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June 2018 | £4.35

Style & Substance

Benicio Del Toro The thinking man’s Hollywood badass By Alex Bilmes Photographs by Simon Emmett

Luxury is the new rehab By Will Self

An artist’s epic romance By Miranda Collinge

And you thought Russia 2018 was corrupt... By Will Hersey

Plus Mercedes’ new supercar

Arctic Monkeys

Expensive furniture

Small watches

In praise of gin

Giles Coren, dad of a preacher man

Contents Regulars

Will Self p.24 This month, the award-winning writer’s anatomical survey is an affair of the heart

Giles Coren p.27 His latest sermon from the lectern of fatherhood cogitates on Jesus Christ as superhero

Object of Desire p.154 Not one but five objets for June as Louis Vuitton releases its first collection of men’s fragrances




Style Three perfect small-faced watches p.34 Jo Ellison on dressing up for summer p.36 The ultimate starting 11 in past World Cup shirts p.38 A revolutionary drink you’re going to love p.42 ‘New prep’ is the breaking trend in menswear p.45 The science behind Acqua di Parma’s scent p.46 A detailed case study of Rimowa’s ruggedly stylish luggage p.51 Everybody’s loving pink, says Jeremy Langmead p.53 The Italian coffee machine with the essence of Ferrari p.54 For a better short break just fly long haul p.56 Five exceptional gins to make premium G&Ts p.57 Arctic Monkeys’ slick image makeover p.59 Why are car names so absurdly baffling? p.60 The stripiest swim shorts p.61 Kit to waterproof your holiday p.62 Russell Norman’s seasonal broad bean salad

Gety | Dave Alexander | Danny Lowe | Lucy if Sharp




Contents Culture 74

Michael Jackson: On the Wall 60th birthday art exhibition p.66 What actually happened inside Studio 54 p.67 Investigating ‘The Truman Show delusion’ in real life p.68 The disturbing early years of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer p.69 Lily Allen is proud to have No Shame; Warlight, a new WWII-inspired thriller by Michael Ondaatje p.71 Documentary honours the football managing legacy of Bobby Robson; Father John Misty’s fourth album p.72 Lauren Groff’s torpid tales from oppressive Florida; McQueen, the film star (Alexander, not Steve) p.73 Rupert Everett on his Oscar Wilde homage The Happy Prince p.65




A remainder of one p.74 A 20m pyramid is coming to Hyde Park. Meet Christo, the artist creating the sculpture

Class of 2018 p.100 Look to the future in the season’s most stylishly framed sunglasses

The hook p.118 A showcase of clothes and accessories that are inescapably now

The dirty game p.86 How the 1978 World Cup festivities masked a reign of terror in host nation Argentina

Luxury Addict p.108 How best to quit smoking? Go cold turkey in the Cliveden House hotel, writes Will Self

Character studies p.124 Benicio Del Toro on his life, long career of badass roles, and that “fricking finger thing”

£26,000 for two chairs? p.94 The startling renaissance of Pierre Jeanerret’s coveted Chandigarh Indian furniture

The special One p.114 Mercedes-AMG’s astonishing Project One leaves all other hypercars standing in its dust

Summer in the cité p.138 A walk on the seamier side of Paris calls for the season’s softest, slouchiest tailoring

Simon Emmet | Christo in front of he Iron Curtain, Shunk-Kender © 1962 Christo


Contributors Simon Emmett p.124 Frequent contributor Emmett’s subjects for Esquire covers include Noel Gallagher, Tony Blair, Cara Delevingne, Paul Pogba and Sir Michael Caine. This month, the photographer and film-maker shot Benicio Del Toro in Los Angeles. “I was a fan before and I’m a bigger fan now,” he says. “He has a quiet confidence: he didn’t come across as having anything to prove. Cool, kind, charming, charismatic. The real deal.” Emmett’s work also appears in The New York Times and Vanity Fair.

Will Self “I’ve been a staunch opponent of luxury in the past,” says the novelist, broadcaster and Esquire editor at large, “because my contention is it can never, ever, ever be luxurious enough. Cliveden managed to assuage my inner Prince Charles by figuratively spreading myrrh paste on my gold toothbrush; while its staff’s psychic deference left me feeling regal enough to finally banish my 44-year addiction to nicotine. Huzzah!” Find Self’s unusual, supremely first world method of binning smokes on page 108.

Will Hersey “For 30 years now, I’ve been getting over-excited about World Cups,” says Hersey. “But I only recently learnt the dark story behind the 1978 tournament. With Russia hosting this summer, it’s a reminder the greatest event in sport isn’t just about what happens on the pitch.” Esquire’s content director shines the spotlight on Argentina ’78 on page 86, and also queries the more ridiculous names given to new car models in the Style section.


Subscribe Miranda Collinge “Christo has shown a determination and patience towards his life’s work that would make most Buddhist monks feel self-conscious,” says Esquire’s features editor. “Not that there’s anything monk-like about the man himself: he was a lively, argumentative and funny interviewee. The best kind.” Collinge met the 82-year-old artist as he unveils his London Mastaba sculpture on the Serpentine Lake — though her piece on page 74 shows he’s not done yet.

James Sleaford On page 138 find a masterclass on relaxed summer tailoring, styled by our man in Paris. “When you do a summer suit story you hope for sunny weather,” he says, “and on this shoot day it was so hot we had to hide in the shadows. The sun cast the most amazing shadows in the Paris streets, giving a very cinematic feel.” Sleaford is an Esquire contributing fashion editor. His work also appears in L’Officiel Hommes and L’Obs magazines.

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Cover Benicio Del Toro Photographed by Simon Emmet Wears White coton polo shirt by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture

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June 2018

Editor’s Letter

The editor. (Prior to ruling himself out of this summer’s World Cup on moral grounds)

on 14 may 1938, the england football team played Germany at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. It was five years into Adolf Hitler’s rule of the country, just two months since the German annexation of Austria. Prominently positioned in the crowd of 110,000 were Rudolf Hess, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering. As the German national anthem played before kick-of, the England players lined up and raised their arms in a Nazi salute. he order for them to do so had come from the Foreign Oice, which claimed to be acting in the interests of Anglo-German relations; this, our schoolboy history reminds us, was the period of appeasement of Hitler, under Neville Chamberlain. he players had protested against the idea before the match, it’s said, but been overruled. hey did what they were told, as footballers, for the most part, still tend to do. he blame lies not with them, not really, but with those who allowed them to be used as high-profile pawns in a geopolitical game that deliberately legitimised a regime that — while not yet in the full maturiy of its grotesque degradation — was already well on its way to levels of barbarism rarely previously imagined. The only possible message that could be taken from this display of respect and friendship to the German government (this was a “friendly” match, ater all): if Stanley Mathews and his teammates think it’s OK to play with Nazis, to “Heil Hitler”, then why shouldn’t every other reasonable English man, woman and child? It was a propaganda coup. he England players, willing or unwilling, were its stars. World Cup fever started early in my house, this year. This was thanks to our resident five-year-old football fanatic, who talks of litle else but England’s chances against Belgium in Kaliningrad on 28 June. Slim to none, I’ve warned Oscar, but he hasn’t yet been through the endless cycle of hopes idiotically raised and then bathetically dashed; he believes in the power of Harry Kane — who is, as he points out, almost as good as Kevin de Bruyne. “Daddy?” “Yes, Osc?” “How many days is it until the tweny-eighth of June?” “Er, let me see, Osc… 67?” “So yesterday it was 68 and tomorrow it’ll be…” “66, yes.”


“Daddy?” “Yes, Osc.” “’66 is when England won the World Cup.” “You’re right! It was. But don’t take that as an omen.” “Daddy?” “Yes, Osc.” “What’s an omen?” he wallchart went up in mid-April, with its delightful centrepiece of Cristiano Ronaldo captured mid-orgasm, having presumably just scored a goal, or possibly caught sight of himself in a mirror. It’s not positioned in some out of the way corner of his bedroom, but — to the quiet consternation of his mother and his older sister, who are less persuaded by the atractions of the beautiful game, and the Portuguese popinjay’s gurning visage — downstairs, by the back door, in full view of all of us, all the time. he Panini album — you know they hand these things out for free, like a crack dealer ofering complimentary samples near the school gates? — is separated from its staples already, thanks to Oscar’s constant flicking of its pages. I’m in the hole for hundreds of pounds in stickers — and we still haven’t had a snif of the man Oscar refers to, very properly, as “Neymar Jr”. (Got about eight Eric Diers, though, if anyone’s in the market for swaps.) Oscar’s love for football is pure: he sees drama, colour, excitement, adventure, triumph and disaster, and larger than life characters performing dazzling feats of almost impossible skill and daring. To coin a cliché, what’s not to love? He knows the World Cup is taking place in Russia, and as a result of that he can pronounce Kaliningrad and even Nizhny Novgorod: we’re playing Panama there, on 24 June, he tells me, having once again consulted the all-knowing Panini. Previously, his knowledge of Russia was limited to the fact that it is very big and very cold and has been in some wars — sometimes on our side, sometimes not. (He’s very interested in wars.) I’ve told him that Russia has produced some of the most amazing writers and artists and musicians and that it has an astonishing history, rich in drama, colour, excitement, adventure, triumph and disaster, all that stuf he likes. And he is impressed by this, a bit, as much as you can be if you’ve no real idea what a grown-up is boring on about and you just want to get back to your football stickers. The truth is, Russia is one of those countries that’s harder to get a grip on, if you’re five (or, indeed, 45) than the places Oscar is already sold on, like Italy — pizza, ice cream, Ferraris — or America — superheroes, hamburgers, Michael Jackson. (Massive Jacko fan; I blame the parents.) Would he like to go to Russia? He would. Why? To watch the World Cup, silly. Yes, but otherwise? Otherwise he’d rather go to Africa (lions), or India (tigers), or Brazil (rainforest), or Italy (reasons listed above) or France (Disneyland) or Japan (Disneyland) or America (reasons listed above, plus Disneyland). Russia? Far down the list. You are aware of the diference between hard and sot power. he present Russian government uses both. It invades sovereign states, sponsors the gassing of Syrian children and assassinations by poisoning on British soil. At home it jails critical journalists and political opponents, or worse. It holds sham elections. Also, it throws fun spory

June 2018

Editor’s Letter The England football team give the Nazi salute before kick-off against Germany in Berlin, 14 May 1938

would be reacting to its politicisation. It’s been said that such a boycot is a pathetic response to Putin’s criminaliy, and that he won’t care a jot if we don’t turn up. It’ll be our loss, the loss of football lovers everywhere, not his. But cultural and sporting boycots are deeply shaming to the regimes whose policies they explicitly protest. However, since it’s true that a World Cup without England might not be, if we’re honest, considered such a great loss to the competition, we could lobby others to join us. Italy and Holland are out already. But imagine a World Cup without them, and England, plus Germany, France, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. As I say, it’s not going to happen. Instead, our formal protest is to announce that Prince William, as president of the FA, won’t go to Russia. Worse still, for Putin, no British government ministers will atend. Honestly, how will the world’s football fans manage without them? Talk about taking the shine of the whole tournament. One can only imagine the howling gales of laughter that swept through the corridors of the Kremlin as heresa May outlined this uncompromising approach to international diplomacy. Of course, our Oscar and many millions like him would be guted if the World Cup didn’t happen. But I’m hopeful that when, years later, he came to understand the reasons why he was denied the thrill of watching us being taken apart by de Bruyne and Eden Hazard and the rest of them — the fact that kids his own age in the Middle East are being killed with their families — he might feel a tiny bit proud of that. England won that match in Berlin in 1938, by the way. It was 6–3. You don’t need a five year old to tell you that that is the precise definition of a hollow victory.

Alex Bilmes PA

parties that kids and their mums and dads can enjoy together, most likely from afar. Like Sochi 2014 and Russia 2018. here’s nothing new here. Despots are keen on sot power, as well as hard power. hey always have been. And the World Cup, like the Olympics, has always been there, to help them out. he Olympics, famously, was there for Hitler in 1936. he World Cup had been there for Mussolini, two years earlier, when the Italians won at home, and again in 1938, when the Italians won again, in France. Italian football as we know it today was basically invented by the fascists, as a propaganda tool. The World Cup was there for the murderous military junta in Argentina in 1978 — the focus of Will Hersey’s excellent piece, on page 86. hat was a shameful episode in the history of the world’s favourite sport, but for some reason the world’s favourite sport does not seem ashamed. Which is how the World Cup comes to be in Russia, this time. It’s there for Vladimir Putin, just when it suits him most. And it will be there again, in 2022, for the rulers of Qatar, to help them distract us from their delightful record on human rights. he England team didn’t go to Italy in 1934. Not for moral reasons. We were in dispute with the body that then organised it. We didn’t go to Argentina in 1978, either. Again not for moral or political reasons. We didn’t have the opportuniy to register a protest then. We hadn’t qualified. We were too crap. (Four years later, Britain registered a diferent kind of protest at the junta, by going to war with them over the Falklands.) It won’t happen, it will never happen, but this time we do have an opportuniy not to repeat the mistakes of the past. We could not go. We could boycot. his would not be the English FA “politicising sport”. In the sense that it has been used as a weapon of sot power, sport has been politicised since the Greeks. Fifa has politicised the World Cup, consistently, by allowing repressive regimes to stage it. Instead we


Will Self

Self Examination Each month, Esquire commissions an unsparing inspection of Will Self’s body. This month: the heart

my brother was in hospital last week for something called catheter ablation. He was under a general anesthetic for 10 hours, during which catheter-borne electrical gizmos were stufed up the arteries leading from his groin to his heart. When they got there, the gizmos began zapping (or “ablating” as it’s known technically) the cells in his heart that have run amok, and are causing it to beat irregularly. My brother has been suffering from chronic cardiac arrhythmia for a number of years, and it’s a testimony to just how stoical he is that he takes this “procedure” (as it’s predictably euphemised) in his stride. I very much doubt I’d be as sanguine: indeed, the thought of anything at all going wrong with my ticker fills me with what one of my sons once described — aged four — as “the death feeling”. Ach! Kids! Don’t they say the funniest things, especially before they’re old enough to feel Death’s bony digits poking between their own ribs. This being noted, for men of my age, class and nationality, the headline news on the heart — and all maters cardiac — has been consistently good for the majority of my life. True, during my childhood, to call a middle-aged male myocardial infarction a “heart attack” was something of a misnomer; a cardiac cliché would’ve been closer to the truth. What with their diet entirely comprising unsaturated fats, and their Mad Men-esque intake of booze and fags, for men of my father’s generation, the daily commute to their desk jobs was a veritable sniper’s alley. I remember seeing them most mornings, lying spasming on the pavement as I passed them on my way to school, tightly-rolled umbrella and copy of The Times cast to one side, their leather shoes kicking feebly at the privet hedges’ understorey. OK, I’m exaggerating — possibly for comic effect; but not much — the number of deaths from heart atacks really was stagering in those days, as they manifested around the world in a great Mexican wave of up-flung arms and downturned faces. First, rates picked up along the Pacific seaboards of Australia and America. Next, they rose across the rest of the continental USA, before, in the late Sixties, leaping the pond to plague Britain and western Europe. Indeed, “plague” may’ve been no metaphor: I remember chating to James Le Fanu, the contrarian medic and writer on maters unhealthy at some cheesy, winey do — it must’ve been around the time heart atack rates began declining in the UK and increasing in eastern Europe. Vigorously munching on a root vegetable crisp dipped in something polyunsaturated, Le Fanu had fulminated: “All this stuff about fat and heart disease, it’s a ypical case of statistical correlation, but no proof of causa-


tion. Whereas, if you examine the actual epidemiological data — the way the disease has spread geographically — there’s a strong case for some sort of virus being implicated.” An intriguing idea — it’d be almost like finding out cream-stufed cannoli were good for unblocking your own litle tubes — but I’ve heard no more about it. here certainly aren’t signs up in my local chemist, inviting the over-fities to stop by and get inoculated against heart attacks. What there have undoubtedly been is plenty more transplants, bypasses, ablations and other sorts of procedure that remind one — rhythmically, insistently — that the heart is the most mechanical-seeming of the major organs: a two-stroke engine of a body part, put-puting away at 60–100bpm, and thereby powering the entire odd-wobbly bubble of each individual human existence.

Photograph by Dan Burn-Forti

Will Self

Dr Christiaan Barnard’s performance of the world’s first human heart transplant, in South Africa, in 1967, was a landmark Frankensteinian event in my childhood: “Ippa dippa-dation, my op-er-ation!” we chanted in the playground, but it wasn’t our operation… yet. It was Louis Washkansy’s, who survived for 18 long days ater having his chest hacked open, his stopped clock removed, and another one, meticulously wound-up, inserted. My own Uncle Bob underwent major heart surgery around the same time; unsurprisingly, since he was indeed the creative director of a large Madison Avenue advertising agency. I remember him sending us a sort of schematic diagram, which showed how he’d been opened up then zippered back together again. It was a key moment for me: the point at which that childhood sense of undifferentiated “body stuf’ gives way to something more complex — and more terriying. I’d like to think of my brother’s “procedure” as just another form of what a mechanic friend of mine calls “cold engineering” — basically, either bashing at the thing with a hammer, or, if it’s fited with a microprocessor, turning it of and on again — but I fear it’s altogether more tricy. Look, I realise you might’ve expected me to discuss afairs of the heart under this very general heading. Ater all, for most people any talk of the organ calls our atention to its status as the world’s most vital metonym, but I’m afraid I’m not feeling it today. I mean to say, there comes a time in every man’s (and woman’s) life, when he realises that the pictograph on the Valentine’s card isn’t a realistic depiction. I’d wager that’s when our disillusionment really sets in, a factor not of actual romantic disappointment, but anatomical inaccuracy. “he heart is a lonely hunter,” is a ringing phrase and it made an excellent title for a steamy Southern novel, but I wonder how helpful such metaphors really are? I mean, you’ve only to transpose them to some other, less glamorous organ, for them to seem bizarre, if not disgusting. he lung is a lonely hunter? he gall bladder as well? I think not. No: the heart is a pump that drives the blood around the body, and its systole and diastole are the strophe and antistrophe chorusing in our tender ears: You. Are. Alive. You. Are. Alive… For now, at any rate.

The heart is the most mechanical-seeming of the major organs: a two-stroke engine of a body part, putt-putting away at 60–100bpm, powering the entire odd-wobbly bubble of each individual human existence 25

Giles Coren

Man & Boy Giles Coren on fathers (him) and sons (Sam, aged five). This month: for the love of Christ

at almost exactly the same time, a few weeks before Christmas last year, Sam got into Jesus and Kity, quite by chance, got into the Romans. You know, the way that kids get into things. I had long worried about where my children were going to get their notion of God from. I was brought up in a Jewish family but without religion, Sam and Kitty attend a school with agnosticism at the very heart of its ethos and my wife thinks mostly about dresses and shoes. But I think God is important, whether you believe in him or not, and that it is best for kids to start off with some sort of faith as a basis for their developing moral code, which they can later retain or reject as they see fit, according to the process of reason. So I was delighted that Sam kept demanding to be read the Nativiy story at bedtime. And when we had finished that, I pushed on through the New Testament (Usborne children’s version), by which he was completely gripped, especially by the feeding of the 5,000. Sam has an appetite on him, so he does, and there is no idea on earth as compelling to him as the idea of a botomless plate of food. He has filed the loaves and fishes away in his mind, I am pretty sure, alongside The Magic Porridge Pot and the giant’s lunch in Mr Greedy. Eventually, of course, we came to the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. On the basis of which, Sam decided that he hated the Romans. “Well, I love the Romans,” said Kity, looking up from one of her many ancient history books (at seven, she is the intellectual of the family and gives us all hell, every minute of the day, for anything she regards as lazy thinking). “The Romans built roads and bridges and loos and invented books and medicine and atlases and the letters we write with. Without the Romans, we would all still be cavemen.” “hey killed Jesus!” said Sam. “Well, they probably had a good reason. hey invented the law too.” “He was the Son of God!”

Photograph by Dan Burn-Forti


Giles Coren

Man & Boy “No he wasn’t. There isn’t a God. Ask Mummy. Or Daddy.” “You’re not going to go to heaven!” “I don’t want to go to heaven. Heaven is boring. I’m going to the Elysian Fields.” “Dad! Tell Kity that Jesus is the Son of God and the Romans are baddies.” And so, rather sooner than planned, came the moment when I had to explain that the Bible, like many books, and like a lot of ancient history too, is full of excellent stories that can be considered “true” without necessarily always being based in “fact”. And that some parts of it are truer than others. And that it is our job as readers to decide what is and what isn’t. (In later discussions, Sam would decide, for example, that somebody a bit like Moses probably did lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but that, on balance, Jonah probably was not swallowed by a giant fish.) And then I tried quietly to move Sam’s attention away from the New Testament towards the Old, because I’ve always thought the stories were better and ought to appeal to a boy more than the girly, turn-the-othercheekery of the New. But also because Sam, whom I circumcised and named ater his orthodox Jewish grandfather, is Jewish. Kind of. Just like I sort of am. And the Old Testament is our Bible. Sort of. Oh, I don’t know. It’s all kind of confused. I just wasn’t quite ready for my son to be an actual Christian. So I read to him about the Creation and Noah’s Ark and Samson killing Philistines with the jawbone of an ass and… “Is Jesus in any of these?” Sam asked. “No,” I told him. “I love Jesus,” he said. “hat’s lovely, Sam, but in the Old Testament there are giants and lions and whales and great batles!” “What giants?” So I read him the story of David and Goliath. “A cyclops could so kill Goliath! And David!” shouted Kity from down the hall. I told her to hush. “Is that true, Dad?” asked Sam. “Actually, no. I’m prety sure David could take down a cyclops.” “See!” shouted Sam, running up to Kity and sticking

his tongue out and going, “Nyah nyah nyah!” When he came and sat down again he said, “Dad?” “Yes, son?” “What about the Hulk? Could the Hulk beat Goliath?” “Well, now. I guess he could, yes.” “And Dad?” “Yes, Sam?” “Could David kill the Hulk?” “Um. Well, I think the original Hulk from the Sixties, as first conceived by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, would probably have been vulnerable to a slingshot, yes. But the one in these Avengers movies, who can knock down skyscrapers and jump into space, he’d probably give a small Jewish boy some trouble.” “Except that David would have God on his side.” “True, Sam. hat’s what the story is about.” “So God could smash the Hulk?” “Yep.” “Could he smash Superman?” “Yes, he could smash him, too.” “Could he smash all the Justice League and the Avengers put together?” “Without breaking a sweat, Sammy.” “And Dad?” “Yes, boy?” “What about Jesus? Could Jesus beat the Hulk?” “Hmm, Jesus I’m less of an expert on. I guess possibly not.” “Well, actually he could, Dad. Because Jesus is not just the son of God. He is God.” “Is that so?” I asked Sam, in genuine puzzlement. Because, as a Jew, sort of, I have never quite got to grips with the whole three-in-one thing. “Yes, it is,” explained Sam. “So Jesus could definitely smash the Avengers and the Justice League with only his litle finger.” “Right you are, Sam. If you say so.” “Except you know what?” “What?” “He wouldn’t. He would just be nice to them. And then they’d all have tea. And Dad?” “Yes, son?” “hat’s why I love Jesus.”

‘Dad, so Jesus could definitely smash the Avengers and the Justice League with only his little finger.’ ‘Right you are, Sam. If you say so’ 28

Edited by Charlie Teasdale and Johnny Davis

Stainless steel Big Crown Pointer Date 36mm automatic, £1,550, by Oris

— Grey melange linen blazer, £325; white coton shirt, £110, both by Gant Diamond G

It takes a big man to wear a small watch Watchmakers scale down for 2018 he big news in watches? hey’re geting smaller. In a trend that was perhaps inevitable, the pendulum has swung the other way. Ater years of manhole cover-sized diving watches on the one hand, and blinged-out chronographs on the other, a discernible direction at this year’s Swiss watch fairs was


towards smaller case sizes. It’s a throwback that makes sense; historically most watches measured under 40mm in diameter. he benefits are manifold: a smaller watch is more versatile, dressier, packs tons of charm and above all chimes with the times, where showpieces don’t need to shout.

Photographs by Dave Alexander


Stainless steel Calibre 39-52 39mm Automatic, £5,300, by Glashüte Original

— Beige linen suit, £790, by Gieves & Hawkes. Light blue ‘Summer Linens’ linen shirt, £195, by Turnbull & Asser



Stainless steel Luminor Due hree Days 38mm Automatic Acciaio, £4,200, by Panerai

Fashion assistant: Emie James-Crook | See Stockists page for details

Tangerine coton-silkcanvas suit, £4,300; grey wool sweater, £560, both by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture



We asked the fashion editor of the FT what to wear this summer. And she said… a suit? By Jo Ellison

Wear a tie to sports day; dig out that ill-sized suit; be bold in your boring oice blues. Hell, put on a tie clip…

Top let: oice shirt and loose grey summer suit with (again) sandals at Louis Vuiton Let: navy boxy-cut oversized blazer with faded jeans and brogues at Balenciaga


What smart guys are wearing this summer: light khaki coton summerweight suit sotened with a long-sleeved T-shirt and open sandals, all by Hermés

might seem at first alarming, be assured this season is one of the most accessible yet. Even the most extreme ideas this summer can be unpicked to your advantage. For example, if you were to do nothing other than wear a simple blue-striped shirt this summer you would be bang on trend: the standard oice shirt — long banished from fashion as the dusy, fusy counterpoint to the millennial T-shirt — was given renewed allure by Louis Vuiton, Junya Watanabe and Loewe. Just make sure it has long sleeves. Likewise, with tailoring. Yes the bagy, oversized blazers at Balenciaga were a litle outré, but at the base of “dadcore” is a persuasive argument for relaxed tailoring and the relevance of the summer suit. What’s wrong with a summer suit? Absolutely nothing. Why would you strugle with a silly slogan T-shirt, or hybrid sports pants, as has been so much the syle of late, when a perfectly sensible, smarter, age-appropriate solution is right there in front of you instead. Fendi’s “Sype” look — shirt and tie on the top half, shorts down below — was conceived to maximise one’s productiviy while working on a tan. I’m not sugesting anyone should wear a tie with swimwear, but Silvia Fendi’s relaxed take on the workplace-to-weekend look, with its unmatched jackets and trousers, madras checks and easy wearabiliy, had a grown-up nonchalance that looked prety good. he same at Hermès, which featured the most approachable palete in the world — rust, navy, khaki and blue. Geting dressed this summer is a breeze. So, wear a tie to sports day; dig out that ill-sized suit; be bold in your boring oice blues. Hell, put on a tie clip. Why not? Corporate syle has rarely been so fashionable. And if anyone asks why you’re wearing shorts with calf-high socks and your Chelsea boots, it’s not because you’re a conservative scaredy-cat who can’t work out your summer footwear, it’s because you saw it on the catwalk at Dries Van Noten, and it’s really deadly cool.


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Gentlemen, what will you be wearing this summer? A cursory glance at the catwalk ofers all kind of propositions. You might want to slip into a Prada boiler suit, for example. Just the thing to make that post-work transition to the pub. Or, perhaps, the jazzy, metallic jacket is calling you — choose from gold and shiny at Berluti or Dolce & Gabbana, or, at Armani, burnished bronze. How about a fringed and hooded quilt coat, as seen at Craig Green? Too directional? Fatherly ypes will no doubt be taken by Balenciaga’s triple-layered trousers, a garment made in banded denim and leather, to be worn belted nice and high on the waist. What do you mean you’d rather not? Don’t you realise that the whole collection, designed by Demna Gvasalia, was inspired by dads, just like you, seen playing with their kids in the park? It’s no surprise that ordinary men have a collective nervous breakdown when it comes to thoughts of seasonal fashionabiliy. Or just go into flat denial. To the casual male observer, men’s fashion seems like a cruel and arbitrary riddle, teasing with its clues and impossible to solve. Instead of trying to extrapolate the codes of the season, to sort its simpler truths, many just ignore it altogether. But even while this summer’s fashions

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Strip tease > he 11 greatest World Cup football shirts Denmark, 1998 heir 1986 kit might be the coolest thing ever to grace a football pitch (especially on Michael Laudrup), but how can we deny Peter Schmeichel and his ravey garms?

England, 1982 here’s been a lot of dross (we’re looking at you 2002), but there’s been some gold, too. Recent kits aren’t as hideous as they could be, but nothing bests this tricolour Admiral number.

Germany, 1990 he meticulously Teutonic sweep of the flag, the Bauhaus brutaliy of the colour blocking, and those enormous wings. Pure Germanic brilliance.

Argentina, 1994 It was too painful to include the Maradona 1986 “Hand of God” strip, so here’s the one from the equally iconic ’94 tournament, when everything went a bit... Colombian.

Croatia, 1998 Everyone’s “second” team, there isn’t a soul — not one — who doesn’t love the red-and-white chequers of Croatia. And this could even be their year! (It won’t be.)

Cameroon, 2002 Some people hate the vest, we happen to think it should be hung in the annals of football shirt history, but not if it has the Comic Sans squad numbers. hat’s going too far.

Lucy if Sharp

All shirts, plus many more, available at



Mexico, 1994 We thought about including one of Jorge Campos’ insane goalkeeper shirts, but they’re a bit on the wild side. So here’s the shirt that graced the shoulders of Mexican great Hugo Sánchez.


France, 1998 Amazingly, France’s second-best kit came just four years ago at the last tournament in Brazil, but like the team itself, you simply cannot beat the 1998 home shirt.

Nigeria, 1994 It’s the mid-Nineties, Definitely Maybe is about to be released and Jay-Jay Okocha is hurtling through midfield in this emerald number. What a time to be alive.

Soviet Union, 1990 How you achieve that motled, spatered red paint efect we don’t know (and we’re not going to ask), but it’s a thing of beauy nonetheless.

Brazil, 2002 So many variations on the yellow and green, and the various blues are mega too. But this came accompanied with that tut of hair on Ronaldo’s head, so how could it be overlooked?


“Boss, I’ve found a company in America that claim to have created a drink that severely lessens the ater-efects of drinking alcohol.” “Right…” “It stops you geting a hangover, apparently. I want to get drunk, test it out and write about it.” “OK, but you need to get really drunk.” “Sure thing, boss.” So I got really drunk. he kind of drunk that takes a full day to arrive. A sweay, sad drunk that comes from wine at lunch, beer in the aternoon and gin in the evening. I ate only crisps. Normally, I hit something of a wall ater a few hours; the floor spins, everything becomes just out of reach, and if anything more goes in then there’s a good chance it won’t stay in for long. But this was work, and I’m a hard worker, so the drinks kept coming.

he most important drink you’ll swallow this summer Can hangovers from hell finally be put to bed by a toxin-busting new cure? By Charlie Teasdale

Earlier in the day, I’d spoken to Rosy Zhao, who works at 82 Labs in Los Angeles, the drinks company behind Morning Recovery. I asked questions about its efectiveness, whether there were any side efects and if there was a limit to how much I could drink before it was redundant. If I stayed up all night on the Dubonnet and sodas, could the potion have me square for a 9.15am breakfast meeting? “I think you’re trying to figure out the relativiy of how much you’re trying to take the pain away, right?” Somehow, over the phone from over 5,000 miles away, she had looked into my very soul. But, yes, I wanted to know the limits of its succour. “You’re not going to feel 110 per cent [the morning ater], but it will get you to 80 per cent,” asserted Zhao. he drink uses electrolytes, vitamins, amino acids and Hovenia dulcis (DHM), a Japanese raisin tree extract that is used as a remedy for liver ailments (and hangovers) throughout Asia. It speeds up the liver’s abiliy to flush out toxins. So it’s best taken while you’re drinking, or within an hour of your last drink, which I deemed the best option. My usual pre-bed, anti-hangover prep consists of a pint or two of “London springs” and a couple of Nurofen. But this time I simply pulled my chilled Morning Recovery from the fridge, slung the 100ml of slightly viscose, peachflavoured elixir down my gullet and got into bed. Did it work? Yes! (And no.) Seven or so hours later, the sun streamed in on me, and I was hungover. But the familiar post-boozing fog wasn’t as thick. I was slugish, but my insides felt clean, like a chip van ater an oil change. I had a small but very real headache, but I’d say that I was at 60 per cent. Less than Zhao had promised, but not bad. “It’s not an energy drink,” she had explained, “you’re waking up with the intention of an absence of something,

‘hree more large ones for the road!’: John Goodman, Will Ferrell and Alec Baldwin as hard-drinking salesmen on Saturday Night Live, December 1998


versus a kick. So people are a litle confused.” Would I use Morning Recovery again? Probably. Maybe at a festival or something, but I’m not going to bank on it swating away the backlash of an eight-Martini dinner. I’m a firm believer that you get the hangover you deserve, and if you can’t handle the punishment, don’t commit the crime. “If you actually want to feel something physical, then that would be associated with drinking.” I’d asked Zhao if Morning Recovery would have any efect if you hadn’t already consumed alcohol. But I think she hit upon a wider truth. Booze is the great, visceral leveller, and the “something” isn’t anything without the nothing that comes ater. £54/12 botles (100ml each);


Lucy if Sharp | Gety

he familiar post-boozing fog wasn’t as thick. I was slugish but my insides felt clean… I had a small but very real headache

he Beach Boys in Oslo, Norway, 1982

Green/white coton-nylon bomber jacket, £520, by Polo Ralph Lauren

School’s in > Enough with all the seriousfaced fashion, it’s time for something fresh — ‘new prep’. By Charlie Teasdale Black leather horse-bit loafers, £455, by Gucci @ Mr Porter

Red/blue/white coton rugby jersey, £185, by Tommy Hilfiger Collection


Irreverence is quite rare in fashion. Recently, and perhaps more than ever, there is irony and homage and pastiche, but not much leviy. And understandably so; if you spent £2,000 on an anorak featuring the logo of a courier company, and someone in the street asked you to deliver a parcel, you probably wouldn’t see the funny side. Enter what we’re terming “the new prep”, a way of dressing that puts scruiness and impertinence to the fore. It’s equal parts square-jawed collegiate, Californian surf bum, Eighties tennis hero, nerd at the prom, Hooray Henry and south London skate rat. Clearly, it’s a broad spectrum, but like the coolest people, the best trends are hard to define. Key components are bright or pastel colours in blocks or panels, a loose (but not oversized) silhouete and the subtle subversion of garb normally reserved for stufy, moneyed ypes; rugby jerseys, buton-down oxford shirts and cricket jumpers, for example. You need the correct trainers — Vans slip-ons, Converse One Stars and Adidas Originals. Alternatively, go for horse-bit

Of-white/orange cotonmix baseball socks, £18, by You Must Create

Frank Ocean at the 2013 Grammy Awards, Los Angeles, California

Tan/green/white striped coton webbing belt, £35 by Gant

loafers or chuny boat shoes, something your dad might wear to play skitles. Trousers are generally wider than average and cut to finish just above the top of your foot in pale chino or washed-out denim, allowing visuals of your shoes and socks, which should preferably be white and striped with a pop of colour. Importantly, you must mix up the traditional way of wearing items. hat rugby jersey could sit below an old suit jacket, with half the collar skewed up, and you could even sling that cricket jumper over your shoulders, but that might be a step too Partridge. Shorts are a must. And T-shirts can feature right-on slogans as there’s an ethical undertone to new prep pioneers. Golf, the label founded by rapper Tyler, he Creator, has a “save the bees” motif on a series of garments, while ethically-responsible Noah has a line featuring Anti-Nazi League logos. he later is one of the key exponents of the new prep, it ypifies the trend perfectly. “Part of it is based in classic, almost preppy dressing,” explains Noah founder Brendon Babenzien, “but it would be unnatural for that to be the only influence. I like the mash-up of super classic with touches of uniqueness that people bring to it. It’s like the kid who wears a uniform to school, and once school is out, he’s still got on his trousers and shoes, but takes of his shirt and reveals his favourite band T-shirt.” hat’s it in a nutshell. It’s about collage and fun and a nonchalance that fashion has been missing of late. So start mixing things up, and stop taking yourself so seriously.

Pale green and pink summer suits from trend trailblazer Noah

Pale khaki coton chinos, £130, by Alban

Lucy if Sharp | Gety | See Stockists page for details

Maroon/white canvas slip-on trainers, £55, by Vans Navy/yellow/red wool cable-knit jumper, £395, by Gieves & Hawkes

David Hockney photographed in his studio, 1971



What a scent looks like > he science behind a luxury fragrance

Lucy if Sharp | See Stockists page for details

Launched in 1999, Acqua di Parma’s Cipresso di Toscana, the first of its fresh, lively Blu Mediterraneo line, quickly atained cult status. But despite its populariy, the scent was discontinued in 2012 to make way for new additions to the collection. Admirers of it did not forget, though, and thanks to the persistence of fans like Mats Klingberg, founder of London’s Trunk Clothiers, the


fragrance is set for a glorious return this summer. Here, Paola Paganini, Acqua di Parma’s product development and innovation director, breaks down the fragrance’s six key ingredients, to explain what makes it so efective. Blu Mediterraneo Cipresso di Toscana, £98/150ml, by Acqua di Parma







Star anise




“From the same family as lavender, lavandin is less soapy than lavender, although still fragrant while adding a subtle hint of rosemary to the scent.”


“Spicy with liquorice undertones, it’s from a plant grown in the eastern Mediterranean. It’s a bridge between top and botom notes, bringing harmony to all the ingredients.”

“A tree resin that is oten used in aromatherapy. It is peppery with green, spicy notes and a distinctive citrus undertone that is both fragrant and masculine.”

“A tree found along the coast of Tuscany, it possesses a strong scent with notes of balsamic, salt and sea breeze. It brings energy to the fragrance, and a sense of clean air.”

“Works in perfect harmony with lavandin. We source it from shrubs growing close to the French Riviera. he proximiy to the sea adds an earthy, saly and very aromatic qualiy to the herb.”

⑥ Orange and petitgrain “Oranges from the south of Italy are zesy and a litle sweet. We mix them with petitgrain oil from leaves and flowers of biter orange trees. hink of it as the flower of citrus.”

Words by Finlay Renwick Illustrations by Evan M Cohen


Making the case > For more than a century, Rimowa has atracted a certain class of world traveller. New CEO Alexandre Arnault is set to expand its horizons. By Jon Roth


Photograph by Tuukka Koski


“When someone travels, they travel with their most precious belongings. Clothing, jewellery, presents. hey need to trust the suitcase they are carrying. hey need to know that no mater what, it will protect what is inside, and it will never break.” hat’s Alexandre Arnault talking. At 25, he is the new co-CEO of Rimowa, a company you know by its products if not its name. Rimowa’s suitcases — boxy, corrugated, usually a cool, brushed aluminium — are instantly identifiable on bagage carousels around the world, telegraphing a no-nonsense German approach to engineering. A lot of bags ofer either convenience or good looks. Rimowa aims higher, for function and design. Arnault’s age makes him a beter candidate for a tech start-up than a lugage empire, but he’s had exactly the right training. He’s the son of Bernard Arnault, who heads up all of LVMH. Born into a multinational luxury empire that counts Dom Pérignon, Berluti and Dior as assets, the younger Arnault could come of as a son of fortune handed a company as an inheritance. But then you realise that Alexandre Arnault knows exactly what he’s talking about. “Rimowa was perfectly positioned as a pure player within an industry in rapid expansion,” he says, explaining the logic behind LVMH’s £504m purchase. “he travel sector is due to increase from 3.8bn to 7.2bn passengers over the next 20 years.” Arnault isn’t a spoiled heir or a Silicon Valley disrupter. He’s a millennial, and a savvy one. He knows that this latest, spendy generation is all about experiences. And what do you need for your next experience? A bag that will hold all your stuf, look good doing it, and never break. Arnault is hardly starting from scratch. Rimowa has been in business for more than a century. he company was founded in 1898, the brainchild of Paul Morszeck, who manufactured ultralightweight wooden suitcases. Decades later, his son Richard took control. In the hirties, a fire destroyed the family factories in Cologne. housands of wooden suitcases were reduced to ash, but in the ruins, Richard found a silver lining — or at least one of a similar metal. he timber had burned away, but the factories’ aluminium stock — used to reinforce the suitcases and protect their corners — remained intact. He used the material to make new cases: stronger, lighter and more resilient ones. It was such a good idea, they renamed the company ater him. (Rimowa is a polysyllabic crunch of Richard Morszeck Warenzeichen.) In the Fities, Rimowa continued to push

Rimowa suitcases are ruged, lightweight and waterproof, thanks to their corrugated aluminium shells


Alexandre Arnault, new CEO of German lugage makers Rimowa

technology, this time introducing its trademark grooved design — a corrugated ripple, engineered for greater durabiliy and inspired by the Junkers F13 airplane. And in 1976, Rimowa went waterproof with its Tropicana line: a collection of cases resistant to heat, humidiy and cold as well as water. It was a boon for film, TV and photographic crews looking to protect their equipment in extreme conditions. he lugage became a fixture on shoots around the world, expanding Rimowa’s range of influence. Last year, LVMH saw that the company might be due for an infusion of new blood. Cue the courting, the factory visits, the purchase. Cue the installation of Alexandre the wunderkind, who’d studied at Télécom ParisTech and the École Polytechnique. He’d already worked on digital strategy and investments at his father’s holding company. And he happened to speak fluent German. He moved to the company’s Cologne headquarters immediately and started making the rounds. “he bigest surprise for me was the level of atention to detail in the manufacturing operations,” he says. “Seeing how obsessive the workers were about every suitcase — that made me feel confident and proud.” Chief brand oicer Hector Muelas is more specific: “It’s not just engineering; it’s German engineering. hey’re incredibly proud, in every sense. Precise, technical, focused — very determined. It takes 117 minutes, it takes 205 components and 90 separate steps to build that suitcase.” hat rigorous approach should pay of now as Rimowa hits several banner years. Last October, the company celebrated the 80th anniversary of its aluminium cases by exhibiting the lugage of its most loyal (and high-profile)


customers. Suitcases arrived on loan from Karl Lagerfeld, Virgil Abloh and David Fincher. In December, Rimowa launched a pop-up shop in Los Angeles. (Arnault was in atendance, as were Pharrell and Alessandra Ambrosio.) And as the company enters its 120th year, Arnault hints at global store openings, product redesigns and fresh collaborations. (Already it’s created a suitcase with Fendi, another LVMH propery.) But success isn’t as simple as some creative cross-promotion. Rimowa is revamping as new competitors have hit the market: lugage startups such as Raden and Away feature similarly minimalist design, plus tech-friendly features like USB chargers and location sensors. Two years ago, Rimowa made its run for digital dominance with the E-Tag — an electronic-ink panel that allows customers to check in and track their lugage via an app. Muelas sugests Rimowa’s new competition might just help it in the long run: “hey’re telling customers, ‘Hey, you should care about your suitcase.’ he diference is whether you want to buy the design object du jour or an investment piece that’s going to last a lifetime.” Arnault is banking on that longeviy: both the institutional expertise of a historic company and the physical strength of its product. Rimowa’s pieces take on a patina over time. “Aluminium has personaliy. It acquires character,” Arnault says. “he stickers, the dents, the scratches: the suitcase becomes well-travelled with you.” It’s not the sort of sentiment you expect to hear from someone barely out of universiy: a commitment to tradition, reliabiliy and authenticiy. As Arnault continues remaking Rimowa, it’s clear he’s got a tight grip on the values that mater most.

Above: new aluminium shells and frames await assembly in one of Rimowa’s factories Right: a 2018 collaboration with Supreme produced a 45l carry-on and an 82l suitcase in black or red


he corrugated aluminium used on pre-WWII Junkers aircrat (a Ju-52 trimotor, below), inspired Rimowa’s tough grooved metal lugage




In the pink > Flamingo, bubblegum, rosé — whatever your preferred shade, one colour will dominate summer 2018. By Jeremy Langmead Who would have thought that one of the best-selling colours for men last summer was dusy pink? Well, it was. It was such a success that it looks as if it will top the colour charts again this summer, since all the designers have hit on the hue once more. here are shades of dusy, neon, pastel and flesh pink on everything, everywhere. Come rain or shine, it seems we’ll all be looking exceedingly pink and pery. Well, perhaps not pery. However delectable the colour may be, it can be a tricy one to wear; especially when nearer the dusy end of the spectrum. I’m wearing a pale pink sweatshirt as I write this column. I’m a method writer in case you didn’t know. I don’t write this page, I live it. he sweatshirt is coton jersey, a great fit, and is by Holiday Boileau, the brand owned by the editor of French Vogue’s husband. So far, so good. here are, however, two small downsides. One is the fact it says “Holiday” across the front. Nothing wrong with a cheering slogan at all, except that I’m siting at my desk, in an oice of around 800 people, on the top floor of Westfield London shopping centre in a smogfilled corner of Shepherd’s Bush. You couldn’t really get less “Holiday” than that (even if you’re siting on the terrace of the new John Lewis café with a botle of juice and a straw). Clearly, my sweatshirt is telling a damned lie. Second problem is that the dusy pink colour efortlessly matches the pale, sun-deprived flesh tones of my face; it’s tricy to tell where my neck stops and my clothing starts. I look like a giant finger with a face drawn on it. Does anyone remember the old TV show Fingerbobs? here’s a reason why there was only one series. It’s no surprise men have wholeheartedly embraced the colour, of course. First of all, we’ve been fearless about bold colours and paterns for yonks now. Grrrr! we say when someone throws a pastel in our direction today. Pop into the changing rooms downstairs in the Gucci store on Bond Street and it’s heaving with firefighters and farmers from the Home Counties salivating over bright pink sweatshirts with pictures of teddy bears on the front, or knitwear emblazoned with pictures of Snow White. here’s a particular shade of pink — the aforementioned fleshy one — that has become so fashionable it’s even been given its own name: millennial pink. And it’s not just covering clothes, but entire restaurants and McMansions, too. he dining room in London’s popular Sketch restaurant in Mayfair, designed by the artist David Shrigley, is plastered in pink walls and banquetes, and newspaper propery pages recently reported that multi-million pound mansions at the top end of the market strugling to sell were suddenly finding buyers if they replaced their neutral Kelly Hoppen-syle colour paletes with a lick of millennial (or million-ial) pink paint. Ask the experts why and, predictably, they’ll bring up the subject of gender politics, Brexit, Trump and the Pink Pound (I made that up), the realiy is more likely that it shows up


well on Instagram. And, unless like me you’re wearing your dusy pink in that bucolic-sounding triangle of concrete between Shepherd’s Bush, Wood Lane and White Ciy, pink is a colour that conjures up sundrenched holidays in the Balearics: think early-morning beaches of San Antonio litered with flesh-coloured condoms; or the rain-spatered bins at the end of Cheltenham Ladies Day overflowing with plastic beakers of blush Prosecco; and that happy interim colour between pink and pale brown that you spot halfway down the doner kebab rotisserie and pray to God won’t end up in your takeaway carton. I suppose the world is so bleak at the moment, the tastemakers have decided we all need a lick of millennial paint to cheer us up. It will help if we look at everything through rose-tinted spectacles, or through the botom of a glass of rosé, or while wearing a pale pink sweatshirt that says “Holiday” across the front.

Hot pink (from top): variations of the shade on the catwalk in collections by Gucci, Oliver Spencer and Giorgio Armani; pink pioneer David ‘he Hof’ Hasselhof in TV’s Knight Rider (1982–’86)


KBG 741 cofee machine by Moccamaster — Brews consistently at 92–96°C — Full carafe in six minutes — Holds temperature between 80–85°C — Exclusive auto-adjusting dual-phase hotplate — Auto shut-of ater 100 minutes £190;

he ultimate refuel Get your motor running with the Ferrari of cofee machines


It’s bold, flash, arrives from Europe in Gallo yellow and there the comparisons with Ferrari do not end. For the Moccamaster is surely the supercar of cofee makers: going from zero to full pot in six minutes, this handmade, freestanding, semi-automatic machine screams qualiy and has been acclaimed by design and cofee aficionados. It maintains a precise temperature of 92–96°C, and looks like an absolute beast in otherwise bland environments (ie, your kitchen). Made of solid aluminium, it comes stamped with certificates from the European Cofee Brewing Centre and the Specialy Cofee Association. Described to Esquire by one restaurateur as “our chef’s best-kept secret”, Simon Lewthwaite of Caravan Cofee Roasters agrees. “It’s perfect for preparing cofee at home, hosting groups or using in a café. Add 500g of ice to reservoir, 60g of cofee and 500ml of water for brewing and it makes an epic cold cofee for summer.”

Words by Johnny Davis Photograph by Dan McAlister


Way back in 2003, my co-founders and I launched Original Travel with what we felt then (and still do now) was a rather clever idea: the “Big Short Break”. Until that point, a long weekend away most likely meant a few nights in Paris, Barcelona or — if you were feeling particularly adventurous — New York. We all subconsciously realised that what our dear departed AA Gill once called, ypically succinctly, “an espresso break” could provide us with a short sharp hit of otherness, but the options just weren’t there. Enter three blokes with an idea in a spare bedroom and a list of new flight routes, and

the world was suddenly our oyster. Everywhere we offered had to work from a flight perspective for maximum experience from minimum time of, but the key factor had to be “bragabiliy”. Was the guy at next door’s desk on a Monday morning going to die a litle on the inside when you tell him you’d just been mushing your team of purebred Siberian huskies through the snowy forests of Swedish Lapland at the weekend? If yes, job done. Fiteen years later, we ofer much, much more but our Big Short Breaks remain hugely popular because when executed perfectly they can make it feel like you’ve been away for

a week or more without having to tackle an email mountain on your return. Joy unconfined. So, here are a few ideas for Big Short Breaks emphasising long haul destinations. Before we start, though, a few basic principles: to make the most of the long weekend you have to hit the ground running on arrival, so try to adapt to your destination time a day before, or push on through with a big first night. Secondly, it really helps to turn let on the flight because a few hours kip in the poiny end of the plane can make all the diference, especially on the return leg if you want to look/feel even half human as you walk into work.

Overnight sensations > For the ideal short break, go long haul. By Tom Barber



Holden Rhodes | Gety

Where first? Look no further than the quintessential long-haul long weekend destination, Cape Town. Overnight flights both ways and minimal time diference mean that even though the flight is a good 12 hours you’ll arrive ready to take all the Cape can throw at you. Eat incredibly well (and cheaply, relative to the UK), drink exceptional local wines, cage dive with great white sharks, trek up Table Mountain (tablemountain. net) and stay in the stupendous new Silo Hotel (, stufed with contemporary African art, in the buzzy Waterfront neighbourhood. Tick.

Camps Bay ofers Cape Town residents and visitors golden sands and a tidal seawater swimming pool right on the edge of town


Next there’s Hong Kong, where the expat communiy still pary like it’s 1996 and China has yet to regain control of the territory. he flights ain’t so easy as Cape Town as you’re flying west to east across several time zones, but on arrival the ciy’s sheer energy will guarantee a second wind. Eat the world’s best dim sum, drink in some of most jaw-dropping syscraper bars imaginable, see the ultimate laser show illuminate the harbour (ideally on board a junk) in the evening, stay in the revamped and iconic Mandarin Oriental ( and repeat for three full-on days before a late night flight that lands

Hong Kong, a ciy that both works and plays hard, has a soaring syline that dominates both shores of the famous harbour

in London in time for work the next morning. OK, with an eight hour-ish flight there burning a day — not ideal on a holiday allowance-scrimping weekend — Washington DC is still worth it. Trump’s town (at time of going to press) is a hive of intrigue, gossip and power plays at the best of times, but the current administration is pure theatre. Pull up a front row pew at any of the many drinking dens where wonks and policy-makers in the world’s most powerful nation plot and pull their hair out. Get fresh air on a kayak paddle along the Potomac River flowing through town, before the red-eye flight back to London.

In Washington DC’s historic Georgetown district, find setler homes, art galleries and artisan cafés alongside the Potomac River


his summer, raise a glass or two to the resurgence of gin, once the tipple of pink-cheeked old dufers — and no one under 65 — but now, once again, Britain’s favourite spirit, having last year overtaken its nearest rivals, whisy and vodka. Gin’s versatiliy and appeal to artisanal producers has surely helped: Waitrose has doubled its range of locally sourced brands, and most decent pubs stock a range of qualiy botles. You may fancy giving it a go yourself: the world’s first Diploma in Gin course opened at the Edinburgh Whisy Academy, of all places, in March. Failing that, here are our recommendations for mixing premium G&Ts.

Ginvincible! > Celebrating the spirit of summer





Roku (Japan, 43% ABV) he House of Suntory has long wowed the whisy world, but it’s spent the last three decades refining a gin. It uses six Japanese ingredients: yuzu citrus fruit, sakura (cherry blossom) flower and leaf, gyokuro and sencha teas and sanshō pepper. Yes, it’s a bit odd when you try it, but it’s also refreshing and packs a kick. he recommended garnish is fresh ginger — don’t query, just do. £30/70cl;

Inverroche Amber (South Africa, 43% ABV) his gin gets its colour from shrubbery found along the Western Cape. Broad like an oay wine, the warmth of tofee and orange rounds it of. Garnish: orange. £40/70cl;

Le Tribute (Spain, 43% ABV) Made on the Catalonia coast by the same family-run company as Gin Mare, this gin has a citrusy taste with a lemongrass zing. In a snazzy art deco botle to boot. Garnish: grapefruit. £38/70cl;

Elephant Aged (Germany, 52% ABV) his one matures European and African botanicals in oak until rich and spicy (and strong). A portion of proceeds goes to conservation charities. Garnish: red apple. £52/50cl;

Chapel Down Bacchus (UK, 41.2% ABV) he award-winning Kentish winemaker is turning its discarded grape skins into gin. Clean, refreshing and best enjoyed with Schweppes. Garnish: cucumber. £35/70cl;


Words by Rachel Fellows Photograph by Adam Goodison

Lucy if Sharp

Recommended (above)


Bet they’d look good on the trading floor Arctic Monkeys hope you like their new sartorial direction. By Simon Mills Way, way back in the dim and distant days when provincial English guitar bands could still stake a claim for pop-cultural dominance (2005), Arctic Monkeys arrived as the last of a dying breed: the saviours of rock ’n’ roll. hey had the tunes — potent single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” went straight to number one, back when going straight to number one meant something — and they had the look: market-bought anoraks, unbranded polo shirts and borstal boy fag-holds. Or, as Alex Turner’s lyric had it, “classic Reeboks, or knackered Converse, or tracy botoms tucked in socks.” By the release of AM, their fith and best studio album, in 2013, they’d moved on. he music now embraced hip-hop beats and Seventies rock. he look was swagering, sneering Link Wray twangers in leather jackets and flamboyant Gram Parsons shirts. hey had quifs and Cuban heels and legy girlfriends. hey looked like the real deal. hey were the real deal. Now, here they are in 2018, launching the oddly titled Tranquiliy Base Hotel & Casino. Not so much Arctic Monkeys any more as Turner, Helders, Cook, O’Malley and Partners. Not so much a rock ’n’ roll band as a louchely atired bunch of corporate finance hotshots, Euro hedge funders caught between a threeMartini dinner at Sexy Fish and a night of Champagne carousing at Loulou’s. Here in the real world, we may still be in the grip of economic austeriy but the Arctics are all gussied up for boom time: four Le Rosey-schooled art dealer Wasps from Manhatan whose age, tonsure and tailoring might provide cougar supermodel Heidi Klum with fresh quarry for the coming summer. But the Monkeys aren’t the first band to choose business over pleasure when it comes to clobber. Like Turner & Co, Heaven 17 come from Sheield. With two members once part of the Human League, a collective of slide show operators and synth-twiddlers who — in their early days at least — were properly odd and genuinely countercultural, in 1981 Heaven 17 chose to move on from lopsided


Monkey businessmen: the made-over Turner & Co, top, follow suit ater Heaven 17 and Dexys Midnight Runners, below

haircuts and songs about alienation, swapping South Yorkshire post-industrial dystopia for images of hatcherite entrepreneurialism and go-geters with ponytails. heir debut album, Penthouse and Pavement, was illustrated with paintings of the band members doing deals, taking phone calls and looking at sales graphs, in a brave new world of glass and steel syscrapers. hey dressed like yuppies in Paul Smith suits and butoned-up shirts. “Play to Win”, was one song title. If you were a teenager and had less than a tenner to your name, all this was most confusing. Four years later, in 1985, an even more dramatic luxury rebrand took place, when Dexys Midnight Runners, previously best known for a Romany/ragamuin look of dungarees and neckerchiefs, launched their Don’t Stand Me Down album dressed as sharp-suited Wall Street traders, in Brooks Brothers pinstripes, with proper shoes and even socks. And suspiciously clean hair. he album, somewhat ironically, proved to be a disastrous commercial flop. But then the Eighties was the era of power dressing, when pop musicians as diferent as ex-hippie Eric Clapton, gender-bending Seventies shapeshiter David Bowie and once purist neo-mod Paul Weller, in his new Syle Council guise, all succumbed, at least temporarily, to the allure of the smart business suit. Will Arctic Monkeys’ decision to go from Sheield scallywags to Square Mile accountants appeal to the market? And, indeed, “the markets”? he smart money says yes.


It’s a numbers (and letters) game Car names are becoming more complicated and confusing than the Wandsworth one-way system. By Will Hersey

Why has it become so hard to keep track of car names and denominations? And more importantly, which numbers and leters now ofer up the best option for pety oneupmanship in the Asda car park? he problem could be age, of course. As a kid, when men across the country still spent their Sundays tinkering under their “motors”, mainly to avoid having to do any household chores or parenting, it seemed easy. A leter “I” for injection on the back of your boot was the minimum requirement, with extra points kicking in if combinations like GT or CS were in there somewhere and local hero status for the revered “Turbo” suix. Back then it was the biger the number, the biger the engine. Simple times. But as carmakers added new model sectors like ciy cars, SUVs, performance tuning sub-divisions, hybrid engines and future-facing electric versions, it’s now easier to memorise the human genome than it is the Mercedes-Benz A to S Class system. All manufacturers seem to have their own baling combination of alphanumerics, alongside made-up words which appear to have been signed of during hot Friday


aternoon meetings when Alan’s leaving drinks were about to start. his year, Jaguar launches the E-Pace and I-Pace to add to the F-Pace. he E-Pace is a smaller version of the F-Pace but while E might sugest electric to you, it isn’t. hat’s the I-Pace. he “I” being a hangover from iPod perhaps, and adapted by multiple industries to imply innovation. Volkswagen is going one further and has just announced it’s changing its entire logo to herald in the new electric era. It’s all a long way from the Ford Model A, where it all began. Basically, we’ve gone through the leters. We’ve gone through the numbers. We’ve gone through the animals — Mustang, Panther, Jaguar, Cougar, Impala, Stag, even Beetle. And we’ve gone through most of the silly names, too; Vauxhall Adam, Mitsubishi Letuce and the recent Ferrari LaFerrari (proof that no brand is immune), come high up that particular list. We still have the made up, of course. his year, the luxury SUVs Lamborghini Urus and Rolls-Royce Cullinan lead that category. And there is still some hangover from the old days, the leters “RS” currently being the most bragable thanks to Ford, Audi and others producing crazily powerful engines under its umbrella. It’s a badge that can still get men in fleece jackets taking photos in motorway service car parks. Perhaps we atempt a Soviet-syle renationalisation of car names. Small, Smaller, Smallest. he Fast One. hat kind of thing. At least some manufacturers aren’t taking it quite as seriously as others. For Tesla, Elon Musk always wanted a Model S, a Model E and a Model X, but Ford spoiled his schoolboy gag by blocking copyright on the Model E. He went for the Model 3 instead.

Initial reactions Top: in the Eighties, Volkswagen’s iconic hot hatch the Golf represented a golden era of car names Above: a cheey Audi campaign poster from New Zealand in 2013


Wake up to summer In a pair of striped swim shorts


Multi-coloured recycled polyester, £95, by Paul Smith

Navy/blue herringbone print polyamide, £160, by Vilebrequin

Navy/beige polyester striped, £115, by Saturdays NYC @ Mr Porter

Pink/white striped-jacquard polyester, £110, by Hacket

Heather grey/white nylon-blend, £140, by Onia @ End Clothing

Blue/red striped nylon-polyester, £140, by Solid & Stripe @

Orange/white coton tailored, £160, by Frescobol Carioca

Lucy if Sharp | See Stockists page for details

Blue/white striped coton, £25, by Marks & Spencer

Blue/navy/pink striped polyester, £170, by Derek Rose @ Mr Porter


Graphite Kindle Oasis E-reader by Amazon he bigest, toughest Kindle is also the best. Audible audiobook playback included. 32GB model, £260;

Black Envaya Bluetooth portable speaker by Denon A compact speaker with oversized sound, so rain won’t kill the pary. £170;

Mate RS by Porsche Design Huawei Called the most high-end phone on the market: it comes with a 6in OLED screen, wireless charging and fingerprint recognition. £1,500;

Splashing out > Luxury items designed to work on land or water

Stainless steel 44mm Superocean Heritage II Chronograph by Breitling A serious — and seriouslooking — diving watch with vintage tone-ontone counters. £3,250;

Red TG-5 camera by Olympus Waterproof, shockproof, ruged 4K-shooter that’s great in low light. £420;


Photograph by Will Bunce Set design by Zena May Hendrick


“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” — Dr Hannibal Lecter, he Silence of the Lambs (1991) Nature has its way of warning us when we are in danger. he black and yellow stripes of a wasp are so efective a signal to stay away that we have replicated them in the human world, too: health-and-safey “Caution wet floor” signs, “Police do not cross” tape — and Ali G’s tracksuit. he fact that SpongeBob SquarePants and Lady Gaga also favour black and yellow is further proof, if it were needed, that this is a colour combination that signals danger.

Red is similarly foreboding. It means stop (just look at traic lights the world over) but it also means, “Eat this and you might die.” he poisonous dart frog of Central America certainly communicates this rather efectively with its bright red back. And a single bite of the red-gilled mushroom known ominously as “Satan’s Bolete” will efectively turn your stomach inside out. Buon appetito! Green, however, is good. It symbolises life and vitaliy. It is the colour nature decided to give to chlorophyll, that miraculous chemical that causes all plants to resonate with the frequency that sits right in the middle

he Accidental Cook > Broad beans. By Russell Norman


Photograph by Dan Burn-Forti


Serves four

Ingredients • 1.5kg fresh broad beans, podded to yield about 380g • 10 breakfast radishes • 200g very good feta cheese • 200g fine, herby salad leaves, washed and dried • Large handful mint leaves • Quarter clove garlic, peeled and extremely finely chopped • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil • 1 tbsp lemon juice • Heaped tsp Dijon mustard • Flay sea salt • Ground black pepper

Method ① Put the podded broad beans into a saucepan of boiling water for one minute only. Drain in a sieve and run under very cold water until cooled. One by one, pinch a small hole in the membrane of each and push the bean within out into a bowl. hey should pop out satisyingly. Set aside. ② To make the dressing, put the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic and mustard into a clean empy jam jar. Add a good pinch of salt and a good twist of black pepper, screw the lid on very tightly and shake vigorously over the sink until completely combined and emulsified.

of the rainbow. We call vegetable sellers “greengrocers” and even abbreviate the edible plant kingdom to the simple word “greens” when talking about eating them. here is something inherently healthy about the colour green and, in the spring and summer months, my kitchen, fridge and dinner plate tend to be full of food of this hue. Broad beans (or fava beans as they are known in Italy and the US) are such a wonderfully vibrant expression of greenness that I look forward to their arrival each year with joy and anticipation. Once podded, they tend to look a litle dulled because of the white membrane that surrounds each pulse, but pinch it of and, hey presto, there’s a beautiful bean inside that is even more verdant than the bright green casing from which it came. heir grassy, nuty flavour is enhanced by


a litle blanching. his is not really cooking, it is simply teasing them out of their shell and helping them to be a litle less coy. Like peas, broad beans do tend to disappear as you pod them; the temptation to eat them raw while you work always proves just a litle too great. But they are a glorious summer ingredient, have a long season and are so versatile that I enjoy them well into September. he following delicate dish is a perfect showcase for the tender, young broad beans of June and can be served as a starter or as a light lunch on a warm day with a glass of cold, crisp Gavi di Gavi. Much more appropriate than chianti. Just beware of wasps. Russell Norman’s new cookbook Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking (Penguin Fig Tree) is out now

③ Place the salad leaves into a very large mixing bowl. Using a speed peeler, very thinly slice the radishes lengthways allowing the slivers to fall into the bowl. Roughly tear the mint leaves and add those too. hrow in the broad beans and roughly broken-up feta. ④ Pour the dressing into the mixing bowl and, using wooden salad tossers or your hands, very gently turn all the ingredients over several times until evenly coated. Carefully distribute onto four wide plates and eat immediately.



SAATCHI GALLERY, LONDON SW3 22–24 NOVEMBER To preregister for the event visit

Film / Music / Books / Television / Art

Culture ‘Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson)’ 2009, by Kehinde Wiley, based on a Rubens work circa 1630, from the National Portrait Gallery’s summer show, Michael Jackson: On the Wall

Edited by Miranda Collinge



The King of Pop Art The National Portrait Gallery gives props to Michael Jackson in its blockbusting new show There is no way that the National Portrait Gallery’s summer show is not going to be a hit. For starters, it’s about Michael Jackson, whose endlessly replicated, manipulated and dissected image is almost as intriguing as his music. Also, it features the works of some phenomenal artists who have made art featuring the King of Pop, from Andy Warhol and Isa Genzken to Graham Dolphin and Kehinde Wiley. Then, it has been timed to coincide with what would have been Jackson’s 60th birthday in August, when all those single-gloved, fedora-sporting diehards will be looking for ways to pay homage. (And it’s called “Michael Jackson: On the Wall”. Hats off!) Of course, there’s lots to be said about Jackson’s image — how he used it publicly to blur boundaries of sexuality and race in what could be interpreted as acts of bravery or, by some, of betrayal. And how he was fascinated, and perhaps tortured, by it in private — just two months before his death from an overdose of prescription drugs in 2009, 1,390

personal items from Neverland Ranch were auctioned, unearthing all kinds of crazy portraits which he’d had commissioned, from Jackson as an Arthurian knight with Lisa Marie Presley as his maiden, to Jackson as Peter Pan, airbrushed on the hood of a golf cart. Such art represented a kind of wish fulfilment for Jackson, or perhaps delusions writ large. This show, which is organised with the Jackson estate, will surely concentrate on the fun side of the Jackson story — the colours! the creativity! the kitsch! — so don’t come expecting any bubbles to be burst. (Also, no Bubbles: none of the four editions of Jeff Koons’ famous ceramic sculpture of man and chimp were available for the show.) However, do expect an exploration and celebration of an iconic figure who continues to influence artists of all generations all over the world. — Michael Jackson: On the Wall, 28 June to 21 October, The National Portrait Gallery, London WC2H;

One-club men The bromance behind legendary nightclub Studio 54 makes for a surprisingly affecting doc

‘Michael Jackson: Thriller (Black and White)’ by Graham Dolphin will also be on show


We all know something about Studio 54. Probably you’ve seen photos of Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Mick Jagger and Grace Jones lolling about on the sofas at the legendary nightclub on Manhatan’s Upper West Side. Or you’ve seen that one with Bianca Jagger on a horse. You might even know that it was created by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, the later of whom now owns a slew of luxury hotels across the world. But what


Night people: Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol and Halston hold court at Studio 54, 1978

Quote of the month

Adam Schull

Mary Pilon on Olympic sailor and ‘The Truman Show delusion’ sufferer, Kevin Hall

you might not know, and director Mat Tyrnauer’s engrossing new documentary reveals, is that it was a nightlife legend that was founded on glamour and greed, yes, but also on a very rare kind of friendship. Both born in Brooklyn, Rubell and Schrager met when they became fraternity brothers at Syracuse University, where Schrager studied law and Rubell finance (from what happened later, it seems they may not have had too firm a grasp of either). Having cut their teeth puting on elaborate bar mitzvahs, they decided to try their luck with a venture in Manhatan in a disused TV studio. Thanks to an impressive level of research and chutzpah, in 1977 they opened what would become — and has in fact remained — the most famous nightclub in the world. Tyrnauer’s film, with its pulsing disco soundtrack and deeply knowledgeable talking heads — everyone from the club’s feared doorman Marc Benecke to Schrager

himself — gives a vivid sense of just how fun a night at 54 must have been (if you could get in, of course) with all the models, eccentrics, celebrities and stimulants floating around; as one interviewee has it, “the amount of drugs was profound”. It also suggests why, in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam, and before the Aids epidemic, its existence was possible, perhaps even necessary. But more affecting still is the portrait of Schrager and Rubell’s friendship, and what occurred when the ordure hit the fan. Which it did, in epic quantities, and largely brought on themselves; if you don’t know the story we won’t spoil it here, other than to say that narcotics, fraud and prison all played a part. And yet through it all, the introverted Schrager and the larger-thanlife Rubell, who died in 1989 from Aidsrelated complications, managed to sustain a friendship that was steadfast. — Studio 54 is out on 15 June

“He loved how deliciously vivid everything felt now that he was in The Show: the music more harmonious, the food more savoury, the breeze more refreshing, even the bark under his fingertips more crisp and satisfying. In so many ways, it felt as though things couldn’t possibly get any beter. Then the cops showed up.” It’s one thing suffering from a bipolar disorder, but it’s another to suffer from “The Truman Show delusion”, a condition in which you believe you are the star of your own TV show and reality is constructed fiction. But try adding to that, as Kevin Hall did, the fact you are an Olympic and America’s Cup sailor and also, from time to time, on TV for real? No wonder the poor guy got confused. In her new book, The Kevin Show, former New York Times reporter Mary Pilon does an excellent job of describing Hall’s experiences and inhabiting his condition, which oten occurred at deeply inopportune moments such as the one above, when he jumped from a tree hoping to convince a terrified passerby to play Ophelia in what he thought was a new Shakespearean plotline, or when helping recover the body of his Artemis team-mate, Andrew Simpson, who died in 2013 on a practice sail in San Francisco Bay. (Hall convinced himself the death was staged.) All extraordinary, but no laughing mater. — The Kevin Show (Bloomsbury) is published on 13 June



Fine young cannibal My Friend Dahmer is a clever, unsettling film about the teenage years of one of the most prolific serial killers in history

If looks could kill: Ross Lynch and Sydney Jane Meyer in serial killer biopic My Friend Dahmer

Lily in the pink Lily Allen’s new album might be therapeutic for her, but we all feel the benefit

We all know that as musicians get successful, their well of experiential inspiration starts to dry up: no one ever wrote a good song about the difficulties of finding a reliable pool boy. But if Lily Allen ever feared she’d be short of material ater her 2006 debut album, Alright, Still, which sold 2.5m copies, hurtled her into the nation’s consciousness and has kept her there more or less ever since, then her newest album, No Shame, finds her with subject mater to spare. She’s had kids, got divorced, and even had to deal with a break-in by a stalker, but Allen’s git, as it has always been, is not for blustering, gothic narratives but exploring the curiously quotidian. And so 68

there’s “Apples”, a painfully spare account of the breakdown of her marriage, or “Three”, in which she imagines how her young daughter would have felt at the time (it also contains the world’s first lyrical usage of “papier-mâché fish”). Kitchen sink never sounded so sweet. But despite the domestic strife that occupies her conscience, Allen is still a major musical player, as she proves by calling upon both old hands, like Mark Ronson who produces two tracks, and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, who writes and co-produces another, and also new collaborators to ensure her sound stays fresh. Her catchy comeback single “Trigger Bang” featured Giggs, and airy

number “Higher”, co-writen with her boyfriend grime MC Meridian Dan (he of “German Whip”), is another highlight. More than anything, though, the appeal of No Shame is Allen’s own personality, which pushes through the album with unashamed, uncompromising verve (though her voice is also underrated — her flutery top notes are as prety as Joni Mitchell’s). It might not make her the easiest person to live with, as she’d probably be the first to admit, but it makes her a valuable presence in today’s music pantheon and this a welcome return. — No Shame is out on 8 June (Polydor)

My Friend Dahmer words by Emmét McGonagle | Warlight words by Rachel Fellows


Opening with a cat carcass on a country road in Ohio, writer and director Marc Meyers doesn’t shy away from the truly disturbing urges that ripple through the mind of soon-to-be murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, aka “The Milwaukee Cannibal”, in his new film, My Friend Dahmer. Yet despite what you might expect of a film about a boy who would go on to use the skull of one of his murder victims as a masturbatory aid, these twisted moments are few and far between. Instead, My Friend Dahmer brings empathy and pathos to the circumstances behind the inner-workings of a sociopathic recluse, and the emotional tailspin that led him to murder 17 men and boys before his arrest in 1991. Based on the bestselling black-and-white graphic novel by the killer’s high school classmate John “Derf” Backderf, the film follows Dahmer (Ross Lynch) as he atempts to fit in — despite his obsession with dead bodies — briefly finding solace

as the mascot for a group of tearaways (including Backderf) who deem themselves “The Dahmer Fan Club”. However, his dependency on alcohol, brought on by the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, exacerbates Dahmer’s transition from strange to sadistic as he struggles with his murderous urges. Young Dahmer functions as more of an extra than antagonist for much of the film, though the brilliantly docile Ross Lynch still commands atention as he hovers uncomfortably in the background. If you’ve come for gore and gristle, prepare to be disappointed: that era of Dahmer’s life begins ater the end credits roll. Instead, Meyers offers a meticulous portrayal of a deeply disturbed teenage recluse on the brink of a normal life that will ultimately and definitively elude him. — My Friend Dahmer is out on 1 June

What we do in the shadows Michael Ondaatje’s new novel is a masterclass in suspense and understatement

Warlight (Jonathan Cape) is published on 7 June

We probably can’t conceive of what warlight would look like. Not really. Not in this era of constant and relentless illumination, with its headlights and tail lights and billboards and shop windows and smartphones. But nightfall in wartime London was dark. Properly murky. With only the muted glow of emergency vehicles making their way through town. It is to this that Michael Ondaatje, esteemed author of The English Patient, alludes with the title of his new novel: a hushed world of shadows, in which all manner of surreptitious activities can be obscured. Much like William Boyd did with his 2006 novel Restless, the Sri Lankan-born Canadian writer — who has picked up a Booker Prize and Order of Canada in a career that has spanned 40 years and counting — questions how it would feel to learn, well ater the fact, that your parents had been involved in espionage during World War II. Would previously perplexing details suddenly start to make sense? Would it give you a sense of relief, or of anger? We follow Nathaniel, an archivist with the Foreign Office, as he recollects his adolescent years and tries to piece everything together, starting when his parents absconded in 1945 leaving him and his sister Rachel to the care of their mysterious lodger, about whom they feel certain of litle other than their nickname for him (“The Moth”, based on his “shy movements”) and that he is some form of criminal. Other enigmatic figures punctuate their existences, which Nathaniel reconsiders

with the benefit of hindsight and the classified documents to which his job affords him access. But none remains more so than his mother, whose shadowy life and death Nathaniel compulsively atempts to understand. Ondaatje’s novel flits from period to period, remembering with that war-lit haziness which blurs out general detail for the specific. (This kind of focused but fragmentary remembering is also, it should be noted, a symptom of trauma.) We rarely know what anybody looks like other than an outline, nor can we picture the buildings or objects, except those that pierce the membrane of Nathaniel’s memory: carpets in an empty house he snuck into with a girlfriend, or the sardines that he was given for dinner one eventful night. Warlight is a subtly thrilling story. Not, despite its setting, because it seeks to grip like a spy novel, but because of the powerful atmosphere Ondaatje invokes of unease, disquiet and the unknown. It’s a masterful book, even if those looking for answers might, like Nathaniel, have to accept a more subtle resolution.



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Bobby dazzler A documentary about Bobby Robson reveals a manager who knew how to make others shine

Most biopics need light and shade. Ideally, they track the life of an individual of exceptional talent and Shakespearean flaws, who achieved greatness with monumental set-backs along the way, and ended in triumph or ignominy. Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager, a new feature-length documentary directed by Torquil Jones and Gabriel Clarke, is no such story. Instead, it shows a man of remarkably warm and robust character, buffeted by the winds of fortune, or rather the whims of high-level football. Which comes with a poignancy of its own. The film opens with Robson’s discovery in 1995 that he had a malignant melanoma in his sinuses, a diagnosis which for most people, his doctor tells us, would mean that “two to three years would be good”. Not Bobby though: nine months later he took over at Barcelona. If this is meant to set out the stall for what kind of a man Robson was, then the film goes all out to prove its thesis. How, in the Eighties, his reign at Ipswich Town got them named “best club in Europe”; how, in 1990, he led England closer

Gaffer on tape: Sir Bobby Robson at St James’ Park during his tenure as manager of Newcastle United (1999–2004)

to World Cup glory than they’d come since 1966, and how he breathed life into an ailing Newcastle United in his final managerial position in the early Noughties. The lows, when they came, were oten imposed on him — his unceremonious ousting from Barcelona, the media hounding preceding his exit from the England job and, of course, the disease that ultimately killed him. But the love that emanates from those interviewed, from

Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Pep Guardiola and a tearful Paul Gascoigne is undeniably touching. Even José Mourinho, for many years Robson’s right-hand man, temporarily sets aside his sneer. Far from being a flaw, Robson’s niceness, this film suggests, was his singular strength. — Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager is out in cinemas on 31 May, available digitally on 1 June and is out on DVD on 4 June

The fog clears On his emotional fourth album, musical flâneur Father John Misty gives us glimpses of his real self Whatever you think of him, Father John Misty, the alter-ego of 37-year-old Josh Tillman, is always excellent value. His absurd lyrics, stand-offish persona and inability to buton his shirt have won him flocks of fans. Yet, his fourth LP, God’s Favourite Customer, showcases a more vulnerable side — a departure from the satirical jibes of his previous album Pure Comedy.

The tongue-in-cheek Misty is still very much in evidence on single “Mr Tillman”. It’s a funny track — lacing his story of a less-than-ideal hotel stay with winding chord progressions and an absent-minded whistling interlude. However, the likes of love-sick anthem “Just Dumb Enough to Try” opens the doors to his sincere side — that is, until we reach a synthesised trumpet solo.

God’s Favourite Customer is as close to earnest as Tillman has ventured since his 2012 debut, Fear Fun. While one would hesitate to call it a wholesome album, it’s nice to know there’s a hopeless romantic somewhere beneath all that facial hair. — God’s Favourite Customer is out on 1 June (Bella Union)



Feel the heat

Alexander McQueen with model Shalom Harlow at the designer’s SS ’99 ‘Show 13’, London, September 1998

Lauren Groff’s short story collection shows why she’s one of America’s most vaunted young writers All manner of ominous creatures crawl through the pages of Lauren Groff’s short story collection, Florida: snakes drip from roofs, crocodiles lurk in swamps and lizards “frill their red necks and do push-ups on the sidewalk” or else “pulse their tender bellies against the screens at night.” It’s a bizarre sort-of tribute to her adopted state of Florida, where storms, sinkholes and constant, sweltering heat provide the backdrop to 11 stories about various misfits: the shy boy brought up by a snake-hunting father; the heartbroken student who becomes voluntarily destitute; the lonely woman facing down a biblical downpour with a glass of wine. But there’s a reason the author of 2015’s Fates and Furies (among Barack Obama’s favourite books, fact fans) is regarded as one of the most original voices in literature today. She is an example of writers who can do everything — dialogue, structure, the throb and hum of inner life — so brilliantly. The result is so heady and evocative, you’ll be wating away imaginary heat waves and checking your room for scaly threats as you read it, while Florida’s cast of lost, sad and sometimes cruel characters will stick with you far longer. — Florida (William Heinemann) is published on 7 June

Darkness rising A new documentary about designer Alexander McQueen hints at drama to come No one needs to be convinced of the genius of Lee McQueen. Since his death in 2010, the work of the designer behind Alexander McQueen has been widely showcased and celebrated, not least in the V&A’s Savage Beauty exhibition in 2015. Which means that the task let to McQueen, a documentary by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Etedgui, is in some ways simpler — not to make a case for his importance, but to explain quite how he came to be (and then sadly, not).


Really, it’s astonishing. McQueen was a tubby young boy from London’s East End, who took up tailoring at his mother’s suggestion and soon found he had natural flair. Fast-forward through Central Saint Martins, a transformative friendship with fashion maven Isabella Blow, a controversial stint at Givenchy, and some of the most outlandish and memorable catwalk events the fashion world had ever seen, and it’s a rags-to-riches story of the highest order.


Q A Do the Wilde thing

Florida words by Sam Parker | Rupert Everett words by Rachel Fellows

After a decade in the works, Rupert Everett’s film about Oscar Wilde’s last days in Paris, The Happy Prince, which the British actor wrote, directed and stars in, is finally finished. Happily, it’s also really good. He tells Esquire about a true labour of love

What the film has, however, aside from interviews with McQueen’s family, friends and colleagues, is a wealth of archive material that shows the designer at work and play — larking about, smiling, and generally reminding us that the Nineties were rather a laugh. But also, in his throwaway comments and asides, it shows the darkness brewing inside him, as well as in his collections: the sense, perceived and real, that others were trying to take him down; or that he wasn’t geting the credit he deserved; or that his future was not in his control. Ultimately, and tragically, he ensured that it was. — McQueen is out on 8 June

ESQUIRE: You’re no stranger to Oscar Wilde. Why does he fascinate you? RUPERT EVERETT: “Coming to London in the mid-Seventies aged 17, being gay, I think we all felt we were still on the outlaw side of things, outsiders, and that we were walking in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde because the scandal was still very much alive. In one sense, the gay liberation movement really started with him in the UK. Also, the character of him is so funny and amusing and wity. Even, actually, in his last years as a kind of vagabond. He’s touching, moving, like a clown in a way but also a genius.” ESQ: Why did you name the film after his famed children’s story? RE: “My mum read me The Happy Prince when I was a child, and so it’s branded on my memory. And something felt right about the idea of calling Wilde in Paris ‘the happy prince’ because I think, despite everything, he was still enjoying himself in a way. The story about the happy prince is that he’s a statue who gives away all his silver and gold, all of his rubies to the poor, and then he’s got nothing let and they pull him down; it felt like a good analogy.” ESQ: In your memoirs, The Vanished Years, you write about “black bile bubbling” from your father when he was ill, and there is a very similar scene in the film. Is that deliberate?

RE: “It was definitely deliberate. Watching my father die was one of my inspirations because my film is essentially a death-bed story, with someone lying in bed over a twoweek period, remembering various parts of his life. So the black bile was very much something that happened to my dad, and also happened to Oscar, funnily enough.” ESQ: Do you see the film as a way of keeping Wilde relevant? RE: “I’d love that. It also reminds people of society’s hostility towards minorities, and towards gays in particular: people are still being chucked off roofs; in Russia, in Jamaica, in China, in India, it’s still a very violent experience. I think one of the reasons no one’s ever told this side of the story is that it’s too embarrassing to remember that this is what we do to people. But we still do it, actually.” ESQ: How will you judge its success? RE: “The real success for me is, ater years of half-hearted flakiness in my life, to have managed to focus for so long on one thing and drive it through all the hurdles. I’m one of those people who’s given up at the first fence, and what I’ve discovered on this is that I have much more strength than I imagined.” — The Happy Prince is out on 15 June 73

A remainder of one Christo photographed in his studio in 2012 with a preliminary drawing for the Abu Dhabi Mastaba project


Esquire — June 2018

Christo has wrapped the Reichstag, turned islands pink and enabled people to walk on water. his month in London, the Bulgarian artist unveils his newest work, a truncated pyramid floating on the Serpentine Lake. But the London Mastaba is a scaled-down version of another, far more ambitious work: one that he and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, had been planning for decades and which, if he completes it, will be the bigest and most expensive sculpture ever created. But as Christo turns 83, are the odds against their masterwork being realised in his own lifetime starting to stack? By Miranda Collinge

Esquire — June 2018


— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

at the beginning of April this year, a company called London Mastaba Limited took up residence on the northern bank of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. here, in a low white marquee and a series of shipping containers, a group of around 35 engineers and construction workers, overseen by one of the company’s directors, an ebullient bearded Bulgarian called Vladimir Yavachev, began building a large floating platform, 40m long and 30m wide, made of white, high-densiy polyethylene cubes. Over the following few weeks, a second layer of cubes was placed on top, then a horizontal steel frame, followed by a vertical scafolding structure. At the beginning of May, deliveries of 55-gallon oil barrels, specially constructed at a factory in the Netherlands, started to arrive. he barrels, 7,506 in total, were placed on their side and bolted to the scafolding frame in neat rows. If all continues to go to plan, by mid-June the completed structure, which will by now be 20m high and resemble a pyramid with the top cut of – an ancient form called a “mastaba”, first appearing in Mesopotamia as mud benches, from which the Arabic name is derived; later seen on a much biger scale as tombs for pharaohs and nobiliy in Early Dynastic Egypt — will be floated out into the middle of the Serpentine. A team of Bulgarian divers will be on hand to make sure the concrete anchors are in the correct position, having first checked the botom of the lake for unexploded World War II ordnance. On 17 June, “The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake)”, the newest work by the BulgarianAmerican artist Christo, will be complete. More correctly, it will be the newest work by Christo and JeanneClaude, the artist duo who had one of the great creative partnerships — not to mention love stories — of the last century. hough they both dispensed with their surnames in their professional work, he was born Christo Vladimirov Javacheff on 13 June, 1935, in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, where his father owned a fabric factory and his political activist mother worked as a secretary at the Academy of Fine Arts in

Christo and Jeanne-Claude showcase a piece of their new ‘wrapped-up’ artwork style, Rome, 1963

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘Valley Curtain’ project in Rifle, Colorado, 1972

‘For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posteriy. God keep me from ever completing anything. his whole book is but a draught — nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!’


Esquire — June 2018

Previous page: Wolfgang Volz © 2018 Christo | Gety | Wolfgang Volz/Laif/Camera Press

Sofia. She was born Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon — on the same day, in the same year — in Casablanca, Morocco, ater her mother, who would later become the first female officer to enter liberated Paris in August 1944, was briefly married to a French general. Christo and Jeanne-Claude met in 1958, became lovers in, as will become apparent, a somewhat scandalous fashion, and began working together in 1961. Over the course of their collaboration, they have been responsible for some of the most ambitious, awe-inspiring and divisive art works ever made. In 1972, they hung an orange curtain measuring 18,600sq m between two mountains in Colorado. In 1976, they ran a 40km fence of white nylon across the dusy fields of Northern California. In 1983, they surrounded 11 islands in Biscayne Bay, Miami, with skirts of hot-pink polypropylene fabric, so that they looked like Technicolor fried egs. In 1995, they wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in a 100,000sq m silvery shroud. In 2005, they placed 7,503 safron fabric banners hanging from five-metre poles throughout Central Park in New York, creating golden pathways through the bare trees. All of these projects drew crowds in their thousands, sometimes millions. None of them existed for longer than 16 days. Over 48 years, Christo and Jeanne-Claude realised 23 projects. hey failed to get permission for 47. heir work has taken them into the very heart of power in many nations, with projects standing or falling at the whim of a president or a prime minister, a mayor or a sheikh. he cost of making the works has been immense, and entirely self-funded; the value of them incalculable. In 2009, Jeanne-Claude died, aged 74, from complications relating to a brain aneurysm. Since her death, Christo has continued to work on projects that they conceived together. One of them, “The Floating Piers”, a network of bright yellow walkways allowing people to walk on water, they had proposed in 1970 for the Río de la Plata between Argentina and Uruguay. In 2016, Christo realised it on Lake Iseo in Lombardy, Italy, his

first major project since Jeanne-Claude’s death. It was deemed a triumph — Forbes magazine called it “divine” — and 1.2m people came to see it: twice the number anticipated. The London Mastaba is also based on an idea that he and JeanneClaude had had together: in 1968, they proposed a floating mastaba on Lake Michigan but were not granted permission. Its appearance in the British capital, however, is something of a surprise — the contract with Royal Parks was signed of only five days before construction commenced — though it will undoubtedly become one of the most talked about cultural events in Britain this year. “Christo is an imaginative visionary who conceives big ideas and brings them to life with relentless determination,” said Michael R Bloomberg, chairman of the Serpentine Galleries, at the announcement of the London Mastaba; Bloomberg was also the mayor of New York who championed “he Gates” project in Central Park. “In New York, we’ve seen how his projects can benefit cities culturally and economically, and we’re excited that the Serpentine will be the site of his next work.” Given that Hyde Park expects over 7m visitors in a normal summer, seven-figure audiences are all but guaranteed; and at 20m tall, with no trees to obscure it, it will be hard to miss. But who would want to? While construction of the London Mastaba begins across the Atlantic, Christo has remained at his studio in SoHo, Manhatan, making preparatory sketches for the project, because, as he says, “I need to work to pay the bills!” His studio occupies the top space of a five-floor reddish-brown building built in the 1860s, which has a rust-coloured fire escape zigzaging down the front. Christo and Jeanne-Claude moved here in 1964, illegally at first — living in commercial lots was not permited in New York until 1971 — and eventually bought it from their landlord in 1973. Now it sits next to a branch of Agnès B and faces a fancy trainer shop. It belongs to an era of the ciy that is fading, though not gone.

The couple’s ‘Surrounded Islands’ installation in Biscayne Bay, Florida, 1983

Esquire — June 2018


After 24 years of negotiations and opposition from high-profile figures including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘Wrapped Reichstag’ was finally realised in Berlin in 1995

Christo doesn’t have assistants and will not allow anyone into his studio — “It is not cleaned since 1964!” — so he receives visitors in a gallery space-cum-reception room on the first floor, which is hot as Hades thanks to boxy heaters against the walls that groan and creak as they pump out hot air supplied by the enormous generator in the basement that powers the whole building. he room has high ceilings and a tired, greenish-grey carpet which is starting to rumple in places, as though it were one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s works. here are sculptures doted about: swaddled tin cans, stacked oil barrels, a plastic-wrapped “package” that looks like a pregnant belly. he walls are covered with Christo’s drawings for projects, made and framed by his own hand: some completed, some abandoned, one still possible. Images of Jeanne-Claude are strikingly apparent around the room, in photographs and on the cover of books on the bookcase and cofee table. Here she is in a photo taken in her later years, holding her husband’s hands, smiling, with her trademark flame-red hair. Here, a picture of an early work of Christo’s from 1963, a painting of Jeanne-Claude he wrapped in plastic, now yellowing, though her parted red lips and feline eyes still burn through. hey met in Paris when he was hired to paint several portraits of her mother, ater he had escaped Communist Bulgaria for Prague and Vienna, coming to the French capital in 1958. heir romance was a lively one. He first became involved with her half-sister, Joyce; Jeanne-Claude meanwhile got engaged to another man but became pregnant with Christo’s child (legend has it their first kiss was so passionate that he broke a tooth). She went through with the marriage, but later said that even during her honeymoon she knew she had to end it: “I’m sure that instinctively my entire body called out to Christo.” heir son, Cyril, was born in 1960, and they married in 1962. Jeanne-Claude’s nephew, Jonathan Henery, vice-president of Christo’s company, CVJ Corporation, goes to fetch him from upstairs. (here is

a fair amount of family involvement: Vladimir Yavachev, director of operations who is overseeing construction of the London Mastaba, is Christo’s own nephew, son of his elder brother, Anani.) Christo, when he arrives, has the energy of a coiled spring. Small, with a cumulonimbus of white hair around his ears, he wears glasses, a striped shirt, black trainers and jeans with a hole in the knee, cinched tight with a woven belt; clothes perhaps roomier than they once were. He chooses a harder chair over the sofa, and does not hesitate to detail his vigorous habits. “I’m living in this building you know since when? Fity-four years. he same building. No elevators. I’m climbing 90 stairs every day. And I’m working standing. No stool in my studio.” (here are stair-lits installed on the narrow flights of stairs, which Henery assures are only for transporting heavy boxes and suitcases.) Christo became an American citizen in 1973, but his English still tumbles out in fragments. He also spoke French with Jeanne-Claude, and it occasionally peppers his speech and has melded with his still-heavy Bulgarian accent. He likes to answer questions with “No!” or sometimes, “No! No no no no!” which is alarming at first until you realise it is a reflex of sorts, perhaps the result of a lifetime of explaining, or justiying. And that he enjoys being challenged, something at which Jeanne-Claude was particularly adept: “his is mostly I’m missing,” he’ll say later. “She was the most critical person and I miss her all the time.” Right now, his mind is fully absorbed by the project in London, and he is keen to convey quite what the people of Britain are in for. “You know how much it is? 500 tonnes! Floating!” he says, with evident delight. And later, of the sculpture’s height: “You know what that means, 20 metres? Go outside, walk on the next sidewalk — it’s the height of our building. hey don’t understand how big it is! Ha!” he London Mastaba will sit in the middle of the Serpentine Lake, so unlike many other of their projects, those who come will be encouraged to look but not touch. It will, however, be only about 15–20m from the

In 1985, after nine years of waiting for government approval, Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris in 41,800sq m of golden polyamide fabric

With over 1.2m visitors, ‘The Floating Piers’ on Lake Iseo, Lombardy, was Italy’s most popular art event of 2016


Esquire — June 2018

Previous page: Wolfgang Volz/Laif/Camera Press | Alamy | Fabrizio Villa/Polaris/Eyevine| Tonya Evat/Gety

buoy line of the lake’s swimming area, and both rowing boats and pedalos will still be available to rent. And while two sides of the London Mastaba are sheer vertical faces, the other two are slanted, leading to a horizontal plane on top. Christo acknowledges the potential. “Actually, the bigest stairway. You can climb, you can walk,” he says. “Going to be tempted, someone will try to do that.” And if they do? “Probably they should come down!” he planning for the London Mastaba — what Christo likes to call the “sotware” phase, as opposed to the “hardware” phase of construction — was, at least by the standards he is used to, relatively straightforward. Permission was granted by Westminster City Council and a contract agreed with he Royal Parks, with the cooperation of other organisations including The Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and BlueBird Boats, who rent out the pedalos and will patrol the water. he objections were minimal: some concerns were raised about water qualiy and irrigation, and Christo says, with some bewilderment, “hey told me there was some first complaint was related for the swans?” The aim, though, as it has been with all their projects, is to leave the area in beter condition than that in which they found it, by initiating cleaning and repairs. hey usually rent the sites on which their works are made, though in the case of London they will be leaving a legacy. “Of money. Ha!” says Christo. “A legacy of money.” In fact, London has been something of a cake-walk compared to earlier projects (not to mention, at an estimated £3m, relatively cheap; “Cheap is a word Christo doesn’t like,” his nephew Vladimir advises. “Maybe, inexpensive…”). In 1985, they wrapped the Pont Neuf in Paris in 41,800sq m of golden polyamide fabric, but only ater nine years of trying to secure the approval of Jacques Chirac, then mayor of the city, and eventually President Mitterrand and the French government. For “The Umbrellas” in 1991, a transpacific dipych in which 1,760 giant yellow parasols were doted

across coastal land in Northern California, and another 1,340 giant blue parasols placed in fields along the opposite coast in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, they had to get permission from 25 private landowners (or “cowboy ranchers” as Christo describes them) on one side and 459 rice farmers on the other. As Christo remembers, “Jeanne-Claude was saying we drinking 6,000 cups of green tea!” heir proposal to wrap the Reichstag took 24 years to realise and was refused three times, before eventually being approved in a parliamentary vote. So opposed was German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who felt that it would demean the building, that he never went to see it, though an estimated 5m other people did. Sometimes the years of lobbying and investment do not pay of. Since Jeanne-Claude’s death, Christo has made particularly prominent bids to realise two major projects that they had conceived together. But in January 2017, “Over the River”, a plan to suspend nearly six miles of silvery fabric over eight stretches of the Arkansas River in Colorado, collapsed spectacularly in a storm of environmental outrage and political intrigue. Christo had faced down five years of law suits filed by a local group calling itself Rags Over the Arkansas River, or Roar, who cited numerous fears about the project ranging from the dangers posed by the large crowds who would come to see it to the plight of the resident longhorn sheep. Reporting on the negotiations in 2015, he Denver Post’s fine arts critic, Ray Mark Rinaldi, wrote that “Christo has endured the bureaucratic equivalent of waterboarding with a good atitude,” describing public meetings at which opponents had been “relentless and rude, insulting his hair and clothes,” and “making fun of his accent”. Ultimately though, it wasn’t Roar who brought an end to “Over the River”, but Christo himself, instigated by the fact that, as of the start of this year, the rent money that he would be paying to the Bureau of Land Management (and had been paying since 2011) would be going to the Trump Administration. “I cannot do the project because the person change. I don’t even like to discuss, I don’t mention the name,” is all he’ll

‘The Umbrellas’ transpacific project of 1991 comprised 1,760 yellow parasols placed across Northern California, above, in conjunction with 1,340 blue equivalents in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan

Esquire — June 2018


say. “It’s simply a mater of human decisions: my project, I don’t like to be involved anymore.” He estimates the cost of the unrealised “Over the River” project to be around $14m. he other project remains. If Christo realises it, it could prove to be his — or rather, their — greatest work. “Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)” will be a scaled-up version of the London Mastaba. You might even say the Serpentine project is something of a run-through, a proof of concept; showing not only how majestic a stack of oil barrels can look, but also the kind of cultural impact it can have, and visitor numbers it can atract. “he UAE Mastaba project is one of the most ambitious, not to say audacious, projects Christo and Jeanne-Claude conceived in a career of ambitious and audacious projects,” says Paul Goldberger, former architecture critic for he New Yorker. “If it is ever realised I think it would have to rank among their most stunning achievements.” he UAE Mastaba, which has been planned since 1977, making it the longest running unaltered project of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s partnership, will rest on sand, not water. Rather than the London Mastaba’s 7,506 barrels, it will be covered in 410,000 — more than 50 times as many. It will be 150m high, making it the largest sculpture ever made, a few metres taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza and with a footprint that, as Christo and his team like to tell you, would fit snugly into Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Christo has estimated that it will cost £300m. It will be Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s only permanent large-scale work. Christo and Jeanne-Claude first visited the UAE in 1979, ater they managed to secure permission through the French foreign minister, Louis de Guiringaud, himself an art collector. hey had been looking for a site for their Mastaba idea, which they had tried and failed to get permission to build in both Texas and Holland, and he suggested that the newly formed federation, which had only been established in 1971, might be receptive. hey have been on a charm ofensive ever since: before JeanneClaude’s death, they made numerous further trips to Abu Dhabi together, talking to rulers, dignitaries, students and school children. In 2012, Christo established “he Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award” to nurture artistic talent in the region, and show general goodwill. He still visits several times a year, and is due to return again in November. he decision is currently in the hands of the Abu Dhabi Government. But Christo has mentioned in the past that Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, wife of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of the western region of Abu Dhabi, is particularly keen, having been greatly moved by a memorial film about Jeanne-Claude that Christo had made in 2010 (she is also the patron of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award). Since 2013, Christo has employed Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm set up by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to keep the negotiations ticking along. “All these projects, the same thing: we need to find people who know these people,” he says. “We’re nobody.” Christo says he doesn’t want to discuss its status, saying only that is “very advanced,” because “it is delicate things. It is very volatile situation. You know very well the Middle East is very volatile, generally.” (he Iran– Iraq War between 1980 and 1988 was one of the contributing factors to the protracted planning.) he Mastaba for the UAE is also an astounding undertaking. It will take 30 months to build, and despite four decades of planning, negotiating and ingratiating, and rumours that a green light is imminent, it has still not been lit. In June of this year, Christo will turn 83. If he is going to make his and Jeanne-Claude’s masterwork happen in his own life time, he cannot waste a minute. Christo’s dogged pursuit of his singular artistic impulses — all the glorious-yet-fleeting successes, all the maddening, agonising failures — place him, in character, somewhere between Sisyphus and Kubla Khan. So, too, have they placed him somewhat outside the conventional art world. He has never been represented by a gallery — “when I was very young probably I was happy to have gallery, but nobody was interested in my stuf!” — and as a result has found himself in possession of a huge 82

Esquire — June 2018

Wolfgang Volz/Laif/Camera Press

Completed in 1969, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘Wrapped Coast’ used 92,900sq m of fabric and 35 miles of rope to cover 1.5 miles of Little Bay coastline outside Sydney, Australia

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number of his own increasingly valuable works, which he keeps in a storage faciliy in Manhatan and a much larger one in Basel, Switzerland. He and Jeanne-Claude also devised an unusually innovative financial model for their work. hey set up CVJ Corporation, a holding company which creates subsidiary companies for each project, based in the country in which it is being made. At the same time, they secure a line of standby credit from a bank, collateralised against their collection of their own works, which ensures a smooth cash flow while CVJ pays for current projects by selling smaller sculptures, sketches, paintings and even complete exhibitions to private collectors and institutions. (To give an indication of price, in late April a Christo painting called “Double Shop Window”, white paint on Plexiglas, a single one in an edition of 65, sold at auction at Christie’s in Amsterdam for €7,500. hey have never accepted sponsorship (while the London Mastaba is up — for an unusually long period of three months — there will be a concurrent exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery about Christo and JeanneClaude’s work with barrels which will be sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies; Christo stresses that the Mastaba on the lake has received none of that funding), nor charged entry to see their works. It is a model that, Christo will proudly tell you, has become the subject of a case study by Harvard Business School, alongside others for Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. “I’m educated Marxist from communist Bulgaria escaping in 1957 to the west,” he says, “I’m using capitalist system to the very end.” Likewise, he refuses to acknowledge the political interpretations of his work. he use of oil barrels, he says, began only because he was atracted to their cylindrical shape: “I find it very sculptural form”; this despite the fact that he and Jeanne-Claude once blocked a Parisian street with oil barrels in protest at the construction of the Berlin Wall. As far as he will tell you, the conceptual implications of piling up 410,000 of them in a country that has the seventh-largest oil reserves is neither here nor there. (In a recent interview, the British artist Cornelia Parker said: “hat’s

what I admire about Christo and Jeanne-Claude, that they wrapped up the Reichstag and then said it had nothing to do with politics. Although it obviously had.”) Nor does he want to give any credence to the idea that he is trying to build something resembling a tomb, or that there might be some faintly gothic significance in the fact that it is also one of the last projects that he and Jeanne-Claude had been working on together, as though it were a later-day Taj Mahal. “he Mastaba is not a tomb like people saying,” he says, “it’s a much older name, coming from the first urban civilisation in the world.” Which is true, although the one he has in mind is much closer to the dimensions of an Egyptian tomb than it is to a Mesopotamian mud bench. (He also says, with impish glee, that he has another project in the works that was conceived with Jeanne-Claude, “but I cannot tell you!”) Four decades on he is still brimming with enthusiasm about the Abu Dhabi Mastaba’s potential impact: “a landmark structure”, as he describes it, “that will be like this incredible Islamic mosaic, you can’t believe it what it will be. And colour. Beaming with colour. his will not relate to anything you see in architecture today.” Despite the almost unfathomable expense, a bill which he will again foot, he says that once it is built he will give it as a git to the people of Abu Dhabi. “If they like, they will own.” Also: it will have no meaning. “Nothing is as big that is not building. It is not anything, it is absolutely sculpture,” he says. “Irrational, totally useless, totally unnecessary. his is the most beautiful part.” There is, of course, the question of whether or not the Abu Dhabi Mastaba, already continuing without Jeanne-Claude — the pair famously always flew in separate airplanes so that should one of them die in a crash, the other could still realise their work — could also go ahead without Christo. “here are some things that can be done without me. As you see, Mastaba, many projects can be done without me because they already designed.” And would he want that to happen? “No, I like to see it!” he says. “I need to be…” he stops. “I love to be there.”

A 2017 collage by Christo, demonstrating the size and scale of The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake) opening in the UK’s capital in June

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, in 1982, searching the Abu Dhabi desert for locations to site their grand Mastaba project — expected to be the largest sculpture in the world if built


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Wolfgang Volz & André Grossman © 2017 Christo | Wolfgang Volz © 1982 Christo | Wolfgang Volz © 1979 Christo

Even as he edges into his mid-Eighties, Christo’s gaze is fixed forward. “I am in quite good health, I cannot complain or anything.” He chooses not to reflect. “Retrospective will be done when I am dead,” he says. “I don’t like to spend one moment of my life looking backwards.” He likes to talk only about the quantifiable — years, dimensions, costs — and tells me as our interview nears its end, “You can write anything philosophically, but please don’t misspell names, locations and places. hink I be very, very cross.” Still, inherent in the work are many curious paradoxes which pose questions about the mind of their creator. On the one hand, by being financially self-suicient, Christo has enormous mastery over his oeuvre, and the freedom to instigate projects of a scale and ambition of which most artists can only dream. On the other, he devises concepts that are, by their very nature, subject to the intricacies of bureaucratic structures and the whims of the very powerful, making them, at times, maddeningly beyond his control. Each work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude can be interpreted as a gesture of extreme democratic generosity: providing a spectacle to the masses, a source of wonder, for no obvious gain other than aesthetic pleasure and the satisfaction of having achieved them. It can also be seen as an act of audacious and ruthless egoism: an individualistic artistic vision imposed upon a landscape, manipulating it in ways that should, perhaps, be beyond humble human capabilities. Christo doesn’t mind which you choose. He shrugs of atempts to put him in an artistic tradition. “I like to do, and that’s all. And I do it my way. hat’s all.” At times, he seems almost wilfully simplistic when he explains his artistic decisions, perhaps a reaction to the elitist obfuscation of traditional art spiel; when he announced the London Mastaba at the start of this year, he explained that the colours of the barrels — red and white stripes on the sides; red, blue and purple on the ends — were chosen to reflect the Union flag and British royalty (or as he puts it to me, “Of course, the Majesy love the mauve”). His work, their work, he says, is about the here and now, as it always has

been. “First thing you should know: we are working with the real things,” Christo says, taking of his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I do not know how to drive. I never learned to drive. I don’t like to talk on the telephone. I hate to talk and not see people. I do not understand anything of computer. I cannot understand anything that is virtual, not real. I like to have real kilometre, real wet, real dry, real wind, real fear, real joy. This almost unstoppable pleasure to have the sense. With these very real things. Only when we’re still alive. Ater that will be gone.” With any luck, in a few years’ time, perhaps even less, a company calling itself Abu Dhabi Mastaba Ltd, or whatever the Emirati equivalent might be, will set up camp in the desert outside Abu Dhabi. here, several hundred engineers and builders, working on a concept devised by engineering professors at Hosei Universiy of Toyo in 2007, will erect 10 concrete towers, standing in two rows of five. Next, they will construct five flat sides and cover each in many thousands of oil barrels, their curved surfaces painted in orange and yellow stripes, with circular ends that erupt in a blaze of red lilac, light pink, pale brown, ruby red, bright yellow, cobalt blue, deep orange, pastel green, grass green and ivory. Once the barrels are in place, the sides will be raised on rails, up and over the 10 towers, in a single, miraculous feat of hydraulics, like a magician liting a limp linen napkin into solid form. hen, finally, ater many decades of persistence and persuasion, many years of speculation, and many, many millions of dollars, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Mastaba (Project for the UAE)” will be made real. Hopefully, a tiny figure, dwarfed by the magnitude of his creation, will be there to witness it. he Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine), will be on display in Hyde Park, London, from 18 June to 23 September. he concurrent exhibition, Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and he Mastaba (1958–2018), will be on display at the Serpentine Gallery, London, from 19 June to 9 September;

A 1979 scale model of the Abu Dhabi Mastaba (Project for United Arab Emirates)

Esquire — June 2018


In 1978, in Argentina, a brutally repressive regime staged the World Cup, football’s most glamorous competition. On the pitch, it was as if nothing was wrong. Elsewhere, political opponents were being murdered by the state. Does this sound at all familiar? As we wait for kick-off at Russia 2018, Esquire looks back on one of the darkest episodes in Fifa’s enduringly twisted history

The dirty game By Will Hersey


Esquire — June 2018

Argentina’s national football team captain Daniel Passarella under close guard after leading his team to victory in the 1978 World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires

Esquire — June 2018


if sports and politics shouldn’t mix, no one ever told Fifa. Where the football World Cup is concerned, it’s harder to keep them apart. The history of the tournament is littered with agendas, deals and power plays. From the pety — as when Uruguay boycoted the 1934 tournament in Italy in protest at how few European teams bothered turning up for the one it had hosted four years prior — to the principled; take the Soviet Union’s refusal to play away at Chile in a 1973 qualification play-off in the same Estadio Nacional stadium where Augusto Pinochet had let-wing prisoners executed. Hosting, of course, raises the stakes further. Football historian David Goldblat described it as “a node in the global networks of power”. When Russia was announced as 2018 88

hosts back in December 2010, it’s not hard to imagine that Vladimir Putin, no football fan himself, might have had restored superpower status fairly high on his list of reasons. But in the years since, that likelihood has evaporated in the wake of a lengthy charge sheet: military intervention in the Ukraine and Syria, chemical weapons attacks, links to plane bombs, executions of journalists and political opponents, cyberwar and election meddling. Of more direct relevance to the tournament, you can also add the use of North Korean forced labour in stadium-building, the legacy of state-approved Olympic doping, and questions over the safey of foreign fans in light of Russia’s “paramilitary” football hooligans, gangs of whom were unleashed at the 2016 Euros in France. “I don’t see anything wrong with the fans fighting. Quite the opposite, well done lads, keep it up!” tweeted Russian politician Igor Lebedev, a member of the executive committee of the Russian Football Union. On his own patch, of course, it’s highly unlikely Putin will allow any such scenes this summer. In the acrimonious fallout from the poisoning in Salisbury of former spy Sergei Skripal back in March, a group of Labour MPs called for a postponement or relocation of the 2018 World Cup. “I am very concerned that Putin will use the World Cup in the same way that Hitler used the 1936 Munich Olympics, as a public relations exercise for a brutal dictatorship,” said MP Ian Austin. Foreign secretary Boris Johnson made the same analogy. This isn’t the first time such a comparison has been made. In the 40 years since, the same has been said of Argentina 1978. And with hindsight, that comparison is starkly obvious. Never before or since has success on the pitch been so intertwined with such brutaliy of it.

if the boycotts against russia in 2018 felt a litle half-hearted, in 1978 against Argentina they came early, with conviction, and very nearly worked. he edition of the tournament now associated with ticker tape-filled stadia, sily hair and no shortage of sily goals — from Archie Gemmill’s still-widely replayed shimmy against Holland to Hans Krankl’s outrageous two-touch volley for Austria against West Germany — was close to being relocated to Holland and Belgium. Brazil was also placed on standby. Amnesty International led the protests under the slogan, “Yes to Football, No to Torture!”, alongside a pressure group set up in France. he West German government also threatened to withdraw. Paul Breitner and Johan Cruyff, then the world’s best player, actually did. Although 30 years later, Cruyf told Catalunya Ràdio that the real reason was

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on a clear afternoon on 1 June 1978 at the revamped El Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires’ Belgrano barrio, several hundred children in white uniforms moved into their prepared positions, on an uneven pitch, newly turfed since the original grass had withered after being irrigated with sea water. From the blimp camera, the choreographed children first spelled out “Argentina 78” before the words “Mundial Fifa”. A flock of what looked more like pigeons than doves was released into the sky. The World Cup was underway. Minutes earlier, General Jorge Rafaél Videla, the bird-like, moustachioed leader of Argentina’s ruling military junta, announced to the nearly 80,000-strong crowd that the tournament would be played under a sign of peace. he ITV commentator Gerald Sinstadt, through crackling audio which added to the atmosphere of this distant live broadcast, fumbled for fillers as the somewhat ponderous spectacle unfolded, remarking on how the opening ceremony’s “emphasis is firmly on the innocence of youth, free from any sugestion of political involvement”. Back in the ITV studio, against a beige backdrop, guest pundit Kevin Keegan, in an extravagantly lapelled check shirt even by Seventies’ standards, bemoaned England’s failure to qualiy and declared his excitement at the “soccer festival” ahead. In earshot of the stadium drums, just a few streets away, inside the tree-lined campus of  the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics, the junta’s flagship torture centre continued to operate. he largest and most notorious of several hundred such concentration camps, this was one place where “Los Desaparecidos” were taken. he Disappeared. An evocative term more accurately describing the victims of state-sponsored murder. The junta wasn’t going to let the World Cup stop its work. In fact, quite the opposite.

Esquire — June 2018

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not in protest, but because that year he and his wife had been tied up at gunpoint in front of their children at their Barcelona apartment during a kidnap atempt: “It was the moment to leave football and I couldn’t play in the World Cup ater this.” he political mood in Europe at the time was certainly at odds with General Videla’s. he army had taken control of Argentina in spring 1976 after two years of major unrest bordering on civil war, as right-wing paramilitaries and communist guerrillas entered the power vacuum let behind ater the death of Argentina’s president Juan Perón. he majoriy of people welcomed the return of order in the face of such violence. The clean-up of “state enemies” began immediately. But it didn’t stop there. Men and women who did not conform to the regime’s ideals were “disappearing” in increasingly large numbers. And relatives were advised not to cause a stir. People could be taken of the street, from their home or arrested on the bus in broad daylight. “hey must have done something”, was the unspoken consensus. But Fifa remained unmoved. Ultimately, the human rights stance was overlooked in favour of preserving the political status quo. By June 1978, the junta was at its strongest and it now had a World Cup to distract atention domestically and project an alternative message internationally. Videla, like many world leaders, had litle interest in football. But he saw an opportuniy, and he was prepared to spend huge sums on infrastructure to get it right. In 1976, the chairman of Argentina’s World Cup organising committee, General Omar Actis, was assassinated while travelling to his first press conference, where he was expected to criticise publicly the rapidly escalating sums being spent on hosting the tournament.

Top: schoolchildren form a ‘World Cup’ at the tournament’s opening ceremony in the El Monumental Stadium Left: Argentina coach César Luis Menotti’s own politics were at odds with the junta’s Above right: Jorge Rafaél Videla, Argentina’s dictator, centre, watches Scotland play Peru in Cordoba, 3 June 1978

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on the pitch, there was much work for the Argentinian team to do if they were to achieve anything resembling success. In this context of control and paranoia, it seems odd that a young, intellectual let-winger, a former communist no less, was in charge. he rakish, chain-smoking 39-year-old was the embodiment of everything the junta opposed. César Luis Menoti, nicknamed “El Flaco”, “the thin one” (yes, most Argentinian footballers seem to have a nickname) was a tactician and football philosopher, who even talked overtly in terms of replacing what he saw as “rightwing” football — the turgid, physical and cynical anti-fútbol on show for most of the Seventies — with a more natural, free-flowing syle. His Huracán side won the 1973 Argentine Primera División with flicks, flair and atacking purpose, while Menoti was also prone to 89

the kind of quote at which Eric Cantona might raise an eyebrow: “A football team is above all an idea,” for example. Today, of course, he is beloved by the modern breed of tactical anoraks. Perhaps Menoti’s saving grace was that his rhetoric played on the restoration of past glories of Argentine footballing syle in a way that overlapped, however tenuously, to the junta’s own traditionalist propaganda. El Flaco picked the previously unfancied Osvaldo Ardiles to up his team’s rhythm in a manner that atempted to mimic the Dutch “Total Football” style that saw The Oranje arrive as tournament favourites. But for all his ideals, that Argentine’s pragmatism remained. here was no place in the final squad for the country’s most natural talent, the 17-yearold Diego Maradona. And the team’s familiar gamesmanship and physicaliy was unlikely to disappear overnight. As Menoti once said: “Eicacy is not divorced from beauy.” If it was needed, General Videla’s constant visibiliy as the tournament kicked of was a further reminder that results clearly

toughest qualiying section. Ater the victory against Hungary, one junta oicial remarked to Luque, that “this could turn out to be the group of death as far as you are concerned”. It was delivered with a smile. “Uppermost in my mind was that earlier that day, the brother of a close friend of mine had disappeared,” recalled Luque. “His body was later found by villagers on the banks of the River Plate with concrete atached to his legs. At that time, opponents of the regime were sometimes thrown out of aeroplanes into the sea.” Ater Italy had beaten France 2-1 in their opening match-up, Argentina next faced the talented, Michel Platini-led French side that now had to win to stay in the tournament. In a game that still raises the blood pressure of the French who remember it, Argentina were gited a penaly for a harsh handball against Marius Trésor, while France’s Didier Six had a much stronger penaly appeal turned down. A Luque 25-yarder setled the game at 2-1, but years later the fire was restoked when a caller

them “las locas” — the madwomen. In fact, they were the closest thing the junta had to a pressure group. his also made them a target. In December 1977, on Human Rights Day, the mothers took out an advertisement in a newspaper publishing the names of the missing children. hat same evening, one of the founding women, Azucena Villaflor, was kidnapped by half a dozen armed men and taken to the Navy Pety-Oicers School of Mechanics. It wasn’t until 2005 that Villaflor’s remains were identified. She, and two other original madres, had been buried in an unmarked grave ater their bodies had washed up on a Santa Teresita beach, some 200 miles from Buenos Aires. Like their children, they died in the waters of the River Plate. If, like Villaflor, you were unfortunate enough to be taken to the naval school, the routine for new recruits was fairly consistent. Arrested and held without trial or questions, typically for left-leaning political affiliations and beliefs, which were defined

matered. In Argentina’s opening game, their opponents Hungary took the lead after just nine minutes. Menotti’s attacking approach was evident, though, and a front two of Leopoldo Luque and Mario Kempes showed pace, power and a close understanding. Luque equalised minutes later before substitute Daniel Bertoni scored an 83rd-minute winner. By full time, the match had degenerated from the merely cynical to the outright nasy, with two Hungarian players being sent of in the closing minutes. At a friendly against England at Wembley 10 days before that game, Hungary’s manager Lajos Baróti told journalist Brian Glanville that “everything, even the air, is in favour of Argentina” ahead of the World Cup. Off the record, Baróti also feared that the referees would favour the hosts in their decision-making: “he success of Argentina is financially so important to the tournament.” The other teams in Argentina and Hungary’s group were the much-fancied France and Italy, establishing the tournament’s 90

on a radio phone-in — claiming to be a former French international footballer — made unsubstantiated claims that Fifa oicials were turning a blind eye to Argentine amphetamine use. “You could hear them screaming in their dressing room,” he said, “and they had to warm down for two hours ater the match.” It was also alleged that ater urine samples were taken, a Fifa official discovered one of the Argentina players was pregnant.

with the world’s eyes on the tournament, one group within Argentina knew it had to take advantage of this brief window of attention. “Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo”, “The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo”, was founded in 1977 by women who had lost children to the junta’s “Diry War”. Every Thursday, they marched to the Casa Rosada presidential palace, all wearing white headscarves, holding photographs of their “disappeared” children. As their numbers grew, and visibility increased, the junta began calling

more and more loosely as the junta’s grip on power tightened. Catle prods provided the immediate welcome reception to the prison. Oten as a tool for rape, whatever your gender. Recordings of Hitler’s speeches would routinely be played through speakers. he smell of urine and faeces was overpowering. Tiny boxed cells contained existing prisoners, many hooded, semi-conscious and weakened from infected torture wounds. he guards wanted names. he techniques used to get them were always excruciating and oten depraved. When your time was up, you got the nod, were stripped naked, given a dose of sodium pentothal to keep you pliable, put on a plane to where the River Plate meets the Atlantic and thrown into the ocean. Former naval captain Emir Sisul Hess, allegedly told relatives of the dead how sleeping victims fell from his plane “like litle ants”. On the second floor was a materniy ward, where hundreds of babies were stolen from their soon-to-be-murdered mothers, many of

Esquire — June 2018

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After the Hungary victory, a junta official remarked to Leopoldo Luque, ‘this could be the group of death for you’, with a smile. ‘Uppermost in my mind,’ recalled Luque, ‘was that earlier that day, the brother of a close friend had disappeared. His body was later found on the banks of the River Plate with concrete attached to his legs’

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whom were illegally adopted by military families and “friends” of the junta. During 1978’s World Cup, guards would play match commentaries on the radio, some forcing the prisoners to cheer and sing along. For some victims, the football was at least a temporary distraction from their plight. For others, the cheers from the nearby stadium clearly audible through the walls, it was a devastating realisation that the world was going on without them. hey knew that with every goal, the dictatorship that brought them here was geting stronger.

after the groups, the knock-out phase is when the World Cup is said to properly begin. Except in 1978 there was no such phase. he favoured format saw the top two teams of each group divided into two further groups, with the winners of each then meeting in the final. Holland, Italy, West Germany and in-form Austria made up Group A, while Argentina, Peru, Poland and Brazil had the easier task of Group B. As Holland took control of Group A, with Italy and West Germany tiring, it was between Argentina and Brazil for the other berth. he two teams had already played out a goalless draw, and the final round of games saw Brazil take on Poland in the aternoon and Argentina play Peru in the much cooler evening. Was it just a happy accident that the hosts knew exactly what they needed to do following Brazil’s 3-1 win? A 4-0 win and they were in the final. Peru had no hope of qualifying so were playing for pride, though only in name as it turned out. Peru started strongly enough, even hiting the post, but a rapid and, to many observers, abject capitulation followed. Argentina scored six to no reply by the final whistle, against the same Peru that had thrashed Scotland and Iran, and held the Dutch to a nil-nil draw, in their opening group games. Brazil’s manager called it a disgrace. Peru’s goalkeeper, Ramón Quiroga, born in Argentina, wrote an open letter defending his team’s honour. Years later, a Peruvian senator would claim that the match result was fixed thanks to a deal between the two South American dictatorships involving political prisoners, money and grain. The murky picture was muddied further when it was revealed former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, both a football fan and tacit supporter of the junta regime, joined General Videla on a pre-match parade that is said to have included a visit to the Peru dressing room. It has been claimed that Videla impressed on the Peruvian players just how important this tournament was to Argentina, while stressing the value of “Latin American solidariy”. →

Esquire — June 2018

Top: army troops loyal to the country’s hardline military junta were constantly on patrol at all public gatherings in Argentina Centre: the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics, a secret detention centre in Buenos Aires, where more than 4,850 died Bottom: Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo, aka ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’, have sought justice for kidnapped children since 1977


with the atmosphere set, the tackles flew in. A spiteful but surprisingly open first half saw chances and important saves at both ends. It was Kempes who finally broke the deadlock seven minutes before half-time from a now trademark ghosting run into the box. he Dutch responded well and controlled the second half, forcing a string of saves from Ubaldo Fillol, until Dick Nanninga’s well-directed header levelled the game with eight minutes to go. In the last minute of the 90, Holland’s Rob Rensenbrink was put through on goal only for his shot to come back of the post. An already tense, dramatic game was heading to extra time. Menoti, who had reportedly told his players to win it for the butchers and teachers of Argentina, not for the generals in the presidential palace, managed to rouse his wilting players for a final push. Their passing game returned with panache and the pressure told just before the second period of extra time when, following a mazy run, Kempes again found himself one-on-one, his shot bobbling up and eventually in of flailing Dutch legs. The Dutch pushed for an equaliser leaving gaps at the back which Kempes again exploited, seting up Bertoni to seal the deal and see the Dutch crushed in a second successive World Cup final. The scenes in the 92

Top left: the scoreboard at the 1978 World Cup final tells the story of the game — won by the Argentine squad in extra time Top right: host nation striker Mario Kempes scored twice against The Netherlands to finish as the tournament’s top-scorer Above: it was a victory for the people of Argentina — but also for the dictatorship

Esquire — June 2018

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If the previous game’s controversies would take some beating, the final somehow managed to up the ante. While Holland were many people’s on-paper favourites, the absence of Cruyf or a truly creative alternative remained a definite plus for an Argentina side that had the talismanic Kempes in the form of his life, and had shown just how efective the combination of home advantage and weak refereeing could be. First, the Argentine FA successfully lobbied for a late referee switch, arguing that designated Israeli oicial Abraham Klein was an inappropriate choice due to the political links between Holland and Israel. A referee from Italy, a nation with tight links to Argentina, got the nod instead. Klein had refereed Argentina’s only defeat of the tournament ahead of the final; a 1–0 loss against Italy. A bizarre sub-plot then emerged when the Dutch team bus was taken on the scenic route through Buenos Aires’ backstreets prior to the game before being made to wait again on the pitch in front of a hostile crowd ater the Argentina players arrived five minutes late. When they did turn up, the Argentines began a passionate protest against René van de Kerkhof’s forearm plaster cast — something the Dutch defender had been wearing all tournament without any objections. The Italian referee Sergio Gonella gave in and forced van de Kerkhof to apply an extra bandage.

stadium were euphoric, but were nothing to the party already unfolding on the crowded streets outside.

in a world where almost every nation claims to have the most passionate fans, Argentina had a stronger case than most. With a history of underperforming in major competitions despite their status, from their very first final in 1930 to their feeble elimination in West Germany in 1974, for their fans, the 1978 victory had been a long time coming and they were not going to let the opportuniy to celebrate pass. he horns, fireworks and songs could be heard on the thronging streets outside the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics. The guards were in celebration mode, too. Around 20 prisoners had watched the game with them, less than a handful of whom would survive to tell the tale. hey had seen, on a tiny black-and-white television, the triumphant General Jorge Rafaél Videla and his depuy Emilio Eduardo Massera handing over the famous trophy to the Argentine captain Daniel Passarella. Some of these prisoners were taken on a macabre field trip by their guards, escorted into a Peugeot 504 in which they were driven among the jubilant masses, before dining at a raucous pizza restaurant. Graciela Daleo was one of them. She asked if she could put her head through the sunroof of the car. “I stood up on the seat and looked at that multitude,” she recalled decades later. “hat was another moment of terrible solitude. I was crying. I was certain that if I began to shout that I was a ‘disappeared’, then no one would even notice.”

Photography by Name Here Colorsport | See stockists page for details

the junta stayed in power for five more years. It’s estimated that a total of 30,000 people were killed in its seven-year reign, with 5,000 abducted and held captive at the Navy Petty-Officers School of Mechanics and an unknown number going “missing” even as the tournament was played out. Many Argentinians, the players included, would say that they hadn’t realised the scale until much later. Ardiles for one admited to believing the junta’s propaganda, with its carefully worded slogan to counter international critics and play on football's innate patriotism, “We Argentines are right and human”. “There is no doubt that we were used politically,” said Ricky Villa, who would become the player most vocal in his regret. Leopoldo Luque now believes the tournament should never have been played. Alberto Tarantini made his own statement by shaking Videla’s hand with the one he’d just used to wash his genitals. “I have nothing to regret,”

Esquire — June 2018

manager César Luis Menoti later said in an Argentinian documentary. “I was very loyal to my team and to the people.” For the football team, it was a turning point. hey would go on to win again in 1986 and have retained footballing superpower status to this day, with Lionel Messi continuing to inspire hope of a third trophy in Russia. he regimes in Russia today and Argentina all those years ago are too diferent for direct comparisons, but it is certainly pertinent to remember the spell World Cups can cast; diverting atention from where it might otherwise be focused, strengthening control domestically and if not presenting a cuddly side, then at least sotening opposition to the watching world. It’s a power football still has, and may indeed be greater now than it was back in 1978. he efects can also last for years. For the “disappeared”, it took nearly 30 years before the perpetrators began to face proper recrimination and trial. Slowly it became one of the largest mass trials of crimes against humaniy, before or since. Witnesses, older and with fading memories, recounted their testimonies of lost husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and children. he madres had become abuelas (grandmothers), still marching every hursday. Even then, intimidation of victims and corruption still loomed. In December 2007, Argentine coastguard officer Héctor Febres, nicknamed “he Savage” for his vicious torturing of dissidents at the naval school, was found dead from cyanide poisoning in his cell just four days before he was due to testiy against former colleagues. On 29 June 2008, Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo arranged a commemorative match at the El Monumental stadium for players and survivors of Argentina’s Diry War. An atempt to provide at least some catharsis for the role football had played in enabling the horror, it was called “he Other Final Match — for Life and Human Rights”. For one of the event’s organisers, Mabel Gutiérrez, “the 1978 World Cup was a gold brooch for repression, a mundial [cup] that was made to wash the faces of the murderers in front of the world.” While many Argentinians agree, others share Menoti’s view that the two are separate, that it was the people’s victory, in spite of the regime; it remains a subject many don’t want to confront. At he Other Final Match, the day began outside the naval school, now a memorial to the victims. In the stadium, where 80,000 had celebrated their country’s first World Cup win three decades earlier, a giant flag covered with the names of 30,000 Los Desaparecidos was placed where Videla and his cronies had sat throughout the tournament. Only three players from the original squad showed up. The stadium itself was half-full. 93


Esquire — June 2018

Why do these chairs cost £26,000? Pier Jeanneret’s Chandigarh furniture was slowly being lost to the scrap heap. Today, it’s coveted by collectors around the globe By Stephen Wallis

Let: architects Pierre Jeanneret (let) and his cousin Le Corbusier at the dedication of Chandigarh, India, 1955; the pair of Jeanneret chairs that sold for £26,367 at Bonhams, New York, in December

Esquire — June 2018


Clockwise from near right: dilapidated Jeanneret upholstered chairs in Chandigarh in the Nineties; the Gandhi Bhavan auditorium at Chandigarh’s Punjab Universiy, designed by Jeanneret; a pile of armchairs photographed by Éric Touchaleaume on his first visit to Chandigarh in 1999; a Le Corbusier and Jeanneret ‘Important Commitee’ conference teak table that sold for $100,000 (£70,000) in October 2015

you know the chairs. You’ve seen them in trendspotting style magazines and on cool design sites. Maybe you’ve even spied them arrayed around Kourtney’s dining table on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. (Hey, no judgements.) hey’re the mid-century armchairs with the tapered wood legs that form a distinctive inverted-V shape. There are a number of variations — some with cane seats and backs, others with upholstered cushions — but all are marked by an unmistakable, sublimely simple presence. Still not clicking? Well, it’s definitely clicking with design enthusiasts, who shell out thousands, even tens of thousands, for the iconic chairs that the Swiss-born architect Pierre Jeanneret created in the Fities and early Sixties for Chandigarh, the new, built-from-scratch capital of India’s Punjab region. Jeanneret didn’t just design chairs, of course. His cousin and collaborator was Le Corbusier, the legendary architect behind the overall plan for Chandigarh, envisioned as the crown jewel of Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s post-independence initiative to build a series of progressive, forward-looking cities as symbols of the new modern nation. While Le Corbusier 96

based himself in Paris, Jeanneret relocated to India for a decade-and-a-half, during which he served as the man on the ground, overseeing all aspects of the massive Chandigarh project as well as designing a number of buildings himself. But arguably his most tangible legacy is the remarkable array of furnishings he masterminded for the complex. “Chandigarh was extraordinarily poetic but also a major, major project with intellectual, social, political components,” says François Laffanour, of Galerie Downtown in Paris and a leading dealer of Jeanneret’s and Le Corbusier’s works. “It was something completely new in terms of urbanism. And Jeanneret’s furniture was exactly right for Le Corbusier’s architecture.” A devout pragmatist, Jeanneret emphasised functionaliy and practical materials, using teak and Indian rosewood for their durability and moisture resistance and incorporating traditional, inexpensive rattan caning into many pieces. Adamant about involving the local community, he enlisted Chandigarh craftsmen to produce chairs, sofas, benches, stools, tables, desks, bookshelves, cabinets and more. In today’s parlance, you might almost call it woke.

“he thinking behind the furniture was original in the Fities,” says Lafanour, “but it seems very current with today — socially conscious, ecological, made with simple materials but also strong and comfortable. It was made in the country, by Indians, with the wood of the country, and not something imported from Europe.” Everything Jeanneret created was conceived to complement the spirit and ideals of the architecture. “References to the facades of diferent buildings can be seen in desks and bookcases,” notes Patrick Seguin, another Paris dealer, “cleverly reinforcing the harmony and the relationship between the two.” Much of the seating features legs in the signature inverted-V form that calls to mind an architect’s drawing compass. hese days, a search for Pierre Jeanneret on the high-end decorative arts website 1stdibs. turns up dozens of pieces he created for Chandigarh, from £6,000 office armchairs to £20,000 desks to £45,000 pairs of the so-called Kangaroo chairs, strikingly angled low seats designed for ergonomically stylish lounging in government oicials’ private residences. The furnishings have also become staples of blue-chip design auctions. Last summer at Esquire — June 2018

Esquire — June 2018



Esquire — June 2018

Gety | Eric Touchaleaume | Lucien Hervé/Fondation Le Corbusier | © FLC/ ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018

Clockwise from far let: the brise-soleil (sun-blocking) facade of Chandigarh’s Le Corbusierdesigned High Court; this aluminium and teak magazine rack from Punjab Universiy was auctioned by Bonhams for $102,500 (£73,500); Jeanneret’s original sketch for his teak and leather armchairs; and two finished examples

Bonhams, a periodicals rack went for $102,500 (£73,500). At a Wright auction in October, a pair of upholstered lounge chairs fetched $179,000 (£135,000). In December, Sotheby’s sold a daybed clad in an eye-catching brown-and-white hide for $87,500 (£64,750). That’s serious cash for furnishings that, 15 years ago, were often treated like little more than rubbish. In Chandigarh, Jeanneret’s aging pieces were routinely discarded, sold to cabinetmakers as scrap for a few rupees, or even burned as firewood. Literal heaps of the now-treasured V-leg chairs could be found on the grounds of the university and on the roof of the High Court. he turnaround can be largely credited to a group of enterprising Paris dealers who began making trips to Chandigarh in the late Nineties, buying up cast-of pieces, mostly from government-sanctioned sales, to restore, exhibit and place with clients in Europe and America. “We acquired furniture that was in disrepair and not being used,” says Éric Touchaleaume, the first of those early pioneers, who was joined by Lafanour, Seguin and Philippe Jousse. “he pieces were often in bad condition, but teak is very strong and easy to restore.” Esquire — June 2018

While the eforts of those dealers have been portrayed by some as unsavoury opportunism, there is no denying the crucial role they played in preserving an important, imperiled chapter in modern design. hey staged some of the first exhibitions and published some of the first books on the furniture of Chandigarh. In the process, they made Jeanneret a star, drawing him out from the long shadow cast by Le Corbusier and into the 21st century. Previously, most collectors had known Jeanneret mainly for the suite of tubular steel furniture he created with Charlote Perriand (who was for a time his lover) and Le Corbusier in the Twenties. But Jeanneret’s inclination was always toward wood. And the furnishings he created for Chandigarh, with their marriage of pareddown architectural forms and rich organic materials, are particularly well suited to contemporary interiors. It’s no wonder that architectdesigners like Joseph Dirand and Vincent Van Duysen, two of today’s top masters of luxurious, supremely minimalist spaces, are avid collectors of Jeanneret’s work and frequently deploy it in projects for clients. “Pierre Jeanneret’s chairs express a sense

of craft through the materials and a sense of intuition through their form,” says Van Duysen. “he open-weave, graphic treatment of ratan he oten used and the V-shaped legs are a very recognisable, strong statement of timeless design.” Or, as Lafanour puts it, “when you look at Jeanneret’s furniture, you can see the patina, you can see the time on it, and there is something romantic in the way that it’s not totally perfect. In a minimal, very clean, very white environment, pieces by Jeanneret look like works of art, and they bring an element of human touch that breaks up the pristine perfection.” Naturally, Jeanneret’s meteoric rise in the global design scene did not escape the notice of Indian officials, and thanks to local efforts to protect and preserve his Chandigarh furniture, buying opportunities in India essentially ended a decade ago. With demand high and supply limited, fakes and overly restored pieces have muddied the market. Fortunately, scholarship and standards of connoisseurship continue to improve, and the market remains strong. “Good things always sell for good prices,” says Lafanour. he only question is how much higher they can climb. 99

Versace Multicoloured printed silk shirt, ÂŁ965; metal frame aviators, ÂŁ195, both by Versace

Photographs by

Danny Lowe Fashion by

Catherine Hayward

Gucci Brown checked wool suit jacket, £1,500; white/blue paisley printed coton shirt, £495; yellow acetate sunglasses, £190, all by Gucci

Class of 2018 Look to the future in the season’s most stylishly-framed sunglasses

Prada Blue comic print coton poplin jacket, £1,160; black/white printed coton poplin shirt, £700; green acetate sunglasses, £280, all by Prada

Dior Homme White coton shirt with yellow print, ÂŁ680; metal frame aviators, ÂŁ295, both by Dior Homme

Dolce & Gabbana Multicoloured printed silk short-sleeved shirt, ÂŁ745; metal frame aviators, ÂŁ170, both by Dolce & Gabbana

Tom Ford Green/black/grey leopard print lyocell shirt, ÂŁ590; metal frame aviators, ÂŁ275, both by Tom Ford

Tommy Hilfiger Navy/white printed coton shirt, £90; green acetate sunglasses, £135, both by Tommy Hilfiger

Louis Vuitton Green Hawaiian printed silk shirt, £1,470; metal frame logo printed sunglasses, £350, both by Louis Vuiton

Photographer’s assistant: Jakob Grant. Fashion assistant: Emie James-Crook. Hair: Paul Donovan @ CLM using VO5. Hair assistant: Nathan Dell. Grooming: Marco Antonio using Bioderma Skin Care and Mac Pro makeup. Models: Mathew Roberts, Sam Rock @ AMCK. Calum Carter, Harold Smart @ Models 1. Henry Evans, George Hard, James Kelly @ Next. Emanuel Abrantes @ he Squad See Stockists page for details

he author, who smoked cigaretes for 44Â years, in his nicotine-addicted prime, Sufolk, December 1994

The luxury guide to giving up

Must stopping smoking be an ordeal requiring titanic reserves of self-denial? Not a bit of it, says our editorat-large, whose cossetted wallow in the sybaritic surroundings of an English country house hotel cast out the demon nicotine in record time, and comfort By Will Self 109

at our monthly lunch, the editor of our noble and upstanding organ looked at me wearily across the table — wearily, and a litle cravenly. “So,” he said, “how did it go?” I looked back at him, and, trying not to sound too sprightly, replied: “Pretty good — by which I mean, I’ll be a fortnight clean come hursday.” He shook his head sadly, and there was an almost imperceptible wobble in his cheeks — the first faint stirrings, one suspects, of the jowls-to-come. “Funny,” he said, “a few years ago, all my writers were asking to be sent abseiling down the north face of the Eiger, or on a drive across the Sahara, or hunting polar bears in Spitsbergen. Now, the only thing any of you want is to be confined somewhere soft and safe, while being deprived of whatever vice it is that alicts you. How the mighy are fallen!” I could’ve made those incipient jowls twitch a bit more, by observing that we hadn’t exactly fallen — simply aged, along with you, dear readers. And moreover, I knew why Alex was looking so down in the mouth: he sufers from exactly the same vice as me, a chronic and deeply ingrained addiction to nicotine in all its myriad and ramiying forms. Regular readers of this magazine have probably absorbed a fair amount of my writing about my nicotine habit over the years; for some, this may have been a gateway to my writing about all my other bad habits, and for that I apologise. I’m only too aware of how injurious to health such writing can be, and moreover that it’s far from being a victimless crime — there’s such a thing as secondary reading... But bear with me, please, for ater 44 years of puffing, chewing, sucking and snorting, it really is over for me. Why, if La Divina Nicotina were to appear before me right now, arrayed in her silkiest and most intoxicatingly revealing apparel — the smoy tresses of her own sensual combustion — I would simply wave her away with these air-freshening words: “I do not know you.” he Italian writer Italo Svevo, encouraged by no less a smoker than James Joyce, published a novel in 1923 called Zeno’s Conscience. Its eponymous antihero is a furious nicotine addict, one who never manages to kick the habit. Zeno’s rationale is nothing of the sort: “Who knows,” he contends, “whether, if I had given up smoking, I should really have become the strong, perfect man I imagined? Perhaps it was this very doubt that bound me to my vice, because life is so much pleasanter if one is able to believe in one’s own latent greatness.” As we parted ater lunch, Alex wished me well in my continuing abstinence — but I knew he didn’t really mean it: he wanted my greatness to remain as latent as his own! Yes, it doesn’t mater if it’s heroin, booze or fags, hardcore addicts hate it when one of their number 110

Now a five-star country hotel, Berkshire’s Grade I-listed Cliveden House boasts a colourful 350-year-history of playing host to royaly, prominent politicians and the Sixties Profumo scandal

gets clean. Whereas the rest of the world saw a strong and perfect man striding along Brewer Street, Alex saw a rat, swimming away from his smoy, sinking ship. But how, I hear you, gentle reader, coo… How, Will, did you exit the motorway of excess and coast to a gentle halt in the escape lane of, if not wisdom, at any rate moderate sanity? (I mean to say, who the ruddy fuck goes on smoking into his sixth decade? I once asked John McVicar, the legendary hard man and at one time “Britain’s Most Wanted Man” if he’d ever smoked, because it seemed somehow inevitable that a character like him, who belonged to that Sixties black-and-white-film-and-greyand-blue-smoke London, the one featuring the Krays and Christine Keeler — of whom more later — would’ve done so. And he fixed me with a gimlet eye, and exhaled, “’Course I did — but as soon as I read Richard Doll’s report connecting it to cancer I gave it up… That would’ve been around 1960.”) he answer is, hurting, raw,

stressed and, habit-shackled reader, lashed to the monstrously mechanical go-round of your own addictions: luxury! Yes, unashamed, fivestar, no-holds-barred, plumped-up and dusted down, impeccably served and grandiosely set luxury — the proverbial silver spoon, resting on a velvet cushion floating in a pool of warm custard, or possibly vichyssoise. hing is: I’ve done time (all right, granted only a few hours, but the Old Bill did take away my belt and shoelaces), and I’ve done rehab, but neither of these absolute prohibitions availed me any more than the repeated atempts I’ve made to curb this or that addiction, atempts which have invariably ended with the substitution of one pernicious habit for another. (See Esquire passim for a haunting description of how my vaping got so out of control that I’d regularly awaken with the witch’s tit of the vaporiser clenched between my avid jaws.) And when I say I’ve “done rehab’’, I mean tough rehab, not some touchy-feely desert

Esquire — June 2018

After 44 years, it really is over for me. Why, if La Divina Nicotina were to appear before me right now, arrayed in her silkiest and most intoxicatingly revealing apparel, I would simply wave her away with these air-freshening words: ‘I do not know you’

Steve Pyke/Gety Images

Wagnerian pomp and bejewelled circumstance favoured by Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria if his squalid litle habits are to be curtailed.

drum circle, because back in the day it was believed that in order to drive out the parasitic devil of addiction, you had to kill its pusillanimous host: the human ego. I remember my counsellor saying to me: “hey call us brainwashers here, Will, but we have to wash your brain, ’cos it’s diry.” My diry brain was served up to the pummelling of group therapy, whereby my fellow addicts — in a bizarre recreation of the “criticism sessions” that ypified Mao’s Cultural Revolution — humiliated me back into some semblance of cleanliness. Mens sana in corpore sano and all that Latin jazz. I managed to stay sano for two or three years (this was in the late Eighties), but I can’t help feeling that the seting for my rehabilitation wasn’t altogether conducive to the right mens sana. I’m talking Tupperware and plastic stacking chairs; laminate floors and Polysyrene ceilings — I’m talking a world of self-denial — including denying that this Self is an impossibly grandiose fellow, who demands the sort of

Esquire — June 2018

enter cliveden house: a stupendously large and ornate country pile dumped on the hames braes to the west of London. At various times the abode of dukes, duennas, and the odd Prince of Wales, there have been three houses on the site, the third and present incumbent being a humungous mash-up of the Roman Cinquecento and the Palladian, which was designed by Charles Barry (of Houses of Parliament fame) and completed in 1852. Cliveden achieved its greatest notoriety during the last century, when its then chatelaine, Nancy Astor, presided over a racy hirties political salon known as “the Cliveden Set”. She herself was Britain’s first woman MP, and her personal style ran to divided skirts and motorcycles; our kind of esquire, one might say. Guests included everyone who  was  anyone, from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill, but it was in the early Sixties that the gaf reached a sort of crescendo of posh naughtiness. At that time, the tenant of Spring Cotage on the Cliveden Estate was one Stephen Ward, an osteopath and socialite, whose kicks consisted in being a sort of amateur procurer-cum-pimp to the great and the notso-good. I’m not going to run over all the ins and outs of the Profumo affair here: if you don’t know how the British establishment was finally draged down into the tabloid mosh pit, where it’s remained, geting a sound kicking to this day, then you’re no kind of an esquire at all. Suffice to say, Ward, the then 19-yearold Christine Keeler (she of the famous nude reversed shot on wooden stacking chair), and her friend Mandy Rice-Davies (aged 16), were all prety heavy smokers — certainly if Scandal, the 1989 film about the afair is to be believed. It could be that dear old John Hurt was ypecast for the role of Ward — which is not to suggest that the late, great actor was a pander — but boy could he puf! I remember seeing him regularly, during my underage drinking years in the Seventies, propping up the bar in The

Flask in Hampstead village, knocking down the sauce, and always with un mégot poised on his botom lip. Anyway, the Astors rather played down the whole scandalous association during their suzerainy, and, of course, the entire vast establishment is now emphatically smoke-free, although DVDs of the film are on sale at reception in the house, should anyone need reminding of that innocent era when the only scandalous thing about a middle-aged defence minister shaging a 19-year-old girl was that she also happened to be shaging a Soviet spook. Anyway, I setled on Cliveden as the perfect seting within which to undergo the rigours of withdrawing from my pernicious 44-year dependency on nicotine, because I wanted — among many other things — to finally join the establishment: following Italo Svevo’s Zeno, this was the sort of strong, perfect man I wished to be: one with a five-piece set of Samsonite hand-tooled leather luggage, and a brand new Land Rover Discovery to load them into. he sort of strong, perfect — and let’s face it, rich — man, who cheerfully regards this astonishing establishment (moto: “Nothing ordinary ever happened here, nor could it”) as a species of airport hotel, given its proximiy to Heathrow. Yes! Ater years of taty misery, making do with bide-a-wee-syle bed and breakfasts where obese landladies serve rancid fry-ups and the sheets are so synthetic they cling to you like shrouds, I wanted to experience Prince Charles levels of personal indulgence. Harold Nicolson, the celebrated diarist and husband to gardening geezer-girl Vita Sackville-West, said of Cliveden: “To live here would be like living on the stage of the Scala Theatre in Milan.” Well, so be it! I thought, the night before I set out: bring on the overweight prima donnas, and may they crush me to death with their opulent cavorting! My rehab companion and I entrained from Paddington to Maidenhead. I’d last visited the constituency of our Virgin Queen, Mrs May, to appear on an episode of the BBC’s Question Time. One of my fellow panellists had been Nigel Farage, and I’d had the great pleasure of calling him, on live television, “a grubby litle 111

If James Bond had addressed his health issues at Cliveden, he’d have avoided all assassination attempts, although he’d probably have found it difficult to resist the extravagantly dry Martinis opportunist, riding on the coatails of history”. Of course, Farage was way too cool to rise to this, and simply donated his habitual shiteating grin to the camera, but it remains one of my finest put-downs; why, I’d stubbed the man out as if he were one of the filter-tips he himself perennially pufs upon. Yes! As my taxi caromed along the lanes, and swung in through the gates of Cliveden, I saw a Churchillian future ahead of me, one in which such bon mots fell as casually from my lips as cigaretes had once been raised to them. he Farage stubbing-out had been a sort of sympathetic magic, a symbolic act presaging the final extinguishing of the real thing. And as my rehab companion and I entered the Grand Hall, to be welcomed by a beaming and burly chap called Michael Chaloner, who would be our Virgil throughout our stay in the underworld of the über-rich, it struck me that it was already rising 15 hours since I’d last ingested any nicotine, and that I felt perfectly all right: a litle nervy, granted, and rather emotionally… labile — but I’d by no means turned into the slavering homicidal maniac I’d anticipated. Was this, I wondered, because I was looking forward to taking up residence in the Shrewsbury Suite? A set of rooms on the first floor of the west wing that are so elegantly appointed, with such magnificent views out over the surrounding country, that — get this — they have their own guestbook. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if every single toilet at Cliveden had its own guestbook because this is an establishment that’s constantly being memorialised. Hell, since it’s actually owned by the National Trust, it’s already a public monument of sorts. Siting in the woody vastness of the library, either sipping our cocktails or our tea, my companion and I would stare out over the truly massive parterre, and see there the ghastly hoi polloi, clad in brightly coloured garments of nylon and Gore-Tex, draging their equally vile offspring between the neatly clipped hedges. (For those of you too lower class to know what a parterre is, I have no wise, defining words — only a soupçon of piy.) Bags deposited by the four-poster in the Shrewsbury Suite, we adjourned first to the Astor Grill for a litle light luncheon, and then to the 112

spa, where my companion received some sort of mysterious “treatment”, while I availed myself of first the sauna, and then the steam room, intent on sweating out the last fugitive molecules of nicotinic acid. The grill room was fairly sparsely tenanted, the spa still emptier. As I dripped, I found it hard not to think of the scene in hunderball, in which Sean Connery's James Bond is lashed to a stretching machine at a health farm by an agent of Spectre who’s coincidentally taking a cure. Bond is almost torn in two by the errant gym equipment, but then that’s what you get if you waste taxpayers’ money on such an establishment. If Bond had addressed his issues at Cliveden instead, he’d have avoided all assassination attempts, although he’d probably have found it diicult to resist the extravagantly dry Martinis. i’ve written in these pages before about my positive aversion to luxury. Not, you appreciate, that I don’t like Egyptian coton sheets, haute cuisine and impeccably mannered service as much as the next spoilt dick, but just because luxury, no mater how opulent, is never in my experience luxurious enough: there’s always some dry litle pea lodged deep inside the mattress, that nonetheless renders this litle princess black and blue by morning. Perhaps it was because my trip to Cliveden was so goaloriented that I didn’t experience the pea efect; this meant I compared the establishment not with the Sunset Tower in Los Angeles or the Hotel Arts in Barcelona, but with Broadway Lodge in Weston-super-Mare. As I’ve already remarked, I’ve done conventional rehab and from the luxury point of view it sucks dog shit, what with its tough love, and having to grout the splashback in the shower stall before you can take a shower. It sucks from the service angle as well, what with all that rigorous honesy; I was fed up with people telling me I was a self-deceiving liar. Instead, I wanted to bask in my self-deception, while people were paid to say how very nice it was to see me, their manner strongly implying that I was one of the most estimable fellows ever to be born. This is the sort of feedback the staff at Cliveden positively excel at and we were borne

on a pink cloud of approbation from spa to suite, to the library for cocktails, and finally to the beautifully appointed André Garret Restaurant for dinner. I’m not going to itemise all the yummy dishes we ate anymore than I’m going to exhaustively describe the decor — that’s what websites are for. What I can tell you, is that the food was of such piquancy, and the service of such subtle obsequiousness, that when the long meal ended — let alone before — I didn’t feel the slightest need of my habitual, smoy digestif. Yes, yes, I appreciate that providing Cliveden-syle rehab for all of Britain’s smokers, drinkers, dragon-chasers and crackheads would place a considerable burden on the taxpayer but I ask you, aren’t the costs of our noxious addictions already begaring the nation? Besides, I was able to kick La Divina Nicotina into touch with a mere two nights at Cliveden, whereas the minimum stay in primary care at the likes of he Priory takes six to eight weeks and costs north of 20 grand!

Esquire — June 2018

he French Dining Room at Cliveden House, ypical of the opulence in which the author immersed himself to complete his self-managed rehab programme

True, Cliveden doesn’t have any specialist staff on hand to deal with the horrors of withdrawal, but it does have Mr Chaloner, who, on the second aternoon of our stay, took us for a ramble through the extraordinary house, stopping here and there to remark on some ancient peccadillo of its previous owners, whether it be Lady Astor’s son’s penchant for members of his own sex, or the back passages of the great house itself which vermiculate its thick walls, such that a staf member can pop up more or less anywhere, then disappear just as readily. he aim was, of course, to keep downstairs downstairs, even when it was — so to speak — upstairs. Now, if you’d have told me I’d be undertaking a tour of a National Trust propery less than 48 hours ater quitting the gaspers, I’d have asked you for a fag, so shocked would I have been. If you’d have told me I’d actually be enjoying it, I’d have lit it. True, Chaloner was an exemplary guide, wity and just a litle irreverent: I suspect it’s at

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his instigation that the Lego bust of Churchill was placed behind the reception desk; a litle reminder, perhaps, that even the most exaltedly aristocratic among us can still be perfectly realistically depicted in… plastic. But I spent most of that day in a sort of pinkish haze anyway. The previous evening, surfeited with fine dining, we’d repaired to the Shrewsbury Suite, choosing the route which took us outdoors, so I could feel the cool night air in my revivifying air-sacs. The last thing I’d noticed before we went in again, was the ornate, 100t-high clock tower that looms over the stable block of the house. With its half open staircase and four, golden clock faces, it’s an arresting sight, but more striking still is the statue that surmounts it: a reproduction, I later learned, of the one that tops off the July Column in the Place de la Bastille, Paris. This winged male figure seems a little too revolutionary for such a context, especially given it’s an allegory: the chain in its let

hand representing the struck-of feters of slavery, the torch in its right the very flame of libery itself. Still, coating the thing in two layers of 23-carat gold leaf helps to bling Le Genié de la Liberté up a litle and besides, since this latest iteration of the sculpture (which keeps getting hit by reactionary lightning) has only been in situ at Cliveden since 2012, I decided it was entirely aimed at… moi. After all, had I not struck of the feters of my nicotine addiction, and had my large collection of disposable butane lighters not been repurposed into a veritable beacon celebrating my freedom? And so I had slept deep that night. At least until the small hours which was when, in the recent past, I’d have awakened to have a cigarete. Why? Because as anyone with a scintilla of medical knowledge can tell you: smoking at night doesn’t count. But in the plumped-up darkness of the Shrewsbury, as tightly wrapped up in the four-poster bed as a handrolled Havana cigar, I came to consciousness in the midst of a full-blown panic atack: gasping for air, and spluttering to my longsufering companion: “I’m dead! I’m dead!” It was the unaccustomed darkness of the suite, I think — only the very rich can bask in such Sygian interiors nowadays, the rest of us have to sufer light pollution infiltrating our cheap drapes — this, and yes, I had died that night. By which I mean that the smoking, chewing, snorting, vaping I died that night, the I who believed nicotine had anything to ofer him beyond blood, sweat and the misery of an early grave; the I that had posed with a cigarete in his lips, imagining himself some sort of suburban fucking Steve McQueen, ever since he was tall enough to put his 26p on the counter and ask for 20 Players No 6. Yes! I arose the following morning the strong and perfect man that Alex Bilmes so envies. And remained that man for the rest of my stay at Cliveden, during which we had a t’ai chi session with a soon to be 80-year-old woman called Judy who looked 20 years younger than that, while moving with the coiled strength and suppleness usually attributed to James Bond. Unlike 007, though, I suspect Judy had never so much as seen a handmade Balkan Mixture cigarete, let alone smoked pushing-60 a day. It’s customary when you leave rehab to undergo a simple ceremony during which your peers wish you well, and ofer their continuing strength and support, while you, welling up with tears, tell them how much you love them, and that you’re a changed man. Well, consider this article to have been that ceremony, and remember, dear, dear readers, don’t be suckered in by any talk of spartan fitness regimes, or harsh psychological cleansing, you heard it here first: luxury is indeed the new rehab. Will Self stayed at Cliveden House hotel, Berkshire, England SL6; 113

The special One The Project One, Mercedes-AMG’s first blindingly fast, technologically out-ofthis-world hypercar, is poised to give other ultra-rare street rockets a run for their money… millions of it By Kevin Sintumuang Photographs by Tuukka Koski

Fast and curious: the Mercedes-AMG Project One emerges from a garage, eager to take to the streets of downtown Los Angeles


From let: the Mercedes-Benz star is painted on the hood to avoid air turbulence and lower the drag efect; similarly, the headlights are integrated flush into the front arch; the spare F-syle driving position is stacked with high-tech monitors and controls

it’s gauche to start with numbers, but when we're referring to a £1.95m hypercar, we’re not going to start with the colour of the seat belts, are we? (But we’ll get to that.) So let’s talk numbers: the Mercedes-AMG Project One, the carmaker’s first foray into the ultra-luxe stratosphere of insanely fast hypercars that includes the Bugatti Chiron, Aston Martin Valyrie and Pagani Zonda, produces a planet-moving 1,000bhp. It can go from 0–124mph in less time than it takes to read this sentence. (Six seconds.) It’s powered by a 1.6-litre V6 (and four electric motors) that screeches up to 11,000rpm. (Your average Honda Civic gets up to a mere 5,500rpm. he Ferrari Superfast, 8,500.) It is a plug-in hybrid, with an all-electric range of about 15 miles. But you want real exclusivity? Only 275 116

examples of what is ostensibly a street legal Formula One car — the first prototype contained the same engine Lewis Hamilton uses — will be made. Mercedes-AMG allocated 20 for Britain, and 55 to the US where all of them have been spoken for. (Just a few buyers are women, in case you were wondering which gender is still overcompensating for something.) As is becoming the norm with hypercars, you couldn’t just write a cheque to buy the Project One. You needed to apply. MercedesBenz received around 1,100 approaches worldwide. The ultimate decision of who received the privilege to plunk down the cost of a very nice Knightsbridge pied-à-terre on a vehicle came down to AMG CEO Tobias Moers and Dietmar Exler, the president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

What separated one billionaire from the next? The things taken into consideration were a lot like the criteria Ford GT buyers were subject to when applying to purchase the American company’s otherworldly supercar: a large social media following helped, as did the sense that you were going to actually drive the car and display it at events as opposed to flipping it or, worse, mothballing it within your hangar of bespoke vehicles. But the initial barrier before even being considered for Club Project One? You must have owned at least 20 Mercedes-Benzes in your lifetime. “It was a very difficult conversation to have with the customer who [had] owned 18  Mercedes,” says Heiko Schmidt, head of AMG North America. Just had to buy that Lexus in ’03, didn’t you?

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Mercedes-AMG Project One Engine Power 0–62mph Top speed Economy Price

(Hypercar buyers, as one can surmise, live in a rarefied world. Schmidt says AMG poached one of its main liaisons for Project One customers from Porsche because of her experience with the clientele who purchased its pioneering hybrid hypercar, the 918.) Much of the Project One can be customised, with the exception of the seat belts, because of safety regulations. (You’ll still be able to choose from a set of colours, however.) Deliveries aren’t until 2019; until then, the lucy 275 will be treated to custom seat fitings (the two seats are built into the carbon-fibre monocoque to save weight, but the pedals will be adjustable), get a look at their engine being hand-assembled, take rides in proper F1 cars, and receive special training in how to handle a 1,000bhp land rocket. It will be the first

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consumer Mercedes-Benz built in Brackley and Brixworth, England, where the cars for the company’s F1 team are manufactured. Based on numbers alone, it’s easy to dismiss the Project One as just another billionaire’s plaything, but it’s bigger than that. For one, its appearance is more classic than the angry, angular look that seems to be the prevalent design language for many milliondollar-plus automobiles these days, as if one of Michael Bay’s Transformers were trapped halfway between car and robot. Sure, it has thin, mean eyes and a menacing shark-ish fin, but it still has curves. It still elicits that old-school, sensual feeling of yearning. “It’s similar to Stirling Moss’s SLRs in the Fifties,” Gorden Wagener, Mercedes’ chief design officer, tells Esquire during

3.85-litre V8 twin-turbo 592bhp 3.5 secs 199mph 26.9mpg From £166,180

a walk-through of the car, pointing out how the shoulder line is at wheel level on both vehicles. “We didn’t want it to look like a hypercar.” Secondly, the technology that drives the Project One won’t simply be for the 0.0001 per cent. he goal, at least initially, is for the innovative hybrid tech that is able to squeeze out enormous amounts of power from a relatively small engine to make its way into other Mercedes-Benz sports cars. Albeit maybe more for the one per cent at first. It makes you root for these machines, even though most of us will never drive one. For the überwealthy, hypercars present a burgeoning investment opportuniy. For everyone else, and the big companies that make them, they are an investment in keeping cars exciting to drive until the day autonomous cars drive us. 117

Part hiking boot, part trainer, Moncler’s new kicks walk the razor’s edge between form and function. Multicoloured leather trainers, £350, by Moncler

The hook No models, no sets, no Photoshop. Just a showcase of standout pieces that speak to the season’s biggest trends. You might say you could hang your hat on it Photographs by Allie Holloway 118

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Pockets: man’s other best friend. Olive coton field jacket, £1,295, by Alfred Dunhill

You don’t have to starve to look like a starving artist. Blue distressed denim jeans, £145, by Polo Ralph Lauren

Right: clockwise from top let Because everyone looks good in tortoiseshell. Brown acetate sunglasses, £240, by Tom Ford A life saver for ciy slickers. Orange nylon waterproof backpack, £130, by Patagonia Never skimp on hardware. Black leather/gold buckle belt, £350, by Loewe One way to make millennial pink a lot less precious? Slap it on a badass biker jacket. Pink leather jacket, £2,350, by Valentino


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There’s more to bags than brown and black. White/red/navy canvas dufel bag, £1.230, by Botega Veneta


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See Stockists page for details

You can tell a great designer by the depth of his references. Alessandro Michele picked this one up from the 11th Duke of Devonshire. (Google it.) Navy/orange wool sweater, £765, by Gucci

Character studies

Over three decades and 40plus films, Benicio Del Toro has built a reputation as one of the most exciting screen actors of his time, and a career as an heir to the stars of earlier Hollywood generations: intense, unpredictable, supremely cool. In his new movie, Sicario 2: Soldado, he plays a gunman on the run from the CIA and the Mexican cartels. Esquire meets a maverick in his prime


Interview by Alex Bilmes Photographs by Simon Emmet Styling by Jeanne Yang

‘He’s a major artist in the crat,’ says Sean Penn, ‘arguably unparalleled in his inventiveness...’ Benicio Del Toro photographed for Esquire in Hollywood, California, April 2018 White coton polo shirt, £435, by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture

he is a big man, brawny but not bullish, despite the name. There’s a deftness to him, a delicacy. He treads lightly, moves swiftly without seeming to hurry. First he’s here, then he’s over there. How did he do that? He comes in through the back, or round the side, and goes out some other way, vanishes almost. Each time I met him for this article, on three consecutive days in Los Angeles, in April, he arrived and departed with as much fanfare as a breath of wind. Where he came from and where he went? Hard to say. Benicio Del Toro played basketball to a high standard in his youth. His boyhood bedroom wall, in Miramar, Puerto Rico, was a hall of fame of posters of his favourite players. For a time, he was even talented enough to dream of a career as a pro. Without knowing much of the game, you can see that he must have been a frustrating opponent, occupying the unseen spaces of the court, entering unexpectedly into the action, conjuring a dazzling piece of skill — a pass made with disguise, a shot from nowhere — before dematerialising again, points made. Instead of basketball he pursued acting, and he brings that mercurial, shapeshiting qualiy to his performances. Not for him the dramatic entrance. He comes at things sideways, unannounced, so that you might not notice him at first, edging into a scene. And then he pulls one of his moves and, as they might say in basketball: boom. For three decades on screen he has played men of few words but decisive actions — intense, diident, enigmatic men. Men who speak sotly and carry a big gun. He has been Che Guevara and Pablo Escobar. He has played an assortment of tough guys with dark pasts, conflicted cops or criminals (or both) mixed up in drugs or the so-called war on drugs. Look at him: he’s hardly likely to be ofered an overwrought wedding planner or a brittle masseuse, though people might pay good money to see him take on either (or both). Sean Penn, with whom he has worked on three films, describes Del Toro as “a major artist in the crat… arguably unparalleled in his inventiveness of character”. He is known to strip back his dialogue, removing lines from the script rather than adding them, preferring acting over exposition, allowing his characters to develop through body language, expressing himself through gesture as much as sound. When he does speak, in some of his most famous performances, it’s in Spanish (Traic, Che), or some other language of his own invention (he Usual Suspects). Doesn’t mater. Even when you can’t hear a word, you catch his drit. In person he’s laconic, certainly. But not reticent. When the mood takes him, he’s a talker: thoughtful, warm and funny. And, as you might expect, he has charisma to burn.


My conversations with him for this article took place in a sun-dappled nook, shielded by palm trees, at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood; over a lunch of Cajun chicken and vitamin juice in a booth at an old-fashioned neighbourhood restaurant, a regular haunt near his home on the west side of LA; and between set-ups in a studio in Hollywood, where photos of him were taken for Esquire. None of these occasions was the first time I’d met Del Toro. That was 17 years ago, in the summer of 2001, when I interviewed him in New York, over vodka and cranberry juice

‘I’ve played every angle on the drugs’: in the forthcoming Sicario 2: Soldado, the sequel to the gripping 2015 thriller, Del Toro returns as Alejandro Gillick, a former prosecutor hell-bent on revenge against Mexico’s drug cartels

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in the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel. He was on a high then, accepting congratulations for his recent Oscar win, for his performance as a Mexican cop in a tight spot in Traic, Steven Soderbergh’s drugs war drama. (A table of heavyset, sharp suited Italian-American men actually applauded as he passed; one stood to shake hands with Del Toro — “great job, great job”. It was Steven Van Zandt, E Street Band guitarist and star of he Sopranos.) That was a long time ago and much has happened since. The world has changed. But some things stay the same. I’m still interviewing film stars. He’s still playing soulful, conflicted men caught up in the drugs wars on the US-Mexican border. In the forthcoming Sicario 2: Soldado, the sequel to the searing 2015 thriller Sicario, he plays a killer determined to avenge the murders of his wife and daughter on the orders of a cartel boss. That might sound like a lack of progress, on both our parts, but while I make no claims for my own output in the intervening years, Del Toro’s body of work — particularly where it relates to that topic: drugs, the drug wars, their efect on individuals and on sociey — has amassed a weight and a complexiy and power. Still, until our recent catch-up, Del Toro had remained frozen, in my mind, as the 34-yearold I met back in 2001: the hard-charging Hollywood actor with the Robert Mitchum eyes, and the late-night twinkle, and the oddly appealing private semaphore — physical jerks and tics and gesticulations, as if signalling to an imaginary friend, or a plane no one else could see. It’s a silly word, really, but Del Toro impressed me then, as he continues to impress audiences today, as a man who might best be described as “cool”, a cool dude: the thinking man’s Hollywood badass. here’s a moment during Somewhere, Sofia Coppola’s movie business satire, from 2010, that I think adroitly captures the public image of Benicio Del Toro, or at least my enduring fanboy notion of him. he action takes place at the Chateau Marmont, the haute bohemian hotel on Sunset Boulevard, where Somewhere’s central character, an ageing bad boy movie

‘I’m not saying I’m glad there’s people out there dying from the drugs and the violence, just so I can flap my wings, but I’ve been lucky to be around at the right moment’

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actor in the grip of an existential crisis, lives a life of soulless self-indulgence. He’s played by ageing bad boy movie actor Stephen Dorf. In the scene in question, Dorff’s character enters a lift at the hotel and encounters an actor more famous and successful than he. It’s Benicio Del Toro. He’s wearing a blue blazer and a stained baseball cap with the word “California” emblazoned on it. (This is a guess, but I don’t imagine he had to spend long in wardrobe to achieve this look.) Warily, they acknowledge each other. Dorf’s character looks somehow expectant. Del Toro looks like he is enjoying a private joke. Dorf’s character, Johnny, is first to speak. Johnny: “Hey, man.” Benicio: “Hey.” he lit starts to go up. Benicio: “What room you in?” Johnny: “59?” Benicio: “I met Bono in 59.” Johnny (laughing): “Oh, yeah? hat’s cool.” Pause. “See you, man.” Benicio (of screen): “Stay loose.” See what I mean? Wry, inscrutable, sleepily handsome, creatively dishevelled, louche without being creepy. Cool. It’s not him, of course. In the credits to Somewhere, next to his name, it doesn’t say “Himself”. It says “Celebriy”. Coppola and Del


Toro are playing with our perceptions of what the life of Del Toro, or someone like Del Toro, a famous actor on the Hollywood scene, might be like. And yet… Is he really as cool as all that, I ask Josh Brolin, his Sicario co-star, who’s known him, on and off, since they were 19? Or is he just another doofus, like the rest of us? “We’re all doofuses, man!” says Brolin. “No one’s really cool. But if there’s anyone who could be perceived as cool it’s Benicio, for sure.” Del Toro is old school. He's a throwback to a time, not so long ago, when the distinction between character actor and leading man briefly collapsed, and unconventional, even awkward men, outsiders who once might have been pushed to the margins, could take centre stage without conforming to rigid ideals of square-jawed masculine heroism. Even if they happened to be square-jawed. He is enthralled by the work of the singular movie stars of the New Hollywood of the

Sixties and Seventies, the easy riders and the raging bulls: De Niro, Pacino, Nicholson, Hoffman et al. In most cases, these men had been trained for the theatre, had studied acting as a craft, under the same teachers — in the case of Del Toro, Stella Adler — who had taught Marlon Brando and James Dean in what became known as method acting: intensely studied performance aiming for complete naturalism. Not just hiting your mark and saying your lines and being buf. Del Toro is old school in other ways. He listens to classic rock, on vinyl. “I find it very relaxing.” At our first meeting for this piece, he turns up wearing a Rolling Stones tour T-shirt under his blazer. hat band comes up more than once, in conversation. As do The Clash and The Beatles. The most animated he becomes during the Esquire photo shoot is in the course of a discussion, between pictures, of Paul McCartney’s underrated solo output: “McCartney II, man. Oooh!” He has

‘I’m proud of it, but that movie tanked’: Del Toro as Dr Gonzo alongside Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), below. ‘Suddenly it was like, “Hey, maybe this guy can act!”’: as Fred Fenster in he Usual Suspects (1995), opposite

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Alamy | Rex

‘My life has influenced every character that I play. And by that I mean my experiences, my upbringing, the things I went through as a human being… hat’s the first thing I go to with every role’

subscriptions to Mojo and Uncut. He reads books, too, paper ones, an eclectic assortment of old books and older books. Latest discoveries: Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying (“the ‘zipless fuck’… awesome”), and HG Wells. He’s recently completed seven months shooting a TV series — Escape at Dannemora, directed by Ben Stiller, based on the true story of a famous 2015 prison break (he plays a murderer) — but don’t go to him for updates on your favourite show. Instead, he watches old movies. Brolin: “I go, ‘What you been doing?’ He goes, ‘I’ve been watching old movies.’ I go, ‘That’s what you did yesterday?’ He goes, ‘No, that’s what I did for the last month.’ And I know that he means it. He’s literally been in

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the dark for 30 days, just watching old movies and eating Doritos.” Only once in the time we spent together did I see Del Toro consult his phone. hat was to check the time. When I asked him if he was on social media, he looked at me like I’d suggested he might be a secret morris dancer. Facebook? Blank stare. Twitter? Mystified glare. Instagram? Zip. He doesn’t want to come across like one of those grizzled curmudgeons who think everything was beter in their day. “No! I used to hear that from my dad! Listen, you can’t fight it. We’re the old ones now. You can’t judge the young. The young should judge us!” But still… you could learn a lot about a person by

flipping through their record collection. At length, he remembers a use for his phone, besides making calls. “Wikipedia!” he says, marvelling, as only us analogue creatures can, at all those facts at his fingertips, all those stories. If character can be revealed in details — and movies and plays (and maybe even Wikipedia) say that it can — here are some more details I collected. He drives a faded old American 4x4, and he has a classic Seventies car, too, a Ford LTD, the same car as his dad had when he was a kid. (“It’s a diferent ride. It’s like you’re flying low, close to the ground. American cars now,” he says, mournfully, “they all drive like Europeans.”) He wears a Philadelphia 76ers baseball cap and wraparound shades. (He was wearing a Philadelphia 76ers T-shirt at our first meeting, in 2001. Wraparound shades, too. And he sang me a Rolling Stones’ song: “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”, from Goat’s Head Soup.) His stragly beard is flecked with grey. His hair is thick as a forest. He is unfailingly polite with waiters and patient with interviewers. He lives alone. “Not every night,” he says. Is he not lonely? “By the time I feel lonely I’m asleep.” This is an uncharacteristically flippant answer. He reconsiders. “here’s more people living alone now than ever in history. And they put the fear on you: ‘Ah, you’re gonna be alone.’ I don’t want to be alone. No one wants to be alone. But I’m a litle bit of a loner.” He has never been married. Would he like to try it? “I don’t understand it, necessarily.” Has he ever come close? “I’ve been in love. Yeah, I’ve been in love several times.” But, “A lot of times when you’ve started having a relationship with someone and you fall in love, you’re very vulnerable, so you become unstable really quick and that causes all kinds of drama, and that’s not good.” Sometimes, he allows, he is envious of male friends who are married. His brother Gustavo is married, and Benicio speaks admiringly of that relationship, how mutually supportive it is. “It would be stupid of me to be closed to that,” he says. “But I don’t feel like I’m unhappy. I’m not. I’m stable, I’m good.” He has a daughter, Delilah, six years old. He mentions her frequently in conversation, as proud fathers of young children tend to do. Her mother is Kimberly Stewart, daughter of Rod and his first wife, Alana Hamilton. Would he have another child? “Life has taught me that you can’t say never,” he says. “I don’t know what the future will bring. I’m not with the mother of my daughter, and we have a good understanding of what happened and I’m grateful, but if I was having another kid I would have to be with the mother. I don’t want to have a kid just to have a kid. I don’t think that’s the right way to do it.”


Black wool-silk suit, £2,695; black coton shirt, £345, both by Dolce & Gabbana Sunglasses and silver lion’s head ring, Del Toro’s own


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He was 44 when Delilah was born. He’s pleased he didn’t become a father earlier. “Oh, man. I would’ve been a terrible dad at 26. At 26! I went out every night to pubs and discos and parties. Every night. That started to change in my late twenties, when I started getting really busy, but still I went out every day. I don’t understand how people get married really young. I mean, I do understand it but you can see that it’s diicult.” Mostly unremarkable in his dress — denim jacket, T-shirt, black trousers, Adidas trainers (old school variey) — on his finger, on the days of our meetings, he wears a large silver ring in the shape of a lion’s head. He ofers it for inspection. I weigh it in my palm and slip it on. Way too big for this pale ypist’s slender finger. Who gave it to him? “Someone special.” Is he going to tell me who? “Let’s keep some secrets.” What does it signiy? He pauses, considering whether to share this titbit, then shrugs: what the hell? “’Cause I don’t wanna yap like a hyena,” he says, adopting a begging pose, paws raised. hen his voice drops a key. “I wanna sit there and let it come to me, like a lion.” Another pause. And then a great wheezing laugh, and he half-collapses sideways, a lopsided grin on his face, shoulders shaking. Not a bull or a lion, more like Mutley the cartoon dog. Bull, lion, dog… wait, we’re not finished. Josh Brolin quotes their Sicario co-star, Emily Blunt, who also starred opposite Del Toro in The Wolfman, in 2010. (No prizes for guessing which one of them played the hairy guy with the fangs.) “Emily says he’s just like a big bear,” Brolin says. “He has that look. He’s a man’s man and all that. But he’s truly one of the sweetest guys I know. Inside, he’s absolute jelly.”

“i have no control over where I was born or what the fuck is this world that we live in,” Del Toro tells me, when I ask to what extent his career has been dictated by his ethniciy, his Puerto Rican-ness. “I can only say that my life has influenced the fuck out of every character that I play. And by that I mean my experiences, my upbringing, the things I went through as a human being… hat’s the first thing I go to with every role I play. It starts with mom and dad, then family, then school, religion, superstition, culture. Big time Puerto Rican! Latin American, Hispanic, American as well. All those things marked the hell out of my life.” Del Toro’s parents were lawyers. His mother, Fausta, came from a prominent family in the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan. His father, Gustavo, who was in the army before he

Esquire — June 2018

was a lawyer, came from a less rarefied background — “rural people,” his son says, in San Germán, on the other side of the island. Del Toro’s childhood was spent in Miramar, a smart district on the outskirts of San Juan. He attended the Academy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a prestigious Catholic school for the sons and daughters of the island’s professional classes. When he was nine years old, his mother died. She had been ill for some time with hepatitis. “My childhood was kind of like a contradiction,” he says. “It was a sad childhood because we knew that our mom was dying.” He pauses. “Look, we’re all dying. But we knew that our mom was going to die very soon. We knew that she was very sick. And at the same time there was a sense of happiness around the house. My mom had a great sense of humour. here was a sense of looking at what was coming straight in the face and at the same time just enjoying life. Because we’re all going to die. And you can get boged down in that. You can just freeze: ‘Oh fuck, I’m gonna die.’ And not do anything, just wait for death. She didn’t freeze at all, no. My mom was a tough cookie.” It’s more than 40 years since she died. I wonder how much he remembers of her, if he still thinks of her. He says he once met the great Japanese film-maker, Kaneto Shindô, shortly before Shindô’s death at the age of 99. “When he was 75 he did a movie that was a homage to his mom. I asked him: ‘Did that change anything?’ He goes, ‘Not a bit.’ He goes, ‘I’m 99 years old, I think about my mom every day.’” It’s the same with Del Toro. “It’s crazy. It’s amazing. It’s really a cause for celebration.” Citizens of Puerto Rico are American, they can come and go freely from the mainland. But Puerto Rico is not the same as middle America. “When you go there,” he says, “it doesn’t feel like you’re in a different country, but it does feel like you’re in a diferent culture, completely. The language, the religion, the attitudes, the food, the music, the art… it remains very strong. Puerto Rico is old. It has a long past, and a connection to Europe through Spain, and a big African influence, through the history of slavery. Maybe a kid growing up there is exposed to things that a kid who grew up in LA isn’t.” Del Toro’s father was a disciplinarian. The son of a policeman, he’d had a difficult childhood himself. He, too, lost his own mother when he was young. The men of the family were steely. Benicio’s great uncle, brother of his father’s father, was also a cop, and a bodyguard: he was in shootouts, gun batles in the street. He was the kind of man Benicio plays now on screen. His father told him he was reminded of this uncle by Benicio’s character, Alejandro, in Sicario. (In Mexico, “sicario” means “hitman.”) From Benicio’s father he gets his distinctive


way of walking and moving. “he way we dey graviy, that’s very similar.” hey share a love of sport — his dad never missed a basketball game — but they didn’t always see eye to eye. And while his brother Gustavo, two years older, was more likely to toe the line, Benicio was full of mischief. (Gustavo, to whom he remains close has been equally successful in America: a doctor, he is chief medical oicer, as well as executive vice-president, at a teaching hospital in Brooklyn). “If you didn’t think like him,” Del Toro says of his father, "there was a problem. He could get angry. Right now? His atitude? he neighbours would have called the police pleny of times. “I got whupped by him many times,” Del Toro says, “but I wasn’t the only one getting whupped. All of my friends were geting whupped! hat’s how it was. He would get the belt, or get in your fucking face: ‘Ra! Ra! Ra!’ “he thing about it,” he says, “was that, had he done that and not been there, that could be a problem. But he was there for every dinner, every breakfast. And I knew that he was right 90 per cent of the time. I think there was a sense that I wanted some atention from him and I got it in the rawest form. I got it right in the vein.” Not too long after their mother died, Gustavo and Benicio’s father remarried. As he entered adolescence, the younger Del Toro began to strugle. “My mom had passed away, my dad had remarried, I was a litle bit depressed,” he says. “Never did I feel depressed. But when you look back, my grades were going down. When you’re in a communiy, sociey starts to brand you. I got a reputation: class clown.” Enter perhaps the most significant person in young Benicio’s life, outside his immediate family. Sarah Torres Peralta was a successful lawyer and had been a close friend of Benicio’s mother. She was also his godmother. “My godmother carried a lot of the pain that we were going through from my mom dying,” he says “She had this connection with my brother and I. I think she understood somehow, much more than my dad understood, the big picture of what was going on.” One day, when he was 13, she asked him if he’d like to transfer to a school in the US. He said he would. hat same day he was on a plane, heading to Mercersburg Academy, a private boarding school in the Pennsylvania countryside. Torres Peralta took a chance on him. “he high school I went to was expensive. She paid the bills.” Later, she helped fund both brothers through their college years. “I got really lucy with my godmother,” Del Toro says. “She was the one who said: ‘Go big.’” He drops his voice to an impassioned whisper: “‘Why not go big?’”


he was always funny. He did a Mick Jager impression, as a kid, that made people laugh. Maybe it was this that prompted Gustavo to sugest that his brother might make an actor one day — a statement that still seems shocking to Del Toro, coming as it did so completely out of the blue. heir mother had had an interest in the arts, and nourished in her second son a love of painting. heir father read poetry. All the Del Toro men loved the cinema, especially Westerns: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood. Young Benicio liked “monster movies” which

Del Toro’s portrayal of the Argentine revolutionary in Steven Soderbergh’s Che (2008), below, earned him the Best Actor award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Traic (2000), right, was the first collaboration between Soderbergh and Del Toro, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of a Mexican cop

Esquire — June 2018


he would watch with his older cousins, using their home projector. But no one in the family had ever been a professional performer, or earned a living from the arts. After he graduated from high school, Del Toro had no clue what to do next. “I was a litle bit freaking out. My basketball career had not really… it didn’t click. I wanted to go into painting. I took painting classes, but…” He was accepted at the University of California San Diego. Lacking any particular idea of what to study, he majored in business. Unknown to him, UCSD had a drama programme that was among the best in the country. He signed up, almost on a whim. “What confused me was it was so much fun. I thought that if you want to do something for real, it should be hard.” Somehow, acting made sense to him. He felt he understood it. “Like there was a logic to it. I realised this was maybe something I should do.” Ater a year, he decided to leave San Diego: “I was cocy.” He would go to New York, crucible of American theatre acting, and make it there. He lasted five months. “It was too hard, I couldn’t do it, I threw [in] the towel.” Momentarily defeated, he agreed to return to college. On the way he stopped of in LA, to see his brother, who was studying medicine at UCLA. While he was there he met an agent, who put him forward for an audition at the famous Stella Adler Academy of Acting and heatre. On the spot, he was ofered a full scholarship. He trained with Adler herself, the woman who had discovered Brando, among other fairly unbeatable claims to immortaliy. “here was a sense of a laboratory,” he says. “I took it serious. I was doing it for me.” He lived in a litle place with no kitchen, in Santa Monica, near the ocean, and not too far from Gustavo. His first professional roles were small parts in TV shows. Work came in fits and starts. Whenever he was close to despair, something would arrive to keep him going: “For every part I got, there were probably 300 I failed at.” You can spot him siting on the bonnet of a car, catching Madonna’s eye in the video for “La Isla Bonita”. He was in an episode of Miami Vice. There was a show called Drug Wars: the Camarena Story. Josh Brolin remembers working with him on an episode of another show, Private Eye, in 1987, when they were both still in their teens. Brolin was one of the show’s stars, Del Toro a guest player. “He was really skinny, had a big tuft of hair on his head that went straight out, like Eraserhead,” Brolin says. “I remember a scene that was just he and I. My car had been stolen and then given back. he car was black, it was a ’49 Merc, and when it came back it was

Esquire — June 2018

‘I got really lucky with my godmother. She was the one who said: “Go big.”’ He drops his voice to an impassioned whisper: “‘Why not go big?”’

canary yellow. And I was pissed. And basically this scene was: you’re lucy you got it back in the first place. He had this one line: ‘Don’t ever come back here again.’ And this was how he did it: ‘Don’t ever… come back… here… again.’ And I was like, ‘his motherfucker is taking so long to say this line.’ Like, ‘How is he stretching this out as long as he is?’ He fucking stole the scene, man. He killed it. He was wonderful.” Del Toro’s first movie was Big Top Pee Wee. He played Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy. In 1989, at 21, he was a vicious Colombian henchman, with boyband bone structure, in Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton’s second — and final — Bond film. hat was his best gig to that point, 16 weeks in Acapulco and Mexico Ciy. He was paid a then unimaginable sum: “Fory grand! Crazy!” He bought himself a suitcase. “I wanted to travel in syle, yessir.” He was in Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner. He had parts in Fearless, with Jef Bridges, and Swimming with Sharks, with Kevin Spacey. But his breakthrough came in 1995, with he Usual Suspects, that taut, knoty neo-noir that assembled a magnificent parade of character actors

and proceeded to pick the audience’s collective pocket in some syle. In a red silk shirt open to the navel, under a black tux, Del Toro’s Fred Fenster is a career criminal who seems to be keeping time to his own private shule beat. He pimp-struts and jive-talks and has the coolest speech impediment since Brando shoved a coton wool ball behind his botom lip for Don Corleone. With his shaved eyebrows and his pale skin and his shocking black hair he looks like a Latin matinee idol of the silent era. He has the body language of a stroke victim. He sounds almost Japanese, certainly not as if English were his first or even second language. “He’ll flip you,” he slurs. “Flip you for real.” None of this was in the script. But the director and the writer and the other actors encouraged him to trust his instincts. “I went out on a limb,” he says. “I’d been doing stuf like that in acting class. But not in the movies. I think I was more into being liked by the producer. I’d been too social, and maybe not concentrating on my job. Suddenly it was like, ‘Hey, maybe this guy can act!’”


‘It’s hard to find good material. As an actor, you’re at the mercy of so many things. If you have a point of view, or taste, you’re gonna be picky. You have to wait’

During production, he briefly lost his nerve. “I thought it was completely ridiculous. The voice was in my head: ‘You’re an idiot, you’re a clown.’ I said, ‘I can’t do it, I will not do it.’ And I went out there and I started saying the lines without any of it. And it was terrible. As an actor you don’t know when you’re really good — but you know when you’re bad. I just had to do it because there was nothing else to do. “On the last day when I finished, I went into


kind of a baby depression. I go, ‘I’ve made a fool of myself. his is going to be stupid. What the hell am I gonna do?’” But he Usual Suspects was a hit. “I learned something there. When you make a choice and you commit to it, there’s no point second-guessing it. No one knew it was gonna work. But it worked. Had it not, it would have been, ‘Look at that kid, making faces.’” Now he was playing with the big boys,

and being measured against them: “John Malkovich, Mickey Rourke, Andy Garcia, Willem Dafoe, Sean Penn, Daniel Day-Lewis, Gary Oldman: those guys, when their movies came out, you went to see them. Now I was knocking on the door of that club. And standing on my head to get in.” There would be advances and retreats to come, even times when he thought he should pack it in to do something else, but Del Toro

Esquire — June 2018

Capital Pictures

‘I was the guy laughing my ass of when he came on screen,’ says his friend Josh Brolin of Del Toro’s performance as the codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: he Last Jedi (2017)

was on his way. In the years after The Usual Suspects, he won awards for his performance as Benny Dalmau, friend of Basquiat, in Julian Schnabel’s biopic of the artist. He was a baseball star opposite Robert De Niro in he Fan. He even made a romcom, Excess Baggage, with Alicia Silverstone. Then he was fat and freaky as Johnny Depp’s drug-addled attorney, Dr Gonzo, in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Terry Gilliam’s

Esquire — June 2018

courageous adaptation of Hunter S hompson’s countercultural classic. It was a performance of ferocious commitment and intensiy — he was stubbing out cigaretes on his arm, for scenes that didn’t even make the cut — and it nearly derailed his career. Rumours swirled around him: he was crazy, he was difficult, he was on drugs. “I’m very proud of that movie, but it tanked. And my man, it was like, exile on main street again.” Cameos followed in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch and later in Sean Penn’s drama, he Pledge, with Jack Nicholson. But Traic, in 2000, is the film that made him. It might be the film for which he will be longest remembered. He was Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez, a Mexican cop in aviator shades and suede boots, playing all the angles: the army, the cartels, the Americans. It’s a tremendously rounded and compelling performance. here’s a fleshiness to him, a sensualiy and a wolfish charm. Traffic set him up for much of the good work to come. As a born-again ex-con traumatised by a terrible accident in the harrowing 21 Grams, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. As the psychopathic Jackie Boy in Sin Ciy. As a junkie who begins a relationship with his best friend’s widow, played by Halle Berry, in hings We Lost in the Fire. In 2008, he won Best Actor at Cannes for his performance in Steven Soderbergh’s doged two-part epic, Che. Rather than the sainted revolutionary icon familiar from the thrift shop T-shirts, his Ernesto Guevara is soldier, doctor, pipe smoker, asthmatic, unbending guerrilla leader. It’s a performance of great control: never showy, never grabby, relentless, sombre, cussed. hat makes it all sound terribly worthy, but Del Toro is an entertainer as well as an artist. He pops up in cameos in the films of populist provocateurs (as a coke-snorting cartel enforcer in Oliver Stone’s Savages), and critical darlings (Paul Thomas Anderson’s groovy Inherent Vice) and in commercial jugernauts (he’s he Collector in two Marvel films). Last year, he made a characteristically iconoclastic appearance in Star Wars: the Last Jedi, as the duplicitous DJ. It’s a tremendously sly performance, with echoes of earlier eccentricities. His buddy Brolin enjoyed that one. “Oh, I was the guy laughing my ass off when he came on screen, because I know the stories of how people reacted to him on set. He wasn’t doing it for efect, but the new generation [of actors] will look at you and go: ‘You wanna do what? Why?’ Now all you have to do is walk from A to B and say your line. It’s like, when was that ever the case in Bennie’s head? Walk from A to B and just say a line? It just doesn’t exist. He’s just not put together that way. He fills a moment. hat’s what you’re constantly trying to do: fill a moment without looking like

you’re trying too hard. hat skill to be able to do that, that’s the diference…” Del Toro has put together an impressive body of work, then, and earned the respect of his peers. Still, he says, it has not always been easy. “It was always hard to find work,” he says. “It still is. It’s hard to find good material… I mean I could work, but you make your choices. If I was a writer or a painter it would be diferent, but you don’t make movies alone. As an actor, you’re at the mercy of so many things. If you have a point of view, or taste, you’re gonna be picy. You have to wait.”

“this freaking thing with the finger,” is how Del Toro describes a trick he pulls with a handgun in Sicario 2: Soldado. his is a scene in which his character executes a narco-trafficker on a ciy street by rapid-firing his pistol, held in his right hand, with the index finger of his let. You can see him do it on YouTube, in the trailer for the film. Did he invent this trick himself? He is almost ofended by this: he doesn’t magic stuf out of nowhere. Everything he does comes from observation of real life. “I saw someone do it, a long time ago. I was like 25. Someone right next to me did it, at a shooting range. I went, ‘hat motherfucker!’ We talked about it. Because you couldn’t hit anything doing it like that. When you see a guy with two guns in a movie, he’s not gonna hit anything. Real people that know about guns don’t do that. But at close range, what I do in the movie, you can use it. When I saw it I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a trick for the circus. It’s not to be used.’ But if you’re close, you’re gonna put a lot of holes in someone.” It looks dangerous. And also, dare I say it, kind of cool? “It’s cool,” he nods. Does he worry about that? “Of course I worry about it! What the fuck am I gonna tell you? I do worry about it. It might be enticing for kids who have a gun, to do that.” Crime has always been meat and drink to Hollywood. Drama is conflict: crime supplies it. Sex, death, violence, money, power, greed, lust, revenge, love and hate, good and evil. Each era has its own crime genres, reflecting the times, exploiting the contemporary bogeymen for cheap thrills, in some cases, and more nuanced explorations of flawed human nature in others. In the hirties, during Prohibition, it was the gangster picture. Stars like James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. In the Forties, the Hollywood noir: Bogart’s crumpled gumshoes and their femmes fatales. In the Fities, America atempted to work through its bloody history with the Western. Del Toro is the


James Cagney, the John Wayne of the drugs war movie. He’s been working in the genre, on and of, from Drug Wars: the Camarena Story, in 1990, to Sicario 2: Soldado, in 2018. Without wishing to overburden a popular entertainment with meaning, Del Toro sees more in Sicario and its sequel than a pair of sylish shoot-’em-ups. he original, released in 2015, was a bold and original thriller, directed by Denis Villeneuve, the gited Canadian who most recently released Blade Runner 2049. It was shot by the magnificent British cinematographer Roger Deakins, favourite of the Coen brothers, from a screenplay by the Hollywood writer of the moment, Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Wind River), a Texan apparently in the process of single-handedly draging the Western into the 21st century, like a cowboy pulling a roped steer. Sicario starred Emily Blunt as an FBI straightshooter drawn into the mury world of covert operations on the US-Mexican border, alongside Josh Brolin’s maverick spook and Del Toro’s mysterious gunman. Like all good Westerns, Sicario has ambiguities and uncertainties: who is a white hat, who a black hat? It has explosions, ambushes, convoys of blacked-out SUVs racing through the desert. It has wisecracks and grisly discoveries and an air of dread confusion, as well as parched desert scenery to stir John Ford and bloody gunfights that might make Sam Peckinpah proud. For Alejandro, with his crumpled suit and his faraway squint, the fight against the narco-traickers is personal. He is quiet, remote, fastidious — check out the precision with which he folds his trousers before packing them — and haunted, and also human: he is kind to Blunt’s traumatised newbie. But he is a man on a mission, and we are given to understand that he is an expert in the administration of pain. In one scene, even Brolin’s gung-ho CIA man steps out of an interview room so that he won’t witness Alejandro waterboarding a captive. At another moment, he wets his finger and sticks it deep into a man’s ear. hese are not high-tech torture methods. he sequel has quite a lot to live up to, then. And it must do without Villeneuve, Deakins and Blunt. For Sicario 2: Soldado, the first two have been replaced by the Italian Stefano Sollima, no stranger to violent crime as director of the excellent TV series Gomorrah, and Ridley Scott’s favourite cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski, to summon the sun-bleached vistas and the night-vision shootouts. Blunt’s character, meanwhile, had served her purpose. Not to give too much away, but the sequel’s answer to the first film is not to back off and play it safe. Soldado doubles down on the violent spectacle. We get a suicide atack on a supermarket, skydiving commandos over the Horn


of Africa, Mexicans smugling Islamists across the US border, and — perhaps less fancifully — the Americans indulging in kidnapping and atempting state-sponsored murder. Brolin, as the swagering cowboy jock, gets many of the best lines, and he delivers them with relish, but Alejandro becomes the film’s central figure. He’s still reticent, still enigmatic, but a plot twist allows Del Toro to develop his character, to find “the moraliy inside the monster”, as he puts it. “I’ve played every angle on the drugs,” he says, sipping his espresso. “I’ve done the guy on drugs, the guy who sells the drugs. I’ve done the policeman who’s trying to survive and I’ve done the guy who goes, ‘I’m gonna take you out.’ And the functioning guy who goes crazy on drugs. “I like to think these characters are more than just that. I like to think there are other levels to it, besides drugs. Gangster movies, Westerns, they have the potential of many things that great writers touch. hey have all the dramatic avenues of great theatre writers.” The drug movie, he says, is not new. “Scarface in 1983, he French Connection before that, he Man with the Golden Arm before that, and we can go even further back.” And as long as the issue is unresolved, people will make films about it. Not just any people: the best writers and directors. “I’m not saying I’m glad there’s people out there dying from the drugs and the violence," he says, “just so I can come to the Sunset Marquis, drink an orange juice and flap my wings, talking to people from nice magazines in England. But I’ve been lucy to be here at the right moment.” He doesn’t know what he’s doing next, but there’s a chance he might make a film called he Corporation, based on a book about the real-life Cuban mob boss in America, José Miguel Batle Sr, a man known as El Padrino: the Godfather. Meanwhile, Taylor Sheridan is working on the script for a third Sicario film. Might he be interested? Yes, he might. Wouldn’t he like, just once, to star in a comedy? “A romance,” he says. Yes! A romance. Perfect. Maybe he should play a humble Everyman, a middle-aged corporate stif in a suit, who works in an oice and drives a Volvo, who pays the bills and puts the bins out and picks up the dry cleaning and worries about his weight and… He raises a hand to stop me. “I’m bored,” he says. No, wait, hear me out! What about an overwrought wedding planner, or a brittle masseuse? But it’s too late. He’s vanished again. Sicario 2: Soldado is out on 29 June

Grey coton-jersey longsleeved polo shirt, £520, by Brunello Cucinelli Photographer’s assistant: Kurt Mangum Digital technician: Drew Schwartz Grooming: Natalia Bruschi See Stockists page for details

Esquire — June 2018

Esquire — June 2018


Summer in the citÊ A walk on the seamier side of Paris calls for the season’s softest, slouchiest tailoring

Sapphire blue wool suit, £1,550; white cotoncorduroy sweater, £325, both by Canali Grey double-breasted coton jacket, £470, by Boss

Photographs by Christophe Berlet Fashion by James Sleaford


Let: taupe coton canvas suit, £3,180; bright green coton-crêpe funnel-neck pullover, £760, both by Hermès Light grey checked coton jacket, £925; grey/ burgundy print silk shirt, £630; taupe checked coton trousers, £370; brown leather loafers, £645, all by Fendi Pink silk doublebreasted suit, £3,290; of-white coton-silk crew-neck jumper, £820, both by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture. Pink thermoplastic polyurethane slides, £270, by Fendi

Esquire — June 2018


Camel cupro singlebreasted sports jacket, £900; blue coton striped shirt, £360; beige/black striped technical fabric trousers, £720, all by Giorgio Armani Right: Pale green wool vintage construction jacket, £1,890; Champagne coton checked shirt, £565; pale yellow coton T-shirt, £280; beige wool wideleged trousers, £940; brown leather belt, £255; all by Lanvin


Esquire — June 2018

Let: cream linen-silk sports coat, £3,150; cream coton sweatshirt, £300; cream linen-silk trousers, £430, all by Ralph Lauren Purple Label. Necklace and rings, model’s own Brown/black checked wool coat, £1,980; black/ white striped wool trousers, £585; of-white patent calf leather shoes, £625, all by Botega Veneta

Esquire — June 2018

Grey leather jacket, £5,300; yellow wool sweater, £650, by Berluti Right: blue/white wool coat, £2,350; white coton shirt, £425; blue coton chinos, £635, all by Valentino. White canvas trainers, £380, by Ermenegildo Zegna Photographer’s assistant: Mathieu Boutignon Fashion assistant: Khuyen Do Hair: Stephanie Farouze @ Artists Unit Makeup: Valentine Perrin Morali Models: Maxime Frenel and Edoardo Sebastianelli @ Success Male Models, Paris. See Stockists page for details

Esquire — June 2018

Directory > Lightweight jackets matched with clever tonal layering will ease you through balmy summer days

Light grey cotonpolyester jacket, £325, by Baracuta


Blue snake print coton shirt, £150, by he Kooples

Edited by Emie James-Crook

Grey coton T-shirt, £65, by Sunspel

Navy coton chinos, £75, by Timberland

Grey woven leather loafers, £195, by Russell & Bromley

Clear acetate/green lens sunglasses, £125, by Cubits

Stainless steel 49mm x 43mm GMWB5000D-1 watch, £450, by Casio


Lucy if Sharp | See Stockists page for details

Green coton jacket, £165, by Timberland


Green coton-knit jumper, £135, by Gant

Khaki coton T-shirt, £65, by Sunspel

Beige linen chinos, £110, by Gant

Brown suede penny loafers, £345, by Crocket & Jones

Tortoiseshell acetate/green lens sunglasses, £400, by Dior Homme

Titanium 45mm Inox Professional Diver on grey rubber strap, £580, by Victorinox


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Saturdays NYC @ Solid & Stripe @ Sunspel


The Kooples Timberland Tom Ford Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Hilfiger Collection Turnbull & Asser


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You Must Create

Stockists Cité syle Blue/white wool coat, £2,350; white coton shirt, £425; blue coton chinos, £635, all by Valentino. White canvas trainers, £380, by Ermenegildo Zegna


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Photograph by Christophe Berlet

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Objects of Desire

No 80 > Men’s fragrances by Louis Vuitton Unsurprisingly, of all the houses in Grasse, France — the hilltop town just north of Cannes renowned as the spiritual home of perfumery — Louis Vuitton’s is the most elegant. Tucked behind a gate on an unassuming street, the lush garden and simple exterior of Les Fontaines Parfumées belies the shimmering laboratory housed within, the domain of master perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, one of the world’s foremost noses, a fourth-generation perfumer and a son of Grasse. Charged with creating Louis Vuitton’s first


collection of men’s fragrances, he’s done a very fine job. There are five scents, each unique and masculine: L’Immensité is the most classically “fresh” fragrance, with notes of grapefruit, ginger and ambroxan, while Au Hasard is richer and warmer with sandalwood and cardamom. Esquire’s choice, though, is Sur La Route, subtly reminiscent of fragrant evenings on the Riviera. How apt.

Each £185/100ml;

Words by Charlie Teasdale Photograph by Dan McAlister