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From The CEO
ith the holiday season coming into full swing and as we get ready to celebrate in our Peninsula Hotels around the world, it is my pleasure to bring you the latest edition of the Peninsula magazine. The festive season always brings a touch of sparkle, so it seemed fitting to pay homage to some of the world’s finest jewellers and delve into the world of gemstones, crystals and precious materials, all of which reflect the discerning lifestyle of our guests. In the world of fine jewellery, we bring you the stories of renowned and independent companies, from the globally recognised names of Harry Winston, Graff and Tiffany & Co. to lesser known artisanal creators including Parisian Aude Lechère, Austrian Henri J. Sillam, American Robert Procop and Vietnam-based Damian By Mischelle. In the realm of design, we take you into the world of Hermès-backed Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia whose mission is to create a new aesthetic for China in the coming century, seeking to promote the nation’s rich heritage and diverse artisanal culture. We also meet renowned French art nouveau glassmaker and artist Émile Gallé, one of the creative forces behind Lalique, which launched its first boutique at The Peninsula Hong Kong more than 30 years ago. With art being an important part of The Peninsula Hotels’ aesthetic, we meet sculptor Atsushi Tawa whose innovative quartz creations have recently commanded attention in the ever-expanding art world. We venture into the studio of Korean artist Chong-il Woo and offer you an insight into photographer Karen Bystedt’s ‘Lost Warhols’. For our seasoned travellers, we transport you to the fascinating Crystal Worlds, situated in the small town of Wattens in the Austrian Tyrol, which presents a glittering wonderland of crystal magic. Originally opened in 1995 to celebrate Swarovski’s centenary, the crystal labyrinth has already captivated more than seven million visitors from all over the world. Last but not least, renowned public relations guru Mark Borkowski offers his insights into the world of Hollywood publicity stunts over the decades. As always, I hope you will enjoy the read and I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
Clement K M Kwok Chief Executive Officer
contents December 2012
From The CEO
Bejewelled and Bedazzled Enter the manifest universe of Japanese artist Atsushi Tawa where allusively functional objects are bejewelled, bedazzled and bewitched by matter that is as natural as it is manmade, as alive as it is dead, and as beautiful as it is ugly. Allusive yet never symbolic, yearning yet never utopian, Tawa’s works draw forth an ever-evolving dialogue between the functional and the functionless, art and autonomy, and design and utility. In ‘Bejewelled’, Tawa juxtaposes a collection of found mannequins with quartz - itself a dead object with ephemeral and perpetual existence.
Leaving No Stone Unturned Korean artist Chong-il Woo is wearing thick tortoiseshell glasses and a big smile. The artist is multitalented and his patience and attention to detail results in work that begs to be touched and explored. At first glance, his current award- winning collection embodies ancient mosaics, but a closer look reveals a photograph of thousands of digitally manipulated gemstones and pebbles. The effect is nothing short of mesmerising.
Lost But Not Forgotten Karen Bystedt was 19 when she photographed Andy Warhol. He donned a brand new Perry Ellis suit as the New York University student smoothed his make-up before shooting from above to capture his best angle. That moment is one that Bystedt will never forget.
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China’s Savoir Faire Hermès-backed Chinese luxury brand, Shang Xia, is on a mission to bring China’s rich cultural heritage and wealth of creative craftsmanship into the future, reinterpreting master crafts for the contemporary world. Shang Xia makes these ancient traditions desirable, functional and relevant.
Crystal Clear Vision Émile Gallé, a renowned French art nouveau glassmaker and artist, referred to his contemporary, René Lalique, as ‘the Rodin of transparency’. His ability to create pieces capable of capturing and reflecting light in so many different ways has given Lalique a heritage and tradition in glass and crystal making that it still upholds, unbroken, to this day.
The Other Picasso A lady that needs little introduction; Paloma Picasso. Her legend is gargantuan, even though she herself is a petite 5’4”. Her stature however, as an iconic world figure remains indisputably large. The Peninsula discovers what it’s like to carry the burden of a colossal surname like an albatross around her neck…right next to some sizable pearls of her own design.
Jewelled Jolie Angelina Jolie’s most recent collaboration with jeweller Robert Procop is a perfect reflection of her poise, grace and philanthropic spirit.
Crowning Jewels In April 2011, the earrings worn by Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, at the Royal Wedding were the creation of London fine jewellers Robinson Pelham, a design partnership formed 16 years ago. The royal commission thrust the company into the limelight. The Peninsula finds out more about the boutique luxury jewellery designers and their collections.
Aude’s Atelier Aude Lechère is a coquette native Parisian beauty. The high-end fine jewellery that she produces is available in limited quantities and only seven pieces are created from each mold in her atelier in Paris. She keeps the eighth piece for her own collection and she is the proud owner of a highly covetable jewellery box. 2012 marked her launch in Asia, and customers are already clamouring to own a piece of her bespoke creations.
Many of Austrian jeweller Henri J. Sillam’s creations are modelled after living creatures from nature, from the jointed legs of the ‘Spider’ brooch to the diamond stamens of the Fleur-de-Lys brooch, which gently quiver as the wearer moves. They are all fine examples of Sillam’s whimsical style which has no colour limits. Pieces incorporate green turquoise from Iran, vivid lavender jade from China and pink phosphosiderite from Chile, amongst other rare stones.
At One With Nature
One of A Kind Each jewellery piece from ‘Damian By Mischelle’ is handcrafted in one of its ateliers by a team of specialist craftsman applying the highest quality control standards. The face behind the unique Vietnamese-based concept is confident that the combination of design, quality and combinations of stones incorporated into each piece is unique.
Celebration of An Icon In 1954 Harry Winston proclaimed: “People! Drama! Romance! Precious Stones! Speculation! Excitement! What more could you want?” Harry Winston, Inc. is America’s premier diamond specialist and one of the most exclusive names in fine jewellery and watch making. Founded by Harry Winston himself in 1932, the company is a favourite of royalty and celebrities, and its designs are frequently seen on red carpets all over the globe.
Simply The Best Graff was founded in Hatton Garden, London in 1960 by Laurence Graff and since then the company has grown to its present position as one of the leading global diamond jewellery brands with more than 30 stores worldwide and corporate offices in London, New York and Geneva. The Peninsula meets the prestigious brand’s Founder.
As Time Goes By The historic Bund in Shanghai is becoming home to more and more Western luxury brands. One of the latest additions is The Rolex Experience, not just a store from which Rolex can offer its highly sought-after timepieces, but a monument to the brand, its heritage, history and craftsmanship.
Hats Off It’s difficult to pinpoint when and why the humble hat resurged from dark anonymity. Was it the result of an over enthusiastic British population revelling in the Royal wedding celebrations of Prince William and Kate Middleton? Could it have been Russian army of fashionistas who sported fascinators perched on their delicate heads during the throes of fashion week? It’s a tricky equation that has yet to be solved, but one thing is certain, hats are in, and it’s something to celebrate.
A Different World Crystals, whether in their pure form or crafted into perfectly symmetrical solitaires, for many hold some form of indescribable power and attraction. And there is no clearer evidence of this anywhere in the world than Swarovski’s ‘Kristallwelten’ (Crystal Worlds), which presents a glittering wonderland of crystal magic.
Fanning The Flames Hollywood’s celebrity industry was born of a classic formula developed over decades by a shameless assortment of fixers, fakers and star makers. PR guru Mark Borkowski delves deeper.
contributors The Peninsula Hong Kong Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong Telephone: (852) 2920 2888 Facsimile: (852) 2722 4170 E-mail: email@example.com The Peninsula Shanghai No 32 The Bund, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road Shanghai 200002, The People’s Republic of China Telephone: (86-21) 2327 2888 Facsimile: (86-21) 2327 2800 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Peninsula Tokyo 1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo , 100-0006, Japan Tel: (81-3) 6270 2888 Fax: (81-3) 6270 2000 E-mail: email@example.com The Peninsula Beijing 8 Goldfish Lane, Wangfujing, Beijing 100006, The People’s Republic of China Telephone: (86-10) 8516 2888 Facsimile: (86-10) 6510 6311 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Peninsula New York 700 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, New York, NY 10019, U.S.A. Telephone: (1-212) 956 2888 Facsimile: (1-212) 903 3949 E-mail: email@example.com The Peninsula Chicago 108 East Superior Street (at North Michigan Avenue), Chicago, IL 60611, U.S.A. Telephone: (1-312) 337 2888 Facsimile: (1-312) 751 2888 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Peninsula Beverly Hills 9882 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A. Telephone: (1-310) 551 2888 Facsimile: (1-310) 788 2319 E-mail: email@example.com The Peninsula Bangkok 333 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok 10600, Thailand Telephone: (66-2) 861 2888 Facsimile: (66-2) 861 1112 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Peninsula Manila Corner of Ayala & Makati Avenues, 1226 Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Telephone: (63-2) 887 2888 Facsimile: (63-2) 815 4825 E-mail: email@example.com
Armed with a Communications degree from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Brian Au is the Art Director at The Antithesis, the creator of this publication. He has a distinct aesthetic sensibility, and continually strives for perfection in his work.
Lucy studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design, following up with a degree in Photography from Falmouth College of Arts. She went on to win a Rolex Internship with Sport Diver Magazine in the US doing underwater photography and journalism. Lucy is now in Hong Kong to explore further creative avenues.
Mark Borkowski Mark Borkowski is a British PR agent and author with an interest in the history of public relations and the art of the publicity stunt. He began working in public relations at the age of 19 as founder of Borkowski PR. He is a well-known lecturer and speaker on the art of publicity, has a regular column in The Guardian and has also written two books on publicity stunts.
Carol was born in Macau but grew up in Hong Kong and in 2008 she graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a degree in Multimedia Design & Technologies. Her interests cover all fields of design and art as she takes inspiration from exhibitions, music and travel.
A rising star on the European photography scene, Dublin-based, Polish-born Maciej Pestka brings total professionalism and natural charm to every project. His body of work includes character portraits, fashion and beauty editorial, video direction and commercial campaigns. A freelance photographer since 2008, Pestka has secured a loyal base of clients including Life magazine, The Irish Independent and VIP magazine, to name but a few.
Rachel Duffell Born in Hong Kong and brought up in England, Rachel is now resident in the SAR continuing her journalistic career. Having studied Ancient History at Durham University and obtained a BA in Classical Civilisation, her work encompasses all of her passions, whether it be travel, art or history.
Dervla Louli Dervla was born in Saudi Arabia and educated in Europe. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Law and a Masters of Finance from Trinity College. Her studies focused on the the shift of wealth and luxury brands to the East, and her discoveries led her to relocate to Hong Kong. She now writes about fashion, culture, art, finance and business.
Mueller’s captivating work displays a powerful duality between the real and the imagined, conjured images and visual apparitions and serene stillness and dynamic composition. The results are soulful, mystical, deeply creative and are testament to his enduring interest in both technical and aesthetic innovation.
Ann Tsang Ann Tsang is the Editor-In-Chief and Creative Director for The Peninsula Magazine, as well as several luxury custom publications in Asia and the United States. She began her career in television, working for many of the world’s biggest broadcasters, and also ran her own marketing consultancy before founding The Antithesis, a bespoke, luxury publishing venture in Hong Kong.
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Published by: The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited 8th Floor, St George’s Building 2 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong Tel: +(852) 2840 7788 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director: Ann Tsang Graphic Designer: Carol Chan and Brian Au Cover Image: Lucy McNally Top One Printing Co. Limited. Flat A1-A2, Block A, 15/F, Fortune Fty Bldg., 40 Lee Chung Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong +852 3160 4873 email@example.com THE PENINSULA is published by The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited. Incorporated in 1866 and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (00045), HSH is a holding company whose subsidiaries and its jointly controlled entity are engaged in the ownership and management of prestigious hotel, commercial and residential properties in key destinations in Asia and the USA. The hotel portfolio of the Group comprises The Peninsula Hong Kong, The Peninsula Shanghai, The Peninsula Beijing, The Peninsula New York, The Peninsula Chicago, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, The Peninsula Tokyo, The Peninsula Bangkok, The Peninsula Manila and The Peninsula Paris (opening in 2012). The property portfolio of the Group includes The Repulse Bay Complex, The Peak Tower and The Peak Tramways, St. John’s Building, The Landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the Thai Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand.
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Bejewelled AND Bedazzled Text: Dervla Louli Images: Lucy Mcnally
Atsushi Tawa’s ‘Bejewelled’ exhibition is new, innovative, and forgoes convention in favour of contemporary aesthetics. A maimed black lacquer mannequin with crystals emerging from its skull is mesmerising and creates a focal point for the show at Hong Kong’s Identity Art Gallery. The concept of refreshing old objects is not new, nor is the addition of glamour to dilapidated debris, but what is innovative is that it is the natural object – in this case quartz; that commands attention.
apanese artist Atsushi Tawa is primarily concerned about driving doubt at the concept of individuality to destabilise the notion of established societal norms. It is a difficult concept to conceive, let alone comprehend and bring to life, but he somehow manages to achieve all three tasks. The artist’s work can be perceived as a poetic response to an imperfect world, which emphasises the emptiness of both form and content. The mixed-media artist is mild mannered with a personality that contrasts starkly to the somewhat surreal mannequins around him. He appears to be deep in his own thoughts and his slight Glaswegian accent begs for an explanation. “I’m originally from Kyoto, Japan,” he says. “I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Art from Tokyo Zokei University and during my studies I worked in a mannequin factory. I moved from Tokyo to Scotland where I obtained my Masters Degree at the Glasgow School of Art, hence the slight accent. After Scotland my next stop was Berlin, where I learned all about the business of art. Then it was time to go home again.” Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany are very different countries with contrasting cultures, dynamics and demographics that have shaped Tawa’s art. “Many artists in Japan have a relationship with Tokyo but they live outside the city,” he says. “It’s important to create a sense of distance from all the density. I grew up in Japan, so it’s my home, but there’s not a lot of space in Tokyo and artists need room to move. I enjoyed my time there but it was refreshing to leave, which I eventually did.”
materials and structure creates a sense of beauty that I could never have imagined before.”
The artist’s next stop was Scotland, where he flourished creatively. “Glasgow is a brilliant city,” he admits, “The art world there is full of creative people, but no-one tells you how to be an artist. People don’t teach you the business of art so I had to move.” Tawa’s next relocation was to Berlin, and it proved to be a strategic decision. “I learned a great deal in the German city, especially from gallery owner Klara Wallnet. She taught me how to market myself as an artist and how to present my work in a dynamic and modern fashion. I owe her a lot,” he says gratefully. Tawa’s education traversed physical borders and it is a theme reflected in his art. He does not like to label himself as a particular type of artist and prefers to experiment with a
wide variety of mediums and methods, including drawing, mixed-media, installation, video and painting. In addition to the mannequin sculptures, his recent exhibition included paintings that hint at the Pop Art movement and a projected video which creates a sense of momentum throughout the space. Every piece highlights his versatility perfectly. “It may seem strange to many people, but I don’t like confining my art to a studio. It was actually while working in the mannequin factory in Tokyo that the idea for this exhibition came about; I thought the mannequins had strange faces and I really wanted to change them. So years later I finally did,” he says smiling. The crystal quartz is beautiful in its form, but the way it is placed upon the mannequins’ faces is strangely aggressive and unnatural. “I tried many styles with smaller pieces, but it was the large cluster that looked the best,” he explains. “The combination of materials and structure creates a sense of beauty that I could never have imagined before.” Tawa’s art has many dimensions and evokes an emotional response from its viewers. It is striking in a strange way but it is also enlightening. So what exactly is he trying to achieve through these unnatural objects? “I’m trying to build something exquisite,” he says. “Something that has never existed before, and to achieve a sense of perfection inside this imperfect place that we find ourselves in.” And it is clear that he has succeeded in his quest. www.identityartgallery.com
‘Joseon Dynasty Royal family series Empress#1’
Leaving No Stone Unturned Text: Dervla Louliâ€ƒ Images: Chong-il Woo courtesy of The Cat Street Gallery
Korean artist Chong-il Woo is wearing thick tortoiseshell glasses and a big smile. The artist is multitalented and his patience and attention to detail results in work that begs to be touched and explored. At first glance his current award-winning collection embodies ancient mosaics, but a closer look reveals a photograph of thousands of digitally manipulated gemstones and pebbles. The effect is nothing short of mesmerising.
Joseon Dynasty, the last dynasty of Korean history and
the longest-ruling Confucian dynasty inspired these works.
hong-il Woo was born in Korea in 1957 and migrated to the United States in 1979 where he studied fine art, specialising in painting and photography. He has exhibited extensively in both solo and group exhibitions in Japan, the United States and his native city of Seoul which he returned to in 1998 and still resides today. His current exhibition, ‘Women of the Joseon Dynasty’, won the Schoeni Prize in February 2012, an award decided by the Asian public. By combining his flair for photography and passion for fine art, he has created multi-dimensional portraits of beautiful women from ancient times in an innovative and modern fashion. The Peninsula meets the artist. The Peninsula: Your artwork is complex and beautiful. Can you talk about your inspiration and the process of making it? Chong-il Wo: The Joseon Dynasty, the last dynasty of Korean history and the longest-ruling Confucian dynasty inspired these works. The women were especially attractive during that time and I was trying to merge ancient and modern beauty in the pieces. The models I used were family, friends, or simply beautiful women that I saw walking down the street, as is the case with most of my work. The majority of stones are gemstones and there are also a few pebbles. I shot the models first and then captured each stone from four different angles before digitally placing each pebble to create the image. The Peninsula: Why did you move back to Korea after successfully exhibiting in the United States? CIW: I was lonely and homesick. I enjoyed my time in Seattle and Washington but I just had a feeling it was time to return to Korea. I love it and I think it’s a great place.
The Peninsula: Do you always push the boundaries of photography to create digitally manipulated art? CIW: I did nude photography for about 20 years and my work started to change about four years ago. I started to do candle work recently. In one piece I used 1800 candles, and I shot it only using the light that was reflected from the flicker of each candle; the effect was really beautiful and very soft. The Peninsula: Have advancements in technology changed the way that you work? CIW: Yes of course, but I still occasionally work with traditional forms of photography. It’s getting more difficult to find places that develop film, but I really enjoy the process of working in my own darkroom and using natural light to shoot pictures. Retouching has completely changed the way I work when I use digital photography. The Peninsula: Why do you think Korean art is becoming increasingly popular? CIW: People looking at Korean art from outside the country see it in a positive light; they like the art, but they don’t really understand all of the hurdles that we have to overcome. Artists in Korea are really struggling; we have to work hard in a difficult environment and that is probably why we end up producing the art that we do. The marketing side of the art industry is somewhat underdeveloped in Korea so artists are literally trying to merely exist; it’s not about making huge profits, it’s actually about survival. It’s difficult to become known and to make profits in this industry when you live there. If you can make it in Korea, you can make it anywhere. The Peninsula: How do you define success? CIW: You have to remember that in general artists are poor and we define success differently than the majority of people in other industries. If I can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and create art then I am happy. That’s fulfilment for me.
‘Joseon Dynasty Royal family series Empress #2’
Lost But Not Forgotten Text: Dervla Louli Images: Karen Bystedt
Karen Bystedt was 19 when she photographed Andy Warhol. He donned a brand new Perry Ellis suit as the New York University student smoothed his make-up before shooting from above to capture his best angle. That moment is one that Bystedt will never forget.
t has been two decades since Karen Bystedt captured American artist and cultural icon Andy Warhol on a rented Hasselblad. Since that time she has published books, exhibited at Art Basel Miami, become part of the Andy Warhol Museum collection and set up a successful photography business in Los Angeles. The toned, tanned, spiritual and successful 49 year-old embodies everything that West Coast living is about, including a fascination with celebrity. Bystedt was apprenticing with fashion photographer Marco Glaviano while studying film at New York University when she decided to create ‘Not Just Another Pretty Face’. The book featured portraits and interviews with America’s top male models alongside their ad campaigns for brands such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. “Marco did a lot of shoots for Harper’s Bazaar and Italian Vogue and had all the top models coming into his studio,” she says. “I was working on the project, and getting these models to shoot with me when I stumbled on a Barneys advertisement which featured Andy Warhol as a model.” Never one to miss an opportunity, Bystedt’s ambitious and relentless personality led her make a very important phone call the following day. “I thought it would be cool to include him in my book as a model, so I called the Interview magazine office, ‘The Factory’. To my amazement, Andy himself picked up the phone and asked me who I had already photographed for the book. Once I told him, he agreed to sit for me two weeks later.” The key to Bystedt’s approach was that she shot the man who led the Pop Art movement as a model, not as a famous artist or icon. “I connected with him as a person and he appreciated that,” she recalls as she relives the experience.
‘Pop Street Culture’
Bystedt remembers all of the intricate details from that epic day. Niceties such as the Perry Ellis suit he was wearing, an American flag that he had picked up from his desk, and his intensity all spring to her mind. He didn’t smile or flinch but she managed to capture one shot where he looked away from the camera momentarily, giving a glimpse into his more innocent and boyish side. The shoot was a success by all accounts, and Bystedt put the negatives away once the book was published, ready to move on to the next chapter of her burgeoning career. Los Angeles is a city full of big dreams and broken spirits. In order to succeed, it is often necessary to forge your own path, a notion that Bystedt embraced from a young age. “After I published ‘Not Just Another Pretty Face’, I had a chance to become a fashion photographer,” she says, “but I have always marched to my own tune and decided to work on a book based on actors who were passionate about their craft and which had longevity.” Bystedt published the books, ‘The New Breed’ in 1989, ‘Before They Were Famous’ in 1993, and more recently ‘They Dared To Dream’. The decision to base the books on actors and not models shaped her career for the next decade.
It was the careful selection of people in her books that garnered Bystedt acclaim later in life. “The actors I chose couldn’t be categorised in a group and were included for the right reasons,” Bystedt remarks. She admits that her great taste and sixth sense helped her notice stars before they were born, but other factors were more pivotal to her success. “My approach has always been to support people and to capture them as who they really are. I suppose you could say that I try to connect with their souls. It also helps that my background is in fashion photography, so I tend to make my subjects look as good as possible.” It’s easy to make Brad Pitt look good, but more difficult to get a candid interview from him, something that Bystedt accomplished with ease. “I interviewed Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Sandra Bullock years ago about their goals and spiritual beliefs,” she says. “Back then these now A-List actors didn’t know each other,” she comments. “So it has been fascinating to watch them work together over the years. Sandra Bullock asked me what Keanu Reeves was like and then they did the mega hit movie ‘Speed’ together. Brad Pitt told me he dreamed about being the number one guy on Oscar night, and he has manifested that. Johnny Depp said he wanted to play quirky roles, and by teaming up with Tim Burton he has built his career his own way.” As Bystedt’s hectic schedule grew even busier, she immersed herself in work.
The Warhol negatives were lost deep in her files and not spared a thought until many years later. “I was reading several articles about Andy and his art in 2011, and the topic of the negatives came up in a discussion with friends. I felt it was the right time to retrieve the images and share them with the world,” she recalls. It took her days to find 10 of the original 30 images and months to restore them, but the effort was worth it. “I showed them to Eric Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museum, who asked me to gift a selection to the Museum’s permanent collection.” She happily obliged and delivered four prints to the Museum where they still hang today. The retrieved works were next displayed at Art Basel 2011 in Miami, where artist Peter Tunney did a live instillation and silkscreen onto the Warhol prints. “I was introduced to him through Arlene Weiss, and following the successful Art Basel event, we decided to do another collaboration,” she says. “After Peter finished the 14 pieces, I met another artist, Speedy Graphito, at the Los Angeles Art Convention. He was excited about what Peter had done and wanted to do something similar in his own style. I am thrilled to have worked with both artists.” The Warhols have caused quite a stir around the world. One was auctioned at the Grand Prix in Monaco for The Special Olympics, Princess Charlene’s favourite charity. Sharon Stone auctioned off a second for AMFAR (The Foundation for Aids Research) at Milan Fashion Week, and the Hearst Foundation purchased a third before staging ‘Undiscovered Andy’, an exhibition at the Hearst Tower. As Bystedt’s unearthed prints wow people around the world, one thing is for certain. The Warhols may have been lost, but they will never be forgotten.
China’s Savoir Faire Text: Rachel Duffell Images: Courtesy of Shang Xia
Hermès-backed Chinese luxury brand, Shang Xia, is on a mission to bring China’s rich cultural heritage and wealth of creative craftsmanship into the future, reinterpreting master crafts for the contemporary world. Shang Xia makes these ancient traditions desirable, functional and relevant.
hang Xia’s charismatic frontwoman, Jiang Qiong Er, CEO and Artistic Director, is a friendly and enthusiastic individual, a smile ever-present on her welcoming face. When we meet she is dressed elegantly, as one would expect from someone whose business is financially backed by French purveyors of all things leather and luxurious, Hermès. Yet it is a surprise to learn that Shang Xia is not really a part of the fashion world. While Jiang might be wearing one of the few garments that China’s very own luxury brand, Shang Xia, produces - a cream-coloured Mongolian felt ‘sculpture’ jacket, kneaded and rolled into shape by two people over a month and a half to create a garment without cutting, seams or sewing - it is designed as a timeless and unique item, with the objective that it never goes out of style. The brand’s collections appear just once a year and all products are classic, artistic items, modern but enduring.
Jun Zi - Mahjong
Mini Tian Di
Jiang Qiong-Er is a Chinese National who first graduated with a degree in Art and Design from the prestigious Tong Ji University, followed by further studies at the Decorative Arts School in Paris in furniture and interior design. Jiang’s experiences inspired her to experiment with both influences of East and West in design, though her appreciation for China’s own rich artistic heritage and craftsmanship only grew upon her return to the East following her studies, and later becoming the driving force behind the founding of Shang Xia. Shang Xia means ‘up down’, something which represents the brand’s concern with opposites, whether it be tradition and innovation, East and West, or past and future. This relates to the ancient Chinese philosophy which states that people need to find harmony and balance between these two opposites. “Our mission is to take past history and traditions into the future,” explains Jiang. Shang Xia launched in September 2010 with its debut collection, ‘Heritage and Emotion’, but it had been in development for almost five years prior. It was key for Jiang that she met with the best craftsmen and artisans to develop the brand’s products. “It’s not a simple supply chain. We work with famous masters and
we need to create beautiful encounters with them. They are with us because they share the same dream - they also want to bring their know-how into the future,” explains Jiang, who is set on preserving the skills of Chinese artisans, which in many cases are currently unappreciated or unacknowledged, through meaningful relationships. Ever since Jiang started her career, she has continuously attempted to imbue her works with the beauty, heritage and spirit of her Chinese culture, whilst simultaneously bringing it into the present day. “When I have had the opportunity to create collections, be it furniture, jewellery, or whatever, I have always tried to bring a Chinese inspiration or special know-how into my designs, because this is my dream - to bring out traditional culture and share it with more Chinese and international friends.” As a result, the products of Shang Xia are elegant and innovative, while showing a reverence for the rich traditions of the country. The inaugural collection included zitan furniture. Zitan has been used for centuries in China. A rare wood, it is “more precious than gold and jade”, according to the collection catalogue. The timber is prime only when it is several hundred years old and just
Da Tian Di - Rocking Chair
10 to 20 percent of a tree can be used. It is also a hardwood so strong that it must be carved, and much of a zitan item’s final beauty actually comes from a painstaking polishing process. Eggshell porcelain also features, an interpretation of a technique that has existed for almost a thousand years in China, and which enables the creation of porcelain that is just 0.4 mm thick through a long process of paring and trimming. It can take up to two months just to make one bowl. A signature item from Shang Xia is its bamboo tea set, a porcelain crockery collection embellished with bamboo weaving which not only serves as decoration, but ensures that the tea stays warm. Bamboo weaving is another traditional craft from China where silk-like bamboo fibres, collected through a time-intensive process, are separated so that they are just 0.5 mm thick and intricately woven around the ceramic ware. Jade is perhaps one of China’s best known materials, and at Shang Xia it doesn’t go unnoticed as Jiang strives to make it more attractive to the country’s youth. A beautiful chain and pendant have been carved from one piece of jade in a process that takes up to four months and means that an entire necklace contains no joins.
Shang Xia launched with the financial backing of French luxury brand, Hermès, for whom Jiang previously worked, holding the role of Creative Director of Hermès windows in China. The involvement of Hermès is interesting as the brand is not involved in the creative direction or operations at Shang Xia. However, the two brands meet in the similarity of their philosophy and core values. As Jiang explains, the brand is replanting its ideas “as a seed into another civilisation” which also has a rich history of craftsmanship know-how. “But they didn’t start it themselves, because they are not from China. They are not Chinese. We discovered that we had the same dream,” says Jiang of the collaboration which has blossomed into Shang Xia. Together they built up the brand. “We were attracted by our same passion, values and understanding. But [in China] we have a lot of unique historical craftsmanship and we developed it quite independently,” adds Jiang of the discovery of various techniques and incorporation of the oldest and most treasured ancient crafts from across China into its products, as opposed to the European traditions that Hermès includes in its collections.
Like Hermès, most of Shang Xia’s products have a long waiting list, due to the specialist skills that go into their making. But, in a rapidly growing country like China, will its people be prepared to wait? “Our clients can. They are not fashion followers,” asserts Jiang. “They are all very cultured. They know what they want [but also] why they want it. They understand the quality, the time, the relationship, so they have no problem. And people who don’t understand…they are not our clients.” Since Shang Xia officially launched, there has been a focus on organic development. Little advertising or marketing has taken place. There is just one store at present, located in Shanghai and designed by renowned Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. While there is a desire to expand, it is essential that Shang Xia takes things slowly. With unique, handmade goods on offer, demand could easily come to far outweigh the supply of items, which Jiang has carefully considered. However, she is keen to eventually take the brand further not only in its home country, but also internationally. “Shang Xia is not only for the Chinese market,” says Jiang who states that the split is about 65 percent Mainland Chinese clientele to 35 percent international. “We are based on Chinese culture, but our next step will likely be Paris or Beijing. We will wait for the right opportunity. We need to find the right place,” she continues, relaxed and clearly in no hurry to expand. Shang Xia is a new aesthetic for China in the current century, seeking to address the nation’s rejection of its own rich heritage and diverse artisanal culture in favour of luxury brands and designs from the West. The brand produces items which are not only of the highest quality, but which are filled with emotion and feeling from some of China’s most renowned and skilled craftspeople. It is something that more and more of the country’s wealthy are beginning to look for, turning back to their own culture for a continuation of their heritage and tradition, brought forward with passion and innovation into the 21st Century. Shang Xia is indeed the past, present and future when it comes to homegrown luxury.
Crystal Clear Vision Text: Rachel Duffell Images: Courtesy of Lalique
Émile Gallé, a renowned French art nouveau glassmaker and artist, referred to his contemporary, René Lalique, as ‘the Rodin of transparency’. His ability to create pieces capable of capturing and reflecting light in so many different ways has given Lalique a heritage and tradition in glass and crystal making that it still upholds, unbroken, to this day.
Lalique employs the best designers and glass
workers to uphold traditional manufacturing processes.
aunching its first boutique in The Peninsula Hong Kong 30 years ago Lalique now has a presence in all major Asian cities. At its recent ‘Sculptor of Light’ exhibition showcasing Lalique’s iconic pieces, and featuring the Amitabul Buddha, the brand paid tribute to the tradition which René Lalique established and which the brand still strives to keep alive. Finding his beginnings in jewellery design, René Lalique designed for iconic houses such as Aucoc, Boucheron and Cartier before opening his own boutique. In 1890 Lalique was recognised as one of France’s foremost Art Nouveau jewellery designers, creating pieces for Samuel Bing’s shop, Le Maison de L’Art Nouveau, which gave its name to the movement. At the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, collectors, museums and royal courts worldwide purchased his work, establishing him as an important and innovative jeweller of the time and one whose highly sought-after pieces still attract the same calibre of buyer today. Due to much imitation and copying of his work, René Lalique began to move away from jewellery and into glass design. He enjoyed mixing this fragile yet workable material with gold, silver and enamel. In 1913 he purchased the glassworks at Combs-la-Ville and began to focus exclusively on glass, renouncing his jewellery work altogether and focusing
on the production of bowls, vases, statuettes and perfume bottles. Within a few years he had gained a complete knowledge of the nature of glass and could even control its transparency and ability to reflect. In 1922, Lalique founded his own glass factory which his son Marc later took over in order to continue the family tradition. As the son of the great René Lalique, Marc was often overshadowed by his father’s work but he made the crucial move for the Lalique brand from glass to the relatively unexplored medium of crystal and, as an engineer, developed many new techniques himself. This move led to the worldwide fame of the French crystal house. Today Lalique employs the best designers and glass workers to uphold traditional manufacturing processes. Currently Lalique retains eight Meilleurs Ouvriers de France title holders. This distinguished honour has been awarded every three years since 1924 to the best craftsmen of France in their particular fields. Jean Claude Hertrich, a Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, has been working for Lalique for more than 30 years, following in the footsteps of his father, a 43year veteran at the house. At the age of seven, Hertrich was introduced to the world of crystal making by his father and at 14 he began to learn this great art, deciding, after many visits to the Lalique factory at this impressionable age, that crystal art was the perfect field for him. As yet, he has never looked back.
Hertrich began at Lalique in the role of, in his words, “a simple glass maker”, though such a job is no simple task. There are two stages to the manufacturing process of crystal, namely “hot glass”, of which Hertrich is a part of, and “cold glass”. During this process the crystal ingredients are heated together and the molten substance is gathered and then cleaned, a process which requires every bubble and imperfection from the molten crystal fireballs to be removed with scissors. The object is then shaped, a procedure that can be carried out in a variety of ways from “soufflé fixe” (fixed while blown), to “soufflé tourné” (turned while blown) to “pressé” (pressed). The item is then re-heated and cooled slowly so that the crystal stabilises, otherwise the finished piece can break at the smallest shock. The cold glass stage involves cutting and touching up, as well as sculpting and finally finishing. Hertrich soon gained experience and a deep enough knowledge of crystal that he moved from the role of “simple glass maker” to expert glass blower. After acquiring these skills, he decided to develop a piece for the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition. The piece would be “a consecration of his heart” and of the deep love that he had for his work. The devoted hot-glass craftsman spent more than 450 hours over 18 months working on the project. As the competition was something separate from his work for Lalique, Hertrich could only spend his Saturdays developing it, denoting a project demanding conscientious devotion which, along with superb skill and talent, Hertrich proved he had. The Lalique style comes from an artistic gesture, outlining a drawing in total osmosis with crystal, a style that is recognisable through the manual modelling of the shapes and patterns, as if sculptured, the richness of the figurative details, and the different types of finishing which create this characteristic contrast of clear and matt crystal. The poetry expressed in exceptional items and the search for excellence comes together every day in the Lalique workshops. While creation and innovation are at the forefront of the artistic interplay of tradition and modernity, the magic of skill and enchantment of matter belong to the ‘Masters of Fire’ and ‘Sculptors of Light’. These expert glass workers are companions of an art, which they control with elegance,
juggling several talents from the infinitely small to the significantly large. At both ends of the scale, their proficiency is expressed by a search for perfection, a passion that guides the hands of these artistic craftsmen over the years and respects the beauty of their gestures and human talent. Whether they express their talents with a few dozen grams (for example in a Cabochon ring) or several kilos of precious crystal, these gatherers, blowers, cutters and engravers produce masterpieces on variable scales, clear evidence of unique expertise and an unparalleled artistic style. The exceptional Lalique signature reflects this richness in jewellery, vases, bottles, sculptures, furniture or decorative items. From the ‘Nude Venus’ to the ‘Cactus’ console, irrespective of the piece, the products pass through the hands of at least 20 master glass workers on their demanding journey. More than 30 transformations are sometimes necessary to ease the crystal as closely as possible towards the original design. The Lalique factory in Wingen-sur-Moder employs some of the best craftsmen in France. Today more than ever they use their talents for the benefit of the Lalique factory that has kept its original furnaces and expertise, which has been passed down through the ages from generation to generation. Crystal is also a family affair. The workers are glass workers or cutters and the profession is passed on from father to son or even from father to daughter. The older generation has passed on its experience and practice, not to mention pride in a profession which has been in their blood from a very early age. Lalique is a long way ahead of its competitors in the world of crystal making, yet is the only house that still manages to continue an age-old tradition. It is one of the last crystal brands to still handcraft pots in pure clay, making use of the tools of days gone by and taking on only the best craftsmen. When Master Craftsman Hertrich is asked if he will always work for Lalique, his response is filled with the same dedication that he holds towards his work. “I will always stay loyal to Lalique, it is in my heart.”
The Other Picasso Text: P Ramakrishnan Images: Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.
A lady that needs little introduction; Paloma Picasso. Her legend is gargantuan, even though she herself is a petite 5 ‘4”. Her stature however, as an iconic world figure remains indisputably large. The Peninsula discovers what it’s like to carry the burden of a colossal surname like an albatross around her neck…right next to some sizable pearls of her own design.
life worthy of a biopic starring an A-list actress of repute and calibre, whoever the chosen leading lady may be, she had better be versatile, striking, multi-lingual and have that most rarified of qualities, presence. From her childhood until today, at a youthful-looking 63, everything Paloma Picasso has done has burnished under the amber glow of the spotlight. If fame was a currency, she’d have been a billionaire at birth; if talent could be quantified, she’d be worth her weight in gold; and if legend was an art, she’d be a Picasso. To briefly recap, Paloma Picasso, fashion icon, parfumier and jewellery designer, is the eldest daughter of French artist Françoise Gilot and her famous Spaniard lover, Pablo Ruiz Picasso. Even before she was fully aware of the extent of her father’s deified status
in the art world, unbeknownst to her, she was his muse and his subject in his works ‘Paloma with an Orange’ and ‘Paloma in Blue’, among others. A tabloid figure that was hunted by the press, her regal profile was inked in many a newspaper during the heyday of Studio 54, which she sportingly admits she frequented “almost daily”. Was it really a hedonistic pleasure dome? “Yes!” she says with a laugh. “But it seemed natural at the time. When you’re doing it every day, it’s your routine, so you don’t think it’s so crazy or strange or whatever,” as she tries to put into words the psychedelic realm that had to be experienced in person and couldn’t be captured in the B-movie of the same name. “I’m much calmer now.”
copied one of my father’s paintings, one of Tom and
Jerry. I went to my father and asked, what do you think
of these, are they good?
Unlike actors that beget actor-children, Paloma did not follow in the footsteps of either of her parents – and fortuitously so, as she had the wisdom of knowing at a very young age that comparisons would be inevitable. “I remember when I was a little girl,” she says in her faint Spanish, regal accent, “I did this painting, a copy of something that was in the house. It was by Matisse. Then I copied one of my father’s paintings, one of Tom and Jerry. I went to my father and asked, what do you think of these, are they good?” Pursing her lips a tad, she tries to mimic her father’s voice. “He said to me, don’t copy anyone, just be yourself. And don’t come, even to me, to decide whether it’s right or not. In your heart you have to decide for yourself.” Following her heart is exactly what she did, continuing a passion born to her from youth, an endless fascination with trinkets and baubles. “I went into the business because I love jewellery so much,” she explains, having given up paint and palette at the age of 14, with no intention of going back. Coincidently, artist José Ruiz, father of Pablo, was also so overwhelmed by his son’s talent that he vowed never to paint again. “Even as a child you can see that I was often wearing jewellery in pictures, which is rare for a little girl. So I always had it within me. I would make things myself with whatever I could find around the house. And now I create with real gemstones!” As she walks around the room in grey slacks and a chic offthe-shoulder blouse, no hint of her signature look is visible. When told as much, she laughs. “Some red, some black, the 80s… life changes. Even I’ve changed with the times. Richard [Avedon] took pictures of that look. I wanted to look strong. It’s different now. There have been changes, different ideas along the way, and I’ve changed myself too, I’m not wearing the red lipstick any more!”
Indeed Paloma Picasso has grown and developed into a veritable brand of her own moniker, not unlike her illustrious father. The perfume was the beginning, bath and body products, cosmetics and home furnishings followed, as well as the legendary work she does for Tiffany & Co. Picasso’s jewellery has a signature look that’s hard to miss. They are all strong pieces that require a woman of certain confidence to carry them. Is what she sees in the mirror her muse? A publication once called her “the best model for her own brand”, while images of her flawless face were used as marketing tools for the perfume and jewellery line. She responds, “No. My muse changes often. For example, I would like to work with Lauren Bacall. She’s blonde and has so much spirit and lot of personality. I like people with big personalities.” Having also creating stylish leather goods and even wallpaper, one of Picasso’s many artistic endeavours included a turn in cinema. In the baffling ‘Immoral Tales’ (‘Contes Immorreaux’, 1974), directed by Polish director Walerian Borowczyk, she starred as a Hungarian countess with eccentric desires. A brazenly bold body of work, and most of it shot half-nude, she antithetically states, “I was a very shy person and I thought to myself, what is the most terrifying thing I could do? What’s going to cure me from shyness forever? Either I die doing it or if I survive then I come out stronger. So I did that one movie but I didn’t like…” She stops that train of conversation abruptly, perhaps in respect to the director who has since passed away. She continues, “Well, when you’re a creator, then you have more control over what you do, but when you’re an actress, you’re left in the hands of the director.” Surely she herself could direct? “No!” she asserts bluntly. “You know if you’re good at something, maybe you stick to it.”
Jewelled Jolie Text: Dervla Louliâ€ƒ Images: Courtesy of Robert Procop
Angelina Jolieâ€™s most recent collaboration with jeweller Robert Procop is a perfect reflection of her poise, grace and philanthropic spirit.
collection will donate 100 percent of profits to Jolie’s
charity, The Education Partnership for Children of Conflict.
obert Procop’s love affair with fine jewellery started from a young age. By the time he was a teenager the jeweller had established himself as a key player in the competitive industry and opened up a diamond store on Rodeo Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills. Since then he has expanded to Geneva and Hong Kong where his creations continue to fulfil expectations of value and beauty. He now creates exquisite jewellery pieces for the world’s most elite clientele and continues his life-long love affair with the most mysterious and coveted of all precious stones – the diamond. It was President Ronald Reagan who confirmed Procop’s reputation as a trustworthy and innovative jeweller. Since then he has created bespoke pieces for almost every President of the United States. His Midas touch is credited for transforming Asprey & Gerrard’s performance when he was entrusted by Her Majesty The Queen as CEO and Crown Jeweller for the United Kingdom. He has garnered a long list of the most illustrious celebrities in the world including Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert Downey Jr. and is recognised globally as a gemstone expert who exercises the ultimate discretion. Procop has enjoyed a lustrous business relationship with Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for over a decade. The jeweller and the actress first met at The Oscars in 2000 and bonded over their love of jewellery, and that chance meeting led to Procop sourcing and designing jewellery for Jolie’s film, ‘The Tourist’. Since then he has tailored gifts and fashioned more on-camera jewels for the power couple, including Jolie’s engagement ring that he co-
designed with Pitt. The actor was heavily involved with the process and oversaw every aspect from the elongated tablet shape of the centre diamond right through to the finishing touches. The first time the ring was spotted on his fiancé’s hand, the world stopped and stood still, catapulting Procop into the spotlight. His most recent collaboration with the stunning actress is ‘The Style of Jolie’ collection. The line is clean, pure and classy just like Jolie herself and her favourite colours and styles including her monochromatic dress sense are all reflected in the collection. It was created using emeralds, spinels, citrines, quartz and rubellites to perfectly capture the Jolie aesthetic. “Angelina possesses many talents and dimensions and these jewels mirror that depth with a spectrum of delights,” comments Procop. “At one end are the sensuous, rounded curves of the cushion and sumptuous pear-shaped pendants that conjure up the archetype of the eternal feminine. Other jewels resonate with a bolder aesthetic via sharp, dramatic lines. Yet a unified aesthetic remains and richly saturated, monochromatic gemstones are sculpted and cradled in a rich array of golds.” The collection will donate 100 percent of profits to Jolie’s charity, The Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. The first funds from the collection saw the completion of two schools in Afghanistan, creating new opportunities for the impoverished children in the grief-stricken area. This partnership highlights Jolie and Procop’s high ethical standards and extensive philanthropic efforts that they have both exhibited for many years. The jeweller adheres to trading exclusively with members of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and the actress dedicates a large portion of her life to helping children around the world. Jolie’s creative mind and Procop’s wealth of experience combine to produce a collection that is both beautiful and beneficial. As each piece is bought and proceeds are donated to a worthy cause, the actress and jeweller are proving that the world of gemstones is one with many dimensions.
Crowning Jewels Text: Rachel Duffellâ€ƒ Images: Courtesy of Robinson Pelham
In April 2011, the earrings worn by Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, at the Royal Wedding were the creation of London fine jewellers Robinson Pelham, a design partnership formed 16 years ago. The royal commission thrust the company into the limelight. The Peninsula finds out more about the boutique luxury jewellery designers and their collections.
t the end of a quiet mews in south west London, in a location kept under wraps on the company website, you will (or perhaps won’t) find boutique jewellers Robinson Pelham, a design collective founded in 1996 by Kate Pelham Burn, Vanessa Chilton and Zoe Benyon. With 20 years of experience between them, working for luxury jewellery houses as goldsmiths, gemologists and designers, the time came to start their own business. The catalyst was a particularly tempting group of private commissions which they felt they could not give their full attention to until they left their jobs. And so Robinson Pelham was born. The company has gone from strength to strength over the years, creating the diamond earrings for Kate Middleton’s big day in 2011, delicate pieces featuring stylised oak leaves with a pearshaped diamond-set drop and pavé set diamond acorn, the design of which was based on the family’s coat of arms and made to echo the bride’s tiara. This significant creation would also coincide with a year of celebrations as the trio celebrated 15 successful years of running a boutique jewellery company that has only continued to grow over time, in particular since that royal commission. As well as creating bespoke pieces for private clients, Robinson Pelham also produces a number of collections annually, comprising highly desirable pieces combining quality stones with intricate designs. The Peninsula: What inspires your designs? Robinson Pelham: Ideas come from organic shapes, both amorphic and biomorphic. We like to design using elements of these forms to create structural shapes. Stones are fantastic for creating patterns either in a pave setting or as a textural mass of rubover setting. Colour in a pave setting is always inspirational to us as you can create shapes within the setting that make surfaces look like they are undulating.
TP: How many collections do you produce each year and can you tell us a little about your most recent collections? RP: We design between 10 and 15 collections every year but the main collection is complete by September. We also produce a new smaller collection at the end of Spring. Some of our recent collections include the ‘Bubble Collection’, so-called for the incorporation of our love of circles. We wanted to create earrings and rings that could be worn during the day and evening, but could be set with either all diamonds, or with a mixture of coloured stones. The shape of the ring makes it incredibly comfortable to wear and we decided to create a ‘bubble’ effect by setting different sized diamonds into individual settings and joining them together to maximise the sparkle of the stones. The earrings have no rigid edges, so the diamonds are set randomly on a curved surface which wraps around the ear. Our ‘Champagne’ collection was based on Marie Antoinette’s champagne glasses. We were keen to use diamonds and so we set them in individual settings asymmetrically so that their reflection would be seen over the concave surface of the circle. We also used a selection of ice diamonds which are slightly more milky in their appearance than normal diamonds. TP: What role does Robinson Pelham play in the design of a piece when people come to you for a commission? RP: We discuss the desires of the client and devise a brief which we then pass to Vanessa who does the designs. We ensure that we have as much information as possible from the client so that we can come back with three designs which are as close to the brief as possible. The creative stage of the process involves technical drawings executed in either pencil or aquarelle so that the client can see the piece before it exists.
jewellery is both traditional and modern in style.
Collection pieces have no boundaries and we can grow the seed of an idea to any height, whilst private commission pieces are very much designed according to the client’s specifications.
TP: How much of the design and making of a jewellery piece do you do in-house? RP: All of the designs are drawn and painted in-house and all of our commissioned jewellery is created in British workshops. Our private commission pieces are handmade in Britain, but our normal stock items, for example some of the chains, are made in Italy and France. TP: What materials do you favour working in? RP: We like platinum, 18 carat and 9 carat gold. We also source gemstones from all over the world and have dealers based in various countries. We buy from dealers that we know well so we are safe in the knowledge that our stones are responsibly sourced, although there is not yet a global structure in place to make this easy. TP: How would you describe the style of the jewellery that you design? Is there anything that particularly symbolises a piece made by Robinson Pelham? RP: Our jewellery is both traditional and modern in style. Collection pieces have no boundaries and we can grow the seed of an idea to any height, whilst private commission pieces are very much designed according to the client’s specifications. We work closely with them to develop designs that suit the wearer and the occasion. We further individualise each piece with hidden messages, birthstones and symbols. Each commission should add to the client’s collection and can also be worn easily with existing jewellery. TP: Do you do a lot of transformation work? What are the greatest challenges with this? RP: Yes we do a lot of transformation work and it’s a very significant part of the business. We specialise in old-to-new, whereby we
redesign and revive old jewels. We never know what we might be presented with, so it can be a very exciting challenge. And the idea of being given something dusty and unloved and then being able to give back an adored new jewel with most of the same ingredients is very pleasing. TP: How have you seen the market change since you founded Robinson Pelham in 1996? RP: Robinson Pelham started by word-of-mouth, so all of our initial customers were known to us either as friends or recommended by those friends. The ripples have now spread so that we have a different spectrum of clients from all over the globe, from London to Hong Kong, each bringing with them their various tastes and styles. www.robinsonpelham.com
Aude’s Atelier Text: Dervla Louli Images: Courtesy of Lane Crawford Portrait: Lucy Mcnally
Aude Lechère is a coquette native Parisian beauty; her soft French accent and delicate hands are the
Despite Borgonovo’s persistent requests for an interview over the following months, Lechère politely continued to decline. Fast forward four years and the same journalist saw an American lady wearing a ring during Paris Fashion Week that only one designer could have made. “She spotted my friend wearing a piece I created and recognised the design of the ‘Cardinal’ ring, especially my signature gold setting around the stone. She contacted me after that in 2001 asking once more if she could do a piece on my jewellery, and this time I said yes.” The rest as they say is history. Following the publication of the feature article in W magazine, phone calls from Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys ensued, and before Lechère realised what was happening, she was on a flight to New York. “I felt like I was living the American dream when I got the phone calls,” recalls Lechère. “I went to Bergdorf Goodman first and the buyer was a Russian woman who was quite cold; I didn’t get a great feeling about a possible partnership.” Her second appointment brought her to Barneys where the meeting was much more enjoyable. “The experience at Barneys was so different; it was just so relaxed. I felt like they connected with my jewellery and they were very passionate about it so we signed the contract that day. What amazed me was that they had never heard of me before they had seen the article; they didn’t know who I was, and for some reason that was so incredibly important to me. They loved my creations, my designs and the bespoke nature of my collections. My atelier wasn’t yet created and in September that year I received an enormous order from Barneys which really helped me to build my collections and seriously plan my future in the industry.” Borgonovo and Lechère are now like sisters, and the journalist has supported Lechère throughout her journey, and constantly features her new collections in articles.
perfect backdrop for her large cocktail rings and colourful creations. The high-end fine jewellery that she produces is available in limited quantities and only seven pieces are created from each mold in her atelier in Paris. She keeps the eighth piece for her own collection and she is the proud owner of a highly covetable jewellery box. 2012 marked her launch in Asia, and customers are already clamouring to own a piece of her bespoke creations.
t is unusual to find a designer in the 21st Century who refuses to self-promote, but Aude Lechère is one of these rarities. The story behind her brand began in 1997, when a journalist approached her from W magazine. She had spotted the ‘Cardinal’ ring that Lechère was sporting on her finger and enquired as to who the designer was. “I went to New York with my husband as a tourist in 1997, and while I was out for dinner I had a chance encounter with Carmen Borgonovo, a journalist. She told me she loved the jewellery I was wearing and enquired as to who had created it. When I told her it was me, she asked my permission to write a feature article.” Lechère refused her request and explains why she turned down the offer. “I was creating my jewellery but I wasn’t in the business per se, and at the time my atelier did not exist. Simply put, I told her that she could not write about me or my jewellery.”
Lechère began her fashion career at the House of Dior in her early 20s, where she gained a wealth of experience in the luxury market and enjoyed her time at the renowned fashion house. Although Dior Joaillerie did not exist at the time, she is not dissimilar to Victoire de Castellane, the Creative Director behind Dior Joaillerie. Both incorporate intensely coloured jewels into their designs and believe that both the setting and the stones used are of equal importance. Lechère’s eyes light up when she describes the use of colour throughout her collections. “I love colour, and there are so many semi-precious stones that have such vibrant hues that are not present in other stones.” While other couture jewellers insist on incorporating diamonds and precious stones into their designs, Lechère is an exception to the industry norm. “If I find a stone that I love I will use it, because the true value of my jewellery comes from what happens after I set the stones. My latest collection features rough stones and I have such a large choice so I will never limit myself in term of which materials I use.” Heavy settings and irregular shapes make up Lechère’s signature style and the ‘Cardinal Style’ collection was what put her on the fast track to success. “Setting stones in irregular gold settings is my speciality. I dislike geometry, and I love when you can really see that something is made by hand. This is evident in my jewellery; you can see that it is made in the atelier by a small team and not by machine. It makes every piece unique.” Lechère comments that occasionally she finds one of her creations so beautiful that she is tempted to display it as art. “I feel that a piece of jewellery is not merely an ornament, it is a sculpture, and there are pieces from my collection which I may recreate in the future to display in showcase cabinets.” Her brightly coloured baubles may not be works of art in the traditional sense, but many pieces are one-of-a-kind. “There are only seven pieces recreated from each mold, and I use a different combination of stones in each piece so they are really unique.” Lechère has always been attracted to rings and she believes that they are the true foundation of each collection. “I always wear a ring, and I start with that because it is the most visible piece of jewellery. A necklace or an earring can be lost, but you always see
a woman’s ring. You are living and moving with your hands and therefore it creates a woman’s allure. If a lady is wearing a cocktail ring, she is already dressed.” When asked about piece that truly represents her new collection she talks about ‘The Planetarium’, a spectacle of colourful stones set into a bracelet. It is in the usual collection of seven, but they are all different, as each bracelet uses various patterns of stones. “It is difficult to pick a favourite piece because if I don’t connect with what I have created, it will never leave my atelier!” Lechère’s inspiration is organically obtained, and all of her pieces incorporate different aspects from the earth. Her collaboration with Baccarat was based on nature and was very well received. “Everything I do is inspired by nature, because everything evolves from nature. I recently found beautiful books on trees. The bark of the tree and the different patterns that come from the earth inspire me, so perhaps a new collection will even evolve from this book.” Summer 2012 marked Lechère’s launch at Lane Crawford, Hong Kong’s elite fashion department store. She is one of many designers taking the city by storm who has an educated view on the luxury goods industry in Asia and more importantly her new customer base. “Most of my clients are in London but they are not all English; they are Italian, Indian and many other nationalities. I also have customers in New York. All these women are looking for something personal, something special. If they don’t know my brand it doesn’t concern them, and this is an important aspect for me. On the day I launched, my customers were primarily concerned about designs over branding and this is still true to this day. They connect with my jewellery and the price point doesn’t bother them.” Winning over the Asian market will be a pivotal factor for Lechère’s global success over the coming years and the designer is well aware of this. “I know that Asia is the future, so perhaps I should actually relocate there. It would be a big change, but it makes perfect sense to me.” On that note our meeting is over and Aude clasps her hands together as she raises from her seat set to take on the dynamic Asian fashion scene.
At One With Nature Images: Lakshmi Harilela Styling: Ann Tsang Jewellery: Henri J. Sillam
Many of Austrian jeweller Henri J. Sillam’s creations are modelled after living creatures from nature, from the jointed legs of the ‘Spider’ brooch to the diamond stamens of his ‘Fleur-de-Lys’ brooch, which gently quiver as the wearer moves. They are all fine examples of Sillam’s whimsical style which has no colour limits. Pieces incorporate green turquoise from Iran, vivid lavender jade from China and pink phosphosiderite from Chile, amongst other rare stones. Henri J. Sillam The Peninsula Beverly Hills 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90212 USA firstname.lastname@example.org
One of A
Text: Ann Tsang Portrait: Eric Bernatets
Each jewellery piece from ‘Damian By Mischelle’ is handcrafted in one of its ateliers by a team of specialist craftsman applying the highest quality control standards. The face behind the unique Vietnamese-based concept is confident that the combination of design, quality and combinations of stones incorporated into each piece is unique. These elements underpin the very essence of the brand as well as forging the trust shown to it by clients across the world.
Image: Olaf Mueller
t’s a hot and humid afternoon in Hong Kong. Walking into our designated meeting place, there is no sign of that. On a couch within the walls of an understated living room of sorts, which is actually an exclusive members-only cocktail bar, the jeweller simply known as ‘Mischelle’ is seated almost like a peacock, albeit without the preening of feathers. Under a frame of white blonde hair is a delicate Asian face and a reluctance to talk about herself, as she prefers to let her creations take centre stage. The first point of reference is Chanel, simply because she is dressed head-to-toe in it, but her fine jewellery speaks a little louder than Karl Lagerfeld’s latest prêt-à-porter collection. However, there is an important link between the two that is about to unfold. The French-born jeweller extraordinaire, as it transpires, had her first calling when she trained with Chanel in the Place Vendôme, Paris, where she was part of the design team when the brand first launched its first fine jewellery line in 1997. Coco Chanel in fact had her first exhibition of jewellery in 1932, but it was not until more than 60 years later that the concept took on a new meaning and evolved into a commercial success. “One could never imagine that those first pieces were designed so long ago. The concepts and creativity of Mademoiselle Chanel were phenomenal.” states Mischelle with a burst of passion. “They have amazing longevity and I actually own two of those original pieces. My desire is that my own creations share some part of that same longevity and that my children are as proud to pass them on to their own children.” Fast forward to 2002 and 10,000 kilometres east of the Place Vendome, Mischelle found herself in Saigon and the country of her origin. She had visited previously in her early 20s because she wanted to learn more about where she came from, but the second landing brought something very different. “I decided I wanted to stay this time and build something myself. My friends at Chanel encouraged me to pursue my own dreams, so I opened my own atelier workshop,” she recalls. And that she did. “The first stage for me was learning the entire process, as my training was from the design side. I needed to actually make the jewellery myself but I couldn’t do that alone. Fortunately Saigon has a very artisanal history, and there are many families that have passed jewellerymaking craftsmanship and tradition through many generations.” She pauses to sip on her orange juice before continuing, “I learned their skills and taught them about both the design aspects and new techniques for setting. It took me about five years of learning before I could realise my designs into self-produced pieces.” Initially Mischelle sold to private clients in Europe. “I never wanted to be mass market,” she states. “I just loved being in my atelier and working on designs that inspired me. In the early days,
it was more about passion than business and I was much more focused on designing than selling my own products.” As time progressed, and with a great deal of learning achieved, Mischelle, with the support of her husband, former investment banker Damian (after whom her collections are named), evolved this niche business to an altogether new level. “He [Damian] encouraged me to explore my craft, expand our capabilities, and push the boundaries much more. It let me take more risks and that is when ‘Damian By Mischelle’ really started to attract clients looking for fine jewellery that is both of exceptional quality and offers something beyond traditional design parameters.” Today ‘Damian By Mischelle’ is firmly positioned as a boutique luxury brand, accessible to those in the know. It is based out of a discretely located showroom villa in Saigon that also serves as the brand’s design hub. Chief Designer Mischelle produces several relatively small collections a year to showcase her sparkling art and share knowledge with her clients about new gem finds. But the real glitz lies in the bespoke, one-off pieces designed for specific clients. She restricts herself to making only several hundred pieces each year which she says allows her to “indulge in my obsessive and compulsive tendencies in terms of detailing and quality.” And the ability to choose her clients is, as she happily admits, one of her greatest luxuries. The topic of clients brings us to one of the intriguing quirks that further defines the brand. ‘Damian By Mischelle‘ has a remarkably extensive body of work for men. Mischelle proceeds to launch into what is clearly one of her pet passions. “Jewellery for men is much more challenging for both a designer and a business. Persuading men that they really can carry off a piece that we have designed is an art in itself. It’s about confidence and also a lack of familiarity because there are so few men’s design pieces out there to compare it to.” This particular gauntlet is one that she clearly meets head-on. ‘Damian By Mischelle‘ does things a little differently. “We produce some very edgy designs for men, mostly in the fine jewellery range,” says the designer. And she isn’t joking. The largest piece that she has designed for a man this year featured a 30 carat sapphire and a cascade of baguette diamonds. “Very wearable,” she confirms, without any hint of French irony. But the design spectrum also includes some more architectural and mechanical looking designs that Mischelle says fit well into the “boys and their toys” mindset of many of her clients. And a great deal of these are custom-produced to match cars, boats or a favourite set of golf clubs.
Apparently once the design bug has bitten the men, one piece just isn’t enough, a point that Mischelle readily confirms. “Men are hunter-gatherers by nature. Once they take possession, and the rest of the pack approves, they keep coming back, as it becomes part of their competitive edge.” Reluctantly leaving the men aside for a moment, we venture into the subject of unusual commissions, which reveals some truly interesting answers. “We do lots of fun design projects - there is nothing we have said ‘no’ to so far, at least from a technical standpoint. Such as? “No names, but I created a diamondembellished stem cap for the owner of a very exclusive bicycle brand. It cost far more than the actual carbon fibre racing bike itself, but it was what his wife wanted. We have also put together a completely diamond-encrusted locket to house a client’s lovingly lost wisdom tooth - and yes, we even polished the molar alongside the diamonds before popping it inside!” The custom design team is currently working on everything from colour-graded gem key fobs to pooch tiaras, and umbrellas that cost as much as a small apartment. At this point, we would expect nothing less... Abruptly changing topics, Mischelle moves onto the stones themselves. We obsess about our gems. We bring top grade rubies, spinels, and sapphires from Burma, emeralds direct from Colombia, and so on. Origin is extremely important,” she states. “We tend to deal with family businesses and we spend a great deal of time refining our supplier network. There has to be a high level of trust and understanding so that clients know the precise provenance of the feature gems.” Sapphires are without doubt Mischelle’s favourite stone, as evidenced by an impressive 29 carat royal blue specimen perched on one of her finely manicured fingers. “We source them in every colour, including pink, green, and even colour-changing varieties. Recently there have been some beautiful rainbow colour pastel pieces from Madagascar to work with.” Warming to the theme, Mischelle reveals that she will shortly unveil a new collection of just 13 pieces that features a stunning selection of sapphires based around a playful swan theme. Two years in the making, the ‘Festival Collection’ is both celebratory and unique. “No two clients will have the same piece,” asserts Mischelle. “This is a very important point for many of our long-term clients - beyond even the complexity of the settings and the splendour of the gems. They want the only one of its kind and this is where we excel.” ‘Damian By Mischelle’ catapults these swans into the 21st Century by working extensively with baguette diamonds and upping the ante on the technology used in the settings. As Mischelle elaborates from her swirl of Parisian tweed, “I have always loved the baguette cut. It is certainly more complex to work with, but
the effect is utterly chic and contemporary. I fall in love all over again when I see these pieces in the cabinet. Is that bad?” One set within the collection, ‘Pastel Profusion’, has at its very heart an array of 84 carats of round-cut pastel sapphires that shine as brilliantly as diamonds. This necklace took more than a year to complete, with the designers and craftsman seeking the perfect balance between opulence and romance. “The Festival Collection is truly fit for a Princess,” states the designer. “It will stand the test of the finest red carpet event right through to the most romantic of dinner encounters. Not quite everyday jewellery,” she says with a grin, “but almost...” So what does the future hold in store for ‘Damian by Mischelle’? “As we grow, we are fanatical about sustaining both our processes and the way that we interact with our clients,” says the designer. “The cycle for product development can be several years. We have some some fabulous designs and stones that have not quite completed the full journey yet, so we are anxious to finally showcase these pieces in the year ahead. And of course it is absolutely impossible to predict what direction some of the commissions will take us.” Mischelle also hints that there will be a new brand launch in 2013, but details are still firmly under wraps. For now, she remains impeccably presented and deliciously tight-lipped, but you can bet when all is revealed, the result will be yet another eye-popping surprise... Appointments can be arranged through www.damianbymischelle. com or email@example.com. Upon request, Mischelle will travel to see clients for the consultation and design process.
Celebration of An Icon Text: Ann Tsang Images: © HARRY WINSTON, Rizzoli New York, 2012
In 1954 Harry Winston proclaimed: “People! Drama! Romance! Precious Stones! Speculation! Excitement! What more could you want?” Harry Winston, Inc. is America’s premier diamond specialist and one of the most exclusive names in fine jewellery and watch making. Founded by Harry Winston himself in 1932, the company is a favourite of royalty and celebrities, and its designs are frequently seen on red carpets all over the globe.
he House of Harry Winston recently released a luxurious new coffee table book celebrating the extraordinary legacy of brand. Compiling the wisdom, wit, anecdotes and insights of the man behind the legend, Mr. Harry Winston, the book recounts the definitive history of the House, from its inception, to present day, as well as the future. Featuring archival and contemporary images - from never-before-seen jewellery designs to red carpet photos, historic advertising campaigns, workshop images and legendary diamonds - each chapter represents a visual vault of the company’s most definitive achievements since its founding 80 years ago. The fascinating book presents an unparalleled look at the glamour, romance, innovation, and adventure behind a true international icon, and how a childhood encounter with an emerald ignited an empire built with the world’s most breathtaking jewels and daring timepiece designs. With a Foreword written by André Leon Talley, a contributing editor to American Vogue, for which he writes the monthly ‘Life with André’ column, this 290-page book, published by Rizzoli, is a must for all jewellery lovers and those who appreciate the very finest things in life... www.harrywinston.com www.rizzoliusa.com
Harry Winston New York Salon Interior ÂŠ HARRY WINSTON, Rizzoli New York, 2012
Rawlings Hands Image ÂŠ HARRY WINSTON, Rizzoli New York, 2012
Asscher Cut Diamond Pendant ÂŠ HARRY WINSTON, Rizzoli New York, 2012
Text: Ann Tsang Portrait: Lakshmi Harilela Images: Courtesy of Graff
Graff was founded in Hatton Garden, London in 1960 by Laurence Graff and since then the company has grown to its present position as one of the leading global diamond jewellery brands with more than 30 stores worldwide and corporate offices in London, New York and Geneva. The Peninsula meets the prestigious brand’s Founder.
aurence Graff began as an apprentice at the age of 15 in London’s Hatton Garden, making samples of semi-precious rings. He decided to upgrade his rings and starting using small diamonds which as time progressed, became ever larger. The ambitious young Graff began travelling to the far corners of the world with his designs, creating increasingly more important pieces as his client list steadily grew. His success abroad did not go unnoticed, and in 1973 he became the first jeweller to be presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. In 1974 Graff opened his first major retail store in London’s Knightsbridge where he welcomed clients from all over the world. The 1990s saw Graff seek a change in refinement and style and in 1993 the brand opened a boutique on the city’s prestigious New Bond Street. The success of the new store started the company thinking about similar retail shops abroad. Monte Carlo was subsequently followed by Courchevel, Geneva and the United States. Today, there are more than 30 stores worldwide. Graff’s business became the first in the international, and very competitive, diamond industry, to be vertically integrated: able to take a diamond all the way from acquiring it in the rough through to selling it in one of its boutiques. Graff currently has manufacturing
operations in Johannesburg, Antwerp, Mauritius and New York, cutting and polishing tens of thousands of diamonds. The production of the most fabulous jewels in the world for all the Graff stores is done mainly at the company’s headquarters, in two adjacent 18th Century townhouses in London’s Mayfair. Laurence Graff himself still symbolises the global brand he has built. It remains a family business and he works with his son Francois, his brother Raymond and his nephew, Elliot, but the Founder still oversees the finding and production of the unique, large and rare gems he has always loved with a passion. Following its opening in Hong Kong more than five years ago at The Peninsula Hong Kong, Graff showcased one of the rarest diamonds – a red diamond, weighting 1.05 carats. This radiant cut, purplish red diamond was set in a platinum rose gold ring with two heart shaped diamonds. Very few red diamonds have ever been discovered, which makes them exceptionally rare and extremely valuable. In fact red diamonds are so rare that most jewellers have actually never seen one, and will unlikely ever own one. The world’s largest red diamond weighs only 5.11 carats, compared with over 600 carats for the largest polished diamond of any kind.
The colour quality of a diamond is absolutely critical. These rare, naturally coloured diamonds are known as ‘fancies’ and come in a variety of hues and depths of colour – red, pink, blue, green and canary yellow – making them particularly sought after. As very few fancy diamonds are of exceptional quality, those that do exist are considered to be extremely valuable. Graff also handles the purest red rubies and vivid green emeralds to the richest blue sapphires. Some of the stones are centuries old and steeped in myth and history, while others have just been discovered and brought to life in Graff’s own workshops. Having set an unsurpassed standard of quality and excellence, the brand takes great pride in knowing that these gems of everlasting beauty will be passed from generation to generation, building their own legends on the way. Laurence Graff also known as the ‘King of Diamonds’, has handled many of the world’s famous diamonds. He once acquired an exceptional diamond and was so entranced by its sheer incredibility that he immediately named it ‘The Magnificence’. This remarkable emerald-cut diamond weighing 243.96 carats was classified by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) as excellent. It was sold for an undisclosed sum. Mr. Graff has an innate knowledge as to which diamonds he should purchase and is able to acquire the most fabulous of all stones available, thanks to his lifelong passion. The Peninsula: What made you decide to go into the diamond business? Laurence Graff: I remember seeing my first diamond and looking inside the stone and being fascinated. This wonder has always stayed with me. TP: How many stores do you currently operate around the world? Do you have further expansion plans? LG: We have more than 30 boutiques around the world now, and we currently don’t have enough diamonds to have many more! TP: What are your most important markets? LG: Asia is a very strong market for us and China is now very important for the jewellery business. I am optimistic that the globalisation of the brand will continue. TP: Do you customise pieces specifically for local markets? LG: We sell the same product everywhere and nothing is made specifically for local markets. People come to us for the Graff experience and for very special things.
TP: What differentiates Graff from other luxury jewellery brands? LG: We have the finest cutting in diamonds, rare stones and the best certificates. Our stones have life. We source our diamonds in the rough and the best ones go into the jewellery whilst the rest go into the wholesale market. We are in the position to offer the best possible product. Our designs are very classic and we aim to make the metal almost disappear so that the stones are enhanced to the maximum. The joints are subtle and soft, and the jewellery almost moves. TP: How much active involvement do you have in the creation of the pieces? LG: We have a team of designers but I personally instigate most of the ideas and oversee the cutting and designing of the stones. As a family business, we have that very necessary personal touch. Most pieces, although classic in design, are very up-to-date and modern in their look. TP: Are diamonds as a lucrative form of investment? LG: Diamonds are a tremendous form of investment as of course they have increased in price substantially. TP: On average, how long does it take to create a Graff piece from start to finish? LG: Mounting any piece can take up to a few months, but a 26-carat diamond can take more than eight months to cut from the rough before it is mounted and finished. TP: What was created from the famous ‘Lesotho’ diamond that once came into your hands? LG: The ‘Lesotho’ diamond was cut into 26 pieces and mounted to create a necklace. A second diamond was made into a pair of pear-shaped earrings of 60 carats each. TP: You are known to have a very loyal client base. Do you take time to meet your customers personally? LG: Our customers are very loyal and our client base is almost like a club. They visit us in each of the cities they travel to. I often meet them personally to find out what they’re interested in and it’s always a privilege for me. It tells me about their taste. But in general I’m a much more of a behind-the-scenes person.
As Time Goes By Text: Rachel Duffellâ€ƒ Images: Courtesy of Rolex
The historic Bund in Shanghai is becoming home to more and more Western luxury brands. One of the latest additions is The Rolex Experience, not just a store from which Rolex can offer its highly sought-after timepieces, but a monument to the brand, its heritage, history and craftsmanship.
he House of Roosevelt at Number 27 on The Bund in Shanghai, which dates back to 1922, is just one of many examples of distinctive architecture that make the expansive street the attractive destination that it has become today. It is also home to The Rolex Experience which occupies over 800 square metres on the ground floor. The brands that inhabit the stately buildings along The Bund do so subtly, the ability for them to advertise their names restricted by the nature of these timehonoured structures and their historic façades. Yet the signature Rolex green of the brand is visible through the ground floor windows of the Renaissance-style venue that is both store and journey of discovery, almost a museum dedicated to the traditions of the brand. For more than 100 years, Rolex has been present in China, almost as long as its extensive history. Rolex was officially founded in 1908 by Hans Wilsdorf, who had a vision to create robust and reliable wristwatches that would one day replace pocket watches. In just two years, Wilsdorf successfully managed to change public perceptions of the wristwatch which was initially viewed as an ornamental novelty, rather than a precise timepiece. Having registered Rolex as a trademark on July 2nd, 1908, just two years later Wilsdorf had created a wristwatch whose chronomatic precision and reliability was already being rewarded, first with an official certificate from the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne, Switzerland in 1910, and second with its award of a class “A” precision certificate by the Kew Observatory in Great Britain, a distinction previously reserved solely for marine
chronometers. It is these achievements that marked the first stage of the history of Rolex and which introduces visitors to The Heart of Rolex, a key part of The Rolex Experience. The Rolex Experience represents a key place to experience the brand in China, even though there are more than 230 other official points of sale throughout the nation. The venue on The Bund is a place where the brand hopes to reveal not only the expertise and heritage behind the tradition of its watches, but also the lifestyle and passion that goes along with its impressive timepieces, from its arts initiatives and patronage programmes to sponsorship in all realms of life. The Rolex Experience is made up of three parts - The Pulse of Rolex, The Heart of Rolex and The Gallery. The Pulse of Rolex is a dynamic space which allows for the presentation of temporary exhibitions as well as events. However it is The Heart of Rolex next door, which is a permanent exhibition that strives to get to the crux of the brand and to unveil some of the mysteries surrounding it and its development over the years. From details of the brand’s founding to revelations on its perfection of chronometric precision as it advanced technologically while retaining a consistent aesthetic code which remains today, these moments are displayed visually in The Heart of Rolex. Timeless and elegant style has become a part of Rolex’s charm and popularity, and the brand strives to preserve it, even as new watches are developed and better technologies incorporated, as evidenced by the range of watches on display.
The Heart of Rolex permanent exhibition details the early history and development of the brand before the interactive side of the experience begins. There is a video which takes viewers from China to Switzerland as it explains what goes on at The Foundry, displaying Rolex’s mastership of every stage of production. Over 200 components make up each and every Rolex watch, and all are made and manufactured at various locations in Switzerland. Embracing technological advancements and visitor interaction, Rolex reflects its detailed manufacturing process in one room of the exhibition where there are a number of screens with accompanying control systems where customers can discover more about the research and development that has gone into the creation of Rolex watches through 3D animation and personalised audio commentaries at each screen point. The brand reveals a number of patented procedures which it holds and their role in various watches; Rolex holds more patents than any other watch brand. In another area, a 360-degree screen enables viewers to be transported under the sea with the Oyster, which was launched in 1926, as the video follows the subtle changes that have been made to Rolex’s famed watch over the years to improve it. The Oyster was the world’s first waterproof and dust-proof wristwatch. A reflection of nature, the design for the watch was based on the shellfish’s protective hermetic shell, the watch offering optimal protection for its movement and enabling advancements in the underwater world. This watch led to Rolex’s esteemed relationships with the world of sport. Mercedes Gleitze was the first Englishwoman to successfully swim the English Channel in 1927 and it was with a Rolex Oyster on her wrist, the 10-hour feat proving to the world the reliability and robustness of the timepiece. Over the years Rolex went on to partner with a whole host of sportsmen and women, the Oyster often in a front-row seat when it came to events of endurance and great achievement. In 1935, Malcolm Campbell was accompanied by an Oyster in his record-breaking land speed race, as was Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier in 1935. The Oyster can even boast being the first watch to reach the summit of Everest on the arm of Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Rolex has always been keen to form relationships with high achievers who have included partners from various areas of expertise, including golf, tennis, the arts, sailing, equestrian and automobile sports, as well as teaming up with explorers. From Placido Domingo to Phil Mickelson, Roger Federer to Zara Phillips, there are a
number of well-known Western names, though the brand is keen to establish further partnerships with China’s new faces, including golfer Liang Wenchong, tennis player Zheng Jie and pianists Li Yundi and Wang Yuja. There is still a great deal of opportunity for Rolex to form relationships with China’s sporting and artistic luminaries and further exhibit its passion for excellence in a manner not only established through its exceptional timepieces. The final part of The Heart of Rolex introduces visitors to The Rolex Institute, illuminating the various philanthropic pursuits of the brand. The Rolex Awards for Enterprise is a programme which rewards entrepreneurial men and women who strive to advance human knowledge and well-being in science, technology, exploration, the environment and cultural heritage, and more generally honours those who strive to improve life on our planet. The other major component of the Institute is The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative which, since 1976, has sought to perpetuate a relationship between different generations with regards to dance, theatre, music, film and visual arts, enlisting Oscar winners and Nobel Prize winners to act as mentors to promising up-andcoming artists. Moving on from The Heart of Rolex visitors can browse through The Gallery, where more than 200 exceptional timepieces are on display and where they can also discover the multiple facets of Rolex in the flesh, with particular emphasis placed on gem-set watches which are popular in China. While not trying to dispel the mystery of Rolex entirely, the brand is keen to open the doors a little more, to reveal the heritage and craftsmanship behind the timepieces that warrant the acclaim with which they are held in the world. As the Chinese become more and more enamoured with luxury brands, it is important that the quality behind them is exhibited, and in this rare location in Shanghai, the brand does this is a lively and engaging manner, embracing state-of-the-art technology and encouraging visitor interaction. Through The Rolex Experience, all aspects of the brand can be discovered, from the traditions to the innovation to the support of achievement, values which are all inherent in Rolex and embodied in its reliable, precise, durable and high quality products. The Rolex Experience, 1/F, No. 27 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai 200002, China. For more information or to book a visit, please contact (021) 3330 0091 or go to www.therolexexperience.com
Hannah wears fascinator by Martha Lynn
Hats Off Images: Maciej Pestka, www.mpestka.com assisted by Nina Szymanska & Vinny Gregan Styling and Art Direction: Dervla Louli Makeup: Fiona Harrison, www.lipstickandblush.com Models: Hannah Devane and Laura Scanlon at Andrea Roche Modelling Agency Hats & Headpieces: Mark T Burke, www.mark www.marktburkemillinery.com
Martha Lynn, www.marthalynnmillinery.com
t’s difficult to pinpoint when and why the humble hat resurged from dark anonymity. Was it the result of an over enthusiastic British population revelling in the Royal wedding celebrations of Prince William and Kate Middleton? Could it have been the Russian army of fashionistas who sported fascinators perched on their delicate heads during the throes of fashion week? Or was it more of a political movement, spurned when Carla Bruni, the previous First Lady of France placed an elegant pillbox upon her tête? It’s a tricky equation that has yet to be solved, but one thing is certain, hats are back, and it’s something to celebrate. For trendsetters such as Editor-at-Large of Japanese Vogue Anna Dello Russo, wearing couture creations, literally from head-to-toe, is a routine process that occurs everyday. She sports fascinators with gusto, headpieces with flourish and hats with humour, ensuring that she always stands out from the crowd. But not everyone wants to make a statement, and sometimes a simple veiled pillbox with a touch of glitz offers the most perfect delicate ready-to-wear accessory. Think of it as a touch of jewellery in an unconventional place. Two milliners who have mastered the best of both worlds are Irish designers Mark T. Burke and Martha Lynn. Their approach to headwear knows no boundaries and their ability to make the unconventional wearable is quite simply genius. Burke’s work is structured in its form with a hint of theatre, whilst Lynn’s approach to millinery is innovative and edgy. Simply put, their designs quite literally turn heads. Perhaps this Winter it’s time to reassess your gift wish list. Instead of coveting the must-have handbag of the season, opt for an exotic headpiece or a demure Chantilly lace veil. Dress it up, dress it down, channel old-fashioned allure or modern street style, the choice is yours, just make sure you don’t leave home without a hat to top it all off.
Hannah wears fascinator by Mark T Burke
Laura wears hat by Mark T Burke
Hannah wears fascinator by Mark T Burke
Laura wears hat by Mark T Burke
A Very Different world Text: Ann tsang Images: Courtesy of Crystal Worlds
Crystals, whether in their pure form, or crafted into perfectly symmetrical solitaires, for many hold some form of indescribable power and attraction. And there is no clearer evidence of this anywhere in the world than Swarovski’s ‘Kristallwelten’ (Crystal Worlds), located in the tiny town of Wattens in the Austrian Tyrol, which presents a glittering wonderland of crystal magic. Originally opened in 1995 to celebrate Swarovski’s centenary, the crystal labyrinth has already brought joy and delight to more than seven million visitors from all over the world.
rriving in the very nondescript town of Wattens in Austria’s South Tyrol, it is virtually impossible to imagine that a simple left turn off the main road and a 200-metre drive leads to a very different world. Under the inimitable creative touch of multimedia artist and international impresario André Heller, who developed the original Crystal Worlds concept - this visual treasure trove, built under the watchful eye of the now famous ‘Giant’ - has expanded extensively since its inception more than 15 years ago. Crystal Worlds today offers more than 4000 square metres of spectacular crystalline space designed to bring a sense of wonder and delight to all those who visit. Just as the company’s founder Daniel Swarovski I was dedicated to fulfilling his own vision, Swarovski continues the crystal fairytale under the motto ‘The Art of Crystal Fiction’.
Daniel Swarovski I, himself a well of creativity, had the vision to take an unfamiliar path. Crystal Worlds, under the watchful eye of Heller, is therefore a worthy homage to the man who was a true humanist and visionary, and whose passion for crystal creativity has led to today’s ‘World of Swarovski’. Crystal Worlds is a sanctuary of wonder, where crystal is art and a true source of inspiration. Located some 15 kilometres from the Tyrolean capital Innsbruck, Crystal Worlds is watched over by the benign and friendly ‘Giant’, who spreads his protective arms over the subterranean world of 14 Chambers of Wonder. The paintings, sculptures and installations of artists such as Brian Eno, Keith Haring, Salvador Dalí, Niki de Saint Phalle, John Brekke, Susanne Schmögner and Jim Whiting invite visitors to embark on a sensual journey through the glittering labyrinth where the boundaries between dreams and reality are truly blurred.
Swarovski is dedicated to the principle of constant change, which made the renewal and expansion of the Crystal Worlds in 2007 a natural step forward as the company continues to delight customers, collectors, designers and artists. Now seven modified Chambers of Wonder have been created in collaboration with André Heller, the permanent Artistic Director of Crystal Worlds, which offer visitors an even more intense experience. Among the attractions is Jim Whiting’s Mechanical Theatre, a striking collection of dream landscapes that can also be interpreted as a surreal fashion show of unfamiliar characters. Visitors also experience the appearance of opera diva Jessye Norman in a unique setting. The attractions are made even more impressive by being interactive while touch screens in all of the chambers provide information in German, English, Italian and Chinese. The ‘Ice Passage’ and the underwater world ‘Poseidon’s Puzzle’ change according to the movement of the visitor. A room for the virtual paintings of British artist Brian Eno and the installation ‘Reflections’, which presents crystal in all of its facets, adds to the kaleidoscopic experience. ‘Timeless Swarovski’, the area adjoining this wonder world, where films and exhibits document the company tradition and history, serves as a transition from the ‘Chambers of Wonder’ to the retail shopping space. Crystal Worlds is not just a fascinating location because of the enchanting artistic displays in the chambers or the state-of-the-
art architecture; life is breathed into the subterranean chambers through cultural events staged throughout the year. The park that surrounds Crystal Worlds is also part of the magical kingdom of the ‘Giant’. The area was also designed by Heller and features sculptures and garden fantasies by renowned artists such as Bruno Gironcoli, Alois Schild, Franz West and Heidrun Brandt-Perakis. In the park, Heller has created a green labyrinth in the form of a hand that invites to explore and to play hide-and-seek. There is also a delightful game of intrigue and mysterious sounds created by the ‘Piano of Nature’, an installation by the Austrian artist Alois Schild. Water, as the source of all life, especially for lush vegetation, also plays a dominant part in the park environment. A torrent of water springs from a hilltop in the middle of the park to be symbolic of the river Inn, which flows through Innsbruck and provides nourishment for alpine plants. As the water slowly trickles away, a rabbit with a divining rod, the creation of the British artist Barry Flanagan, searches for the disappearing water. Heidrun BrandtPerakis has created another impressive link between nature and artistic pieces with a stone carving. As Crystal Worlds continues to evolve, so does the park. Temporary installations augment the permanent ones that are all part of the ‘Giant’s’ green domain. The park also reflects any occasion when a foreign country is the guest of the ‘Giant’. The park offers
a tremendous amount of free space for children as the true heroes of any fantasy world, who are immediately captivated by a playground designed by German artist Monika Gilsing. The outdoor extension of the café area carries the creative stamp of one young talent who carries his ideas through to the Kristalline Werkstätte. Together with the young workshop participants, the Tyrolean media artist Peter Sandbichler devised the sparkling lettering ‘bambini’. The sculpture characterises the round courtyard of the Café-terra, from where the visitor can enjoy the view of the mountains from a sheltered place. Having arrived inside the Giant, visitors are wrapped in the magic of Yves-Klein-Blue. The ‘Centenar’, at more than 300,000 carats, the world’s largest crystal rests in the middle of the room surrounded by art objects by Keith Haring, Niki de Saint Phalle, John Brekke, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol. Next to the ‘Centenar’ sparkles the smallest crystal with a diameter of just 0.8 millimetres and 17 facets. An 11 metre-high Crystal Wall then leads the visitor further into the depths of Crystal Worlds. The centrepiece of the Crystal Worlds is ‘The Crystal Dome’. Following the principle of the construction of the geodesic astrodome of Buckminster Fuller, 595 mirrors form an acoustic and an optic kaleidoscope. Multiple sounds and light break out of
the multi-faceted walls and convey to the visitor the feeling of being inside a crystal. In the chamber of the ‘Crystaloscope’, visitors have time to relax, sit back and enjoy the harmonising effect of the changing crystallisations in the astrodome. Heller designed the largest kaleidoscope in the world together with artist Peter Mandel. The kaleidoscope is itself reflected in an expanded crystal with 440 facets, which in turn are again reflected by the kaleidoscope. With each figure in the ‘Crystal Theatre’, Austrian stage and costume designer Susanne Schmögner has created a series of characters for a kingdom of fantasy. The multi-coloured light reflected by the crystals gives a special dramatic effect to the subterranean backdrop, which is reflected on a water surface. The brilliance of the crystal thus becomes the central design element of the mystical stage scenery. Just as the iridescent crystals inspired the artist’s creative energy, the glittering world, which is complemented by fantasy figures, triggers a flood of associations. While watching this unusual exhibition, the visitor’s thoughts, accentuated by the creative fragrances of Jane Haidacher, drift to the ‘Giant’. Schmögner opens the door of a crystal wonderland to the observer of her mystical creatures, whereby Alice and the fairytale figures of the playwright Ferdinand Raimund transport them to a magical world.
The mysterious ‘Ice Passage’ provides yet another attraction thanks to the artistic work of designer Oliver Irschitz. The intuitive navigation of the visitor through a dark room becomes an important element of the overall design. It is only when the visitor decides to enter into the unknown terrain that the glittering icy world changes its appearance and discloses its secrets. The way through the ‘Ice Passage’ becomes an interactive treasure hunt where the visitor is transformed into both researcher and discoverer. They discover portable crystalline structures beneath their feet which allow them to pass safely through the passage. A light follows their movement, ensuring a point-by-point insight into a glittering world. Swarovski has always had a close association with art, illustrated by the collection of works by renowned artists from the past two centuries. Paintings, photos, sketches and prints by Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Peter Kogler, Kurt Kocherscheidt, Helmut Newton, and many other artists convey the development of the visual arts in Europe. In order to give more room to this body of creative work, Crystal Worlds offers a space for temporary exhibitions. Whether it is a special exhibition dedicated to the artistic work of Old Masters or one that concentrates on the talent of contemporary avant-garde works, art is given a central place in the heart of the ‘Giant’. World-renowned soprano Jessye Norman is celebrated in the ‘Crystal Dome’ with thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals. Heller captured the final aria ‘The Hand Belinda’ from the opera ‘Dido and Aeneas’ on film and it is screened in a special room created for the memorable opera diva where visitors can watch her performance on a 71-inch plasma screen and hear her in fine quality audio while leaning on transparent poles. The room is dark, illuminated only by the brilliance of the diva herself, so nothing is allowed to distract from her voice and grandiose appearance. The immortalisation of outstanding artists finds its equivalent in nature in a rock crystal from Madagascar, which unfolds its power at the feet of the great diva. Leaving the world of opera, the visitor takes a narrow path into the Kingdom of Poseidon, the God of the Sea to be greeted by an expressive colour fireworks display, which brings the works of Erich Heckel, August Macke and Lyonel Feininger to life, all of whom were inspired by the iridescent light and precision-cut facets of crystal. The visual impact and the listening experience change with every step. Room-high lamellas create the effect of the shimmering surface of the seabed while crystalline sea creatures appear as the visitor is continually drawn into the atmosphere.
Much like the Expressionist art movement, the exhilarating colour unites the deep sea with the encrypted geometry of the crystal. Pulsating light effects and sounds of the underwater fauna perfects the illusion of mysterious currents leading the visitor into an unknown world. 55 Million Crystals’ by musician Brian Eno shows the huge number of possibilities that develop if hand-painted pictures from former times are occasionally superimposed using computer technology. “This work is positioned somewhere between a painting, which never moves or changes its place, and music, the characteristic of which is constant change. I see my work as music for the eyes, as a painting of its age, as an experience of the fourth dimension,” says Eno. Set in front of a background depicting an old English salon, the monitor and the computer experiences are an innovative artistic interpretation and become the driving force of a creative process. As soon as visitors enter the ‘13th Chamber of Wonder’, they are caught up in a sheer vortex of knowledge. The entire world of crystals is documented on the single facet of 48 polygons in pictures, graphics, illustrations and animations: its origin, fascination and its significance for science. Sound images underline the visual impressions. The highlight is a spiritual place of intense experience in the middle of the spiral, which features mystical sides of iridescent materials. Fire, water and crystal, the way through the ‘Crystal Forest’ of Fabrizio Plessi, is characterised by an encounter with the basic elements. Every tree has an artificial core in the form of a video installation. Technology therefore rests embedded in nature. There is a new interpretation of life as the vision of the visitor is drawn into the scene by the constant flickering, sparkling and oscillation, which unfolds behind a brittle veil. After the transformation, the installation is surrounded by a colourful light sculpture, ‘The Leviathan’ by Thomas Feuerstein that glitters in all of its facets. The Swarovski Crystal Worlds not only fascinate with their sparkle, their rooms, and their architecture, but also guarantee to leave their visitors spellbound. Swarovski Kristallwelten Kristallweltenstraße 1 6112 Wattens,Tirol, Austria Tel. +43 (0)5224 51080 www.swarovski.com/kristallwelten
Fanning The Flames Text: Mark Borkowski
Hollywood’s celebrity industry was born of a classic formula developed over decades by a shameless assortment of fixers, fakers and star makers. PR guru Mark Borkowski delves deeper.
f there’s one Hollywood “truth”, it’s that stars live and die by the sharpness of their publicists. These days, there are so many shiny things competing for attention that even the truly talented must have press agents to solidify their presence in the public eye, while the less stellar, less gifted celebrities need a fame-catcher to keep them hopping like fireflies through a multiplicity of media outlets to achieve their desired notoriety. So where did it all begin? PR has become a huge business in the past 50 years, taking the formula for fame developed for the great stars of early Hollywood and applying it to everything from soap powder to cyberspace. Yet a look through innumerable Hollywood archives may lead one to suspect that it was not always thus, because most of those pioneering publicists have vanished into the dust of history.
Modern publicists, such as the retired Hollywood PR maven Pat Kingsley, are a little more recognised. Kingsley is generally credited with building Tom Cruise into movie superstardom, and it is well recorded that Cruise’s career nose-dived after he left her circle of influence to jump on sofas. However, the reality is that few PR gurus survive in the far corners of public memory. The names of a few - Jim Moran and Russell Birdwell in the 1930s and ’40s, and Jay Bernstein in the 1960s and ‘70s - still echo through Hollywood consciousness, but all ironically made names for themselves at the expense of their clients. As a publicist in the UK in the late 1970s, I knew little about the history of the profession, but as I instinctively started creating stunts for theatre, many clues to the past emerged. The first and most formative was a conversation with silver screen legend Douglas Fairbanks Jr., with whom I flew to London to teach swordsmanship to the cast of a West End theatre production of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. After the photo-calls were over, Fairbanks took me aside and told me that the stunt I’d pulled reminded him of the early days of Hollywood and the stuntster publicists. I’d never heard of them before, but the stories he related about people such as Harry Reichenbach and Russell Birdwell whetted my appetite for more. So I began a quest for information about the early days of publicists, an arcane blind alleyway of Hollywood history that had been barely covered. This led to a book, ‘The Fame Formula: How Hollywood’s Fixers, Fakers and Star Makers Created the Celebrity Industry’ (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2008), and to the discovery of a wealth of fascinating men and women who helped make Hollywood and, eventually, the world, what it is today. The most extraordinary of the pioneer publicists I discovered were Harry Reichenbach and his long-forgotten rival, Maynard Nottage, whose archive I unearthed in the course of my research. These two worked in circuses and travelling roadshows during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and the groundwork they laid gave birth to the PR industry as we know it today. Indeed, Reichenbach and Nottage are inextricably linked with the creation of the modern phenomenon of celebrity and its promotion; between them, they manufactured some of the biggest names of early Hollywood.
Reichenbach, born in 1882, left his home for the circus at age 12 and, from 1904, travelled the world learning his craft as press agent for The Great Reynard, a vain and tempestuous magician. He arrived in New York in 1912, where his first great act of publicity was to take an innocent artwork entitled ‘September Morn’, a lithograph of a young woman bathing naked in a pool, and make it a best-seller by claiming it was pornographic and getting it banned. He achieved this by hiring men to stand outside the shop and leer at the picture, which he had placed prominently in the window. His next move was to hire a herd of protesters and approach Anthony Comstock, then head of the powerful Anti-Vice Society, complaining that the print was undermining the morals of the youth of New York. Comstock came, saw and frothed at the gang of leering men, then promptly banned the picture, thus ensuring its success and Reichenbach’s reputation. Within two years, Reichenbach was in deep with Hollywood, making a hoo-ha about films and creating stars. One of his earliest, most notorious acts of star-making was with Francis X. Bushman, who was a well-known Vitagraph studio actor before Reichenbach got to work on his behalf. At a convention in San Francisco, at which Bushman was to be Guest of Honour, news came that producer Jesse Lasky’s latest signing, opera diva Geraldine Farrar, was on her way to steal Bushman’s thunder from the press. Determined not to let his star be upstaged, Reichenbach hired a woman to play the part of someone so desperately enamoured of Bushman that she was prepared to plant a bomb at the hotel, concealed in a box of flowers and accompanied by a love letter addressed to Bushman. After she left, the box began to smoke, creating panic until it was doused with water. It was, of course, a fake. The story of Bushman and the lovestruck bomber occupied the headlines for the next three days, completely overshadowing Farrar even when the hoax was revealed. By 1919, Reichenbach was earning US$1,000 a week - an extraordinarily large fee.
Born in Maryland in 1885, Maynard Nottage grew up in a stern Methodist family. He spent his summers around the so-called Salt Water Cowboys, helping round up the feral ponies of Assateague Island, between Maryland and Virginia, desperate to escape the rigours of religious family life. Nottage’s start in Hollywood came a little earlier than Reichenbach’s after he ran away from home to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. He then worked on a travelling roadshow promoting the film ‘The Great Train Robbery’, a job he landed on the strength of his gig with Buffalo Bill. Nottage’s progress was more erratic than Reichenbach’s. He didn’t have the sticking power, the steely determination, or the business sense that marked Reichenbach’s rise to the top of the heap. He worked a great deal in Vaudeville between 1905 and 1914, only dipping in and out of the movie industry. His first major foray into the world of silent films, apart from ‘The Great Train Robbery’, came in 1910 when Carl Laemmle, who went on to found Universal but who was then in charge of Independent Moving Pictures, stole the ‘Biograph Girl’. In an act that created the star system in one fell swoop, Laemmle wooed Florence Lawrence - the girl whose face had made phenomenal successes of 100 Biograph movies, but whose name was unknown - with the offer of being credited as Florence Lawrence, the IMP girl. Nottage was brought on board to spirit her away while leaving a trail of false clues as to her whereabouts, even going so far as to suggest that she might have died in a car crash - a campaign that since has been adapted innumerable times by publicists the world over. The mystery of the missing Biograph Girl dominated the front pages of the world’s press and was cleared up only when Nottage brought her to the press conference that announced Lawrence’s defection to IMP. It was a move that made Nottage recognise fully the power of the movies and he threw himself at getting work in Hollywood, trading on the success of the IMP stunt. Unfortunately, Nottage was prone to hubris: he convinced himself that he was far more responsible for Florence Lawrence’s success than he actually was. He found a nemesis in Reichenbach; from 1914 on, Nottage’s papers are littered with comments, complaints and curses about the aggravating success of his rival, whose discipline and brilliance outshone his own. This is not to say that Nottage wasn’t brilliant. He had his moments, the most notable of which was the creation of ‘Theda Bara’ in 1915, the first fully fabricated star of the movie industry. Working with Frank Powell at William Fox’s Box Office
Attractions studio, Nottage took the actress Theodosia Goodman and turned her into the first vamp. She was christened ‘Theda Bara’ - a reduction of her first name and her maternal grandfather’s surname - and given an exotic background (she was in fact a nice, meek and ordinary milliner’s daughter). She became a huge sex symbol and star, third only to Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, after the studio took Nottage’s carefully constructed biography and presented it as fact. “She became all that I made her and more,” wrote Nottage in a letter to a friend. “Audiences liked their girls to be exotic - a milliner’s daughter from Ohio just wasn’t going to cut the ice - the ice had to be melted in style. So I threw in a splash of Egyptian sun, made out that she was born to a French woman and an Italian man with Bohemian leanings in the shadow of the Sphinx. I even had her talking about occultism in interviews and primed her properly to cause a stir. The ice became steam in minutes. “She was even referenced in songs. One line particularly sticks in my mind: ‘I know things that Theda Bara’s just startin’ to learn / Make my dresses from asbestos, I’m liable to burn.’ [The song was called Red Hot Hannah .] And it was all thanks to me – now I felt I could conquer the world. I was earning $600 a week working for Theda Bara and Fox. It wasn’t as much as Reichenbach was earning, and believe me, I kept as close an eye as I could on everything he did even though we only met occasionally, but it was enough.” As the Roaring Twenties began, Nottage played up the stable of clients he had built over 20 years to fit various clichés. It was easy to get banner headlines equating his celebrities with sex, drugs and the movie lifestyle, given that he was arranging house parties with a gathering of the choicest starlets and the more predatory directors, producers and powerbrokers. Into this mix, Nottage added a selection of newspaper editors and policemen and a discreet photographer, which allowed him a measure of control over the eager young women who might realise that they were being used as high-class whores and be tempted to expose the ready supply of drugs and alcohol. Essentially, he frittered his talent away, pursuing fame and the lifestyle he created for others. He ended the 1920s unemployed, unemployable, drunk and bitter. His buddies included W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, and a number of other actors, runners and producers who liked to drink. But a drinking buddy does not necessarily make for a real friend, as his invite to the premiere of ‘The Jazz Singer’, released in 1927, suggests: “Come if you must, Maynard,” it reads, “but bring your work hat. If you can find it. If you can’t find it, bring some booze. If there’s no booze, don’t bother.”
Nottage failed to achieve the giddy heights of notoriety and financial success that Reichenbach managed, and he faded into obscurity, dying alone and unmourned by Hollywood in the early 1960s. Reichenbach, on the other hand, was utterly determined to succeed and never let the lifestyles of the stars he promoted get in his way. He was scathing about the egotistical side of the star system: “The bane of stars is their inflated ego,” he wrote in his autobiography, ‘Phantom Fame: the Anatomy of Ballyhoo’ (Noel Douglas;1932). “Success fills them with such awe for themselves that they lose all sense of proportion and judgement. They walk on pedestals, sit on thrones and lie in state.” Reichenbach never aspired to sit on thrones; he was too determined to make a quiet success for himself as a stuntster and publicist. And his success was guaranteed, thanks to the stars he promoted and the series of astonishing stunts he perpetrated between 1915 and 1925. Most notable of these was the promotion of the film ‘The Return of Tarzan’, for which he hired a room at New York’s Hotel Belleclaire. There he inserted a man claiming to be a musician, who asked for his piano to be winched into the room. Unbeknown to hotel staff members, the musician was an actor and the piano was a tame lion - a fact they only discovered when a bellboy asked why his customer needed such large quantities of raw meat delivered by room service. Reichenbach’s actor-stooge showed the employee into the room, where the lion was rolling on its back and yawning terrifyingly. The bellboy ran to the management, who ran to the police, who gathered the press. They descended en masse to the room with the lion, where the actor regaled the assembled crowd with Reichenbach’s carefully-prepared story. “I bought Jim from a circus when he was five days old and we’ve been pals ever since,” the actor claimed, according to press reports of the day. “He’s just a big, overgrown kid. See?” And promptly put in his head between the jaws of the beast up to his neck. The police stopped breathing until the actor’s head reappeared. Then the stooge asked Jim to sit up, roll over, trot around and shake hands with the gentlemen of the force. They refused to believe he was different from other lions and kept him at target’s length. “I’ve been reading a lot of stories about a boy born in South Africa who was kidnapped by an ape and who made a pet of a lion and a tiger,” the actor continued. “I’m on my way to the jungle just to see if I can’t do what the boy did. I’ve made a lot of money out of the lumber business and can afford to get this thrill out of life. I’ve even changed my name to T.R. Zann to resemble that of the character in the book I’m telling you about, and I’m sailing next week on the Union Castle line for the land where the lion is king.”’
The press lionised the story, featuring it on every front page of the morning papers in New York. The weekly newsreels picked it up as well, adding further weight to the momentum. Before long, the tale of T.R. Zann and his incongruous, hotel-bound lion friend had spread over the wires to the whole of America. Reichenbach gloated quietly and prepared the publicity machine for ‘The Return of Tarzan’. When announcements that the film would open at the Broadway Theatre finally appeared, the intricate nature of the stunt became apparent. The newsmen, struck by a revelation of Damascene proportions, revelled in the hoax all over again, this time linking T.R. Zann of the Belleclaire Hotel with the Tarzan of the pictures, helping creating a massive worldwide hit. Eventually, Nottage and Reichenbach’s careers were destroyed by the media that they fed with stories. As news began to travel faster, the ability of publicists to spin beautiful fabrications lessened, as did the clout of stars who had become too powerful under the tutelage of agents like Nottage and Reichenbach, too enmeshed in the myths they spun. Out of that - and out of necessity, given the Babylonian excesses of Hollywood in the early 1920s - came the studio system, where stars were cogs in the industry wheel, to be greased or junked if they risked the machine. In the 1950s the stars fought back and the modern era of PR emerged. Now stars were brands and brands were stars. Yet without Nottage, Reichenbach and their peers, there may have been no fame factory and no golden age of cinema. There may have been no overwhelming desire to become famous, whatever the cost. The only difference between then and now is the quality of the stars; the passion for something extraordinary and transformative remains. What keeps Hollywood alive as a city of dreams is the groundwork laid by the early publicists, who transformed ordinary men and women into astonishing visions of celluloid purity in the perpetual sunlight of California. Hollywood may have become a business with brutal swiftness, but the magic lingers. Why else would people do almost anything to become stars? Why would the Danish model Gwilli Andre, who was a movie pin-up briefly in the 1930s, choose to commit suicide in a pyre made of her own cuttings in the 1950s, having spent most of her life talking of nothing but her fleeting brush with fame? What else could have inspired actor Peg Entwistle to hurl herself to her death from the Hollywood sign after some bad notices in 1932? A little magic is a dangerous thing, and the early publicists were master practitioners. Stars need good press to maintain their fans’ belief in their existence.
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Published on Apr 16, 2013