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ISSUE THIRTEEN | JUNE

2012

Produced in International Media Production Zone

Leo

LIGHT FANTASTIC Why celebrities are queuing up to buy Chris Bracey’s neon artworks

WHITE MAGIC How Marco Pierre White changed the course of gastronomy

TAKEN AS RED Scarlett Johansson on why her private life is strictly off limits

SADDLE UP The story of The Hermès Group - 175 years in the making


190 YEARS AGO

A MAN INSPIRED BY HORSE RACING CHANGED WATCHMAKING FOREVER. In 1821, at a horse race in Paris, Nicolas Rieussec successfully tested his revolutionary invention that allowed time to be recorded to an accuracy of a fifth of a second. The chronograph was born. A tribute to a visionary man, the Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph Automatic is centred on the essence of his invention, the rotating disc technique. Monopusher chronograph,

self-winding manufacture movement, second

time zone, 30 min. and 60 sec. rotating disc counters.Crafted in the Montblanc Manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland.

Montblanc Boutiques DUBAI Burjuman | Deira City Centre | Dubai Mall | Emirates Towers | Festival Centre | Grand Hyatt | Ibn Battuta | Jumeirah Beach Hotel Mall of the Emirates | Mirdif City Centre | Wafi | ABU DHABI Abu Dhabi Mall | Marina Mall | AL-AIN Al-Ain Mall

www.montblanc.com


CONTENTS / FE ATURES

Managing Director Victoria Thatcher

Forty One

Leonardo DiCaprio

Editorial Director John Thatcher

The silver screen’s highest paid actor talks to AIR about the world of showbiz – and why he still thinks honesty is the best policy.

Advertisement Director Chris Capstick chris@hotmediapublishing.com

Forty Six

Group Editor Laura Binder laura@hotmediapublishing.com

The Beatles

Sub Editor Hazel Plush hazel@hotmediapublishing.com

Photographer Harry Benson toured with the Fab Four in the swinging sixties – take a peek at never-before-seen photos from his collection.

Designers Adam Sneade Vanessa Arnaud

Fifty

Yell for Leather How a small saddlemakers went on to create the world’s most sought-after bags. AIR recounts the 175-year history of Hermès.

Production Manager Haneef Abdul Senior Advertisement Manager Stefanie Morgner stefanie@hotmediapublishing.com

Fifty Four

Scarlett Fever

Advertisement Manager Sukaina Hussein sukaina@hotmediapublishing.com

She’s the ultimate bombshell, yet how much do we know of Hollywood’s golden girl? AIR unravels Scarlett Johansson’s red hot persona.

Agency Sales Manager Jad Hatem jad@hotmediapublishing.com

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The three spectacular waterfront villas of Le Touessrok satisfy the demand for exclusive and expansive accommodation. With 430 m2 of contemporary interpretations of ethnic chic combining with timbered decks, thatched roofs, whitewashed walls and ceramic floors, each villa boasts a plunge pool and a private beach area. Three spacious bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms make it the perfect retreat for families, couples or friends. Each is attended by a team of dedicated butlers and a Chef available 24-hours a day. For more information or booking, please contact: Hotel Direct T: +230 402 0110 E: concierge@sunresorts.mu www.letouessrokresort.com

GCC & Middle East Office T: +971 2 499 5600 E: imc.hotels@insightsmc.com


CONTENTS / REGUL ARS

Sixty Eight

Travel

AIR takes you places this month, from fashionable hotels to wildlife’s greatest spectacle and a glimpse of old New York...

Fourteen

Thirty Four

Sixty Two

What’s on, where to go, what to buy and what to be seen in.

Sara Cosgrove recounts the latest trends from Milan, plus products galore.

AIR talks to rock ‘n’ roll chef-turned-restaurateur Marco Pierre White.

Twenty Seven

Thirty Eight

Seventy Four

The new watch from Vacheron Constantin that might just prove collectable.

Spotlighting Scintilla’s one-of-a-kind diamond necklace, and other gems...

Vietnam + the Maldives = jaw-dropping greens from which to tee off this June.

Thirty

Fifty Eight

Seventy Six

Why the art world’s gone starry-eyed for neon master Chris Bracey.

John Simister takes to the road with the new, purring Porsche Boxter.

David Crickmore, Amouage’s CEO, shares his most valued lessons in life.

Radar

Interiors

Timepieces

Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494 Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in AIR.

Jewellery

Art & Design

Motoring

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Gastronomy

Golf

What I Know Now


EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP

June 2012

WELCOME ONBOARD

Welcome to the June 2012 issue of AIR, Empire Aviation Group’s lifestyle and onboard guest magazine. In this issue, we take a closer look at the Challenger 604 business jet – EAG has recently acquired and taken under management one of these outstanding jets, on behalf of a private owner. It’s a great opportunity for us to highlight the Challenger 604 and its attributes but also to examine the process of acquiring and managing a pre-owned business jet. Sourcing the right aircraft for an owner is a serious undertaking and responsibility; EAG is highly experienced at finding an aircraft to meet an owner’s requirements, assessing and – for a pre-owned aircraft - evaluating the jet based on its operating and maintenance history. Because we operate the region’s largest managed fleet of business jets, with models from all the major manufacturers – including Bombardier, which manufactures the Challenger - we are able to guide prospective owners in selecting an aircraft that will suit their specific needs. Our level of knowledge and experience in managing and maintaining business jets is second-to-none in the Middle East and our owners benefit from this substantially. We also give you an overview of our commitment to training and development, which is at the heart of every part of our operation, from pilots and crew to flight support, quality assurance and maintenance management. Enjoy the issue.

Steve Hartley Executive Director

Contact details: info@empire.aero empire.aero

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Paras Dhamecha Executive Director


EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP RISING TO THE CHALLENGE – THE BOMBARDIER CHALLENGER 604

Bombardier is one of the world’s leaders in business jet development and manufacturing and the Challenger range – one of the best selling in the world - sits alongside the company’s Learjet and Global series of business aircraft, covering light jets to ultra long range business aircraft. The Bombardier Challenger 604 is certified for civil operation in 30 countries and, since its launch, has established a proven track record for dependability, reliability and outstanding value for its class. The 604 offers one of the widest cabins of any business jet available, with stand-up room of over six feet and a passive noise insulation system that provides exceptional cabin comfort for passengers. Depending on the configuration, the 604 can carry from 9 to 19 passengers and a crew of three. All of these features add up to an impressive package and this has made the Challenger the backbone of many corporate business jet fleets – in fact, Bombardier refers to the Challenger

as a ‘high-altitude boardroom’. It is equally comfortable for pilots and crew, as well as passengers. With a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.82 (541 mph; 870 km/h) and an intercontinental range of over 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 km), the 604 is well suited to a variety of missions including intercontinental routes; From Riyadh, for example, the 604 can reach almost anywhere in Europe, Africa and the Far East. The Challenger range has been in service for more than 25 years and has clocked up more than two million flying hours, proving their reliability in the process – important reassurance for a prospective buyer/ owner, and operator. In addition, good residual values make them appealing both to corporates and individuals from an investment perspective. It gets better. Direct operating costs are comparable to those of midsize aircraft, thanks to the 604’s modest fuel consumption and task-oriented maintenance program on airframe and engines.

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For example, general inspections are scheduled for every 400 flying hours (versus 300 hours for most large jets). This means that owners can save significantly on direct operating costs compared to other large jets, adding to its appeal for a wide range of roles and missions around the world.


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EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP

People are at the heart of delivering a personalised travel experience and this is especially true when it comes to private jet travel – whether this is for a charter passenger or an aircraft owner. For EAG, cabin crew and pilot training are vitally important elements of the management service and it is part of the overall business plan agreed with the owner; then, the management of the aircraft and crew falls to EAG’s very experienced team of aviation specialists. As a one-stop shop for private aviation, EAG takes full responsibility for these elements of aircraft management and operations everyone at EAG plays a part in supporting the owner; including the company principals working directly with them. Safety is EAG’s top priority and all aircraft operated by Empire Aviation Group meet extensive safety, training, and inspection requirements as required by the GCAA (General Civil Aviation Authority UAE). All the company’s cockpit and cabin crew members are required to go through several re-training sessions each year. This ensures that they are completely up-to-date for the specific aircraft in which they fly. Whether its flight operations, maintenance, pilot and crew training or ground operations, all must meet the strict standards set by the GCAA in the United Arab Emirates, which has set the bar very high. As a UAE Air Operator Certificate holder, EAG is governed by the UAE’s GCAA which adopts and maintains the world’s most rigorous civil aviation safety standards, extending even beyond the standards in some of the most developed private aviation markets in the world. With the bar for safety standards set at the very highest level, private aviation operators such as Empire Aviation Group must match and exceed the commitment of the regulators. EAG chooses to work with

Image: Courtesy of Emirates CAE Flight Training

TRAINING MAKES PERFECT

two of the world’s leading aviation training companies because of the diverse portfolio of aircraft within EAG’s fleet – it is important to work with experts in the field that can meet the rigorous training demands of every aircraft type the company operates. CAE and Flight Safety both provide integrated training solutions around the globe for pilot training, and safety and emergency training programmes for all crew members. In 2007, Empire Aviation Group signed an agreement with EmiratesCAE Flight Training (ECFT), located close to Dubai International Airport, and which is jointly operated by the Emirates Group and CAE. The centre enjoys a world-class reputation as a training facility within the aviation industry across the region and is the only aviation training facility outside of Europe and North America to be approved by the FAA and the JAA.

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EAG’s flight crew train at the facility using full-flight simulators, as well as participating in classroom-based training. In fact, every cockpit crew member has to go through recurrent simulator training every six months with Emirates-CAE Flight Training. Cabin crew also have stringent training requirements, which the CAE programmes meet. All crew are obliged to attend an annual safety emergency system training programme, which Empire Aviation undertakes with Emirates Aviation College In 2010, EAG started working with Flight Safety, the world’s leading aviation training company which delivers more than a million hours of professional instruction each year. Flight Safety has 40 Learning Centres located in the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom.


LYONS DEMESNE, COUNTY KILDARE, IRELAND | ONE OF THE GREAT HOMES OF IRELAND Offering contemporary living in a classic style, majestically sited on approximately 300 acres, Lyons Demesne is a rare and perfect example of traditional Georgian architecture. Dating to 1785, the house is in impeccable condition, having undergone a full and award-winning refurbishment that has returned it to its former splendor while integrating modern conveniences. Regal yet inviting, the interior of the residence is graced with exquisite detailing, such as the drawing room’s 19th-Century Italian frescoes. Three

reception rooms, a fabulous master suite, 10 en suite guest bedrooms, a private cinema, and a half-Olympic-sized indoor pool are among the exceptional amenities. The truly breathtaking grounds include stunning formal gardens, a 22-acre spring-fed lake, outstanding equestrian facilities, and a private landing strip. Dublin and its airport are within convenient proximity. Secluded and private, Lyons Demesne presents the new owner with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Christie’s International Real Estate Neil Palmer npalmer@christies.com • +44 20 7389 2478 www.christiesrealestate.com

Sherry FitzGerald Philip Sherry philip.sherry@sherryfitz.ie • +353 1 2376387 http://www.sherryfitz.ie


RADAR

Guinness Records? Style icon Daphne Guinness to auction garb

Christie’s will be hoping to exceed estimates when it auctions the clothes of Daphne Guinness on June 27, sold to the benefit of the Isabella Blow Foundation. Fashion muse Guinness has donated 100 pieces from her personal wardrobe, all of it cutting-edge couture, along with this eight feet by six feet picture of her shot by Mario Testino, currently hung in her New York apartment. - 14 -


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RADAR

BACK TO BLACK Now that we’re amidst the first throes of summer, it’s time to take refuge in the shades, and this season’s must-own sunglasses come courtesy of a winning collaboration between those renowned makers of high-end eyewear, De Rigo Vision, and Lanvin, the oldest French couture house. The results, overseen by Lanvin’s revered head designer Alber Elbaz and in stores now, mix couture details with industrial aesthetics, giving would-be wearers of both sexes the option to go modern or retro in style. derigo.fr - 16 -


> It’s arguably the world’s most photographed manmade structure, a city-defining icon that’s a tourist-trap in itself, and this year San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge celebrates 75 years standing. The famously flame-hued pass took five years to construct at a cost of $35 million, and its building gave rise to multiple stories. Chief among them is the tale of the Halfway-To-Hell Club, comprised of those builders, 19 in all, who fell from the bridge while working on it, only to be saved by a net below. With myriad events planned to celebrate its birthday, now’s the perfect time to pay a visit.

> In a region dominated by ever-grand hotels, Qatar’s new sextet of boutique boltholes is a uniquely brilliant addition to the GCC’s hotel landscape. The six hotels encircle Doha’s historic – and refreshingly authentic – Souq Waqif, from which they take their collective name, and encompass concepts that range from Al Najada, formed from the merging of three traditional-style houses to offer what’s a truly discreet space, to Arumaila, a high-design hideaway – with a sister property in London – where the emphasis is very much on the modern. With those two hotels already open to guests, this month sees the opening of what’s arguably Souq Waqif’s standard bearer – Al Jasra. Immaculately designed, its apartment-style rooms define five-star style, while we’re also liking the mini spa, which houses a traditional Hammam.

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RADAR

From Munich With Love If you’ve ever dreamt of playing James Bond for real, the small matter of €60,000 can make it a reality. That’s the price you’ll pay for the unique 007 package devised by The Charles Hotel Munich, which gives would-be secret agents the chance to star in their own movie. You set the script by telling the director how you’d like

your day as Bond to evolve and the subsequent action – anything from death-defying stunts to encounters with bogus baddies – is captured by a camera crew and committed to film for you to take home. To inspire your requests, AIR dreams up the ultimate day as Bond, based on his most famous scenes…

Taking to the air via jetpack - Thunderball

Flying a gadget-laden mini-copter - You Only Live Twice

Saying ‘the name’s Bond, James Bond’ - Dr. No

Chasing down a plane on horseback - Octopussy

Watching Honey Ryder emerge from the ocean - Dr. No

Driving a Lotus underwater - The Spy Who Loved Me

Skiing down a mountain pursued by baddies - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Walking across the open jaws of alligators - Live and Let Die

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THE ESSENCE OF MALDIVES. THE OF OF SERENITY. THE SOUL ESSENCE MALDIVES. THE SOUL OF SERENITY.

Lagoon Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Beach Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Ocean Revives at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Lagoon Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Beach Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Ocean Revives at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Be spoiled for choice with two exceptional island resorts in the Indian Ocean. Escape to the enchantingly sublime Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, a secret hideaway on the southern end of the rich Maldivian landscape. Be for choice with two exceptional island resorts theanIndian Ocean. Escape the enchantingly Or spoiled stimulate your senses at Jumeirah Vittaveli, perfectinfor indulgent stay with to family and friends. sublime Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, a secretwill hideaway on the of the rich Maldivian landscape. Whichever you choose, the experience be unique andsouthern magicallyend unforgettable. Or stimulate your senses at Jumeirah Vittaveli, perfect for an indulgent stay with family and friends. Whichever you choose, the experience be unique and magically unforgettable. Book our special summer packageswill starting from just USD 875.

For more information, please visit Jumeirah.com/Maldives or contact your local travel agent. Book our special summer packages starting from just USD 875. For more information, please visit Jumeirah.com/Maldives or contact your local travel agent.


A SPORTING CHANCE This month serves up some outstanding sporting occasions you can fly in for, with football’s European Championships topping the bill of must-attends

Euro 2012 Poland and Ukraine June 8 -July 1 While the World Cup is considered football’s ultimate prize, the European Championship is arguably the toughest to win. Only 16 teams will compete to claim the trophy, the current holders Spain among them, and they’ll be the team to beat this time around despite a forward

line fractured by injury (Villa) and loss of form (Torres). Should they fail to retain their crown - and no team has yet done so - Germany or Holland would appear the most likely successors, and these best of enemies meet in the pick of the group games. But this is a tournament that has thrown up surprising winners in the recent past, none more so than when highly un-fancied Greece stunned host-nation Portugal to win Euro 2004, so expect the unexpected.

Royal Ascot

Wimbledon

Tour de France

England June 19 -23

England June 25 -July 8

France June 30 -July 22

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CRITIQUE

Film

Your Sister’s Sister

Lynn Shelton After the death of his brother, Jack takes up his girlfriend’s offer of a stay at her parents’ remote retreat. It’s there that he meets her sister... and a tense family drama unfolds. AT BEST: “The three leads are pitchperfect here, loose and low-key yet fully in character.” Variety AT WORST: “The picture’s HD photography is less lovely than it might have been, particularly in landscape shots which suffer from pixelation.” Hollywood Reporter

Killer Joe

William Friedkin Pursued by ruthless loan sharks, Chris – desperate and unhinged – hires a man to kill his mother so he can cash in on her life insurance. But when he can’t pay up-front for the hit, how far into the underworld will he venture? AT BEST: “The key to this film’s brilliance is its pace and humour – it’s horribly funny.” The Guardian AT WORST: “This garish species of Southwestern Gothic rolls a little too pig-like in the mud of its shock value.” TIME magazine

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Compliance

Benh Zeitlin A six-year-old girl lives with her father in a beautiful delta community at the edge of the world. But when her father falls ill, she must venture out into the unknown to search for her mother. AT BEST: “An imaginative and bold vision, with plenty of memorable images.” Screen International AT WORST: “The story drifts from incident to incident, at times aimlessly.” AV Club

Craig Zobel An overworked manager at a fast food outlet receives a call from the police, accusing a waitress of theft. The girl is detained at the mercy of an officer, and the scenario spirals out of control. AT BEST: “Psychologically astute and brilliantly executed.” Screen International AT WORST: “Every frame of the film is squirmy... what you are seeing is just plain wrong.” Movies.com

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Books

A Toni Morrison novel could never slip out without fanfare. The first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, Morrison doesn’t just voice the plights of the marginalised, she shouts them from the rooftops. Thorny tangles of race, slavery and identity lie in much of her work – and Home, her newest, slenderest volume, promises to be no different. It tells the story of Frank, an African-American traumatised by his experiences in the Korean War, too mentally-unstable to return home. It’s an encouraging premise – but, it seems, Morrison fails to come up with the goods. “The most striking thing about the novel may be how little it succeeds in drawing us in”, writes David Ulin of LA Times; “[it’s] so stylized [it] veers dangerously close to self-parody”. Sarah Churchwell of The Guardian is just as despondent: “It is a powerful set-up, building suspense and anxiety... if Morrison had finished writing the novel she so carefully began, it might have been one of her best in years... [It] should be relentless, unsparing, but Morrison relents halfway through, and spares everyone – most of all herself.” The centenary of the sinking of the Titanic is dominating culture on both sides of the Atlantic, so Charlotte Rogan found herself launching The Lifeboat into a particularly crowded market last month. Retrospective diary entries written by a young woman, Grace, form the bulk of the narrative. She survived a shipwreck, but is now on trial for a murder committed on board a lifeboat. The journal is a protestation of innocence. It’s a hook that Sarah Towers of The New York Times finds irresistible: “She narrates the book with panache – and a good dose of unreliability... Rogan writes viscerally about the desperate condition of

the castaway, of what it is like to be ‘surrounded on four sides by walls of black water’ or to be so thirsty your tongue swells to the size of ‘a dried and hairless mouse’, but it’s her portrait of Grace, who is by turns astute, conniving, comic and affecting, that drives the book.” Across the pond, The Telegraph’s Anthony Cummins sees hidden depths: “Squint hard enough and there’s [an allegory] about US foreign policy. At Grace’s trial, the court hears that Hardie’s death is like ‘the overthrow of a malevolent ruler [...] who was endangering the lives of people in his charge’. Rogan began the novel 10 years ago. The epigraph comes from a Mesopotamian myth; Grace’s initials are, for what it’s worth, GW.” Mark Haddon, much-feted author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, released his latest intricately-woven saga in May. A tale of a family holiday in rural Wales, UK, the novel delves into the lives of the eight uncomfortable companions, revealing deep rifts, tensions, and a heady dose of regret. Sophia Waugh of The Spectator is captivated: “[Haddon] writes like a dream. Never showy, but often lyrically descriptive, he takes the reader with him to the core of this crazy family. [...] Some characters disintegrate before our eyes, and others reach no conclusion at all — which is only to be expected from real life.” Writing in The Financial Times, fiction author Lionel Shriver is less ebullient: “Haddon is a gifted writer and lifts the tone above soap opera. Nevertheless, there is a mildness to this book – to the characters, the plot, and even the writing. I didn’t mind it – the experience of reading the novel was pleasant enough – but in short order I’m certain to forget all about it.”

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CRITIQUE

Emirati artist Lamya Gargash is a force to be reckoned with. After making her name with photographic portraits of Arabesque interiors – gorgeous, but not groundbreaking – she’s striking out for new territory, and it’s taking the UAE’s gallery scene by storm. For Through The Looking Glass, her latest exhibition at The Third Line in Dubai, Gargash interviewed a series of models about their physical insecurities. Then, using prosthetics and makeup, she brought their anxieties to life – creating grotesque flaws on otherwise unblemished bodies. The National’s Christopher Lord was stunned by what the photographs revealed: “We see that Amer thinks he has a Klingonesque brow, Bryce thinks he’s got girlie hands, while Rosie (in perhaps the most unnerving image of all) reckons she has weaselly little eyes... They remind us that a globalised standard of beauty has become allpervasive, and that fears of ugliness often outweigh the bigger questions of life.” This is a powerful departure for Gargash. Speaking with Muhammad Yusuf of The Gulf Today, she disclosed the depth of her connection with the images: “The inspiration for the

project was myself [...] I am always criticising myself. The portraits are an extension of myself and are its basis. It is a personal idea. I am interested in how the mind works.” The radical Bauhaus art and design school may only have been open for 14 years (1919-1933), but it sparked enough work to turn Europe’s creative industry on its head. From advertising campaigns to table lamps, Bauhaus: Art as Life at London’s Barbican Art Gallery has the finest pieces on display until August. It’s already wowing the critics – Ellis Woodman of The Telegraph included: “[The exhibition] offers a thrilling description of a community engaged in an unprecedented artistic and social experiment. For anyone with even a passing interest in the development of the arts of the past century, it is essential viewing.” The Guardian’s Adrian Searle is quick to find contemporary relevance among the pieces: “[Browsing] the terrific period photographs of staff and students – the serious, besuited teachers and tousle-haired students who wouldn’t look out of place alongside today’s Dalston or Brooklyn hipsters – one feels a sense of optimism.”

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Images: Bauhaus: Art as Life at London’s Barbican Art Gallery

Art

The travelling exhibition of Tate Modern’s Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape arrived in Washington last month, where it will stay until August. With over 120 paintings, sculptures and drawings, the life of the great modern artist is laid bare. It inspired critical acclaim in London, and is enjoying a similarly positive response in the US; Philip Kennicott of Washington Post described the collection as “exhilarating”, with “astonishing creative energy”. Writing in The Washington Times, Roland Flamini is equally ebullient: “[This is] an artist’s astonishing chronological journey through the major movements of modern art. Fauvism, cubism, dadaism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism – all are more or less easily identifiable, but invested with an obsessive, fantastic – and quite often disturbing – depiction of an inner universe expressed in a language of codes and symbols. [...] It may not be pretty, but it’s addictive.”


Image: The Royal Shakespeare Company: The Tempest

Theatre

Opera Australia’s staging of Barber of Seville opened to rave reviews in Melbourne last month. A love tangle set in the 19th century, the production is widely considered to be one of Rossini’s most entertaining, and demands vocal gymnastics, razorsharp timing and strong drama. Sian Pendry as Rosina received rave reviews: “[She] was alternately feisty and close to despair”, writes Anna McAlister of Herald Sun. “The role is a staggering feat of vocal and dramatic multitasking that Pendry nailed with impressive skill.” Jose Carbo as Figaro was “buoyed by flamboyant confidence”, and John Longmuir (Almaviva) had “gorgeous tone”. Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Shmith is equally enthusiastic: “Orchestra Victoria, with Jennifer Marten-Smith’s witty fortepiano recitatives, played it with brio and style, with barely a hair out of place. [...] The night simply raced by.” London can’t get enough of Shakespeare at the moment. The World Shakespeare Festival, timed to coincide with The Olympics, is currently bringing the Bard to the masses, with performances in many different languages (the Swahili version of The Merry Wives of Windsor met with critical acclaim). As a result, The Royal Shakespeare Company had to pull out all the stops with their latest production of The Tempest – but they came up trumps, writes Clare Brennan of The Observer: “A tank of water shimmers under a wooden floor that rises up towards the back of the flies like a wave; a bed and a bath jut out, as if carried towards a crest that is waiting to crash. Jon Bausor’s imposing design overwhelms the characters, almost drowns a couple of actors and literally dampens some of the audience.” Can the acting live up to the scenery? It seems so: “Laughs are what give this production buoyancy, and the motley crew that make up Olivia’s

household go overboard to raise them with pantomime-style gusto.” Michael Coveney of The Stage is just as over-awed: “Bruce Mackinnon and Felix Hayes [Stephano and Trinculo] should be installed immediately as RSC perennials”. Jonathan Slinger as Prospero gives a “vocally fascinating performance, [...] breaking out into the rage and melancholic tantrums of a slapdash magician”. New York City Ballet’s spring season is one of the most hotlyanticipated events on the Big Apple’s cultural calendar, and this year’s triple bill at David H. Koch Theater was rightfully ambitious. Serenade, a romantic ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C, was top

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of the programme, rousing coos of delight as soon as the curtain rose. “It [has] such weight, such stillness and strength; one would have to have a stone for a heart not to be stirred”, writes Marina Harss of New York’s Dance Tabs magazine. “Ashley Bouder danced with virtuosity and her remarkable intelligence. [Her] dancing has intention and clarity in spades.” Alastair Macaulay, reviewing for The New York Times, is just as impressed: “We’re watching a pure-dance ballet that’s studded with heart-stopping moments. It’s easy to see love, loss, heartbreak, death and transcendence here. [...] As with no other ballet company, I feel a City Ballet season to be a true voyage of discovery.”


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TIMEPIECES

Watches at Auction Important Watches, Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza, New York June 13

O

ver 300 lots will be presented for purchase at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza this month, comprised of both vintage and more modern timepieces. Models from Patek Philippe dominate

the offering, headed by a rare 18k gold dual crown world-time wristwatch (estimated to achieve $700,000-$1,200,000) and the pictured open-face minute-repeating perpetual calendar chronograph (estimated at $100,000-$200,000). But keep a close eye too on a unusual - 27 -

saphire-set Rolex chronograph (estimated at $25,000-$35,000) and what’s a very special timepiece from Piaget – a superlative 18k white gold diamond and sapphire bracelet watch, which is expected to achieve in the region of $200,000 on the day of bidding. christies.com


TIMEPIECES Time Flies Beirut and Riyadh are the two new cities – joining previouslyfeatured Dubai – to appear on the rotating ring of A. Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1 Time Zone, a white gold wristwatch that allows frequent travellers to keep a time check on 24 cities across the globe – luminous hands and appliqués also allow for this to be done in the dark. It works at the push of a button, which permits for the position of the hands on the main and sub dial to be swapped, giving you an at-a-glance guide to the time where you’re heading from and to.

> If you’re heading to London over the course of the city’s staging of the Olympics, you should try and wrangle an invite to Omega House. It’s an exclusive residence – a historic Georgian townhouse in the heart of Soho re-imagined by Omega, the official timekeeper of the Games – which will house invited-only VIPs and brand ambassadors like Nicole Kidman in rooms individually designed to reflect Omega’s range of watches. - 29 -

> New from Vacheron Constantin is the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon, the first of the brand’s timepieces to meet the revised criteria now needed to obtain the Hallmark of Geneva – where before it was solely a watch’s movements that counted, now it’s the entire watch. It is also Vacheron’s first watch to feature the newly developed calibre 2260, a supreme feat of craftsmanship which features more than 230 components. Those two facts combined suggest this has all the makings of a collectable.


ART & DESIGN

SIGNS OF THE TIMES Why the godfather of neon art, Chris Bracey, sets the world alight

F

or nearly four decades, neon artist Chris Bracey has been churning out the signage and artworks that have become part of visual urban vernacular. We just didn’t know it. Among Chris’ recognisable signs and light sculptures is the voluptuous pink neon script of Agent Provocateur; the rock ’n’ roll gold reflector cap sign at Stella McCartney; the giant illuminated X that forms the backdrop of Edita Vilkeviciute’s recent Vogue cover; the gleaming logo in Christopher Nolan’s Batman and the blazing light pieces and signs that transformed a rough-and-ready area of London into New York’s Greenwich Village for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Neon – or ‘liquid fire’ as Bracey calls it – has never been hotter, and Bracey’s pieces are in huge demand. Stanley Kubrick, David LaChapelle, Tim Burton, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood are among the countless icons to have commissioned his work to translate their visions. And at a recent pop-up retail project presented by tastemaker Daniel Poole, The New Curiosity Shop, in London’s Primrose Hill – the “best shop in the world” according to Jude Law – his

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‘Neon is cheeky and is a creature of the night, it comes alive when people come out to play’

work was snapped up by Daisy Lowe, Richard Curtis, Jamie Oliver and Law himself, while commissions from Kate Moss to produce a number of artworks for her new London home and actress Sadie Frost followed. Before then, Elton John and David Furnish commissioned Bracey to produce a piece for their son’s bedroom – the word Zachary emblazoned across

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a reflector cap strawberry. Poole (whose hip clothing label was worn by countless celebrities and musicians in the ’90s) explains that Chris’s work is popular as it mimics the visual language of the urban landscape. He says: “Chris’s work is brilliantly zeitgeist. My clients seem to go for his sign-writing with twists, promoting emotions and concepts instead of


ART & DESIGN

logos and brands. ‘Love, Cash and Thrills’, replace McDonald’s or Boots. Neon and bulb work bring back childhood memories of Christmas, funfairs and school discos. Chris’s work captures that optimism and nostalgia and nails the wryness and humour of London street culture.” Indeed, street culture in London is an obvious thread in his work, which often references the hedonistic Soho streets of 1970s. Sarah Shotton, the creative director of Agent Provocateur, has worked with Bracey for over a decade and likens his appeal to that of her own brand. “Chris deals in va va voom. Like us, he creates pieces that are titillating. His neon is an aphrodisiac, all come-hither raunch with a cheeky sense of humour.”

Bracey explains: “Neon is cheeky and is a creature of the night, it comes alive when people come out to play, like an incitement to hedonism. I was commissioned to re-sign Soho in the ’70s to make it less seedy and more glamorous, which gave me my first foot in the door of the film world. So British street culture, along with Americana, does figure. Some ideas come from dreams or an old iconic sign I may find. I enjoy working with old letters, up-cycled from a Soho nightclub or theatre past. “My work does seem to have become popular. It is very British, but I love Americana and old Hollywood. Grayson Perry wants to come and have a look around the workshop. But interest is coming from all over. I’ve

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just finished Brad Pitt’s latest film, World War Z, transforming Glasgow into 1950s America, and I have an exhibition moving from LA to Miami this month at Guy Hepner in Bal Harbour. I fancy doing one in the UAE soon.” Hepner, one of the world’s leading pop-art gallerists, is currently showing Chris’s Stages of Love in Miami. He says: “Chris is my fourth best-selling artist, his pieces fly out and he’s in good company – Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons. I think it’s because his work touches an inherent core, The American Dream. I also think his work would be successful in the UAE, so it’s definitely in our sights to make a visit there soon.”


The White House The beach-side abode designed to frame the landscape

Seafront living will never be the same again. On the windswept coast of Lima, Peru, Casa de Playa Palabritas cuts a sleek figure against the surf. An opus of white lines with stacatto red flashes, this is modern shorefront architecture at its most brazen; a sans serif triumph. Taking influence from the curves of 1960s Brazilian design, Metropolis Peru’s vision makes no attempts to blend into its surrounds – instead, it frames them, dissecting them into a series of images. The

boxy aesthetic is unadorned – the focus is on absent features, what’s not present. The front of the building is a white-framed void, the stark living area sheltered only by glass panels. Vistas of the South Pacific Ocean – ever-changing with the elements – appear as living art installations, dramatic renderings imbued with life. But this is no gallery: an intimate zone is hidden in the heart of the house, warmed by deep blues and scarlet; an open-plan area for family living.

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INTERIORS

SARA COSGROVE Fresh from Milan, Harrods Head of Design shares her most inspired Italian trends Having recently returned from an inspirational sourcing trip to Salone Internazionale del Mobile furniture fair in Milan, I have a renewed sense of all that is fresh and exciting in the world of interiors. With so many emerging trends, and with as much

going on in and around Milan as inside the fair itself, it was almost impossible to single out a topic for this month’s column. Which is why I’ve whittled the options down to the best in show; my three top trends from the city. Go matte, not gloss: a distinct new design direction that proved key in many collections is the use of matte finishes instead of glossy ones. Some unusually natural-looking yet beautiful pieces were highlighted, including waxed timbers and matter lacquers at Ligne Roset and creamysoft leather and suede sofas in a range of muted, dusky colours at Natuzzi with added details like brushed gold metal hardware and pieces incorporating smoked glass. My second most-loved trend was the revival of retro. Italian furniture brand Donghia’s new octagonal coffee table, with stunning brass and a

> New from Versace Home is this eyegrabbing long-seater dormeuse, crafted in warming velvet to resemble the shape of a wave. Woven into it is the classic Barocco motif, as are elements

honed cohiba granite stone top, has been inspired by drawings found in archives many years ago. When revived and re-imagined, pieces like this demonstrate the magic of truly timeless design. Even Fendi showed several pieces with a retro twist, as did architectural hardware specialist SA Baxter. Flexform, meanwhile, introduced a really lovely retro feel to furniture through bruised leathers in a range of occasional pieces. Third on my radar is the colour palette of sorbet and ice cream. Maxalto and B+B Italia celebrated with this playful combination with vibrant pieces displayed in a tutti frutti mixture of purple, cerise, coral and lime using tactile fabrics like velvet and wool felt. Poltrona Frau highlighted a collection in a palette of mint and raspberry, whereas other classic hues on show included blue and crisp white. thestudioatharrods.com

- by way of patterns and motifs - lifted from Versace’s catwalk creations. And if acid green is a step too far for your tastes, your other option is a striking electric blue. versacehome.it - 34 -


East Meets East Lebanese furniture designer Nada Debs is famed for marrying Middle East craftsmanship with Far East sensibilities. AIR steals five minutes with her at the launch of her new collection at Harvey Nichols Dubai. How did you decide on the unique design combination of cultures? It was probably down to the influence of my Japanese upbringing along with my appreciation of handcraft in both cultures. What inspires your designs? The craft inspires me as well as meeting people and listening to their needs. I am also inspired by lifestyle trends. Who do you design for? My client is usually a well-travelled

FABERGÉ’S CUP OF CHEER Sup in style this summer by acquiring a collection of tumblers from a jewellery master – the first silver collection to be launched by Fabergé since the Russian Revolution. Designs are based upon the traditional Russian silver kovsh drinking cup, and each piece is a one-of-a-kind design, crafted from heavy gauge silver and enameled in a palette of jewel tones. “We wanted to extend Fabergé’s artistry to a collection of bold contemporary objects for the home,” Katharina Flohr, Fabergé’s Managing and

person who appreciates different cultures and the value of craft and design. What piece do you believe would benefit any home? I believe that timeless pieces always work best. In the case of my collection, the limited edition coffee bean table or the box table with the different inlays would work well. What’s next from Nada Debs? Our ‘vintage meets arabesque’ designs. They project a bit of colour and a fresh look.

Creative Director told AIR. “Russian Constructivism, having influenced Peter Carl Fabergé’s latter work, was an obvious starting point.”

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> Add an Arabic touch to simple fixtures, curtain tie-backs and door knobs with Agraria’s luxe tassles – they’re perfumed, too… Available at Harvey Nichols


JEWELLERY

Diamonds are Forever One hundred and nine flawless, pure white pear, marquise and oval-shaped diamonds comprise the most precious piece of Scintilla’s D-Pure collection, Solo Per Te (Only for You). It’s a creation that took four years to perfect – three years to select each pure diamond and one year for the Geneva diamond house to create the pièce de

resistance of D-Pure (its sister pieces being a pair of 26.48 carat earrings and a 6.26 carat diamond ring). Three locks ensure it will slink onto any woman’s décolletage, while its 209.98 carats feel surprisingly light. One-of-akind, its estimated value is in excess of $15million – with only a private appointment in Antwerp sealing the deal.

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COLOURS OF CANNES

Full Circle Presenting Bulgari’s new B.zero1, pairing the famous spiral with a new, precious protagonist: marble

Green bowenite marble and rose gold

Each year, Chopard creates a new Haute Joaillerie collection (The Red Carpet Collection) for the Cannes Film Festival’s glitterati. AIR spotlights the best in show for 2012

Tobacco brown marble and rose gold

Extracts of marble mounted to each piece possess unique characteristics, ensuring each one is an original

Ruby and diamondencrusted ring

Ancient Greece, where the millenary history of marble began in the 5th century BC, serves as a source of inspiration

Lapis blue marble and rose gold

Diamond flower-cut earrings

Les créateurs à l’honneur Christie’s Paris, 6 June

If you’re spending summer in Paris, mark this date on your itinerary. Christie’s Jewellery Department will collate a bevy of important pieces, harvesting the timeless creations of Cartier, Suzanne Belperron, René Boivin and Jean Fouquet – to name but a few. The Art Déco rock crystal and diamonds necklace by Cartier (estimate: €100-150,000) is a real highlight, while a pair of citrine and gold Ananas clip brooches by Suzanne Belperron have caught AIR’s eye (estimate: €15-20,000). - 39 -

Diamond, emerald and ruby-encrusted ring

Blue sapphire and diamond earrings


Words: Francesca Orsini

‘IT CAN REALLY AFFECT YOUR CAREER PROFESSIONALLY IF YOU DON’T REALISE THAT WE ARE CLOWNS FOR HIRE’

An obviously thirsty Leonardo Di Caprio reaches out for a big glass of water before launching himself into our interview in London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. The 37-year-old actor, Hollywood’s highest paid, opens up about the business and why he believes honesty pays

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You said in an interview that people are expecting you to fail. Do you still feel like this? Oh, all these quotes from when I was young that come back to haunt me. I certainly felt that way at that time. There is that keen interest in the public to see how people are going to react to success, and if they have the stamina to walk on the tight rope. It’s very stressful. The great tragedy or danger that can happen is when you take it too seriously. You’ve got to take the work seriously. But all the other stuff? It can really affect your life, if you focus on what people say. It really can mess you up. We have all seen it happen. We have seen peoples’ lives mutated into something else, into an automaton of what they once were. It’s sad to see. But a lot of people do it very successfully and have great careers and are able to maintain normalcy. And I want to be one of those.

How do you survive in the Hollywood industry?

as relevant as a painting or a sculpture. Hundreds of years from now people will be watching that movie. I am part of something that was historical in a lot of ways. I am glad to be a part of it. And it’s also given me so many opportunities as an actor to steer the course of my destiny professionally. Having said that, it was never my intent to have my image thrown around the world. It was a pretty surreal and insane time. But I have been through it now. I have kind of experienced a huge amount of that. It’s human nature to adapt to your environment and the circumstance you are in. There are people in this world that adapt to things that are a trillion times worse. People have so many hardships in this world. I don’t like to complain and sound ungrateful.

You said that in those days you were getting a false sense of yourself. How did you regain the right sense of yourself? In talking about the business and seeing other young actors and watching how intense media coverage is or putting somebody else as an artist on a pedestal, if you are at a young impressionable age, you cannot start to think some of these things. I never got to a point ever in my life where I was ever mean or cruel to anybody. But it takes some sitting back. You have to realise you don’t change the course of history. You are just an actor and you did a movie, and it was well received. And that’s the end of it. I see it happening sometimes. People who get success for the first time, it’s really detrimental, and it can really affect your career professionally, if you don’t realise that we are clowns for hire.

Just realise that you are damn lucky that you do what you do. And you shouldn’t complain. It’s really true. There is always that temptation, it’s around you constantly. But in the end you have to realise that you are an entertainer, a well-glorified entertainer. You are not making political decisions. Back to the fact that not everyone has the opportunity to choose the world they want to be in, you should never complain about being in the public eye. Because there are so many people who would kill to be in the position I am in.

Do you have any sense of guilt because of your success?

Can you avoid public attention?

Are there repercussions of being so frank?

Well, I’m not walking around with a huge entourage which attracts attention. But generally, I’ve always had the same philosophy as an actor. You do your work as an actor, you work as hard as you can and then you use publicity to speak to the people for a specific reason, not to divulge your personal life. That’s a disservice. The more you do that, the more people understand you as a personality rather than an actor who can fit and change into different roles. When I did Titanic I was not wanting to be in the public world. It was thrust upon me. I didn’t do any interviews after that for years.

Maybe the immediate retaliation of what you say. Specifically it’s hard to come up with an example, but ultimately it’s better to establish a position than suffering the consequences. And especially in the working process it’s very important. You have to be that way, otherwise you are doing a piece of material that you don’t believe in. And if you don’t believe in it, you are doing that piece of work a great disservice, you are dishonoring it. That’s why you have to be blunt from the very beginning with the writers and directors and tell them what you are comfortable with and what you might want to change, and in what direction you feel that the movie should go.

Has the Titanic experience been a curse for you? No. I have said a lot of things about Titanic. But I have never once said that I regretted having been part of that movie. As an actor, I look at movies as an art form

No, because I really do want to after accumulating enough wealth do something good for the world. And that’s not to say something politically correct. I want to find some cause and make a significant contribution to it one day.

You once said that you were very straightforward and honest. Is that still the case? I think it’s inherent in my genes, in my DNA.

And on a personal level as well? Or are you more careful so as not to hurt any feelings? I am not always honest, of course not. But my honesty


‘It took me years to understand that people act professionally. That it’s not just fun, that you can earn a living’

But why are you not as open with the media? Things you say in the media get misconstrued a lot and misunderstood anyway, but I kind of think it’s important not to be out there publicly that much. It’s a key part of longevity in the business to not have people constantly know everything that there is to know about you, because inevitably they are going to see you up on the screen and say: “That’s not him. He’s not like that.” That’s why it’s important to me.

How is it to be born in Hollywood – does this give you more desire to be a part of the film industry? There is a real irony that I was born in Hollywood, and in a not great neighborhood. But it was in Hollywood. I never knew I could become a great actor, because I was never a part of the business. It was absolutely this outside universe that was not tangible to me. The location was fundamental at school in telling my parents, “please take me to auditions, I want to be an actor”. Coming from a lower-middle-class background, if I had been born in Idaho this wouldn’t have been that easy. So the location absolutely did make a difference. But it took me years to understand that people do this professionally. That it is not just fun, that you can earn a living. That took me a while to understand.

How is your working relationship with Martin Scorsese evolving? It was twelve or thirteen years ago when I did Gangs of New York with him. I don’t want to say I’m an old man now. But I was 24 years old, and working with him and Daniel Day-Lewis – he very much relies on actors and their instincts and wants to trust them. First he has to agree with the direction you want to go and your intent for your character and where your instincts lie. That took a little time. On our second

film, The Aviator, after having the experience of our nine months in Rome together, he trusted me enough to take on that role. Since then it has been great, it’s been more of a partnership. I think now he looks to me to steer the course of who these people are that I am portraying. It instills a lot of confidence in you. He does that with everybody, not just me. He does his homework. Things change when you are on set, things could be wrong when you attempt them. But when you show up that day on set you better be able to have an idea of what you want to try. Otherwise he is not going to appreciate it.

So is he like a strict teacher? Not at all. He doesn’t try to teach you anything. He’s never had to ask me to do something. You just do it. If you are working on a Martin Scorsese movie, or any movie for that matter, but in particular a Martin Scorsese movie, there is a heightened feeling of – you do your homework. He chooses people that he believes are talented and can offer him something, and he’s got his idea of what he wants to do. And of course he will tell you exactly what he wants differently.

How important is your father for you? He is an intellect. There is no one in the world whose opinion I respect more than his. He has always been intrinsic to the part of my decision-making process, ever since I started acting. Playing Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse. Being 17 years old and never having read Rimbaud. He says: “pay attention, this was the first rebel in the field of poetry, he revolutionized poetry in France... this is a fascinating character, an interesting bit of history, this movie has something important to say.” He never told me what to do, but gave a subtle bit of knowledge that I needed.

What does it mean for you to be a real man? Taking responsibility for your actions solely. Not putting it off on anyone else. That’s what it’s become. As my career progressed I have had to make a lot more decisions than I could ever have thought of. And it’s difficult sometimes, because it’s about standing behind what you want to stand behind as an artist.

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Francesca Orsini / The Interview People

comes out when it’s something that I really care about, and that is movies. There is not any director that I worked with that has said that I pulled punches as far as my opinion on the material that we were doing was concerned, and I hope that elevates it sometimes. I hope so. They don’t always agree with me.


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Best of

THE BEATLES In the early ’60s, photographer Harry Benson toured with the Fab Four as Beatlemania took over the world. He shares with us images from his new book, a collection of unseen negatives Photographs: Harry Benson

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1.

2.


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On Sunday, February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their first live appearance on American TV with The Ed Sullivan Show, performing a string of hits that began with All My Loving. Even the screaming girls in the audience could not drown out the energetic performance, watched by over 73 million Americans. “It was their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York,” Benson recalls. “They were very respectful and called him Mr Sullivan throughout.”

2.

As well as music, The Beatles launched a very successful film career, beginning in 1964 with A Hard Day’s Night. Directed by Richard Lester, the black-and-white mockumentary followed the group over several days as they went from Liverpool to London for a TV appearance. Part of the journey was by train, and it was here, in a break between filming, that Benson found Paul McCartney deep in thought. “Paul was drinking tea on the train riding in and out of London while they filmed,” he says.

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Benson recalls how much of his time with the band was spent in hotels, and this shot was taken after a concert in Paris in 1964. Manager Brian Epstein had walked in to say that I Wanna Hold Your Hand had gone to Number One in America. The group were elated, and Benson suggested a pillow fight to celebrate. “What can I say, the Beatles pillow fight is my favourite photograph,” he says. “They were young and happy and the most popular band in the world.”

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In June 1964, The Beatles were due to begin their world tour in Denmark – while Ringo Starr didn’t make it due to a bout of tonsillitis, Benson did, and captured this shot of the band with their replacement drummer, Jimmy Nicol, in a hotel room. Nicol served with the band for 12 days until Ringo was well again. “Ringo was sick and didn’t go to Copenhagen,” Benson confirms. “The drummer filling in got a taste of Beatlemania.”

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Part of that first US tour in 1964 also saw The Beatles meeting up with a young underdog fighter by the name of Cassius Clay, as he prepared for his February 25 heavyweight title bout with champion Sonny Liston. The whole set-up, taking place at a back street gym in Miami, was good publicity for both parties – as well as a lot of fun. “It was before Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali,” says Benson. “He picked up Ringo and shouted, ‘I’m the greatest, I’m the prettiest.’ Everyone laughed.”

6.

The group’s rise to the top wasn’t without controversy, and a quote from John Lennon given to an English newspaper in 1966 that The Beatles had become ‘more popular than Jesus’ escalated in the States to the point that records were burned and threats made, all on the eve on an American tour. A press conference was called for Lennon to explain himself – a stressful time perhaps, but one where Benson saw an opportunity. “John was unhappy in his Chicago hotel room after his press conference to apologise,” he says.

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Harry Benson: The Beatles On The Road 1964-1966. Hardcover in a clamshell box, 272 pages. Limited edition of 1,764 copies, published by Taschen, priced $723. Also available in two Art Editions of 100 copies each, with a choice of two silver gelatin prints. taschen.com


YELL for LEATHER

Hermès has been creating leather accessories for 175 years, starting out as a saddlemaker before its reinvention as maker of the world’s most coveted bags. Luke Leitch goes behind the scenes at one of the brand’s Paris production facilities and meets the cousins holding the Hermès reigns

Words: Luke Leitch

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B

y sheer coincidence, my Parisian rendezvous with the two cousins to whom has fallen the six-generation ancestral responsibility of running Hermès takes place at 13 rue des Beaux Arts. It was at this very spot, a beautiful stone-floored (and stonily staffed) hotel, that Oscar Wilde - the unsurpassed master of the comic potential of a handbag - croaked his last bon mot. That was 112 years ago, when Hermès was already a 63-yearold saddlemaker of considerable renown. Fast-forward to now, and Hermès is the world’s best-regarded luxury company. The regard is reflected in its performance: last year, its profits rose 41 per cent to 495 million pounds

sterling. Its exquisitely printed silk scarves are lusted after, but the cult of Hermès is predicated primarily on its handbags. These include the Kelly - so christened after Grace used hers as a paparazzi-block, the less famous but equally lustrous H-buckled Constance, the Verrou clutch, the Jypsière messenger, the roomilygusseted Paris-Bombay holdall, and the 1920s-designed zippered Bolide. All of these, when spotted, will prompt a shudder of pleasure among members of the handbag cognoscenti. But by far the most famous, and most collected, is the Birkin, named after actress Jane. Half an hour before my meeting with the Hermès cousins, at the autumn/winter Hermès womenswear show held at the end of this street,

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Birkin herself told the story of how, in the early 1980s, she was seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas (the man most responsible for Hermès’ recent elevation) on a flight from Paris to London. Between them they came up with the idea for the Birkin bag, after her hand luggage had spewed its contents from the overhead locker on to the first-class shagpile. She even recalled them sketching that first design on a sick bag. The world’s most famous handbag, dreamt up on a sick bag! En route to the hotel where Wilde checked out, I’m itching to discuss this with the rarely interviewed Dumas cousins, Pierre-Alexis, 45, the creative director, who wears a raffish scarf over his navy jacket, and Axel, 41, the chief operating officer, who is a waistcoat-under-charcoal-jacket


Images: Supplied Text: Luke Leitch / The Telegraph / The Interview People

man. Born into handbags, they are disconcertingly earnest (sorry, Oscar). I mention the Birkin chat, and Pierre-Alexis tells me that Jean-Louis Dumas, that man on the plane, was his father. “I don’t think he was being clever, he was just someone you could talk to. He loved drawing, he talked to her, and she told him what would be her ideal bag. He drew it and made it. I don’t think he expected it would be such a huge success.” Jean-Louis, who retired in 2006 and died in 2010, had worked as a buyer at Bloomingdale’s in New York. He took charge of Hermès from his father, Robert, in 1978. After decades of expansion, the company was in danger of stagnation; Jean-Louis brought his experience from Bloomingdale’s, and oversaw its expansion from a European institution to a global one. He went by submarine to the bottom of Lake Geneva to launch a watch, tapped up Birkin, and brilliantly rejuvenated the company for a younger audience. Now Pierre-Alexis has succeeded his father in creative charge of this business that has 33 (soon to be 35) production facilities in France (and France alone), employing about 3,000 men and women. He tells me about a Salman Rushdie article he once read that informed his entire vision for Hermès - fascinating, if perhaps a philosophy too far for handbag production. “He said that the leading value of the 21st century was progress and speed. We started with automobiles and ended up with the internet. Going fast was the symbol of progress, of a better world. But the fact that we now communicate at the speed of light does not mean we are happier - in fact, we are more stressed than ever. Something is still not right. So it seems that as a reaction to that, we are going to slow down. I thought a lot about it. And it’s not about being slow. It’s about being deep. It’s about taking the time to appreciate what we have.” At last month’s highly regarded London exhibition of every Hermèsmade leather product, Pierre-Alexis said: “We are tenants of a culture

that is age-old. We used our tools and know-how from our link to horse equipment, and we applied it to accessories and handbags. It is a long, beautiful, human tradition.” That tradition was shaken last year when LVMH, the world’s largest agglomeration of luxury marques, acquired a 22 per cent stake in Hermès. To secure Hermès from LVMH, 50 relations from three branches of the family recently met to establish a watertight holding company that owns 51 per cent of Hermès, and which cannot be sold for 20 years. “Although we’re confident,” Pierre-Alexis says, “we will remain paranoid until the end. It was really a Nietzschean moment, it didn’t destroy us, so it made us stronger. When I pass this company on to the seventh generation, then I will believe I’ve done my job.”

genuinely charming and charmed by their jobs. They say the Plume - the company’s oldest bag design - is the most difficult to make, and that the average time it takes to make a bag is two and a half weeks. A recently hired 17-year-old named Dimitri, wearing piercings and jeans, has just finished his first Kelly, coloured a glowing light blue, and made inside out to reduce the appearance of stitching on the exterior. In front of us, with infinite slowness and the help of a tiny iron to reduce stress to its calfskin, he turns the bag outside in again - and beams like a new father when the delivery is flawlessly complete. Another worker, a cool, slightly older chap named Julien Serange, says, “We don’t feel like machines here, because we do everything from the beginning to the

‘An object is a tenet of culture and it has a soul’ Do the Dumas cousins, I wonder, admire anything about the Louis Vuitton-based empire, the most powerful force of the 21st-century luxury industry? “No,” Pierre-Alexis says boldly. “I don’t. It’s not my bag.” A few days later, I visit an Hermès facility on the outskirts of Paris. Once my passport is politely confiscated at the door, and I am firmly admonished against photography, the experience proves a cheery one. And as I walk around a laughter-punctured murmur of chatter, machine-whirr and banging (during ‘perlage’, the attachment of hardware to bags) fills the room. The craftsmen and women I meet (all quite young) appear both

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end, from A to Z. It is a real pleasure to do this.” Even if you’ve no intention of spending thousands on a handbag, it is certainly interesting to see how the world’s finest are made. And the determination of the people who run it is impressive too. Pierre-Alexis may be a little prickly, but who wouldn’t be in the face of an unwanted attempt to wrest control of a company built, and loved, by six generations? As he says, “As long as the Hermès house remains a family business - and as long as we’re alive - I can tell you that we will be here to remind people that there are human beings behind an object. An object is a tenet of culture, and it has a soul. If we forget that, we die.”


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Scarlett Fever Words: James Mottram

She scooped one of film’s most prestigious awards before reaching adulthood and remains as popular an actress as you’re ever likely to find. Yet in spite of the attention little is known about the off-screen Scarlett Johansson. AIR meets the superstar turned superhero to find out why

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‘People pry so much. I’m constantly surprised by how rude people are’

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I never wanted to be a sex symbol. I wanted to be a character actor. Those are the actors I mostly admire. I think women that are curvy can be pigeonholed in that bombshell thing. It’s not like I actively look for sexy roles. It’s not a requirement that my character be pretty and delicate. I never think about my character being sexy, unless that’s written in. It’s weird to be a recognisable face. I’m not traumatised [by it] but I find it can bring out the worst in humanity sometimes. I’m constantly surprised by how rude people are. You’ll be having an intimate dinner with a friend and there’s somebody on the table behind with a camera phone pointing at your face. I think, ‘I would never take a photo of someone without asking.’

When I was younger, my mum made sure I had a relatively normal life. I went to school, I had neighbourhood friends, I went to camp, that kind of thing. Also, it was different back then. Recently, the media is unhealthily obsessed with very young actors. They’re very critical of them.

I think I have a little bit of my father’s Danish sense of humour. He has a very dry wit. Being half-Danish, we celebrated Danish culture growing up. We’d have a Danish Christmas, which is more a celebration of Danish culture than anything else. We always went to the Danish Seamen’s Church [in New York] and all kinds of festivals.

I don’t answer any questions about my private life. I’m not a politician or anything like that, so I shouldn’t have to reveal that. I mean, people have enough. They pry so much that some things need to be personal. I feel no pressure. I just feel pressure to show up to work on time. I don’t feel like I have to be a certain way.

Images: Getty / Gallo Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: James Mottram / The Independent / The Interview People

I was excited to play the part of a very strong woman in Avengers Assemble. Often-times in action films, and in comic-book movies, the female is the damsel in distress or a love interest, something like that. But Black Widow is intimidating. She wasn’t fighting and posing with the wind in her hair! She got down and dirty – I like that.

I always make decisions based on my emotions. I’m not very practical. I think I’m hyper-sensitive and I use that for my job, so there are certainly a lot of differences to Black Widow. She has to remain unfeeling and lukewarm, in a sense. To keep a distance and not make decisions based on her emotions. I never wanted to play Marilyn Monroe [Johansson was reportedly in the running to play the actress in last year’s My Week with Marilyn.] I don’t know. It’s just a job – I didn’t have the passion for that. I love Marilyn Monroe. She’s a very underrated actor but it just seemed exhausting in a way that I couldn’t wrap my head around.

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MOTORING

BOXSTER OF TRICKS

Porsche’s Boxster sheds its skin to reveal the beast within

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

T

he Porsche 911 underwent a major reinvention at the end of last year. So the arrival of a new Boxster two-seater soon after was inevitable, given the front halves of these two Porsches have always been near-identical underneath. And here it is. Much of what has made the new 911 new applies to the Boxster. So, the body structure is lighter, stiffer and contains much aluminium; the wheelbase is longer, the wheels are set more widely apart, and the styling has a more assertive edge. This last part is important, because in its 15 years to date, the Boxster has always suffered from a slightly apologetic look. The nose is now stubbier, the windscreen rake racier, the wheels bigger and the flanks have gained bold ducts to funnel air to the mid-mounted engine. The rear spoiler’s line extends through the rear lights, although just the non-light section raises itself as speed rises. From demure to demonstrative: a clever transformation. Inside, new-911 themes follow. Most obvious is the high, upwardsloping central console, which unfortunately ousts the normal handbrake in favour of a technologically neat but functionally clumsy electric one. The manual gear lever ahead of it doesn’t select seven forward ratios as it does in the 911, though; the gearbox

‘No rival comes close to matching the pure pleasure that driving a Boxster brings’

retains six speeds unless you specify the PDK (double-clutch) automatic. Another new-911 feature now found in the Boxster is the electric power steering. An open cockpit, too, so after just nine seconds of electro-hydraulic activity the roof is unlatched and stowed. It takes just a few bends and bumps to reveal the new structure to be impressively rigid, not a shudder to be felt. The suspension feels more supple and fluent, with the Sport mode of the optional Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM) no longer intolerably choppy on poor roads. As before, there are two engine options. The larger S version is still a 3.4-litre version of Porsche’s direct-injection flat six, now with 315bhp instead of 310, but the smaller now also gains the direct injection previously denied to it and has shrunk back to the 2.7 litres of earlier basemodel Boxsters. Power is 265bhp. I naturally incline to a manual Boxster S as my ideal. The engine is smooth, punchy, revvy, tuneful, and the gear change is a wrist-flick delight. The S was ever thus, so the new car’s new abilities lie elsewhere. The ride I’ve mentioned, but it is combined with

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a precision and tenacity in corners that the previous Boxster could never quite manage. You need the PASM in Sport or Sport Plus to eradicate a feeling of looseness in the steering around the straight-ahead, brought about by an excess of assistance. So you separately switch the suspension damping back to normal mode and gain the best of all worlds. Yes, the electric steering has lost the detailed feedback of road surfaces that was such a joy in the old Boxster, but in itself it feels fine. Another big advance is in noise levels. You hear all the good parts of the engine’s song but the brain-drilling resonance you used to suffer with the roof up has gone. Then there’s the PDK transmission option, which in Sport mode shifts exactly when you want it to in a miracle of intuition – although in Sport Plus it’s too frantic and in normal mode too sleepy. And the Boxster 2.7? It’s rapid enough to make you feel very good about the near-$12,000 saving. Either way, no rival – BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, Audi TT RS – comes close to matching the pure pleasure that driving a Boxster brings.


Price Guide: $73,000 Engine: 3,436cc Power: 315bhp Top Speed: 173mph 0-100kph: 5.1sec


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GASTRONOMY

‘I’M JUST MARCO’ Enfant Terrible, Godfather of Gastronomy, Rock ‘n’ Roll Restaurateur – Marco Pierre White has been called a few things in his time, but the chefturned restaurateur has put his Michelin stars, celebrity feuds and fights behind him in favour of the simple life – as he tells AIR… Words: Laura Binder

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aiting to interview Marco Pierre White makes for some stomachturning clock-watching. I should know, that’s the exact position I found myself in; perched on a plush velvet couch in his latest UAE restaurant – Titanic in Melia Hotel Dubai – an olive stone’s throw away from the wild-haired chap himself, wondering just what kind of mood he would be in today. After all, this is a man who is known as much for his tempestuous ways as his culinary achievements: a thrice married chef-turned-restaurateur who is famed with everything from celebrity bust-ups (don’t mention Gordon Ramsay) to throwing 54 city bankers out of one of his London restaurants (“I always say, the customer isn’t always right” he tells me later). I hedged my bets by bringing a gift – two big bones for his pride and joy: Clive and Pluto – his Lurchers. (“A man looks instantly more stylish with a dog by his side”, he was once quoted as saying, “I’m a good Yorkshire boy, so I believe you’ve got to have a pikey dog like a Lurcher”). To the relief of my butterfly-ridden stomach, Marco is elated. “Thank you,” he says with a smile, “I’m obsessed with my dogs.” It seems to have done the trick; I find Marco relaxed, self-assured, talkative and accommodating; offering cigarettes, moving seats, placing my Dictaphone on the arm of his chair – a far cry from the gruff, mono-syllabic reception I had feared. What brings the well-documented Marco back to Dubai is the opening of his ominouslynamed Titanic (a title owed as much to his fascination with boats as to his 1990s London haunt of the same name in St Regent’s Palace Hotel). It’s his third restaurant in the UAE to date (the fourth, Wheeler’s, opens this September in DIFC) on top of a gastronomic empire of city restaurants and country pubs in his home country of England.

“What you start with and end up with tend to be two different things,” he tells me when I question the vision for his current enterprise, a cosy-yet-glamorous gold-hued lounge that leads into an intimate restaurant. Hardly the stuff of ‘Titanic’ proportions. Though nowadays, for Marco, bigger is not necessarily better: “Somewhere like this is nice for a birthday; it’s quiet it’s intimate, you can sit in the corner and have a pre-dinner drink, go through to a smallish restaurant that’s tranquil – it’s gentle. “I like lounges”, he goes on (Marco, I find, needs little prompting to wax lyrical), “I prefer to be tucked away in a corner, with my own space, with my own friends, I don’t need to know who’s sat on the next table – I don’t want to swim in the shallow end of society.” Now 50, Marco insists simplicity is his newfound pleasure. “You know something,” he says, leaning in with glowering intensity, “the older I get the more simple I become, the less fuss I want. When you’re young you want everything, you want to experience all there is in the world. When you get to my stage in life not much impresses you. What tends to impress you is simplicity. Is straightforwardness. Everyone is trying so hard to impress you but actually you get fed up with it.” And he’s off… “I don’t want staff swarming around me because I’m Marco Pierre White; I want to be left alone! I can pour my own water, I can pour my own wine, I don’t want to be given a master class in service.” Sitting back to draw thoughtfully on a second cigarette, straight-talking Marco is a man who knows what he wants. And it seems he’s always been that way: a trait that took a young boy from a Leeds council estate (his name is no doubt down to his beloved Italian mother) to become Britain’s most successful chef – and the youngest in the world to earn three Michelin stars at the age 33 (an accomplishment beaten only in 2002 by a 28-year-old

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GASTRONOMY Massimiliano Alajmo). But ask him about it and the journey to stardom – Michelin stardom – seems bitter sweet. “When I was 17 I discovered what Michelin was,” he recalls intently, “I was working at the St George’s Hotel in Harrogate. I didn’t learn much about food, but I learnt how to delegate, how to organise myself and push myself to great extremes. I learnt how to use a knife, to say ‘yes chef’… I suppose I was institutionalised,” he ponders, “I suppose that’s what it was. It was like stepping into the army.” There Pierre White was also tasked with polishing shoes at the back of the restaurant. A spot, as fate would have it, that he found a guide to Michelin-starred restaurants. “I flicked through and realised for the first time that restaurants had stars,” he says, a revelatory look on his face even still. The discovery took him up the next rung of his career ladder, to the Box Tree restaurant, the best in Britain at the time with two Michelin stars to its name. “I thought, if I’m going to be a chef I should work in the best restaurant, not here [St George’s].” Sure enough, he landed a place in the kitchen, a place he credits for igniting his wildest dreams.

I am retiring, please take me out the guide; I’m hanging up my apron.” Unprompted, Marco happily bounds off down memory lane: “One Sunday morning a thought came into my head [he pauses, looking me straight in the eye] that I was being judged by people that have less knowledge than me. If I’m honest, what’s it all worth?” And what was it all worth? I asked. “The journey was fantastic; the realisation of one’s dream was fantastic, but I had been there and done it. So I moved on. I retired.” That was 1999. Interestingly, for a man who had been elevated to celebrity status, celebrated and criticised for his brooding persona and steely mystique, he retreated to the English countryside – and stayed there for the next five years. “I ran off and did all the things I did as a child. I did exactly the same when my mother died in the ’60s. Nature was my surrogate mother.” For a chef of his magnitude, it was certainly an unexpected manoeuvre and one that seemed necessary for his sanity, if nothing else. “When you spend so long in the kitchen and give so much to food, to

‘The reason I ask people to leave is one, if they’re rude to staff... and two, when a table has no regard for other diners... It’s as simple as that’ “In those days you had to go and say goodbye to the bosses at the end of the day… and they [Mr Long and Mr Reid] would tell me stories of all the great restaurants in France… and I used to sit there mesmerised. What it did was ignite something in me that made me dream. That dream was to replicate the great French restaurants.” Brute passion took him on to the stoves of some of the world’s top eateries; Le Gavroche (under Albert and Michel Roux), La Tante Claire, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and, at 24, head chef of Harveys – one of the most talked-about restaurants of the late eighties – where his kitchen staff included Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. “This was in the days when the chefs were behind the stove,” he says defiantly. “You were in the kitchen with them. I don’t care what people say, if the chef’s not in the kitchen, it’s not the same. He walks in and you can feel his presence, you can smell him there.” It’s obvious that anything short just doesn’t cut it with Pierre White. In fact, it was what led him to retire as a chef after 22 years in the kitchen – and surrender his stars. After dedicating up to 100 hours a week to his craft, I put it to him that such a decision couldn’t have been easy. “I had three options, didn’t I?” Er, ‘yes?’ I ventured, unsure under that intense gaze whether it was rhetorical or not… “One, to continue doing what I was doing,” he jumped in, “working six days a week, working endless hours and retain my status. Two, I could live a lie and pretend I cooked when I don’t, to continue to charge high prices when I’m not in the kitchen, to question my integrity. Three, to tell Michelin

service, you’re quite socially inept, emotionally limited,” he tells me. “I was 38, but my emotional age was more like 20.” So did it just take stepping away from the stove to liberate Britain’s most famous chef? “I think that self discovery is true success: when you discover yourself as a person, by doing so you start to accept yourself as a person. So what happens next? First, you have the opportunity to fall in love for the right or wrong reasons. You have the opportunity to do things for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons...” Whether he liked it or not though, the media maintained an appetite for ‘Marco Pierre White’ (a fact he credits to this day as “ridiculous” and “extraordinary”), though he vehemently denies his tag as the ‘first celebrity chef’, putting it down to two men: the first restaurant PR Alan Compton-Batt (“God rest his soul”) a food fanatic and thenmanager of Kelly’s whom he met in 1981 (“he used to give me free coffees in exchange for stories from Le Gavroche”) and Bob Carlos Clark, the photographer behind that iconic shot of Marco the day he won two Michelin stars. “I was elevated from one to two [stars] in the space of six years. Chefs of the time who did that were old-timers and all of a sudden there’s this boy in his twenties, long hair, smoking fags and looking very rock and roll. I stayed in the kitchen and didn’t stray out, so I had this mystique about me. Those two people created a celebrity, a chef, not me; I was just the muse, the vehicle…” And what does he think of today’s celeb-chef-obsessed culture (I bite my tongue on mentioning Gordon Ramsay,

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Images: Getty / Gallo Images

who reportedly showed up to one of Marco’s weddings with a camera crew, ending their friendship). “Firstly, let’s be honest, there’s a difference between being a celebrity and being a star. And if we’re really honest, few celebs possess real talent”. And then his trail of thought circles back to him: “I was branded a celebrity chef but in reality I’m not a chef anymore. I’m just Marco, it’s as simple as that; I never tried to be anybody, I didn’t try to be a celebrity chef, I didn’t care about the papers, all I cared about was what was on my plate.” But what of throwing diners out of restaurants, of tempestuous marriages and celebrity bust-ups; is it all really just media hype? He’s happy to comment on the former: “The reason I ask people to leave is, one, if they’re rude to staff – which I will never tolerate – and two when a table has no regard for other diners; if they’re swearing, being loud, and not respecting other tables. They are the two reasons we always ask people to leave. It’s as simple as that. I always say the customer is not always right.” Just as I think he must have it the wrong way round, I remember, this is Marco. While many have deemed the chef-turned-restaurateur arrogant, it’s fair to say that few have the accolades to back up such stellar self-confidence. I let it slide and take the chance to recall cheerier times – of the very best guests to have dined in his restaurants. “That’s been one of the best things of my job, the people to

have crossed my path. When you have Old Hollywood – the likes of David Lean check out of hospital to ask for pigs’ trotters because he saw the recipe – to have shaken hands with football legends Pelé, Bobby Moore, George Best, and then Old Hollywood again, the likes of Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau – who were very understated – to the modern day stars to royalty, aristocracy, nobility, to the working man who saves his pennies to bring his mother to dinner – they’re all equally important.” And is there anyone he would still like to grace one of his many eateries? “No, he says without a moment’s thought, “I don’t think like that.” It comes as a surprise, though, when White cites his biggest career achievement: “escaping the kitchen.” So has his current status as a restaurateur really trumped those heady days as a world-famous, cigarette-toting, tousle-maned, lusted-after, star-yielding chef? “In many ways I’m happier today than I was when in the kitchen,” he says. “I may not possess the same status, but I am happier.” What, then, does the future hold for Marco Pierre White the restaurateur? “You’ll have to ask the big boy up there,” he gestures with a laugh, before returning to his usually intense self. “Nothing I do in my life is premeditated; I never ever go looking for things. I walk down this road of life and find things along the way, people cross my path; I just leave it to destiny.”

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GASTRONOMY

THE TOP TABLES Three Michelin stars and San Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurants comprise the most meaningful barometers of the globe’s finest tables. But if the 2012 results of both awards were combined, which country’s restaurants would be the most honoured? AIR cooks up the answer…

AWARDS PER COUNTRY

0-3

01 Finland

03 Brazil

01 Monaco

03 Denmark

01 Portugal

03 Sweden

01 Thailand

04 Australia

02 Austria

04 Belgium

02 Greece

04 Singapore

02 India

08 China

02 Mexico

08 Spain

02 Netherlands

11 Germany

02 Peru

11 Italy

02 Russia

11 UK

02 South Africa

15 USA

02 Switzerland

30 France

02 UAE

38 Japan

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4-10

10<

MOST FEATURED CUISINES

Japanese

French

Italian


UAE BITES BACK

THE MASTER CHEF No chef in the world can match the number of Michelin stars (28 across his portfolio of global restaurants) held by Frenchman Joël Robuchon, who is also the chef to feature most on San Pellegrino’s list of best restaurants. Having started in professional

kitchens aged only 15, Robuchon would go on to be credited with evolving French food beyond nouvelle cuisine (taking inspiration from his love of Japanese dishes) and is revered the culinary world over for being the consummate perfectionist of his craft.

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The appearance of Dubai-based Zuma (83) and La Petite Maison (96) on San Pellegrino’s best restaurants list marks the first time that more than one UAE-based restaurant has featured – Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire being the only other restaurant from the region to be included back in 2009. “The UAE is a young market when it comes to restaurants, but it’s showing signs of growing up,” James Brennan, chairman of the San Pellegrino’s 31-member judging panel in the Middle East, told Gulf News. “We’re beginning to see more homegrown concepts emerging and I think that will be reflected in future lists as the market matures.”


TRAVEL

GRAND DESIGNS

Bulgari Hotel & Residences is now open for reservations in London’s Knightsbridge. AIR catalogues a shiny new design gem

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hen you think of Bulgari, you think of jewellery, right? Naturally. Founded in Rome in 1884 as a single jewellery shop, Bulgari created the kind of classic pieces that enable a one-man-store to evolve into a world-famous portfolio of international boutiques. Its just-opened London hotel, then – the third in its portfolio following its sister properties in Milan and Bali – pays a series of tributary nods to its silversmith origins. As you’d expect, the result is understated, elegant and very Italian. The talent charged with the task of bringing a brand spanking new luxury

hotel to life (the first build of its kind in London for 40 years, no less) was interior designers Antonio Citterio and Patricial Viel and Partners. The result is a decorative silver theme (note its subtle motifs) and timeless air, coupled with fine crafting – furnishings and textiles were crafted exclusively for Bulgari by Italian manufacturers. If you want to lay your eyes (and hands for that matter) on classic Bulgari design, keep a keen eye on the suites: you’ll see it in the detailing (custom-made silk curtains with classic jewellery-inspired patterns); in the bed side table lamps (a nod to Bulgari’s signature silver candlesticks) and in the Ballroom – crane your neck to behold two solid silver chandeliers. Its 7th-floor penthouse

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has stirred the interest of would-be buyers too – though those-in-the-know wouldn’t disclose bidding prices to AIR (“a gentleman never tells”), it’s nothing an appointment with Christie’s International Real Estate can’t fix. If you don’t stake a permanent claim on Bulgari Hotel & Residences you can luxuriate for a day at least in its spa: the onyx teal and stone-crafted spa lavishes itself over two floors (we counted 11 sleek treatment rooms), the most irresistible aspect of which is a glistening green and gold mosaic swimming pool – we defy you not to slip in for a few lazy laps. Stay put in the hotel come nightfall (with surrounds like these it would be criminal not to) and Il Bar is at its social heart, from which you may descend down a silver staircase for authentic Italian fare at Il Ristorante, headed by chef Robbie Pepin (he of Alain Ducasse’s La Trattoria in Monaco) before ending the evening in the hotel’s screening room (space for 47, if you have friends in town). There you can choose from 500 films; a fine way to savour Bulgari’s silver screen heritage. bulgarihotels.com

The Fash Pack The style-conscious jet-setter needn’t stop at Bulgari Hotels, as these four examples show…

Palazzo Versace

Missoni Hotel

Armani Hotel Milano

The g Hotel

Australia

Kuwait

Italy

Ireland

Design: Characteristically flamboyant, a $11.5 million chandelier dominates the lobby here; marble from Cararra lies underfoot, while dinner is served on limited-edition china. Experience: Drink in its Gold Coast setting from the marina-side Vie Bar and Restaurant – the place to see and be seen.

Design: Missoni stripes caress virtually every space and surface (from hand towels to espresso cups), culminating in a spectacular tiled pool. Experience: Italian to a tee, hotel transfer is by Maserati, comfort food includes mascarpone ice cream, and Choco Café serves sublime espressos.

Design: Designed, or approved, by the man himself, each and every detail of this A-shaped hotel is immaculate, from leather-lined walls to mother-of-pearl doors and super-soft bath towels. Experience: A personal lifestyle manager will see to your every beck and call, day or night.

Design: The Mad Hatter of design, Philip Treacy, has unleashed his zany style upon his hometown of Galway with vibrant colours and bold statements in every one of the rooms. Experience: The GiGi’s restaurant is well worth an evening out for Irishmeets-French fare – a rare but delicious combo.

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Postcards from

New York The National 9/11 Memorial, finished in 2011 on the site of Lower Manhattan’s World Trade Center, opened to the public ten years after the 2001 attack. The eight-acre site was conceived by architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker, whose designs were selected after a global campaign.

2.

On 29 October 1929, a date more commonly known as Black Tuesday, Wall Street was rocked to the core after New York Stock Exchange share prices took a monumental dive. An estimated loss of $30 billion was recorded that week.

3.

The Yankee Stadium, home of baseball’s most famous franchise, The New York Yankees, was opened in 2009, the new arena replacing the Yankee’s old ballpark that had stood just over the road since 1923. In all, the Yankees have played their home fixtures at six different stadiums in New York over the course of their long history, which has seen them claim a record 27 World Series titles.

4.

In 1930, dancer Fred Astaire and Hortense Lowits played a game of mini golf atop the Hotel White, opposite the newly-constructed Chrysler Building. The tower was the world’s tallest – until the Empire State Building stole its crown 11 months later. It was sold to the Abu Dhabi Investment Council in July 2008 for an estimated $800 million.

5.

In 1954 during the filming of Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe posed over a breezy Manhattan subway grate, immortalised in a pose that captured the world’s imagination – much to the distain of her husband Joe DiMaggio. The dress recently fetched $4.6 million at auction.

6.

The roads of Manhattan are awash with signature yellow cabs – but not for much longer. The taxis, which have been ferrying passengers since July 1897, are set to be phased out and replaced with Nissan minivans.

7.

In 2011 Brooklyn Fare became the first New York restaurant outside of Manhattan to pick up three Michelin Stars. The Brooklyn-based eatery seats just 18, with all guests dining at Cesar Ramirez’s Chef’s Table.

8.

Boasting 3.4 square kilometres of greenery in the heart of the NYC, Central Park is the city’s favourite hangout – 155 years after its gates first opened in 1857, it’s brimming with joggers, skaters and all walks of life.

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TRAVEL

BUCKET LIST NO.32

Witness the Wildebeest migration

It’s one of the planet’s most incredible wildlife spectacles: 1.4 million horned heads pioneering a 1,800mile-long trip across east African plains (their approach sounds like rumbling thunder) in an annual search for food and water. Hundreds of herbivores (gazelle, zebra, eland…) are hot on their trail, though they’re not the only ones: lions, leopards and cheetahs stalk and run down the migrating beests. Make for the African savannah this month (or anytime

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before September) and you can see this life and death ritual played out before your very eyes – from the safety of a guarded jeep, of course. Choose the location of your luxury lodging wisely: the brown beasts gallop from the vast Serengeti plains to the caramel-coloured hills of the Masai Mara. There the Masai River presents a final swollen hurdle for the herd, the weakest of which are swallowed up in its crocodile-infested waters. Gruesome yet stirring.


Six in the City

After a flurry of new openings in recent years and ambitious transformations, it’s time to eschew the old and make for the new in Paris this summer Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris (raffles.com) This self-styled ‘hotel for creatives’ emerged from the ashes of its demolition party in 2010, sporting buzzy meeting areas, an art curator and in-house cinema. Philippe Starck’s multistyled suites are a delight; choose from chic studio pads, 1940s-style boudoirs and elegant art-laden spaces.

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Le Bristol Paris (lebristolparis.com) With a new wing and boutique brasserie that opened in 2010, this Parisian institution combines old-school opulence with a vibrant new aesthetic. Saturdays’ Fashion High Teas see Paris’s finest fashion houses display their couture collections.

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Mandarin Oriental, Paris (mandarinoriental.com) With its signature luxury touches and dining by Thierry Marx, this luxury hotel brought a breath of fresh air to one of Paris’s most fashionable streets. The fusion OrientalParisian design is perfectly executed, as is the hautecuisine tasting menu at Sur Mesure.

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Shangri-La Hotel Paris (shangri-la.com) Housed in the former home of Roland Bonaparte, this relative newcomer (since 2010) has real Gallic pedigree. Suites are embellished by Pierre-Yves Rochon in classical French style, affording views of the Seine, private secluded garden and the Eiffel Tower. Dining is courtesy of Michelin-starred Chef Philippe Labbé.

Le Meurice Paris (lemeurice.com) This Regency pied-a-terre opened over two centuries ago, and has hosted the likes of Queen Victoria and Salvador Dalí. Its suites boast views of the Tuileries Gardens, as well as recent adornments courtesy of Philippe Starck.

W Paris – Opera (wparisopera.com) When this fashion and design hub opened earlier this year, it took Paris’s design set by storm. This is the place to see and be seen, with celebrity clientele, New York-style suites and Michelin-starred dining by Sergi Arola.

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GOLF

Nine Holes in Paradise The Maldives would list among the last places you’d expect to find a golf course, but since last month golfers pitching up at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa have found a pristine nine-hole course, bang in the middle of the island, begging to be played. It makes for one of the most unique golfing experiences on offer anywhere in the world, with the surrounding Indian Ocean proving the trickiest of water hazards. What’s more, you don’t have to lug your bags all the way there – the dedicated golf concierge will fix you up with shoe and equipment hire on arrival. shangri-la.com - 74 -


landscape and are situated right next to each other. Montgomerie Links is more of a resort-type course – with water, fully-grassed fairways and rough, and minimal natural waste areas. It is a picture-perfect course, kept in wonderful condition, that appeals to many Asian players and golf visitors. Conversely, Danang GC is a true links layout, with exposed sand dunes, large waste areas, little water and a very natural minimalist feel that appeals to golf’s traditionalists. Designed by Greg Norman, it is considered to be among his best, often being often compared with Doonbeg in Ireland.

SWING INTO VIETNAM Asian Travel Media’s Paul Myers on the world’s most exciting new golf destination Vietnam has an abundance of culture and history, and the introduction of golf has added another dimension to Vietnam’s many attractions. The Central Coast, based on Danang, is especially appealing because it is bookended by two UNESCO World Heritage cities in Hue and Hoi An, with a third World Heritage site, My Son, nearby. The two existing golf courses in the region are on My Khe Beach, where the US Marines established a base in the mid 1960s. Nowhere else in the world can you play golf in such a unique environment. The two current golf courses – Montgomerie Links and Danang Golf Club – are very different, despite the fact that they share the same

Undoubtedly, the 16th at Danang GC and the 12th at Montgomerie Links are the two best holes. The former plays towards the Cham Islands, right up to China Beach, while the latter is a beautiful uphill hole with a sea of bunkers throughout. But the par-five 10th at Danang GC is also a beauty, winding through high sand dunes to a small green. And I also like the tiny 118-yard fifth at Montgomerie Links, which requires a precise shot over a pond to a narrow green. There are some 29 courses in Vietnam now, with up to 89 allowed to be built under a government-authorised plan. It is unlikely, however, that anywhere this number will be built in the next eight years – more like 50 or 60. Among those soon to be opened are the Sir Nick Faldo-designed Laguna Lang Co, 50km north of Danang, which promises to be a stunning course running beside jungle, rice paddy fields and the sea. There’s also Ba Na Hills, a development in the hinterland just west of Danang, which has Luke Donald as its designer (in name if not in practice), while two new courses are being developed near the hill town of Dalat to complement Vietnam’s oldest golf course, Dalat Palace. These developments will add immeasurably to the quality of the sport in Vietnam over the next several years, making the country one of the most inviting golf destinations in Asia.

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COURSE YOU CAN TOP TIPS FROM THE PROFESSIONALS LESSON #9 Many golfers fear the greenside bunkers. If well positioned, their often wide mouths and high lips play havoc with your club selection, shot choice and confidence. To overcome this fear of being trapped in a bunker, you must first gain the ability to escape – every time. As the technique for bunker shots can vary depending on opinion, club selection, lie and sand consistency, I do not necessarily teach the same thing to everybody. However, there are two things to get right. The first is your aim – try to hit one to two inches behind the ball. When practising, draw a line in the sand one or two inches behind the ball, as this is where the club face must enter the sand. If you can visualise it, the club enters behind the ball and forces the sand out of the bunker. The ball simply rides this sand like a wave. Hit the ball first and you will almost certainly not gain enough height to see the ball escape the lip of the bunker. Secondly, make sure to finish your swing. If the club enters the sand before the ball, it must exit after the ball, while you end in a full swing pose, just like you would hitting a full 7 iron on the range. These two things will definitely work every time. George Kasparis, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.


LIFE LESSONS

WHAT I KNOW NOW David Crickmore CEO Amouage

My parents were very strict about time keeping. It has always been imbued into me that to be late is to be rude. To this very day people who turn up late for meetings give an impression to me that they don’t care about the meeting, or that their time is more important than yours. In some cultures it isn’t seen in that way, I realise that, but nevertheless I still get upset when people are late. When I studied law I never thought I would end up running a perfume company, but I can still look back and take aspects from that training and use them today. Often one can

become over-burdened with all the things needing to be done, but the law training teaches one how to prioritise and I find that vital for running a business in today’s climate. The other thing I learned throughout my early years was that the cheapest is not necessarily the best. Often I would listen to treatises on how it always paid to study something before buying to be sure it was of the right quality and to be prepared to pay that little bit more when necessary to get the best. I am still a very careful shopper in terms of making sure that I find the best quality.

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This pursuit of quality has been carried through into my career – spent entirely in the luxury goods trade – and I have a real passion for it. When asked what are the most important attributes to be successful in what I do, I always say to have a passion and a love for what you do, and a passion for the direction in which you intend to go. I speak to several friends who are looking forward to their retirement but I cannot imagine the day when I would want to step away from what I do because I love it and enjoy the challenge of each fresh new day.


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