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Contents JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

EDITORIAL Editorial Director

John Thatcher Managing Editor

Faye Bartle Editor

Chris Ujma christopher@hotmediapublishing.com

ART Art Director

Kerri Bennett Senior Designer

Hiral Kapadia Illustration

Leona Beth

COMMERCIAL AIR

Managing Director

Victoria Thatcher Group Commercial Director

David Wade

david@hotmediapublishing.com Commercial Director

Rawan Chehab

rawan@hotmediapublishing.com

PRODUCTION Production Manager

Muthu Kumar

Forty Two

Fifty

Fifty Six

Domestic life is sweet for Emily Blunt – and she brings a dose of that delight to her nostalgic new role

The hilarious antics of Laurel and Hardy inspired a legion of comics, with nuanced cleverness driving the comedy

As the muse for Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve is woven into the very fabric of his couture legacy

A Spoonful of Sugar

8

The Dynamic Duo

Coup de Foudre


CALIBER RM 030


Contents

AIR

JANAURY 2019 : ISSUE 92

Eighteen

Thirty Four

Timepieces

Motoring

Sixty Two

Seventy

By venturing behind the camera, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel campaigns defied fashion convention

The Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel sees Ulysse Nardin craft a complication that is more at home on land

A first impression evaluation of the brains (and brawn) that propels the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé

Sitting pretty off the coast since 1999, the Burj Al Arab represents Dubai’s heritage – as well as its future

Twenty Eight

Thirty Eight

Sixty Six

With his timeless photos of Thirties high society, Cecil Beaton became part of the clique he documented

Since the 1800s, the displays at Tiffany & Co’s Fifth Avenue flagship have been a window into the brand’s soul

How Clare Smyth upheld her core values to grace London with a restaurant that demystifies fine dining

Radar

Art & Design

10

Jewellery

Travel

Gastronomy Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494 Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in AIR.


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NasJet JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

NasJet is the first private charter company in Saudi Arabia, providing bespoke aviation services for the most discerning clients and institutions in the world since 1999. Currently, the Group operates more than 24 corporate aircraft, making us the largest and most experienced private jet operator in the region with a managed fleet value exceeding USD1.5 billion. NasJet, which is part of NAS Holding, employs over 1,800 industry experts, operating 24/7 from our state-of-the-art flight centre in Riyadh and across the world delivering a superior level of safety, service and value. At NasJet we have the expertise and international experience to operate corporate aircraft worldwide. Every hour of every day, we are moving planes, crews and inventory across continents. We give you peace of mind when it comes to our commercial operations. As a Saudi company we are backed by some of the most prominent shareholders in the world. We are established. On our Air Operator Certificate (AOC), NasJet currently operate:

Welcome Onboard JANUARY 2019

• Cessna Citation Excel, which can seat six passengers and fly for up to three hours non-stop. • Embraer Legacy 600, which can seat 13-15 passengers and fly for up to five hours non-stop. • Gulfstream GIV-SP and G450 Aircraft, which can seat 13-14 passengers and fly for up to eight hours non-stop. • Gulfstream GV, which can seat 16 passengers and fly for up to 12 hours non-stop. • Airbus 318ACJ, which can seat 19-22 passengers and fly for up to eight hours non-stop. • Boeing 767, which can seat up to 44 passengers and fly for up to 14 hours non-stop. NasJet is pleased to offer the following services: • Aircraft Purchase and Sales. We have aircraft available for sale and management, or we can manage the purchase or sale of other aircraft. • Aircraft Acquisition, Acceptance, Completion and Delivery. We can find you the new aircraft that suits your needs, customise it to your liking, monitor the build of the aircraft at the manufacturer, and supervise the final delivery process to ensure a smooth and rewarding private aircraft experience. • Aircraft Management, where we are responsible for your aircraft from all aspects to provide you the highest safety standards, the best service and the most economical management solutions. • Block Charter, where we provide you with charter solutions sold in bulk at discounted rates. • Ad-Hoc Charter, where we can serve your charter needs where and when you need us on demand. With the new GACA Rules and Regulations having come into effect, NasJet has established itself as the first to market our Private and Commercial AOC Services. We welcome the opportunity to serve you, and look forward to seeing you aboard one of our private jets.

Captain Mohammed Al Gabbas Senior Vice President

Contact Details: Cover: Emily Blunt. Danielle Levitt / AUGUST

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NasJet JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

New Year, New Focus NASJET REGROUPS AS IT SELLS AIRCRAFT TO FOCUS ON CHARTER, MANAGEMENT

NasJet Private Aviation, the businessjet arm of the Flynas Group, has sold a number of aircraft and will concentrate on a new model focusing on aircraft management. Consolidation of the group, comprising its commercial arm, Flynas, NasJet and Hajj and Umrah operations, is well under way, says Yosef F. Hafiz, NasJet Vice President Sales and Marketing, Commercial. “Flynas intends to conduct an IPO this year. Over the past year, the 14

consolidation of all three primary companies in the NAS Holding Group, Flynas, the airline, NasJet, the private aviation side of the business, and our Hajj and Umrah operations – wet leases of larger aircraft for mass movements of people from particular countries into Madinah and Jeddah – has been taking place,” he explains. “There is a fourth handling company, a joint venture with ExecuJet, headquartered in Riyadh. NasJet Private Aviation has seen a lot of restructuring. We have sold many of the aircraft we owned. Sale of [our] Hawker 750s has taken place, and we have also returned three Gulfstream GIV-SPs to CIT, from whom we were leasing them. At NasJet, moving away from ownership of aircraft was the objective, to focus on revenues and profits. We

want to refocus more on charter and management,” Hafiz enlightens. He outlines that NasJet’s ability to charter aircraft successfully would lead to new purchases from major OEMs like Airbus, Bombardier or Gulfstream, as increases in charter made purchase more cost-effective. “There is a diversity to the types of aircraft we manage and operate. They include ten fully managed; four MRO managed; four fully owned aircraft; one wet lease managed aircraft; for a total of 19 aircraft. The figure was 24 last year. We have sold the four Hawker 750s and returned the three GIV-SPs to CIT. So 19 aircraft are in operation. We have 13 different types of aircraft that we manage. That makes our portfolio interesting,” he explains.


The largest is a wide-bodied Boeing 767 with a VVIP configuration. The list continues with a Boeing BBJ3, Airbus ACJ318s, Gulfstream G650ER, Gulfstream GV, Gulfstream G450s, Gulfstream GIV-SP, Legacy 600s, a Hawker 800XP, which is for sale, a Falcon 2000, also for sale, a Citation Excel, a number of Citation Bravo 550s, and a De Havilland Twin-Otter DHC6, which is a twin turboprop able to operate to remote areas in the empty quarter. Hafiz concedes that less flying took place in the kingdom in 2018. “We are looking at our budget for 2019, and I have to forecast flying hours for the aircraft we own. I looked at data for 2018 from January to September, and the results indicated less flying. What we’ve noticed is that some of those owners have allowed

us to use their aircraft for charter.” He also details that Saudia Private Aviation has moved away from its previous charter model, which could provide additional leeway to NasJet. “They sold two Falcon 7Xs and are moving away from their previous charter on the Falcons and Hawkers. They are focusing more on the ground handling business in Jeddah,” he said. “In Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh, PASA is responsible for management of the private aviation terminals, including all private business jets, parking, VIPs and landside. PASA have Saudi investors also,” Hafiz adds. The Vice President states that the lack of hangarage availability in the market continues to make life difficult for owners and operators. “This is a topic for a lot of people at an internal level. [Many] businessmen are

interested in investing in it in Jeddah and Riyadh. The only hangarage that was available to us, is no longer available. You do see business jets baking in the sun, with no protection,” he explains. For all the changes at NasJet, though, Hafiz is keen to emphasise the reliability of the company name: “We have long term client retention. Some leave but the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side, and they come back to us. Our products make a difference.” NasJet has long been a premier operator in aircraft management and charter, and is a role model for the local industry. “The company is a dynamic, innovative training ground,” he adds. “We are restructuring very well. We are regrouping.” 15


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INTRODU CING THE NE W


Radar JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

Photo: RTW FW94/95, Trish Goff/DNA Models, Karl Lagerfeld © Chanel

AIR

Karl Lagerfeld possesses unprecedented panache, and this mindset is no more apparent than in the advertising imagery of Maison Chanel. After taking the helm of the Parisian powerhouse in 1983, he soon made a bold move: to shoot the fashion campaigns himself, photographing glamorous models in equally glamorous locations (including Coco Chanel’s Parisian apartment and the along the French Riviera). An essential new book maps these years of visual majesty, as seen through the lens of the maison’s creative director. ‘Chanel: The Karl Lagerfeld Campaigns’ is edited by Patrick Mauriès and published by Thames & Hudson

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Critique JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

Film The Wild Pear Tree Dir: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

A beautifully made drama from the Turkish film-maker, set in a countryside which – for some – is a place where hopes and dreams merge with despair AT BEST: “This is a quiet, often beautiful and powerful film that resonates with the viewer long after the credits roll.” Film Ireland Magazine AT WORST: “Ceylan looks at his country through the prism of a grim coming-ofage tale stripped of lyricism and joy.” Hollywood Reporter

Bumblebee Dir: Travis Knight A nod to the 1980s Transformers series, this origin story finds Bumblebee on the run, hiding in a junkyard as a yellow VW bug AT BEST: “As a course correction for the series, pulling the previously complex mythology way back and starting over from scratch, it’s enormously effective.” TheWrap AT WORST: “A surprisingly enjoyable ride for a franchise that felt like it’d long since rusted over.” South China Morning Post

Cold War Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski A love story between a man and a woman with vastly different backgrounds, who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland

Images: Cinema Guild; Paramount Pictures; Amazon Studios; Annapurna Pictures

AT BEST: “Luminously shot in black and white, with every frame artfully composed, [it] casts a spell over audiences.” Salon.com AT WORST: “Form and content seem oddly divorced, but the music – Polish folk tunes, communist-propaganda anthems and Parisian torch songs – sets the mood and saves the day.” Time Out

Destroyer Dir: Karyn Kusama The film follows the moral and existential odyssey of young LAPD detective Erin Bell who was placed undercover with a gang AT BEST: “Shifts dexterously between the present and the past, unspooling a satisfyingly twisted piece of storytelling.” Globe and Mail AT WORST: “Simply wouldn’t work without Nicole Kidman and, because of some of the frustrating narrative choices, almost doesn’t with her.” RogerEbert.com 21


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Critique JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

Theatre

Network. Photo by Jan Versweyveld

“W

ith its continual sensory overload and its darkly vague intimations about populism and corporate power, Network certainly looks cool,” writes Time Out’s Adam Feldman of the Bryan Cranstonfuelled play (at Belasco Theatre until 17 March). “But it’s beyond cool: It’s icy. We seem intended to nod our heads and think about how prescient it all was but then to think no more.” It follows a news anchor, Howard Beale, “Who ‘loses’ it and threatens suicide live on air, only to see it turn into a rallying point to channel a populist rage,” says Mark Shenton in The Stage.“It startlingly implicates its theatre audience as a kind of live studio audience. Form and content are merged to precisely mirror and amplify each other in this terrifyingly prescient story of media manipulation and the relentless chase for ratings.” Cranston’s Beale “Starts suicidal, and, in acting terms, he never gets off that ledge,” gasps Kathleen Campion for New York Theatre Guide. “He more than takes risks; he is so naked sometimes you want to look away. Yet, you are

compelled to go where he takes you... I don’t know how Cranston gets into that state eight shows a week.” In The Double Dealer, “ Selina Cadell is on a one-woman mission to preserve Restoration comedy,” says Michael Billington for The Guardian. “Having already directed Congreve’s The Way of the World and Love for Love, she now brings us his earlier piece from 1693. While I applaud her enterprise, at a time when our comic heritage is woefully neglected, she has her work cut out with a play in which satire and melodrama are uneasily conjoined.” The “overarching problem” of the play, which shows at Orange Tree, Richmond, through January, “Lies with the clumsy direction, which has the entire play staged as a series of face-to-face conversations between the characters who intermittently dash on and off stage,” pens Rosemary Waugh for The Stage. “Intermittently, it works,” believes Sarah Crompton in What’s On Stage. “There is fun to be had in broad comic playing... But it also undermines any proper purpose in the drama. It is very hard

to engage when everyone seems so unengaged themselves.” Nine Night, at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios until 9 February, “Was a sell-out at the National Theatre in the summer, this debut play from the actress Natasha Gordon now becomes the first play by a black British female playwright to open in the West End,” Dominic Maxwell details in The Times.”It deserves to be a smash-hit here too. Funny, sad, acute, acted with huge energy and finesse, it skewers family dynamics in a way that will click with anyone.” The play “is absolutely not the first drama about a fractious, semi-estranged family who drip drip revelations out over the kitchen table,” enthuses Time Out’s Andrzej Lukowski. “But few feature so many characters drawn so exquisitely... [writer Natasha] Gordon has a great sense for the bizarre dynamics of family.” Henry Hitchings in Evening Standard explains, “At first the play seems straightforward and soapy, but it transforms into an eloquent vision of what it means to be haunted by the past.” 23


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Critique JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

Books “T

he idea that Orville and Wilbur Wright were equals in ushering in the era of manned flight is a myth, posits William Hazelgrove in Wright Brothers, Wrong Story,” say Publisher’s Weekly of an, “Intriguing recasting of the brothers’ nowlegendary story. Wilbur, says the author, ‘Was the primary inventor and pilot’ while Orville was ‘a glorified mechanic assisting his older, smarter, genius brother.’ This fact was buried due primarily to two factors: the famous photo of the 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk, which immortalised Orville’s turn in the plane and thereby eclipsed Wilbur’s subsequent longer ride, and Wilbur’s early death from typhoid fever in 1912, which gave his brother 36 years to shape their story... This engaging book will inform and entertain as it turns an assumed piece of aviation history upside down.” The author himself wrote in Smithsonian Magazine, “We believe in myths. George Washington did cut down a cherry tree. (Never happened.) Benjamin Franklin did fly a kite with a key to discover electricity. (Not exactly). Wilbur and Orville Wright, the legendary brothers, together invented manned mechanical flight... When I began research for what would become my book, immersion in documents led to a new narrative, and it counters the defining assumption.” “Were you able to speak all of the 20 languages featured in Babel, you could talk with half the world,” explains Sara Catterall for Shelf Awareness of the book by popular linguistics writer Gaston Dorren. “His themes include the sense of correctness people have around different aspects of their languages, the joys and challenges of multilingualism and, conversely, the sense of belonging that shared language can provide.” The writer, “Always succeeds in sharing his delight at the intricacies and compromises of human communication,” says Publisher’s Weekly. “Whether he is debunking common misunderstandings about

Chinese characters or detailing the rigid caste distinctions ossified in Javanese, Dorren educates and fascinates. Word nerds of every strain will enjoy this wildly entertaining linguistic study.” The Times’ Laura Freeman says the book is, “Eyeopening and thoroughly entertaining… [Dorren] is wonderful company: chatty, informative, enthusiastic… Babel is a story not of nouns and consonants, but of empires and continents. Language is power. Sometimes it is a matter of life, lust, and death.” Handel in London: A Genius and His Craft details, “How and why the young German musical genius moved to London, where his budding talent blossomed,” say Kirkus Reviews of the Jane Glover tome. “She brings all her knowledge and experience to bear in this thorough and revealing work. The author’s approach is steadfastly chronological... Lush and illuminating [it is] a lovely structure built on a solid

foundation of research, expertise, and affection.” The story, explains Paul Kildea in The Spectator, “Is an inspiring and reassuring tale, never more so than now as musicians throughout Europe glumly await the reshaping of their careers post-Brexit. And though it is here told with fluency, Glover doesn’t quite reconcile her genuine musical insights with the historical demands of the task at hand.” Two opera houses “Vie for supremacy. Star singers cause upset by cancelling. Seat prices rise. Snide sideswipes are made in the press. Audiences grumble about performances in foreign languages. Financial bubbles burst. Just another day in the London opera scene…of the 18th century,” unfurls The Sunday Times. “Reading the conductor Glover’s beautifully written account of Handel’s professional life in the British capital, it might strike you that remarkably little has changed in the past 280-odd years.” 25


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Critique JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

Art

On the Viewing of Flowers and Trees by Hilma af Klint / The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm

“A

rt-historical reputations exist within an ocean of time, drifting along on currents of taste or rising above them like islands on the horizon,” opens Howard Halle in his Time Out New York review of Hilma af Klint, at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum until 3 February. “Then there are the rare cases where a career seems to wash up like a message in a bottle, precipitating a moment of wonder from the viewer. To call this show a revelation would be selling it short.” The artist, “Believed that just looking at the paintings would alter the viewer’s consciousness, through the communication of universal truth and knowledge that is buried deep in our subconscious,” says Clayton Press for Forbes. “They are paintings of the past, the now and the eternal.” Showcasing the breakthrough years 1906-20, “[It] delves into her relationship to Modernism and her interest in theosophy, spirituality, the natural sciences and atomic particles,” says Nancy Kenny in The Art Newspaper. “Séances sounds very fringe to us today but

had a more central role for artists and intellectuals at the time.” Kris Lemsalu “Has converted Goldsmiths CCA gallery into a little shop of psychedelic horrors,” writes Eddy Frankel of Kris Lemsalu: 4LIFE, in Time Out. “It’s filled with bodies caught in the middle of mutating, metamorphosing and transmogrifying into bizarre, twisted new shapes... So much art is about exploring the nitty-gritty of everyday life that it’s nice to let your eyes and mind take a break every once in a while.” The sculptural installations, “Are enormously diverse materially, with ceramics and found objects at their core,” says Ben Luke in Evening Standard. “There’s a hallucinogenic exuberance in her three works here... The artist has a knack for plunging us into tableaux that are at once entrancing and repulsive.” The contemporary artist from Estonia, “Manifests the stages of life,’ says Art Rabbit. “She gives shape to the formlessness of lived experience, while raising questions about beauty and

revulsion, merit and mediocrity.” The exhibit shows until 3 February. “Mud, glorious mud. The dank, sodden environment of the trenches is so instilled into public memories of WWI you’d be forgiven for imagining the only colour a war artist needed in their paintbox was brown,” muses Time Out’s Rosemary Waugh of Alfred Munnings: War Artist, 1918, at National Army Museum until 3 March. She adds, “There’s a genuine uniqueness in how the beauty of impressionist brush strokes and vibrant colours collides with the sadness and destruction of war.” Love London, Love Culture explains, “His career was established [by] his work with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, painting their life on the Western Front. For the first time in 100 years, [his work] will be displayed, to uncover the story of the service and sacrifice of both soldiers and horses during WWI.” The exhibition, “Offers a timely opportunity to look at the work of an artist who is probably Britain’s most famous equine painter,” says Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. 27


Art & Design JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

The Beat Goes On As one of the greatest visual chroniclers of the 20 th century, Sir Cecil Beaton used his expert eye (and high society connections) to capture enduring portraits of 1930â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fashion, film and fantasy

AIR

WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

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AIR

F

or those unfamiliar, the ‘Six degrees of separation’ theory posits that any person on the planet is linked to any other person on the planet through a chain of no more than five acquaintances. It can often be a complicated task to calculate a person’s obscure link to another but, for an eclectic mix of 1930s/40s society shapers, matters are less puzzling: their chain ran directly through Cecil Beaton. Beaton charmed kings, queens, commoners and all in-between: from Salvador Dalí to Pablo Picasso, Aldous Huxley to Gary Cooper, Charles de Gaulle to Winston Churchill and Marlene Dietrich to Molly Fink, a whole host of socialites, artists and leaders posed for the Hampsteadborn photography great. In that decade (and a fair few that followed), anyone who was anyone found themselves in front of Beaton’s lens. First gifted a camera at the age of 11, his fascination of photography and theatre costume design took hold. The creative streak caused him to drop out of university years later, and he become bored with his safety net, too – working in the office of his father’s successful timber business (Cecil had a comfortable upbringing – his was no rags to riches tale). Beaton went to New York in 1928, becoming acquainted with the editors of Vogue and Vanity Fair. Then, back on British soil and emboldened, he held his first exhibition. Beaton met Edith Sitwell through a mutual friend – a maven of London’s high society. The showcase was under the patronage of Sir Osbert Sitwell, one of Edith’s younger brothers, and was held at the Cooling gallery in London. It took the photography world by storm. His approach to portrait work, then spotlighted, gained traction among the Bright Young Things – bohemian, cosmopolitan and well-mannered young aristocrats/socialites who were coming of age in 1930s London, and so named by the tabloid press at the time. When the Bright Young Things came out to play, Beaton provided them with a playground. Aside from being an expert photographer, he was renowned for throwing rip-roaringly extravagant costume parties at Ashcombe House – a Wiltshire-based dream manor that belonged to the Pembroke family.

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Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against “Guests came in the knowledge that they were to exchange reality for a complete escape into the realms of fantasy,” said the photographer, when looking back on the decadent get-togethers. In his 1940s diary he penned of the occasions, “We played; we laughed a lot; we fell in love… time stood still and care was a stranger.” While his guests clinked glasses, Beaton clicked his shutter as the fancy-dressed attendees gladly posed. Theatrically-minded Beaton was as adept at assembling a scene as he was a gracious host. The Book of Beauty, his first published book from 1930, compiled his photographs of Virginia

Woolf, Greta Garbo, Adele Astaire and their ilk, showing his early studio work: heavily stylised portraits of debutantes and film stars with theatrical, glittering backdrops made from materials such as balloons and sequined curtains. Beaton’s work can be seen upclose at a London-based exhibit called Thirty from the 30s: Fashion, Film and Fantasy, which is part of a larger exhibit at the Fashion and Textile Museum titled Night & Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs. “The 1930s sold a beauty myth: it was the era of glamour, art deco, the silver screen and the end of prohibition, but the reality was the depression, the rise


of fascism and drudgery for most,” says culture commentator Annette Richardson, in her preamble about the exhibit. “Despite – or maybe because of – this, the appetite for Hollywood idols gliding across the screen in gorgeous gowns was insatiable.” Beaton provided a feast of such potent visuals, conquering both sides of the Atlantic by charming both Hollywood society and British aristocracy – he even photographed the Coronation portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II. “If I were to make a list of the Beaton photographs that have influenced me, the ones I’ve looked at over and over again through the years, I would begin with his Hollywood portfolios of the Thirties,” contemporary portrait photo heroine Annie Leibovitz praised in Jonathan Cape’s Beaton: Photographs. “Gary Cooper leaning against the soundstage door, and a later portrait of Marlon Brando sitting in a chair in front of a plain drop. What is it that makes these photographs so good?

Cooper and Brando are, of course, unbelievably handsome. You feel their charisma in the pictures, which are very simple and very sensual.” You can research far and wide, and ‘sensual’ is not a term used to describe Beaton himself. He was a firebrand with a sharp tongue: “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary,” he wrote in one of his many published, acerbic diaries. It was such commentary that made him so endearing; a party mainstay. But in artistic terms, Cecil Beaton was a true icon of the 20th century, who glamorously immortalised the other icons of his era who also refused to ‘play-it-safe.’ ‘Night & Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs’, shows at the Fashion and Textile Museum through January. ftmlondon.org

Opening pages: Daisy Fellowes, wearing her commissioned ‘Collier Hindou’ or ‘Tutti Frutti’ Cartier necklace; Lilyan Tashman, Hollywood, early 1930s Opposite: The Soapsuds Group, (L-R) Baba Beaton, Wanda BaillieHamilton and Lady Bridget Poulett, at the Living Posters Ball, 1930 Below: Loretta Young in 1931. All photos taken by Cecil Beaton, courtesy of The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby’s

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Introducing the stellar Fiftysix collection from Vacheron Constantin – a Swiss watchmaker that is proudly ‘One of Not Many’


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FIF T YSIX TOURBILLON The Fiftysix collection comprises four unique timepieces, and pays homage to a design from the maison archive â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the ref. 6073 from 1956, to be exact. The flagship novelty from the emblematic lineup is the Fiftysix Tourbillon, which is graced with an ultra thin self-winding tourbillon with a peripheral winding rotor, and the watch

has an 80-hour power reserve, too. The case, bezel and crown are crafted from 18k pink gold to give a distinctive personality to this 41-mm timepiece, which is classic by aesthetic and complicated by nature. Vacheron Constantin has bridged vintage and contemporary â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and even conducted a photoshoot in the famed Abbey Road studio, to capture the aura.

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FIF T YSIX COMPLE TE CALENDAR / GOLD OR STEEL

The collection honours yesteryear, yet is at ease in a modern setting â&#x20AC;&#x201C; consider the timepieces retro-contemporary. For example, the placement of a sleek moonphase window upon this dial enables the contemporary edition to forge its own visual path, while an opaline centre and

sunburst exterior add visual depth. The complete calendar complication displays the day, date (via the bolt blue hand) and month, while another horology treat is admiring the sandblasted, straight grain, and mirror polished finishing of the Calibre 2460 through a sapphire caseback. 2


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F I F T Y S I X D AY- D AT E / G O L D O R S T E E L The day and date are represented slightly differently on this 40mm iteration, with the informative sub dials evoking a sporty look that finds a perfect place in the lifestyle orientated collection. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a power reserve indicator at the 6 oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;clock mark of this ergonomic wristwatch, too.

This 11.6mm-thick Vacheron Constantin is the third of four masterpieces from the Fiftysix cluster, and is yet another example of why the watchmaker is fully deserving of its esteemed Geneva Seal; a guarantee of high quality workmanship, exceptional savoir-faire, and Genevan origin. 5


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FIF T YSIX SELF-WINDING / GOLD The case shape of the Fiftysix lineup is inspired by the Maltese cross emblem of the maison. (This is also communicated through the openworked pink gold oscillating weight, on the reverse). As ever with Vacheron Constantin, the beauty is in the details; the Self-Winding edition

incorporates design hallmarks such as a slightly recessed crown, polished hands and indices plus beautifully design lugs. Meanwhile, the watchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dark brown strap, shaped from Mississippiensi alligator leather, is further evidence that every tactile element is carefully considered. 6


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FIF T YSIX SELF WINDING / STEEL With rightful admiration surrounding pink gold, there’s still a claim for sporting an elegant timepiece in suave, monochromatic steel. This is the first time in the maison’s history that its non-sports watches are crafted from the material – and the brushed steel makes

for crisp legibility in this silver bullet. There is a dash of colour, though: turn out the lights and the indexes/hour markers luminously illuminate. It’s symbolic of the Fiftysix as a whole: there’s a definite glow of brilliance surrounding this nostalgic haute horology collection. 8


VACHERON CONSTANTIN Regional Boutiques Contact: +971 4 240 6323 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ground Floor, Dubai Mall, Dubai 1st Floor, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai OMAN Mistal / Al Khalbani Building QATAR Alfardan Jewellery / The Pearl Alfardan Jewellery / Mall of Qatar Alfardan Jewellery / Villaggio Mall Alfardan Jewellery / Alfardan Center LEBANON Cadran / Foch District, Beirut Cadran / Dbayeh, Beirut SAUDI ARABIA Al Fardan / Olaya, Riyadh KUWAIT AY Behbehani / Salhiya Mall, Kuwait City BAHRAIN Bahrain Jewellery Center / Moda Mall, Manama


AIR This page: The Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel, white gold edition 34


Timepieces JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

Reinventing theWheel Free-floating components, space age crystal and a stunning tourbillon make the Free Wheel by Ulysse Nardin its most exciting timepiece yet

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espite living miles from the sea, Ulysse Nardin found himself sitting in 1840s Le Locle, Switzerland, convinced of two things: a rising demand for marine and pocket chronometers, and his ability to meet that demand. Nardin’s precision marine chronometers took the world by storm and by the 1870s, over 50 navies and international shipping companies were equipped with his marine deck chronometers, providing sailors instruments for accuracy and efficiency across trades and continents. For 170 years since, the brand – named after its visionary founder, who learnt his trade from some of Switzerland’s very best watchmakers – has adeptly navigated the horology world, and the very symbol that adorns its dial and crown, an anchor, is testament to proud nautical ties. The latest high complication from the maison, however, is decidedly more at home on land. The Free Wheel is a seven-day manually wound tourbillon in rose or white gold that sits in the brand’s Executive family (the others being Marine, Diver, Classic and the avant garde Freak line).

2018 saw the release of moretraditional watches from the company, such as the Marine Torpilleur, but the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel represents a new horizon. This may not be a diving watch, but it is a vessel to carry the brand’s key movement components and it’s nothing short of stunning; a three-dimensional wonder from every viewing angle of its 13.5mm-profile. Even its creator finds the timepiece visually absorbing: “The dial hides a part of the movement, showing only some wheels, and the result is a ‘flying’ structure that seems to defy the laws of gravity, announcing the advent of a new horological era,” remarks Stéphane Von Gunten, head of the Research & Development (R&D) department at the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based manufacture. Such a claim may seem audacious, but audacity is, “Still part of the company,” current CEO Patrick Pruniaux confided to Hodinkee, referencing the adventurous spirit that gained traction during the influential 35


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This page: Stages from the making of the fullproduction timpiece Opposite: The Ulysse Nardin Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel, in rose gold

era overseen by the late Rolf Schnyder, former Ulysse Nardin owner-icon. “It’s funny because usually you’d find that type of mindset in companies that are a lot more arrogant than we are,” he details. “On the one hand there is audacity, but there is also humility, and in theory, they should be opposed. But at Ulysse Nardin, the two live side by side.” The fact that the components are visible on the dial side of the Free Wheel, as opposed to through its caseback, is a factor that turns watchmaking convention on its head. The Free Wheel is arguably the company’s most disruptive timepiece to date, which is quite the claim for a company that can claim thousands of watchmaking ‘firsts’. Its introduction was seismic enough for the timepiece to gain recognition at the tail end of last year, as one of the six shortlisted watches in the Chronometry category of the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). ‘Visually stunning, it is a true technological marvel, destined for those who take delight in the leading-edge of engineering and aesthetics,’ remarked the GPHG shortlist notes. Put another way, this timepiece, free of visual restraint, feels about as far away from the year 1847 as one could imagine. Within the timepiece, the Ulysse Anchor Escapement is a pioneering technology that replaces the traditional Swiss lever escapement system and uses Ulysse Nardin’s signature low-friction, flexible silicium instead of metal or synthetic rubies. (Incidentally, silicon was first used in the Freak collection). Meanwhile, the dial of the Free Wheel’s rose gold iteration is made from black slate, while the white gold alternate carries a honeycomb dial. 36

The dial hides a part of the movement, and the result is a ‘flying’ structure that seems to defy the laws of gravity

Upon said dial are its indicators: two huge hands (coated in lume, for glowin-the-dark-ness) stand out against a busy dial, They pass over the hours and minutes indicators in the centre, a power reserve indicator (which sits at the 4 o’clock mark to indicate how much of the 170 hours of power remain), and a oneminute tourbillon, which flickers at the 6 o’clock position. The visual feat is that each appears to be freestanding– an illusion, of course. “What is most surprising about the Free Wheel is the piece’s modules that, like the mystery clocks of yesteryear, seem not to be connected but rather moving independently of each other as if the watch chain were broken,” Von Gunten further explains.

Said components of this (rather gigantic) 44mm, openworked watch seemingly float in space, highlighted by a carefully developed sapphire crystal cap – which, despite its domed shape, has anti-reflective coating to avoid visual hindrance from bouncing light. Indeed, it is one of those pieces that needs to be held and interacted with to truly experience wheel love, prompted by a turn of the crown that brings its mechanical elegance to life. Granted, the Executive Tourbillon Free Wheel may not have been built for the ocean, but for the aficionado this is a timepiece with plenty of depth to explore – and it marks another significant moment in Ulysse Nardin’s epic watchmaking voyage.


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Jewellery

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JANUARY 2019: ISSUE 92

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Dressed to Impress Since the 1800s, the windows of Tiffany & Co. have turned art, sculpture, lighting, and set design into breathtaking portals of wonder and want

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“On my first visit to New York at 13, I was struck by how deliberately small the windows were – how secretive, how hermetic. And the first time I walked into Tiffany’s, years later, the contrast between the confidential scale of the windows and the vast expanse of the main floor made me feel I was entering a treasure cavern” Joan Juliet Buck, former editor-in-chief of French Vogue

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n the beginning, there was the showman. Charles Lewis Tiffany, it should be noted, was a contemporary of P.T. Barnum, and his willingness to be outrageous, inventive, and seductive, all in the name of drawing crowds, was a trait he shared with the creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” He understood, long before his time, the desire people had to see things they had never experienced and the basic human hunger to dream about something bigger than one’s self. He fed this hunger in his windows, from his very first store in New York City. Back on the Bowery in the 1800s, penny arcades drew in New Yorkers from all walks of life to spend money and be entertained in a democratic, pedestrian way. At the time, New York was so much about museums behind glass, about inaccessibility and exclusion. But there are references in a novel from the 1800s about the windows at Tiffany being “on fire with diamonds,” lovely visions that people were drawn to like moths to a flame. It was a destination, public theatre, vivid spectacle, all-inclusive, and completely unprecedented. And because Charles Lewis Tiffany understood the importance of theatricality in window display, he was willing to put everything, including the kitchen sink, in his windows, if that’s what it took to pull a crowd. In the early days, Tiffany’s windows were bursting with objects, a virtual riot of product and aspiration. In an archival photograph from the flagship in 1876 located at 15 Union Square West, the windows are voluptuously draped in fabric with objects and treasures pinned on, a million nude statues, jewellery and pearls scattered about and, because why not add some more icing to the icing, fake flowers. A little guardrail was installed up against the glass where one could rest one’s

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This emblematic creation accompanied the elegant Princess in various public and private occasions


Opening pages: The Mousetrap, with significant yellow diamond ring, Spring 2017 Opposite: Diamond engagement ring window, Fall 2017 Right: Red Carpet Decadence, Rachel Zoe window collaboration, 2012. All images © Ricky Zehavi / Abridged text excerpt from Windows at Tiffany & Co., published by Assouline

gloved hands and parasol, inviting a stop to stare and study. This was very much the purpose of a window display– to set a stage and allow the public to dream about the treasure and possibility the world holds. This thoughtful orchestration allowed every man, woman, and child on the street to stop and get lost in a dream. This is what windows do. They allow a view into a literal store, but farther and deeper into a fantasy, into another world. For Charles Lewis Tiffany, windows were never a secondary communication tool. They were always an opportunity to express

something far greater than what one could possibly ever talk about. The store window remains a potent outlet for creative expression, where the artistic spirit breathes and shines. But its function today is very different from the pedestrian street theatre it once was. Windows today, just like everything else, live in service to social media. While 20 million people may walk past the Fifth Avenue flagship windows each year, the photographs they take and post on various social platforms amplify the reach of creativity exponentially, carrying the image of something that may have

been carefully crafted by hand in a small workshop into corners of the world and to fresh eyes that Gene Moore could never have imagined. This extrapolation of image has changed how Tiffany’s windows are designed, challenging everyone who works on them to consider their installation to insure that a three-dimensional space will still be eloquent and intriguing, even when rendered in a two-dimensional photograph. The desire remains to connect intimately with one’s audience, even if that audience is not almost unimaginably vast. 41


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TO BE A spoonful of Emily Blunt, everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new favourite nanny WORDS : TIFFANIE DARKE

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wasn’t sure I was going to be able to watch Emily Blunt’s last movie. I mean, it’s horror, and no matter how ‘hot’ horror is right now, I just couldn’t. It started when I accidentally watched Wolf Creek in the middle of the night while feeding my newborn. It traumatised me, and for months my experience of new motherhood was tormented by the idea that a psychotic torturer might be out to murder my new family. Which, strangely, is exactly the axis Blunt’s movie follows: terror, parenting and the terror of parenting. “I don’t watch horror films either!” Blunt cries in her cut-glass vowels, when I confess. Bright-eyed and game, she is dressed in classic hipster mom gear as she leans across the sofa at her husband’s Tribeca production company. “I would never have been able to go and see It. I’ve not watched most of Get Out because I was too scared – which I apologised to Daniel for, ’cause he’s my friend.” Get Out was 2017’s surprise Oscar hit, Jordan Peele’s horror film starring Daniel Kaluuya that lifted the genre to new acclaim. Of course Kaluuya is her friend — she and her husband, John Krasinski (‘Jim’ in the American version of The Office), are one of the most popular couples in Hollywood, while managing to mostly slip under the paparazzi radar. Amy Adams, Jennifer and Justin, George and Amal – all are close personal friends and if pictures of the insanely gorgeous house in the Hollywood Hills they sold to Kendall Jenner in 2016 are anything to go by, their life there was pretty damn fabulous. Blunt met Krasinski through a friend – “I never talk about it because 44

it was such a special thing, just for us,” she blushes – but says she knew right away he was The One. “I really did, actually. I really did.” Not long after they were married, along came Hazel, now five, then Violet, two. A Quiet Place was their first film together. So, with such blissful friends and family… why horror? Blunt shakes her head and laughs. “One of the only horror films I have actually seen is Jaws,” she says, gesturing to the wall opposite on which Krasinski has hung a gallery’s worth of movie posters. “Jaws is one of his favourite films, and it’s one of my favourite films. I’m obsessed because it’s not essentially about this shark creating blood-filled gore in the ocean. It’s really about the deeper dynamics between the three men who are all having to overcome something.” This is how the couple tackled A Quiet Place. Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which creatures prey on humans, it’s about one family’s attempt to survive. The creatures hunt down their prey with sound, which sets up the rather unlikely proposition that the family has to survive by walking everywhere barefoot, signing, eating off leaves and – big one for the kids, this – no playing with noisy toys. “It’s a sort of deeper metaphor of parenthood,” Blunt explains. “Our reluctance and fear of sending our kids out into a brutal, fragile world and here it is in heightened reality.” Which is something Krasinski and Blunt can draw on in spades. “The idea of not being able to protect your kids from something — that is so real to me,” she says. “This

was more personal than anything else I’d done and I was absolutely wiped out by it. I actually never approach emotional scenes like that. My process has never been to go, ‘Well, I’m gonna think about Hazel and Violet.’ But I think any mother would empathise so deeply because it would be your worst nightmare.” With A Quiet Place, Blunt and her husband elected to do what most married couples would stay well away from – work on their first joint project. Krasinski directed and took the lead, Blunt played his wife. “We’ve always wanted to work together and when this came along I realised the concept was so much bigger than, ‘They’re a married couple’. We were nervous because we’ve always been the second-hand audience to the rehashing of what we might have gone through that day on set. And ultimately we really understand each other’s worlds because it’s the same world.” There are very few on-screen moments between the two, and yet their relationship is utterly convincing. “The film was actually going to benefit from the fact that we were a married couple, because we had this secret language we could bring.” Which leaves plenty of room for the kids, who become the focus – as one suspects they are in real life. “As soon as you have children you are in a sort of perpetual state of slight distraction.” says Blunt. “Thinking about your children, your own life becomes secondary.” It was children that prompted her and her husband to leave behind Tinseltown and head back to the gritty reality of urban life


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in New York. Scrubbed of make-up and in downtown winter uniform of Moncler wedge boots and jeans by Frame (“My favourite denim line”), Blunt has managed to remain very English, forthright and down to earth. She’s definitely fun, cracking jokes and bursting into regular peals of laughter when talking about shopping for sweatpants for her husband in Lululemon or her five-year-old teaching her about the Harlem renaissance (“I was crying with laughter with John about it. It was like she was patronising me!”). A night round the kitchen table at the Krasinski townhouse would, one suspects, involve plenty of red, stubbing your toe on a pile of toys and an Uber home much later than intended. But make no mistake – Blunt is serious business at the box office. Ever since she wowed the world with her turn in The Devil Wears Prada she has picked up a string of interesting roles, shifting between genres from action (Sicario) to romance (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) to sci-fi (Looper, Edge of Tomorrow opposite Tom Cruise), to musical (Into the Woods) to 2017’s break-out lead in The Girl on the Train. This month, megastardom beckons when she steps up as the new Mary Poppins. Born in Wandsworth, London, Blunt was discovered and signed by an agent while she was a pupil at Hurtwood House in Dorking, Surrey. She made her professional debut in 2001 opposite Dame Judi Dench in Sir Peter Hall’s production of The Royal Family. More theatre work followed, along with film and – her big breakthrough – 46

a role opposite Bill Nighy and Miranda Richardson in TV drama Gideon’s Daughter, written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff. Her turn as the daughter of the New Labour spin doctor Gideon Warner won her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. How did her family feel when she announced she was getting hitched to an American? “He’s from Boston. They’re quite British, the Bostonians, you know?” she grins. Maybe with her success they had already resigned themselves to her living abroad? “You know, they hadn’t. I had bought a flat in Notting Hill so I think they were hoping that I was going to just stay there.” Still, Blunt is back frequently in London, and all filming of Mary Poppins took place in the UK. Her mum must have been sad to say goodbye. “But, she’s got my three other siblings over there. She’s fine. She’s got... other grandkids,” she laughs. Her uncle is Crispin Blunt, the Brexit supporting Tory MP, whose political viewpoint Blunt does not share. “I think it’s really sad,” she says. “I’m really bummed about it. I just think that ‘globalisation is here guys, come on!’ It is an interesting time in the world because it’s fragile, because it feels unsafe. It’s become this sort of ‘each to their own’ mentality and you feel it. You feel people becoming more guarded, and more in the need to protect. It’s sad.” Blunt won’t be drawn further, recounting one of the only times she put a foot wrong. An offhand remark about Trump and regretting her US citizenship led to a media backlash.

“It was a fairly innocuous joke because, you know, where I’m from we poke fun at our public figures.” But Americans did not see it that way and Blunt was forced to apologise. “I think I wasn’t quite American enough to be able to say that.” She cringes at the memory. “I have to be really careful now. Certain subjects, I just can’t. Because I’m also someone who loathes getting in trouble. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loathed getting in trouble.” No doubt. Blunt is head girl material, likes to play by the rules and in another world, with her nice middleclass upbringing, would maybe have been a marketing executive at L’Oréal, or perhaps a school-gate mum with a solid charity sideline. She actually seems the most unlikely girl to have hit the high life — but her acting is very good. Quite what she draws on to get into character is a mystery. My guess is she’s a listener; she suffered from a stutter as a child and perhaps her nerves have made her an observer. The hour we sat on the sofa was highly entertaining, but all the time I could feel her watching me, trying to get a measure. In the end I did make it through A Quiet Place, digging my fingernails into my palms during the terrifying bits, but held in my seat as much by her acting as the deep fears of my own family life played out in front of me. The mother who Blunt plays is warm and loving but at the same time, tough and unyielding. That hardiness – that may be it. “I’m the will to live,” she says of her part. “To create that sort of life in their world, however frightening it is, she’s gonna do it. I will live against all odds.”

Credit: Tiffanie Darke / Evening Standard / The Interview People

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I’m someone who loathes getting in trouble. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loathed getting in trouble


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LIFE IS A R ACE Beauty harmonises with brute force in the shape of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé

ART DIRECTOR: KERRI BENNETT PHOTOGRAPHER: GREG ADAMSKI, MMG ARTIST


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Shot 2 Suit: Corneliani Shirt & Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo Sunglasses: Gucci Bag: Bally Watch: Baume & Mercier Shot 7 & 8 Jumper: Corneliani Shirt & Jeans: Mr Porter Trainers: Christian Louboutin Watch: Salvatore Ferragamo Luggage: Tumi

Model Jan MMG Models Stylist Chee Smith MMG Artist Hair and Make-up Sarah Damichi MMG Artist Location Abu Dhabi, Yaz Hotel (The Old Viceroy)


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As Stan & Ollie hits the silver screen, Martin Chilton reflects upon the duo’s astonishing impact on modern culture

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f you don’t like Laurel and Hardy, you are no friend of mine,” said Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, one of millions of people who have been charmed and inspired by the greatest comedy duo of all time. Their impact on modern culture is astonishing: they influenced artists, writers, musicians and actors – everyone from Alec Guinness to JD Salinger, from René Magritte to Samuel Beckett – and inspired a whole generation of comedians. Two admirers, John C Reilly and Steve Coogan, star in the new biopic Stan & Ollie. Coogan plays Englishman Stan Laurel and Reilly stars as American Oliver Norvell Hardy in a movie, written by Jeff Pope, about the duo’s ill-fated tour of the UK in 1953. Laurel and Hardy have always had a special place in the affections of British comedians, and not just because Laurel is from the Cumbrian town of Ulverston (home to the charmingly idiosyncratic Laurel and Hardy Museum). He was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson but

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changed his name because he thought a shorter one would get a bigger slot on billboards, choosing the new surname after seeing a drawing of a Roman general, Scipio, wearing a laurel wreath. After a long spell in separate acting careers, they made more than 100 short and full-length films together, many of which were shown regularly on the BBC in the 1960s and 1970s. Ricky Gervais, Frank Skinner, Stewart Lee, Al Murray, Jennifer Saunders, Paul Merton, Peter Kay, Matt Lucas and David Walliams were among those who became ardent fans after seeing them on television. The Oscar-nominated actor Minnie Driver tells me: “When there were only three channels on TV in England, Laurel and Hardy or Harold Lloyd were the only things on BBC2 at six in the evening,” she says. “It was that limbo time between the end of homework and beginning of dinner. I initially watched because it was all that was on. However, I swiftly fell in love, and with a child’s optimism always thought eventually


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Hardy had a superb repertoire of close-up expressions: his eyes speak of his stoicism amid the despair

things would work out well for Ollie and he wouldn’t get pied in the face/ smacked in the face/ poked in the eye. As a child who loved dance, I quickly realised that that is what Stan and Ollie did – a weird, beautiful ballet of physicality and humour. I still watch them to this day and marvel at Stan’s quiet grace and Ollie’s perfect timing.” Physical grace was certainly one of the qualities of a pair who were so different in physique. The dance scene in Way Out West, with the slim Laurel and 20-stone Hardy performing a soft-shoe shuffle-come-waltz, as the Avalon Boys sing At the Ball, That’s All, is one of the most life-affirming moments in cinema history. Skinner even went to the extreme of saying that new girlfriends were “subjected to the Laurel and Hardy test”, when he would play a video of that sequence. “If she didn’t laugh at them dancing, I instantly wrote her off as a future companion,” he admitted. Peter Sellers, who took a poster-size autographed photo of Laurel with him wherever he travelled, modelled his character of the gardener Chance on Laurel for the film Being There. The star of Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb would have been tickled to know that the British radar system to detect Russian nuclear attack in the early 1960s was secretly codenamed Laurel and Hardy. Older fans will also remember the time in 1975 when one of their comedy songs from Way Out West, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, reached number 2 in the British charts, pipped to the top spot only by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. It is not just the Brits who fell in love with The Boys, as they were known in 52

Hollywood. Bette Midler said that when she gets together with fellow comedian Billy Crystal “we have a debate as to who was better, Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy?” Steve Martin was such a fan of his “comedy heroes” that he seriously considered doing a film about them in which he took on the daunting task of playing both roles. Hamill, though, would be hard to top as a passionate Stan and Ollie man. When he landed the part of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, he used to travel to the set on his days off just so he could talk to Peter Cushing. “He was stunned that I knew he had appeared as one of the students in Laurel and Hardy’s 1939 movie A Chump at Oxford,” Hamill told The Ross Owen Radio Show. “‘Oh my dear boy, you have done your homework,’ he said. Peter told me that Stan was very different from his screen persona. He said between takes Stan would talk to the director about the framing of the shot and specifics of the gags, while Oliver would sit quietly reading a newspaper and talking golf with the crew. Laurel was like the de facto director and everyone would look to him for advice.” There was another connection among George Lucas’ cast. After Laurel was given an honorary Oscar in 1961, four years after Hardy’s death, Alec Guinness wrote to Laurel saying, “for me you are one of the true greats ... one of my earliest ambitions was to emulate you.” Hamill said one of the highlights of acting in Star Wars was being in scenes with the robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. “I was the straight man to them,” he recalled. “My impression is that R2-D2 and C-3PO were the Laurel and Hardy,

the comedy relief, with one being the superior intellect and dominant personality, pushing around a more innocent friend.” Hamill said that when he first read the script to the 2015 sequel Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and saw that R2-D2 is switched off, he rang director JJ Abrams to complain. “One of my reservations, when I read the script, was that they were splitting up one of the great comic duos,” he recalls. “I said to JJ, ‘it’s as if you went to see a Laurel and Hardy film and Stan is in a coma’.” Artoo-Detoo and his domineering gold friend are not the only double act inspired by Laurel and Hardy. The scenes involving Didi and Gogo in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot closely mirror scenes Laurel and Hardy created on screen, which is no surprise given the Beckett said he “never missed” their films. His absurd tragi-comic characters have so much of Stan and Ollie about them. When Mel Gussow compiled his book Conversations with and about Beckett, he said the Irish playwright admitted to being “tantalised” by the idea of what they would have been like performing a version of Godot. Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury said that one of his happiest moments in life was seeing them on stage, while JD Salinger described them as “two heaven-sent artists and men”. Kurt Vonnegut, a master of written slapstick, said: “They were two angels of my time, I used to laugh my head off at them.” So what exactly is it that makes them so great? There were low points in a film partnership that lasted from 1927 to 1951, but at their very best – with masterpiece shorts such Towed in a Hole, Tit for Tat and Big Business and


longer movies such as Way Out West and Sons of the Desert – they created sublime and timeless works of art. The Music Box, which won the 1932 Oscar for best short comedy, sums up the futility of much of human endeavour. It is a modern-day Sisyphus tale, as two men, totally unsuited for the task, have to move a heavy mechanical piano from the bottom of a steep hill to the top. Each time the piano slips away and goes bouncing back down the 147 steps you laugh as much as you cry. Do they succeed? Well, does Godot ever turn up? They were the perfect pairing. Georgia-born Ollie always has echoes of the old faded southern gentleman about him, twiddling his tie as he yearns for order and dignity. He tries without

hope to control the chaotic Stan. While Ollie twiddled, Stan fiddled with his hat and hair (singer Harry Nilsson used to do to do an impression of this to make John Lennon laugh) and, for both Stan and Ollie, tranquillity is forever elusive. Hardy had a superb repertoire of close-up expressions: his eyes speak of his stoicism amid the despair. He called his “camera look” his “slow burn” – a way of registering disgust and frustration at Stan’s blunders. Ricky Gervais openly admitted in a previous interview “everything I’ve done I’ve stolen from them”, adding that Martin Freeman’s to-camera looks in The Office were modelled on the exasperated mannerisms of Hardy. Hardy’s skill was no accident: it was founded on paying close attention to

fellow humans. As a youngster, he had helped his single mother run a hotel. “I know Laurel and Hardy are dumber than anyone else,” said Hardy. “But I like to watch people. Wherever I travel in the world, I still am in the habit of sitting in the lobby and watching people walk by – and I tell you, I see many Laurels and Hardys.” That everyman quality is one of the reasons their comedy is timeless and still popular with the many thousands of fan groups around the world who call themselves “Sons of the Desert”. Laurel and Hardy don’t rely on jokes per se, but on recognisable human situations that never change. “Laurel and Hardy are completely timeless,” comedian Stewart Lee told The Independent in 1998. “It doesn’t matter that their films 53


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are old. They’re about power struggles in relationships, and everyone can relate to that. Laurel and Hardy will never not be funny because people will always be bickering with their partners or friends or colleagues.“ The person they quarrelled with most on screen was the character played by James Finlayson, who appeared in 33 of their films. Finlayson was just the sort of grim pedagogue who always lay in wait for the boys. The aggravation they cause him (particularly in the tit-for-tat destruction films) provoked memorable looks of rage from the stern, bald, moustachioed Scottish actor. Actor Dan Castellaneta said that when he and The Simpsons producers were searching for the best way to express Homer Simpson’s angst at the world, he remembered how Finlayson would mutter “D’oh!” when he was particularly frustrated by Laurel and Hardy. On screen, Hardy was like the irresponsible father-figure to the more innocent Stan (who was also a model for Ardal O’Hanlon character Dougal in Father Ted) but off-screen their personalities were very different, with Laurel being the more serious professional. While Hardy was happy leaving his work behind when he left the set to go gambling or play golf (he was good, and won numerous trophies), Laurel was a workaholic, refining scripts and film takes long into the night. Both had chaotic love lives, with seven marriages between them. Laurel told friends that part of the appeal of their cinema characters, who fight, cry, quarrel and destroy property in public, was that the pair unwittingly exposed social pretensions. Perhaps that is why surrealist artist René Magritte said he was such “an admirer” of Laurel, paying tribute to his look in the celebrated Man in a Bowler Hat painting. Laurel had an interest in surrealism. Wrong Again was partly inspired by the films of Luis Buñuel and many of the sight gags in their films – eating their hats, being able to light a match with their own fingers, having a horse standing on top of a grand piano, being attacked by a gorilla while moving a piano across a narrow suspension bridge above the Alps – blended slapstick and surrealism. They are the 54

only street musicians dumb enough to busk for money while playing In the Good Old Summertime during a snowstorm. Only Laurel and Hardy would try to be Christmas tree salesmen in August. They were adventurous filmmakers, too. The idea of a custard-pie fight was old hat by 1927, so in The Battle of the Century they decided if they were going to have one, it would have to out-do all the predecessors. They bought 4,000 pies – genuine cherry, blueberry and banana ones – from the Los Angeles Pie Company and devised a stunning sequence which includes the sort of grandiose long shot that was later used in Gone with the Wind, when Scarlett O’Hara is surrounded by wounded soldiers. “It brought pie-throwing to apotheosis,” said author Henry Miller.

“There was nothing but pie-throwing in it, nothing but thousands and thousands of pies.” In the pantheon of movie comedians, Laurel and Hardy seem to hold a rank below silent film stars Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and have never received the scholarly attention given to that pair or to Harold Lloyd. Laurel worked with Chaplin during his early days on the British music hall circuit and deferred to the superior talent of someone he nevertheless believed was “a deeply unhappy man”. Stewart Lee is among those who believe that Laurel and Hardy have survived better than Chaplin, whose work does not “translate to the modern world”. “Chaplin was a genius but he did not get as much pure laughter as Stan,” said actor Dick Van Dyke. “With Chaplin I


Credit: The Independent / The Interview People

It doesn’t matter that their films are old. They’re about power struggles in relationships, and everyone can relate to that

can always see the technique showing but with Stan the technique never shows. Never. And that to me is proof that he is an infinitely better craftsman than Chaplin.” At Laurel’s funeral in 1965, a tearful Keaton said, “Chaplin wasn’t the funniest. I wasn’t the funniest. Stan Laurel was the funniest.” Emmy-winning actor Stan Taffel, a film archivist and preservationist who has appeared in documentaries about the silent comedy era, is president of the Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. He offers an explanation for their comparatively low status compared with their silent movie contemporaries. “The Laurel and Hardy films have never been treated with the same reverence as the films made by Chaplin and Keaton because, in part, much of their best work was in the short subjects they made and by the time they teamed up, two-reel comedies were not always held in the same regard as the full-length format,” Taffel tells me. “Reviewers of the time paid little to no attention to their work until they appeared in featurelength films. Chaplin and Keaton entered the feature-length market in 1920, a full decade before Stan and Babe made their first starring feature, Pardon Us (1931). By that time, they had made over 50 films together, virtually ignored by critics. There is no doubt they fell out of fashion in America for a time. One of the reasons they came back to the UK for that ill-fated eight-month tour in 1953-54 was that they were getting

no work in Los Angeles. As Laurel lamented at the time, “Yesterday in Hollywood I was everybody’s host, today I’m nobody’s guest.“ One man doing his best to counter that is Ross Owen, the organiser behind the Laurel and Hardy Roadshow and the cinema screenings of their films in recent years. “Laurel and Hardy stuck by each other through thick and thin,” Owen tells me. “Nothing phased them. Whether they got soaked to the skin after falling into a pond or covered in soot from head to toe, they would always pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get on with their day. It was this special relationship that set them apart from other comedy teams of that era and that’s why they’re so beloved by their fans throughout the world to this very day. Kids saw themselves in them. Parent’s saw their kids in them. Laurel and Hardy appealed to everybody.” Owen says that although the pair had “artistic disagreements”, it is certain that “Hardy recognised the creative genius in Stan and always trusted his judgement. They had a strong mutual respect for each other and there was never any jealousy between them.” Although Stan & Ollie deals with one of the lowest times in their lives – both were suffering severe health problems and exhausted by the rigours of touring to provincial theatres up and down Britain – they remained resolute friends right up until Hardy’s heart attack ended their working life. “In their films, they suffer in such a

dignified way. When things fall on their heads, they don’t really get annoyed. Stan will just rub his head and wait for the next thing to land on his head. I like that thing of just accepting your doom,“ said Lee. Their catchphrase – “well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into“ – seems to sum up a pair whose friendship survives the severest trials. There is a warmth and companionship to them that is universal, something they even referenced ironically in the 1932 short Their First Mistake: “My wife says I think more of you than I do of her?” says Ollie. “Well you do, don’t you?” Laurel replies. “We won’t go into that,” says a deadpan Ollie. It is fitting that these accident-prone masters of incompetence got together because of a mishap. Hardy, who loved cooking, suffered third-degree burns on his arm when he was scalded while cooking a leg of lamb. Laurel came out from directing and started acting again while he recovered. Hal Roach had a moment of inspiration and saw what they could do together and teamed him up with Hardy when he returned from his injuries. “We got together on account of a leg of lamb,” Laurel said. “Everything seem to be by accident.” Let’s hope the biopic Stan & Ollie helps entice a new generation into discovering their magical films. “Everything began and ended with Laurel and Hardy,” Gervais said. “It hasn’t really been improved on.” 55


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For legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve, one of her most significant roles came off-screen – as the design muse of compatriot Yves Saint Laurent WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

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arianne is liberal, reasoned and, despite being over 240 years old, beautiful with youth. That’s because ‘Marianne’ is an allegory – a symbolic female figure first deployed in 1775 to portray the ideals of the French Republic. Marianne was needed to represent the public; a timeless concept, depicted as young and determined. She has played a fascinating role throughout the history of the nation – “At times fiery and warlike, at times pacific and nurturing,” says the French government. The chapter of interest here begins in 1969, though, as that is when France began putting a face to the name, selecting an influential public figure to represent the nation’s beloved Marianne. Only six women have been bestowed with the ‘role’, and Paris-born Catherine Deneuve is one of them, given the honour in 1985 when she was 42. Deneuve, now 75, endures as the nation’s cultural darling: as elegant as she is ambitious and outspoken, the lady still upholds the role – by ideal, and by demeanour. Deneuve’s legacy was forged by longevity on the silver screen. She starred in a plethora of films, with The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), 57


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Left: Catherine Deneuve and Nicolas Ghesquiere, creative director of the house of Louis Vuitton Opposite: Haute couture creations by Yves Saint Laurent. Top –Black wool tuxedo circa 1982; Gold lurex velvet draped evening dress SS95; Beaded evening dress, SS69. Centre –Chiffon blouse, scarf and taffetas skirt FW77/78; Leopard silk velvet long dress FW92/93; Harlequin tweed skirt and autumn silk blouse AW92/93.Bottom – Printed silk long dress FW94/95; Leopard taffetas coat with a brown satin cocktail suit FW86/87; Evening printed gazar ensemble SS89

She is an icon with an air of mystery; the quintessential ‘French lady’ Belle de Jour (1964), and Indochina (1992) among her many standout career roles. One can also factor in modelling, singing and producing, however she has always been viewed through a particularly enchanting prism: that of effortless sartorial elegance. She is a style inspiration to many, but to the late Yves Saint Laurent her status was elevated to another plane. One of the greatest couturiers of all time considered Deneuve his style muse. Catherine met Yves when she was only 20, in 1965. That year, she was invited to be in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and her then husband David Bailey, the famous fashion photographer, “Suggested that I ask 58

Yves Saint Laurent for an evening dress,” Deneuve recounts. “I arrived at [his maison, located on] Rue Spontini with a photo from the Russian Collection from the previous year which he agreed to recreate for me. A long white crepe dress with a panel of red embroidery was the start of a long professional collaboration and friendship.” A spark was lit. “His consummate gravitas during the fittings, together with his shy charm outside the atelier, made all the years we shared so enchanting – our silent complicity, our crazy laughter and our melancholy brought us together. I was only 20 years old and I had the privilege of being

given access to this world of luxury, to train my eye and my taste by his side.” Saint Laurent was equally enchanted and inspired, and over the ensuing four decades until his passing, he draped Deneuve in the finest fashion his mind could summon. An embroidered beaded evening dress from SS69, for instance, which Deneuve wore on an evening where she met director Alfred Hitchcock, and actors Philippe Noiret and François Truffaut, or how about a gold lurex velvet evening dress from SS95, which she wore to attend the 2000 Oscars, where Régis Wargnier’s East/West was nominated for ‘Best Foreign Language Film’. The two dresses are among 300 amassed by Deneuve that Christie’s, the esteemed auction house, has announced will be sold during the prestigious Haute Couture Week in Paris this month. Deneuve is, “Now leaving my mansion in Normandy where I kept this wardrobe – not without a certain sadness,” and feels it is time to part with the creations “of such a talented man who only designed clothes to beautify women”. Naturally, the auction has generated plenty of excitement. Experienced specialist Camille de Foresta will preside over the bidding for Christie’s, and cites the sale’s multiple story angles for whisking up attention – the foremost detail being that the sale involves two historic icons of France, whose work still reverberates with contemporary appeal. “For the French people, Catherine Deneuve is regarded the best actress and the biggest star we have; her career spans 50 years yet she is remains desirable and current. She is an icon with an air of mystery and is viewed as the quintessential ‘French lady,’” De Foresta explains. “Her closeness to Yves Saint Laurent is another fascinating aspect, because Yves is considered the great fashion master of the second half of the 20th century – both in France and


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Saint Laurent faithfully designed pieces for every kind of occasion: for the big glamour galas Deneuve would attend, but also for her everyday life

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Below: Yves Saint Laurent and Catherine Deneuve at the Saint Laurent show in Paris

also worldwide. He’s the heir to Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy and Cristóbal Balenciaga, is the most innovative designer of all time, and current designers pay tribute to his enduring modernity and vision.” Theirs is “a story of faithful friendship, and true love. She was his muse, but not in the capacity that is common today – with actresses merely being the ‘face’ of a brand. They chose one other in a rather organic way, and were close for over five decades.” His garments became a palette for Deneuve to depict five decades of stylish ensembles. “He designed pieces for all kinds of occasion: for the glamour galas and award ceremonies she would attend, but also for everyday life,” details De Foresta. “She had the trendsetting power to repeat the same outfits over the years, but wore them differently, able to mix pieces thanks to Saint Laurent’s exceptional skill with blending colours. She played a lot, pairing the suits and the blouses.” As the actress evolved, so did her look. The ‘Hitchcock dress’ is one interesting piece from the 1960s when they began to work together. It’s “Very 1960s swinging London”, says De Foresta – backed by pictures of Deneuve in the UK-capital partying in the outfit. In the 1970s she developed “more flair”, with the decade marking Saint Laurent’s “quite exceptional” Russian Collection, containing pieces like a suit with a muslin chiffon blouse that is “a bit more ‘hippy’”. Deneuve entered a new stratosphere of international stardom in the 1980s and 90s, dealing with some of the biggest director’s in the world, and her stature was communicated with bold power suits. The actress was the perfect muse for Saint Laurent to debut new ideas. Professionally, De Foresta’s heart lies in Asia – she is a specialist in Chinese ceramics and Asian works of art – and

she enthuses about Deneuve’s role in Indochina, set in Vietnam, which gave rise to a Saint Laurent masterpiece that is a departure from Western tradition. “Saint Laurent created his Chinese collection, so at the time she wore a lot of China-styled, straight-backed casual silk suits. There is a printed long dress from the FW94/95 that has flowers upon it in Chinese ink, which is a thing of beauty,” she says. This piece also makes an appearance at the auction. His outfits became instinctive wear for Deneuve both day and night, and this comes as little wonder to De Foresta. Despite its age, her wardrobe has a “lasting quality, and a sense of timeless modernity,” adds the Christie’s expert. She buzzes of how, “One can’t imagine how different couture from that era is.” The textiles used, “Are the absolute best quality, and the hems of the dresses are beautifully homemade, and the zips are always concealed under a tiny bit of silk,” she explains. “Even on the suits that appear simplistic, the details and the cut of the piece makes it very extraordinary.” Yves’ technical mastery is concealed – and it is only on closer inspection that his refined skill reveals itself. The sale is a journey through Saint Laurent’s creative tour de force, and of Deneuve’s evolving stylistic identity. “It is an opportunity for ladies around the world to acquire an important piece of the nation’s fashion history,” enthuses De Foresta. “The auction is something of a tribute to the affinity between a great designer and a great actress, and is a celebration of the continued relationship between France and cinema, and France and haute couture.” On 24 January, Christie’s France auctions Yves Saint Laurent couture from Catherine Deneuve’s wardrobe. An online sale for digital bidders takes place from 23-30 January. christies.com 61


Motoring

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JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

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Motoring JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

Four to the Floor

Behind the wheel of the barnstorming new Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé 63S WORDS: ANDREW ENGLISH

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f you’re mulling over the idea of a nice Mercedes coupé in which you and a significant other can indulge a bit of high-octane gadabouting; prepare for a bewildering choice... The CLS, Mercedes’ elegant four-door coupé (also available in AMG form) has a variety of engines including the new straight-six, electronically supercharged hybrid unit. Then the C-class two-door coupé is available in AMG 43 six-cylinder and 63 V8 forms, while the larger and more expensive E-class twodoor coupé comes with similar drivetrains. Or what about the Mercedes-AMG GT coupé, a potent two-door available in four versions? Oh and there’s the two-door S-class coupé, one of the grandest grand touring automobiles money can buy, as well as the forthcoming CLA, the coupé based on the new A-class, which will perform a similar role for the more impecunious. Lost count? That’s six distinctly different coupés. As one Mercedes insider put it: “If you can’t find a coupé in our range to suit, then you haven’t tried hard enough.” Yet apparently these are not enough for Mercedes-AMG, which has launched a new four-door version of the GT catchily called the Mercedes-AMG GT 63S 4Matic+ 4-Door Coupé; its X290 in-house codename seems a deal more memorable. One look at the exterior tells you it’s a bruiser. “Athletic beauty,” says Vitalis Enns, the car’s charming designer. Certainly he and his team have managed that difficult transition from two to four doors, and inside it’s unmistakably German. There’s precision leatherwork of course, as well as some uncomfortable seats listed as the ‘Performance’ option. Try to avoid them, although after two hours aboard they’re not any more uncomfortable. There is room enough for two six-foot adults in the back with head and leg room to spare, but on the days you’ve got the 63


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grandchildren you’ll probably need a middle perch, which many options take over with convoluted armrests. The boot, while shallow, is, at 461 litres, copious enough. The dashboard is the same twin oblong units that characterise the E-class and upper models of the C-class. It’s good, with exceptional graphics and the multiple air outlets effectively squirt the aircon’s chill around the cabin. The chassis is loosely based on that of the E-class estate with a lot of bespoke AMG work, including the company’s four-wheel steering system, the monster bi-turbo V8 which is handbuilt by AMG in Affalterbach, along with the company’s bespoke version of Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox with a pair of wet clutches in place of the torque converter. Drive is to all four wheels with a multi-plate clutch; it’s a steel suspension system with continuously variable damping and there are myriad electronic programmes to set up each. The standard car’s turbos boost at 1.3 Bar, which gives 577bhp, 590lb ft of torque, a top speed of 193mph and 0-62mph in 3.4sec. The S version boosts at 1.5 Bar, with predictably more alacrity, larger wheels and tyres, an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and the new AMG steering wheel with preset buttons for the dynamics, which are the latest fashion in these circles. Gambalunga, the Italians say; “long legs”. This word almost exactly describes the application of 630bhp on a 2.1 tonne four-door coupé, smashing potholes, small bumps, corners and lesser vehicles contemptuously aside. You could invade small countries in this car, although quite whether you actually need 664lb ft of torque is a moot point. The launch in Texas saw us gambolling along at 80mph (yes Texan interstates are so speed-limited) with the induction burbling like sleeping dragon and the miles clicking gently under the massive Michelin tyres. It was all pretty refined and quiet and when you come across something slower, passing isn’t even a twitch of the right foot, more of a hint, with the big Merc slipping past like a pilot cutter on a stormy night. 64

Yet the GT, with its hand-built 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, never feels less than up for it, even with Comfort selected and the engine, gearbox, damping and exhaust in keep-calmand-carry-on mode. The Sport setting doesn’t really improve the experience, adding a harsh edge to the ride and weight and artificiality to the steering without much in the way of Germanic schorptiness. Where Porsche has created a softer but less precise mileeater in the Panamera, this AMG is a very serious high-performance machine, just on the acceptable side of harsh provided you don’t overdo it. At the 20-corner, 3.5-mile Circuit Of The Americas, a not uncontroversial

racetrack development in Travis County near Austin, there are eight GTs lined up ready for us to seriously overdo it if we dare. Even veteran racer Bernd Schneider admits he hadn’t been round the circuit until three days ago, but you wouldn’t know that as he sets off at a million miles an hour expecting us to keep up. It’s not the easiest of tracks to learn, with a fiendish ninecorner switchback right at the start of the lap, although the AMG makes relatively light work; astonishingly light work considering its Panzer-like kerb weight and five-metre length. You need to place it accurately or the front engine will push you wide, but


All images: The Mercedes-AMG GT 63S 4Matic+ 4-Door Coupé

One look at the exterior tells you it’s a bruiser. “Athletic beauty,” says Vitalis Enns, the car’s charming designer

the four-wheel steer system effectively shortens the wheelbase. So while you need to be very deliberate with your turn-in, the big Merc will hold its line well and is highly adjustable if you ease the throttle half way through. The brakes are amazing, retarding 2.1 tonnes time after time without a hint of fade. Just one corner taken with pretty-much all the electronic safety systems switched off shows it’s a bit of a sideways machine. And that wasn’t even using the rearwheel drive “drift” mode, which is there for those so inclined. “C’est brutal mais ca march,” is how Emile Levassor described the transmission of his early cars. You

could say the same of this extraordinary machine, which combines AMG’s “more is more” ethos with some fine calibration and chassis balance. If, like me, you wonder what happens if you try to use even half the performance with four passengers aboard then you’ve probably missed the point. Although quite what the point is remains equally elusive. This is a remarkable car, which belies its weight and size to give an impression of a smaller, moreagile machine with jet-fighter acceleration. Whether you’d ever use the dynamic and performance reserves is debatable but, for some folk, knowing they are there is enough. 65


Gastronomy JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 92

Core Values An approachable dining philosophy has vaulted Clare Smyth into the award-winning stratosphere, but her feet are firmly on the ground (after all, that’s where the best produce is found)

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WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

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hen Clare Smyth was growing up in Ireland, the purpose of a hearty meal in her household was not to vie for a coveted award; matters were far more functional than that. “I was raised on a farm, and the production of food was needed for what we did for a living; those working on a farm needed to be fed well with nourishing food, so at home we always cooked substantial meals. It was very much a part of the life that we led,” Smyth explains. Her first consideration of culinary creation being a viable career option came in the shape of summer work at a local restaurant, during the school holidays. Not just any restaurant, mind you. “They had Michelin-star experienced chefs within the team,” she admits. “I’ve always been very creative and artistic, and that’s where I saw food as an art form; that taste of industry sparked my intrigue and compelled me to buy books, and I was completely taken. It was in that restaurant that I realised there could be a career in this line of work – it’s a world I fell in love with.” At that time, there was a dearth of female role models in the industry for Smyth to follow in the footsteps of – though she has now become that figure, having been awarded ‘Best Female Chef’ at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant gala last June. It has naturally thrown media attention in her direction, and Smyth does take time to speak on the scarcity of female chefs at the top level, remarking on the “certain responsibility to break boundaries for others to follow, and an importance for us to be more visible”. But she would also like to be known as a great chef, no qualifier. That she is, and Core by Clare Smyth is the proof. When deciding to go it alone, Smyth hunkered down in London, which is now her home: “It’s a fantastic place; a bustling, unstoppable city. It’s a great place to do business, with a great domestic and international market with an appetite for fine dining restaurants.”

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Core is nestled in Notting Hill, which the founder describes as, “A gorgeous area; a fabulous neighbourhood with great people. I wanted a building with history and the property itself was built in 1861, so that imparts character. It was an ideal set of circumstances.” Though the restaurant has garnered two Michelin stars, one needn’t put on their glad rags, sparkle with jewellery heirlooms and brush up on French nomenclature to enter. “I wanted to break down the barriers of fine dining that put people off. In the last five to ten years I think people have turned away from fine dining – or the impression of it, at least,” she posits. “There are things that people find pretentious and lead them to think they weren’t getting a fair deal, so I wanted to take all of that away and make guests feel relaxed and at home. We don’t have dress codes. The most important thing for me when setting up Core is for guests to enjoy themselves.” That isn’t always the case across the industry. “I think when you walk out of a restaurant, the key questions are do you feel like you had a good time and enjoyed yourself, and do you want to come back?” she quizzes. “It’s not always affirmative with fine dining

restaurants. As a patron you can often have big expectations, sit there feeling a little bit uncomfortable, and be unsure if you’ve enjoyed yourself. For me, enjoyment was the foremost factor.” She set in motion her own unique mode of fine dining and, while it wowed the inspectors, the departure can confuse some patrons. “A challenge can be customers’ perception of Michelin, but the inspectors aren’t telling you to play certain music and to have silverware to gain a star. The Guide is focused on the food.” This is not to downplay the stars beside Core’s name, she adds. “It’s an endorsement of the standard that we have set, which is a nice thing to have as people rely on the Michelin Guide globally and trust its opinion – there isn’t another quite like it.” So, Smyth created a restaurant “Around what I would want; it is my home, and it is decorated how I like.” A warm welcome is essential, and her aim to is to make guests feel at ease. “I call it ‘informal luxury’ which, when you think about it, is the ultimate luxury, because people can feel like they’re at home, while getting the best of everything,” she muses. “If you

I call it ‘informal luxury’ which is the ultimate luxury, as people feel at home

could choose how to dine, the ideal is to be yourself and be entirely comfortable yet have the best service, the best food, the wine menu. That is the aura we try to create.” On the ‘best food’ front, Core delivers with its own distinct menu. Smyth talks of Core being proudly a “very British restaurant,” and she works with mostly British suppliers, with all of the fish, meat and vegetables sourced from Britain. She turned this produce into something rather tantalising and – again, defying the perception of a Michelin grade eatery – approachable. “I wanted to use the phenomenal produce to challenge another impression of fine dining that it is always lobster, foie gras, truff les and caviar,” she laughs. The resulting cuisine she conjured up was part necessity, part testing of talent. “The fact that we need to eat less meat and fish for environmental and health reasons was a driving factor, and you can really create a phenomenal dish where the main component of that dish is a vegetable or a grain,” she says of sustainability. And in terms of philosophy she explains, “Often, fine dining food can be intimidating for people, and they’re not sure what they’re eating. So the signature dish of the restaurant is actually a potato. It presented an opportunity to show that we, with our creativity, can make the most humble ingredient the star of the dish.” The two dishes which have gained the most acclaim are the Lamb Carrot (with braised lamb and sheep’s milk yoghurt) and that very Charlotte Potato and roe (with dulse beurre blanc, herring and trout roe); in The Telegraph, restaurant critic Hilary Armstrong called the latter, “A gorgeous little thing, glittering and shimmering like a Judith Leiber jewelled minaudière.” Perhaps more in tune with Smyth’s desire for down-to-earthness are the remarks of the 500 people a week she hosts. “There’s something that’s comforting about the potato dish, and every night I hear people walking out saying it was the best dish on the menu,” she glows. And that, you detect in her voice, means just as much to her as any high profile award. 69


Travel JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

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D

ubai celebrated the Year of Zayed throughout 2018, observing 100 years since the birth of the UAE’s pioneering founder – the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The previous 12 months served as a time to reflect on the emirate’s history, and a chance to celebrate its contemporary successes: culture, modernity, ambition and innovation. To merely admire Dubai’s skyline is a reminder that this is a nation where dreams become reality. In 1999, while many were still asleep to the UAE’s potential, Burj Al Arab became a symbol of the city. The 321m-tall, sail shaped hotel was ‘luxury Dubai’ before Dubai became renowned for luxury. It’s a visual icon, sitting postcard pretty just off the coast in its patch of glittering Arabian Gulf. It is an experiential icon, too; its name resonates around the world as a baroque bastion of opulence. High society is allured to the palatial property and its features. The Royal Suite has a legacy of its own, boasting an exquisite majlis style lounge, a library and cinema room, along with two master bathrooms, each with full-size jacuzzis. On the leisure front, the environs of award-winning Talise Spa have made it a power player on social media –ensuring multiple followers alongside a flush of wellness. And the hotel is fit for a feast, as among its culinary highlights are the Michelin-star calibre cuisine of Nathan Outlaw (which has found a home at the stunning Al Mahara), and the modern French fine dining found at the heights of Al Muntaha. An Arabesque afternoon tea can be enjoyed in elegant Sahn Eddar before an evening at Gold on 27 – a plush lounge that attracts the perfect social mix. The hotel is a visual treat throughout, with custom-made carpets lining the halls while marble, sparkling chandeliers and 24-carat gold leaf finishing are punctuations of elegance – yet there’s more to Burj Al Arab than its gilded stature. The property, owned by the Jumeirah Group, embodies those Dubai traits of culture, modernity, ambition and innovation. Its facade mimics the billowing sail of the traditional Dhow, while its interior draws inspiration from the land – its people and culture, with a vibrant colour palette derived from the elements of earth, air, fire, water. The layout incorporates ancient traditions of hospitality, particular to Arabic nations. The Burj Al Arab has stood the test of time, with something new to discover on each visit, and the hotel has come to represent more than just a prime address when visiting Dubai. It’s a reminder that this city was built by those with ambition, who proudly ‘stay different.’ For more information, call +971 4 301 7777, or visit jumeirah.com/burjalarab 70

36 JOURNEYS BY JET

Burj Al Arab Dubai


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What I Know Now

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JANUARY 2019 : ISSUE 92

Ibtihaj Muhammad U.S. OLYMPIC MEDALLIST, SABRE FENCING

For as far back as I can remember, this sort of confusion has existed about who I am, and it always starts with my name. Ibtihaj. “How do you say it?” “What does it mean?” And then the way I identify myself leaves some people perplexed: Black but Muslim. Muslim but American. Hijabi but an athlete. I’ve walked into many rooms where it was clear people didn’t know what to make of me. When no one knows where you fit into the social order of colour and creed, confusion ensues until order is restored. Until people understand who you really are; that is when they stop and listen. I wanted people to understand who I really am, to get to know the journey behind the headlines of the ‘First U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympic Games wearing hijab.’ Much of my strength as an athlete comes from 72

how high I had to climb to release myself from society’s boxes and show up to the party even when an invitation was never extended to me. Along the way, I had to learn how to be tough and tenacious or risk losing the fight before it even started. I had to maximise my expectations for myself because no one else would, and I had to have the guts to pursue what I wanted, even though it meant charting my own path: there weren’t any other Muslim women wearing hijab at the elite levels of sport to inspire my quest. My path was forged by the men and women who came before me – Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos, Althea Gibson, Serena and Venus Williams, Mahmoud AbdulRauf – athletes who triumphed over mountains of adversity. They had barriers thrust in front of them and

doors slammed in their faces, yet they triumphed both on and off the court. If someone told me that my life would unfold the way it has – full of untold blessings and endless opportunities – because I picked up a fencing sword in high school at 13 years old, I would have called him or her a liar. But I did pick up that sword, and despite the uphill battle, it has been a rewarding journey. It is my hope that everyone finds their own sword to wield in a way that brings them happiness and success, and that the word “no” becomes their motivation to press forward. Excerpt from Proud: My Fight For An Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad. Copyright © 2018. Available from Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.


111 TAKING THE REINS

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Rochester, Minnesota U.S. News & World Report 2018-2019


Air Magazine - Nasjet - January'19  
Air Magazine - Nasjet - January'19