Want to bag a designer bargain? Pop into Petra Ecclestone’s VERY posh jumble sale for Hermes handbags, Balenciaga boots and baby Dior galore
- Petra Ecclestone enjoyed decluttering her walk-in wardrobe during lockdown
- Some of the 32-year-old’s cast-offs are still worth more than cost of a small car
- Daughter of Bernie Ecclestone is setting up a pop-up shop and online business
- She will trade her secondhand garbs with a portion of proceeds going to charity
Who among us did not enjoy a lockdown clear-out? Stuck in our homes 24/7, our attention drawn to all that accumulated clutter, it’s little wonder charity shops have since been inundated with the nation’s unwanted jumble.
For the richest one per cent, however, a declutter of your walk-in wardrobe can be an altogether different affair.
Certainly, at least, it is for Petra Ecclestone, the 32-year-old daughter of the billionaire Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone.
Second-hand they may be, but some of Petra’s cast-offs are still worth more than the price of a small car.
And so, instead of hauling a few bin bags down to Oxfam, Petra has decided to try her hand at selling it herself, setting up a pop-up shop and online luxury fashion resale business trading her own no-longer-wanted designer garb, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.
And what garb it is! From high heels to fur coats, via leather jackets and high-end leisurewear, every designer label is here.
‘Chanel, Gucci, Balenciaga, Hermes — there’s basically every name you can think of,’ says Petra.
Some of the stuff has never been worn and still has the price tag to prove it, while other items are imbued with glamorous memories, like the £1,500 over-the-knee Balenciaga boots Petra wore to a Beyonce and Jay-Z concert in Los Angeles, and the £1,000 RtA red leather dress she was wearing when her fiancé Sam Palmer proposed three years ago.
Petra Ecclestone (pictured), the 32-year-old daughter of the billionaire Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, decluttered her walk-in wardrobe during lockdown
There’s menswear, too, as 38-year-old Sam has cleared out his wardrobe, too, and kids’ stuff courtesy of Petra’s three children — Lavinia, eight, and twins James and Robert, six, by her ex-husband James Stunt, as well as 18-month-old Minnie, her daughter with Sam.
‘There’s Montcler jackets, Baby Dior, Fendi … there are some really nice clothes for kids,’ interjects Sam.
I’m desperate for a rifle through. Who wouldn’t want a chance to breathe in the exquisite scent of wealth that must ooze from every leather and suede designer bag tassel?
Alas, with frenzied last-minute preparations still ongoing at the pop-up shop — a month-long lease on a dinky three-storey house not far from Harrods — Petra and Sam are talking to me via Zoom from their London base, an 18th-century manor house in the heart of Chelsea estimated to be worth between £100 million and £130 million.
They’ve been here a few weeks, having decamped from their main home in L.A., formerly a 56,000 sq ft luxury estate built for the late American film and TV producer Aaron Spelling, which Petra bought last summer for £95 million.
Apparently, it’s a more bijou affair now, although these things are relative. Petra is an heiress, after all, and hers is a different world — something underscored by the fact that she and Sam are talking to me from a bed that appears to be the size of a boating lake.
It’s 4.15 in the afternoon and Petra is in her PJs, as I discover when I ask the make of her glamorous black floral top.
‘It’s actually my pyjamas,’ she tells me. ‘I had been dressed earlier, but I’ve got this thing where, when I get home, I literally need to just put my pyjamas on. I honestly don’t understand people who sit there in their house dressed for the rest of the day. It’s really strange to me.’
Petra and her older sister Tamara, 37, are Bernie’s daughters by second wife and former model Slavica Radić.
The couple divorced in 2009, and today Bernie is married to 44-year-old Brazilian Fabiana Flossi, by whom he has a son, Ace. He lives largely in Switzerland.
Ace came along in July last year, just four months after the arrival of Minnie. Three months later, Tamara gave birth to daughter Serena — meaning Bernie now has a son and two grandchildren who are only months apart in age.
Are you keeping up at the back? It’s a bit eye-popping, although if Petra finds it discombobulating, she’s not letting on.
Some of the stuff is imbued with glamorous memories, like the £1,000 RtA red leather dress she was wearing when her fiancé Sam Palmer (pictured) proposed three years ago
Lockdown, which she largely spent in LA, meant long periods apart from her family. But she has met Ace a couple of times and seems to have a decent relationship with Fabiana.
‘We saw Ace when we were in Switzerland last year,’ she says. ‘It was really cute. Ace, Serena and Minnie, they’re all basically around the same age. We were saying we should open a nursery.’
She sees more of Tamara, who lives in London with her husband Jay Rutland, baby Serena and their elder daughter, Sophia, seven. The sisters are close.
‘Tamara’s been to America, so she was with us there as well,’ she says. ‘I spend a considerable amount of time with Tamara, because, due to lockdown, I haven’t really seen my dad or my mum.’
It was in lockdown that the idea for her resale website sprang into being.
‘Previously, we’d always sold stuff with resellers, and then, during lockdown, I said: ‘Why don’t we do it for ourselves?’ ‘ explains Sam.
‘It’s a great idea to raise funds for Petra’s Place.’
This is a specialist centre in South-West London, founded and funded by Ecclestone, which supports young children with learning and development issues, including autism, and their families.
Some families pay privately, but local councils have started referring and funding children for specialist therapies and treatment.
Petra decided to set up the centre after realising that Lavinia has some learning difficulties that, while promptly diagnosed and treated in the U.S., she felt they might have struggled to find help for here in the UK. ‘It was something I could do to give back,’ she explains.
It clearly means a lot to her, and her eyes light up when she talks about it. ‘It was hard when we were in lockdown and it was all on Zoom, so it’s been nice to be able to go back,’ says Petra. ‘I am really hands-on. It’s not just a case of: ‘Here, just take the money and run with that.’ I really do enjoy being part of it.’
It’s one of a number of misconceptions about Petra and her heiress life, says Sam, a genial Essex boy who is the more outgoing and chattier of the pair.
The couple met four years ago through Tamara’s husband, Jay, with whom Sam was friends. ‘He came on holiday to meet Jay in Los Angeles and we met that way, basically,’ says Petra.
Sam started out as an electrician before founding a staffing agency for the global super-rich, so wasn’t without money when they met.
Nonetheless, being catapulted into the stratosphere of the mega-wealthy must have a been an eye-opener. In one interview he revealed that the chefs at their previous L.A. home stood to attention when they walked into the vast kitchen; in another, that they take a private jet from L.A. to Las Vegas.
Even though Sam grew up in what was a ‘very nice’ home in Harlow, his new life is a long way from that.
‘The first question everyone asks me is: ‘What’s it like?’ And I say: ‘Well, you can only sit on one sofa and watch one TV.’ It doesn’t matter how big the room is, so that’s kind of my outlook on it.
FROM £5, A TOUCH OF PETRA’S STYLE…
It’s a rare boutique where prices range from £5 to many multiples of that sum, but Petra’s pop-up does at least offer something for those of us whose wardrobes owe more to Primark than Prada.
Just £5 will buy you a good-as-new pink padded jacket for a 12-month-old baby from children’s clothing brand Mayoral (usual cost £40). And if you double that amount you can get a pale pink one with a furry hood.
There’s some grown-up stuff that needn’t break the bank either, with a ‘Shorty’s market’ T-shirt from an American bar chain of the same name on sale for £35 (£54 new).
Hermes bags don’t come cheap, and even second-hand, Petra’s limited-edition affairs are likely to cost many thousands of pounds. Pictured: £9,500 Electric blue Hermes Birkin bag
At the punchier end, there’s a hoodie by high-end leisurewear brand Palm Angels (an American inspired label by an Italian designer where hoodies retail around the £600 mark) on sale for £200.
If you have a few more noughts in your bank account, then you might be able to stretch to the billowing fuchsia off-the-shoulder, slit-to-the-thigh dress in the window display.
Made by Ralph and Russo, the British couture fashion brand which designed the Duchess of Sussex’s £56,000 engagement dress, it cost £2,700 off the peg and is now on sale for £2,000.
As for accessories, you’ll find Balenciaga boots for £700 and Gucci fur-lined slippers for £400 (they originally cost £630).
An electric blue Hermes handbag is £9,500, and a navy blue Hermes bag is £14,000.
‘It is great, but if we had to move to a two-bedroom apartment, I would also be equally happy,’ he says. ‘I’ve always lived a good life.
‘People say to me: ‘Ah, you must be with celebrities every day, you must be doing this …’ But actually, I’ve just been to work all day and I come home and we’ll bath the kids, put them to bed, and then we’re asleep at 8 o’clock. We do a lot of normal things.’
The point is made when, the day after we speak, it emerges that Sam was confronted by a man wielding a knife as he took Minnie for a stroll in her pushchair.
The knifeman had previously terrorised shoppers on London’s King’s Road, and the confrontation is understood not to have been targeted. But it left Sam understandably shaken, despite the presence of a security team.
So you can’t be completely insulated from real life, it seems, no matter how many noughts on your bank account.
‘People forget I’ve got four kids,’ adds Petra. ‘Obviously it’s nice not to worry about money, and I really get that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have any worries at all.’
‘Petra’s got the kids strapped to her pretty much 24/7,’ interjects Sam. ‘They are her priority.’
It must help to have 24/7 hot and cold running staff, of course. But, in fairness, Petra and Sam do seem incredibly hands-on.
‘I feel like my parents did their best to keep us grounded — my dad was dropping me at school and mum would pick me up, there was never a chauffeur driving us around London — and we are the same,’ says Petra. ‘We’re never away from our kids, to be honest.’
She raises a hand to sweep away a lock of her blonde hair, and I can’t help noticing the enormous diamond winking away on the third finger of her left hand.
Sam proposed three years ago, but while Petra has bought a wedding dress — it’s Vera Wang —the planning has never got past the talking stage.
One thing is for certain: it’s unlikely to be as lavish as the £4 million Italian affair that marked Petra’s 2011 marriage to businessman James Stunt — ‘I don’t think you could do bigger than that,’ Petra says wryly — and is likely to be more of ‘a fun party, a celebration of some sort’.
When, though, is proving to be a sticking point.
‘I’m really indecisive, I just change from week to week, and it’s hard with Covid and my mum and my dad not being in the UK,’ Petra says.
‘We even had the conversation yesterday, ‘Oh, why don’t we do it while we’re in London, have we got enough time until we go back?’ We decided no.’
And not least because Tamara, the meticulous party planner, was aghast at the thought of a spontaneous celebration. ‘She’s given up on it, basically,’ says Petra.
‘I told her yesterday that we might get married while we’re here and she told me to get back to L.A. because she’s very much a planner and a methodical thinker and I’m the opposite.’
In time, she plans to raid her sister’s wardrobe for her Luxe à Vendre enterprise, as well as flogging the wardrobes of other high net-worth individuals. ‘We could have celebrity collections,’ adds Sam. ‘There’s all sorts we can do with it. There’s jewellery, interiors, all sorts of stuff.’
What does the entrepreneurial Bernie make of it? ‘I actually haven’t got round to telling him,’ says Petra. ‘I feel like we’ve been so busy, and it hasn’t come up, but he’ll definitely be happy about it.’
‘It’s more money going towards the school, which he really supports,’ interjects Sam.
Not a hoarder, Petra enjoyed a mass declutter, and says she doesn’t attach too much sentimental value to things.
The hardest things to part with were a couple of Hermes bags, part of a collection that Petra has built up. ‘They could have gone to Lavinia or Minnie,’ she says.
Hermes bags don’t come cheap, and even second-hand, Petra’s limited-edition affairs are likely to cost many thousands of pounds.
At the lower end of the scale, there are Adidas sliders on sale for £30 and a few bits and bobs that are even cheaper, alongside a lot of what Petra calls ‘streetwear’ — although it’s designer streetwear, so we’re talking £500 tracksuits.
There are, too, accessories like sunglasses and hats. ‘There are so many sunglasses,’ says Petra. ‘Givenchy, Celine. Chanel.’ They will sell for between £50 and £150
Petra says: ‘I’m not the kind of person to get dressed up on a day‑to-day basis in high couture or runway pieces.’
Even so, there’s no getting away from the fact that while a barely worn Dior leather jacket might be a relative snip at £2,000, these prices are still more Beverly Hills than Bhs. So who do they think their customers will be?
‘Honestly? Everybody,’ says Sam. ‘I feel like everyone from a teenager to a mum.’
They will, though, need to be a size eight if they want to squeeze into Petra’s gear.
Does Petra ever wear anything from the High Street? Sam is sporting a £5 white T-shirt from the High Street brand Uniqlo — ‘I love them, I wear them all the time,’ he tells me — but I’m struggling to picture Petra in Primark.
‘I do shop on the High Street,’ she insists.
Actually shop, though, as in pop into your local branch of Zara?
‘I went to Zara in London recently,’ she says, ‘but I don’t really do that much shopping now. Before the kids, I loved it; but now that I’ve had kids , I don’t have much patience. Mostly now I do things online. I don’t have the energy to go traipsing round.’
Talking of traipsing around, isn’t there a danger that people will just come into their store to have a gawp rather than part with their hard-earned cash? ‘I hope they do,’ smiles Sam. ‘I want everyone to enjoy it.’
‘As long as they don’t damage anything,’ adds Petra, the more pragmatic of the pair. Either way, she says she has enjoyed her venture into business.
‘I am taking it one day at a time, but I like the idea there is lots more we can do with it,’ she says.
Luxe à Vendre is open now (luxeavendre.com); petrasplace.co.uk
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