Miuccia Prada. Nadim Tabet. John Kacere. Rami Dalle. Lorenzo Serafini. Ralph Masri. Slavoj Žižek. Joe Kesrouani
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The Fantasy Issue
FRONT / 46 Whoâ€™s Who / 48 Editorial Introduction The inspiration behind this
issue / 50 Contributors A brief selection / 54 We Make Fantasy Lebanese creatives
who dream big/ 64 The Edit Whatâ€™s keeping us busy this autumn/ 80 SFERA Artists and their spheres / 88 Objects of Desire Sunglasses, shoes, bags and more / 100 In The Studio with Rami Dalle / 110 Trends Looks, ideas, accessories / 114 Dossier
I When haute couture is an art form / 120 Muse Style inspired by surrealism / 128
Dossier II Lorenzo Serafini revitalises Philosophy / 132 Subject In conversation with Ralph Masri / 136 Dossier III Rei Kawakubo is pushing boundaries / FASHION / 144
Night at the Arcade Photography by Tony Elieh / 158 I Wanna Be a Glam Rock Star Photography by Stefania Paparelli styled by Amelianna Loiacono (cover shoot) / 178 A Girl Has No Name Leda by Alice Rosati styled by Emelie Hultqvist / 194 Hot Rods & Drag Queens Aiysha by Prodromos Antzoulis styled by Pam Nasr/ FEATURES / 214
Miuccia, Prada and Perfume The devil may wear her but we talk to her / 220 The Fantasies of Hass Idriss Ancient gods and mystery / 224 Dreaming in Miniature
The watchmakers that bring the wild to life / 228 Coming of Age from Behind the
Camera Filmmaker Nadim Tabet on his latest work / 232 No Sky, No Limit Getting lost in virtual reality / 236 The Modernist Delusion An artistic vision by Tony Elieh / 246
Younge at Arte Cuba’s decaying academy of fine arts / 252 Ferrari, Fantasy, Forever
Driving the GTC4Lusso in the Italian mountains / 256 Le Peintre des Petites Culottes John Kacere’s fantasy femmes / OPINIONS / 268 On Food Dalia Dogmoch Soubra on
halawe and pistachio ice cream / 270 Where We’re Eating / 272 On Drink Michael Karam on the fantasy of wine / 274 Where We’re Drinking / 276 On Happiness
Lucille Howe on Mermaid School / 278 Where We’re Detoxing / 280 On Travel Ramsay Short on the ultimate travel fantasy / 282 Where We’re Staying / THE END / 284 The Last Page with... Slavoj Žižek
On the Cover Starry-eyed, rebellious,
sublime. A space oddity. Our cover girl
Kandy emulates Ziggy Stardust in search of glam rock stardom, shot in Milan by
the talented Stefania Paparelli. Kandy’s look is by Saint Laurent / Styling by Miuccia Prada. Nadim Tabet. John Kacere. Rami Dalle. Lorenzo Serafini. Ralph Masri. Slavoj Žižek. Joe Kesrouani
no.85 Oct/Nov 2016 LL10,000
Amelianna Loiacono / Hair by Alessandro
Rebecchi / Make-up by Michiko Ikeda
People/Style/Culture/Art Publisher Tony Salamé Group TSG SAL
Editorial Director Ramsay Short
Creative Director Mélanie Dagher
Senior Art and Production Director Maria Maalouf Junior Art Director Sarah Ashley Mrad Senior Editor Nadine Khalil
Associate Editor Rayane Abou Jaoude
Coordinating Editor Stéphanie Nakhlé 46
Assistant Editor Léa Christine Rahme Digital Editor Dana Mortada
In House Fashion Photographer Raya Farhat Senior Photographic Editor Fadi Maalouf Contributing Writers Grace Banks
Clare Coulson Claudia Croft
Dalia Dogmoch Soubra Felix El Hage
Yasmin Harake Lucille Howe
Goufrane Mansour Mike Peake Jim Quilty
Amy E. Robertson Natalie Shooter Pip Usher
Fashion Photographers Prodromos Antzoulis Stefania Paparelli Alice Rosati
Feature Photographers Tony Elieh
Alessandro Gandolfi Joe Kesrouani
Tarek Moukaddem Stylists Emelie Hultqvist
Amelianna Loiacono Pam Nasr
Advertising Director Melhem Moussallem Advertising Manager Stephanie Missirian
Chief Marketing Director Karine Abou Arraj Printing Dots: The Art of Printing
Responsible Director Nasser Bitar
140 El Moutrane St., Fourth Floor, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon tel. 961.1.974.444, email@example.com, aishtiblog.com
Editorial Introduction It would be appropriate for an issue themed #Fantasy to do the obvious – get undressed, unzipped, fetishize and fantasize, tread the fashionable line between revealing and concealing. After all, A Mag has featured models, male and female, taking off their clothes countless times. Taking off their clothes mind, not stripping completely, baring all. There’s an element of style that’s more about what you aren’t wearing, or how you aren’t wearing it, which is more important than what you are wearing. The best such shoots, for example, have something unspeakably soigné about how the models are emerging from their clothes. It is clearly more erotic to see someone in a nipple-defining top with a shoulder strap falling off, coupled with mannish trousers insouciantly pulled down, than it is to have the same person totally naked. See Joe Kesrouani’s portraits of designer Krikor Jabotian and photographer Tarek Moukaddem inside… Or model Aiysha in a bra top and flared pants shot by Prodromos Antzoulis… Or the photorealistic art of John Kacere, painter of panties – our only major nod to the fantasy of fetishism this issue. Of course, fashion is naturally bound up with sex – from designers like Alexander McQueen and his highly sexualized imagery of women to photographers like Helmut Newton and Ellen Von Unwerth whose style is based on the sexualizing of the fashion image. Just as they define sexual boundaries, clothes also blur them. Take David Bowie’s earliest explorations with camp as Ziggy Stardust, and the direction for our cover shoot – the fantasy of being whoever we want to be and using clothes to challenge gender stereotypes. The glam rock look is indeed about dressing up, then undressing, unbuttoning, a bit. It’s glamorous but in a louche way, like your shirt that’s Lurex and sparkly, but creased because you’ve flung it on the floor after a night out and then put it on again the next day. It’s about exploring androgyny, all sides of ourselves, girls looking more boyish and boys exploring their feminine sides. It’s flamboyant, it’s hedonistic, and it is fantasy. As is the world of high haute couture, the magical creations of Rei Kawakubo and Rami Dalle, Ralph Nasr and Hass Idriss, Miuccia Prada and Nadim Tabet – the realms of fashion as art and art as fantasy. Welcome to A Mag 85. Welcome to our fantasy. Ramsay Short @ramsayshort
Joe Kesrouani Photographer Joe Kesrouani, who shoots our opening portraits this issue, was born in Beirut in 1968. He began painting and taking pictures at the age of fourteen, and went on to study architecture in Paris. In 2009 he was awarded the Certificate of Merit at the Premier Print Awards of America for his black and white photographic retrospective Monochromes, and has gone on to showcase his work in a number of exhibitions. Joe now resides in Beirut where he spends the better part of his day painting and taking photographs.
Mike Peake Writer Mike Peake knew he wanted to be a journalist when he found himself at age 18 thinking that the only interesting-looking job being advertised in his local paper was a job working in its newsroom. In the 20plus years since, he has worked on music magazines and men’s lifestyle magazines, and during the last 10 years as a freelancer for such diverse publications as Harrods Magazine, The Sunday Times and Dubai’s Gulf News. He writes about luxury watches and blames “family life” as his reason for not owning one.
Alice Rosati Photographer Born in 1985, Paris-based Alice Rosati is a self-taught photographer whose first camera was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exemplar. She was introduced to the visual world through her father’s advertising agency and went on to study history before fully immersing herself in the photography world. She has since exhibited her work in numerous galleries and museums, and has been published in renowned magazines such as Italian Vogue, i-D, and Visionaire. Be sure to check out her photographs on page 178.
Amy E. Robertson Writer Amy E. Robertson is a Seattle native who has been writing about food, fashion, travel and culture for the past ten years. Her work has been published in a number of Lebanese magazines and various international outlets including National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Vice Munchies, Wall Street Journal and more. Amy has traveled in more than sixty countries and has lived in Lebanon for the past four years. For this issue she gets to know Ralph Masri, and learns how heritage influences his designs.
Emelie Hultqvist Stylist Emelie began her career studying fashion design in Sweden before moving to Copenhagen. It wasn’t until she moved to London that she began working as a stylist, eventually landing in Moscow and working with prominent magazines such as Numéro, Interview, and L’Officiel.
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9/22/16 5:17 PM
WE MAKE FANTASY 54
Fantasy. Creativity. The two go hand in hand. For the people creating, making, doing things in Beirut the realms of fantasy have never been far away. Impossible ideas, dreams, passions and methods combine to, quoting French sociologist and intellectual Roger Caillois, “as in a game, attempt to destroy, for a moment, the stability of perception so that the lucid conscience is forced to undergo a kind of sensual panic.” How else can we cultivate the unexpected? In his photography, the sublime and award-winning artist Joe Kesrouani often takes what we know, what we see and remakes it anew. Over the following pages he pictures a singer, an entrepreneur, a team of architects, a fashion designer and a fellow photographer as they fantasise – all people who in their work take us to other places, make us feel connected to other worlds. And we hear their thoughts on what the proverbial ‘it’ is all about… Photography by Joe Kesrouani
Words & Interviews by Ramsay Short
TAREK MOUKADDEM is in disguise Fashion Photographer/Visual Artist
Age 28 Career highs so far? Working in art is all about process. My career high will always be today What are you working on now? I just started a photography agency, with three other photographers, launching a new online platform for talents from the region and for all the untold stories of the Middle East. Plus, I’m starting to work on a personal art project that I’ve kept in the closet for the past 10 years. Things are hectic. I don’t really know where to start and where to end Clothing? Mix and match of everything (men’s/women’s, old/new, brands/second-hand), winter is coming so a lot of over-sized layering and fur. My clothes usually reflect my mood – they can go from full black to an overlay of ten different patterns Fragrance? One splash of Rose Alexandrie from Armani Privé, one splash of white musk from a small perfumery in Egypt, two splashes of Dark Light by Fragrances Hubert Fattal. That last one just came out, and is my favourite thing Last thing you take off at night? The lights First thing you put on in the morning? Depends on the day, I usually oversleep, so I need to get fully dressed in two minutes. If it’s the holidays, then not much, probably just a pair of babouches. l think my neighbours have seen me in the nude too many times Where are you happiest naked? In front of my camera Who would you most like to undress? To be honest, there’s a lot of people that I would rather dress Favourite work of art? Any of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Hustlers series What is your fantasy? Most of my old list of fantasies has been realised. Bummer, I think I need to make a new one Beirut is… the strongest drug. It’s the highs, the lows, the bad, and the continuous trying to go to rehab, and then, coming back more addicted than ever
MICHEL ELEFTERIADES is not overdressed
Owner of Music Hall/Concert Promoter/Entrepreneur Age 46, according to the Lebanese registry of births Career highs so far? Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson Massif, Puncak Jaya, Mount Kosciuszko What are you working on now? A new venue on the rooftop of the Aïshti Foundation in Beirut Clothing? Aging rebel Fragrance? A secret mixture made up of two fragrances Last thing you take off at night? My newly bought reading glasses First thing you put on in the morning? My boxers Where are you happiest naked? Between my silk bedsheets Who would you most like to undress? A 22 year-old Sophia Loren in 1956 Favourite work of art? It keeps on changing. Right now and after answering your previous question, it might be Sophia Loren’s boobs What is your fantasy? Inviting Sophia Loren to the very first edition of the International Festival of Baalbek in 1956. Hiding with her somewhere between the ruins by the end of the concert and making love to her on the altar of the Temple of Jupiter Is music fantasy? Only death and pain are real, all the rest, everything else is fantasy Beirut is… Not to be lost. Venceremos!
DIANE SAWAYA AND KARINE FAKHRY are playing at being kids Far Architects
Age Diane, 43/Karine, 41 Describe your work Our work revolves around the user and his/ her spatial experience within our projects. We explore the forces of the site, the flow of elements, air, natural light, and the use of natural materials. We try to create intrinsic and intricate relationships between the environment and the user making it an experiential promenade throughout, while keeping a sense of the familiar Career highs so far? Our very early successes (we were barely 33) – a software company in the Cedars, a children’s academy in Dbaye, and a house in the woods in Ain El Kharroube. Buying and creating Far Architects studio: in 2010, we bought a building in Mar Mikhael that is now our workspace and it also houses other inter-connected programs. It took two years to renovate. Another high was representing Lebanon at the 2016 Milan XXI Triennale International Exhibition with our speculative project Stay at Home. Our pavilion was installed at Le Cavallerizze in the Museo Nazionale Leonardo da Vinci and the exhibition ran for five months. It was Lebanon’s first time participating in this event What are you working on now? A loft space in New York City, a summerhouse in Damour and a villa in Downtown Beirut. We
have just completed a food and event platform called Inked in Al Serkal Avenue, the industrial district of Dubai, Baron restaurant in Mar Mikhael and a new coffee brewery in Saifi Village called The Backburner. We are also looking to participate in another international architectural competition following our submission for a new Guggenheim museum in the city of Helsinki Clothing? D. All the outfits of Daenerys in Game of Thrones K. Structured, linear, asymmetrical. Gaultier, Margiela, Comme des Garçons Fragrance? D. Mitsouko de Guerlain K. Juliette Has a Gun Last thing you take off at night? D. I just take off K. My brain First thing you put on in the morning? D. My earrings K. My shoes Where are you happiest naked? D. In my bedroom K. In my house Who would you most like to undress? D. My banker K. Sheikha Moza Favourite piece of architecture? D. Sou Fujimoto’s next project K. I have a new one everyday What is your fantasy? D. Stretching time K. Being a warrior Beirut is… D. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs K. Inspiring
KRIKOR JABOTIAN wears a black mousseline skirt Fashion Designer
Age 30 Describe your work. My work is couture. The nature of the work is time-consuming and detail-oriented. No matter the style of the dress, the perfect fit is essential and always comes first. I harmonise a woman’s vision of herself with the spirit of the atelier in order to make her feel her utmost best Career highs so far? My career high is not a definitive moment. Setting up the atelier and seeing it grow at a rapid yet sturdy pace is very gratifying. Also knowing that we got this far without any outside funding or investment, that we built a self-sustaining model, makes me proud What are you working on now? A lot of the dresses created at the atelier are bridal but we’ve never had a collection made up solely of wedding dresses. This is what I am currently working on and it comes very naturally to me, as off-white is a colour I love to use in general Favourite work of art? Les Oréades by Bouguereau Who would you most like to undress? Undress to dress – Daphne Guinness Last thing you take off at night? My underwear First thing you put on in the morning? My perfume Where are you happiest naked? In the sea What is your fantasy? To teleport from my atelier to a boat in the middle of the sea with the people I love the most, with lots and lots of empty and full bottles of champagne Beirut is... my comfort zone
AZIZA is yearning for the past Arabic Singer/Songwriter
Age: Hmm, well it’s somewhere around that age when you start missing your 20s Career highs so far? One album, a musical, numerous concerts here and there, and the way the audience makes me feel every time I’m on stage What are you working on now? Preparing the release of a new track, a traditional tarab song revisited, along with a music video Clothing? Haider Ackermann Fragrance? Armani Code Is music fantasy? Music is definitely that big blue bubble that serves as a nonstop functioning vessel between reality and fantasy – thus came Fantasia. I fantasise about the day when the interface of our current musical culture changes by going back to the year 1985 and before. Those were the better days with better sound waves, better fashion… better everything actually Last thing you take off at night? A dusty armour: my ego First thing you put on in the morning? The colour blue, the sky from my bedroom window Who would you most like to undress? The mannequin of Ackermann Favourite song? Ancora by Mina What is your fantasy? Ah! Imagination at its best: living as a jazz singer in New York back in the days of black and white TV Beirut is… a city of a million contradictions
the edit 64
Modern Art on the Bosphorus – here comes Contemporary Istanbul___ In recent years, Istanbul has steadily built a reputation for itself as home to a dynamic modern art scene. First, there was the Istanbul Biennial, established in 1987; a couple of decades later, the Contemporary Istanbul art fair proved itself as a behemoth in the art world circuit, and 2016’s edition (3-6 November) is no different. Much like the Turkish city’s own medley of ancient history and vibrant, present-day culture, Contemporary Istanbul reflects the city’s diversity and its status as an art hub. This year, the show will include a special project titled Collectors’ Stories that showcases 120 artworks selected by heavyweight Turkish collectors from their private collections – like Discipline 2013 (pictured) by Alp Sime from the Leyla Pekin Collection. CI Design, a new, design-driven section, features both local and international talent while Emerging Galleries exhibits work from galleries founded in the last six years. We’re excited and our tickets are booked. contemporaryistanbul.com
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What? It’s the launch of Vogue Arabia___ A magazine fit for a princess – and run by one too – now that Saudi princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz has commandeered the helm of Vogue Arabia. Already a prominent fixture of catwalk shows, Abdulaziz will act as editor-in-chief of Vogue’s first Middle East edition, which will launch with a website this autumn and expand into a glossy print magazine in the spring of 2017. It’s a significant nod to the influence that the region now exerts over luxury fashion, with storied European brands like Chanel holding shows in Dubai as they court the deep pockets of Gulf clientele. Alongside Vogue Arabia’s launch comes the Fashion Fund, a hefty endowment that supports fledgling designers on their path to greatness. Keep a close eye on the fund’s first winner – if previous Western recipients Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler are anything to go by, they’re destined for greatness.
Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer at Milan’s Fondazione Prada___ American visual artist Betye Saar has always courted controversy. Known first in the 70s for her assemblages focusing on challenging issues around race and gender, she later gained fame for her work, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, which transforms the domesticated passivity of a mammy doll into a symbol of black power. Now the subject of an exhibition at Fondazione Prada (running until 2017), Saar’s evocative installations, assemblages, collages and sculptures will provide a much-needed critique of the racial stereotypes that continue to be rooted in American culture, even decades after some of her work was created. Pictured above, Saar’s work The Alpha and Omega 2013-16, is photographed by Roberto Marossi, courtesy of Fondazione Prada. fondazioneprada.org/project/betye-saar-uneasy-dancer
John Lamparski/WireImage/Getty Images
Kitsch, French and, er, in Hackney – welcome to Klub Trop___ Put your skinny jeans on, chain-smoke a pack of cigarettes – Klub Trop, the kitschy, French-owned bar in trendy Hackney has brought a decidedly continental flavour to the capital’s party scene. The owners, Vince and Charlotte, moved over from Bordeaux four years ago: now, they’re importing the sunniness of southwest France to the rainsplattered streets of East London. As upbeat electronica urges the crowd to dance, fruity cocktails (complete with cocktail parasols, of course), deluxe hotdogs with decadent toppings and cheesy fries that, proclaims the menu, are “even more cheezy (sic) than a Barry White song”, encourage Eurotrash-inspired fun. klubtrop.com
Yorgo by Xavier Veilhan Courtesy of Samir Abillama
A reflection on Lebanese perseverance____ Does art have transformative power? The founders of Art in Motion certainly think so, with their series of cultural projects that interrogate the role of art in public space – one that includes strengthening dialogue and reconciling the past with the present. This year’s exhibition, running from 5-12 October, sees sculpture, video, installation, performance, conceptual art and design revolve around the motifs of resistance and persistence. Such critical urban interventions are significant because they are so few and far between in the country. Twenty-four Lebanese, regional
and international artists, including local favourites such as Ziad Antar, Yazan Halwani and Marwan Rechmaoui, as well as Ada Yu from Kazakhstan, Vika Kova from the Netherlands and Cathy Weiders from Belgium, will produce their works in situ, using materials sourced locally. Best of all, it’s open to everyone, and held in the historic René Mouawad Garden (Sanayeh), a symbol itself of refuge and solidarity. Bring your friends, bring your family, but also promise that you’ll engage with someone new and unexpected – in keeping with the theme of breaking down the barriers to communication. art-inmotion.org
the edit 70
Virginia Woolf leads Burberry’s gender-fluid runway___ It’s a new era for Burberry. Rejecting the seasonal fashion calendar in favour of only two catwalks per year, Burberry’s September 2016 show at Makers House in Soho ushered in the next stage of the brand’s ‘see now, buy now’ strategy that seeks to close the gap between fashion spectacle and stocked store shelves. The Virginia Woolf-inspired runway show also marked the start of Burberry’s collaboration with British concept store The New Craftsmen, which served as an exhibition space to feature a week-long look at the numerous inspirations behind the collection. It’s a lot of change at once for the 160-year-old fashion house, but loyalists rest assured: the iconic trench coat still features heavily – albeit in a deconstructed form. uk.burberry.com/shows-events/london-fashion-week/september-show
the edit Left, Crystal Automata, Preciosa Lighting Milan Design Week 2016 Right, Cairo Now City Incomplete Ahwa Chairs, Mariam Hazem, Reform studio
Arab talent at Dubai Design Week___ Bringing over 100 brands from 25 countries and in six days – when you do the maths, Dubai Design Week’s second year (24-29 October) promises to be even more exciting than the first. This global platform for the Middle East’s ambitious design community showcases products that include furniture, lighting, textiles and accessories, while a packed schedule of panel discussions and educational workshops encourage visitors to explore the region as a hotbed of design. dubaidesignweek.ae
It’s the Anti-Museum scene and it’s in Paris___ The Parisian art scene, filled with centuries-old museums and their priceless collections, can sometimes seem a little staid. But “anti-museum” project Art 42 is determined to change that. Housed, fittingly, in an “antischool” computer science college that’s teaching the next generation of technology nerds, Art 42 is the result of a collaboration between telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel and street artist cum collector Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, and it exhibits works of urban art across three floors. The 150 murals and installations, which include works from Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Vhils, celebrate the growing importance of urban art and the counter-culture attitudes that it often represents. Stick it to the man and stop by. art42.fr
Who is Maarten Baas?___ A graduate from the famed Design Academy Eindhoven, Dutch designer Maarten Baas draws creative influence from the most unexpected places. Take his latest furniture collection, currently on show at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York, which seeks to mimic the protective shells of turtles and beetles in its bulbous shaped, beautifully crafted pieces. Titled Carapace, in reference to the scientific term for a hard upper shell, it’s quirky and inspiring. Next year promises to see Baas host his own exhibition in collaboration with three-starred Michelin chef Sergio Herman, and publish a book alongside a solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. Closer to the point, a number of new Maarten Baas works are on show (and on sale) at Aïshti by the Sea. maartenbaas.com
Igor Zacharov/ Musée ART4/ Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Happy hour has never looked so chic___ Easy, breezy and effortlessly beautiful, new New York-based label Cinq à Sept – fittingly named after the French term for ‘happy hour’ – has created a collection designed with that cocktail-friendly time of day in mind. Floral embroidery, girlish ruffles and slinky slip dresses all shout out for a good-time girl with an eye for fashion and a glamorous style-worthy occasion. In the eyes of CEO Jane Siskin, it’s a collection that’s “Instagram ready” – so grab your phone, style yourself pretty and get snapping. cinqasept.nyc
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the edit Ilse Bing 1998-1899 Dancer, Willem van Loon, Paris 1932, The Sir Elton John Photography collection© The Estate of Ilse Bing
New York = Brooklyn = Music___ New York has always boasted one of the coolest music scenes, whether it’s world-class opera halls or scruffy dive bars hosting live gigs. The Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, a seven-day event in November held in hipster haven Williamsburg, brings together the finest electronica from both the borough and beyond. With dozens of acts performing at venues throughout the neighbourhood, as well as panel discussions, movie screenings and a bunch of interactive art, it’s a guaranteed good time for anyone with a penchant for drinking, dancing and big beats. Sleeve tattoos aren’t mandatory, but, if you’ve been to Williamsburg before, you’ll know the locals will be sporting them. So, where can I get inked?! brooklynemf.com
A little bit garçonne, a little bit Parisienne___ Sonia Rykiel creative director Julie de Libran continues to celebrate women in all their shapes and forms in her latest collection. An elegant array of fabrics – from gold-threaded tweed to luxurious cashmere – play with the many guises of womanhood, such as ultra-feminine dresses with the contrasting toughness of an oversized coat thrown on top. And, of course, there are stripes, stripes and more stripes: in darker, moodier hues, in the sequin stripe sweaters and splashed across the brand’s 3/4-length, a contemporary take on the twinset. soniarykiel.com
Radical, Photography, Elton John at Tate Modern___ Singer, songwriter, diva. True – but did you know that Sir Elton John is also proud owner to one of the world’s greatest private collections of photography? From 10 November, courtesy of the Tate Modern, 150 modernist works by visionary photographers from the Sir Elton John Collection, including Man Ray and Berenice Abbott, will be on public display in the exhibition, The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography. Focusing on images taken from the 1920-1950s, the show explores the period in which photography blossomed into a new medium through which artists examined the rapidly evolving world around them. “Each of these photographs serves as inspiration for me in my life; they line the walls of my homes and I consider them precious gems,” Sir Elton John explains. Now, he’s hoping that they can serve as inspiration for you, too. Until May 2017, tate.org.uk
Words by Rayane Abou Jaoude
BOUNCE AND ROLL
In a unique collaboration between AĂŻshti by the Sea and local design studio Bokja, 34 Lebanese artists and designers were asked to reimagine the idea of a sphere. They came up with some unexpected interpretations
All images Carl Halal
Burn Baby Burn by Wyssem Nochi
Designer Wyssem Nochi doesn’t like to play it safe. His latest work, Burn Baby Burn, which is at the forefront of SFERA, an exhibition at Aïshti by the Sea this October, is one which you might need goggles for, or a smart dodging technique. A blackened iron ball fuelled with bioethanol, Burn Baby Burn rolls around, constantly on fire. Hard to miss, it’s distracting, perhaps even violently so.
Couturier Krikor Jabotian took an entirely different turn. Tactile, intricate and light, Jabotian’s Couture Ball is emblematic of his atelier and embroideries, threaded with silver and adorned with sequins and pearls akin to a bridal gown.
Curated by the design duo Maria Hibri and Hoda Baroudi from Bokja, the 36 objects on display at SFERA are each distinctively representative of the artists/designers/ studios behind them. Armed with the deceptively simple brief of re-thinking the sphere – symbolic of today’s understanding of space and self, yet also connected to larger concepts of equality, completeness and unity, according to the curators – the Lebanese artists who took part in this exhibition were given a platform to showcase their resulting creations at Aïshti for the very first time. The results range from provocative to playful, conflicting to comical. Studio Safar has created a globe wrapped with a layer of infographic design, tracing the displacement of Syrians since the beginning of the current war, and called it Displaced, while multidisciplinary artist Sandra Macaron’s Aal Sekkin features a gold butcher’s knife splicing through a metallic sphere with a glinting, gold-plated centre. Referencing
Above: The Levant by Tarek Moukaddem. Below: La Puce by Ghouyoum
Above: Aperitivo by Stephanie Moussallem Studio Below: Couture Ball by Krikor Jabotian
the Lebanese phrase “To the knife, watermelon”, Aal Sekkin is a tongue-in-cheek statement piece that compares the terrorism and violence tearing the world apart to a watermelon being cut in half. Positioned nearby, designer Tamara Barrage celebrates life and rebirth with a cold and striking porcelain and metal bulb, Nucleus, cracked open to reveal hundreds of pinkish white appendages within. At the other end of the spectrum, Second Street’s Monsters took on an amusing and inviting approach. Inspired by visiting friends who would gradually draw monsters on their New York apartment’s front door – the label’s logo is a smiling monster – Second Street’s sphere is drawn entirely by hand with acrylic and markers, reflecting the brand’s dynamic and collaborative spirit. In a similar vein, visitors will also find architect and design studio Ghouyoum’s La Puce, a playful 3D-printed stool in high gloss black with natural brass hints, standing on six claws, replete with glowing eyes and a band aid. It’s meant to emulate a virtual Pokémon. There are of course more functional creations in the exhibition too. The Indolente armchair developed by Studio Caramel is a seat and backrest formed by two half-spheres situated at an angle made of matte black steel, brass, solid wood, and yellow fabric. It’s function following form rather than the more obvious Bauhaus form following function. Not ideal to sit on but definitely a conversation starter.
Top left: Aal Sekkin by Sandra Macaron Below: I’ve Got the Power by Vick Vanlian Bottom left: Nucleus by Tamara Barrage
Sfera runs through october at Aïshti by the Sea. All proceeds from sales of the works go to the Nadia Khoury Fund, which supports local Lebanese artisans and craftsmen. Artists featured in the exhibition include emerging talents like Ayla Hibri, Bashar Assaf, Basma Chidiac, Geek Express, and Tarek Moukaddem as well as the more established Creative Space, Iwan Maktabi, Nada Debs, Starch and Vick Vanlian.
OBJECTS OF DESIRE
Sunglasses Fendi____________ Weâ€™ve always got our eyes on the sky, even on overcast, cloudy days. Fendiâ€™s Eyeshine blends retro and contemporary while retaining a feminine shape, here paired beautifully with Miu Miu (top) and Anndra Neen (bottom) bracelets and rings
Photography by Raya Farhat
LIPSTICK YVES SAINT LAURENT______ YSLâ€™S ROUGE PUR COUTURE THE MATS IS MAKING WAVES. PASSIONATE AND SEDUCTIVE, THIS MATTE LIPSTICK IS REDEFINING ROCKING THE RED SHADE
STILETTOS GIANVITO ROSSI_______ ONE FOOT ON THE GROUND BUT OUR HEAD’S IN THE SKY. WHAT BETTER SHOES TO KEEP US GROUNDED THAN GIANVITO ROSSI’S SUEDE LANE HEELS
Bag Prada Jeans Dsquared2____________ Saffiano totes have never looked so alive. Photorealism has made its way into the fashion scene, with Prada morphing the human and the fauna and flora in the most colourful way, paired here with Dsquared2 denim
Bag Proenza Schouler____________ A love affair with the ocean and azure skies. Let’s dive right into it with Proenza Schouler’s timeless Hava tote, paired with Sonia Rykiel, Miu Miu and Anndra Neen accessories spilling over from Zaha Hadid’s Rim Vessel
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SHOES STELLA MCCARTNEY_______ WEâ€™RE TAKING THESE STELLA MCCARTNEY SHOES AND GOING INTERSTELLAR. OUR GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY COMPRISES PRADA, NANCY GONZALEZ AND MOSCHINO CLUTCHES
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Bag Anya Hindmarch____________ “Wouldn’t it be such a bore if we all created, liked and wore the same thing?” asks Anya Hindmarch. Yes, we say! Hence her All Over Stickers crossbody bag embodying the designer’s belief that fashion should always make you smile
Words by by Natalie Shooter Photography by Tony Elieh
IN THE STUDIO WITH RAMI DALLE
HE CALLS HIMSELF A “RESUSCITATOR OF WORLDS OF MEMORIES, CURIOSITIES AND SENSATIONS.” A MAG THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT TIME TO FIND OUT WHAT’S IS GOING ON INSIDE THE HEAD OF DESIGNER RAMI DALLE
It’s fitting that Rami Dalle’s studio is located on the edge of the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud, a neighbourhood where artisans continue to work traditional crafts hidden down mazes of narrow streets. Though the multi-talented 26-yearold and winner of the 2016 Boghossian Foundation Prize for Design is difficult to categorize – a collector, a designer, an artist – his installations show a craftsman’s skill and a fascination with material. The non-descript apartment block in nearby Nabaa gives no hint of the large-scale fantasy worlds that are developed within. A large blue plastic curtain makes for a surreal entrance to his main workspace, currently filled with his installation for a jewellery brand, on show in September at the Biennale of Antiques in Paris. “It was inspired by the idea of teardrop earrings. Usually, my work is a lot more personal and messy,” he says, with a laugh. Beginning as small-scale experiments, the idea was translated into oversized white teardrops that hang from above, curving towards a central plinth, where the world’s biggest jewel will be exhibited. Above, a fragmented blanket of geometric rings mimic the appearance of lace: “Even if I’m working with metal, I like to treat it as a soft material,” Dalle says.
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A Victorian piece of quilt that I use as an embroidery sampler for a study
An early 1900s castle memory jug encrusted with meaningful mementos and everyday objects
Silk and cotton threads dating back to the 20s and 40s that I used in the Iwan Maktabi installation ‘This is Where We Meet’
An album of Victorian lithograph cutouts that I use as a reference for fashion, colours, and themes
The process of showing different coloured outcomes when dyeing the thread before it’s knitted An embroiderer’s leftover scraps of handmade lace and silk ribbons, dating back to the early 1900s
Samples from an ongoing project
My personal journal and a sketchbook that I keep by my bed to compile primitive illustrations and doodles before materializing ideas
Trials and samples from an ongoing project
Silicone moulds that I created for Hermes’ window display ‘Flaneur Forever’. Wax was poured into them to create replicas of actual sea creatures An archived collection of butterfly species (below), and a page of a 19th century agricultural science book (above): natural materials are prominent in my work
My personal collection of scissors picked up from a flea market in Paris
Wool fibers, human hair and a feltmaking needle; techniques learned in an Irish village well known for its crafts
Rare early 18th century figurative dolls and dollhouse furniture used as a reference in some of my works
Inspired by memory jugs, this is a personal collection of brooches and jewelry scraps, along with custommade trimmings used in Hermes’ Christmas window ‘Flaneur Forever’
Of the two months it’s taken to create the project, half of the time is spent “dreaming, experimenting and playing,” before the labourintensive period of production. The back lounge area of his studio is where his ideas are developed. For him, there’s little life-work division in a studio where he often sleeps. “It requires a lot of dreaming and imagination. You have to disconnect yourself and live by it.” Hanging from a metal chain attached to the ceiling is a past installation for Iwan Maktabi, a high-end store specialising in Oriental carpets. Inspired by oversized lampshades, a large wooden wheel is encircled by protruding branches, backed with lighting.
my room. This limitation became a style and now I always look for material that is quite primitive.”
An obsessive collector of old photographs, Dalle became a regular at antique shops and flea markets. It was there he discovered the handmade textile traditions of the past.
“[MY WORK] REQUIRES A LOT OF DREAMING AND IMAGINATION. YOU HAVE TO DISCONNECT YOURSELF AND LIVE BY IT”
Graduating with a BA in Graphic Design at the Lebanese American University, Dalle’s earliest experimentations began at home, creating fantasy worlds staged in his mother’s closet. “I was working with limited resources and things I found around
“I’m really interested in the crafts of female artisans in the 19th century. Women used to do crafts from things they would find around the house – thread, textiles, embroidery, seashell work.”
His collection of eccentric objects can be found around his studio, including nightmarish crafts from the 18th and 19th centuries.
“Mourning hair weaves are a craft from Eastern Europe that became extinct,” Dalle says, displaying an intricate flower embroidered from hair. “People used to collect hair from the day you’re born until you die and produce these flowers. It’s a whole life of the memory of a person.”
Next he pulls out a photo album of hair, dating back to 1852. Each platted hair lock has the name of a family member elegantly handwritten below.
Dalle has travelled to different countries to learn first-hand about disappearing crafts from the people still practicing them. In Ireland he did workshops with a felt-maker; his experiments with the material formed the basis for his first commercial installation in 2012, for the window display of eyewear boutique The Counter. It showed a wonder world of fantasy created from hand-dyed wool, mohair, fabric, crochet and raw silk. In workshops around the UK, Dalle has dabbled in everything from taxidermy and crochet to beading, mould making and paper marbling. This dedication has brought him great success internationally. A darling of numerous fashion houses, Dalle conceptualises, designs and creates the window displays for a variety of high-end boutiques, each channelling the dream worlds of his imagination. Creating such largescale installations is labour-intensive and so he often works with local women artisans. For his 2015 Hermès window display at the label’s Beirut downtown store, he worked with around 30 women, creating an intricate installation made up of thousands of hand-crocheted cocoons and real butterflies. “The idea was metamorphosis, to tell the story of silk. I used crochet to mirror the idea of weaving.” As time has moved on, Dalle’s creative vision is maturing, evolving from the bedroom fantasy worlds from which it was born. “I used to surrender more to this fairytale idea. My work was a bit dark. I think as it’s progressed, things have become more logical, the themes are becoming bigger and the projects no longer fit in my room,” Dalle says.
And with this evolution away from intimate worlds of imagination, it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s an awareness of the context of his studio’s surroundings. For this year’s Beirut Design Week, Dalle created a connection to Cinema Monaco, an old
60s porn cinema nearby that was raided by the police and closed in 2006. He transformed his studio into a darkened “sexy red space” and invited the public to discover his collection of eccentric objects. Daily objects from his unmade bed to his toothpaste were left as is. It is perhaps only natural that the living space from which his pieces are formed becomes a kind of living museum itself. “On a bigger level, I wanted to raise the parallel of Cinema Monaco, a marginal space, with the kind of crafts that I experiment with,” Dalle says. “I’m not really a designer or an artisan – I blur these lines – so I understand the discrimination of women artisans who are paid less and not given enough credit.” In demand in the fashion world, with a number of projects in the works, Dalle is currently revisiting materials in new ways, though he’s planning research trips to discover more folk crafts to integrate into his work. Where many of these traditional crafts are on the edge of dying out, Dalle’s path of curiosity is also one of preservation. He’s an archivist of sorts, drawing attention to distant craft traditions and translating them to new cultures and generations.
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DON'T LOSE YOUR HEAD
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SARAH ASHLEY MRAD
Look Burberry (left), Valentino Men (middle), Dolce&Gabbana (right), boots Valentino, bag Prada
Look Philosophy (left), Bottega Veneta (middle), Roberto Cavalli (right), bag Dior, pumps Le Silla
D V F. C O M A Ï S H T I D O W N T O W N B E I R U T/A Ï S H T I B Y T H E S E A A N T E L I A S /A Ï S H T I V E R D U N
Words by Lucille Howe
THE HAUTE COUTURE CLUB
John Galliano for Christian Dior during the Autumn/ Winter 2010-2011 Haute Couture collection show in Paris
Daphne Guinness poses alongside designs during the launch of Isabella Blow: A Fashionable Life at the Powerhouse Museum
For an elite group of collectors, bespoke designer pieces and their astronomical price tags are more than a fantasy, they are works of art. Meet the elite spenders who make a vocation out of couture
According to whispered reports across the Parisian fashion houses, the Haute Couture Club is made up of approximately 4,000 big spenders. That may have fallen since the 40,000 fashion-mad fans that made up the post-war collectors, but it’s still quite a following. Haute couture has long been synonymous with astronomical expense, hours and hours of artful craft, techniques that have taken generations to perfect, performed by hand, and clothes that are made to measure. With price tags running into tens of thousands per piece, not everyone can afford a luxury wardrobe.
So, what exactly is haute couture? Unsurprisingly, there are stringent rules and rituals that define the art form, rules determined by France’s Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, which produces the official list of brands. The brands must have a headquarters in France – most are in Paris – and they must show their collections twice yearly, in January and July, at Haute Couture Fashion Week. Prices are never openly advertised, and only discussed directly with clients, who pay 50% at the initial Maison Margiela, Paris Fashion Week – Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2016-2017
Giambattista Valli, Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2016-2017
“MOST PEOPLE THINK THAT ‘COUTURE’ MEANS ‘EXPENSIVE’. THAT’S JUST COMPLETELY WRONG”
Maison Lesage, embroidery school, Paris Fashion Week, Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015-2016
indication of its worth, Lady Gaga bought a dress that McQueen made for her called The Girl Who Lived in the Tree for £85,250. For these die-hard fashionistas, haute couture is as much a long-term investment as a vanity project – like fine art.
Carson Thrash, a US philanthropist, agrees that Guiness’s pieces are “exquisite pieces of art.” Initially seduced by a pair of Christian Lacroix trousers, adorned with Lesage beading (Albert and François Lesage were experts in couture embroidery and now their atelier is part of Chanel) she proceeded to acquire a made-tomeasure pair. That was 15 years ago and today her collection features Giambattista Valli, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. But the relationship between fashion houses and these moneyed muses is not as profitable as one might expect. “We don’t make a profit from couture,” admits Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s original business partner. “But it’s not a problem. It’s our advertising budget.” And that is the trade. Couture pieces, photographed on red carpets, in social pages and auction listings are aspirational calling cards for the next strata of wealthy buyers.
Brewing heiress Daphne Guinness is perhaps the First Lady of the Haute Couture Club, with a collection of 2,500 bespoke creations and 450 pairs of shoes. Herself a fashion designer, model, art collector, film producer and sometimes muse for the designers she covets, her favourites include Gareth Pugh, Azzedine Alaïa and Alexander McQueen. She’s often seen towering above her 5ft 5in frame in trademark Noritaka Tatehana boots which, with no heels, give the impression of her levitating. “Most people think that ‘couture’ means ‘expensive’,” says Guinness. “That’s just completely wrong. Yes, if you are buying something that is beaded from head to foot by Lesage, of course it is expensive. But on the whole, it is no different to having a bespoke suit made on Savile Row.” Guinness’s extensive collection is stored in London and New York and, as some
Her collection has outgrown her real estate in Monaco, forcing the purchase of a second apartment to house it, and both Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier have Mouna mannequins in her exact proportions. They need it to tailor the clothes to when she’s not available for a fitting.
Patterns at the workshop of embroiderer François Lesage outline the design to be applied on a Yves Saint Laurent jacket. Lesage has been creating haute couture embroidery since 1924
consultation and 50% upon completion of the garment. Because these pieces are bespoke, they require up to 150 measurements, ateliers will create an exact-size mannequin of regular clients to make fittings easier.
One of whom is Lebanese billionaire socialite Mouna Ayoub. “I just love haute couture. It’s my only passion. I wear it every time I go out in public,” she says. Ayoub is photographed so frequently she never repeats an outfit. “Others spend millions of dollars losing it on a blackjack table... there is nothing shameful about buying couture.”
Azzedine Alaïa (below) and Jean Paul Gaultier (right) both Autumn/Winter 2016-2017
Couture-obsessive Mouna Ayoub attends the Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2015 show at Paris Fashion Week
The stuff she can’t fit in Monaco, Ayoub transports to a tiny village in central France where she keeps them in special boxes that protect the garments from light, dust and humidity to preserve them perfectly forever – although in 2014 she did donate what’s been described as the most expensive dress ever created – an inimitable gold Chanel piece worth over €300,000 – to the Musée de la Mode in Paris.
Like fellow members of The Haute Couture Club, Ayoub considers it her ‘art’. Her favourite designers are Dior and Chanel but she has an eye for emerging talent like
For die-hard fashionistas, haute couture is as much a long-term investment as a vanity project – like fine art Frenchman Maxime Simoëns: “Unfortunately, he creates very short dresses, and at my age, I can’t show so much leg,” she says, laughing. “I’m going to ask him whether he can adapt his creations for me.” With an unlimited spend, and the chance to turn yourself into a walking masterpiece, why wouldn’t you?
LESILLA_FW1617_Aishti Magazine_Oct.indd 1
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MAGRITTE, MIRÓ, FREUD… ADVENTURISTS INTO THE TERRITORIES OF DESIRE, FANTASY, DREAMS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS; TODAY INSPIRATIONS FOR A THOUSAND LOOKS
1. Gucci 2. Stella McCartney 3. Dior 4. Balenciaga 5. Ellery 6. Kenzo 7. Balenciaga 8. Prada 9. Sonia Rykiel 10. Balenciaga 11. Alexander McQueen 12. Prada 13. Saint Laurent 14. Alexander Wang 15. Ellery 16. Céline 17. Jimmy Choo 18. Kenzo 19. Miu Miu 20. Dior
1. Prada 2. Dior 3. Gucci 4. Prada 5. Dior 6. Marni 7. Prada 8. Dior 9. Etro 10. Proenza Schouler 11 & 12. Dior 13. Saint Laurent 14. Dolce&Gabbana 15. Prada 16. Saint Laurent 17. Alessandra Rich 18. Stella McCartney 19. Saint Laurent 20. Balenciaga
6. 3. 7. 1.
1 . Dior 2. Stella McCartney 3. Saint Laurent 4. Céline 5. Chloé 6. Balenciaga 7. Céline 8 & 9. Dior 10. Dsquared2 11. Jimmy Choo 12. Chloé 13. Balenciaga 14. Fendi 15. Valentino 16. Chloé 17. Alice + Olivia 18. Chloé 19. Jimmy Choo 20. Alexander Wang
16. 14. 15.
1. Etro 2. Miu Miu 3. Saint Laurent 4. Dior 5. Saint Laurent 6. Etro 7. Miu Miu 8. Burberry 9. Etro 10. Jimmy Choo 11. Dsquared2 12. Saint Laurent 13. Roberto Cavalli 14. ChloĂŠ 15. Proenza Schouler 16. Dior 17. Prada
Words by Claudia Croft
THE BACKROOM BOY WHO’S NOW FRONT OF HOUSE
Lorenzo Serafini’s story is a fantasy come to life. And now, taking his inspiration from Princess Diana and Siouxsie Sioux, he is revitalising the Philosophy label
Lorenzo Serafini orders seafood and wine and looks out over the Adriatic. Italy’s new design star grew up near here, just down the coast from Rimini, but his mind is elsewhere, namely on the questionable taste of Diana, Princess of Wales, in her early-1980s “shy Di” phase.
“I’ve always loved what she represented. Diana was the ultimate princess with these classic yet borderline dresses. They were so stiff and the shapes not flattering,” he marvels. That hasn’t stopped him using her as inspiration for his AW16 Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini collection, along with her fellow 1980s superstar Siouxsie Sioux. “She was punk yet feminine,” he says, “and I love her music. Everything of that time had a romantic patina.” Romance is his thing. Tall with dark hair, a scruffy beard, intellectual specs and a gentle smile, Serafini, 43, specialises in easy, free-spirited clothes that have a deliberate sense of nostalgia. His flounced dresses and lace blouses look as if they come from a softer, less complicated time, and that’s his point. Indeed, he thinks trying to keep up with trends is overrated: “Modernity in fashion, it lasts a day, so I tend not to think about what is modern. I think about what is flattering and what can give you confidence.” He’s unashamed about wanting to make beautiful, feminine and comfortable clothes, at prices designed not to intimidate. Dresses start at about the $550 mark and blouses are $400, making them achievable by “designer” standards. No wonder Philosophy has become a favourite with buyers. “We launched Lorenzo’s Spring/Summer collection in March,” says Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-a-Porter. “And it immediately flew out. He shows incredible promise.”
Everything changed for Serafini in 2014 when he became the creative director at Philosophy. The brand, owned by Alberta Ferretti’s Aeffe group, had started as a jeans line in 1984, but lost its edge long ago.
“SIOUXSIE SIOUX WAS PUNK YET FEMININE AND I LOVE HER MUSIC. EVERYTHING OF THAT TIME HAD A ROMANTIC PATINA”
Ferretti needed a talented designer to revamp it, and as testament to her faith in him, she changed the name of the brand from Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti to Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini.
“It was like she handed over her baby,” says the designer, who, up until then, had spent his entire career working as an anonymous designer at some of Italy’s best-known houses. And so, at the age of 41, he became one of the few new names to break through in Italian fashion.
Unlike the UK and Lebanon, where ambitious young designers tend to set up their own labels, Italy operates a studio system: the brand is king and teams of talented but anonymous designers work for the big houses. Alessandro Michele toiled behind the scenes at Gucci for 13 years before getting his chance at the big job. Some criticise the system for suppressing talent, but Serafini believes he and Michele are stronger for it. “We are more skilled because we worked for other designers, and now we are doing our own thing.” Nothing in Serafini’s background prepared him for a career in fashion. His father still runs the family hotel where he grew up, and he describes his childhood as “just perfect”, with summer starting in May and lasting all the way through to September. He first caught the fashion bug reading his mother’s copies of Italian Vogue and would tape all the TV reports of Milan Fashion Week. He still watches his vast library of clips from that time, which he has transferred onto DVD.
“IT WAS TOUGH PSYCHOLOGICALLY TO BE EXPOSED. YOU HAVE TO BUILD YOUR STORY. I FELT NAKED IN FRONT OF THE WORLD”
Serafini left to study fashion in Milan in the early 1990s — there, Steven Meisel’s photos and Versace’s clothes “stole” his imagination. He has vivid memories of sneaking into a Versace show and being mesmerised by the supermodels. His favourite? “Christy. Linda was the fashion one, but Christy was the most elegant, the classic beauty.”
After college, he dreamt of going to London — he’s a committed anglophile, but draws the line at the chief Brexiteer Boris Johnson, describing him as “the disgusting blond man” — but a job offer from Blumarine lured him into Italy’s fashion industry. His long apprenticeship led him to Roberto Cavalli, which he joined at the end of the 1990s, just as the brand began to gain international renown for its sexually charged,
haute-bohemian style. “Oh gosh, how many leopard skins did we print, and zebra and cheetah,” he says.
Serafini describes Mr Cavalli as “a real hippie. He didn’t care too much for the system.” He spent 10 happy years there. “The glory of Cavalli was that you had no limits in imagination, in budget. We would use the best embroiderers in Paris, but the spirit was freedom.”
He then moved to Dolce&Gabbana, two designers he had admired since he was a kid. He describes working at the brand as “like driving a Ferrari. There was creativity without boundaries, but you had an organisation prepared to follow you.” When Ferretti first approached him to design Philosophy, he declined: “I never aimed to be there. I was happy doing what I was doing.” A few years later she offered again, and this time Serafini was ready. “All the energy I was giving to someone else, I now wanted to express for myself. It was time.” Serafini is a reluctant fashion star and admits the transition from anonymous team member to frontman was difficult. He describes seeing his name on the label as a shock. Naturally shy and sensitive, Serafini struggled for the first year. “It was tough psychologically to be exposed,” he says. “You have to build your story. I felt naked in front of the world.” Now, nearly two years on, he’s the toast of Milan and has learnt to enjoy it, but soothes his anxiety with a focused work ethic. “Twenty-four hours a day. Fashion is an obsession — a beautiful obsession.” Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini can be found at Aïshti Downtown and Aïshti by the Sea
“TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY. FASHION IS AN OBSESSION – A BEAUTIFUL OBSESSION”
Words by Amy E. Robertson Photography by Tarek Moukaddem
IN CONVERSATION WITH RALPH MASRI
He’s young, he’s Lebanese and his latest collection was launched at Paris Couture Week. From Dubai to New York, designer Ralph Masri is making a splash with his boldly styled fine jewelry so A Mag stopped by his Beirut showroom to find out more
“I love history, I love architecture – these are usually my main points of inspiration. And being from a place like Lebanon, it’s a mix of East and West, a juxtaposition that I love. So a lot of what I do has Eastern influences, but it’s worked with a Western touch.”
From his store in Beirut’s hip Mar Mikhael neighbourhood, 27-year-old Ralph Masri buzzes with excitement as he shows off his latest collection, Phoenician Script. Earrings, bangles and rings crafted from different shades of gold and precious stones echo the bold angular lines of the Phoenician alphabet. Modern design based on ancient forms. There are 18 carat white, rose and yellow gold heirloom pieces, beautiful rings and earrings embellished with complementing sapphires, rubies and citrines. The collection is worldly without being pretentious, much like Masri himself – sophisticated, yet accessible. Indeed, a thoroughly Lebanese collision of East and West. “I definitely like structure, I like geometry, and I like clean lines. I also really like to play around with colours. I’m about statement. I do make some more wearable pieces, but I especially love working on the big statement pieces, the conversation makers,” Masri says. This comes across strongly in his work. He describes his first solo collection named Arabesque Deco as inspired by Middle Eastern architecture in Lebanon and Morocco, fused with an Art Deco touch. The dramatic arches and colourful stained glass of cathedral windows inspired his second, Sacred Windows. Phoenician Script is Masri’s third fine jewelry line, and the most successful yet.
“I’M ABOUT STATEMENT. I DO MAKE MORE WEARABLE PIECES, BUT I ESPECIALLY LOVE WORKING ON THE BIG STATEMENT PIECES, THE CONVERSATION MAKERS”
The concepts of home and heritage are vital to Masri’s work. “The most important thing for me in my jewelry is that there is an identity. I like to be coherent in my body of work, I like there to be stories behind them. So that’s why each collection has a theme, but there is a common thread that runs through them, which is my heritage and
But as a boy growing up between Canada and Lebanon, and despite hailing from a family of jewelers – his father was one, and his mother worked in the diamond trade – he didn’t expect to find himself in this line of work.
“Growing up I was always very creative. At school I was the one student really paying attention in art class, and I knew I wanted to end up in a creative field. My very first love was painting. As I grew older, I realised it’s not a very realistic career option, so I decided to go into design. I got accepted into [Central] Saint Martins in London and I went there not too sure of what I would specialise in. The first year you get to experience different kinds of design: there was jewelry, there was fashion, and we did fine art. And I realised then and there that I really did enjoy jewelry design, and I focused on that. Without even realising it, I found that I ended up following my family’s path, and it’s become my passion. I love it.” As a first year student, Masri won the prestigious Swarovski Award, landing him an internship at the global jewelry brand. At the age of 20, he was nominated for a UK Jewelry Award – the award’s youngest nominee ever. Masri also had the chance to intern with some respected smaller, independent designers in London. “I got a different feel from different ends of the spectrum, and all that knowledge I got there gave me the confidence to start my own thing once I graduated. So I decided to come back to Lebanon,” he explains. It didn’t hurt that Lebanon’s top three leading exports are gold, jewelry and diamonds. “Jewelry is one of our top industries,” Masri acknowledges. “So in terms of production, and in financial terms of running a business, it’s such a great place to be based. You’re only a couple of hours away from Europe. And I came back because it’s my home.”
who I am as a person. It’s important as an identity, so you see one of my pieces and know it is a Ralph Masri piece. It’s not something that could be anyone’s. That’s what I consider successful.”
And this passion, this distinctive identity is working. In August, Masri was nominated for the 2016 Dubai Design and Fashion Council/Vogue Fashion Prize – the biggest fashion prize in the Middle East. “I was one of five nominated in the accessories category, which covers everything from jewelry to bags to shoes,” he says. The winners will be announced in November. Meanwhile, Masri participated in New York Fashion Week last September, and commercially is expanding his points of sale in major luxury stores across six countries. “Jewelry is the epitome of luxury. It’s not a necessity, but the ultimate fantasy for a lot of people. The way jewelry is portrayed in the media, on the red carpet, on stars – wearing it makes people feel connected to that. It’s the ultimate fantasy in that sense. It’s precious, it makes you feel precious. It’s the ultimate way to adorn your body,” Masri says. For more info visit ralphmasri.com
149 SAAD ZAGHLOUL STREET, NEXT TO AÏSHTI DOWNTOWN T. 01 99 11 11 EXT. 525 AÏSHTI BY THE SEA ANTELIAS T. 04 71 77 16 EXT. 233
Words By Clare Coulson
REI KAWAKUBO 136
If fashion, in its purist sense, is about fantasy – the dream of creating new personas, a new life even, through dressing up – then Rei Kawakubo, the elusive designer behind Comme des Garçons is surely its high priestess. During a career that has spanned almost five decades, the Japanese designer has created a global megabrand without ever compromising her unique vision. Her collections can be surreal and whimsical or extreme and archly romantic, but each deals with life’s fundamentals – love and loss, self and society, image and ideology. Her gripping fashion shows, always a hot ticket of Paris Fashion Week, are at once personal, provocative and deeply profound. Which is why when rumours emerged that New York’s Costume Institute was going to base an entire show on Kawakubo’s work next summer – only the second living designer after Yves Saint Laurent to be granted such an honour – no one was too surprised. Kawakubo is a gift to curators with her conceptual, highly visual pieces that are as arresting as they are thought provoking.
Where fashion & fantasy collide
KAWAKUBOâ€™S GRIPPING SHOWS ARE AT ONCE PERSONAL, PROVOCATIVE AND DEEPLY PROFOUND
Born in 1942, three years before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Kawakubo studied the history of aesthetics before working in advertising and then as a stylist in the late 60s. Her first collections – shown in Paris in 1981 – were unlike anything else at the time and totally contrasted with the swaggering, showy clothes of that gaudy decade. Her fans were called “crows” and those largely black, often willfully destroyed clothes were ahead of their time. As the 80s strode on, many others caught up with Kawakubo’s vision, and in turn, she would inspire a new generation of designers (most notably a group of Belgian designers, the Antwerp Six, who would all become well-known in their own right) to march to their own beat too.
The outlook of Comme des Garçons has always chimed with women who don’t relate to overt displays of femininity. In 1997, Kawakubo designed fantastical, figure-hugging gingham dresses with deforming padded ‘humps’ and in 2012, a surreal ‘two-dimensional’ collection where cartoonish, candy-coloured dresses were almost flat. This winter, she dreamt up a modern articulated ‘armour’ in panels of sumptuous jacquards that made models look like rather opulent 18th century punks about to storm Versailles.
But a punk spirit has always been central to Comme des Garçons and to Kawakubo’s rebellious, non-conformist and avant-garde approach. “I’m always looking to make something that didn’t exist before, fumbling about in the dark,” the designer said in a rare interview last year. “The search for something new is a constant in my everyday life. It is like drowning in the dark, but creation is what I built Comme des Garçons on. For a collection, I need to push myself into a corner and find a way to get over the walls. The ideas are born disconnectedly, incoherently, and slowly, slowly, a final image emerges.”
This extreme creativity has made Kawakubo the ultimate designer’s designer. She has inspired luminaries from Karl Lagerfeld and Phoebe Philo to Nicolas Ghesquière and Marc Jacobs, who collaborated with Kawakubo during his tenure at Louis Vuitton and is a self-confessed superfan who regularly dresses in Comme des Garçons. “She has an extraordinarily unique vision and voice,” says Jacobs of the designer who will turn 75 next year. “There’s always something different and new, but there’s always a common thread, too. It’s not about dressing for other people. It’s not buying clothes to attract or seduce. It feels like a gift you give yourself.” While her cutting edge collections are endlessly influential, Kawakubo is just as trailblazing in retail. When Dover Street Market first opened in London – after guerrilla pop-ups in Berlin – it quickly became the most talked about destination store and was dubbed the ‘Coolest Store in the World’ by British Vogue. It has a famously collaborative ethos – designers are encouraged to create their own individualistic spaces. In a world of mega malls, Kawakubo’s stores are playful, enticing, totally cool spaces.
“I’M ALWAYS LOOKING TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT DIDN’T EXIST BEFORE... IT IS LIKE DROWNING IN THE DARK”
Previous pages and here: Kawakubo’s designs through the years Right: A Comme des Garçons installation shown at Paris’s Cité de la Mode in 2012
A communal spirit has always been key to Kawakubo’s ethos. As the global financial crisis struck in 2009 she launched Black Comme des Garçons – an emergency brand with prices 40% lower than her mainline. She has also supported and nurtured young designers who have worked with her, launching the careers of Junya Watanabe and Fumito Ganryu.
What’s astounding among all this activity, collaboration and a life spent pushing boundaries, is that Kawakubo is as creative now as she has been for the past four decades. She’s still pushing buttons and making waves in Paris, where every season she can be found in her showroom, quietly moving around her clients and admirers with no fanfare or fuss. “Every day I think about the selling,” she has said. “But when doing a collection, all I want is for people to feel the power.”
NIGHT AT THE ARCADE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TONY ELIEH STYLING BY MELANIE DAGHER SHOT ON LOCATION AT COSMO CITY DOWNTOWN
Wedged platform Oxfords by Miu Miu
Opposite: PionniĂ¨re bag by Prada Above: shades top to bottom by Bottega Veneta, Massada, Mykita, Linda Farrow and Matthew Williamson
Opposite: Pompadour velvet pumps by Le Silla Above: tasselled round clutch by Alessandra Rich
Above: Prada shoulder bag Opposite: Anya Hindmarch shoulder bag
Opposite: puzzle bag by Loewe Above: dark velvet pumps by Miu Miu
Opposite: Olympia Le-Tan bag Above: sneakers by Dior
Above: Anya Hindmarch bag Opposite: Nancy Gonzalez x Kai clutch
I WANNA BE A GLAM ROCK STAR Call me Ziggy. Stardust that is. I wanna join the Spiders from Mars. And fall back to earth. A Space Oddity PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEFANIA PAPARELLI
STYLING BY AMELIANNA LOIACONO
SHOT ON LOCATION IN MILAN, ITALY
From left to right: Kandy is wearing a Love Moschino silver romper with Ermanno Scervino thigh-high leather boots, Gabi is in a CURRENT/ELLIOTT denim romper and Moschino leather boots, Linda wears a Dsquared2 denim jacket over a Just Cavalli dress
This page: Gabi is in a 7 For All Mankind red denim pants paired with Jeremy Scott metallic leather boots. Opposite page: Linda is wearing a Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini white fur cape
Dress Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, boots Alberta Ferretti
Gabi is wearing a Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini white fur cape with 7 For All Mankind denim shorts and Roberto Cavalli golden python boots
Here: Linda (left) is in Dolce&Gabbana denim jacket and pants. Kandy is in a CURRENT/ ELLIOTT black leather jacket and denim shirt paired with Dsquared2 leather miniskirt and Moschino red leather boots
Kandy is in a Gucci leather studded jacket and Mother denim pants paired with P.a.r.o.s.h. golden ankle boots
Here she is in a Gucci suit
Opposite page: Gabi (left) is in True Religion denim pants and Jeremy Scott metallic leather boots while Kandy (right) wears Stella McCartney denim pants paired with Moschino red leather boots and a Cavalli leather bag. This page: Kandy is wearing Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini pants and one-shoulder top
Gabi (left) is wearing a Gucci t-shirt and Diesel bomber paired with J Brand black denim pants and Dolce&Gabbana golden heels Linda (right) is in a Kenzo sailor jacket and J Brand skinny leather pants
Kandy is wearing a Saint Laurent t-shirt
Gabi (left) is in True Religion denim pants and Jeremy Scott metallic leather boots while Kandy (right) wears Stella McCartney denim pants paired with Moschino red leather Totalleather look CĂŠline boots and a Cavalli bag
Linda (left) wears an Ermanno Scervino sweater and Gabi (right) is in a Dsquared2 glitter dress
This page, Linda is wearing a Michael Kors fur jacket and a Stella McCartney denim miniskirt with Moschino red leather boots while Gabi is wearing a Fendi fur jacket and denim skirt. Opposite page, Gabi is in a Dsquared2 embroidered long dress
Make-up by Michiko Ikeda @ATOMO Hair by Alessandro Rebecchi Cast Editing by Simone Bart Rocchietti Blonde model Kandy @NEXT Brunette model Linda Soncika @FASHION Redhead model Gabi @NEXT
A GIRL HAS NO NAME
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALICE ROSATI STYLING BY EMELIE HULTQVIST@ADAMSKY PRODUCTION BY YULIA GROMOVA SHOT ON LOCATION IN MOSCOW, RUSSIA
Shirt, Christian Dior
Opposite: a girl wears shirt by Dsquared2 and trousers by Marni Above: a girl is in blazer by Dolce&Gabbana, trousers by Saint Laurent, boots by Jimmy Choo and neckpiece by Gucci
A girl wears coat by Prada, boots by Dior
Opposite: a girl is in shirt by DSquared2 and trousers by Marni Above and following page: a girl wears polo neck by Dior and coat by MSGM
Main: a girl is in denim coat by Miu Miu and boots by Dior Insert: a girl wears neckpiece by Gucci and blazer by Dolce&Gabbana
Opposite: a girl is in coat by Dior Above: a girl wears fur vest by Yves Salomon, skirt by Dior and boots by Casadei
A girl wears shirt by CĂŠline and trousers by MSGM Hair & Make-up by Kate Mur using Ellis Faas Model Leda @ Lumpen Models Photography Assistants Renata Garipova and Konstantin Terentyev
HOT RODS & DRAG QUEENS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PRODROMOS ANTZOULIS STYLING AND ART DIRECTION BY PAM NASR SHOT ON LOCATION IN THE AÐ‡SHTI WAREHOUSE
Aiysha lies in a Dolce&Gabbana suit with Miu Miu belt
Aiysha wears a Manish Arora top, Fausto Puglisi waist belt, Roberto Cavalli snake belt and jeans, Gucci gloves and Sonia by Sonia Rykiel heels
She’s in a Roberto Cavalli top, Chloé pants, with a Marc Jacobs bag and Dior pumps
This page: Aiysha wears a Dsquared2 top, Emilio Pucci belt, Sonia Rykiel ankle accessory and Miu Miu shoes Opposite: sheâ€™s in a Saint Laurent belt and dress with an Emilio Pucci bag
Opposite: sheâ€™s in a Manish Arora top, Fausto Puglisi waist belt, Roberto Cavalli snake belt and jeans, Gucci gloves and Sonia by Sonia Rykiel heels Above: Aiysha wears an Alexander McQueen black polo neck, a Bailey 44 top and Dolce&Gabbana earrings
Aiysha is in an Emilio Pucci swimsuit, a Dolce&Gabbana belt and a ChloĂŠ jeans skirt
Aiysha wears a David Koma bodysuit & a Céline fur strip Opposite: she’s in a Dsquared2 top, Chloé track pants & Dolce&Gabbana pumps
Jumper and shorts Christian Dior, earring Celine
Aiysha wears a Dolce&Gabbana suit and Miu Miu belt with Dior pumps Volkswagen Courtesy of Bechara Rashdan Drapes by Wardé Model: Aiysha Siddiqui @De Boekers Assistant stylist: Stephanie Naimeh Assistant photographer: Wissam Khoury Make-up: Yvana from Velvet Management and Haifa Amin from Їday Spa Hair: Yvan from Velvet Management and Rashad Daccache from Їday Spa
Foch Street · Aïshti Downtown Aïshti by the Sea · Aïshti Verdun Aïzone ABC Achrafieh and Dbayeh Aïzone Intercontinental Mzaar Aïzone City Mall · Beirut City Center diesel.com
BEIRUT SOUKS, SOUK EL TAWILEH T. 01 99 11 11 EXT: 560 AÏSHTI BY THE SEA, ANTELIAS T. 04 71 77 16 EXT: 263 BEIRUT CITY CENTER, HAZMIEH, LEVEL 1 T. 01 287 187 ALSO AVAILABLE AT ALL AÏZONE STORES IN BEIRUT, DUBAI, AMMAN
Words by Jo-Ann Furniss
“YOU HAVE A PIECE OF LIFE AND YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING WITH IT. THE MORE YOU THINK, THE MORE YOU ACT, THE MORE YOU LIVE IT, THE BETTER.” For years Miuccia Prada didn’t want people to know what she was thinking. But now, as she prepares to launch new fragrances for men and for women, the enigmatic designer is ready to open up and reveal the secrets of her enduring success “I hate being called the intellectual fashion designer!” declares Miuccia Prada. “I hate being called ‘conceptual’. I want to have ideas and there is a big difference. If you think you are intellectual, what does it mean? It could be classed as an insult. I don’t like it. People think you’re clever; I am not. I am the opposite, but I try to understand. And the other thing is, who cares? Boring [this is her own, rather teenage Italian emphasis]. Intelligence should be exciting, never boring. I have a lot of fun with it.” This declaration was made 10 years ago, in the same icy interior, in the same part of the Prada headquarters in Milan where we find ourselves today. And yes, Miuccia Prada still hates being called the intellectual fashion designer. “Although I probably provoke that,” she says in a more conciliatory mood. “It’s just I am quite shy, though I don’t know if that is the right word. It’s not
guarded, I just don’t want to have to explain! Dignified, maybe,” she laughs.
Over the past 15 years, since I began interviewing and talking to Miuccia Prada, she has proven far from icy and has defied all the stock fashion industry expectations of her. As arguably the most influential fashion designer in the world, known and deified for her imperious intellect, Mrs Prada – as she is frequently called by her Italian staff – is far more than cool, clever and commanding. In the fashion industry it is easy to be cool, to play the calculated game of being ‘in’ and ‘now’ – it is also something that rarely lasts. Prada’s staying power over the past four decades, since 1978 when she first took the reins of the Milanese luxury leather goods company that bears her family name, comes from somewhere else. What Miuccia Prada continues to be is warm: instinctive, human and herself, with the
Miuccia Prada taken by Manuela Pavesi
“I HAVE LEARNT THAT YOU CANNOT HIDE TOO MUCH”
Mia Wasikowska (this page) and Ansel Elgort (opposite) star in Prada’s La Femme and L’Homme perfume campaign photographed by Steven Meisel
uncanny power of anticipating and communicating what is to come. In her women’s and men’s collections for Prada, she has the knack of giving people what they want, but not what they thought they wanted.
For a leviathan brand, Prada is still distinctly and idiosyncratically personal. With her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, who is also the CEO of Prada, she has led the way in reconfiguring what a luxury goods business means, not just in terms of their own labels – namely Prada and Miu Miu, the other line Mrs Prada heads – but by setting an example of what luxury can be for the rest of the fashion industry. Something as simple as the reintroduction of a black Pocono nylon rucksack as a luxury handbag in 1985. Originally designed unlabelled by Prada in the late 1970s, the first Pocono bags weren’t a hit, but have become as influential on the recent course of the luxury-goods industry as Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain on the path of contemporary art: luxury would no longer be defined by craft and materials, but by ideas. Prada’s cultural recognition extends beyond fashion. She is perhaps the closest present-day figure we can correlate to Coco Chanel. ‘The Devil Wears Céline’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Try substituting any other designer name; it just doesn’t work. Such are the connotations of Prada. In 2005, Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential figures of the 20th century. This building on Via Bergamo is where Prada’s interviews usually take place – though she only gives around one each year, so an audience with her has special resonance. There is a purposeful element of disguise here. Imposing yet blank, with a blueish, greyish tinge to the walls, nothing is ostentatiously on display. Even the books stacked in her office are placed just so, face up; you cannot see the spines. They are for her use only. There is the famous ‘chute’, a twisting slide that protrudes through the floor. It is an artwork by Carsten Höller, like a post-industrial helter-skelter, that spirals through the building and dispenses its occupant in the courtyard. Occasionally, Prada is known to ‘have a go on the art herself when nobody is there. Not for show; just for her own amusement.
Today she is dressed simply in a navy sweater, trousers and chunky hiking boots from the Prada AutumnWinter 2016 collection. Now 67, Prada is fearless and revealing in her own clothing choices. In fact, the concrete severity of the building seems an overhang from her collections of the 1990s – when Prada came to real prominence as a clothing designer – which were labelled ‘minimalist’ and were purposefully inscrutable. Those days are long gone. “I have learnt that you cannot hide too much,” she explains. “For years I did not want people to know what I was thinking. That was also in my work, the stage they called ‘minimal’. That was because I did not want to say what I wanted
to say. Then I began to express what I like. Of course, then you have to think much more and try not to make stupid points.”
In fact, this interview is a further moment of revelation by the designer. With the approaching launch of L’Homme and La Femme Prada, the quintessential Prada fragrances, today is the first time she has decided to speak about perfume, though her eponymous house first introduced a fragrance line 13 years ago.
For many designers and luxury goods houses, perfumes are often an afterthought. The fragrance market is mainly conceived of as a money-making venture, a sensible commercial entity. Often licensed to one of the beauty giants, the creative director of a fashion brand is not necessarily involved in a fragrance’s conception. This does not apply to Miuccia Prada. Perfumes are never an aside from her distinctive world of apparel and accessories, but a lifelong passion that is personal and profound. Working alongside Daniela Andrier – the Prada ‘nose’ – and Fabio Zambernardi – Prada’s design director – through Prada Parfums, Miuccia has extended her vision for women and men to encompass a whole
‘The Devil Wears Céline’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Try substituting any other designer name; it just doesn’t work.
olfactory world. For Prada, ‘fragrance is pure instinct’.
This is also the reason she could not bring herself to speak about fragrance until now. For her, the world of perfume defies language, intellectual games or any disguise. It gets to the heart of who she is and the identity of the house that bears her name. “Talking about perfume, I get very nervous,” Prada says. “Everything is about defining, having some kind of rhetoric, when I believe in the opposite. And that’s as much as I love perfumes, and really, I love perfumes. It’s an occasion to put the accent on feelings, irrationality and instinct.” For Prada, perfume has the transporting, physical power of Proust’s Madeleine – quite literally it seems. “Perfume’s a lot about pleasure,” she says. “When you put the perfume on, it’s a moment of pleasure, for sure. Then if you really like it, it’s more than pleasure. It’s like eating a cake you like.” Fantasy even.
It was also a personal remembrance of things past that drove the designer to launch the first Prada perfume, Prada Amber. This is the fragrance Mrs Prada still mostly wears today, and is the memory of a scent she sampled as a teenager. “I love perfumes very, very much. I can distinguish quality in a second,” she says. “For instance, even though I drink wine, I am never able to really understand a wine. But with perfume, I get it immediately. I remember being 16 and the mother of a friend of mine had this incredible perfume. I was obsessed with it. I’d go to her home and smell it in the bathroom. It was from an artisanal shop on Madison Avenue that no longer exists, called Shelley Marks. I had other perfumes, but I really fell in love with that one. I’d go to New York and buy the perfume from the shop; this little shop, always with an old man who only made perfumes in the summer with a few students. At some point it closed down. Then I felt awful; for me this was a disaster. So the first perfume I tried was based on this one. I went to a man with a piece of the bottle and told him what I remembered about it, what was in my imagination. And that is what became Prada Amber.” Memory, identity, emotion and instinct; for Prada, her fragrances are evocations of character – more akin to music. “A fragrance touches you or it doesn’t. It is a bit like music; abstract and very spiritual, of course.” But above all for the designer, “It is not playing a game.”
“Perfume is so much more difficult because it obliges you to be even more honest. In fashion you can play because you have so many more occasions and a variety of ways to express. With perfume, I have discovered why I become so nervous about it: you can’t play. You
Above: Dane DeHaan and, opposite page, Mia Goth for the Lâ€™Homme and La Femme Prada perfume campaign by Steven Meisel
“I BELIEVE IN INDIVIDUALITY. I LIKE MANY DIFFERENT WOMEN AND MEN, BUT AN ICON OF STYLE? I HATE THE IDEA”
can’t be smart or funny; it is what it is. You have to go to the core. It’s like being in love. You can’t play at being in love; you either are or you aren’t.” And so with La Femme and L’Homme Prada, the translation of an entire female and male world of Prada into two fragrances has become a daunting task for the designer and her team. Miuccia is against the standard, fantasy depiction of a single character to define each fragrance. “It is usual to represent one woman and one man generically; we wanted more than one woman and one man. There is the idea of L’Homme Prada and La Femme Prada, but they don’t exist; there are many. So we have two actresses and actors who each play three or four roles. There isn’t a main icon representing the dream of a woman or a man: these people represent the reality, the differences and so on.” For L’Homme Prada, the actors chosen are Dane DeHaan and Ansel Elgort, and for La Femme Prada, Mia Goth and Mia Wasikowska. None are necessarily a ‘commercial choice’ and they are certainly not known as ‘style icons’, a concept Prada detests: “I believe in individuality. I like many different women and men, but an icon of style? I hate the idea.” Chosen for acting ability as much as looks, they are the many wearers of the fragrances that Prada is keen to reflect. “We wanted the campaign to say, ‘You are who you are and what you want to be.’” If this all seems rather democratic, contradictory, esoteric and idiosyncratic, it is. This is Pradaland, where high capitalism fuses with high concept. Mrs Prada does in fact possess a doctorate in political science from the University of Milan, and in her youth was once affiliated with the Italian Communist Party, so no wonder contradictions abound for the billionaire businesswoman.
“I am the worst person in the world to answer with one answer!” the designer admits. “I always give opposite answers.” What Prada excels at is a more human approach to the high fashion system, away from slick ‘on message’ delivery, towards a certain morality in the fashion process. Above all, she follows through on the courage of her convictions. And while the past year has been a turbulent one – with the death of her best friend and close collaborator, Manuela Pavesi, together with the aunt she called her second mother, set against the media chatter on the ups and downs of sales figures for what once seemed like an iron-clad
company – her belief in her particular direction of fashion has not wavered. Once more, her instincts have been proven correct, with a wide hailing of the latest Prada collections as a return to superior form.
“You have a piece of life and you have to do something with it. The more you think, the more you act, the more you live it, the better,” she says. “The last show was about this. Different moments, different times, ups and downs, the super-complexity of life. I wanted to say what I really believe in. I am happy with it. When you talk about the vision of your life, the future, the past, in between, it’s what really, deeply counts.”
As well as ideas, there are emotions in the output of Prada. In much of what Mrs Prada now does, there is a person laid bare. And perhaps it is time to return to that conversation 10 years ago, when she made the most pointed and profound observation on her own instincts. “I once read that the instinctive power of women is like the best result of a computer mentality,” she said. “The thing women are usually criticised for was elevated to something very sophisticated. I am forever checking with my instincts. I always go with my first impression, always. There is something very deep in this, like the outcome of a computer programme started thousands of years ago. The first answer instinct gives you is the summary of all knowledge, all pain and all intelligence that’s been absorbed.” In other words, she knew she was right.
La Femme and L’Homme Prada perfumes are available at Aïshti Downtown and Aïshti by the Sea
THE FANTASIES OF HASS IDRISS
He’s talked about adoringly by Beirut’s society set and is getting noticed on the international scene – an appearance at Paris Fashion Week beckons. Yasmin Harake pays the upstart Lebanese designer a visit and leaves swooning… “Go for black nails,” Hass Idriss tells me. “More… vampish.”
Perched on a round, wooden platform in a dressing room made almost entirely of mirrors, I glance at my reflection again. Perhaps a rebellious manicure would give my evening look – a playful, black and gold dress complete with sequin detail and sheer sleeves – the finishing touch it requires… Idriss, 31, has a knack for flooring his clients with his garments and his charm. A consummate artist and lover of the female form, the brash Central Saint Martins graduate works with tailored fits, streamlined aesthetics and intricate embroidery in a way that perfectly enhances and accentuates a woman’s body, a style that has made him one of Lebanon’s most soughtafter, up-and-coming designers.
Here in his atelier – office, workshop, dressing room, and showroom all in one – tucked away on a side street in Beirut’s Clemenceau neighbourhood, Idriss creates
his couture à porter or, as I like to call it, the “stuff of my wildest dreams”. When you wear his clothes you are immediately transported somewhere else, into someone else. And no wonder, considering he spent his early career in London working with the likes of photographer David LaChapelle, stylist and editor Marie-Amélie Sauvé and the late master of otherworldly fashion Alexander McQueen.
When Idriss launched his first ever collection at London Fashion Week in 2009, style watchers everywhere immediately took note. Since then he’s been building up his private clientele in Beirut and creating signature pieces for many and varied events, examples of which line the walls of this intimate space. Like a pair of cream, wide-leg trousers sheer from the thigh down with incredibly intricate embroidery. And a fitted, red, floor-skimming silhouette with stunning ruffled, off the shoulder detail. There’s something very tranquil about Idriss’s creative environment. Inside the workshop, the noisy, invasive
chaos of Beirut is forgotten. The familiar sounds of traffic and construction are left behind, and everything gets a little quieter. Floor-sweeping gowns, structured dresses and contemporary two-pieces are everywhere along with Idriss’s own works of art, the room’s centrepiece an imposing and majestic bridal gown. The space is a haven among the madness, where clients can leave the real world behind and get lost in a dream of material and mirrors.
“When it comes to building my collections, I work very hard to not be too literal,” says Idriss. “I easily slip into the fantasy land of my themes.” Themes like mystery and arcana, ancient gods, otherworldliness and ageold human emotions and desires. “I create clothes for clients who want to send messages, of attractiveness, of sophistication, of elegance. And I feel so privileged to work with what I love and with themes I’m obsessed with. I really get to live it.” Idriss talks about his upcoming Spring/Summer 2017 collection entitled L’enfant Terrible, and even more mysteriously his Autumn/Winter 2017 collection
“WHEN IT COMES TO BUILDING MY COLLECTIONS, I WORK VERY HARD TO NOT BE TOO LITERAL. I EASILY SLIP INTO THE FANTASY LAND OF MY THEMES” influenced by Greek mythology. “The lineup is inspired by gods created by men to mirror our deepest desires, fears and everything in between,” he says with a grin. “It’s amazing to see women wear pieces of my stories,” he adds. “This is how I watch my own fantasies come to life, and take their first steps into reality.” But what is reality?
“I believe reality is nothing more than a relative illusion,” Idriss says. “I also believe that the more creative you are, the more you allow yourself to fantasize. My job is to fulfil one of three fantasies: the fantasy of being an object of desire, the fantasy of (women) dominating other women and the fantasy of expressing a mood or state of mind.” He’s certainly succeeding. In this dress I feel both incredibly desirable and desirous yet also immensely powerful. And Idriss is right about the manicure too, you know. Black nails. It has to be black nails. For more see hassidriss.com
W W W. S O N I A BY. C O M 160263-A Magazine 240x320.indd 1
Words by by Mike Peake
DREAMING IN MINIATURE
Confined by mechanical constraints and a visual spectrum measuring often in the milimetres, the watchmakers of the world are still able to bring the wild and wonderful to life in ways that beggar belief... In the world of luxury mechanical timepieces – or “haute horlogerie” as they call it – the place where they make the watches is known as the ‘Manufacture’. These are special, often rather secretive places, where twohundred-year-old techniques are passed down from one artisan to the next. They are also spotlessly clean, verging on the clinical so as not to allow specks of dust into the tiny inner workings of a $100,000 watch, and while they can be so quiet as to hear a pin drop, they are not without spirit.
At the Manufacture of venerable Swiss watchmaker Blancpain, one of the workshops with the most vigour is the one where a tiny cluster of workers creates the 280-year-old brand’s famous ‘erotic’ watches. If your pockets are deep enough, these talented artists can create a bespoke scene – complete with moving parts – on the back of your watch that is as naughty as your imagination. It is a reminder that fantasy doesn’t need an enormous tableau to be effective. “Erotic automaton watches far pre-date the moving picture and even the photograph,” says Ryan Schmidt, author of the newly released The Wristwatch Handbook. “Often concealed on the caseback or behind a cover, these vivid depictions of debauchery were no doubt the talk of the smoke-filled gentlemen’s club and represent perhaps the most classic form of fantasy watch.”
A ‘complication’ in watchmaking terms is any feature other than the time – and there are dozens to choose from, including the tourbillon, those fantastical gyroscope-like devices which were developed to help pocket watches stay accurate but today are largely just there to beguile. Watch collectors get extremely excited by the more elaborate complications, and it is right here
Previous page: One of MB&F’s horologists working in the MB&F atelier This page from top: Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’art d’hommage à l’art de la danse; ArtyA Blue Riot Sun of a Gun collection; MB&F HM6 RT
that the watchmaker’s fantasies are most vividly expressed.
As Schmidt says, “Capturing and containing mechanical art within a crystal and metal cage evokes wonder not unlike peering through a keyhole into a secret garden. Confinement causes us to underestimate what is possible and gives rise to creativity and fantasy.”
If fantasy is to be interpreted as that which is dazzlingly beautiful, there are a multitude of watches that hit the brief. American marque Harry Winston create delightful timepieces with genuine peacock or guinea fowl feathers arranged on the watch face; iconic Swiss brand Vacheron Constantin have a whole department dedicated to the wonderful and the whimsical, their Métiers d’Art workshop creating limited edition or one-off pieces featuring everything from illuminated medieval scenes to images of dancing ballerinas.
There are watches to suit every passion too, from Formula 1 to yachting. “Some watches go to great lengths to literally incorporate objects into their watches to attract aficionados,” says Schmidt. If you like cigars, try the Hublot Fusion Forbidden X, which puts actual tobacco leaves on the dial. And if firearms are more your thing, why not plump for the ArtyA Son of a Gun watch, which incorporates real bullets. In fact, whatever you want to be, there is a luxury watch for you. “Take the MB&F HM6 Space Pirate,” says Schmidt. “Aside from physically resembling some sort of space station, the flying tourbillon of the HM6 is equipped with a retractable shield to protect it from the harmful UV radiation that is no doubt powerful should you find yourself in deep space.”
Sometimes, perhaps, the watchmaker himself gets the biggest kick out of his creation, the watch becoming a canvas for some greater artistic expression. “These are watches that no longer tell the time,” says Schmidt. He cites the example of the magnificent Haldimann H8 Flying Sculpture, which features a centrally mounted flying tourbillon: “The tourbillon might distract you for a few seconds before you realise that this regulatory organ is purely artistic:
the H8 has no time indication. The watch is therefore not so much a watch as it is a piece of kinetic art.” Perhaps the ultimate fantasy watch, however, is one that plays with the very fabric of time itself. The Hermès Arceau Le Temps Suspendu, says Schmidt, has a relatively sober appearance, yet a close inspection reveals that the seconds dial is actually running backwards… and only counts to 24.
And yet, even this isn’t the last word on fantasy. That honour surely goes to Hublot’s MP-12 Key of Time, which is straight out of the pages of Harry Potter… “It enables its wearer to increase or decrease the speed of time by a multiple of four,” says Schmidt. “This can last for as long as the wearer wishes and at any time they can reset the mechanism to show the true time.” You don’t need us to tell you that this $250,000 mechanical marvel will leave you as late for your meeting as the next guy, but at least you’ll be the one with the most original excuse. Unless of course the next guy is one of the 28 people in the world who shelled out $500,000 for the Jaquet Droz Charming Bird watch. A tiny, tweeting automaton for the wrist, it will divert even the most demanding boss’s attention from an important agenda… The Wristwatch Handbook by Ryan Schmidt is out now on ACC Art Books
“CAPTURING MECHANICAL ART WITHIN A CRYSTAL AND METAL CAGE EVOKES WONDER NOT UNLIKE PEERING THROUGH A KEYHOLE INTO A SECRET GARDEN”
COMING OF AGE FROM BEHIND THE CAMERA
As his first feature film One of These Days enters postproduction, the filmmaker and co-founder of Beirut production company NÃ© a Beyrouth, Nadim Tabet, opens up to Jim Quilty about what cinema means to him and how this latest work came about
Nadim Tabet doesn’t make movies out of a book. Cinema is, for him, a tool to reflect on his world, and on himself.
“I’m not creating a theory of cinema here,” he says from the terrace of a Badaro café. “I think cinema means a lot of things… my own purpose is to find myself and try to speak about the context, the country. I come from [this] part of the world and I’m trying to understand it, reveal it.”
Tabet’s unofficial biography suggests he shot his first short fiction film, Caravane, in 1997, followed the next year by Kodak Color. In 1999, he left Beirut to pursue his studies in France. Now with a slew of shorts under his belt, shot on Super 8mm and in DV between 1999 and 2011, he’s working on his first feature, One of These Days. It has already been one of two features to win the Post Republic prize (€25,000 in in-kind support) as part of the works-in-progress section of the Sarajevo International Film Festival’s Cinelink Co-Production Market Awards.
Although Tabet helped launch the Lebanese Film Festival in 2001, along with Pierre Sarraf and their colleagues at Né a Beyrouth, the director admits that most Lebanese
“I COME FROM THIS PART OF THE WORLD AND I’M TRYING TO REVEAL IT ” cinema never spoke to him. What it was lacking, in his view, was representations of everyday life. “This is one of the purposes that brought me to film and especially to this feature – what does it mean to be young in Beirut?”
One of These Days follows the trials and tribulations of youth. It brings to mind his 2007 medium-length fiction Jeunes et Innocents (Young and Innocent), a coming-of-age tale following a cluster of high school seniors undergoing relationship angst, enjoying the underground music scene and consuming mindaltering substances in and above a town called Beirut. “I’m very attracted to this context,” Tabet says, “… how the young generation are contaminated by things... and more and more by their surroundings.”
The contaminants include the situation in Syria, Lebanon’s simmering political crisis, and the garbage crisis. “It affects these teenagers that I’m talking about but, this being Lebanon, it’s not a big deal. Life goes on. I think everybody in Lebanon experiences things and life goes on. Nothing is really that important, you know?”
At the centre of Tabet’s ensemble cast of professional and non-professional actors are Yumna Marwan and Manal Issa, two of the Lebanese independent film scene’s most recognisable faces – along with the less familiar Panos Aprahamian and Nicolas Cardahi. Marwan made her film debut in Ghassan Salhab’s 2014 feature The Valley, and has most recently appeared in two Lebanese films to screen at Cannes: Mounia Akl’s short Submarine and Wissam Charaf’s debut feature Tombé du ciel (From the Sky) in a small but central role. Issa was cast as the lead in Danielle Arbid’s well-received 2015 ex-pat romantic drama Parisienne, and more recently appeared in Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama, which had its international premiere at TIFF.
Opposite page: Nadim Tabet on set photographed by Eli Souaiby. Above: A still from Tabet’s 2007 film Jeunes et Innocents
One of These Days opens early one morning as Marwan’s character flees drug rehab, where she’s been cloistered for a couple months. The backdrop of her escape to Beirut is a concert that includes usual suspects on Lebanon’s underground music scene, including Charbel Haber and electro duo Lumi. “Parallel to this, there’s this strange Syrian guy named Micho that Marwan’s character met in rehab. He’s like a mysterious guy in the film. There’s something really
“IF I GO INTO SOMEONE’S HOME AND I SEE A BEAUTIFUL TABLE IT MAKES ME HAPPY. AS AN ARTIST I WISH TO PROJECT THE SAME FEELING THAT I GET WHEN I SEE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THROUGH MY DESIGNS.”
distressing about him, but also something distressing about the country...
“Nicolas Cardahi plays the brother of Manal’s character. His ex-girlfriend is really into politics. He doesn’t give a damn about politics but he wants to spend time with her so he tries to memorise dates from history books – like the Sabra-Shatila massacre, the death of Bashir Gemayel, the death of Musa Sadr.” Tabet considers his lemonade.
“Maybe I’m not really documenting the younger generation, but projecting things from my generation onto the young people – like the drug problem. There used to be a drug problem in Lebanon – heroin in the 1990s, the beginning of the 2000s. It used to be $10 a hit, a lot of people went to rehab. It’s something that came about, some say, for political reasons. ‘Syria made it cheap on the streets.’ Sometimes there’s this paranoid sort of [reading].”
Top: Manal Issa and Yumna Marwan in a still from One of These Days photographed by Nadine Ghanem. Right: Manal Issa in a still from the film
“It’s not a real documentary about the youth. I’m doing fiction. I’m not sure that the youth of today have this heroin issue… This is cinema, fiction. You use the truth to tell a lie and use a lie to tell the truth. Otherwise you go to university and get a good PhD in sociology.”
Like the vast majority of international feature films released these days, One of These Days is a co-production. Its principal producer, Abbout Productions, is partnered with Moby Dick, a French production house. The Doha Film Institute supported the project at the development stage and continues to monitor its progress. The movie’s indie-scale budget may have helped Tabet decide on his crew. His DP is French cinematographer Pascal Auffray. “We did a short film together and I brought him over for this one. He put something special in the image, for me. We’re going to start the colour grading now, see what it gives …
“My aesthetic aspiration is very European,” he continues, “the feeling of the camera, the movement ... with some American reference of course. Pascal comes from the French New Wave – not Godard but Olivier Assayas, [Arnaud] Desplechin – filming with movement.” “Mostly I’m discovering now that in cinema and feature films, the director is not the master of things.”
Tabet insists that his film is not at all a tourist ad for Lebanon – a movie, as he says, that promotes “hummus and tabbouleh.” “It’s an anti-ad,” he says. “Even if the film starts with this affinity, I think it’s like a kind of swansong. Our playing field used to be very big, going from north to south. Today there’s two, three, four streets…
“There’s a sadness at the end. But, without being too pessimistic. After everything that happens, it finishes with a smile. It’s no big deal.” One of These Days will be released in 2017
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Words by Mike Peake Illustration by Sarah Ashley Mrad
NO SKY, NO LIMIT
Sever all ties with the real world for a moment and, with a little help from the world of tech, your innermost fantasies are there for the taking With the launch this year of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, we are all within reach of virtual worlds that will entice, entertain and enthral us. Whether we get to step into the body of a warrior, ‘adult’ experiences where virtual infidelity might just stop short of breaking your wedding vows, or experiential marketing magic such as trying out luxury items before you buy, the fantasy landscape is changing like never before.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is not buying it. But he may just be the only one. This is a man with his finger pressed as firmly on the tech pulse as anyone, and right now he thinks that virtual reality (VR) is too antisocial to set the world on fire. “It sort of encloses and immerses the person,” he told Good Morning America in September. Cook, for the record, sees more potential in augmented reality (AR) – the platform that has brought Pokémon Go to an audience of millions.
That he is saying this at all is a testament to something truly remarkable which has happened over the past few years: technology has finally reached a point where it matches the dreams of the boffins who work at the cutting edge of the entertainment sector. But many of these people – as well as a fast-growing army of VR fans – would say that the Apple supremo is missing the point. While throwing virtual balls at a tiny animated Pikachu in a public park is fun, virtual reality is in a different league. The fact that it shuts you off from the real world? That’s one of its biggest attractions.
“Virtual reality is the next evolution of content,” says Daniel Cheetham, Chief Interactive Officer of global creative production studio Happy Finish, which has made virtual reality experiences for a number of highprofile clients. “The aim of storytelling through any medium has always been to transport audiences to another place, to the heart of a story. From the earliest cave paintings to the most heavily post-produced, 3D 4K movies of today, the goal has remained the same: transfix the audience in the world you capture or create. The difference with VR is it allows us the most convincing tools to do so.”
March 28 of this year will likely go down in history as the birth of VR. Since that day, and thanks in part to a $2bn investment from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg into a young tech company named Oculus VR, people with $599 in their pocket (and enough left over to buy a hi-spec computer), have been able to immerse themselves in VR worlds that tech-heads have been dreaming of for decades.
Already owners of an Oculus Rift headset can scale virtual mountains in a game called The Climb, they can immerse themselves in a futuristic steampunk adventure named Technolust and in the psychologically gripping Edge of Nowhere, they can scare themselves half to death in Antarctica. VR Minecraft was added to the platform in August, and coming soon are Rock Band VR, which puts you onstage in front of a screaming audience, and Star Trek: Bridge Crew, in which you get to man the controls of a Federation starship. In fact, VR offers such incredible opportunities for people to indulge their gaming fantasies that companies are being formed specifically to create titles that employ this new technology. One example is UKbased Desk Dragons Interactive, whose co-founder Ben
Mills previously worked on the “traditional” gaming mega-hits Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty.
“IT’S LIMITLESS. IMAGINE A CLUSTER OF 360-DEGREE CAMERAS ON THE MOON SO YOU CAN BE THERE IN REAL TIME”
“The last 20 years have been defined by three great technological waves,” he says. “The computer, then the internet and finally social networks. Virtual reality is the next technological platform. Until now we have been looking longingly through a window into a world of possibilities, imagining what we could do. But now, with VR, we can open a door into these worlds.”
Mills says that ever-improving VR technology will let us feel intrinsically linked to, and immersed in, the games we play. “When you’ve fought a colossal dragon or a giant ogre on a TV screen it always felt underwhelming,” he says. “In VR that dragon, instead of hiding away on your screen, is now towering over you.”
Adds Edgard Hanna Tawk, CEO of Lebanon-based tech company Eurisko Mobility: “It’s limitless. With VR you can go flying or diving; you can travel to exotic destinations. Imagine a cluster of 360-degree cameras installed on the moon so you can be there in real time.”
As for one of the most limiting aspects of VR – namely that you’re anchored to your chair for fear of tripping over your PlayStation – even this isn’t insurmountable. The HTC Vive digitally maps your room and allows a degree of “roamability”, while a new venture in Utah, USA, takes things a step further. Called The Void, it combines VR games with a real-life environment where your onscreen footsteps match the ones you take in their warehouse-like playing area.
VR is not just for gamers – Tawk, for one, thinks it has vast potential in the world of cinema. “Imagine yourself in the middle of a scene from The Lord of the Rings,” he offers. It’s something IMAX are exploring, too, with dedicated VR “stations” expected to start cropping up in certain cinemas soon. A VR headset, of course, does away with the need for an actual cinema screen, so IMAX are looking to offer customers the chance to beef up a regular cinema visit with a VR experience to be enjoyed before or after the movie. Then there is the “adult” entertainment industry – the Guardian newspaper ran a story earlier this year which asked, “Is VR the future of porn?” pointing out that the industry was looking for a new cash cow to bolster faltering revenues.
Moving swiftly on, another area in which VR is proving itself an effective purveyor of fantasy is in the field of
marketing – especially in fashion and luxury goods. It’s less dull than it sounds – think of it instead as the ultimate chance to try before you buy. Hold out your wrist and there’s a $100,000 Cartier watch on it. Sit down in the driver’s seat of a brand new Ferrari with a colour scheme designed to your own specifications. Cheetham says the recent work he and his team did with the luxury beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury shows just how well VR can be employed as a fantasy tool for promotional purposes. Their 360-degree VR production features Kate Moss starring in a VR experience which transports the viewer to “a magical interstellar world.” And this is just the beginning. When writer Todd Bishop recently spent a whole weekend immersed in as many VR experiences as he could for an article on the tech website GeekWire, he wrote, “The experiences are now engaging enough that I can envision people getting lost in virtual worlds.”
Cheetham sees things accelerating fast. “Given the breakneck speed at which VR is advancing,” he says, “I have no doubt that within the next five or so years we will all be experiencing virtual reality that becomes indistinguishable from reality.”
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Words and photography by Tony Elieh
THE MODERNIST DELUSION Fantasy doesn’t just allude to the imaginary – it is also the act of envisioning improbable things. For A Mag’s exclusive series of artist commissions, photographer Tony Elieh focuses his lens on Beirut’s modernist telecommunications buildings, edifices that hailed the march of progress into a new 20th century world.
“Modernist architecture in Lebanon has failed. As an aesthetic movement that espoused efficiency, large-scale urban planning and the lack of ornamentation, it produced structures that were largely soulless and bureaucratic. Like the government telecommunications buildings in and around Beirut, which emerged as modernist emblems during the late 1950s in Lebanon’s heyday and golden age of architecture. We called them “centrales” (or operators), as they literally became government call centers, the only places where connections could be legally made with the rest of the nation and the world – a 1959 law brought all communications under state control. Today, these fascinating buildings still function in providing phone services but stand as symbols of a tired city, a reminder of what might have been, monuments representing Lebanon’s unused (and misused) potential and the fantasy of a modern era that never truly arrived.”
MIRANDA & ELEKTRA SŒURS JUMELLES
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Words and Photography by Alessandro Gandolfi
YOUNG AT ARTE
ÂŠ Alessandro Gandolfi/Parallelozero
Above: Part of the now-abandoned ballet school at the Escuela Nacional de Arte, designed in the early 1960s by Italian architect Vittorio Garatti Right: Part of the school for plastic arts still in use today
It was meant to be the most beautiful academy of fine arts in the world, dreamt up by an idealistic trio of Cuban and Italian architects on the orders of Fidel Castro. Today Cubaâ€™s Escuela Nacional de Arte still inspires its many students but remains decaying and unfinished, a monument to what might have been 247
Top: Students getting ready to take dance class Above: At work in one of the stunning domed studios in the plastic arts building. The school has proved a breeding ground for some of Cubaâ€™s finest young artists
Above: An installation by Argentine artist and Cuban resident, Enrique Rottenberg, at the Fàbrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) during the 2015 Art Biennial. Many former students from the Escuela Nacional de Arte, once graduated, produce and exhibit their work in spaces like the FAC, a former factory now used to host cultural events
When Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in 1958 one of his first acts was to confiscate the Havana Country Club and its celebrated golf course. Where better, he thought, to build a school of fine arts, one that would be the most beautiful in the world and where Cuba’s youth could study for free. The plan – the Escuela Nacional de Arte with schools of modern dance, plastic arts, dramatic arts, music and ballet – was an ensemble of futuristic parkland buildings perfectly integrated into the greenery all around them, designed by Cuban architect Ricardo Porro and two young Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti. But only three were ever completed and these have only ever been partially used. Once Castro entered the Russian sphere of influence, Porro was attacked for his bourgeois background and the decadent sensualism of his designs, resulting in the project being stopped in 1965. Ever since, the site has been progressively abandoned. Despite the school’s World Monument Fund listing it as one of earth’s 100 most endangered monuments, announced reclamation and salvage projects – the last inviting Porro, Gottardi and Garatti to finish the project in 1999 – were never begun. And yet the school as it is still runs music, dance and plastic arts courses amidst its magicrealist studios and domes, nurturing the dreams and aspirations of Cuban youth today.
Top: Cuban artist and Escuela graduate Harold LĂłpez MuĂąoz posing in front of two of his paintings Middle: A flyer on the wall of the school promoting a concert by Escuela students Left: Taking a break. Dance students waiting in the corridors for their next class
Top: Jamming during class in the music buildings Left: An art installation by Escuela students
SME 2016 Print 24x32cm Aishti.indd 1
9/26/16 11:17 AM
FERRARI, FANTASY, FOREVER
The first time I encounter the Ferrari GTC4Lusso is at the top of Mount Kronplatz in South Tyrol on the Italian-Austrian border. It’s not yet winter, the sun is out and there at the top of a ski lift it sits, adjacent to the magnificent Zaha Hadid-designed Messner Mountain Museum, all glistening steel, sex appeal and style, a sleek blue bullet of a car. I am not a petrolhead, I don’t even write about cars, but there’s something about Ferraris. I love them. I’ve always loved them. The prancing horse, the trademark grille, the lines, the roar of the engine… how can a girl resist? To be in control of so much raw power, that’s something.
For a moment it strikes me that I should be ogling the view. After all this is, no contest, one of the most spectacular vistas on earth, 2,300m above sea level, 360 degrees scanning all points of the compass from the great mountain walls of the Lienz Dolomites in the east to the Ortler in the west, from the Marmolada in the south to the Zillertal Alps in the north.
But the moment passes. My eyes keep returning to the GTC4. Launched in July, the Lusso is an update of the four-seater, four-wheel drive FF (hence the 4 in the name), now with more power, a little less weight, lower emissions, more leg room for rear passengers and touchscreen infotainment to die for. The engine is a naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V12, front loaded. The
compression ratio has been raised; the piston design improved, the ignition is multispark and as a result the power is now 681bhp, 30bhp higher than the FF. With tweaks to the gearbox and traction software, that increase knocks 0.3secs off the 0-62mph time. Which is quick, oh so quick. It does 0-124mph in 10.5 seconds and has a 208mph top speed. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel. And the wheel, along with the rest of the interior, is a thing of beauty with its flat bottom, customized leather and large pads for the headlight and wiper controls and indicators – you can activate them with fingers from behind as well as thumbs at the front.
I need a rest. And a drink. Thankfully Ferrari is providing the Aperol Spritz. I ask my minder – this is a car worth almost $250,000 after all – when I can drive
When Ferrari fan Stephanie Nakhlé was offered the chance to drive the new GTC4Lusso in the Italian mountains she jumped at the chance. We don’t blame her
it. Not until tomorrow he says. I grab another Aperol and down it quick. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough. -The town of Brunico where I am staying beneath the great Kronplatz is relatively small and subdued, a South Tyrol Italian settlement known for its castle and its street markets. There’s no subduing the whirr of the V12s of my GTC4 though, as I start the ignition in the main piazza. I’m luxuriating in the gorgeousness of my surroundings. The leather, metal and plastic finishes inside are second to none. There’s a panoramic glass roof. A swanked out private jet would have nothing on this Ferrari. And I am about to take it for a spin – through the mountains via Passo delle Erbe, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Lago di Misurina and Dobbiaco in a grand circle before returning to Brunico. The dash design incorporates a ten-inch integrated
Top: the GTC4Lusso shines beneath Mount Kronplatz. Above: the Zaha Hadid-designed Messner Mountain Museum
Smooth as butter: the Lusso's four wheel drive and V12 engine makes this Ferrari a dream to drive, while the spaceage dashboard is a petrolhead's dream
if I am one with the road. Once out on a straight stretch of ribbon I can really put my foot down. Now the GTC4 is in its element. The engine roars as I nudge past 100kph, the suspension remains solid and the harmonics are all wow-factor. It’s fast and powerful and spectacular.
And then we’re driving and I’m in another world. For a big car through hairpins the GTC4 is smooth as butter. That’s partly because of the four-wheel drive and fourwheel steering system as well as the adaptive damping, sideslip control and electronic differential. It’s almost impossible to lose control on the difficult Dolomite roads and while turning into corners is sharp, the perfectly balanced way the car apportions torque to each wheel offsets this. I’ve got plenty of grip and feel as
By the time we get back to Brunico, I’ve gained in confidence, sped through turns and almost given my minder a heart attack. It’s not my fault I protest; it’s the GTC4’s. The thrill of driving of it – fast yet smooth, loud and imbued with such a sense of wellbeing – is just dreamy. I should give him back the keys. But maybe I could have just one more go. How can a girl resist… Stephanie Nakhlé was a guest of Scuderia Lebanon, Lebanon’s Official Ferrari Importer
central screen and a separate display for the passenger. The latter is very quick, looks beautiful and has amazing functionality, including the ability to make calls, control music, adjust the satnav and see how the fast the driver is going. “Don’t try and slow me down,” I tell my minder. I think I make him nervous.
I slow down (much to my minder’s relief ) and stop when we reach the lake at Misurina. Again, I want to appreciate this magnificent body of water, but I can’t stop looking at the Lusso. Neither can the tourists. It’s as curvaceous as an E-Type Jag, the strakes behind the front wheels make it look shorter in profile while the back end, bracketed top and bottom by an integrated spoiler and underbody diffuser, make it look as cool as any Bond car. It feels and is beautifully aerodynamic, the steel sculpted to perfection. Where is that lake again?
Words By Grace Banks
LE PEINTRE DES PETITES CULOTTES His nickname was ‘the painter of panties’, his art was obsessive, erotic and controversial. Today cult artist John Kacere’s works so rarely come on the market that collectors wait for years to get their perfect piece. A Mag goes inside Kacere’s fantasy femmes
Unlike the hipster credibility Sofia Coppola’s nod to the artist offers him, Kacere was anything but indie. He was largely responsible for creating photorealism and considered the genre’s founding father. Kacere spent almost 40 years rendering women’s torsos solely in lingerie – stockings, suspenders, sheer underwear in candyfloss colours – this was his forte.
By the mid-1970s, magazines ranging from Artforum and Vogue to LIFE and Lui, were profiling Kacere as photorealism’s Andy Warhol, with headlines such as ‘Post-Pop Realist Breaks Rules – Beautifully’ and ‘John Kacere: Tout me Passionne, les Femmes Comme les Cathedrales’. But he resisted his status as the founder of photorealism and consequently never became as prolific as Warhol.
KACERE SPENT ALMOST 40 YEARS RENDERING WOMEN’S TORSOS SOLELY IN LINGERIE
“Kacere produced approximately 125 paintings,” says Kat Kiernan, assistant director of the Louis K. Meisel Gallery, which represents the artist’s estate. “Few of his works have come up for sale, which has left many collectors waiting and hoping that their ideal Kacere will someday come to market.”
Kacere’s take on photorealism was different from his contemporaries Ralph Goings and Robert Bechtle. He contradicted the nature of photorealism, he made it dreamy, and it was a fantasy to him. These fantasies were the product of a lifelong interest in the way women’s bodies had been presented throughout art history. Born in Iowa, in the midwest of the US, Kacere moved to New York in the early 1950s and studied at Cooper Union College, a boho laid-back art school in East Village’s NoHo, where he began to closely study great works of art in which women are presented as visceral, but also very much as a male fantasy. One of his favourite artists was Ingres, he particularly loved La Grande Odalisque, the ultimate fantastical depiction of a woman in which the artist famously added an extra vertebrae to elongate the curve of his subject’s back. Kacere also loved Van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Holbein, all painters who depicted women with muse-like status. Unsurprisingly, Kacere attracted criticism from feminists who viewed his work as little more than objectified female bodies. It’s hard to untangle Kacere’s end goal with his paintings. His work, at its most prolific in the 1970s, was made at the same time second-wave feminism was crossing over into art and culture discussions, and Kacere’s paintings are the perfect example of the Male Gaze, which Laura Mulvey defined in her 1973 seminal essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, as the way in which the visual arts show the female experience from a male perspective, consequently presenting women as objects of pleasure. Kacere’s retort to accusations of sexism was similar to many male artists of the time who were criticised for their representations of the female body, like the pop artist Allen Jones who famously sculpted women to look like lifeless mannequins. But Kacere was adamant, his paintings weren’t chauvinism, they were feminist: “Woman is the source of all life; the source of regeneration. My work praises that aspect of womanhood,” he argued in one of his very rare interviews.
Barbara ‘90, (1990), oil on linen
In 1973 Kacere sat on a panel in New York with the artists Louise Bourgeois, Judith Bernstein, Bob Stanley and Charles Stark to discuss ‘Eroticism in Art’. The
All images courtesy of Louis K. Meisel Gallery, meiselgallery.com
Sofia Coppola first saw a John Kacere painting, Jutta (1973), in a magazine article in 2000. The image of a woman lying on her side, clothed in simple, sheer black underwear, was tacked into a scrapbook the director was compiling as inspiration for a low-budget indie film project she was working on, Lost in Translation. Jutta is a classic example of the artist’s work; a woman’s midsection is framed and painted photo-realistically. The opening scene of Coppola’s Oscar-winning 2003 film was inspired entirely by the late Kacere’s image and his near-forensic documentation of women’s asses – which began in the 1960s and lasted right up until his death in 1999.
artists talked of whether their work could be deemed as pornography and Kacere is reported to have said: “If you’re very hungry, it doesn’t take much to turn you on,” in response to the public’s assertion that his work was problematically pornographic, before all the artists agreed that their works were akin to just a “beautiful experience”. For Kacere to have his crotch-centric pictures endorsed by Bourgeois as a beautiful experience was a pretty big deal at the time.
It’s doubtful that Bourgeois saw Kacere as a feminist, but she likely had his work as an abstract artist in mind. Before photorealism, Kacere worked for over ten years as an abstract artist and his museum debut was the 1961-62 New York Museum of Modern Art exhibition, Abstract Drawings and Watercolors. Some of the hyper-conceptual motifs of abstract expressionism remained in his photorealist work, like his habit of building layer upon layer of paint onto specific areas of the canvas for large amounts of time, which was unlike most photorealists who worked across all areas of the canvas simultaneously. But what put Kacere on a platform with Bourgeois, in a way that didn’t happen for Allen Jones, was his commitment to the evolution of the male-defined female fantasy, and which is what earned him Coppola’s accolade. As he said himself when he sat alongside Bourgeois, “You can’t be horny for a month,” you have to ring the changes. For more on John Kacere visit meiselgallery.com
Above: Claire ‘89, (1989), oil on canvas. Below: Jutta 2, (1973), oil on canvas
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ON FOOD When it comes to fantasy eats, for A Mag’s Dalia Dogmoch Soubra, it’s all about dessert...
Growing up as a kid in Paris, I was used to the most scrumptious bakes and desserts from French boulangeries and pâtisseries. From flaky mille-feuilles, to berry tarts and eclairs – my sweet tooth was in dessert heaven. Yet there was one simple dessert my father used to make for us in the evenings that would trump every single one of those French award-winning bakes and take me to a better place every single time. Halawe, Arabic bread, and butter.
He would place pieces of sweet and nutty halawe in between two thin slices of the bread with a generous spread of butter – it was divine. My love for halawe grew over the years and it’s still one of those foods I eat that brings many childhood memories and just melts in the mouth. I always thought it so interesting and original in taste, that it would be the perfect sweet to combine and work well in other dessert applications.
So as I was writing my cookbook, I considered what else I could do with this gorgeous, sweet piece of chunky sesame paste. The result was Halawe Ice Cream. It is a fantastic match, from creaminess to texture to originality, and remains to this day one of my favourite sweet treats, a dessert I would have loved sharing with my father as a child back in Paris.
HALAWE & PISTACHIO ICE CREAM Makes 1.5 quarts Prep time: 10 minutes Freezing time: 4 hours total
3 cups heavy cream, 1 cup evaporated milk, 1/3 cup caster sugar, seeds of half a vanilla bean, 4 egg yolks, 2 cups crumbled halawe with pistachios, ¼ cup chopped pistachios to garnish 1. Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat with the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and pod, until everything comes to a boil. Remove the pod.
2. In a bowl, whisk the yolks until they turn pale yellow, then add a little of the hot cream mixture and whisk vigorously. 3. Add the hot cream a little at a time, then once everything is mixed together return it to the saucepan and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking continuously until the custard thickens a little. Strain the custard through a sieve.
4. Chill the custard for at least 3 hours and proceed according to your ice cream machine manufacturer’s instructions. 5. Once the ice cream has the right consistency, fold in the halawe.
6. Freeze for at least one hour before serving.
7. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and serve immediately.
Food, Love & Life from Dalia’s Kitchen (CPI Publishing, 2013) is available in Beirut at Virgin, Librarie Antoine and Papercup and at various bookstores worldwide, as well as Amazon. For more on Dalia, check out daliaskitchen.com and visit her YouTube channel
Dalia Dogmoch Soubra/Food, Love and Life
Dessert. It’s the one dish in any meal that is so intricate, so sweet, so sexy, so delicious, so happinesscreating for the taste buds, that it can evoke one’s deepest fantasies. And for someone with a sweet tooth like me I can never get enough.
Where We’re Eating
Open daily, 5.00pm-1.30am. Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael, 01 449906 Often when established restaurants move to new locations they lose a bit of the spark that made them so great. Not in Joe Peña’s case. Its recent move from Gemmayze to a prime spot in Mar Mikhael has only served to raise the atmosphere and dare I say it, make the food even better. Boasting a menu that features sizzling chicken fajitas and what is quite possibly the best guacamole in town (really), Joe Peña’s is the go-to hotspot for those with a spicy side. The Mexican-themed restaurant serves up more than just mouth-watering food and delicious cocktails though. With a relaxed ambience and playful, Latin music in the background, this place will keep you and your crowd hungry for more. Not food, obviously – the quesadillas are surprisingly filling. If you enjoy nachos, people watching and the occasional margarita, the chances are that you’ll love Joe Peña’s too. Just remember to call ahead – if you thought you were the only person in Beirut with a thing for refried beans, think again. – Yasmin Harake
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 12-2.30pm and 6.30-10.30pm. Flemings Boutique Hotel, Mayfair, ormermayfair.com
Open daily 5.30-10pm, Fri-Sat 5.30-11pm. Closed Mondays. 606 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, faun.nyc A brand new addition to New York’s formidable restaurant scene, Faun has quickly gained the recognition in a matter of months it takes most places years to achieve. The American-Italian neighbourhood joint, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights, melds the owners’ love of design – both are architects – with a creative Mediterranean menu that changes seasonally. Current dishes include a watermelon, pumpkin seed and ricotta salad – and, for those with carb cravings, rest assured that mouthwatering pasta dishes are always on offer. Their beer selection both on tap and bottled is exceptional – try the craft draught named Wake Up Dead Nitro – and the wine list includes in particular a fine selection of Italian whites (I recommend the Sicilian Etna Bianco). On warmer nights, Faun’s garden patio, with its arching crabapple tree and wildflower and herb garden, is an inviting spot to while away the hours, Negroni in hand. – Pip Usher
There are two things that make the new Ormer Mayfair very special – the exceptionally beautiful Art Deco-inspired interior, and Michelin starred executive chef Shaun Rankin. Put them together and this is fine dining at its, er… finest. Ormer is the Jersey-based chef’s London outpost on the ground floor of the high-end Flemings Hotel, and with the food he’s managed to successfully reflect what he does so well on the island. Think seasonal Jersey produce like fresh lobster, crab, oysters, handdived scallops, Jersey royals and handpicked shoreline foraged herbs. Think French game – Jersey is after all closer to France than Britain – and not just any but the best venison loin around served up with parsnips, chocolate tortellini, ginger, quinoa and parsnips. Think Victoria plum soufflé with cinnamon ice cream and a glass of 2014 Jurançon Moelleux Costat Darrer dessert wine. With the interior design company Tully Filmer has created an intimate space that is all 1920s glamour with leather banquettes, dark wooden panelling, glass tiles and bronze lighting that kind of makes you want to sit for hours and enjoy aperitifs and digestifs till the last customer leaves. Did I say two things? Make that three. The wine list leaves nothing to chance either. A delight. – Goufrane Mansour
ON DRINK AMag drinks columnist Michael Karam on the fantasy of wine Fantasy? Good word. One of the online dictionaries tells me it is “the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things” – I’m thinking a ripping science fiction story or a thrilling ambition (best not go there), but surely, at its most cynical, it also means illusion and artifice.
But what we forget, and what is truly fantastic, is the fact that Lebanon is one of the oldest sites of winemaking on earth. The world wouldn’t have had wine as early as it did if it weren’t for the entrepreneurial talents of the Phoenicians, the prototype Lebanese traders. They were among the first to domesticate the vine and crucially, the first people to bottle it in clay jars, bung it on their boats and sell it, mainly to the Greeks and the Romans, who in turn ensured the rest of Europe got their hands on the stuff. In fact, there is every chance
a Lebanese trader came back from what is now France around 500BC and said, “Guess what guys, the Gauls are making wine! Who’d have thought it?”
So let’s not get too carried away with seemingly superior foreign stuff just because it’s, er, foreign. The quality of Lebanese wine is really good. It doesn’t mean you have to necessarily be in love with the style – Lebanese reds are by and large big and powerful – or drink it all the time. We should just be aware that our wine is easily up to international standards (whatever that means) and be proud of it as a message of our huge generosity of spirit.
Ok, yes, wine is widely regarded as a symbol of sophistication – although why grape juice whose sugars are converted into alcohol through the action of yeast and which has been drunk for millennia by people of all stamps should be singled out as the epitome of refinement, often baffles me – but put a bottle of wine, preferably with a French label, in front of us, and we Lebanese and all our insecurities erupt like a bout of hives. Buying wine is shot through with even more anxiety, especially if we want it as a gift. First off we will never buy local, which is fair enough, if we knew what we really wanted but more often than not a funky label and a mythical word, Bordeaux for example, is enough to convince ourselves we’re on top of things.
But are we? Do we know that Bordeaux makes around 100 million bottles of the wine each year, most of it pretty ordinary, and the stuff of legend that we think we have bought into is produced in such small quantities (Château Pétrus makes a mere 30,000) and is so horrifically expensive (’82 Pétrus will set you back around £4,500 a bottle)? No we don’t, but we do have a halfbaked idea that Bordeaux sort of equals
Ten Lebanese wines for the autumn (latest vintage unless stated) Château Kefraya – Les Coteaux de Kefraya Château Ksara – Château 2012 Château Marsyas – Blanc Château Musar – Château 2003 Château St Thomas – Obeidy Domaine de Baal – Blanc Domaine des Tourelles – Marquis des Beys Blanc Domaine Wardy – Les Terroirs Ixsir – Altitudes Red Massaya – Terrasses de Baalbeck
And there is a lot illusion – most of it complete and utter rubbish if we’re being honest – when it comes to wine. It pains me to say this, but in Lebanon, an aspirational, Francophone and status anxiety-driven nation if ever there was one, the illusion of what wine is, is vast and out of control.
everything we strive to be. Like I said, it’s all a fantasy!
Where We’re Drinking BEIRUT
Open daily, 5.30pm-2am. Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael, facebook.com/fabrkbeirut If you thought Beirut couldn’t possibly acquire any more rooftop bars than it’s already got, think again. In this city there’s never enough, and the newest is down in Mar Mikhael named Fabrk. Let’s get straight to the important stuff. Happy hour starts at 5:30pm and runs until 9pm, you can enjoy a game of pool with your friends, and eat delectable mini-burgers while you’re doing it. The décor is loud and proud – where else can you look up to find a floating shark made of lights? The cocktails are good, so good you won’t even think about the fine wine or imported beer on offer. Djs keep the lounge vibe going till late and as Fabrk is set a little off from the street and obviously above it, you get the feeling of lording it over Armenia Street’s other venues. Sophisticated, hip and worth spending all night there. – Yasmin Harake
Little Red Door
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu-Sat 6pm-3am. 60 rue Charlot, lrdparis.com
Open daily, 6pm till late. The Berkeley, Wilton Place, the-berkeley. co.uk The Blue Bar in the Berkeley is a London institution. It’s been around since 2000, though the iconic Lutyens blue wood panelling and lighting – originally conceived by the David Collins studio, has been around much longer. The recent refurb sees the bar occupy a state-of-the-art glass extension at the front of the hotel, giving it a new spacious feel, plus it’s got an extensive and updated cocktail menu that leads the way on the London scene. The place has always brought the capital’s sophisticates as well as the hotel’s oh-socool guests. The ambience is lively, there’s forever an edge that something special might happen, a celebrity guest invites the house for drinks or the party moves up to a room later for example, giving you the feeling you’re drinking in a spot of simply impeccable style. Which of course is because you are. Best of all their collection of over 50 whiskies is second-to-none, many of them rare labels and bottlings, and don’t get me started on the champagne option. Begin at the Blue Bar, then see where your night takes you. – Ramsay Short
It’s inspired by the American bars of the Prohibition era but it’s a speakeasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously – there’s no membership or secret password to get in. LRD is for everyone. And they like it that way. I like it that way too. The crowd is mixed and just a little bit cool – LRD is located in the Haut Marais, which is about as hip a Parisian neighbourhood as you can get, filled with artists and designers and creative types. Enter through two doors, one naturally little and red, and stroll up to the bar for cocktails to die for before settling into one of the patchwork armchairs or just remaining on the velvet barstools. Because the bar is definitely where you need to be. There are no run-of-the-mill cocktails at LRD. Their drinks philosophy is one of good old-fashioned fun so they bend the classic rules of mixology, even break them but still remain true to the spirits and blend some damn fine sips. My pick – the cocktail No. 7 from the Evocative Menu: Little Red Door silent grain, Dolin Bitter de Chambery, cherry blossom cordial, verjus, and El Jolgorio wild Espadin Mezcal. Barman, bring me another! – Goufrane Mansour
available in all aĂŻzone stores, t: 01.99.11.11 // joesjeans.com
Whether you’re an original Aquarius, want to find a new way to get fit or just like splashing around, you can turn a fantasy into reality at Mermaid School. A Mag lifestyle expert Lucille Howe becomes a water baby What do you think of when you think of a mermaid? Or merman, for that matter? Gorgeous, ephemeral, topless creatures with opalescent scales and more moves than a synchronized swim team in the Olympics? Exactly. Which is why everyone wants to be one right now. I’m serious.
The whole mer-trend kicked off with the invention of the fashion fin. These monofins range from plastic tails that you pull on like a flipper, to poly and spandex numbers that waft just like real fish. But, just a scroll through the online store at the Floridian mertailor.com and I raise my game. My inner Ariel wants the whole shebang – a $2,729.50 clamshell bikini top and matching silicone tail with side, pectoral and ankle fins, made to measure. Now, that’s a kit. Having begged my boyfriend to transfer some of our savings into my mer-fund, I have my heart set on Mermaid School somewhere altogether more tropical. The Weeki Wachee School in Florida looks a hoot. Their Sirens of the Deep camp promises underwater ballet training and the potential professional bonus of a job at
the end of it. Their resident sirens perform their own version of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid (she exchanges her beautiful voice for legs so she can meet the prince and gain a human soul, but he marries someone else – less about that). The Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy has some interesting options too; a package that involves purely posing in the gear if you don’t like getting your hair wet, or a Scuba Mermaid course for those that can only hold their breath for a nanosecond.
For now, I’ve filled the bath to the max, pulled on my budget fin and poured a martini. Happiness might mean a tropical dip and a close-up on a photogenic rock formation, but any bride of the 80s will tell you that fish tails are a bitch to dance in. Follow Lucille on instagram @lucillehowe For more info on mermaid schools see mayimmermaidacademy.co.uk and philippinemermaidswimmingacademy.com
Everett Collection/ Shutterstock
While the UK’s waters aren’t known to be crystal clear and balmy, it hasn’t dented business there in Bournemouth at the Mayim Mermaid Academy. Instructor Mermaid MerShell (I’m not making this up) is a trained Shallow Water Mermaid Swimming Instructor, authorised by The International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association (IMSIA). Her Mermaid Experience includes all the mustknows about the world of a real-life Ariel; how to wiggle into your tail, enter and exit the water, breathing techniques, some basic mermaid-y choreography (no splits we presume) and help styling out some poses for your underwater photoshoot.
Where We’re Detoxing BEIRUT
Urban Retreat Aïshti by the Sea, Antelias
When Aïshti opens a day spa in Beirut it does it in style. The new Urban Retreat – yes that Urban Retreat from Harrods – is located on the top floor of Aïshti by the Sea and houses exclusive makeup and perfume brands in dedicated areas manned by expert consultants as well as a rooftop pool and stunning café. But the best thing has to be the massage, treatment and spa options. There are 12 state of the art therapy rooms, a dedicated Medispa room, a Trichology and Hair Medica centre and fully trained therapists who are experts in their fields. To take full advantage, make a day of it. Book in a series of treatments and once fully relaxed pick a choice dish and cocktail from the café and go chill by the pool, and drink in the stunning views of Beirut’s evergrowing downtown skyline across the bay. – Felix El Hage
Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera Punta Skala, Zadar, falkensteiner.com/en/hotel/iadera
Ramatuelle La Réserve Hotel & Spa Chemin de la Quessine, Ramatuelle, lareserve-ramatuelle.com
Take a curvy 1970s building near St Tropez. Add a decadent spa. Then ask interiors ace Jean-Michel Wilmotte – the man who designed Louis Vuitton’s Paris headquarters – to style it. This place is what you get. La Réserve is a living homage to contemporary architecture, unfettered luxury and South of France style. Rooms are a modern medley of white leather, Nordic wood, Eames chairs and stainless steel. Yet the complex sits in acres of Provençal countryside. Then there are the villas – 14 in total – if you fancy a family or group stay. The restaurant’s concept is slimline chic with Côte D’Azur zest. Head chef Eric Canino plays with authentic flavours of the south to create a mouth-watering gastronomic menu. And the spa? The spa’s the icing on the cake. The sight of the sea and the soft breezes of the South, nature everywhere, promote a deep and profound sense of wellbeing. Offering everything from Nescens anti-aging treatments, balneotherapy and hydrotherapy as well as indoor and outdoor pools, a steam room and sauna, La Rés is a place to come and to stay. – Goufrane Mansour
Crowned one of the world’s best new spas by Condé Nast Traveler magazine back in 2013, Hotel & Spa Iadera’s Acquapura Spa perched on the peninsula of Punta Skala in the ever upand-coming Croatia, is not only a beautiful hotel in a stunning destination but also very serious about its relaxation and detoxification. The design of the cube-shaped spa is contemporary while bringing the lush Croatian coast indoors. Natural materials are used at every turn. Marble floors are from the nearby island of Brac. The sauna is built in clay, while the duplex Turkish hammam isn’t hidden in the basement but offers seascape vistas over the Adriatic. Thalasso treatments concentrate on the healing powers of seawater. Algae and natural muds are used in wraps, scrubs, cocoons and rubs. The facts? It’s got three spa pools, a Kneipp treading pool, Finnish sauna, hammam, earth sauna, 13 treatment rooms and a hot tub. My tip – try the hammam’s Anastasia treatment, named for the patron saint of Zadar that includes concentration and spiritual awareness, a raw silk full body scrub and invigorating head massage finished up with a cup of energyinfused gemstone water. – Lucille Howe
AÏSHTI DOWNTOWN, AÏSHTI BY THE SEA, AÏZONE ABC ACHRAFIEH AND DBAYEH 01 99 11 11
ON TRAVEL What is the ultimate travel fantasy? One British company thinks it knows the answer says A Mag editor Ramsay Short
travel, the hotels and destinations, for the ultimate trip focus on the software – the outcomes or change that you want to achieve through travel. A journey where you don’t know where you’re going is about as exciting as it gets – especially when you know it’s exactly tailored to your wants and needs. Because it’s not about the where, it’s about what you like doing – then an unknown journey will bring incredible rewards.
Imagine your passion is photography, and then being whisked off to join a wellknown street photographer in the slums of Bangkok, for example. Or you have a deep love of food and suddenly you find yourself in the South African bush preparing meals with rangers or a township with local cooks. Or it’s physical challenges that leave you invigorated and you end up exploring the depths of the Mariana Trench, the summit of Everest and even outer space aboard the Virgin Galactic.
But what about the ultimate trip, the ultimate fantasy travel experience? Might it just be a journey with no destination, a trip where you don’t know where you’re going, because what’s important is not where you are but how you feel? London-based luxury travel company Brown & Hudson certainly believes so.
They will create a trip based on your motivations and ambitions, your strengths and personal development goals, and how you want to feel on your return, gleaned from ongoing conversations with you. A trip full of insightful, memorable and rare experiences focused on what makes you tick. They’ll find out what you’re seeking from travel, what motivates you, where you’ve already been, how daring and intrepid you are and plan it all. The rest will be a surprise. It’s a novel idea and one that makes sense. Rather than focusing on the hardware of
Ramsay Short blogs on travel @hiketothemoon and hiketothemoon.com. To arrange your own unknown ultimate holiday visit brownandhudson.com
Paul McGee/ Getty Images
For the regular, or rather, the knowledgeable traveller – as I touched on in my last column – the best trips, the best holidays are all about the experience and I don’t mean sitting by the pool in a 5 star resort.
It’s a beautiful concept – because perhaps what truly makes an unknown journey the ultimate fantasy trip is the chance to gain new perspectives on life and take opportunities for reflection that upon your return, give you a refreshed appreciation for (in the case of Beirut certainly), the complex place you call home.
Where We’re Staying PALMA
Belmond La Residencia belmond.com/la-residencia-mallorca
If you’re looking for fantasy and iconic luxury in one perfect space then La Res (in short), set into the lush hillside artists village of Deià just an hour from Palma is the boutique hotel for you. The Mallorca base of choice for celebrity types, you can’t get much more boho lux than this with its twin manor houses and awardwinning spa laid out between cobbled paths and courtyards and among beautiful swimming pools and a stunningly crafted sculpture garden. Staying here is dreamy – the well-trained staff treat you like statesmen but know when to leave you alone. The rooms are immaculate with huge beds, wooden beams and plenty of space. There are four restaurants, as well as hiking and donkey treks available in the nearby hills, Vespa tours over Mallorcan roads, boat trips and art, ceramics, tennis and other classes in the hotel itself. The food and drink is so well known that locals and other travellers come regularly to sip cocktails and eat alongside La Res’s guests while taking advantage of the simply magnificent sea views. We’re sold. – Felix El Hage
Le Méridien Etoile 282
comohotels.com Although there are countless exceptional hotels in London and a whole cluster in this coveted location of Mayfair just off Park Lane with magnificent views of Hyde Park, it’s hard to find one that’s as relaxed, welcoming yet non-intrusive as the Como Metropolitan. Just entering the small light-filled lobby brings a feeling of Zenlike calm. The rooms themselves are large and spacious, all pale yellows and whites, the furniture all walnut wood and delightful to touch. There’s a perfect high-end spa providing various wellness experts to massage the tension of any business trip from your muscles – opt for Reiki, acupuncture or just a deep tissue session. You can have them in the spa or in-room – much more tranquil. Room service is dreamy, but you’d expect as much from the hotel that houses the very first European Nobu restaurant in London. Which is damn good too, a must-not-miss. – Felix El Hage
lemeridienetoile.com It would be impossible to find a more Parisian hotel than the newly renovated Méridien Etoile – the chain’s 1972 flagship property simply lives and breathes the City of Lights. From the patterned, dark carpets in the suites reminiscent of an iconic Chanel jacket to the map wall covering highlighting the city’s trendy boulevards, the spirit of Paris is everywhere. All the rooms in fact are gorgeous, most with king-size beds and always adorned with beautiful photographs of the French capital’s signature buildings, and the finishing throughout is as sophisticated and crafted as you’d expect of Parisian luxury. It’s a glamorous destination and not just to sleep in – the famed 1975 Jazz Club Etoile where the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie played and drank has also been renovated and reopened. So you can rock into the club for some live music and fine cocktails, and stay long enough to invite the musicians for a sip or two at the end of the night, your room’s just minutes away after all. – Goufrane Mansour
Words by Ramsay Short
THE LAST PAGE WITH… SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK “Cinema is the ultimate pervert’s art – it doesn’t tell you what to desire, it tells you how to desire,” says celebrated philosopher, professor, cinephile and raconteur Slavoj Žižek. To celebrate the tenth year since the release of his groundbreaking documentary film with director Sophie Fiennes, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, about fantasy and desire on screen, A Mag had a word with Slavoj. We got his psychoanalytical view on three movies that best illuminate our most frustrated desires, from one of his (and our) favourite cineastes, David Lynch. Blue Velvet 1986 “The enigma of female desire clashing with the eclipse of paternal authority. Deep, thwarted desires made manifest.” Wild At Heart 1990 Willem Dafoe and Laura Dern in the “Say ‘Fuck me’” scene: deep female desire exemplified.”
Mulholland Drive 2002 Fantasy realised = nightmare, sustained always by violence. In this case, libidinal economy (“the only good woman is a dead woman”). To view The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema visit thepervertsguide.com
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A WAVE OF GRACE An exclusive ring with white and yellow diamonds surrounding a deep blue heart-shaped sapphire.
Downtown • Sassine • Aishti By The Sea | 01 981 555
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