Issue seven | December
Jack soN Nichol
Produced in International Media Production Zone
ok ay in W hy all ’s l worl d fu r e the wond wood ’s y ll o H f o top dog
A knight ‘s tale The inside story of how sir Paul smith built a global fashion empire
house proud Looking back on 90 remarkable years of the Gucci brand
AmAn to thAt How a luxury resort brought the cool crowd back to montenegro
high five Why bmW have scaled the heights with the launch of the new m5
Contents / Fe atures
thirty six jack nicholson Hollywood’s legendary hellraiser settles down to talk fellow actors, plastic surgery and happiness.
thirty two family matters 90 years ago Gucci opened its first boutique. AIR tells the remarkable story of what’s happened since.
forty man of the cloth From paper boy to billionnaire Knight of the Realm; Sir Paul Smith shares the secrets of his success.
fifty four fancy a peruvian? As Peruvian food assumes its mantle as gastronomy’s latest ‘next big thing’, AIR meets the chefs responsible.
Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494 Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in AIR.
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Contents / regul ars
sixty travel Lisa Markwell finds beauty abound in Montenegro, while AIR sniffs out the best places to unearth truffles.
Forty eight motoring
What’s on and what’s new this month, including a $363k dress and a guitar fashioned from gold.
Chris Knapman gets to grips with BMW’s M5, while John Simister feels the breeze in Bentley’s new convertible.
Editorial Director John Thatcher
twenty two timepieces
FiFty Four gastronomy
Advertisement Director Chris Capstick email@example.com
Fabergé’s newest offering; the launch of Harrods’ dedicated watch room; and the pick of Liz Taylor’s timepieces.
The gastronomic sun shines on Peru; Gerard Gilbert talks perfecting ceviche with its two leading lights.
Group Editor Laura Binder firstname.lastname@example.org
twenty Five home
FiFty nine golF
Group Deputy Editor Jade Bremner email@example.com
Fashion heavyweights Giles Deacon and Christian Lacroix unveil their new, immaculate collections.
We reveal the year’s best driver and profile Kyle Philips’ exceptional (and challenging) UK course.
Designers Adam Sneade Sarah Boland
twenty eight critique
seventy two what i know now
Production Manager Haneef Abdul
We’ve waded through the column inches of cultural critique to present this month’s hits and misses.
Homewear designer to the stars, Michael Amran, talks us through his life lessons.
Managing Director Victoria Thatcher
Group Advertisement Manager Cat Steele firstname.lastname@example.org Advertisement Manager Sukaina Hussein email@example.com
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Conrad Maldives Rangali Island For reservations contact MLEHI.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ConradMaldives.com
I’m delighted to welcome you to the December edition of AIR, Gama’s in-flight magazine. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about our global business aviation group and the services we provide as you browse through the pages. Gama is one of the world’s largest business jet operators – we have nearly 80 business jets operating all around the globe. Established in the United Kingdom in 1983, we’ve grown to have bases throughout the Middle East, Europe and North & South America, as well as operating licences issued by the UAE, UK, US and Bermudan Authorities. As well as providing aircraft management and charter services, the group also provides aircraft maintenance, avionics design and installation, aviation software, aircraft cleaning and leasing services to a wide range of clients. Gama’s expansion in the Middle East continues to progress well, our regional fleet has grown significantly over the past twelve months with the arrival of a number of aircraft, including the Bombardier Global XRS and the Airbus A318, along with the continued development of our regional footprint and services. Business aviation remains one of the best tools available to corporations and individuals who want to make time for themselves, and it’s been pleasing to see a resurgence in charter flights in 2011 – the world is travelling for business again and developing much needed revenue for the global economy. Thank you for choosing Gama – welcome on board. Dave Edwards Managing Director Gama Aviation
Contact details: email@example.com gamagroup.com
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Gama aviation news
Gama aviation announces expansion into saudi arabia Jeddah will be Gama’s second Middle East base
Gama Group MENA FZE, part of the Gama Group, the global business aviation services company, announced during the Dubai Air Show 2011 that it is to expand its services into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With Imitiaz Company for Aviation Services LLC as a strategic partner in Saudi Arabia, the new joint venture company, to be known as Gama Aviation, plans to be operational in 2012 from Jeddah, Saudi’s second largest city and a vital centre for commerce and tourism. The Imitiaz Company, which is headquartered in Jeddah, is headed by some of the Kingdom’s most experienced aviation professionals. This is an expansion in the Middle East for the Gama Group, a long established aircraft charter, management and maintenance business company now in its 29th year, which set up in Sharjah and Dubai three years ago. The company will specialise in aircraft management and aims to operate charter services under its own Saudi GACA Part 135 Air Carrier certificate. The next step will be to add aircraft maintenance and consultancy services, replicating the company’s expertise in Europe, USA and the Middle East. Gama’s first base will be at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, where it will employ around five people in the start up phase. Gama Aviation in Saudi Arabia will be overseen by Gama’s Regional Managing Director, Dave Edwards. “This is a significant announcement for Gama and is the culmination of a substantial period of planning and negotiation,” said Gama CEO Marwan Abdel Khalek. “We are delighted to have Imitiaz LLC as our strategic partner in this venture, which will bring to Gama many years of experience in the Kingdom. Breaking into the important Saudi market, the biggest market for business aviation in the Middle East, is a huge achievement and a long held wish of Gama. This milestone reflects a considerable amount of hard work by the team at Gama and our ability to demonstrate how the Gama culture and business model could be adopted in Saudi. ” Gama Aviation obtained its UAE GCAA Air Operator’s Certificate in February 2010 and now supports 25 staff and five managed aircraft at both Sharjah International and Dubai International Airports, including an Airbus ACJ318 which joined the fleet last month. Gama is on track to
obtain its UAE GCAA CAR 145 maintenance approval and is working to develop a new 12,000 sqm hangar facility at Sharjah, which will provide hangarage and maintenance facilities for business jet aircraft in the region. It will also be home to a new Fixed Based Operation.
About Gama Group Gama is a global business aviation services organization, founded in 1983 in the UK by Marwan Abdel Khalek and Stephen Wright. The group employs over 300 at bases across Europe, the Americas and the Middle East and operates over 80 business aircraft. The group’s companies and affiliates hold EU-OPS, FAA Part 135 and UAE GCAA Charter Certificates, FAA Part 145 Maintenance Approvals, Part 21 Design and Manufacture Approvals and offer business aircraft charter, management, FBO, maintenance, valeting and aviation software services. The Group is headquartered at Farnborough Airport in the UK, with its Americas headquarters in Stratford, CT and its and its Middle East and North Africa headquarters at Sharjah in the UAE. All three bases are Wyvern approved for their commitment to improving aviation safety. The group operates aircraft throughout the world and has over 30 worldwide operating bases.
asia firmly in gama group’s sights for 2012 Gama Group, the business aviation charter, management and maintenance company, is planning to establish its next base in Asia, CEO Marwan Khalek confirmed at the National Business Aviation Association tradeshow in Las Vegas. “We are building the foundations now with a view to getting established in Hong Kong in the first half of 2012,” he said. The intention is simply to replicate Gama’s successful business model in the region and mirror the quality, ethos and service offering of the international network currently centered in Europe, the Middle East and the USA. Hong Kong will be the company’s fourth continental/regional base complementing operations in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
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500,000 Hours 200,000 Flights 28 Years
Gama Aviation Limited Business Aviation Centre Farnborough Airport Farnborough Hampshire GU14 6XA United Kingdom Tel: +44 1252 553000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Gama Aviation FZC Building 6EB Office 550 PO Box 54912 Dubai Airport Freezone Dubai United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 609 1688 Email: email@example.com Gama Aviation, Inc. Airport Business Center 611 Access Road Stratford
Business Aircraft Management, Charter,
Maintenance, Design and Installation,
Tel: +1 800 468 1110
FBO Services, Valeting and Aviation Software.
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Gama aviation news Gama aviation’s middle eastern fleet Grows with the addition of the airbus a318cj
Gama Aviation’s european charter fleet grows with the addition of two more aircraft Gama Aviation FZC, the business aviation charter and management company, has added a new business aircraft type to its UAE-based fleet – its first Airbus. The Airbus ACJ318 was added to its UAE operator’s certificate in October. Configured with a 14 seat VIP configuration, the ACJ becomes the largest aircraft in the company’s Middle East fleet and for Gama globally, its 11th manufacturer type. The new aircraft is being operated and managed by Gama on behalf of a private owner, based out of Sharjah International Airport. “We welcome the increasing involvement of experienced companies such as Gama Aviation with the growing fleet of Airbus corporate jets, which are the new top-end of the market because they deliver the widest and tallest cabin of any business jet,” says Airbus Corporate Jets Vice President Francois Chazelle. Gama Aviation obtained its UAE GCAA Air Operator’s Certificate in February 2010 and now manages five aircraft on behalf of Middle East based clients at both Sharjah International and Dubai International Airports. Gama Aviation is on track
to obtain its UAE GCAA CAR 145 maintenance approval and is working to complete its new 12,000 sqm hangar facility at Sharjah which will provide hangarage and maintenance facilities for business jet aircraft in the region. It will also be home to a new Fixed Based Operation. “Our new Sharjah facilities represent a major investment for Gama in the region and will afford our customers significant cost benefits. Sharjah is also a great fuel stop destination between East and West,” said Managing Director Dave Edwards. Gama formed a new company, Gama Support Services FZE, in readiness for the commencement of maintenance services at Sharjah. Initially, the approval will allow the company to undertake line maintenance support on its growing fleet of aircraft, thereby mirroring its capabilities in Europe and the USA, as well as the potential for base maintenance of business jet types. Significantly across its bases in Europe, Americas and Middle East, Gama is now Wyvern-approved for its commitment to improving aviation safety.
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Farnborough, UK-based Gama Aviation has just introduced a Cessna CJ2+ to its managed charter fleet, new onto the UK register. Together with the imminent addition of a 13-seat Falcon 2000, its European charter fleet now totals 28 aircraft, 11 of which are based in the UK. Its success in winning tri-zone Wyvern approval across its three continental bases – Europe, USA and the Middle East has had a strong effect in boosting cross-continental client sharing, according to Commercial Manager Paul Cremer. It has helped gain more international clients – in Russia, the Middle East, including Royal family members and music tour arrangers, for example. Gama offices in the regions share clients to ensure a consistent level of service and local knowledge means the clients are assured of attention to detail. Gama clients have a fleet of 83 aircraft to experience, based out of Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Continental USA. Client interface has also been strengthened by the arrival of Trevor Jones as Director of Client Services – a new role.
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The Light Fantastic The Northern Lights are a wonderous sight and spying them is something to be ticked off everyone’s must-see list. Come December 2, the annual opening of Sweden’s ICEHOTEL – being entirely carved from ice, it melts into a river each summer and is rebuilt for the winter season – gives you the chance to see the nightly performance of the lights from what’s arguably the best location on the planet. While here, eschew the offer of ‘warm’ accommodation for a night in the magnificent Art Suite, where you’ll sleep on a bed fashioned from snow, ice and reindeers’ skins. icehotel.com
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The Making of a $363,000 Dress In celebration of the festive season, Ralph & Russo have created a worldwide exclusive dress for Harrods, emblazoned with 152,000 Swarovski crystals. Here, the brand’s Creative Director, Tamara Ralph, reveals all about her sparkling creation Many Ralph & Russo gowns incorporate Swarovski stones and we love working with them. They offer such variety of stones and colours, so we can create myriad different effects. The vision for this gown was to create something awe-inspiring which drew inspiration from 1920s’ old Hollywood glamour, in the shape and silhouette of the dress, and incorporated the Swarovski crystals. The result is this sheer tulle open-back fishtail gown with a dramatic train, hand stitched onto which are thousands of Swarovski stones. The jewelled back piece – offset with large Swarovski stones on the shoulders and a custom jewellery piece cascading into a dramatic jewel setting – was bespoke designed and inspired by the art nouveau period to give a vintage feel. Every element was completely handmade and embellished from within our London-based atelier, a process which involved 25 couturiers and took literally hundreds of hours to fully complete.
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> From January through to the end of 2012, England’s National Car Museum will celebrate 50 years of James Bond movies by displaying 50 vehicles driven by 007. AIR considers the reasons why this is the coolest car collection of all… 15%
The most thrillingly preposterous of all Bond’s gadget-laden cars, his Aston Martin Vanguish could make itself invisible
What Bond’s BMW Z3 lacks in terms of sophistication, it gains in terms of wizardry: a parachute supplies the brakes and stinger missiles shoot from either side
Why wait for the valet attendant to bring back your car when the BMW 750iL (which Bond drove in Tomorrow Never Dies) can be controlled via remote control?
Bond ‘s driven countless Aston Martins, but is there one better than the DB5 that debuted in Goldfinger?
Bond’s amphibious Lotus Esprit. Part sexy sports car, part submarine. Enough said
> Molori Design’s awardwinning super yacht, Told u So, has arrived at its winter home; the Maldives. There it’s available to charter for $400,000 p/w, which also buys you exclusive use of a pristine private island replete with a sensational lagoon and al fresco day spa. In fact: “If you dream it”, says Molori’s owner, “we will make it happen”. molori.com - 17 -
RadaR > Cambodia is very much an in vogue travel destination, and if you’re yet to visit then the Christmas Eve debut of Song Saa Private Island should be reason enough to do so. Here, two private sister islands bob in the Koh Rong Archipelago, and are the first of their kind to be developed upon, setting the scene for 27 villas peppered across the beach, over the water and amid tropical terrain. Everything here is touched by the deluxe – the two-bed royal villa comes with a private jetty for speedboat arrivals. As for the cuisine, the resort’s head chef heralds from the Seychelles’ six-star North Island, so the food is set to be as memorable as the setting. songsaa.com
> Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon album cover was hailed as one of the greatest of all time. The man responsible? Storm Thorgerson – together with his team at Storm Studios – whose visual wizardry has been cast not just on Floyd’s covers, but those of Led Zeppelin and countless others, too. Abstract and often surreal, the famed sleeves are now wrapped up in a coffee book; The Raging Storm: The Album Graphics of Storm Studios, with text recounting the story behind each. A mere 10 copies of a deluxe edition will go on sale, priced $627. That’s a steal for a permanent piece of rock ‘n’ roll history. theragingstorm.com - 18 -
(R) J00500 ihg leisure kanoo FP 25.5x21.ai
RadaR An Old Flame The S.T Dupont lighter is 70 years old. This now iconic accessory came to light (pun unintended) in 1935, when the Maharaja of Patiala asked that the 100 S.T Dupont clutch bags he’d ordered for his ladies in-waiting contain a lighter made from solid gold. AIR looks at the brand’s most significant offerings since...
This was the year S.T Dupont launched the world’s first gas lighter (prior to this point, all lighters were petrol fuelled). The Ligne 1 would become a collector’s piece, with its myriad famous owners including Alfred Hithcock.
This, the Ligne 2, has arguably proved to be the brand’s most iconic creation. Its success has been attributed to the ‘cling’ sound it makes on opening, while it was quick to become an object much coveted by society’s elite.
At the special request of America’s then First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, André Tissot Dupont designed the famous J lighter, which she reportedly cherished so much she later asked that the designer create a bespoke pen to match.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the lighter, S.T Dupont has fashioned this exclusive, diamond-encrusted (70 white diamonds adorn it) version. Only 770 have been produced, each one individually numbered.
> This is the only gold guitar in existence; a custom-made hollow-body which is almost entirely clad in gold. It’s marked with an exclusive #001 serial number and offered at a price of $1million. goldcaster.net
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Time Honoured Yassin Tag, brand manager for Vacheron Constantin, Middle-East & Sub-Continent, shares his choice picks from the company’s fabled collections.
ne of my absolute favourites is the Historique Ultra-Fine 1955. Equipped with the mechanical hand-wound 1003 movement, this watch proudly holds the title of the world’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound watch, measuring just 4.10 mm. For me, the charm of it lies in its classy simplicity. The Tour De L’Ille 2005 is one of the most superlative creations to come out of the house of Vacheron, and even calling it a Grande Complication model is a remarkable understatement. Made with extreme meticulousness, it took nearly 10,000 hours of research and development to create this sheer masterpiece, and it pays an apt tribute to 250 years of Vacheron Constantin. With its original combination of 16 complications, that can be read off a double-face display, the design engineers developed a caliber that effortlessly assimilates grand horological complications and astronomical indications to fashion one stunning timepiece that is both genuine and comfortable.
The first pocket watch created by Vacheron Constantin, in 1755, is certainly one of the most beloved of all. It was designed by the company’s founder, and the movement has in fact been engraved with the exclusive inscription ‘J:M: Vacheron A GENEVE’. Another pocket watch that ranks among my favourites is Les bergers d’Arcadie, 1923. It’s spectacular and was manufactured in yellow gold with an enamel dial and bead-set diamonds. Even the decorated bezel-case, which houses the watch, is outstanding: it sports an enameled miniature reproduction of the painting Les Bergers D’Arcadie by Nicolas Poussin, as painted by a leading 20th century miniaturist, Miss Marie Goll. The Opera Chagall, part of the Heritage Collection, was created to honour the Paris National Opera; Vacheron Constantin having been a patron of it for the past four years. This dazzling watch features an incomparable blend of beauty, style and technical mastery, and boasts a yellow gold case framing a 31.50 mm diameter dial that bears the entire Chagall ceiling in miniature. The actual Chagall ceiling adorns the Paris Opera House, where it spans 200 square meters.
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> Harrods has just opened a black marbleclad Fine Watch Room to display Europe’s largest collection of luxury timepieces. Among the 13 own brand boutiques housed inside are the first UK outposts of IWC, Vacheron Constantin, Richard Mille and Panerai, who have each celebrated their arrival by producing limited edition pieces exclusive to the room – the Vacheron Constantin watch features an image of Harrods’ store exterior engraved on its reverse. In total, 35 brands are offered, with Roger Dubuis and Bremont among the most notable.
The Event: The Legendary Jewels The Location: New York, Rockefeller Plaza The Date: December 13
Watches at auction You can own a historic slice of Hollywood this month, when watches owned by the late Elizabeth Taylor go under the hammer in New York. Christie’s US watch specialist Sam Hines talks us through some of the highlights…
As a watch specialist I am usually intrigued by the watch movement and design, but what has been so unique about the Elizabeth Taylor watches, of which there are 16 up for auction, is that they are essentially jewels that also tell the time. My personal favourite is the exotic Bulgari Serpent watch from 1961, the dial of which is concealed beneath the diamonds on the snake’s head. In the stills from her best known movie, Cleopatra, Miss Taylor is often seen wearing the Serpenti, its golden
> Opulence and subtlety aren’t always the most willing of bedfellows, but Fabergé’s Alexi, the pick of its new timepiece collection, marries the two to magnificent effect. The clean face makes a real feature of what are bespoke numerals – Roman numerals that have been softened into an S shape to express the rhythmic flow of time – while the dress model of the watch (pictured) is studded with black diamonds, adding an understated touch of masculinity. faberge.com
scales wrapping around her wrist. It is estimated at $12,000-15,000. Another piece, by Vacheron Constantin, this one made entirely of diamonds and known as a Lord Kalla bracelet watch, was a gift to the star from her great friend Michael Jackson. It’s estimated at $300,000-500,000, and is the most expensive piece among the watches. When I first saw the intricate cuff watch by Piaget, with its striking nephrite green dial, I could picture Elizabeth Taylor wearing this in the late 1960s to adorn one of her beautiful kaftans in the south of France. The estimate here is a more modest $2,000-3,000 but, as with all of these spectacular watches, when combined with their provenance it is hard to say what the final selling price may be. christies.com/elizabethtaylor
> The most exclusive and complex watch ever created by IWC, the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia, is now yours to own. A quite remarkable timepiece – 10 years in the making – it combines solar time and sidereal time on a single dial and will be custom-made to suit its owner, who’ll select from over 200 design combinations - 23 -
of settings, case, strap materials and colour of dial, appliqués and strap. Such is the complexity of this design process, buyers will have to wait around one year for delivery of their personalised timepiece, but will then be in possession of a truly unique result of expert craftsmanship. iwc.com
Crème de Lacroix Christian Lacroix’s first home collection for Designers Guild (comprised of four cushions, two rugs and wallpaper prints) brim with the fashion icon’s signature extravagance: wall prints allow you to bring a slice of Arles home, with French city scenes printed on to a luxe linen fabric with metallic undertones; cushions come with mismatched double-sided prints; while his Riviera rug comes in nautical and monochrome form – for a zebra-print look, the latter is the way to go. designersguild.com
Harrods’ head of design applauds the handcrafted works of Italian furniture brand SMANIA Salone di Mobili [a Milan furniture fair] is where I tend to get a lot of my interiors inspiration from. It is like the fashion week of the furniture world, and everyone who is anybody is there. The majority of the larger home brands launch their new collections here, so they’re hot off the press, and, after a few hours of walking the halls and meeting with key suppliers, you can really start to get an idea of the season’s home trends and the hottest directions to go in. It was here that I came across one of my now favorite furniture brands SMANIA. Under the creative guidance of the dynamic designer Alessandro De La Spada, over the last few years the collections have really come into their own. The overall look and feel of his furniture designs is that of layered luxury. He achieves this through combining contemporary lines with an innovative use of materials. This can be seen in his newest range, Master Mood, where you have burr walnut and matt tobacco timber with rose gold and black nickel metal detailing. Signature fabric colours also include royal blues and dusky greys. Needless to say, when I am putting together a sophisticated metropolitan scheme that needs some added ‘wow’ factor, Smania is usually first on my list, and is definitely worth a look. thestudioatharrods.com
Let There Be Light Beau McClellan has turned lighting in to an art form: visionary designs use cutting edge LED technology that will cause even less-enthused decorators’ eyes to widen. Creations range from the spectacular (his Reflective Flow zig-zags across high ceilings in snake-like form) to simple, contemporary table lamps. But Beau isn’t in the habit of thinking small – take his signature design, Nomad (above); five-metres long, it assumes a sculptural form by day and by night transforms in to a partly-transparent light installation with LEDs whose colour effects can be controlled by a touch screen, iPad or iPhone. Now available at B5 Living, Dubai.
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Nowadays, when you dine out, bread and butter can be a thing of the past and artisanal olive oil is served more often. The Olive Branch Olive Oil Dispenser (right) was my way of bringing that practice in to the home – a way for people to enjoy the same luxuries of restaurant dining. Use it while cooking, or as a table accent. With the Diffusers I designed (below), it’s possible to have a subtle scent at all times, while adding an aesthetic element to any room. The other great thing about it is that it fits in with other individual collections, so you can use it along with a matching platter, or wine bottle-rest. My late brother’s elegant yet casual way of dining inspired my Sleepy Hollow Collection (top), along with the laurel, which symbolises nobility and victory. The collection spans the arc of an entire evening; from hors d’oeuvres through to dessert, it’s a way of taking entertaining to the next- level. Michael Amran is available at Bloomingdale’s Home.
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Image: David Yeo
Famed homeware designer Michael Amran talks us through his new silver collection; sure to prove the icing on the cake at dinner parties
giles Deacon for The rug Company British fashion icon Giles Deacon took his first step in to home interiors this month, applying his pop culture style to the art of rug-making. His three designs (Sentinel, Lavaliere and Libertine), made in collaboration with The Rug Company, promise sharp style and fine quality. The most standout of the trio? Libertine: a geometric pattern depicting ropes of sharp studs, handwoven in fine aubusson with metallic threads that shimmer like metal. “These designs are not what you’d expect for rugs…” says Deacon. “I love how the softness of the wool and silk yarns contrasts the harsh metal of the designs, and transforms them into something warm and alluring.” So why the tie up with The Rug Company? “Craftmanship and quality is very important in my work,” he says, “so The Rug Company mantra of making everything by hand from the best materials appealed to me.” And, as you’d expect from the man who injects quirkiness, humour and glamour in to British fashion, these cushions are not for shrinking violets. therugcompany.info
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Film We Need to Talk About Kevin
Dir. Lynne Ramsay This psychological thriller/horror explores the nature/ nurture theory through the relationship between a mother and son: has Eva’s malevolence caused her son Kevin’s wicked behaviour, or was he evil to begin with? At best: “A welcome change, food for thought instead of easy answers.” Birmingham Mail. At worst: “Tilda Swinton’s performance is towering, but the story around her doesn’t convince.” Daily Mail.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Dir. Takeshi Kitano In the Japanese underworld, rival gangs try to rise above each other through any means necessary – including playing the stock market. However, loyalties are betrayed along the way, spilling out in to violence. At best: “Arguably his [Kitano’s] best film in a decade.” Hollywood Reporter. At worst: “There’s no real direction, or point, to the story, but it almost doesn’t really matter...” Firstshowing.net
Dir. Tomas Alfredson Set in the Cold War era, this thriller stars Gary Oldman as an ex-spy who is secretly re-employed by the government. His task: to investigate an MI6 agent suspected of leaking intelligence to the enemy. At best: “A riveting version of a classic book, one that stands as an equal alongside its television forebear.” Daily Telegraph. At worst: “This bloodless, bloodthirsty John Le Carré adaptation doesn’t hang together.” Financial Times.
At best: “A ‘separation’ could hardly be more concrete,
Dir. Asghar Farhadi In modern day Iran, the law’s complexities are told through an absorbing tale of a husband and wife’s separation.
or contemporary, or dramatic.” Wall Street Journal. At worst: “You won’t see a more absorbing film all year.”
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Luminous Airplanes, the third novel from author Paul La Farge, is “a claustrophobic experience,” writes Manoli Kouremetis of the New York Times, “yet a cosy and comfortable one,” he adds. The story is based on a computer programmer faced with the task of clearing out five generations of rubbish from his dead grandparent’s old home, in a little town in Catskills, upstate New York. Curiously, the novel comes with an extension of text online – on the last page of the book, readers are directed to the novel’s website, where they can peruse heterogeneous narrative and angles and choose the story’s direction. Le Farge calls this “hypertext fiction”, while John Williams of the New York Observer reckons this can be perceived as either “innovation or desperation.” M.Y from The Economist believes the book needs no such device to aid it: “The book is beautiful on its own,” and is easy to “pick up, put down, and pick up again.” On the contrary, Alana Semuels of the Los Angeles Times believes that without the online extras the plot is sluggish. “There are interesting bits here and there,” she says, “[but] they are largely lost in a plodding plot and the protagonist’s desire to learn about his father, a clichéd hippie whom he never knew.” “DeLillo knows what he is doing with adjectives,” says Steven Poole from The Guardian in his review of The Angel
Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo. The stories were written over a period of three decades, the first in 1979 and the last this year, though “the style and quality are remarkably consistent throughout,” says John Banville of the Financial Times, who continues: ‘DeLillo is disruptively and subtly, even surreptitiously, funny.” And the author can sleep well in the knowledge that his renowned peers positively approve: “I love The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories”, comments Martin Amis in the New Yorker, “the gods have equipped DeLillo with the antennae of a visionary”. The accomplished, cult author of Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami, released a three-part surrealist tome named 1Q84 last month. (The three parts are split into two books, book one contains parts one and two, and book two contains part three.) “1Q84 is a yarn that, if not exactly enveloping, will keep readers under its spell for most of its 900-plus pages,” reckons Time Out’s Matthew Love. The reader is introduced to two central characters, named Aomame and Tengo, who get caught up in a world of fiction and reality. Love believes the novel suffers from slowing down halfway through: “Though the book has its dynamic and impressive moments, the propulsive lunacy of its most compelling events dissipates midway.” And also thinks that compared to Murakami’s previous works, this novel lacks depth: “1Q84 lacks the emotional and historical gravity that marks his best work, and can’t quite manage to justify its girth.” Janet Maslin, of the New York Times, is more forthright in her criticism. “You, sucker, will wade through nearly 1,000 uneventful pages,” she writes, “while discovering a Tokyo that has two moons and is controlled by creatures that emerge from the mouth of a dead goat.” However, while this plot may seem a little peculiar, Matt Thorne of The Telegraph gives it a firm endorsement: “It’s an enormously readable (if oppressively slow) novel that offers a narrative experience few other authors could achieve.”
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The exhibition at London’s V&A, London Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990, exhibits examples of how postmodernism was manifest in the architecture, art, furniture, design and popular culture in the decades spanning 1970 to 1990. And though these examples are abundant and varied, Edwin Heathcote of the Financial Times is far from impressed with what he saw: “remarkably, both a horrible mess and a hypnotic snapshot,” he reckons, further suggesting that most of the furniture on display is “hideous”. Though he does concede that some of the showcased art, most notably film clips and hand drawings, are “sublime”. Time Out’s Chris Waywell found no such silver lining: “It’s unusual for an exhibition to be so full of disappointing works. There is a lot of stuff whose inclusion seems iffy”. And he’s also of the opinion that the works that are of merit are “unsympathetically displayed”, a view shared by The Independent’s Laura McLean-Ferris, who feels that “the show is jumpy, confused”. In fact, the only elements of the exhibition to draw any sort of praise were those which overtly communicate the financial goal of many postmodern artists. “Much postmodernist work was marketed at the yuppie”, reckons McLean-Ferris, who for this reason praised the show’s inclusion of Andy Warhol’s Dollar Sign screen print and a “teapot so overdesigned it has become simply a cipher for wealth and taste.” The British artist Jack Strange, famous for drawing on walls with his own blood, is showing his latest exhibition, Deep Down, at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York until December 22. In Strange’s signature style, the show is typically absurd, humorous and full of cleverly re-imagined everyday objects. One piece, What Would They Think? has two clay balls with scribbled-on faces that appear to be watching a screen projecting an image of large, throbbing human fingers. “He gets us thinking about the workings of our own minds,” says Tanya Bonakdar of the New York Times. Meanwhile, another piece, Unbelievably Real, is a simple series of red brush strokes on the wall. These are, of course, formed from Strange’s blood. On each marking the artist has written “ha” a number of times in pencil. “This is cheeky but profound,” writes Bonakdar, who finds meaning in the pieces. “If extreme violence were not so hysterically compelling for its perpetrators, then why would bloody massacres be so popular?” At NGV International, Melbourne, wire sculptor Ranjani
Image: ID cover, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Shettar exhibits her interactive show Dewdrops and Sunshine. Robert Nelson from the Sydney Morning Herald calls Shettar’s pieces a “triumph of craftsmanship.” Her piece, Flame of the Forest, consists of immaculately placed red drops, which protrude from a life-sized, chunky, teak hoop. “The perfectly regular geometric cylinder makes you think of something machined,” says Nelson, “but then it freakishly sprouts a lush organic life inside.” And while the show “labours under a dull and daggy title,” the sculptures are “ambiguous, intricate, finely crafted and evocative,” surmises Nelson. Another well received show this month was from German photographer Candida Hofer’s Interior Worlds, which you can see at the Baltimore Museum of Art until February 26. Here, her photographs depict the most impressive libraries and museums of Europe, plus a number of theatres, reading rooms and beautiful archives. “She can do for buildings what Andy Warhol did for celebrities,” says Philip Kenneicott from The Washington Post. “[They are] haunting as they are stunning but also very chilly,” he continues, “like the airbrushed photographs of Hollywood starlets who all seem to be alike under their masks of perfection.”
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and culturally parochial romp.” Over in Toronto, the Young People’s Theatre is showing the light-hearted production Seussical until December 30. Based on The Cat in the Hat children’s books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, an all-singing, all-dancing cast brings us a tale influenced by the original adventures of the mischievous feline. “Another fine package from the folks at YPT, just in time for the holidays,” reckons John Coulbourn of QMI. And despite the fact the Broadway production (of the same name) was a massive flop, the Toronto Star’s theatre critic Richard Ouzounian is arguably its biggest fan: “This is a show with talent bursting out in every department. If you’re an adult, go buy tickets at once. Take your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your grandparents, your friends, your enemies, everyone,” he suggests, rather enthusiastically. Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway, directed by Warren Carlyle, opened last month on, funnily enough,
Images: Reasons To Be Pretty.
With Christmas looming, theatres across the globe are staging family productions, starring household celebrities. Right on cue, The Lion in Winter, showing at the Theatre Royal in Haymarket, UK, until January 28, stars Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley. “It’s enjoyable to begin with but, like Christmas pudding, a little goes a long way,” critiques Sarah Hemming of the Financial Times. Based on a tale by James Goldman, the production is set in Henry II’s court, in the Angevin Empire of medieval France, at Christmas time. Yet, there is no yuletide spirit here; everyone is fighting after the throne. “As a family drama, this story... is fun but ultimately thin fare.” says Ben Dowell of The Stage, who’s bemused as to why anyone would want to revive the play. Meanwhile, Paul Taylor of The Independent thinks it’s a story lacking historical accuracy: “You learn almost as much about the Stone Age from the Flintstones as you do about the medieval mind from this apolitical
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Broadway, at the Broadhurst Theatre, where it continues until January 1. Between shooting scenes as Wolverine, the Emmy-award winning actor has perfected the art of keeping a Broadway audience “in the palm of his hand,” explains Steven Suskin of Variety. In this sing-a-long production, complete with 18-piece orchestra, Jackman invites the audience to participate during the first number, and continues to entertain in what turns out to be “a great, guiltfree platonic one-night stand,” reckons Ben Brantley of the New York Times. The show is grossing $1.2 million a week, and it’s clear that Jackman is “in a class of his own,” proclaims David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter. Rooney recounts the film star’s “suave self-assurance,” his “disarming selfdeprecation,” and claims that he is “charm personified”. And although Suskin thinks Jackman’s voice “leans toward the nasal side at times,” this tendency is compensated by “tremendous power.” Currently running at London’s Almeida Theatre is Reasons To Be Pretty, the latest offering from Tony-award winning playwright Neil LaBute, for whom the play “breaks new ground”, says Charles Spencer of The Telegraph. Its theme is centered on the perception of beauty, with LaBute questioning whether being stunningly attractive is as much a curse as being conventionally ugly. Overall it is a “sharp and imaginatively designed production,” reckons Spencer, while Michael Billington of The Guardian calls it “a rueful, intelligent comedy that suggests we should all stop defining ourselves, and each other, by our outward appearances,” Billie Piper is “highly impressive,” in her lead role, continues Billington, who reckons that while this play is not as shocking as LaBute’s previous offerings, it “has more humanity” and is “swift, nuanced and precise”.
And the brAnd plAyed on It’s survived in-fighting and murder, so who can blame GUCCI for wanting to celebrate 90 years in fashion with a book and museum? Justine Picardie looks back at a history as chequered as that much-loved monogram
f an essential element of a successful luxury brand is its history and heritage, then Gucci’s is more richly textured than most. In this, the 90th year since the establishment of the first Gucci boutique, the company has celebrated the opening of the Gucci museum in Florence, its founding city. There, in a 14th-century palazzo, pieces from the extensive archives are on display: the headscarves, handbags, loafers, luggage, Oscar gowns, coats and jewellery, whose cumulative effect is to reveal how Gucci has been threaded through the fabric of the past, and into contemporary culture. The heavyweight book that accompanied the museum’s launch – Gucci: The Making Of, published by Rizzoli, and edited by Gucci’s creative director, Frida Giannini – provides an unusually penetrating analysis and insight into the heart of the brand. Given that the fashion industry tends to gloss over any past scandals, intent on keeping secrets hidden, Giannini (who has been key to Gucci’s extraordinary success since she first joined the house in
2002, hired by its former director, Tom Ford) has shown remarkable candour in her role as editor; indeed, anyone in search of a real understanding of the relationship between luxury labels and the history of 20th-century celebrity could start by reading this book. To begin at the beginning: Guccio Gucci, born in 1881 and raised in Florence, travels to London as a young man, and works at the Savoy as a porter, where he admires the monogrammed trunks and crested suitcases that are the measure of the guests’ wealth (a formative experience that is to be etched into a future Gucci logo of a liftboy). When he returns to Florence he marries a dressmaker, Aida Calvelli, and opens a leather-goods store and workshop on via della Vigna Nuova. Eventually, three of their sons join them in the rapidly expanding business: Rodolfo is responsible for managing the shop in Florence, and thereafter Milan (where, in 1966, he commissions an artist to create the Flora print as a scarf for Princess Grace of Monaco); Vasco looks after manufacturing; Aldo opens the
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Images: Courtesy of Richard Bryant and Gucci. Text: Justine Picardie / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People 2. 3.
Princess Grace Kelly outside Gucci’s Rome store. 2-7. Inside and outside the Gucci Museum, Florence.
Rome store, then exports the brand abroad, with branches in London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Palm Beach. By the time Guccio dies in 1953 his grandchildren are also working for the company; one of them is Aldo’s son Paolo, who uses the now-iconic Flora pattern in a range of women’s clothing, sold under his name. The family are enraged, and order Paolo either to sell his shares in Gucci or stay on and give up his own line. When he refuses to do either he is sued by his family, and forbidden from using the Gucci name in business. In revenge, Paolo testifies against his father on a tax-evasion charge in America; Aldo is found guilty, and sent to jail. From then on the family drama is as remorseless as a Greek tragedy. Rodolfo’s son, Maurizio, seizes control of Gucci, but is himself finally ousted, and in 1995 (the year after Tom Ford’s appointment as creative director) he is murdered by a gunman in the street. His ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani, is found guilty of hiring the killer (her personal psychic also received a sentence of 25 years). The Gucci trial gripped Italy; as observed by a New York Times correspondent at the verdict, it was “the ultimate
‘legend is an overused phrase in fashion, but when it comes to Gucci it seems appropriate’ real-life soap opera. The case brought together some of the country’s favourite obsessions: sex, money, designer footwear and astrology.” The company had been wrested out of the family’s hands, but their history nevertheless remained a key ingredient in the allure of Gucci, a brand that understood the importance of myth-making from the start. Hence Guccio Gucci’s decision to advertise his early products as ‘English-style leather goods’ – giving them an international cachet – and Aldo’s invention of the story that their ancestors had been
tack- and saddle-makers. As the new Gucci book reveals, “This legend was supported by the new [post-war] crest, a mildly ironic depiction of a knight in armour carrying a suitcase in one hand and a handbag in the other.” The liftboy was replaced by the knight, a faux-medieval heraldic shield that nevertheless seemed not altogether removed from the original image of the hotel porter. Under Frida Giannini – creative director since 2006 – Gucci has been clearly identified as ‘Made in Italy’ , its design studio in Rome (the city of her birth), and its artisans, ateliers and workshops resolutely Italian. True, it is now owned by the French company PPR (whose founder, François Pinault, led a battle against an aggressive takeover bid by Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH). But the logo revived by Giannini for this year’s 90th anniversary collection is that of the founder: g gucci firenze 1921 engraved upon metal tags, embossed into leather, or printed on silk scarves. All this is entirely fitting for a company in which patterns repeat themselves – the Flora motif (also reinstated by Giannini), the double-G monogram (for the founder’s initials), the geometric rhombus design, used on Gucci products from the 1930s, the miniature horse-bit, decorating loafers and purses, including those carried by Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy. Take any one of these, and the details tell a story – for example, in the photograph of Lauren Bacall with her Gucci bag in hand, standing beside Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn on the steps of a private plane in 1951; or Diana, Princess of Wales in Rome the year before her death, at the peak of her beauty, in a white shift and with a Gucci Bamboo bag; or – one of my personal favourite images of the century – Samuel Beckett snapped on a Genoa street corner in 1971, his Gucci Hobo bag slung over his shoulder. Add these details together, and you have the stuff of legend. True, legend is an overused phrase in fashion – and elsewhere – but when it comes to Gucci it seems appropriate. As to what is next for Gucci, best to quote Giannini: “a stylistic marriage of past, present and future” . Presumptive or prescient? In the finest Gucci tradition, a little of both…
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It took so long to get our interview request with
Jack NicholsoN we almost lost hope. But patience paid off and the confirmation came with little notice, “We can do it tomorrow”. It didn’t matter where we were, it didn’t matter if we had something else to do. We had to be there, for Jack; for one of the most difficult interviews in Hollywood. And there he is, taking all the time in the world to sit in front of the recorder, taking off his classic glasses and smiling, his own way of saying, “Let’s do it, I’m ready” Words: Fabián W. Waintal
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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: The Interview People 1.
Could we tell who you really are by watching your movies? Do you think people really know Jack Nicholson? 85% of acting is you. That’s all there is to it. You isolate the difference and play the other 15%. That’s how the process goes. How would you like to be seen? Very endearing, charming, intelligent and handsome (laughs). Are there any misconceptions you want to clear up? Yes. I’m not hard to get along with. And do you realise what you represent to other actors and the pressure they might have just by working with you? That’s a Medusa’s head. I’ve got a system that I work with every actor and that never changes. In every take, in everything, I always assume they are playing their part perfectly, because it keeps you from being isolated from what’s happening right now... Was there any specific moment in your career when you realised the impact you have on others? When I did A Few Good Men was when I first became aware that other actors have a perspective on my work, and I went in thinking I’m the Lincoln Memorial. I can’t deny the reality of what it is. I just can’t deny it... I’m very uncomfortable, I have to admit that; but it would be false to say that I haven’t heard that other actors like what I do.
is age, and I hit that a while ago. You could always find cosmetic approaches. I turned down a project because I thought I had it with Hoffa, I don’t want to be wearing wigs to play an age difference. Would you ever consider plastic surgery? No, I wouldn’t think about it. I haven’t. I’m an actor who people said was wrinkled and balding and everything else when I was way back in my early thirties. Most of those who thought they were younger than me are now bald and wrinkled. I don’t have any plugs or tucks, but people do what they want. Would you like to start all over again? I have my own answer to that question. I’d love to start at a certain point in my life; to be young only for certain auditions. But really, I would not change much. I always thought I had a good plan for my life and it didn’t always go as I planned. The truth is... it went much better. Do you miss something about other times in your life? Someone said, ‘I don’t miss being in love, I miss being loved’. That is what I miss. I don’t miss being in love at all, because it’s a torture, but I miss being loved. What is a normal day like in your private life? I just like to get up between eleven and one, and that is not movie hours. I’ve got a couple of kids in college, so I’m on the phone a lot, I see my pals and seek women around, talk to my congressmen, I go to funerals... although that’s part of the job actually (laughs).
‘I don’t have favorite movies, I don’t make lists. I love them all... and they’re all good’ How would you describe a good actor? I only work with good actors... They are on time, which I’m not... It’s a highly competitive profession and you don’t see really bad acting anymore. That’s the most invisible standard. The standard goes up all the time, because you can’t put up a movie that’s worse than the movies that are out. And what do you like the most about show business, after all these years? What I like about the business? Travel, beautiful women, excellent compatriots, drinking pals, you know, it’s an exciting business. I’ve been doing it for a while, I think we all get nervous; it’s part of the job. Is it hard to find challenging work? The first limitation on roles that I’ve ever had to encounter
Any favourite movie? I don’t have favorite movies, I don’t make lists, I don’t have any of those things. I love them all... and they’re all good. Could you describe your own success, with your own words? I’m kind of a guy who likes to prove things. And all my life when I’ve said, ‘I’m so sick of it’, everybody else said, ‘oh god, you could not work’. Well I’m kind of proving them wrong. I’m very happy. I read a lot of scripts so I feel like I did a lot of movies, but they’re all the same. I like not working. I know that’s kind of hideous but I really do.
1. Easy Rider. 2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest. 3. the Shining.
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Man of the Cloth Meet Sir Paul Smith, the man with no email address, no computer, an eight year-old mobile and a multimillion dollar fashion empire Words: John ThaTcher
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hat my head is in a spin is probably no surprise. I’m stood, staring down from the outsized window that wraps the world’s highest restaurant inside the planet’s tallest building. But what is surprising is that my head fuzz has nothing to do with me being sky high, and everything to do with Sir Paul Smith, the eminent British fashion designer whose child-like enthusiasm for his work has him talking to me with machine gun-like rapidity. “I might look down there”, he says, my cue to follow his gaze to the ant-like cars dotted two thousand or so feet below us, “see that yellow car and think up a white shirt with yellow button holes. Or this morning, when I visited the area round the (Dubai) creek, I took pictures of boxes piled high and pieces of wood painted green, which could end up influencing the lining of a suit or the print for a tie. Without knowing, I’m always doing it. It’s just the funny way my head works”. It’s this unfettered, spontaneous way of thinking up designs that has served the 65year-old so incredibly well in a career spanning decades at the top. His clothes – which he lovingly describes as “Mr. Bean meets Savile Row” in reference to the humourous design quirks they’re famous for – are sold in huge numbers around the globe (23 countries and counting), with three successful stores domiciled in Dubai, and the wider Middle East home to five more. (He’s in Dubai to mark his tenth year in the region.) Fittingly for a brand aimed at people wanting a “twist of individuality”, each shop
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globally is designed so that one never replicates the other. Nowhere has adopted Paul Smith quite as readily as Japan. The country boasts over 250 stores, by far the brand’s biggest footprint in any market, making it one of fashion’s most remarkable success stories. There, Paul Smith the man is every bit as coveted as Paul Smith the brand, ensuring that he commands something approaching pop star status amongst his legion of fans, most of them young. Spend time in his company and it’s easy to understand why. The fashion world creates so few admirable, or even pleasant, characters, but, remaining remarkably unaffected by it, Paul Smith is cut from a very different cloth. He’s gregarious, open, infectiously enthusiastic and, above all, immensely likeable. Success in Japan reveals the other palpable reason for Smith’s enduring appeal; honest graft. “I put a lot into it,” he says, by way of explaining his accomplishments in the country. “I went there in 1980 and my first shop opened in ‘84. At the same time, a lot of designers went there too, but they primarily saw it as a financial opportunity. They were willing to go there once or twice, and were concerned with flying first class and by the standard of hotel they’d be staying in, where as I was like ‘wow!’ This is amazing! I’m getting to go and see this place called Japan. In those days travel felt really special and I was fascinated by the country’s culture, history, food, its people and the way they trade. The success comes from me embracing them and them embracing me.” Paul Smith’s big career break was a literal one – to his nose, ribs, femur and collarbone; the result of a serious accident that put the then teenager in hospital and robbed him of his dream of making it as a racing cyclist. He’d subsequently take a job in a clothing warehouse, setting the path on which he continues to strut. “It’s never been a case of instant success”, surmises Smith as he reflects on this journey. “It’s always been a gradual thing”. As a case in point, the initial struggles of Smith’s first store – “a 12-foot room that I liked to call a shop” – had him believe that “there was no way I was going to survive. It was full of unique clothes that nobody really
wanted. A provincial shop in a provincial town (Nottingham) selling things that were very different.” To make ends meet, he worked a series of odd jobs Monday to Thursday, opening the store on Friday and Saturday only, and relying, too, on the money brought in by his girlfriend Pauline, latterly his wife, who worked as a teacher. “I’ve always subscribed to Edward De Bono’s idea that ‘the job always changes you, you never change the job’. So I decided that I’d earn my money in the week and not change what I was doing with the shop. And that refusal to compromise is probably why I’m sat talking to you now.” Slowly, people would hear about this little shop called Paul Smith, with the brand’s subsequent expanse ensuring it became the textbook definition of an organically-grown company, flourishing from its initial seed of just £600 ($1,000). “We’ve always been happy to grow this way; very carefully. We’ve never borrowed money, so we’ve never owed money. It’s massively rare.” Is it a plan that someone could emulate? “I think somebody could do it, but these days everyone is trying to fast track their success. Because of modern communications we know exactly how much a certain footballer earns, so people think, ‘why shouldn’t I be like him?’ Whereas for me and Pauline it was like: “wow, we took fifty quid on Saturday! It was genuine, lovely, normal stuff. “We’re a private company and so we don’t have shareholders to appease, and we’re not motivated by more and more. Of course, we’ve never gone backwards, and we have money in the bank and are extremely profitable, but we’re not obsessed by more and more. I think it’s quite sad that a lot of companies that have been eaten up by big banks and hedge funds are under a lot of pressure to increase profits all the time.” Not going backwards means heading to China, where the country’s first Paul Smith store will open in Shanghai next year. In going east, Paul Smith is following what’s now a path welltrodden by designer brands, but Smith believes he has timed his entrance to perfection: “I’ve really held back on going to China as I didn’t think it would work there. Its culture is very different to Japan’s; it’s very financial, very much about money, and though I may be wrong, I feel
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‘I know you can absolutely replace today’s winner with tomorrow’s winner. You just have to be brave enough to do it’
that customers there want that association of logos and big brands. It’s new money, and if all of a sudden you have money, you want to be able to show it. Now the timing is better.” It’s safe to assume he’s right. Paul Smith’s clothes have always found favour, cutting through age and status to find willing wearers. Early in his career he made clothes for the likes of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie (who he continues to design for today) and latterly for Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight and Kasabian. But though he’s content with such celebrity associations, he by no means covets their endorsement. “I absolutely have no problem with it, and I sell to a lot of famous people, but we don’t pay for people to sit on the front row of our shows. Some brands pay for celebrities to fly first class, stay in a five-star hotel and then give them a substantial amount of money to sit on their front row. I’ve never done that because the one thing I love about Paul Smith is that people like it because they like it”. Smith attributes much of his success to the stability provided by Pauline, his wife whom he has been with since the age of 21 and describes as a “blessing”. She trained as a fashion designer, learning couture and passing on what she gleaned to the eager-to-listen Smith: “She gave me a great understanding of how clothes are built; how they’re made, constructed, and shaped.” And though fame and fortune hasn’t lessened Smith’s lust for work – “I design 14 collections twice a year, five for men, three for women; accessories, shoes, watches… And I shoot all of our advertising campaigns myself” – it has enabled him to strike a settling balance
between work and family life. “I’m home around 7pm, I don’t do business dinners and I don’t work at weekends.” What’s astonishing is that, outside of work, Smith’s lifestyle is so drastically at odds with what you’d expect from a man at the very forefront of an industry that by its very nature has to be the cutting edge. “I have no email address, no computer at home, and no answering machine. I’ve got an old 8-yearold Nokia that four people have the number of. Pauline doesn’t have a mobile number. Of course, as a company we’re completely modern and I’m completely contactable through the office, but personally I only carry a pencil and notepad and it works really fine.” It’s in that notepad that Smith scribbles down his design ideas, which are in the process of moving from the tried and tested (read, his famous use of stripes) to something new and, for Smith at least, exciting: “It’s a slightly different period for me at the moment because I’m not wishing to become formulaic. I know things that would always be huge sellers and very successful financially, but I’m trying not to hang onto them and to move on. It hasn’t gone down well with my sales people! But the whole point about fashion is that it’s about today and tomorrow, so you have to keep moving forward. Sales people by the very nature of their job always hang onto history, so you sometimes have to make difficult decisions. But I know you can absolutely replace today’s winner with tomorrow’s winner. You just have to be brave enough to do it.” Brave and, if like Paul Smith, full to the brim of honest enthusiasm.
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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye
5 Star BMW has switched to turbocharging for its latest M5. Is it still the leader of the super-saloon pack? - 48 -
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Text: Chris Knapman / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People
ven by its own lofty standards, the M5 is a big one for BMW. It is with this car that it created the supersaloon genre back in 1984, when it slotted the engine from its M1 supercar into a humble 5-series. The result was not only the fastest production four-door in the world, but also one that handled better than most sports cars. Since then, subsequent generations of M5 have consistently ranked at the top of their class, blending absurd performance and cutting edge technology with the ability to transport five in luxury. If the formula has always been roughly the same, the configuration of the engine hasn’t. We’ve had straight-sixes of various capacities, a high-revving V8, and in the previous version an even higher revving V10. For the current car BMW has moved back to a V8 in the form of the S63 petrol unit from its X5M SUV. At 4.4 litres in capacity it’s 600cc smaller than the previous V10 but has a pair of turbochargers by way of compensation. Packaged in the V between the engine’s cylinder banks, the turbos use BMW’s twin-scroll system, whereby a clever crossbank exhaust manifold evens out the gas flow, removing back pressure and ensuring maximum response times. It means that peak torque of 501lb ft is yours all the way from 1,500rpm through to 5,750rpm – quite a feat when the last M5 could muster ‘only’ 383lb ft at 6,100rpm. The main reason behind the switch to forced induction, however, is the drive for better economy. And boy has it worked, with consumption improved by 30 per cent over the old model to 28.5mpg in the EU Combined cycle. Along with a new 80-litre tank rather than the 70-litre item of a regular 5-series, it means a touring range in the region of 400 miles between fill ups. As for performance, the M5’s 552bhp from 6,0007,000rpm means 0-62mph in 4.4 sec and a top speed that’s limited to 155mph (190mph if you opt for the M Driver’s package). In terms of styling, the M5 is about as subtle as a beast like this can get. The three gaping air intakes below the front grille are needed to get cooling air through to the tightly packaged engine and hard worked brakes, the swollen arches conceal wider front and rear tracks, and the treatment at the rear of the car extends only to a small underfloor diffuser and an even smaller bootmounted wing. It’s a similar story inside, with plenty of space for five people and their luggage, along with that feeling of solidity and tactility that BMW does so well. Like any current 5-series you can easily sit one six-footer behind another and up front the centre console and its controls are angled slightly towards the driver. Mounted behind the steering wheel are paddles for the seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, which itself can operate as either an auto or sequential manual. It’s about here that things get complicated, for within both modes are three more settings to alter the speed of the gearshift.
In addition, suspension, steering, DSC stability control (itself linked to an active rear differential) and throttle response can also all be set on an individual basis to Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus modes via buttons mounted next to the gearlever. Thankfully, should you ever find the perfect set-up you can save and recall it via one of two ‘M’ buttons on the steering wheel. Ah yes, the buttons. If there are two things not lacking in the new M5 they are torque and buttons. I counted 58 in total, all at the driver’s command – and that’s before you get into BMW’s iDrive vehicle information and multimedia system. It all sounds like it’s going to be a technological nightmare, but the systems are largely intuitive to use. In fact, the gizmos all bring their own tangible benefits. That much is clear when you fire the snarling V8 into life and set off down the road to discover that the M5 not only rides well, but that it is more comfortable than a standard 5-series. Combine this with a gearbox that shifts seamlessly in auto mode you’ve got yourself a fine executive cruiser. Prod the throttle and in an instant the M5 is less cruiser, more bruiser. It surges forward like few other cars, occupants are squeezed with some force into the plush leather seats, the engine’s bellow hard and loud enough to drown out a distant whistling from the turbos. This might be a big capacity V8 but it spins freely up to 7,200rpm, the M5 piling on speed in a way that defies its 1,945kg kerb weight. Gear changes are instantaneous, not that it really matters: in any gear and at any revs this is a relentlessly fast car. All of this gives the traction control something of a workout. On the hot Spanish roads where the car was launched the M5 was spinning its rear wheels in second gear (on half throttle when exiting tight corners – gulp). Brake discs the size of dinner plates prove amply powerful for road use and easy to modulate through the pedal. And even if the chassis has a lot to deal with it at least feels as though it’s on your side, responding quickly to steering inputs and proving more agile than it has any right to. The tendency here, as is BMW M Division’s wont, is for anything over the limit of grip to result in oversteer rather than understeer, so you have to think long and hard before knocking back the stability control and then read the road like it’s on the Man Booker Prize shortlist should any unforeseen bumps or crests throw you off line. The compliant suspension does of course help, but it can’t work miracles. This is quite a motor car, then, and one that is worthy of the M5 badge. Some might say that it’s a touch on the pricey side, but for a saloon car that’s as fast as a Ferrari, not to mention one that’s this well built, I think it actually represents rather fine value.
Price guide: $117,000 Top speed: 190mph Acceleration: 0-62mph in 4.4sec Fuel economy: 28.5mpg (Combined) CO2 emissions: 232g/km
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Text: John Simister / The Independent / The Interview People
Bentley Does It Much as youâ€™d expect, there are few surprises to be had with the new exquisitely crafted Bentley - 52 -
Price guide: $212,800 Engine: 6.0 litre, twin turbocharged W12 Power: 567bhp Torque: 516lb/ft 0-60mph: 4.5s Top speed: 195mph
ere you to be coldly dispassionate about it, you might regard the arrival of the new Bentley Continental GTC as entirely predictable and not really worth much fuss. After all, such a convertible version followed the Grand Touring coupé last time around, and the GT coupé had a remake just under a year ago. So, of course, there should now be a new GTC with the same revisions. Bentley, however, regards it as a very big deal, even though the ingredients are obvious. And why not? The Continental range of Flying Spur saloons, GTs and GTCs, is selling very healthily. So, what’s new? The changes are naturally the same as the GT’s, with crisp-edged styling for the broad, seamless front wings; the wheels are set laterally further apart from each other; the suspension is modified to suit with bigger (20in or 21in) wheels, and the cabin’s crisper design echoes that of the exterior. The major change inside is the new front-seat design, which no longer carries the seatbelt fixings. So it can be slimmer and lighter despite containing a massage function and, optionally, a hot-air neck warmer. These seats contribute to a 70kg weight saving over the previous GTC. It’s hard not to be bemused at the length of the options list, the scope for personalisation and the size of the numbers involved. It’s the entry point to a rarefied world of gratification. But even without venturing there you can luxuriate in one of the most indulgent interiors on offer today. Nothing is made of any substance other than what it looks to be made of, be it metal, wood or leather, and the fit and finish are perfection with a human touch. People made this, not machines. As in the GT, the twin-turbocharged, 6.0-litre, W12 engine’s power rises from 560bhp to 575; torque rises from 479lb/ft to 516; the six-speed automatic gearbox can execute quicker shifts, and the four-wheel drive system now sends 60 per cent of the engine’s efforts towards the rear instead of being divided equally between all four wheels. So it’s not surprising that when its multi-layer hood is in position, the GTC looks, feels and sounds from the inside like a GT coupé. It goes like one, too, reaching 62mph in 4.8 seconds and 100mph in 10.9. Switching to Sport mode or shifting gears manually adds drama, but it is far better to lower the roof – electro-hydraulic power does the job in 25 seconds, and you can be driving at up to 20mph while it does so – and enjoy the waft of open air. Thus aerated, the Bentley loses just 5mph from its maximum speed, so is still good for a theoretical 190mph, if your hair follicles are sound. Roof-down, too, you hear better the deep exhaust growl and the fluffs and pops that accompany the gearshifts. And there is still surprising pleasure to be had from guiding the GTC through some scenic bends. Its body structure is claimed to be the stiffest ever created for an open-top production car, and it does seem impregnable to the forces of physics. The mechanical changes certainly make it keener to point into a corner and more responsive to the interplay of power and steering once settled, but even continuously variable dampers, air suspension and giant brakes can’t entirely disguise the weight. Besides, it is part of the brand definition that a Bentley should feel heavy and substantial. The Bentley Continental GTC is exactly the car you would expect it to be. Which, I believe, is where we came in.
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Fancy a Peruvian? The Andean country’s cuisine is taking over the globe…
orry to land a ‘next big thing’ on your plate, but cities around the world are being seduced by the cookery of what is known in Paddington Bear books as “darkest Peru”, but whose dishes are proving to have the lightest of touches. And, as The Wall Street Journal put it last month, noting a Zagat report that there were now four times as many Peruvian eateries across the US as 10 years ago: “Make room Spain and Korea, Peru is having its moment in the gastronomic sun.” In a sense, the cuisine is already with us. “This summer everyone’s had a ceviche on their menu, from Angela Hartnett to Yotam Ottolenghi,” says Martin Morales, who is naming his new London restaurant Ceviche, in honour of the dish. And, of course, there is Nobu, whose founding Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa stumbled on his winning formula while running a restaurant in Lima. Not that Matsuhisa was the first Japanese chef to adapt local Peruvian ingredients, immigrants from the Land of the Rising Sun being just one
The local ingredients are bountiful, to say the least, with a provenance that stretches right back to the dawn of food history. Potatoes, for example, originated in these parts – and Peruvians not only cook with some 250-300 varieties, they also make tubers the centrepiece of the dish. “There is huge biodiversity,” says Virgilio Martinez, chef-patron of Central restaurant in Lima. “We have the Pacific Ocean on the coast, the Andes and we have another world to discover, the Amazon, where as a cook I am still finding new fruits and herbs.” It is the ceviche that is so far taking the firmest grip on tastebuds globally – and although other South and Central American countries have their ceviches, the dish is thought to have originated in the coastal region of Peru, with limes imported by the Conquistadores. Morales shows me how to prepare it using sea bass and scallops, although other white fish, shellfish or even meats (duck ceviche is popular in northern Peru) can also be used.
‘For 500 years, we Peruvians have been creating a fusion cuisine – but slowly and in harmony’ of several key influences – including Chinese, African, Italian and, of course, Spanish – on the Andean country that was once home to the Incas. “There is a lot of talk about fusion as if it was some kind of novelty,” says Gaston Acurio, co-founder of the Astrid & Gaston restaurant in Lima. “But for 500 years, we Peruvians have been creating a fusion cuisine – but slowly and in harmony.”
What is vital is that, as with sushi, the seafood should be as fresh as possible. He begins by making the marinade – the limes squeezed into a bowl, along with a chopped chilli and garlic and coriander leaves. Morales, a half-Peruvian former businessman who helped found iTunes and once managed Joss Stone and Miley Cyrus for Disney, was born in Lima in 1973. “My mother Elsa is from a small mud-hut village
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in the mountains, some 18 hours by dirt track from the nearest city,” he says. “The area is known for its succulent guinea pig stew, which I was lucky enough to savour every time I visited – my gran bred these unlikely rodents under her kitchen stove and served them at her restaurant. This horrified my father, Roger, who was an accountant from Leicester, England, who wanted to travel the world so
1. Martin Morales. 2. Virgilio Martinez.
he got a job in Lima working for the mining company. It was tough times in Peru.” His parents divorced when Morales was 11 and when his father was targeted by the Shining Path (“leftwing guerrillas don’t like foreigners who work for American mining companies”), father and son moved to England. His maternal homeland has gradually prospered and its well travelled chefs are learning to respect their native cuisine. “In the past 15 or
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20 years there have been some great chefs who have said: ‘Look, this food is important’,” Morales says. “It’s really delicious.” One key ingredient – the Peruvian yellow chilli, or aji amarillo – may be hard to source. Morales grows his own. A possible substitute would be to take one medium chilli and blend it with a yellow pepper, so that you had the balance of sweetness and kick that’s found in the aji amarillo. The actual marinating of the fish takes less than a minute – and the result is a beautifully fresh and astringent starter or, served with corn or the ubiquitous potato, a main course. Don’t throw away the marinade. Strained, this makes a celebrated Peruvian drink called Tiger’s Milk, a supposed aphrodisiac. Pisco is the main ingredient of the Pisco Sour (add lime juice, egg white, sugar and bitters), the national cocktail that Morales hopes will emulate the popularity of the Mojito and the Caipirinha. Those wishing to maintain contact with their senses can imbibe the national soft drink of choice, Inca Kola, made with lemon verbena and the only indigenous beverage in the world that outsells Coca-Cola in its home territory. There’s even a popular Peruvian dish called pollo a la Coca-Cola. Morales and Martinez want to introduce a different sort of reality to their new restaurants. Apart from ceviche, Morales will be serving anticuchos, marinated barbecued brochettes generally using beef heart. “It’s the African influence,” he says. “It relates to the time when there was slavery in Peru and the slaves only had offal to work with, so to make it tasty and tender they made this dish, which is served with potatoes and chilli.” Two dishes that are unlikely to be reproduced are the Andean pachamanca, in which meats are placed on heated stones and then buried in earth, and that guinea-pig stew. “They may be a staple in the Andes, but there’s no need elsewhere,” he says.
Images: Courtesy of the Peruvian Embassy in London; Martin Morales Text: Gerard Gilbert / The Independent / The Interview People
Guess who’s cominG to dinner? David Burke has helmed some of London’s most respected restaurants. Here he reveals who he’d relish cooking for…
ad Mohamm Ali
Irishman David Burke is head chef at the Sir. Terence Conran-designed Lutyen’s Restaurant, Bar and Cellar Rooms in London. Prior to that he worked at Conran’s first London restaurant, Bibendum in South Kensington, before moving across the Thames to head up the ever-popular Le Pont de la Tour. He was also instrumental in the opening of The Wolseley.
e Sir Terenc Conran
He’s been described as the greatest athlete who has ever lived, and he is also a great humanitarian, spending a lot of his time feeding and looking after the less well off. Such work saw him receive the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the USA. At the dinner table he would definitely be loudest and not let anybody get a word in. What I’d Serve: Ali hails from Louisville, Kentucky, so it would have to be authentic southern fried chicken. Designer, restaurateur, bon viveur and leading light of British restaurant design and gastronomy. Over dinner, he would recount how different ideas and designs came into being – from the planning stage through to production, and eventually to the client. What I’d Serve: Roast grouse, a dish which he’d end by smoking a large cigar. He’s probably the most important war photographer and journalist living today. His subject matter brings the horror and reality of war into people’s front rooms, but he can also report with authority on a far range of subjects. His photographs from the war in Vietnam are haunting – today he photographs landscapes and more peaceful scenes. What I’d Serve: After some of Don’s exploits, a nourishing supper of salmon fishcakes and sorrel sauce would be had. Author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the most important novels of the last century and, in some circles, a book regarded as semi autobiographical. Since its success, Lee has shunned public appearances and public speaking, so to have her at the dinner table to discuss the background and different characters in that book would be amazing. What I’d Serve: A simple and cheap peasant supper of Irish stew. Due to his work in Cool Running’s and Uncle Buck, his presence at the table would ensure nobody took themselves too seriously. His life ended prematurely from heart failure, but in his short time here he gave laughter and smiles to many. What I’d Serve: John would have to have a Knickerbocker glory!
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he’s undertaken, but the course he was asked to create in Hertfordshire, UK – around a neglected 18th-century parkland littered with mature trees and beside the M25 motorway – was arguably tougher still. That it’s now one of the best courses in the UK is remarkable, and playing here gives golfers the chance to play 18 richly diverse holes amid a glorious slice of countryside. thegrove.co.uk
Have you played Here yet? the grove , hertfordshire , UK
Kyle Philips’ task to build a genuine links course in the desert (which he achieved with aplomb when delivering Yas Links) may sound like the toughest design assignment
HOW TO MasTer aWkWarD LIes Lesson #3 Lead foot higher than traiL foot
There are three stages to hitting the ball successfully from an uphill lie. Firstly, it’s vitally important that you select the correct club. As you are now effectively hitting the ball higher into the air, as it leaves the slope, it will travel less distance. Therefore, you should select a low lofted iron. Secondly, in order for
you to make solid contact with the ball you must take time to correctly adjust your set-up position. Try to simulate a level stance by aligning your shoulders with the slope, and induce the feeling that there is more weight on your trail foot. Obviously, to what extent you do this depends on the severity of the slope. On the higher gradient slopes, also be more aware than usual of your ball position, and edge forward in your stance to allow for solid contact. Lastly, make a smooth swing following the angle of the slope and try to maintain balance to the point of impact. Remember, golf is a difficult game even when hitting from a perfect lie, so don’t be too upset if you don’t get results straight away. Craig Waddell is a professional at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.
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Were there an official award for the year’s best driver up for grabs, Callway’s outstanding Diablo Octane would blow away the competition. It offers exceptional speed; firstly through its lightweight shaft quickening your swing, and secondly through its chemically-enhanced cupface striking the ball faster. But the fact that you can connect pretty much anywhere on the clubface and still hit a straight-as-an-arrow drive is undoubtedly its most charitable offering. $300, callawaygolf.com
Let the quest to uncover the world’s priciest mushroom begin…
01. Tuscany, Italy This fertile region produces 25 per cent of the world’s most valuable truffles: the white truffle. Here, hunters and enthusiasts have made a festival out of the natural treasure: the season heralds large fairs in San Miniato, complete with theatre performances, displays, marching bands and fine dining experiences to taste the fruits of their labour. 02. Provence, France The woods near Mont Ventoux bear
the coveted black truffle. Go armed with a specially-trained truffle-hunting hound, who can sniff them out; they’re often very well concealed. Join a tour at the Hotel Crillon le Brave, or peruse the extensive truffle market at St Paul Trois Châteaux, which sells streams of the area’s distinctive truffles, and where you can glean more about using them in the art of French cuisine. 03. Berkshire and Wiltshire, UK English grounds in which to hunt the mighty mushroom are rather well-
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kept secrets, but, you may strike gold: record-sized black truffles weighing over 600g (and around seven inches in size) have been found by hand in the woods of Berkshire and Wiltshire. 04. Istria, Croatia The largest truffle gathering area here is the Motovan forest; a huge 986 hectares of quality hunting ground. It’s well known for its bountiful supplies of the stellar fungus, and visitors will often see early risers searching for the pungent delights.
05. Yunnan, China Bowls of truffles used to be fed to pigs in Yunnan’s Hama village; until locals realised how much people would pay for such treats, that is, and the truffle was exported en masse. While the black species found here (Tuber indicum) are more common than, say, French truffles, you’ll almost certainly not leave empty-handed. 06. Valencia, Spain The verdant forests and jagged peaks of the Els Ports and Maestrat districts
are a breeding ground for ebony-hued truffles. Every year they hold the PortsMaestrat Food Sampling Event, where chefs flock to prepare dishes doused with fungi native to the area. 07. Gisborne, New Zealand If you miss the northern hemisphere’s peak truffle season, try Gisborne. Here they grew their first batch of Tuber melanosporum (black truffles) in 1993 and now the desirable specimen grows in nine other areas of the country – and are worth up to $7,000 per kg.
Berkshire & Wiltshire Provence
03 02 04 06 01
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Toronto Canada’s economic capital yields more than fists full of money; it’s a cultural mosaic that thrives on the arts, unites on big name sports and serves fare as varied as its populous
before you leave...
T oronto consistently tops the charts as one of the most liveable cities on the planet. Get to grips with this city by the water and it doesn’t take long to decipher what earns it a place in people’s affections: its diversity. Liberal immigration policies and a strong economic stance pulled it through waves of European, Latin American and Caribbean immigration to spawn an assorted land (80 ethnic groups and over 100 spoken languages exist here) and distinctive districts. It’s a combination that led the New York Times to surmise: “This is a city of immigrants without slums, without graffiti, and without gridlock, dynamic but seldom frenetic, a metropolis with clean air and healthy downtown neighbourhoods. In short, a city that works.” And it’s a combination that breathes variety in to every day: you can taste it in the food – Little Italy, Greektown, three China Towns and Little India are choice pit stops – and see it in a patchwork of characterful neighbourhoods; the loud and proud Entertainment District, ageing Old Town and well-to-do Yorkville. Hotels appear to take note from their locations, too. In Downtown (Toronto’s business hub), The Clarion (clarionhotelselby.com) was Ernest Hemingway’s residence, when off duty from his reporter’s role at the city’s biggest newspaper, the Toronto Star. In contrast, The Thompson Hotel’s (thompsonhotels.com) trendy Queen Street West setting boasts a lounge that draws beautiful folk through its doors, and a rooftop that virtually transports you to Miami. Of course, Toronto’s landscape
September: Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) Second only to the ever-glamorous Cannes in the star stakes, TIFF lays its red carpet on the city and attracts high profile flicks. Once the credits have rolled, street festivals, concerts and exhibits take hold. Tiff.net
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October: Nuit Blanche There are few better ways for art connoisseurs to kick start the month than with this; a renowned, contemporary art festival that runs from sunset to sunrise. Well worth staying up all night for. scotiabanknuitblanche.ca January/February: Winterlicious Gourmands can warm their bellies at this food-fuelled celebration, which brings together 150 of the city’s top eateries and chefs, who serve specially-prepared three-course menus. toronto.ca/special_events
1. Toronto’s skyline from harbourfront Marina. 2. A Brassaii-style lobster sandwich. 3. Nathan Philips Square’s ice rink in wintertime. 4. Downtown Toronto.
Image: Corbis/Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Photolibrary
means you won’t want to stay in for long. Its territory spawned from the last receding glaciers 10,000 years ago and is now permanently changed by urban development. The CN Tower (cntower.ca) at over 500metres high, remains the best point from which to survey the land – despite losing its ‘tallest building in the world’ title to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Though stacked with towers, Toronto is no concrete jungle: nicknamed ‘the city within a park’, miles of greenery stalk the rivers that flow through it. Toronto has found a channel for its diversity, too: art. Indoors, admire the world’s largest collection of Henry Moor works in the Art Gallery of Ontario (ago.net); a Frank Gehry designed building. While, outside, eccentric architect Edward James Lennox’s stone caricatures of 19th century politicians pose at the grand Old City Hall, in direct contrast to the modern day City Hall; spaceship-like and flanked by two concave towers that sprout from the concrete. Queen Street West, meanwhile, feels like Soho and buzzes with street artists. Food wise, the city’s billed as North America’s gourmet capital for good reason. Torontonians love their Sunday brunch, the best of which is offered at Brassaii (brassaii.com), where you can feast on pillow-soft lobster sandwiches. While restaurants of note include Chef Scott Conant’s slick Scarpetta (thompsonhotels.com), an Italian eatery with an acclaimed sister outlet in Manhattan. It will soon be joined by outposts of other NYC favourites: David Chang‘s Momofuku and David Boulud’s Café Boulud both set to open in early 2012.
Squeeze one of these famed festivals in to your schedule
Lisbon before you leave...
Lisbon thrives in a skin likened to the landscape of Rome; set across seven hillsides and, here at least, peering over Rio Tejo. Except, this city predates even Italy’s history-drenched capital, by some 400 years. It’s a history that’s not without turmoil; a fatal earthquake stains the city’s timeline at 1755; a natural disaster that left much of it destroyed and claimed over 30,000 lives. But Lisbon isn’t the kind of city that goes down without a fight. Resurrection came under its then-prime minister, with the Baxia district seeing the most design changes with large squares and wider avenues. Happily, though, the charming old quarters remain the backbone of Lisbon, so you can relive her centuries-old past, while absorbing today’s youthfully-spirited Lisboêtas – be it wrinkling seniors’ swapping village gossip or oliveskinned teens chatting in 1930s-style cafes. This place has spirit. A Lisbon check list should chart the Moorish quarters (‘barrios’) on the hillsides (watch the sun set here from an old castle); upmarket shopping in the west’s chic Chiado; and multicultural Mouraria, as well as ancient Alfama to its east – one of the few districts to survive the earthquake. A sympathetic Mediterranean climate makes al fresco strolls a must, and walks are met by Lisbon’s past and present. Representing the past; Praca Dom Pedro IV, a large square dedicated to Pedro IV of Portugal (Brazil’s first ruler) with a black and white mosaic floor, usually seen by the beaches of Rio de Janeiro; Rua Augusta, a road peppered with oldfashioned shops; Sao Jorge Castle, where 14th to 16th century ruins
of the royal residence remain. The present, meanwhile, comes in achingly cool form: Avenida da Liberdade, a Parisian-style boulevard of designer boutiques (Prada, Armani, Chanel); Praca dos Restauradores, a hub bub of eateries where tourists break for a bite; and neglected buildings made good, like the former metalworks turned boutique hotel, Fontana Park. You’ll need fuel for your sightseeing, but the Portugese don’t really ‘do’ breakfast; rather paw at calorific pastries when hunger creeps in. Mimic the art at a pastelarias with a bica (espresso); one thing Lisboêtas sup tirelessly. They do, however, make lunch and dinner an artform, and gourmands should seek out esteemed eateries over the tourist-trap cafes. Jose Avillez (a man who worked with El Bulli’s Ferran Adriá as well as earn a Michelin-star at Lisbon’s Tavares) now has such an eatery; Cantinho do Avillez (catinhodoavillez.pt), where classic produce is given a makeover – his steak sandwiches are to die for. Restaurante 560 (restaurante560. com) meanwhile, brings the city’s seafaring past to contemporary levels, turning catches of the day in to dishes like octopus carpaccio. Indeed, traces of Lisbon’s fishing hey day are not lost; the coast stretches from Sesimbra to the now lively Cascais, a former fishing village that attracted tourists from 1870 on the back of royal visits. Here, a fish market still takes place, where an auctioneer sells the day’s catch (in an unfathomable stream of quick-fired words). While, in the cobbled streets of Alfama, women sell fresh fish off their doorsteps (go at the crack of dawn) – as they have done for ions.
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The charm of Lisbon’s cuisine is in its traditions – AIR summarises its most time-honoured treats Pastéis de Belém are in hearty supply; custard tarts, laced with cinnamon and sugar powder – a classic. Grilled sardines are impossible to ignore in summer time, when the waft of charcoaled fish fills the old quarters of Alfama and Bairro Alto. Just add fresh lemon juice. Bacalhau or dried, salted codfish, has been a national obsession since Lisbon’s 16th century sailors caught the fish, sun-dried it, and kept if for their (often lengthy) journey home. Snails become a muchloved snack from June to August when swarms of Portuguese sup the small molluscs. Suck them straight from their shells.
1. 2. 3. 4.
A Lisboêta at lunch. Classic custard pastries. Fishing port. The city’s traditional streetcar. 5. City centre, from Santa Justa Elevator 6. Fontana Park hotel.
Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
While many cities allow their past to fade, Portugal’s star attraction clings faithfully to its rich history, while dancing arm and arm with the future
Aman for all seasons This fragment of the former Yugoslavia once lured celebrities to its shores. Can a new luxury enclave help to put it back on the map?
hat would Sophia Loren make of Aman Sveti Stefan, I wonder? The Italian superstar was a fan of the 1950s hotel that was once on this Montenegrin rock. It had a fleet of Chevrolet cars to transport guests across the causeway and around the coastline, and served elaborately embellished lobster. That’s all gone, replaced by the austere lines that define the Aman resort aesthetic (present across the globe from Cambodia to the Caribbean). Bare stone walls in bedrooms, rough ceramic shampoo bottles and rustic village salad on the menu signal a major change. But if the glitz has been replaced by restrained tones, make no mistake – it’s still for the wealthy, it’s just that now it’s stealthy. The rocky outcrop that is Sveti Stefan is Montenegro’s most famous view. It may actually be its only famous view. If you can place the country on a map you’re already in a well-informed minority. The country gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and is trying to build a tourism trade. So you make it into this small, vertiginously mountainous country and arrive at its one internationally known site. What can you expect? I had no idea, being an ‘Aman virgin’. There are such people as ‘Aman junkies’ – travellers who always make a point of visiting each new resort that opens its discreet, unsigned doors. They have been waiting for four years for Aman Sveti Stefan. I arrive on day seven of the village’s new incarnation. It’s a remarkable approach. Walking across the causeway, gazing up at the rocks and rustic stone walls that ring the island, it looks as if it’s guarding a secret at its centre, its back turned to the coast (and it’s true that everyone who has inhabited the island is a clique, from the 12 families of the Pastrovici tribe back in the 1400s to the glossy posse of the 1960s and 1970s, to today’s touring elite). One of Sveti
Stefan’s features is that once inside, its higgledy-piggledy lanes lead you up and downhill, round and around, and there is no centre, just more scattered stone cottages and the odd church. Oh, and a dramatic black-tiled clifftop pool too. There is a piazza, where guests can eat pizzas, antipasti and other posh, rustic food at artfully strewn tables and chairs – but that is stumbled upon, rather than signposted. In fact, nothing is signposted. I’d know that if I wasn’t a first-timer. Henry Gray, Aman Sveti Stefan’s ebullient general manager, fills me in over dinner. He’s worked with Aman for many years, and discretion to the point of obliqueness is a company trademark. In fact, the ‘street’ signs on Sveti Stefan are a huge departure from the norm (not that they help terribly much, there’s no map and it takes a day or two before you can confidently find your way from reception to your room). He and his wife/co-manager Char epitomise the openshirt, flat-sandalled chic that is Aman. The shirt will, of course, be crisp and tailored, the sandals designer-labelled. The rooms: well, no two are the same. Because Sveti Stefan is a protected site, the buildings are largely the same ones that once were home to the Pastrovici tribe, and Aman had to work within draconian building restrictions. Interior designer Marylou Thomson – who has been with the project since Aman first signed the 40-year-lease in 2007 – explains. “The honesty of this place means that if you do something wrong, it sticks out like a sore thumb.” She laughs, but installing the super-high-spec features demanded by Aman guests cannot have been easy. The rough plaster walls and simple timber or stone floors in each room are immaculate, and under that shower, the stone floor is heated. Marylou had to replace one in three of the original beams that are a feature of many of the rooms, the
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Travel legacy of a 1979 earthquake which destroyed many of the buildings along Montenegro’s coastline. I’m not confident that I’d spot the difference, such is the attention to detail. Furniture is simple, Shaker style, made in Serbia from Slovakian oak. The lanterns that hang in each window – a nod to the fishermen’s wives who did the same to light their husbands home from the sea – may look simple, but they’re a world away from your standard storm lantern. “We wanted it to look like a village, how it was intended to be,” says Thomson. Her jaunty tone belies the 100 straight days of rain that blighted the main building work in 2009. We’re sitting under a loggia at The Olive Tree, one of the 11 restaurants at the resort. It’s on the mainland, on the first of three beaches that face the island. The Aman resort encompasses three bays and the 1930s Villa Milocer building, with its eight suites and stunning wisteria-clad seafront loggia. Breakfast Montenegrin-style is not for the faint-hearted, but we give it a go. There’s prosciutto, herb-studded njeguski cheese, cheese pie, dinky cornbread muffins, a sauce that is raw whey, tiny doughnuts and twisted sweet pastries, which our waiter describes as “fast bread. Eat with the domestic apricot.” He brings us the traditional glass of rakija (local grappa). Nine o’clock seems a little early, so we stick to the freshlysqueezed juice. As we talk about the project – how it has inched forward over the four years of her involvement, with debates such as “tablecloths or no tablecloths?” taking some time – people start to pass by, creating a steady stream of beach-bound families and couples. They can’t all be staying at the Aman?
‘Today’s celebrities – in search of ultra-privacy and discreet luxury – will surely be beating a path to Sveti Stefan’ Of course they’re not. Part of the agreement between the government and Aman is that the public are allowed access to the beaches, and to walk the hilltop paths that link them (the village is just one part of a 32-hectare Aman property). However, they have to pay a fee to use the beaches, and are not allowed on to Sveti Stefan itself unless they book a restaurant table. “There is some local resentment,” acknowledges Marylou. “They used to be able to tour the island for €5; now they’re not allowed. But those who have seen the sensitive way the site has been treated have relaxed...” It’s difficult to stir myself from the vast, insanely comfortable bed in my room to do much exploring. The thick white walls, putty-coloured curtains and leatheredged sisal rugs create a sensory comfort blanket – and the subtle Bose hi-fi, giant bathtub and handmade linen slippers certainly help. If I were so inclined, I’d want to put everything – from the white linen robe, to the navy rope
bag for guests to transport their iPods and books to the pool or beach, to the delicate Balinese porcelain pots for toiletries – into my suitcase. There’s no shop to purchase these luxury goodies at this stage, but I’m told one is planned. Wise move. Somewhat reluctantly, I stroll over the causeway and into a car with Marco, one of the hotel’s guides. He’s bursting with pride about Montenegro. We tour Kotor, a Unescolisted medieval walled town of narrow, cobbled pathways and the occasional square with a church or museum to gaze upon. Its walls extend up the steep mountain behind. Hardy souls can walk up to the crumbling remains of St Ivan’s Castle at 260m and look down at the luxury yachts and expanse of fjord on which Kotor sits. I get into a little boat and travel across the silent, crystal clear water to the twin tiny islands that sit between the impossibly pretty town of Perast (where the influence of the region’s Venetian rule between around 1400 to 1800 is very
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Images: Getty / Gallo Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Lisa Markwell / The Independent / The Interview People
clear) and the narrow neck that separates the bay from the rest of the fjord and the Adriatic sea beyond. ‘Our Lady of the Rock’ is a man-made island, in the shape of a ship. It was created over 200 years starting in 1452, built up from a natural rock of just a couple of square metres by fishermen who wanted the protection of the Virgin Mary. They sank vessels here, more than 100 of them, and cast rocks and stones into the bay until they reached the surface, then created a church. I study the silver votives left by grateful sailors, the dried flowers and lace of long-ago brides, left by tradition in thanks – and wonder at the quiet, careful pride Montenegrins have for their natural and spiritual treasures. Lunch at a local waterside restaurant Stari Mlini is bliss. As you’d expect, fish is what’s good everywhere. Here, cuttlefish risotto (near neighbour Italy influences much of the cuisine) and octopus baked in ash are two high points. Budva, back down the coast towards Sveti Stefan, is also an ancient walled town, but although the old settlement shares the church spires and worn-smooth cobbles of Kotor – and nuns selling the same fabulous soap that appears in the Aman bathrooms – outside the walls, it’s a thoroughly modern resort. Russian-built black-glass hotels sprawl, superyachts bob cheek-by-jowl in the harbour and plenty
of bars, restaurants and shops entertain those that descend on this tourism hub in high season. I buy a few postcards and head back to the calm of Sveti Stefan. Dinner is at the Queen’s Chair, the restaurant perched high above the Queen’s beach: a tiny, immaculate horseshoe of sand with fig and olive trees at its fringes. Here the riches of Montenegro’s coast are given hautecuisine treatment: sea bass, sea bream and scallops are all spankingly fresh and carefully cooked. “We don’t want Michelin stars, waiters in bow ties, the whole fine dining thing,” says Gray. “We want it to feel relaxed.” The picturepostcard sunset over the sea helps. Perhaps the cleverest asset this Aman has is its staff. Not just the management – who live and breathe the stratospheric standards of the company – but the 20 or so men and women who worked in the old hotel, who remember when Yugoslavia’s President Tito came to stay at the Villa, and when Princess Margaret and Lord Snod (their take on Snowdon, which I don’t correct, finding it too sweet) crossed the isthmus. If they served Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti in their suite – which today is the Sveti Stefan suite, complete with its own pool and clifftop terrace, yours for €2,500 a night – they’re not saying. Discretion reaches back beyond Aman days, and the care and attention they show guests – from quietly placing my handbag on a chair to explaining the components of the dainty, delicious antipasti – suggests a lifetime of training. Another excursion that matches the blissed-out atmosphere on Sveti Stefan, meanwhile, sees me kayaking on Lake Skadar, the largest body of water in the Balkans. This vast, remote lake is a national park, protected so that the myriad birdlife can live in peace. I slip into the water some 17km away from the main lake, at the village of Rjeka Crnojevica – where, fact fans, the first coins in Europe were minted – and spend several hours with guides Amy and Paul, who point out the animals, flora and fauna so abundant around me. On my last night, I quiz the deputy minister for tourism, Nebojsa Popovic, on Montenegro’s future. He talks eagerly about the arrival of other luxury hotel chains. He has a brilliantly straightforward approach. “We have lots of military property that we don’t need, so the government took the good decision to make them into tourism locations... The military always have the best locations!” I’ve seen just a tiny section of Montenegro. There are fledgling ski resorts and 6,000km of new hiking and biking trails. There are mountain towns and ancient monasteries to visit. I intend to come back before long, before the budget airlines increase the 600,000 population of the country each summer to creaking point. Whatever happens, today’s celebrities – in search of ultra-privacy and discreet luxury – will surely be beating a path to Sveti Stefan. Just as long as they leave their Louboutins at the door.
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What I KnoW noW
Homeware designer and owner of Aram Always keep an open mind. I often find inspiration in places I’d least expect. Look high, low, and everywhere in between to be inspired and to learn to appreciate the beauty in little things that are often overlooked. Listen with an open ear. When I’m not in the midst of travelling or working in the design studio, I am doing personal appearances. During this time, I am able to sit down with my customers in person and hear all about their lives – weddings they are going to, hobbies that they enjoy, obstacles they have overcome. It’s so meaningful to me to have that contact and be a part of these moments. Laugh often and have fun. As people, we tend to focus on the end result of things. Something I have learned is to take my time and enjoy the process of getting there. Enjoy these moments and have fun while doing it. Life is defined by meaningful moments. Each piece in my collection is designed with my customers in mind. My passion is not only my art, but it’s also delivering meaningful pieces to others. It’s so fulfilling to have the ability to evoke a feeling in someone by creating or giving symbolic pieces. I like to think of gifting as the unspoken language – a physical embodiment of an emotion that you want to express to another person. Take time to enjoy life. Keeping a healthy life balance is important to me. I always make time for my family and friends. Follow your passion and instinct and life will guide you. In 1989, I took a trip to India that was supposed to be a vacation and turned out to be a life-changing experience. I was there visiting friends and decided to wander the streets of Delhi, where I discovered metal working. At that point, I began working side by side with the craftspeople, and today I am still doing the same.
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