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21 Ultimate Gifts: Fit for a Gentleman

Jill Newman

THE GIFT
An exclusive two-day visit for the recipient and a guest to Bourdon House, the Georgian mansion in London that serves as Alfred Dunhill’s flagship store and private club.
Round-trip, first-class airfare to London; chauffeured transportation to and from the airport; and a suite for two nights at the Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel.
Consultation with Alfred Dunhill’s master tailor, design director, and head of leather design to create a bespoke suit, customized cuff links, and a one-of-a-kind custom leather piece, respectively, for the gift’s recipient.
A deluxe shave and massage at the Bourdon House spa; Champagne lunch in the Bourdon House Cellar Bar; and a private movie screening in the house’s theater.
A personal tour of Alfred Dunhill’s private archives conducted by its museum archivist.
Two tickets to Dunhill’s autumn/winter fashion show in early 2011.
Starting at $150,000, depending on the choice of fabrics and the complexity of the bespoke orders.

At the close of the 19th century, manufacturers delivered their automobiles to buyers with few appointments beyond a chassis and four wheels. This deficiency prompted the enterprising young Alfred Dunhill to transform his family’s saddlery into an automotive-accessory supplier offering motorists such essentials as driving coats, car horns, dashboard clocks, luggage, and—in 1905—a patented windshield pipe that facilitated smoking behind the wheel. The entrepreneur soon shifted his brand’s focus to fine tobacco, and over the decades, Alfred Dunhill evolved into a luxury boutique furnishing the discerning gentleman with tailored suits, clothing, and personalized accessories, such as the custom cigarette lighter it crafted for Pablo Picasso, who asked that a portrait of his mistress and muse, Parisian photographer Dora Maar, be engraved on its lid.

In this bespoke spirit, this gift’s recipient will receive not only a rare glimpse into Alfred Dunhill’s illustrious past, but also the opportunity to collaborate with the company’s design team on his own unique set of products. The two-day experience takes place at Alfred Dunhill’s London home, Bourdon House (shown on opposite page), a 1720 Georgian-style, three-story mansion that houses the brand’s flagship boutique and a suite of rooms reserved for private club members.

On arrival, the recipient and a guest check into a suite at the Lanes­borough and then depart for Bourdon House, where they revive themselves with treatments at the Spa at Alfred Dunhill. The house recommends the Traveler’s Package, which includes a massage to relax the muscles after a long journey, a foot massage, and a detoxifying facial followed by a deluxe shave. Afterward, Alfred Dunhill’s museum archivist guides the guests through the company’s extensive private archives, which contain many unusual pieces, including the lighter commissioned by Picasso and accessories designed for Sir Winston Churchill. Today, these and other historic items serve as reference points for the firm’s artists and craftsmen.

The recipient then consults with Alfred Dunhill’s master tailor, who expertly takes his measurements and assesses his lifestyle to determine whether he is active or more sedate; whether he lives in a humid or arid climate; and whether he requires multiple pockets. These insights allow the tailor to guide the client in selecting the most appropriate fabrics, silhouettes, and detailing to craft the optimum hand-cut and hand-finished suit. Once these decisions are made, the design director specializing in cuff links meets with the recipient to select the metal, stones, and finishes for a bespoke pair of cuff links, which can be fashioned in any shape the client chooses, be it a whimsical dog or the client’s own automobile.

Luggage and trunks have been a noted specialty for Alfred Dunhill from its earliest days. The company is best known for its custom leather cases, such as trunks that are equipped with bar accessories and separate bays for wine and spirits bottles and fashioned to fit smartly into a car’s luggage compartment. After personally reviewing the recipient’s preferences for leather, trim, silhouette, and organization, the leather designer will begin the process of sketching a custom piece of luggage, while the recipient and a guest sit down to a Champagne lunch in the Bourdon House Cellar Bar and, later, enjoy a private screening in the house’s theater.

Having delved during their two-day London sojourn into Alfred Dunhill’s historic past, the recipient and a guest are invited to witness the company’s future as well. Today, Alfred Dunhill is much more than a bespoke tailor and leather-goods maker; it is also a highly regarded fashion house, as its high profile at the seasonal men’s fashion shows in Paris has illustrated. In early 2011, the recipient and a guest are invited to join Alfred Dunhill’s design team at its autumn/winter fashion show, the European location of which has yet to be announced.

Alfred Dunhill, 212.753.9292, www.dunhill.com

The gift is available through May 31, 2011, and Autumn/Winter 2011 fashion show tickets are available only until the date of the show.

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Photo by Ted Morrison