Magazine article The Spectator

Carry It Off

Magazine article The Spectator

Carry It Off

Article excerpt

The most beautiful piece of luggage I have ever owned remains my least favourite. The navyblue school trunk with its shiny golden clasps and my name painted on the top in white letters stayed in the attic out of sight during the holidays. But the time inevitably came when it was hauled down, the open lid releasing the unmistakeable tear-prompting smell of a new term.

That trunk nearly turned me off an interest in luggage for life, even though I have often prayed that the zip and handle on my old Kipling bag will not collapse with exhaustion before arrival. Suitcases have an annoying habit of giving way mid-journey, and never while stored beneath one's bed.

But a visit to the brand-new, dazzling chrome-and-black baggage hall on the second floor of Harrods has transformed my thinking. Here nostalgia for the heady glamour days of travel merges with 21st-century technology and packaging. A mocked-up carousel induces the itch to leave for the airport at once while 18 plasma screens display the enticing destinations to which these suitcases beg to be transported.

With the new regulations that generally permit only one suitcase per person, the allocated bag should be something lovely, a show-off, in-your-face piece of luggage.

Among a huge choice of over 30 brands, many of them exclusive to Harrods, you will find nostalgic names from the glory days of the steamships, Noël Coward-era luggage from Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Asprey as well as Bric's classic Italian cases, carried by Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt and Nigella. The indestructible Zero Halliburton, seen in movies in the hands of spies carrying money, drugs and worse since the 1930s, is as tough as a stealth bomber. The Dutch-made Henk at £17,500 costs, as a rather grand and much travelled farmer observed, more than a thoroughbred cow, although it is constructed from titanium, magnesium and aluminium and, unlike a cow, it lasts for life. The Henk has 500 separate parts and a lightness and ease of movement that qualifies the case for a place in the finals of Strictly Come Dancing or an invitation to take the floor with Fred and Ginger. Only 200 Henks are made every year, each one coming complete with an aftercare and follow-up service just like a top-of-the-range car. …

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