Where did Bottega Veneta come from? How do you build a crystal chandelier? What is the secret ingredient in the elixir of long life? Join Harrods Editor in Chief Tiffanie Darke as she mines the world’s greatest luxury emporium for its most precious and fascinating finds. Joined by Fashion and Beauty Editorial Directors Stacey Duguid and Katie Service, each week the girls try to outdo each other with their bid for Harrods’ most desirable objects. With guests ranging from Indian jewellers to renowned aesthetic surgeons, they bring to life the extraordinary stories behind the things that really make us want to go shopping.
In today’s episode, Tiffanie, Stacey and Katie reveal the rare and recherché finds they’ve unearthed from inside Harrods. Prepare to be inspired by esoteric fragrances; intrigued by a piece of jewellery with talismanic properties and compelled by three superlative pairs of sunglasses which are not just aesthetically pleasing but altruistic too.
In the second part of the podcast, Tiffanie speaks to the celebrated Spanish chef José Pizarro – credited with bringing authentic tapas to London – about his unlikely road to becoming a restaurateur. “I studied dentistry,” he says, “and while I was waiting for a job I took a cookery course. A month in, I knew this was it.” He tells us why Jamón Ibérico should always be eaten with your hands, why his customers are family and he also lets us in on the secret ingredient in his recipe for success (hint: it’s all about provenance).
Tiffanie, Stacey and Katie talk through the treasures they’ve truffled out from Harrods this week, ranging from delicious – and rare – cheeses to dream bags and the very latest in futuristic foundations (if you thought 40 shades was impressively inclusive, try 72,000).
Their guest this week is Sameer Lilani, EMEA director for jewellery powerhouse Amrapali. Founded in the 1970s, by cousins who shared a passion for traditionally-made jewellery, Amrapali has risen to become one of India’s most renowned design houses and Amrapali’s jewels (known for their exquisite craftsmanship and eye-catching deigns, are loved by stars of both Hollywood and Bollywood: both Angelina Jolie and Sonam Kapoor are fans). He fills us in on the evolution of men’s jewellery (thankfully the days of bling are far behind us) to the talismanic powers of precious gemstones. “It’s about connecting with your emotions,” he says, “I really do believe in the power and the energy of stones.”
He also talks about the Amrapali Gem Bar, available exclusively at Harrods, which allows clients to select rare, precious and semi-precious loose stones sourced from around the world and experiment with creating their own bespoke piece of jewellery. “We have everything from an amethyst at £1,500 to a pink diamond that’s almost a million pounds,” he says. “And it’s a real collaboration, you can actually design your own piece of jewellery.”
Where did Bottega Veneta come from? How do you build a crystal chandelier? What is the secret ingredient in the elixir of long life?
Join Harrods Editor in Chief Tiffanie Darke as she mines the world’s greatest luxury emporium for its most precious and fascinating finds. Joined by Fashion and Beauty Directors Stacey Duguid and Katie Service, each week the girls try to outdo each other with their bid for Harrods’ most desirable objects. With guests ranging from Indian jewellers to renowned aesthetic surgeons, they bring to life the extraordinary stories behind the things that really make us want to go shopping.
In the last episode of the season, we put our feet up for an exclusive chat with Margaret Dabbs. Blurring the lines between science and beauty, Margaret Dabbs is an esteemed podiatrist and entrepreneur. Put your feet up and listen as she tells Mariella how she made her beauty breakthrough.
"I’ve got a big level of compassion in me, but also I’ve got that fight which says pick yourself up and go for it."
“There isn’t a foot we can’t help,” says entrepreneur and podiatrist Margaret Dabbs. Proving that there is a place for hands, legs and feet treatments in the luxury market, Dabbs and her team combine chiropody and pampering while you ensconce yourself in a reclining chair. This ‘medical pedicure’ – a term coined by Dabbs – doesn’t stop there. The aesthetician has concocted a life-changing line of ultra-moisturising products that will rehabilitate your worn-out tootsies. And guess what? There’s even a vegan range.
Aesthetic doctor and sought-after skincare expert, Dr. Marwa Ali is known for her artistic yet subtle approach to cosmetic surgery. Here, she tells Mariella how she earned the trust of famous faces around the globe.
“If you want something enough and work hard enough, you will be able to achieve it.”
There’s a new revolution among us in the world of cosmetic surgery, and it’s called baby botox – a less-is-more procedure practised by the master of ageless beauty – Dr. Marwa Ali. Believing that aesthetic medicine is not only a science, but an art, the esteemed skin doctor tailors her treatments to her clients, working to enhance their natural features rather than change them completely. Her advice? Use the right skincare for you, always do your research, and most importantly, prevention is better than cure.
You’ve seen his hyper-feminine styles on your favourite celebrities – now world-renowned designer Alexis Mabille tells Mariella how he made his mark in the fashion industry.
“Step by step I rediscovered that my motif was elegance. It’s not just about beauty; it’s more about charisma and attitude.”
Starting as a six-year-old with big dreams and a sewing machine, Alexis Mabille has gone from an aspirational costume designer to an haute couture titan. With a knack for making things beautiful, he studied at the esteemed Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne before working with John Galliano at Dior, and finally starting his own label. With a design ethos aimed at making the wearer feel as good as they look, it’s no wonder his creations are loved by famous faces across the globe.
Having trained under the likes of Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White, William Curley knows a thing or two about sweet treats. Mariella meets the country’s most-accoladed chocolatier.
“When you have something that’s made the right way and the pure way…you probably won’t want to go back.”
Having grown up in a small town near Fife, Scotland, William Curley followed an unlikely path to become a Master of Culinary Arts – the highest accolade for chefs in the UK. Opting for cookery classes at school, he would discover a passion for his craft, going on to shape his skills under Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffmann before becoming the youngest chef pâtissier in history when he joined The Savoy at 27 years old. With extraordinary and tantalising flavours from Japanese black vinegar to rosemary and olive oil, his couture chocolate creations in our Food Halls are something to behold.
Age is but a number for Norma Kamali. Five decades at the centre of the fashion industry has neither slowed nor dimmed the 74-year-old designer’s passion for her work and the causes she champions, as Mariella discovers.
“I don’t see a lack of opportunity for myself. I have plans for things I’m doing next; I met my soulmate at 65 years old! I still have the spirit I want.”
In 1976, a young Farrah Fawcett – then on the cusp of Charlie’s Angels fame – was snapped by Hollywood photographer Bruce McBroom. The effect was instant. Everything from Fawcett’s flicked tresses to her scarlet Norma Kamali bathing suit (now a permanent exhibit of the Smithsonian) was immortalised in fashion’s hall of fame. Yet Kamali is so much more than a swimwear designer. Feminist trailblazer, woman’s woman; her ‘Stop Objectification’ campaign is on a mission to empower women from the inside out, starting with self-esteem.
Join Mariella as she returns for a new season of Harrods' True Tales of Luxury, delving once again into the worlds of designers and innovators at the top of the creative industry. In this season, she meets top chocolatier William Curley, the aesthetics doctor, Dr. Marwa Ali, designer Alexis Mabille and she talks feet with celebrated podiatrist Magaret Dabbs. The season kicks off with legendary designer Norma Kamali. Tune in this Thursday for more.
True Tales of Luxury is a Harrods podcast.
In episode six, Mariella meets the palmer//harding duo credited for reinventing the classic shirt — listen in as they trace their success back to the humble beginnings of Harding's childhood bedroom.
“We always said that we didn’t want to build a business if we couldn’t build it in the right way and treat people right.”
Today, affectionately known as "the shirt boys", Central Saint Martin graduates Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding were working out of Harding's childhood bedroom when they launched their ready-to-wear label. Seven years on, and the appeal of palmer//harding's power shirts has reached the likes of Michelle Obama — the new uniform of accomplished women the world over. With a perfect balance of structure and fluidity, a forward-thinking aesthetic and an inclusive size range, the duo has become the ultimate gatekeepers of the staple shirt.
Almost single-handedly revolutionising the Indian food scene in Britain, Vineet Bhatia is one of the most esteemed chefs of our time. Listen as Mariella meets the man who brought chocolate samosas to Harrods.
“I cook from my heart and I cook from my mind. That’s the way I put food down.”
After arriving in London in 1993, Vineet Bhatia set out on a mission to transform Indian cuisine in the UK. Eight years later, he became the first Indian chef-proprietor to be awarded the industry's highest accolade — a Michelin star. Spearheading a cuisine that combines the authentic food of his mother country with modern, innovative twists, Bhatia joined the Harrods family in 2019 with a new restaurant in The Dining Hall — Kama by Vineet. Come for the signature thali, stay for the chocomosas.
One of the UK’s most successful and independent fashion brands with global recognition, Jenny Packham has become the design house of choice when it comes to social dressing. Red carpets the world over are graced with Packham’s designs worn by the most iconic and influential women of our generation including: Taylor Swift, Uma Thurman, Angelina Jolie, Emily Blunt, Kate Winslet, Dita Von Teese, Kate Hudson, Oscar winner Adele Adkins and The Duchess of Cambridge.
Amy Powney of British label Mother of Pearl is on a mission to change how we think about sustainable fashion. She tells Mariella how we can overturn the bad habits of fast fashion — without compromising on style.
"By 2050, the fashion industry is set to make up 25% of the carbon footprint on the planet, which is harrowing."
The latest buzzword in fashion and more relevant than ever, sustainability is Amy Powney's gospel at Mother of Pearl. Creative Director at the British brand, her commitment to ethics and the environment takes form in transparent supply chains, organic materials and social responsibility — without compromising on creativity. The result? Fashion-forward, affordable pieces that perfect the balance between style and substance. From the ready-to-wear collection to the fully sustainable 'No Frills' diffusion line, her pieces are designed to make you look great, and feel great about the story behind your outfit.
Something of an artistic polymath at the age of 28, poet, actress and filmmaker Greta Bellamacina is Harrods’ first poet-in-residence. In episode two, Mariella meets the woman of many talents.
“I think poetry and all good art should be for the people – it shouldn’t be reserved in dusty old books and art galleries.”
Popularising poetry for a new generation, 28-year-old Greta Bellamacina is our first poet-in-residence here at Harrods. At the age of 23, she was shortlisted as Young Poet Laureate, before going on to edit three internationally-loved books including Smear, a powerful feminist anthology for young women. Not to be confined to pen and paper, Bellamacina first dipped her toe into the world of cinema on the set of Harry Potter, and has since co-written, directed and starred in an award-nominated new film Hurt By Paradise.
Since his very first Vogue cover in 1977, hair stylist Sam McKnight has been behind some of the most iconic fashion shoots of all time. Here, he tells Mariella how he found himself in the vanguard of the most glamorous industry in the world.
"I wanted to be part of that world — it looked so luxurious and glamorous, a kind of world I had never seen before."
"Hair is transformative", so says Sam McKnight. Captivated by the pages of glossy magazines as a teen, the now-lauded hair stylist moved to London from the small mining town of New Cumnock to find himself landing a job in the capital's most illustrious hair salon and styling Vogue shoots by 1977. After four decades of iconic covers, catwalk shows and celebrity clientele (he was personal hair stylist to Princess Diana for seven years), he marked his star-studded career with the launch of an eponymous line of hair products in 2017.
A name synonymous with luxurious nights, Olivia von Halle rewrote the rules of sleepwear with her silk creations. Here, Mariella meets the designer who took pyjamas into our everyday wardrobes, blurring the lines between lounge and ready-to-wear.
"You have to give yourself space for your imagination to be able to run riot."
Sparked by a love of her tailor-made pyjamas, Olivia von Halle put nightwear on the map with her eponymous brand. The original advocate of sleepwear as outerwear, the British designer has long been wearing her silk nightclothes beyond the bedroom. Launching with the archetypal Lila pyjamas in 2011, her classic aesthetic has since evolved into ready-to-wear with boudoir-esque slips and bias-cut skirts, with comfort and luxury ever at the forefront of her designs.
Designer and philanthropist Gabriela Hearst is paving the way to a sustainable future for luxury fashion. Mariella meets the woman behind the eponymous label that's captured hearts with its steadfast ethics and quiet elegance.
"Sustainability is luxury — it shouldn't be two competing concepts."
Having grown up herding cattle on the family ranch in Uruguay, Gabriela Hearst's childhood was far from conventional — much like her approach to the business of fashion. Her focus on sustainability speaks to a 'buy less, wear more' mentality, creating pieces you'll love for life and never need to replace. Hearst's luxury is one of integrity and subtlety, from ranch-reared wool and recycled cashmere to anti-radiation pocket linings. But it's her eye for design that brings in the style set, with her cult Nina bag attracting a lengthy waitlist since being spotted on the arm of many an A-lister.
"My sense of luxury is this well-crafted, beautiful product that can last. It's made with integrity and noble materials."
It was in 2012 that Annoushka Ducas was decorated as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Recognised for her three decades of service to the jewellery industry, hers is a name that’s synonymous with luxury.
“Jewellery is so much about moments in time. Those are the luxuries: the moments that it commemorates, or what they mean to you.”
Annoushka Ducas MBE wasn’t always destined for the world of luxury jewellery. The keen businesswoman, and now mother of four – who co-founded Links of London in 1990 alongside her husband, John Ayton – studied at the Sorbonne before alighting in the industry almost by chance. Despite her lack of formal training, Ducas’ innate sense of style and inimitable aesthetic has redefined the jewellery industry as we know it today.
After a serendipitous meeting on the streets of London, power couple Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo launched a label that would become the biggest British couture house in over 100 years. Hear their extraordinary story as Mariella gets the low-down on the business of haute couture.
"We have this belief together that nothing is impossible. We have no doubt in our minds that what we're trying to create is one of the biggest luxury houses ever."
The enormous success of couture label Ralph & Russo can be traced back to one chance meeting between its eponymous founders on the streets of London. Love at first sight between a designer and a banker grew into, years later, the foundation of a fashion house that would become the first British label in 100 years to be invited to show at Paris Couture Week. Today, the brand's creations are spotted on a prestigious roster of clients from Angelina Jolie to Meghan Markle, who wore Ralph & Russo for her official engagement photograph with Prince Harry.
In many ways, Hannah Coffin of Needle & Thread is a rebel of the fashion industry. Defying the seasonality that holds so many designers hostage, Coffin creates spellbinding collections at a pace that suits her. It’s a philosophy that, as Mariella discovers, is clearly working…
“I don’t think luxury these days is necessarily about the price tag. It’s more about the experience.”
Best-dressed guests have one thing in common: Needle & Thread. Brainchild of Hannah Coffin, the British label is an events season staple, beloved for its intricate embroidery, fin de siècle references, and elaborate detailing. It’s a story that begins in childhood. Bought a Singer sewing machine at 11 years old, Coffin was taught her craft by her Grandmother (“Looking back, it was probably just a way to keep me quiet.”), who impressed upon her protégée the importance of time-honoured skills and traditional textiles. The rest, as they say, is history.
Clinical hypnotherapist and all-round mindfulness guru, Terrence the Teacher is loved and lauded for his ability to endow patients with the tools to turn their lives around. Here, he tells Mariella of pursuing the ultimate luxury — self-healing.
"When you do mindfulness, you're changing yourself for the better and then the world's your oyster."
Having coached clients from Christian Louboutin to the Great Ormand Street Hospital staff in the art of mindfulness, Terrence the Teacher has garnered a devoted following for his life-changing effect on people. His expertise in clinical hypnotherapy and neurolinguistics helps patients kick bad habits from smoking to stage fright — simply put, it comes down to unlocking the subconscious and overturning the thought process. His is a world of positivity, where negative language is outlawed and the power to change lies within — as his long list of loyal clientele will attest.
For Charlotte Olympia Dellal, creating shoes has become something of a therapy. A self-confessed podophobic (“I took what I hate, and have tried to make feet look as pretty as they can!”), the designer has defied her distaste – making her name with fantastical pairings that push the parameters of footwear. Here, she takes Mariella back to where it all started…
“There are certain things in life that make you feel a different way. I know it’s an aesthetic thing, but I feel that it’s important.”
“I’m very nostalgic,” says Charlotte Olympia Dellal on her love of 1940s glamour. As is often the case, hers is a passion that began in childhood, cultivated by her mother – Brazilian model, Andrea de Magalhaes Viera – and her grandmother, with whom the young Dellal would revel in the films of old Hollywood. Twice crowned Accessories Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, and trained at Cordwainers School following a foundation at London College of Fashion, the designer celebrates retro glamour through a beautifully outré lens.
Fourth-generation jeweller Carolina Bucci tells Mariella how she rebelled against traditional design in favour of her winningly wearable aesthetic, all the while nurturing a true love of time-honoured Italian luxury — perfectly captured when she reveals her most treasured piece of craft.
"To me, the ultimate idea of luxury is when something is perfect just for you."
Adored for her wearable, everyday approach to fine jewellery, Carolina Bucci has Italian luxury in her DNA as a fourth-generation jeweller in Florence's famous Ponte Vecchio. Surrounded by beautiful jewels as a child, she soon came to resist the restrictive traditions of design in favour of a contemporary and playful aesthetic, inspired by childhood friendship bracelets for her first collection. Yet her rejection of conventional design comes hand in hand with a deep-seated appreciation of Italian craftsmanship, championing a slow, patient and bespoke approach to craft in pursuit of perfection.
Hairstylist to the A-list, George Northwood takes Mariella behind the scenes of his star-studded career, from cutting Alexa Chung's now-iconic bob to styling The Duchess of Sussex's wedding reception up-do.
A pioneer of today's undone yet polished look, George Northwood's hairdressing journey has soared from playing make-believe salons in his parents' loft to styling The Duchess of Sussex's wedding reception hair. Finding his niche in creating a perfectly tousled effect, Northwood's creative vision prefers impeccably cool, manageable elegance over a just-left-the-salon look — marked by his famed handiwork with Alexa Chung's game-changing textured bob. His approach to luxury is a pragmatic one, throwing out extravagance in favour of efficiency and unintimidating surroundings at his eponymous Fitzrovia salon.
It’s tricky to imagine Sarah Shotton being anything other than the body-confidence advocate she is today. And yet, as the designer reveals, it was only upon discovering Agent Provocateur – the iconic and “filthy elegant” lingerie brand of which Shotton is now Creative Director – that she would learn to love her figure.
“Underwear is very important… It makes you feel good about yourself; it makes you feel confident; it’s fun; it pulls you in. It is the most important thing that you put on every day
What Sarah Shotton doesn’t know about lingerie isn’t worth knowing. Creative Director at Agent Provocateur since 2010, the Central Saint Martins alumna can trace her trajectory to the brand’s helm all the way back to shop assistant in 1999. Now, Shotton is rewriting the rules of luxury lingerie – whether by utilising Leavers lace, more typically associated with couture, or introducing a nursing bra that marries ergonomic design and elegance – to, quite literally, shape the future of the female silhouette.
For Ashley Hicks, acclaimed interior and architectural designer, an eye for good taste runs in the family. Here, the son of David Nightingale Hicks recounts his illustrious upbringing amidst the upper echelons of British society – and reveals the secret behind his indefatigable ‘assistant’, Francis.
Ashley Hicks’ formative years were as extraordinary as you’d expect from the son of David Nightingale Hicks – esteemed interior designer – and Lady Pamela Hicks, the younger daughter of Earl Louis Mountbatten. Luxurious and eccentric in equal measure, their influence lives on in Hicks’ own practice, from the designer’s signature totemic sculptures and opulent textiles, to his varied oeuvre of familial memoirs and photographic journals. The latest of these, Buckingham Palace: The Interiors, was published in 2018 by Rizzoli in partnership with the Royal Collection Trust.
In any conversation about Mary Katrantzou, the words ‘colour’ and ‘print’ are never too far behind. And yet, in reality, the Greek-born fashion designer is poles apart from the maximalist that people believe her to be, as she explains...
It wasn’t until studying under the late Professor Louise Wilson OBE that designer, Mary Katrantzou, would find her creative confidence. Now, just over a decade after presenting her seminal Central Saint Martins MA collection, Katrantzou is regarded among the leading lights of the global fashion stage – collaborating with the likes of Swarovski and Longchamp, and designing for the New York City Ballet. In 2018, the Dallas Contemporary Museum hosted Mary, Queen of Prints – a curation of 180+ looks, to coincide with her label’s 10th anniversary.
Season Two has arrived! Join Mariella as she continues exploring what luxury truly means in a modern world in conversation with the industry’s most notable minds and creatives. In this series, she's joined by designers Mary Katrantzou and Charlotte Olympia Dellal, Interior Designer Ashley Hicks, Agent Provocateur Creative Director Sarah Shotton, Jeweller Carolina Bucci and hairdresser George Northwood.
Terry de Gunzburg is a trailblazer in the beauty industry. After a 15-year career as Creative Director at Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, where she created the cult classic Touche Éclat concealer pen, she launched her eponymous beauty range, By Terry, which has become renowned for its distinct approach to colour, light and texture. In this exclusive bonus episode, Terry talks to Mariella about her addiction to buying shoes, how she believes make-up should enhance our beauty and never be used to hide what is natural, and the development of her 'haute couleur' bespoke colour creation service.