My aim," says Philip Warner, creator of an eponymous line of dazzling bespoke goods, "is to produce items that are beautifully made and intensely meaningful." So, while the average cocktail case might include a couple of crystal decanters and some tumblers, Warner’s Spencer Box (originally designed for the trunk of a vintage Bentley on its way to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance) features three crystal spirit decanters, six old-fashioned tumblers, sterling-silver vacuum flasks for ice and garnishes, silver tongs, a lemon knife, six silver stirrers, and linen napkins. Basically everything but the witty toast, all ensconced in a box crafted from oak and leather, lined in Alcantara suede.
"I believe in a detailed consideration of all materials, components, and techniques that go into making something," says Warner. "Besides, who do you know who drinks his liquor warm and neat?" Mind you, this all comes with a price—about $30,000 for the Spencer Box—but who’s counting?
After 17 years with tony British retailer Asprey, Warner knows a lot about what sophisticated consumers want. His custom pieces include everything from cocktail accessories to jeweled brooches to an elm box inlaid with portraits of a client’s children hand-engraved in silver. Based in New York, he uses his global network of artisans to source the very best. Sometimes that means commissioning a designer like Londoner David Redman to create the perfect crystal decanter. Often it entails enlisting an array of experts to realize a one-of-a-kind piece. "Philip is my go-to guy for cool stuff," says Washington, D.C., car collector Tefft Smith, for whom Warner replicated Ferrari’s shield-and-horse logo on red enamel cuff links. "I like to think of him as my own personal certifier of quality."
Warner joined Asprey in 1989 as president designate for the American operations and was expected to complete a 15-year ap-prenticeship visiting workshops and mastering the art of managing high-net-worth clients. The term was cut short in 1994, after the incumbent president relocated and Warner took over. In addition to leading Asprey’s U.S. expansion, he oversaw the Daisy and Sunflowers jewelry collections, the company’s most successful ever. When Asprey was bought by investors Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou in 2000, Warner headed to the Park Avenue shop Scully & Scully. But people kept coming to him to track down the kind of exquisitely made, highly personalized, and quirky pieces they could no longer find at Asprey.
While Warner’s taste and resources are undeniably impeccable, it doesn’t hurt that his soulful good looks and perfect manners are right out of central casting for "English gentleman," complete with suits by Dege & Skinner of Savile Row and shirts from Lewin’s of Jermyn Street. His résumé includes a degree from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and service in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment that took him to Germany, Australia, Scotland, and the Falkland Islands. He even has a title: In 2002 he became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, an honor given to him at Buckingham Palace by the queen.
Not yet in the crown jewels, Warner’s gem designs aren’t for the wilting flower. An African crane brooch created out of coral, onyx, obsidian, and diamonds with a crown of twisted gold wire was done for a wildlife enthusiast. One perfect black mabe pearl provided the inspiration for an octopus pin of black and white diamonds ($11,500). A set of hand-carved milky aquamarines were fitted with dangling diamonds to be-come Jellyfish earrings ($15,500).
It is Warner’s attention to every detail of form and function that sets him apart. His poker cases, which range from $2,000 to $10,000 or more, are crafted by a fine En-glish leather maker and come with clay chips that Warner found after extensive research.They are hand oiled and smoothed to simulate age and provide, he says, "optimum touch, feel, and sound." They’re so perfect, you almost hate to cash them in.
Details on Philip Warner’s collections can be found at philipwarner.com. For additional information, call 866-385-2084.