As London revs its engines to re-open after lockdown, I speak to the famous English dandy Beau Brummell. He shares his favourite London secrets and tells me how he would like to have tea with the Duchess of Cambridge.
Where do you buy those exceedingly good cravats?
I like to shop in Regent, Bond, Jermyn, and St James’s streets, as well as in Savile Row. Try the royally appointed Turnbull and Asser or Meyer and Mortimer, where I once famously designed a trouser loop for the foot. A little further afield, you could pop into Ede and Ravenscroft, purveyors of fine menswear since 1689.
What do you think of your likeness on Jermyn Street?
Less is more, and I think the statue lives by that adage, don’t you?
Where do you go for your wet shave?
Trumpers in St James’s. And I also like a manicure, as a man’s nails should always be tidy.
There’s only one, and that’s Floris. Although why they haven’t bottled an Eau de Beau yet is beyond me.
Favourite cultural bolthole
The Wallace Collection in Marylebone. I particularly like the West Room and its eighteenth-century British portraiture. My favourite is Joshua Reynold’s Miss Nelly O’Brien (a famous courtesan, back in the day). Reynolds, you know, painted a portrait of me and my elder brother, William. The Wallace also has a fine snuff box collection. I simply adore my snuff.
How would you spend your birthday?
It would have to be a night at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden (as sadly, the original King’s Theatre is no longer). I am also very fond of the bijou Jermyn Street Theatre in my home turf of St James’s. I would dine at Wiltons and for afters, I would head to the Cavalry and Guards Club on Piccadilly.
Tatler magazine and Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Gray.
Which Londoner would you like to meet?
I would like to have tea with the Duchess of Cambridge. She is such a royal trailblazer, and I believe we could share interesting style tips. If I could bring him back from the dead, I would not say no to dinner with David Niven.
A London view to a kill?
Stand with your back to the Tate Modern and gaze towards St Paul’s. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of London old and London new.
Favourite London park
Without a doubt, it would have to be Hyde Park. It is a shame Rotten Row’s ‘outdoor salon’ isn’t around anymore from which we could greet and meet tout Londres on horseback, As a dog lover, I do enjoy walking my four-legged friend there.
Fashion faux pas?
Cycling shorts. Just no.
If you can’t have your boots polished with champagne, as I do, at least get them serviced at Top Shine in Burlington Arcade.
What will you miss most this during The Season?
Ascot, of course, as well as the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.
I will be attending the virtual Glyndebourne Opera House this Sunday. Whilst they have some handy tips for preparing your own festival at home, I won’t need to get my manicured fingers dirty, as Fortnum’s is delivering a hamper for the occasion.
What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever done?
Darling, I told the king he was fat. I don’t think you can top that!
Live by this motto?
To be truly elegant, one should not be noticed.
You’re the dandiest dandy of all, but is there a worthy runner-up?
Tales of my City is a series where I interview a ghost of London past. A flight of fancy, these are entirely fictional but are also peppered with some fun facts.