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Raymond Seitz “There is a lakeside cottage deep in the forests of Finland where I go to write the Great American Novel. But it’s so serene that I have never put a single word on paper. And that’s the way it ought to be.” Raymond was the US Ambassador to Britain 1991-1994. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, he divides his time between New Hampshire and Helsinki.
Caroline Roux “Journeys that combine trains and water seem hard to beat – among them the Milan to Geneva express that skirts Lake Maggiore with its stunning sequence of views. I love to stop off at Arona for a delicious lunch at Il Grappolo.” Caroline lives in London and writes about art and design for the Financial Times and Vogue Italia. She is a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar.
Ari Seth Cohen “I love traveling for work because that way I get to meet the most amazing characters. As a street-style photographer I focus on really cool older people.” Ari is the author of Advanced Style, a book chronicling elegant seniors. A freelance writer, blogger and photographer, his work appears in Vogue Japan, The New York Times, Elle, Glamour and Grazia. He lives in New York City.
Allegra Donn “I think my favorite journey is to arrive in Venice by train – it’s always uplifting to be surrounded by such beauty and to know that just beyond these islands is the open sea. The first thing I always do is have an espresso in San Polo. I love these small luxuries.” Turinborn Allegra lives in London and writes for Vogue Italia, the Financial Times and Harper’s Bazaar.
Alex Majoli “For me, a journey should be a cocktail of experiences. It’s never just a case of transporting oneself from one point to another. But I these days I travel so much that just standing still has become a pleasureable experience.” Alex grew up in Italy and is president of Magnum Photo Agency. He lives with his wife and son between New York and Sicily.
Harry Mount “When I worked in New York, my journey home from work should have been a five-minute bike ride from SoHo to Greenwich Village. But instead I cycled for half an hour all round the southern tip of Manhattan. Where else could your commute become your favourite journey?” An author and journalist in London, Harry specialises in architecture, language and history.
Beyond, The St. Regis Magazine, Issue 01: Spring - Summer 2013 Editor in chief: James Collard / Editor: Jane Wright / Creative direction: Brave New World Publishing / Publisher: Crispin Jameson Design: Carolina Otero, Santiago Vargues / Fashion: Nadia Balame / Picture editor: Lyndsey Price Assistant picture editor: Emma Hammar / Sub-editor: Laura Ivill Published by Brave New World Publishing Ltd, 19 Beak Street, London W1F 9RP; T + 44 (0)20-7437 1384 Color reproduction by Wellcom London / Printed by Quad Graphics, Issn 2050-9081 Advertising: Represented by Cesana Media (cesanamedia.com) in New York, Milan, Paris, São Paulo and Zurich, and in London by Thorley Media (thorleymedia.com). © Copyright
2013 Brave New World Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior permission from the publishers. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain
Running Contents Head
M ESURE ET DÉMESURE *
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* EXACT AND EXULTANT
LES ATELIERS PARMIGIANI LONDON, MOSCOW, BEIJING, SHANGHAI LES STUDIOS PARMIGIANI DUBAI, PORTO CERVO, MUNICH, TIANJIN HONG KONG EMPEROR, ORIENTAL | SINGAPORE – BANGKOK – SYDNEY THE HOUR GLASS LUZERN GÜBELIN | PARIS ARIJE | LONDON HARRODS ROMA HAUSMANN & CO | MOSCOW RAFF HOUSE | FRANKFURT RÜSCHENBECK NEW YORK CELLINI | TORONTO BANDIERA JEWELLERS | MEXICO BERGER JOYEROS | BUENOS AIRES DANFER ABU DHABI MOHAMMED8RASOOL KHOORY & SONS
Cover: Thomas Giddings. Dana Point, California, home of St. Regis Monarch Beach
CONTENTS 15 The magnificent seven
45 Smart packing
— The World in Seven Objects —
— Accessories and Gadgets —
From Sir Paul McCartney’s first professional guitar to a wickedly sexy riding boot via a 350,000,000-year-old fossil, an extraordinary selection of objects each with a story to tell
Whether you’re doing business in Bangkok, hiking in Aspen, shmoozing in Bal Harbour or dressing down in Bora Bora, we’ve found you everything you need to look the part
30 The ascent of man
52 California dreaming
Passing through permafrost landscapes at altitudes of 13,000 feet, Raymond Seitz takes a trip on the highest railway line in the world. All aboard for the Beijing-Lhasa express
From a Pacific ocean breeze to a windless rocky desert, classic American simplicity is defined by a pared-down aesthetic of dazzling whites and barely there shades
41 Hidden treasures
62 King of neon
— The Journey —
— Fashion —
— A Little Place I Know —
— The Connoisseur —
Alain Ducasse on a classic American soda fountain; Iwona Blazwick on an astonishing optical illusion; Jason Wu on a 400-year-old herbalist; and Jancis Robinson on a famous old wine shop
Following in the footsteps of his father, London neon artist Chris Bracey describes his lifelong passion for collecting the retro signage of yesteryear, from carnivals to the city’s theaterland
72 . Tobias 2. The Art Monograph
Caroline Roux meets Romanian brothers Gert and Uwe Tobias – a big hit at Art Basel Miami Beach in December – whose twisted collaborative works draw on Transylvanian folklore. Above: Untitled 2012 by Gert and Uwe Tobias
64 The St. Regis Atlas
90 The Empire strikes back
Our international network of hotels and resorts, from Aspen to Abu Dhabi and London to Singapore, plus the Aficionado’s Guide to St. Regis, to help you make the most of your stay
Rome is reclaiming its position as the beating heart of Italian couture, thanks to AltaRoma, the ambitious talent-scouting project spearheaded by Silvia Fendi
66 New Jazz Age
98 Wings of desire
As Jazz at Lincoln Center blazes a trail in the Middle East at St. Regis Doha, we salute the old hands and the young blood bringing jazz to a new generation
Once a traditional livelihood for Bedouin hunters, falconry endures in the UAE as both a sport and a passion for wealthy enthusiasts. We go behind the scenes of a national obsession
78 My New York: Iris Apfel
104 All in the detail
She may have decorated the White House for nine presidents, but at 91 this much-loved style icon is designing jewellery and inspiring makeup collections. Ari Seth Cohen meets Mrs. A
Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin: the foremost car designers in the world reveal the sophisticated engineering and design technology that goes into custom interiors for luxury cars
80 Playground of the Gilded Age
108 Harry Benson
— The Revival —
— The Directory —
— Sport —
— Music —
— Cars —
— Interview —
— Backstory —
— A Life in Seven Journeys —
From the grand upstate lodges of Lake St. Regis to the glamorous city playground of America’s early aristocracy, Harry Mount discovers the story behind St. Regis New York
Eyewitness to some of the defining moments in 20th-century history, the 83-year-old Scots photographer recounts seven significant journeys in an extraordinary life and career
THE WORLD IN SEVEN OBJECTS Photography by Louisa Parry
EXTRAORDINARY, BEAUTIFUL OBJECTS TELL THE STORIES OF THEIR AGE, FROM THE CLOTHES WE WEAR TO THE FOOD WE EAT. HERE WE CURATE A ‘MAGNIFICENT SEVEN’ FROM AROUND THE WORLD. FEAST YOUR SENSES
The World in Seven Objects
The upcycled gem Vintage jewelery may feature stones of the highest quality, but it can easily look dated. Eliane Fattal, daughter of legendary arts patron Jill Ritblat, has found a stylish way to offer a second life to antique jewels from the archive of Bond Street London stalwarts S.J. Phillips. A photographer and art historian, Fattal was a long-term client of the jewelers, best known for keeping American Vogue editor Anna Wintour in statement necklaces. Stumbling across a vintage flower brooch, she persuaded the company to transform it into a contemporary cocktail ring, laying the groundwork for her exquisite Metamorphosis collection. Inspired by the grand dames of glamour, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Peggy Guggenheim, Fattal created 20 unique pieces that had the international jewelery trade in raptures. While Jonathan Norton, one of the fourth-generation brothers who run S.J. Phillips today, oversaw the technical side (Fattal has no formal jewelery training), she found innovative ways to reinterpret old pieces to suit the demands of modern womenâ€™s lifestyles. Many can be unscrewed and worn in several ways, from a rose-cut diamond star brooch, pictured, which morphs into the head of a large cocktail ring, to a diamond and emerald-striped scarab pin reborn as a surreal hair ornament. sjphillips.com
The World in Seven Objects
Luxury luggage In 1846, just as the double wedding of Isabella II of Spain and her sister was inspiring the fashion for custom-made leather luggage and accessories, German-born Enrique Loewe Roessberg found himself in the right place at the right time. With his love of Spanish culture, he quickly established a reputation for supplying the country’s aristocracy with everything from vanity cases to gun holders in super-soft pigskin and nappa leather. From there the company name became fixed in the national consciousness – Loewe is to Spain what Hermès is to France (and the brand’s turbulent history is recounted in the rather swish new Galería Loewe museum in Madrid). Like the newly resurgent Moynat, one of the original malletiers (trunkmakers), along with Louis Vuitton, Loewe’s forward-thinking creative director Stuart Vevers has cleverly repositioned the label to take advantage of a new golden age in luxury travel. Although the transatlantic steamliners have been replaced by the booming private-jet industry, the era’s accessories have proved much hardier: a robust set of vintage-look travel trunks, such as this multi-purpose set by Loewe in beige and brown contrast trim, remains the ultimate in fashionable, functional travel. And while Loewe remains wedded in the popular imagination to the iconic Amazona bag, the luxury lovers of today need something rather more capacious in which to store their many purchases made on global shopping trips by Lear jet. loewe.com
The World in Seven Objects
The cocoa bean To the ancient civilisations of the Maya and the Aztecs, it was a highly prized currency; now the humble cocoa bean is once again revered – as a quality ingredient in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants. From Jean-Paul Hévin, the French chef who successfully exported the chocolaterie concept to Japan, to The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller, creator of the molten chocolate tart, the world’s finest kitchens regard high-caliber chocolate with the same deference they would afford artisanal cheeses and fine wines. And adopting the vernacular of wine, when it comes to good chocolate these days the talk is of cru and terroir. And there is no one in the industry more dedicated to the nurturing of terroir right now than German conservationist Philipp Kauffmann, co-founder of the sustainable chocolate company Original Beans. The man with a passion for the world’s rainforests also has a hard head for business. Not only has he helped stimulate and support sustainable livelihoods from Peru to Africa, he has also created a premium organic product that has won the admiration of chefs. And for every bar of chocolate purchased, Original Beans plants a tree in the forest of its origin. The company also pays producers up to six times the Fair Trade rate, ensuring that the economic benefits are passed all the way back to source. The Original Beans Cru Virunga dark chocolate from the Congo, described as “zingy with ripe morello cherries steeped in cassis, smoky tobacco and forest-floor notes” is made from just three ingredients: organic cocoa beans, cocoa butter and organic cane sugar. What it becomes after that is up to the skill and imagination of the world’s finest chefs. originalbeans.com
The World in Seven Objects
Musical memorabilia When an Antoria six-string acoustic guitar played by Sir Paul McCartney in his early band The Quarry Men made $70,000 at Bonhams recently, no one batted an eyelid. Because alongside Elvis and Michael Jackson, The Beatles are kings of the thriving musical and entertainment memorabilia market. This new era of collecting emerged when MGM Studios held a seminal auction in 1970 to clear their lots: a pair of ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz fetched $15,000. By the 1980s, with the market spiraling, another pair of slippers from the film sold for $165,000. Financial woes usher many items to the auctioneer’s block: John Lennon donated his psychedelic Rolls Royce Phantom V to New York’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum to help settle an IRS dispute. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s after his death for $2.29 million. And death can be the ultimate fiscal stimulus: the late Elizabeth Taylor made history in 2011 when the Christie’s sale of her jewels fetched $116 million. Much of that went to her Aids Foundation, in keeping with the humanitarian drive of many auctions by fellow stars such as Barbra Streisand. Auctions of Michael Jackson’s stage outfits, meanwhile, continue to generate money for his debt-laden estate – Lady Gaga snapped up 55 such lots at the Hollywood auctioneers Julien’s recently. Gaga knows that celebrity today means having a slice of your idol now: the Fame Monster star recently autographed a urinal that sold for $460,000 on eBay. bonhams.com; juliensauctions.com
The World in Seven Objects
The riding boot Forget the Year of the Snake, in fashion terms, the horse continues to dictate the stakes in 2013. The paradigm of English country style, the equestrian look – jodhpurs, redingotes (riding coats) and knee-length leather boots – was originally tailormade for the needs of the hunting set, with sleek lines deployed for comfort and to avoid spooking the horse. Its adoption by the landed gentry was established in the early 1800s, and the look has rarely fallen out of favour since. These days, think style icon Kate Moss sporting practical Hunter Wellingtons or the US rapper André “3000” Benjamin lording it up in vintage riding boots and jodhpurs in what he terms his “rebel gentleman” look. Last year the aristocratic pursuit truly conquered the wider realm, with the global success of the stage and film versions of War Horse and the enthusiastic following of dressage at the London 2012 Olympics (Hermès designed a classic tricolore kit for the French team). Luxe label Gucci began life as a saddlery shop in Florence in 1906; from its trademark gold snaffle insignia to its red-and-green striped branding, its iconography is drawn from riding. Its creative director Frida Giannini is a keen horsewoman, and recently designed a glamorous showjumping ensemble for Charlotte Casiraghi, daughter of Princess Caroline. The brand may have sexed up in the 1990s, but in today’s more sober climate it has cannily returned to its roots. Step forward the Victoria riding boot, with adjustable bridle strap detail, a rather beautiful kind of reverse anthropomorphism. Although the Gucci vamp hasn’t been forgotten, it seems that she has turned to outdoor pursuits. gucci.com
The World in Seven Objects
The fossil as art Natural masterpieces created by the patient hand of time, fossils are the world’s oldest antiques, with even the youngest claiming a 10,000-year pedigree. While fossil collecting, the precursor of modern paleontology, remains a popular scientific endeavor, the parallel trade in one-off statement pieces is gathering pace, as these exquisite natural objects catch the eye of fine-art collectors. Dale Rogers, the intrepid fortysomething behind Dale Rogers Ammonite, has spent his life hunting down rare specimens, such as the 195-million-year-old fossilized crocodile ($456,000) on his website. Such finds are becoming increasingly scarce: the closure of many mines and quarries in former hunting grounds, such as Chile, and a pronounced illegal trade make fossil-hunting a difficult quest. The “Indiana Jones” of the fossil world, Rogers regularly visits countries such as Morocco, Madagascar and the US and has braved everything from Afghan warlords to the frozen wastes of Siberia. The company offers a wide range of geological wonders, from the astonishing Atlas Medusa, a 1.75-ton amalgamation of 25 species of ammonite from the Cretaceous period, to pieces of 4,000-year-old meteorite from Argentina. It all began rather humbly with a London market stall, but 25 years of incisive deals and the odd collaboration with designers such as Candy & Candy have earned Rogers a reputation around the world that is bolstered by exhibitions in the U.S., U.K., Dubai and Japan. Pieces similar to this Madagascan ammonite come in at around $1,000 – not bad for a 180-million-year-old slice of history. dalerogersammonite.com
The World in Seven Objects
Bloody Mary courtesy of The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel
The St. Regis Bloody Mary Conventional wisdom has it that hard-won cocktail recipes must remain secret, each bar jealously guarding the process of alcoholic alchemy that turns base ingredients into liquid gold. But at The St. Regis New York, whose signature cocktail the Bloody Mary (named for a vengeful 16thcentury Catholic English queen or a Chicago waitress called Mary who worked at a bar called The Bucket of Blood – you decide), is not only one of the most famous cocktail recipes in the world, but also has other versions, one for each St. Regis hotel around the world, reflecting the distinct characteristics of each destination through local ingredients. The drink was created in 1934 by Frenchman Fernand Petiot, head bartender at The St. Regis New York’s famous King Cole Bar. A concoction of vodka, tomato juice, celery salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, it was an instant hit. Its original name was deemed a little too racy for some tastes and the cocktail was renamed the Red Snapper, a moniker that hasn’t withstood the test of time, although order a Bloody Mary at The St. Regis New York today and a classic Red Snapper is what will you will get. A Pepper Snapper is a combination of fruity gin, fresh lemon juice, Flor de Sal crystal sea salt and a garnish of pimientos padrón; in Osaka order a Shogun Mary and prepare your palate for a sharp kick of wasabi and soy sauce; on the island of Mauritius, La Belle Creole Mary comprises a racy little combo of plantation rum and aloe vera juice; and in Shenzhen, your Yan Mary comes with a side order of fresh oyster. With 31 different incarnations, The St. Regis Bloody Mary is a trip around the world without leaving the comfort of your bar stool. stregis.com/bloodymary
THE ASCENT OF MAN Words by Raymond Seitz Photography by Stefano De Luigi
BOOKENDED BY TWO ST. REGIS HOTELS, THE 1,200 MILE QINGHAI-TIBET RAILWAY BEGINS AMID THE CULTURAL RICHES OF BEIJING, WINDING THROUGH DAZZLING PERMAFROST LANDSCAPES TO END IN THE CLOUDS OF THE HIMALAYAS. JOIN BEYOND ON A JOURNEY ACROSS THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
ou can’t mistake the Beijing West Railway Station. A massive, plain-face building broken in the center by a cavernous archway, it is one of the capital’s throbbing transportation hubs. Colorful little pagodas are perched on the roof, and the effect is a kind of hybrid of the Pentagon crossed with Disneyland. But the station handles a quarter-million passengers every day, and on Chinese holidays, when half the country seems to be on the move, it can manage twice that number. Even at nine o’clock on this weekday evening in spring, the place is teeming with travelers. Passengers for Urumqi are shunted into one
sake of privacy as well as space to store my gear for this three-day trip. Beneath the large window is a small, fixed table. An arrangement of dusty artificial flowers sits on top. There is a tiny reading light at the head-end of each bunk and a television screen set into the wall at the foot-end. The Chinese are putting a lot of effort into their long-haul passenger service and a pair of hotel slippers is tucked into each bed. I’m impressed, and I feel pretty well off. Spot on time, the engine pulling 18 cars glides out of the station. A forest of lighted apartment towers passes by on either side of the track and I see that some of the narrow alley markets are still doing business at this
The journey begins Above: Each day trains leave Beijing Western Railway Station for Lhasa, along the highest railway line in the world. Previous page: A magnificent panoramic view from the compartment window
huge waiting hall and passengers for Kunming into another. Those bound for Tibet jostle into Hall 5, standing room only. In the crowd, I’m reassured to spot two Buddhist monks in saffron robes, and I figure that they must know where they’re going, at least in a temporal sense. When the departure is announced, the gates open and the crowd cascades down a stairway to the platform below. There is the usual last-minute mayhem of passengers finding their places. Almost all the travelers are Han Chinese with a sprinkling of Tibetans and a half-dozen Westerners. Everyone carries suitcases, backpacks, plastic bags and roped-up bundles. I find my sleeper car and my compartment: two berths below and two above with a narrow passage between. Shrewd beyond my years, I have purchased all four places, an indulgence for the
late hour. But then, suddenly, as if a curtain were lowered on these urban scenes, we are in the countryside and the Chinese night closes in around us. The rhythmic click of the rails and the sway of the car become a lullaby. The Beijing government has invested vast sums of money in its national infrastructure and the rail network is a prime beneficiary. There are already more than 56,000 miles of track, but the plan is to lay half as much again by the year 2020 at a cost of some $675 billion, and highspeed trains (200 miles per hour) have been introduced on several sections. Even more ambitious, the Chinese have imagined a high-speed train eventually hurtling from Beijing all the way to London in four days. For the Chinese, the purpose of all this investment in rail is partly political: to strap together a far-flung and disparate country which has 30
The Ascent of Man always been susceptible to centrifugal forces. It’s also economic: the rich mineral and coal deposits of western China can be efficiently funneled eastward by rail to the industrialized regions of the of the coastal hinterland. And with passenger traffic generously subsidized, the entire network represents a colossal national expenditure. Developing the Chinese railroad system has been a daunting undertaking. When the Americans and Russians constructed their great rail systems, the respective landscapes only occasionally presented serious obstacles. But more than half of China’s surface is rugged and mountainous. In this twisted terrain, every mile of track is a challenge.
reach Baoji, however, the broad, well-ordered plain suddenly seems to collapse into a jumble of crumpled earth, and the valley narrows. On either side now stand bare sandstone mountains with sharp ridges, like a dinosaur’s backbone and flanks, gouged and jagged from eons of wind and rain. Here, rice is still grown, but cultivated in helter-skelter paddies, some carved into narrow terraces leaving others to cling to the steep hillsides. From the 21st century we seem to have slipped into the 18th. Villages are a collection of mud walls, small courtyards and tile roofs. The primary source of power is the ox. The train switches back and forth
Passing the hours Above: A Tibetan Buddhist monk bound for Lhasa reads his scriptures. Overleaf: Sheep and cattle struggle to find grazing as the landscape turns to snow and ice
We arrive in Xi’an with the dawn. Passengers disembark. Others board, and we’re on our way again. The track here swings north west to skirt the forbidding mountain ranges lying directly west. We follow the course of the Wei River, the broad, shallow, muddy stream that cuts through the dusty loess of the central highlands and eventually becomes the Yellow River. We are in the real heart of the nation, for it is from this region, Shaanxi Province, that the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, emerged and unified the country in 221 B.C., but who is best known for his extraordinary Terracotta Army of soldiers that escorted him into the next life. The lower course of the Wei is fertile on both alluvial banks. Green fields of rice and millet roll out to the distant foothills. By the time we
across the tumbling river, and in and out of innumerable tunnels. And we are climbing. In the outskirts of Lanzhou, the public address system in the compartment jumps to life. After a long announcement in Chinese, a recorded translation in English is played. Passengers are informed that Lanzhou is a thriving city and “a friendly stopping point connecting on the way to Africa.” But there aren’t too many travelers on the train who look as if they’re bound for Kampala or Bamako, and Lanzhou, through the window, seems like yet another of China’s nondescript, colorless, over-built cities. At the station, more passengers get off than get on, and I notice a telling attrition rate as the train heads for the remote, highplateau country and the gateway to Tibet. 31
The Journey I have brought along abundant supplies of nutrients: bags of dried fruit, bars of dark chocolate and a treasured jar of peanut butter. But on the second evening, I decide to see if I can get a place in the normally crowded dining car. To my surprise, I find the car empty and I don’t know whether that’s a good sign or a bad one. I order “eggs with edible fungus”. Inedible fungus is probably cheaper, but the fare is tasty, and the bill, including an excellent Chinese beer, comes to $4. Shortly after returning to the compartment, there is a knock at the door. The attendant hands me a long coil of plastic tubing, and with gestures he indicates it’s for the oxygen outlet above my berth. The
is slowly pulling up the incline from the southern edge of the great Qaidam Basin, and at full light we arrive at Golmud Station. The 700-mile stretch of track from Golmud to Lhasa is the engineering jewel in China’s iron crown of railroads. For years, a line across the Tibetan Plateau was deemed physically impossible and economically unjustifiable. Eighty per cent of this route is higher than 12,000 feet and the surface is mainly unstable permafrost. But, against the odds, the Chinese authorities launched the project in 2001, and after five years of toil, the highest railway line in the world opened for service at an estimated cost of $3 billion.
A colorful history Above: Two girls dressed in the rich hues of traditional Tibetan costume. Previous page: Pilgrims prostrate themselves in front of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet
straight end of the tube plugs into the socket and the splayed end into your nostrils. But I have already decided to forego the convenience of the oxygen supply unless absolutely necessary. After all, the prospect of gazing at the wonders of Tibetan scenery with a long string of plastic sticking out of my nose might undermine the romance of the journey. Later, after settling in again, I peer through the window at the mountain shadows of the lengthening twilight. With the clickety-clack of the train, the effect is mesmerizing. On the third morning, I wake early. The compartment is cold. I peek through the curtains and see a gibbous moon illuminating the landscape. Clouds hang low over the dark, barren and deserted countryside of Qinghai Province, and a distant lake shimmers in the moonglow. The train
In addition to the delicate laying of track, the line crosses 675 bridges and runs through the world’s highest tunnel, the 12,000ft-long Fenghuoshan (“Wind Volcano”) Tunnel. Even then, the maintenance of heaving track and shifting pylons plagued the line’s first years, although the authorities now assert that the problems have been resolved and the route is perfectly safe. The train creeps out of Golmud and begins the gradual climb to the roof of the world. At the outset, we chug through a grey, gritty landscape that is almost lunar. Once on to the high, undulating plateau, however, a green hue of sparse grassland washes over the countryside, which contains small ponds and depressions streaked with white salt deposits. The peaks of the Tanggula Mountains to the east snag puffs of 36
The Ascent of Man Buddhist religious monuments – stupas – on the hillsides and the colorful prayer flags which festoon this intensely religious country. Every peak, point and promontory seems to possess a spiritual significance. The train crosses numerous streams and rivers; Tibet is the fountainhead of Asia and the source of the Brahmaputra, Yangtse, Indus, Ganges, Yellow, Mekong and Salween Rivers. In the villages of Lhasa’s hinterland the houses of brick or stone are unexpectedly substantial. Doors are decorated with strapwork and little ruffled aprons flutter above the windows. Each corner is surmounted by a castle-like turret with a prayer flag on top, and each flat roofline is
cotton clouds, and there is snow in the Bayan Har range to the west. The train passes several antelope, and near a bend in the track I spot my first shaggy yak standing insouciantly on the crest of a ridge. Hugging the shoulder of a hillside, we cross the Tanggula Pass at 16,640 feet and then start the long, gradual descent to Lhasa. There are many good reasons to take the train to Tibet, but three stand out. First, a train is still the best way to travel in a foreign land. On this trip, you pass through postcard after postcard of stunning scenery, which pile up in your memory. Second, and more practically, the slow ride up to the highlands of Tibet gives your body a chance to adjust by
All Photographs by Stefano De Luigi/ VII
Window on the world Above: Tibetan prayer flags snap in the wind on a hill above the Ganden Monastery, north east of Lhasa. A common sight in Tibet, they are used to bless the surrounding countryside
broken by a big, beehive-shaped incense burner. In the swept courtyards there are stacks of dried yak dung for winter fuel. With one final effort, our weary locomotive pulls the train across the Kyichu River and the track then swings into Lhasa. Rising above the city like a red-and-white mountain is the magnificent, monumental Potola Palace, the 1,000-room residence of the long-exiled Dalai Lama. The train stops. A Tibetan guide meets me outside the new station and drapes a white khada around my neck in greeting. I have been delivered to the top of the world.
degrees to the altitude. This is a serious consideration, for mountain sickness can quickly lay you low and ruin your adventure. And, third, this is Tibet, and traveling there by train allows you to fix the place in the map of your mind. The mystery and magic of this remote land on the roof of the world deserves a gradual approach, a long, anticipatory overture before the curtain rises. One doesn’t simply drop in on Shangri-La. We roll down the long incline toward Lhasa. The valley narrows as the train picks its way through the snowy Nyainqentanglha Mountains. Near Damxung we pass our first glacier, a field of white glass squeezed between two peaks. Below 14,000 feet, the scattered tents of nomadic shepherds sprout up like big flowers, and herds of domesticated yaks graze in the permafrost. And now we begin to see isolated
Raymond Seitz was the US ambassador to Great Britain, 1991-1994 Where to stay: The St. Regis Beijing; The St. Regis Lhasa Resort 37
R O G U E . L I B E R T I N E . C O N N O I S S E U R . A G E N T L E M A N O F T O D AY.
W W W. R A K E S T Y L E .C O M
A Little Place I Know
A Little Place I Know
Berry Bros. & Rudd, London Jancis Robinson Wine writer, London
I first discovered this lovely old wood-panelled wine shop in the 1970s, when I started to write about wine. Berry Bros. had been there for a very long time by then. It was founded as a coffee shop at the end of the 17th century, and they still have the scales that were used to weigh the coffee – and the clientele. Lord Byron, William Pitt and the Aga Khan were all weighed here, and regular customers can do the same to this day. The place is an extraordinary slice of history. It has uneven floorboards, high wooden desks (with PCs hidden within), a warren of rooms to the side and wine-filled cellars below. In the 1930s, Charles Walter Berry (the place is still owned and run by Berrys and Rudds) took what was then considered the extraordinarily adventurous step of touring the wine regions of France. Before that, English wine merchants stayed at home and required their vast imports of wine to come to them. These days, the chairman, Simon Berry, has cleverly retained the historic aura of Berry Bros. while pioneering all sorts of 21st-century initiatives, such as online retailing and a Hong Kong operation. The historic cellars are now hired out as event spaces and do duty as a wine school. They also hold a lot of tastings, so I’m there at least four times a year. I have many fond memories of meals eaten there, but probably my favourite is of a dinner held in aid of Wine Relief, at which one half of a couple bid £20,000 for a prize lot – without the agreement of the other half! If Berry Bros and Rudd were to close, I’d think that life as we know it had ceased.
Santa Maria Novella, Florence Jason Wu Fashion designer, New York
Florence is a great city for walking, which is how I came across the Officina Profuma-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (to give it its full Italian name). This exquisite old apothecary celebrated its 400th birthday last year, but has been in existence since 1221, when Dominican friars from the nearby church grew herbs for medicinal purposes. Whenever I walk into this cool, dignified building, I always feel as if I am stepping into a church, with its vaulted ceilings, arched entrances, tiled floors and tall, elegant proportions. It’s like going back in time, with all the bottles, glass-fronted cabinets and neatly attired staff. What I love most about it – aside from its palatial interiors – are the beautiful scented products. Everything is handmade, from soaps and creams to the famous colognes and fragrances. Lily of the valley, rose, violet, jasmine, honeysuckle and iris are just a few of the scents that fill the air. “The Water of the Queen” was created here for Catherine de’ Medici in the 1500s, a combination of citrus and bergamot, and is still Santa Maria Novella’s signature scent today. The apothecary is presided over by a very elegant Italian gentleman called Eugenio Alphandery, who keeps one foot in the past with his dedication to old-world traditions while keeping his eye on the future of the brand. But everything is organic and made by artisanal methods and I love it that many of the ingredients are grown locally in the hills around Florence. The packaging is really gorgeous, too. Santa Maria Novella is a feast for the senses, its old-fashioned ways a welcome respite from the craziness of the 21st-century world outside its doors.
Jancis Robinson’s latest book Wine Grapes is published by Allen Lane, £120. jancisrobinson.com Where to stay: The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel
Jason Wu is a St. Regis Connoisseur. His Grand Tourista Bag, crafted for a new generation of global traveler, was inspired by the hotel brand’s perspective on today’s grand tour. stregis.com/boutique Where to stay: The St. Regis Florence
A Little Place I Know
Palazzo Spada, Rome Iwona Blazwick Director of the Whitechapel Gallery, London
The combination of the greatest architectural monuments in the world – the Pantheon, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s – fantastic weather, close friends and a burgeoning contemporary art scene make Rome a perennial destination. But I also love its hidden quirks and secrets, and one of my favorite places is Palazzo Spada on Piazza Capo di Ferro. I love the fact that the arcade is both a serious architectural composition and an optical illusion – the Baroque artists were brilliant at playing with perspective. My parents were architects and I almost studied it, so this is a perfect combination of architecture and the art of trompe l’oeil. The artist Cesare Pietroiusti first revealed this marvel to me. It was a cardinal, a mathematician and a sculptor who joined forces in 1632 to create this astonishing optical illusion in the heart of the city. The 16th-century palazzo was bought by Cardinal Spada, who commissioned the starchitect of his day, Francesco Borromini, to add a Baroque flourish. Borromini built a 40-metre colonnade which looks down on to an elegant marble statue. If you look along this beautiful arcade, you will see the spectacle of live cougars leaping across its colonnaded perspective. The shocking truth is, however, that it is only meters long and the statue a miniature 60cm high. The mountain lions are just stray cats made to look hair-raisingly enormous by the false perspective plotted with the help of a mathematician. Add to this the Palazzo Spada Collection, which includes Andrea del Sarto, Brueghel, Caravaggio, Dürer, Rubens and Titian, plus Artemisia Gentileschi, the sole woman artist to gain recognition from the Baroque period – and you have a very special place indeed.
The Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, New York Alain Ducasse Three Michelin-star chef, New York
I just adore this place, which locals affectionately call “The Farm”. It was my co-author, Alex Vallis, who first introduced me to the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, and I was touched by the old-fashioned styling, which retains the original pharmaceutical cases and penny-tile floor. And it’s good to know that this delightful Brooklyn enterprise has helped revive interest in the great American soda fountains that existed in big cities and small towns from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Like those wonderful places, this modern-day version offers sweet, homemade soft drinks and the staple – chocolate egg cream. I’ll never forget the first time I tried this dangerously addictive dessert-drink made from chocolate syrup, soda water and cream. The cool, fizzy, chocolate concoction evokes dreams of a mythical golden age in New York. And, trust me, you will always find room for the egg cream. I truly believe that co-owners and siblings Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman, whose father was a shopkeeper in Greenwich Village for 30 years, have preserved a piece of culinary history. The Farmacy has become part of the fabric – some might say the heart – of this quaint Carroll Gardens neighborhood, and it wouldn’t be the same without it. The shop is lined with shelves of local artisanal foods, helping to sustain and promote the neighborhood – I like that. Every chance I get when I’m in New York, I come to recharge my batteries. It’s about simple pleasures, with a generous helping of nostalgia. Kids from one to 92 will find something in this place; that which is authentic never goes out of style.
Illustrations: Jacobo Pérez-Enciso
Where to stay: The St. Regis Rome
J’aime New York, by Alain Ducasse and Alex Vallis, is published by Alain Ducasse Editions, $100. Where to stay: The St. Regis New York 40
CALIFORNIA DREAMING Photography by Thomas Giddings Styling by Tracey Nicholson
A STONEâ€™S THROW FROM THE ST. REGIS MONARCH BEACH, THE DRAMATIC BEAUTY OF DANA POINT IS THE PERFECT COUNTERPOINT TO THE SIMPLICITY OF CLASSIC AMERICAN STYLE, A PARED-DOWN AESTHETIC OF SUBTLE SHADES, BRILLIANT WHITES AND ELEGANT SILHOUETTES
Right page: White crepe dress, $1,670, Dsquared2
Previous page: Halterneck dress, $5831, Donna Karan This page: Coat, $345, Topshop Unique; Check dress, $937,Daks Opposite page: One shoulder top, $63, Topshop Unique
Previous page: One-piece swimsuit, $780, Herve Leger Opposite page: Jacket, $1198, Donna Karan; Top, $1103, Donna Karan; Flat front cotton trousers, $346, Nicole Farhi This page: Top, $1103, Donna Karan; Flat front cotton trousers, $346, Nicole Farhi
Creative Producer: Alyn Horton at Alyn UK Makeup: Sara Glick using Dior Beauty for The Magnet Agency. Hair: Jarrett Iovinella using Voce for The Magnet Agency. Casting: Piergiorgio Del Moro at Streeters. Model: Karo at Marilyn NY 59
THE ST. REGIS ATLAS THE ST. REGIS STORY, FROM MANHATTAN IN 1904 TO ABU DHABI IN 2013
1. The St. Regis New York 2. The St. Regis Beijing 3. The St. Regis Rome 4. The St. Regis Houston 5. The St. Regis Washington, D.C. 6. The St. Regis Aspen Resort 7. The St. Regis Monarch Beach
8. The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort 9. The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel 10. The St. Regis San Francisco 11. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort 12. The St. Regis Singapore 13. The St. Regis Bali Resort 14. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
15. The St. Regis Atlanta 16. The St. Regis Mexico City 17. The St. Regis Princeville Resort 18. The St. Regis Deer Valley 19. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico 20. The St. Regis Osaka 21. The St. Regis Lhasa Resort
24 20 21 29
31 25 22
22. The St. Regis Bangkok 29. The St. Regis Doha 23. The St. Regis Florence 30. The St. Regis Mauritius Resort 24. The St. Regis Tianjin 31. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi 25. The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort 26. The St. Regis Shenzhen 27. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi 28. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
COMING SOON IN 2014 32. The St. Regis Chengdu 33. The St. Regis Lijiang Resort 34. The St. Regis Kanai Resort, Riveria Maya 35. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur
The Connoisseur: Chris Bracey
KING OF NEON Words by Mark C. O’Flaherty Photography by Amelia Troubridge
“I’m known as the man who’ll buy any old letters.” Maximalist neon artist and collector Chris Bracey is a hoarder. His backyard in East London – christened “God’s Own Junk Yard” – is like Las Vegas’s Neon Boneyard in miniature: a four-decade jumble of industrial metal, discarded advertising signage, architectural salvage and, as he says, random letters that had been earmarked for recycling. His is a family trade – his father made neon signs, and Bracey has been beguiled by the art since he was a boy. The Londoner collects anything to do with old signs, and some of it he lovingly incorporates into new works of his own. “I might drag out an ‘L’ from a Planet Hollywood sign and an ‘O’ from the Trocadero and go on to spell out ‘LOVE’ on a backing board from an old First World War barracks,” he explains, describing the creative process. “I put it all together with old neon and bulbs, and then I fall in love with it. It’s carved from my heart.” Other pieces he collects for the pure love of this vintage craft, traveling the world to pick over old junkyards and secondhand shops. “I never throw anything away. I have loads of old signs my dad made for fairgrounds and circuses in the 1950s and 1960s, and then there are vintage American signs I found on road trips on Route 66,” he says. Discarded neon from circuses, carnivals, end-of-the-pier joints, London’s theaterland and Chinatown fill four warehouses across the city. Which has made Bracey the go-to guy as collector, artist and dealer when film companies want to recreate period sets for their productions. Batman’s Gotham City was propped with some of Bracey’s prized vintage signs, and Stanley Kubrick borrowed a few pieces and commissioned some new neon for Eyes Wide Shut. Vogue has shot fashion in his yard, and the artist Grayson Perry decorated a party with some neon that originally came from an old clip joint in London’s Soho. These days, his own neon and colored-bulb artworks are garnering him a reputation internationally, with high-profile collectors such as Lady Gaga, Elton John and Mark Zuckerberg buying his pieces. At an exhibition of his work last winter, he showed one piece made from a weathered old metal stepladder, its surface thick with paint and plaster marks. He’d attached the words “Stairway to Heaven” in cool white scripted neon on its steps. “I’ve had the ladder for years and years,” he says, “I knew it would be useful one day.”godsownjunkyard.co.uk 62
JAZZ AGE Words by Matt Phillips
DISCO’S LIGHTS MAY HAVE DIMMED AND ROCK MAY HAVE LOST ITS EDGE, BUT JAZZ STILL BURNS BRIGHTLY – AND NOWHERE MORE SO THAN NEW YORK CITY. AS JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER BLAZES A TRAIL IN THE MIDDLE EAST AT ST. REGIS DOHA, WE SALUTE THE OLD HANDS AND THE YOUNG BLOOD BRINGING JAZZ TO A NEW GENERATION
Breaking down barriers is what jazz is all about – music that lives and breathes collaboration and assimilation, both instrumentally and culturally. Aptly, the great melting-pot of New York City is jazz’s spiritual home – the center for swing in the 1920s, bebop in the 1940s, avant-garde in the 1960s and the loft scene of the 1970s that created world-famous venues such as The Cotton Club, Birdland and The Village Vanguard. Musical movements may come and go, but jazz continues to thrive in NYC as new generations discover, absorb and renew the genre. And central to this participation is Wynton Marsalis’s ground-breaking Jazz at Lincoln Center, part of the famous arts venue and a hub for jazz education and performance since 1987. In the spirit of the great jazz ambassadors of days gone by – Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and the recently departed Dave Brubeck – Jazz at the Lincoln Center has extended its reach to the Middle East and teamed up with The St. Regis Doha to open its first club outside New York – a partnership that flows naturally from The St. Regis New York’s longstanding connection with the genre, having hosted celebrated performances by the greats, including Count Basie, Buddy Rich and Tommy Dorsey, from the first Jazz Age up to the present day. Its spirit will be heard in upcoming performances from virtuoso trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who is the program’s director, and from pianist extraordinaire Ahmad Jamal, bass wunderkind Christian McBride, drummer Willie Jones III and new vocal talent Cécile McLorin Salvant. An astonishingly bright and nimble trumpet player, 51-year-old Marsalis has been thrilling jazz audiences since his appearances with legendary drummer Art Blakey at the age of just 19. A proud New Orleans native, Marsalis has been the jazz figurehead for his generation and the next. “Throughout its history, jazz has connected with different cultures, races, religions and generations,” he says. “This is an especially important time to communicate the sanctity of our collective human heritage. Jazz is a perfect tool to do this.” Marsalis, one of the key contributors to Ken Burns’s famous Jazz documentary series of 2001, is also a gifted and respected teacher, and in his role as artistic director of New York’s Lincoln Center he is passing on all he’s learned to the next generation of jazz greats. His recording career, now spanning 30 years, includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields and his legendary eponymous 1982 debut album featuring Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams. The St. Regis Doha may not seem the obvious setting for a jazz club, but walk through the wooden doors on the fourth floor and you could be in The Village Vanguard or Blue Note. The sightlines and acoustics are perfect. Marsalis approves: “I grew up in clubs – I know what clubs should be like, and this is beautiful. Our goal is to uplift everyone who hears us.” Where to stay: The St. Regis Doha; The St. Regis New York 64
Artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, Wynton Marsalis brings his talent, influence and associates to the new jazz club at The St. Regis Doha
Cécile McLorin Salvant Hailed as one of the most gifted jazz vocalists to emerge on the scene in recent years, 23-year-old Cécile McLorin Salvant was born and raised in Miami, Florida, by her Haitian father and French mother. She regularly wows audiences with her huge range, incredible control, advanced melodic sense and intriguing repertoire that draws on everything from Erik Satie to John Lennon. Critics have been comparing McLorin Salvant to Sarah Vaughan, Abbey Lincoln and Carmen McRae. In 2010, she won jazz’s most presigious award, the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, which recognizes the next generation of masters. She spent August 2012 recording her eponymous debut album for the thriving Mack Avenue label, and has been performing as Wynton Marsalis’s special guest with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Don’t miss one of jazz’s brightest young stars.
The New Jazz Age
Corbis. Max Reed (opposite)
Ahmad Jamal Jamal is a hugely innovative and influential pianist, one of the giants of post-war jazz. His sense of space and conception of rhythm was a significant influence on Miles Davis, and his trio is one of jazzâ€™s most enduring small groups. You can hear the whole history of the piano in his masterful, effortless playing, from Earl Hines and Erroll Garner through Keith Jarrett, right up to Brad Mehldau. A child prodigy, he was tipped for greatness at the age of 14 by the legendary Art Tatum. Jamal has been at the forefront of jazz piano for five decades, and recently released his studio album Blue Moon. Now, at the age of 82, Ahmad Jamal continues to thrill jazz audiences worldwide with his Zen-like solos, and is rightly considered one of the all-time greats.
Christian McBride McBride’s vitality, virtuosity and pure love of jazz have given the acoustic bass a new lease of life, and in doing so he has also joined the pantheon of greats alongside the likes of Milt Hinton, Ron Carter and his idol Ray Brown. Musicians joke that there’s nothing Christian McBride can’t play – he’s equally at home cranking up the jazz/rock with Chick Corea, burning with Sonny Rollins at Carnegie Hall or arranging and composing music for his own big band. Still only 40 years old, McBride has released ten acclaimed albums, including the Grammy winner The Good Feeling and Conversations with Christian, a joyous collection of duets with the likes of Sting, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hank Jones, Dr. Billy Taylor and George Duke. Don’t miss this chance to check out one of the young giants, and arguably the most important jazz bassist since Jaco Pastorius.
Ayano Hisa & Hanayo Takai. Anne Webber (opposite)
The New Jazz Age
Willie Jones III We’ve all heard the old saying: a band is only as good as its drummer. Taking his cue from past masters Philly Joe Jones, Billy Higgins and Art Blakey, Willie Jones III, born in LA in 1968, knows exactly how to drive a band with his inventive sense of swing, slick grooves, subtle dynamics and natural power. Utilizing a very small kit, Jones has always been in huge demand, performing with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver and Milt Jackson. He co-founded the innovative Black Note band in 1991, which regularly served as Wynton Marsalis’s opening act, and won the coveted John Coltrane Young Artist Competition in 1991. Initially inspired by his pianist father, and later studying under the legendary sticksman Albert “Tootie” Heath, Jones understands jazz music inside and out. Soloists adore his playing – he’s a drummer to silence drummer jokes forever.
Words by Caroline Roux
ROMANIAN TWINS GERT AND UWE TOBIAS ARE THE NEW SENSATION OF THE CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD. HAVING TAKEN ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH BY STORM, THEY ARE HEADED TO LONDON WHERE THEIR COLLABORATIVE WORKS OF DREAMLIKE FANTASY AND TWISTED FAIRYTALES WILL CAST THEIR SPELL YET FURTHER
ert and Uwe Tobias are no ordinary artists. Identical twins born in Romania 40 years ago, they work together to create vivid, large-scale woodcuts that are as haunting as they are alluring. Twisted faces, dismembered pieces of furniture, hearts, flowers, lizards, human eyes and staring owl heads are intermingled with old-fashioned typewriter lettering to create imagery that, while drawing from European Romanticism, Transylvanian folklore and even the geometry of the Bauhaus, invents a world all of its own – dense, dreamlike and undeniably beautiful. These days the twins – tall, athletic and with the sort of looks that wouldn’t be out of place on a Milanese catwalk – are based in a studio complex in Cologne. There, in a suite of Rationalist buildings, they have their studio, their homes, their parent’s home and a gym – they work out for at least an hour a day. They started collaborating in 2001, after years of trying hard not to. “We wouldn’t work together if there wasn’t a point,” says Uwe, the elder by five minutes. “But the trust we have as brothers to give and take criticism really enables our work to progress.” Gert concurs: “Creativity requires
friction and antagonism, and we both have loud voices,” he laughs, “but the building is still standing.” In recent years, the international art world has been increasingly taken by their work – a dramatic large-scale collage had pride of place in the booth of their New York gallery, Team, at Art Basel Miami Beach last December – and collectors are queuing up to buy pieces, among them Hilary Weston, the wife of Canadian billionaire Galen. (The Westons own the upmarket department stores Holt Renfrew in Canada and Selfridges in London, among other assets.) Since last year, Mrs. Weston has been collaborating with the Whitechapel Gallery in London’s East End to stage an annual art exhibition at Windsor, the exclusive residential community in Florida established by the Westons in 1989. And, in 2012, in conjunction with the Whitechapel, she decided to present new work by the Tobiases. And now an expanded version of the show comes to London in April. Gert & Uwe Tobias at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, April 16-June 14; Art Basel Miami Beach December 5-8 Where to stay: The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel The St. Regis Bal Habour Resort 70
Opposite page: Corbis
Untitled 2012 “The starting point for this piece is chinoiserie, and the composition is like that of a tapestry,” says Gert, who with his brother was inspired by exquisite 18th-century chinoiserie prints they discovered in Dresden’s Kupferstich-Kabinett – a museum specializing in prints and drawings. But while the imagery of tapestry is traditionally that of hearts, flowers and delightful woodland animals, in the artists’ hands darker elements, such as skulls and strange creatures, appear in their place. “The colour invites you into the picture,” Gert says. “Then we try to unsettle the decorative appeal by introducing the spikes and thorns.”
ays Gert, “
Untitled 2012 The Tobiases say that it’s simply a lucky coincidence, allied with their immense curiosity, that led them to work with print and woodcuts. “We have redefined woodblocks,” Uwe says. “In a traditional German woodcut you can see the artist’s hand, how he has carved the piece, as well as the grain of the wood. We use a cut-out form that then takes the ink.” In their carefully calibrated collages, the twins don’t aim to tell a story but to present a range of images that, they say, “the imagination of the beholder can work into their own narrative.” Images, such as the spindle on the right (above) are reminiscent of fairytales. The owl – all seeing and all knowing – is a favoured creature in their world.
Untitled 2012 There is a dark humor in the artists’ dislocated collages. Heads are often shaved into cone-shaped forms; legless chairs float across the canvas. “Humor is a means of analysis, rather than a joke,” Gert says. “It moves the work away from its origins in folklore and Romanticism, and breaks with tradition.” The twins work on pieces individually, but begin each new project with drawings that form the basis for discussion. “All decisions are shared,” Uwe says. “And the exciting thing is that the sum of our working together is so much bigger than the two parts. We’re not a cliché of symbiotic twins, though in terms of taste and interest, we have a lot of common ground.”
Untitled 2012 You won’t find many primary colors in the Tobias brothers’ work. Their palette is one of cloudy pastels and worn-away blacks. These color choices, as well as their love of collage, connects them art-historically with the Surrealists, as do the strangely composed creatures, floating faces and dismembered pieces of furniture that dance across their canvases. “There should be a moment of familiarity on initial contact, in that first moment when you look at a piece of work,” they say. The next stage, of course, is when the beholder realises that all is not as it seems. Photography, for example, brings a sense of reality, that’s quickly cancelled out by a bewildering array of disparate details.
All artworks © Gert and Uwe Tobias
Untitled 2012 The pair use the dainty letters of the traditional mechanical typewriter, like so many tiny cross-stitches, to punctuate their canvases and create silhouettes of animals or skulls, for example. “The typewriter letters present a set of limitations, but they come with a very particular atmosphere of their own,” Uwe says. “They’re visually pretty,” Gert continues, “and they have a historic quality. We are aware of our historicity.” Embroidery and needlework are recurring themes in their work: for the twins, they are a symbol of historic tradition as well as an evocation of the humble, emotional human quality of handicraft, and a reminder of their old life in Transylvania.
â€˜I am a cover girl in my dotageâ€™ Interview by Ari Seth Cohen
Iris Apfel: My New York
INTERIOR DESIGNER, FASHIONISTA, SOCIALITE AND STYLE ICON, IRIS APFEL, 91, EXPLAINS WHY HER HEART STILL BEATS TO THE RHYTHM OF NEW YORK CITY
Iris, you were born and raised in New York, right? I was raised in Astoria, Queens, and lived there until I married. My grandparents were settlers, actually, and caught the boat here from Long Island.
When you’re in New York these days, where do you like to go? We love to eat at La Grenouille – it’s very old-world, very elegant. People come well dressed, the floral arrangements are spectacular and the food is divine… and yet it’s very natural. Some of these new restaurants that are so la-dida are very pretentious.
What memories do you have of coming to the city as a child? Well, the city was the mecca. You would go there for shopping, or an event such as the Easter Parade – everybody in their spring finery, looking swell. In those days you wouldn’t see a person walking on Fifth Avenue without a hat and gloves. Today you’re lucky if they have shoes.
Where do you like to shop today in the city? I don’t shop very much. I don’t need to shop, I’ve got so much. But New York does have great discount stores, like Loehmann’s, and great sample sales.
I remember a story you told me about your first experience shopping alone in the city… Yes, I was 11 years old. It was Easter time and I needed a new outfit and bonnet, but my mother had no time to go shopping with me. So she gave me $25 to go into the city by myself. I went to S. Klein and found a dress that I just flipped over. All silk, poet sleeves, with a tie front, for only $12.95. I gave thanks to God and $12.95 to the cashier, and then went to A.S. Beck and got a smashing pair of shoes for $3.98. I had enough left for a nice little lunch and the bus home. My mother approved of my sense of style and my dad approved of my economical choices. My grandfather, who was a master tailor, was the only one who was not impressed.
What’s a highlight of your career? We did major work at the White House, through more than nine administrations. We did many historic restorations: the Renwick Gallery, Blair House, the Senate, the State Department, Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace and the Decatur House, among others.
Where were the memorable places that you lived in New York? After I got married I moved into the city. I haven’t moved around that much, but before living here, we had a great townhouse on 79th Street. What we had in charm we lacked in plumbing. Nothing worked, but it was fabulous.
What projects are you working on? I’ve done a line of sunglasses and readers for Eyebobs. I have a collection of purses called Extinctions, and a new line of shoes for HSN. I did a collection with MAC cosmetics and I’ve also been working on a perfume. I teach visiting students as a professor for the University of Texas, which keeps me very busy.
At 91, you have a whole new career as a spokeswoman, model, teacher and fashion icon… Oh, it’s hysterical – the other night I did a personal appearance at Bloomingdale’s for my new handbag collection, and people were lining up. I’m the same as I ever was but all of a sudden I’m cool. It’s almost embarrassing. My husband and I think it’s very funny, but I also think it’s very sweet. I’m touched that at this stage of my life I’m having so much fun.
In what decade or era would you say New York was at its most elegant? The late 1940s or 1950s, before the youth revolution. It was glamour; glamour doesn’t exist any more. People like glamour – especially men. I think men are more romantic than women, anyway.
How did you feel when MAC approached you? I thought it would be fun. When I do these things I really put work into it, choosing the colors and textures. I don’t just put my name on it. And a bonus is that I’ve met some very nice people from it.
Did you have any favorite spots in the city during that era? Oh, there was fabulous nightlife, glamorous clubs like the Copacabana – where, if you were lucky, you could sit ringside and touch Frank Sinatra. Great jazz clubs, restaurants… Henri Soulé ran an extraordinary French restaurant called Le Pavillon. They all had dress codes – you couldn’t go in looking like a slob. It was nice to have people looking elegant. They always had a coat and tie rack for men who came in without them, and nothing would fit, so they’d sit there looking like the village idiot or a grade-school dunce. There was also Ben Marden’s Riviera in New Jersey. Everyone used to go. Lucille Ball was in the chorus. People also entertained at their homes beautifully. Guests came dressed to the nines. There was an article of clothing called the “hostess gown,” which you don’t see any more.
Do you feel that you have helped in some way to alter the perception of ageing in popular culture? I hope so; I think so. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’ve become so popular, because I’m so old. I’m a cover girl in my dotage, a geriatric starlet. The world’s oldest living teenager. What do you love about being in New York? There’s no place in the world like New York. If you can’t find it in New York, it doesn’t exist. It’s the heartbeat of the world. What advice do you have for someone visiting New York? You have to be like a sponge and soak it all up. It’s a walking city with some of the best museums and shops, with everything you might want to buy, whether you need it or not. Every kind of food you might want to taste is here. And it all exists in all price ranges. What’s the Sinatra song… if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.
Did you frequent any of New York’s great jazz clubs? El Morocco and the Stork Club. Fifty-Second Street was very important in the 1940s – the whole street, with one place next to another. I had a boyfriend who was mad for Billie Holiday so we used to go there all the time.
So, where do you want to retire? I don’t want to retire ever. I think retirement is a fate worse than death.
Do you have any fond memories of The St. Regis New York? It was always a very beautiful hotel, and we used to go to the King Cole Bar there. It was a place for people to meet.
The great outdoors Above: A birch-bark canoe on Upper Ausable Lake, c. 1885. Right: At Devil’s Oven, Ausable Charm, recreational bicyclists – one of whom (bottom left) is costumed as a frog – pose for a photograph, c. 1888
PLAYGROUND OF THE GILDED AGE Words by Harry Mount
George W. Baldwin
THE CALL OF THE WILD FIRST DREW NEW YORK’S HIGH SOCIETY FAR UPSTATE TO THE ADIRONDACKS IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY. ON LAKE ST. REGIS THEY CREATED AN ELEGANT WILDERNESS: LOG CABINS, LODGES AND VILLAS SO EXQUISITE THAT WHEN JOHN JACOB ASTOR IV WANTED A NAME FOR HIS NEW MANHATTAN HOTEL, HE CHOSE ST. REGIS
Playground of the Gilded Age
Playground of the Gilded Age
queezed between Vermont and Canada in the north-easternmost corner of Upper New York State lie the wild, remote Adirondack Mountains. At first sight it is an uninhabited wilderness; on closer inspection you will find, nestling by myriad lakes and folded into the hills, some of the most spectacular vacation homes ever seen in North America. These are the so-called “camps” and “lodges” built by the steel, oil and fur tycoons of the late 19th and early 20th century, among them the names of the great families who formed America’s first aristocracy. Except they were hardly “camps” in the true sense of the word, but rather luxurious feats of rustic architecture, which have been documented in Gladys Montgomery’s book An Elegant Wilderness, a fascinating history in sepia that celebrates an extraordinary period in American life when moneyed New York sought to reconnect with nature. Bluff Point, for example, on Raquette Lake, was home to Sara Stewart Van Alen, a descendant of the mighty Astor family. Although built in rural-backwoods style, within these vast log cabins there existed the height of urban luxury. Bluff Point had its own bowling alley, boat launch, clubhouse, a separate dining tent of gaily striped canvas and a network of covered walkways and bridges leading to an island gazebo. Playing at “country” by no means meant roughing it. Few of these gilded pleasure houses are still in private hands, but those days of high luxury with an Astor connection live on in the St. Regis Hotel on Fifth Avenue, a few blocks from Central Park – the city’s own patch of wilderness. A splendid Beaux-Arts hotel built by John Jacob Astor IV in 1904, its name was borrowed, at his niece’s suggestion, from Upper St. Regis Lake – an idyllic spot popular among the vacationing Astors and their wealthy circle. By the turn of the 20th century, the Adirondacks had become a playground for America’s aristocrats of the eastern seaboard. Easily accessible from the fleshpots of New York for a weekend round trip, this wilderness was where the Gatsbys of the Gilded Age acted out the plutocrat’s version of the simple life. With their luxury timber cabins and secluded lakeside villas, they fished, sailed, walked, shot deer, painted, played tennis and golf and acted in amateur dramatics. It all made for a country-club set in genuine wild country. And what a vast country club it was. The Adirondack Park, where most of the camps and lodges were to be found, is around six million acres – bigger than Yosemite, Glacier, Everglades and Yellowstone national parks combined, claiming more than a hundred peaks. Among the members of this wilderness club were the leading families of the day: the Roosevelts, Vanderbilts, Cabots, Guggenheims, Astors and others. The Astors were the most famous of all. Descendants of 18th-century German immigrants, they made their vast fortune out of fur trading. In a strange accident of fortune, many of the beavers that had died in the name of the Astor millions were, in fact, caught in the
Adirondacks. The Astors then turned to property speculation, earning the moniker “the landlords of New York”, lending their name to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the neighborhood of Astoria in Queens. (When John Jacob Astor IV went down with the RMS Titanic in 1912, he was the richest man aboard.) As the Astors and the other elite dynasties took up residence in their Adirondacks homes, they opted for a more rural-looking chic. The log cabins they slept in had a fine pedigree. Eight presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, had been born in log cabins, albeit more rugged ones than the superluxe Adirondacks versions that later came into vogue. At the 1876 Centennial Exposition of Arts and Manufacture in Philadelphia, the Swiss chalet had been a big hit. Soon afterwards, the Swiss chalet and log cabin became fashionable styles for homes in resorts, from the national parks of the west to the Adirondacks in the east. Architectural elements that had originally been purely pragmatic – porches, screens, natural materials, gables and bays – became musthaves for the new millionaires. Particularly fancy owners, such as the Connecticut governor Phineas C. Lounsbury at his Echo Point Villa on Raquette Lake, had the names of their villas picked out in twig work on their front porches. Distinguished architects, such as Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis, published sought-after designs for weekend retreats, from cozy cottages to rustic British country houses. Ultra-luxe campsites were built, too, imitating the layout of Civil War military camps, but without the tough lifestyle. The push towards the New York country weekend had been sparked by the 1869 publication of Adventures in the Adirondacks, by the Reverend William Henry Harrison Murray. Reverend Murray sang the praises of the free and open wilds to a new generation of tourists with enough time and money on their hands to explore the countryside on their doorstep. Already the Hudson River School of artists had enshrined the beauty of the land lying north of New York City, a few days’ journey up the Hudson River. In 1837, the founder of the school, Thomas Cole, visited Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. In the same year, the painter Charles C. Ingham accompanied the geologist Ebenezer Emmons on New York State’s first-ever natural-history survey, when he came up with the name Adirondack, taken from the Iroquois word for the Algonquin Indians. The Adirondacks became the hot destination for aspiring wilderness artists – among them the ladies of the Horicon Sketching Club, a group of well-heeled Manhattan women who canoed across the lakes to find the most picturesque vistas. They painted in broad bonnets and immaculate white cotton dresses, their packed lunches carried in wicker “Adirondack baskets” by robust guides. Then, in 1871, Dr. Thomas C. Durant of the Union Pacific Railroad completed the line to the Adirondacks – or “a Central Park for the world”, as the New York Times called it, now that it was so easily reachable
“Just as industrialization was roaring across the nation, ripping open the landscape for mining and despoiling it with mills and factories, Americans woke up to the romance of their disappearing countryside”
Grand holiday homes in the rustic style Left: Bull Point’s living room contained a huge fireplace, bohemian furnishings and lots of windows for light. Overleaf: Designed by Saranac Lake architect William L. Coulter in 1899, the Knollwood Club’s boathouse was one of the most beautiful in the Adirondacks, with log-fenced walkways connecting to a dock and a gazebo on the lake
Playground of the Gilded Age
from Manhattan. America’s first accessible wilderness was open for business – with perfect timing. Just as industrialization was roaring across the nation, ripping open the landscape for mining, despoiling it with mills, chimneys and factories, so Americans woke up to the romance of their disappearing countryside. The Adirondacks were under particular threat as they were progressively stripped for their timber. However, in 1894, the park was granted state constitutional protection, ensuring that the territory would be “forever wild”. The lodge and camp owners were determined to preserve their holiday retreats, setting up the Association for the Preservation of the Adirondacks in 1901. This new class of tycoons certainly had money to burn. In 1892, the New York Tribune published a list of 4,047 American millionaires, a large chunk of them in New York, their fortunes founded in steel, railways, oil and textiles. The story of these princes of the American Renaissance are the subject of a new NBC series, The Gilded Age, written by the creator of the British period drama Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes. The Gilded Age refers to the title of an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, who both vacationed in the Adirondacks. They, in turn, borrowed the expression from Shakespeare’s King John: “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily... Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”
The gazillionaires may have played up to the simple life, but their behavior was dictated by codes as strict as those that ruled their weekdays in the city. In her 1923 book on etiquette, Emily Post wrote a chapter on the Adirondacks house party: “Let no one think that this is a ‘simple’ (by that meaning either easy or inexpensive) form of entertainment. ‘Roughing it’ in the fashionable world (on the Atlantic coast) is rather suggestive of the dairymaid playing of Marie Antoinette; the ‘rough’ part being mostly ‘picturesque effect’ with little taste for actual discomfort.” For these brief spells in the country, the new rich pretended to defer to a new order where country skills outranked wealth and position. The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson lampooned the idea: “Look to yourselves, you polished gentlemen! No city airs or arts pass current here Your rank is all reversed; let men of cloth Bow to the stalwart churls in overalls; They are the doctors of the wilderness, And we the low-prized laymen.” Of course, this was all an illusion. The kings of Wall Street guarded their country retreats as jealously as they did their Fifth Avenue palazzi. At the entrance to Camp Uncas there was a forbidding sign saying: “Private Park. All trespassing hereon is hereby forbidden under penalty 84
At Putnam Camp, visitors strike a pose. Music and theatricals were a big part of camp life during the Gilded Age
Playground of the Gilded Age
Messing about in boats
Vanderbilt Webb and James Watson Webb out for a row on Lake Lila with dogs Ivy, Tuck and Coolio in 1902
of the law. J. Pierpoint Morgan. Owner.” Morgan was the banker and art collector behind J.P. Morgan bank and the Morgan Library in New York. But it wasn’t all log cabins for the deep-pocketed. Some wanted to live like their European counterparts in vast, stately homes. Grander cabins were fitted with stained-glass windows, antler chandeliers, Moroccan wall hangings, Gothic Revival roofs and Mock Tudor paneling. The Wild Air cabin on Upper St. Regis Lake, built in 1882 for Ella Spencer Reid, the niece of the publisher of the New York Tribune, had its own billiards room. At Bull Point Lodge on Upper Saranac Lake, the banker Otto Kahn had two billiard tables. At Litchfield Park, Edwin Litchfield built up one of the best-stocked hunting estates in America, wrapped around a château in the French regal style found at Fontainebleau and Chambord. Often, however, the urban incomers weren’t much good at the country sports they idolized. Between 1898 and 1900, three guides were shot dead by clueless weekenders who’d mistaken them for deer and bears. At Sagamore, the Vanderbilts holidayed in a “Swiss chalet” the size of a schloss, with its own separate, free-standing dining hall. They got there from New York in a private Pullman car, the Wayfarer, finishing the journey in carriages drawn by four horses. In the evening, the dinner menu was printed in badly written French. But they were hardly slumming it
with “huitres on the half shell, consommé Paelermo, Truite du Lac grillé m’d’hotel, Quartier de Venaison St. Hubert, and Poulets rotis, Salades Grape Fruit, Plum-Pudding and Patisserie.” They ate off silver and drank from glasses etched with the spruce logo of Sagamore. The lodges had to be vast, given the number of guests that these wealthy families often invited to stay. In the mid-1930s, the Garvans of Kamp Kill Kare invited the Yale and Harvard baseball teams for the weekend so that they could slug it out on the Garvans’ private diamond. They also had to accommodate an enormous staff. In 1903, at Knollwood on Lower Saranac Lake, the lawyer Louis Marshall employed 24 maids, chefs, grooms and butlers to maintain his simple “country cottage” lifestyle. At Camp Inman, the boathouse was outfitted with its own casino, while on Upper St. Regis Lake, the Vanderbilts commissioned a huge, floating teahouse, a Japanese pagoda with swooping roofs supported by ornate, painted pillars. Inside, even modest cabins were decorated with Eastern touches – Japanese fans and parasols and Cantonese china were popular. Some weekenders took to wearing Chinese peasant hats as they paddled Indian canoes across Raquette Lake. Taxidermy, too, was fashionable – stuffed water buffaloes, tigers, zebras, bears and bison populated the drawing rooms of the grander cabins. 85
Playground of the Gilded Age
Above: The Boathouse at Birch Landing, Stokes Camp, Upper St. Regis Lake, c. 1890. Left: Dr. Edward L. Trudeau Jr., Wenomah Wetmore, William Seward Webb Jr. and Frederica Vanderbilt Webb with a young stag, 1902
In the summer of 1926, President Calvin Coolidge stayed at White Pine on Osgood Pond, built in 1913 for half a million dollars for Archibald White, the president of Ohio’s Columbia Gas & Electric Company. Time magazine reported how the President awoke to the sight of a portrait of the Emperor Napoleon, and heard “the soft voice of luxury speaking through French tapestries, Oriental rugs, Italian paintings, a Japanese pagoda, an alpine rock garden, a billiard cabin, a bowling alley, a grand piano, a personal telephone exchange and private house-movies.” It was these levels of luxury, comfort and modern conveniences that John Jacob Astor IV determined to bring back to Manhattan for his new hotel. As the 20th century progressed, Astor’s fellow Adirondacks holidaymakers also headed back to the city, for good. For many, it was no longer practical to pour money into maintaining these beautiful but sprawling country piles. As the dynastic heirs repaired to their Park Avenue palazzi, their old holiday homes were neglected. The state’s constitutional pledge to keep the Adirondacks “forever wild” seemed at odds with the preservation of these grand weekend cottages. Nehasane, the elaborate camp of Lila Vanderbilt Webb and William Seward, was even destroyed by the state in keeping with the wilderness sentiment.
In recent years, that attitude has changed, and the camps and lodges are increasingly seen as an integral part of the Adirondacks landscape. Today, a tiny number of survivors remain as family retreats, the way they were intended to be. Others have become university teaching facilities, homeowner associations, non-profit educational institutions, destination lodgings and country clubs. The camps and lodges of the Adirondacks may have only had a brief flowering period of 80-odd years, but they left a continuing, living legacy in the form of The St. Regis Hotel in New York. The grand hotel was the last word in turn-of-the-century glamour, and rapidly became the drawing room of choice for the emerging tycoon dynasties of Manhattan, before the horrors of the First World War, the Great Crash of 1929 and the Depression which followed it brought this golden age to an end. But to this day it is that legacy of life as lived by a new American aristocracy – of the Astors and Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Carnegies – that gives The St. Regis New York the air of the most luxurious of private homes. An Elegant Wilderness: Great Camps and Grand Lodges of the Adirondacks 18551935 by Gladys Montgomery is published by Acanthus Press, $75. All photographs courtesy of the Adirondacks Museum 87
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Words by Allegra Donn Photography by Alex Majoli
THINK OF COUTURE AND WE THINK OF PARIS, BUT ROME HAS ITS OWN GLORIOUS FASHION HISTORY. NOW CHAMPIONED BY THE INSPIRATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF SILVIA FENDI, THE CITY’S STELLAR DESIGNERS AND ARTISANS ARE RECLAIMING THEIR PLACE ON STYLE’S WORLD STAGE
rtisans have always been the heart and soul of Italy. Although “haute couture” began in Paris in the early part of the 20th century, the great Italian ateliers emerged on the international stage in the 1950s thanks to the fashion pioneer Giovanni Battista Giorgoni. The entrepreneur cleverly persuaded US buyers to stop in Florence the day after the Paris collections, before flying back to America. Both buyers and press returned home inspired by what they saw, and Italian “alta moda” (or couture) was born. Three talented sisters, the celebrated Sorelle Fontana, led the way, the glamour of cinema immortalizing their designs in the public imagination when they unforgettably dressed Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Contessa and Anita Eckberg in La Dolce Vita. Giorgini cemented Italy’s fashion reputation internationally, and when he stopped hosting shows in Florence, Rome gradually took over. Galitzine, Lancetti, Fausto Sarli, Renato Balestra and Raffaella Curiel were among the many prestigious houses – the greatest though, were Valentino Garavani and Roberto Capucci. Both equal in genius in the pursuit of beauty, Valentino was more commercial and international, while Capucci, who never ventured into prêt-à-porter, was more known at home than abroad, memorably dressing Italian socialites in fantastical sculptural creations. With the rise of Italian prêt-à-porter, led by designers such as Walter Albini and Giorgio Armani in the 1970s and 1980s, Milan gradually eroded Rome’s position and turned the spotlight on itself. But today, there is a renewed focus
on AltaRoma, as the assembly of Italian couture houses is known, showing twice a year in January and July, immediately after the haute couture shows in Paris. Currently under the stewardship of Silvia Fendi, the doyenne of celebrated Fendi accessories such as the Baguette bag, and granddaughter of the legendary house’s founders, its aim is to promote and sustain the extraordinary wealth of Italian artisanship passed down through the centuries. “AltaRoma has a specific vocation – that of treasurer of our artisanal heritage,” Fendi says, “as well as being a launch pad for innovative, creative people seeking to develop their international profile. Rome is now a scouting centre for global talent.” With the support of Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani, the best young designers are being discovered through the competition Who’s Up Next? Today, former winner Sergio Gambon is the creative director of Galitzine, and is one such talent continuing the tradition of haute couture in Rome. Most of the “hands” – as the top-level seamstresses are known – learned the craft at their grandmothers’ knee, sewing dresses for their dolls. Witnessing these unsung artisans at work in ateliers across Rome is enlightening and humbling, like observing the weavers of 15th-century tapestries. The care, precision and expertise given to each stitch recalls a true artist at work, and to know that this craft is being kept alive in a world of accelerated change, is a vital connection to the past that safeguards the integrity of haute couture. Where to stay: The St. Regis Rome. A private visit to the Fendi atelier, design studio and boutique can be arranged for guests 89
The master craftspeople Ever since his stellar clients Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn captured attention in his gowns, Valentino Garavani (right) and his atelier in Rome (above) have been at the forefront of haute couture. Previous page: A team of seamstresses embroidering a layer of tulle for a Valentino creation
In one small room, four focused young seamstresses and one young man, all with pin pouches attached to their chests, painstakingly embroider a landscape on a single black sheet of tulle. It’s utterly beautiful, reminiscent of an ancient Chinese pen-and-ink drawing. But this, I learn, will only be one of the four layers of the finished dress. In another larger room, several “hands” are constructing delicate flesh-coloured bustiers. It’s exhilarating to see exactly what’s behind each item of clothing: the geometry, the imagination, the skill, patience and dedication afforded to every single hand-sewn stitch. Some dresses are first made in paper, then in fabric. Each part of the craft is complex and demanding because they are unique pieces, but perhaps the hardest part is to achieve the perfect “drop” of the dress. At Valentino, different “hands” are needed to handle different fabrics, but the current creative directors of Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, are known to sometimes use a seamstress who, say, usually works with lace, to drape leather. The dresses produced here are one-off pieces and when Valentino has a “bestseller”, it means that just three editions of the same dress are made.
Since Valentino’s legendary 1968 White collection knocked the fashion world sideways, he has been at the epicentre of Italian couture. Jackie Kennedy gilded his reputation when she ordered a wardrobe of clothes for her official mourning period as JFK’s widow. Later, the picture of her white-lace mini-dress for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis in 1968 became an iconic image. Many of the house’s premier seamstresses have been working there for decades, and some have memories of fitting Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. Neighbouring rooms with glass doors overlooking the Piazza di Spagna are furnished with large tables at which six or seven seamstresses work under the eagle eye of a premiere. Photographs of some of the world’s most famous women, wearing dresses made within these very rooms, occasionally interrupt the whitewashed walls. Powerful neon ceiling lamps illuminate the workshop, and metal irons of different weights are neatly stacked on shelves. The ladies at the table are currently working on the top-secret haute couture collection to be presented in Paris in July. 90
The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back
Tommy e Giulio Caraceni
paper and spread onto a three-meter counter where the fabric is cut to size. “The only thing done by sewing machine are the hips, the back stitch, and the exterior of the sleeves – the rest is sewn by hand.” “Sadly, new ‘hands’ are few and far between in this craft,” explains Guido Finigalia, who manages the business. Tonini, the slim 75-year-old master tailor, impeccable in his Caraceni suit, is more pensive: “When Italy loses its artisanship, it will lose its history.”
This celebrated sartoria, founded in Rome by Domenico Caraceni (1880-1939), has dressed Italy’s most dashing men for generations. The legendary Fiat boss, Gianni Agnelli, was a regular customer. “I was taken on full time to make his suits,” explains master-cutter Giancarlo Tonini, who has worked at the same table for 53 years. “He would bypass the fitting room, head straight to where the tailors were at work, sit on the edge of a counter and talk football with them.” When Gary Cooper had a breakdown in 1931, he left Hollywood for a year of travelling in Europe and big-game hunting in Africa. He stopped at Caraceni to get suited up, marking the beginning of his reputation as Hollywood’s best-dressed man. Tonini points out the particular trait that makes a Caraceni suit instantly recognisable: the top buttonhole remains unused and exposed on the lapel of the jacket. “There are those who always want the same fabric,” continues Tonini, “like the incredibly smart Count Cini, and those like Agnelli, who tried everything. Agnelli had his own style. Still, today, customers arrive with photographs of him, asking me to make them the same suit.” Tonini is currently making a blue pin-striped suit, which will take him a minimum of three weeks to complete. The customer’s measurements are drawn out on brown packing
Antica Cappelleria In 1935 the Cirri brothers from Florence opened the Antica Cappelleria in the heart of Rome, in the days when society demanded diligence in gentlemen’s and ladies’ clothing. The Cirris worked and slept on the premises. “Hats are an incredible form of communication as well as objects of seduction,” says the current owner Patrizia Fabri. “Just look at what a crown symbolizes.” Fabri bought her first hat at this very shop when she was 18 in the early 1980s. “I bought a straw hat, decorated it myself and sold it on immediately. I went back the next day and ordered 25 more, took them around to fashion stores and got more orders.” Born from this enterprising spirit, Fabri had her career cut out for her. So when the Antica
Made-to-measure Left: Master-cutter Giancarlo Tonini has been at the tailor Tommy e Giulio Caraceni for more than half a century. Above: a wooden hat mold at the Italian hatter Antica Cappelleria
The Empire Strikes Back
Cappelleria was about to go out of business in 2003, she took over and saved the day. The atelier reverberates with her enthusiasm for the craft. “The first bashing the hat got was in the 1920s with the advent of the motorcar,” explains Fabri, “and then later and more severely in the 1970s due to feminism.” The premises are stacked with elegant hats in all shapes colours and sizes. They are custom-made in the back room by master hatter Sandro Bellucci. “I started by chance at 14 and never looked back,” he says, while steaming a hat made from rabbit hair in a dome-shaped, cast-iron oven. “The raw material as a rule for all hats is rabbit fur because it’s water repellent. It’s then treated so it can be dyed and shaped.” Above us on surrounding shelves is an infinity of wooden hat molds from different eras that Fabri travels the world to collect for her archive. “We’re determined to maintain traditions unaltered through time,” she says passionately. “There is only one producer of raw materials for hat-making left in Portugal, otherwise one must order now from China.” Fabri has made hats for many designers, including the great Roberto Cappucci for an exhibition currently being shown in Beijing. Handmade top hats and panamas are suspended above our heads. Here a customer can come in, be measured up, choose a hat for day or evening and have it on
their head before close of business. Fabri slips on a 1920s cloche, looking as though she were born in it. “A person has a good relationship with a hat when they feel as though they’re not even wearing one!” she laughs.
Renato Balestra A former engineering student and pianist, Renato Balestra is especially known for his fabrics, hand-embroidered in his basement atelier, and for Blu Balestra, a particular tone of peacock blue that he has always been passionate about and uses in each of his collections. Famous clients include Farah Diba of Iran and the Queen of Thailand. Angela, the premiere, has been working for him for 20 years. She learned the craft from the age of six at home. “It’s difficult to find new ‘hands’,” she says. “I think one can only do this job out of passion.” At the next table, Chiara is doing embroidery. Being a new “hand”, she studied at the academia in Rome. Once a dress has been decided it takes around 20 days to complete. Balestra, now 88, is still closely involved with every aspect of his collection. “Haute couture is a whole culture, an art,” he says.
Italian couture Left: Antica Cappelleria was saved from closure in 2003 by Patrizia Fabri, who bought her first hat there in the early 1980s. Above: At Renata Balestra, once a dress has been decided upon, it take around 20 days to make
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WINGS OF DESIRE Words by David Pratt
Man and bird
Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
A working intimacy develops between a falconer and his charge, so that the creature soon recognises and responds only to his master’s voice. Arab falconers swear by their birds’ intelligence
ONCE A TRADITIONAL LIVELIHOOD FOR HARD-PRESSED BEDOUIN HUNTERS, FALCONRY HAS SURVIVED IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES AS BOTH A SPORT AND A HIGH-ROLLING PASSION. EVERY YEAR ABU DHABI HOSTS A FESTIVAL OF FALCONRY, WHERE THE WORLD’S MOST PRECIOUS BIRDS ARE PUT THROUGH THEIR AIRBORNE PACES. BEYOND REPORTS ON A NATIONAL OBSESSION
An ancient tradition preserved
t takes place in those empty lands that have fascinated men for millennia, a seemingly soundless world of sand and solitude. Sighting its prey with eyes round as dark marbles, the bird reels and swoops, diving at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour before rising again into the azure sky that canopies the desert. So it has been throughout centuries for the longwinged and shortwinged in this world of lures, snares, jesses, hoods and blocks. The language of the Arabian falconer, like that of his counterparts across the globe, is as time-worn and universal as the sport of hawking itself. Most of us, to borrow a line from Hamlet, wouldn’t know “a hawk from a handsaw”. That, however, has not prevented a perennial fascination with what has been called the real sport of kings, no matter how much a pauper or commoner we might be. Who hasn’t caught site of a hawk or falcon soaring on currents above the countryside and not been struck by its imposing appearance and mastery of flight? As a journalist who has spent much time in Afghanistan, a country with a long and fine tradition of falconry, I have often watched birds of prey in the mountains and deserts of that beautiful but troubled land. In his majestic book, Falconry in the Land of the Sun: The Memoirs of an Afghan Falconer, the legendary Sirdar Mohamed Osman, grandson of the King of
Afghanistan, recalls his adventures across India, Pakistan and Central Asia in pursuit of his passion. But it is perhaps in the Arab world where this sport is most deeply and fervently pursued, binding man and raptor in an intimate dance of life and death. In visits over the years to places as diverse as Iraq, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE, the sight of a falconer whirling a feathered, baited lure has become familiar as he teaches his bird to strike again and again at its quarry before swooping down to land on his gauntleted arm. And nowhere has this sight been so indelibly etched on my memory than in the reddishorange desert dunes of the Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter, which sits little more than and hour and a half ’s drive south of Abu Dhabi. It was here in the late 1940s and early 1950s that the great British Arabist, Wilfred Thesiger, accompanied Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi for months on camel back, sleeping in the open, feeding on hares and bustards that were the quarry of their falcons. “It was very still with the silence which we have driven from our world,” wrote Thesiger in what was to become his classic book, Arabian Sands. The visitor to Arabia is often told that the desert life is over, and to a great extent it is true. But the silence that Thesiger speaks of can still be found, as can the Arab falconer. In these high-tech internet-dominated 100
This page and opposite: Isabella Rozendaal
Originally falcons were used to hunt desert hare and bustard to supplement the mainly vegetarian diet of the nomadic Bedouin tribesmen
The Wings of Desire
A prized hunter The finest falcons can command sums ranging from $20,000 to $250,0000, prompting many owners to implant microchip tracking devices should they go missing
times, in this part of the world there remains a self-conscious defence against the tide of modernity. A region flush with petro-dollars and opulent lifestyles still has a burning need, it seems, to preserve a tradition that provides an ageless communion with nature. In this, the Arab love of falconry continues to play a vital role. Indeed in many Arab lands, the falcon has become part of contemporary iconography, its sharp-beaked, taloned image appearing on everything from company logos and cap badges to dirham banknotes. As another British Arabist and former MI6 spy master, Sir Mark Allen, points out: “With the camel, the Arab horse, the black hair tent and the Saluki [Persian greyhound], the hawk is a symbol of the desert Arab’s way of life... which he has cherished through all the traumatic changes of the last few generations.” Since he was 14 years old, hawking has played an enormous part in Allen’s life, allowing him as a Westerner to become accepted and to live and hunt with the Bedouin nomadic tribesmen of the Arabian desert. For the Bedouin, raptors were originally used for hunting to supplement their diet of milk, bread, dates and rice with meat from hares or houbara, a large bird of the bustard family. These hunting expeditions were also a useful means by which tribal sheikhs could “tour” their territory and
keep up with events. In cities such as Baghdad and Damascus, falconry used to have a rather grand following. Much of that has now gone, lost, as Allen says, “with a vanished world of pomegranates and sherbet”. For the layman, the world of the falconer is a mysterious one. To all but those with some knowledge of birds there is often confusion about the differences between a hawk and a falcon. Put simply, the birds used in falconry fall into two types: the falconidae, or longwings, comprise the dark-eyed hooked-beaked falcons that power dive on their prey from above; then there are the accipitridae, shortwing yellow-eyed true hawks, such as the sparrowhawk, which run down their quarry by “binding to” or grabbing them after a hectic chase. These days in the UAE the two main species of falcons to be found in the dunes of the Empty Quarter are the saker and the peregrine. Historically, the Bedouin believe that the saker has more powerful eyesight than the peregrine. Sharing the cunning temperament of a cat, Arabian falconers swear by the saker’s intelligence and tell of how it will often lie down between driver and passenger for better balance on the front seat of a 4x4 bumping over the dunes. Such stories say much about the working intimacy that develops between falconer and bird. Buying the finest birds can command vast sums 101
The Wings of Desire with prices of $20,000 not uncommon, and some fetching as much as $250,000. It’s hardly surprising then, that traditional as many aspects of Arabian falconry continue to be, birds often have GPS transmitters attached to their tail feathers to track them should they go missing. But first, the falconer must acquire his bird, and historically, the methods and ruses used by Arab trappers have been varied and ingenious. These range from pigeons used as bait with slip nooses on a light frame attached to their backs, to deploying smaller decoy hawks also with nooses attached. This makes them appear as if they are carrying a kill, which then becomes a target for larger birds, which inevitably become entangled in the noose themselves. Hides and nets, too, have been used to capture these elusive creatures. In countries such as the UAE today, however, there are strict controls on trapping falcons as well as their use in hunting the king prey of houbara. Indeed many falconers have now become committed conservationists. The Falcon Passport, a scheme started in 2002 in Abu Dhabi, prevents the illegal trading of falcons, with the bird’s country of origin, permit number and date of last export or import forming key data in the document. But the same rules do not always apply in other parts of the world, especially when it comes to hunting with falcons. As a result, many Arab falconers now travel overseas, purchasing permits to hunt in places such as Pakistan. The legal supply of raptors from many of these countries remains a substantial business. Some years ago while working in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province along the border with Afghanistan, I met a Pathan trapper in the city of Peshawar, who regularly acquired birds for Middle-Eastern clients. A keen falconer himself, he and his friends would frequently gather for meals at the hotel he owned. With them they brought falcons and hawks, which they habitually leashed to the nearest furniture in the absence of a proper “block” or wakr. I became fascinated with the elaborate paraphernalia of the falconers’ trade. The jesses or short thongs that attach to the birds legs; the leash that, in turn, runs from the jesses to the block where the hawk spends most of its time when not in flight; and, of course, the hood, or burka in Arabic. Kept in pitch darkness, the bird will sit motionless with no thought to fly for fear of breaking feathers. The hood keeps the bird calm, avoiding any stress. Where Japanese falconers once believed that hawks were afraid of the human voice, Arabs have traditionally taught their hawks to know their names, which are short and easy to call, such as Dhib, (wolf ) or Sabah (morning). At a time when Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar and the UAE are experiencing a dislocation from the past due to accelerated economic change, falconry remains a tangible link to another way of life. But it would be wrong to over-romanticize this passion. While in the West hawking is regarded as a sport, in the Arabic language there are no equivalent words for that notion. Of course it has words that mean pastime or exercise, but in the case of falconry its roots and the words used to describe it will always be associated with hunting.
Given today’s hunting restrictions, however, hawking has taken on a new significance ever since the first International Falconry Conference (IFC) was inaugurated by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi in 1976. Since then, falconry has played an increasingly significant role in the much wider heritage, culture and identity of the UAE. It is a measure of how seriously the Arabs of the Emirates take their falcons that the country has created a world-renowned veterinary clinic, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), which opened in 1999. In its first 12 years more than 50,000 “patients” have passed through its doors. Whether it’s disease, diet or broken wing feathers, falconers go to great lengths to maintain the health of their birds. Today in Abu Dhabi men dressed in what were once clothes of the desert but are now national dress can be seen queueing with their birds on temporary blocks at the city’s famous falcon hospital. “The bird is part of my life, my identity, and for that reason it deserves whatever loyalty I can offer it, when it is in need,” is how one Emirates falconer described his decision to visit ADFH. Every year the UAE further highlights its commitment to the hawking tradition when it holds the Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition and Festival as part of its national day celebrations. Some 600 falconers and more than 1,100 birds participated in the contest towards the end of last year, split into three disciplines. With up to a million dirhams ($275,000) on offer in prize money, the biggest pot goes to the owner of the falcon covering 400 yards in the fastest time. In another event, birds follow a model plane with a “bait tail” trailing behind it, the winner being the falcon that flies the longest distance and time. “It’s a new technique,” explains Mohammed Al Mahmood, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “It’s the first time it has been done in a competition.” In the final event the birds are timed from the ground to a balloon more than 600 feet in the air. Speaking at the finale of the competition, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that he hoped that the event would promote genuine heritage from which “valuable lessons” might be learned by youngsters, especially in “patience, courage, generosity, heroism, challenge, endurance and other noble principles”. It was Sir Mark Allen who, on one occasion having difficulty with a restless peregrine, was given the advice of a Bedouin falconer: “Take off his hood, let him watch the Arabs and be content.” In the past, a generation of Gulf Arabs was content with the fact that the noble art of falconry provided a means of feeding their families, but clearly they believed that hawking meant more that just that. Today, as Allen has observed, the Arabs may no longer fly their birds with “the careless ferocity and zest of the past”, but few would deny that there still remains something utterly majestic in this magical aerobatic display of grandeur and tenacity.
Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
“There remains a self-conscious defence against the tide of modernity. A region flush with petro-dollars and opulent lifestyles still has a burning need to preserve a tradition that provides an ageless communion with nature”
Where to stay: The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi; The St. Regis Abu Dhabi. A tour of the falcon hospital can be arranged for guests
Connecting to the past In a period of accelerated change, falconry has an increasingly signficant role in the wider heritage, culture and identity of the Emirates
ALL IN THE DETAIL Words by Jason Barlow
FROM LAPO ELKANN AT FERRARI TO ROBIN PAGE AT BENTLEY, BEYOND, THE ST. REGIS MAGAZINE GETS UNDER THE SKIN OF CUSTOM-CAR DESIGN WITH THE INNOVATORS CREATING THE PERSONALIZED LUXURY MOTORS OF THE FUTURE
or a privileged few car lovers, highend custom-design is making their fantasies a reality. The luxury brands are taking what used to be known as the “options list” in car design and offering exhaustive “personalization”. We’re talking here about ways of customizing your new motor to make it utterly unique, and the likes of Bentley, BMW , Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Porsche and Rolls-Royce are only too happy to oblige. A comparison with the famed tailors of London’s Savile Row is apt, not least when it comes to Ferrari’s interpretation – it has named its custom-design plan “Tailor-Made”. It’s the vision of Lapo Elkann, the charming high-flying grandson of Fiat kingpin and style icon Gianni Agnelli. Elkann calls himself a “freestyle entrepreneur”,
and it’s his idiosyncratic approach to life that runs through Ferrari’s Tailor-Made concept. In dedicated ateliers annexed to the main Ferrari showrooms around the world, clients can choose between “Classica” (retro styling from the 1950s and 1960s) and “Scuderia” (racing design), or let their imaginations run riot with “Inedita”. Pinstriped seats, cashmere roof lining, or carbon fiber and titanium trim – it’s all possible. “Today, luxury has to be open to new materials and new elements,” Elkann says. “If you’re spending that sort of money, you want the freedom to make the product look the way you want it to look rather than the way the company does.” While Elkann is something of an iconoclast and revels in the possibilities of high-tech new 104
materials, tradition still plays a role. Ferrari suppliers include the celebrated furniture designer and materials experts Poltrona Frau, whose mantra intelligenza delle mani (clever handcrafting) informs the distinctive interiors of today’s Ferraris, and is crucial in Tailor-Made. “There is an almost infinite number of colors for our leather,” the company chairman Franco Moschini says. “There are now more than 90 colors compared to the five or six in the past. The skins are analyzed individually, because each animal is different and has lived a different life.” Another Tailor-Made supplier is the Piedmontese fabric-maker Vitale Barberis Canonico, whose work with the company is more akin to that of a tailor than an industrial partner. And in a nod to Ferrari’s early days in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when handcrafted bodywork
Previous page: Bentley Arnage 2007. 1. Rolls Royce Bespoke Ghost 2005. 2. Bentley Continental GT. 3. Ferrari 430 Scuderia. 4. Bentley EXP 9F Concept. 5. Rolls Royce Phanton Bespoke
was made in ultra-low volumes for the aristocracy, films stars and industrialists, the company’s Special Projects division will design an entire car to your personal specifications. Eric Clapton is one of the Ferrari clients to explore this avenue with his SP12 EC. Was overseeing the design an enjoyable process? “Oh, unbelievable,” he says. “One of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. There will never be anything like this again. This is me aged seven listening to [F1 drivers] Fangio and Ascari.” Victoria Beckham is another big name to turn if not designer exactly, then specifier. Her 2011 limited edition of the Range Rover Evoque comprised only 200 units worldwide, yet despite costing around $128,500, it was an instant sell-out. A hot brand, superstar name and custom design all aligned with a genuinely
desirable product, underpinning the marketing voodoo. In matte grey, with rose gold accents inspired by the men’s gold Rolex that her husband David had given her, and with a cabin trimmed in highly desirable buttery aniline leather, the VB Evoque is a notably tasteful example of limited-edition design. “I like to think outside the box,” Mrs. Beckham told me at the car’s launch in Beijing. “Why shouldn’t I design a car? When Gerry [McGovern, Land Rover’s design director] approached me to do this, it was certainly a challenge. I’d never designed a car before, so I think I brought a naivety to the project, though I’ve enjoyed customizing the cars David and I have bought over the years. I didn’t want a car that was particularly feminine, I wanted something that David also wanted to drive.” 106
Custom car design is a global trend, but individual countries’ traits can appeal across borders. A yearning for authenticity is one of the things that most commends say, Bentley to the booming Chinese market. British luxury automakers have a rich history in wood, leather and marquetry, and as the brand’s chief interior designer, Robin Page, puts it: “By the time you work out all the options [of materials] and all the combinations, there are millions of scenarios.” In fact, Bentley has arguably the richest history in custom design. Its Mulliner division offers “specialist personal commissioning,” a promise that is backed by a relationship that goes back almost a hundred years. The division is named after H.J. Mulliner & Co, the coachbuilder that the company founder W.O. Bentley asked to create the bodywork for
All in the Detail
6. Ferrari 430 Scuderia. 7. Range Rover Evoque. 8. Bentley Series 51 Continental. 9. Aston Martin Vanquish
his 1919 EXP1 prototype. Mulliner originally built Royal Mail carriages in the 18th century, and handcrafted saddles before that. This sort of backstory plays well in emerging markets. “Craftsmanship and attention to detail is what defines British design,” Aston Martin’s chief designer Miles Nurnberger says. “We’re extremely creative, but we mix that with a pragmatism. German design is very pragmatic and very exacting, but can lack creativity. French design is creative, but might lack refinement or execution. British design strikes a good balance. We like modern architecture, but we also like quite homely things and comfort. There’s purity to British design, and it has honesty. Others might use something that looks like metal, but we actually use metal.” Gavin Hartley is head of custom design at Rolls-Royce, a company that has been working
in the field for decades. “Whether it’s a house or a yacht, our customers don’t generally choose from lists,” Hartley says. “They’re beyond conforming to what other people might think. It’s an opportunity for dialogue with individuals, to allow them to pursue their own ideas. We’re harking back to the early days of motoring, to the coach-building era, when there was less standardization and more choice. “Different rules definitely apply, and it often makes you question what good taste actually is,” Hartley continues. “You might think you are always right and everyone else is wrong, but in this business you are constantly challenging the arrogance of that assumption. But the people who come to us want a Rolls-Royce sort of solution, so it tends to be consistent with what we want to do – which is excellent, beautiful engineering.” 107
Fortunately, as with other areas of automotive design, there is a notable trickle-down effect: the runaway success of the latest Mini, Citroën DS3 and Fiat 500 has democratized custom car design. Mass-produced they may be, but none is identical. Sustainability is also important: recently, the Peugeot Onyx concept car showcased an interior trimmed in felt and recycled newspaper so thoroughly compressed that it felt like wood. And even if the exterior matches a thousand other models, the endless possibilities for creating something unique on the inside provides a particular satisfaction, the feeling of knowing that no one else possesses anything like it. Where to stay: The Bentley Suite, The St. Regis New York, a collaboration bringing The St. Regis and Bentley partnership to life
A Life in Seven Journeys
EYEWITNESS TO SOME OF THE DEFINING MOMENTS OF OUR TIMES FOR LIFE AND VANITY FAIR, SCOTS PHOTOGRAPHER HARRY BENSON ARRIVED IN NEW YORK IN 1964 AND MADE IT HIS HOME. HERE HE DESCRIBES SEVEN MEMORABLE JOURNEYS FROM AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE
Driving down to Troon, Scotland, 1956 I left the RAF when I was 19, but I couldn’t afford a car until I was 26. It was a Fiat 600, and my very first journey was from Glasgow down the west coast of Scotland to a seaside town called Troon. I’ll never forget the feeling, just me in my new car on a sunny day. Because it was Italian, it was a bit sexier than a British car – a chance to get the prettiest girls. Happiness.
2 The Berlin Wall goes up, 1961 I was sent to Berlin for the London Daily Express, and we knew something was going on as the city was being systematically closed off. The wall went up quickly, the barbed wire and the barricades encircling the city. I went back in 1989 for Life – I never thought I’d see the Berlin Wall come down in my lifetime. I’m glad I was there to see it.
3 Following the Beatles to Paris and America, 1964 One night in January 1964 I got a call from The Express picture desk to go to Paris to photograph the Beatles. I was a bit annoyed because I had no interest in photographing pop stars. But as I walked into the hall they started to play All My Loving, and it was electric. I knew I was on the right story. My
favorite picture of the Beatles having a pillow fight was taken in Paris. Within two weeks I was on a plane to America with them for The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles changed my life because America was a fascinating place to be in the 1960s; after that, I never came back.
4 The Meredith march, Mississippi, 1966 The Civil Rights Movement was at its height when I drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, HQ of the Klu Klux Klan. I knew this was going to be dangerous, but it was my job. I met the grand wizard, Bobby Shelton, and attended Klan meetings with him. I followed the whole march; I went to rallies, I was teargassed, saw beatings, hid film in my socks. When I met Martin Luther King, I said to him, “This is just awful.” And he said, “It is awful being a black man in this country.” Jobs like these were journeys into the heart of America.
5 The assassination of Robert Kennedy, Los Angeles, 1968 I grew to like Bobby Kennedy immensely. He was fun to be with on the campaign, very easy to work with. When he was shot in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in LA, I was 12 inches away from him. It was chaos and people were punching me in the 108
head and shouting, but I just kept moving, trying to get the shots. I photographed his wife Ethel screaming, and people said, how could you do that? He was someone I cared about. When something like this happens you know you are recording history. The picture of the straw boater is one of my most dramatic. This was Bobby’s blood. This was the end of the road.
6 9/11, New York City, 2001 By the time I got down to the site, the second plane had hit. There was dust and debris everywhere and the police weren’t letting anybody through, so I took my pictures from the perimeters. Lots of photographers are suffering now from what they inhaled that day, so in a way it was a blessing for me, but I had to be there to see what happened.
7 Returning home to Glasgow, Scotland Glasgow is my home, I love to go back and smell it. It has a rough and tumble about it that is similar to New York. But no year is complete unless I go to Troon for a walk along the beach and have an ice cream or some fish and chips and look across to the Isle of Arran. That to me is Scotland. I get excited just getting on the plane.
Illustration: Jacobo Pérez-Enciso
THE ART OF MINERAL BEAUTY
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The St. Regis Magazine Issue 1