Air Magazine - Empire Aviation - December'19

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Credit: From the scrapbook of the Baron de Cabrol. © Daisy de Cabrol from Café Society: Socialites, Patrons, and Artists 1920 to 1960 by Thierry Coudert (Paris: Flammarion, 2010).



Forty Eight

Fifty Four


As The Rise of Skywalker brings the space saga to an end, we sit with its lightsaberswinging star Daisy Ridley.

Grant Tucker meets Nikolai von Bismarck, the notoriously private photographer of The Dior Sessions.

As a new book offers a tantalising peek into the decadent world of the Café Society, AIR meets its author.

From Roksanda Ilincic to Erdem Moralioglu: meet the fashion designers forever inspired by the art world.

The Chosen One


Portrait of a Man

High Society

Straight From the Art

Contents DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103




Critique Twenty Six


Art & Design

Chief Creative Officer

John Thatcher


Objects of Desire Managing Editor

Faye Bartle

Thirty Two


Contributors Chris Anderson, Lara Brunt,

Sixty Six


Sophia Dyer, Hazel Plush, Ronak Sagar C






Seventy Four

Art Director

Journeys by Jet

Kerri Bennett Senior Designer

Hiral Kapadia

Seventy Six

What I Know Now


Leona Beth

COMMERCIAL Managing Director

Victoria Thatcher General Manager

David Wade

Thirty Six

Jewellery The authority on luxury piercing, Maria Tash talks curated ears with Faye Bartle

Commercial Director

Rawan Chehab

PRODUCTION Production Manager

Muthu Kumar

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








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Empire Aviation Group DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103

Welcome to this issue of AIR – our private aviation lifestyle magazine for aircraft owners and charter clients. If you are flying with us as you read this, welcome onboard and we wish you a very enjoyable flight. The recent Dubai Air Show 2019 was a major success for the industry with a strong international and regional presence. For Empire Aviation, it was an opportunity to meet old friends, customers and partners, and also see and learn more about exciting new developments across the world of aviation. The onsite team was busy throughout the week meeting and greeting visitors to the Empire Aviation chalet, where we were able to provide high quality hospitality and also a front row seat to the best show in town – the daily air display.

Welcome Onboard ISSUE 103

Inevitably, there are many networking events through the course of the week of the Dubai Air Show as the international industry congregates here only every two years. These include industry awards and we were delighted that one of our key team members was recognised with a special Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to the aviation industry. You can read more about the award presented to Harish Sadarangani - our Director of Quality Assurance and Technical Director, as well as head of the Group’s CAMO function - and other stories from the show on the following pages. Our story is very clear and compelling and reaffirms Dubai’s growing status as an aviation hub; since launching in Dubai in 2007, Empire Aviation Group has developed into a global private aviation player with operations in the leading aviation regions, including the USA, Europe, India, Africa and Hong Kong, in addition to the Middle East – now including Egypt. We took the opportunity of announcing our aircraft management services in Egypt, during the air show. Today, we manage one of the Middle East’s largest managed fleets of business jets with more than 20 aircraft under management, and hold AOCs (Air Operator Certificates) in the UAE and San Marino, and an NSOP (Non-Scheduled Operator’s Permit the local equivalent of an AOC) in India. Dubai Air Show 2019 was a great opportunity to tell our story; we hope you enjoy reading about it. Enjoy the issue

Paras P. Dhamecha Managing Director

Cover: Daisy Ridley Steven Pan / AUGUST

Contact Details: / 11

Empire Aviation Group DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103

Stealing the Show Empire Aviation introduces its aircraft management services in Egypt with the induction of the first aircraft based in Cairo

At Dubai Air Show 2019, Empire Aviation launched aircraft management services in Egypt, as the group continues to grow the managed fleet and global reach, with operations already established in the Middle East, US, San Marino, India, and Africa. Empire Aviation introduced the aircraft management services in Egypt with the induction of the first aircraft based in Cairo - a Bombardier Global 6000 (G6000) business jet - joining the company’s extensive managed fleet of over 20 business jets. In addition to managing and operating the new business jet for the owner’s private use, Empire Aviation will also offer the aircraft to the global charter market. The Bombardier Global 6000 has excellent long-haul capabilities, with a flight range of 6,000nm (nautical miles). It comfortably accommodates up to 13 in a luxurious cabin, and has a well-equipped galley, plus a private stateroom. 12

For onboard entertainment, the aircraft is fitted with the latest technology which includes wi-fi connectivity. Ka-band (the fastest in-flight internet connectivity worldwide) ensures that wherever the aircraft travels, passengers will always stay connected. Speaking at the show, Empire Aviation Managing Director, Paras P. Dhamecha, commented: “We are delighted to announce the introduction of our full-service aircraft management in Egypt, which is a market with tremendous potential. The G6000 is an excellent aircraft and a great addition to our regional managed fleet and aircraft available for charter. We already have other candidate aircraft in the pipeline for Egypt and benefit from the support of our associate partner, Z-Aviation Services (ZAS) in Cairo. It’s our ability to integrate seamlessly all these strands of private aviation – sales, management, operations, CAMO and charter – that means Empire Aviation can

support owners and operators so effectively and make ownership a positive and rewarding experience.” At Dubai Air Show 2019, Empire Aviation also highlighted the company’s CAMO certification - Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization - to ensure aircraft owners comply with the stringent legal and technical demands of operating a business jet. Based on Empire Aviation’s extensive experience with its own managed aircraft and the CAMO certification, the company has now launched CAMO services as a stand-alone offer for third party aircraft owners and operators. Two business jets are already on CAMOonly contracts, under which Empire Aviation takes responsibility for the quality management, auditing and records of each contracted aircraft. CAMO is a commitment to ensuring the ‘air worthiness’ of an aircraft, culminating in a Certificate of Release to Service, without which an aircraft will not be able to fly.

Empire Aviation Group DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103

A Life in Aviation Empire Aviation Group’s Harish Sadarangani awarded Lifetime Achievement Award

The Empire Aviation team turned out in force for the Aviation Annual Gala Evening 2019, which was hosted onboard Dutch Oriental’s impressive mega-yacht – ‘Lotus’ – moored at Dubai Marina. It was one of the key networking events held during Dubai Air Show 2019. The focus of the evening was the awards ceremony and Empire Aviation’s particular interest was 14

the Lifetime Achievement Award – presented to Harish Sadarangani, Director of QA and Technical Director for Empire Aviation Group, as well as head of our CAMO function. Harish has been with Empire Aviation since the company’s launch in Dubai, in 2007, playing a central role within the company’s operations and supporting the global expansion involving inducting multiple aircraft

with various international regulators of private aviation services. He also provides leadership and expert guidance to the entire team. This unique experience and expertise is acknowledged by everyone in the industry and greatly valued by everyone at Empire Aviation. Long may Harish’s outstanding career continue.




Radar DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103

Credit: image courtesy of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts

Of everything that Dubai has achieved in such a short space of time, nothing rivals the Burj Al Arab for global appeal. Many more iconic superstructures have been built in the twenty years (a birthday it marks this month) since it took to the skyline, and many more will be built over the course of the next twenty years, but whatever guise they take it’s sure that the still spectacular Burj Al Arab will forever stand proud as the enduring symbol of the city and its sky-high ambition. Where better, then, to ring in the new year? For the first time in its history, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is welcoming Dubai residents and visitors to celebrate New Year’s Eve in unrivalled style. Six-course fine dining menus devised by Michelinstar chefs will be served at the hotel’s signature restaurants, before guests gather on The Terrace to toast 2020 beneath the city’s finest fireworks display. Visit for booking information.


Critique DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103

Film Portrait of a Lady on Fire Director: Céline Sciamma Set in France in 1760, a young bride-to-be develops a mutual attraction towards the painter who is commissioned to paint her wedding portrait. AT BEST: ‘It is so very easy to label a film incendiary, but this deserves the scalding honour.’ – Barry Hertz, Globe & Mail AT WORST: The fire burns slowly, but there’s no lack of heat in Celine Sciamma’s period love story.’ – Jake Wilson, The Age

The Aeronauts AIR

Director: Tom Harper A biographical adventure-drama where a daredevil balloon pilot teams up with a pioneering meteorologist to break barriers. AT BEST: ‘Suspend all disbelief, hold tight to the wicker basket and go along for the ride.’ – Ellie Walker-Arnott, Time Out AT WORST: ‘Too uninspired to even warrant a ‘deflated’ pun.’ – Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies

A Hidden Life Based on the real-life story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer, shows courage by refusing to fight for the Nazis. AT BEST: ‘A work of genius, at last a justification of Malick’s late style.’ – David Sexton, London Evening Standard AT WORST: ‘The ending has real power, too, but much of the rest of the film is just plain dull.’ – Ed Potton, The Times

Daniel Isn’t Real Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer After suffering a violent family trauma, a distressed college freshman resurrects his childhood imaginary friend to help him pull through. AT BEST: ‘[A] slick and thrilling take on the intersection of mental illness and creative inspiration.’ – Katie Rife, AV Club AT WORST: ‘This unfiltered dose of millennial angst needed a more adept conduit than this cartoonish misfire can muster’. – Ruben Rosario, MiamiArtZine 18

Image Credits, from top to bottom: © Lilies Films; courtesy of Amazon Studios; courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures; courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films & Shudder

Director: Terrance Mallick

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Critique DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103



Image Credit: Damon Daunno & Mary Testa (c) Little Fang Photo


howing till February 15 at Schoenfeld Theatre, New York, Come From Away “Eschews the conventional musical bling. Beowulf Boritt’s set puts the seven-piece band on a simple stage, hidden behind tree trunks that flank the playing area, creating a flexible but modest playing area,” says Allison Croggon of The Guardian. “The heavy lifting is in Howell Binkley’s lighting design, which changes the space dramatically as required. Different realities are created through some very slick chair choreography: narrow rows, for example, summon the interiors of planes or buses.” “James Earl Jones II earns laughs as a native New Yorker, initially suspicious of local goodwill, who is transformed through his five days in Gander. Part of his lesson is that some people are friendly just because they are. In fact, in Gander everyone is friendly”, writes Jordan Riefe for the Hollywood Reporter. “There are no villains or even people with shady motives in Come From Away, which is one of the reasons Hein and Sankoff’s book is almost as bland as their score, which mostly favors boisterous ensemble numbers over ballads.” James Fitzgerald of WhatsOnStage had a positive experience, however. “Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s musical


tells that beautiful tale of lost travellers finding hospitality in what seems a totally unexpected place: Gander, Newfoundland. A hugely uplifting watch, the show is also a parable many will see as fit for our times.” Named the ‘Number One Theatrical Event of The Year’ by Time Magazine, Oklahoma! (Running at the Circle in The Square Theater on Broadway till January 4) has, however, collected mixed reviews. “You won’t leave feeling miserable, but neither will you be slapping your knees”, writes Tim Teeman for The Daily Beast, “But this production of Oklahoma! feels less ‘dark’ than sensibly and successfully inquisitive. Fish (Daniel, the show’s director) and his cast ask reasoned questions of a musical that has contained all these questions in plain sight for many years-and in this Oklahoma! those questions are answered with vivid, pugnacious confidence.” David Rooney of Hollywood Reporter writes, “Without altering the existing text, Fish and his excellent 12-member ensemble shine a new light on this corn-fed tale of two romantic triangles, one played for drama, the other for laughs. What’s significantly different is that a show normally interpreted as a celebration of the American spirit

here unearths the darkness beneath the sunny surface – the blood in the soil of the heartland and the fearbased hostility toward outsiders that continues to fester today.” The “intoxicating musical”, Ghost Quartet, is running at London’s Boulevard Theater till January 4. “The show is framed like a concept album,” writes an impressed Kate Wyver of The Guardian. “Malloy’s music somersaults from gentle aria to witty folk song to feverish electropop, as the cast of four – Carly Bawden, Niccolò Curradi, Maimuna Memon and Zubin Varla – flit between instruments, each of which seems somehow possessed: the gentle piano, the delicate erhu, the frenzied cello and the violent harp. The cast treat music like it’s something holy, with Memon kneeling on a pew cushion to play the xylophone.” “What roots the show, and makes it an enjoyable way to spend an hour or so, is the quality of the singing, and the personalities of the cast, with Zubin Varla’s genial piano player, Carly Bawden’s vivacious and detailed grasp on her many roles, Maimuna Memon’s roaring alto and Niccolo Curradi’s inventive cello player all playing their part in an offbeat but gripping entertainment,” says Sarah Crompton for WhatsOnStage.


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Critique DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103



he Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is “A magnificent quest, a sense of unfolding adventure and danger, gold-wrought fantasy, and endless provocation on what storytelling really means ...”, writes Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal. “In the end, Morgenstern proves wrong one of her villains, who proclaims that a story is like an egg; break it, and it’s lost. Her stories flow together as they flow forward and will enthrall a wide range of readers. Highly recommended.” Nancy Pate of The Minneapolis Star Tribune was also thoroughly impressed, “Extravagantly imaginative ... Morgenstern’s major plot is the stuff of a bibliophile’s dreams, but she layers the narrative with snippets of fables and fairy tales, pieces in a meta-puzzle box that you may never figure out… The intricate world-building is nothing short of fabulous, the prose lush and filigreed. Still, it’s probably no accident that Patience and Fortitude, the lions at the entrance of the New York Public Library, make a cameo in the 500-page tale. Morgenstern knows every which way around story and myth, but you may well get lost in The Starless Sea. Bon voyage!” On the other hand, Matthew Adams of The Times was not entertained, “A curious, disappointing and, above all, mundane affair that, for all its talk of magical territories, fantastic occurrences, strange mutations and obscure disruptions, is peculiarly devoid of atmosphere, tension and mystery. Almost all of this blandness can be attributed to Morgenstern’s prose, which suffers from a predilection for cliché, irritating antiquities and overemphasis…” Ta-Nehisi Coates has racked up some rave reviews for his first novel, The Water Dancer. David Fear of Rolling Stone writes, “His debut novel comes with slightly unrealistic expectations — and then proceeds to exceed them. Coates’ meditation


on the legacy of slavery is a work of both staggering imagination and rich historical significance ... What’s most powerful is the way Coates enlists his notions of the fantastic, as well as his fluid prose, to probe a wound that never seems to heal ... Timeless and instantly canon-worthy.” Dwight Garner of The New York Times says, “The most surprising thing about The Water Dancer may be its unambiguous narrative ambition. This isn’t a typical first novel, if by ‘typical first novel’ we mean a minor-chord and semiautobiographical nibbling expedition around the margins of a life.” “On its surface, (The Water Dancer) is a traditional resistance narrative”, writes The New Republic’s Eric Herschtal as he takes a deeper dive (no pun intended) into the book. “The novel is at its best when Coates is excavating...subtler truths. If Hiram’s awareness that freedom is meaningless without family is one, then Coates’s refusal to cast his black characters as simple heroes or victims is another ...” Beginning in 1956, when young newlyweds arrive in the suburbs of San Diego from their native Kansas, On Swift Horses is an “Engrossing, melancholy debut novel, writes Mark Athitakis for The Los Angeles Times. “California feels both scrubbed new and thick with storm clouds ... It’s practically axiomatic that every story set in 1950s America must be a critique of its squeaky-clean surfaces. On Swift Horses is no different. But it does it so skillfully — Pufahl’s prose is consistently lyrical and deeply observant. And her keenest observations are about the secrets we keep ...” Observes Lucie Shelly of The New York Times Book Review, “Pufahl’s voice is strikingly solid, timeworn but not nostalgic, as she unravels a cinematic story that avoids genre clichés or sentimentality.”

Credit: Penguin Random House


Critique DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103



Bridget Riley High Sky, 1991 © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved


he Hayward Gallery in London exhibits the work of celebrated British artist Bridget Riley till January 26. “The best room in this show is filled with early black and white paintings and works on plexiglass. They’re the purest and most extreme expressions of Riley’s ideas”, praises Eddy Frankel of Time Out London. “Thick squares squash down into little rectangles, sucking you into an infinite horizon. Circles fade into nothingness, straight lines curve into waves that your eyes just can’t latch on to. Everything tingles and wobbles, drifts in and out of focus, the picture planes jiggle and reform. It’s art as non-Newtonian fluid. Solid then liquid and back again.” Laura Cumming of The Guardian was stunned: “The intense precision of her art – its strict formal logic 24

– seems to allow for a wild, almost synaesthetic freedom. The nap of velvet, autumn smoke, a buzz of high-pitched aggression: people claim to have all sorts of experiences in front of a Riley. No matter how poised, how meticulously calculated, her abstractions are never aloof.” Reviewing Berthe Marisot Woman Impressionist, for Paris Update, Heidi Elison writes, “The exhibition attempts to get away from the abiding view of Morisot as a ‘woman’s painter’ by presenting mostly portraits and figure paintings, nearly half of which come from private collections. The curators offer a lovely and accurate description of Morisot’s work as ‘simultaneously peaceful and restless, luminous and mysterious, challenging and poetic’.” Mary Tompkins Lewis of Wall Street

Journal shares her insights, “Many of Morisot’s feminine subjects are pictured in transitional or threshold settings – balconies, verandas and plant-filled windowed rooms that conjure both interior and exterior spaces – that reflect the protective and rigidly structured world she knew. Unlike her male counterparts, Morisot could not roam the teeming city’s streets unaccompanied or explore the flamboyant nightlife that figured in their work.” The show runs till January 12 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Of the Nam June Paik exhibition at London’s Tate Modern, which runs till February 9, Bidisha of The Guardian writes, “Paik’s work with the radical, experimental Fluxus group involved hosting happenings based around performing music (or anti-music, depending on your tastes), poetry or drama. Luckily, he and his cronies had such humongous egos that they memorialised everything they did, so there are endless posters, booklets, flyers and photographs of the group, formally dressed but doing ridiculous things with great glee. Paik doesn’t abuse his audience. Instead he invites everyone in to participate.” “The exhibition makes much of placing Paik in a social context.” says Thomas McMullan of Frieze, “This can sometimes see the artist becoming lost in the mix of his famous friends – like John Cage and Joseph Beuys – or bogged down in endless Fluxus documentation. It does show Paik as a generous and prodigious collaborator, particularly with the cellist Charlotte Moorman.” While visiting the exhibit, London Evening Standard’s Matthew Collings’ interest in the artist was duly revived. “Represented by piles of TVs showing mass-media random information with no particular meaning, the sight of his name on a wall label usually sends me straight into a coma. But Tate Modern presents a completely different guy, a filled-out version of the one I knew at the back of my mind but had long stopped ever thinking about... It wakes up the whole idea of him.”

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Art & Design DECEMBER 2019 : ISSUE 103



To Boldly Go Dubai’s Jameel Arts Centre has only been open for 12 months, but its daring shows have captured the attention and gained the respect of the international art world. Hazel Plush meets its director, Antonia Carver WORDS: HAZEL PLUSH




gallery’s job isn’t just to display art. Aesthetics is merely one of its concerns: simply looking good is not the aim of this game. Nor should it be a collectors’ showroom, or an Instagrammers’ eye-catching backdrop. No, a truly great art institution holds a mirror up to the very culture in which it exists, revealing blemishes as well as its beauty. The goal is to probe and provoke, to ask uncomfortable questions. It takes nerve, but Dubai’s Jameel Arts Centre – at just one year old – already has that nailed. Of course, with Antonia Carver as its director, there was no doubt that Jameel would be stellar. As former director of Art Dubai, Carver is an authority on the power and potential of the Middle East’s art scene, with a background in journalism and critique that focused her razor-sharp eye. “We aim to be bold and timely,” she says of Jameel; “to kick-start conversations on topics that are

relevant to everyone, both inside and outside the art world” – and since day one, the gallery has done just that. It opened in November 2018, a cluster of sleek white cubes on the banks of Jaddaf Waterfront, with 1,000-square metres of dedicated contemporary art space. Crude, the inaugural exhibition, set the agenda instantly, by shining a light on the Middle East’s complex relationship with oil. Bringing together artists from across the region – such as Latif Al Ani, Hassan Sharif, Wael Shawky and Lantan Xie – it delved into oil’s propensity for both development and destruction: ‘a trigger for wars; a catalyst for nation building; and a cause of terrible ecological disasters’, the programme proclaimed. Filled with industrial-esque installations, archive photography from the boom days, and exhibits revealing petroleum’s complicated (and often uncomfortable) legacy, the show pulled no punches. Jameel is, of course, a major name in the Middle East’s art scene.

Supported by one of Saudi Arabia’s foremost philanthropic families, the Art Jameel foundation fuels creativity throughout the region – by funding exhibitions, grants and cultural institutions. Jameel Arts Centre is its latest, most ambitious project. Such big-name backing brings freedom to take risks: since Crude – which opened to rapturous reviews – its eclectic billing has examined everything from climate change (in Urdu play Ganj-I-Shakr) to the uniqueness of modern life in the UAE (in a solo show by Dubai-based artist Farah Al Qasimi). Exhibitions usually feature multiple artists at a time, and change every few months – complemented by a vibrant repertoire of talks, workshops and events. When I visited Jameel, the themes of belonging and displacement took centre stage in Phantom Limb (on display until February 2020) – a poignant examination of the Middle East’s ‘missing’ culture, lost to conflict


The Middle East is too often in the news under a banner of strife and suffering; yet through art, there is always another story


and colonialism. It revealed Syrian architecture that has been looted and sold (Rayyane Tabet’s Orthostates); 3D models of long-gone Iraqi treasures (Forensic Architecture’s Maps of Defiance); and ghostly photographs of 4,000-year-old sarcophagi discovered in Lebanon – taken just moments before they were sent overseas, never to be seen again (Akram Zaatari’s An Extraordinary Event). But there was light in the darkness, too. Neighbouring exhibition Second Hand revealed familiar objects in a new light: a celebration of ingenious upcycling. I was transfixed by a technicolour quilt by Zimbabwe’s Moffat Takadiwa, made from thousands of discarded computer keys (Second Hand Information). Nearby, upturned aircraft nose cones had been given a cartoon-style makeover, complete with googly eyes – while a string of giant prayer beads had become a big swing. Visit the gallery now, and you’ll discover paintings and installations by Saudi Arabian artist Sarah Abu Abdallah, which pick apart everything from pop culture to family politics (For The First Time in a Long Time, until April). And this spring, Michael Rakowitz will open his first solo show in the Middle East, a striking homage to the region’s lost architectural wonders (March-August). But whatever the exhibition, one of Jameel’s most impressive sights is the building itself. The low-rise gallery spaces are connected by lush courtyard gardens – designed to be natural pauses between exhibits, to stimulate conversation and contemplation. As a blueprint, Serie Architects looked to the sha’abi houses built in the Gulf in the 1970s and 1980s: single-storey homes centred around communal spaces, intended to nurture a community spirit. “It’s very ‘un-Dubai’,” says Christopher Lee, Serie’s co-founder, of the design. “It doesn’t rely on exuberance to make a statement.” In the entrance atrium, the name of every person who contributed to Jameel’s creation is etched into a glass wall: directors and donors, engineers and labourers. “It was important for us to recognise the contribution of each individual,” says Lana Shamma, senior manager of

Opening pages: Sarah Abu Abdallah, For the First Time in a Long Time. Installation view, Kunstverein in Hamburg, 2019. Photo by Fred Dott These pages, from left to right : exterior of Jameel Arts Centre. Courtesy of Art Jameel, Photo by Rory Gardiner; interior of Jameel Arts Centre. Courtesy of Art Jameel, Photo by Rory Gardiner

public programmes. “We invited all of the builders to a lunch reception when we opened, and they were given a tour of the exhibitions in their own language – Bengali, Urdu, Hindi – because this is a space for everybody.” It’s an ethos that defines Art Jameel, and it’s working: in 2019, the centre had twice the number of visitors it anticipated. In addition to the gallery spaces, it offers an outdoor sculpture park, boutique, co-working space and research library – and entry is free of charge. “From the get-go, the Jameel family set a mandate of ‘arts for all’,” says Carver. As well as partnering with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the charitable foundation also supports the Jameel Gallery at London’s V&A Museum – one of the

world’s largest collections of Islamic treasures. And next year, it will open Hayy: Creative Hub, in Jeddah, which will feature galleries and performance spaces alongside a contemporary arts centre, theatre and cinema. But for now, all eyes are on Dubai. “The international art world has only recently sat up and taken notice of what’s happening in this region,” says Carver. “The Middle East is too often in the news under a banner of strife and suffering; yet through art, there is always another story – one of outstanding talent, self-expression and determination, of futureoriented and youthful dynamism.” If any gallery is going to tell that tale – from triumphs to uncomfortable truths – Jameel Arts Centre is the one. This new kid’s got guts. 29



Master craftsmanship, effortless style and timeless appeal; this month’s must-haves and collectibles



A V E N G E R A U T O M AT I C 4 5 S E A W O L F Having provided the clocks on planes in the 1930s and hurtled the very first Swiss chronograph into space on the wrist of astronaut Scott Carpenter, it’s clear that Breitling has an intrinsic link to aviation. Paying homage to this is the Avenger

collection. From it, the Seawolf model is a pilot’s watch that can be used both in the air and up to three metres below the ocean’s surface. It has a bold yellow dial and comes with a choice of stainless-steel bracelet or black military leather strap. 1



MINI VA NIT Y DILIGE NCE Each Moynat object that is fashioned can only be done so by an artisan with over seven years’ experience of the house’s unique craftsmanship. Therefore, it makes sense that Moynat’s artistic director, Ramesh Nair, felt a deep connection to Korean artist Lee

Wan’s commentary on the creative process. Taking the sentiment of life imitating art, Nair created a cube shaped handbag in the image of Wan’s canvas, using signature leather marquetry to weave together the pieces, creating a work of art in its own right. 2



JACK DE BOUCHERON BR ACELE T carat diamond-encrusted clasp. Fastening century-old tradition with modern influence, its design was inspired by jack cables, and can be extended when you connect multiple pieces together. It comes in either yellow or white gold.

Here to add some sparkle to the festive season comes the playful, transformative Jack De Boucheron collection. Eluding to the house’s mantra of ‘freedom to wear,’ this particular piece, an elegant, threaded bracelet, is connected by a 1.04 3



BL ACK BADGE CULLINAN Blacker than black, the Cullinan was designed for those not afraid to embrace their dark side. ‘The King of the Night’ joins the Black Badge collection with bespoke 22-inch forged alloy wheels and a 6.75-litre engine, with increased power (600PS)

that announces its arrival with authority. The SUV’s deep intensity is achieved with multiple layers of paint and lacquer that are applied and polished by hand 10 times over. Be warned, though – the car’s defiant aesthetic calls to only the most rebellious. 4






Known for their nature-inspired motifs, Dunhill’s latest capsule collection reprises the humble red goldfish that has appeared throughout the house’s archives. Seen as a symbol of prosperity in Chinese culture, the painted fish

captures attention with its vibrant hues. Juxtaposing the sleek, sturdy shape of the leather belt bag, the delicate artwork makes this a standout piece that fans of the house will recognise as an emblem of the brand’s history. 6



M E N ’ S D AY M A S T E R S N E A K E R S Invoking images of reckless abandon and carefree inhibition, these sneakers have been reimagined from a time gone by. Keeping the colourful spirit and volume of shoes from the 1980s alive, while redefining the look with a sport

luxe feel, these sneakers have an air of playful confidence. The vivacious design is made from stretch jersey and rubber, meaning they are lightweight and easy to wear – a surefire way to turn an outfit into a look. 7


T I F FA N Y & C O


As one of 12 one-of-a-kind gifts and experiences the New York jeweler has launched for the festive season, just one person can buy a bespoke diamond ring, handcrafted by Tiffany’s artisans and imagined by you. At the centre of

the creation will be a flawless diamond of over eight carats. What’s more, you’ll gain a rare insider look of the whole process, from initial sketch through to the ring’s placement in the iconic Tiffany Blue box. 8

Timepieces DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103

Time For Reflection Tariq Malik looks back on a record-breaking year for auction houses


he world of vintage watch auctions is always on the move, always evolving, growing, or changing on a whim – and that’s probably why it’s what I am most passionate about in life. It’s never dull. From a once obscure niche, reserved almost exclusively for serious collectors, it has grown into a thriving international online market. And a review of this year’s auction activity reveals that people are prepared to invest huge sums of money into something as subjective and ethereal as a vintage watch. Which brings me to the highlight of the year – at least, the most recent record-breaking super-watch – the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A, which sold last month for CHF31 million (over $31 million) at the Only Watch auction in Geneva. The price tag on its own is noteworthy – some would say a sign of things to come. Previous record holders include Patek Philippe’s Henry Graves Supercomplication, which sold for $24 million in 2014, and the Rolex Paul Newman Daytona wristwatch, which sold for $17 million in 2017. But such a sale is the exception, rather than the rule, and it is something that usually happens with fine art, not watches. Look deeper into the matter, and you will realise that this super-watch could not have sold for what it did without the recent evolution of the international rare watch market. It may be the most expensive watch in Patek Philippe’s collection, and packed full of complications, with 1,366 movement components and 214 case components, but note too that this version is in steel, not precious gold. Its value depends not on gold or jewels, but on its rarity and craftsmanship, and the huge demand for unique, interesting, remarkable and precious watches. Those factors, in turn, depend on the blossoming market of new collectors, who are educated,

Rolex Ref. 4113 split -seconds chronograph

guided, and inspired by a rapidly expanding online knowledge base. Naysayers predicted that the watch auction ‘bubble’ would burst – but vintage watches are not like stocks and bonds – they have a secret life of their own. This year’s auctions are proof of that. Here’s my most noteworthy sales. The Pink Stelline In the past, a watch which had been ‘restored’ would never reach the top tier at auction houses – but this one, a Rolex ref. 6062, fetched over one million dollars, despite the previous owner changing the lume pots on the dial. Watches in original, untainted condition were rare to begin with, and with the rise in the number of collectors, it may be that we are witnessing the rise of the ‘restored’ watch, and a change in the way collectors perceive the value. To the Moon and Back Back in July Sotheby’s held an auction in New York entitled Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back to honour the 50th anniversary of the

moon landing. Steel sports watches have become increasingly popular on the lower tiers at auctions – proving that the headline grabbing recordbreakers are not the only watches of interest. This Speedmaster ref 2915-1 ‘broad arrow’ is a stainlesssteel chronograph wristwatch made in 1958 that’s now far more valuable than it was when it was new. Rolex Ref. 4113 split seconds chronograph This Rolex was made in 1942. It was the first and only split seconds chronograph wristwatch ever made by Rolex. The case is large – even by today’s standards – measuring 44 mm in diameter. It is unique, very old, and in pristine condition – so ticking all the boxes – but again, it’s not the materials, but a combination of provenance, scarcity and condition that finally pushed the selling price up to CHF1,940,000 ($1.9 million) at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction X in November. Dubai’s DIFC is home to Momentum, Tariq’s vintage watch boutique. 31





Good Vibrations As Richard Mille unveils its second collaboration with Airbus Corporate Jets, AIR chats to technical director Salvador Arbona about the groundbreaking vibrating alarm complication WORDS: LARA BRUNT




n the world of haute horlogerie, the mechanical alarm is a surprisingly underused complication. For its latest timepiece, Richard Mille has made not only an alarm complication, but one that vibrates silently – a first for mechanical watchmaking and the most complicated timepiece the marque has ever produced. Available in a 30-piece limited edition, the RM 62-01 Tourbillon Vibrating Alarm ACJ is the second collaboration between Richard Mille and Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ), following 2016’s RM 50-02 Tourbillon Split-Seconds Chronograph ACJ. The original sketches by Sylvain Mariat, ACJ’s head of creative design, were turned into reality by a team at Richard Mille headed up by Salvador Arbona, technical director for movements. “The first decision made was that we really wanted not just to make something novel; we wanted to make something that would add useful and practical functionality to the ACJ line of timepieces,” says Arbona. “Although the idea of an alarm wristwatch seems rather simple and straightforward the first time you think about it, in reality it is a highly complex mechanism that is very hard to realise, especially when it is being added to an already intricate tourbillon movement.” Instead of a striking alarm that emits a chime, the RM 62-01 produces a vibration that can be felt, but not heard. With watchmakers continually striving to eliminate vibration, inviting it into the heart of the movement seems counterintuitive to say the least. “Well, it was a sort of tongue-in-cheek challenge that we made for ourselves,” explains Arbona. “We were fully aware that there are many battery-powered or electronic watches that have such a silent alarm function that is felt


We always say at Richard Mille that the boundaries of mechanical watchmaking are still far from their full development on the wrist only and not heard. “We always say at Richard Mille that the boundaries of mechanical watchmaking are still far from reaching their full development,” Arbona continues, “so we wanted to prove that this could be done in a fully mechanical way. Furthermore, we wanted to show how the mechanism itself could be a part of high-end luxury watchmaking.” So as not to affect the watch movement, the team settled upon an offset weight in solid gold, akin to an automatic rotor, inspired by the vibrating function of earlier mobile phones. “The greatest challenge was to find the exactly correct vibration rate for the alarm signal, one that would not affect the movement and timekeeping in any way, yet still be clearly sensed directly on the wrist. In the end, we had to spend a great deal of time just to research the optimal vibrational frequency, which ended

up being 5,400 rpm,” says Arbona. Assembly was another huge challenge. Five years of research and development went in to creating the RM 62-01, a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle of 816 parts, two barrels, seven hands, 11 displays and a tourbillon cage. Four partial prototypes and extensive studies were required in order to fit so many components and functionalities into the limited space, with one of Richard Mille’s four watch constructors working exclusively on the project. According to Arbona, the development timeline is on par with several of the marque’s other highly complex timepieces. “It often happens that almost all answers are found during the early research and development phase, but there remain one or two areas that take up a huge amount of time to implement and develop ‘in the metal’, so to speak,” he says. “For the RM 62-01, the areas of intense scrutiny involved the mechanism for transmitting the frequency selected in the correct manner. We already know a lot about tourbillon movements in general, of course, but these areas took up at least two years of time in the development phase,” he explains. Aesthetically, the RM 62-01 looks very similar to its older sibling. It shares the same barrel-shaped case with rounded corners, and the movement can be seen through a sapphire crystal that is shaped like an airplane window. But where the RM 50-02 echoed the stark white profile of a jumbo jet, the RM 62-01 is inspired by the dark wood panelling of a bespoke cabin interior. The extra-wide diameter titanium crown, meanwhile, mirrors the shape of a jet turbine, while the pushers evoke the profile of pylons connecting the engine and wing.

Opening pages, from left: RM 62-01 face-on; handling tiny details ©Jerome_Bryon These pages, from left: Salvador Arbona @Renaud Corlouer; RM 62-01, front and back

The timepiece has a double bezel; one is satin-polished titanium and the second milled from a block of Carbon TPT to a waferthin 1.8mm. “This combination of materials was chosen for its scratch resistance and ability to withstand any impacts that might affect the dial side of the watch. After all, this is a watch to be used all over the globe, so toughness is something we have to consider in all development areas,” says Arbona. “In addition, this combination of materials ensures that vibrations produced by the alarm will be transferred back towards the wrist and deflected from the movement.” The RM 62-01 features a UTC indicator for a second time zone, indicated by the green hand at the centre. At nine o’clock, below the

sapphire dial, the tourbillon has a free-sprung balance oscillating at 3Hz. The oversize date is positioned at 12 o’clock and framed by an aperture with the red hatching typical of Richard Mille, while the indicator for the movement’s 70-hour power reserve is found at 11 o’clock. All functions relating to the vibrating alarm are grouped on the lower part of the main dial. Among other novelties, this is the first watch to boast a function selector with a full five positions to permit adjustment of all settings. Adjustable to the nearest minute on a 24-hour basis, when the appropriate function is selected, the alarm has three indicators of its own: on/off, AM/ PM and a power-reserve indicator.

The RM 62-01 is also the only alarm to be wound, not by rotating the crown, but simply by pressing the pusher. There is a pusher at eight o’clock for winding the alarm, which has a dedicated barrel. “You only need to press the pusher 14 times for it to fully wind. The alarm can also be turned on or off at will,” adds Arbona. Aviation and aeronautics have always provided rich inspiration for Richard Mille, and the RM 62-01 continues to push the envelope of technical innovation. “This is one of the important reasons that we choose not to look solely to the world of watchmaking for new, inspirational ideas and concepts,” says Arbona. And with a price tag of US$1.225 million, it is sure to set pulses racing. 35

Jewellery DECEMBER 2019 : ISSUE 103

Piercing the Zeitgeist The driving force behind the curated ear craze, Maria Tash talks astronomy, the rise of the invisible setting and precision piercing for grown-ups WORDS: FAYE BARTLE



ne, two… six on my left and eight on my right, two on my nose and one on my navel,” Maria Tash is tallying up the number of body piercings she has, her thick New York accent revealing a deep laugh as she attempts to calculate the total. Tash certainly flies the flag for modern-day piercings, with her curated approach and innovative fine jewellery collection credited with inspiring a shift in attitude. Indeed, something that was once frowned upon in certain circles is now a sophisticated style statement, with Tash as the main muse. “I was doing a business presentation recently and, funnily enough, the feedback from the team was that they wanted exactly what I was wearing,” she says. “I tend to prefer the larger, more experimental pieces and if people are interested in what I choose then I’m very happy about it.” Her style has even infiltrated the A-list, with stars including Zoe Kravitz, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron going under the needle, and everyone from seasoned CEOs to hip young things following suit. In case you’re not fully up to speed, piercings have come a long way since the obligatory 18-karat gold ball studs inserted into the squishiest bit of the lobe via a piercing gun. Now, almost


every part of the ear is up for grabs, from the popular daith (the innermost cartilage fold, which has been linked to easing migraines) to the hoop-worthy helix (the upper cartilage). What’s more, it’s now de rigueur for each precision-pierced hole to be adorned with dazzling fine jewellery. Quite frankly, if you haven’t caught on yet, you’re well behind the curve. Yet it has taken Tash the better part of two decades to see her vision come to life. “I started the business when my father passed away and left me US$30,000. My mother, when she was alive, helped me too – she would lend me the money for payroll occasionally and I would pay her back. There were times I mortgaged my condo. But I didn’t doubt it – I believed it would work.” Her first studio, Venus Modern Body Art, opened in 1993 in New York’s East Village, offering custom navel jewellery alongside a vision to deliver not only a look, but a feeling of beauty to each and every client who walked through the door. “It was a very different world back then,” she says. “In the early 90s it was all about experimenting with new areas and techniques. Body piercing was a lot more shocking and part of it was due to the jewellery that was available – it was quite heavy and unrefined. Today, the



This page from top to bottom: Pearl Coronet Hoops, Inset 4 Diamond Trinity and Flowers; Yellow Gold 6mm Engraved Lotus Dangle; Rose Gold 6.5mm Diamond Handcuffs; White Gold 6.5mm Diamond Eternity Triple Cuff Earring Opposite: Maria Tash-

jewellery is much more beautiful and delicate. This has helped to make body piercing more acceptable.” Being in New York brought the jet set through the door who, in turn, helped to spread the word in the days before social media. “A lot of the celebrities came in organically,” she says. “I never set out to target anyone and while having highprofile fans is extremely legitimising and something I am honoured and flattered about, I don’t have anyone who is a muse.” As CEO and designer, Tash is the 38

driving force behind the business, which has expanded from its New York headquarters to London, Rome, Dublin and Dubai. Her approach stems partly from her background in astronomy, which she studied at Columbia University. “People can assume that, as it’s sparkly up there, I like sparkly things, but the connection is deeper than that,” she enthuses. “A large part of astronomy is physics, and my appreciation and respect for the rigor of science translates to piercing, which is like a minor

surgery. I like the exactness of the shapes of the needles, studying the angles of the ear and discovering the sharpest cut that hurts the least.” The curated ear process begins with finding the best metal to suit your skin tone, followed by a quick appraisal of personal aesthetic (based upon how you dress and what type of jewellery you’re already wearing), and a discussion about taste. A suggested look is then created on faux silicone ears before the piercing or styling session begins. “I also consider anatomy,” adds Tash. “Let’s say you have a scar on your cheek. We can put jewellery in certain parts of the ear that’ll draw attention away from it. Or, you could choose to accentuate your eye colour. I have green eyes so I like to use emeralds at eye level. There are all sorts of techniques to employ and it’s the custom blend of all these factors that offer a clear way forward. Ultimately, it’s about achieving a balance of pieces that relate to each other, as well as to the wearer significantly in terms of theme and layout.” As a designer, Tash is focused on creating pieces that sit flush to the skin and are meant to be worn continuously, even when sleeping. The invisible-set diamonds – notched and set below the crown, creating the bezel-less look of a suspended stone – are a signature. “I am constantly pushing to make the setting as low as possible,” she reveals. “Also, I’m laser drilling some of the stones to create a very modern effect.” The custom fitting of the clicker rings is something else that sets Tash apart. “We stock a lot of jewellery so if you come in seeking hoops, we’ll have it in three types of gold and five different diameters so we can fit you well,” she says. Clients (primarily women) are motivated by a range of factors. “I have a lot of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s who’ve hit a point in their lives where they can buy nice things for themselves and they’re feeling brave. I’ve had a woman who had open-heart surgery who put a piece of jewellery next to the scar as a small way of reclaiming her life.” Tash sees Dubai as a testing ground for larger, more experimental pieces. “I love the city, the architecture and mix of people from East and West. It’s

I feel that I can go bigger and bolder in Dubai, with pieces such as elongated diamond spikes, and interesting shapes like pear and marquise a culture that appreciates luxury goods and I feel I can go bigger and bolder there with pieces, such as elongated diamond spikes, and interesting shapes, like pear and marquise.” With a new campaign shoot taking place this month, we can look forward to seeing more daring styles in the

very near future. “Imagine new ways with invisible-set stones, as well as custom-cut diamonds and innovative shapes suspended in the ear in a way you haven’t seen before,” she reveals, excitedly. Perhaps it’s time to go under the needle after all. 39


As the final episode of the Star Wars saga hits cinemas this month, Daisy Ridley reflects on her journey from unknown British actress to starring in one of the biggest film franchises in the world INTERVIEW: PETE CARROLL WORDS: JANE MULKERRINS





lotlines for a new Star Wars film are among the most closelyguarded secrets in the galaxy, but that doesn’t stop fans speculating wildly. Ahead of the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 19, online forums are abuzz with theories and questions: Is Rey, the headstrong young Jedi-intraining, really the Chosen One of Jedi prophecy? Is she related to Luke and Leia? Has she turned to the Dark Side? Daisy Ridley, the 27-year-old British actress who plays Rey, says her character is asking the same questions – and fans are going to be surprised by the answers. “My main joy with this film is Rey is asking more questions – who are her parents, where does she come from, why is she strong with the Force?” says Ridley. “There are particular scenes where people are really questioning the choices she’s making, but she knows why she is doing it and I think the audience will be with her.” Written and directed by JJ Abrams, the film has been billed as the definitive end of the nine-part saga of the Skywalker family that began with the first Star Wars film in 1977. It rounds out the trilogy of trilogies: the prequels were about Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi Knight lured to the Dark Side; the original film trilogy was about his son, the Jedi master Luke; and the sequels – including 2015’s The Force Awakens and 2017’s The Last Jedi – are all about Rey. Star Wars is, of course, a pop-culture phenomenon and a global empire estimated to be worth US$65 billion. Every new instalment is met with feverish anticipation, but the enormity of bringing the epic story to a close, after 42 years, wasn’t lost on Ridley. “With the other two [films], honestly, I was just excited to be in a film. With this one, I think because it’s the last film, I feel it more. I also really feel how difficult it must be for JJ – the weight of writing the final film and bringing it all together,” she says. In keeping with the Star Wars tradition of casting unknown actors for lead roles (Hayden Christensen following Mark Hamill), Ridley was just starting out when she was picked to play Rey in 2014. Born in London in 1992, she grew up in the capital with


two older sisters, Poppy and Rose, and two step-sisters from her father’s previous marriage. Her mother works in communications for a bank and her father is a photographer. After graduating from a performing arts school in Hertfordshire, Ridley had small parts in a few British television series and starred in a student horror film. At 22, she became famous overnight with her first major film role, but found global stardom so overwhelming that she had therapy to help her cope. “To be honest, I think I would have

had therapy anyway, because I had OCD when I was a teenager and I like to be in control of what is going on. The thing that was affecting me was I didn’t feel in control, I felt like other people were dictating what my day is going to be like,” she reflects. “But I do look back and think, ‘It was pretty crazy.’ My parents always say they are proud of how I’ve coped with things.” The Londoner admits she’s still uncomfortable with the notion of celebrity. “I just don’t think about myself like that,” she says. “I am in a film that a lot of people look at, so I




Credit: Pete Carroll / The Interview People and Lara Bruntw

To be honest, I think I would have had therapy anyway guess that’s part and parcel of it. But I wanted to be successful as an actor, meaning that I want to work; I wasn’t like, ‘I wanna be famous!’. So I don’t think about that side of things and that stuff still weirds me out.” Despite her down-to-earth approach to stardom, growing up in the spotlight has not been without hurdles. The lithe actress has been vocal about hitting back at social media trolls who accuse her of setting unrealistic beauty standards for young girls. “I will not apologise for how I look, what I say, and how I live my life,” she wrote on Instagram in 2016. But a few months later, she deleted her account following a backlash for sharing a post about victims of gun violence. “It wasn’t as dramatic as everyone thought it was,” she says. “Somebody said a not nice thing and I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t want to be on this’. It’s just not my vibe. I didn’t feel an issue when I was on [Instagram], but coming off it, I was like, ‘Ah’ – I don’t feel the pressure. Who cares what I had for breakfast?” As the star of a billion-dollar Hollywood franchise, plenty of people do care, though. Does she feel the pressure of being a role model for young girls? “I think I’m pretty responsible anyway. I like to be at home and drink tea. I’m not a massive drinker, I don’t take drugs – all of those things that I think are so boring,” she says. “But I’m also very aware of separating me from Rey. So even though it’s very nice when people come up and talk to me, I do try and make that distinction because she is saving the galaxy and I’m just living my life.”

The character of Rey – smart, brave and loyal – was heralded a game changer for the franchise, yet fans were left outraged in 2015 after it emerged she had been omitted from some of the official Star Wars merchandise. It sparked the Twitter hashtag #WheresRey, with many complaining that the franchise’s first female protagonist was being sidelined in favour of male characters. Filmmakers insisted the character was initially left out of a themed boardgame to avoid revealing plot spoilers, although it took 18 months before toymakers offered a version that included Rey. One such critic was Ridley’s costar, John Boyega, who plays exStormtrooper Finn in the latest trilogy. “Before all of the #WheresRey stuff, he said to me that Rey hadn’t been featured somewhere and he was like, ‘I have an issue with this.’ So John was a big part of opening up that conversation for me because it’s that difficult thing of feeling so grateful for everything, I wasn’t ready to have a conversation that was negative, I guess,” she says. With two more Star Wars films under her belt, the young actress has grown in confidence. “I’m more empowered because I was surrounded by people who made me feel great. A lot of the time I think people just want someone to give them a pat on the back and be like, ‘Yeah you’re doing a good job’,” she says. “And also, JJ is the most receptive person. He’s so open to everything. That in itself is empowering.” Away from Star Wars, Ridley has had mixed success. She held her own alongside such luminaries as Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi

Dench in 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, and voiced Cottontail in the film adaptation of Peter Rabbit, a box office hit that grossed more than US$325 million worldwide. Last year, she played the titular role in Ophelia alongside Naomi Watts and Clive Owen; the reimagining of Hamlet received mixed reviews, although Ridley was mostly praised for her performance. She has also completed the dystopian thriller Chaos Walking with SpiderMan actor Tom Holland, however the film has been beset by major reshoots after the first cut was deemed ‘unreleasable’ by studio executives. “Whoever knows when it’s going to come out,” she says. Next, she is set to reunite with filmmaker Abrams in supernatural drama Kolma, and play the American heiress and superspy Virginia Hall in A Woman of No Importance. As arguably this generation’s Luke Skywalker, does Ridley fear she’ll face the same fate as Mark Hamill, who was never really able to escape the role that made him famous? “I already feel stretched and hopefully I continue to feel stretched. But no, I’m not really scared; I get to do a really great thing with a great group of people and I also have a great agent. So I just put my trust in that,” she says. “I’m sure I’ll always be compared to Star Wars and I’ll always be thankful for what I’ve been able to do.” Whether she’s hamstrung by her lightsabre or not, audiences can expect to see much more of Daisy Ridley. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is released on December 19 45

B ORN TO RULE This year marks the 40 th anniversary of the iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the epitome of off-road SUVs. Immensely popular in the Middle East, its blend of originality, ruggedness and luxury sets the all-wheel bar high. Hark back to when it launched in 1979, however, and the idea of combining on- and off-road properties in a vehicle was revolutionary. Over the years, its iconic shape has become synonymous with power and the benchmark-setting model continues to rule the industry, outperforming all others as it heads a class of its own. Today celebrating its exceptional status, the G-Class shows it’s yet to be matched and, as its prestige continues to grow, the next 40 years look just as thrilling‌









Shot 2 White shirt: Carolina Herrera Trousers: Bottega Veneta Bag & Bracelets: Bottega Veneta Boots: Azalea Wang Shot 3 Top, trousers & boots: Iris & Ink Glasses: Chloé Bag: Chloé Suitcase: Tumi Shot 6 Dress: Kristina Fidelskaya Belt & Bag: Tory Burch Boots: Aquazzura Shot 7 Jacket & Trousers: Max Mara Shoes & Bag: Michael Kors

Model Sarra MMG Models Stylist Gemma M Jones MMG Artist Hair and Make-up Katharine Brennan MMG Artist Location Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai



Nikolai von Bismarck is the shy aristocrat more at home with his camera than at parties with his girlfriend, Kate Moss. Grant Tucker is given a rare interview WORDS: GRANT TUCKER


From top to bottom: Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, shot by Nikolai Von Bismarck for The Dior Sessions



here’s an air of mystery to the photographer Nikolai von Bismarck. Despite his illustrious family history — his great-great-grandfather was Otto, the Iron Chancellor of Germany — his Wikipedia entry is surprisingly sparse. “That’s how I like it,” he smiles. “Low-key.” We’re in the studio of his Victorian cottage near Hyde Park, London. His workroom is covered with celebrity portraits — Jagger, Sinatra, Bowie — “frames of reference” for his latest project, a yearlong collaboration with Christian Dior’s artistic director of men’s ready-to-wear and accessories collections, Kim Jones. The resulting coffee-table book, released last month, is a series of intimate portraits that includes David Beckham, Demi Moore, Robert Pattinson, Bella Hadid and, of course, his long-term partner, Kate Moss. All the proceeds will go to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Von Bismarck, 32, was advised to do the book by his “guru and mentor” Sir Don McCullin, the former Sunday Times war photographer. McCullin had admired his reportage work in Mozambique, Cuba, Burma and Ethiopia, where von Bismarck spent the summer of 2012 drinking cow’s blood, washing in crocodileinfested waters and avoiding the gunfire of warring tribes, but suggested that he stay in one place and do a portraiture project to aid his sobriety — von Bismarck gave up alcohol in 2017. “Don said, ‘It’ll teach you discipline, it’ll teach you patience,’ and it most certainly has,” von Bismarck says. “I thought, this man is in his eighties and he’s still going to Syria — what’s a year out of my life to follow his advice?” When he told his friend Kim Jones, who had just taken over at Dior, Jones suggested working together. Dior would provide the clothes, von Bismarck would take the photographs, and they would both gut their contacts books for the biggest names in fashion, film, music and sport. McCullin became a subject of the book, too, and at 83 is the oldest person to feature. Von Bismarck’s enthusiasm for the project is clear to see, but he admits that the past 12 months have been a long slog. Sixteen-hour days were common and during one exhausting week he did 20 shoots in three days. None of the celebrities in the book is smiling: von Bismarck captures them off guard, vulnerable. He cites Richard Avedon’s portrait of a downcast Marilyn Monroe as a particular inspiration. “I don’t really like happy, cheesy photos, I prefer something slightly more intense, more real, more emotional and with more feeling in it. I think it’s also a reflection of what I was feeling like at the time,” he says. 50


We had three different Dior outfits for Robert to choose from “ and he decided last minute, so we couldn’t really prepare for that one. And then he put on this Canadian tux, double denim. When he put that on, he looked like Elvis ” Nikolai von Bismarck



I had seven minutes “ with David Beckham to

photograph him in Tokyo before Kim’s show. I usually have half an hour — but he executed it perfectly.

Von Bismarck learnt his craft at Parsons Paris art school and, after graduating in 2007, came under the tutelage of Annie Leibovitz, whom he spent two years assisting in New York. He is the eldest of the four sons of Count Leopold von Bismarck, known to his friends as Bolle, and his wife, Countess Debonnaire, who is credited with introducing him to Moss. As a nod to his heritage, he was sent to the Deutsche Schule London, a German school in Richmond, and was impressed with a deep sense of European history — his favourite subject. There are stacks of warts and history books in the living room and von Bismarck is a voracious reader. But he winces when I attempt to get him to talk about politics. “I try to keep out of that madness,” he says. “But it is fascinating what’s going on at the moment. It’s absurd.” Von Bismarck looks uncomfortable when I ask him about his relationship with Moss. He denies recent tabloid speculation that they are engaged. “It’s not true,” he says, before adding that it is “none of anybody’s business”. I ask him what it is like to be constantly labelled as Kate Moss’ boyfriend. He pauses, ever cautious when he talks about his partner. “When people involved with this project would have typed in my name, they might have found the odd photograph I’d taken, but on the whole it was ‘Kate Moss’s boyfriend’. That’s not ideal. It’s something that I don’t particularly like. I don’t like being in any sort of limelight. That’s not who I am. I like to take my photos. I like to do my drawings. I’d much prefer to be recognised for my art.” As I get up to leave, I ask him what it is that he admires most in Moss. “Her work ethic,” he says. Who works hardest? “It’s close these days,” he laughs. The Dior Sessions: Portraits by Nikolai von Bismarck, Tailored by Kim Jones is out now, published by Rizzoli. All proceeds donated to support the Teenage Cancer Trust. 52

Credit: Grant Tucker / The Sunday Times Style Magazine / News Licensing


Nikolai von Bismarck


AIR These pages, from left: A reception given by the Baron and Baronne de Cabrol. From the scrapbook of the Baron de Cabrol.© Daisy de Cabrol; Diana Cooper and Frédéric de Cabrol at the Beisteigui Ball. © Daisy de Cabrol


High Society Author Thierry Coudert reflects on the hedonistic world of cafĂŠ society, which saw high society mingle with the avant-garde bourgeoisie in the pursuit of pleasure WORDS: LARA BRUNT


Today, we think of café society as a happy time for happy people. But it was, in reality, a search by lonely people to banish boredom in tragic times


These pages, from left: Baronne de Cabrol, Princess Chavchavadze, and Christian Bérard. From the scrapbook of the Baron de Cabrol.© Daisy de Cabrol; The Cabrols on holiday at Mona Bismarck’s villa, Il Fortino, on Capri. From the scrapbook of the Baron de Cabrol, 1949. © Daisy de Cabrol


n a balmy September night in 1951, Venice was brought to a standstill for the party of the century. Dressed in elaborate costumes and masks, an eclectic coterie of royalty, socialites and artists, including the Aga Khan, Orson Welles and Salvador Dali, arrived by gondola at Charles de Beistegui’s sumptuous palazzo. Resplendent in flowing scarlet robes, stilt-like platform shoes and a huge wig of cascading curls, the Mexican-born mining heir greeted his guests at the top of the stairs, while Cecil Beaton captured their arrival for Vogue. “Venice returned to the pomp-packed days of its doges,” declared Life magazine. The ball proved to be the pinnacle of café society, a phrase popularised by the American gossip columnist and legendary hostess, Elsa Maxwell. “She used it to describe the tastemakers of the period – people from the aristocracy, the cream of the high bourgeoisie and the artists around them. The new café society was more


cosmopolitan and more composite [than traditional high society],” says author Thierry Coudert. Aristocrats and millionaires rubbed shoulders with couturiers and musicians, circled by hangers-on and gigolos. Coudert offers a tantalising peek into this privileged and decadent world in Cafe Society: Socialites, Patron, and Artists (1920 to 1960). The handsome coffee table tome profiles the most influential members of the clique, from the alluring, such as French-American fashion plate Daisy Fellowes, to the scandalous, including the exiled Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the tragic, like Barbara Hutton, the oftmarried Woolworths heiress dubbed ‘poor little rich girl’ by the press. “Today, we think of café society as a happy time for happy people. But it was, in reality, a search by lonely people to banish boredom in tragic times – between two World Wars, the economic crisis of 1929 and the Cold War,” he says. Yet, in their endless pursuit of glamour and

gaiety, the European aristocrats, American heiresses and debonair South Americans of café society also provided patronage for some of the greatest creative talents of the last century, including Elsa Schiaparelli, Cecil Beaton and Cole Porter. Alongside archival photographs and magazine portraits, the book is peppered with whimsical collages from the personal scrapbook of Baron de Cabrol. Between 1938 and the 1960s, the aristocratic interior designer and talented amateur artist documented the glittering parties, masked balls and beach holidays of the jet set, with a mix photography, drawings and magazine clippings. “Fred de Cabrol was a famous socialite with his wife Daisy, who belonged to one of the oldest aristocratic families in France. They were extremely chic and it was for this reason that they were invited to all the events of the café society,” says Coudert. “Baron de Cabrol’s scrapbooks featured many watercolours and collages, and provides



I want to teach women that they can choose a piece and mix it with something they find more comfortable. It’s really important I have a realistic idea of women


Left, from top to bottom: The Boisgelin and Cabrols at Ascot. From the scrapbook of the Baron de Cabrol, 1957. © Daisy de Cabrol; A party given by the Baron and Baronne de Cabrol. From the scrapbook of the Baron de Cabrol. © Daisy de Cabrol

To be part of this club you had to be chic, witty, funny – it was a world of eccentrics an exceptional testimony about the life of the café society. We can see all the famous socialites and the decoration of the places, but because of his talent, we also get a real feel for the refined atmosphere,” says Coudert. Café society flourished during the interwar period, when the balance of power shifted from the Old World of Europe to the New World of the Americas. “Rich heiresses such as Barbara Hutton and Mona Bismarck were living in Europe but their fortune was American. They loved the European way of life, the haute couture and haute joaillerie in Paris,” says Coudert. “South Americans, meanwhile, such as Charles de Beistegui, Arturo Lopez-Willshaw and the Marquis de Cuevas were fans of 18th-century French decorative arts and had strong influence over the taste of café society.” While the aristocracy – the “gratin”, or upper crust, as Coudert says – lived between their residences in Paris or London and their country estates, the expansion of commercial rail, ocean and later air travel saw café society members flit further afield to New York and Morocco. Summers were spent cruising the Mediterranean – preferably aboard a yacht owned by Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos – while in winter, the jet set decamped to St Moritz for Alpine sports. The criteria for admission to this exclusive club was “to be chic, witty, funny – it was a world of eccentrics,” says Coudert. “It was easier [yet also] more difficult to be a member of café society than it was to be gratin. You were gratin by birth if you belonged to an aristocratic or a high bourgeoisie family. In café society, you were co-opted. It was the most original

members of the gratin who were the basis of café society; people were of high nobility, but very provocative in their way of life.” French aristocrat Marie-Laure Noailles and her husband Charles were among the most influential members of this sophisticated, avant-garde, and often louche, society. “From the beginning to the end of café society, they were central,” comments Coudert. “They were patrons of artists, writers and musicians, such as Salvador Dali, Christian Bérard, Igor Markevitch and Francis Poulenc. The Parisian salon of Marie-Laure, Place des États-Unis, was world-famous, and their modernist house in Hyères [on the French Riviera] was the epicentre of this small world.” Daisy Fellowes, meanwhile, was one of the world’s best-dressed women during the heyday of café society. Heiress to the Singer sewing machine empire and one of the 20th century’s greatest jewellery collectors, she was a client of Coco Chanel in the 1920s and later championed Elsa Schiaparelli. “The designer responded with her most original creations, knowing that only Daisy would dare to wear them, and that she would do so with her own peerless chic,” says Coudert. The Duchess of Windsor – formerly American socialite Wallis Simpson – was another paragon of style, particularly in the 1940s and 50s. She favoured couturiers such as Mainbocher, Givenchy and Schiaparelli, while her love of jewellery – including her signature panther pieces by Cartier – sparked a trend for animal motifs. After Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936 to marry the twice-divorced socialite, the couple lived abroad, mostly in France. The vacuousness of their lifestyle, however,

came to represent the worst of café society, says Coudert. “When they left the UK, the Windsors had nothing to do in life. The controversial personality of Wallis, and their sympathy for [Nazi] Germany, pushed them outside of their traditional circle of relationships,” says Coudert. Neither patrons of the arts nor intellectuals, “they were happy to find snobbish people who were intrigued by their personality, even if they were not powerful or funny,” says Coudert. Despite their enormous privilege, the Windsors were among many café society figures who spent much of their lives searching for a happiness that seemingly eluded them. “The world of café society was not a happy one. People were mostly rich and beautiful, but they were often bored and searching for a way to be distracted from a life that was too conventional. Café society had no prejudice and was a very free world for the times. People felt freer to use stimulants, drink [to excess] and be promiscuous. But all these addictions didn’t bring them happiness either,” Coudert reflects. By the 1960s, the party was all but over. “Truman Capote was the last café society writer and this period finished with Andy Warhol’s Factory. Society was changing its way of life, too. Even rich people began to have professions and no longer had time to organise balls over many months, or just focus on the decoration of their houses. The media changed the style of famous people, focusing on actors or singers [rather than society figures],” he says. While tastemakers have changed, the legacy of café society lives on. Cafe Society: Socialites, Patrons and Artists (1920 to 1960) by Thierry Coudert (Paris: Flammarion, 2010) 59


Forget the traditional boundaries between creativity and commerce. Now you’re just as likely to see a designer scouting for treasure at Frieze as a gallerist on the front row. Meet the fashion designers consistently influenced by the world of art WORDS: LOUISA MCGILLICUDDY AND JANE MCFARLAND 60

Duro Olowu and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye The art friends In the 2019 Venn diagram of fashion and art, smack bang in the middle would be the friendship between Duro Olowu and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The former is an award-winning fashion designer and husband to Thelma Golden, director of the respected Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. The latter is a Turner nominee and arguably one of the most important British artists working today. The pair have been friends — “badly behaved kids”, as Olowu puts in — for many years. In fact it was Olowu’s wife who spotted Yiadom-Boakye and gave her her first solo show in 2010. “Lynette and I share the same attitude to our work, and the fame and success that comes from it, which is: don’t drink the Kool-Aid, because the Kool-Aid isn’t that great the morning after!” Olowu laughs. Despite currently preparing for the biggest retrospective of her career (at Tate Britain next May), Yiadom-Boakye still finds time to teach at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, where she is a visiting tutor on the MFA programme. Olowu, meanwhile, is juggling a full-time fashion brand with an expanding career in art curation. In 2016 he put together his first UK show at the Camden Arts Centre, which featured more than 60 artists, including five new works

The real truth is that both worlds actually sort of want to be part of the other now Duro Olowu

by Yiadom-Boakye. Next, he will be curating a big show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in February, and releasing a book of the exhibition, for which YiadomBoakye has written a series of short stories. As someone who has found genuine critical success in both fashion and art, has he ever encountered any snobbery from either side? “The real truth is that both worlds actually sort of want to be part of the other now,” he says. “Artists are just as intrigued by what I do as I am by them. You’d be shocked at the artists who want to trade for clothes! ‘Can I get this for my wife?’, ‘Can you make me this shirt?’ Artists loves clothes.” None more so than Yiadom-Boakye, as you can see in the details of her paintings: stripy trousers, fur stoles, statement trench coats. “I’ve told her that only after she started hanging out with me did all that come out!” Olowu laughs. LM

Clockwise from left: A gallery worker poses aside one of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings; Duro Olowu with runway models at his New York show




Manolo Blahnik The heritage lover This year marked a historic moment for the Wallace Collection: the first time the museum — which features art from the 15th to the 19th centuries — has co-curated an exhibition with a fashion designer. The London gallery has always had a cult following in the fashion world, and especially in the form of Manolo Blahnik, who says he has been visiting for almost 50 years. In his recent show there, An Enquiring Mind, treasures from the collection were paired with some of Blahnik’s most celebrated designs: rococo works by the likes of JeanHonoré Fragonard and François Boucher act as backdrops for the shoes he designed for Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette. The idea for the show came from a conversation between Blahnik and the director of the Wallace, Xavier Bray. The pair bonded over their mutual love of Goya. “Goya, Velazquez, Zurbaran — I was born with them, I was educated with these images as a child,” Blahnik remembers. “When we used to go from the Canary Islands to Geneva” — where he moved after leaving his childhood home — “we always stopped in Cadiz.” And at the Museum of Cadiz were works by his art heroes. “I was hooked. Still today, for me, the most beautiful paintings are 17th-century Spanish works.” Blahnik, who had his first retrospective at London’s Design Museum in 2003, has always surrounded himself with a bohemian crowd. When he moved to London, he lived in Notting Hill in a flat above the American artist Peter Schlesinger, an ex of David Hockney. Blahnik also enjoys creating his own art: his hand-illustrated Christmas cards, which he affectionately refers to as “doodles”, are legendary in the fashion industry. When he was younger, he loved to experiment with sculpture, creating works in marble, basalt and granite. “I’m a frustrated stonemason,” he says. “I found a few of the things I used to make the other day, actually. I wasn’t too bad!” LM

Left: Roksanda Ilincic Right: Eva Rothschild

Roksanda Ilincic The female art champion “My mission is to shed light on some female artists, as I think the balance is still not quite equal,” says the Serbia-born, London-based fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic. With past collections inspired by the French sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle and Toronto-based artist Julia Dault, plus a design aesthetic that encompasses arresting colours and graphic lines, Ilincic’s affiliation with the art world runs deep. “I don’t believe people should be celebrated just because they are female, but I do believe that there are many incredible female artists who are not as exposed as men,” she says. One such artist is Eva Rothschild, the Dublin-born sculptor best known for her life-size artworks. Rothschild and Ilincic met more than five years ago and a burgeoning friendship followed. “There was an immediate connection between myself and Eva. We had a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s work — she is very particular with the colours she works with, and I use a lot of colours when designing my collection. She represented Ireland at Venice Biennale this year, and it has been wonderful to watch Eva become more and more recognised, which is hard in our time and age. Her craft is remarkable. I’m lucky enough to have a few of her pieces at home — they’re certainly some of my most treasured.” A regular at Frieze and Art Basel, Ilincic has held her spring-summer fashion shows at the Serpentine Pavilion for the past three years. “When I go there, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to a gallery — it’s like going home.” Her tip for 2020? Marina Abramovic’s solo exhibition at the Royal Academy. “She comes from the same city as me and is like a national treasure. I was always very proud of her, and as a little girl I watched this woman doing a very unusual, brave and different type of art at that time. Now it is completely accepted. It seems like success has come easy, but it didn’t — it’s interesting to see.” JM 63

Erdem Moralioglu The conscientious collector

“One thing I think is important for creatives in London is that we help each other, get to know each other,” says Martino Gamper, the Italian artist best known for his award-winning 100 Chairs in 100 Days project. He means it too: Gamper invited the fashion design duo Wright Le Chapelain into his studio to sit for a portrait after they were put in touch by a mutual friend at Central Saint Martins. Vincent Le Chapelain has been a fan of Gamper’s work since reading a book based on the chairs project. “For us, that book really opened our way of thinking,” he says. It’s easy to see why. For 100 Chairs in 100 Days, which he finished in 2007, Gamper drove around London collecting abandoned chairs and refashioning them into beautiful new objects. “I would drive around and always find them by the side of the road. Today I still see them and go, ‘Hmm, shall I take it home?’” The make-doand-mend philosophy has defined his more than 20-year career, from community art projects in London’s Shoreditch to shows at the city’s Serpentine Sackler gallery, V&A and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. For the London Design Festival, he created an enormous false facade in King’s Cross made entirely from recycled and repurposed materials. Equally, Wright Le Chapelain has built a reputation as one of the most eco-conscious new brands on the block. Imogen Wright worked at luxury giants Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Celine and Burberry before co-founding the label with her boyfriend, Vincent, in 2017 — coincidentally, Gamper also collaborates with his partner; his wife is the sculptor Francis Upritchard, who works in the studio next door. Wright Le Chapelain focuses on smallscale, sustainable production: its collections are developed and manufactured within a 10-mile radius to limit the carbon footprint. Net-a-porter commissioned the duo to create a capsule collection — now almost entirely sold out — after spotting their work on Instagram. The SS20 collection, their debut show at London fashion week, was made from entirely upcycled materials. And instead of walking the catwalk, models planted medicinal herbs and edible plants into repurposed tree beds. “At the end of the presentation we had people living in the area coming and thanking us for making it a better place,” Wright says. LM 64

Credit: The Sunday Times Style Magazine / News Licensing


Wright Le Chapelain The carbon-neutral crafters

“I wanted the space to feel like her home — what she would sit on, what carpet she would have, what it would smell like, and what art she would have on the walls,” says Erdem of the mysterious woman he had in mind when designing his first store, which he co-created with his husband, the architect Philip Joseph. Since it opened in Mayfair in 2015, the shop has also acted as an informal gallery for one of fashion’s most prodigious art collectors; a photo collage by David Hockney hangs in the lower ground floor of the store. At the top of the stairs is a painting of Erdem’s mother, made in collaboration with the artist Kaye Donachie, now a friend. Erdem’s first purchase, a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph, was in 2009. Now, his vast collection of contemporary art (How many? “No idea”) spans a range of forms and movements, from pieces by the Bloomsbury group — watercolours by Duncan Grant, a portrait by Vanessa Bell — to the London-based figurative sculptor Daniel Silver. “I’ve gone through phases of collecting things like busts and female portraiture. I love unfinished portraits,” he says. Over the decade he has been collecting, what began as a enthusiastic hobby has evolved into a professional pursuit. In 2016 he curated a sale of contemporary art for Sotheby’s, and in 2018 the Tate got in touch to ask if they could borrow a Lisa Brice portrait he owned for its show on the South African painter. Earlier this year he put his personal art collection on display at London Craft Week. Where does he find his pieces? Advice from friends such as the gallery owners Maureen Paley and Sadie Coles, and the artist Polly Morgan surely helps. But more than that he loves auctions. “I’m big on a phone bid or an internet bid,” he says. “But you always remember the things you lost. I can still remember a photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans, Shaker Rainbow, that haunts me to this day!” LM

You always remember the things you lost. I can still remember a photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans that haunts me to this day. Erdem Moralioglu


Driving Force In a new exhibition, the V&A in London reveals how the car has impacted our world, with the first production and flying models among those on display




Motoring DECEMBER 2019: ISSUE 103




he car has always been more than a form of transport. Since its invention towards the end of the 19th century, its impact on our lives has been phenomenal – influencing design and technology; revolutionising how we make and sell; establishing our relationship with speed; reshaping landscapes, cities, fashion and popular culture; and building entire economies. Is there a manmade object that has achieved more? This is what a new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London, Cars: Accelerating the Modern World, aims to find out. For the museum, the subject matter is a departure. “We’ve had shows about different time periods or themes, and those have had a car in them, but we’ve never focused exclusively on the car itself,” explains curator Brendan Cormier. “We’ve got this designed object that many people today would deem an essential commodity, and for better or worse it’s impacted our culture in all of these different ways. That was exciting for me.” As Cormier describes, this is not your typical car show. “Most exhibitions based around cars will typically focus on the glamour element, or the beauty of the design, but that’s not what we’re doing,” he says. “Our story starts with the initial promise of the car, and how its development impacted other things, before trying to guess what the future might be.” Cormier has co-curated the exhibition with Lizzie Bisley. Between them, the pair have sourced 15 cars from around 68

Most sub-cultures are about speed, but lowriding is the opposite, as you need to drive slowly, showing off your personal creativity

the world, deemed significant in some way, along with 250 supporting objects, from advertisements to fashion items. “We’ve organised it all into three sections,” Cormier adds. “So it opens with the first section, Going Fast, as the initial promise of the car was speed, and we’ve included the firstever production car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen 3, introduced to the public in 1888. It wasn’t particularly fast by today’s standards, but it helped to inspire a worldwide racing culture, and the push for technology to help us achieve greater speeds. “From there, we go to Making More, looking at how the demand for cars gave us automated factories and assembly lines, pioneered by the likes of Henry Ford. So one of the cars here is a Ford Model T. And the final section is Shaping Space, which explores the impact of the car on the environment, and vice-versa – for example, a fuel scarcity in the 1950s led to the development of the more economical

bubble car, which we have on display, and the search for an alternative fuel source, so we have the Ford Nucleon, a nuclear-powered concept car.” Some of the items on show may surprise people, such as a table fan from 1937. “Well, the look of certain items was clearly influenced by that of the car around this time,” Cormier explains. “You had the emergence of streamlining technology, with a sleek design used to reduce drag – you can see it with the Tatra T77, another vehicle on display at the show. The streamlining look came to represent progress and cutting-edge technology, so other manufacturers caught on and applied it to their kitchen appliances, pencil sharpeners, fans, or whatever their product might be.” As well as the impact to technology, the ways that cars affected culture is also explored. “An example of that is Henry Ford and his assembly lines, as that in turn affects architecture, human resource management, and so on,” says Cormier. “In the 1920s, Ford had this $5-a-day working scheme, which at the time was double most factories, but it came with a lot of caveats, so you had to be what Ford himself considered to be a good person – your children had to go to school, you had to keep a clean house, and he had employees that were sent in to do inspections. “But another impact is these interesting sub-cultures that have cropped up. So in Dubai, for example, you have people that go out to the desert and race over the dunes, or in Los Angeles you have the lowrider

culture, where the cars parade up and down the city boulevards. Most sub-cultures are about speed, but lowriding is the opposite, as you need to drive slowly, showing off your personal creativity. And yes, we have a converted lowrider in the exhibition.” The negative impact of cars – namely traffic and pollution, or oil consumption – is looked at in the final section of the show. “We have a lot of audio-visual components, and one is a 16m-long projection that shows images of landscapes,” says Cormier. “These have been shot using a drone, and there are highway interchanges in Tokyo and oil rigs in Southern California. We also have a monitor with a live feed of the number of barrels of oil left in the ground today, and others showing traffic-related data.” Safety in cars is another subject covered, and the eventual arrival of the seatbelt and anti-locking braking systems (ABS). “As part of that, we have an interesting sculpture by an Australian artist called Patricia Piccinini, which imagines how a human being would need to evolve in order to survive a car crash,” adds Cormier. “He has no neck, so it won’t snap; his chest is an airbag; and he has no ankles either, as those would break

in a crash. It’s pretty gruesome.” The exhibition ends with a prototype of an autonomous flying car, but is this really what the future looks like? “There could be unintended consequences there too, such as noise,” Cormier explains. “I’d actually like to see car companies diversify, and think about non-car solutions, but it depends on many things, from marketing to government investment, and getting the right infrastructure for whatever it is we need. That’s how you make electric cars viable, or autonomous cars viable, as that support system needs to come together, and there is a whole network of influences there. But when you think of all happened for the car in a space of just 130 years, anything is possible.”

Opening pages: Lowrider Convention in Los Angeles © 2019 Nathanael Turner This pages, clockwise from left: French advertisement (1934) for the Tatra 77; Messerschmitt, KR200 Cabin Scooter Bubble Top, 1959 © Louwman Museum – The Hague (NL); General Motors Firebird I (XP-21), 1953 © General Motors Company LLC


Gastronomy DECEMBER 2019 : ISSUE 103

Made in Italy

AIR tucks into a chat with self-taught culinary genius Niko Romito at Bulgari Resort Dubai WORDS: JOHN THATCHER



hey say timing is everything. The defining moment for Niko Romito came shrouded in sadness with the unfortunate passing of his father, whose bakery-turnedrestaurant called Reale in Romito’s home region of Abruzzo, Italy, was subsequently in urgent need of a custodian. At the time, Romito, who was aged just 25 and an aspiring stockbroker in Rome, knew next to nothing about food, other than that from as far back as he can remember he loved to eat it. The idea, then, that he would give up his studies to head up a restaurant in a small village many miles and a world away from Italy’s financial hub was not too far removed from absurd. And so, when answering his family’s call to return to Abruzzo he told himself he would stay for only two or three months maximum before hitting the road back to Rome. He never left. Seven years after making that vow to continue his business studies, Reale had been awarded three Michelin stars, fine dining’s highest accolade. What’s more, Romito was its self-taught chef. His remarkable achievement in starting from scratch to claim three stars in such a short space of time – three stars being something few chefs achieve in their entire careers – meant he had scaled the pinnacle of his profession long before the age of forty. For others, reaching the top often marks the end, the crowning glory. For Romito, it marked only the beginning. 70

“I think it’s something you have to decide, whether or not it’s the end of the journey or the starting point. For me it was the starting point, and we then started to grow massively,” says Romito, relaxing into a black leather chair aside the bar at his eponymous Il Ristorante Niko Romito at Bulgari Resort Dubai. The widening of Romito’s culinary landscape began with the relocation of Reale to its current home of Casadonna, a 16th-century former monastery in Abruzzo which he has since transformed into a ninebedroom guesthouse, complete with an experimental vineyard, culinary academy and bread baking laboratory. Graduates of the academy get to showcase their acquired skills at Spazio, a network of casual dining restaurants Romito launched in 2013, with outlets in Rome and Milan. While a more intriguing departure is Nutritional Intelligence, a collective catering project which saw Romito first reimagine then redesign hospital catering through the application of techniques and concepts he developed at Reale. Lastly, of course, there is his worldwide partnership with Bulgari, of which his Dubai restaurant is one of four globally, with Paris, Rome, Moscow, and Tokyo in the pipeline. It’s safe to say that Romito now knows a thing or two about food. It’s also needless to say that he has no regrets about the decision to cut short his financial studies. “None,” he

says emphatically. “On the contrary. Coming from such a small village (just 500 inhabitants) I would never have achieved what I have done in 20 years if I hadn’t come back. “Maybe the only regret is that in doing this job at this level, with this pressure and this intensity, it obviously doesn’t give you much time to benefit from your success, by having free time or a holiday. Sometimes you feel like a war machine and I lose sight of the more common things, and when I do have the time to do these things, I consider it a real luxury.” The pressure Romito speaks of is as much as a result of an industry that demands perfection at its highest level as it is of him being a perfectionist, a character trait of which is the constant need to improve, to evolve. “Because of the way I am, this is the most important thing. To keep evolving, to keep moving forward is important, to justify the huge amount of time I devote to my work, otherwise it becomes monotonous. Evolution in my cuisine process is natural, because at these levels of cooking the food reflects the chef’s personality, and a person’s personality is in constant evolution and growth. “The more I grow, the more I feel aware and responsible for what I’m doing and the more time it takes for me to be truly satisfied with a dish.” Romito’s food is often described as simple, a lazy description that’s widely, and wrongly, applied to Italian fare as a



whole, and one that omits any thought for the complexity of his dishes. There’s a reason for this. On his for-a-limitedtime-only ‘grand tour’ menu at Il Ristorante Niko Romito – which has enjoyed a tour of its own, from Beijing to Shanghai, Dubai to Milan – an antipasti is listed ‘simply’ as bread and tomato soup – nothing deconstructed, definitely no smoke. Yet to taste it, to sample its texture, its incredible depth of flavour, even to see its remarkable colour, tells you that he has elevated these basic ingredients to a level only a perfectionist can reach. It’s a dish with its roots in Florence, while other dishes on the same menu pay homage to the traditional tastes of other cities throughout Italy. Yet, as I’ve now come to expect from Romito, this is a tour designed to do something more than is immediately apparent. “Many people think Italian cuisine is related to those ten or 15 dishes that everyone knows and that represent Italy worldwide. But the Italian cuisine has the widest and broadest variety of European models,” he explains. “It’s very different across Italy. For example, the Milanese people are different from the Romans; they have completely different tastes. This is incredible and beautiful, unique to Italy.” It’s obviously of huge satisfaction to Romito that he can dispel the myths about Italian cuisine in the way he does, but as for his greatest satisfaction? “The people who have travelled to Reale have done so purely for the gastronomic experience. The closest cities are a couple of hours away by car, so our location is not part of the major gastronomic circuit. We had to create our own place on that circuit, so to have people visit us from worldwide is my greatest satisfaction.” We end by talking of the future, those new Bulgari hotels and his plans to expand in his homeland, though not, you won’t be surprised to learn, as you may have suspected. “There are interesting provinces (throughout Italy), not for fine dining but for the casual range of dining, that if you approach them in the right way, with the right experience, there are so many things that can be done.” He may not be the stockbroker he set out to be, but Romito’s stock looks set to keep rising. 72

Opening page: Niko Romito These pages, from left to right: private dining room at Il Ristorante Niko Romito; canapés from the ‘grand tour’ menu

The more I grow, the more I feel aware and responsible for what I’m doing and the more time it takes for me to be truly satisfied with a dish


Travel DECEMBER 2019 : ISSUE 103


Eden Rock – St Barths

Saint Barthelemy



orced to close due to the destructive impact of Hurricane Irma in 2017, the Caribbean grand dame hotel Eden Rock – St Barths reopened last month, shedding its wraps to reveal a new look befitting of its status as one of the world’s most iconic hotels. Come here now to marvel at her complete transformation, which has ushered in new rooms and suites alongside innovative restaurant and spa concepts. Yet the spirit of the storied resort remains untouched, a spirit shaped by its illustrious guests, with it once the bolt-hole of choice for many a privacy-seeking social bigwig – Howard Hughes to Greta Garbo, Baron Rothschild to David & Peggy Rockfeller. Preserving and referencing that rich heritage, for which Eden Rock is loved and liberally honoured – the year before the hurricane hit it was voted the world’s best hotel – was central to the thoughts of the design team. The new Rémy Salon has been named after Eden Rock’s original owner, Rémy de Haenen, who in 1953 purchased a rocky promontory on the Bay of St Jean on which he built the hotel. Another addition is the unique Eden Spa, housed inside the top of the Rock where the legend was born. Designed as a ‘yacht-onland’, it features three discreet wellness cabins. One constant, however, is the Sand Bar, the gastronomic heart of the hotel, where the likes of truffle pizza and caramelized foie-gras are served to guests relaxing on cotton-soft sand aside the lapping waves of the Caribbean Sea. Jean-Georges Vongerichten is the man heading the culinary charge here, showcasing skills sharpened from a stellar career at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants across the world. And while Vongerichten takes top billing in the kitchen, that honour belongs to the appropriately named Villa Rockstar when it comes to accommodation. Spanning 16,000 sq.ft and secured behind three-metre high walls to ensure privacy, the villa has six bedrooms, a chef of its own, and a 20-metre pool – should you fancy a change from bathing in the warm waters of the Caribbean, which roll in mere feet from the villa. Jets can land at Gustaf III Airport, from where private air and boat transfers take guests to the hotel.



What I Know Now




something bigger gives me that successful feeling. It’s not about me, it’s about my country and my people.

Merit Grant, for those less fortunate who have dreams and the ambition to go further in life.

Young entrepreneurs continually inspire me to always be a better ‘me’. I receive emails and questions for advice every day, but I don’t always have the answer!

I still have many ambitions. There are so many things to do in electric mobility, and I’m working on the future to ensure a better tomorrow for Africa’s younger generation. There is so much more we can do.

The journey of making the plan then tweaking and changing it along the way is self-fulfilling and I learn how to do things better. Working towards

One of lessons I learned the hard way was that merit does not always come to those who deserve it. That’s why I created the Isabel dos Santos

Success is about setting a goal, whether in your personal or professional life, then making a long-term plan towards its achievement. I read every day. I read books by Peter Drucker, Peter Thiel, Jack Ma, and other thought leaders who write about how to be an extraordinary leader and negotiator.

I first felt successful when I sat with a room full of young Africans. Their enthusiasm and conviction for wanting to create something was exhilarating. We sat and discussed their ideas, challenges and found solutions together.


The best piece of advice I have ever received is to follow your passion.


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