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Is su e nIneteen | december


Produced in International Media Production Zone

De Niro

Mr chow The man of many guises on his taste for life’s finer things

Secret Service John Simister indulges his inner Bond driving Aston’s new Vanquish

talking italian The inside story of Hollywood’s love affair with Bulgari

the rolling StoneS The world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on surviving 50 years at the top


The J12 GMT is now resolutely masculine in matte black high-tech ceramic, a highly scratch and stain resistant material. Featuring a patented triple-folding buckle and a flat 41-mm watchcase, this watch has a restrained and refined design. Equipped with an automatic self-winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve and a second time zone 24-hour hand, the J12 GMT is an absolute essential for all world travelers.


exotourbillon chronographe.

The ExoTourbillon Chronographe is the first timepiece in the Montblanc Collection Villeret 1858 to unite a tourbillon and a chronograph function. It is the world’s first tourbillon having a balance, being larger than the cage, that oscillates outside of the cage on a higher plane – thus giving rise to the name ExoTourbillon. An innovation so unique a patent has been applied for. Montblanc manufacture calibre MB M16.60. Monopusher chronograph with regulator-style dial, four-minute tourbillon, 30-minute counter and second time zone with day/night display. 47 mm white gold case. Crafted in the Montblanc Manufacture de Haute Horlogerie in Villeret, Switzerland.

Montblanc Boutiques UAE Dubai: Burjuman, Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Emirates Towers, Festival Centre, Grand Hyatt, Ibn Battuta, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre, Wafi; Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Mall, Etihad Towers, Marina Mall; Al Ain: Al Ain Mall | KSA Riyadh: Kingdom Centre; Jeddah: Red Sea Mall, Corniche Street beside Gazzaz Centre; Al Khobar: Rashid Mall KUWAIT: 360º Mall, Al Hamra Luxury Center, The Avenues | QATAR: Villaggio Mall, The Mall, City Centre, Four Seasons, Royal Plaza BAHRAIN: City Centre, Seef Mall, Sheraton, Ritz Carlton | OMAN: Muscat City Centre LEBANON Beirut: Bank Street, Verdun Twins Centre | JORDAN Amman: Taj Mall

Contents / Fe atures

Managing Director Victoria Thatcher Editorial Director John Thatcher Advertisement Director Chris Capstick Group Editor Laura Binder

Thirty Four

True Hollywood Story

Sub Editor Hazel Plush

Remembering Tinseltown’s golden age as seen through the lens of its most celebrated snapper

Designer Adam Sneade

Fifty Seven

Rolling On

Designer / Illustrator Vanessa Arnaud Production Manager Haneef Abdul

50 and counting: in private conversation with the irrepressible Rolling Stones as another milestone passes

Senior Advertisement Manager Stefanie Morgner

Sixty Four

Meet De Niro Everybody’s favourite actor plays the nice guy as he belies his grumpy reputation to talk movies

Advertisement Manager Sukaina Hussein Advertisement Manager Silviya Komanova

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Contents / regul ars

Seventy Two

Gastronomy The world’s most renowned restaurateur on the recipe for his unmatched success

Twenty Two

Fifty Two

Harrods’ Fine Watch Room marks one year with its most unique offering yet

AIR meets Amanda Triossi, chief curator at Italian powerhouse Bulgari

Forty One


AIR heads to the home of A. Lange & Söhne for a masterclass in craftmanship

John Simister realises a teenage fantasy at the wheel of the all-new Aston Martin

Forty Six

Seventy Eight

Meet the Middle East’s foremost photographers bringing light to London

Inside the impeccably stylish dwellings of Anouska Hempel



Why Hästens Vividus lays claim to being the world’s most luxurious bed

Red hot footwear guru Christian Louboutin on his life lessons learned



Art & Design

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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What I Know Now

Gama aviation

December 2012

Welcome onboard

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 12 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. Gama is now operating the only business aviation FBO at Sharjah International Airport, which is proving to be a very popular facilty for Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, as well as a practical alternative to Dubai International Airport. 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 continued resurgence in charter flights in 2012 – the world is travelling for business again and developing much needed revenue for the global economy. Thank you for choosing Gama – welcome onboard.

Dave Edwards Managing Director Gama Aviation

Contact details:

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Gama aviation news Gama Aviation enjoys expansion into Saudi Arabia

Jeddah is Gama’s second Middle East base Gama Group MENA FZE, part of the Gama Group, the global business aviation services company, recently expanded 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, known as Gama Aviation, has been operational since June in Jeddah, Saudi’s second largest city and a vital centre for commerce and tourism. 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 step 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 Gama team and our ability to demonstrate how the

Gama culture and business model could be adopted in Saudi.”

Gama Aviation expands Russia based aircraft management activities Gama Aviation announced at Jet Expo, Moscow, the addition of two brand new aircraft: a Bombardier Challenger 850 and a Boeing BBJ2 to its established portfolio of aircraft managed on behalf of Russia-based customers. Gama Aviation’s worldwide aircraft portfolio now exceeds 80 and includes a number of Boeing, Bombardier, Falcon and Gulfstream aircraft, which are based in Moscow. With nearly 30 years of experience in Europe, USA, the Middle East and from this year Asia, Gama offers its clients a wide range of aircraft management, charter and maintenance services. Gama was one of the first business aviation service providers to support Russian customers in the 1990’s and the market today remains key to Gama’s continued development. “We have been supporting the needs of our Russian clients for over 15 years,” said Tom Wells, General Manager Gama Aviation. “Our clients respect our knowledge of the Russian market, our hands-on experience of all major business aircraft types and the global coverage of Gama’s operations. I am proud that the Gama team is able to deliver to Russia’s continuously growing business aviation community, our tailored solutions in a safe, service driven and cost efficient manner.”

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GAmA Group openS itS HonG KonG operAtinG bASe Gama Aviation’s new Hong Kong location mirrors operations in Europe, USA and the Middle East. The new base offers its clients aircraft management and charter services throughout the region. In working together with Gama Charters Inc, Gama Asia can provide operations through its in-house FAA Part 135. Gama’s new Hong Kong based operation is led by Neil Gibson. Neil joined Gama earlier this year and has a wealth of industry knowledge. Most recently Neil led PremiAir’s Charter & Management Division following other key posts within the business aviation community including CEO of TAG Aviation Asia, Managing Director of TAG Aviation UK and CEO of TAG Australia. “I am delighted to be able to lead our new Asia-based operations,” said Gibson, Managing Director, Gama Aviation Asia. “I know Gama’s broad international business aviation experience gained over 30 years, together with our proactive efforts to better serve Asia’s business aviation community will be very much appreciated.” In addition to establishing Gama’s Hong Kong base, Neil is also responsible for developing further Gama’s relationship with Asia Miles. Gama is the exclusive business aviation services provider within the Asia Miles loyalty programme.

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: Gama Aviation FZC Building 6EB Office 550 PO Box 54912 Dubai Airport Freezone Dubai United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 609 1688 Email: Gama Aviation, Inc. Airport Business Center 611 Access Road Stratford

CT 06615

Business Aircraft Management, Charter,

United States

Maintenance, Design and Installation,

Tel: +1 800 468 1110

FBO Services, Valeting and Aviation Software.


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Gama aviation news Gama Aviation opens Geneva base

Gama Group, the global business aviation services provider, has announced that its new Geneva operating base is formally open for business. Gama’s Geneva operations commence with a Gulfstream V and a LearJet 45 already based at this new facility. These aircraft join another Gama Swiss-based LearJet, currently located at the company’s Zurich base. On Friday 9 November, Captain Hamish Ross, General Manager of Gama Aviation S.A, hosted over 50 Swiss business aviation guests during a celebratory opening event at its new offices, located in Geneva Airport’s Executive Terminal. He introduced key members of the new team, including Yasmine Howell, Commercial Manager; Laura Malisani, Operations Manager and Adeline Stohler, Office Manager.

Gama appoints richard Lineveldt as General manager of uAe operations

With dedicated personnel and the first two aircraft in situ, Hamish Ross and his team are aiming to broaden the range and number of aircraft management services to both existing and potential Gama customers. They are also working towards building a full Swiss AOC by spring 2013. “Our new facilities in Geneva complement the recent significant growth in Gama’s global offering, which now comprises over 30 operational bases around the world,” said Captain Hamish Ross. “We are in the enviable position of having a highly respected management team already in place, who are committed to offering the highest standards of safety, efficiency and value to our prospective clients, especially those seeking aircraft management or charter services.”

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Gama has announced the appointment of Richard Lineveldt as General Manager, Gama Aviation FZE, with the task of implementing its growth strategy throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Richard began his career in business aviation in South Africa. Prior to joining Gama in 2008, Richard gained significant experience in a number of aviation operations roles around the world. Richard has been a key member of the Gama management team supporting a number of Gama’s recent expansion initiatives in the region. These have included the set-up of the exclusive operation of Sharjah International Airport’s Executive Handling Service (Fixed Based Operation) and the successful award of Gama’s United Arab Emirates Air Operators Certificate. “Having been a member of the team that established Gama’s operations in the UAE in 2008, I have been fortunate enough to see the group grow, both regionally and internationally, to establish itself as one of the few truly global business aviation services providers,” said Richard Lineveldt, General Manager, Gama Aviation FZE. “I particularly admire the fact that I am joining a Gama Senior Management team that is recognised and respected throughout our industry for its focus on safety, security, innovation and of course customer service.” “I am delighted to be able to appoint Richard to his new position as General Manager,” said Dave Edwards, Managing Director, Gama Aviation FZE. “Richard will help lead our activities in the Middle East and North Africa at a time of significant growth. His appointment is well earned and recognises his personal contribution to Gama’s success.”

DUBAI: Burjuman +971 4 351 0001 - Dubai Mall +971 4 339 8001 ABU DHABI: Marina Mall +971 2 681 1121 - Etihad Towers + 971 2 681 1919


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> This month’s Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show, to be staged at Dubai World Central from December 11-13, brings together the biggest names in private aviation and will see over 60 jets on static display – some of them for the first time in the region – to entice would-be owners. And though not among them, it is Dassault Falcon’s latest launch, the Falcon 2000LXS, that’s expected to claim much of the attention. It needs a landing strip no longer than that required by a turboprop, making a whole host of hard-to-access destinations reachable, and comes equipped with the entirely new FalconCabin HD+ management system, giving passengers the freedom to control everything within the cabin via their iPad.

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> To celebrate the first anniversary of its splendid Fine Watch Room, Harrods has partnered with eight of the room’s most reputed brands to present highly collectable one-of-one timepieces. Pictured above are five of these unique creations, which include a 7.45 carat Ladies Tuxedo Automatique from Audemars Piguet; an equally eye-grabbing High Jewellery Dentelle Diamond Watch from Breguet; Zenith’s Christopher Columbus


Charles Fleck Rose Gold Unique Piece; and, paying more than a passing nod to the most famous department store in the world, a diamond-set Franck Muller timepiece that bears stones in the green and gold colours of Harrods and can only be bought in store. Roger Dubuis, Hublot and Vacheron Constantin are the other brands to have created watches for the anniversary, all of which are on sale now. - 24 -


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Audemars Piguet Zenith Breguet Maurice Lacroix Franck Muller




Sacha Gervasi Is this the ultimate romance for film lovers? Anthony Hopkins leads in this biopic flick about the love between the

most influential filmmakers of the last century, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville, set during the making of cult film Psycho. At best: “One of the best films of

2012.” New York Observer

At worst: “Hitchcock is a movie

about bygone Hollywood that’s distinctly a product of Hollywood circa now.” Village Voice

A Royal Affair

Nikolaj Arcel The true story of an ordinary man who stole the heart of Queen Caroline Mathilda, sparking a revolution. At best: “Even appreciated simply as a little-known chapter of European history, it proves consistently engrossing, edifying and affecting.” Washington Post At worst: “It’s always a pleasure to see a movie give attention to the ideas and visions of its characters, but the drama is, at times, a little too dry.” Metro Times

This is 40


Judd Apatow Funny man Judd Apatow (he of 40-Year-Old Virgin) brings audiences this comic account of a couple handling life at 40. At best: “This relentlessly hilarious and quietly moving riff on middleaged growing pains stands as a rare spin-off that outdoes the material it spawned from, and is Judd Apatow’s best feature to date.” What Culture At worst: “Underneath waves of jocularity and vulgarity lies [a] sentimental undertow.” Compuserve

Stefan Ruzowitzky On the run from a casino theft gonebad, this cling-to-your-seat crime thriller sees siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) make a chaotic bid for the Canadian border, blizzard and all... At best: “Deadfall is slicker and more compelling than its overdetermined script has any right to expect.” Hollywood Reporter At worst: “Deadfall’s unbelievable silliness escalates at every turn.” Boxoffice Magazine

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“[Walker’s] love of adventure and dreaming has taken him back, time and time again, to his childhood storybooks – something made evident in Story Teller,” writes Choi Liu in Creative Review. “Walker’s images blur the boundaries between the natural and the man-made world. With extravagant, lavish sets, they are full of detail, which captivates the viewer and draws them into his world.” The Independent’s Hannah Duguid is enthralled: “His art lies in his extraordinary ability to create magical sets that capture the imagination, and show off beautiful clothes. [Walker] is a truly British arcadia, in which eccentricity is part of the fantasy, like the Mad Hatter’s tea party.” Essential viewing for fashionistas and movie lovers alike, the V&A’s Hollywood Costume runs until 27 January 2013 – and is a gem of an exhibition by all accounts. The museum’s peerless influence has pulled in the silver screen’s most iconic outfits, including Marilyn Monroe’s unruly white dress, Harrison Ford’s Indiana garb, and Judy Garland’s gingham Dorothy frock. “The images these costumes conjure are overwhelmingly strong,” gushes The

“Colour interests me less at the present time than ‘gravity’ and ‘density’,” Pablo Picasso mused in 1954, but the great Surrealist’s monochrome dabblings have been largely ignored and unseen – until now. Picasso Black and White opened at New York’s Guggenheim last month, a show, gathered mainly from his family’s private collections, that’s devoid of colour but vibrant nonetheless. The Boston Globe’s Sebastian Smee is fascinated: “[Picasso] had some great moments with color. But it was not his forté, and in jettisoning this aspect, the Guggenheim’s Carmen Giménez has distilled Picasso’s real genius, which was for drawing, modelling, assembling, and inventing in two and three dimensions.” The pieces, a mix of paintings, sketches and models, are decidedly sculptural; it seems that Picasso’s neglect of colour makes room for higher artistic ambitions. “It’s as eye-opening as it is elegant,” writes Karen Rosenberg in The New York Times. “Here there is just Picasso, stripped down and essentialized, his classical lines and radical sense of painting as sculpture both heightened by the restricted palette.” Few photographers can claim a following as farreaching or powerful as Tim Walker. His works have sold a million magazines, but Walker is more than just a fashion snapper: Storyteller, at London’s Somerset House, charts his promotion to bone fide Artist. A playful collection of fairytale images, the exhibition features the likes of Tilda Swinton and Alexander McQueen alongside Humpty Dumpty and giant dolls – an enchantingly surreal premise.

Telegraph’s Sarah Crompton. “They belong to our lives because they lived in the movies we have watched and that is what makes the sensation of seeing them – often slightly tattier and more crumpled than they looked on screen – infinitely touching.” Reviewing for The Arts Desk, Marina Vaizey recognises the real stars of the show as “the scores of designers [who] give substance to the fictional characters of Hollywood’s dream factories... Like film itself, [the exhibition] is, in Stanley Kubrick’s phrase, a progression of moods and feelings made visible. Take a day – or two.”

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Images: Picasso Black and White, Guggenheim Museum




At 81, Tom Wolfe could be forgiven for sinking into obscurity, basking in the glow of his ever-vibrant backcatalogue. Instead, the original ‘New Journalist’ has been hard at work, penning new tome Back to Blood – part vociferous social critique, part portrait of a city on the brink of self-destruction. It’s a return to classic Wolfe territory (uninitiated readers should add Bonfire of the Vanities to their library immediately), buoyant with his signature Big Prose. “Big subjects, big people, and yards of flapping exaggeration,” writes The New Yorker’s James Wood. “No one of average size emerges from his shop. The phrase ‘back to blood’ is characteristic shorthand for his conservative paranoia... A world in which no one is ever quiet is a false one; it is a stage, not a world.” A tale of speed, greed and insatiable lust demands a narrative style all of its own, and Wolfe certainly hasn’t lost his touch – much to the delight of The Independent’s Tim Walker: “Wolfe’s ambitions are ‘huge huge huge brilliant brilliant brilliant lurid lurid lurid’. And it seems remarkable that [he] should still be writing with such verve. Back to Blood is energising, fascinating – and utterly exhausting.” Another octogenarian is proving that literary prowess need not diminish with age: Alice Munro, the queen of the novella, is enjoying great critical acclaim for her latest collection, Dear Life. “At 81, this heralded Canadian author, widely considered the greatest living short story writer in the English language, has quickened her pace,” writes Charles McNulty in The Los Angeles Times. “Dear Life has something of a valedictory quality to it, but the consciousness behind these stories has a vitality that, thankfully, seems in no danger of ending any time soon.” The Guardian’s Anne Enright is captivated: “Her work is steadfast. Her characters are bare and true. Munro is most

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interested in the slow changes that time itself wreaks... She is interested in how we make our lives, how we escape them; the degree to which we are connected, or alone.” Chinua Achebe, prolific Nigerian novelist and critic, returned to the shelves last month with There Was A Country. The non-fiction account of the Nigerian Civil War – 1967-70, during which Achebe began his career – has been met with harsh criticism for its bias, however. Reviewing for Think Africa Press, Paul Carlucci is scathing: “If telling an honest and true story is the business of the writer, and Achebe would attest that indeed it is, then one of Africa’s most celebrated tellers of truth has missed his mark. What we have here instead is mostly a partisan story about politics, rather than a sound contribution to the bigger picture.” For The Independent’s Steve Bloomfield, Achebe’s cause is noble yet unfulfilled: “What could have been a lyrical, incisive memoir about one of the 20th-century’s greatest crimes is hamstrung by an overly cautious tone and, at times, plodding prose... Yet There Was a Country is a version of what happened, and should be available for debate.”


Image: The Heiress, Walter Kerr Theater


Hollywood starlet Jessica Chastain has been proving her acting prowess with a debut on the Broadway boards – to mixed reviews. Starring in Moisés Kaufman’s The Heiress at Walter Kerr Theater, Chastain has adopted the meek guise of Catherine Sloper, a mousy young debutant whose family despair of her floundering ways. “Chastain conveys social discomfort and awkwardness without veering into caricature,” writes Thom Geier in Entertainment Weekly. Over at the New York Times, however, Ben Brantley reserves his praise for the “sumptuous” costumes and sets, leaving Chastain out in the cold. “She has one of those bone structures that the camera translates into emotional depth, [but] beneath the stage lights those fine bones throw shadows on her face. Her performance, on the other hand, is as shadowless as a high noon.” For Brantley, it’s “vivid” supporting actress – and two-time Tony winner – Judith Ivey who “walks away with the show”.

There’s a revolution going on on London’s ballet scene: last month’s Royal Ballet Triple Bill at the Royal Opera House has got the critics in a spin. “Ferocious!” exclaims The Independent’s Jenny Gilbert, jubilant that such an adjective can finally be applied to the dance form. The showcase featured works by three Royal Ballet heavyweights, but Liam Scarlett’s Visceral stole the show. “Visceral by name, visceral by nature,” coos Gilbert, “this twentyminute sprint is [an] abstract ballet that would rather be an action movie.” The 25-year-old choreographer captured the imagination of The Stage’s Katie Colombus: “His work is distinctive in its lyricism and ambitious... The highlight of Viscera is the beautiful duet between Marianela Nunez and Ryoichi Hirano. Reminiscent of the early onset of love, the choreography is soft and innocent.” Scarlett’s contemporaries barely get a look in; indeed, it looks like this young choreographer is just

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the breath of fresh air the British dance scene needs. Sydney Independent Theatre Company – one of the city’s most acclaimed new collectives – closed its run of When The Rain Stops Falling last month. Set in 2039, the play tells of a world ravaged by global warming, when rain hasn’t fallen on the earth for years. It’s not the most uplifting premise, and one that befuddled Lloyd Bradford of Australian Stage. “It’s practically a masterpiece. Not an undemanding one. The audience needs to be on its mettle to apprehend the relationships between characters, which jump boundaries of time, place and generation.” It seems the mental work-out is worth it, though: “What you’ll get in return is a quite finely-judged, well-designed, well-lit production of a world-class play that will leave an indelible mark on anyone who sees it.” Robert Cushman of National Post agrees: “This is a show that excites while you’re watching it, and just keeps on resonating...”


Hollywood Story Words: Chris Anderson


Through his intimate onset photography, Bob Willoughby captured an important era in Hollywood, displaying a very different side of some of its biggest names


lizabeth Taylor. Frank Sinatra. James Dean. Elvis Presley. Marilyn Monroe. In his lifetime, photographer Bob Willoughby worked with them all. And shockingly, the list does not even end there, with many other Hollywood greats finding themselves in front of his camera as he went about capturing images from the sets of the latest films for a host of glossy magazines. Highlights can now be seen as part of a new exhibition in Chelsea, London. But the role of an in-demand Hollywood photographer was one that Willoughby had found by accident. Born in Los Angeles in 1927, he was given a camera as a present by his father on his 12th birthday, and after university became interested in shooting some of the young jazz musicians that could be found working in clubs around Hollywood. His work began to appear in magazines, with his assignments slowly shifting towards movies. After a photo he took of Judy Garland from the set of A Star is Born made the cover of Life magazine in 1954, he suddenly found himself in serious demand, with his images in print regularly for the next 20 years. And what years they would be, with Willoughby finding himself on many film sets, becoming well known by the studios, magazines, and of course the stars themselves. “He had a good ability to engage with his subjects, and to become a trusted friend in the process,” says Willoughby’s son, Chris, on one of the reasons behind his late father’s success. “When you’re being photographed and it’s going out to the world, it’s a vulnerable position.” Willoughby clearly had an ability to put people at ease, and made some


very famous friends in the process. “I remembered when he worked on Goodbye, Mr Chips in 1969, he got to know Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark, and they would go out for dinner and let me come along,” Chris recalls. “But probably his most famous friendship was with Audrey Hepburn. They first met in 1953, and he wasn’t that enthusiastic about photographing her. She had just finished Roman Holiday, which became a big deal but nobody really knew her yet, and they met up at Paramount and she was charming and energetic. And when you’re a photographer, you need that from the person you’re shooting, as it can’t be all one-sided. So she was great to work with, she and my mother became pregnant at the same time – in fact, myself and her son, Sean, share a birthday – and there are lots of pictures of us at their house, our house, birthday parties, lots of stuff like that.”

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Frank Sinatra sitting in an open doorway at 20th Century Fox, where he was filming Can Can 1959 © Bob Willoughby


Marilyn Monroe © Bob Willoughby

Clearly having a father with friends in high places must be very exciting for a young boy growing up in Hollywood, and Chris is now in charge of the Willoughby estate since his father’s passing in late 2009. “He would take us to the sets if it was something unusual,” Chris reveals. “I can remember going to see him photograph The Monkees, and at the Dodger Stadium there was an all-night shoot where they were racing around the parking lot with machine guns. That was great fun.” As well as getting the chance to work with stars whose film career was all too brief, such as Marilyn Monroe or James Dean, Willoughby got to witness the rise of those still working today. “He went to the set of The Graduate, which came out in 1967, and he sees this young guy in his boxer shorts getting measured for a suit,” Chris recalls. “So my dad says, ‘You look familiar, is your name Dusty?’ And this guy is, like, er, yeah. And my dad says, ‘I used to babysit you!’ So that was quite funny, to learn that my dad used to babysit Dustin Hoffman when he was six years old!” But despite the glamour aspect, Willoughby was always focused on the job in hand, sometimes shooting on one set for up to six magazines at a time. “He was very driven,” says Chris. “He exerted a lot of pressure on himself. He also knew how to give each of the magazines what they needed, taking into account the editorial style and the layout. And he was very innovative to get the right shots, like he developed special mounting brackets, made his cameras radio controlled, and helped develop the sound blimp, which is a case for the still camera that deadens the sound of the shutter click, and means that you can shoot while the film cameras are running – these are still used today.” However, the nature of Willoughby’s work soon changed, and with it came an opportunity to leave Hollywood once and for all. “I think by the time the ’70s rolled around, the magazines



Alfred Hitchcock, the famous profile on the set of Marnie, Universal Studios, 1964 Š Bob Willoughby




James Dean on the Warner Brothers set of Rebel Without a Cause, 1955 © Bob Willoughby


Michael Caine on the set of Gambia Universal Studios, 1965, © Bob Willoughby


Sophia Loren surrounded by other actresses’ dress forms in the Paramount Studios Wardrobe Department, 1958 © Bob Willoughby

were changing, and there wasn’t much call for what he was doing,” Chris recalls. “And that happened to coincide with us moving to Ireland. I think he just wanted to get the family out of the Los Angeles environment – after all, he had young kids. I mean, we weren’t in the danger zone, but I think he was pre-empting it.”

‘He looked at Monroe and the hairs stood up on the back of his neck’

Images: © Bob Willoughby

And so began a new era. Willoughby continued to work on smaller assignments, living in Ireland and eventually moving to France with his wife. Chris, meanwhile, eventually found his way back to Los Angeles to work as a film editor, perhaps giving him a place where he is better able to savour and absorb his father’s work. And looking at the many images collected over the years, is there one star in particular that was more memorable than all the others? “My father liked Michael Caine, and he worked with Frank Sinatra a lot,” says Chris, weighing up the options. “But I remember what he told me about Marilyn Monroe. He said he literally looked through the viewfinder of his camera, got her in focus, and the hairs stood up on the back of his neck – she was amazing!”


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Bob Willoughby: The Silver Age of Hollywood at Proud Chelsea, London, until January 13.




Timepieces Small wonderS The path of A. Lange & Söhne has never run smooth, but it remains a pioneer of precision and craftsmanship. AIR meets the visionary at the helm of a new generation of treasured timepieces

Words: Hazel Plush

I calculate for one disaster per day,” says Anthony de Haas with a grin; “nothing is ever certain.” They’re cool words, coming from A. Lange & Söhne’s Director of Product Development – the man responsible for the future of Germany’s most prized luxury marque – but then the watchmaker is renowned for his mettle. “New ideas can seem impossible to achieve, but we’re problem solvers: it’s our job to turn an alarming concept into something that could happen.” At the A. Lange & Söhne headquarters in the leafy, sleepy Saxony town of Glashütte, anything seems possible. The master craftsman – known as much for his love of drumming as his peerless watchmaking skills – has a twinkle in his eye, and he’s not alone. As we walk through the workshops, the industry’s finest artisans and engineers greet us with jokes and grins – but their zest for perfection is still palpable. In a profession renowned for its fastidiousness, what’s the secret of their lightness of step? “We are all energised by our roles,” says de Haas; “this isn’t just a job. Just like A. Lange & Söhne isn’t just a watchmaker.” It’s true: the brand’s rise to success has as much to do with its craftsmen’s spirit as the enduring popularity of its product. It’s here in Glashütte that the watchmaker’s story began, in 1845, when its founder Ferdinand A. Lange opened his first workshop, producing fine pocket watches. Within a few years, his employees grew into a community, and Lange was appointed town mayor. “His trade moved from Europe to Asia and the Americas,” explains Arnd Einhorn, A. Lange & Söhne’s Director of Press, as we scour the company’s museum. “When his son Richard joined the

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company in 1868, the brand’s prowess was secured – its potential was unlimited.” A. Lange & Söhne’s heritage collection of early pieces is modest but wide-reaching: it includes stately gold pocket chronographs created by Ferdinand A. Lange himself, and age-battered notes from his overseas travels – but after the early 20th century, the records stop abruptly. When WWII broke out in 1939, a dark cloud fell over the company: it was forced to mass-produce governmentstandard pilots’ watches, and on the final day of the war the Glashütte workshop was bombed. The tools, plans and treasured prototypes were all destroyed. “Then, with the post-war rise of the German Democratic Republic, the A. Lange & Söhne name became obsolete,” says Einhorn. “Its estate was expropriated, and its expert staff set to work in a mass-producing watch manufacturer.” The future of the brand – and its home – looked bleak. Salvation came in the form of Walter Lange, Ferdinand’s great grandson. He had trained under his father Richard before the war, and at the fall of the GDR in 1989 he began working on a collection of wristwatches: a brand new product for a brand new generation. In 1994, the iconic Lange 1 was released – and as Germany’s finest jewellers clamoured for the limited stock, a legend was reborn. Now, the A. Lange & Söhne name is synonymous with the height of luxury, and a pursuit of perfection that borders on the obsessive. After those cheery greetings, the craftsmen are hushed, heads bowed over tools and microscopes. We shake hands with a reserved yet affable engineer; she’s the sole creator of the fabled Lange 31, the world’s first mechanical wristwatch to boast a power reserve of 31 days. “The sheer level of craftsmanship sets our timepieces apart,” says de Haas. “It’s all about the quality and care that goes into each one.” The pieces come with a price tag to match: the starting price for the simplest of chronographs is $19,200 – the highest on the market – with the brand’s more complicated designs costing close to $500,000. But an industry obsessed with size and sparkle, A. Lange & Söhne is known for its restraint; following trends is, by de Haas’s own assertion, “not in its DNA”. Instead, the core values that the brand was built upon – faultless workmanship, classic design – are paramount. “I don’t like the term ‘innovation’ in the watch industry,” says de Haas. “You can have innovative solutions, but mechanical watches are based on classic, traditional techniques. We’re not a marketing-focused company; we are driven by our love of the product.” It’s a courageous philosophy, but then the driving forces behind A. Lange & Söhne have never taken the easy road. Of course, some pieces simply market themselves: take the Tourbograph ‘Pour le Mérite’, for example. In the confines of A. Lange & Söhne HQ, Einhorn hands me the watch: it’s a commanding piece, weighty and resplendent, with a sapphire casing that offers a glimpse of the magic

within. “It took ten years to develop, and is our most complicated design,” he says. “It was the first to feature our own balance spring – patented years ago by the everinventive Richard Lange – and features a tourbillon, fuséeand-chain transmission, and a rattrapante chronograph mechanism.” With a construction so intricate, it’s the most expensive of the A. Lange & Söhne timepieces – and as a result, is one of the most sought-after of their creations. All 100 pieces – including limited editions in platinum and honey gold – have been sold. With such a tiny workforce of highly-skilled craftsmen, the company can only produce a few thousand watches each year – so every piece feels like a limited edition. “The points of sale are always crying out for more,” says de Haas with mock exasperation, “but we manufacture each component ourselves, so there’s a limitation on what we can produce.” Each timepiece is characterised by signature Glashütte elements: among them, the intricate threequarter plate, untreated German silver, and cornflowerblue screws. Of course, each part of every movement is adorned with hand-crafted engraving – complex patterns of Glashütte ribbing, graining and perlage. Even the iconic balance cock, an ageless symbol of the A. Lange & Söhne tradition, is embellished with ornate designs that have remained unchanged since Ferdinand A. Lange’s days. It’s said that every engraver’s style is so distinct that the creator of each work can be identified by an expert eye – an exceptional claim, even among the most exquisite horologists on the market. The most striking signature feature of an A. Lange & Söhne creation is the outsize date panel, inspired by the clock above the stage of the Semper Opera in nearby Dresden. The clock was designed by Johann Gutkaes, the watchmaker under whom Ferdinand A. Lange served his apprenticeship, and its use today is testament to the brand’s deep-rooted identity. Of course, it hasn’t escaped de Haas’s quest for advancement: after years of experiments, his team perfected a timepiece whose numerals jump precisely on the stroke of midnight – the first of its kind on the market. “The Lange Zeitwerk was a breakthrough,” says de Haas; “it is only made by one watchmaker, though, so the boutiques are always asking for more.” Now, there’s sure to be more demand on de Haas’s exceptional team than ever: A. Lange & Söhne has just opened boutiques in Dubai Mall and Abu Dhabi’s Avenue at Etihad Towers, securing the brand’s presence in the Middle East. It’s fortunate timing, then, that the company has also just broken ground on a new workshop, and enrolled a new class of apprentices in its three-year training programme. The future is no longer bleak – and maybe that’s another secret of de Haas’s grin: “Our customers are loyal,” he says. “I think that’s proof that even if you don’t follow trends, people will still recognise quality and values. Our watches are functional, as well as investment pieces – and that combination is priceless.”

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Images: Supplied


‘The sheer level of craftsmanship sets our timepieces apart’ - Anthony de Haas


Frederic Watrelot Christie’s watch specialist on a big month for timepieces

> 30 carats comprised of 45 individually selected diamonds, handset at different elevations to dazzle whatever the angle of the wrist, make Graff ’s new Galaxy women’s watch one of the most sought after around. Though if diamonds are not your best friend, this beautifully crafted piece is also available in sparkling sapphires, rubies or piercing green emeralds. - 44 -

There are many great things about my job working for Christie’s in the Middle East and last month was another reminder, when I attended our recordbreaking $28.5 million watch sale in Geneva. Regular readers will remember Eric Clapton’s Patek Philippe illustrated in last month’s column. This sold for $3.6 million, setting a new world record price for this reference in one of the busiest sale rooms I have ever attended. The watch world was also buzzing about the recent Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, which honours the world’s most innovative watchmakers. Each year the GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève) jury pre-selects 70 watches which are then sent on a travelling exhibition. My colleague, Aurel Bacs, Christie’s International Head of Watches, is one of 14 esteemed jury members who select the watches they feel reflect the core values of the prize – innovation and a constant quest for excellence. One of the most innovative designs among the prize winners is the Legacy Machine no. 1 by Mr. Max Büsser. I had the pleasure of joining him several years ago on a tour of the Patek Philippe Museum and together we marvelled at the intricacies of the masterpieces on display, made centuries ago. I remember him saying how difficult it was to find craftsmen today who have the technical skills to master these complications. Now he has his own business and pushes the boundaries with a group of technically innovative timepieces, which if you’re not yet familiar with you should certainly discover.

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Art & Design

Master of light Dubai’s art scene is known for its eclectic taste, but what does it hold for New York’s vibrant ‘light painter’?


or James Clar, light isn’t just about illumination: it’s energising, a vibrant elixir that infuses his home and inspires his work. In dividing his life between Dubai and New York, Clar is clearly drawn to the world’s brightest cities – but the lure of radiance runs deeper than urban strobes and strip lights. Clar is an artist, but not as you know it: his medium is luminosity, the glow of neon that he manipulates into installations and sculptures. “The idea of using light comes from the understanding that all visual media use light in one way or another,” he

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Images: Iris Was a Pupil, Carbon 12 Gallery

‘Clar’s medium is luminosity, the glow of neon that he manipulates into installations’ muses from his New York apartment. “A painting reflects light off the canvas into your eyes – without light it would be invisible. Light allows me to create something intangible, yet also include all of the social and art historical references of imagery.” Clar returned to the Emirates last month to launch his latest exhibition, Iris Was a Pupil, a series of signature light installations in Dubai’s Carbon 12 gallery. “My work acknowledges the influences of technology in our daily

lives but also how that technology alters our psychology,” says Clar of the show. “While I’m in Dubai it tends to be more observant of the social effects of technology. This is because the city developed so fast from globalisation; it’s truly a new millennial global city.” Clearly ultra-modern, the pieces also feature a smattering of organic motifs – an iris, an orchid. It’s a new direction for the future-hungry artist. “The organic themes in the new work are there, but they are

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also pixilated and not truly real,” he says. “It’s a hint at the powers and limits of technology, a cross-breed between the real and virtual worlds. I’m trying to exert a lot of control over the physical and visual aspect of my work, to create an aesthetic with light that is entirely my own. The idea is to approach light not as a technology on its own but as a part of art. What imagery can be generated that brings up new concepts and aesthetics? That’s the challenge.”

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Art & Design

An honest portrait

Images: Light from the Middle East, Victoria and Albert Museum

The latest gathering of ground-breaking Middle Eastern photography isn’t quite where you’d expect to find it: AIR heads to London for a look

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t takes true gravitas to attract an exhibition-worthy gathering of art – ask any curator and they’ll tell you, eyes fixed afar, about the small miracles needed to compile a critical success. But the Victoria and Albert Museum is in a class of its own. The jewel of London’s gallery-rich South Kensington has true cultural clout – an influence that extends as far as the Middle East, it seems. Its latest exhibition, Light from the Middle East, features some of the finest photographers in the region. National treasures – Iran’s Abbas Attar, Egypt’s Youssef Nabil – hang adjacent to emerging stars, in a collection that promises to be the most revealing and wide-reaching of recent times. Curator Marta Weiss, a London-based expert on Middle Eastern art, is keen to stress the importance of such a line-up: “In the past few years contemporary photographic practice from and about the Middle East has been some of the most exciting, innovative and varied art anywhere in the world. The exhibition celebrates the creative and sophisticated ways that contemporary artists use photography to respond to the complexities of the Middle East.” Predictably, the contrast of light and dark themes is stark: Shadi Ghadirian’s Qajar updates 19th-century Iranian studio portraits with contemporary props, a humorous take on historical trends. Meanwhile, works by Nermine Hammam and Atiq Rahimi explore the legacy of the Arab Spring. But the show is more than just an ambitious commentary on the region’s progress – it’s a chance to remedy the absence of Middle Eastern art in galleries worldwide. Essential viewing for art connoisseurs – whatever your nationality.


Sara CoSgrove Harrods’ head of interior design tells how best to have dining rooms dressed for the holidays An interior designer’s work is never done and as we approach National Day and the festive season, our theatrical styling skills are in demand. When creating drama and impact for the holidays, the dining room is where it’s at, especially when entertaining family and friends. It’s a time for your best tableware, crystal, linen, and silverware to be on display around an eye-catching centrepiece. At Harrods we have access to the world’s finest homewares. Amongst my personal favourites for dressing the table are some of the stunning luxury crystal brands. Waterford Crystal produce beautiful collections of both contemporary and classic crystal which can really bring your table to life. Add luxury candles for sparkling light that reflects beautifully

from a crystal centrepiece. Using a silver centrepiece from brands such as Christofle or the more modern Silver by Aston Martin, will also evoke a luxurious atmosphere. For an extraluxe look, fill your centrepiece with exotic fruit or semiprecious stones. No dining table would be complete without an elegant silver service. For a classic look I would opt for ranges at Christofle or Greggio, while for a more contemporary mood I love the classic Georg Jensen Grape Collection range. The pieces I covet most are their decorative pitcher and goblets, which help set the scene for decadence. For a state-of-the-art alternative, try pieces from the Grant Macdonald for Aston Martin collection. Supreme quality table linen is a key element for any special table setting too. Crisp linens from Yves Delorme will bring a colour accent

The Works Admirers of acclaimed designer Marc Newson will find all they need for design inspiration behind the Newson-designed Micarta slipcase of this: Works. This limited Art Edition (just 100 copies in existence) reveals an encyclopedia-worthy collection of Newson’s creations to date, from salt shakers to space ships.

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and decorative pattern for extra wow factor and form a base for all of your special tableware. When deciding on tableware, take time to select pieces which compliment the tone of your celebrations. How your meal is presented on the table is going to create a lasting impression so, if you are hosting a formal reception, Haviland, Limoges or Bernardaud, with their embellished collections, are perfect for a palatial feel. For a modern day twist, look to Royal Crown Derby, Vera Wang or Hermès, who offer depth in their rich porcelain themes. Above all else, choose pieces that reflect your personality and enjoy the experience of entertaining in style. It will be sure to make your occasion a glittering success! Pictured products available at Harrods.

Is this the world’s most luxurious bed? Those seeking a good night’s sleep – in style as well as comfort – should make eyes at Hästens Vividus bed. The Swedish bed company set out to create the ‘ultimate sleep experience’ and ended with a bed that gained pride of place at last month’s World

Luxury Fashion Week at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi – an event that brought the highest-end fashion brands to an exclusive invite-only crowd. Hästens boasts 160 years of bed-making experience, and promises its customers a design that not only

lifts and supports their body but allows them to sink into natural and fine materials. Commission your very own bed and it will be toiled over for some 160 hours, made in line with your personal requirements, ending in the bed of your dreams.

> The new versace Home collection merges liveable pieces with the Italian powerhouse’s strong fashion sense. Vanitas, Greek Key and Baroque themes celebrate the brand’s unmistakable motifs, while its iconic prints take shape in opulent materials (shiny leather, velvet, silk, gold leaf) and a colour palette straight from the designer’s prêt-à-porter and haute couture collections – think sulphur yellow, acid green, electric blue and pearl grey, pierced with gold, ivory, stone and black accents. Versace Home, The Dubai Mall

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‘Transitional, modern, with a classic twist’ sums up the style of JNL’s furniture and lighting collection – available exclusively at Aati. Bringing together French flair and German technique, the line – which melds stainless steel with crushed bamboo; Zebrano wood and plush upholstery – is said to be created for those who covet clean lines with perfect proportions. Aati’s showcase (tables, sofas, arm-chairs, table lamps and mirrors) comes alive with accent pieces in bright velvet colours. Aati, Za’beel Road, Dubai


Bold as Bulgari Bulgari’s history is as vibrant as the gemstones that shaped it – and it’s one that’s seduced countless stars of the silver screen. AIR looks at an Italian icon Words: Laura Binder


ichard Burton once said: “The only Italian word Liz knows is Bulgari”. ‘Liz’, of course, was his world-famous actress wife Elizabeth Taylor – and she wasn’t the only star with Bulgari on her lips (not to mention wrists, décolletage, fingers, ears…). Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Grace Kelly; some of the most adored actresses of all time coveted Bulgari’s bold designs – the wearing of which only sent their glamour levels further off the Richter scale. But how did Bulgari gain a place in the hearts of the rich and famous? Go back to Bulgari’s very beginnings and you’ll find yourself not in Italy (that comes later), but in Greece, at the end of the 19th century and faceto-face with one man: Sotirio Bulgari. A skilled silversmith, Mr Bulgari left his home in littleknown Epirus for one in better-known Corfu, then Naples, and finally Rome – where his firm Bulgari was founded. With sons Georgio and Costantino at his side, the trio created Bulgari’s first ever pieces – silver in Neo-Hellenic styles and shapes. The dawning of the tassle-swaying Twenties saw fanciful French fashions eeking into the rest of Europe – prompting Bulgari to work with precious stones, platinum and diamonds. These


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were not your average stones, though; rather an array of cuts and diamonds offset by coloured gemstones – piercing sapphires and deep-red rubies that marked the beginning of Bulgari’s life-long love affair with colour. But ask Amanda Triossi, Bulgari’s chief curator – not to mention seasoned consultant, collector and author – and she’ll tell you that the Swinging Sixties were the real turning point for the brand. After jetting into the UAE from Rome for Abu Dhabi Art (at which Bulgari was the principal sponsor), Triossi – immaculate, Italian, but with the kind of glass-cut English accent Her Majesty would be proud of – knows everything there is to know about the iconic brand. We sat with espressos, a gold serpent watch snaking its way around her wrist (Bulgari, naturally) as she shared her wisdom: “A pivotal change came in the sixties. Up until then, Bulgari did not really have a stylistic identity as it was following mainstream French design – that’s true of maiden Italy and Italian fashion – it comes into its own in the fifties. Bulgari is to jewellery what Valentino is to fashion.” It was the sixties too that brought the world’s screen icons and Bulgari together. “Bulgari was really central to the whole Dolce Vita period,” Triossi told me. “It was the important jeweller in Rome; Rome became the centre of the international film industry in the late 1950s and sixties so all of the film stars were shopping at Bulgari.” And there’s no better example than the late Elizabeth Taylor: she adored Bulgari – its Serpenti pieces famously decorated any bare piece of her flesh in her role as Cleopatra. (In fact, Taylor reportedly said wearing such pieces was the best part of the job.) Triossi smiled as she recalled Taylor’s love affair with the brand. “I don’t know if you remember that famous quote? Richard Burton said ‘I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari’.” And Triossi should know – she worked with Taylor. “It was wonderful because the entire Taylor/Bulgari collection, Elizabeth Taylor agreed to loan,” she said. “I was dealing with her and she was very forthcoming – but, there was one condition: she had to have a gallery dedicated to her alone.” And, of course, what Taylor wanted, Taylor got. “Unfortunately,” Triossi went on, “after her death all of the pieces were sold at auction at Christie’s last year, so I was sent to New York, with a significant budget, to buy back some pieces for the company.” It now owns seven of the 16 pieces originally exhibited. Among them,

Triossi told me, is a sizeable emerald necklace (“a gift from Burton”), a large emerald broach pendant (“her engagement gift”), and a diamond and emerald ring (“the first ring she received from Burton”). Today, Triossi says such pieces will remain “for the moment and for the immediate and intermediate future as part of Bulgari’s heritage collection”. Of course, Bulgari’s success did not stop at the sixties. Rather, it swung into the 1970s with a new, younger, third generation of Bulgaris at

‘The only Italian word Liz knows is Bulgari’ - Richard Burton its helm, whose youthful exuberance showed: designs were fun, off beat, colourful (pop art; diamond-encrusted ice-cream shaped brooches; USA-inspired Stars and Stripes jewels) and in styles that saw even the richest jewels worn in casual ways. Come the 1980s, Bulgari’s bold use of shapes and colours made it a perfect match for the bigger-is-better fashions of the era. “I think your jewellery is the eighties, everybody’s trying to copy this look”, said Andy Warhol in an interview with Nicola Bulgari, Sotirio’s grandson and the brand’s newly-appointed Vice Chairman.

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Jewellery 1.

Elizabeth Taylor in Bulgari on the set of Cleopatra, Rome, 1962


Claudia Cardinale wears Bulgari, Vogue Italia, 1966

the eras, but at the same time there is a common denominator, that is the Bulgari DNA, and that’s what makes it different from other designers.” It’s an approach that third generation Bulgaris have applied: “You can’t simply live on past glories; that’s foolish,” Nicola Bulgari once said. “To be successful, you have to combine the worlds of the past, present and future. That is the challenge, and there are many horizons”. When it comes to which pieces to acquire for yourself, Triossi’s parting advice was simple: “One should wear what looks good and what

Thinking back, I wondered which pieces Triossi considers to be Bulgari’s true icons. “Serpents and coins are very obvious ones,” she mused. “The coins [the first of which date to the 1960s] are a personal favourite. A fantastic piece which I managed to buy back for the Vintage Collection is a huge necklace, over one metre in length, with British coins from Henry VII to George III. It’s really a history lesson of all the sovereigns. It’s amazing.” And while it’s easy to spot a ’60s Serpenti, a ’70s coin classic, or an ’80s Parentesi, defining Bulgari’s current 21st-century style is not quite so simple. “It’s difficult to be analytical of the style of one’s day,” said Triossi. “To have a clear picture one has to have a bit of perspective, or distance.” Though, Triossi predicts that one historic feature of Bulgari will have its day again. “Colour is becoming more and more of an important feature again – there’s a big comeback of colour in fashion. Bulgari has always had a love affair with colour and now is the moment to show it off even more.” By the time we came to part ways, I’d received quite the history lesson from Triossi (she’s like an impeccably-dressed, walking archive on Bulgari, I decided) and I couldn’t help but marvel at Bulgari’s glorious survival through the eras. What is Triossi’s take on such timeless success, I asked. “Good design”, she replied simply. “What’s interesting is that a good designer maintains an identity, but is able to move with the times. So you can recognise pieces from all


one feels comfortable wearing.” And what, I had to ask, of collectibles? With Elizabeth Taylor’s private collection no longer up to the highest bidder, which pieces will gain gravitas with time? “Vintage is very hot,” Triossi nodded. “Anything that is a good design and appeals to you is worth collecting, there’s no recipe. But what you have to think is that the high jewellery of today is going to be the vintage of tomorrow.” Priceless.

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Pearly King

Fleur by Paspaley

Important Jewels auctIon christie’s, london, December 12

When AIR was invited to be the first in the world to preview Paspaley’s new south sea pearl collection, Fleur, expectations were high. Held at Dubai’s One&Only Royal Mirage, the necklaces, earrings, rings and pendants to make up the one-of-a-kind collection (only one set ever having been made worldwide) sparkled in floral-shaped forms. Among them, a sizeable flower ring, its petals crafted from narrow-cut baguette diamonds (totalling over 7.5 carats), each individually cut to showcase a centralset stunning pearl, as sizeable as it is luminous. Available in Dubai now.

No fewer than 383 lots will present bidders with the rare chance to acquire their own decadent piece of history: precious jewels taken from timeless jewellery houses – Cartier, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron included. Look too for rare rings, diamonds and pearls which span four centuries. Christie’s estimates bidding will begin at a modest £1,000 and continue to around £800,000 per lot.

Be charmed by aaron Basha

Women have long adored the characterful, expertly-crafted trinkets of Aaron Basha – and now its collection is available in the Middle East for the first time. This 18 carat rose gold and diamond open link bracelet bestows the playful charms that have gained Aaron Basha a place in the hearts of fashionable and famous mothers (Catherine Zeta Jones and Heidi Klum included) who wear them to treasure their little ones. Such charms made Aaron Basha shine in 1950s New York – where its flagship still remains today, on Madison Avenue. Happily, admirers can now acquire their own treasures, from Baby Shoe charms to the Evil Eye collection, exclusively at Levant, Dubai Mall. - 55 -

> Those wishing to expand their Fabergé collection can do so with a just-released polished or matt-finish Bandeau ring; new to the muchloved Matelassé collection. Inspired by the furnishings of Romanov Palaces (think buttonbacked furniture and Belle Epoque opulence), designs present quilted cushions of white or rose gold, studded with diamonds or coloured gems.

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Rolling On Half a century on, the Rolling Stones can still sell out a stadium in seven minutes flat. Paul Sexton talks to the rock royals about new material, old bust-ups, and still not fading away


t’s several weeks into the Paris rehearsals for some Rolling Stones shows you may have heard something about, and Ronnie Wood is back in London to give me the latest prognosis. “My fingers are not sore, Keith’s are not sore, Charlie’s hands are not sore,” he reports. “His back is – he has to have a massage every day, ’cos it’s bloody hard work. But we’re blessed with still being able to cut it. Mick is as agile as ever – he’s like a 25-year-old. I have to settle for being a 45-year-old. Keith said, ‘How could it be our 50th anniversary? I’m only 38.’”

In earth years, this month will actually take Keith Richards to his 69th birthday. Mick Jagger celebrated his 69th in July; Charlie Watts turned 71 in June. Wood, the new boy, with only 37 band years on the clock, is a mere 65. Survivors? Charlie beat cancer in the mid-2000s, and Keith, after brain surgery following his fall from a tree in Fiji in 2006, has six titanium pins in his skull. He once memorably told me that they don’t go off when passing through airport security. As I meet them, one by one – nobody ever interviews the Stones together – it has to be said that I’ve seen trees with

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less gnarled bark than they have. Unfailingly friendly and immense fun, they cut such uniformly slight figures, you would never dream that they could be the components of such a gigantic rock’n’roll machine – that is, if you weren’t looking at some of the most famous faces in the world. It’s a miracle to be doing this at all. Five years since they last toured, and after the internal strife that threatened to bring their historic journey to an unseemly conclusion, the genuine excitement at their latest rebirth is palpable. Any 50-year relationship is bound to have its ups and downs, but the celebrated estrangement of Jagger and Richards in 2010 was a potential fault line. With the publication of his autobiography, Life, that autumn, Richards revived an old affront about Jagger, apparently unaware that it would nearly trigger the Stones’ final implosion. It took months of negotiation, his people talking to his people, even to get the Glimmer Twins back in a room together. Then, after many delicate feelers in the early part of this year, and an eventual public apology, the mood music finally started to sound more upbeat. In the spring, Jagger and Richards reunited with Wood and Watts in a New Jersey rehearsal space. In July, they made nice for a new photograph with Rankin, then, the

day it appeared, bounded into Somerset House, in central London, as if nothing had ever happened. It was 50 years to the day since the formative line-up’s debut gig. The freighter was moving at last, and within weeks the Stones had surprised even themselves by recording two new songs. Promoters fell over each other with telephonenumber offers to tour. Peace had well and truly broken out. “The book came out and, whoops-a-daisy – we don’t really need to go there,” Richards tells me. He is dressed in his standard work clothes today: leather jacket and bandana. “At the same time, I know Mick and I and the Stones are a lot stronger than a few bad jokes.” Wood, who played marriage counsellor during the 1980s rift that Richards came to describe as “world war three”, adds candidly: “The hurdles between tours always get higher, and this one seemed insurmountable. With the book, and the vibes, and the space between everyone, all over the world, could we all get together? I never gave up, I knew it would happen, but it’s such a relief to see we’re all in the fold.” Doom and Gloom, the first all-new single the Stones have managed to construct as a band since the sessions for their previous studio album, A Bigger Bang, in 2005, is a

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“I was pleasantly enthralled,” says Wood, speaking the night after the film’s London premiere. “I was sitting next to Keith, and it was funny seeing his reactions to when they used to do cover versions, early songwriting experiments and the whole development. He kept nudging me, saying ‘Yeah, we were looking to Buddy Holly there’, or whoever it may have been. “But in the early footage, he would nudge me and go, ‘Who’s that?’ And I’d go, ‘That’s Mick.’ Then he’d go, ‘Who’s that?’ And I’d go, ‘That’s you.’ It would be kind of tonguein-cheek, but the amount of change, physically, that the band have taken over the years is amazing.”

‘It may sound banal, but what came to their emotional rescue was their musical interconnection’ cynic-silencing reminder of the combustible exuberance they can still generate after 50 years. To a galvanised mesh of guitars from Wood and Richards, and Watts’s “fireworks display” drums, as Wood calls them, Jagger gives a vocal performance as limber as his lyrics. “Remarkably youthful,” said NME. “Classic, apocalyptic blues-rock stomp,” purred The New York Times. Jagger can’t conceal his delight at the reception. “It’s fantastic, I’m very pleased,” he says. He’s looking svelte in a sharp jacket, sitting in one of the numerous suites the Stones have commandeered at the Dorchester for the day – apart from Watts, who’s at home with flu. He laughs as he mimics the comments he had been expecting from some quarters: “’Not any more, it’s all the same!’ ‘Why couldn’t they do something different?’ But we didn’t get any of that. It’s been amazing, and it makes me very happy.” This and the equally sparse, quintessentially Stones track One More Shot makes it two songs in seven years, which may seem a ridiculously meagre return, but you could expire holding your breath for this lot, as well they know. “It was probably the quickest Rolling Stones recording session I can remember, ever,” Richards says. “We cut two tracks in three days. It was incredibly professional. I had One More Shot ready to go, Mick had Doom and Gloom ready to go, so, boom, let’s cut ’em.” The days when Stones sessions would be subjugated for months on end to the first commandment of selfgratification are long gone. But they are there for us to inspect anew in Brett Morgen’s new film, the dark and dramatic Crossfire Hurricane, which excavates miles of little-seen footage to create a flavour of life inside an increasingly disquieting microcosm of drugs, death and denunciation. To channel the late gonzo writer Hunter S Thompson, there was also a negative side.

Jagger admits that, though he turned up for the photo call at the premiere, he sidestepped the screening: “I couldn’t possibly sit through it in front of everyone. But I was pleased the way it came out.” I have had many conversations with the Stones over the years, but throughout the latest ones, I’ve been struck by something rare: an almost unprecedented sense of sobriety and purpose, a belated realisation of what they are here to do. It’s a feeling, perhaps accentuated by the mundanities of ageing, that there’s a legacy to be looked after. For heaven’s sake, Richards doesn’t even have a drink by his side. “I think the pressure from people, from fans or whatever, from all you guys out there, was unrelenting,” he laughs. “‘Come on, we’ve got to do something, man.’” Doing nothing was not an option, was it? “No, it wasn’t. You got to us.” It may sound banal, but what came to their emotional rescue was their musical interconnection. It was obvious as soon as they got back in that rehearsal space. “To me, that was the acid test,” Richards says. “The boys in the room are now what happens. And when Charlie Watts clicked in, I knew something was going to go on, that the juggernaut would continue. “For four or five days in New Jersey, we were rocking, and everyone’s going, ‘Yeah, the energy’s there.’ The ‘I wanna do this, I gotta do this’ was there. So all of the other stuff went under the bridge, and the Stones are going forward. It’s like it’s our duty. “That’s the point about music,” Richards goes on. “It takes you above any of the petty little things, the bickering and all that. There we go, this is what we do. Play Midnight Rambler with Charlie, and Mick on harp, and we all look at each other and go, ‘Forget about it. Whatever went on, went on.’ This is what we do, and this is what they want. The band needed five years off, maybe. We’d been on the treadmill for

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quite a while, and I think we were pretty burnt-out by 2007. But this band is younger now than it was five years ago. It’s got a lot more energy in it.” Not that the Stones simply retired to their hammocks to count their money for five years. Wood guested at many a mate’s gig, played with the reconfigured Faces and became a Sony-award-winning radio personality. Watts gigged with his characteristically-tasteful jazz quartet, the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie. Speaking to Wood and Watts last October, I sensed they were clearly already in the mood to start the day job again. “A year-long royal wedding, I want,” said Ronnie, puppyeager as ever. More surprising was Charlie’s stance, given

‘They cut such uniformly slight figures, you would never dream that they could be the components of such a gigantic rock’n’roll machine’ his barefaced hatred of being away from home. “It would be a nice thing to do, to finish it off or to start a new venture,” he said. “Well, we’re a bit old to be starting new ventures, but, if you’re going to say it’s 50 years of playing, you might as well finish on playing.” Richards, of course, had that autobiography, which sold 1 million copies in less than a year. When I saw him in a New York studio a year ago, he was also recording solo material. To my question about when we might hear it, he made it clear he was waiting to see which way the Stones would blow. Meanwhile, Jagger’s “supergroup”, SuperHeavy — with Joss Stone, Dave Stewart and others — were releasing a much-derided album. Ironically, though, while the other Stones were in limbo, Jagger was putting in some heavy lifting on the Stones’ catalogue. He spent endless days excavating material and overseeing the completion of unfinished period pieces for the deluxe reissues of the Exile on Main St and Some Girls albums. The year 2010 may have been an annus horribilis in one way, but in another it created a new landmark, as the Exile album barrelled back to the top of the charts, 38 years after doing so for the first time. So there should have been little doubt that their live audience had been waiting for them. If there was, it went away when the London shows sold out in precisely seven minutes. “I’m certainly not blasé about it, you just can’t be,” Jagger says. “You never can take anything for granted in this business — you’re very pleased people want to come and buy.” I know I must address the subject of the exorbitant sell-on ticket prices that made headlines. Jagger knows I must, too, and he’s ready with the sort of well-informed answer that

always makes him seem the band’s de facto player-manager. “It’s complicated,” he starts. “I don’t think there should be a secondary ticket market – I don’t think it should be legal. If you’ve got an in-demand ticket and people are prepared to pay over the odds for it, then having a legal secondary market seems to me not the way to be dealing with it. “You might say, ‘The tickets are too expensive.’ Well, it’s an expensive show to put on, just to do four [including this month’s New York dates], because normally you do 100 shows and you’d have the same expenses. Most of the tickets go for a higher price than we’ve sold them for, but we don’t participate in the profit. So, if a ticket costs 250 quid, and it goes for 1,000 quid, I just want to point out that we don’t get that difference, someone else gets it. But I wouldn’t put a ticket price of £1,000, even if we were getting all the money.” Wood can be much more devil-may-care about it, but his answer comes back to that recurring theme of the Stones claiming their dues in the cultural pantheon. “I mean, we want to make some money. I would pay, because you don’t know when we’re going to do it again, and it’s something important for music, and for people’s goodwill. With all the wars going on, the rotten weather and all that, you want to be cheered up. Music does that, and a gathering of people giving a good vibe.” When we spoke, the Stones had already rehearsed north of 80 songs for the London and New York shows. “Did Mick tell you we’re doing I Wanna Be Your Man?” asks Wood, referring to the song Lennon and McCartney gave them, which became the Stones’ second hit, in 1963. “We’ve been doing all kinds of songs – Not Fade Away, Route 66, very important links in the 50 years.”

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can see from the film, it’s pretty raunchy, it’s not nostalgic or harking back to some wonderful golden age. I think it’s good to celebrate it. Then it’s done.” And next year? Another tour? Wood, for one, will approach it with his usual bring-it-on attitude. “Yeah, oh, I love it,” he says. “With the usual apprehension of, ‘Is it gonna work?’ I mean, we’ve got no excuse of whether people are going to come, we know that, and we know that we’re going to give our best. Can we all keep up with the pace if we do go on tour? Yes.” Richards also clearly relishes the prospect of more road work in 2013. Even, perhaps, an album to capitalise on the raw spirit of those recent sessions. “You know, I wouldn’t say that’s impossible,” he says. “At the moment, the band are just focusing to the end of the year. But once this thing starts moving, baby, it’s almost unstoppable. Right now, I’m just happy to have the thing rolling.”

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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye

Those rehearsals had been running for six or seven hours every day. “Hey, we’re professional performers and entertainers, or, at least, we try to be,” says Richards. We’ve never missed a gig, only through unavoidable injuries and stuff. We’re pros at what we do, we’re serious about putting on a good show. The guys work very, very hard. We don’t flip it off. On stage, you look like you’re flipping it off, because it’s supposed to look easy.” Jagger is demonstrably less romantic than his bandmates about the anniversary, but no less single-minded. “If you have a 50th anniversary of any kind, whether it’s a marriage or a birthday or a rock band, it’s going to be somewhat looking back. It can’t, by definition, avoid it. But I tried – and I think the rest of the band totally think the same way – to make sure it’s not become an exercise in too much nostalgia, that there’s some forward-looking part of it, and it’s not rose-tinted spectacles. I think you


De Niro

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We already know he is one of the best actors in Hollywood (okay, okay, he is the best). Unfortunately, he is not quite as famous for doing this type of interview. He is really shy, or maybe he doesn’t want to talk when the words aren’t coming from a movie script. Experience shows that the only way to avoid single word answers is to make him feel comfortable. We figured that out last time when he allowed us to call him ‘Bob’. Pure luck. Now, we find Robert De Niro in good humour, nicer than usual, open to talking a bit more about his life than his movies. So let’s meet the real De Niro...

Is it true that you actually posted a question mark right where the Taxi Driver script said the famous quote, “You talking to me?” I don’t remember. Maybe it is in the script, maybe I wrote that.

Do people try to pass along scripts under your door?

They just get them to my agent, usually. Most of the time I get them read by my agent or my office, or we have readers who come back to my desk, because I don’t have the time. Sometimes they just give me something and I just read it – because I know them, I like them... so I do that. You can’t just tell somebody we recommend this or not, taste-wise, even somebody’s taste you respect. You never know, because it may touch me in a way that they can’t relate to.

What would you have done if you were not an actor?

How do you react when people approach you outside of a movie studio; in a restaurant for example?

No, I don’t mind. Sometimes people are very respectful and they don’t bother; or they just don’t recognise me, because they don’t expect to see me. I’m okay. People come up to me with a speech sometimes.

People love to imitate your phrase from Taxi Driver “You talking to me?” Do they come up to you with that often? Well, I don’t get it that much. Sometimes you get it in strange ways that you would never expect people to say it to you, but it’s okay.

Do you like it that people keep using that quote so much?

Yes, because otherwise it’s going to disappear.

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I always wanted to be an actor, since I was ten. I dropped out for a while when I was 15, 16, and then dropped back in for good when I was 18. After that is when it got pretty serious.

What was your very first job as an actor? When I was ten. I played the Cowardly Lion.

How good was your acting?

It was so long ago, I don’t even remember. It wasn’t like today. There’s no photo record or anything.

It’s that kind of modesty that makes you the man you are today. Don’t you want to say that you were the best, even then? Well, I thought the Tin Man was a little weak.

Would you say that you are always timid in some way?

I guess in some ways I am, in a way, obnoxious (laughs).

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Why do you think so many artists are timid?

People want to express themselves, express the limitation in a typical existence. You have a job, there are certain things you can do and can’t do – when you can’t express yourself you go crazy. When you’re working as an actor, artist, painter, or filmmaker, you can go through the lives of other people – stories, experiences that you might have not personally had. You get to go into this experience and explore it, express it. That’s kind of nice and fun to do, if you like that sort of stuff.

‘Whatever I’ve done, I’ve said I’d stand behind it for good, for better or for worse’ How many movies are you currently considering?

Well, I have a few, I’d say 7 to 10 that are very actively being developed and worked on. Whether they’ll all be done, is not really realistic, maybe three at the most... or maybe more, I don’t know.

How do you deal with your movies? Is it like a painting that you hang on the wall to admire, or do you keep it in a closet, and you don’t want to watch them ever again?

Once it’s done, then you wait for it to be put together and you see it in its rough stages. As time goes on, you see the audience’s reaction. You just don’t know what it’s going to be like. One example was Taxi Driver... we did it, but we never had the idea that I would have an impact in such a way. You just don’t know that. You just do what you do, and you do it the best that you can, and that’s it.

When was the last time that you saw Taxi Driver, for example?

It’s been a long time. If I found it on the television, by chance, then I might look at part of it to see if I could get a little more objectivity, but I haven’t seen it for a really long time.

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When you first started did you dream about winning Oscars and a fortune? No, I had no idea.

Would you have done it anyway, if you hadn’t had success? Yeah, I enjoy acting and as long as I can make a living off of it, I’m okay. I used to look at others and say, “If that person can do it, I can certainly do it.”

Bill Cosby once said, “The only millionaire kids I know are mine”. Is it a challenge to be a millionaire father/actor, in a business where most unknown actors can’t even make a living?

I’m very lucky. I consider myself, and those around me, very lucky. I consider my family very lucky. We’re lucky, period. This is not what the real world is. We are one tenth of what the real world is.

You are also involved in other businesses, outside acting, like restaurants. Do you like that as much? It’s not easy, but I was lucky. I went through coaching with a very special chef. He’s a great kid and that comes through, obviously. Now we have the Locanda Verde, and Tribeca Grill, those are the first restaurants I started.

Is it true that you are going to do another mafia movie with Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino?

We were about to do another movie, Marty and I, kind of more of a genre gangster type film. So I said, “Let me find this book to see what it’s about. It might be helpful to our project.” After I read it, I said to Marty, “Marty, you should really consider this. It’s more like what we would do.” He read it and liked it, so then we got this writer to write the script, and now we’re on the point of doing it.

What is Martin Scorsese like behind closed doors?

The thing about Marty is that he’s not afraid to take chances with things that we work on. It’s very important as an actor, or any person in any

creative part, to be allowed to express themselves; to feel comfortable, and feel free enough to do that, and to know that most likely those ideas will be used, or if not, there is a good reason. Marty, as the director, has to make those kinds of adjustments, whether it’s for me or someone else. You have to deal with a lot of people and respect what they do and their choices. Nothing is more validating then getting a choice accepted and realised, hearing: ‘That’s a good idea. We’re going to do it’. That always builds more confidence.

When Italian-American groups protest the depiction of the mob in mob films, does that get under your skin at all?

Some people, I don’t why, that’s all they knew when they were a kid. This is the existence that they knew; they grew up in it. And, it’s fine for some other person to say, “They don’t relate to it”. But this is what I want to do. It’s that simple.

Did you ever meet real gangsters in real life? I knew a few gangsters when I was a kid.

There was one kid, but he’s no longer around.

Was it that common to be around the Italian mafia in New York?

Yeah, being from New York, you’re one of many ethnic groups or a mixture of them.

Who would we meet if went into your trailer just before an important movie scene? Robert De Niro or the movie character? You could go in and I could be in character or not, depending on what the particular part is. You’d want me to be myself; I’d rather see myself out of character until I go out there to do my scene.

Do you think about retirement?

I don’t know. I think about that, I don’t have an answer to that.

But do you think you’ll ever retire some day? Yeah.

Can’t you have the luxury to look back in your career? I can, just not now, maybe later.

Do you regret having rejected any special script that became a huge movie hit later?

Whatever I’ve done, I’ve said I’d stand behind it for good, for better or for worse. What am I going to do? I just have to.

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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Fabian Waintal

Any big ones?

‘I guess in some ways I am, in a way, obnoxious’

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Motoring Mororing

Can aston Martin’s new Vanquish Make you feel like 007? Words: John Simister


t had to be silver, of course. Only then could I indulge any James Bond fantasies that might squeeze past the steely objectivity by which I should be assessing the new Aston Martin Vanquish. The Vanquish is meant to be the maddest, baddest Aston Martin of all, apart from the rare and ultraexpensive One-77 which no journalist has yet driven; oh, and the limitedproduction V8 Vantage Zagato. There’s also the V12 Vantage, which uses an

earlier version of this Vanquish V12 in the smaller body normally reserved for the gentler V8 engine. That sounds quite mad, too. A few ifs and buts there, then. But the important thing to know is that this Vanquish conforms to much the same template as all Aston Martins since the millennium, which means a powerful front-mounted engine, a structure made from extruded, welded and bonded aluminium, and a sleek body of unmistakable visual identity. It has the hunched look, crisp edges and side strake spearing back from

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Images: Supplied Text: John Simister / The Independent / The Interview Peoplee

the wing vent already seen on the One-77, and all the outer panels bar the bumpers are of lightweight carbon fibre, whose glossy weave is exposed around the body’s lower perimeter. Under the bonnet is a V12 engine of unchanged size but new components, able to breathe better than before and deliver more muscle at low speeds as well as that useful 573bhp at full chat. Inside, the aura is familiar to anyone who has looked at the interior of a recent Aston Martin, but calmer thanks to a new centre console in which the former rows of daunting buttons have been ousted by touchscreen panels. There are two tiny, largely pointless rear seats, and a boot much bigger than the old DBS’s. I expected a fire-spitting, Tarmactearing monster when I set off in the Vanquish, but that is not its way. Its engine sounds magnificently crisp and rich, but the evenness of its vast power delivery makes even the searing 4.1-second 0-100kph time seem less dramatic than it should. Even the launch control function, which automatically gives the best getaway, feels oddly anti-climactic as the Vanquish just squeezes itself into hyperspace. The automatic gearbox is partly why; its shifts are quick and smooth, whether self-generated or drivertriggered via the manual paddle-shift controls, but they blunt the drama. There’s a Sport mode, but it makes little difference beyond a slight alertness increase and ringing ears from the exhaust-silencer bypass. It feels good in the turns, though, with quick, tactile steering and the fabulous balance typical of a powerful rear-wheel- drive car. The Vanquish soon takes on the nimbleness of a smaller machine, but none of the three suspension modes – Normal, Sport (again) and Sport Track – can quite cope with big undulations. That’s the only time the Vanquish feels unruly. Otherwise it’s a big, beautiful, beautifully built powerhouse and a very appropriate Bond-flavoured grand tourer.

‘It’s a big, beautiful, beautifully built powerhouse’

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‘EvErybody’s bEEn to Mr Chow’

Few can lay claim to hosting star diners that span decades, from Mae West to Lady Gaga, but for this celebrity restaurateur it’s business as usual. AIR separates the man from the spotlight Words: Laura Binder - 72 -


‘London is where the Mr Chow gastronomic empire began in the Swinging Sixties...’

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t’s hard not to notice Michael Chow: snappily dressed (Hermès being his label of choice) with thick Lennon-esque spectacles and usually accompanied by his head-turning designer wife Eva, (his first wife was Vogue model Grace Coddington, the second ’80s fashion icon Tina Chow), he has that star presence – the fact that he’s now 73 is by the by. Sadly, geographical issues (myself being in Dubai, Chow being in Los Angeles) meant our meeting took place over the phone, so I didn’t get to admire the full eccentric effect in person. But still, the Chow charm was palpable down the phone line. Despite having lived stateside for over 30 years (where he has outposts in LA, Miami and New York) the voice that greets me is part Chinese, part English public-school boy – a fact that can be attributed to a privileged childhood that began in Shanghai, where he was born to a famous father (Beijing Opera star Zhou Xinfang), and that was continued in England, where he was sent, aged 13, after Communists gained control of Shanghai. It’s a transition that appears to have driven every step of Chow’s elaborate life since: while best-known as a celebrity restaurateur, he’s highly regarded as an art collector, artist, designer, architect (the family home he created was dubbed the “coolest house in LA” by US Vogue) and even a movie star (You Only Live Twice and Schnabel’s Basquiat are among his Hollywood highs). Next month’s reopening of his first restaurant, Mr Chow London, after a minor revamp served as the perfect excuse to talk to the restaurateur credited with ‘changing the face of Chinese cuisine in the west’. London is where the Mr Chow gastronomic empire began in the Swinging Sixties – a venture that was not only the first high-end Chinese restaurant of its kind, but the first designer restaurant. From there, the USA’s disco days drew him to open Mr Chow in LA, 1974, and New York, ’79 – and at one time or another through the


Images: Supplied; Roxanne Lowit

past four decades Mr Chow has been the hottest spot in which to dine. Getting Chow to talk about it all was a cinch: I found him chatty, curious and as enthused as a young buck taking his first taste of the restaurant business. (Where are you based? he asked, Dubai? How do you find it? How is the restaurant scene? My interview has been promptly turned on its head). When it was my turn to talk I asked him how the concept for a high-end Chinese restaurant in 1960s London came to him. “Well, the thing is, I left China very early, I lost my contacts, my roots, my homeland, my family, anything familiar to me I lost,” he told me with steady sincerity. “So I wanted to reestablish myself and at that time there was such a bad communication between east and west and lack of respect for the Chinese people. So that has always been my vision, to make the west understand and appreciate Chinese culture.” At the time, Mr Chow London served up an entirely unique formula: he hired Italian, rather than Chinese, waiters (who he calls “the greatest waiters on earth, so theatrical”) who served authentic Chinese cuisine at wallet-clenching prices, in a decadent space decked out in to die-for-art by some of the era’s most famous artists. “Whatever’s heavy, difficult and expensive is usually good,” he laughed, “so by charging people quite a bit of money you get the respect, don’t you? So it killed two birds with one stone.”

‘One day Mae West walked in and everybody clapped. That was incredible’ It proved a potent combination: supermodels, rock stars, politicians, actors, fashion designers; you name them, they dined. And which element does he think sealed the deal? “Well, apart from my good looks…” he laughed. “My philosophy is ‘every detail is the universe’. So I tried to make it as good as possible, so the place has always been very glamorous. I always had this fantasy

that I live the life of the movie world, you know? I mean everyone lives in a bubble, right? For me movies have always been a reality, so I make my life like a movie, so the restaurant in a way was like a movie. Everything in the restaurant was glamorous and creative and poetic. So why not come to it? It has beauty, right?” Its theatrical environs drew, in Chow’s words, “more stars than the

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sky”. But I knew he could do better than that – what are his fondest memories of the Swinging Sixties, of the glittering seventies? “Marlene Dietrich came in one day,” he recalled, “and we played the noodle show and everyone was fascinated, except for her – she doesn’t even look, she refused to look, which was very funny. “Then Lana Turner want to come, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and

all of these… Sinatra. Everybody’s been there, ok? Everybody’s been to Mr Chow. Right up to Lady Gaga now.” There must have been lots of beautiful women, I ventured. “One day Mae West walked in and everybody clapped, that was incredible,” he said. Another key ingredient of Mr Chow is the artwork. After all, how many restaurateurs are able to put an original Andy Warhol on their walls? (At one time, Chow is said to have owned a Warhol of Chairman Mao so large he contemplated putting it up on one of his restaurant’s ceilings.) There are tales, too, of dishes being traded for artworks (Peter Blake, David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield, Richard Smith, Jim Dine were all game). And, after Peter Blake painted his portrait, Chow went on to collect museum-worthy portraiture by the likes of Warhol, Julian Schnabel,

Dennis Hopper and Helmut Newton. “Anything that’s creative, I’m a sucker for it,” he said. One particularly hardto-miss portrayal is Keith Haring’s lime explosion of Chow as Green Prawns, a signature dish. “There’s three of me in it and I have six arms – in Chinese culture six arms is very lucky. Anyway, I’m in a bowl of noodles, so it’s all very amusing.” Speaking with Chow, his insatiable appetite for creativity and celebrity are clear. And, as anyone who knows him may testify, the driving force goes back to his celebrity father and that transitional move as a teen. “My dad was so famous [in China] when I was young and I lost him. And I couldn’t believe that no one had heard of him in England. And I missed that fame. I guess I wanted to restablish and recreate an identity and the restaurant was my identity, you see.”

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Today, aged 73, Chow appears to have found his place in the world – well, almost. “I don’t socialise too much,” he told me, on the topic of mingling with his celeb guests. “I know lots of people. I’m very social – but not very sociable. I’m kind of shy in one way, kind of introverted in one way, and extrovert in others. I’m sort of different – one minute like this, one like that.” As for the future, aside from him mulling over the restaurant prospects in Dubai (Is Hakkasan doing well? And Nobu? So, I should be there, right?), his attention is back on art, for the time being at least. “Right now I’ve started painting again, so I’ll be very passionate about doing that.” But with Mr Chow restaurants as popular as ever, one thing diners can be sure of is a show-stopping feed – with the likes of Lady Gaga on the next table.

Postcards from

Shanghai Head out in to the city at dawn, and you’ll encounter a serene scene: the early morning group tai chi practice. The popularity of the ancient meditative exercise is testament to the Shanghainese love of fitness and composure; it’s an energising start to the day, and a calming influence against the relentless pace of the city.


Performed in the Wu Chinese dialect with a cast of well-loved characters, Shanghai opera, or huju, is unique to the city. It’s a vibrant way to keep local stories alive, with most of the complex plots originating in the 1920s and ’30s. Head to the Shanghai Opera House for the most lavish of productions.


Every summer, the streets and rivers of Shanghai come to life with the Dragon Boat Festival, a weekend celebration of the Chinese waterways and all who live and work upon them. Dragon boat races – fierce rowing competitions in traditional wooden vessels – are the highlight, with music performances and street entertainment aplenty.


The iconic Nanjing Road is the commercial hub of the city: venture here for a shopping spree like no other. Local curiosity shops sit alongside upscale boutiques and cheap-as-chips stalls, and the bustling Central Market is the place to stock up on cutting-edge electricals.


No visit to China would be complete without a sip of the fine tea for which it is famed. The brew has long enhanced both Chinese culture and the economy, so time your visit for April to encounter the Shanghai International Tea Culture Festival, an annual celebration of the famous green blend. Even pouring the tea has an art of its own – the time-honoured ceremony can be witnessed year-round in tea houses all over the city.


The Bund, the backbone of Shanghai since the 19th century, is a strip of commercial and political buildings that runs alongside the Huangpu River. Built to accommodate traders and settlers in the city, the waterfront now features shopping malls, entertainment and restaurants galore, a stark contrast against the grand stone facades of the 1890s.


In a city famed for its skyscrapers, the futuristic Jin Mao Tower reaches higher than most of its contemporaries. Home to the Shanghai Grand Hyatt Hotel, the pinnacle overlooks the Huangpu River, The Bund and Shanghai City, securing it as one of the most desirable addresses in town.



Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Supplied









The hempel effecT One of the world’s most celebrated interior designers, Anouska Hempel has cast a refined hand over a plethora of boltholes – most recently La Suite West. AIR takes a trip to her finest venues…


he title ‘Lady Weinberg’ may not strike a chord with you, but hear ‘Anouska Hempel’ and design and hotel aficionados’ interest is sure to crescendo. The woman behind each name has earned a few professional titles in her time too: starting with ‘actress’ – as a sixties starlet she played a Bond girl in Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Hempel went on to be known as a couturier, hotelier and, today, interior designer. The latter post has led not only to her highly successful namesake firm, Anouska Hempel Design, but a place in the Architectural Digests’ top 100 interior designers and architects worldwide. Happily for the style-seeking jet set, Hempel clearly found life beyond Bond. In the hotel world, her design style (which she has described as “utopian”) has translated to boutique hotels

in a way that some credit as laying the blueprint for stylish boltholes around the globe: The Hempel hotel was widely regarded as London’s first minimalist hotel, so much so that its slick environs drew guests like style-setter Victoria Beckham and, in 2006, Michael Jackson (he liked it so much he reserved the entire hotel for his stay). Currently closed for a ‘a major renovation’, London-goers will have to place stays on hold, for now. Blakes London serves as a second sublime stop-off in the capital – sold to investors post-Anouska Hempel Design refurb (an element which no doubt increased its kudos). But her most recent venture, completing a London hat trick of hotels, is the newly-opened La Suite West (you’ll find it just round the corner from The Hempel, in fact). Walking down the leafy West London pathway preceding the black and white Victorian townhouses (in which the 80-room La Suite West takes up residence) gives you an early taste of what lies behind its 19th-century door: namely, a disciplined all-black and white colour scheme. With few exceptions: inky black marble floored lobbies lead you to suites where beds are hugged by black four-poster bed frames, ebony sofas are thick with stark white pillows, and jet black wooden shutters poke out from pure white walls. Thankfully, the effect is soothing, simple, ‘zen’ (to use design speak), rather than bleak (and with London’s fondness for rain, it’s just as well). Or, as Hempel describes it, a ‘serene and balanced Eastern aesthetic’. Those who do crave colour will find it in La Suite West’s restaurant, where Marcello Kaminiski whisks up

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international fare of ‘Honestly Healthy’ dishes (so expect plenty of greenery). Plus, outside in the front terrace garden (best reserved for spring), American white oak tables are shaded by English plane trees. The hotel’s pièce de résistance though, if you ask us, belongs to its soaring atrium (complete with pivoting six-metre high door) and a reception desk that spans some seven metres of white marble – it’s quite a sight when checking in. Hempel’s works do not limit themselves to the Big Smoke, however, so broadening the travel horizons of those who get the Hempel bug and seek further retreat in her precise outposts. If her newest venture sounds a tad too minimalist for your taste, look to The Netherlands where The Dylan Amsterdam (formerly known as Blakes Amsterdam) is infused with spice hues of saffron and turmeric, inspired by the city’s cherished Dutch East India Company (a welcome colour scheme against the muted cobbled streets and canal outside). The style- and sea-seeking, however, may prefer to set sail on the Mediterranean, aboard Hempel’s private yacht (previously reserved for her own friends and family) – an authentic, 28-metre wooden Turkish gulet which she painstakingly restored to high-end form: Louis Vuitton trunks, mahogany mast, and signature monochrome schemes all apply. (Oh, and then there’s the chef de cuisine and Jorge the butler – don’t set sail without them.) Charter it and you and six others can make for Croatia and Montenegro (do so through Dalmatian Destinations at €35,000 per week, full board). The most tropical Hempel hotel, however, can be found in the rainforests of Itacare, Brazil, where 40 villas and pavilions are fringed by tropical fauna and look on to ocean views. Described as ‘minimalist and monolithic’, it’s a precise show of clean, sharp lines, pristine marble and expert details (plus a stellar spa where there are no distractions to your massage bar the sound of the sea). Speak to Anouska Hempel Design today and they’ll tell you that hotel projects in Beirut, Santiago, Chile, Lisbon, Istanbul and Rabat are in the works. Whichever part of the world beckons, experience a stay in one such venue and you’ll quickly recognise a Hempel work when you see it. Thank goodness she didn’t succumb to Bond’s charms for long…

1. 2. 3. 4. 4.

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Inverness Studio Suite, La Suite West, London Blakes London The Dylan Amsterdam dining room A suite’s bathroom at The Dylan Amsterdam

life lessons

What I KnoW noW

Christian Louboutin Footwear designer

When I was 16, someone gave me a book by the footwear designer Roger Vivier. It was a catalogue with a gold cover, and I couldn’t believe you could make a career designing shoes! Later on, I met Vivier and helped him with an exhibition. I adored the man; it was thrilling to be around him, and he had made me think about shoes more seriously. In most cases when designing, there is a significant loss between the drawing and the final realisation. When my most iconic design, the Pensee, first came off the line, a model in pink crepe, I saw that it was close to the original drawing, yet something wasn’t right. It was the black sole, so I grabbed my assistant’s nail polish and painted them red. And the red sole became my signature. Each designer must invent his or her own rules. My motto has always been, “Why not?” I impose few disciplines on myself, but one I consider important is that when I’m working, I owe it to myself to be happy. Shoes, after all, are for dreaming. It is my belief that everything still has to be done, and to a perfect standard. There have been many highlights in the 20 years since I started the brand, but I have never thought I could relax on the next step, or any step for that matter. My father was a man of few words, but one thing he did tell me is that all wood has a grain. “Never go against it because that tears the vein of the wood,” he would say. You always have to go with the grain of people and of life. Life has a particular flow, and if you try to go against that it just doesn’t work.

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PIAGET BOUTIQUES: Abu Dhabi: Avenue at Etihad Towers, 02 667 0044 Dubai: The Dubai Mall, 04 339 8222 - Wafi New Extension, 04 327 9000 Dubai: Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, Atlantis 04 422 0233, Burj Al Arab, 04 348 9000 Burjuman Centre, 04 355 9090, Mall of the Emirates, 04 341 1211


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