• What to buy

    As a 20-something girl zooming about London on a Vespa, I had a special coat that regularly saved my bacon on chilly winter nights.  It was a snuggly black puffa that would roll into a tiny ball, from a shop called Nick Ashley on Ledbury Road.

    And then all of a sudden, the shop vanished. "I had ten shops in Japan, a shop in London but I lived on a farm with my wife and daughters in Wales," explains the man himself, Nick Ashley. "It was too much.  My doctor told me I had to choose between work and family." Ashley sacrificed the brand for being a Dad. He took a year off, then was persuaded by Dunhill to design their casual menswear line, which he did for three years. Then four years ago, Ashley was asked by James Eden to be creative director of his family business - a Manchester-based factory called Private White VC named after Eden's war hero great-grandfather Jack White. 

    And so, with Ashley as creative director, the new brand was formed. "I call it 'working classy'", says Nick of the British-made ramped-up workwear. "I'm emotionally attached to British manufacturing and proud that our woollens go from sheep to shop without leaving a ten-mile radius," he says of Private White VC. 

    There's a freshly redesigned shop on Lamb's Conduit Street and next month a new shop opens on Duke Street. And look out for the tough but elegant worksuits designed for all 900 estate-staff at Lord March's Goodwood estate, which will be worn en-masse during the Goodwood Revival in September. And Private White VC womenswear is simply a smaller, neater-shouldered version of the menswear. Excellent news for scooter-girls and my fellow tomboys.


    Goodwood Revival, 12-14 September 2014


    Private White VC offers all Vanity Fair A-List subscribers the chance for 2 entrants to win a Private White VC 'Goodwood' worksuit jacket and trousers (in a colour of their choice) and a pair of tickets to the sell-out Goodwood Revival on Saturday 13th September, (each prize worth a total £574).  Don't miss out on future offers, sign up to the A-List.

  • Where to go

    The old Georgian music hall on Harrington Road, in the thick of London's museum-land, has been sitting empty for a fair few years. What on earth was in store for the pretty building which had housed Ronnie Wood's 'Harrington Club' and before that Pineapple Dance Studios (where I'd had dance classes whilst a pupil at the French Lycee, next door).

    Well, here's the answer… South Kensington Club, a fitness and lifestyle space that opens to members this October.  Founder Luca del Bono explains, "I wanted to create a space where members can connect, or just relax from their hectic lives."  He adds, "Somewhere you can hang out at sharing tables in the club rooms or have a private Banya session in what was once Francis Bacon's studio."  

    It seems that there'll be something to please the whims and wishes of even the most well-travelled, sophisticated members: whether it's personal training in the gym, watsu sessions in the salt water pool, cocktails on the terrace, planning adventures with global explorer Christina Franco in the voyager club, tucking in at the restaurant (gluten-free if you fancy) and then maybe a bit of a birching session in the large Banya bathhouse.  And as a member of the South Kensington Club you can also have access to the Royal Parks activities including tennis, rowing or swimming en-plein-air in the Serpentine, use the in-house concierge, or just have some quiet time in the Library.

    At £250 a month, South Kensington Club is a darn site cheaper than many similar London clubs, and they've just started taking membership enquiries...


  • What to know

    Another airport journey, my shoulder weighed down like a plough-horse thanks to my beautifully inconvenient, over-stuffed travel bag, eyeing up those smug-types perkily wheeling a light case as if they were walking the dog.

    Back home, post-research and it seems these grooved-metal, free-wheeling bits of luggage are made by Rimowa - a company who began trunk-making in Cologne in 1898.  They produced the first-ever aluminium trunk in 1937 and when they waterproofed the case in 1976, it became the luggage of choice for photographers and film crew wanting to protect their precious cargo. 

    Today's smug-wheelers, I discover, have cases in super-light polycarbonate with a zippy wheel system that never does that supermarket trolley thing of shooting off in the wrong direction or simply refusing to move at all.   So you can fling your choice of metal or pretty pastel-coloured luggage around and like a zealous dance partner, it will simply comply.  Constant travellers Cara Delevingne, Bradley Cooper and Chris Martin are all converts.  Maybe it's time to ditch my gorgeous back-breaker and get in the groove with Rimowa.