August 18, 2022

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King of Bling or diamond within the tough? Jeweller to the celebs Theo Fennell reveals all

The designer’s assortment of shoppers reads just like the visitor listing for his most well-known buyer Elton John’s Oscars after-party.

He made the singer a novel brooch for the 2019 premiere of his Rocketman biopic, however for many years Fennell has been designing bespoke items for well-known names together with Madonna, Liz Hurley, Girl Gaga, Naomi Campbell and Courtney Love.

He’s typically known as the “King of Bling”, however he feels the nickname does not likely do his intricate designs justice.

“It’s what it’s,” he shrugs laconically. “It is incorrect however there are far worse issues I may very well be known as. I am not likely a blingy individual and I’ve by no means actually needed to deal in bling.”

Born in Egypt in 1951, the place his Military main father was serving, Fennell spent his early years travelling everywhere in the world together with his dad and mom. After attending Eton, he realized his commerce at York’s School of Artwork earlier than taking an apprenticeship at a Hatton Backyard silversmith.

He opened his eponymous Fulham Highway workshop and gallery in 1982. Now mates with a lot of his high-profile clients, he has constructed a loyal A-list following, sparked as a lot by his infectious persona as his quirky designs.

“From the second I began, my clientele was at all times extremely artistic,” he says. “I believe individuals who had made cash themselves through their very own artistic endeavours felt extra comfy with me and what they loved – and what I’ve loved – is, if not being fully collaborative, then no less than being a part of the method.

“For Elton’s Rocketman, I did varied drawings, and he selected his favorite, then we made just a few alterations, then my workshop created it and it is nonetheless an immense buzz for me all to see these items on pink carpets and large phases.”

Had an early 20-something Fennell been a more adept musician, nevertheless, Elton and Co would have been compelled to look elsewhere for his or her show-stopping trinkets.

As chronicled in his entertaining new memoir, I Concern For This Boy, Fennell reveals that as a youthful people and rock’n’roll fanatic, his ambitions have been directed extra at greedy a microphone than wielding a soldering iron.

The guide’s title took place after Theo stumbled upon an outdated Eton college report throughout lockdown, recognising instinctively that his favorite college grasp’s barely tongue-in-cheek profession projection was not far off the mark.

However an abortive early try and get a file deal was adopted by an equally inauspicious stint as a one-man band, earlier than Fennell redirected his energies in the direction of jewelry.

With the assistance of his spouse Louise, his tenacity and eye for the unconventional ultimately paid off however, in the back of his thoughts was at all times the distant hope that, nevertheless fleeting, musical glory would possibly in the future be his.

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That day lastly got here (type of) on November 5, 1985, when Fennell and his spouse attended the Vogue Help profit live performance on the Albert Corridor organised by Reside Help hero Bob Geldof. The listing of performers that night time learn like a “who’s who” of pop music.

George Michael, Sting, Freddie Mercury, Kate Bush and Madonna all wowed a full home, together with Theo and Louise and their mates Mike Rutherford from Genesis and John Wetton from King Crimson and Roxy Music.

As they loved the hospitality, Fennell was requested if he needed to hitch Mike and John for a drink within the VIP room.

“Usually I might be too embarrassed, however I believed, “Why not?” After I obtained down into the bowels of the Albert Corridor, I used to be actually surrounded by well-known faces. It was superb,” he recollects.

“Everybody was carrying denims and Feed The World T-shirts, however I might are available in my pink go well with and the subsequent factor I knew, somebody had handed me this lyric sheet and I discovered myself being swept alongside on this crowd of rock stars, up a slope, till ultimately we have been all spat out on the stage in entrance of 1000’s of individuals.

“I used to be subsequent to the blond bloke from Standing Quo – Rick Parfitt, is it? – and I might see all these huge stars eyeing me up and down and pondering, “Who is that this bloke carrying the pink go well with?” Perhaps he is an American nation singer or one thing?'”

The subsequent factor he knew, everybody was singing the finale, the Band Help hit Feed The World.

“Mercifully I did not must do a solo however the lights went up and I might see 1000’s of individuals together with Louise sitting within the field along with her palms over her eyes, surrounded by all our mates, screaming with laughter.” As Midge Ure and Bob Geldof began to name everybody ahead to take their particular person bows, Fennell made a hasty exit, shuffling off the again of the stage to security.

He laughs: “Suffice to say, gives to do visitor vocals on George Michael’s subsequent album weren’t forthcoming.”

He intentionally averted cashing in on his well-known mates in his memoir, and likewise ducked the topic of intercourse. “There was no intercourse within the guide due to my daughters,” he says. “I could not bear the concept of anyone being embarrassed studying about my intercourse life.

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“Intercourse is extremely exhausting to jot down and someone at all times suffers. Usually me. It is a fully completely different degree of self-abasement. You may fall over in a heap, you possibly can fail however in the event you write about your self having intercourse you come throughout as both a bragging fool or a hopeless loser so I believed it was safer to keep away from it.”

Regardless of such self-deprecatory protestations, creativity and the flexibility to thrive in Excessive Society clearly run by means of the Fennell veins.

Youngest daughter Coco, 31, is a profitable designer with shoppers corresponding to Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora and Rihanna, whereas filmmaker and actress Emerald, 36, gained a greatest authentic screenplay Oscar in 2021 for her debut characteristic Promising Younger Lady, starring Carey Mulligan, additionally giving delivery to Theo’s first two grandchildren earlier than and after taking pictures the fim.

Emerald additionally gained reward for her function because the younger Camilla Parker-Bowles in vastly profitable Netflix sequence The Crown.

“It is truthful to say that our household life has been fairly artistic,” he says. “They’ve grown up round a broad spectrum of artistic folks with broad backgrounds, however they’ve additionally learnt that an individual is only a individual and that they should not be intimidated by fame or cash.

“They’ve learnt that these issues aren’t essential and what they’ve each seen is that each Louise and I are grafters. We work very exhausting and revel in what we do and imagine that it is best to work exhausting and that try to be self-sufficient.”

Fennell, 71, says his best second of parental pleasure got here within the digital Oscar ceremony in April 2021. “Emerald is extremely low-key about all these types of issues,” he says. “However it was a really surreal second when she gained the Oscar.

“She was on the market in LA, however the ceremony was distant due to the lockdown, so we have been again in London. All of us stayed up until 4am to observe it and all of it appeared so absurd. The entire thing was simply splendidly bonkers.”

Regardless of their success, in his memoir he insists: “I come from a household the place not a lot displaying off however blowing your personal trumpet was most likely slightly below homicide on the listing of stuff you could not do. We have type of developed a household motto, which was all people hates a winner. And in the event you did play the giddy goat it was to make different folks giggle somewhat than to additional your personal agenda.”

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Final yr Fennell purchased again the corporate that bears his identify from traders, 4 years after it went into administration, earlier than transferring into plush new premises in Chelsea Barracks earlier this yr.

On the coronary heart of his success, he credit spouse Louise, a profitable novelist who he met at a Mayfair rooftop celebration in 1977. She described their lengthy relationship as: “Stumbling from disaster to laughter and pleasure. After which again to disaster once more”.

“That is just about true, sure,” agrees Fennell. “Though within the final ten to twenty years I believe there have been fewer crises. However sure, Louise has been completely pivotal in every thing I do and every thing the entire household has executed. She is immensely grounded, and he or she will not take s*** from anybody.

“She has completely no airs, no graces. She will be able to stroll right into a room with kings and princes as quickly as vagabonds and be completely at dwelling and each of the ladies have inherited that from us.

“They’re relaxed with most individuals and in most circumstances, and Louise has been there by means of thick and skinny. We have had our ups and downs and even been grime poor to the purpose we had our facilities off for some time however, within the phrases of Kris Kristofferson, “The going up should be definitely worth the coming down”.”

The couple renewed their marriage vows in Las Vegas after 25 years, and with their fiftieth anniversary on the horizon, he’s beginning to contemplate choices for his or her golden celebration.

“I am attempting to think about probably the most kitsch place we might consider after Vegas. Dollywood possibly? Nashville? And even Blackpool on the peak of the summer season,” he smiles. “We might experience off into the sundown on the again of a donkey after watching Keith Harris and Orville. Is he nonetheless alive?”

Wherever they select to have a good time, Fennell is not going to be hanging up his soldering iron simply but, and he is filled with ambition.

“There’s nonetheless a lot to do. There’s the novel, a symphony possibly. Homes to construct. So long as I’ve obtained the vitality I am going to keep on. The second you let the outdated man in, you wither. By no means let the outdated man in.”

I Concern For This Boy: Some Chapters Of Accidents by Theo Fennell (Mensch, £25) is out now. To order for £22.50 with free UK P&P, go to expressbookshop.com or name 020 3176 3832 See Theofennell.com for extra data