One of my oldest friends from London, via New York, now lives in Hong Kong. We originally met through our respective employers and coincidentally moved to London a year or so after Fashionista friend had been here for about a year. It was late 1999, early 2000 when a core group of American women, mostly from the New York area, working in finance moved to London for what was supposed to be a 2 year stint, and stayed. Most have left now and Fashionista and I are the only expats turned local still around from that crew. So, when Fancy friend visits from Hong Kong, we have lunch. A very long lunch. At Nobu…
Nobu is of course, celebrated Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s restaurant on Old Park Lane at the Metropolitan Hotel. It opened in 1997 and Fancy’s office used to be across the street. The staff all still know her, which is apparent by the reception desk’s enthusiastic greeting upon her arrival. I am sure that Fancy’s ‘Irasshaimase!!!’ is louder than all the rest. I am as excited about the meal now as I am about seeing Fancy and spending the afternoon with dear friends. It is one of the most divine dining experiences and a true treat.
I plan to take Bus 148 at 12:30 to get to Nobu for a 1pm reservation. Since the bus stops right across the street on Old Park Lane, this should be plenty of time. But I forgot about Thames Water’s diversions and the bus is not where it is supposed to be and not where I need it. Not again. Geesh.
At least this time I am not carrying 5 bags of tomatoes and I have not just had a facial, so I start to walk… again. I really should be fitter than I am with all of this walking around London lately. I am walking rather slowly now as I cannot risk my face starting to sop again, as this would of course be rather embarrassing eating sushi while looking and feeling like a wet fish.
I walk for about 15 minutes and get on the bus at Lancaster Gate Station. A few more stops around Marble Arch and we are cruising down Park Lane. Or were. Hyde Park Corner must be blocked because we are virtually parked outside the BMW dealership. I never really noticed how many car dealerships there are on Park Lane. Probably because I have never bought a car in London and occasionally just drive CSr’s 12 year old hatchback.
I am particularly struck by the size and scale of the BMW storefront and now notice next door is BMW i Park Lane What on earth is THAT?
Well, I now know that BMW opened a dedicated showroom to sell BMW’s range of electric vehicles. I have to credit the ‘rumours’ page of Automobile magazine because it is now a year old, so you definitely didn’t hear it here first.
Fancy has always been one of the most generous people I know. Whether she is in town to treat us to a delicious lunch, or she invites us to stay at her house whenever it is available, she doesn’t think twice about sharing her good fortune (from years of hard work) with her friends. And she is funny…really funny and when she laughs, it is from the heart and real. I love to laugh with Fancy and she has the most beautiful smile.
So it may be surprising that, despite all of these natural, inherently good, genuine qualities, Fancy LOVES a good faux.
All of it! Louboutin pumps (with signature red soles of course, even though her shoemaker tried to polish the red off when she had a heel repaired), Goyard totes (last year’s treat), Chanel jewellery (that is how Chanel spells it as opposed to American ‘jewelry’), Hermès leather bracelet cuffs (this year’s treat). There is no limit to Fancy’s fabulous faux finds.
Since I’ve made it perfectly clear how I despise shopping for sheer enjoyment, I will offer full disclosure that I have no problem being a participant of such beneficence (or is it maleficence in this instance?), and I do not wish to look a gift horse in the mouth. Actually Fancy was in town for Ascot, so I should explore horses even further, but I digress.
Back to lunch, which is disappearing rapidly and to being extremely grateful, which I am. Yet, I am now distracted by the thought of Fancy spending hours in Kowloon trawling through luxury goods malls and open air markets… by choice! It then occurs to me that since Fancy and I both grew up in New York City’s suburbs, I’ve never even asked if she used to also shop down on Canal Street.
Years ago (15 to be exact), before I moved to London, my mother and I walked along Canal Street looking through some of the stalls on the way home from a dinner. I needed (see, NEED, not WANT, again shopping out of necessity), a little clutch bag for my sister’s wedding.
Around this time, Kate Spade had just opened her now eponymous label Kate Spade New York, in Soho.
Walking along Canal Street, I was shocked at how many Kate Spade ‘Handbags’ had already been copied, reproduced and were dangling on the hooks at a mere fraction for what they cost down the street.
After a few minutes of quietly looking through the back racks at one of the stalls (for a non name bag), suddenly there were voices shouting in Mandarin (or it could have been Cantonese for all I know), blankets thrown over the racks, rattling and clanging and the staccato sound of a metal gate shutter closing down the front of the stall. My mother and I were experiencing a crackdown on counterfeit goods. We were in Luxury Good Lockdown. It was over as quickly as it began as New York’s Finest must have moved on and found Prada. The gate opened and we left…without any bags.
Come to think of it now, the next time Fancy comes to London, I may request a vintage Kate Spade Handbag, circa 1996 from her Tinker Tailor Seamstress. Although if she reads this now, she may be forced into retirement and I may never dine on Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno again.
2 oz luxury vodka (fake or imitation brands not recommended)
2 oz brand name ginger ale (carbonated soda and ginger powder not recommended)
1/2 squeezed lime (imitation lime flavor not recommended)
4 mint leaves (imitation herbal extracts not recommended)
Stir and drink after a sushi lunch with best friends