Northumberland has two modes, Summer and Winter and it looks equally beautiful in either. Bo and I were invited to Slaley Hall in the heart of Northumberland for the annual Summer Soiree, held during the height of Summer. Not just any Summer, the Summer of 2018, yeah, the one where we had actual heat and sunshine at the same time.
With the sun high in the sky we set off for Northumberland with the top down, our sunglasses on, and not a jacket in sight. We arrived at Slaley Hall in the evening with the sun beating down on us like noon on a Summer day, the setting literally couldn’t have been more perfect. Slaley Hall is as welcoming as it is imposing, this gorgeous castle / manor house never fails to impress and seems to project a different persona from every aspect. Tonight though, we were there for a showcase in conjunction with Duke Ata Bespoke, a menswear label by one of my BFFs held in the gardens, natch.
Guests were treated to sunset themed mocktails and cocktails prepared using Durham Gin (the house gin at Slaley Hall) on arrival, alongside canapés that looked like delicious mini ice cream cones but turned out to be some kind of weird tunafish wafer thing. As we walked out to the gardens, the view opened out over beautiful, uber green grass and perfectly trimmed trees. A live singer played on the lawn for us whilst we chatted and enjoyed the rare occurrence of some evening sunshine, think Nikki Beach, with grass.
After a chance to catch up and chat, we were escorted to the Japanese Ornamental Garden further down in the grounds of Slaley Hall. A feature that’s pretty well hidden, almost like a secret garden which casts the most perfect light over it’s red and purple leaves and super still pond. At the entrance to the Garden there’s a stone bandstand type structure, we’re told it can be hired for private dining parties and decked out with lanterns, or used for smaller wedding ceremonies and I can’t help but think what a gorgeous moment that would make. Today though we’re assembled to hear from Duke Ata about his latest venture, the Duke Ata Clubhouse. If you haven’t already read my post about the Clubhouse launch event you can find it here. Duke and his team spoke about their quest to find the perfect base for the Duke Ata Bespoke brand and how as well as the bespoke tailoring range, the brand will now produce a ready to wear collection for men comprising suiting, shirts, socks and shoes, all available to view on the rack at the Duke Ata Bespoke clubhouse in Jesmond.
After his informal presentation, I grabbed Duke for a chat about some of the intricacies of how the Clubhouse will operate and in his usual relaxed tone, he told me that it’s there to be used, basically if a client wants an appointment the team will make it happen. A driver will be sent to pick up the client from any North East location to bring them to the studio where they’ll chat about personality, style, likes and dislikes so that Duke can get a feel for what the client needs. After that, the process begins and the suit is crafted to the exact specifications for that particular client. It’s simple, but also elaborate and it’s a very client-centric approach. Obviously I know all of this, I hang out there, I’ve even played the vintage piano that sits in the Clubhouse.
At the end of the evening we make our way back across the manicured lawns to the main Slaley Hall building and I can’t help but notice just how beautiful it looks in the Northumberland sunset, right here in the UK.