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  1. Wealth
April 25, 2018

The return of Connolly, Mayfair’s century-old leatherers

By Nicholas Foulkes

Why the luxury brand’s calfskin loyalty card is the ultimate status symbol, writes Nick Foulkes

It is quite remarkable, the things that status attaches itself to. Like some mollusc clinging to the bottom of a boat, status is stubbornly adhesive, sticking to anything from one’s location vis-à-vis the catenary arch of a red velvet rope slung between a pair of gilt metal poles, to letters placed after one’s name.

When examined philosophically, the vanity of status conferral becomes rapidly apparent. But happily I am not of a particularly philosophical turn of mind. I find that I am sufficiently slothful and disinclined to crawl out of bed on the best of days to need to be persuaded of the ultimate pointlessness of it all.

Which is why I was delighted one morning to wrest myself from the arms of Morpheus and stumble downstairs to find an envelope from Connolly on my doormat. Connolly was the supplier of the leather that used to swathe the inside of luxury vehicles during the high summer of the British car industry, and then in the Nineties was revived as a shop of exquisite taste by Isy Ettedgui, spouse of the late and much-missed Joseph.

If you are under 40 you will find it hard to comprehend why le tout Londres got so worked up by a shop that sold blousons, belts, bags and the sine qua non of civilised living, the in-car espresso-making kit. So when Isy said she was restarting Connolly, I was delighted but also daunted for her. How would the Connolly cocktail taste in the modern world of convenience luxury? Moreover, seldom do second acts or sequels match, let alone exceed, their predecessors.

Of course, I need not have worried. Connolly has slotted into modern Mayfair just fine and I find myself in there so often that I am concerned that I might have to start paying council tax in Westminster.

In fact, it is quite dangerous – I only have to walk past and then, with very little collection of the intervening 15 minutes, I find myself back on the pavement clutching a Connolly carrier bag, having bought an Arran sweater or a neckerchief designed to be tied over the mouth and nose when driving the open-topped vintage racing car that I do not have.

I have now been rewarded with an exquisite calfskin Connolly loyalty card, blind embossed with my name and nothing else. What solace others may find in a black American Express card, I have discovered in this beautifully finished rectangle of leather – I have propped it against my computer and look at it with pleasure.

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It opens up a world that was more or less open to me before. There are a few perks: I can apparently arrange appointments, but the regular service is so excellent I have no need to book a meeting for which I would be late anyway. The card also allows me to request that the shop be opened for me after hours – perfect for the next time I wake at 2am in need of a shearling jacket before breakfast.

I will now be the envy of my friends when I pull out my credit cards and they glimpse this symbol of my status. My sole concern is that I have only the calfskin card. I worry that others may have a more covetable Connolly loyalty card in crocodile skin – but then I need some sort of goal in life, to drag me out of bed each morning.

Nick Foulkes is a contributing editor at Spear’s

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