WHEN it comes to impressing the great and the good of the City, Mayfair and Westminster, the firms which made the cut for this year’s Walpole Brands of Tomorrow pretty much have it licked.<br /><br />The luxury companies on the 2009 list gathered last night at Brown’s Hotel in the West End to drink champagne and compare notes on their various big-name clients.<br /><br />Britt Lintner, the up-and-coming fashion designer who also somehow manages to hold down a full time job at hedge fund GLG Partners, chatted about dressing the Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown and who she’d most like to dress next from the worlds of business and politics (City superwoman Nicola Horlick and American First Lady Michelle Obama, since you ask).<br /><br />Olivier Bonnefoy, a former SocGen trader and the founder of men’s cosmetics company Gentlemen’s Tonic – which caters to the well-heeled suits at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, among others – waxed lyrical about the flamboyance of the hedgie boys in Mayfair compared to their City counterparts (it’s all about good grooming in the recession, didn’t you know?)<br /><br />And Lodger Footwear founder Nathan Brown was busy fielding questions about his latest high-profile client – none other than Lord Mandelson himself.<br /><br />I hear the business secretary recently snapped up a swish pair of black Italian leather “formal moccasins” from the company for a bargain £550 – and paid for from his own deep pockets, no less. It’s a far cry indeed from that questionable raspberry V-neck sweater Mandy sported back in October upon his re-appointment to the Cabinet. Top marks.<br /><br /><strong>SUGARED UP</strong><br />Who knew that in a world of almost draconian cost-cutting, cakes and confectionery are edging ever higher up the corporate expenditure priority list?<br /><br />Mich Turner, the founder of the Little Venice Cake Company, who’s made intricate celebration cakes for everyone from foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay to the queen of pop Madonna, tells me some of her biggest clients are the City’s larger banks.<br /><br />Barclays and Deutsche Bank are some of those already snapping up her creations, including individually boxed cakes for employees, corporate Christmas cakes and even boardroom birthday cakes, complete with mock-up rave newspaper articles decorating the top.<br /><br />Though at up to £23,000 a pop for the cakes, that kind of ego trip isn’t going to come cheap...<br /><br /><strong>THICK SKINNED</strong><br />Walpole’s mentoring programme and awards are being sponsored for the third year running by Barclays Wealth, which insists it is committed to investing in flourishing entrepreneurial businesses with strong brand names. “Barclays is a 325-year-old brand, but I spent an afternoon today discussing how to take that brand forward,” Barclays Wealth’s head of marketing Ian Ewart told the room yesterday. “We’re in the process of digesting Lehman Brothers at the moment, and it’s a pretty venerable brand which deserves recognition…”<br /><br />At that, The Capitalist’s ears certainly pricked up, though Ewart assures me there’ll be no sign of Lehman’s name on any future re-brand.<br /><br />“No, the Lehman name is now gone for good,” he said.<br /><br />“It’s not like on the high street, where there is a lot of emotion associated with the loss of a big name like Abbey and Alliance and Leicester…” That’s the business world’s thick skin for you.