Both International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day fall in March, making it the perfect time to show our love for all the exceptional women of St James’s. This article celebrates some of the area’s most notable women and all their achievements.
St James’s one of kind women are thriving in the neighbourhood. The women of St James’s are entrepreneurial leaders across various fields of expertise, whether it’s crafted goods, exquisite cuisine, elegant fashion or anything in between.
Take Emma Willis for example; a maverick in the shirt making industry. She started her business sewing shirts in 1987 and went from selling them to businessmen in the middle of the city to opening her elegant shop on Jermyn Street in 1999. Today, her clientele include HRH The Prince of Wales, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Craig and David Gandy. Another St James’s trendsetter of the fashion world is Gizelle Renee, owner of London’s only premium glove shop. Gizelle’s brand idea came to her when she couldn’t find any shops with a variety of well crafted gloves. Now, her two story glove and accessory store can be found in Princes Arcade, just off Piccadilly or Jermyn Street. Walk in and you’ll usually see Gizelle herself, happy as ever to teach you a thing or two about the perfect gloves for you.
Our favourite St James’s women aren’t just leaders in high fashion however. Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson didn’t use a needle and thread to make their mark. These two women took the culinary helm at The Mall’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and transformed it into the second outpost of their hugely successful ‘Rochelle Canteen’; which boasts an all-day bar and restaurant. Speaking of great food, it wouldn’t be an article about St James’s influential women if we didn’t mention the driving force behind Café Murano, Angela Hartnett and head chef Sam Williams. Whilst working alongside each other at the London 2012 Olympics, the two of them really connected. Shortly after that, Café Murano’s doors were open to the world - serving some of the best Italian food on the planet, if we do say so ourselves.
Our one of a kind neighbourhood has always been home to very prominent women - not just in recent times. One of St James’s most notable landmarks, St James’s Palace, was originally built for the 16th Century Queen of England, Anne Boleyn. Since then, the palace has been home to the great Queens Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Victoria. In addition, St James’s Street’s renowned wine shop, Berry Bros & Rudd, just opposite the palace, was originally started by a widow named Bourne in 1698; her legacy lives on with the store’s immense success today. The classical writers, George Eliot, pen name of Mary Anne Evans and Virginia Woolf were also somewhat made in our neighbourhood. They both spent countless hours working on their masterpieces in St James’s Square’s London Library. As fate would have it, this same square was also home to Countess Ada Lovelace, the phenomenal woman regarded worldwide as the first computer programmer.
In the spirit of celebrating these extraordinary women of St James’s and others, we’re hosting a guided tour that will highlight the current and historical women of St James’s. We treasure all the exceptional women in our one of a kind area and hopefully you see why. For more updates from St James’s follow @StJamesLondon and sign up to our newsletter below