I first met Oliver singing at a young Georgian society ball, elegantly dressed for the evening in silk breeches, a frock coat and cravat combining all of his many talents with panache and polish.
A highly trained and talented countertenor, Oli has been singing practically since the cradle starting professional lessons at 10 and becoming a choral scholar at Lichfield Cathedral not long after. Whilst singing in the medieval cathedral he would gaze up from the choir and admire the exquisite architecture, as well I’m sure as meditating on the wise and foolish virgins standing erect on the chapel pillars. Such early immersion in the glories of decorated gothic with the sun setting during Evensong can have profound effects on a young man and would lay the foundations for later study.
In so swift a time, nature robs the angelic choirboy of his timbre and the rough and tumble of life advances. The playing fields of Harrow lay awaiting, although they were not heavily trampled by Oliver, who managed with great acclaim to carry on his musical studies. Following sixth form, Oliver was in a quandary as to the direction his life should take, the lure of music won and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama conservatoire was honoured to have him as a pupil. New talent is the greatest desire for teachers and Oliver was fought over, winning out to a teacher of classical opera.
However, the deep interest in architecture was not diminished by years of vocal training and following the Guidhall, Oliver wished to take up a masters course in building history in Britain at Wolfson College Cambridge. Initially the college was skeptical with regards to Oliver’s conservatoire education but upon learning that he had not only set up a whole under 35’s arm to the Georgian Group, but was also one of the youngest feature writers of Country Life Magazine. They were left in no doubt as to his intellectual caliber.
Several years on, Oliver is now extremely busy and sort after in numerous directions. He set up the first Great British Tour which gives unbridled access to the finest Country houses of Britain as part of educational architectural tours. The sorties are taken by Oliver and his charming wife Zuleika during the summer months and receive magnificent praise from participants. When not touring houses, Oliver is busy working as a consultant with Lady Caroline Percy with their joint business of Historic Decoration. Through talks at her ancestral home of Syon House, they educate already erudite designers on the finer points of period décor, enabling the finest of finishing touches.
As if this were not enough, Oliver still finds time to programme and perform for the New Georgian Opera company which he set up with soprano Alexandra Kennedy in 2008. Like all perfectly brought up children, Oliver is a helpful son and when time allows he uses his highly tuned eyes to help his mother purchase jewels and diamond rings for her business, The Antique Jewellery Company. There is always a thrill in buying fine quality antique jewels and even more of one when young sweet hearts buy them to plight their troth.
I caught up with Oliver recently at a recital he was giving in Burgh House, accompanied by lute and piano. He was sporting his favourite Dashing suit in our New Plum Peak design and pleased his wife by wearing the witty present of a shirt printed with common architectural vernaculars. He loves the heritage and originality of Dashing as well as the unique Britishness of the fabric woven in Scotland. The fact that he is unlikely to bump into too many people wearing the same is always comforting and “it just makes me feel very cool”.