You sense that Lady Cosima's black book – compiled with skill and every social grace over the years – is one of Concierge London's chief attractions
As she curls up kittenishly on a sofa at the Bluebird café, basking in the sunshine, with her sunglasses irremoveable, it's hard to believe that Lady Cosima Somerset is the head of one of London's best-connected concierge services. A glamorous matron in between King's Road sorties, perhaps, but a prime fixer? Too glamorous for that.
Concierge London, Lady Cosima's company, which she founded in 2000 with Nina Norman, trades on what Lady Cosima says she does best: 'I'm a real fixer. I get a real buzz out of it; putting people together was always my thing.' You sense that her black book – compiled with skill and every social grace over the years – is one of Concierge London's chief attractions. (There is also Concierge New York, where Lady Cosima's partner has strength and depth of contacts.)
What her company does is service a maximum of 100 HNW clients – both English and foreign HNWs living in or coming to England – by 'setting them up with the infrastructure': so a family coming to London from the Middle East might need a beauty parade of lawyers, a trip to four schools, a pre-selected and -vetted nanny or housekeeper, and such. She has preferred relationships with different specialists, but will always countenance others.
Concierge London will also take on one-off projects, from arranging a 50th birthday party in Morocco (true story) to wrapping presents.
Much of Lady Cosima's experience with managing households comes from her own earlier life: raised as the daughter of the 9th Marquess of Londonderry (although Lady Cosima has claimed her real father is Robin Douglas-Home), then married to (and divorced from) Lord John Somerset (youngest child of the 11th Duke of Beaufort) – are you keeping up? – she knows what it is like to have to find the best staff, how much trust a family must have in its servants, the standards which will be expected.
Lady Cosima is not keen on those who just want Formula One tickets or entry to the Cuckoo Club, like most other concierge services seem to offer, flash without substance: 'We do lifestyle management.' She emphasises that the quality most precious to an HNW is time, and with the time of her twenty 'girls' starting at £40 an hour, it is cheaper for the wealthy to engage her service than do it themselves. (The joining fee is £10,000 for Concierge London, $20,000 for Concierge New York.)
Her girls are what Lady Cosima seems proudest of, and describes quite a particular type: 'The girls that work at Concierge are very special,' she says, half-Mary Poppins, half-Miss Jean Brodie. 'They have manners. Softness. Intelligence. But a real warmth and attention to detail.'
Only the smartest – girls or HNWs – need apply.