It has long been The Rake’s belief that the truest expressions of luxury, particularly in the menswear world, are intrinsically linked with an appreciation of art. Good design, after all, is an art form. Those brands that we find the most compelling often approach design from this perspective, and appreciate that the act of creating good menswear must be informed by more than the technical requirements or limitations of clothing design. Connolly England is one such brand; a recently revitalized British brand no less. The launch of Connolly’s new hybrid men’s and women’s collection a few months ago, designed by Marc Audibet, caused quite a stir in the luxury sphere (you can find our thoughts on the collection here), but the clothes themselves only reveal half of this new story.
Equally telling is the new Connolly boutique on Clifford St, an elegant three-storey Georgian townhouse that somehow channels the brand’s identity through every brick and cornice. The store itself is exquisite, with its artfully curated collections of antiques, curiosities and discreet touches that subtly reference Connolly’s motoring heritage. It is structured around different spaces dedicated to accessories and leather goods, the house’s motoring collection, and to tailored pieces in different parts of the lower ground and ground floors. The first floor adds an entirely different component to the Connolly experience, functioning as a private art gallery and discreet spot in which to relax and take stock. Furthermore, the gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of the work of renowned British photographer, Chris Killip.
The townhouse itself hosted a private art gallery on its second floor prior to Connolly moving in and when the brand’s owner Isabel Ettedgui made the decision to make Clifford Street the brand’s new home, it felt natural to retain it. “Connolly has always hosted photographic exhibitions, it’s a part of the Connolly culture,” she says. That the brand should have a ‘culture’ in its owner’s eyes at all reveals Ettedgui’s motivation to ensure that Connolly should not be seen as a soulless establishment. “Connecting with the arts and culture is a very personal statement of intent for Connolly,” she explains. “Neither the arts or culture should serve as a dressing for the experience. The gallery space works because one informs the other and adds a depth of interest to Connolly.”