Bourdon House: dunhill's Illustrious Home
"I’m driven by my imagination, my determination, and discovery…every day to me is a new opportunity to discover something new…not just about myself, but about the planet that I live on." Don McCullin
Bourdon House in London, Prince’s Building in Hong Kong, The Twin Villas in Shanghai and Ginza in Tokyo. This is where the modern gentleman goes to experience luxury in all its various manifestations. In London, dunhill’s Mayfair residence is easily recognizable by the large tree towering above the idyllic black and red Georgian façade, much like Shanghai’s neoclassical style villa is notable for its beautiful English garden.
Inside the London home, I await my host in a richly furnished sitting room; a small 12-seater cinema (available for hire) is visible through the open door, playing a documentary by legendary war photographer Don McCullin. To my left is the restaurant where coffee, wine and other lunch time delicacies are served, along with a humidor where guests can safeguard the taste of their exquisite cigar collections. My host arrives and my journey through dunhill’s rich and influential past begins, starting with the knitwear (wool so fine it is hard not to smother it with affection), limited edition ‘sidecar’ pens (an ode to dunhill’s motoring tradition) and timepieces that glisten with jewels. Upstairs, you will find a marble-clad Spa (treatments available for both men and women) and a barber for that perfect pre-theatre wet shave. There is also a high ceilinged room full of leather accessories, ivory chess sets and Havanna sunglasses where a custom leather service is offered. This is also where, legend has it, Coco Chanel was pursued by the Duke of Westminster, who owned the house before dunhill took up residence.
"This is where the modern gentleman goes to experience luxury in all its various manifestations."
For all the heritage, the charming service and the beautiful architecture that adorns the London residence, the experience centres, predominantly, around the shop itself. What is quickly evident is the time and skill invested in each item, from the menswear collections of knitwear and lightweight suits to the timepieces, cufflinks and wallets. A high quality document case is created using techniques that take years to master; the careful stitching, the way in which the leather is worked, the symmetry of line - it is no wonder that the finished product speaks of old world refinement. The Chassis leather collection points to ‘balance of the organic and the mechanical’, of ‘form and function’, but rhetoric aside, the care and attention given to each piece is readily obvious to those that appreciate enduring sentiments of style. The watch and pen collection were enchanting – the mathematical precision invested here only possible by master craftsmen inspired in their work. Expert artists, calligraphers and designers are all called in to give their own enigmatic touches to limited edition dunhill pieces, motivated by the challenge to create a unique work of art; “It’s the attention to detail, it’s the fine finishing on the edges that turns it into a quality product” says Max Lamb, working with dunhill leather expert Tomasz Nosarzewski on the ‘Campaign Chair’, a magnificent piece galvanised from England’s colonial past.
"...a mindset that cares about the finest nuances of style and taste."
In the bespoke fitting room, lined with illustrations of figures cutting a dash in choice three-piece suits, the quintessential dunhill customer will come to get another suit fitted, his measurements already on record, greeted with the choice of 250 cloths supplied by the finest mills in the UK and Italy; there are two distinct dunhill silhouettes – the St James and Belgravia cuts - elegant and formal, yet unaffectedly cool. Downstairs, a recipient of this master tailoring was encountered, a man with an evident fondness for silk ties. He walked slowly around the counter, thick hair falling out of a large hat. His overcoat was woven from the finest wool, his shoes shone, his wrist watch glowed - but not cheaply, and not extravagantly. “This is the quintessential dunhill customer” I reasoned, scanning the shop floor where other fine chaps ummmed and ahhed over true heritage pieces.
The brand is nostalgic yet contemporary, and serves a mindset that cares about the finest nuances of style and taste. The London residence does well to satisfy this intrinsic desire, offering a shopping experience that can only be described as uplifting.