A-Gent of Style is delighted to announce a new and exciting collaboration.



Yesterday saw the start of a fascinating interactive exhibition in the LINLEY store on Pimlico Road, curated by David Linley and Scott Simpson, which will run for a fortnight until March 14, 2014 inclusive. The idea for the exhibition grew from Viscount Linley’s desire to encourage an appreciation of ‘making’, not only in terms of traditional craftsmen but also the modern-day innovators and engineers who are artists and craftsmen in their own right. The carefully selected nineteen brands forming the exhibition are all renowned for the design and creation of fine objects and have been brought together under one roof in a celebration of
British craftsmanship, design, engineering and innovation.


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The night before, A-Gent of Style was invited to have a sneak preview of the exhibition before the 200-strong VIP guests arrived at the launch event and the glamourous party got in full swing. Throughout the vast and beautiful flagship store, LINLEY had made room, especially for the occasion, for the nineteen companies which had been carefully selected; each of them had an allocated pop-up stand or area to promote their brand by displaying and showcasing key items – original, iconic or specially commissioned – from their collections. Some of their representatives and artisans were on hand to demonstrate their craft and artistry and show off their technique and dexterity. 

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Providing a captivating insight into the traditions and values of the selected brands, from motorbike makers and cufflink designers to bespoke milliners and spectacle specialists, the exhibition, now open to the public, aims to unlock the creation process, and in doing so celebrates the unquantifiable amount of skill and attention to detail involved in creating each and every piece; whether it be an intricate dial on a customised Bamford Watch Department watch or the tiny pistons on a Hornby train. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the artisans from many of the different disciplines in order to experience first-hand the unique skills and attributes which have made them the best of their kind. From a Barnard and Westwood printing press to a LINLEY marquetry expert, the eclectic display demonstrates the unrivalled breadth and depth of skills of the British innovators, designers, craftsmen and engineers behind each and every piece. A curious fascination about the way things work, combined with a keen eye for detail, motivated David Linley to not only create the very finest pieces of furniture possible but to encourage the appreciation of exemplary craftsmanship in others.


Mike Flewitt, Victoria Campbell-Bell, Mr and Mrs Eric Heerema

Lock (4)

Absolute Taste (1)




Gerrry McGovern and Stephen Bayley


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According to LINLEY, it is important to realise that luxury is not just about the end cost but about the spirit and the skill of the creator, combined with the very finest quality that gives it character and soul. Mass manufacturing cannot achieve the feeling of the soft leather from a pair of custom-made Lobb shoes moulded expertly to your feet, the perfect fit of a custom-made Lock hat or the minute accuracy of the engraving on a Purdey gun which leaves it perfectly balanced; it does not allow for the hours of research and engineering that go into making a Bremont watch withstand the force of an ejector seat, nor the extraordinary expertise required to fine-tune a McLaren engine.


Another aspect – and a very noble one – of this enterprise is that the exhibition brings together one company with a three hundred year history with another with less than two years’, demonstrating that craftsmanship and the pursuit of perfection are as alive today as they ever were. BVS Handbags, Hardy Fishing and Globe Trotter luggage hold their own alongside a Rolls Royce Aerospace engine and a JCB digger; a clear indication that from the initial concept to the finished object, from hand-making to high-tech machinery, uniqueness is inherent to each and every item in the exhibition.


LINLEY was founded in 1985 by David Linley with the aim of designing and manufacturing furniture of the highest quality. The now well established British design company enjoys prominence as both a retail and private commissions business specialising in the design and production of furniture, upholstery, interiors and home accessories of a superlative quality. The abiding philosophy and brand ethos was – and remains – superlative British craftsmanship, distinctive design and exemplary service. At the launch party, one of the company’s cabinet makers explained to us and showed us how marquetry was done. A very precise and intricate job requiring immense skills and also a lot of patience.





Participating companies:

Barnard & Westwood, the quintessentially British fine printing and Bookbinding Company based in Central London, specialises in combining traditional skills and methods with modern technology to create beautiful bespoke pieces of print. Founded in 1921, the company holds Royal Warrants for both Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Barnard & Westwood designed the incredibly beautiful and intricate invitations and posters of the exhibition representing the UK map and the various attributes of the trades on show. On the night, the company  kindly offered some of the guests to have their notebooks, that came in a choice of glorious colours, personalised by ones of their artists in gold  letters. 






Bremont Watches, the award-winning British watch company based in Henley on Thames, is famed for creating beautifully engineered chronometers. Founded by two British brothers, Nick and Giles English, Bremont originated from the brothers’ joint lifetime love and passion for engineering and aviation. Bremont partnered with Martin-Baker, one of Great Britain’s finest engineering companies, to create a watch that could withstand the force of an ejector seat.


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Bamford Watch Department is a name that has become synonymous with uncompromising style and quality. Driven by their passion for engineering excellence and innovation, Bamford is proud to be the first company to personalise a range of steel sports watches. Inspired by the demand of their clients to wear watches that are exclusive and individual, A secret formula is used to create its famous blacked-out Rolex watches – the skill is in the science.





BVS Bespoke creates some of the most luxuriously beautiful, yet practical, handbags and accessories available. The unique design centres on the use of only the finest materials, exceptional build quality and functionality.   Sensibility of design and exceptional craftsmanship set these bags apart; they are not merely objects but works of art.





C.W. Dixey has been creating exquisite eyewear in London for a discerning and sophisticated clientele since 1777. Their ethos has always been quality and exclusivity and it remains so today. The use of fine materials, limited production and artisan craftsmanship ensures that their eyewear collection follows in the purest C.W. Dixey tradition. Famous clientele of C.W. Dixey includes Napoleon Bonaparte and Sir Winston Churchill.

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Deakin & Francis
have been creating the world’s finest cufflinks since 1786 in their workshop in Birmingham. They produce fine quality handmade jewellery in precious metal, incorporating vitreous enamel and fine gemstones. Seven generations after Charles Washington Shirley Deakin developed the product range; the business is today owned and managed by Henry and James Deakin. They have created over 1,000 designs for business people, celebrities and members of royalty worldwide.




Gladstone Motorcycles is the first bespoke British motorcycle brand to come to the market since 1894. Their mantra is simple: to design and build limited production runs of the finest handmade British motorcycles available. Gladstone combine their relationships with the most famous British engine and frame manufacture with their vision of what dictates the perfect incarnation of two wheeled individualism. Everything is handmade, from the leather saddles to the wheels.


Elizabeth Hurley and Henry Cole

, established in 1897, is famed for hand making beautiful suitcases in Hertfordshire using original manufacturing methods. Today, Globe-Trotter products are style icons adopted by purveyors of traditional craftsmanship and a timeless aesthetic. All leather is sourced from UK tanneries to make the handles and iconic Globe-Trotter corners which are created over a period of five days on antique Victorian presses. Captain Falcon Scott travelled with Globe-Trotter luggage on the infamous Antarctic expedition of 1912.




 JCB, one of the world’s top three manufacturers of construction equipment, employs around 10,000 people on four continents. Their story is one of innovation, ambition and sheer hard work. From humble beginnings in 1945, the company has grown into a global force in manufacturing, renowned for its pioneering spirit. Today, JCB has some of the finest engineering facilities across the globe, produces a range of over 300 machines and maintains a reputation for unrivalled customer service.




John Lobb
, one of Britain’s last remaining bespoke shoemakers create the finest hand-made to measure shoes and boots. Lobb are synonymous with the very best of British craft and, as a result, all shoes are handmade in England using tools and techniques that have been passed down through generations of craftsmen. A pair of Lobb’s handmade shoes are a work of art, unique to their owner. Lobb stores a last (model) of each and every client’s foot – from Aristotle Onassis to Roald Dahl, Frank Sinatra to King Edward VII.




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Lock & Co. is the oldest hat shop in the world, as well as being one of the oldest family businesses still in existence. Established in 1676, Lock’s have supplied headwear to many tens of thousands of people who have sought out their quality and service. They were the first hatters to design the iconic Bowler hat, famed for its resilience and hard wearing qualities. It was tested by William Coke who commissioned it for his gamekeepers, he jumped on it and when it withstood his weight, he bought it! Two models were parading throughout the store with different hats











McLaren Automotive, the British manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sports cars is located at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey. Famed for their engineering expertise and innovative design skills, the brand continues to expand, operating through a dedicated global network of retailers in every major automotive market. The rate of development at the McLaren Technology Centre is so intense that their engineers produce a new part to the cars every 17 minutes.  On display was the red McLaren 12C Spider which is a lightweight, mid-engine open-top sports car combines the astonishing performance of the 12C with the increased exhilaration of roof-down motoring. Unlike most other spiders or convertibles, the 12C Spider offers the same performance, handling and driver enjoyment as the fixed-roof coupe version. Engine Configuration: V8 Twin Turbo /2799 cc. Engine Material: Aluminium block & cylinder heads.

 McLaren engine (1)




 Palawan Press was established in 1993 by Simon Draper who set out to publish books of unsurpassed quality – in design, binding, illustration and authorship – of interest to lovers of beautiful things. All of Palawan’s books are produced to the highest possible production standards, and no effort or expense is spared to ensure that these standards are met. Named after the beautiful Palawan peacock of the Philippines, production materials are always of the best quality, and no detail is overlooked, from the construction of the slipcases to the colour of the ribbon markers.


James Purdey & Sons have been perfecting the art of the best gun since 1814. The guns have always been made in London and the factory only employs the very best craftsmen to create them, many of whom have handed down their skills from father to son which means that the Purdey legacy has truly been maintained over the years. Purdey is dedicated to continuing their tradition of craftsmanship, excellence and attention to detail – the barrel of a Purdey gun is machined to within four thousandths of an inch – in the hope that many generations to come will be able to enjoy the exceptional pleasure of owning a bespoke Purdey gun.




Purdey 2


Rolls Royce Aerospace is a major manufacturer of aero engines for all sectors of the airliner and corporate jet market. Since its inception, the Rolls Royce name has become synonymous with integrity, reliability and innovation. Their reputation has been built on their engineering credentials and they are at the very forefront of science and technology. Rolls Royce powers more than 30 types of commercial aircraft and has 12,500 engines in service with customers around the world.



 Hardy Bros, famed for creating the ‘Perfect’ reel in 1891, value its tradition as well as its founders’ endless quest for improvement. In the past decade or so, Hardys has paid homage to its history by creating several lines of reels designed specifically for the collectors’ market which have proved very popular with many anglers. However, collecting is not all that Hardy is about and the firm remains at the cutting edge of tackle development.





The exhibition has kindly been sponsored by Nyetimber, the maker of the finest English sparkling wine. They are the perfect partner with LINLEY for this celebratory exhibition due to the fact that their winemaking team is among the most proficient in the world and, like all other brands exhibiting, everything they do is done in the passionate pursuit of the very best quality possible. Nyetimber has had a single aim ever since the very first vines were planted: to make the finest English sparkling wine there is. All Nyetimber wines are produced from the 152 hectares they have planted at the best sites in West Sussex and Hampshire. The winemaking team is among the most proficient in the world and everything they do is done in the passionate pursuit of the very best quality possible. Prior to harvest, the grapes are tasted to ensure the best flavour development before picking and if they aren’t up to scratch, they simply aren’t used. In 2012 no vintage was bottled because the quality of the grapes was not up to the standards that Nyetimber adheres to with every bottle – a sign of their drive for perfection. Their rosé cuvée was A-Gent of Style‘s favourite, which he obliged to taste, only for the sake of research of course.




As previous features can attest, A-Gent of Style has always been a great advocate, supporter and promoter of British design, craftmanship and artistry in all its shapes and forms, so if you feel the same, you shouldn’t miss British craftsmanship, design, engineering and innovation. The LINLEY store is open Monday to Friday 10am-6pm and on Saturday 10am-5pm (closed on Sunday).



A huge thank you to LINLEY and especially Lou Lou Graham for their collaboration

– Photos by LINLEY, Glen Arkadieff and A-Gent of Style –



If crystals and gems can clean up negative energy, can a gem-shaped soap get you squeaky clean, make you smell good AND purify your aura at the same time??


These gorgeous, faceted shapes are not actually jewels but real soaps.
A-Gent of Style fell head over heels for these sybaritic gemstones and more precisely their angular cuts, their depth, their brilliance, their transparency, their range of colours and last but not least their fragrance. Aside from their cleaning virtues, they would also create a beautiful display and inject a dose of chic in any bathroom,  kitchen sink or even on a coffee table.

These Soap Stones, made by Brooklyn-based company PELLE, are handcrafted, handcut glycerine soap consisting of all natural, vegetable-based soap ingredients and are inspired by natural gemstones such as Rose Quartz and Aquamarine, and metamorphic rock such as Jade and Onyx. They combine these brilliant colours with the fragrant effects of essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Lemon-Basil, Grapefruit and Camphor (they also have unscented soaps). The full collection of Soap Stones range between 3 sizes and 7 colour/scent combinations.

And great news for UK readers: the Soap Stones are available from the Conran shops! Prices vary between £7, £16 and £29 according to the size.
Gemstones have never been so affordable.


PELLE are designers and architects Jean Pelle and Oliver Pelle who met and studied at the Yale School of Architecture. From their studio in Red Hook Brooklyn, the husband and wife don’t limit themselves to just making soaps; they also create lighting, furniture, products and architecture. PELLE produces everything from shelving to candlesticks, lighting, and seating, all noteworthy for their out-of-the-box designs that re-imagine common decor necessities.

“Soap is such a malleable and sculptural material to work with”, the couple says. “It’s like plaster or clay, but it is so much easier to shape since it cuts like butter. Glycerin soap is particularly wonderful because of its transparency and its ability to take on other layers such as smell and color. We love how the soaps take on different looks – they’re great dry, but they’re kind of magical when they touch water. They look like glistening gems and the smell becomes stronger. Our inspiration comes from observing and re-imagining the possibilities of objects and spaces around us. Ultimately, our work is about a search for a unique beauty that is within the materials and forms we find in our process.”

Uniquely beautiful, the Soap Stones certainly are!



Soap Stones







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– Photos by PELLE –


One of the perks of getting the digital subscription of Architectural Digest as opposed to the printed version is that you get bonus photos and sometimes an accompanying video of the article you are reading. As he was sliding the pages of the latest issue on his iPad, A-Gent of Style came across the astonishing spread of Pierre Bergé’s secret paradise in Normandy, completely unbeknownst to him to this day.

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With residences in Paris, Manhattan, Marrakech and Tangiers, Pierre Bergé and
Yves Saint Laurent (don’t miss the brilliant biopic on their life when it is released in the UK at the end of March) had this fairy-tale country retreat built not far from Château Gabriel, the late 19th C mansion the fashion power couple purchased in 1980 on an 120-acre estate.

After the death of the couturier in 2008, the business mogul sold their storied
Paris apartment
and the chateau (as well as most of their museum-quality art and antiques collection that famously sold at Christie’s for an astounding $484 million in 2009) but kept ‘La Datcha’ (the French spelling for the Russian word dacha meaning holiday home). This chic log house is truly unique and can boast many influences and inspirations. To A-Gent of Style, it is a kaleidoscopic fusion of a gingerbread house, Les Ballets Russes, Matryoshka dolls, Renzo Mongiardino and is slightly reminiscent of the Bloomsbury Group’s Charleston House and the works of their descendant
Cressida Bell. What La Dacha is not is polite, pared-down and minimalist.

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This 19th C flamboyant country cottage was decorated by Jacques Grange, a long-standing friend of the couple who had worked his magic on many of their residences over the decades. It was built as a multi-purpose living area with a main room and only a small kitchen and powder room. It has no bedrooms. Bergé asked Grange a few years ago to build an outhouse, with a covered walkway, that would be linked to the cabin and that would serve as a sleeping annex containing a guest suite and a master bedroom.

The picturesque folly, supported by stilts, is replete with lacy wood, intricate fretwork, arches, carving, pine panelling and colourfully painted joinery. Textures and layers are predominant especially in the main room with soaring ceiling, alternating beams and red bricks. Kilims are not only used as floor rugs but also upholstered on some of the Austrian horn chairs and chaise longue. There is a stunning 19th C Orientalist panel above the fireplace and many taxidermic animal heads adorning the walls that would make Les 3 Garçons look butch. Apart from the many nooks, A-Gent of Style‘s favourite room has to be the jewel-box kitchen adorned with antique French tiles and Moorish stained-glass windows and doors.

Outside, in the lush garden designed by American Maddison Cox bursting with hydrangeas, Bergé had an additional guest house created. This time a vintage Romanu-style caravan was redesigned to sleep two additional guests which Grange filled with two single, painted pine beds, an antique geometric kilim rug and original William Morris fabric on the curtains.

 A-Gent of Style hopes you like ‘La Datcha’ as much as he does.

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– Photo by Pascal Chevallier/Architectural Digest –

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