of some of the designers explaining their crown creations.
Meanwhile, a very few of each beautiful ball dress by special-occasion experts, including Valentino (second picture), Roberto Cavalli, Carolina Herrera (third picture), Elie Saab, Erdem and Jenny Packham, are available to purchase – by appointment with Harrods’s Penthouse private shopping service.