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RH England: the A-lister favourite US interiors import you haven’t heard of — yet

RH England hosted a celebrity-filled launch party in the Cotswolds  (ES)
RH England hosted a celebrity-filled launch party in the Cotswolds (ES)

If you spent your Sunday morning scrolling through Instagram, you might have seen some over-the-top equine statuary heralding the start of the summer party season.

Beyoncé was in town, of course, flying over the crowds at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium astride a disco-ball horse. Nearly as glamorous was the gilded unicorn guarding the staircase of a stately home at the celebrity-stuffed launch of an interiors shop.

Shop is something of an understatement. Aynhoe Park, a 17th-century country estate and deer park overlooking Cherwell valley in the Cotswolds, has been transformed by American company RH into RH England, The Gallery at the Historic Aynho Park.

The addition of “Historic” to the title — the “e” has also been dropped — is presumably to highlight to a non-British audience just how grand the Grade I listed Palladian-style building is.

Marco Perego Saldana, Zoe Saldana, Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres attend the unveiling of RH England, The Gallery at the Historic Aynho Park (Dave Benett/Getty Images for RH)
Marco Perego Saldana, Zoe Saldana, Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres attend the unveiling of RH England, The Gallery at the Historic Aynho Park (Dave Benett/Getty Images for RH)

RH is no stranger to the Gatsby-esque power of reinvention in service of the American Dream.

Formerly the decidedly less sexy Restoration Hardware, the company rebranded in 2012 under chief executive Gary Friedman, who has spent 22 years steering RH from a middle-of-the-road interiors retailer on the brink of bankruptcy to a brand offering integrated architecture, design and interiors services to the super-rich.

RH’s modus operandi is to take over a building with plenty of cachet and turn it into a home-away-from-home for wealthy potential clients.

Yes, they offer you hand-picked homewares, but they would never be so gauche as to try to sell them to you directly.

Regé-Jean Page, Sydney Sweeney, Gary Friedman, Zoe Saldana, Bella Hunter and Michelle Dockery at the unveiling of RH England (Dave Benett)
Regé-Jean Page, Sydney Sweeney, Gary Friedman, Zoe Saldana, Bella Hunter and Michelle Dockery at the unveiling of RH England (Dave Benett)

The concept is already popular in the US. RH West Hollywood, The Gallery on glitzy Melrose Avenue includes three storeys of staged furniture and art topped by a chandelier-filled rooftop garden designed as a miniature Jardin des Tuileries, complete with promenades and a water fountain.

Last September saw the grand opening of an RH Guesthouse in New York, featuring only six guest rooms and three suites, a no social media policy and a concierge service including private jet chartering.

RH England is its first overseas venture. A swift helicopter ride away from central London, it aims to draw the well-heeled to visit with six on-site food venues.

They include The Juicery — for juices — and The Orangery, where you can watch your food cooked over an open fire while settling into Italian merino wool velvet seating.

The Orangery at RH England, The Gallery at the Historic Aynho Park (RH England)
The Orangery at RH England, The Gallery at the Historic Aynho Park (RH England)

The location will also highlight the company’s new, even higher-end product line, as well as an interiors and architecture library and a range designed by the legendary Anouska Hempel.

The weekend’s party at Aynho Park — sorry, Historic Aynho Park — marked RH’s debut on the London(ish) scene and the comparisons to Shonda Rhimes’s Netflix megahit wrote themselves. One attendee said it was “a bit like how in Bridgerton whoever has the first ball of the season is the coolest”.

The devastatingly handsome love interest of the show’s first season, Regé-Jean Page, was photographed at the launch with fellow actor Idris Elba, who treated attendees to a DJ set.

 (RH England)
(RH England)

With other guests including Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Jourdan Dunn and Sydney Sweeney, the party confirmed RH’s promotion to a diamond of the first order.

But Aynho Park’s pedigree isn’t a straight line from landed gentry to American interloper.

Its previous owner was James Perkins, who made his millions from warehouse raves and turned the house into his own slightly bonkers events venue that proved catnip to the British celebrity set — it provided the backdrop to Jade Jagger’s wedding in 2012 and in 2017 Noel Gallagher threw his 50th birthday there.

RH England’s new Californian flavour may take Cotswolds residents a little getting used to.

There are fears its West Coast sensibilities have lead to an excess of tasteful neutrals. “They’ve kept a couple of the previous very flamboyant owner’s things,” muttered one attendee, “but they make it feel more beige inside, and the fact it’s so beige makes unicorns seem weirder.”

“They’re trying to import a certain LA blandness to the UK,” bemoaned another. “Even the celebs they brought over were so inoffensive.” Maybe they should have invited Jagger and Gallagher to shake things up.