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APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
FEATURES Back to Black
Heart and Sole
Ahead of her Marvel debut, is Florence Pugh now the most in-demand actress of her generation?
Having curated Christian Louboutin’s landmark exhibition, Olivier Gabet reveals what inspires him.
Bethan Holt meets Ralph & Russo, the duo fronting the wildly successful British couture house.
6os’ photographer Michael Cooper died aged just 31. But the famous faces he captured ensure his memory lives on.
The Story of the 60s
APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
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Journeys by Jet
What I Know Now
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Gastronomy John Thatcher heads to Paris to meet the multi-award winning Hélène Darroze, whose restaurant Marsan on the city’s left bank is the realisation of a very personal dream
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Empire Aviation Group APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Welcome to the aviation lifestyle magazine for our aircraft owners and charter clients. For over a decade, Empire Aviation has been providing a comprehensive range of turnkey business aviation services to aircraft owners and charter clients. Our award-winning services offer customers a personalised one-stop-shop approach for aircraft sales, aircraft management, charter and CAMO (Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization) certification, which is a central part of aircraft management and is now a stand-alone service we provide to aircraft owners and other operators. We offer operational support to customers across the globe, from North America to Europe, Asia and Africa. Our aircraft registries include our home country of the United Arab Emirates, as well as San Marino – enabling global charter operations - and a NonScheduled Operator’s Permit (NSOP) in India permitting our affiliate partner to provide its aviation management support to private aircraft.
ISSUE ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN
Empire’s team of over 150 highly qualified personnel is responsible for handling a myriad of services including the hiring and training of flight crew, flight planning, scheduling maintenance, fuelling, arranging commercial charters and many other details. We also have a dedicated team of aircraft sales specialists continually monitoring global markets for available aircraft to source for buyers of new or pre-owned aircraft. We would like to take this opportunity to share in detail some of the services that we provide at Empire Aviation and the work we do to ensure we maintain the highest levels of safety, security and care at all times.
Paras P. Dhamecha Managing Director
Cover: Christian Louboutin in the Exhibition[niste] exhibition © Courtesy of Christian Louboutin
Contact Details: firstname.lastname@example.org empireaviation.com 11
Empire Aviation Group APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP As a global private aviation specialist, Empire Aviation provides aircraft sales, management, charter and CAMO services to owners and clients around the world, with a distinctive personalised style. Since 2007, we have expanded our operations and grown our business through tailored services delivered across the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. We have experience working with owners across a wide range of aircraft types, from seaplanes to air ambulances, helicopters to super-sized business jets. Today, the company manages a large fleet of business jets that includes a balanced mix of mid-sized to super-sized aircraft, based in several international locations. In a highly regulated and technically demanding industry, you can only be as good as your people and Empire is highly selective in building teams of exceptionally talented, experienced and qualified aviation professionals. EMPIRE AVIATION SERVICES Private aviation is all about people and our success has always been based on our personalised service ethos of transparency, efficiency, professionalism and pride in our work. The Empire team comprises more than 150 highly qualified personnel with extensive aviation experience, who ensure that every aspect of your flying experience caters to your needs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; whether you are an owner or charter client.
Management Empire Aviation has been managing aircraft on behalf of owners since 2007, inducting over 70 aircraft into the fleet, based across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. These include a diverse selection of business jets from most of the leading aircraft manufacturers, including helicopters, seaplanes, air ambulances and super-sized corporate jets. We can
provide customers with flexible options when deciding where to base their aircraft, with a choice of three aircraft registries in the UAE, San Marino and India. Our successful aircraft ownermanager service has been built on close personal working relationships with owners to develop a high degree of personal trust, openness and transparency. We build this trust and manage expectations by looking after every operational and maintenance detail of their aircraft, from nose-to-tail. This includes the negotiation of all contract services with supplier companies and tracking all costs to ensure our owners are receiving the best deals with open books at all times. Aircraft Brokerage At Empire Aviation, we understand that buying a new or pre-owned private jet is a significant financial investment for an individual or company, and it is vital to make the right decisions and select the right aircraft.
Empire Aviation Group APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
on-board from our ‘silver service’ trained cabin crew and enjoy the freedom, convenience, security and privacy of private air travel.
We have been advising aircraft buyers and sellers since 2007 and the team has sold and acquired various types of aircraft across the globe. Our solid reputation is based on the expertise of our team of seasoned industry specialists with over 80 years of combined aircraft sales experience. Our international research and sales support team co-ordinate the process with specific local market knowledge, with the added benefit of our geographic presence, enabling us to deliver a seamless and personalised sales experience to our customers, based on particular sales briefs and objectives. Aircraft Charter In the business world, when you absolutely need to be at that international meeting in a remote location at very short notice, or you have a complex itinerary with tight deadlines, there is only one way to guarantee it – business jet charter. At Empire, we understand this and operate one of the largest and most diverse fleets of business jets in the region with a range of different 14
aircraft types that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our charters are not just available to business travellers but also offer an enjoyable and stress-free travel option for leisure travellers. A charter flight can offer an unforgettable start or end to a travel itinerary and will get you as close as possible to your final destination – whether it’s a remote Indian Ocean island, a difficult to access Alpine resort airstrip, or a city centre airport with demanding flying restrictions. Whether you need a private charter for business or leisure, contact the Empire Aviation team today for a unique travel experience with first-class personal attention
CAMO Empire Aviation offers world-class CAMO services to aircraft owners and also third parties on CAMO only contracts. Our Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) certification is a central part of aircraft management. Under CAMO, we take responsibility for the quality management, auditing and all the maintenance records of an aircraft. This is a vital component in ensuring the safe operation and the long-term value of aircraft. Empire Aviation provides a onestop service for individuals and companies who need and value the benefits of private aviation and the assurance that they can enjoy these efficiently, safely and economically.
To enquire about any of our services, please email email@example.com or call +971 4 299 8444
Radar APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Image: Mazen Abusrour
Delving deep into Dior’s rich archive, Maria Grazia Chiuri has reimagined several emblematic pieces to form an exceptional capsule collection dedicated to us fortunate folk in the Middle East. Comprising evening wear, accessories and shoes, pink and grey are to the fore (shades synonymous with Christian Dior). Included are newly imagined versions of classic bags, the Lady Dior, 30 Montaigne and Dior Book Tote, but it’s this beautiful tulle dress that we’ll be at the front of the queue for when the Rose Gold Capsule collection hits Dior’s Middle East-wide stores in May.
Critique APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Film Promising Young Woman Directed By: Emerald Fennell After her life gets derailed by a past tragedy, Cassie, a smart and provocatively cunning young woman, is now a medical school dropout and leads a secret double life by night. AT BEST: “It’s a complex examination of trauma and grief and how even the most intricate levels of revenge don’t always provide closure.” Michelle Jaworski, The Daily Dot AT WORST: “It stops short of a truly radical ending, but only just.” A.A. Dowd, A/V Club
The Climb Directed By: Michael Angelo Covino
A comedy based on the life of two best friends who have shared a close bond and over the years - and shared moments of joy, sorrow and rage that have pushed the boundaries of their friendship. AT BEST: “A clever comic bromance backed by artful filmmaking.” Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter AT WORST: “Some creative camera work and dark humor isn’t enough to sustain 97 solid minutes of engagement.” Dustin Chase, Texas Art & Film
Blow The Man Down Directed By: Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole Two sisters grieving the death of their mother must go into the criminal underbelly to cover up their run-in with a dangerous man.
AT WORST: “The movie is clever enough to hold you, even when you wish it had taken the extra step and gone full Patricia Highsmith.” Owen Gleiberman, Variety
Charm City Kings Directed By: Angel Manuel Soto Driven by his passion and the irresistible but illegal thrill of stuntriding in West Baltimore, teenager Mouse is pulled apart by the different forces in his life urging him to choose the ‘right’ path. AT BEST: “An incredible triumph from a slew of fresh talent, including director Soto and his leads.” Nick Allen, rogerebert.com AT WORST: “The film clangs like too many people took a wrench to the script.” Amy Nicholson, Variety
Image Credits, from top to bottom: Courtesy of Amazon Studios; Sony Pictures Classics, Merie Weismiller Wallace, Sony Pictures Classics
AT BEST: “The film is smartly assembled, making the most of a limited indie budget.” Kate Erbland, IndieWire
Critique APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley in The Lehman Trilogy at the National Theatre. Photo by Mark Douet.
he stage adaptation of Disney’s The Prince of Egypt, playing at London’s Dominion Theatre until Oct 31, doesn’t strike the same chord with critics as the original movie. “It’s not for lack of effort on the part of the creative team and hard-working cast… Sure, there are moments of spectacle, like the parting of the Red Sea, but Jon Driscoll’s projections onto the multi-leveled set by Kevin Depinet don’t exactly thrill or chill.” writes Mark Shenton for London Theatre. Tim Bano from The Stage was not a fan of the set design, “We’re meant to be in the vast halls of the Pharaoh’s palace one moment, an endless desert the next, constantly shifting scales and locations. But there’s a huge stone slab in the centre of the stage and consequently each setting looks like a big stone slab.” Leslie Felprin from Hollywood Reporter wasn’t impressed by the music, “Aside from the Oscar-winning anthem When You Believe, which became a hit single as a dueling melisma contest for Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, the songwriting really is quite forgettable and dull, despite
solid, even impressive, singing from the cast throughout.” Love Loss and Chianti, playing at London’s Riverside Studios until May 16, is the dramatisation of Christopher Reid’s poems. Daniella Harrison from WhatsOnStage had mixed feelings towards it, “Jason Morell’s direction is subtle – perhaps too much at times – working in tandem with Charles Peattie’s animations which are projected onto the back wall. A Song of Lunch – which Reid describes as “pure comedy” – lifts the mood significantly, being much more suited to the stage.” “Bathurst brings the erudite tone, but the frame of the poem – its translation of foreign climes and people into a string of mythological metaphors – feels self-conscious and a little dusty as delivered here. The verse, tripping in and out of the rhythm of speech, never resonates as meaningfully as it does on the page. The words don’t travel as well – or as far – as they might, on this particular stage,” writes Tom Wicker of TimeOut London. Jonathan Marshall form BroadWay World, on the other hand, enjoyed the direction. “The lyrical writing prevents
such weighty subject matter from ever growing turgid and there’s a surprising amount of humour, which is expertly timed and delivered.” The Lehman Trilogy, playing at New York’s Nederlander Theater until June 28, portrays the rise and fall of the Lehman Brothers’ financial empire. Ben Lawrence from The Daily Telegraph praises, “I urge you to see this extraordinary theatrical experience – at once epic and intimate – which works simultaneously as a primer on the history of capitalism, a reflection on the American dream, and a deeply moving portrait of a family effecting and affected by the march of history.” “Sam Mendes’ magnificent tale of bank brothers is right on the money. He triumphs with a simple and elegant staging. Mendes keeps a forceful pace but it all feels light, the details of the brothers’ relationships exquisitely observed”, writes Ann Treneman in The Times. Also full of praise for Mendes is Fiona Mountford of London Evening Standard, who says of the The Lehman Triolgy, “It’s hypnotic, mesmerising, and, occasionally, overwhelming.” 19
Mi Casa, Su Casa Give your bathrooms a touch of Italian style with Casa Milano
or many of us, our bathrooms are a sanctuary, a place to reinvigorate both body and mind, a refuge for rejunivataion, if you will. They’re a place to begin a busy day and a place to return to at the end of it, to relax and soothe worries away. Leading the way in bathroom luxuries is Italian tiles and sanitary brand Casa Milano, catering to niche markets and making highend style available to all. Indeed, brands such as Versace, Tonino Lamborghini, Roberto Cavalli, Novellini, Mia Italia, Villeroy&Boch and Disegno Ceramica are available from the impressive Casa Milano showroom in Dubai, on the city’s Sheikh Zayed Road. For those looking to create a unique bathroom space, the store features 24-carat gold tiles and diamond bathtubs, along with Corian technique infused soild surfaces. Each touch point in the showroom is also designed to inspire, with various display setups such as hotel rooms, kitchens and bedrooms to showcase the offerings. Casa Milano’s line up of luxury wares is unmatched anywhere else in the UAE, adding further exclusivity to its offering. Items have their own unique look and feel, with architectural and design inspiration drawn from around the globe – along with its own Italian designers, Casa Milano works with other European brands from Spain, Portugal and Turkey. However, beyond bathroom solutions Casa Milano also offers Corian®, a unique solid surface. Since its inception, Corian® has provided the world of design
and architecture the perfect medium to express the most innovative concepts and meet the challenges of modern living. It now brings inspiration to both commercial and residential spaces alike, showcasing its evolving and expanding collection of colours, its portfolio of materials, shapes, and solutions, and its technological developments, aimed at improving its performance and adapting it to the evolving needs of modern society. More than just a countertop material, Corian® knows that at the heart of every design there is an element, a personality, a material, a colour, a theme, and a function that makes the space complete. Corian® Solid Surface can be whatever you dream it to be. Casa Milano’s flagship store is located on Sheikh Zayed Road
AIR X CASA MILANO
Critique APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Books eal Life by Brandon Taylor tells the story of an introverted young student who is scarred from the wounds of his past but is forced to face them when confronted by his colleagues and a classmate. “The novel’s at times stunted and awkward dialogue...can clash with its often tight, beatific prose”, writes Jenny O. Harris for New York Times Book Review. “Yet...even this halting dialogue never feels wholly out of step with Wallace’s psyche, which itself functions in discordant, sometimes offputting, thrillingly contradictory ways.” Taylor Poulos of Guernica Magazine says, “The main character suffers from anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia, and the abuse and cruelties that human beings visit on each other are never far from the page. Despite that, there is also kindness.” Michael Arceneaux from Time finds the story to be relatable, “Taylor unearths these layered struggles with tenderness and complexity, from the first gorgeous sentence of his book to its very last. Reading it reminded me of experiences from my own history.”
The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler sees an ex-detective face one of the toughest cases of his career, which he must solve in order to earn his freedom from a high security prison. Joe Hartler from Book Reporter found this thriller to be extremely gripping, “You will want to read The Rabbit Hunter. I am actually afraid to tell you more than that because giving you too much information about this intricately plotted and wonderfully written novel would be like pulling the thread on a favorite sweater and watching in horror as the entire kit-and-kaboodle unravels.” “High-octane”, praises G. Robert for Frazier, “Kepler builds suspense with each subsequent murder while planting more clues to tantalize readers. Joona is constantly one step behind the killer, increasing the stakes for the next victim in line.” “Linna’s acts of heroism occasionally strain reality, but the resulting action, combined with the unflinching mood of Scandinavian noir, holds strong appeal for American thriller fans, especially those of Lee
Child’s Jack Reacher series,” writes Christian Tran for Book List. The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward is about a mother who yearns to reunite with her estranged children and wins a 10-day cruise to do exactly that. “Beneath the surface, though, there is real darkness”, reviews Judy Blundell for The New York Times Book Review, “The trouble with four perspectives is that you long for at least one character who has an interesting mind ... I wish Ward had not employed the tricks of lesser novelists, such as contrived cliffhangers and misdirection in order to engender suspense.” Susan Maguire from Booklist found the novel to be good read, “Each character’s dysfunctions run deep, and each plot twist threatens to sink their sanity, resulting in a funny, moving tale.” “The Jetsetters is a fun black comedy with a lot of extremely dark strokes. Every single Perkins is messed up in their own unique way, and every single one of them cares about the others – in codependent, unhealthy or just plain strange ways”, writes Lisa Fernandes for All About Romance.
Credit: Penguin Random House
Critique APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Steve McQueen, Static 2009, video still © Steve McQueen. Courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Galler
teve McQueen is exhibiting a dense and powerful show of 14 of his works at London’s Tate Modern until May 11. “Static (2009), the paradoxically named video installation that opens the Steve McQueen retrospective, jerkily loops around the Statue of Liberty at close range. McQueen’s study of the national icon is less triumphalist than it is ambivalent. Shot from a helicopter from on high – you can hear the choppers – Lady Liberty looks less ministerial than haunted”, observes Rebecca Liu for Apollo Magazine Laura Cumming of The Guardian writes, “Steve McQueen’s masterpiece Western Deep, set in a gold mine, operates as a succession of sound and vision shocks. Like the mine, it deprives the eyes of light, then assaults them with inexplicable bursts of colour, just as it veers between silence and shattering drills. This is art put to the service of truth.” Ben Luke of London Evening Standard comments on McQueen’s artistic ability, “McQueen matches compelling subject matter with remarkable film-making rigour. Western Deep captures the horror of the men’s work as much in the abstract passages of darkness as in the clear pictures of
their environment, through punctuating the violent noise of mining with calm but tense moments of silence.” London’s Royal Academy of Arts features Leon Spilliaert’s artwork until May 25. “Spilliaert was remarkably consistent”, praises Rosemary Waugh in TimeOut London, “He found his niche and stuck to it. And that niche was: desolation. These are sad, gloomy, lonely images in which even the women he idolises turn their back on poor Léon.” In its review, Culture Whisperer writes, “For a time, Spilliaert also became fixated with his own image – the result, we are told, of a pervading state of existential crisis. In this way, he can be seen as Belgium’s answer to Munch, always searching his own reflection.” Lauran Cumming of The Guardian analyses Spilliaert’s artwork, “Ostend, in winter, is pure Léon Spilliaert. The streets are empty, like some perpetual closing day, or as if the population had all departed. The immense beach is deserted, bar the occasional dark speck moving through the sea mists… This was his gift, this exhilarating sense of estrangement.” London’s The Dulwich Picture Gallery features British Surrealism (until May 17), an artform first introduced in
London in 1936. “Dalí, of course, is now the movement’s populist standardbearer, but can you name a British Surrealist? There were 23 in that 1936 show but often, as with Henry Moore and Paul Nash, they had Surrealist phases rather than dedicating their career to the movement. Many others had fuzzy engagements with the group,” remarks Ben Luke in London Evening Standard. Chris Waywell from TimeOut London says, “You feel these artists are just playing with a genre. But away from pastiche, there’s some fascinating stuff here. Women artists fare especially well. Maybe surrealism’s relevelling of the playing field helped back in the day. Eileen Agar and Marion Adnams both have a distinctly feminised approach, while Grace Pailthorpe’s watercolour Abstract with Eye and Breast (1938) strives towards expressionism. Some of that delicacy is found in the work of John Banting, too.” Thomas McMullan from Frieze comments on British Surrealism as an artform, “Perhaps surrealism was also only ever a new name for deeper-running tendencies in British culture: ideas around the subversion of landscape, bodies and social order; tendencies that still run beneath our current age.” 23
Art & Design APRIL/MAY : ISSUE 107
Drawn Together A new exhibition of David Hockney’s work makes clear that people are the very heart of his work WORDS: HALEY KADROU
hen it comes to notable figures within the art world, David Hockney is an artist of the people. In 2011, he was named Britain’s most influential artist. The 1,000 subjects who were surveyed were budding artists and sculptors, demonstrating his lasting influence as well as his appeal to his contemporaries. In 2017, a retrospective of his work at Tate Britain drew its highest ever number of paying visitors. And in 2018, the painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) became the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction by a living artist, fetching $90.3 million (the record was reclaimed by Jeff Koons, the following year, when Rabbit (1986) sold for $91.07 million). But while his depictions of pools, and his place within the cubism and pop art movements in the twentieth century have gained him mass appeal and admiration from critics and amateurs alike, it’s Hockney’s fascination with the human form that truly defines him as an artist. Throughout his six-decade career, portraiture has been the constant as movements, materials and methods (Hockney is often praised for
These pages, clockwise from left: David Hockney Self Portrait with Red Braces, 2003, Watercolour on paper 24 x 18 1/8” © David Hockney. Photo Credit Richard Schmidt; David Hockney Self Portrait, July 1986, Home made print on 2 sheets of paper, Edition of 60, 22 x 8 ½” © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt; David Hockney Self Portrait, 1954, Collage on newsprint, 16 ½ x 11 ¾” © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Collection: Bradford Museums & Galleries, Bradford, U.K. 24
his inventive use of technology in his work) have evolved. And in 2020, this is being brought to light thanks to a special exhibition being held at London’s National Portrait Gallery – David Hockney: Drawing from Life. The exhibition stands as the artist’s first major exhibition devoted to his drawings in over twenty years. Familiar and unseen, old and new pieces make up the 150 curated artworks, and each depicts one of five figures that have fascinated the flamboyant figure throughout his life and work. Each portrait is intimate in style and nature – Hockney draws those he loves, admires and has been inspired by – and demonstrate that people are really at the core of his art. Grit and glamour, age and youth, the familiar and the quizzical are all shown throughout the different wings and divisions of the gallery.
One of Hockney’s most notable muses is Celia Birtwell. The British textile and fashion designer created garments influenced by the works of artists such as Picasso – a fellow inspiration to Hockney in his work, perhaps predicting the close, lifelong relationship the duo would go on to have. Birtwell and Hockney met in Portobella Market in the 1960s, and she has since gone on to be one of the most famous figures in all his paintings. Hockey followers will recognise the glamorous, romantic figure from works such as 1971 painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, within which she posed alongside her then-husband, Ossie Clark. It remains one of the most viewed pieces in the Tate Britain today. But it’s the more intimate images – as clearly becomes the theme of the exhibition – that move his audience (and perhaps creator) in a different
way. In their heyday, it was Celia, Nude that reigned, capturing all of her youthful beauty. In a new unseen sketch, Hockney allows for the passing of time in his work without letting that hint of intrigue and allure disappear. Her colourful image is replaced with a sepia sketch, further emphasising the passing years as the two grow old together. While quietly beautiful, the subject herself protested at the opening of the exhibition, labelling it “horrible.” She said: “It’s life! One gets old. It is a reality of who you are and what you look like now.... We only ever see ourselves in the mirror, we never ever see how we really are. He sees you as you really are.” And Birtwell is not the only figure made famous by Hockney as he saw them for who they really are. This exhibition shows more of his famous muses from a fresh perspective – even
Hockney draws those he loves, admires and has been inspired by. Figures that have fascinated the flamboyant figure throughout his life
Left to right: David Hockney My Parents and Myself, 1976, Oil on canvas with masking tape 72 x 72” © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Collection: The David Hockney Foundation; David Hockney Gregory, 1978, Colored pencil on paper, 17 x 14” © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Collection: The David Hockney Foundation
if seen through the same spectacled eyes. Gregory Evans, Maurice Payne and his own mother, Laura Hockney, lace the halls of the National Portrait Gallery, showcasing the people – and perhaps the work – he values most. Like Birtwell, Evans is another person truly loved by the artist whom he captured to his core – be it posing nonchalantly or staring begrudgingly in an armchair as Hockney got to work. The two had a close relationship throughout the 1970s, and the intimacy between them is captured through the lack of pretence expressed on Evans’ face in each portrait. From youthful fancy and wonder to aged grit, Evans becomes the everyman in Hockney’s more recent portrayals. He trudges on as he progresses through the stages of life, just like the rest of us. Likewise, friend and collaborator Maurice Payne also upholds the same solemn demeanour throughout the exhibition – his eyes heavy in sketches across the years. Yet as he sat beside Hockney at the launch of the exhibition he was all smiles; Hockney sees and captures emotions in his subjects – his loved ones – that they are not always too willing to portray to the world at large. And as all of the above muses sat side by side with their friend and admirer, one key person essential to the curation yet missing from the lineup was of course Laura Hockney – his late mother, who passed in 1999. One of the more striking, emotive images of his mother shows her on the day of his father’s funeral. Once again, he simplistically yet skillfully captures that raw emotion. One of Hockney’s most famous paintings sees her sat beside his also late father, Kenneth, in her signature demure style. My Parents, completed in 1977, is among his most notable works and is the most visited painting at the Tate Britain. But as you enter this new exhibition, the same two figures greet you in an image eerily familiar. My Parents and Myself is the earlier, previously abandoned edition of the final famed piece. While his beloved mother is much the same, the original edition features his father still and patient. The final piece shows him more fidgety, restless – perhaps a note on the fact the original resulted in a family rift, Kenneth being resentful
Top to bottom: David Hockney Mother, Paris, 1972, Colored pencil on paper 17 x 14” © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Collection: The David Hockney Foundation; David Hockney Gregory. Los Angeles. March 31st 1982, composite polaroid 14 ½ x 13 ¼” © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt
that his travel to Paris (where it was sketched) and patience while sitting (seemingly) went to waste. But the biggest difference is Hockney’s own cameo in the original piece – his reflection in the mirror. Dyed blond hair and bespectacled in his forties, this is the image many of his fans will hold in their mind of the icon. In fact, Hockney’s most famous subject is himself – the artist has created some 300 plus self-portraits in his career to date. Self-portraits
across time and place hold a thread of curiosity, searching and intensity – Hockney is always searching to learn more, even within himself. What this latest curation really shows about the beloved artist is that real, intimate relations are what’s truly at the heart of Hockney’s life and art. Each muse has been with him throughout the years, and his seeminglysimplistically yet technically skilled sketches capture them perfectly. 27
Timepieces APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Best of British
Roger W. Smith’s passion for horology has taken the game to a new level and seen him become one of the most revered watchmakers in the world. He talks to Nick Watkins about life at the bench WORDS: NICK WATKINS
They say horologists don’t measure their achievements by price, but when you sell a timepiece for £1 million ($1.2 million) it makes the fee hard to ignore. The 2019 sale of the elusive tourbillon wristwatch ‘The Blue’ was the perfect way to end the decade, and see in the new, for British watchmaker Roger W. Smith. The last ten years in Smith’s watchmaking career have seen him develop the single-wheel co-axial escapement along with the creation of the ‘GREAT Britain’ watch and the launch of the Series 1-5 watches in 2015 – signifying the first all-British range for fifty years. Now sitting in the upper echelons of British horology, Smith has time to reflect on a life that, in 2018, saw him honoured with an OBE and an Honorary Doctorate in 2019. “I didn’t really understand school,” he remembers. “I was always drawn more to the practical side of things, and my father was quite instrumental 28
in pushing me in the right direction, by the way of a horology course in Manchester. The idea of repairing watches and clocks really intrigued me. I started the course and just fell in love with it and the world of mechanical watches and clocks.” It was as a teenager that Smith would meet George Daniels CBE, an Isle of Man-based watchmaker, who would go on to become Smith’s great mentor. “I was about 18 years old, when we had a visit from Mr. Daniels. He spent over a year making a pocket watch and after that meeting I was just hooked. I became obsessed with this idea of making handmade watches and from that moment on I haven’t stopped,” Smith tells me. ‘The Blue’ wristwatch is in fact one of Daniels’ creations, having been commissioned in 2000, which he agreed to on the proviso that he would produce two pieces, to justify the investment in development. The second watch, called ‘The White’, is identical
It can be a very fulfilling career at many different levels so it’s a great world to be in. Determination is ultimately key
Opening pages, from left to right: The GREAT Britain; ‘The Blue’, courtesy of “A Collected Man” sold for £1million. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Roger W. Smith at the George Daniels room; close-up of ‘The Blue’, courtesy of “A Collected Man”; the back of the GREAT Britain; close-up of the front of the GREAT Britain
to ‘The Blue’, with the exception of the finish. The watch signified a transitional period between Daniels and Smith, where one designed and the other created. A daunting task but one embraced by Smith, whose life was destined to be in watchmaking. There was no ‘plan b’. “I think when you’re young you’re blind to all those concerns,” he says when asked what his fall-back was. “I was just so focused and thought that this is going to work, so I just had to keep working very hard to make sure it did happen. I kept learning and improving and got lucky. Whether I’d have that confidence to do that now is another thing!” Smith, born in Bolton, England in 1970, made his first pocket watch aged just 22, something he presented with immense pride to Daniels. However, it wasn’t up to the great man’s standards and he was asked to re-do it. A harsh lesson but one which put Smith on the right path. In the watchmaking game it’s perfection, or nothing. Using his mentor’s methods, it took Smith over five years to return the pocket watch to Daniels. This time there were no errors. The piece got the seal of approval and Smith had become a fine watchmaker in the process. So much so, that Daniels asked him to move to the Isle of Man and work with him. He has remained there ever since and now has a facility of his own and an 11-strong team that makes 12 pieces per year, ten of whom are physically making the watches. “We use modern equipment to make to components but it’s all about the hand-finishing and making sure we can make the highest quality of watches,” Smith confirms. “What we do in our work is hand-build the pieces so we can keep a close eye on the quality; we know exactly what’s going on with
each piece. They can have a build time of a year or so. We have a very modern facility that we work in.” His work has led him to be recognised as one of the world’s best watchmakers, and was invited by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron to be an ambassador for a campaign promoting the best of Britain to the world. Inspired himself, in 2013 Smith began the development of the ‘GREAT Britain’ – a timepiece based on his own Series 2 watch, which would become famous for having arguably the most complex dial ever made by hand. It’s this type of skill and craftsmanship that’s enabled Smith and his team to accumulate a long waiting list for one of his pieces. Some clients are keen to meet with the man himself at the workshop before placing an order, others simply send him a Whatsapp message. When asked who his clients are, Smith stays tight-lipped, not wishing to reveal any celebrity customers by name. With all he’s achieved, Smith remains ‘on the bench’ 70% of the time and still enjoys his art as much as he did as a teen. His obsession with his craft is what’s taken him to the top. “You should always be very self-critical, ask yourself if you’re working to your very best,” he advises any promising young watchmakers. “If you’re working to the very highest standard, can that part be made any higher in quality? It’s a very challenging world to get into because of the huge amount of time and effort you have to put into it. Determination is the key, ultimately.” Keen to help the next generation of watchmakers make their mark, Smith encourages those with the passion to pursue it. “It can be a very fulfilling career at many different levels, so it’s a great world to be in.” 31
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
OBJECTS OF DESIRE
Master craftsmanship, effortless style and timeless appeal; this issueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s must-haves and collectibles
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
J 1 2 X- R AY T I M E P I E C E each piece uniquely numbered. The dial is set with 12 diamonds, and the hands are made with 18k white gold. Practically, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s water-resistant up to 30 meters and has a power reserve of 55 hours.
Limited to just 12 pieces, the latest timepiece from Chanel is the ultimate in luxury, having been created with a sapphire case, 18k white gold bezel and 46 baguette-cut diamonds. The watch will soon be a collectorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s item, with 1
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
MIDDLE E AST SANDAL Just in time for Ramadan comes this Middle Eastern exclusive, with unique elements never-before-seen on a Berluti sandal. The Dubai collection pays homage to the region’s rich heritage using the finest leather and craftsmanship to
produce footwear with excessive levels of comfort. A new inception for this series is the Gaspard, and ‘incision-like’ detail created on the surface of the leather, adding further style and class to the design. 2
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
ANTIGONA SOF T HANDBAG As part of the Fall 2020 ready-to-wear collections by artistic director Clare Waight Keller comes the new Antigona Soft handbag. Practical as well as stylish, the medium and large styles of this calfskin bag features a large central
compartment, with dual zip closures, along with a removable shoulder strap for versatility of wear to suit any occasion and outfit. The cocoon-like body nods to Givenchyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s couture heritage of elegant lines and generous volumes. 3
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
LION HE AD FINE JE WELRY The new Lion Head earrings are the part of the latest addition to Gucci’s fine jewelry collection. Crafted in 18k yellow or white gold, the Lion Head motif forms the focal point, the eyes set with stunning diamonds and the lion’s teeth
holding a spectacular coloured gemstone. The elegant earrings can be worn with other new Lion Head pieces, including rings and bracelets, all of which show the highest-levels of fine jewelry craftmanship. 4
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
H E N RY J A C Q U E S
MUSK OIL BL ACK Its rich history of serving Middle Eastern clients has led to Henry Jacques shining a spotlight on the most precious oriental perfumes from its Les Classiques collection for the Holy Month of Ramadan. Heavily influenced by his encounters with Middle
Eastern culture and traditions, Henry Jacques has created some of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest ouds, having mastered their blending across 30 years. Suited to both men and women, Musk Oil Black has the lingering scent of bukhoor. 5
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
SA I N T L AU R E N T
K A I A S AT C H E L Available in two sizes, small and mini, the Kaia is the latest satchel, revealed during the summer 2020 show. Designed to be worn on the shoulder or cross-body, the new Saint Laurent essential comes in a choice of different textures â&#x20AC;&#x201C; vegetal
leather with a handmade vintage finish in black and brown gold; python leather in beige, blue, burgundy and green; and lizard associated with black vegetal leather. The item has a retro elegance yet is stylish enough to suit any occasion and outfit. 6
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
D E N I M C O R S E T B E LT Due in part to his study of sculpture at École des Beaux-Arts, the late, great Azzedine Alaïa held a thorough understanding of the female form, which he put to fine use throughout his career. His bodycon silhouettes defined the aesthetic of Paris
in the ‘80s, while his laser-cut accessories continue to impress every season. As part of the 2020 Spring-Summer collection comes this denim corset belt, lined with 100% calf leather and finished with a timeless slim buckle. 7
OB JECTS OB JECTS OF DESIRE OF DESIRE
VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N
ÉG É RIE M O O N PH A S E D I A M O ND - PAV É As part of a new female collection, this diamond timepiece sparkles in its 37mm 18k white gold case, complete with 292 diamonds, while the dial is showered with a further 510 diamonds, making it a masterful creation. White gold stars
and a translucent sapphire crystal draw the eye to the round sky also on the dial. The timepiece can be worn with two interchangeable night blue straps, one in leather and the other in satin, each secured by a gem-set pin buckle. 8
Timepieces APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Time to Shine
Tariq Malik on how vintage collecters have helped turn the spotlight on Tudor
ver since the appearance of the inimitable Rolex Submariner in the 1950s, Tudor has been a loyal, unnoticed, companion to Rolex. But thanks to some recent rebranding the spotlight has turned, and finally vintage collectors are paying Tudor attention. The return of the brand to the US market, after a decade-long hiatus, is fueling the trend and in recent years I’ve seen a huge upsurge in demand. Here, I’m sharing some insights on three of the most important, and most collectible, references from Tudor. Tudor Snowflake Ref 94110 Collectors always appreciate the ‘alternative’ vintage wristwatches that arrive on the scene – and that creates an interesting twist in the Tudor niche. A Tudor Submariner commands the kind of respect reserved for the mighty Rolex Submariner, but at a fraction of the cost, and with the additional caveats of originality and scarcity. Many of the vintage Tudors that have surfaced on the market were originally commissioned for military use, including the US Navy and the French Marine Nationale. While regular, ‘civilian’ Tudors often sit in the $4,500$9,000 range, the ‘official’ military vintage watches with provenance can go up to the $20,000 mark. Even so, compared to Rolex, that still means extremely good value for money – and a good value investment too. Tudor Submariner 7928 As far back as 1958, Tudor released the Big Crown, or Reference 7924. That nickname is a reference to the 8mm winding crown, as the previous generation of Submariners had only a 5mm winding crown. It was a significant milestone because it doubled the water resistance rating from 100 to 200 meters. A year later, the Tudor Submariner 7928 appeared, the first to feature crown guards. At the same time, the case grew to 39mm and started showing the signature ‘Original Oyster Case by
Rolex.’ The Ref. 7928 became known as the Classic Tudor Submariner for all of these reasons, and also because it existed alongside the Rolex Submariner 5512 and 5513 for most of its history – although it is far rarer than the big brother version. Tudor 79190 1995 was a time of transition for the brand, and it was just beginning to emerge from Rolex’s shadow. Tudor began moving away from using the Rolex name on their watches, with ‘Prince Date’ on the dials, omitting the Rolex-associated ‘Oyster’. The brand also moved to Tudor-branded winding crowns and casebacks. It introduced new elements to the
Tudor line, including the sapphire crystal with a cyclops lens, round hour markers, and a unidirectional rotatable bezel with deep notching. From the earliest Tudor no-crown guard models during the 1950s and 1960s, through the innovation and resurgence of the 1990s, Tudor Submariners have been generally overlooked. Even when vintage Rolex made a huge comeback in the early 2000s, Tudor was still seen to be trailing behind. Now, however, the market for vintage Tudor pieces is heating up tremendously. Dubai’s DIFC is home to Momentum, Tariq’s vintage watch boutique. momentum-dubai.com 33
Jewellery APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
A New Dawn Ultra-rare stones, intense hues and complex compositions; Jeremy Morris, CEO and Creative Director of David Morris, tells us why the new Electric Geometric collection marks a new era for the House WORDS: FAYE BARTLE
f you’ve a weakness for the neon-bright blue Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline that has become a signature of David Morris’ stunning high jewellery creations, then the one-of-a-kind Phoenix earrings from its new Electric Geometric collection are set to rock your world. Adorned with almost 25 carats of the dazzling gemstone, teamed with no less than 31.60-carats of white diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold, the unusually large size of the jewels, combined with their provenance, makes them astonishingly rare. “Paraiba tourmalines have become one of my favourite gemstones, and we have started to work with them more and more,” revealed Jeremy Morris, who is following in the footsteps of his father David, the man who established the London-based jeweller in 1962. “Their colour qualities are like nothing I’ve seen before; they look almost artificial, or as if they have been heated or treated to form such an intense colour. In both the Waterfall and Phoenix earring designs, I have complemented the turquoise blue with white diamonds to really draw out that mesmerising colour.” 35
Previous pages: Brooch with 5.0ct white diamond cushion centre with 42.04ct pink and white diamond set petals in 18ct white gold These pages, from left to right: 9.23ct Burma emerald cut ruby Pirouette creole earrings with 12.32ct white diamonds, set in 18ct white gold; Chrysalis necklace crafted with 73.79ct white and pink diamonds, set in 18ct white and rose gold; Waterfall earrings with11.02ct white diamonds, 18.21ct Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline set in 18ct white gold; Sunrise Cuff set with 62.21ct white and pink diamonds, in 18ct white and rose gold
The jewels certainly have an otherworldly quality and the fact that reserves have dwindled only adds to their allure. “These stones were discovered relatively recently in the late 1980s, in the Brazilian State of Paraiba,” explains Morris. “However, this mine has now been depleted, so gems from this region have skyrocketed in price. You can still source them from Madagascar and other countries, but naturally they cannot then be classified as Paraiba tourmalines, and they do not have the same allure as the striking turquoise blue-green Paraiba.” The designs featuring these vivid gems aren’t the only highlight of this latest collection, which marks a shift in creative direction in the company’s 58year history. “While we will continuously stay true to the David Morris DNA, crafting pieces that are design focused and always championing the natural beauty of the gemstones themselves, I felt that the time was right to move into a new and fresh design phase, creating a vibrant and modern vision for the future of David Morris High Jewellery,” explained Morris. “This is reflected in the Electric Geometric collection’s linear, geometric and symmetrical characteristics. It’s all about the purity of the line and the majesty of the jewels.” While it’s something of a new dawn, Morris insists it’s an evolution, not a revolution. “My father started the 36
The stones were discovered ‘relatively recently in the late 1980s, in the Brazilian State of Paraiba ’ brand designing flawlessly feminine designs, and we continue this today,” he said. “Electric Geometric is pushing the boundaries of craftsmanship. This is evident in the incredible Hexagon Cuff – its creation owes as much to the ingenuity of modern technology as the human hand. It took almost two years to complete, with many of the white and pink diamonds being customcut, many times over, for the piece.” Released in January to mark the start of a new decade, the collection taps into the thirst for fresh starts, harbouring a distinctively optimistic mood. “It’s currently a very unsettling time for everyone, with so much uncertainty. I hope we can all pull together and come through these unprecedented times,” said Morris. “I have tried to convey this vibrancy through the striking
gemstones we chose for the collection. You will see an array of colours in the pieces, as colour is my passion. In particular, the Boreas fan necklace has been crafted with many different hues of fancy yellow and white diamonds.” While inspiration has been found in the geometric shapes that are borne from nature – the waterfall earrings are reminiscent of icicles – it’s the handcraftsmanship and cutting-edge technology that brings the complex compositions to life. “We are fortunate enough to have our own workshop located above the flagship David Morris boutique and building on New Bond Street; it’s the last remaining atelier of its kind on this landmark street,” said Morris. “Here, we have artisans that have been working with us for over 30 years, their skills and
techniques being the best that I’ve had the privilege to see on Bond Street.” The Sunrise Cuff is a perfect example of this expertise; its striking linear composition the result of technical skills and many hundreds of hours of labour to set over 2,000 of the finest white and pink diamonds, which appear to float on the surface of the piece. Precision 3D modelling and prototyping was also an essential part of the design. On a continuous quest to discover more, Morris travels far and wide in search of nature’s rarest, purest jewels. “I recently came across the littleknown stone Dumortierite,” he enthused. “It’s midnight blue in colour, similar in appearance to Aventurine. I used it to offset the whiteness of a magnificent and large white oval-cut diamond in a cocktail ring, the whole design interlaced with a rose gold setting. It has been one of our most popular new designs in the last few months, not simply due to the beauty of the diamond and the Dumortierite, but also because of this blue stone’s originality.” Looking to the future, the House is staying agile to produce pieces that are both desirable and effortless to wear. “It has to be casual as well as formal, stackable and interchangeable with other jewellery, modifiable and have the possibility to be worn multiple ways,” he muses. “One has to know how to adapt to clients’ desires and needs in order to stay relevant long-term.” 37
Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh is back on the big screen this month, starring opposite Scarlett Johansson in Marvelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Black Widow. Rachel Syme meets the most in-demand actress of her generation
On a recent summer evening, the 23-year-old actress Florence Pugh stood in front of a packed cinema in Brooklyn, New York, in a floral maxi-dress and a pair of shiny black work boots. She wore her long blonde hair in loose waves, so that it casually tangled with the pile of gold necklaces around her collarbone. The effect was one of insouciance, a kind of grungy, tousled glamour. It was not until Pugh opened her mouth that it became clear she was nervous. She was at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre to introduce one of the first public screenings of Midsommar, the horror film from Hereditary director Ari Aster about a pagan death cult in Sweden. If you’re yet to see it, the film stars Pugh as a depressive young woman who loses her entire family (in a manner so horrifying that the images may stalk your nightmares for months) and then agrees to accompany her emotionally distant boyfriend and a gaggle of his buddies on a trip to rural Scandinavia. They travel to the remote hometown of their affable Swedish friend Pelle, who invites them to participate in a sacred nine-day ritual celebrating the summer solstice. But it soon becomes clear that Pelle is not who he seems, and that the community is hiding sinister secrets. The film steers quickly from bucolic frolicking into abject terror – at the outset you’re expecting arcadian fantasy and at the end you’re feeling queasy and disoriented by a smorgasbord of blood, agony and grizzly-bear intestines. Pugh, having seen the film for the first time the previous day, seemed a bit shellshocked as she spoke to the crowd. She told the audience to brace themselves for 40
what they were about to see. “Good luck!” she chirped, in her husky Oxfordshire accent, before giving an encouraging little wave and clomping out of the theatre. Sitting with Pugh in Manhattan’s Crosby Street Hotel, I understand why she was so anxious for people to see Midsommar. It’s not just that the film is scary – though you will need nerves of steel to get through it – but that it marked risky new terrain for Pugh. Never before has she been so raw in a role. In the first few minutes on screen, she churns through a kaleidoscope of feeling: from worry, to guilt, to neediness, to searing loss, to numbness, all with a bare face and dirty hair. It is a lot for one actor to carry. “I feel like the horror lies more in watching people’s pain, rather than gore or jump scares or anything like that,” says Pugh. “Dealing with grief and trauma is scary, because no one really knows what vocabulary you should use. And so to watch characters break down, for me, was the hardest thing to do.” She has the ideal face for conveying extreme emotion: wide and guileless, like a blank canvas stretched across a frame. She does more with the flick of an eyebrow, or the curl of a lip, than some actors are able to do with their entire bodies. What’s more impressive is that Pugh never had any formal acting training – she landed her first film, The Calling, Carol Morley’s drama about an English girls’ academy in the Sixties, right out of secondary school. Pugh grew up in Oxford where her father is a restaurateur and her mother a former dancer. She got the theatrical bug early, via school plays, and can still recall her stage debut, as Mary in a Yorkshire version of the Nativity story. She really hammed up the regional dialect. “I would come on and be like, ‘Will you
help me with me donkeh?’,” she says, with a laugh. “‘Oh me back, me baaack!’” At school, Pugh struggled academically, but says that her father encouraged her to focus on her goal of becoming an actress and not sweat her A-levels. She realises now that this was atypical parenting. “My dad was like, ‘Look, if you can’t do [something], and you don’t like it, then don’t stress about it.’ I’d constantly have this reminder that I’ve got really kind parents that don’t mind if I’m not fantastic at everything.” But Pugh was fantastic at one thing, and people began to take notice. After The Calling, she was cast in a Hollywood television drama called Studio City in 2015, when she was still only 18. The show never made it past the pilot, which Pugh now sees as a blessing in disguise. While she was in Los Angeles, she says, the media began to construct a narrative around her body: pointing out that she wasn’t rail-thin. It left her with a sour taste about what the industry does to young performers. “I think I was supposed to be feeling really grateful and really appreciative, which I was,” she says. “But the treatment of me and weight and body image was not good at all. Hollywood knows exactly what to do with everyone. I think because I was so available and eager, that was the problem – when you don’t know who you are yet.” Pugh returned to England, in need of a “new lease of love for the film industry”. She found it in Lady Macbeth, William Oldroyd’s 2016 independent film about a young Victorian wife trapped in a terrible marriage, who ends up poisoning her husband and becoming a serial murderess (she even kills a horse). The role – violent, unhinged, brutal – showed Pugh had
‘ THE TREATMENT OF ME WAS NOT GOOD AT ALL. HOLLYWOOD KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT TO DO WITH EVERYONE’
the ability to play off even the harshest moments with sensitivity and depth. After Lady Macbeth, she appeared in another period drama, Outlaw King, and a Liam Neeson thriller, The Commuter. She then veered back into television, though this time on her own terms, in the BBC’s adaptation of the John le Carré spy novel The Little Drummer Girl. She played Charlie, an actress-turned-informant who becomes increasingly radical. “Charlie is so hectic, and so loud, and so opinionated, and just so hungry for life,” Pugh says. “She just wants to fall in love and shout. And then run away. I’ve met so many people that are like that. And I know there’s probably a piece of me in that too.” Last year, Pugh returned to Hollywood for the first time since her negative experience, to play a wrestler in Stephen Merchant’s Fighting with My Family. It was a comic role – a first for Pugh – but also a swaggering one; she got to have jet black hair and ripped muscles, and take people down on the mat. To train for the part, she became a CrossFit aficionado and studied with pro wrestlers. She discovered that she has iron thighs. “I’m really good at squeezing with my legs,” she says. “Like really, really, good. So I get them on the floor then I just squeeze them like an anaconda.” Now, she says, she is back working in America in a way that feels healthy and exciting for her. She’s no longer an ingénue that people can bend to fit their own story, but one of the most in-demand actresses of her generation. “I think when you’re out of work there, it’s horrible. Everybody’s busy, and everybody’s got a job but you. That’s not a nice feeling. But when you can relax and know that you’re done, that’s nice.” After Midsommar, Pugh appeared in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, playing the priggish youngest sister, Amy March, who goes after the rich playboy Laurie. She was just nominated for an Oscar: for Best Supporting Actress. “I think the reason why people hate Amy is because she secretly says what all of us want to say,” Pugh says. “She’s the voice in your head that goes to say something and then you tell yourself that you can’t say that. But she says it anyway. She has no filter.” Pugh wears lace and corsets for the film, which she has now done several times,
but says that her run of period dramas is only incidental. She wanted to do Little Women because the story is timeless. “This book resonates with so many different generations,” she says. “And even though we are so many years past what was deemed as normal back then, even now it’s still shocking people and even now, it’s still a story about these women that essentially were brought up in such a hippie and wonderful way. And they were allowed to make their own choices. “Greta is so about making these girls seem as normal and as energetic and loud as siblings would be,” she says. “Talking over the top of one another, and pulling each other’s hair, and just being bodies that have grown up together. And not being pressured by it being a period film.” This month, Pugh will fully leave the past behind and rocket into the stratosphere of global celebrity that comes with being in the Marvel universe; she is set to star opposite Scarlett Johansson in the new Black Widow film. She could not tell me much about it – Marvel is notoriously secretive – but she did say: “This film has been wanted by fans for such a long time and I think it’s well needed. So I feel like it’s only got support and love. And that’s a very exciting thing.” When I ask Pugh if she is drawn to “strong” female characters – she’s played murderers, spies, athletes, and now a woman who takes her revenge in the Swedish mountains – she baulks at the term. For her, she says, strength is not a prerequisite. What she craves in a character is complexity. “It doesn’t matter if she’s kind, or a bitch, or she kills a kid,” she says of the roles she takes on. “As long as she’s saying something. And I don’t even mean verbally. If you were to just watch her silhouette, what have you taken away from her? “But it’s never been about being a strong woman,” she goes on. “Because as we’ve realised in the last two years, what does that mean? No one’s strong. Everyone has their flaws and insecurities. That is what makes people human, and that is what makes people empowered. When they see people that have problems or flaws or cracks. That’s the thing that makes someone go, ‘OK, I can do this now. I can be this, because it’s not so alien any more’.” 43
What inspires Christian Louboutin? Olivier Gabet, curator of a major new exhibition in Paris devoted to the shoe designer’s creative oeuvre, gives AIR an insight
aris has countless soul-stirring buildings, but for Christian Louboutin none have such an emotional and artistic draw as the Palais de la Porte Dorée in the 12th arrondissement. As a young boy growing up in the area, Louboutin spent many weekends visiting the Art Deco building, admiring its spectacular frescos and bas-reliefs, exploring museum galleries dedicated to African art, or just daydreaming in the tropical aquarium. It was during one of these outings that Louboutin first noticed a sign by the entrance forbidding visitors to wear high heels in order to protect the Palais’s precious mosaic floor.
Intrigued by the image of a stiletto crossed with a red ‘X’, the young designer began sketching shoes and a life-long passion was born. His first designs borrowed forms and motifs from the Palais, while that sign went on to inspire his iconic Pigalle stiletto. It is fitting, then, that the cultural institution that played such a pivotal role in inspiring Louboutin’s vocation is the setting for a major new exhibition celebrating his work. “It could have been organised in a museum used to welcoming big fashion retrospectives,” says exhibition curator Olivier Gabet. “But everything is connected to the Palais de la Porte Dorée since Christian’s
Christian was nurtured by pop culture, but he also nurtured it. It’s an intimate relationship
childhood and teenage years. “The structure of the exhibition, the construction and the succession of the galleries were pretty much designed according to the identity of the Palais de la Porte Dorée. It is not so well-known among international audiences, but it is a real landmark of the Parisian landscape,” he says. Divided into ten sections, L’Exhibition[iste] offers a highly personal exploration of the designer’s myriad sources of inspiration and his creative processes. Spanning 30 years, the show looks at how Louboutin’s love of travel and different cultures, as well as the worlds of theatre, art, literature and pop culture, inform his creativity. “It’s a comprehensive exhibition of the work of Christian – you really jump into his brain, into his vision and into his design,” says Gabet. Louboutin came up with the title as a play on the idea of an exhibit and the act of exhibitionism. “Both are quite close [in meaning], but I like the more subversive notion that in 46
exhibiting my work I am exposing myself in a more intimate way,” the designer says. “I reveal a lot of myself, of my inspirations, of my creative processes in this exhibition and I wanted this to be reflected in the title.” Capturing Louboutin’s effervescent character proved a key curatorial challenge. “As in any exhibition devoted to a living designer, the biggest challenge was to keep the spirit of life, joy and creation, in the context of the museum and the retrospective where people are more or less stopped for a while,” Gabet says. “Christian’s an energetic guy and you want people to feel that creation is also about energy, because very often it is related to suffering and struggling for inspiration. “The second challenge was to make the visitor feel the sense of curiosity and generosity that, for me, defines Christian as a collector and as a designer,” he explains. “Many of his creations are deeply connected to a friendship, a chance meeting, an exhibition, a travel [experience].
Opening pages: Pyrites + soulier Zuleika © Jean-Vincent Simonet These pages, clockwise from top: Still Life © Jean-Vincent Simonet; Christian Louboutin @ Jose Castellar; Still Life © Jean-Vincent Simonet
I think it’s important to show this in an exhibition – it’s not a succession of shoes, you feel the life in it. It was very important for Christian and I to keep this idea that an exhibition is an experience – it’s like theatre.” The show features around 400 pairs of red-soled shoes, some of which have never been exhibited before, alongside collaborations with artists and craftsmen, from Bhutanese craftspeople to the director David Lynch. “I love the idea that when you invite a great artist or designer, he doesn’t think of his ego first, but prefers to immediately invite others to join the party,” says Gabet. “Christian very quickly proposed to invite a number of craftsmen and artists to participate in the exhibition, and he’s a very knowledgeable connoisseur of decorative artistry.” Unlike many retrospectives, L’Exhibition[niste] doesn’t begin with a biography of the designer. “Christian told me he prefers to jump into the work of the artist before knowing who he is, and he didn’t want 48
text on the wall,” explains Gabet. Instead, Louboutin commissioned New Zealand multimedia artist Lisa Reihana to create a hypnotic digital fresco that is shown towards the end of the exhibition. “It is really his life in images, music and movement,” says Gabet. The first room is dedicated to Louboutin’s early years, showcasing around 60 shoes created before he launched his eponymous brand in 1991 and up until the early 2000s, along with sketches and mood boards. The room is surrounded by stainedglass panels produced by master glassmakers Maison du Vitrail; each one reveals details of people, places and moments that have fired Louboutin’s imagination, from feathers at the Folies Bergère cabaret to Marlene Dietrich’s top hat. “They were designed by Christian himself. He loved the idea of expressing himself in another field than shoes. It’s his own homage to the world of craftsmanship,” says Gabet. The Treasure Room, meanwhile, features Louboutin’s most cherished
These pages, clockwise from below: Christian Louboutin at the age of 14 leaving middle school © Christian Louboutin. Maquereau shoe created in 1987, at the Tropical Aquarium of the Palais de la Porte Dorée (based on a visual archives from 1988) © Christian Louboutin; Degrastrass © Jean-Vincent Simonet
creations, including the ‘Puebla’ shoe, inspired by the Native American Kachina dolls the designer has been collecting for more than 25 years. In the Bhutanese Theatre, burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese performs as a hologram on a hand-carved and painted stage made in Bhutan, while another room features nine female sculptures, crafted in leather and matched to the nine skin tones of Louboutin’s inclusive Nudes collection. The exhibition focuses on Louboutin’s rich creative universe, but it is impossible to ignore his impact on popular culture. His trademark scarlet soles have become both celebrity staple and cultural touchstone, frequently namechecked in films and music – Jennifer Lopez even released a single called Louboutins in 2009. As such, one room is dedicated to shoes worn on the red carpet and in performances by the likes of Lopez, Beyoncé and Dolly Parton. Since his teenage years spent hanging out at the legendary Le Palace nightclub – Paris’s answer to Studio 54 – Louboutin has taken cues from pop culture, too. “It’s fascinating to see that this young guy became a reference for all the musicians and actors he loved as a kid, and also for the new generation. So you have a very strong, deep, intimate and mutual relationship
between Christian and pop culture, because he was both nurtured by it, and he also nurtured it,” says Gabet. As the director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and co-curator of the museum’s record-breaking Christian Dior retrospective in 2017, Gabet is no stranger to organising blockbuster exhibitions. “When you work on a historical [show] a lot of people can intervene, but not the person who founded the house,” he says. “The House of Louboutin belongs to Christian, so you don’t need to check anything with a public relations officer – he’s his own boss. It makes a big difference because he is very risky and audacious.” On show until July 26, Mr Louboutin’s latest creation is destined to be as wildly popular as his shoes. “Even if you don’t know so much about fashion, when someone says they bought a pair of Louboutins, they don’t need to mention detail – [you know] it is a pair of shoes,” says Gabet. “You don’t say that of many items in the fashion world.”
L’Exhibition[niste] shows at Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris, till July 26 lexposition. christianlouboutin.com
“You really jump into his brain, into his vision and into his design ”
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo met, fell in love and founded a wildly successful British couture house, beloved of royals. But while their romance is now over, the business goes from strength to strength AIR
WORDS: BETHAN HOLT
amara Ralph and Michael Russo established their British couture house, Ralph & Russo, a decade ago. But it was in December 2017 that their label went stratospheric, when Meghan Markle wore one of their gowns in the portraits celebrating her engagement to Prince Harry. The images of the future Duchess of Sussex wearing the intricately beaded black design, which was reported to be worth £56,000 ($72,000), were beamed around the world, and the maison, already doing a roaring trade in creating bespoke looks for the superrich, became almost a household name. There was fever-pitch speculation that Ralph & Russo would design Markle’s wedding gown, photographers camped
outside their homes and offices, and the couple were subjected to palace NDAs. ‘You always had to make sure you were immaculate; there was no stumbling out in pyjamas,’ says Ralph, laughing at the memory of that time. She is such a vision of glowy-skinned, swooshy-maned glamour that I can’t imagine her ever looking anything less than pristine. ‘What I loved so much was that it was a different and surprising choice – it was a little sheer-ish and black, even though it was an engagement picture,’ she adds, now more free to talk about Meghan’s dress. The moment was a surprise even to Ralph, the brand’s creative director, and Russo, the CEO, as they had sent the dress thinking it was
We were getting so many requests ‘from private clients and celebrities that we realised we needed some people to make things ’ investment company Tennor Holding took a minority stake for £40 million ($52 million) – they’re still committed to making the business work. It can’t have been easy (Ralph has been endlessly questioned about the kind of wedding gown she would wear herself, given the fantastical concoctions she has come up with for others) and it’s not a subject they wish to dwell on, but Russo says they have ‘this great trust. I leave all the creative stuff to her and she leaves the business stuff to me, and it somehow works really well, so we both have the same vision and the same drive.’ Ralph, meanwhile, emphasises that, ‘We continue to be the very best of friends and, of course, business partners who trust
and respect one another implicitly.’ It was a bold move when they decided to open a new couture house. In 2010, many in the industry were saying such ventures weren’t profitable. Jean Paul Gaultier claimed that, ‘We don’t make any money out of it,’ backstage at his couture show. Bolder still was the couple’s decision to base themselves in London rather than Paris. ‘We felt so at home here and we also thought that London offers something that Paris doesn’t,’ says Ralph. ‘It’s such a hub for international people: Chinese, Russian. Everyone was coming to London to shop, but they’re very high-profile people with a lot of disposable income and didn’t have anything to buy. There were all the luxury brands but nothing exclusive.’
Credit: © Bethan Holt / Telegraph Media Group Limited 2020
for a non-royal magazine shoot. In the end, the wedding-dress commission went to Givenchy, but recently there have been some similarities in the evolution of Ralph and Russo and Harry and Meghan. While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made headlines for their decision to carve out a ‘progressive’ new role in what some have billed as a break-up with the Royal family, Ralph and Russo are looking to their own next chapter as partners in business, but no longer in life. There’s fashion-industry precedence for this set-up. Like Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti, and Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé before them, Ralph and Russo’s story began as a label forged as part of a love affair, which saw Ralph move from Sydney to London to live and create a brand with Russo – a fellow Australian who had already put down roots in the UK as an investment banker. The pair had first met when they bumped into each other, quite literally, on the street. As they celebrate a decade of incredible growth – last summer,
Their savvy paid off, and Ralph & Russo’s client list fast became a who’s who of the ultra-wealthy, from Middle Eastern royalty to Asian billionaires and Hollywood celebrities. Angelina Jolie was an early adopter who fell so in love with the label that she asked Ralph to create her costumes for last year’s Maleficent sequel, as well as numerous red-carpet looks and the neatly tailored suit she wore when she was made an honorary dame by the Queen in 2014. They’ve also fashioned tour costumes for Beyoncé and an Oscars gown for Gwyneth Paltrow. Kylie Jenner and her toddler daughter Stormi wore matching custom emerald-green looks for the Kardashians’ Christmas Eve party, Princess Beatrice chose a royal-blue Ralph & Russo look for her sister’s 2018 wedding, and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, consort to the former emir of Qatar, is a fan, even though she could have limitless Valentino, given that her family owns the label. ‘When we started, there was no team,’ remembers 38-year-old Ralph, who had previously made a name for herself with a small label that she ran from her teenage bedroom in Sydney, having learnt to sew from her mother and grandmother. ‘It was just us two. I would do all the sketching, I’d stitch the piece, do all the draping and the pattern cutting. Then we were getting so many requests from private clients and celebrities that we realised we needed some people to make things.’ Now they have a foot in both old and new London; there’s the 19th-century Mayfair townhouse where clients come for discreet fittings and appointments (often, whole families will visit at the same time). Naturally, it’s decorated in the glossy, subtly grand palette of greys and silvers that defines Ralph & Russo’s tastefully blingy concept. Then there’s the office and atelier in White City, where they’re part of a shiny new development that includes Net-a-Porter’s Tech Hub, and just round the corner from Soho House’s latest outpost. The White City premises, which they moved into last year, are now the centre of an empire that includes six stores, including boutiques in Doha, Monte Carlo and Dubai, with New York due 54
There’s an interesting shift because people are wanting pieces that they can get more wear out of
to open this spring. They have 300 employees, rising to 350 at busy times like the run-up to the couture show. When Ralph shows me around the airy, open-plan space, there is a quiet hum of intense concentration – understandable given one seamstress is working on an intricately pleated dress that is taking a month to construct, while another is piecing together a gown covered in flowers, each bloom so detailed it takes two days to craft. One dress in the autumn couture collection included 6,000 pearls, while another took 2,800 hours to embroider. A section of floor is populated by mannequins conforming to the exact sizes of their couture clients – they have thousands of these, which are stored in their own separate warehouse, but those in use right now range from six-monthold babies to Junoesque women. The brand’s USP is that in 2014 it became the first British label in almost 100 years to be admitted to Paris’s Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, meaning it can show in Paris Couture Week. It also does a roaring trade in bridal gowns, whether it’s for celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Ellie Goulding or socialites such as Madina Shokirova, daughter of Russian oil tycoon Ilkhom Shokirov, and Irene Belenova, granddaughter of billionaire property developer Valery Kogan. Why have they enjoyed such popularity when clients could easily visit one of the more established, wellknown ateliers? A lot of it is down to the highly personalised service that Ralph & Russo offers – the pair are friends to many of their customers and around 50 per cent of their couture sales come not from show pieces, but sketches that Ralph has designed especially for each customer. The classic glamour of their aesthetic appeals too. ‘A lot of clients have said to me that we have a knack for having the perfect balance of very sophisticated and chic with a
little bit of sexiness, but it all looks cohesive. It’s a hard thing to do, to have something that’s very elegant but sexy, strong but soft.’ Russo, 40, thinks it’s also that they’ve tapped into a younger customer buying couture in a new way. ‘There’s an interesting shift because people are wanting pieces that they can get more wear out of. Perhaps you’ll keep a jacket for ever and wear it many times, whereas you might wear a ballgown once.’ The tweed suit Phoebe Waller-Bridge wore to the Golden Globes, which they later auctioned on eBay – raising £21,000 ($27,000) for charities tackling the Australian wildfire crisis – epitomises the edgier, youthful side to the house. Their goal is to become a ‘global luxury superbrand’. They’ve already introduced ready-to-wear, shoes and bags. If Tamara is the quintessential Ralph & Russo woman, then I admit it’s a leap to imagine her in trainers, but they’re particularly excited about a new, £595 ($770) pair. ‘You know [trainers] are 70 per cent of the shoe market now? No one wants to wear heels,’ she says, with a hint of incredulity. ‘It’s quite an edgy sneaker but it’s still feminine... plus ours give you height. It’s got what every girl wants, and actually we’ve had a lot of men wanting it as well.’ The pair have plans for plenty more, including furniture, beauty (a project Ralph says will bring something ‘completely new and different’ to the market), childrenswear and, thanks to Ralph’s latest acquisition, possibly even designs for dogs. Her six-monthold chow chow puppy, Beluga, is on holiday in the south of France when we meet but her presence is felt in the corner of Tamara’s office dedicated to her comfort. ‘She loves fashion; she sits next to me while we do meetings,’ says Ralph, confiding that she’s already created some custom pieces for the pooch, who has a penchant for chewing fabric swatches – although, thankfully, not the finished articles.
Opening pages: Ralph & Russo Haute Couture Spring/Summer 20 Previous pages, from left to right: Ralph & Russo A/W Pret-a-Porter; Ralph & Russo A/W Pret-a-Porter Right: Ralph & Russo Haute Couture Spring/Summer 20
The Mic late pho h brill ael Co tograph o i er moo antly ca per d Sixt of the ptured i roll es in a Swingi the rock pict ng u hail ed a re boo and k asse s th Ada mbledâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; e â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;best e . His m, r ver e of it s ma calls th son, Chri e k s An ing to story ders on
Right: Mick Jagger
magine being a child and having Mick Jagger walk you to the park. Or maybe if you needed a lift, Keith Richards would turn up in his Bentley. It sounds like a bizarre dream – but to Adam Cooper, the son of photographer Michael Cooper, this was his childhood during the 1960s. “I remember when I met my wife, back in 1995, I took her to a Rolling Stones event in London where they were promoting the Voodoo Lounge album,” he says. “Keith turned to her, pointed a finger in my face and said, ‘I used to change his nappies!’” Surely an exaggeration, but it serves to show just how close Michael and his son were to one of the biggest rock and roll bands on the planet. The Rolling Stones were not the only musicians to both befriend Michael and step in front of his camera either. Out of all the photographs he took during his lifetime, his most recognisable work concerns another big name of the 1960s, shooting the album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at his central London studio in 1967. A book, Blinds and Shutters, produced with Adam, shows outtakes of the youngster walking onto the set next to Paul McCartney and John Lennon, with all of the cardboard figures behind them. What was it like to be present at the shoot for one of the most famous album covers of all time? “Well, I don’t really remember,” Adam admits. “I was barely four years old, and as you’ve probably seen in the photos, I was more infatuated with the props they’d set out amongst the flowers at the front – one of which happened to be a shiny trophy, which Paul had brought from his home. There’s the shot where he’s looking at me, and he’s probably thinking, ‘If that kids breaks that trophy… [laughs].’” There is a first-hand account written by Paul McCartney in the Blinds and Shutters book, next to the photos, that describes how the shoot came together. Each Beatle provided a list of famous figures they would like turned into life-size cardboard cut-outs, which would then form the crowd, gathered around the band in the background. The lists were given to pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, who worked on the overall design, with the set assembled in Michael’s photo studio over several days, and the
Keith Richards turned to my wife, “ pointed a finger in my face and said, ‘I used to change his nappies’ ”
shoot directed by his close friend, Robert Fraser. The Beatles arrived on the last day to be photographed. But for all of the famous names he was acquainted with, Michael himself was a troubled soul, and took his own life in 1973, aged just 31. The Blinds and Shutters book opens with the letter that Michael left for Adam, explaining why he made the decision, but adding that he loved and believed in his son, and knew he would lead a successful life. “It was very sad, and a combination of many different factors,” Adam explains. “My mother left us when I was very young, and it was my father who raised me. A couple of years before his death, his girlfriend, Ginger, who was like a stepmother to me, committed suicide, and I think he
found it all such a struggle. It was very tragic, as he was an incredible talent, and I often wonder what he might be doing if he was still around today.” Adam went to live with his grandparents from that point on. “I started to have what you might describe as a normal life,” he says. “I went to school on a regular basis, I had friends my own age, and I did all of the usual activities and sports. Until then, I was either travelling with my father, or hanging out in his studio and seeing this constant stream of colourful characters, who were all famous, but to us they were just friends. I remember one time, he worked on a film with [director] Roman Polanski, called What?, starring Marcello Mastroianni, and because of that we spent a year in Italy, first in
These pages, clockwise from left: Marianne Faithful; John Lennon and Yoko Ono
I was either travelling with my father, or hanging out in his studio and seeing this constant stream of colourful characters
Opposite: A young Adam Cooper on the set of the album cover shoot for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. All images by Michael Cooper, courtesy of Adam Cooper/Genesis Publications
Rome and then by the coast, which as a young child was just magical.” Adam had a chance to feel even closer to his father when he turned 18. “That’s the year when I finally inherited his photography collection,” he says. “I remember getting it, this huge cardboard box, and inside – typical Michael, typical bohemian – there was no cataloguing of the negatives, no protection, everything had just been thrown in. A friend of mine let me use his darkroom, and I was able to work my way through it.” There were countless photos of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, but also other prominent figures, including Marianne Faithful and Eric Clapton, as well as Andy Warhol, David Hockney, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg from the worlds of art and literature. Adam also found various notes and documents. “One was titled, ‘My Plan For My First Book’, and it was called Blinds and Shutters,” he says. “My father saw the name on the side of a van driving through London, and he thought, yes, that’s it. And he described how he wanted it to be – kind of like a kid’s scrapbook, rather than the usual coffee table style, with his photos, and the text written by those featured. “And it took a few meetings with various publishers, who all loved the collection, but only one, Genesis Publications, which specialised in limited editions, were willing to do it exactly as my father intended. I remember, it took about seven years, tracking people down, getting them to contribute, but finally we got the book together, and the first copies of Blinds and Shutters came out in 1990.” The book featured around 600 images, with first-hand accounts, notes, anecdotes and mini essays from 93 different contributors. Just 5,000 editions were printed, with Genesis Publications then going back to these people and asking them to sign each copy. Every edition of Blinds and Shutters features at least nine different signatures, with Francis Bacon, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison and Dennis Hopper among them. Adam explains why the book is getting attention again today, 30 years on. “We did 5,000 copies, but we decided to hold 600 back, planning to make them available at some point in the future,” he says. “With the 30th
anniversary of Blinds and Shutters, and the 45th of Genesis Publications – and with the book being such a success for them, earning itself this cult status – now was the perfect time.” The new editions, with just 600 in total, are quarter-bound in leather, with foil blocking and silk-screened page edging, and an individuallyplaced photograph, inset on the cover. The oversized 368-page book also has a handmade slipcase, with the final price dependent on the signature set within, as many of these names have since passed on. Of course, Adam has delved into the archives and produced many other books based on his father’s work. “We did one late last year about Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones, as it was the 50th anniversary of his death, and I have galleries around the world helping me put on exhibitions or selling prints of his work,” he says. What is it that makes his father’s images stand out? “What comes across very strongly is the intimacy,” says Adam. “He was a friend first, a photographer second, and he just used to snap away. The way I remember him, he always had his Nikon over his shoulder, and was ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.” In terms of who might have been his best friends, talk always comes back to The Rolling Stones – Michael even planned to direct a movie of A Clockwork Orange, the novel by Anthony Burgess, years before Stanley Kubrick successfully brought it to the screen, with Mick Jagger in the lead and the other band members in supporting roles. “He got on with Keith in particular,” says Adam. “My father had an interest in music, and Keith liked photography, so they became great friends. Keith and his then-wife, Anita, even let us stay in their flat for a time. It’s incredible, really.” Almost as impressive as Michael’s work itself. “I love looking through all the negatives, producing books and hosting exhibitions,” says Adam. “I really believe, and lots of people agree, that his work needs to be up there and be seen.”
Blinds and Shutters is available now, published by Genesis Publications. blindsandshuttersbook.com 61
APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Changing Lanes The UAEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s high-octane all-female supercar group is at full throttle as the waiting list to become a member of Arabian Gazelles grows. Nick Watkins speaks to the clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s founder, Hanan Mazouzi Sobati, about life in the fast lane
People still assume when you’re there “ on the track you’re there to support your partner and it drives me crazy ”
rive deep enough into the Dubai desert and you could spot one of nature’s rare sights – the reem gazelle. Although smart, agile and fast enough to outrun a cheater, the animal is now considered vulnerable on international endangered animals list, with less than 3,000 thought to be left in the wild. A precious few call the UAE home – as does another type of Gazelle. One that is often found grouped together on Dubai’s desert roads, and whose population is rapidly expanding. “Life is too short to drive boring cars,” says Hanan Mazouzi Sobati, the founder of Arabian Gazelles, the UAE’s female-only supercar owners club. Having set the group up little over two years ago, there’s now a queue of supercar owners looking to join the exclusive club, which boasts members from over 20 different countries. “We have around 120 members, not including the waiting list,” Sobati tells AIR. “We have to vet people before they join because the club is growing rapidly and we want to make sure members have a genuine passion for supercars and they bring something to the group. We have a fantastic dynamic and everyone really loves being part of it so it’s important that we keep that.” The club was born out of frustration with the automotive industry failing to invite enough women to motoring events – and when they were invited it was always as a plus one, or to model next to the vehicles. Sobati, who has been a car-enthusiast since childhood, sought to change the perception of females in the industry. “The passion for fast cars has been there since I was a little girl, but it was things going on around me really that made me start the group,” she says. “At motoring events, women were only there when they were being dressed in a silly way and showcasing the car, so I wanted to bring more women into the industry. I was lucky to be in the position to do this thanks to the 64
understanding of my husband, who was being invited to those events but since it was not his passion, most of the time I was going instead of him anyway.” It was a female-only rally in Europe, from Bordeaux to the south of France, that also inspired Sobati to start the group, which has grown so much it now has plans to put on international road trips of its own. “I did a female-only rally abroad and it was a fantastic experience,” Sobati recalls. “It was a five-day thing and when I came back to Dubai I decided to found Arabian Gazelles. People don’t expect to see a female supercar club in this part of the world, so I think that was the attraction.” Thanks to the growing social media platform, membership numbers are increasing, as is the global media coverage surrounding Arabian Gazelles. Fame has never been the goal, although the media attention has been welcomed and given its members a platform to express themselves. While membership is only open to supercar owners there are other ways for female car fans to get involved and be part of the Arabian Gazelles. “We have various events that women who aren’t supercar owners, but are passionate about cars, can attend. We want women to come into our world. We really want to connect women around the world who have a real thirst for these high-powered cars,” Sobati says. “The group has requests from people around the globe and I want to be able to travel to these places where people are so passionate about cars and create more events with them,” she adds. Members of the group get to enjoy VIP events, exclusive night drives and luxurious weekends away. When they travel they do so in a supercar convoy turning heads whereever they go. Sobati has an impressive fleet of motors in her own personal collection, including a Rolls Royce Drophead Phantom, Morgan Aero Supersport, a McLaren 650S Spider,
and a Mercedes-Benz G-Class, “The Morgan is my favourite,” she says with a smile, “because there aren’t many in Dubai, so it’s very special to me.” What makes her buy a car? That’s a question even she’s not sure the answer to. After a brief pause she explains, “With the cars I own it depends on the mood I am in, but what I like most about driving a high-powered car is the freedom to disconnect from everything. That’s the thing, the events range from luxury drives, to track days to weekends away and it’s really about bringing people together and enjoying what we’re doing so they can disconnect from their jobs or stresses and just enjoy driving the cars. It’s an amazing feeling.” It’s not just the feeling of pleasing the members which makes Sobati proud either. The group raises awareness for various charities so they can give something back on a larger scale. Arabian Gazelles is now also being used by the world’s biggest car brands such as Ferrari, which has made sales via members who were invited on a weekend test drive. “Car manufactures understand that we’re the right audience, which is great because in the past we weren’t even invited to such events,” the group’s founder says proudly. Through Arabian Gazelles, Sobati has been able to change the way women are thought of within the motoring industry in the region. So much so that she’s been asked to speak at events held by BMW and the Dubai International Motor Show. The job is far from done, though. Despite being pleased with the group’s progression, Sobati admits there’s still a long way to go. “Some people still assume when you’re there on the track you’re there to support your partner and it drives me crazy. They still give you the wristband to say that you’re a passenger and this has to change. The road is long but we are changing one mind at a time.”
Opening pages: Arabian Gazellesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; founder, Hanan Mazouzi Soubati Below: Eliane Amer, the first member to join Hananâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gazelles
APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Hélène Darroze’s eponymous restaurant on the Left Bank in Paris earned her two Michelin stars and wide acclaim, including the title of World’s Best Female Chef. Then she decided to close it. In its place is a restaurant that does more than justify her decision
t was the choux à la crème that clinched it. Delivered to our table on a bespoke-design ceramic plate – conceived by Darroze in collaboration with the artist, Ema Pradère – it was brought not by the waiter who had attended our table so animatedly all evening, but by the female pastry chef from the kitchen, dressed in her whites. Like everything else we had eaten over the course of three hours at Marsan – the restaurant Darroze opened in Paris last May – it was delicious. And memorable, obviously. But it was also the final proof that Marsan is a deeply intimate restaurant, its every element implanted with the personality of its owner. Its every element thoughtful. “I want our guests to feel like they are dining in my home,” says Darroze. “This begins of course with the food, but also the design, the art de la table and the service. We worked a lot on the sequence of the meal and thought about every single detail. I had this desire.” The desire Darroze talks of burned deep, so much so that she called time on her eponymous restaurant of twenty years, which had scooped two Michelin stars, in order to open Marsan. “I had been thinking about it for a few years. I knew it was time to put myself into
Opening pages, left to right: huitre caviar; private dining room at Marsan, courtesy of Jean Marc Palisse These pages, clockwise below: merlu; Hélène Darroze, courtesy of Nicolas Buisson; chef’s table and kitchen at Marsan, courtesy of Jean Marc Palisse
question again and push forward.” Darroze has always been forward thinking. The fourth generation from a family of chefs, her profession may never have been in doubt (after all, she began baking at the age of six, and aged twelve was making lemon tarts for her parents’ dinner parties), but the path she forged was less obvious. The first step on it was taken on the operational side of the restaurant industry, Darroze completing a business degree at L’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Bordeaux. But the next step was arguably the most
defining. Having relocated to Monaco to work behind the scenes at Alain Ducasse’s three Michelin starred Le Louis XV, it wasn’t long before her talent ensured a route to his celebrated kitchen at the request of the man himself. “I always remember the advice he [Ducasse] gave me when I first started, which was, ‘there is a place for women in the French gastronomic world.’ He was right.” From there she returned home to Les Landes, picking up the reins at her family-run restaurant, just as the generations before her had done so.
Four years later, however, at the age of 32, Darroze chose to break with family tradition and make a name for herself on Paris’ Left Bank. “When you are young, you always look to break free from your family and education. As you mature you realise the importance of what you’ve learnt and gained from your roots, you are proud of it and want to show it. London was next – Hélène Darroze at the Connaught in Mayfair also the recipient of two Michelin stars – before another Paris opening in 2018 (a bistro, Jòia by Hélène Darroze) swiftly followed by Marsan. “Marsan is a dream. I first started thinking about it ten years ago and it is a summary of my life. This includes my roots, with my connection to Les Landes and the Basque country and my education with my family’s culinary heritage. It’s also my experiences from all over the world – my time with Alain Ducasse, the influence from Italy, my relationship working at The Connaught in London, and of course my friendships with other chefs on a professional and personal level. There is so much of me in Marsan.” Which dish, then, from Marsan’s menu speaks most of her?
I want our guests to feel like they are dining in my home
“Paradoxically it is not a dish inspired by the South West of France, but Retour d’Hanoï (Return from Hanoi). This shellfish phô dish reveals a lot about my style of cooking. It focuses on choosing the best ingredients, but also on sensibility and emotion. My girls were born in Vietnam, and when I adopted them and became a mum I spent a few weeks in Hanoï. It was one of the best periods of my life. I would eat phô everyday in the streets and it holds many beautiful memories for me. When I returned to France I worked on the dish and it’s become a signature. For me, cooking is about emotions and about what you have inside, this dish exemplifies that.’ Added to the many accolades Darroze has garnered for her work inside the kitchen is a slew of others acquired for her life outside of it, including The Legion of Honour, the highest decoration in France. She also co-created the charity association La Bonne Etoile, which
helps disadvantaged children. As you’d expect, as a trailblazing female chef Darroze has been an inspiration to many, but their number isn’t limited to aspiring chefs. Pixar based the character Colette from its hit film Ratatouille on her, while in 2018 she was the inspiration for a chef Barbie doll, one of 12 designed to champion boundary-breaking women. Wielding such influence, does Darroze feel the burden of responsibility? “For me, it’s not a responsibility. I am much more instinctive. I am aware that I inspire women, both in my professional and personal life, women sometimes tell me this. However, I say this with a lot of humility as I don’t understand it: I just have a normal life. Everything I do and the choices I make are instinctive and natural, with a lot of passion. I have the chance to use my passion to do my job, which is incredible.” Could that passion lead her to the Middle East one day, where she’d follow in the footsteps of Ducasse, among others? “I would love that. I think a bistronomic style would work best, where guests share around a table. I would relish the opportunity and challenge. Every time I’ve cooked in the Middle East it’s been a pleasure.” 69
Travel APRIL /MAY 2020 : ISSUE 107
New York City
hey call it the most magnificent space in Manhattan, and when you have all 10,000 sq ft of it all to yourself, you understand why. This ultra-luxurious penthouse, located on the 16th and 17th floors of Madison Avenue-based The Mark, is the largest suite in the whole of the United States – you’ll likely get lost in its labyrinth of rooms. There are no less than five bedrooms, six bathrooms, an expansive library, full-size chef’s kitchen, exercise studio and sky-lit conservatory. Then there’s the fact that the dining room can be transformed into a full-sized grand ballroom, complete with 26fthigh ceilings. Throughout, the interior is immaculate, fabulously designed by Jacques Grange, whose list of former clients include Yves St. Laurent, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld and Caroline, Princess of Monaco. There are 24-carat gold fixtures in the bathroom, while outside you have a staggering 2,500 sq ft rooftop terrace overlooking the iconic Central Park. In 2009, The Mark was given a complete overhaul to bring this 1927 landmark into the 21st century, thus making it one of the most desirable hotels on the planet. Guests receive unprecedented levels of personal service, including John Lobb
shoeshines and even a telescope upon request, should astronomy be your thing. Your pets will be suitably pampered too, with a suite reserved exclusively for them. If you have the unlikely desire to leave the comfort of the penthouse, which, incidentally, has been ranked number one in the world for its hotel Wi-Fi, downstairs The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges offers award-winning fare, and gives diners the choice of adding black truffles to each dish. On your doorstep are New York’s finest art institutions, including The Met, The Guggenheim and The Frick Collection. A personal chauffeur will take you around Manhattan’s premier shops, museums and galleries so you can enjoy the city that never sleeps in peace. You can even sightsee via the famous The Mark Pedicabs, but if you don’t fancy braving the streets you can see the city by The Mark Sailboat – a bespoke 70ft vessel built to race in the America’s Cup during the early 1900s Now it transports guests of The Mark along the island of Manhattan – what better way to take a bite of The Big Apple? JFK airport can accommodate private jets and a private car to/from JFK airport can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org 71
What I Know Now
APRIL/MAY 2020: ISSUE 107
Pascal Raffy CEO, BOVET 1822
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is that the most important thing in life is not to shine but to last. Longevity is important, especially when you are the proud owner of a watchmaking house of nearly 200 years. It’s important to be able to keep and preserve tradition, but at the same time be able to innovate, with more than 19 patents for 13 years. The first time I truly felt successful was when I saw the first smile of my eldest daughter. It was nothing to do with my career achievements, that is not the essence for me. A lesson I learned the hard way was patience. We all evaluate, we all want to do things quickly and only at a certain stage do we understand that some of them can be done quickly and some 72
take decades. It’s the journey you need to enjoy. The journey of life. What inspires me outside of work is excellency. I like the search for excellence, the search for that tiny detail that’ll make the big difference, and it relates to everything: from the human dimension of things, to the notion of time. Timepieces are different from watches. I don’t need a watch to live. Like most of us, I have also become a slave to technology, yet though I can read the time on my mobile, a timepiece will talk to me via details.
stronger because of them. I would also say that pressure can be a good thing, but choose the positive kind of pressure to grow from.
My definition of personal success is the day you find plenitude. It’s the sense of being full, and complete.
The ambitions that remain for me are exactly the same as they were when I took over at Bovet – that is to make a respected house of beautiful watchmaking, a house that will one day be in the hands of my family. The important thing is not myself. I see myself in between my family at home and my family at Bovet, and I’m in between to make sure both of them will be successful in the future. If they are successful it will mean that the house of Bovet, which is my passion, is protected for the long-term.
What I would say to my younger self is to learn from your mistakes and be
One thing I do every day is thank God every morning.
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L E A DIN G THE WAY