However our vision has always been outward looking, from the Queen Mary to the seats of every Commonwealth Parliament to Concorde and the latest special order Ferrari…
Our home is off Savile Row, but our horizon has always been international. We have graced the interiors of French designer Jean-Michel Frank, and the German-American architect Mies van de Rohe’s chair. It is this dialogue between our island and our neighbours abroad that has shaped who we are. The essence of Connolly is best described as a contemporary style inspired by a rich heritage of classic motor racing coupled with a strong sense of British know-how, understatement and European flair.
This newsletter could have been about border closures, ineptitude and failed promises, or about missing friends and colleagues. For me, this third wave, somehow seems more menacing and more suffocating; there feels like less unity within the world, and definitely more arguments at home. I am in no way lyricising lockdown or bemoaning this little Britain we seem committed to be creating, rather I am searching for a silver lining and a sense of reconnection.
Our shop front door may be closed, but we have a wide open door through our e-commerce site. We hope that something of the physical shop space and its eclecticism can be felt online: the Gallery upstairs where we exhibit artists and objets d’art, our ground floor where we show our leather goods and tailoring, and downstairs, which is home to our Sporting Classics and the scent of Connolly leather.
And with movement restricted to essential travel, I started to think how, if I couldn’t jump on a plane or into a car, to visit craftsmen, factories, fairs, retail partners and friends – could I still travel in Connolly?
From my arm chair, if I go online, I can still toast friends in Austria with our beautiful Lobmeyr glasses, designed by Josef Hoffman. I can dine in Italy, dressed in Marc Audibet's sharp tailoring, using my treasured mother of pearl Parmesan Knife. I can imagine I am striding through the Cairngorms wrapped in cashmere knits from Scotland, when I walk my dogs through Richmond Park… or I am sitting in an Italian piazza, when I turn the central heating up and drink a glass of Prosecco in front of an Italian television series in one of our handmade Neapolitan shirts. I can pretend I am in Japan when I eat cakes or take away Sushi (yes, it’s lockdown comfort eating) off the finest bone ceramic tea plates from Yamaka. I can imagine I am going on an exciting road trip when I slip on my Car Shoes to drive to the Connolly warehouse. I can pretend I am at our leather workshops in Spain, perched on the stool handcrafted by and for our craftsmen and women. And I can even pretend I am at the pub, well a rather beautiful pub, when I pour a half pint into my William Yeoward hand cut Crystal Tankard, which sits on a Connolly leather coaster.
Thanks to being locked down at the Clifford Street shop, Connolly has never felt so international. Ironically closing our front door has opened our windows. I can’t describe the feeling of seeing a piece of Connolly on its way to Los Angeles, Greece or the Falklands... it’s called keeping in touch and it’s the lifeblood of retail and humanity.So thanks to you, Connolly has never felt so international, even if life seems very local.
Image 1: Connollyland by Rose Blake
Image 2: Connollyland by W. Heath Robinson ca. 1935