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THE MAN IN THE MIRROR ISSUE

Singapore

11

2018

ISSN 2301-3397 SGD8.00

The Favourite

nicholas hoult Afable and generous, the British actor discusses his iconic roles, being raised by women and the creative surge of fatherhood.


Contents November 2018 | Volume 9 | No. 72 | The Man in the Mirror Issue

Photography Michael Schwartz Outfit Trench coat, by Salvatore Ferragamo.

STYLE

WAT C H E S

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75

26 28 30

T H I S WAY I N

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16

40

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Neil before God Depression shouldn’t be a dirty word This page is lit Arbiter by Ivan Lim

46 58 61 62

Essentials of style Take a hike Essentials of style What’s the deal with Hedi Slimane? Essentials of style YSL accessories Essentials of style Whatever happened to Marc Jacobs? Special project LV cruise bag Essentials of style Kiton Fashion spread Copy of a copy Essentials of style London calling Essentials of style Sole searching Fashion spread Menacing Mayfair

78 80 84

Style of Cartier King of jewellers Omega Seamaster Ocean’s heaven Vacheron Constantin Abbey Road The bare essentials Skeletonised watches

Photo illustration by Rebecca Chew

ON THE COVER Nicholas Hoult

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Contents November 2018 | Volume 9 | No. 72 | The Man in the Mirror Issue

PORTFOLIO 92 104 111 118 124 148

Cover story Nicholas Hoult Feature Vitaly Malkin Photo essay Finding Naoko Feature Momentum generation Feature Man in the mirror Feature Secret societies

WISDOM 145

Photo illustration by Rebecca Chew

146

What it feels like… …to be a nude model What I’ve learned Alessandro Sartori

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Contents November 2018 | Volume 9 | No. 72 | The Man in the Mirror Issue

MaHB

157 158 159

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161 162 163 166

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171 172 176 180 184 186

Food Dom Pérignon Plénitude Suite at Stellar 1-Altitude Food il Cielo Drinks Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 Drinks Mount Gay XO The Peat Smoke Expression Tech Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Tech iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max Tech Jabra Elite Active 65t Culture Shelf promotion Culture The man who wrote his own death sentence Music Should devices be banned from concerts? Grooming Fix your claws Design Nick Hornby Design David Hicks Cars BMW Books Who are you? Swipe up ESQUIRE.SG

ON THE SPINE Illustration Derek Desierto Combine issues No. 66 to No. 73 and be rewarded with the complete illustration.

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Photo illustration by Rebecca Chew

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This way in

Editorial

Art

Production

IT

Editor-in-chief Norman Tan Features Editor Wayne Cheong Associate Fashion Editor Eugene Lim Senior Fashion Writer & Stylist Asri Jasman Writer Joy Ling Junior Writer Derrick Tan Chief Sub-editor Jacqueline Danam Editor-at-Large (Watches & Jewellery) Celine Yap Group Digital Creative Producer Vanessa Caitlin Marketing & Content Strategist Crystal Lee Intern Shelton Chang

Group Creative Director IMV Shabir Mahmood Art Director Rebecca Chew Picture Editor Kenny Nguyen Designers Priscilla Wong Trang Le

Production Manager Hilal Rethashah Media Trafic & Client Services Coordinator Dao Thu Ha Prepress IMV Repro Senior Reprographic Prepress Technician Phuong Ngo Reprographic Prepress Technician Anh Bui

Contributing

Writers & Stylists Adrienne Westenfeld, Biro Company, Brady Langmann, Daryl Lee, Fabio Immediato, Finlay Renwick, Ioan Grillo, Ivan Lim, Jane Rocca, Jon Roth, Josh Sims, Neil Humphreys, Nick Sullivan

Hearst Magazines International

Photographers & Illustrators Allie Holloway, Chuck Reyes, Dju-Lian Chng, Jefrey Westbrook, Michael Schwartz, Paynk, Ronald Leong, Studio Oooze, Tay Kay Chin

Management

Advertising

Marketing & Digital

Accounts & Administration

President Michael von Schlippe

Sales Director Audrey Wu Senior Account Manager Cornelius Cheng

Esquire

Editors-in-chief

International

Bulgaria Vladimir Konstantinov China Liang Zhaohui Colombia Alberto Sanchez Montiel Czech Republic Jiri Roth Greece Kostas N Tsitsas Hong Kong Kwong Lung Kit Kazakhstan Yuriy Serebryansky Korea Kiju Shin Latin America Alberto Sanchez Montiel Malaysia Ian Loh (Acting EIC) Middle East Matthew Baxter-Priest Netherlands Arno Kantelberg Poland Maciej Gajewski Russia Sergey Minaev Serbia Milan Nikolic Spain Jorge Alcalde Taiwan Steve Chen Thailand Satiya Siripojanakorn Turkey Togan Noyan United Kingdom Alex Bilmes United States Jay Fielden

Editions

Marketing Director Natasha Damodaran Marketing Manager Melvin Ryan Tan Regional Head Steven Khu Digital Project Manager Ilias Kimpaev

Finance Manager Wei Chan Accountant Michelle Koh

IT Manager Ben Calaycay

Published by Indochine Media Pte Ltd (201214107E), MCI (P) 092/02/2018, 1 Syed Alwi Road, Song Lin Building #02-02, Singapore 207628, Tel: (65) 6225 4045. By permission of Hearst Communications, Inc., New York, New York, United States of America.

Esquire Singapore is available on board all Singapore Airlines flights in first- and businessclass cabins.

Senior Vice President/ General Manager/ Managing Director Asia & Russia Simon Horne Director of International Licensing & Business Development Richard Bean Senior Vice President/ Editorial & Brand Director Kim St Clair Bodden Deputy Brands Director Chloe O’Brien Fashion/ Entertainment Director Kristen Ingersoll

Printed Percetakan Zanders Sdn Bhd, 16 Jalan BK 1/11, Bandar Kinrara, 47180 Puchong, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. The views expressed in the articles and materials published are not necessarily those of Indochine Media Pte Ltd (201214107E). While every reasonable care is taken in compiling the magazine, the publisher shall not be held liable for any omission, error or inaccuracy, and accepts no responsibility for the content of advertisements published. Please notify the publisher in writing of any such omission, error or inaccuracy. Editorial contributors are welcome, but unsolicited materials are submitted at the sender’s risk and the publisher cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage. All rights reserved by Indochine Media Pte Ltd (201214107E). No part of this publication may be reproduced and/or transmitted in any form without the publisher’s permission in writing.

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Column

Neil Before God Each issue, Esquire Singapore asks Neil Humphreys to focus on a diferent emotion. This time it’s sadness as he wonders if, like him, too many Singaporeans are struggling in silence with the D-word.

On every trip, the driver on my feeder bus says “good morning” repeatedly, to each passenger. Every. Single. Time. When I’m in a good mood, he’s endearing and uplifting. When I’m depressed, he’s like a creepy clown at a children’s party. He’s only a green wig and some face paint away from shouting, “why so serious?” On the irst couple of occasions, his sparkly eyes and seductive “good morning” gave me the vague idea that he might fancy me, which would be awkward, from a legal standpoint if nothing else. And then I watched him repeat the greeting with other passengers and felt strangely disappointed that he wasn’t interested in a gangly ang moh wearing yesterday’s shorts and vest. It’s a true story, the kind of quirky slice of Singaporean life that has illed my books and columns, but in this instance there’s an element of comedic chicanery, a selfdeprecating attempt to delect from the only adjective that matters. Depressed. When I’m depressed... It was glossed over, almost missed, an emotional device used to make the story irreverent, an everyday vignette to gently persuade the reader to smile and move on. There’s nothing to see here. Or at least, nothing the audience particularly wants to see. An audience, quite rightly, is only interested in the joke, not the journey. The comedian who leaps on stage talking about his perfect day dies on stage. But the comedian who rages against Trump, Brexit, ministerial salaries, SMRT, ignorance and stupidity owns his audience. Sometimes, the only diference between comedy and depression is the quality of the punchline. One helps to mask the other. Depression is the noun that cannot be named, not really. The risk of being judged is too great. So

D E P R E S S I O N 16

depression is either channelled into an easy laugh, as above, or trivialised as a throwaway adjective (“my new iPhone is cracked. I’m, like, totally depressed.”) But depression changes everything. The bus driver didn’t change. I did. He is always the same happy-golucky character, but my character occasionally morphs into something darker. And then his ingratiating brightness aggravates my darkness. So my own response is to mock his cheeriness, ridicule his public gaiety and do just about anything except acknowledge that it’s not him. It’s me. It’s a lot of us. Men don’t talk about depression, but their faces usually betray them. The eyes have it. Like that child actor who saw ghosts, I see depressed people all the time. It’s like being a member of a secret depression club. Instead of silly, masonic handshakes, we carry invisible mirrors. We see ourselves in other people. But we say nothing, especially in Singapore. Last year, an Institute of Mental Health study found that women, particularly those aged between 18 and 34, were more prone to depression than men. But Dr Mok Yee Ming, an IMH senior consultant, pointed out that men are less likely to seek help than women, which is not surprising. There is little room for male depression in a conservative, patriarchal society, one mostly wedded to the Confucian philosophy of ilial piety. The son is often responsible for one’s elders, but lacks the protection of a catch-all safety net. After all, we do not like welfare. We do not train to be socialists here. Welfare is for the weak. Welfare deserves no mercy. Yes, I’m paraphrasing Cobra Kai in The Karate Kid, but welfare and depression are pretty much interchangeable in this instance. Both can get bullied into submission or bullied into outright denial. Self-help, ilial piety, National Service and our interminable obsession with materialism and social


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Column

Sometimes, the only diference between comedy and depression is the quality of the punchline. One helps to mask the other.

standing hammer home the same, archaic tenets of masculinity. Step up. Be a man. Provide. Protect. Be a success, not a snowlake. But the brain just doesn’t work that way. Mental health can’t be licked from one side to the other like a TV channel. As The Clash once sang, ‘one day it’s fine, the next it’s black.’ You can’t ‘snap out of it’ anymore than you can snap out of a broken arm. But who wants to admit that in a patriarchal society that emphasises ilial piety? Self-doubt is for suckers. Self-reliance is the mantra here. In this context, it’s easy to accept Dr Mok’s claim, backed by overseas studies, that men are less likely to seek assistance for their mental health or even admit to anyone that an issue exists. They sufer in silence. Of course they do. Singaporeans are reluctant to reveal who they intend to vote for at the next election, knowing that it’s more fashionable to wear lares and a gold medallion than be a member of the ‘70 per cent majority’. So are they seriously going to admit that they are struggling with a mental health issue that may negatively afect their career, inances and way of life? Of course not. So what can we do? We take small steps. We talk to someone, anyone, in conidence if necessary. There is always someone willing to listen.

In my apartment, we play the numbers game. Between numbers one and 10, what’s Daddy’s mood today? Anything over a six or seven is playtime. Anything under a ive and Daddy is generally left alone. Sometimes, the game succeeds. Sometimes it doesn’t. Like all aspects of mental health, I’m a work in progress. Writing helps, as it obviously does for the brave contributors to the excellent Tapestry Project, a Singaporean website that focuses on mental health recovery. But the real hero is my wife for not treating me like a villain (on this issue. She still goes ape-shit when I don’t put her kitchen containers away properly.) She understands the diference between illness and deiciency and the medical reality that I cannot swap stormy skies for instant sunshine any more than I can control the actual weather. And she’s not alone. There are organisations and understanding voices on the end of a phone, most of which are just a Google search away. Find them. Try and get a conversation going, with strangers irst if necessary, and then hopefully move on to friends and family later. And maybe our stubborn, patriarchal society will learn that male depression isn’t a weakness to be hidden away, but a health issue that requires profound strength to overcome. 

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BE BURO. WWW.BURO247.SG


This page is lit

His arbiter

The searing midday sun, searched all, spared none. The plebeian lunch crowd, shielding its eyes, cursing the heat, shufled along the belly of Boat Quay, comparing lunch deals. Above their futility, behind reflective glass fixed over the balcony of his shophouse ofice, the genteel Geofrey Long, sage tailor of Singapore, sipped white tea while presiding over the vivacious river. At 60 years, with a full head of grey on noble shoulders, Geofrey was beyond the caprice of the press. He declined interviews and existed solely for the execution and perfection of his art. His business came mostly from royal families, government oficials and business leaders in Asia, where he was trusted adviser over their public image. “Let the mirror guide,” he would say, delighting in his lifelong friend, his Arbiter, between misinformed “preferences” and his recommendations. The average order being 20 suits, Geofrey was endlessly engaged in travelling for new commissions and fulfilling them. Requests from the public were possible, but by appointment only. His professorial guidance was esteemed by novice clients, who matured swiftly over the course of several fittings. A permanently basted jacket on a mannequin was the teaching aid of choice. This, he assembled and disassembled with ease, thus illustrating his exegesis. Sermons could encompass doctrines on Neapolitan shoulder design or elucidate the exacting intricacies of skeleton lining. With the latter, it helped justify the refreshing leap in costs.

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This page is lit

To champion the art of storytelling, Esquire Singapore invites a writer each month to pen an original work inspired by this issue’s theme. This month, Ivan Lim ponders the inevitability of life.

Gradations of gold, ochre, red, blue—hues of twilight swirled and romanced as the force of day receded. A hesitant creaking of stairs, then, two raps on the door. It was a face he recognised, had sympathy for, but dreaded— “Have a seat.”  “Your phone was of. Our father—finally passed.”  “When?”  “This morning. He left you his watch.”  “Our father”—Geofrey loathed the implied relation.  “The cremation is in three days. Will you carry the cofin?”  “I’ll think about it.”  “I won’t take up more of your time, see you.”  Alone—disordered, in his armchair. His half-brother’s face—the face of his deprivation, and the childhood Geofrey worked tirelessly to overcome. There, was the face of his father, who left him and his seamstress mother when Geofrey was too young—incomprehensible cruelty—deformity of nature—a departure to the wilderness of humanity which eventually devoured its wanderer. Yet, with the compassion of time, Geofrey realised, no man, venturing into his wilderness, intended on being lost.  In the blank screen of Geofrey’s iPhone—his Arbiter. Against enflamed eyes, clenched jaws, murderous rage, he was presented a choice; lose himself in another wilderness or rise above his torment. Forgiveness.  Geofrey arose. From his top shelves, he chose, the most honorific, Loro Piana-milled, Super 170s, Australian merino wool in resolute, restrained, basalt black. He began drafting his funeral suit.  He would carry the cofin. On cremation day, the fine character of the suit, its sheer masterful construction, the inner wrenching of its wearer, would be known only to Geofrey—and his Arbiter. 

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Photographs and styling by Sean Ashley and Dionna Lee of Studio Oooze.

Still life

1|5

Transparent TPU tote bag, by Fendi.

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Style 26

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Slim(ane) pickings

Staying alive

Under the radar

He’s the new style guru for Celine, but what is Hedi Slimane doing diferently?

Don’t go anywhere yet, folks. Marc Jacobs just needs to igure out where he’s at.

That’s a phrase that will never be used to describe the Omega Seamaster Diver.

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Style

Essentials of style

In June this year, the world’s most famous rapper walked into outdoor surplus store Victor Outdoor Seconds in Victor, Idaho (population 2,055) and proclaimed that he was “going to buy a lot of stuf”. After 45 minutes, Kanye West had stufed 13 big plastic sacks full of retro ski jackets, combat trousers, moth-bitten leeces and trail-running shoes. Initially, the shop’s owner, Jennifer Bandow, had no idea who he was. Far from the spontaneous twitch of a consumerist lunatic (though he might still be that), West had found untapped inspiration in middle America for his premium fashion line, Yeezy. It would be safe to assume that the brand’s next season will lean on the hottest trend of the moment: the Great Outdoors. Whether it’s half-zip leeces, walking  boots, ishing vests or Gore-Tex windbreakers, the fashion industry is currently looking much more closely at the Pennines than it is at Pigalle. It’s an obsession with all things technical and tactical that saw Kim Jones in his inal show for Louis Vuitton deck out models in ski jackets, compression leggings and chunky, heavy-eyelet hiking boots inished in the brand’s rareied monogram. Even Hermès, a maison whose standing needs little by way of introduction, has

Take a hike Fashion’s heading for the great outdoors.

Above: blue/camouflage print polyester reversible faux-fur parka, by Fjällräven x Acne Studios.

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Words by Finlay Renwick. Getty.

Down time: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary unwittingly start a fashion avalanche, May 1953.


Style

Essentials of style

Left, from top: brown leather-nylon hiking boots, by Danner; monogram titanium leathertrimmed zipper tote, by Louis Vuitton; black Gore-Tex Speedcross 4 trail-running shoes, by Salomon, available at Ellis Brigham.

Louis Vuitton (left) and Tommy Hilfiger (above) are among brands unveiling outerwear-inspired lines.

Red polyester jacket, by Napapijri.

launched a range of mountain-inspired knits and outerwear. Not to mention the likes of Boss, Lanvin, Tommy Hiliger and Prada, brands that have all channelled a decidedly al fresco aesthetic for the colder months. A natural evolution of the recent sportswear takeover, it’s just as much about how your clothes perform as it is about how they look. It’s why this trend is far from exclusive to the big directional brands—some of the coolest garb out there is from brands such as Patagonia, Arc’Teryx and Danner, all the kind of stuf you actually wear in the wilderness. Your idea of a rewarding outdoor pursuit might be the frigid tiptoe to the hot tub at Soho Farmhouse in late November, but that North Face Fantasy Ridge parka idling in your room could tackle the Three Peaks Challenge if called upon. Good to know, eh? Even Acne Studios, best known for slouchy Scandi cashmere

coats, leather jackets, eccentric suiting and expensive jeans, has waded into the lake, teaming up with Swedish outdoor mainstay Fjällräven for a highly stylish—and functional—collaboration featuring Arctic-ready parkas, bright orange isherman smocks, a take on the latter’s iconic Kånken backpack and, get this: zip-of khaki walking trousers. “There is a street style look that people think of as Swedish but it’s not one that’s about functionality,” says Jonny Johansson, creative director of Acne Studios. “Fjällräven show a diferent side to Swedishness because they are obsessed with functionality. Explorers wear their garments on polar expeditions. They are functional without being futuristic. The pieces are human.” So whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman or a precious city-dweller, this winter is all about embracing your inner huntergatherer/hardcore Swedish zip-of-trouser wearer. 

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Style

Essentials of style

The good, the bad and the ugly

Like all good stories, my tale of Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine began with late-night drinks with two of my best mates. We were about to call it a night when we realised that the Celine spring/ summer 2019 show was about to start and decided to stay on to watch it live together. I made a friendly wager with one of them, betting that Slimane would stick to his signature razorthin tailoring, biker jackets and short babydoll dresses; my mate believed Slimane was ready to shock the world, departing from his skinny silhouette. It was 2 in the morning when the bet was made, and the next hour leading up to the show was spent vigorously refreshing Celine’s webpage, waiting for the live stream to load. There was a lot of anticipation in that one hour; every bathroom break was a risky move—it could mean missing Slimane’s debut at Celine.

The show began with two drummers from the Garde Republicaine in ceremonial uniforms playing a drumroll. Curtains were pulled back to reveal a kaleidoscope of mirrors, with a model in the opening look, suspended within, before making her way down the runway. As we watched the show unfold, one thing was clear: Slimane had wiped away everything that Celine once stood for and replaced it with his ultra-skinny rock and roll aesthetic that he had left behind at Saint Laurent and Dior Homme. While I won the wager and a can of Coke Light, I felt the fashion world was poorer for it. The collection had a seismic efect on the fashion world, dividing it irmly into two camps: those who lamented the obliteration of the cerebral designs that deined Phoebe Philo’s tenure at Celine, and those who celebrated the return of King Slimane.

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Getty

Our associate fashion editor, Eugene Lim, relects on Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine.


Style

Essentials of style Facing page, from left: Dior Homme spring/summer 2007 collection; Saint Laurent ready-to-wear menswear spring/summer 2014. Left: Celine spring/summer 2019.

him continuously revisiting the same archetype, but that’s saying all skinny silhouettes are made the same. Take, for example, his range of ultra-slim denim; items that still can be found at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, and very likely will be introduced at Celine. What separates his jeans and the other skinny jeans on the market, and why it’s still so desirable to those who are able to squeeze into them, is that it functions more like a corset. By reworking the cut and removing all stretch from the denim, it gives the illusion of elongating the legs for that cigarette-thin look. For the Celine spring/summer 2019 collection, while the menswear remains on the slimmer side, closer inspection reveals trousers that are roomier at the hips and outerwear with stronger, padded shoulders. Slimane works on the nanoscale, and it requires a diferent lens to fully understand his work. Where the collection is disappointing to me is the lack of newness when the collection is viewed from a macro perspective. Slimane is still exploring the same archetypes as he once did at the previous houses. Kris Van Assche amalgamated sportswear into the collection once he took over the reins at Dior Homme, while Anthony Vaccarello added a dose of sensuality and draws inspiration from the house at Saint Laurent. Fans of Slimane would still lock to Celine and buy everything that he puts out, but the truth is that other designers have taken the foundation he left behind and are pushing it even further, while he still stands his ground. Slimane’s greatest strength as a designer will always be that of a great image-maker; he is able to create look after look that embodies the ethos of what is cool and efortlessly chic. It is more likely to be the architects and bankers of the world buying this collection rather than the conceptual clothing from critically acclaimed fashion designers. His game plan is straightforward: design clothes that are wearable and infuse a large dose of coolness and desirability into them. That’s the appeal of his work and if the past success is anything to go on, it works. The problem I have is that it’s a regression back into the times when only one tribe of people are able to feel that way. All the money and clout in the world won’t be able to buy you the body to it into his clothes. It alienates a wide spectrum of body types, and it feels like the only way to be cool, or at least be Slimane’s interpretation of it, is to lose a lot of weight. Or you could buy a wallet or a pair of boots from Celine and feel that you belong to that tribe in some way. It’s a brilliant business strategy that worked great at Saint Laurent two years ago, but one that feels out of touch with the zeitgeist of inclusivity and diversity. Maybe the critics and this writer are a tad harsh. After all, following in the footsteps of Philo is a tough act for any designer. Maybe Slimane is shaking of the dust and getting into his groove. Maybe it’s premature to judge this tenure so early into the game. For a designer who is not afraid of making noise—evident by the change to the house’s name; going from Céline to Celine—I just wish the clothes spoke just as loudly as the hype leading up to them. For now, I am going to sit back with my can of Coke Light and wait to see what else Slimane has up his sleeve. 

Now I understand the disappointment of Philophiles, not only were her creations beautiful, exceptionally well-crafted garments that withstood the changing tides of fashion, they were also designed to empower women of all age and sizes. It made women feel comfortable and stylish, and that their power was founded in more than their sexuality. Hell, Philo’s clothes even had legions of male customers buying them. But expecting one designer to follow in the footsteps of another is simply unreasonable. Slimane’s time at Dior Homme, and the success that he brought to the house of Yves Saint Laurent, are both legendary. As a skinny kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, when the idea of masculinity was the well-chiselled Adonis in Versace and Armani suits, he found solace in the skinny musicians, (like the androgynous David Bowie) who introduced a diferent vocabulary of masculinity; one that he channels into his design. His introduction of skinny tailoring at Dior Homme was a much-needed breath of fresh air, introducing a whole new genre of menswear. His clothes showed the world that power and masculinity can go hand-in-hand with androgyny; allowing the skinny men of the world to feel just as powerful as their athletic counterparts. If you need any more proof of the impact of his designs, Karl Lagerfeld famously lost weight just to it into one of his suits. Also, it is also easy to stereotype Slimane as a one-trick pony, with

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Style

Shear comfort When it comes to accessorising yourself, it’s the small things that lend the greatest impact. With that in mind, the shearling range of bags from Saint Laurent is an easy way to elevate the look with textures. After all, why shouldn’t your bags be as comfortable as your clothes? Shearling backpack, by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

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Photography and styling by Eugene Lim

Essentials of style


Style

All clothing by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

Essentials of style

Shearling belt bag, by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

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Style

In the Perry Ellis studio where Marc Jacobs became creative director for womenswear at the age of 25.

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Getty

Essentials of style


Style

Essentials of style

From grunge to nostalgia Marc Jacobs was once America’s l’enfant terrible—a disruptor who constantly marched to his own beat—but was also recognised as a fashion genius with a proitable business. Now, he seems to be a shadow of his former self. What happened to him?

It’s not easy to categorise fashion neatly into boxes, but there’s a clear consensus regarding the biggest fashion capitals in the world and the style that’s put forth by their luxury fashion houses. Paris is deined by its couture details and an air of nonchalance, while Milan is known for its opulence and luxurious use of materials. And London is where new and innovative designs evolve from British elegance and tailoring. At the other end of the spectrum is American fashion. Sporty, easy and most importantly, wearable, the fashion capital is often best represented by brands such as Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg and a pre-Raf Simons Calvin Klein. Fashion coming out of America has largely been, for lack of a better word, safe. American sportswear—a term used to describe ready-to-wear clothes that are usually versatile separates—is the go-to concept for a semblance of commercial viability in every collection. Marc Jacobs on the other hand, was anything but safe.

Jacobs’ star shone even brighter upon graduation. He earned the inancial backing of Japanese retail company Onward Kashiyama USA, Inc. in 1986 and used it to start his Marc Jacobs label. A year later, he was awarded the Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent (now known as the Swarovski Emerging Talent Award) by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The Marc Jacobs-Perry Ellis connection continued in 1988 as he took on the role of creative director and vice-president of the American brand’s women’s business. The relationship lasted until 1993 on the heels of the Perry Ellis spring 1993 collection, also known as the grunge collection—the collection that, if there was anyone at all who didn’t have their eye on Jacobs, certainly made them look. The reviews then were scathing, owing to the opinion that grunge was the anti-thesis to fashion, and that pricing such raw and rugged clothes (but made in the inest fabrics typical of Perry Ellis) at prices way above what the movement was all about seemed derivative. In hindsight, that’s exactly what is happening in fashion right now. The anti-luxury luxury approach is rife at fashion houses such as Balenciaga, Gucci and Saint Laurent, led by culturalsensitive creative directors. Jacobs’ grunge collection was an early example of referencing street culture and sentiments, but like most early adopters, was met with criticism. In 2015, renowned fashion critic Cathy Horyn retracted her harsh critic of that particular collection; an unnatural feat and clear indication of Jacobs’ originality. Four years later, in 1997, Louis Vuitton signed Jacobs on as its irst creative director to spearhead the luxury fashion house’s debut ready-to-wear line for men and women. The deal came with LVMH buying a stake in the Marc Jacobs brand, making it part of the luxury conglomerate’s portfolio. Within 10 years at Louis Vuitton, Jacobs helped to quadruple the house’s proits by bringing in collaborations with contemporary artists, and turning Louis Vuitton into a fashion force beyond luggage and trunks.

Words by Asri Jasman

T H E P R O D I GY

Like most great artists, Jacobs’ early childhood wasn’t the typical carefree splendour. He was born in 1963 to Steve and Judy Jacobs, who were both working at the famed William Morris Agency in New York City. When Jacobs was seven years old, his father died of a longstanding battle with ulcerative colitis—an inlammatory bowel disease that targets the colon and rectum—leaving him behind with his mother, brother and sister. According to a book by the New York Post’s Maureen Callahan, titled Champagne Supernovas, Jacobs’ mother battled with mental illness, which irst manifested after she gave birth to him. Although Judy’s family had the means and access to the best medical practitioners, it was a time when mental illness wasn’t as extensively researched and understood. After years of neglect, social services stepped in and Jacobs was taken in by his paternal grandmother. It was then that his talent for fashion and the arts bloomed. Jacobs constantly referred to his grandmother Helen as his irst fashion muse. She encouraged his potential and would brag to shop owners on the Upper West Side where they resided that Jacobs would be the ‘next Calvin Klein’. While studying at Parsons School of Design, Jacobs was already noted for his talent. He was named Design Student of the Year 1984 and received the Perry Ellis Golden Thimble Award for his graduate collection, which featured sweaters hand-knitted by his grandmother.

A L O N G S TA N D I N G P A R T N E R S H I P

If Yves Saint Laurent’s creativity was matched by Pierre Bergé’s business acumen, such was the case with Jacobs and business partner Robert Dufy; minus the romantic relationship. The partnership between the two began in 1983 after Jacobs’ graduation dinner. Dufy was an executive for the now-defunct sportswear company Reuben Thomas and was looking for fresh new talent to collaborate with.

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Marc Jacobs in his New York design studio, circa 1989.

Marc Jacobs takes his bow at the first runway show for Louis Vuitton.

Marc Jacobs and Robert Dufy celebrate the opening of three new stores in Los Angeles in 2005.

Since then, Dufy has been an integral force in furthering the Marc Jacobs business. In 1993, he and Jacobs oicially founded Marc Jacobs International. It was Dufy who negotiated for LVMH to have a 96 percent investment in Marc Jacobs the brand, in order to proceed with hiring Jacobs. And most importantly, Dufy conceptualised Marc by Marc Jacobs—the lower-priced and younger line—which at its highest, accounted for 80 percent of total revenue for the company. In a 2009 interview with British Vogue on the occasion of the opening of Marc by Marc Jacobs’ irst London store, Dufy expressed: “I always wanted the company to be broad and wanted to reach out to a lot of people. It was diicult to convince people

that it was necessary—to be a luxury brand but be all price points. But I knew I could do it and I’m proud we did it.”

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D O W N WA R D S P I R A L

After 16 years at the creative helm of Louis Vuitton, Jacobs announced in 2013, after the house’s spring/summer 2014 runway show, that it would be his last. The decision was reported to be mutual—Jacobs wanted to focus on his namesake brand and prepare it for an initial public ofering—but after years of doubledigit percentage growth, Louis Vuitton’s proits began to slow down. It wasn’t that the collections prior had been critically panned, but rather, after 16 years, Louis Vuitton was due for a


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creative change. Fashion is driven by newness and there was nothing new about a 16-year creative directorship. However, the IPO never did come to fruition. The Marc Jacobs business has been in trouble since. Stores have shuttered, including its career-deining presence along New York’s Bleecker Street. At one point, Jacobs had six stores along a four-block stretch with each store dedicated to a diferent segment of the business—the women’s main line, the men’s main line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Little Marc, Marc Jacobs Beauty and the branded trinket store Bookmarc. Save for the latter, the rest have been permanently closed since 2017. In an efort to streamline the business, the more afordable Marc by Marc Jacobs line ceased operations in 2015. The oferings instead were folded into the main Marc Jacobs line, which has made the diference in merchandise mix and price points confusing for customers. And just this year, John Targon of Los Angeles-based fashion brand Baja East was hired to build and develop the lower-priced portion of Marc Jacobs. But Targon left after only two and a half months at the job. The Marc Jacobs menswear line was the next to go. It was after the closure of Marc by Marc Jacobs that it was revealed that Dufy had quietly stepped down from his leading role at Marc Jacobs. Dufy remains as the deputy chairman of the company’s board, but the direction of the brand has most recently been accorded to Eric Marechalle, the former CEO of Kenzo.

Imaxtree

MARC JACOB S IS STILL HERE

Despite the troubles, Jacobs is still regarded as one of fashion’s most brilliant designers. His seasonal runway shows—although noticeably downscaled—still impress fashion critics due to its high level of drama and showmanship. And the clothes speak volumes of Jacobs’ talent. In a review of its autumn/winter 2018 collection, Business of Fashion’s Tim Blanks called the collection “his most pointed upyours yet to all those people who’ve clouded his once glittering career with commercial nit-picking”. Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times celebrated Jacobs’ deft and unquestionable talent, but remarked that “it may still not be enough”. It’s common for brands to fall out of style but resurgences are rare; the latter is more dependent on cultural shifts and design relevance. But for someone who used to be able to craft a collection that’s deined by the sign of the times, Jacobs has seemed to relegate his collections to nostalgic references without much commercial sense. The clothes might be beautiful and incredibly styled, but they don’t necessarily translate well in stores. As puzzling as it may seem, fashion and its unrelenting pace might have been too much for Jacobs. In the business’ full scale before shuttering lines, Jacobs would have had more than 20 collections to oversee every year, not counting special projects. It could also be that having lost his more business-minded and disciplined partner, Jacobs needs time to refocus and channel his energy into iguring out who the Marc Jacobs client is at this time. Or who she (or he) would want to be. And for someone who imagined the original Louis Vuitton man and woman, and paved the way for Nicolas Ghesquière, Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh, there is still a part of Jacobs that is capable of doing just that. 

The Marc Jacobs autumn/winter 2018 collection took inspiration from 1980s haute couture and was well-received for its vision, but left critics questioning Jacobs’ ability at keeping a business profitable.

Taking his bow at his most recent runway show for spring/summer 2019, Marc Jacobs started (unusually) an hour and a half late, fuelling rumours that he was rebelling for not being the closing show for New York Fashion Week.

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Special Project

2019: a

space The core of Louis Vuitton has always been the spirit of travel, and for its men’s spring/ summer 2019 pre-collection, it looked towards the final frontier for inspiration. We can’t say for sure what we would find in outer space, but here are some of our favourite bags from the collection that are coming along for the ride. Monogram Galaxy Canvas Backpack.

Photographs by Dju-Lian Chng Styling by Eugene Lim

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Monogram Satellite Canvas Messenger Bag. Facing page: Taurillon Leather Hobo Bag.

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Taurillon Leather Backpack. Facing page: Monogram Satellite Canvas Keepall Bag.

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Model: Philip B/Ave Model Management. All clothes by Louis Vuitton

Special Project

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Clad in fine raiment and richly adorned Wayne Cheong takes on Kiton’s made-to-measure service.

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I’m caught under a crossire of Italian. While what smattering of Italian I know consists of Starbucks sizes and ‘cazzo’, the gulf of my ignorance of the language leaves me vulnerable. That vulnerability is heightened as I remain still as Ciro Palestra sticks pins into the pants I’m wearing, pulls a measuring tape taut and shouts in Italian to Paolo Monaco, who parrots Palestra’s words and scribbles on the order sheet. Palestra is one of Kiton’s ive master tailors. Monaco is the retail director of Asia. Seeing the faint distress on my face, he explains to me, in English, the process I’m undertaking—the made-to-measure service that the Neapolitan clothing company, with outlets all over the world, has ofered. On the day of my itting, in the Ngee Ann City branch, six of the company’s prominent igures are sequestered with me—the aforementioned Palestra and Monaco; Sebastiano Borrelli, master shirtmaker; Anna Paola Frollo, sales manager of Kiton Ladies; Marco Pirone, vice-president; and Antonio de Matteis, CEO of Kiton—all attired immaculately in their own Kiton armour. It’s intimidating. Like I’m caught in the middle of a sartorial club meeting wearing a slightly too-large shirt that’s not mine; it’s the store’s but there’s a method to the madness.

Kiton was launched in 1968 in Naples, Italy by Ciro Paone and Antonio Carola and since then it has grown into a powerhouse with the business and the craft kept solely in the family (de Matteis and Antonio Paone, president of Kiton USA, are both nephews of Ciro Paone). In a world that has embraced fast fashion, Kiton still makes its outits by hand. With stores in 15 countries and 700-odd employees under its wing, the company, armed with foresight, established the Kiton Tailoring school, where apprentices undergo two years of education and hands-on work before making a decision on either staying with Kiton or moving on to another company. Either way, the tailoring industry is kept buoyed. The made-to-measure service that I’m undertaking promises something that is made by Kiton but is intrinsically mine. Right now, Palestra, who is measuring me, is a picture of stoicism. His hair the colour of early snow, trimmed at the sides; wearing an immaculate window-pane suit, Palestra wears a scowl that’s ever at the ready. As though as a disapproval for something that I’ve yet to do. The only hint that betrays his stoicism are the lime-green arms of his spectacles and the hint of a tattoo peeking out from beneath the cuf of his right hand.

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He’s in charge of not just the cutting process but also the construction. There are ive people just focused on the canvas, while the front end, where the cutters sit, comprises six to eight tables. A MTM suit takes about six to eight weeks. The interlining of the suit is something—as one of the Kiton staf demonstrates with his own jacket by balling it up before, with a magician’s lourish, licking it out; the jacket returns to its immaculate form. To get a sense of how the suit would look on me, I put on their dress shirt for the itting. Monaco, who is gingerly taking down the measurements, wears one of the irst jackets from the CIPA collection. It’s a chocolate-brown suit—languid, bold—from 10 years ago. It its his body, from how it sits on the shoulders and covers his arms, and it looks comfortable. If Monaco should ever conide in me that he has never taken the suit of, I’d be inclined to believe him as his outit looks sewn to his skin. Monaco tells me that my shoulders are not too wide and my frame would require a jacket with higher armholes. “This provides better movement for a guy who isn’t big.” Palestra lets out a string of Italian. “You’ve very strong legs,” Monaco says. It’s an unexpected compliment until I realise that’s his way of saying that I’ve a pear-shaped frame—larger thighs and posterior. I run, I say, by way of a justiication. Squats too. Monaco continues. “Taking your legs and chest into account, we’re giving you a size 48. We’ll shorten the rise, commend tightening up here,” Monaco points to the pants legs, “so it doesn’t look baggy. But let us know if you’re not comfortable.” Monaco goes on to inquire about the detailing—I choose no pleats and slanted pockets—and then he slips a jacket over me, one that’s closer to my sizing. “Basically,” Monaco says, “everybody has shoulders that slopes as they age.” He points to my right shoulder; there, the jacket slightly folds at the seams. This, Monaco attributes to my right shoulder being lower than the left. They instruct me to let my arms hang loose as they continue their measurements. They will ix the shoulders, reduce the sleeves and, at the suggestion of Palestra, alter the back vent. “Because it was sitting on your butt.” Pause. “Which is... muscly.” Dude.

with the regular-sized lapels (3.2”), but the larger ones (3.5”) that resemble the wingspan of an eagle in light is striking. It is peaked, looking almost dangerous. Like one of the staf referred to as “parang lapels”. My ingers trace the curve of the lapel; reminiscent of the edge of a blade. The jacket model I’m taking isn’t Kiton’s popular model, the LASA. Instead, I’m opting for the AD model, which Kiton launched a few years ago but it didn’t catch on. The AD model was supposed to be for a modern update to the older aesthetics of the suit. In addition to that, I chose a patch pocket, a shorter front raise. “It’ll be modern, very young,” Monaco says. Slate grey suit. It’s Borrelli’s turn to measure me for the shirt. Because Palestra travels extensively to the Asian regions for the itting, he usually does double-duty for the measuring of the suit and the shirt. The master shirtmaker’s presence today to do the measuring is an occasion. With the measurements for my shirt done and dusted, it’s on to choosing the details of the shirt, from the inclusion of plackets (I chose none) to the shape of your cufs (opted for the rounded cuf ). I go through albums of fabric swatches. They proposed not taking a white shirt; easy to get dirty. The staf profered a colour blue. Navy checks, more speciically, something that easily goes with my slate-grey suit. The Kiton dress shirt is a work of art. This was repeated to me every so often. It is also the “most worked-on shirt in the world”. A shirt is a shirt is a shirt, but there’s more than meet the eye when it comes to a Kiton dress shirt. An important point of note: the shirt is 95 percent hand sewn (a sewing machine takes the reins on the collar and cuf edges and the seams at the side of the body and sleeves). It’s old traditional Neapolitan sewing, they tell me; a Kiton shirt takes 22 steps. Borrelli tells me that the fabric has to move with the body as well as to retain its shape and that is only possible with a hand sewn shirt. He pulls out a patterned shirt from the rack, pointing to the lines across the chest—the arrangement never breaks. The print runs uninterrupted over the pockets, across the collar and band. It’s a mathematical process to ensure continuity and for this to be achievable, a lot of fabric is needed. Borrelli turns over the shirt to showcase the yoke. The upperquarter yoke is made of two separate fabrics so when one moves— the back muscles like tectonic plates sliding against each other— the shirt adheres to the motion and doesn’t tug on the shoulders. With the collar turned up, we see the construction: a mix of fused and loating canvas with fused sections ensuring that the collar never loses its shape. The women who stitch the collars place it on their thigh to follow the curvature of your neck. (I can’t help but conjure up the myth of Cuban  torcedors  rolling cigars on their thighs.) No other company adheres to these 22 steps of making a Kiton shirt. It’s too costly, too time-consuming, but that’s the only way to get a shirt to be what it is. Kiton’s motto is l meglio del meglio più uno (“the best of the best plus one”). I’m holding the shirt in my hands—marvelling at how lightweight it is, how deftly put together it is—and I’m wondering if I should have worn gloves.

N E A P O L I TA N I S N ’ T J U S T A N I C E C R E A M F L AV O U R

The style of the Kiton suit is the typical Neapolitan-style. A true Neapolitan is very light. “The more you wear it, the better it its,” someone says. The signature feature of a single-breasted Neapolitan jacket is the three-roll-two (tre bottoni su due). This is a jacket with three functioning buttons but the top button isn’t meant to be used at all; thanks to the canvas, the lapels take on the characteristics of a gentle barrel of a wave; rolling directly to the middle button, softly obstructing you from buttoning it. Any persistence past its advisement results in the front of the jacket looking messed up. How this came about, this stylistic afront to fashion pragmatism, is hard to pin down. It’s said that poor college students, wanting to take on the two-button look but having only their fathers’ three-button jackets, would steam- or iron-press the lapels to look like a two-button. This is what was suggested that I should adopt. For the lapels, I’m going big. We’re well-versed

T W O M O N T H S L AT E R

The staf member wears a look of perplexity on his face. I’ve returned to try on the shirt and suit. Standing in front of the mirror,

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I look like I’m about to hit the town and drench it in red. Concerned, he gestures towards my shirt cufs: it’s a little large around my wrist. “Did you say that you wear a watch?” I did not. His brows knit as he peruses the itting list again. Then, he takes the measurements around my wrist and rewrites the numbers on the form. It looks like the shirt will be returned to Naples for another round of alteration. To be fair, the shirt looks ine on me but the staf member has a downcast look and promises that the item will it better when I return. Later in the day, I receive a text saying that they uncovered the problem: it was the handwriting. The measurement was for 21cm but the arm of the number one was extended to look like a seven. I convince myself that sometimes the delay in gratiication will yield a far sweeter reward. NOW

I’ve been wearing the suit more often than naught. I’ve noticed little details not mentioned during the itting: instead of a hook and eye on the trouser, it’s been replaced with another button; so along with the button on my French ly and tab, I have three buttons on the waistband to ensure that the band stays taut around my middle and that the crotch doesn’t tent when I’m seated. I ind that the canvas has adapted to my body shape. It drapes naturally. Someone advises me to let the suit ‘breathe’, meaning to air it out or to let it ‘rest’. I imagine myself wearing the suit to death—to the literal death—when I’m laid in my open casket and family, friends and secret enemies make their rounds and remark more on the outit than the natural pallor of the mortician’s brush. It’s a little morbid, I suppose, to think that when you invest in something, you’d expect it to last a while and, sometimes, it might even outlive you. I’m reminded about this passing anecdote related by Frollo. She tells me that the company’s name, Kiton is derived from the Greek word chiton, which is a tunic-like garment worn by the ancient Greeks. When she was at the Legion of Honour Museum in San Francisco, California, she came across a statuette that was irst unearthed in a villa in Rome. According to the object label, it identiies the marbled igure as the poet Sappho. Lounged and relaxed, the poet wore a chiton. As she tells me with a smile, Frollo, who had never seen a chiton until then, felt a shiver. There’s this dawning realisation that bathes over her to see the outit—that was the staple for the Greeks in those days—that started it all. The way she swooned, I swear, you could have knocked her down with a feather. 

Kiton’s made-to-measure service is available at Kiton, 391 Orchard Road #03-09B Takashimaya SC, Ngee Ann City.

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Huntsman of Savile Row.

Its legendary head cutter, Colin Hammick, who developed the tailor’s signature suit in the 1950s.

The Bespoke 100 experience includes measuring, fitting and selecting cloth.

Savile rogue In the age of online retail—that’d be right now—bespoke suiting is a sort of sartorial Rorschach test. Some people, the same who despise of-the-rack and click-to-buy, embrace the licence to deine their own style on their own terms. For (many) others, the process is a bit of a faf. When one can buy a designer suit with nothing more than a credit card and an Internet connection, and the suit will arrive at the doorstep that very day, why opt for the months of toe-tapping that tailored suits require? Belgian inancier Pierre Lagrange asked himself the same question when, in 2013, he bought Huntsman of Savile Row. He now owned one of the most respected tailors in the business, and one of the oldest, it having opened in 1849. But he knew that men’s shopping habits had changed with the times, and that many of

his would-be clients no longer could commit to the full bespoke experience. Could Huntsman change too? Lagrange’s answer, of course, was yes. His solution, Bespoke 100, debuts this month at Huntsman’s recently opened New York location. Named for the centennial anniversary of the tailor’s move to Savile Row, the idea is simple: same bespoke indulgences; more afordable, swifter turnaround. Well, almost the same. The full Huntsman treatment, which the shop calls Bespoke 1849, afords clients a full spectrum of cloths, and the suit is crafted at Huntsman’s Savile Row headquarters. The process takes around three months, which is the industry standard. Bespoke 100 ofers fewer fabrics, and the suit’s construction is outsourced to one of a few select ateliers in Europe and Asia,

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Words by Nick Sullivan. Photographs by Allie Holloway.

An iconic London tailor comes to New York to disrupt the bespoke experience.


As rising stars in the art world, Sotheby’s employees Bernard Lagrange (right), son of Huntsman owner Pierre, and Caspar Jopling (left), need to look as good as the art they’re dealing. So they underwent Huntsman’s Bespoke 100 process.

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Essentials of style Bernard Lagrange and Jopling in their new Huntsman suits. The jacket is single-buttoned, long-skirted, and slant-pocketed, all of which focus the balance on the slimmest part of the torso. Translation: you’ll look taller and fitter.

including one whose tailors have dressed Shanghai’s elite since the 1920s. That brings the turnaround down to an average of eight weeks, or as little as six weeks if the client is available at crucial moments in the process. Outsourcing lowers the cost as much as 40 percent, but Lagrange claims that doesn’t mean a decline in quality. “It takes 60 to 80 hours to make a bespoke suit,” he tells me, regardless of the continent on which it is assembled, so each garment receives a similar level of attention. As with all of Huntsman’s clients, those who choose Bespoke 100 receive at least two ittings to ensure the silhouette is just right. Above all, Huntsman preserves the most vital step in any bespoke experience: the consultation with the cutter. The cutter is the most highly trained member of a tailor’s staf, the one who measures you, discusses cloth and other details, then uses what’s known as the ‘rock of eye’: the sixth sense of any good cutter

to literally size you up by sight and translate those measurements into a chalk pattern that serves as your suit’s template. The best cutters— like Huntsman’s creative director, Campbell Carey—are the gods of Savile Row. “Cutting is the design,” Lagrange says. “If the cutter designs a garment properly and gives the proper instructions, the rest is relatively easy.” Ralph Fitzgerald, the London-trained cutter at Huntsman’s stateside location, is uniquely adept at handling the, shall we say, buoyant pace at which New Yorkers move through life. “There are so many people who want something personalised but have been shut out by the cost,” Lagrange says. He hopes to change that. “I suspect we will get people who will want both Bespoke 1849 and Bespoke 100. Up to a certain level of cloth quality, the two are fundamentally the same. We’re just ofering a new way of looking at bespoke.”  huntsmansavilerow.com

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Upgrade to suede

Words by Brady Langmann. Photograph by Jefrey Westbrook.

There’s no better time to get yourself acquainted with leather’s softer side.

Autumn isn’t everyone’s favourite time of year—there’s the shitty pumpkin beer, the weight gain, the flu. But it’s also boot season, so we’ll call it even. Chances are you’ve already got a standard brown or black leather pair knocking around, but suede’s texture works with the heavier fabrics you wear in the autumn. (Shiny shoes next to a pair of tweed pants? Not so great.) And because the finish has more depth, it lets you go of-colour, too—tawny tans, chocolate browns and shades of blue grey are all fair game. See? Autumn isn’t so bad. Now pass the pumpkin beer. Clockwise from top: Shoes, by Fratelli Rossetti; boots, by Wolverine; boots, by To Boot New York; desert boots, by George Cleverley; Chelsea boots, by Mark Nason Los Angeles; derbies, by Grenson. Background: scarf, by Gucci.

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Bold. Brazen. Ballsy. From cult labels to couturiers, there’s a rebellious new attitude to fashion. Defy conventions, disregard rules and do whatever the heck you want—and that’s just what you wear.

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Model: Adomas Gailiunas / Premier Model Management. Groomer: Ebina Chie Fashion assistants: Ievan Darwin and Ingrid Walker. Shot on location: 5 Carlos Place, Mayfair, London

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Still life

2|5

From left: leather Princetown slippers with lambswool lining, by Gucci; leather high-top shoes, by Bottega Veneta.

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Words by Celine Yap

Ballon Bleu de Cartier 42MM watch in yellow gold.

Looking good Its unique heritage as a jeweller helped Cartier formulate what is probably the most recognisable style of watchmaking in the world.

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The French luxury house’s epoch-making Santos de Cartier wristwatch.

Every time a watch appears with crisp Roman numerals, a traditional railroad-style minute track, blued steel sword-shaped hands, and a crown that’s topped with a single blue sapphire crystal cabochon, it’s only natural you’ll expect to see the name Cartier. As much as they are widely copied throughout the industry, these are the core design elements of a classical Cartier timepiece, from the maison’s earliest creations to the current collections. But of course what makes a Cartier timepiece so definitive of the maison—and so important in contemporary watchmaking—goes far beyond pure aesthetics. In the book, The Art of Cartier jointly authored by Pierre Rainero, Guillermo Solana and Jorge Varela, Rainero writes: “Throughout its early years, Cartier explored the future hallmarks of its identity: exemplary beauty above all, but also concern for functionality and the evocative power of abstract forms.”

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It is important to remember that Cartier was not always a watchmaker. Indeed, the maison was, above all, a jeweller. This not only explains its ixation with unerring aesthetics but also its fearlessness when it comes to breaking the rules. Since the irst Cartier watch, which was the Santos, released in 1904, the maison has never bowed to conventions no matter how universally they prevail, preferring instead to trust its own instincts—a stand also mirrored in its jewellery making philosophy. Case in point, at the turn of the 20th century, the leading style in the decorative arts was art nouveau. Even though Cartier has already been in the jewellery business for more than 50 years, it was only then that the maison began to create its own designs. Yet instead of falling in line like everybody else, Cartier turned away from the art nouveau trend, and moved back towards a traditionalist ideology. At that point, the maison was helmed by the Cartier brothers, Louis, Pierre and Jacques. Of the three, there has never been any doubt that Louis was the one who impacted Cartier’s style and identity the most. Shortly after he joined, the company moved to its current location in Paris, Rue de la Paix, where an in-house design and production workshop allowed Cartier to assert itself as a creator and not just a retailer. Louis was also the man behind many of the maison’s iconic timepieces. The Santos, for instance, would never have been born had he not been such close friends

‘white’ metal on which to mount diamonds. This was because it was precious and malleable but at the same time, heavy and tarnishes over time. Under the directive of Louis, Cartier was the irst jeweller to use platinum in place of silver. Rainero adds that the second element of all Cartier timepieces is a preoccupation with proportions and the notion of elegance. “That is what we call the Cartier Eye. There is an idea that the technique should always be at the service of beauty and elegance in the way the piece will be worn.” Perhaps that’s why generations of kings and queens, entire dynasties sometimes, simply adored the maison’s creations, and none more so than Edward VII, who proclaimed Cartier “Jeweller to Kings, King of Jewellers”. The style of Cartier, however, is not a static concept. It is constantly evolving inasmuch as it is always perceptible and recognisable. In The Art of Cartier, Rainero writes: “A style belongs to an era but must also extend beyond its time while conserving the spirit. It is this continuity that conirms its existence and force.” For as long as he’s been with the maison, Louis left an indelible mark on the company’s style and identity, and continues to inspire business leaders and product designers today. His philosophy formed the backbone of contemporary collections such as the Ballon Bleu, Cle, Drive and Calibre. In particular, when Ballon Bleu was introduced in 2007, it was the irst completely new collection

“The strength of the design also relies on its capacity to evolve while remaining very much recognisable, like the Santos.”

with the Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, and neither would the Tank, which is such a historically important timepiece in the world of contemporary haute horlogerie. Throughout the 20th century, it continually produced one iconic timepiece after another; the maison has also created arresting designs such as the Tortue, Baignoire, Pasha and many more. On what the most deinitive attributes of these Cartier watches are, Rainero explains to Esquire Singapore: “The added value of Cartier or what Cartier brings as a distinctive value in the watchmaking world is the work on shapes. It is really what Cartier is recognised for. Traditionally, for centuries, measurement of time has been inscribed in a round dial and Cartier—probably because it was born as a jewellery house—had another eye on the function of giving time, an aesthetical eye.” One of the founding shapes for Cartier is the square but with rounded angles. Even before the Santos, the maison had already made distinctive pocket watches in this style. Accordingly, the Santos was the epitome of progresses in society and in watchmaking. Understanding that the gesture of taking a pocket watch out of one’s jacket was no longer relevant, Louis designed the Santos for the wrist. Just as how he found a way to replace silver with platinum in jewellery crafting, thus ofering his customers a more elegant solution to an age-old problem. Here’s how that story went: Since time immemorial, silver was the only

in a long time, and one that watch connoisseurs unanimously approved of. Often, it was said to be “very Cartier”. “When you think of the attributes I mentioned earlier, shapes and elegance, you see the link between all these watches,” Rainero elaborates. “In the case of Ballon Bleu, there is work on the circle; it’s not only a round watch, it’s also a watch that incorporates the crown into a circle. It’s also a pebble, meaning that it is round not only as seen from the top but also as a proile. The glass and the bottom are also round, so there is an idea to work that object completely around the circle.” So ultimately what formulates the DNA of a Cartier timepiece is a modest formula of shapes, proportions and elegance. It sounds almost too simple to be true but when it comes to style and design, sometimes it just boils down to simplicity—and simplicity is far harder to achieve than complexity. “A piece can be considered a success not only because it is successful but when it inds its way into the day-to-day life of our clients,” says Rainero. “The strength of the design also relies on its capacity to evolve while remaining very much recognisable, like the Santos.” It is said that history does not run straight at Cartier, and correspondingly, what the maison inds inspirational often overlaps or recurs. But the inal masterpiece is always creative, proportionate, elegant and above all relevant—in less eloquent words, textbook Cartier. 

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Still making waves It’s James Bond’s choice timepiece but that’s only one reason to love

Words by Celine Yap

the Omega Seamaster Diver 300m.

Today, 25 years since the irst Seamaster Diver 300m was launched, Omega has found the perfect moment to refresh the collection with a bold new look. Not only is it the 25th anniversary of this athletic timepiece, it is the 70th anniversary of the Seamaster. Fittingly, 14 new models have been released, six of which are made in stainless steel and eight in bi-colour steel and gold. Additionally, Omega also issued a limited-edition piece made of titanium and tantalum with a touch of Sedna gold. Sized at 42mm, the watches are robust, sporty and padded with all the latest technical features proprietary to Omega. The Master Chronometer Calibre 8800, for instance, ofers higher levels of chronometric precision, shock resistance and magnetic resistance. The bezel comes with a ceramic insert that has its diving scales done in either Ceragold or white enamel for longer-lasting colour and durability. Dials are made from polished ceramic and laserengraved with the familiar waves pattern—a popular feature of the original Seamaster Professional. Indexes are raised and illed with Superluminova to evoke that diver aesthetic, while the skeleton hands have been slightly reshaped. Over the back, rather than a solid cover engraved with the iconic hippocampus logo, Omega ofers a see-through sapphire glass through which you can see the METAS-approved movement. METAS is a new level of quality control that exceeds the standard COSC criteria using eight individual tests. Very briely, it checks the daily rate precision of the fully assembled watch, function of the movement under magnetic exposure, function of the watch under magnetic exposure, rate deviation after magnetic exposure, water resistance, power reserve, rate deviation between full and low power reserve, and inally rate deviation in six diferent positions. If in spite of everything the watch achieves an average rate luctuation of 0/+5 seconds per day, it has passed the test. Well, when it’s got a co-axial escapement, optimal balance frequency of 25,200 vibrations per hour, a Si14 silicon hairspring and DLCcoated barrels, how could it not? 

In 1995, after having done much research on the style and practices of the British military service, Goldeneye production designer Lindy Hemming made the inal decision to equip Agent 007 with an Omega Seamaster. Played by Pierce Brosnan, Bond wore a Ref 2541.80 which was a quartz-driven Seamaster Professional that had a blue dial. Following that, in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day, the Irish actor was wristed with the self-winding chronometer version of the watch. And as the James Bond franchise evolved, so did the secret agent’s watches. Replacing Brosnan in 2006’s Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s timepiece featured a new co-axial escapement unique to Omega. His was the Planet Ocean model, water resistant to 600m, which is a lot brawnier than the older versions and arguably a better it for this new Bond who’s grittier and a better ighter too. Interestingly, in Skyfall he swapped the Planet Ocean for an Aqua Terra for the casino scene and in Spectre he wore the (then) new Seamaster 300 which has a vintage style commemorating the anniversary of the original CK2913. But James Bond is not the only hero who wears an Omega Seamaster Professional Diver. As soon as Omega introduced this model in 1993, it was taken on its irst adventure by Frenchman Roland Specker who free-dived to a depth of 80m in Switzerland’s Lake Neuchatel. Two years later, the watch became a part of sailing history when the sailors of Team New Zealand, helmed by the legendary Sir Peter Blake, took home the championship at the 1995 America’s Cup. Soon after, athletes from other arenas began wearing the Seamaster, including swimmer Alexander Popov and tennis champion Martina Hingis. Sir Peter Blake continues to wear the Omega Seamaster even when he’s not competing on the water. In 2000, he created the Blakexpeditions foundation dedicated to researching ecological and marine issues around the world. On board his boat named Seamaster, all members of the crew were equipped with the Diver 300m.

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Listen to the music As it went in search of a new rhythm, Vacheron Constantin found itself on the doorsteps of London’s Abbey Road Studios.

Abbey Road Studios is protected by the British government which in 2010 granted it the English Heritage Grade II listed status. Facing page: Benjamin Clementine.

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Words by Celine Yap

Watches

If watchmaking had a song, what would it sound like? And who would sing it? There would be more than a million possibilities but ask Vacheron Constantin and the answer would be Eternity by Benjamin Clementine. After all, the 263-year-old luxury watch company did co-produce the single with the English poet, artist and musician who’s leading its latest brand campaign boldly entitled One Of Not Many. Most famously remembered as the barefoot singer-songwriter with a velvety warm croon—and gravity-defying hair—Clementine had intended the song especially for Vacheron Constantin. And since the Genevan manufacture is the world’s oldest watch company that’s been in continuous production since 1755, eternity sounds just about right.

In September this year, Clementine appeared at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios. But he wasn’t there to record an album, because that he’d already done—Eternity was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. What brought him to this legendary venue where so many of the world’s greatest performers such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Oasis and Amy Winehouse have recorded numerous albums was Vacheron Constantin and its 150 guests from around the world, including Esquire Singapore. Among the audience, there were people who’d seen Clementine perform and there were some who’d never heard of him. By the end of the evening, it was clear why musicians like Clementine, and also Vacheron Constantin’s other music ambassador, James Bay, were perfectly suited for this particular watchmaking universe.

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CEO of Vacheron Constantin, Louis Ferla, explains: “We have not chosen to work with these gentlemen because they are famous. Even among them there are diferent levels of fame and awareness. We chose them because they are really experts in their respective ields and they keep looking for excellence in that ield. Speak to them and you’ll see how passionate and dedicated they are. Clementine for example spends hours and hours practising just to get exactly the sound that he wants. He’s just 27, he’s super talented. It’s those values of excellence and dedication that we share with them.” Ferla adds that the goal was not to search for brand ambassadors. “They don’t speak on behalf of our brand or about our brand. They’re partners with whom we explore ways to embark on common creative projects. With each, there will be a project release and it will be a collaborative efort. It’s not about them wearing our watches, it’s much more than that. It’s all about the collaboration.” So Clementine’s soulful single is just the irst of a series of creative projects soon to be launched by Vacheron Constantin. This only means that up next is another musical surprise featuring Bay and Abbey Road Studios.

Clockwise from above: James Bay; the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Complete Calendar; Benjamin Clementine; an orchestra set-up at Abbey Road Studios.

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The two musicians represent Vacheron Constantin’s new FiftySix collection. And if you’re wondering why music for the FiftySix, what makes this world a natural it for the collection? The answer, Ferla enthuses, is Abbey Road Studios. “For the FiftySix, we work with musicians. In this watch we got a lot of inspiration from the case which dates back to the ’50s, and the ’50s is this post-war era where business was good, people are relaxed, there’s a more casual life approach. Looking through our archives, we discovered a lot of clients are musicians who wore Vacheron Constantin and they had links with Abbey Road Studios. Either they had recorded their music there or had some kind of collaboration.” Famous faces back in the day who wore a Vacheron Constantin timepiece include Arthur Rubinstein, Andes Segovia, Eddie Fisher and Sydney Bechet. Acknowledging the dedication, passion and expertise of Abbey Road Studios, Ferla also mentioned the continual self-renewal exhibited by the global music icon as a relection of Vacheron Constantin’s core values. Not only has it worked with generations of popular artistes, but Abbey Road Studios was also where iconic movie scores were recorded. Think evergreen ilms like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Harry Potter ilms, as well as more recent productions such as Black Panther and The Shape of the Water. “What brought us here to London?” asks Ferla. Sure, it’s a rhetorical question but he answers it anyway. “London is a very cosmopolitan city. So much happens here. It’s a historical city, very old, but also very much open to the world. It’s a very dynamic city and there’s nowhere quite like it in Europe, for example. Also of course we have this project with Benjamin [Clementine] and Abbey Road Studios, and not forgetting on 1st September we just launched our full collection on Mr Porter.”

Over three days in this astounding city, Vacheron Constantin curated a unique experience best described as FiftySix World, which was very English and very London, but not at all touristy. No rides on a London bus, no visit to Madame Tussaud’s, no feeding pigeons at Trafalgar Square. Instead, there was a vintage car tour that took us to the shooting locations of London’s most famous album covers, there was a bartitsu masterclass, we went vinyl hunting around Soho, visited the Sipsmith Gin Distillery, took a rock piano masterclass, went bowling, joined a DJ masterclass, and indulged in ine handcrafted shoes, tailoring and whisky. Suice it to say, FiftySix World rocks. “I often say that, yes, Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watch manufacture in Geneva but why are we able to still be relevant today?” Ferla questions. “A lot of people tell me that Vacheron Constantin is known as one of the holy trinity brands and the reason is because we constantly innovate. If you don’t innovate, you lose momentum and speed. Having [a long] history is one thing but you can’t expect clients to buy your watches simply because we’re 263 years old. It should be because we are a manufacture with 263 years of history but that’s also constantly innovating and looking for excellence. It’s the combination of the two that makes us relevant today.” FiftySix is a new collection yet arguably it isn’t all that new. In creating it, Vacheron Constantin was inspired by an old watch that had the same Maltese cross-style lugs. So in its own way, from the simple self-winding model to the high complication tourbillon piece, FiftySix is an example of how Vacheron Constantin reinvents and refreshes its style. Perhaps that’s how this centuries-old grand dame continues to look so darn elegant and relevant even after 263 years of being in the business—and frankly we could all learn a lesson here. 

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see right through Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’art Mécaniques Ajourées 40MM in 18-carat white gold on a blue alligator leather strap.

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The precise beauty of the inner workings of a timepiece can only be appreciated through clear, skeletonised designs. Photographs by Ching

Styling by Asri Jasman

Cartier Tank CintrĂŠe Skeleton 33.75MM x 19.6MM in platinum on a black alligator leather strap.

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Blancpain Villeret Squelette 8 Jours 38MM in 18-carat white gold on a black alligator leather strap.

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Franck Muller Vanguard 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton 45MM x 53.7MM in stainless steel on a black leather and rubber strap.

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Girard-Perregaux Laureato Skeleton Ceramic 42MM in ceramic on a ceramic bracelet.

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Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 Ceramic Blue 45MM in ceramic on a black and blue lined rubber strap.

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A gathering of Singaporeans who have a head for success and a heart for community. From business leaders and policymakers peacocking in pinstripes, to consultants and creatives brainstorming in T-shirts, The Esky Club exists to challenge and break down mediocrity (and that carcinogenic notion of ‘good enough’) in order to stir up and instigate purpose-driven action on social issues—both at home and abroad. It’s iron sharpens iron kind of stuff. Sure, there might be cuts and bruises (to your ego), but they will be soothed with generous lashings of whisky, thought-provoking debates and soul-building conversation on matters that, well, matter.

Want to join? You need an invite. Best way to secure an invitation? You do you, and the rest will follow.


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Against mutilation

Wave riders

Take a look at yourself

Vitaly Malkin dares to question the religious campaign against pleasure.

A new documentary shows surfers in a diferent light.

Eighteen personalities tell us what they see in their mirror.

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H E ’ S P L AY E D S A L I N G E R , T O L K I E N AND TESLA , BUT ON THE EVE OF HIS 30S, N I C H O L A S H O U L T I S O N LY J U S T G E T T I N G S T A R T E D.

Words by Adrienne Westenfeld Photographs by Michael Schwartz Styling by Fabio Immediato

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Trench coat, by Salvatore Ferragamo.

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D O E S N ’ T H AV E M U C H T I M E .

In a lofty downtown Manhattan studio on a grim, leaden Saturday, we’ve been photographing him for over six hours, and he’s got a light to catch. Yet even as the clock runs out, he’s a consummate professional. Hoult cycles through a carousel of outits with a natural ease, even when we come to a thick, tartan suit patterned with funky appliquéd squirrels—a suit that would send a lesser man running for the hills. After we’ve wrapped, he makes the rounds saying goodbye to the entire crew with a graciousness and gratitude uncharacteristic of actors with his star wattage. He’s shaking hands, he’s slapping backs, and although his time is tight, he’s hesitant to leave until he’s connected with everyone. When we settle into a pair of armchairs to chat, there’s a boarding pass burning a hole in Hoult’s pocket, yet still he has a miraculous way of making you feel as if you’re the only thing on his agenda. At just 28 years old, British-born Hoult has built a fruitful career on defying expectations, pinballing from big-budget blockbusters to indie romances to pedigreed biopics and back again. His appetite for newness is voracious, but as he stares down the next decade of his life, both professionally and personally, Hoult is ruminating on the path he’s walked thus far, looking ahead to new frontiers and relecting on his craft. “I like the variety of the job,” Hoult says of what keeps him coming back to the screen. “Acting is exploring diferent things, times, periods. It’s learning new skills, understanding diferent people. With certain scripts, occasionally you’ll read and think, ‘I get it’. Not that you know exactly what you’re going to do, but you think, ‘I get this. I think I can bring it to life’.” Hoult’s latest project is The Favourite, a singularly unusual period drama. Masterfully directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (who exploded onto the awards circuit last year with his haunting, dreadful thriller, The Killing of a Sacred Deer), it orbits around a triumvirate of formidable, potty-mouthed women vying for dominion within the English monarchy. Olivia Colman astounds as a fragile, ickle Queen Anne, whose worsening inirmity and emotional instability are manipulated by the two women jockeying for her afections— and her power. Rachel Weisz portrays the prickly Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, Anne’s quasi-business manager and lifelong conidante, whose cruel tongue and refusal to latter drive a wedge between her and the thin-skinned queen. Emma Stone plays Abigail Masham, a one-time lady disgraced by destitution who schemes her way up from scullery maid by pouring honey into Anne’s ear. Hoult appears as the dandyish Robert Harley, an imperious, conniving Tory organiser who allies with Abigail in the hope that she can bend the malleable queen to his political will. “The majority of the time when you read scripts for period dramas, they’re really boring and they’re very dry,” Hoult says. “Tony [McNamara]’s writing on this one was just completely diferent. It was fun, and I got to say words—which I won’t repeat now—that you’d never expect to be written in most scripts, let alone a period piece like that.” Hoult is onto something; this isn’t your grandmother’s period piece. Tony McNamara’s waggish script crackles with vulgarity, nudity and brazen sex acts. Contrasted against that lively wickedness and depravity is the austere

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look of the ilm, where characters are just as isolated by the camera as by their conduct. Robbie Ryan’s Kubrickian cinematography foregrounds the ilm’s women against opulent interiors in forlorn, isolating ish-eye shots. According to Hoult, the alchemy behind the making of the ilm was just as delightfully disorienting as the end result. “It was an odd preparation,” Hoult says. “I asked Yorgos, ‘What do you think this character is like?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. We’ll see.’ That’s the only time we spoke about the character. Yorgos likes to rehearse, but it was very unconventional. We’d dance and play games where we had to walk in sequence with each other while doing scenes. It helps him put everyone on the same level, I think, and gives an understanding of tone to the script. He creates an environment where you’re not entirely sure what’s happening or what you’re aiming for, but you’re very conident in his vision. I remember he came up to Emma and I and said, ‘What kind of movie do you think you’re in?’ And we said, ‘We don’t know.’ He said, ‘Have fun. Relax.’ He manages to create conidence in that environment, which is amazing.” The Favourite crystallised long before the #MeToo movement took light (in fact, Lanthimos spent nine years tinkering with the story), but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. As Hollywood is rocked to its core by a historic reckoning, forced to look in the mirror and reconsider its abusive and discriminatory treatment of women, a female-dominated ilm like The Favourite is timelier than ever. “The brilliant thing that has come out of all this is the fact that people are talking about it and they’re aware of it,” Hoult says. “Change always takes a bit of time, but change is happening. Inclusion riders are happening and you’re seeing more female faces on set. This ilm has been in the works for a long time, but it still speaks to the time. These three strong women are powerful, but also misled and misguided, even tender at times, all struggling to survive in this triangle of power and love, which is just brilliant to see.”

Turtleneck and shirt, both by Calvin Klein 205W39NYC; wool trousers, by Prada; socks, by Pantherella; leather shoes, by Church’s.


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“WHEN YOU’RE YOUNGER, YOU

YOURSELF

ALL OVER THE PLACE, A N D T H E N E V E N T U A L LY WHEN YOU GET A

,

YOU THINK, ‘ O K AY, L E T ’ S J U S T FOCUS ON THE

R E L A T I O N S H I P S .’ ”

Shirt, suit and tie, all by Marni.

Hoult is uniquely equipped to star in a ilm such as this one, given his upbringing. He often claims that he was raised by women, as his father, a pilot, travelled frequently, leaving Hoult in Berkshire to act as the man of the household with his mother and sisters. The beneits of such a childhood have been multifold. “It’s fortunate, because it means that you just have the ability to sit and listen and be around women without being a dick,” Hoult says. “Sometimes there are elements that men don’t understand or can’t relate to, but by osmosis, if you’ve been around girls, you get how it is. You go, ‘Alright, I see.’ It helps with relationships, with friendships—with everything.”

Beneath the bawdy palace intrigue, The Favourite is rooted in moments of startling vulnerability, as when a tearful Anne reveals that her 17 pet rabbits are surrogates for her 17 dead and stillborn children, or when a rueful, banished Sarah appeals to Anne through a locked door, begging Anne to remember the complexity of their love and reconsider her banishment. In this court, power and love are braided together, yet both corrupt, isolate and tarnish. “It’s great storytelling and I think it’s necessary,” Hoult says. “We’ve got to tell a variety of stories. Nobody wants to see the same thing rehashed, particularly on ilm. Everybody watches ilms from a young age. You kind of read them in shorthand, so you need fresh, original, new ideas to keep your attention.” After The Favourite, Hoult’s next ilm to hit theatres is Dark Phoenix, the latest instalment of the X-Men franchise, which is set to land in February 2019. It’s safe to say there’s no rehashing here—Dark Phoenix introduces Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner as Jean Gray, and it takes the X-Men away from Earth, to the inal frontier. “It’s completely diferent working on an action movie,” Hoult says. “You turn up and you’re pretending to ight aliens or do cool stunt work. That’s completely diferent from turning up on The Favourite, where a day’s work is throwing oranges at a naked man wearing a wig. X-Men is like a big family, which makes it a lot of fun to go back. I think the X-Men comics are very special in terms of what they’re saying about society, this mutant-human divide and various subcultures. It’s got a tone very diferent than standard superheroes.” Eight years after his debut as Beast, the brilliant scholar turned superhuman, the character is charting new territory in his ight for a more progressive world, but one thing hasn’t changed—Beast is as bushy and blue as ever. “The irst time I played Beast, I was 20,” Hoult says. “Now it’s gotten to a point in the stories where he’s becoming a man, not necessarily under the wing of the older characters quite as much. In quite a lot of work, I like to wear a ton of make-up, to disappear physically through costume and make-up and whatever else.” Hoult has disappeared into his fair share of ictional, fantastical characters—take Mad Max: Fury Road’s gaunt, fanatical Nux, for example, or the zombie with a heart of gold he played in Warm Bodies—but he’s also a dark horse in the world of biopics, shapeshifting into such disparate luminaries as Nikola Tesla, JD Salinger, and up next, JRR Tolkien. As Tesla in The Current War, Hoult evoked the famed inventor’s lamboyant sense of showmanship; meanwhile, portraying Salinger in Rebel in the Rye, he earned glowing reviews for managing to access what has so often proven inaccessible about the reticent author, who eschewed public life. In Hoult’s deft hands, Salinger’s irascibility and evasiveness seem part and parcel of his genius. Yet much as Hoult thrives when inhabiting real individuals, he doesn’t bear the weight of that mantle lightly. “The wonderful thing about it is that you get to learn about those people, to try and inhabit their mainframe as much as possible—to play a distant ghost of them, in a way,” Hoult says. “Ultimately you don’t take it on lightly, and there’s the pressure that comes with it, but you can’t let that afect you. You have to let that go at the same time. The odd thing about it is that you go into it, you learn more and more about this person, get more and more attached to them as a person and a character, so it means more and more to you. All you can do is prepare as much as possible and then hope you’re in good hands in terms of directing and writing, then try to igure out what it is you’re trying to say.” On the eve of his 30s, after a string of successes portraying this trifecta of real-life titans, Hoult hopes that the best is yet to come. “The actors I frequently look up to don’t do a lot of their best work until their early 30s,” Hoult says. “I looked up to Fassbender, McAvoy, Hardy— those guys who are 10 years ahead of me, because that’s when I was in my

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“IT’S A CAREER WHERE I’M C O N S T A N T LY G E T T I N G TO NEW THINGS, TO

T O WA R D

NEW THINGS. T H AT ’S W H AT I

ABOUT

PRETENDING TO BE NEW PEOPLE. YOU LEARN NEW T H A T Y O U D I D N ’ T H AV E , AND YOU LEARN ABOUT T H A T Y O U D O N ’ T K N O W. AND THEN YOU TO AN ENVIRONMENT FOR OTHER PEOPLE AROUND YOU TO .”

Top and trousers, both by Louis Vuitton.

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early 20s. Obviously you look up to people like Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman. But those were the guys I was watching, partly because I worked with them. I’d watch them and try to steal.” As Hoult hurtles toward the decade that catapulted his idols to a new plane of accomplishment, he, like any other individual on the eve of a monumental birthday, is studiously taking stock of how far he’s come and how the journey has transformed him. “I feel like my 20s have been about trying things, messing up—some things working, some not,” Hoult says. “It’s all a learning curve, but the more you grow as a person, the more you have to invest into your work and distill into it. The early 20s to the late 20s is such a big change. It’s pretty bizarre. I feel as though I seek to learn more; I crave new things more than I once did. I’ve broadened horizons in that sense, but also focused more in terms of relationships in a smaller way. When you’re younger, you scatter yourself all over the place, and then eventually when you get a little older, you think, ‘Okay, let’s just focus on the important relationships.’ Particularly in this line of work, because you’re travelling so much. There’s not a whole lot of time, so it’s precious. I think I’ve become more aware of time.” For Hoult, surveying his career thus far is a diferent proposition than it is for the garden-variety 20-something actor. When he was just 11, Hoult’s breakthrough role came with About A Boy, in which he wowed critics with a sensitive performance as a lonesome, bullied schoolboy struggling to hold his suicidal mother together. Just a few years later, his star continued to rise with Skins, a popular British television series about the sordid day-to-day struggles teenagers confront. Hoult starred as Tony Stonem, a manipulative antihero whose life is forever levelled by the catastrophic injuries he sufers from a bus crash. “It’s weird to have been in the game for as long as I have,” Hoult muses. “You get a quite good understanding of it. It’s good that I can see the highs and lows. I’ve spoken with older actors about it, who told me, ‘There will be moments when you’re on top of the world, and there will be moments when you might still be doing well, but not as great. You’ve got to ride those waves and see how it all pans out.’ I’ve been pretty fortunate to be in quite a few of the things I’ve been in so far.” In considering the peaks and valleys of his career, Hoult strives to apply the wisdom of those older actors—to look on the sunny side, and to mine something productive from his failures. “When you’re learning on the job, and I think in life when you fail, it’s obviously a lesson,” Hoult says. “It’s diicult and you learn from it, but at the

Shirt and suit, both by Gucci.

same time, it’s diferent when the failure is out there publicly, when you have comments or reviews. That’s always something to avoid, but occasionally, you can’t help it. You get a reaction, and that’s something I’ve learned massively. All you can do is invest in the experience of making something, the doing of it, and then the end result will be what it will be. Whether it’s a great success or the opposite, you can’t let that tank what the experience was for you.” Yet much as Hoult strives to take a holistic, experience-forward view of his work, like most child actors, his past isn’t exempt from some cringeworthy encounters. Thinking about them, he covers his face with his hands. “I don’t have many regrets, because it all adds up to an end result,” Hoult says. “But there are occasional things. When I was 15 or 16 and I’d do a photo shoot, at that age, I didn’t want to rock the boat or say, ‘I don’t want to wear that.’ Then you end up seeing the photo at the end and you’re like, ‘Well, shit. I should’ve said something, because look at me! I look like an idiot.’ Then that photo exists forever on the Internet. That’s something that comes with age, though—you realise that ultimately it’s you that’s left with it, that’s the front of it. It’s your face, so you have to be more assertive and not such a people-pleaser.” Despite the occasional ignominy of it all, Hoult made it through the child star gauntlet unscathed. As he looks ahead to new challenges (and better outits, squirrels, tartan and all), he has a wish list in mind. “I haven’t done a proper western—just kind-of Westerns,” Hoult says. “That’s a tricky genre to make work, nowadays, but I’d like to be involved in something around that. I’d like to do a bit more comedy, too. I try to ind the comedy in most things anyway.” But more broadly than trying his hand at new genres, Hoult’s purest goal is to keep people guessing. It’s a itting ambition for a performer who relishes variety, who never plays the same type of character twice. “If I can keep on such that when people see me in a ilm, they say, ‘Oh, I wasn’t expecting that,’ then I’ll be happy,” Hoult says. “I’ll think, ‘Alright, I’m doing my job.’ There’s no point in me spending the next 10, 15, 20 years— however long I’ve got—hashing out the same thing, and everyone saying, ‘Alright, we get it.’ You know when you see things and it doesn’t make you feel anything? I want to avoid that, if possible. Both in terms of when I’m doing the work and when people are reacting to it. I want to avoid nonchalance.” Hoult’s humility—his belief that the Hollywood rug could be ripped out from beneath him at any point—is among his most endearing qualities. But whatever’s up next, and however long he’s got, he isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. “I quite enjoy a challenge,” Hoult says. “I relish that zone. If it’s a challenge, whether it be work or personal life, that’s the time when you prove the type of person you are. What’s that quote—‘when everyone else around you is losing their head and you can keep yours’? That’s what I like to think about challenges. I don’t thrive, but I think, ‘This is a time when I can make this work. I can igure it out and do it.’ There’s always ups and downs and roundabouts.” Hoult is quoting the opening lines of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’: “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” Yet if any experience could cause a man to lose his head, it’s Hoult’s latest role, perhaps at once his most challenging and invigorating yet—fatherhood. In April 2018, Hoult and his girlfriend of about a year, 24-year-old model Bryana Holly, quietly welcomed their irst child. News of the birth stunned tabloids, as the couple, iercely private about their personal life together, hadn’t announced or indicated the pregnancy. Fatherhood has grounded Hoult, reordered his priorities, rejuvenated his craft and forever transformed his relationship to time. “As you grow, you have more knowledge and more input, so you have more to output at the same time,” Hoult says of how fatherhood has changed his process. “In terms of time, you value your time much more, and very

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“YOU KNOW WHEN YOU SEE THINGS AND IT MAKE YOU ANYTHING? I WA N T T O AV O I D T H A T, IF POSSIBLE. BOTH IN TERMS OF WHEN I’M DOING THE WORK AND WHEN PEOPLE ARE R E A C T I N G T O I T. I WA N T T O

.”

Shirt and trousers, both by Roberto Cavalli; socks, by Pantherella; leather shoes, by Church’s.

That’s what I love about pretending to be new people. You learn new passions that you didn’t have and you learn about history that you don’t know. And then you strive to create an environment for other people around you to do the same.” Hoult is in a hurry to hit the road, but our conversation never feels rushed. In fact, he’s apologetic, insisting that under other circumstances, we’d be chatting more leisurely. Even under the gun, he’s expansive, contemplative, full of thoughtful pauses—and curious about what I think, to boot. Though Hoult may be running out of time today, in the words of TS Eliot, another noteworthy Brit, “there will be time”. There will be time for those westerns, for those comedies, for being a good dad, for projects that will surprise Hoult and Hollywood alike. After all, for an actor so bent on striving, seeking and inding, Hollywood has plenty of time. 

Groomer: Erica Sauer @ The Wall Group. Digital Tech: Dan Atteo. Photographer Assistants: Eric Bouthiller, Julius Frazer.

diferently. You think diferently about the world and the characters you play, so it changes everything. I also feel a slight surge of creative energy through it. When I’m working, there’s this beautiful grounding and base. There’s an ability to commit more, in a way. But also, going home at the end of the day is a really great feeling. It’s wonderful.” As fatherhood drives a man to look forward in time, so too does it drive him to look backward. As a new father whose life has been swiftly brought into sharper focus, Hoult is relective about his own parents. “My parents are always saying things like, ‘You’ll understand when you get there,’” Hoult says. “And it’s so, so true. They’ll say, ‘You’ll understand when you do this, or when that happens,’ and then you go, ‘Ugh!’ when it happens. You go, ‘Oh my God, they were so right!’ But you can’t see it. That’s the thing. You can’t see it until it happens.” Hoult isn’t all business all the time; as his concentration on the domestic front has increased, he’s grown passionate about staying active and thrillseeking. One might say the man contains multitudes. “I want to commit more time to things outside of work—to new passions and new skills,” Hoult says. “I’m trying to get quick on the motorbike around the track. I’m not very good at it—it’s very humbling and scary. And I like boxing. I just took up trying to learn to kickbox as well, and I’ve been taking jujitsu. But mainly, just trying to be a good dad.” Hoult strives to keep a level head on his shoulders, and to resist the blinkered outlook the Hollywood machine can produce. In addition to his hobbies and his family life, he keeps his feet irmly planted on the ground through charity work. “Once a year, my close friends and I try to do a trip for charity where we raise money by doing something that’s slightly ridiculous,” Hoult says. “Once we travelled across India in a rickshaw. With the three of us in a rickshaw, it took us two weeks to travel from the south to the north of India. At the beginning of this year, we did a cross-Morocco trip on 50cc—miniature monkey bikes. We’re not sure what our next one’s going to be just yet. It’s great because you get to travel, to see places, to meet people. With those sorts of expeditions, you’re always breaking down or something’s going wrong, and you end up in weird towns you’d never otherwise end up in asking people if they’ve got parts to ix something you don’t entirely know how to ix, communicating completely through sign language. It’s a wonderful experience in those terms, but also in terms of trying to give back through the funds you can raise. Normally, once a year I send out an email to anyone that’s unlucky enough to be in my contacts list. Sometimes I haven’t spoken to them in awhile, shamefully, and I’ll say, ‘Hey, can we have some money, please? For a good cause?’ And luckily, most of the time people are pretty generous.” Rickshaw Run is an annual race in which teams drive motorised rickshaws across India to beneit charities of their choosing. In 2017, Hoult and his team raised money for Teenage Cancer Trust and World Wide Fund for Nature. Hoult’s philanthropic ambitions are noble, to be certain, but why does the method to the madness have to be so strange, so remote, so dangerous, you might ask? “Because that’s when you feel alive,” Hoult says with a grin, as if it were self-evident. “Also, people aren’t going to give money to charity for me saying, ‘I’m going to sit on the sofa for a week.’ Although maybe they would. Maybe I’ll send out that email too, see if I can wrangle that.” Despite the celebrity and acclaim he’s achieved, Hoult isn’t a fameseeking man. He’s grounded, grateful, and insistent that he was simply dealt a good hand. “I’m very fortunate,” Hoult says. “I found something as a kid that I really enjoyed, then was lucky enough to turn that into a career. Also, it’s a career where I’m constantly getting to learn new things, to run toward new things.


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A

MAN V I TA LY M A L K I N I S N OT YO U R U S UA L RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE OLIGARCH.

HE’S AN ANGRY ONE .

A N D I N A B I G W A Y.

I N C E N S E D B Y W H AT H E CONSIDERS TO BE THE BLIGHT OF RELIGION, HE’S SPENT A DECADE W R I T I N G A P O L E M I C O N I T.

H E T E L L S J O S H   S I M S   W H Y. 

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V i t a ly M a l k i n   i s e n j o y i n g an expensive red at the grand marble dining table of his art deco apartment in Paris. The maid is preparing soup for lunch, while his driver waits downstairs in the executive Mercedes should the boss need to go anywhere. It’s an oddly luxurious setting in which to be talking about female genital mutilation.  “Young women die in the worst cases,” says  Malkin  emphatically. “Inibulation—in which the entire labia and clitoris are removed and the vulva is sewn up, leaving the smallest of holes—just means secretions build up and have no way out. Then you get cysts, infections, death. But the deaths are covered up. They’re caused by just ‘an infection of the blood’.” It’s enough to put you of your soup. But Malkin is passionate about the subject; he’s worked with UNICEF to create a programme to train local doctors to educate their patients and treat mutilated girls in Ethiopia; he’s put a lot of his own money—millions of dollars—into tackling the issue through his Foundation Espoir. And he’s angry.  “Why is it so hard to raise money to tackle this issue? Why does nobody want to talk about this subject?” he asks. “I put two full-page ads in Le Figaro. Do you know what response I got? Nothing. Not one call. Nobody wants to know about female genital mutilation. And I’m Mr Nobody. I don’t have critical mass. It’s so frustrating.”

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Malkin, 66, is under-selling himself. He’s the Russian who trained as a physicist before starting a business importing personal computers, before creating his own bank, before becoming one of the country’s richest men, bringing with that his own share of controversial business shenanigans. He’s one of those oligarchs more often seen bathing on their super-yacht or watching their football team—the one they own, that is. Along the way he was a senator in the Russian parliament for nine years. It’s a lifestyle Malkin could be living now, were it not for something of a Road to Damascus conversion. Almost literally, were it not for the fact that he was on a road through Egypt.  “I was there in 2008 and someone mentioned this statistic that 98 percent of women there [across certain regions of north Africa] are circumcised,” Malkin recalls. “I looked out of my hotel window at all these young women—without headscarves, with tight jeans on, their midrifs exposed—and couldn’t believe that most of them had been cut. I was shocked. Everything there looked so civilised, so how could this be?” So, Malkin did what any self-respecting billionaire oligarch does in the circumstances: to vent his high emotions, he sat down and wrote an essay against circumcision. That went up on his study shelf. But the feelings did not. Indeed, they only grew when he looked into the causes behind the practice. Tribal traditions are a factor; but the bigger issue was religious custom—born of the same source that, he concluded, oppressed billions of people around the world with beliefs that are, in his oft-used word, “absurd”. “I’ve never lost my interest in science and that does shape your thinking—you’re inclined towards the rational,” says  Malkin. “Before that moment in Egypt I just thought ‘well, we’re all diferent, we all think diferent things’. But after I grew to really hate religion— what it does. That moment really changed me.” And not in a small way. Malkin spent the best part of the next decade reading all he could on the origins and evolution of religious thought, compiling endless notes and finally, this year, publishing a book, Dangerous Illusions, a 400-page tome cut back from the original 1,000-page tirade. It was launched in true oligarch style, with a heady celebration of the sensual: at Paris’s Crazy Horse nude revue, fuelled by 250 bottles of champagne and 80 bottles of £100 Saint-Emilion wine.  Simply by presenting the often dense historic foundations of the core beliefs of Christianity, Judaism and Islam through the ages—how they came into being, how they shifted with the times, how that shaped everyday thought—Malkin hopes to have created what he calls a manifesto, one that certainly makes for uncomfortable—though arguably necessary—reading for anyone of faith. Religion, he contends, has battled against reason, its thinking showing itself to be imbalanced, contradictory, self-serving, manipulative; it’s failed to account for evil in the world but made sure we feel the guilt for it; it’s aforded endless misery in this life on the empty promise of one after it; it’s promoted masochistic sufering as a good in its own right; and it’s waged a campaign against pleasure, be that fun or food, wealth or free thinking, and most certainly sex.  “I’m not interested so much in what intellectuals say about the book,” he adds, “because that won’t change my ideas. These may be wrong, but I do feel that intellectualism all too often fails to speak to the general people, which is what I want. I hope this book might get them to reconsider religion. I like the idea of it converting people. I mean, why should our lives be constrained by public morality, by a morality that religion has made up? We have a self-regulating penal code that says we’re free up to a certain point. If you say there’s some other code, but you can’t say where it came from, what the thinking behind it is, then where’s your freedom? Do you really think there’s some god that cares what position we have sex in? It’s absurd.”  Things are changing—public engagement by the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have pushed the debate—but it’s still hard to publicly point out the ludicrousness of so many of the ideas fundamental to religious belief, he says. “We live in such politically correct times, another thing I’ve grown to hate,” Malkin adds. “I was largely indiferent to that too, before that time in Egypt. We don’t address so much of what’s wrong in society because of political correctness, because we don’t want to come across as racist perhaps, or as imposing one set of values over another.” Malkin  rattles of a choice selection of, to his mind, politically correct views: that monogamy, as much as it may be beneicial to society and may be the best arrangement for

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the raising of children, is a natural state to be in, “when everyone knows humans are not naturally monogamous”; that true equality between people is achievable or even desirable, “that’s what they tried in the Soviet Union, and it just results in entropy,” he argues; that power and sexual attraction are not intimately connected, “when in ancient times there was a recognition of the fact that the more powerful you were, the more beautiful people you had around you. “I mean, everyone knows that right? I remember reading some newspaper story outraged at the fact that some old politician had fucked his secretary. It seemed obvious to me why it happened: because she was a young woman and he had power. Complaining about that is a hypocritical failure to accept a dynamic that’s been the case for millennia: that women are attracted to power, and much more so than money.” Whether Malkin  is talking from personal experience on that score he doesn’t say— though he does have six children, from grown man down to baby, and a girlfriend in her 20s; and, refreshingly, he’s not one to hold back on personal details either. He does see himself as going through something of a transformation—of outlook, of purpose; it’s one in part shaped by his upbringing, and aforded by his money perhaps, but one to be applauded all the same.  “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and if I had it over again I wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. I wouldn’t buy this apartment for one—I’d live in hotels and be a guest wherever I went, because things like this hamper you, they weigh you down,” he suggests. “I know three or four people [fellow oligarchs] who don’t use their time very well, who spend their energies building ever bigger boats. And yes, for some it’s an investment, for some a clever business tool. But it’s more often not. It’s more often a disaster for them—a waste of time and energy.” He sees parallels between religion and his experience of growing up in the USSR, the child of militant communists, his father a factory manager, his mother a doctor. Communism was expounded by the state with all the fervour and fanaticism of a religion at its most fundamentalist. In some ways, it embodied the enlightenment ideals of rationality and secularism that saw of religious inluence three centuries ago.  “Yet now we’re seeing religious oppression again,” he sighs. “The world now seems less rational, less secular. Religious inluence is becoming much more visible, especially in certain parts of the world. And that worries me, especially as someone trained in science. In fact, I think we need a more scientiic approach. Intellectuals debate—they go left, they go right, they go backwards. In science if your train departs point A, it’s going to B, to C and all the way to Z.” He tells an anecdote about his father that perhaps suggests rationality was a genetic and a cultural inheritance. When his father’s sister died, he refused thereafter to visit her grave, much to the consternation of the rest of his family. ‘What was the point?’ he would ask. She isn’t there. She isn’t anywhere. She is in his thoughts daily, but that’s regardless of his location. “Going to the cemetery would be an indication that you still, somehow, believe the dead are watching you, that they’re up there in the sky somewhere. It’s religious custom,” says Malkin. “You start with the grave and next day you’re in church, and then…” Not that Malkin blames religion for everything. One of the most arresting and certainly entertaining chapters of his book examines religion’s disapproval of masturbation. Various religions at various times have claimed that, in order to prevent sexual self-pleasure, men should never touch their penis while urinating, that to avoid the sinful spilling of semen children should be married as soon as possible, that women don’t feel sexual pleasure anyway and that masturbation is less self-abuse as an abuse of God’s property. Inspiring guilt for a commonplace behaviour instinctive to most sexually active people was, of course, a convenient way of driving people to church.  “But while religion shaped those ideas of masturbation, so have much more recent cultures—doctors, scientists have pushed those prohibitions too,” says  Malkin. “Again, it’s about constraining humanity by imposing an idea, and a wrong idea at that. It’s a process of starting with the wrong perception and inishing with a kind of self-inlicted madness.” It’s easy to see how medieval ideas shape our behaviour even today: while men and women may share masturbation jokes, while smart toys to aid masturbation

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may be readily available, still the subject remains at least embarrassing, if not outright taboo. Small wonder this “very disordered efect of self-love”, as Rousseau put it, would be conlated with a loss of ‘vital forces’, ‘treated’ with cold showers and strait-jackets, and helped make sport and exercise part of the school curriculum—being exhausted was a diversion. Circumcision for boys and girls was used to counter masturbation by the late 19th century. That, indeed, may prove  Malkin’s next one-man crusade. “I’m doing what I can to tackle female genital mutilation, but I would like to campaign against circumcision too, because it’s taken less seriously, although it’s another absurd idea with its basis in religion,” he says. “Why we don’t call it MGM—male genital mutilation—I don’t know, because like FGM it’s also a way of reducing genital sensitivity. Less pleasure, less sexual desire, fewer sexual ‘excesses’, the family is more solid! It’s simply genius! The fact is that it’s against the human rights of the individual [to circumcise them before they can give permission]. Some people argue it’s custom, or that it’s for hygiene. But let’s put it more directly, more convincingly: it’s about reducing the ability to have sexual pleasure.” But perhaps they should because Malkin is already lining up a couple more books. Yes, he could be on a yacht somewhere. But he’s found meaning in rocking the boat instead. 

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From left: (Montblanc M)Red ballpoint pen, (Montblanc M)Red fountain pen and (Montblanc M)Red rollerball pen, all by Montblanc.

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Photo essay x Leica

For more than a decade, photographer Tay Kay Chin has been obsessed with one mission—finding Naoko. Armed with his trusted Leica rangefinder and the new Leica M10-P, he has traversed the globe, going from one city to another in search of a woman he may or may not have met. Perhaps he doesn’t want to succeed, for what we can’t find is always the most beautiful.

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“The Days Of Beef Noodles”


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An access-all-areas look at a core group of surfing icons who bonded in Hawaii in the 1990s and went on to dominate World Surf League titles around the globe. Words by Jane Rocca

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I n t h e 1 9 9 0 s , a close-knit group of teenage surfer ratbags bonded in Hawaii and went from suring big waves for fun to becoming professional competitors against each other. Dubbed the Momentum Generation, these high-proile athletes collectively put surf culture into the mainstream, but it came at a price. Directed by brothers Jef and Michael Zimbalist, Momentum Generation plots the rise and fall of Kelly Slater, Rob Machado and Shane Dorian among others who ind themselves on the journey of their lifetime. They travel the world chasing waves, signing sponsorship deals and wrangling with the emotional rollercoaster of competing for world titles while friendships become strained. The documentary is all it’s cracked up to be—with archival footage and interviews with Slater, Machado, Dorian, Taylor Steele, Kalani Robb and Pat O’Connell go from surf shack party tricks

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Rob Machado (centre) and members of the Momentum Generation. Previous page, from left: Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Kelly Slater, Benji Weatherly and Taylor Steele.

and punk rock shenanigans to chasing world titles competing against the very fabric that brought them together as friends. Yet unlike other surf documentaries which stream hours of footage against a backdrop of crushing punk rock anthems, this one comes with a bed of emotional baggage and delves deeper into the dynamics of these complicated yet halcyon days in surf history. In fact, few suring documentaries have dared map the road to success like Momentum Generation has managed— where macho, suring bravado and good times are intercepted with tear-jerking moments—a reminder that even surfers get the blues. The Zimbalist brothers spent hours interviewing each pro-surfer until they got what they needed. They dug deep beneath the surface to get them to open up about how they felt when friends were putting wins over camaraderie. This was the era when Slater was crowned World League Champion a record 11 times including ive consecutive titles between 1994 and 1998. “Personally, it was interesting to see how everybody else saw the events of the time and how it played out for them,” says Slater, speaking from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. “Seeing how they viewed me was interesting too. I initially thought the documentary would be about how our generation shaped and changed suring, but they dived in a lot deeper into our personal stories and they got what they wanted because they had a lot of time to interview us.” While competing in the semi-inals at the 1995 Pipe Masters, Kelly’s close friend Machado high-ived his mate in the ocean, which many critics later said enabled him to win the World Title. Whether it was a controversial moment in history or not is still debatable, but it becomes the turning point in the documentary when mateship is tested beyond the force of the waves they compete in. “A few of us were trying to win a world title and feelings get hurt, but that’s the way it is when you are out there,” recalls Slater. “Looking back on that time we had to accept that the competition came irst, but it did create a funny dynamic. I wasn’t always aware of how the competition was pulling us down instead of picking us up.” Australian-American pro surfer Machado was born in Sydney and migrated to San Diego with his family in 1978 as a four-year-old. With a Mexican surname and Aussie accent, he recalls getting strange looks by the locals as a kid. Known for his laidback style [and bundle of dreadlocks that suit his chilled vibe], the 44-year-old was keen on competing, but it didn’t deine his every move in and out of the surf. He might be retired from the World Championship Tour now, but inished in the top three of the world twice. “I was scared to death of the ocean as a six-year-old—I still get scared,” reasons Machado, a passionate environmentalist, surf wear designer and father of three. “I was a slow learner, but once I started competing at pro-level in high school and had some success with it I thought to give it a go. But in the back on my mind I still thought I’d go to college. I couldn’t quite get my head around doing it for a living. It wasn’t until I was ofered a lot of money to surf that I realised it was actually going to the next level. When someone is paying you to surf, it becomes more intense. I was also scared of suring big waves in Hawaii and my counterparts like Shane Dorian, Ross Williams and Kelly Slater spent a lot of time there and were miles ahead of me. What I learned is that if I wanted to go on this journey I had to buckle down and learn. Stepping up my game meant I gave up going home for Christmas and birthdays in those momentum years, it was all or nothing.” Slater, 46, looks back on the 1990s with mixed feelings. Sure he was leader of the pack, experiencing win after win; he even dated actress Pamela Anderson and got a spot on Baywatch alongside his babe. The documentary touches on the way the lads saw Slater embrace stardom and Hollywood outside of his suring reputation. “There are things I would change about myself looking back but it’s tough because I am who I am because of what got me here. But If I could change things from when I was one year old, I would,” he says, referring to an unstable home life where his loving mother raised him and his two brothers while avoiding an alcoholic and abusive husband. “I would give away a lot of my success to have a more stable family and to be more secure in who I was as a young guy. A lot of things that drove me to my success were personal and diicult things in my own life that no one knew about and I didn’t have a grasp on it. Even as a 46-year-old man today I am still trying to understand it.” Slater saw the documentary in New York earlier this year with friends and his daughter Taylor. “I cried a lot and didn’t think I would,” he says. A diicult moment in the ilm is when their best mate Todd Chesser drowns. “Losing Todd was a massive turning point,” says Slater. “Todd was invisible to us, physically

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Rob Machado paddling out to ride the waves.

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Shane Dorian.

Kelly Slater and Shane Dorian.

nothing intimidated him. He had this drive to deal with big waves and was it and willing to surf that day as anyone ever is and it killed him. It brought our mortality fresh into our conscious minds. At that time, we were all pushing ourselves trying to surf the big waves. It was all fun and a bit of a game for us until this tragedy struck.” Momentum Generation won’t just appeal to the suring fraternity. The human touch takes this beyond its sporting quarters. “For those who look at our suring generation and think, oh, it’s just a bunch of surfers doing nothing too dramatic, they’re wrong,” says Slater. “There is this deep connection that I didn’t expect. It shows us in a diferent light and exposes each one of us in a way people didn’t think existed.” Machado, who lives in Cardif By The Sea in San Diego’s North County, says stepping away from the competitive world of suring hasn’t bothered him. He’s found his own groove: collaborating with brands like Reef and Hurley for capsule collections, running the Rob Machado Foundation since 2004 and raising awareness about the environment. “I will keep suring for the rest of my life,” says Machado, who has 12 WCT victories under his belt and was ranked among the Top 10 surfers for 11 years in a row. “You can still make a living out of it, but it’s diferent now. I work with brands to insert myself into the sport but there are plenty of ways to still be relevant. Retirement doesn’t need to be as daunting as one might think. I guess if you play professional football taking of your helmet for the last time might be strange, but as a surfer you can always remain connected to the sport. Looking back at what I achieved was beyond my wildest dream. As a 20-year-old kid I had the coolest job in the world. I was travelling worldwide to compete and was making surf movies with my friends. You look back and pinch yourself. I feel so blessed to have had those opportunities. There are no regrets at all.” Slater is equally as grateful for being part of Momentum Generation. “Competition is spiritually hard on a person,” he says. “You experience extreme highs and lows and life is easy when you’re winning. I had high expectations of myself. I was focused and didn’t like to lose. But I was drugfree and didn’t party hard. I liked to drink a little but I was crazy focused ever since I was a kid. That just boiled over into my suring and here I am.” 

The Momentum Generation documentary is available for download on iTunes from 5 November.

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MAN IN THE

MIRROR We invited 18 industry leaders—all intimately captured by the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro —to share their reflections and nuggets of wisdom with us. As you peek into the stories behind the portrait, allow their insights to show you more of them, and perhaps in the process, more of the man in your mirror. interv i ews by joy li ng photo g raph s by vane ssa c ai tli n

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Adrian Pang, 52, actor and co-artistic director of Pangdemonium Theatre Company “A loose-toothed shark is what I see in the mirror. Sharks constantly have to move forward, otherwise they die (half true, we checked). In a nutshell—plenty of room for improvement. I have a constant restlessness that is both good and bad. It makes for an awful way to live with oneself, yet it’s also a constant motivation to never settle with what one has and work towards being better.”

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Ang Peng Siong, 56, coach “Learn when you’re young, live when you’re ready, then share your wisdom. I’ve been through the life cycle of an athlete; following the footsteps of my dad who was involved in sports, belonged to the sporting community, and then giving back to the sport fraternity as a coach. As they say, you can’t take your medals with you. It’s just the experiences that enrich your life, so be open to experience the challenges and the joys of what life gives.”

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Anita Kapoor, 47, presenter/speaker/performer “What looks back at me in my reflection is the truth. I don’t look to find fault with myself because I have accepted who I am. I don’t see my flaws as imperfections, but a part and parcel of the story of my life. I’m learning to, as my mother advised, let go and let God. I don’t subscribe to a religion but I understand it as living in the moment. You can’t predict the future, so don’t rush anything or anyone.”

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Bill Cain, 60, founder of Hat of Cain “I’m often surprised at what I see as it’s forever changing. I see signs of age slowly creeping in like an unwanted guest. I see the lines around my eyes from years of laughter. I see a young man inside me that keeps me at 29 forever. I see the eyes of determination. I see a fighting spirit that drives me. I see a kind person willing to listen and mentor. What I see in the mirror is me!”

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Gibran Baydoun, 30, director of operations of 1880 “The man in the mirror is exceptionally curious about many things in the world. Exceptionally hungry to learn, grow and do something spectacular. My greatgrandmother was very famous for always saying: ‘Do the best you can, as often as you can, for as long as you can, for as many as you can’. My only regret is the time wasted on things that didn’t matter and were beyond my control.”

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Harry Grover, 38, co-owner & founder of Common Man, Forty Hands “I think it’s such a shame that people disregard or disrespect those in the service industry because you can learn something from everyone regardless of their background, status or level of education. To quote Tim Minchin: ‘I don’t care if you’re the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful’. If you truly understand empathy, compassion and kindness, you’ll go a long way.”

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Hasnor Sidik, 38, director of Telok Ayer Arts Club “Have two things. Have patience. Good things always come to those who wait. Even if you’re impatient, learn to be patient. Have consistency; in work, love and money. These two virtues are key to life, my life at least. If you truly understand and want to work around them, they will help in the path to success.”

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Javier Perez, 38, change-maker “When I look in the mirror, I see triumphs, defeats and God’s grace.”

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Jim Rogers, 76, businessman and investor “Figure out your passions and pursue them no matter what other people tell you. Don’t listen to your friends, parents, teachers, especially if people laugh at you and tell you you’re nuts. That’s when you should do it. Most people don’t figure out their life passions, or even if they do, they’re afraid to pursue it. People who pursue their passions never go to work. They wake up every morning and start having fun, and those are the successful people.”

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Lim Yu-Beng, 53, actor “There is no way you can learn from life advice. You can only learn from life itself. If you don’t learn to learn, you will be stuck in the same place forever. When I went to study theatre in my teens, which was unheard of at that time, my dad supported me and paid for my education. He said it doesn’t matter what subject you learn, the point of education is to learn how to learn. Even now there’s still so much more to learn. I’m annoyed yet excited by how much I still don’t know.”

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Lisa Von Tang, 31, director and designer “Prioritise self-love. Not in a narcissistic way, but to ask yourself what you need to feel connected, and doing things just for yourself. Allow yourself to rest and recalibrate, carve out time to grow and nourish your spirit. I believe that if I wasn’t always operating of adrenaline, there were a lot of situations that would have afected me less. Be compassionate to yourself and it will filter out into everything you do.”

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Michelle Goh, 40s, talent agent “Quoting the Dalai Lama: ‘Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’. There are situations when I thank God I didn’t get a particular job or that a relationship didn’t work out. Trust in God, be positive and be in the moment. The past is over and the future is not here yet, so right now, I choose happiness.”

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Mojoko/Steve Lawler, 41, multimedia artist “Read two books at a time— fiction and non-fiction—so you can exercise both sides of the brain. Relax and let ideas occur with the right brain, then use the left brain to focus and execute those ideas. Balance the two, watch shit you don’t like and pay attention to things that you’re not interested in. It will widen your domain of knowledge and diversify your work.”

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Pat Law, 30s, founder of Goodstuph “What you want on your tombstone should be the way you live your life. You don’t want to be defined by your title, yet we live our life that way. We’re in a world where everybody is chasing how much you can earn, but that’s irrelevant to how much you can save. We hear about overnight millionaires who end up spending everything and losing things that are more valuable than money; family, friends. If we learn how to die, we’ll learn how to live.”

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Royston Tan, 42, film-maker “A personal life lesson was learning to do what I want with a certain sense of urgency. I once had a location in mind to film for a documentary, unfortunately due to my procrastination, I lost the opportunity because the place got torn down. I had to let the story go altogether. Life is truly short and we only have one to live. So go out and experience everything. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t delay to make things happen.”

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Satinder Garcha, 47, CEO of The Garcha Group “Steve Jobs gave a speech about connecting the dots; having an interest and weaving it into what you do. People say it’s easier said than done; they view their passions and careers as two separate entities. But if you start putting some thought into it, you can surprise yourself at how you can link the two in your life.”

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Suhaimi Yusof, 49, actor/producer “It’s definitely not Michael Jackson I see in the mirror. But I see a guy who knows how to have fun in his life. I was a very shy person, but got catapulted into the media by accident. I’m now in a career of making fun of people and getting paid for it. What kind of job is that! I’ve discovered that the world is not so serious, it’s what you make it up to be. You can’t change the world, but you can change your view of the world. It’s much easier, faster and less frustrating to change yourself than those around you.”

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Yvette King, 34, host of E! Asia “The mirror is an evolving thing. I went through a miscarriage last year and thus saw a lot of selfloathing in my reflection, which I found myself articulating aloud. I came to realise the incredible power of words and stopped. Now I say positive things to myself. We’re all humans trying to figure everything out and we make plenty of mistakes. I try not to focus on regret because it’s looking to the past, as opposed to learning from mistakes, which is looking to the future.”

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What it feels like...

To be a male nude model

Illustration by Paynk

By Kim Hian, life model

Technically, anyone can be a life model because you don’t need any qualifications, but you do need to know what modelling is about. Before disrobing, I need to stay calm and composed; I need to concentrate in order to lock myself in the correct pose and not move. For longer poses, I’ll play either a song or music in my head; sometimes, I’ll mentally solve problems or I’ll simply meditate. Some lecturers request for a change of pose every one to two minutes so I have to think on the spot and ‘choreograph’ my movements like a dancer. If a lecturer or artist forgets to tell me to change a pose (which goes on for another 10 to 20 minutes), pain will set in. Pain and ‘pins and needles’ are inevitable. In most cases, painful cramps would set in but as a professional, I always strive to hold my pose until the end. The general public may think that being a life nude model

is an easy job for making a quick buck, but it requires one to be vulnerable and most of the time, models don’t feel safe being naked. There’s a misconception that we enjoy being exhibitionists, but I’m actually an introvert. Social media and the use of smartphones mean that people constantly try to get shots of us without our permission. We have to put up with all these challenges for just a small remuneration fee paid by the hour. I fell into this line of work during the economic decline in the late 1990s—I was retrenched twice and needed to make a living. A friend challenged me to try life modelling and that’s how it all began. A leisure drawing group of artists brought me to an art exhibition and I saw Teng Nee Cheong’s drawing of a nude male figure laying on his belly. I took down Teng’s name and contact, called him and became the subject of his work.

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What I’ve learned...

Alessandro Sartori Artistic director of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group Profession Name

I T ’ S A R E A L LY S M A R T M O V E by the company [Ermenegildo Zegna Group] to acquire Thom Browne. It has always been part of our DNA to invest in other businesses of similar values in the same industry.

Age

52

I F YO U T R Y to hide the problem then you fail in the bigger picture. It’s much better to say, ‘this doesn’t work, let’s give up and move on’. It’s better to be open about it and listen to yourself. [ T H E E R M E N E G I L D O Z E G N A G R O U P ] doesn’t advertise our work in sustainability through marketing campaigns. We don’t push for that angle because we don’t want to use that as a tool. No one knows that our production is run by two big waterpowered units behind a mountain.

I H A N D L E M Y O W N I N S TA G R A M A C C O U N T. I love

Instagram but I’m not the sort who’d post a pic to boost my follower count. I don’t have a schedule to post pictures. T H E D E F I N I N G M O M E N T S C A M P A I G N is part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group’s global strategy. We started it two years ago and it was to represent ourselves as we are—a global company that connects all our customers with a similar mindset: an education for beautiful quality, a strong personality, a very nice feeling and afection and so on.

F O R O N E of our more visible sustainability eforts, I’d point to our dyeing process that has advanced technically. Our cashmere uses natural plants and lowers for our light colours. But if you want to deep-dye darker hues like red or black, it’s diicult and complicated because the chemical enzymes that you use to block the colours are [not ecologically friendly] but we managed to ind a way around that.

D E F I N I N G M O M E N T S went from private conversations between [Robert] De Niro and McCaul [Lombardi] to a friendlier moment between Dev [Patel] and Javier [Bardem]. If you take these characters and others, they are all typical guys—our  clientele— with a strong point of view.

I WA S T E A C H I N G in a design school for years in Milano, Italy but due to circumstances, I didn’t have the time to indulge in that anymore. When the school called me back, which was about a year ago, I had to decline their request. To not do the thing that you love, that is a failure.

O N E O F T H E F I R S T questions we posed to De Niro when we shot him for our Deining Moments campaign was if he kept any props from movies that he’d done and he admitted to keeping a couple of things. Like the army jacket from Taxi Driver. He said that it went missing when he loaned it to a university and they never gave it back.

I R E M E M B E R M Y F I R S T S U I T. I sewed it myself when I was 14 or 15. It took me six months. That suit was a disaster but it was a nice experience. I was in love with Giorgio Armani’s designs at the time; y’know, the Black Label. They were these beautiful blue suits and I was trying to imagine myself in a double-breasted but unfortunately, what I sewed wasn’t very nice.

G R O W I N G U P WA S F U N . It was also a time of discovery. I was deciding on a way to enter this industry and I was already working with my mama who has been a tailor for 40 years. I’ve watched closely, every phase of the process of putting together an outit. She was choosing fabrics, cutting, itting customers.

YO U ’ V E P H A S E S , you’re inspired by things you watch. You’re involved in movements and know artists. I’m keen on modern art and design and discovering new ways of expressing oneself.

T H AT A R E A O F I TA LY that I grew up in [Biella] was very entrenched in fashion. So, even when you’re a child, you’re always surrounded by this culture. I K N O W [Ermenegildo ‘Gildo’ Zegna] when I worked for them and after I worked for another brand. When he asked me to return to the company, it felt like nothing had changed. It was natural.

I N M Y T I M E , fashion and style were always connected across generations but it wasn’t ampliied. In Italy, when I was in design school, I was quite taken by the paninari fashion movement. It was a sleeveless Moncler jacket, usually red, and it’s best accompanied by a Fruit of the Loom tee. It’s also worn with Timberland shoes and a pair of yellow  gloves hanging from the back pocket. 

and inspiring to see Gildo work. He’s very careful about products, about distribution. I T’S A L S O I N T E R E ST I N G

I ’ V E FA I L E D M A N Y T I M E S . But that is part of growth, no? Sometimes you fail in a speciic project, sometimes you fail personal issues.

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Interview by Wayne Cheong

I F I H AV E T O M E N T I O N H E R O E S , there are Joseph Beuys, Giovanni Frangi, Vanessa Beecroft, Maria Abramovic. There are photographers I like, Candida Höfer who does rigorous portraits of constructions. I’m not the sort of guy who’d stress out in wanting to meet his heroes but if there were ever a chance to do so...


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What I’ve learned...

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WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS J.S.

S EC R E T SO C I E T I E S H AV E E X I ST E D FO R M I L L E N N I A . SO M E A R E M O R E F I CT I O N T H A N FACT.

But why do we find the idea of dark organisations shaping world afairs so alluring?

*Words by Josh Sims

“ T H E R E’S T H I S I D E A that if you have a bunch of men in a room

in various parts of the world there’s this notion that it’s some kind of alternative religion, that’s its wrapped up in elitism, star chamber politics and ‘dodgy handshakes’. That idea always comes up. It’s as though you can’t write about freemasonry without also mentioning ‘dodgy handshakes’.” Hodapp is the author of Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies for Dummies, a crash course in the history of, well, groups of men in rooms up to no good—or, at least, of how they have been

they must be up to no good,” says Christopher Hodapp, exasperatedly. “But, really, they’re not. Thinking about them that way is really just a convenient way of wrapping up all the world’s problems and assuming that surely there must be some eminence, some club, behind the scenes that makes it all happen. But there isn’t. “Take Freemasonry,” he adds. “It’s just a form of fraternalism, albeit with some quaint or quirky ritualistic undertones. But

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Illustrations by Rebecca Chew. Images from Getty.

And should we be worried?*


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perceived as such. He also happens to be a 33ª level Freemason— that’s about as high up the ladder as it goes. And, he insists, he is not plotting the new world order. “There was just this explosion of interest in Freemasonry and the idea of secret societies during what I’d call Dan Brown Mania [Brown being the author of the phenomenonally-successful ‘Da Vinci Code’ series of books] and ilms like National Treasure,” he says. “It was a fascinating phenomenon. Now the Internet allows a lot of crazy ideas to be circulated widely and quickly. But also a tidal wave of people answering people’s concerns by telling them they’re talking bullshit.” Indeed, dip even the most tentative toe into Google and it’s apparent that our sense of intrigue with secret societies—a subsection of our interest, if not always belief, in conspiracy theories— still runs deep. In part this is because, much as conspiracies do

happen, likewise there are secret societies: much as the Sicarii, Assassins and Thugs were the criminal secret societies of many centuries ago, so now the maia is today—criminal activity arguably demands secrecy; revolutionary and terrorist groups, from the Fenian Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda, were or are efectively secret societies too. At top-ranked US colleges, fraternal groups have been active for centuries, with, most famously, Yale’s Skulls and Bones—just one of several of the university’s secret societies—most often cited by those who purvey wild speculation as to its purpose, if not simply a boyish delight in silliness and belonging. Suspicion hasn’t been allayed by the fact that the founding members of the CIA were Bonesmen, or that, when asked bluntly about his membership a few years ago, then Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry said “it’s a secret” and changed the subject.

But today—given a perfect storm of societal and political uncertainty, constant global information low and, perhaps, unchecked paranoia—belief in the idea that secret societies are now formed of private banks, business elites and shadowy committees that pull all oicial governmental strings in order to manage the ignorant plebeians only seems to be increasing. Now, some say, the Illuminati—in some more 20th- or 21stcentury form or other—runs amok again. The claim is not entirely without some truth to it though, for those who look for it: Cecil Rhodes, founder of De Beers diamonds—left instructions in one of his many wills that the money should be used “for the establishment, promotion and development of a secret society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for... the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule... for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire”. For good measure, Rhodes was a Freemason—but one all too disappointed with Freemasonry’s failure to pursue global control in favour of, as he put it, wasting its time on “the most ridiculous and absurd rites with no object, with no end”.

Now the Internet allows a lot of crazy ideas to be circulated widely and quickly. But also a tidal wave of people answering people’s concerns by telling them they’re talking bullshit.

Some say Rhodes did in fact create his secret society. And, according to some, he would not have been alone. Others have claimed the power now really lies with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the inancier-dominated think tank established in 1921 that likely did inluence much of post-WWII policy, including the Marshall Plan, NATO and Cold War response to the USSR. Between 1945 and 1972, more than 500 senior US government oicials were members of the CFR; half of all US presidents since 1945 have been members. Former secretary of state Colin Powell is a member, so too former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, the investor George Soros and, well, Angelina Jolie. But then you can ind out all about its aims, membership and history on its not-so-secret website... Then there’s the Bilderberg Group, since 1954 that everso-private annual meeting of the small world comprised of government, economic and business leaders, the one that

allegedly maps out society’s future, rather than using its combined expertise to freely discuss all manner of global problems without fear of every word being scutinised. Transcripts are available, but the names of who said what are redacted. Suspicious or what? “Bilderberg is a meeting, a conference. Period. It’s not ongoing. It’s not a club,” sighs Xander Heijnen, who’s headed communications for Bilderberg for the last six years. “It’s been described as ‘summer school for the inluential’ and, of course, it may look like a club because it’s by invitation only, not many people are involved and, even in the Internet age, it’s not so visible. But you wouldn’t believe the number of nonsensical queries we get on this account: that it’s all some big conspiracy. Some want to say Bilderberg’s lack of transparency can’t be justiied in this day and age, and to challenge us on that is ine. We generally respond to every query we receive via the website. But if the email has too many words all in capital letters or too many exclamation marks it doesn’t get much of a response...”

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That might once have been the case via parchment and scrolls. After all, secret societies are ancient, albeit that many of them have been founded on the ‘truths’ uncovered in lessthan-reliable documents or by individuals with fair-weather values and no clear intent. Certainly many had exotic names and equally exotic beliefs: the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis; the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which attracted the likes of WB Yeats, Bram Stoker and Edvard Munch; Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis; the Germanenorden, which revived the swastika rune and kick-started the pro-Ayran racialist ideas taken up by the Nazis... Most famously, there was the Illuminati. Yes, this was a real group, brought together in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt in 1776, driven by radical philosophical free thought, trained in ciphers, poisons and explosions and with the stated intention of creating, yes, a new world order of equality and rational ideals. It attracted some 2,000 members across Europe, then fell to inighting and was all over just eight years later, leaving the ghost of an idea that—in part thanks to Brown—continues to have inluence even to this day.

The Ancient and Mystical Order of the what now?

“It’s a great list of speakers and personally I’m excited [to be here] because we haven’t all been in the same room together since Bilderberg,” Rob Brotherton, author of Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe in Conspiracy Theories, quipped when giving a talk at the UK Conspiracy Theories Conference. “I just thought that was a funny joke. But half the audience laughed and the other half just glared at me,” Brotherton recalls. “The fact is that we all respond to the idea of secret societies and

There’s long been a mistrust of secret societies too: kings, popes, governments and religions have each, at various times, banned Freemasonry for example, with the Ukrainian government not that long ago recommending jail for anyone who joined a Masonic lodge. George Washington worried that the Illuminati had iniltrated his ledgling country; Thomas Jeferson had to defend himself when accused of being a member. So why should they spark such interest today?

We all respond to the idea of secret societies and we’re all able to consider them, especially the idea that there are secretive groups of people that mean us harm. That’s how our minds work, not just those of nutcases in tinfoil hats.

There’s a tendency that when people feel they’re not in control they’re more likely to believe in wheels within wheels.

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we’re all able to consider them, especially the idea that there are secretive groups of people that mean us harm. That’s how our minds work, not just those of nutcases in tinfoil hats. Clearly there are people like that but it’s a stereotype to say they’re on the lunatic fringe. Look through history and it’s much more than something at the margins. Beliefs like these are an interesting lens through which to look at the world and what the people who hold them are expressing is something not so tangible but widely felt— that they don’t trust the government.” Indeed, belief in secret societies might well be expected to increase in turbulent times, suggests Professor Chris French of Goldsmith’s, University of London, an expert in the psychology of paranormal beliefs—much as a belief in occultism, psychic phenomena and charismatic self-proclaimed leaders followed

scientiic discoveries’ breakdown of the established religious order during the 19th century, which saw a concomitant boom in the invention of secret societies too. Our turbulent times might explain why, he says, such beliefs were not an area of much serious research just three years ago but are now a hot topic. “There’s a tendency that when people feel they’re not in control they’re more likely to believe in wheels within wheels,” he says. “There’s perhaps some comfort in knowing that someone is in control in a world that seems to lack it, even if that is the Illuminati or some other group that amazingly never breaks ranks or spills the beans. Even though it would take thousands of people, all of whom would have to keep their mouth shut, there’s some appeal to the idea of hyper-competent, virtually omnipotent groups operating together behind the scenes.”

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), president of the United States, wearing Masonic symbols.

The mallet placed on a table holding a chandelier, a ruler and the initial J. In Masonic symbolism, the origin of the mallet goes back to the tools of stone cutters.

There are groups within big organisations that operate in secretive ways— in the church, in government, in business.

That certainly appeals to our deepest psychological make-up. We prefer to think there is some order to our world rather than chaos; that, when things happen, they have to happen for a reason and not by accident. From an evolutionary standpoint that makes sense: if a caveman thinks that rustle in the bushes is a sabretooth tiger it’s best to run; if he’s wrong not much is lost and if he’s right he’s saved his life. Humans also excel in seeing patterns in the random because that’s helped us advance as a species, though it’s a skill we tend to overplay. Further functions of our psychology encourage the belief in dark machinations behind closed doors: proportionality bias, for example, suggests that a big event must have a similarly big cause; we seek evidence to conirm our biases—a purpose for which the echo chamber of the Internet is ideal; it all even plays to our egos. “These beliefs make you feel special because either you’ve been taken in [by the oicial narrative] and you’re a fool, or you

haven’t and you’re smart,” says French. “The notion that there are groups of people pushing vested interests, well, we can all accept that. There are secretive groups with strange rituals that are closed to outsiders. They do exist. Let’s not beat about the bush. There are groups within big organisations that operate in secretive ways—in the church, in government, in business. But are these groups plotting world domination? I suspect not. “It’s more the notion of groups that are extremely powerful, global and malevolent that becomes problematic,” he adds. “But then it’s good for democracy to question authority. And skeptics like me have got it wrong. If you’d have told me a few years ago that Snowden would have happened [in 2013 CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked information about numerous global surveillance programmes run by the National Security Agency in collaboration with telecoms companies and European governments] I’d have said that was far-fetched.”

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Humans excel in seeing patterns in the random.

Diferent people have diferent ideas of far-fetched of course. Isaac Weishaupt is, by day, a charming, mild-mannered man with a grown-up job as program manager, and, by night, reclusive author of The Dark Path and founder of the Illuminatiwatcher. com website. You can watch him on his video podcast—hidden behind baseball cap and dark glasses—explaining the ‘Illuminati control system’: “the insidious truth of predictive programming and symbolism in works of entertainment, the occult doctrine and why and where they want to take us... A conversation most people shut down immediately—and by design...”

Freemasons dressed as Templar knights worshipping Baphomet the Sabbatic Goat.*

Opus Dei founder Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, Pope John XXIII and second head Prelate of Opus Dei Don Alvaro Portillo.

SHEEPLE, OBEY!

It’s not easy to grasp, as he points out, sketching a diagram to illustrate the gulf between what he calls the “world of lies and manipulation”, the matrix in which the ‘sheeple’ live, and the truth of an Illuminati perpetuating an “occult world view and the new world order they want to steer us down, a future world of trans-humanistic agendas and actual destruction of the human male-female duality”: in between is what he calls a ‘irewall’ of disinformation and fear-mongering that perpetuates the stereotype of the crackpot that prevents serious consideration of other ways of seeing how the world is run. The basic us/them, real/unreal divide Weishaupt presents is certainly provocative. And it’s won him a following.

*Les Mystères de la FrancMaçonnerie by Leo Taxil, 1887.

“My interest just snowballed through the number of people who got in touch and wanted to talk, and there was the appeal of trying to relay to the masses things they’re often not too ready to hear,” says Weishaupt. “It’s a big, spiralling rabbit hole but it’s human nature for people to want to know the truth of their reality. I use ‘the Illuminati’ as an umbrella term for secret societies and

think we’re being spoon-fed elements of their belief system: a lot of superstitious elements, ritual magic, aspects of occultism, ancient beliefs repackaged as modern or ‘new age’. “Personally I ind this to be insidious,” Weishaupt adds. “People understand what’s going on at a subconscious level—that there’s a control system, that there are wheels within government

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that, if they knew about them, they wouldn’t be happy about—but most people would rather stay on the hamster wheel and focus on their own lives and I don’t blame them. But I think [that control system] is real. Not in the sense that they all meet up in some giant triangular boardroom to make decisions, but I do think the

inluence [of these organisations] is real—and we should seek the evidence that secret societies do have power. Sure, some people have said I’m an idiot and that they can’t believe any of this. But others have said they’re glad people are talking about it, that it needs free thinking to see through it.”

Is Beyoncé part of the Illuminati masterplan?!

IS

Mind control device, energy dome or a symbol of the New World Order?

IN

WH

RE AL LY

“It’s all a relection of how trust in the social structures we have long relied on is breaking down. Look at the claims of fake news,” he says. “It’s why good journalism and good science that applies standards of evidence will become more and more important. The question now is whether the line is shifting to afect those standards. Certainly you’d be hard-pushed to ind a group more resistant to psychological intervention than hardcore conspiracists and believers in secret societies because their beliefs can never be disproven. Counter-argument just further strengthens them. Personally, I ind that the cock-up is the more commonplace explanation of events than the idea of some secret society controlling them. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?” 

O CONT

R O L?

Which group one falls into depends on so many things, among them mentality, experience and even demography— being younger, religious and politically right-leaning are all factors that make one more inclined to believe in a secret society model of the world and how it’s ‘really’ organised and run. But should we be surprised that people hold such beliefs? Perhaps not. Indeed, Professor Patrick Leman, dean of education at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Europe’s largest centre for research into these ields, argues that we might well expect them to increase.

YO U R N EXT STEP !

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Still life

4|5

GoPro Hero7 black camera.

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Man at His Best

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Breaking news

It’s hip to be Hicks

Leave it to Beemer

A Mexican journalist pays the ultimate price.

David Hicks designs interiors that meld the old with the new.

See South Africa as it was meant to be seen.

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MaHB

Food

Synergy While a sojourn to an abbey might leave visitors awed and reverential,

Tease your palate with the amuse-bouche before savouring the Dom Pérignon champagnes.

Stellar at 1-Altitude, Level 62, One Rafles Place

DOM PÉRIGNON PLÉNITUDE SUITE

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Like most things, it started with a journey. Stellar at 1-Altitude’s executive chef Christopher Millar visited an abbey in France. Specifically, the Abbey of Saint Peter of Hautvillers that birthed Dom Pérignon. In his talks with Dom Pérignon’s oenologist, Vincent Chaperon, chef Millar learned about Dom Pérignon’s wine philosophy of plénitude (French for ‘fullness’). Seven years is needed for the wine to complete its maturation, that’s the first plénitude; 12 years for the second plénitude and a minimum of 20 years for the third plénitude. This led to a permanent fixture at Stellar at 1-Altitude: the Dom Pérignon Plénitude Suite. This private room promises an “exclusive, immersive experience” for diners. You make reservations and the Plénitude guest relations manager curates an experience according to your whims. A private lift takes you to the suite and chef Millar welcomes you and introduces what comes next. My experience consists of a ‘visit’ to the Dom Pérignon vineyard via video vignettes. Dishes are playful. My dessert was a ceramic log that was brought out and prepared right in front of me—a planting of green apple to look like chanterelle; shiitake mushrooms made from jelly. Aged Comté cheese espuma and crackers nestled in a silver bowl was served to me after I had an egg custard peppered with chorizo crumbs and a dollop of uni; sitting over it is an Iberico wafer, almost paper-thin, a small ebony mound of Sturia caviar piles on one end. Of course, the meals were paired with Dom Pérignon P1, P2 and Rosé. The Plénitude Suite is touted as “multi-sensorial” and I think that description might be overreaching a little. There’s inventiveness in the courses, like the amuse-bouche that requires one to drop a capsule onto a plate to break open the olive oil within, and there’s also an opportunity for the use of augmented reality on the canvas of the dining table. But like the suite’s namesake, maybe given time, we can see the Plénitude Suite mature to further greatness.

For reservations, call 6438 0410 or email info@1-altitude.com

Words by Shelton Chang

in the case of chef Christopher Millar, it might lead to the creation of Dom Pérignon Plénitude Suite.


MaHB

Food

At il Cielo, you are invited to suggest a particular ingredient that’ll see chef Sasaki creating your meal around it.

A mutual agreement What do you get when you cross a Japanese chef with Italian cuisine?

Words by Wayne Cheong

Something unforgettable.

Omakase, where you ‘leave it to the chef’ for your meal, seems to be that buzzword that you pull out when you’re trying to impress your friends. It’s a Japanese concept, but il Cielo’s chef de cuisine Yohhei Sasaki infuses this approach with an Italian fare. To say that chef Sasaki cooks Italian with ingredients that are available is missing the point. This is a man who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the years and it has come to a point where he wants to create something intimate—a dialogue, even— with his guests through the medium of food. The seven-course meal (from SGD158) starts with an ice-breaker, an amuse-bouche, a foie gras macaron, then the conversation kicks of with the starter—a Hokkaido Sanma fish

Level 24 Hilton Singapore 581 Orchard Road

that’s smoked over a takibi (Japanese traditional bonfire). You start to relax, maybe it’s the wine or maybe it’s the pasta dish—a deep-fried Japanese scampi that’s mummied in capellini pasta. It’s the lowering of your defences that causes you to canter forward to the next course, a pigeon and fresh porcini and chanterelle mushroom, sprinkled with three kinds of spices (olive and capers; red paprika and chili powder; sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano and marjoram). The conversation now takes on a back-and-forth, a friendly exchange of ripostes with the Italian sweet pumpkin gnocco. Stufed with four cheeses, you expect them all to taste the same but yet, you can pick out the sweet pull of mascarpone and the earthiness of

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pecorino trufle or the tang of taleggio, the sharp rebuke of gorgonzola. Such an unusual and fleeting moment of diverse notes all wrapped in a delicate blanket. Now, we get to the meat of the conversation, the main course that is a three-mushroom risotto with a Tajima Wagyu cutlet. It is deep, meaningful, you nod as you masticate. It seems one-sided, you not uttering much at this point but it’s all right. Sometimes, you need to listen, to take it in. The conversation finishes on a sweet note of a white trufle gelato and Valrhona chocolate tree. And as you clean up the plate, you realise that the next omakase session will be an entirely diferent discourse. We’ve come to the end but it’s something that will stick with you.

For reservations, call 6730 3395 or e-mail ilCielo@hilton.com


MaHB

Drinks

Call to port From Islay, Scotland, comes Bruichladdich’s newest single malt whisky, Port Charlotte 10.

The Isle of Islay is home to barnacle geese, the ex-governor of Singapore John Crawfurd and, of course, whisky. But that association can often be, over time, tenuous or easily fall into a comfortable malaise. And perhaps, this is why Bruichladdich is trying to spice up its classic range of heavily peated single malt whisky with Port Charlotte 10. Now in a new bottle—opaque green glass with detailing—you can pick up the versatility in its expression. Made with unchillfiltered Islay spring water, distilled, matured and bottled on Islay (like the rest of the range), Port Charlotte 10 has an oakscent trailed by floral and clementine. On the palate, one can pick up vanilla custard and lemon honey that are loosely enveloped in a smoke wisp. If Port Charlotte 10 is a reintroduction to Bruichladdich, it’s left a lasting second impression. As Bruichladdich’s chief executive Douglas Taylor succinctly sums it up: “Islay has become a badge that is used despite increasingly fragile links to the island itself. We reject this notion. Our Islay whisky has provenance.”

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Words by Wayne Cheong

Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte 10 retails for SGD139 and is available at La Maison du Whisky.


MaHB

Drinks

Peat perfect We all know the notes of rum

Words by Wayne Cheong

but ‘peaty’?

To hear Miguel Smith, brand ambassador for Mount Gay, is something akin to being awash in ASMR. Smith speaks—no—he orates with such efusiveness for rum that it feels like attending a revival. He’s introducing the latest addition from Mount Gay’s Master Blender Collection—a Mount Gay XO with peated notes. Mount Gay’s own master blender, Allen Smith, took the ‘column and still’ rum and matured it in American oak barrels, then finished it in peated whisky casks from the Isle of Islay, Scotland for another six months. The final result has a copper hue with an oak aroma interlaced with warm chocolate and fruit. There are notes of bananas, toasted nuts and salt. As Smith puts it poetically: “It’s the smell from a fresh glass of milk at 1.26 in the morning.” As he further explains during the luncheon about Mount Gay XO The Peat Smoke Expression: “I’m tasting [it] and I didn’t understand her. I’ll go a step further… I didn’t like her.” But by his eighth week of tasting, he finally understood. “This is a rum,” Smith explains, “this isn’t a rum trying to be a whisky, this is not a whisky trying to be a rum. What we’ve done is combine the best of the two worlds. It’s fruity, spicy. There’s a persistence to it. Never giving up. “Maybe we’re not the first to do a peated-cask finish, but I surely know that it’s the best.” And we concur.

Mount Gay XO The Peat Smoke Expression will be available in Singapore at selected cocktail bars from January 2019. Only 10 of the 6,120 bottles will be available here.

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MaHB

Tech

Four eyes Huawei is unabashedly one of those brands that prides itself as the pioneer of its field, but it has good reason to call dibs on its tech. It brought us the first triple-branded phone (hello Leica and Porsche), the first 40W supercharging capability, and the first high-performance mobile AI chipset. Talk about geeky. It’s now upping the ante to capture us better—through a square configuration of four eyes. “Which do I look at?” you may ask. It really depends. Another world-first, the Wide angle shoots at 40 megapixels for the Pro at an aperture of up to f1.8, lending to a natural portraiture. Specs aside, you’ll find the diference that the Ultra Wide angle provides is pretty impressive. It warps the frame enough to see almost double of a standard lens without giving that peculiar distortion wide angles are prone to. The Ultra Wide also works as a Macro because of the level of detail it catches. But if we’re talking selfies, just use the front-facing camera. It’s a whopping 24 megapixels.

Don’t fear getting carried away with the Instagram-esque filters and in-built ‘bokeh’ options. Huawei is throwing in more than vanity functions. The real-time translations, where you hover over a foreign language and see a readable one, still makes us feel like we’re truly living the future. Now you can hover over other objects and let the AI tell you things like how many calories is in that apple in front of you; we’re still waiting to hear back from Huawei about how this works with mee pok. And when you finally falter in faith with other smartphone brands, here’s the clincher: reverse wireless charging. This won’t be a case where you run out of battery, because c’mon, 3,400MAH lifespan. This will be when your friends run out of battery, forget to bring a charger, and you’re all the middle of nowhere. You whip out your reverse wireless charging, which is crazily compatible across all devices, and watch their jaws drop as their phone screens light up. It’s like that kid who always tops the cohort. Four Eyes—so damn good at everything.

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Words by Joy Ling

Huawei’s Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro have their sights set on you.


MaHB

Tech

Check out that S

Words by Eugene Lim

Not all advancements need to be revolutionary.

The iPhone X was designed to break the mould. A departure from the usual numbering system, the phone is a beautiful piece of sculpture, featuring the first edge-to-edge OLED display and packing a punch under the hood. The iPhone XS is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, keeping all that is great about the iPhone X, while improving everything else.

First up, making the transfer from your previous iPhone to the new iPhone XS is a breeze. Instead of using a laptop as a medium, it uses a combination of AirDrop and the cloud to transfer settings and data over. At first glance, both the X and XS look similar, but the XS is designed with durability in mind. Made of surgicalgrade steel sandwiched between two

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pieces of tempered glass, it comes with an IP68 rating, which in plain speak means it is more resistant to dust and water, even allowing you to submerge the phone in depths up to two metres for 30 minutes. While I have not gone swimming with the phone, the water resistance has made it harder to separate myself from the iPhone; bingeing on Netflix has become part of the showering routine. Speaking of watching Netflix, the combination of the new OLED display and stereo sound speakers takes the idea of quality home entertainment and distils it into a portable experience. Where the iPhone XS truly shines is in the improvements made under the hood; it is now powered by the A12 Bionic chip. The chip packs a ton of raw power that translates into a smooth experience for the user. Apps open quicker and the phone is more responsive, plus developers are able to create next level augmented reality apps with the Core ML framework. Face ID is even more accurate; I was able to unlock the iPhone despite low lighting conditions and from a variety of angles. The phone recognises my face better than some of my friends do. The notch in the screen is a small price to pay, although it’s not something that would really bug me unless I am actively looking for it. The camera system also gets a major upgrade. While having two 12-megapixel cameras—one with wide-angle lens and the other with a telephoto lens—might not seem like much, the improved sensors, coupled with the processing power of the A12 bionic chip that operates the smart HDR processor, makes the XS better at capturing details, even under low lighting conditions. Highlights are less blown-out and the photos feature much less contrast, giving hobbyists more range when it comes to editing the photos. And for something completely new, the portrait mode now allows you to adjust the depth of field efect (that background blur or bokeh) after the photo is taken. The only drawback of the iPhone XS is its weaker battery (24-hour charge versus 30 hours with the X), but I’m happy to forgive Apple for this oversight when I consider how much power this bad boy packs. Overall, the XS retains the iPhone’s status as the gold standard of luxury smartphones.


MaHB

Tech

Budhead Running is kind of a meditative moment for me. During a run, I can reach a state where I tune everything out. It’s better if I’m listening to music as I can match my footfalls to the beats. There are many things that go on in my head when I run and worrying about losing something shouldn’t be one of them; at least with corded earpieces, I only have to contend with the gnat-like irritation of dangling wires. With wireless earbuds… well, that fear of them slipping out of my ear canals only to disappear into the darkness is always nipping at my heels. It is with trepidation that I took the Jabra Elite Active 65t out for a literal test run. It’s part of the Elite line, a new addition to the Jabra brand. It plays music and lets you answer calls; it protects against sweat and dust. You get five hours of play time and more with the charging case. There’s a size and weight to it, given the battery and drivers within; it does not bolster confidence that they will stay in the ears. But at the end of my run, the earbuds remain firmly embedded—obstinate, unyielding—best of all, I forgot I was wearing something that wasn’t tethered to my person.

The Jabra Elite Active 65t retails for SGD298 and is available at all authorised resellers.

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Words by Wayne Cheong

Jabra says to test its earbuds, so we did.


MaHB

Culture

Shelf promotion Words by Jon Roth

How the hell did books—those quiet, noble, reflection-inducing creations —become just another design element?

Specially designed jackets from Juniper Books make a statement on the shelf.

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Culture

A personal library is a catalogue of what’s in our heads. A stranger, looking over your bookshelf, knows right away where you like to let your mind wander. In 1978, book collector John Fleming said it in the pages of this magazine: “Show me your books and I’ll tell you who you are.” Director John Waters said it diferently in what’s become a cri de coeur for booklovers everywhere: “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” Men have been overcompensating

with their libraries since well before Gatsby (of the uncut pages) or the British ‘gentlemen’s libraries’ of the 1800s. (The minimum requirement then was 10,000 books, too many for most of us to read in a lifetime.) But here amid the rising tide of the Information Age, with all the world’s knowledge sitting in our back pockets, it seems our books have become more essential than ever— though maybe more as accessories than as vessels of knowledge. They turn up on Pinterest in picture-perfect

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colour-coded arrangements, and on Instagram (#bookstagram, #shelfie) next to steaming lattes. They line the walls in restaurants and hotel lobbies—and even eyeglass stores, in the case of Warby Parker, which sells a selection of paperbacks beside hip acetate frames. When e-books first arrived, we worried about losing the real thing. Today a book’s physicality is such a selling point it’s at risk of becoming a prop. Thatcher Wine, founder and CEO of bespoke library outfitter Juniper


MaHB

Culture

A custom-jacket project from Juniper Books in the lobby of the Tennessean hotel in Knoxville.

Books, doesn’t quite agree. “Books have become very fashionable to decorate with,” he concedes, “but there’s a diference between the traditional way, which was to get a bunch of junky Reader’s Digest books, and our style, which is much more intentional.” Wine founded Juniper Books 17 years ago after assembling a 3,000-volume library for a friend. His clients come to him for any number of reasons. Some want to look well-read; some want the complete works of Kurt Vonnegut; some want to have a wall of books because their architect told them they should. He’s outfitted the libraries of Gwyneth Paltrow and the NoMad Hotel, and he’s seen just about every fad in book display: fetishes for specific publishers (Penguin Classics are especially hot right now), preferences in spine colour (cream is classic, but mustard yellow is trending), arrangements in rainbow gradations or sans book jackets, even books placed with the pages facing outward for a wall of neutral white. These may sound like libraries for people who only like the idea of books, but Wine defends the approach. “Your books have to do something while they’re waiting for you to read them,” he says. “So they should look good. And if rearranging books is your hobby, that’s better than what a lot of people do.” Many people do arrange to the point of distraction and their systems are as telling as their books. In an essay for The New York Times, Sloane Crosley describes hers as a “sentimental library” organised by memories and associations, that varies by room. The heady novelists—Nabokov, Woolf—sit beside and counteract the television; the essayists she admires—Sedaris, Ephron—go above her desk. Crosley isn’t driven by an Instagrammable approach, but she’s aware of it. “Aesthetics in literature are important,” she writes, “but literature as aesthetics makes me nervous. When did a candle-topped pyramid of paperbacks become a symbol of depth?” Dwight Garner, The New York Times book critic and Esquire columnist, arranges alphabetically by author regardless of subject, which works if you have a good memory for writers’ names. “It pleases me to see it all together, because that’s how I read,” he says. “Good writing is good writing in whatever form it takes.” Garner’s not colour-coding his collection anytime soon (“That makes me want to vomit,” he says) but cops to a perverse attraction to the pages-out shelf. “I can’t speak in favour of it, but it appeals to me. There’s something sensual about it. I enjoy looking at those shelves—and I enjoy wondering what’s behind them, too.” Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch,

the duo behind the New York City design firm Roman and Williams (responsible for the Standard Highline and the Ace Hotel NY) use no system at all. Standefer says: “We never organise our books by colour—or even subject. We leave them unsorted. It promotes new discoveries and surprises.” In their recently opened SoHo home-goods store, the Guild, the designers built in a basement library, reached by a staircase lined with Phaidon art books. “We wanted to show that books are part of a creative home,” Standefer says. “They’re less a profitmaking object for us than creativespark inducers.” But sparks won’t fly if the books never leave their shelves—that’s the risk we run if we treat them as totems of well-readness instead of what they really are: tools. A well-thumbed library can certainly be beautiful, but it’s more important that books get read than that they get photographed. If someone can look at your library and conclude only that you have a good eye for colour— well, maybe just buy a few cans of paint instead.

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A selection of Phaidon editions on ofer at Roman and Williams’s the Guild.


MaHB

Culture

The body of Javier Valdez shortly after he was gunned down in the streets of Culiacán, his hometown.

The man who wrote his own death sentence El Chapo, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, sits in an American jail, awaiting his trial this month in Brooklyn. For years, Javier Valdez reported on the cartels, risking his life amid the sicarios in what has become the deadliest assignment in the world outside of a war zone. In the end, it caught up with him.

On 19 January 2017, less than 24 hours before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, a plane landed on Long Island carrying a prized cargo: Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, the kingpin of the Sinaloa Cartel. After escaping from prison twice in Mexico, he’d been recaptured and extradited to the United States to face 17 charges, including traficking cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crystal meth. If, as prosecutors claim, his operation netted US$14 billion, he will be the biggest traficker the Drug Enforcement Administration has helped bring before an American judge. His trial is set to begin this month in federal district court in Brooklyn. Back in Guzmán’s home state of Sinaloa, in northwest Mexico, rival factions fought for control of his empire.

Squads of sicarios, or hit men, shot at one another with AK-47s and AR-15s in the very heart of neighbourhoods around the state capital, Culiacán, sending residents fleeing for cover. A group of local reporters, led by the weekly newsmagazine Ríodoce, braved the bullets to cover the mayhem. Veteran journalists Javier Valdez and Ismael Bohórquez founded Ríodoce in 2003. Its name derives from the local geography: Sinaloa has 11 rivers and River Twelve intended to be its current of information. The spirit of the magazine was set by Valdez, who wrote with a colourful and crazed pen, mixing street experiences with sparkling metaphors. His favoured subjects were the unseen faces of the cartel wars: the members of brass bands who played ballads to men

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in crocodile-skin boots and women with diamond-studded fingernails; children on dirt roads who dreamed of being hit men; crying mothers whose sons had been murdered. In the wake of El Chapo’s arrest, most Sinaloan news outlets reported only the basic facts of each bloody development: how many people were killed in a given shoot-out, how many bullets were fired, who was arrested. But Ríodoce aimed to explain the power struggle driving the cartel’s splintering. Two of Guzmán’s sons, known as the Chapitos, led one faction, while Dámaso López, a prison warden who helped Guzmán escape the first time, in 2001, and became his righthand man, led another. As the fighting raged in February, a man phoned the ofices of Ríodoce and

Getty

His friend Ioan Grillo recounts his vibrant life and tragic death.


MaHB

Culture

asked to speak with Valdez. Declining to give his name, the caller claimed to have important information. Responding to such a call was risky in Sinaloa, home to dozens of kingpins besides El Chapo. But Valdez, rarely shaken, agreed to meet. Wearing his trademark panama hat and chunky glasses, set against a pinkish complexion that earned him the nickname Guero (a slang term in Mexico that roughly translates to ‘Whitey’), Valdez met the caller in a car parked nearby. The man, a lieutenant of López, passed him a phone that was connected to his boss. López said he had not betrayed El Chapo, whom he “loves and admires,” as Valdez would later report. But López criticised the Chapitos: “They are sick with power.” Valdez was confronted with a tough calculation. Over two and a half decades, he’d reported from deep inside Sinaloa’s narco world. Trafickers speak to journalists for any number of reasons: to boast, or to confess their sins, or to expose a rival network’s inner workings. Usually Valdez’s sources were low down the chain of command and he protected their identity with anonymity. But to print the words of a higher-up by name would mean raising the stakes, potentially pulling Ríodoce into the fight. In the end, Valdez chose to run the story; the information, he decided, was of great enough public interest for him to take the risk. Before the issue was released, however, he received another call, this time from a representative of the Chapitos. Valdez suggested they meet at his favourite haunt, a cantina near Ríodoce’s ofices called El Guayabo. At the meeting, the Chapitos’ envoy said that the interview with López, whom his bosses considered a cartel insurgent, could not be published. Valdez replied that it was too late; thousands of copies of the issue were already printed and set to go on newsstands the following day. While this was true, Valdez was not in the habit of letting the cartel or anyone else decide what could run in his magazine. The next morning, as the delivery trucks made their rounds, Chapitos afiliates followed, buying every copy. Though the story did run on Ríodoce’s website, few copies made it into the hands of the public. Valdez had faced down intimidation before, but now the risk felt more acute. He reached out to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-profit that promotes freedom of the press worldwide, to discuss relocating him and his family. But he ultimately decided against it. Moving would displace his wife, Griselda Triana, also a journalist, and their 19-yearold son, Francisco, who lived at home. (Their 24-year-old daughter, Tania, who’d

recently married, lived nearby.) As weeks passed, the threat seemed to dissipate. In a video from his 50th birthday party in April, Valdez joyfully plays drums in a band. His shirt reads, LIFE BEGINS AT FIFTY. On the morning of 15 May, Valdez and Bohórquez met at the Ríodoce ofices. They went over story ideas, sales numbers, pension plans. Afterward, Valdez left to buy chicken he planned to share with his wife for lunch, and Bohórquez went to the bank. As Bohórquez returned, he spotted a crowd standing near a body on the street. At first, he thought it was the victim of a hit-and-run. Then, as he told me: “I saw the hat and the shoes, and I thought, Oh, fuck . . . it’s Javier.” Around 12.00PM, Valdez had been shot 12 times near the ofices of River Twelve.

What I remember most about Valdez is his voice, the clear, lilting warmth of his Sinaloan accent, whether he was dropping barrio slang or speaking of the people whose lives he’d seen ruined. I met him in 2008, the first year Mexico’s cartel violence shot up to catastrophic levels. The battle was especially brutal in Culiacán, where El Chapo’s men fought those of Arturo ‘the Beard’ Beltran Leyva, a friend turned enemy, in reckless public shoot-outs. Before I flew in from Mexico City, where I’ve lived since 2001, a colleague told me that to really understand the situation in Sinaloa, I should speak with Valdez. He told me to meet him that day at El Guayabo. When I arrived, he was at a table in the back, a bottle of whisky set in front of him. We talked deep into the night about everything from the drug war to class politics in Mexico and in my native Britain. As he became animated, his smile spread so wide that his face curled around it. On the way to my hotel, we drunkenly sang along with Amy Winehouse. I saw Valdez sporadically over the years, often at gatherings of the small circle of journalists who covered traficking across Latin America. At a 2009 seminar on journalism and the drug trade in Mexico City, he described how Francisco, then 10, had asked if he was scared. “ ‘I am scared,’ I told my son. ‘But I feel what I do has value.’ ” It wasn’t just that he accepted the risks and tolerated the fears—he felt he didn’t have a choice. As he told an interviewer in 2011: “To die would be to stop writing.”

Mexico is one of the most perilous countries for a journalist. Since 2000, more than 100 have been killed here,

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and dozens more have disappeared. Outside of war zones—Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq—it’s the deadliest country for the trade. These deaths are tragic not just because of the lives taken, but also because they force others into silence and self-censorship. Some areas of Mexico—such as the state of Tamaulipas, which borders the southeastern tip of Texas—have become black holes for news. The violence against the media is part of a larger crisis nationwide. Mexico may not oficially be at war, but it has been engulfed in a form of armed conflict for years, driven by cartels fighting over traficking routes to the U.S. The government’s so-called kingpin strategy—targeting cartel leaders like El Chapo—has only exacerbated the violence, as underlings fight over the spoils. Meanwhile, the police and the military, with little oversight, shoot dead thousands of people they allege to be criminals. In 2017, the number of murders topped 29,000, the country’s bloodiest year since modern recordkeeping was introduced two decades ago. The justice system is overwhelmed. According to one study, nearly 80 percent of murders go unsolved. In 2010, a federal ofice, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), was created to prosecute crimes against members of the media. Two years later, a protection programme launched ofering concerned journalists bulletproof vests and panic buttons. Neither measure has slowed the killings; in the past year and a half, journalists have been murdered at a rate of one a month. Corruption at the state level has been partly responsible for a lack of progress in prosecuting such deaths, according to Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “There are instances in which it is abundantly clear that a level of authority was resisting any kind of investigation into a journalist’s murder,” he told me. “A very large percentage of [the killings] remain unsolved forever, lingering in impunity. And we don’t even have an idea where the attacks may have come from. Is it organised crime, or is it political actors, or is it the army, or anybody else?” The vast majority of slain reporters worked for local media in states where cartels have retained power. But the death of Valdez, who was known across the country, became an international news story. The killing was condemned by the US embassy in Mexico, the United Nations and the European Union. Demonstrations broke out across Mexico, including a candlelight vigil outside the interior ministry. President


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Culture

Enrique Peña Nieto spoke about it from the presidential palace. “As a citizen, I share journalists’ and the public’s desire for justice,” he said. “As president of the republic, I can state that we will act with firmness and determination to detain and punish the perpetrators.” He then called for a minute of silence. Some journalists in attendance shouted through it. They didn’t want silence; they wanted justice. One hundred eighty-six foreign journalists in Mexico, myself included, sent a letter to the president. “We are shocked by this new crime that is part of the recent escalation of attacks on our Mexican journalist colleagues, whose bravery we admire profoundly,” we wrote. Valdez’s case became emblematic of all the murders of journalists in the country, and the need to solve it became paramount. If the authorities could not bring the perpetrators to justice in such a high-profile case, what hope was there for any journalist’s safety? In his eighth and final book, 2016’s Narcoperiodismo, Valdez wrote: “It is not only the narcos who disappear and kill photographers, editors and journalists. The job is also done by politicians, police, agents colluding with organised crime, prosecutors, government and army oficials. The big error: living in Mexico and being a journalist.”

When Valdez began reporting, in 1990, there were far fewer cartel murders than there are today. Mexico was efectively a one-party state for most of the 20th century; its leaders turned a blind eye to the police, who both partnered with trafickers and tried to control them. In 2000, once the opposition took the presidency, a multiparty democracy was hatched. Corruption didn’t wilt; it flourished. Security forces with conflicting alliances engaged in interagency firefights, while narco kingpins recruited armies of sicarios from the slums in a struggle for power that continues today. In this environment, a core of independent-minded journalists, Valdez and Bohórquez among them, committed themselves to covering the violence and malfeasance more aggressively than before. The two men founded Ríodoce to pursue the news in Sinaloa that they felt was all but ignored. They were perfect partners. Both men were civic-oriented leftists from the area. Bohórquez had been a dockworker and a militant union organiser before going into newspapers. Valdez was born in 1967 in a working-class barrio in Culiacán. As a kid, on delivery rounds

with his postman father, he was riveted by the types of colourful figures he’d later profile. In college, he studied sociology, dressed like a hippie—long hair, woven shirts, seashell necklaces— and became a leftist activist. When, at 18, he ran for Congress on the platform of an obscure revolutionary party (despite being underage for the ofice), his campaign slogan was ‘Cholos sí, chotas no’, or ‘Homeboys yes, police no’. He began writing in college, inspired by the barrio culture in which he was raised, and never stopped. “We got on naturally,” Bohórquez told me. “We had similar ideas.”

Since 2000, more than 100 journalists have been killed in Mexico, and dozens more have disappeared. Whereas Bohórquez favoured investigative hard news, Valdez was drawn to character-driven reporting with literary flair. They initially set out to cover politics and social struggles. But it quickly became clear that organised crime was Mexico’s central issue, and Ríodoce was at ground zero to witness the rise of the most powerful cartel in the country. The roots of the region’s drug trade date back to the late 19th century, as Chinese migrants began planting opium poppies in the Sierra Madre mountains. When the US passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914 to regulate the sale of opium, the roughly 966KM Sinaloan drug route into the States was born, expanding over the century to supply whatever mind-bending substances the American market demanded. El Chapo led the cartel in the early noughts, its golden years, as they displaced their Colombian counterparts to become the richest gangsters on the planet. When Ríodoce published frontpage exposés on Sinaloan kingpins, issues would rapidly sell out. “There was a journalistic conviction that it is an important issue,” Bohórquez said. “But also, I have to be honest... the fucking subject sells.” In his popular weekly column, ‘Malayerba’—’Bad Herb’, slang for marijuana— Valdez profiled people on the edges of the Sinaloan narco world. In one entry, titled ‘Soy Narca’, he chronicled the rise and fall of a waitress turned

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cocaine dealer. Valdez described a sale to a client. “ ‘I’m a narca,’ she told him boastfully. She took him to the parking lot and opened the door of the trunk: bags of white powder, ordered from one side to the other, by kilo, half kilo, bigger bags and small doses for individual consumption.” But after failing to pay her cartel ‘tax’, she was abducted and thrown into the same trunk to be taken to her death. “ ‘Soy narca, Soy narca,’ ” Valdez wrote. “It was the echo from the trunk.” In 2009, he published his first major book, Miss Narco, containing profiles of women caught up in the cartel life—beauty-queen girlfriends, drug mules, money launderers. “The skin of the Western Sierra Madre has blood in its pores,” Valdez wrote. “The memory of villages burned, families running terrified, men robbed, mutilated, and killed, women of all ages submitted to sexual abuse.” Hours before Miss Narco went to the printers, an unknown assailant lobbed an explosive device at the Ríodoce ofices. Valdez wrote an email to the book’s editors, his dry wit on display: “Hello editor friends, maybe you haven’t heard—because you are always in a fucking rush, your heads in texts, screens, procreating books... they threw a fragmentation grenade at the ground floor... I am fine, as are all my colleagues, complete, without scratches, cracks or acne. I live and drink, fighting, writing and dreaming.” Miss Narco became a best seller in Mexico. At the same time, Ríodoce gained international recognition, winning a prize in 2011 from Columbia University for outstanding reporting in Latin America. Young journalists flocked to the magazine, drawn to its commitment to a free press and by the opportunity to learn from its co-founders. “Javier had a gift that few achieve in writing,” says Miriam Ramirez, a reporter who joined the staf in 2013. “You felt part of his story... He was a model, an example.” As the narco war worsened with each passing year, Valdez’s work became darker. His 2012 book, Levantones, described in chilling detail some of the thousands of people who disappeared without a trace at the hands of the narcos, as well as the irreparable wounds such losses opened in their loved ones. It was Valdez’s first book translated into English; The Taken, as it was called, came out just months before he was killed.

An investigation opened shortly after Valdez’s death, handled jointly by Sinaloan state agents and FEADLE, headed by Ricardo Sánchez.


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Getty

Culture

Sánchez, 37, worked for the International Criminal Court prior to taking his current post just days before Valdez was shot. He told me he wanted to turn around the perception that his ofice is inefective by aggressively pursuing the killers. Confidence in Mexico’s ability to protect its journalists was shaken when, in June, less than a month after Valdez’s death, The New York Times published an explosive story that top Mexican reporters were being watched through their mobile phones. Although it was not proved that the government was behind the espionage, federal oficials admitted to having purchased the stateof-the-art spyware, called Pegasus. For most journalists covering drug cartels or corruption in Mexico, the spying scandal came as little surprise. There is no evidence that Ríodoce was being tracked via Pegasus. But in my communications with Bohórquez and Valdez over the years, they’d warned me that their email or calls could be compromised and that I should be careful about what I said. Meanwhile, the staf of Ríodoce, led by Bohórquez, became especially assertive in reporting on Valdez’s death and pressuring authorities to deliver justice. Their ofices, guarded for a time by two police oficers, became a sort of activist headquarters in search of the truth. The space filled up with posters and pamphlets that read, BULLETS WON’T SILENCE ME. The building was draped with a three-storey banner bearing Valdez’s likeness and the word JUSTICE beneath it. In late June, Mexico’s interior secretary and the head of the army made a surprise visit to Culiacán to discuss the security situation with local oficials. When a press conference was announced, Ramirez, the young Ríodoce reporter, suggested that she and her colleagues bring banners. After the men walked into the room, lined with cameras, the stafers stood directly in front of them with signs that said, JUSTICE: JAVIER VALDEZ. Footage of their protest dominated that evening’s news across Mexico. Months passed with no news about the Valdez case. But in April of this year, almost a year after his murder, federal police in Tijuana arrested the suspected driver in the shooting, whom they identified as Heriberto N. (Mexican police do not release the full names of most suspects.) Sánchez told me they had been following the suspect for some time but waited to make the arrest until they’d built a solid case that would hold up in court. Police had tapped his phone and, with technical help from the FBI, followed his network of contacts. Six weeks later, prosecutors indicted one of the two suspected shooters, who was already in a Mexicali prison on firearms

Valdez holds a copy of his eighth and final book, Narcoperiodismo.

charges. The other had been murdered in the state of Sonora in September. Sánchez, whose ofice has helped bring 23 warrants against suspects in reporter killings since he took over, told me that evidence indicates the assassins’ cell was under the control of the López faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. Furthermore, prosecutors don’t believe that it was a single story by Valdez but rather the culmination of his coverage that led to the hit. “It’s the theory of the case,” Sánchez said, “that this series of events, the way of reporting this conflict between two organised-crime groups, generated the order and the execution of Javier Valdez.” While it is unknown how much of a part, if any, the López story in Ríodoce played, Bohórquez told me he regrets having published it. “I think we made a mistake in interviewing Dámaso,” he said. “They were in a bad war, a war to the death, and we got in the middle of it.”

On 15 May, the anniversary of Valdez’s death, gunmen executed radio and television reporter Juan Carlos Huerta in the swampy southern state of Tabasco. Two days later, Griselda Triana, Valdez’s widow, joined the families of other murdered journalists in Mexico City to view a documentary on the subject called No Se Mata La Verdad, or The Truth Shall Not Be Killed. As brutal images of the killings flashed on the screen, the room filled with sobs. Afterward, Triana addressed the crowd. “When you don’t live the tragedy of losing a journalist, you think this is an

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evil that will just happen to someone else, to someone else’s family but not to yours,” she said. “In the end, we are a big family of victims in this country.” At the screening, Triana described to me how her life had been destroyed by her husband’s killing, how every day was a struggle, how she had taken leave from work amid the pressure. Shortly after his father’s death, Francisco Valdez wrote him a letter. “Where are you, father? I look for you everywhere, in every space, in every object you touched. I look for you in my dreams, but I don’t see you. I don’t see your face, your big and worn body, half a century old. Half a century that you fought for many, gave what you had, delivered the most human of you to us.” He finishes: “Don’t doubt that I will talk to my children about you. I will tell them how brave and badass you were.” On the sidewalk a few yards from the spot where Valdez was shot dead, a stone cross adorned with white roses, carnations and ribbons has been placed in his honour. On a post next to the cross, someone has stuck a comic by the artist Avece, whom Valdez used to raise a glass with at El Guayabo. The first panel reads: “They wanted to shut you up...” and shows Valdez’s corpse amid the bullet casings. The next frame shows his spirit, wearing his panama hat and spectacles, rising from the road, clutching his journalist notepad. He wanders to the Washington Monument, the Eifel Tower, the Colosseum, where gaggles of protesters hold banners that say, GIUSTIZIA PER JAVIER and JUSTICE FOR JAVIER. The final panel reads, “... and now your voice is everywhere.”


MaHB

Music

Discord record Concertgoers are surrendering themselves to music in the wrong manner: capturing every moment with a mobile phone instead of filing a mental archive.

Dimmed lights. Intro’s cued. But before the headlining musician sings the opening song’s first note at a live concert, the eager fans raise their arms with state-of-the-art smartphones held tightly in both hands. Are they worshipping their idol with a tech sacrifice? Nope. They are prepping to capture gigabytes worth of digital stills and moving films of the one-night-only performance onto their devices. “Hey, it’s important to obtain proof that I attended this concert, you know.” Everyone wants a piece of their idol for a keepsake and photography is perhaps the only method that produces visual evidence for future reference. So it’s justifiable as the audience did pay a lot of money to catch the artist perform live. Watching a movie or a play requires following a set of rules to ensure a positive and memorable experience for audiences. Setting mobiles to silent mode, keeping conversation to a minimum, and so on. For live concerts, rules are flexible due to the relaxed nature of most music genres. A musician has to establish a connection with the audience so that they can immerse themselves in the soundscape and acknowledge the performance with cheers and applause. What if fans responded with focused smartphone camera lenses? In recent years, music heavyweights such as Kendrick Lamar, Jack White and Alicia Keys have expressed their discontent on the use of smartphones at their concerts. The elevated stage allows musicians to have a bird’s-eye view of the audience and what they see are many soulless smartphone backs. Adele once teased: “I know you’re taking a picture, but I’m talking to you in real life.” The former defeats the purpose of having an emotional connection with your musical hero and their music.

To counter heavy mobile phone usage, the soulful Keys and her team hired Yondr—a tech company based in Silicon Valley that creates phone-free zones at concerts and other entertainment events—for her gigs. At the venue, staf seal the audience’s mobile phone in a lockable pouch that stays with them in the phone-free zone. It will be unlocked once you leave the boundaries and you’ll be contactable again. This implementation deters inconsiderate shutterbugs from using their camera-enabled phones during gigs and allows fellow concertgoers to enjoy an unobstructed view of the stage. Observe your surroundings and respect your neighbours who wish to catch a rare ad lib without looking into their smartphone screens. Sure, you have the freedom to get a few pics and clips for social media, but remember to do it between songs or film during an encore performance. This way, phones won’t be banned in the future due to the wrath of musicians.

Forever Neverland MØ The Danish alt-pop minx was an underrated gem until she hit the jackpot with her collab with Major Lazer and DJ Snake on ‘Lean On’. Proving she’s a sturdy pillar, MØ continues to surprise with her unorthodox approach to dance bops—as heard on ‘Way Down’. The appearance of superstar mates like Diplo, Charli XCX and Empress Of makes this a must-listen.

Young Romance Roosevelt Youth comes but once in a lifetime. German producer Marius Lauber extracts the nostalgia of budding love and reconstructs it with psychedelic synth. Part disco, part chill-wave, the album’s polished songs and dreamy melodies exude a neon-lit paradise we want to be in.

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Honey Robyn Ardent fans may have gotten a taste of the demo edit of ‘Honey’ from HBO’s Girls that started the buzz for a potential LP release in eight years. True enough, Robyn has answered our prayers with the title track and eight other songs that upholds her forerunner status in the music industry. Expect anthemic minimalist electro tracks with a throwback to the 1990s.

Words by Derrick Tan. Getty

FRESH FREQUENCIES


MaHB

Grooming

To paraphrase Rocky Balboa, it ain’t about how hard ya hit, it’s about how well ya keep those nails trimmed.

How to fix your claws Besides trying to nail a perfect curve angle with every trim, it’s important to pay attention to naturally coloured

Words by Derrick Tan. Getty

or ridged fingernails too. They serve as indicators of your overall health.

to make a trip to the doctor’s as you may have an underlying illness which comes with other minor symptoms. Nail problems are common with individuals diagnosed with diabetes. The appearance of cuticles is also a bane for perfectionists who like immaculately manicured nails. If the hangnail on the side of the nailbed annoys you, don’t cut it. Instead, remove it by applying a cuticle-removing product over the perimeter of your nail bed, and then push your cuticle back using a flattipped instrument like a cuticle pusher. To end, gently remove the dead skin with a sheet of tissue for a smooth nail bed. When it comes to cutting your nails, it is recommended to rest the rounded edge of the clipper on the nail, following the natural curve and leave some white of the nails, before clipping them. Cut the nails at an angle; it’ll take about three to four clips for a perfect trim. Now that you’re all cleaned up, you’re all set to hold someone else’s hand without sinking your nails into them. Oh, needless to say, never bite your nails.

Nail cutting is a weekly grooming task for most individuals who are not fond of chipped tips. Having a set of neatly trimmed fingernails can help you score plus points in the physical looks department too (shabby is never in trend). Often done in a jify, nail cutting might seem like a nobrainer aesthetic regime that only involves a nail cutter and a filer. But caring for your claws is much more than having a neat outlook—nails, and their corresponding plate, act as a window to your health. Various nail shapes, textures and colours can indicate the diferent health issues your body may be facing. Loathe pink? That’s the colour you’ll want to see consistently on the plate under all your nails. Discolouration, like the appearance of dark and white streaks or changes in nail colour, bodes trouble for your overall health. A common reason for this change in nail colour and texture is the appearance of fungus, which can cause the nails to crack and peel. If you spot a nail that sticks out like a sore thumb, it’s time

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MaHB

When ideas take shape A playful tête-à-tête with British sculptor Nick Hornby about the origin of things, the role of the artist, and the inextricable relationship between form and meaning.

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Photograph by Nick Ballon

Design


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Design

Nick Hornby is a good flirt. Not that he’s flirting with me when we meet at the cafe on the top floor of 5 Carlos Place— the newly renovated Mayfair townhouse acquired by MatchesFashion.com to showcase exclusive retail installations, spotlight up-and-coming designers, and generally manifest the covetable wardrobe of a fashion insider—but he’s throwing around his boyish charm like the French throw sneers at tourists. That is to say, he’s fully aware of what he’s doing, and is not désolé at all. He understands the power of a gregarious smile, the lasting impression of intentional eye contact and the flattery of research. “You were just in California for the Apple Keynote. And I saw on Instagram that you love fashion. How are you enjoying London?” It’s the appeal of focused attention. It’s the allure of good manners. With hot drinks in hand, and the rarefied bliss of English sunshine warming our backs, we discuss the birth of his sculptures commissioned by MatchesFashion.com for 5 Carlos Place, the role of technology in creation and what constitutes ‘good art’.

Interview by Norman Tan

E S Q : Why do you use technology in the creation of your sculptures? N I C K H O R N B Y: The reason I use tech—and there are lots of reasons—is because we are surrounded by it. And it is determining our lives. It’s like an inevitable subject. But in my case, it’s more to do with subjectivity and objectivity. So if you’re writing, you are able to quote someone. And you put it in inverted commas; then there is your voice and this other person’s voice. So within our history, a similar thing happens. Francis Bacon could do a painting after Van Gogh’s ‘On the Road to Tarascon’, where you know there’ll be this visual echo because it is the same painting. He just re-rendered the painting with his own style. But it’s undoubtedly a Francis Bacon painting. Not from Van Gogh. And that happens in every genre. Every medium and every historic moment. E S Q : How does this apply to your creative process? N I C K H O R N B Y: In my case, I’m really interested in the beginning of things. Where do things come from? The Big Bang, what was before that? I’m sitting down and I have a white piece of paper. And I’ve got to make something, what do I do? So in the interim, what happens is that your head is filled with all these influences and echoes of things. You never really have that blank canvas. So I’ll make an object and it will be a composite of multiple diferent things. The digital enables me to remove the subjectivity of the human touch.

So I’m able to imagine a hypothetical situation where three things are combined. I can do that on a computer and produce a virtual object which is perfect. It has no flaws, imperfections of my making or gravity. Things can float, they don’t have to have any reality whatsoever. Then, somewhere from the concepts, I will transition it into the real world. And there are diferent gradations. So a 3D print somehow is a bit more real than something being modelled in clay. Or cast in bronze. Does that make sense? E S Q : Because it is more perfect? Do you find that when you realise your perfect sculpture—that you have created on a digital program—into something tangible, it is a little bit disappointing? N I C K H O R N B Y: Actually, it is always a little bit more fun. And that I don’t really understand. 

“I’m able to imagine a hypothetical situation where three things are combined. I can do that on a computer and produce a virtual object which is perfect.”

E S Q : Because there are surprises from turning ideas into creation? There’s serendipity in the process... N I C K H O R N B Y: I try not to deviate. There’s not a lot of spontaneity in the studio. For me the spontaneity is in the ideas. And from idea to reality, I tend to have chosen a path and I think I’m suficiently aware of how it will turn out. So for example, if I am having something carved in marble, it’s going to be very close to the digitally modelled image. However, if I’m getting a sculpture handpainted, then it’ll be a bit rougher. E S Q : Would you call yourself a perfectionist then? You’re always starting from something that’s perfect. N I C K H O R N B Y: Absolutely not. Not at all. I’m not trying to make perfect art. I’m just interested in the concept of the transition from the virtual to the real. I don’t think either is a qualitative thing; I don’t think an object which manages to re-enact the concept is better than the one that doesn’t. I’m just interested in what that means to the viewer. For me the end game is to make something that

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is a bit liminal, a bit ambiguous, which is open. For the viewer, when you see my work, you’re curious. You are seeing echoes of things you vaguely recognise. Maybe something that looks like a 19thcentury marble bust, a little bit like a cubist sculpture, then maybe a little bit like a shard or a space rocket. My job is to make something that is completely up to your imagination. E S Q : You have three pieces here at 5 Carlos Place. What is the emotion that you are trying to create? Do you have that intention or... N I C K H O R N B Y: I’m British. (Laughs) E S Q : Which is to say? N I C K H O R N B Y: One doesn’t have emotions. E S Q : What?! (Laughs) Okay, where was the starting point then? Because these three pieces were commissioned by MatchesFashion.com for this townhouse. N I C K H O R N B Y: Right, starting point is easy. The starting is the site. One does their due research. Philip Joseph, the designer of the space. Epic legend. I like him very much. I remember when I got the gig, I googled him and found a video where he was asked about whether his work was traditional or contemporary. And he didn’t have the answer, which I found quite interesting. I’m drawn to binaries that don’t really force binaries. Things that we perceive as being binary but actually are not. Anyway, I knew this building. It’s like Flemish renaissance; very ornamented, very decorated. Did you know that the street itself is fictional? E S Q : As in Carlos Place? N I C K H O R N B Y: Yes, it was originally Charles Street, but it was rebranded as Carlos Place. The owner of this street wanted to vamp it up a little. So he rebranded it and filled it with high-end luxury retail on the ground floor and residential above, which is kind of what it is now. I’ve always been slightly interested in ornamentation and decoration in architecture. And how modernism clashed with high Victoriana. Long story short, the spiky sculpture that you saw on the second floor, we call it ‘The Shard’. It is actually the face of Michelangelo’s David, but it has been extruded to 8 feet and it overlaps on itself. So if you were to stand at one end and look down, you’ll see this face perfectly. It’s like a quotation in writing; there are two voices here: I’ve just taken the face of this very iconic David—arguably the ideal of human perfection—and rendered it in such a way that it looks like an extruded piece of architectural ornamentation.


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Design

E S Q : But you’ve hung the work so high that people won’t be able to look at it straight on to see the face of David. N I C K H O R N B Y: That’s not the plan though. The face of David is just the starting point. It’s not about the reveal. It’s not about like “ta-da, now you see it”. E S Q : So it’s not important for you to reveal the origin story to the viewer? N I C K H O R N B Y: They’ll have their own origin stories. The meaning of the work isn’t derived from the artist. It’s not the artist that tells the meaning of the work. If I go look at Rothko, I don’t care why he painted it. I care about how it makes me feel that day. And what it means to me.  E S Q : Really? N I C K H O R N B Y: Absolutely. E S Q : Because I always want to know the origin story. I feel it adds another layer to what the artist is trying to say. Which is always ambiguous. N I C K H O R N B Y: I think there is always an in-between. A piece of art, a piece of music, a piece of writing, it can definitely be enriched with narrative and context. But I think it is important that every time you add more, or every time you contextualise, or interpret, it isn’t reductive, and it’s not didactic. So if you look at a painting and there’s text next to it that says, “This painting is done at this moment by this artist and he did it for this reason”, it really wipes out the sensory opportunities for the viewer. E S Q : As opposed to facilitating connection with a piece? N I C K H O R N B Y: I think it is possible to just to put out little satellites of thought that are suficiently far apart for the viewer to then create their rhizomatic network of ideas. E S Q : Is that how you would define good art? What is your definition of good art? N I C K H O R N B Y: Open. Not overly determined. Definitely, that’s very important. Good museums do the same thing. When you go to the Tate, it won’t say this is what this means. It will have a quote from someone famous like Ian McKellen saying, “I was inspired when I saw this, and I thought about chicken” or whatever. And that, I think, is more evocative.  E S Q : On a spectrum with ‘craft’ on one end, and ‘narrative’ on the other, where do you lie as an artist? Is it important for your pieces to demonstrate great craft? Or is it more important for it to connect with the audience? N I C K H O R N B Y: That’s a very good

Bronze sculptures by Nick Hornby in the stairwell of 5 Carlos Place, Mayfair.

question. I will use two diferent words. So I wouldn’t use ‘craft’ and ‘narrative’. I’d probably use ‘form’ and ‘meaning’. And that is a real challenge. Let›s say, I think the starting point is always a concept. It›s a theory, you›re having ideas. The point of it is the conversation. You are trying to have a conversation with the history, with your peers, with everything around you. So we start thinking of those ideas. The ideas somehow start to find their way into a form. You go from the virtual to the real. What happens is, as it’s going from to virtual to the real, and form turns up,

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then the materialities start to hold. Your idea might be to have a shovel floating in the air. Of course we have gravity, it has to sit on something. It either has a metal string or it has a metal pole holding it up. So then what happens is, you’re facing these material problems and you start to develop your own formal solutions. As you go on year after year, you start to develop a language in both. A set of ideas you are interested in and a set of formal solutions. E S Q : What are your formal solutions to your ideas?


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Design

N I C K H O R N B Y: My formal solutions tend to be monochromatic. I also like smooth surfaces. And those things have become my package. The dream is that the resultant object makes you question, not how did you do that, but what does that mean. That’s all that really matters and the level of fabrication is just a means to an end. It’s just the vehicle to try to keep it as open and interesting as possible. What do you think? E S Q : I think it always has to be a connection; the meaning is key. Because especially in the world of art, anything could really be art. N I C K H O R N B Y: What sort of sculptures do you like? E S Q : To be honest, I never really thought of what sculptures I like.  N I C K H O R N B Y: If you guys went to a contemporary museum, are you more drawn to pictures, photos, videos…

from humble wood. I think it’s one of the most beautiful sculptures on the planet. It’s horrific to look at. But incredibly beautiful because of the pathos. I’m a complete atheist. Can’t bear religion, but this woman who was a prostitute, and Jesus loved her and she went to the desert for 40 days. And this is the moment where she has just come out of the desert. We could all relate to this story of a wretched humble person, who has had this transformative experience. I’ve chosen these two pieces because one of them is clearly sexy as hell, beautiful, stunning and immaterial. And the second is on the other end of the spectrum. But both of them have the relationship between concept and form as inextricably linked. Does that slightly challenge some of your thoughts about the connection between these two things?

E S Q : I am more drawn to pictures. N I C K H O R N B Y: That makes sense. As an editor, what you do is more narrative-based. But I’ve noticed by following you on social media that you like tech and you like materials. Because there’s a lot of material in the fashion world.  E S Q : I think art is supposed to inspire. Otherwise why is it there? When it comes to your medium, because it is sculpture, form must be important? As opposed to contemporary artists, which could just be a video playing in a room with scraps of paper on the floor. Form, or craft, is not as important as the meaning it’s trying to convey. Don’t you think?  N I C K H O R N B Y: I can’t separate them. I’ll show you two examples quickly. [Whips out his iPhone]. So one them is Constantin Brâncusi. He’s a French dude. He made a sculpture called ‘Bird in Space’. And this is about 100 years ago. It’s the most phenomenal sublime object. It is made in polished bronze. And it is polished to perfection. It’s not about imagining a bird in space. It’s about the concept of what a bird means. He’s trying to find the epitome of this concept. What I find fascinating is when you look at it, it feels unreal. It feels almost virtual, because you can’t see any scratch marks, any blemishes. You just see yourself in the polished bronze. Of course, the fun contradiction is, that mirror-efect came about through the bronze being worked by hands. He made the form immaterial through its materiality, which I find very fascinating. E S Q : And the second example? N I C K H O R N B Y: The other is Donatello’s ‘Mary Magdalene’ made

A closer view of one of the sculptures.

E S Q : A little bit, but they are both still sculptures. Again, with contemporary art, it could literally be a brick in the corner of a room. And that’s art, you know what I mean? No craft really. But it’s more about the story. N I C K H O R N B Y: Rest assured, my pieces are a real fucking pain to make.  E S Q : I can see! (Laughs) And you use quotes to name your work? N I C K H O R N B Y: I just named a piece this morning with a quote from Coco Chanel: “I never want to lean more heavily on a man than a bird”, and one of the sculptures in 5 Carlos Place is called, “Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief”, and that’s a Jane Austen quote. I like to find a quote that just happens to fit perfectly with my work. 

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E S Q : It imbues new meaning into the work, I feel. N I C K H O R N B Y: I think it does, yeah. E S Q : Tell us more about the pieces for 5 Carlos Place. Is it a statement about fashion being all about vanity? N I C K H O R N B Y: The black sculptures in the stairwell are composites of 19thcentury marble busts found in the V&A. And each one comprises three diferent heads. In the V&A, there is this court that is filled with busts. When I first went, I was really fascinated by the two diferent styles. One style is very idealised, while the other is more realistic. The landed gentry, the people who inherited lots of money and wealth, they wanted their busts to be very classical and idealised. Whereas the people who had made their own money—the lawyers, there was also a surgeon—they wanted their faces to be recognisable. They didn’t want it to be just their name and their house. They wanted people to look at the busts and go “That is XYZ”. And I found that fascinating. What I did was I took each head that fitted in with that narrative and I clustered them together. So I’ve made a series. It’s supposed to be a portrait of an archetype, rather than a portrait of a single person. E S Q : What is the best conversation you’ve ever had with someone about your work? N I C K H O R N B Y: Ah, I love when people say, “Oh my gawd, I can see an elephant.” (Laughs). People are funny. You have fascinating conversations with people who are in the art world and with people who are not in the art world. If anything, it’s more fascinating to talk to people who’ve been all over the world; they bring such extraordinary things. You’re much more refreshing to talk to than some art person. E S Q : Do you think good art should either reveal the artist or conceal the artist?  N I C K H O R N B Y: The artist is irrelevant. What matters is what you get from the work. E S Q : You’ve never thought, “I’ve put so much of myself in that piece”? N I C K H O R N B Y: I put nothing of me into my art. But in fact, all of me is in there too, but you can’t access me. You only access me through my life. I’m just contributing a small component to this big project, which is visual culture. And it would be really narcissistic for me to feel like I, as a person, need to be present in my contributions to the bigger project. In a party, I want to have some fun. But in a gallery, I want to be contributing in a serious way.


MaHB

Design

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Design

Renowned Australian interior designer David Hicks is one of the country’s finest when it comes to high-rolling luxury homes and lavish apartments. The modern maestro, who has worked on projects in Asia, the USA and the Middle East, has spent the past 18 years building a portfolio that’s the envy of his competitors. From mansions in the Hollywood Hills to multimillion-dollar penthouses in Melbourne, his thirst for modern design, an understanding of vintage quality pieces and an appetite for chic minimalism has proven a winning formula for the 44-yearold perfectionist. Hicks has an eye for detail, doesn’t fuss over trends and keeps his storytelling chic and eternally optimistic. There’s a soft spot for marble, an appreciation for clean lines and artwork is dotted in his final vision but never dictates the storyline. There’s bold antique lusting and mid-century curiosity in all he does—but just how they meet is the secret to his luxury success. Born in Darwin in 1974 [the year tropical Cyclone Tracy devastated the Australian city on Christmas eve], it was mere luck that Hicks wasn’t asleep in his cot at home at the time— instead he was with his parents and older sister in Perth visiting family for the festive season. His family relocated to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the following year and lived there until Hicks was nine years old. His father Ray had been working with a concrete pipe manufacturer in Darwin when it was wiped out by the cyclone and helped move the business to Asia thereafter. Being raised in the tropics certainly informed his design aesthetic—and while not immediately obvious—there’s a subtle line that can be drawn, explains Hicks. Growing up in an expatriate community in Malaysia, Hicks tells of becoming friends with the son of a British high commissioner and spending an afternoon sitting on the porch of their old white colonial mansion eating scones and fairy bread. “It was a surreal and amazing time. I remember his family had a silver Rolls-Royce pick us up after school one day and whisk us back to his family home for afternoon tea. We’d wait under the car port at school until the drivers turned up and called out our names,” recalls Hicks. His mother Gail was an architectural draughtsperson before she married and always maintained an eye for design and detail. She poured her passion into decorating their family home in Kenny Hills—where decorative screens and a wraparound verandah left an impression. “Living in Malaysia definitely influenced me, but not so much directly, it was more about being influenced by how mum decorated it,” says Hicks, who heads a firm in Melbourne. “We had a ’70s home, sort of like a version of a Californian bungalow. It was sprawling and all on one level. There were terrazzo floors and plenty of open spaces. It was very clean and simple architecture and mum decorated with an eclectic mix of items from Persian rugs to Malaysian antiques and contemporary ’70s sofas with pieces of the time. A lot of my interest in mixing styles came from her,” he says.“I loved the house I grew up in. It was very rigid and an organised space. In Asian design, everything is aligned and you have plenty of clear pathways. I think it’s fair to say I channel that regiment in my own and the decorative component from mum.” When his family returned to Australia in 1983, his mother opened an art gallery in Fitzroy. He was also reunited with his sister who had been in a boarding school in Melbourne. Being surrounded by his mother’s passion for art and conversations around design, Hicks knew from a young age he wanted to be an architect. “It was never a case of wanting to be anything else,” he says. “Ever since I was a kid I would construct my own elaborate cubby houses. And then when I did work experience in Year 9 at an interiors firm, I started to look at what happens inside as something that appealed to me more.”

David Hicks’ new luxury design tricks One of Australia’s most celebrated interior designers is taking on the world one luxury apartment

Words by Jane Rocca

and boutique resort at a time.

David Hicks established his eponymous design studio in 2001, taking on projects such as the Port Melbourne penthouse (facing page).

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Hicks graduated from RMIT with a bachelor of arts in interior design [honours] in the early 1990s, spent a few years working for others until he decided to open his own firm in 2000. “My business has slowly evolved over time,” says Hicks diplomatically. “When you’re younger you take more risks and are more daring in your approach. You also don’t care much about the money side of things. It’s the naivety that makes you succeed. I felt things started to turn around when I wasn’t perceived as the young newcomer anymore. I was happy to move into being seen as a mature and more established business and the work just kept coming in.” His aesthetic leans toward Italian classicism as much as it borrows from Nordic minimalism—it’s the converging of both that wins clients. When an LA client [an actress we can’t name] asked Hicks to refurbish her new purchase [and where Hollywood actress Ginger Rogers once lived], he didn’t think twice. The two-level 1920s home in the Hollywood Hills would get the Hicks makeover—where a nod to old-world glamour while remaining mindful of the home’s era all informed his final bigger picture. “They’re really into vintage in LA so you find lots of amazing antiques you don’t find anywhere else,” explains Hicks. “Working on that home was great because it was a lot looser and I could really have fun with the furniture. The palette was simple and warm and I managed to get a little old Hollywood and modern LA with it.” The home was decorated with artwork by German artist Thomas Wachholz, while pieces from Gucci and Christian Louboutin combined with authentic 1920s vintage furnishings gave it the ultimate starlike sheen. “Like most homes in the Hollywood Hills, there are a lot of stories about famous people who have lived in them before. While it’s a nice story, it’s not the crux of my storytelling. You could definitely tell someone creative had lived there prior, but I was about capturing a new vision for it too.” Gili Resort in Lombok, Indonesia is Hicks next pit stop. He is working on a luxury boutique resort where modernism takes a cue from local artisans too. The project, which is due to be completed next year, was delayed due to the earthquake that struck the tiny island in August. Luckily, none of the concrete build of the resort was afected, but many homes were devastated and the locals were impacted by the tragedy. “There aren’t many luxury places to stay on this island, so the resort is a nice segue into a remote way of life with all the beautiful trimmings,” says Hicks. “The resort is all about delivering upmarket villas with marble floors but is respectful to its environment. We have alung alung woven ceilings and woven wallpaper and handmade terrazzo flooring that we’re getting from the locals. It’s a place for people who don’t want to rough it, but want to go somewhere only accessible by boat. There are no cars on the island and you get around by donkey and cart. It’s a unique experience people are waiting for.” Meanwhile, back in Melbourne, Hicks is working on Albert Place with Gurner, where 120 luxury apartments will be built on the banks of Albert Park Lake [home of the Australian Grand Prix]. But instead of designing all the apartments, Hicks has been called in to work on 20 of the prestigious penthouse suites which start at AUD5 million, while the most expensive sits at AUD20 million and comes with a pool. “People are buying into a lifestyle, it’s not just a home they want anymore and they’re willing to spend a lot for the experience,” says Hicks of the demand for luxury. His clients include wealthy families from Singapore, Malaysia and China who send their children to Australia to study. “A lot of our apartment refurbishment work on St Kilda Road, Melbourne is coming from families who send their children abroad. They want a base for their children, somewhere nice with a view and a luxurious apartment that

Top: the clients’ love for France inspired the interiors of this South Yarra apartment. Bottom: Hicks gave this 1930s mansion on Struan St a complete makeover.

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Eclecticism is the order of the day, emphasising the relaxed, informal aspect of coastal living at this beach house in Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula.

they would be accustomed to in Singapore,” explains Hicks. “Luxury is a very big market for us. These apartments are bigger than houses and it’s a sign that people are willing to pay anything if it’s giving them the lifestyle they want.” In Dubai, the demand for bling is even bigger—and with a brief that covers contemporary, classic and Middle Easterninspired themes, Hicks has come up with three concepts for residential homes which will be sold via display home suites and sold to multimillionaires.

“Dubai is where it’s at for premium luxury,” says Hicks. “This is very high end where AUD15 million homes are being built by the hundreds. We don’t have to think of budgets, it’s amazing to get to work in this space and see that the demand is there and people won’t settle for anything less. This is where developers come up with concepts for multi-residential apartments and homes and engage teams of architects and interior designers worldwide. It’s an exciting format to work in—and proof you don’t need to be in the same city to make things happen.”

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Cars

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Cars

Of road, but not of course A sheltered Singaporean heads of to unsheltered South Africa and inds things are rather… diferent.

“South Africa isn’t like Singapore, it isn’t as safe. So don’t leave your phone or bag lying around. You leave it there, you turn around and it’ll be gone,” intoned a man, who randomly started chatting to me at the highway rest stop, in grave tones. This, along with dire portents coming from street signs warning of smash-and-grab hotspots, news stories of people being killed by local wildlife in remarkably diverse ways (up to and including death by girafe) and handy tips from the hotel to only walk in brightly lit areas at night. And one local I spoke responded “absolutely” to a question on whether he’s known of anyone who’s been a victim of crime. To my coddled Singaporean sensibilities, I found myself in a country where you can’t walk out at 2.30AM for a prata fix while wearing enough precious stones to rival a jewellery show and where the most lethal animal around is a flying cockroach. Of course, being an oblivious Singaporean is dangerous in South Africa. To be fair, so is being an oblivious Singaporean nearly anywhere else in the world. Then again, it’s all too easy to get lost in the stunning beauty of South Africa. It might lead to dangerous situations, like walking of a clif, or taking your eyes of the road because you’re driving past an amazing river valley. On that first point, that’s a very real prospect at Three Rondavels. Located around 400 or so kilometres north of Johannesburg, it’s a trio of peaks so named for their resemblance to the roofs of traditional huts. The Three Rondavels themselves can be found in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, and getting there is an adventure in itself. Of course, you could be boring and take the highway, but what you really want to do is drive along South Africa’s sinuous mountains roads, as I did. Along the way, you’ll discover, as I did, that South Africa’s terrain goes through a remarkable amount of elevation change. Particularly because Johannesburg and Gauteng, the province it’s located in, sits on the Highveld, a plateau with an elevation of around 1,500M. There are great expanses of flat grassland, but there are also great ribbons of tarmac cut into the sides of hills. Now, to most minds, the country is still flat, but this is coming from a Singaporean whose idea of a tall mountain is Bukit Timah. So anyway, elevation changes are good, because that means there’s plenty of great driving to be had. Yes, even in an SUV weighing some 1.8 tonnes, though it helps if the SUV in question is the BMW X3.

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Elephant, lion and a lonely road—BMW had it all figured out.

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Don’t believe what Madagascar tells you, it’s a lie. This means you could, if you have rotten luck, go all the way there and not see a single lion, rhino, cheetah or any other cool animal. But while South Africa has much to ofer in the way of natural splendour, it also ofers automobiles. Yes, really. Eight global brands make cars in South Africa for domestic, regional and international consumption. Including BMW, which produces the X3 I was just driving at its Rosslyn factory, which I also visited while in South Africa. The carmaker’s Rosslyn factory, while it’s a comparative outpost in the bigger scheme of the BMW Group (76,000 cars roll of the line every year, against the 376,000 cars the Dingolfing factory in Germany produces), is still every inch a modern automotive production facility. And because it’s a modern car factory, the assembly line floor looks clean enough to eat a meal of of and much of the heavy lifting—literally and figuratively—is done by robots. The painting process, for example, is completely automated from start to finish. Which is amazing to think about when you consider how no human hands have, um, had a hand in painting the X3 I’ve been driving. Even having a car factory is a far cry from Singapore. The only car assembled locally was Ford, and that stopped being a thing in 1980 when the factory in Bukit Timah ceased operating. And I’ll also wager Singapore doesn’t have a powerplant that turns the poop of some 30,000 cattle, plus other biowaste, into a source of renewable energy. Bio2Watt’s eforts, or more accurately, the 130 tonnes of waste per day it processes, fuels a third of the Rosslyn plant’s power needs, with plans to increase this to half in the next few years. Yes, Singapore also has recycling eforts in the form of NEWater, but that puts a completely diferent spin on ‘waste not, want not’. South Africa is certainly a far cry from Singapore, but then again, you’d kind of expect it to be. Plus, I didn’t get mugged/ trampled/mauled/bitten, so I’m thinking that counts for something in a country’s plus column.

Words by Daryl Lee

I’ve thrown a fair bit of shade at SUVs in general before, but the X3 is surprisingly agile. It doesn’t drive so much like a truck, but more like an oversized hot hatchback. It also helps that I spent a lot of my time in the xDrive30i M Sport variant, which adds, among other things, big wheels and big brakes to go with its 252hp engine—which gives this particular X3 more than enough real-world stopping and going power. What it won’t do, however, is handle any serious of-roading. As perfectly demonstrated by how I flatted both front tyres on a dirt road on the way out from Makalali Game Lodge, where I had spent a night. Though this wasn’t any fault of the car or the tyres. Lowprofile, roadgoing performance tyres aren’t the best pick for driving on hard-packed dirt, let alone for thrashing on unpaved roads. Going hot into dips and generally flinging the car about is most definitely not recommended behaviour. Then again, you’ll have to forgive my enthusiasm, because dirt roads are something we don’t get a lot of in Singapore—it’s common knowledge that the entire country is slathered in tarmac. Another thing we don’t get a lot of here is wildlife. People lose their minds every time they spot an otter, but in South Africa, you’re likely to see something far larger, and far more exotic. For instance, a girafe loping with its borderline surreal ground-covering gait across the plains, or a small herd of elephants having a mid-afternoon snack by the side of the road. Though it should also be said the more exotic examples of South African fauna aren’t roaming the streets of Johannesburg. For that, you’ll have to either travel to a private game lodge or to Kruger National Park. Unlike in a zoo, the animals there roam around free, not fenced behind enclosures. This is both good and bad, because you’ll get to see them up close and personal. An elephant browsing for food barely a few metres away is quite the sight to behold. Or, for that matter, a hyena carrying away some freshly killed prey. The only problem with free-range animals is they don’t exactly come out and perform on cue when the tourists roll by.

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Books

Doubting face value All clues will lead to somebody

Aristotle wasn’t fibbing when he declared that “the whole is something besides the parts” in Metaphysics. The human body is made up of tissues, organs and systems, but what diferentiates us is our character and personality. Everyone faces unique experiences in life that define us. Looking back at these encounters, we can unravel obscure traits which have unknowingly seeped into our identity. So rediscover yourself by heading down memory lane with these five books.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel Alexander Chee Penning an introspective memoir may seem daunting, but celebrated novelist Alexander Chee easily bares all in his first collection of non-fiction essays. Key moments in Chee’s life are explored—from college to cementing his profession as a writer. Ordeals aren’t amplified in this compelling set of writings that weaves through a recollection of peace and pain. Prepare to shed a tear, I did.

My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)popular Culture Guy Branum Labels, be gone. Gay stand-up comedian Guy Branum marches to his own beat and finds strength in Greek goddess Leto. The larger-than-life misfit then finds solace and inspiration from stage and screen underdogs during his journey towards self-acceptance. Along the way, Branum stumbled onto his passion despite enrolling into law school. Blooming from an ostracised zero to an entertaining hero, it does pay well to embrace the atypical.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain Silence is deafening, but only extroverts can hear it. To introverts, a lull provides a chance to absorb and digest what the former has said. Often perceived as aloof and shy, reserved individuals can surprise you with their capability to produce desirable results. Favour is often prematurely awarded to efective communicators without allowing the shy ones to prove themselves. So never judge a book by its cover and do read someone by their individual traits.

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing Merve Emre Do you identify with any of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality indicators after taking the namesake’s personality test? Merve Emre investigates the origins of the human type indicator created by a mother-daughter duo of amateur psychoanalysts. How accurate is each category’s set of traits and why do we identify with them? Sorry to burst your bubble but Emre highlights that the test is “not scientifically valid and has no basis in clinical psychology”.

These titles are available at Books Kinokuniya.

Nobody Cares Anne T Donahue In an era of selfies, social media and selfobsession, who genuinely notices what is happening around them? In a bid to stay afloat in a self-obsessed ignorant community, Anne T Donahue focuses her essays on confidence and surviving the pitfalls of adulting. Stop pining that loneliness kills; being alone can be empowering too. Go solo and take on the world without care.

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Words by Derrick Tan

you might know.


Still life

5|5

From left: technical knit high-top ‘B21 Socks’ sneakers, by Dior Homme; nylon and leather high-top Jaw sneakers, by Givenchy.

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Swipe up

Menswear in the details Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, local menswear outfit, Biro Company— founded by brothers Keng How and Kage Chong—share their brand ethos by creating an acrostic with our web address.

in 2013, Biro is a Singapore menswear label E stablished that’s made in Japan. This year marks our ifth anniversary Since 2010, when we irst decided to

a label, we travelled S tart across Asia to visit over 10

and we are taking the chance to recap and reintroduce the story and spirit behind Biro.

factories and fabric mills.

“MADE IN JAPAN, Our mum used to be a tailor. We spent three years on this From young, we enjoyed following her to buy fabric research and development jo and materials, watching her create a dress from scratch. Perhaps, this is how we developed a critical eye in the fash Many people ask, there are several convenient ways to produce clothing in a much cheape We use one of the world’s rarest fabrics— Tsuriami (Loopwheel)—which is produced The k in only a handful of factories on the southeastern coast of Japan. The vintage machinery rotates around cylinders to create layers and layers of cotton at a rate of 24 time

Q uality always takes

precedence over cost and eiciency.”

U

rney. If you do not have your own insistence on quality, no matter what good tools you possess, they are useless.

sense. We understand the importance of how small I ondetails contribute to the overall aesthetics of the apparel and nurture the value of craftsmanship in our hearts.

R and efective way, why choose Japan that is known for its high cost and slow manufacturing?

E y is always: minute, producing only one metre of fabric per hour. S per This results in a fabric that’s remarkably soft, durable and with a sturdy texture.

individuals who appreciate and G with understand what we do. bi ro comp any .com

We believe that our values are truly resonatin

The style of Biro is never-changing: understated elegance, and a minimalist approa

We hope that our products can stand the test of time, and n We aim to continue to create products that combine the skills of

in design that keeps the focus of the C hbrand on quality. After ive seasons, we hope O t just be trendy for the moment.that our irst collection is

M aster Japanese artisans

still refreshing and relevant.

with an international perspective to meet the desires of a new community of men who seek a deeper experience.

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