Vicotoria is raising its fashion profile — and enhancing its appeal to homebuyers — using sassy catwalk brands to to give the area glamour and a stamp of girl-power approval.
© Alex Rumford
Visitors to Victoria — a neighbour to Whitehall — are more likely to find themselves rubbing shoulders with the fashion pack today than with grey-suited civil servants.
While you might search in vain for a throwback to classic TV comedy Yes Minister, you could spot designer Tom Ford, who has picked Howick Place in Victoria as his London base. And Jimmy Choo chief executive Joshua Schulman has hired top-end interior designer Morey-Smith to create a global HQ for the starry shoemaker at 123 Victoria Street.
Schulman, currently based in Kensington, will move his team into the 37,000sq ft office space. He says: "This is a dynamic part of London. We are confident that this will provide us with a world-class global headquarters consistent with our luxury brand positioning."
He and Ford will be a stone's throw from Burberry boss Angela Ahrendts' creative director Christopher Bailey, who has based his team round the corner in Horseferry Road. Burberry moved to Victoria in 2009 but in March signed up for another 127,000sq ft of space across the road in Page Street.
So why is the fashion scene, usually so at home in Mayfair, upping sticks and moving to what, until recently, was considered a grey, concrete no-go area for creatives? Richard Webster, director of offices for high-end brands at property agent Harper Dennis Hobbs, says: "Victoria supplies large and interesting space at a cheaper rate then the West End and is attracting everyone from hedge funds to energy companies to designers and creative businesses. In the last five years more than 5,500 civil servants have moved out of the area, leaving new space for the fashion pack to waltz right in to."
© Arcaid images/Alamy
Dolce & Gabanna, which has its UK headquarters in Old Bond Street, is this week fitting out an extra office in north Victoria, near Grosvenor Gardens. Its property adviser, Nick Ware of Union Land, says: "Victoria is the perfect location between Bond Street and Sloane Street — the two major areas for luxury goods in London. It is cheaper than Mayfair but very accessible."
Other luxury goods firms in Victoria include Swiss conglomerate Richemont in Castle Lane, Links of London in Francis Street and French drinks group Moët Hennessy, part of LVMH, in Grosvenor Gardens.
The influx of glamour is expected to influence restaurants in the area. Property company Land Securities, which plans more than 1.8 million square feet of development in Victoria, is also planning luxury eateries to match. David Atcherley-Symes, head of London retail for the firm, says: "We are talking to many high-end restaurants and chefs who see the area as a good place to be."