Just as you would expect, the boutique is a heavenly nest of quirky, woodland gorgeousness with a surrealist twist. I was welcome by manager Jutta Pfannkuch and her team, and over a glass of fizz we discussed the new pieces, available in sterling silver or 22-carat gold plate. Inspired by nature and “all things English”, they have the freshness and lightness of touch typical of Monroe’s work, but in his latest offering nature is earthier, with hints of red in tooth and claw.
Sharp, streamlined foxes chase (but never catch!) adorable bunnies around a bracelet, or across a pair of earrings. And the fox, of course, is both predator and prey – although no hounds are featured. There is a sprinkling of irony too, in the Shotgun Wedding pendant, featuring two birds perched happily on a gun. Winged creatures make their nests on rings or stand on intricate, miniature garden gates. All of it is closely observed, finely detailed and beautifully crafted – and despite the theme of “the chase”, Monroe’s signature gentleness runs through the collection.
One way or another, all the pieces made me smile. And, with prices ranging from £105 to £195, they are affordable too. Top of my wish list was a running rabbit pendant, an understated piece that captured the energy and magical qualities of that much-loved creature. Another favourite was a ring with a sitting rabbit next to a tiny diamond – it made me think of Easter eggs. On which subject, the luscious displays included china bowls full of miniature chocolate eggs for guests to enjoy, as well as rabbit-shaped vases filled with daffodils.
Although here to view the new collection, I couldn’t help feasting my eyes on some of the other pieces. Many are well-known classics (the ring with two birds and a pearl that I’ve been lusting after for years) and some I had not seen before and instantly fell in love with, like a gold owl pendant with bright green gemstone eyes. Trying on different necklaces, I discovered they work really well layered together – so my beloved clover and birds needn’t stay at home once I’ve acquired a new one. There was universal cooing of appreciation from fellow guests, as we tried on pieces while sipping champagne and nibbling on mini eggs and cupcakes. Utter, utter bliss.
And after all that, back with a thud into the real and very cold world of a March evening– a bit like Alice in Wonderland waking up from her dream. All I have to do now is decide what my next purchase will be: a tough call, as obviously I want everything. Husband, friends and relations: if you are reading this and are stuck for birthday gift ideas, or even just-because present ideas, you know where to go.
Words by Juanita Coulson