This month, a terrific trio of talents present a unique pop-up boutique at The Showroom. Tobias Vernon, founder and creative guru at 8 Holland Street (aka 8Holland), an interior design and art store in West London, is joined by the legendary Vogue stylist and personal shopper Jayne Pickering (aka THEEDIT), whilst artisan bootbrand (and fellow Vogue alumni) Charlotte Pilcher and Vanessa Gillingham present Sweethearts Of The Rodeo, their small but perfectly formed company designing and selling eminently desirable hand-crafted, leather footwear. Together, they have transformed The Showroom into an Aladdin’s cave of edgy couture, esoteric objects and bold style statements. We gathered the crew behind this edition of The Showroom to talk us through their wares and explain to Sotheby’s Arsalan Mohammad, why style, quality and taste are at the very heart of this exciting new pop-up boutique...
TOBIAS: I’m Tobias Vernon, founder of 8 Holland Street. We’re a design gallery and store, based in Kensington, London, specialising in 20th century European furniture and textiles, ceramics, studio pottery and a wide range of things from all sorts of different periods and styles and countries.
ARSALAN: What’s the concept behind 8 Holland Street?
TOBIAS: Well, I guess our concept is in some ways the fact that we don’t have one. So, we don’t just have mid-century pieces, we have Arts & Crafts in the mix, British pieces, Continental pieces, Scandinavian things. And I think the idea of collaborating with these guys - Jayne and Sweethearts Of The Rodeo - with the immersive environment we’ll create in The Showroom at Sotheby’s in October, will make a wonderful stage set on which to show these pieces we’ve collected and put everything together into a different setting. I love the idea of a beautiful Bernard Leach ceramic, say, next to a piece of studio pottery whose maker has been forgotten. I don’t know about you guys, but I love those juxtapositions
JAYNE: Hi, I’m Jayne Pickering and I’m bringing an edit together of clothes, jewellery and accessories to The Showroom. I used to work in magazines for 20 years, I was a stylist at Vogue, but it’s a whole new area for me, going into retail. I’m a very frustrated shopkeeper, I think. If I could wave a magic wand, I would have a shop tomorrow! I love selling, I absolutely love it.
CHARLOTTE: Jayne should have had a shop about 30 years ago.
ARSALAN: Let’s hear it for the Sweethearts of the Rodeo!
VANESSA: Hi, I’m Vanessa Gillingham, one half of Sweethearts of the Rodeo.
CHARLOTTE: And I’m Charlotte Pilcher, the other half of Sweethearts of the Rodeo.
ARSALAN: Charlotte and Vanessa and Jayne, you all met when you were stylists, at Vogue, back in the 1990s, weren’t you?
JAYNE: Yes, we’ve all done a bit of that along the way, all three of us have done that in our careers.
VANESSA: I was their assistant. Char was a contributing editor. I used to carry their suitcases. It was fun, the good old days. It was the era of supermodels, fabulous photographers, grunge. We went from the 1980s to grunge. Vogue was generally a friendly place then, and a more interesting time of working in fashion magazines.
ARSALAN: Jayne, I read an interview with you from a few years ago, where you were talking about a Chanel bag you bought about 30 years ago for £2,000 and how well it’s lasted.
JAYNE: Yes, I’ve still got it and I’ve got Prada coats that I bought 20 years ago which I’m still wearing.
CHARLOTTE: Shopping with Jayne is always a treat! Once we were in Prada in Milan, and my husband rang up saying, Char the bank rung saying they’re going to stop your credit card, where are you? I said, I’m in Prada in Milan and he said, oh that will be with Jayne.
JAYNE: Yes, I remember that fur jacket. Well, I buy timeless pieces, I don’t like fashion things, I like classic timeless things. And I like working [as a personal stylist to private clients] who want to buy quality and invest in their style and want to have it for years and years. That’s what I find interesting.
ARSALAN: I imagine clients come to you Jayne, knowing that you are someone, who has, in the past, been described as the stylist’s stylist, you’re held in incredibly high regard in the fashion industry. So they obviously take what you say fairly seriously?
JAYNE: Yes, I hope so. I find clients like to have looks put together, they like to have something that they can just grab and go in the morning, if they’re working, for instance. But it can be quite hard dressing them, getting the proportions right, the right shoes, the right trousers, that shoe doesn’t go with that trouser, but they go with those trousers and that bag doesn’t… it’s quite mathematical. There’s a lot of prep that goes on.
TOBIAS: You imagine it all, visualise a look?
JAYNE: Yes, I just see what’s available and I present the client with that. They might only get five things, some stylists would probably go and give them a range of 50 things, but I like to save their time. People get too confused if you give them too much choice, they can’t decide.
ARSALAN: Jayne, what will you be offering visitors to The Showroom this month?
JAYNE: It’s all brands I love. I have some pieces by Odile Jacobs who is based in Antwerp and works with African fabrics. I think they’re really gorgeous. Then there is Kiki Vasiliki, she’s a young designer based in Athens. I really love her jewellery. It’s quite organic, it’s all hand-hammered, all made with her fingers, it has that organic feel. There is Raphaele Canot - she works at Cartier and her stuff is much more classic but, beautiful and minimal. And I have Sophie Keegan, who does beautiful diamond necklaces. She’s done a big diamond necklace which I love, with thick gold chains and they’re really fabulous.
ARSALAN: Charlotte, what inspired you and Vanessa to create Sweethearts Of The Rodeo, which is essentially, a small brand focusing on beautifully-crafted leather boots, with a sort of rock’n’roll twist?
VANESSA: A lot of our references come from Keith Richards, rock, and roll, Gram Parsons. We had had a brainstorming session and kept coming back to these boots Keith used to wear, at his villa Nellcôte [in Villefranche-sur-Mer, Côte d’Azur] in 1971. Fabulous boots, I just loved them, and also we were fascinated by how men buy and wear shoes and boots. More investment buying, than fashion whims.
ARSALAN: How do you come up with your designs? I love the simplicity of the styles, they’re low-key, understated, but with killer details.
JAYNE: It’s a hard thing designing, I mean it’s a massive thing to do. I thought about designing dresses once and I thought, this isn’t my thing, I can pick things, but I can’t do it myself, it’s amazing that they’ve got it so right. It’s timeless, that quality.
CHARLOTTE: Inspiration comes from trips abroad, or rummaging around in flea markets, or it could just be a bit of fabric, or a piece of hardware from something that’s caught our eye. Then we do mood boards, maybe a bit of rudimentary drawing. We’ve got somebody who does the actual proper technical drawing which the factory can translate, because I can’t technically draw a shoe. So, she will end up doing a very specific drawing, down to the exact stitch sizes, they’re not particularly romantic or beautiful, but they’re very good for the factory to get it. Then we have to go out to the factory quite a lot - we have not been able to recently - and then try on endless prototypes with the wonderful Italian craftsmen adjusting them with us, to the exact proportions.
VANESSA: But also, design has to be like - where does the boot cut off? Some people have a leg that’s that shape, some people have a leg that’s another shape and you really have to think, okay if they going to wear this with a long dress, where is that going to cut off. Then other people don’t like wearing boots above the ankle.
CHARLOTTE: Having worked at Vogue and other magazines for so long, you’re in the wonderful position of handling really exquisite collections, So, when Vanessa and I selected the materials for our boots, we chose the softest, nicest, most beautiful luxurious leather and I think that’s a lot to do with having been working in that environment, prizing quality and craftsmanship.
ARSALAN: You use really buttery soft, lamb leather.
CHARLOTTE: Yes, normally people use cheaper leather for the inside soles, but we use the same leather inside and out. Jayne’s customers who appreciate quality really understand when they see it, they get it immediately.
VANESSA: They are like wearing nothing on your feet, they are so comfortable.
JAYNE: They feel like soft leather slippers.
TOBIAS: How many shapes do you guys have?
VANESSA: We have seven styles, eight with the…
CHARLOTTE: Eight with the Renegade but they’re the same boot, so seven styles but eight names and we have another one coming out. We’ve got to like them first and foremost and then…
VANESSA: It’s like anything creative, you’ve got to love it yourself first. I mean I’ve definitely had boots and shoes in the past that I’ve loved and I think, God I wish I had bought two pairs of them because you just love them. I think we wanted to have that where people, for example, love the quaker and they’ve come back and bought, two other colours because they just think, I’m wearing this loads and I want to wear it with jeans and now I want to wear it with a tuxedo suit or whatever it may be. So definitely, it’s slow fashion.
ARSALAN: What do you hope people who visit The Showroom this month will take away from the experience?
JAYNE: I guess just a really good shopping experience! I don’t know - I used to love going to shops but recently, when I’ve gone around, it’s too much. There are too many things to look at. So, I think people will come here and enjoy the edit. It will be very concise. And it’s an experience, I think, having all of us together in one space.
CHARLOTTE: Even if you don’t buy anything, you just want people to come out and have a really nice time.
TOBIAS: it’s a bit of a clichéd dream, but I always had this idea of having a shop front where I guess it could be a vessel for me to collect things myself and then put them together in different ways. So, that’s what 8Holland became and that’s what I hope this is.
JAYNE: It just works really well, all of us together, it’s just a nice feel!
VANESSA: People will like it because it’s calm, you won’t have shop assistants literally on your shoulder.
JAYNE: Even if people don’t buy anything, it will be a nice vibe, a great experience to come and look.
ARSALAN: That’s key, isn’t it, the experience?
TOBIAS: And the immersive environment thing, that’s one of the interesting things here at The Showroom in Sotheby’s.
JAYNE: You want people to leave going, wow, that’s fabulous!