“It’s almost like a visual arts version of a time capsule, preserving moments to be enjoyed long after we’re all gone.”–Stuart McAlpine Miller
So palpable is the era evoked within this collection, the swish and rustle of women gliding down imposing staircases in silken gowns, against the background noises of live jazz music and cocktails being shaken and enjoyed in the lounge bar, form its soundtrack. A joyful portrayal of the halcyon days of Hollywood, A Time For Reflection: The Savoy Suitepreserves and celebrates those glorious days through McAlpine Miller’s signature pop art style.
Following the impressive refurbishment, chance comments made by the late great AA Gill -prominent restaurant critic and travel writer –during a visit to dine there, prompted the management team at The Savoy to consider the only element that they had yet to address; the artwork hanging within the hallowed halls. Hence McAlpine Miller was commissioned, and one of the most momentous collaborations in contemporary British art was born. Working together to decide on the subjects, and to mine the archival materials available, the artworks began to take shape.
The Savoy has long been recognised as a pioneering establishment, having always sought to offer the most modern of facilities despite its old world grandeur. It is an acknowledged bastion of innovation, with such claims to fame as being the first luxury hotel to have electricity, install air-conditioning and provide hot running water. It was also the first hotel in which a member of the royal family was seen to dine publicly, and provided the setting for HRH Queen Elizabeth’s first public sighting with her then suitor Prince Philip. The Savoy thus becomes somewhat of an enigma, keenly poised with one eye to the future whilst conserving and rejoicing in its heritage and history. The convolution of this blend is captured in the execution of these portraits, each of which hosts a subject as complex as the aesthetic of the hotel itself.
Linked by their high profile patronage of The Savoy, this galaxy of stars also share the common denominator of all being highly complicated characters. It is a recognised sentiment that troubled souls often seek solace in the approval of strangers, with many reported cases of depression and anxiety among the elite names from the silver screen to the music industry. The aura of success and the dusting of glamour offers a degree of camouflage, and tricks the eye of the beholder into seeing the persona rather than the person. From the rumours of communist sympathies surrounding Charlie Chaplin to Alfred Hitchcock’s struggles with personal relationships, the alleged mob connections that plagued Frank Sinatra’s career, Marilyn Monroe’s documented substance abuse and the sexual proclivities of Marlene Dietrich which were subject to rife gossip, it is small wonder that these individuals sought escapism in the gilded surrounds of The Savoy.
And there they remain, thanks to A Time For Reflection: The Savoy Suite.