"The most beautiful shop in the world . . ." - that
is how Esquire magazine described the wood-paneled splendour of
the London premises of John Lobb, Bootmaker. In the shadow of
the great gate-tower of St. James's Palace, built by Henry VIII,
and echoing to the stamping feet of bear-skinned guardsmen, St.
James's Street has been traditionally the home of coffee houses,
gentlemen's clubs and elegant outfitters; a mecca for the noble
and the fashionable for centuries.
Here, where once aristocrats won and lost fortunes on the turn
of a card; where Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron scandalized
London; and where Beau Brummell turned dress into haute couture,
it is still possible to find a firm where boots and shoes are
made by hand to the exacting standards of the ancient craft. The
current Lobb premises at number 9 is on the very spot once occupied
by Lord Byron's bachelor establishment.
The original John Lobb was a lame Cornish farmboy whose mastery
of the Gentle Craft of last and awl brought him golden awards
in the Great International Exhibitions of Victorian times. He
became the proud holder of a Royal Warrant as Bootmaker to Edward,
Prince of Wales. The Prince, as King Edward VII, was to give his
name to a whirling Edwardian era of opulence and splendour; an
era in which Lobb shoes became a synonym for quality and elegance.
FAMOUS PAST CUSTOMERS
Where the Prince led the rich and famous followed:
kings, maharajahs, actors, singers, politicians, business moguls and literati among them. An opera fan could visit Lobbs and hope to mingle with the likes of Enrico Caruso or Gigli, those of a more popular taste Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin.