Freya Simms: What creates that unique British style?


Social butterfly Freya Simms blogs about how to get the perfect “British accent”

The Financial Times have just been on the phone sourcing images for a piece on the Best of British design and talent. They are featuring a project launched by Butchoff Antiques who have chosen to celebrate their 50th anniversary by creating a design competition to give a burgeoning furniture student a launchpad into production. A few miles down the road in Mayfair, The New Craftsmen has recently launched – a wonderful and collaborative approach to peddling British skill and creativity. It seems that everywhere I look someone is celebrating innovation, design and creativity that is quintessentially British.

Is there something in the air or is my imagination simply playing tricks on me. Quite possible, after I experienced a rather dazzling  moment shaking hands with Her Majesty the Queen at the home of Received Pronunciation or the perfect cut glass British accent – Buckingham Palace. This cannot help but inject a bit of old fashioned British pride into even the least patriotic.  I jest of course, but it does seem that the current zeitgeist is firmly committed to championing the home grown – whether it is luxury brands supported by the likes of Walpole and Burlington Arcade here or Gieves and Hawkes and Whistles spreading their wares across the globe.


Masterpiece London launched as an international art, antiques and design fair just five years ago and where it sits comfortably as an internationally regarded event alongside its peers in mainland Europe, the USA, Hong Kong and China, many people described its’ ‘distinctive British accent’ as a must-reason to visit. The fair does not hinge on the variations of the weather or indeed a stiff upper lip. It does however, serve a very good cup of tea, courtesy of partner Urban Caprice as well as being set in the stunning surroundings of Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital Chelsea and takes part at the height of ‘the British Season. Is this the key to Britishness today – steeped in tradition, but finding new and relevant dialogue for 21st century?

Launching this September is the inaugural Country Life Fair. The strapline is bringing the countryside to London, but this doyenne of British publications (150 years old) is also the bible for many recent anglophiles from foreign climes – particularly of the HNW1 variety that subscribe to it as a crash course into being a Brit. Of course what makes this little island really interesting is the wealth of cultures that have moved in and out of our shores to create an essentially cross-cultural offering. Is the very idea of Britishness an oxymoron or is it our absorption of so many cultures and continued innovation that creates the “perfect British accent”?