Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Earl of Bedlam packed his truck and said 'ello to the Borders

Trunk shows are a traditional route for designers to take their work to fresh territories. Like travelling salesmen, way back in March we packed our bunches of fabric samples, pieces of our work and the trusty tape measure and headed for the bus stop. We needed a blast of fresh air and our boiler was still broken so it couldn't have been colder in Scotland than it was in our flat. Arthur Sweerts invitation to measure him up in situ at his hotel, the Buccleuch (pronounced Buck-looo with a little throat clearing to finish if you want to be really authentic) & Queensberry Arms in Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway, was all the nudge we needed. The 59 bus took us - and said trunks - from Walnut Tree Walk to Euston where we hopped the train to Lockerbie. Three and a half hours later, Arthur met us at the station. It was as if we'd stepped through a magical revolving door. Not an hour later we were sitting down to a delicious dinner with his papa, Baron "Dolf" Sweerts de Landas Wyborg.  It was through the beneficent patronage of Sweerts pere et fils ("vader en zoon" meme) (Dolf Vader, get outta here!) that we started the year shored up and able to make the "Hell for Leather" collection. 

The next morning Papa Dolf took us up to the castle. At the risk of making this sound like a Transylvanian idyll, the village of Thornhill is cruciform, and above it sits the rose pink ramparts and onion turrets of Drumlanrig, one of the many seats of the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry:
I consider myself reasonably familiar with the stately homes of these isles but this gem was a revelation. There was nothing about it the slightest bit familiar to me but now, partly thanks to Dolf and Arthur taking over the kitchens, it is going to take its place on your Places to Visit list. The art collection is magnificent. They have a Rembrandt, a Holbein and a Gainsborough. The da Vinci went out through a window some years back so that is now safely in a gallery. Mr Wesley almost went out the same way with the curly horned ram's head snuff receptacle with little silver spoon, nostril duster and moustache brush attached by fine silver chains.

Mr Wesley bows his head before the Rosy Queen of the Borders, Drumlanrig Castle; Dolf in his rosy sweater.
Snow was all around and Dolf took us across to their house to check on the lambs. As many as possible were brought into the sheds, those that had survived being born on the icy ground. Here is my lamb:

At their house we noticed the same style, at once best and beautiful but entirely unselfconscious and comfortable, in harmony with its environment, that distinguishes the hotel. This is the skill of Arthur's mama, Caroline. Outside I took in the family crest in which two satyrs, like the goatish gentlemen on the buttons of the Last Emperor's Opium Smoking Jacket that brought our worlds together, stand either side of the shield. I mentioned it, amazed, to Arthur. "I thought you had chosen them deliberately," he replied. Ah, do not dismiss lightly the fateful properties of Grandma Ella's button box.

One of a pair of glass buttons that adorn Arthur's lavish jacket that combines the curly horned snuff receptacle much admired by Mr Wesley in the castle and Arthur's own heraldic satyrs 
Arthur's dog Merlin came along for some dashing about in the snow. We should make him a coat too:

Back at the BQA Hotel it was time to set out our stall and in no time a huddle of the curious and clothes-inclined amassed.

Arthur went first, then Alasdair the hotel manager, then Harriet the receptionist, then Jeff the waiter, then Stephen the barman, then David the whisky maker (, then Andrew the estate owner, then Dolf, and last and by all means the most tattooed, came Russell the gamekeeper!

In no time at all it was May and I could think of no better place to spend my birthday, so with Taffy in tow we clickety-clacked back up the track to Scotland. It was that much lighter into the evening and we saw fabulous landscape that had been cloaked in darkness the first time we went up.

What everyone else wanted to see was how their clobber was coming along:

"Mr Whisky" David Stirk

Alasdair the hotel manager

Half belt at the back
A little button stops the pocket sagging


game keeper of legend
We love Arthur, he has brought good things to Bedlam so it pleases us to see him smile

Arthur went half'n'half with his lining, one side blue for Scotland, the other orange for Holland
The Dolf Vader himself, who is actually waaaaaay Yoda

Andrew being fitted in his chalk stripe. He has no intention of ever seeing London again before he dies (far off we hope) if he can help it so was glad of our bringing Bedlam to his doorstep

Harriet getting horsey in the "Megan" jacket that has proved to be a winner with the Ladies

So don't simply take take our word for it, check out what they say on Tripadvisor:

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Arthur with Merlin in the door of the hotel, wearing the hat I made him to go with the jacket
Bird's eye view (possibly a peacock) of the hat
Dolf borrows both Merlin and outfit from Arthur to pose in the door of his fine establishment 

Back South, last week saw a preview of the sale of garden statuary that Dolf & Caroline are having through Christies. If you get your telephone bid in this afternoon, it is going on as I type. Go potty, take a browse through the e-catalogue and treat yourself. You know you've urned it:
We had a lovely evening as the sun came out at the end of the day, led about the gardens of Dunsborough Park by Arthur. 
Mr Wesley wore his lilly white dinner jacket with the lucky Japanese goldfish shell buttons, and Arthur, what else, wore his Bedlam jacket.

Eric & Ern take a turn about the urns

Cheeky little cherub, and a statue

Arthur and his hand maidens

Arthur, the finest bloom in the garden, in The Last emperor's Opium Smoking jacket amongst the Orientalis poppies

Last Saturday there was another do to preview the sale at which Bentley rolled out some of their fleet. Mr Wesley put this one on his Christmas list:

Not quite sure how I ended up with this, no room for luggage and extremely drafty on the motorway:
We wish them all the best of luck today as their treasured collection goes under the hammer. We know there is a degree of separation anxiety, kind of like when we create a suit for someone and they come to collect it. My secret bid's down for this red trousered character, here dipping into the curly horned ram's head snuff dispenser. Going once! Going twice! Gone to the lady in the fine tweed tailoring!