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Scene in London: Theo Fennell, Orlebar Brown at Walpole

Walpole Awards
William Chase, founder of Chase Distillery and Tyrrells Crisps, and Adam Brown, founder of Orlebar Brown. Chase presented Brown with the Walpole Award for Best Emerging British Luxury Brand. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- On his next resort holiday, a man ought to pack Orlebar Brown swim shorts. The five-year-old company won the Walpole award for Best Emerging British Luxury Brand last night.

If that’s not a good reason, see Daniel Craig swimming in them in “Skyfall.”

The annual awards ceremony held by Walpole, a trade group representing more than 180 brands, offered plenty of fashion tips.

“They are not like baggy boxer shorts,” Orlebar Brown founder Adam Brown said. “The tailoring is based on a suit trouser, so any shape can look good in them.”

One limited-edition style, priced at 195 euros ($250), features a luscious photograph of Ocean Drive. They’d be just the thing for the barely five minutes of pool time allowed at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Before beach getaways, there are some holiday presents to give. Cufflinks by jewelry designer Theo Fennell emerged as a winning choice.

“Men have beautiful watches to buy, but most cufflinks are badly made and so dull,” Fennell said. “I wanted to make cufflinks that guys could recognize were miniature works of art.”

His pairs, which start at 8,250 euros, are whimsical and oddly shaped, with images of Aston Martins, fish, or a picture of the owner’s choice.

Handmade Craftsmanship

The way they’re made, by hand in his workshop above his store, is critical to Fennell, who won the award for the Best Luxury Craftsmanship.

“It needs to be made with love, made with heart, and it needs to have real sentimentality to it,” Fennell said in his acceptance remarks. “Otherwise it’s just what’s in a store at the airport.”

As for women, the Walpole Award judges put a spotlight on Emma Hill, creative director of Mulberry, who took home the award for British Luxury Brand. Her latest collection has a most excellent dress for holiday soirees, with red lace, flared silk skirt, and external brassiere. It costs $2,600.

“A man would definitely want to buy it for his wife,” Hill said.

All that talk of shopping worked up an appetite. Banqueting House in Whitehall served carrots buried in dirt, actually a combination of nuts and olives.

Jonnie Peacock, Gold medalist sprint runner in the Paralympics, wouldn’t touch them. Peacock and Olympic Gold medalist rower Katherine Grainger received the Walpole Medal of Excellence.

Pumpkin, Pecan

Hill said she’s making pumpkin pie this week, for a celebration of Thanksgiving in London. She’ll be using canned pumpkin, imported from the U.S., which she buys at Panzer’s.

At first she was suspicious of the confection, “like Americans are suspicious of mince pie,” she said. She acquired a taste for it when she lived in the U.S. and she much prefers it to pecan pie.

Other award winners last night: the Royal Academy of Arts, for British Cultural Excellence; Jaguar, for Best Luxury Brand Overseas (an award sponsored by Virtuous Retail, which at the March 2013 opening of its first shopping center in Surat, India, will be giving away some Jaguars); Burberry, for British Luxury Brand Online; and Brown’s Hotel, for Best Luxury Service.

“We have wonderful packages for Christmas,” said Rocco Forte, chairman and chief executive of Rocco Forte Hotels, and owner of Brown’s. “Children under 12 stay for free.”

The 11th edition of the Walpole Awards for Excellence were sponsored by Coutts, represented by Chief Executive Michael Morley.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Mark Beech on music, Richard Vines on food and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in London at or on Twitter @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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