“You have a place for lunch, you have a place for shopping, you have a hotel, you have a park, you have a pub; it’s like a small family,” says Katia Gomiashvili, the Russian designer behind the Moscow-based label Emperor Moth, which sells whimsical velour track tops, some embellished with miniature fabric dolls. However, Gomiashvili admits that some shoppers were initially a little wary about checking out her collection of tracksuits and edgy printed Nina Donis dresses. “Our concept for the shop was very different from what was happening with the street, because it was mainly art galleries,” says Gomiashvili. “Customers were a bit scared to walk in, but on the third time [they go past], they’ll walk in,” she adds with a laugh.
Then there’s the fact that, while Mount Street’s bijou charm might match many designers’ dreams, its location, sandwiched between Berkeley Square and Park Lane, doesn’t draw the throngs of tourists and shoppers of Bond Street. But that’s the way its residents say they prefer it. “It’s like the ultimate gated community, an exclusive village,” says Paul Davies, a designer and developer. “Mayfair was originally designed for the most successful people in society, and now all the main hedge funds and financial institutions are here.” Davies is set to open a Maison of Luxury on the street later this year, in which designer Antony Price will operate his made-to-order business alongside real-estate and plane- leasing boutiques. “I just think it will become the Rodeo Drive of London,” Davies adds. “It’s not going to be a high-density shopping street, but I don’t think that’s what people want.”
To balance Mount Street’s traditionally elegant, old-world appeal with the allure of its fashionable new occupants, however, the estate plans to retain a number of the street’s long-term residents, including the stationers Mount Street Printers, which manufactures delicately embossed letterheads. “Grosvenor is very pragmatic,” notes Wilson. “They won’t impose [standardized] rents, as they appreciate that a florist can’t pay the same rent as someone who sells jewelry.”
That said, upping the glamour quotient on the street has led to an average rent increase of about 50 percent over the past 18 months, to around $360 per square foot, but this figure still represents less than half the cost of setting up shop nearby. “If you notice, there has been a downturn in other parts of Mayfair,” says William Asprey, chairman of William & Son, who opened his silverware and jewelry store at 14 Mount Street in 2000, after his family sold its share in Asprey & Garrard. “The rates on Bond Street have become far too high, and the street has lost its character and been taken over by the large brands.”