In 1995 Connolly Leather moved into the world of luxury retail, recognising that the Connolly name and history had great resonance amongst men, not just in the classic car world, but as a particularly well-loved British brand.
Under the creative guidance of Isabel Ettedgui, the new brand was born, literally, in a stable – in Grosvenor Crescent Mews off London’s Belgrave Square. Designed by the renowned architect Andrée Puttman, but with many original features such as the stalls left intact, this destination shop launched with a collection of leather goods designed by Ross Lovegrove, cashmere, the first ‘car shoes’ in London, and all manner of motoring delights and accessories.
In 2000, Isabel’s husband Joe Ettedgui (founder of Joseph) acquired the business and a larger, new flagship opened in Conduit Street, once again designed by Puttman. Under the direction of Joe, both the range of menswear and carefully-curated fashion offering grew and soon became a significant part of the brand. For many, Connolly in Conduit Street was to become synonymous with ‘British luxury’.
Following Joe’s death in 2010 the shop closed and Isabel decided to regroup, renewing all the company’s trademarks and licensing Jonathan Connolly, the next generation of the family, to reproduce Connolly leather once more for the automotive industry.
Isabel always believed that finding the right home for Connolly would be the first step to re-launching. No.4 Clifford Street is that home, an elegant Georgian building – one of the oldest in London’s Mayfair. The street is one of its finest, with original buildings and a gentle mix of residential, office, retail, galleries and cafés. And it is – literally – the home, not only of the business, but of its owner and creative director. In time-honoured shopkeeper tradition, Isabel Ettedgui does actually live ‘above the shop’.
The house, dating from 1730, has been meticulously restored. This beautiful building and its architectural history has been re-imagined by Gilles & Boissier, the Paris-based architects and designers, into a contemporary retail space and showroom set over three floors. The Connolly collection of clothes, leather goods and accessories are beautifully presented in hand-crafted cabinets and shelving in fumed oak and hornbeam, surrounded by elegant wood panelling.
The shop sells Connolly’s own Classic Collection of clothes for men and women, the automotive-inspired Driving Collection, cashmere knitwear from Scotland, a beautiful and practical range of leather goods and a concisely-edited collection of accessories.