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the march fair Artistic talents from across the globe to descend on Dubai

yannick alléno Why France’s superchef thinks Dubai is the world’s gastronomy hub

time to buy The new limited-edition watches all collectors need to know about

pop goes the easel Why Roy Lichtenstein’s comic strip art owes a debt to the old masters

ALLAN STANTON ALLAN STANTON | +971 | 5+971 065355258 0653 5258 | | | |


Extensive Extensive range, record-setting range, record-setting speed, advanced speed, advanced technology, technology, opulentopulent comforts, comforts, and a top-rated and a top-rated ® ® isn’t just isn’t a company just a company tagline, tagline, it’s a it’s a worldwide worldwide productproduct supportsupport The World TheStandard World Standard

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Gulfstream Gulfstream Aerospace Aerospace Corporation Corporation is a wholly is owned a whollysubsidiary owned subsidiary of General of Dynamics. General Dynamics.


THE NEW 2013 INFINITI QX The true feeling of owning first class luxury now follows you wherever you travel. With the new Infiniti QX, every aspect of your drive has been crafted, refined and then taken to an even higher ground. In turn, creating the first class SUV. Visit the nearest Infiniti showroom to experience the Infiniti QX like never before. Infiniti QX: 400 horsepower 5.6-litre V8 VVEL engine with 560 Nm of torque. Find out more at

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Three cabin spaces and incredible range. Powered by Rolls-Royce engines, you can fly from London to New York or Dubai to Johannesburg in total comfort. The largest living space in its class divided into three separate areas allows you to work or rest. And with the largest baggage compartment in its class, you can carry everything you need to do more. Find out more about the Legacy 650 and our six other exceptional models at Latin America +55 12 3927 3399, U.S., Canada and Caribbean +1 954 359 5387, Europe, Middle East and Africa +44 1252 379 270, China +86 10 6598 9988, Asia Pacific +65 6734 4321



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Contents / Fe atures

Managing Director Victoria Thatcher Editorial Director John Thatcher Advertisement Director Chris Capstick Editor Leah Oatway Contributing Editor Hazel Plush Designer Adam Sneade Designer / Illustrator Vanessa Arnaud Production Manager Haneef Abdul Senior Advertisement Manager Stefanie Morgner

Twenty Eight

Sixty Four

AIR heads back in time to recall the key events in the history of Dubai’s sporting spectacular

The wife of late great pop artist Roy Lichtenstein speaks candidly ahead of a retrospective of his works

Dubai World Cup

Joining the Dots

Seventy Two

Just Williams

Advertisement Manager Sukaina Hussein

Actress Michelle Williams on why she chose to explore the lighter side of life in Oz: the Great and Powerful

Advertisement Manager Silviya Komanova

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Contents / regul ars Twenty Four




The super yachts glide back into town for the Dubai International Boat Show

French cuisine maestro Yannick Alléno on why he is excited about the future of gastronomy in Dubai

Thirty Nine

Timepieces AIR singles out the best limited edition timepieces on show at SIHH in Geneva

Forty Eight

Art & Design Explore what’s on offer at this year’s Art Dubai and Design Days Dubai events

Fifty Seven


Why unique and bespoke furniture will always trump the best of the rest

Sixty One

Jewellery A new collaboration seeks to transform the future of GCC jewellery design

Seventy Six


Classic car owners take to the roads of Morocco for the 20th Maroc Classic

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.

Eighty Four

Eighty Eight

What is so exclusive about Austria’s new superchalet? AIR finds out...

The founder of fashion house Hackett on working his way to the top


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What I Know Now

Elegance is an attitude

Conquest Classic

Simon Baker

EmpirE AviAtion Group

March 2013

Welcome onboard

Welcome to this issue of AIR, our monthly magazine for aircraft owners and onboard guests. Purchasing an aircraft is a complex process. Whether it’s finding the perfect base for your aircraft, recruiting flight crew or managing the maintenance and operational requirements, EAG’s aircraft management program is designed to meet the unique needs of clients. Empire Aviation Group manages and operates one of the largest fleets of business jets in the Middle East. Following our recent expansion into India, we added our first aircraft on management, which will be based in Bangalore. Our growing managed fleet now includes some of the most advanced and valuable business jet assets in the world and it is a privilege for us to manage and operate these on behalf of owners. EAG offers a full management service to aircraft owners, based on a distinctive asset management approach which helps owners to optimize their investment and protect the long term value of their aircraft asset, covering all aspects of the aircraft’s operation, the option of charter, and maintenance management. Most recently, we are delighted to have added a Gulfstream G450 to this fleet – the first Middle East fleet addition of 2013; the G450 is a large cabin, long range business jet which incorporates an array of advanced technology to assist the pilot and crew, and ensure every convenience, safety and comfort for passengers. This includes communications and entertainment technology, as well as environmental controls. In this issue, we introduce the G450 and also take the opportunity to highlight some of the advanced onboard technology that you would find in this and other aircraft from leading manufacturers, as technology continues to permeate through all our lives. Enjoy the read.

Steve Hartley Executive Director

Contact details:

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Paras Dhamecha Executive Director

EmpirE AviAtion Group nEws

Technology boards the business jet

The modern business jet is an incredible piece of complex aeronautical engineering but the advanced technology is not just for the benefit of the pilot and crew. Today, technology is to be found everywhere and the business jet is no exception of course, packing advanced systems of every kind into every part of the design and creating new flying experiences for crew and passengers, alike – enhancing comfort, convenience, safety and privacy. This is helping to make private aviation more attractive and accessible, by enhancing the business jet’s role as an effective business tool. It is also making the pilot’s role easier and flying ever-safer for passengers. Whether it is Dassault Falcon bringing advanced avionics and technology from its military jet heritage and experience to the flight systems on its business jets, along with new cabin management systems, or Gulfstream’s Elite Interior creating a premium experience for passengers, the business jet has never been a more comfortable ‘boardroom in the sky’ for business people, or ‘limousine in the sky’ for those travelling for leisure. And some technology is putting the passenger firmly in control – with just the touch of a screen. Here are some of the latest technology developments from the manufacturers that you can find and enjoy on board your business jet:

screen, touch-screen monitors (up to 19”) placed to give an excellent view throughout the cabin. The Alto Aviation Sound System provides a true surround sound experience, and all functions can be controlled from anywhere in the aircraft via an iPod Touch or iPhone. These include video playback, moving map, electronic window shades and adjustments to lights and temperature. Cabin environment The Gulfstream Cabin Management System provides digital control of cabin systems through touch screens, capacitive touch switches and passenger control units. Using an iPod touch® that carries a Gulfstream-designed application, passengers are able to control the lighting, temperature, speakers, monitors, entertainment equipment, window shades, CabinViewTM Passenger Information System and attendant call from anywhere on the aircraft.

Communications Don’t panic – most business jets will help you keep in touch with the ground seamlessly through wi-fi, fax and satellite phones, and even your own personal mobile phone, depending on the aircraft. Entertainment The Dassault Falcon cabin system features a dual Blu-ray player that lets you view on-demand HD media on wide-

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EmpirE AviAtion Group nEws

IntroducIng the gulfstream g450 EAG’s latest addition to the managed fleet of business jets is the Gulfstream G450 - an advanced large-cabin, long range business jet. It is in good company, joining EAG’s managed fleet of more than 20 business jets operating out of Dubai International, all managed on behalf of owners. The Gulfstream G450 offers impressive performance and can reach a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.88, and the aircraft can carry eight passengers and crew up to 4,350 nautical miles (8,056 km) at the normal cruise speed of Mach 0.80. The G450’s intercontinental range means that it can easily link DubaiLondon and Mumbai-Geneva, non stop, and can also access high altitude airports, which is an important

capability for some destinations. The cabin configuration options for the G450 include accommodation for up to 13 passengers with berthing for six. In addition to its performance, the G450 packs an array of advanced avionics and a navigation suite in the cockpit (including Enhanced Vision System and Heads-Up Display) which makes the pilot’s job easier by enhancing situational awareness and control. Passengers have not been forgotten and the onboard technology in the cabin enhances the comfort levels for passengers; this includes fresh air and soundproofing which is especially welcome on those long haul flights. It doesn’t stop there; The G450 incorporates the advanced

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‘Elite Interior’ design which includes premium features and the most advanced cabin technologies, including iTouch cabin controls. Paras Dhamecha, Executive Director of Empire Aviation Group, comments on the G450: “The G450 is a tremendous addition to our managed fleet and offers great operational reliability and passenger comfort and comes with the strong support of the Gulfstream global network. Large cabin, long range business jets are very popular amongst aircraft owners in the region and they can reach most major global cities non stop. From an owner’s perspective – and an operator’s – the G450 is an outstanding business jet and will be an invaluable aircraft asset.”

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Barclays Barclays Barclays offers offers wealth offers wealth wealth and and investment and investment investment management management management products products products andand services and services services to its toclients its to clients its clients through through through Barclays Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC and PLC and itsand subsidiary its subsidiary its subsidiary companies. companies. companies. Barclays Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC is PLC registered is registered is registered in England in England in England andandand authorised authorised authorised and and regulated and regulated regulated by the by by the Financial the Financial Financial Services Services Services Authority. Authority. Authority. Registered Registered Registered No. No. 1026167. No. 1026167. 1026167. Registered Registered Registered Office: Office: Office: 1 Churchill 1 Churchill 1 Churchill Place, Place, London Place, London London E14E14 5HP. E14 5HP. Barclays 5HP. Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC in PLC the in the Dubai in the Dubai Dubai International International International Financial Financial Financial Centre Centre Centre (Registered (Registered (Registered No. 0060) No.No. 0060) is 0060) regulated is regulated is regulated by the by the by Dubai the Dubai Financial Dubai Financial Financial Services Services Services Authority. Authority. Authority. Barclays Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC DIFC PLC DIFC Branch DIFC Branch Branch maymay only may only undertake only undertake undertake thethe financial the financial financial services services services activities activities activities thatthat fall that fall within fall within within thethe scope the scope scope of of of its existing its existing its existing DFSA DFSA licence. DFSA licence. licence. Principal Principal Principal place place ofplace business: of business: of business: Dubai Dubai International Dubai International International Financial Financial Financial Centre, Centre, Centre, TheThe Gate The Gate Village Gate Village Village Building Building Building No.No. 10,No. 10, Level 10, Level 6,Level PO 6, PO Box 6, PO Box 506674, Box 506674, 506674, Dubai, Dubai, Dubai, UAE. UAE. This UAE. This information This information information hashas been has been distributed been distributed distributed by Barclays by by Barclays Barclays BankBank PLC Bank PLC DIFC PLC DIFC Branch. DIFC Branch. Branch. Related Related Related financial financial financial products products products or services or services or services are are only are only available only available available to Professional to Professional to Professional Clients Clients Clients as defined as defined as defined by the by the by DFSA. the DFSA. DFSA. Barclays Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC in PLC the in the UAE in the UAE isUAE licensed is licensed is licensed andand regulated and regulated regulated

by by thethe by Central the Central Central Bank Bank of Bank the of the of UAE the UAE (license UAE (license (license No.No. in No. Dubai in Dubai in Dubai 13/1844/2008; 13/1844/2008; 13/1844/2008; Abu Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Dhabi 13/952/2008). 13/952/2008). 13/952/2008). Barclays Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC inPLC in the the in Qatar the Qatar Qatar Financial Financial Financial Centre Centre Centre (Registered (Registered (Registered No. No.00018) 00018) No. 00018) is isauthorised authorised is authorised bybythe the by Qatar Qatar the Qatar Financial Financial Financial Centre Centre Centre Regulatory Regulatory Regulatory Authority. Authority. Authority. Barclays Barclays Barclays Bank Bank PLC Bank PLC QFC PLC QFC Branch QFC Branch Branch may may only may only undertake only undertake undertake the the regulated the regulated regulated activities activities activities that that fall that fall within within fall within the the scope scope the scope ofof itsits existing ofexisting its existing QFCRA QFCRA QFCRA authorisation. authorisation. authorisation. Principal Principal Principal place placeplace ofof of business business business in Qatar: in Qatar: in Qatar: Qatar Qatar Qatar Financial Financial Financial Centre, Centre, Centre, Office Office Office 1002, 1002, 1002, 10th 10th Floor, 10th Floor, QFC Floor, QFC Tower, QFC Tower, Tower, Diplomatic Diplomatic Diplomatic Area, Area, West Area, West Bay, West Bay, PO Bay, PO Box Box PO15891, Box 15891, 15891, Doha, Doha, Doha, Qatar. Qatar. Qatar. This This information This information information has has been has been distributed been distributed distributed bybyBarclays Barclays by Barclays Bank BankPLC. Bank PLC.PLC. Related Related Related financial financial financial products products products or services or services or services areare only only areavailable only available available to to Business Business to Business Customers Customers Customers asas defined defined as defined byby the the by QFCRA. the QFCRA. QFCRA. Barclays Barclays Barclays Saudi Saudi Saudi Arabia Arabia Arabia is is a closed a closed is a closed joint joint stock joint stock stock company company company with with its with its registered registered its registered office office office atatLevel Level at Level 18, 18, 18, Al Faisaliah Al Faisaliah Al Faisaliah Tower, Tower, Tower, King King Fahad King Fahad Fahad Road, Road, Riyadh Road, Riyadh Riyadh 11311, 11311, 11311, Saudi Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia. Arabia. Authorised Authorised Authorised and and regulated and regulated regulated byby the the by Capital Capital the Capital Market Market Market Authority Authority Authority (CMA (CMA (CMA Licence Licence Licence No. No. 09141-37). 09141-37). No. 09141-37). Commercial Commercial Commercial Registration Registration Registration Number Number Number 1010283024. 1010283024. 1010283024.


> The UAE delivers two chances this month for buyers to peruse, at close quarters, the world’s newest jets and super yachts. At Al Bateen in Abu Dhabi, the annual Air Expo (March 5-7) will see the biggest names in private aviation showcase their models, while Dubai’s Boat Show (March 5-9) will debut its ‘Super Yacht Experience’, with the likes of Benetti (builders of the most sublime vessels since 1873 and pictured here) on show to visitors. - 24 -


> Miami’s property prices have been on the rise of late, which makes these newly-launched ‘sky homes’ to be built on Miami Beach worthy of investor attention. The infamous Ian Schrager (the man behind New York’s legendary Studio 54 nightclub and the concept of the boutique hotel) has teamed up with starchitect John Pawson to offer 26 one-of-a-kind residences which are all bespoke, save for sharing panoramic views over the ocean and access to the services of the Miami EDITION hotel below. “There is simply nothing else like them currently in the marketplace”, boasts Schrager.

> In a month of highlights for your social calendar, one definite must-attend is the annual British Polo Day, to be held at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club on March 29. Historical rivals Eton and Harrow and Oxford and Cambridge do battle for the Princes’ Cup and Gaucho Cup respectively, with Habtoor Polo facing off against the British Army in the last of the afternoon’s fixtures, all of which are bookended by a VIP lunch and after party. Email for bookings.

> The beautifully crafted Vertu TI smart phone – each one handmade in England by a single craftsman - is, according to the company, Vertu’s “most significant product for a decade”. Its highlight features include the largest sapphire crystal screen ever engineered at 3.7 inches, and a titanium case that makes it around five times stronger than other smart phones on the market. Four varients of the model are offered, ranging from black leather to one featuring red gold.

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RadaR The Nad al Sheba racecourse officially opened in 1992, and would host 14 consecutive Dubai World Cups in all. Fittingly, the last of those races was won by Well Armed, who finished 14 lengths ahead of its rivals. A race record.

Brazilian horse Glória de Campeão won the race in 2010, marking the first time a non UAE or UStrained horse had won the race. The following year that scenario was repeated when Japanese horse Victoire Pisa romped home.

The $10 million prize money to be handed out for this year’s Dubai World Cup makes it the richest race on the planet.

The appropriately named Dubai Millennium won the race in 2000 at the fastest recorded time of 1:59.50.

American Jerry Bailey’s four wins in the race (the last of which coming in 2002) marks him as its most successful jockey. Frankie Dettori, who has three wins to his name, is next best. Almost as popular as the race itself are the track-side fashions, with Jaguar hosting a Style Stakes Arena at this year’s event to commend the best attired.

In 2012 Godolphin and Mahmoud Al Zarooni became the first owner and trainer to finish 1-2 as Monterosso and Capponi headed the field.

The 2006 race was the first to be televised live in the USA, with the world record prize money on offer and line up of thoroughbreds sparking global interest.




1996 witnessed the first staging of the Dubai World Cup, a race won by the superhorse of the time, American legend Cigar. In 2012, Chantal Sutherland, onboard Game On Dude, became the first female jockey to ride in the Dubai World Cup.



1997 saw the unlikely scenario of the race’s postponement due to rain and the threat of electrical storms. The race was rescheduled for the following Tuesday.


The world’s largest integrated racing facility, Meydan, opened in 2010 as the new home of the Dubai World Cup. The state-of-the-art course can hold 60,000 racegoers.







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The Dubai World Cup AIR plots the landmark dates in the history of the world’s richest horse race















RiDes to RiChes 1996-2012


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2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >

Monterosso Victoire Pisa Glória de Campeão Well Armed Curlin Invasor Electrocutionist Roses in May Pleasantly Perfect Moon Ballad Street Cry Captain Steve Dubai Millennium Almutawakel Silver Charm Singspiel Cigar


Film The Sapphires

Wayne Blair In a tale based on true 1960s events, a group of Aboriginal girls form a pop quartet – Australia’s answer to The Supremes. At best: “A jewel-bright

charmer about four spunky indigenous women whose powerhouse voices catapulted them onto the 60s-era world stage” Hollywood Reporter At worst: “The limited budget shows through at its tattered edges” Irish Times

Hunky Dory

Marc Evans Over the long hot summer of 1976, an ambitious theatre school teacher tries teaching Shakespeare with a twist, but real life holds more than enough drama. A quirky coming-of-age story. At best: “Driver, dialling down her movie star glamour and sporting a credible Welsh accent, is down to earth”

Movie Talk At worst: “A fluffy film about nothing... quickly forgotten once it’s over”


Ginger & Rosa


At best: “A celebration of a female friendship shaped by the threat of global annihilation” This is London At worst: “An instance of the bland leading the bland: an anaemic rumba through the mazes of Memory Lane”

At best: “Park Chanwook brings operatic finesse to generic material in his wickedly weird US debut” Total Film At worst: “ Park and his game cast do a lot of heavy lifting for a script that’s really quite awful”

Financial Times

Sally Potter Growing up under the threat of nuclear war, best friends Ginger and Rosa dream of paths more exhilarating than their parents’ dull lives. A charming tale of teenage rebellion.

Park Chan-wook When India’s father dies, her mysterious uncle arrives to look after the bereaved family – but does he have an ulterior motive?

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The golden boy of modern detective fiction, Chris Morgan Jones, has done it again. The Jackal’s Share, his latest novel, has fuelled comparisons with Raymond Chandler and John Le Carre - no mean feat for a second novel. Commissioned by a wealthy banker to explore the underbelly of his organisation, Det. Ben Webster finds himself embroiled in a plot of deceit, embezzlement and murder. It’s heady stuff, finds The Guardian’s Peter Guttridge: “Webster’s characterisation is strong and carried along in the flow of the plot, which has the broad canvas of a spy novel: Middle Eastern politics are central and there are trips to Lake Como, Dubai and Marrakech... He has created two genuinely chilling antagonists, one whose menace is horribly physical, the other whose seeming omniscience provides the threat.” A review in Kirkus is equally admiring: “Ambivalent as ever about the ethics of the super-rich and his part in solving their problems, Webster proves to be the ethically troubled anti-Bond. [This is] a more-thanworthy sequel with deft, complex and believable plotting, tense, gutwrenching action, and classy writing.” He may have been a celebrated poet, but Gabriele D’Annunzio’s penchant for scandal and intrigue far eclipsed the late Italian’s literary works. The Pike, a biography by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, delves into his journals, uncovering a plethora of murky tales. The Scotsman’s Stuart Kelly is enthralled: “Hughes-Hallett conveys the deep love that Italians had for this war hero poet – imagine a dwarfish Oscar Wilde with a machine gun and a string of conquests, and it’s close... How can anyone write D’Annunzio’s life while avoiding both the wrinkled nose of distaste and the dilated pupil of queasy admiration?” Writing in The Observer, Ian Birrell is fascinated too: “HughesHallett dances her way through this extraordinary life in a style that is playful, punchy and generally pleasing.

She eschews chronology in places for a chopped-up style of vignettes that works surprisingly well as she seeks to separate the man from his myths... In death, as in life, the story of D’Annunzio was painted in primary colours, but with the darkest of shadows.” In Katharina Hagena’s The Taste of Apple Seeds, themes of belonging and identity abound. Translated from the German original, the novel tells the tale of Iris, who returns to her family home after the death of her grandmother. Family anecdotes unravel from Iris’s proximity to physical remnants of her home - a captivating premise, finds The Independent’s Lucy Popescu: “Hagena paints a vivid portrait of rural life in northern Germany. The languid pace, starlit nights and captivating natural beauty are contrasted with the negative aspects of country living – the endless gossip and the villagers’ long memories.” The woven threads prove perplexing for critic Kapka Kassabova of The Guardian, however: “Rambling rural genealogies have their languid pleasures, and the human stories seem promising, but the overall complacency of the language is alienating.” A novel best reserved for native German readers, then.

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Some artists are exploring the spectrum, others are exploiting shadows or time.” Charles Derwent of The Independent sees even more depth in all the glimmer and glitter: “Underlying all the work in Light Show is a Promethean anxiety, a wonder at modern man’s ability to make light for himself. Light is what we see by: no light, no vision. Something at the heart of the way we believe – an idea of enlightenment, of revelation through light – is made uncertain.” For those looking for more traditional artistic meanderings, The Royal Academy’s Manet: Portraying Life promises a fascinating insight into Edouard Manet’s portraiture. “[This is] a unique insight into the work of the artist labelled as the father of modern art.,” writes Melanie Weaver for online culture magazine The Upcoming. “Instead of exhibiting the pieces in chronological order, the show’s curators have chosen to group the pieces according to the relationship between Manet and the painting’s subject... This a rare opportunity and should not be missed.” The Telegraph’s Richard Dorment is also enthralled: “As a reserved, detached observer of

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the human comedy, Manet doesn’t really ‘do’ emotion. Having said this, when he has a deep personal connection with a sitter, the result can be electrifying. For me the jolt of the exhibition was his proto-expressionist portrait of Berthe Morisot in the throes of unbridled grief at the death of her father... It’s a rarely exhibited masterpiece that foreshadows not only Cézanne but also Kokoschka.” Those with a taste for installation art will enjoy Song Dong’s latest exhibition, Doing Nothing. In New York’s Pace Gallery, the show’s curators have gathered Dong’s seminal works, including photography, sculpture and assemblage. It is a journey of artistic discovery, finds Roberta Smith of The New York Times: “Reaching back to 1994, the show is heavy with slickly presented video and light-boxed photographs involving aspects of performance or perceptual tricks or focusing on various liquids... The early works demonstrate that Mr. Song has come a long way from the generic international Conceptualism of his youth, however daring they may have seemed in China when they were first made.”

Images: Manet: Portraying Life, The Royal Academy; Light Show, Southbank Centre

London’s Southbank Centre is known for its off-beat, often humorous exhibitions, and Light Show, the gallery’s latest offering, promises to be one of the most spectacular yet. All of the pieces are constructed of lightbulbs, neon strips, strobes, projectors, LEDs – each installation relies unashamedly on the National Grid. When faced by the works of myriad ‘artists of light’, The Observer’s Laura Cumming is mesmerised: “Everything, no matter how advanced, complex, fetching or trite, is theatrical, not least because everything has the instant appeal – or advantage – of luminosity... What this show cannot help becoming is an inventory of light art, one instance after another.



relationship between Miss Daisy and her driver Hoke Coleburn, were moved through like silk... it was a pure privilege to watch.” Meanwhile, at London’s Harold Pinter Theatre, another classic saga was given star-studded treatment. Old Times, penned by the esteemed playwright to which the theatre owes its name, depicts a woman’s struggle with identity and depression. Sharing a holiday cottage with her husband and childhood best friend, Kate must confront the troubles from her past – to devastating effect. In this production, leading ladies Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams alternate roles every night, providing a dynamic which is “haunting yet robust”, according to The Independent’s Paul Taylor. “Both of the actresses emphasise the risky improvisatory nature of Anna’s nature rather than its calculation,” he continues; “To see both alternatives is to appreciate the impact that small

Image: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Studio 54

In a rare meeting of Tinseltown royalty, James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury took to the boards in Brisbane last month, to critics’ delight. Appearing in Driving Miss Daisy at QPAC Playhouse, the duo met with rave reviews after the debut of David Esbjornson’s movie adaptation. “It was, quite simply, the most joyous night of theatre I’ve ever seen,” writes The Age’s Natalie Bochenski. “Lansbury walked the line between charming and prejudiced with great skill. We sympathise with her Daisy, but we don’t excuse her... Jones’s voice – so recognisable in its usual form – was modulated and accented into a perfect Georgian drawl. His command of his body was inspiring; Hoke’s energy and sprightliness was beautiful to watch, then beautifully sad, as he too aged and slowed.” Kelli Rogers of Australian Stage is equally ebullient: “The performances and the subtle shifts in character development and

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changes of detail and emphasis such as that can have.” This season, The Mystery of Edwin Drood has had audiences captivated at Studio 54, New York, with a tongue in cheek retelling of the unfinished Dickens tale. The melodrama ‘musicale with dramatic interludes’ brings an eclectic cast of Cockney characters in a witty whodunnit, finds a reviewer in The New York Times: “The fun is in the clue following, the red herring spotting and the seat-clutching tension as the suspects gather in the drawing room for the moment of exposure.” And the score? “A rich pudding of a score [which] contains plenty of nuggets redolent with period charm.” David Rooney of Hollywood Reporter fails to see the appeal, however: “The show, though frequently jolly, is just as often twee and boring... All the affectionately antiquated whimsy never quite adds up to robust entertainment.”

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Mastering time

New chapters in watchmaking are being written collectively at Maîtres du Temps ….

hen Steven Holtzman decided to tear up the Swiss watchmaking rulebook and launch a new breed of timepieces with a very untraditional working method, his former colleagues within the Swiss watch industry watched on with scepticism. After all, their tried-and-tested approach has kept them at the top of their game for centuries. But, five years later, as Maîtres du Temps (meaning Masters of Time)

unveils the third tantalising chapter of its story to a brand new audience in the UAE, it appears the American’s maverick approach has paid off. His concept is simple: to combine the best of watchmaking tradition with the artistry of today’s leading horological visionaries. But where most major watch houses employ one master watchmaker to design and create a model for their brand, Maîtres du Temps encourages “a meeting of minds”, with at least two independent master watchmakers working together to develop each exclusive chapter. And they are the ‘face’ of their creations.

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“I needed to expand on what has been done,” explained Holtzman, who was in Dubai to introduce the brand, and its latest edition, to the UAE. “Everything great has already been done so [I thought], ‘Let’s bring out something that is ultimately different’. We had to shake it up.” Holtzman’s passion for watches, which reportedly began with a Howdy Doody wristwatch as a child, has led to a career in the industry. Having distributed Swiss watch brands throughout Asia and the Americas, he is now quietly conquering the world with his own exclusive brand, which


‘Time is something you never get enough of. The one thing you can control least. There is something poetic there.’

ranges in price from Dhs289,800 to Dhs2.25 million. Asked to explain the allure of timepieces, he said: “Time is something you never get enough of. The one thing you can control least. There is something poetic there, that you can get involved in something you have no control over. “ While he retains some control of the final product, Holtzman relinquishes control of the process. Each collaboration is a “chapter”, each chapter a movement. “We wanted to tell a story,” he said. “Each is created from scratch using different elements that only the watchmakers can explain

in great detail but the philosophy is to have a DNA of the brand and to have a look that distinguishes itself from other brands.” This look is always elegant, always technically innovative and always includes roller bars. Take Chapter Three Reveal, for example, the atelier’s latest offering created by independent master watchmakers Kari Voutilainen and Andreas Strehler (responsible for the Papillon and the Opus 7 for Harry Winston): with it’s round, deep blue dial and sleek black leather strap, the elegant watch – which displays hours, minutes, seconds, date and phase of - 40 -

the moon – is perfect for the wellheeled globetrotter. But a pusher set in the crown lowers two secret panels in the dial to reveal two other functions: a second time zone indicator and a day/night indicator – both displayed on the Maîtres du Temps’ signature roller. All very Bond-like and all extremely original. “Kari [Voutilainen] did the basic sketch and design of the movement and then after this it came to me for the engineering,” explained Strehler over dessert at an exclusive lounge overlooking the Dubai Fountain. “There was one thing [undecided]

– we could hide the rollers, but the concept was too complicated. I had a concept for a pushing crown mechanism, which was [activated by the user], but the design only allowed one millimetre of thickness for the whole mechanism. Though you have just a little space in a mechanical watch, it is important to have parts that are not too small, that are reliable and built for longevity. I created a onemillimetre-thick mechanism but using the maximum space possible.” It is exactly this innovation that

Holtzman had hoped for when he launched Maîtres du Temps in 2008. “At first [people] didn’t understand why you would need two or three people when the process is usually decided by one,” he said. “But as we developed the project and they saw what could organically happen when people are open to the process, they were quite surprised…now they really like it and have embraced it and see the benefits of a collective project.” The advantages of creating innovative new mechanisms are clear, but there

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are also disadvantages: namely, if no one has made it before then no one but the creator will know how to repair it - which is why Strehler will now have to train watchmakers, including those at Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons (exclusive stockists in the UAE), to repair it. All part of Holtzman’s master plan. “I want to be active in passing the craft and skills of more experienced master watchmakers to the next generation of masters. I think there will be an interest in the art of fine watchmaking for years to come.”




AIR cherry picks from the limited edition models on show at this year’s SIHH in Geneva

> The newest addition to Montblanc’s Villeret 1858 Collection, the ExoTourbillon Chronographe, is a sought-after rarity, due in part to it combining a chronograph and a uniquely constructed tourbillon where the rotating cage is smaller than the balance – a world first that has been registered for patent protection and is exclusive to the timepieces in this beautiful set. Limited to 8 pieces - 42 -

> Referencing the poetic nature of passing time, Van Cleef & Arpels’s new collection of Poetic Complication timepieces explores themes of fluidity, lightness and refinement. Here, the graceful butterfly takes centre page, painstakingly brought to life in a fusion of mother-of-pearl, paillonné enamel and beautiful diamonds. Limited to 22 pieces

> To mark the start of its tenure as the engineering partner of Mercedes AMG’s Formula One team, IWC has crafted the innovative Ingenieur Automatic Carbon Performance, a timepiece that employs many of the design quirks present in the F1 car. Limited to 100 pieces

> Billed as Lange & Söhne’s most complicated and exclusive watch yet, this Grand Complication is laden with impressive intricacies. A timepiece that references both the heritage of the brand and the brilliance of the modern day watchmaker. Limited to 6 pieces - 43 -

> Roger Dubuis’s pursuit of innovation while adhering to the strict requirements of the Geneva Seal always makes for intriguing creations. This Tribute to the Minute Repeater is no exception, showcasing all elements of the brand’s ingenuity across 45mm. Limited to 8 pieces

Timepieces > Inspired by the labyrinth as depicted in Greek mythology, Parmigiani’s Toric Quaestor Labyrinthe timepiece is designed to produce an exceptionally pure melody – the prize at the heart of the maze. The labyrinth here is formed by the dial being in two layers, with an open-worked white gold plate used atop a disc of precious Burmese jade. Limited to 5 pieces

> The millennia-old craft of granulation, in which gold granules are fused onto a gold plate to create an image, was the inspiration for this stunning Cartier timepiece, where a striking panther is the result of this re-born technique. It’s shown off at the heart of a yellow gold case ringed by 306 brilliant-cut diamonds. Limited to 20 pieces

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> Vacheron Constantin’s Metiers d’ Art Florilege three-watch collection pays homage to the precise and intricate botanical illustrations that were popular forms of art in England during the latter part of the 19th century. Here, the skills of Vacheron’s expert craftsmen have been employed to replicate these miniature marvels, which helps elevate each timepiece to the level of rare art. Limited to 20 numbered pieces per model.

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Dubai Mall | Dubai Marina Mall | Mall of the Emirates | Wafi | Gold Souk

Art & Design

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Visionary thinking


lot can happen in Dubai in six years: Art Dubai is proof of that. When it launched in 2007, the emirate’s trailblazing art fair showcased a modest 40 galleries visited by some 8,000 visitors. Since that inaugural fair, its size and international appeal has snowballed: last year, 75 galleries exhibited for 23,000 visitors, and this month’s event looks unlikely to fall short. “Everything has mushroomed and organically grown in a very rapid way,” agreed Antonia Carver, Art Dubai fair director since 2010. “This is reflective of trends that have happened in the Arab world. Families that have collected art for many generations and used to travel to galleries in London, Paris and New York are increasingly turning to galleries in Dubai, and the region.” The growth of the fair also reflects general trends in the art world. Fine art is no longer concentrated in a few western capitals: during the past 10 to 15 years, art has gone global. “The Chinese art market has overtaken that of France, and Asia has become increasingly important,” observed Carver. “The Middle East is now on the radar of every museum director worldwide. If you claim to have an international collection you have to look at this region.” With 75 galleries from 30 different countries showcasing pieces by 500 artists at this year’s event, Art Dubai is on a mission to be the most global and diverse art fair in the world. The event, which this year hosts works totalling in excess of US$35 million, deliberately caps its gallery numbers at 75 to ensure it retains a sense of intimacy and offers visitors time to discuss pieces with exhibitors. Whether it is a retrospective of works by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kasuma or the emerging talent of West African artists such as Ghana’s Ablade Glover, this year’s fair promises something for everyone. “We see ourselves as a fair with a unique identity,” explained Carver. “The not-for-profit side of the fair is as large as the commercial side, in which galleries can showcase their work and sell it to collectors. It’s a very global and innovative programme.” Seasoned art collectors will be pleased to see that the gallery line up this year includes some of the best in the world, including Pace (which has centres in Beijing, New York and London) and the Victoria Miro gallery, of London. A highlight on the packed programme, the latter is exhibiting a special solo show by Yayoi Kusama, perhaps Japan’s best known artist and an established global figure on the art scene. But there is plenty for budding collectors or art enthusiasts to discover, too, with young art spaces for galleries from across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. “I think it is this combination that makes Art Dubai what it is,” said Carver. “You can be the most seasoned collector


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This month, the who’s who of the international art scene will descend on Dubai for the seventh Art Dubai fair. This year’s event looks set to be its most diverse yet….

Art & Design 1.





‘A place like Amravati, Udaipur City Palace, Udaipur’ by Karen Knorr, Tasveer ‘Foujaira, October 2010’, by Ziad Antar, Almine Rech Gallery Al Sakeena Serenity Series, by Abdul Qader Al Rais, Hunar Gallery ‘Going through my mind’, by Ali Cherri, Imane Fares Gallery ‘Mareé Rouge 04’, by Ghazel, Carbon 12



or museum director, have seen it all and travelled the world, but come to Art Dubai and you will see something new.” Those partaking in this year’s art adventure will find themelves in good company. Key visitors this year include more museum groups and museum directors than at any other fair: from the American Friends of the Centre du Pompidou, Britain’s Tate galleries and the British Museum to museums from across Asia and China. “It’s one of those moments when you see the global art world descend, en masse, on one city”, said Carver. “It creates quite a buzz in Dubai. All the hotels are full, all the flights are full and the city is full of art chatter.” One of the attractions of this year’s event is Marker; a set of curated concept stands aimed at uncovering new talent in a new place. This year the focus is West Africa. “We always knew that we wanted to focus on some aspect of Africa: partly because of the long history of trade and business between the Gulf and the continent.” Curated by Lagos-based Bisi Silva, the concept focuses on “the rapidly evolving nature of cities in West Africa and the way in which these changes impact society”. Work by artists from Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria is to be showcased and offers a full spectrum of media: from traditional sculpture and painting through to video and sound works. “It’s about looking at where is most dynamic and tapping into a certain energy, and also being able to showcase artists that are not normally seen on the international circuit,” explained Carver. “Art Dubai is carving a space for itself as a fair that illuminates the next generation.”

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AntoniA CArver’s ColleCtor tips For the established collector… I would head to galleries such as Galerie Chantal Crousel, of Paris, which has great works by Mona Hatoum and several other very well known artists. Also, Galleria Continua represents artists such as Anish Kapoor and is bringing seminal works by incredible artists. If you are an emerging collector… I’d suggest looking at galleries working with Indian and Pakistani artists. During the past couple of years there has been an explosion in the number of artists coming from Pakistan. Their work is slightly undervalued so it’s a fantastic opportunity to tap into a market that is just opening up. Galleries like Experimenter, coming from Kolkata, India, have an incredible roster. Their artists are winning prizes and gaining international acclaim. These are not necessarily works that will break the bank – so it’s a great place to start. Carver’s ones to seek out


1. Marker: West Africa Art Dubai 2013 is about diversity, and with the five West African art spaces we have the full spectrum: from the most innovative and experimental through to more traditional painting and sculpture.

Images: courtesy of Art Dubai Text: Leah Oatway

2. I can’t wait to see Yayoi Kusama’s paintings: Victoria Miro’s whole booth is dedicated to her. Kusama is incredibly well known but this is a set of paintings and sculptures that haven’t really been seen before. It’s quite a coup for us and for collectors.


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3. CRG Gallery, New York, has put together a group show for their booth - it’s all female artists and spans from the 1940s to today. That’s also really something to see.

Art & Design

Designing Dubai The director of this year’s Design Days Dubai is hoping the culturally diverse pieces on offer will change the way the region perceives design forever…


yril Zammit’s passion for design is infectious. As the director of Design Days Dubai swipes excitedly through one incredible design image after another on his iPad, describing each in fascinating detail, I find myself mentally calculating if I can afford a table piece created in Taipei from a brick wall. It is easy to understand why the exuberant French man is excited. The pieces due to be exhibited at this year’s fair, which takes place between March 18 and 21, are consistently impressive: from a floor lamp made of 20,000 hand-painted toothpicks to the avant-garde 1950s genius of revered French designer John Royère. Antique and contemporary designs from 29 galleries spanning six continents make Design Days Dubai the most culturally diverse event of its kind in the world. “Never has any fair before had galleries from all six continents represented,” Zammit explained proudly. “Normally, it’s Europe and America. We have Sao Paolo, Mexico, Australia, Korea, nine galleries from the Middle East…” Design Days Dubai launched last year in parallel with Art Dubai: a natural progression for a maturing Middle East art scene, it followed six successful art events that have helped place Dubai at the heart of a new market. “It comes naturally that high-end, collectable design, both from the 20th century and contemporary design, are to be seen in the same

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‘We are not necessarily looking at furniture, but beyond it’


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Art & Design




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Images: courtesy of Design Days Dubai Text: Leah Oatway

place, in the same moment,” said Zammit. “Art buyers are, more or less, design buyers; though design buyers are not necessarily art buyers.” The response to the inaugural design fair was positive and Zammit is hopeful the array of functional high-end design pieces in this year’s fair will attract even more interest. “Design remains obvious and easy to understand, because it has a functionality aspect,” he said. “Of course you can sit on a chair, but you can also decide it’s a museum piece and you will never sit on it. That’s why it appeals to a large audience. “Here, people love to have nice furniture for their house. We are not necessarily looking at furniture, but beyond it, because [these pieces may be] a limited edition of eight or ten pieces, or a unique prototype, or a commissioned piece. It’s like comparing a little between haute couture and prêt-à-porter: I mean, [the pieces on exhibit are] very strongly bespoke.” Everything on display is available to purchase, and there is also the option to commission bespoke pieces. With prices ranging from US$2,500 to US$500,000, Zammit believes there is something for everyone. “There are a lot of people who are buying expensive furniture unaware that sometimes, for the same price, they could have something made exclusively for them,” he said. “I [am hoping this year’s fair will encourage] a larger appreciation of design: considering it as a new form of art and also as a nice investment.” Visitors of Design Days Dubai will notice a stronger appreciation of craftsmanship at this year’s fair: be it in the pure, architectural lines of Britain’s Rick Owens and Korea’s Gallery Seomi, or the decorative genius of David Wiseman’s crystal and bronze work. Zammit predicts an interest in new markets, such as the Middle East and Africa, this year understandable when you see the stunning use of recycled fabrics in The Seven Stages of the Heart by Bokja, at Contemporary Art Platform, Kuwait, for example, or the incredible neon structure in Samsa by Cheick Diallo, of Mali, presented by Perimeter Art+Design Gallery (Paris/London). Unlike the art market, design remains relatively steady, according to Zammit, making it easier to base purchases on emotional rather than financial instinct. Those with money to invest but unsure where to start can enlist the help of three in-house experts, ready to walk them through the show. But Zammit wants visitors, ultimately, to be ruled by their heart.

“They [the experts] are not there to say, ‘Buy this or that’, but to explain the material, the designer or the trend, the movement, the historical aspect of a piece’,” he said. “If it was an individual show, of course you would need strong advice from a market advisor, but a gallery that is bringing an artist to a fair is a gallery that has invested a lot of money to support this artist prior to the show: paid for the production of the piece, paid for the booth and for the flight. They are investing a lot of money because they believe in the artist. “So, forget ‘Is it safe or unsafe?’ just let your heart speak – either you like it, or you don’t.”


2. 3. 4.


‘Noize chair’, by Estudio Guto Requena, + Coletivo Amor de Madre Gallery ‘Brick Plan’, by Rock Wang, HAN Gallery ‘Steam 20’, by Bae Se Hwa, Gallery Seomi ‘Clockclock’, by Humans since 1982, Victor Hunt Designart dealer ‘Tronchi cabinet’, by Andrea Salvetti, TwentyTwentyone Gallery

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Sara CoSgrove Harrods’ head of interior design talks about iconic furniture and why bespoke will always be best I recently read a fantastic interview in the Financial Times Magazine about furniture designer Maria Pergay. Last year I was lucky enough to meet her. She told me about the design ethos behind some of her favourite pieces from her time working in the Middle East in the ‘70s where she was designing palaces, and went on to tell me about the inspiration behind her iconic ‘Ribbon’ pouf and even how to perfect the methods of working the stainless steel to get the finish just right. The one thing that I took away from our encounter was the

impression of her incredible passion for her craft, and her unquenchable thirst to move forward, which at 82 years-old was unwavering and incredibly inspiring. I have thought a lot since about iconic furniture and what happens when one stand-out piece has the ability to define and create an interior all by itself. Over the last few years more retailers and galleries have been showcasing super exclusive collections of these one-off and limited edition pieces which can truly ignite a space with their look and feel and in turn become conversational pieces and, eventually, collectors’ items. Some pieces have left their mark on the industry, so here are a couple of my favourites… Last summer, the eponymous David Gill relocated his gallery to London’s St James, and as part of his opening celebrations launched a new collection of pieces by Zaha Hadid. One of the most impressive on show was a dining table made from clear acrylic ‘liquid glacial’, which was an immediate magnet for all of the design buffs attending the launch. Although developed using incredibly modern technology, its fantastically ethereal

form gave it a total air of mystique and drew you to it, effortlessly. For me it was a jaw-dropping piece – one that truly embodied furniture as art. I had remembered feeling something similar when I saw an armoire by Meta a few years earlier. Arguably one of the more individual closets of all time, it was sculpted in the shape of an owl and designed by the Dutch designer Tord Boontje. Like cabinets of old the ‘Owl’ has secret compartments and is seamlessly crafted to give a timeless feel to the unusual design. Yet though there are, then, items out there for those looking to invest in that unique one-off statement piece, you can’t beat commissioning a bespoke piece for yourself. The British cabinet makers Halstock are award-winning bespoke cabinet and free-standing furniture makers. Their work provides an understanding of what fine British craftsmanship looks like fused with a modern aesthetic and feel. One of my favourite sites for inspiration is, an American site that deals with antiques form all over the world, making it so much easier to find that that real showstopping item.

> Inspired by a sheet of paper floating down a wall, the super slim, seriously sleek shape of the Flow speaker series by Opalum of Scandanavia has rightly caught the eye of interior design enthusiasts. These hi-gloss Flow.1010 speakers, which are also available in white, are the smallest speakers in the series and make the perfect partner for wall-mounted flatscreen TVs. The unique shape keeps sound vibration to a minimum and while they may be small, they provide an impressively loud and clear sound. - 57 -


> Everything about Armani/Casa whispers refined luxury: from the sumptuous soft metallic palette, to its plush textiles. So the news that the design house was opening a new UAE flagship store dedicated to its interior endeavours was music to our ears. With its bronze-coloured panels, glossy metal structure and black granite flooring the store is almost as stylish as the delights it houses. Almost, but not quite. You will find everything, from exquisite chairs through to elegant lamps and exclusive fabrics. Al Ittihad Road, Deira, Dubai.

The London design house packing a pinch The stunning wood creations of Russell Pinch have been quietly garnering attention and awards from the London design world since the designer launched PINCH Design with his wife Oona Bannon in 2004. All handmade to order, PINCH pieces offer elegant, graceful lines and bespoke works that promise to

stand the test of time. Inspired by mid-century relief plasterwork, this Alba sideboard provides a soothing, sculptured storage space - with two cupboards either side and two drawers in the centre. Made entirely from sustainable timber it is available in a range of colours, including bespoke options.

Ahead of the curve The shape of this Arc table by Italian furniture designers Molteni & Co is a nod to modern architectural structures. The base, available in white, grey and bronze, is made with a light cement and organic fibre composite mix, its glass top an extra light tempered crystal. Finasi showroom, Deira, Dubai.

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A new art and design initiative aims to inspire the region’s next generation of creative jewellery designers


or French jewellery maison Van Cleef & Arpels, art has been a part of its creations since its inception in 1896. So it is fitting that, as Dubai prepares to welcome some of the finest art and design galleries in the world for this year’s Art Dubai and Design Days Dubai, the jewellery maestros have launched a regional competition aimed at discovering new creative talent ‘Métamorphose’. “For Van Cleef & Arpels, art is intrinsic to the spirit of the Maison and we are happy to give artists of the region the chance to unveil their talents to the public,” said Alban Belloir, managing director of Van Cleef & Arpels Middle East and India. The theme of the competition, launched in collaboration with Tashkeel (Dubai’s independent art and design hub) and Design Days Dubai, is metamorphosis - which refers to the transformation in appearance, character, condition or function of something. A recurring theme in Van Cleef & Arpels’ collections, it provides artists with

plenty of creative freedom. From Van Cleef & Arpels’ zip necklace, which can be worn as a bracelet, to its lotus ring, which could be worn around one or two fingers: the house’s collections are filled with stunning examples of metamorphosis. “It is inherent to the concept of renewal and one of the guiding principles in our beautiful creations,” explained Alban Belloir. “We want to enable women to wear jewellery differently, depending on their mood and how they want to be seen.” Artists and designers have submitted a maximum of three designs for consideration from paintings, to videos and fully functioning objects. The winning artwork will be unveiled at the Van Cleef & Arpels ‘Métamorphose’ exhibition at Design Days Dubai 2013, which will be held between March 18 and 21, at Downtown Burj Khalifa Boulevard. The winner will also be flown to Paris to experience L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels, a school of jewellery set in an 18th century townhouse that offers a unique method of discovering and learning all facets of jewellery design.

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Jewellery > The art of inlay practised by ancient Indian civilisations is alive and being perfected by the artistic jewellers at Geneva-based Bogh-Art. This stunning bracelet combines Colombian emeralds, diamonds and pearls, precision cut and carefully placed to create the perfect harmony of colours and contrasts.

> Shine bright like the diamonds that feature in Harry Winston’s glorious Lily Cluster collection this spring. With 247 round brilliant diamonds set in 18 carat yellow gold, this elegant and delightfully chic bracelet features the rosettes that have appeared in Harry Winston’s designs since the 1940s. Did we mention lilies are our favourite flower?

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> The Fabergé egg has been a symbol of wealth and luxury since the first was made for Tsar Alexander III in 1885. These exquisite offerings from the Fabergé Les Palais collection are inspired by the summer palaces of Imperial Russia, each handcrafted in gold and the finest guilloché enamel. Overlaid with gold embellishment, these deliciously decadent eggs come in a host of pastel shades, including powder pink and turquoise lagoon - perfect for the spring colour trends.

Aaron Basha Boutique • 685 Madison Avenue • New York • 212.935.1960 • w w Athens


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Words: Deirdre Fernand


hen the artist Roy Lichtenstein turned 70, his wife Dorothy bought him a saxophone. It was the perfect gift. The alto sax was the only thing that could ever keep him away from his studio in Southampton, Long Island, where for decades he had turned out the paintings that made him one of the most famous pop artists in the world. “Roy loved nothing better than to be absorbed in his work,” remembers Dorothy. “But the only thing that he

JoiningtheDots Think you know Roy Lichtenstein? A new exhibition may make you look again. In a rare interview, his widow, Dorothy, talks to Deirdre Fernand about her 34-year relationship with the artist — and his debt to Picasso and Matisse would ever put down his paintbrush for was that instrument. He would stop to practice his scales.” While Lichtenstein was a master of his art, his genius did not stretch to the sax. “Late in life he was just learning to read music and work at his scales,” Dorothy says. “He was always disciplined and he had this total willingness to be a beginner.” Both his art and music came to an abrupt end just three years later. After a lingering cough turned into pneumonia, Lichtenstein died in September 1997. A painting stood unfinished on his easel; his saxophone silent in its case. Now, more than 15 years after his death, his works are on show at London’s Tate Modern. Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, the result of a collaboration between Tate Modern and The Art Institute of Chicago, is the first of its kind since his death and the largest show of his work mounted

outside of his homeland. Not only does the exhibition feature Whaam! (1963), and Drowning Girl (1963), two of his most popular images, but also sculptures, drawings, landscapes and ceramics. Of the 130 works, mostly coming from America, at least 30 have never been seen outside of the US. Lichtenstein was famous for bringing cartoon imagery into high art, combining banal subject matter with a formidable artistic technique. Along with Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, among others, he was part of a generation of artists who seized upon mundane objects from popular culture – hence the epithet Pop Art – and lent them a particular visual dignity. That style is so familiar that it’s easy to believe we know him – we grasp him in the same way we recognise Andy Warhol’s Marilyn. Lichtenstein took comicstrip couples and consumer goods

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and rendered them in bold outlines, primary colours and dot shading. And it’s that familiarity that might be a problem. Those who visit expecting to see more of the Lichtenstein cartoon aesthetic will be in for a shock. “The comic-strip work only lasted a short period – some three years – yet that is what people know him for,” explains Dorothy. The artworks on display will reveal some hidden treasures, including the exuberant canvases inspired by the masters he admired, such as Picasso, Monet and Matisse. Other rare works include a number of Chinese-style landscapes and a series of nudes he embarked upon just before his death. It’s thanks to his widow and her collection that you won’t just be seeing spots before your eyes. Sixteen years his junior, Dorothy was only 57 when Roy died. Two years later she set up a foundation in his name. Under


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its aegis, his works are constantly touring. Her husband left about 5,000 works of art and Dorothy owns hundreds. So where, in the exhibition, the label reads ‘private collection’, that often means Dorothy. Part of her role

missing Lichtenstein – she must be a decorator’s dream. What of life after Roy? It would have been easy for her to do nothing. Her income is secure with his works consistently achieving high prices

‘At the height of his fame he remained profoundly grateful’ is to persuade collectors to lend their Lichtensteins for what can be months at a time. “I can offer them something in exchange, so they don’t have an empty wall,” she says. Often, she can match the exact shape and size of the

at auction. The world record for a Lichtenstein was set in New York in May last year when Sleeping Girl (1964) sold for £27.5m pounds sterling at Sotheby’s. She could have become one of those Park Avenue

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princesses who grace the columns of Women’s Wear Daily, partying her way around the world – an opening here, a reception there... yet to spend time with Dorothy is to realise that an endless round of smart-art socialising would bore her senseless. Reluctant to be in the limelight, she rarely gives interviews. “I like to stand back... it’s his work that maintains the legacy,” she says. “The art has to stand up and people have to want to see it. The foundation puts me in the background.” Exactly where she’s happiest: she funds a number of charities including medical research, arts education and her local museum, The Parrish, and is part of a network of philanthropists in New York.


Roy and Dorothy were together for 34 years. She helped to bring up his two sons by his first marriage to Isabel Wilson. David, a recording studio engineer and Mitchell, a filmmaker, are now both in their fifties. Today, in the library of her house in Southampton, Dorothy recalls a remarkable partnership. It’s clear that she feels his death keenly. “My memories are bittersweet,” she says. “One is lucky to find someone with the same world view. We had a kind of kinship... being married to Roy was effortless. I didn’t mind that he worked all the time. I had a lot of freedom. So I think it was like being alone – in the best kind of way. He allowed me to be myself.”

When she meets some of his peers, such as the artist Ellsworth Kelly, now 89, she cannot help but feel a stab of grief for a life cut short. “I feel Roy should be there. He would have gone on to do so many things.” Jack Cowart, a former museum curator who knew the couple well and now runs the foundation, describes her as a “perfect foil” for Lichtenstein. “She allowed him space and time to practise his art the way he wanted. They were always in sync with each other,” he says. So when Lichtenstein was toiling in his studio, Dorothy taught in her local high school, learnt haute cuisine in France, wrote a cookery book and rode horses. Dorothy’s face and figure belie her

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age – she is 73. Although she has had boyfriends, she has never remarried and lives alone in the house the couple bought in 1969, a spacious clapboard home by the ocean. And Lichtenstein is never very far away. From her bedroom window she can see his aluminium sculpture (House III, 1997) parked on the lawn. In her living room hangs one of his paintings (Landscape, 1974), while her kitchen dresser holds a porcelain tea service he designed in 1984 for Rosenthal. All cobalt, yellow and dotty, it’s part of a limited edition worth an estimated £15,000. She uses it? “It doesn’t go in the dishwasher.” The garage houses his studio, preserved just as he left it. By his

easel, a book about Matisse lies open; the shelves hold his paints and brushes. A Peanuts cartoon is stuck to a pinboard, while two tabloid newspaper cuttings about the afterlife – “Incredible Proof of Reincarnation” and “New Evidence of Life After Death” – are pasted by the door. Not, says Dorothy, that he believed in any kind of resurrection. “He was a humanist and a scientific rationalist,” she says. “He loved to read Scientific American and Science News.” The couple met in 1964. Dorothy had recently graduated in political science and art history from Beaver College in Pennsylvania and was working her way up in an art gallery in Manhattan. Lichtenstein was at the height of his celebrity in New York, basking in the status that his show at Leo Castelli’s gallery had brought him just two years earlier. As part of an exhibition, it fell to the young gallerist to ask the top pop personalities, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, to design a print for a shopping bag. “Andy drew a can of Campbell’s soup, Roy a Thanksgiving turkey.” A print of the turkey that brought them together is now in the archive. Dorothy remembers their first lunch date – and an instant mutual attraction, but there was an impediment. Lichtenstein, already separated from Isabel, was involved with another woman. And when he took his girlfriend on a trip to Paris, Dorothy feared the worst. She remembers a colleague at the gallery trying to let her down gently: “She told me: ‘Guess you won’t be seeing him again.’” But Lichtenstein came back from Paris, ditched the girlfriend, and the pair soon became inseparable. Looking back, she realises how much they had in common. Both shared a Mitteleuropa heritage and both had enjoyed comfortable middle-class childhoods. The son of an estate agent, Lichtenstein grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, went to private school and spent his spare time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. The daughter of a judge, Dorothy Herzka grew up in Brooklyn,

1. 2. 3.

4. 5.

Roy Lichtenstein, 1993 ‘Whaam’, 1963, Lichtenstein ‘Oh Jeff I Love You Too’, 1964, Lichtenstein ‘Masterpiece’, 1962, Lichtenstein ‘Varoom’, 1963, Lichtenstein

‘While Warhol was courting celebrity and being snapped by the paparazzi, Lichtenstein was at home with Dorothy and going macrobiotic’ attending the same high school as Woody Allen. Following Lichtenstein’s divorce, they married in New York in 1968 with Dorothy taking on the role of wife, stepmother and muse. She speaks little of Isabel, only that she was “troubled” and reportedly had a drink problem. She spent her last years in sheltered accommodation and died in 1980, aged 59. Dorothy’s favourite photograph from her honeymoon period shows Roy looking up at her adoringly. With her long, dark hair and wide smile, she looks like a young Jackie Kennedy. “I was very lucky to have found a soul mate in him,” she says. Although New York’s headline writers were suitably grateful when The Master of Dots and his very own Dot got together, to him she was always “Dorothy”. As she recounts, it’s often said that Lichtenstein went to bed one night in 1962 a poor man and woke up the next day a rich one. The American art critic Robert Rosenblum once pronounced: “For most of the world Lichtenstein was born at the Leo Castelli Gallery in Feb-March 1962.” His show sold out before it opened. Indeed, Masterpiece, painted later that year, is widely seen as an ironic take on his own success. Wearing a black polo-neck sweater,

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the artist (Brad) looks on while his muse gushes, “Why, Brad Darling, this painting is a masterpiece! My, soon you’ll have all of New York clamoring for your work!” But Dorothy says his success actually took two decades. “Roy really had to struggle. He was an art teacher for years and didn’t really have money until he was nearly 40.” After studying art at Ohio State University (OSU), Lichtenstein had been drafted into the Second World War, serving in France and Belgium. Afterwards, he took a series of temporary teaching jobs, first at OSU, followed by Oswego, part of the State University of New York and Rutgers University, New Jersey. But he never made it to full professor. “He failed to get tenure at Ohio State,” she says. “Roy always said that, in retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to him.” It was a happy accident when he produced – on his kitchen table in New Jersey – his first pop painting, Look Mickey (1961). The work depicted Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and he used a dog-grooming brush to make the dots. Legend has it that one of his sons pointed to a comic book and challenged him to make a better drawing. Lichtenstein obliged


– and begat the rodent that brought him riches. “I know that story has been repeated many times,” Dorothy says. “But in the end even Roy couldn’t remember whether it was true or not.” Not everyone in the art world was delighted by Lichtenstein’s style and subject matter. He had come to prominence when America’s great abstract expressionists, such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, were regarded with reverence. Their immense paint-

splattered canvases were regarded as spiritual tours de force. In contrast, Lichtenstein’s hot dogs, washing machines and comic strips were seen as an affront to a refined sensibility. They were also seen to attract the wrong sort. “The art galleries are being invaded by the pin-headed contemptible style of gum-chewers, bobby soxers and worse, delinquents,” wrote the American critic Max Kozloff, while the venerable art historian Clement Greenberg declared that Lichtenstein

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would be forgotten within a decade. The controversy rumbled on. Two years after his sell-out show, Life magazine, echoing an earlier feature which mooted Jackson Pollock as “the greatest artist in the United States”, ran an article about Lichtenstein, posing the question: “Is He The Worst Artist In The US?” What few Life readers realised was that Lichtenstein knew the writer and had encouraged its publication – and its headline. Coverage in Life would give Pop Art a platform.

Dorothy believes that the years of struggle contributed to his work ethic. At the height of his fame and success he remained disciplined and profoundly grateful. “He was in the right place at the right time,” she says. “He used to say, ‘I’m like an idiot savant — I only know how to do one kind of thing.’” Sometimes he would wonder if his whole life were a dream. He would tell Dorothy: “You’ll see, someone is going to shake me


and I’ll be living in a nursing home in Oswego and they’ll say, ‘It’s time for your pills, Mr Lichtenstein.’” That discipline – coupled with a natural reticence – made him the antithesis of bad boys such as Andy Warhol and the extrovert Robert Rauschenberg. Indeed, as a young soldier in Paris, Lichtenstein had made his way to Picasso’s studio in the hope of meeting the artist he so admired. “But he was too shy to knock at the

door,” remembers Dorothy. So in the heady days of the late 1960s and 1970s, while Warhol was courting celebrity at The Factory, partying at Studio 54 and being snapped by the paparazzi, Lichtenstein was at home with Dorothy listening to Charlie Parker records and going macrobiotic. It was alfafa sprouts for him. A creature of habit, he worked every day, breakfasting on Raisin Bran and banana, and stopping only for a

Images: Corbis / Tate Modern

lunch – fruit salad and yogurt – with Dorothy. “He never wanted to waste a minute,” she says. “He felt that he had been given permission to play in the sandbox.” For Lichtenstein, the headline in Life magazine was only the first in a series of pranks. Throughout his career he borrowed images from great artists to create witty and coded visual puns. Both Haystacks and Rouen Cathedral are his dotty reworkings of Monet, while his Still Life with Goldfish series (1972-1974) is a hymn to Matisse. But perhaps the most enduring artistic influence of his life was Picasso. Lichtenstein’s Frolic (1977) is an entertaining meditation on the Spanish master’s Bather with Beach Ball (1932), while his Femme D’Alger (1963) is his take on Picasso’s work of the same name from 1955. Sometimes, as in Artist’s Studio “Look Mickey” (1973), inspired by Matisse’s depictions of his studio, Lichtenstein sneaks in a version of one of his own paintings. Many critics see these appropriations as a form of improvisation derived from music, like variations on a theme or a choral fugue. “He wanted to take an idea and twist it. In jazz, you go away from the basic melody and you are riffing on it,” explains Dorothy. “So there’s an ironic playfulness at work, these are riffs on a theme. And Roy was always very serious about his playfulness.” His Artist’s Studio The Dance (1974) derived from Matisse’s La Danse (1910) even incorporates a musical stave. All this makes him not so much the man who put pop into art, but the man who put art into pop. “Throughout his life as a painter, he had a profound engagement with art history,” says Sheena Wagstaff, co-curator of the exhibition and chairman of the modern and contemporary department at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We could see this as a tribute, though ambivalent, from one artist to another.” As Lichtenstein once put it: “The things I have parodied I actually admire.” As a young art student,


‘Legend has it that one of Roy’s sons pointed to a comic book and challenged him to make a better drawing. Lichtenstein obliged’ Lichtenstein had even written some poems paying tribute to Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso and Van Gogh, referring to them as “the Wonderful Wizards of Art”. Yet one of the most popular Lichtensteins in the exhibition promises to be not a parody of anyone, except perhaps his own comic book style. Engagement (The Ring), 1962, features a man placing a sparking diamond on a daintily manicured finger. When the painting went on view in Washington recently, security guards reported men going down on

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one knee, ring in hand, to propose to their girlfriends in front of it. “Roy would have loved that,” says Dorothy. He may have promised his soul to science and his heart to Dorothy, but Roy Lichtenstein left his art to us all. Lichtenstein: a Retrospective runs at London’s Tate Modern until May 27


Williams Wearing a black leather dress and Louboutins, Michelle Williams, 32, is sporting a newish haircut when we meet, a little shaved strip on one side and short and floppy on the other. Playing Glinda, the good witch in this month’s blockbuster release Oz: the Great and Powerful, we see a different side from her usual tortured and dark roles. Sian Edwards asks why… Words: Sian Edwards

Your director, Sam Raimi, described you as a very good natured person, which was important in casting you as Glinda. How do you think you’ve remained so un-diva like and down to earth?

like home; there are so many choices in the world, what are you going to eat, what are you going to wear, who are your friends going to be? So many choices and it’s actually quite nice to limit them and say, ‘This is my thing’. When you are talking about fashion, and when the entire world is available to you, it’s kind of nice to sort of narrow it a bit. And that was the way that I narrowed it from a fashion perspective for a while, and then I just felt like growing out my hair and got shaved. It’s a collaboration. I didn’t do this myself, it’s people’s ideas of me mixed with my own, so this is a pure expression, but it’s also a few hands working at it.

Wow. I don’t know. It’s a very nice thing of Sam to say. I can only aspire to it, but I don’t know. It’s hard to describe oneself.

What is your definition of ‘self’? Well, it’s always changing.

What is it at the moment?

You know what, it would be so personal, it’s something I really try not to think about very much. I try and be it, don’t think it.

You seem to have changed your style somewhat – your haircut is new and you’re not wearing what we see you usually dressed in on the red carpet. Is that because of a change in your life?

You played in some independent movies about the dark side, in Blue Valentine and Take This Waltz, so why choose this role?

My hair keeps getting shorter [laughs]. Maybe, maybe I am a little behind the change somehow. You know, I’m 32, and I realise that at some point, you have to stop wearing Peter Pan collars. I was comfortable in one thing for a long time and it felt comfortable, and it’s nice to find something that feels

I wanted to explore the light. The dark has this power, it has this magnetism that makes you think and feel that it’s more true, and that it’s more compelling, but I wanted to see if there’s as many facets to light as there are to dark. The scope of everything was so much bigger than what I am used to, making small, quick, cheap and dirty movies [laughs]. And this was none of those things.

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Was there a sense of wanting to do this for your daughter, because it’s Oz and you get to dress up and be the good witch?

It was at the forefront of my mind to do something that felt more holistic and it didn’t feel like my life was so separated into work over here and then family over there. I wanted to merge them a bit, and this was a really great opportunity to do that, and they provided a playground environment for my daughter to come and visit and everybody made her feel very welcome.

Does she say she wants to be like you when she grows up?

We’ll see what she wants to do when she grows up. I am very excited to see what she wants to do when she grows up. The world is all possibility for her right now.

And what did she think of mom as the witch?

Images: Getty Images

She really liked it. She really liked the long pretty hair. Doing this film was like a love letter for my daughter. This movie was made for her. I mean, I haven’t even seen it, but you know, that was the spirit in my heart when I made it, but it’s something that she can be privy to, so she was so thrilled. It was a great place to be a kid. She went to school, we lived there for six months, so she did half of a year of school there, she would get out from school and then come visit mom at work and she was allowed to bring friends onto the set, and got to go through the hair and makeup and wardrobe and go visit the animals. There was a big fun pit that we would go do our stunts in sometimes, and so Matilda would go play in the fun pit, and she sat next to Sam [Raimi] in a director’s chair and with Sam, holding his hand [laughs].

How did you create Glinda, the good witch’s personality? It’s a little bit hard to do research when you are playing an unreal character but I always like to spend some time in the months ahead kind

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of setting a mood, I guess, so watching movies like Fantasia or The Princess Bride, or, I would have to go back to my little notebook, [laughs] reading about mysticism, and those things. They are fun anyway, and they make you feel like you are not being lazy. So I do that kind of stuff, but I think in some ways because I stopped going to school when I was fifteen, I think I always have some kind of nervousness about not being prepared enough, or not knowing how to study enough, or not knowing how to do something correctly, so in an attempt to do something I do everything [laughs].

The film has a lot of magic; do you believe in magic?

I will believe in anything. It’s true, I am a sucker. I am up for anything, yes, I believe in everything.

What do you like to do when you are off?

Well I always have a big idea in my head, like, oh I’m finally going to learn French, and I am going to take up piano and how about those cooking

‘Doing this film was like a love letter for my daughter’ classes. But all that it is is making the breakfast and packing the lunch, and cleaning the house and preparing the dinner, and then welcoming back after school, doing the homework and talking about it, and figuring out how everybody is adjusting, making play dates, that’s all it is. That’s it.

What do you remember the most about your Oscar experiences? [Williams has twice been nominated for best actress]

The last one was really special for me because I had gotten to take my best friend, that’s what I will always remember about it. Having her and holding her hand. Maybe it’s pathetic, maybe you are not supposed to be that dependent on your girlfriends or something when you are 32, but I

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love her so much, I wish I could live with her.

How do you feel about the last award season and the whirlwind with My Week With Marilyn? Did you have fun while you were in it?

Yeah, did I have fun? I don’t know if there was any processing of it, I just sort of went straight back into my life and like I said, that’s very absorbing. So I don’t know if I really processed it, but I was with my best friend for the whole busy time and we had a blast, but we have fun wherever we go, so I did enjoy it. But I enjoyed it because I was with her.

Was it a bit like being in the middle of a hurricane? Yeah and it’s not…. how would I say it, it’s not real. Maybe like playing a part or something, it’s just like so much focus on the external.

Did you see playing Marilyn Monroe as a sort of cautionary tale? Did it make you think about your life as an actress in the way that actresses can always be objectified and in the way that she was?

I didn’t think of it necessarily as a cautionary tale, I really just thought about her. I feel that I am luckier than she was in the respect that I have a few deeply grounding forces in my life that keep me attached and sane and happy regardless.

It sounds like you’ve got quite a healthy relationship with work. You have got it in its right place.

I think a lot of that is because of having a kid. You have no choice, you must put the work in its place, you must seal it up, you must put the lid on it. So that’s one thing, and also she (Marilyn) started out with such disadvantages early on in life that were far more extreme than mine. She was battling against so much and there was nothing keeping her. No mother, no father, no relations, no marriages that would stick, no babies there, she just couldn’t find anything to keep her.


Images: Supplied

‘Highlights include a Jaguar XK140 from 1954 and a Mercedes 300SL from 1957’

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Maroc of ages This month sees the 20th edition of the Maroc Classic taking place – a fantastic rally for classic cars that incorporates the very best of the Moroccan landscape Words: Chris Anderson


f you’ve gone to the trouble of purchasing an expensive classic car, you can often be faced with the dilemma of what to actually do with it. Driving around town can be enjoyable, although there is the risk of unwanted attention, and getting stuck in traffic is no way to make the most of it. There is the option of a show or concours, but these are infrequent, and parked on the lawn of a stately home somewhere means no enjoyment from getting behind the wheel. Luckily, there are rallies like the Maroc Classic – now in its 20th year – where drivers can take to the open and varied roads of Morocco, bonding with their cars over seven days, racing against other classic owners, and getting to enjoy memorable scenery and food at the same time. This year’s event takes place from March 16-23, beginning in Casablanca and finishing in Marrakech. A briefing and welcome dinner takes place on Saturday, March 16, with the cars departing at 10am the next morning. “This year we have 50 cars taking part – 35 classic vehicles and 15 modern,” reveals

Jean Noël Lanctuit, director of the event. “Highlights include a Jaguar XK140 from 1954, an Aston Martin DB Volante from 1967, and a Mercedes 300SL from 1957.” Organised by a French company, Anome Sarl, under the auspices of the Federation Royale Morocaine des Sports Automobiles (FRMSA), for the past 10 years the event has also been known as La Route du Coeur, or ‘The Road of the Heart’. This is due to its fundraising side, working with a charity, L’Heure Joyeuse, which aims to increase rural development across Morocco. Auctions and raffles are held throughout the event, with donations from entrants and sponsors. This is, of course, built around the excitement of the race itself, and the thrill of seeing many classic cars taking on all weather and road conditions, including mountains and desert, ancient towns and secluded villages. To be eligible to take part, vehicles must fall into either the Maroc Classic category, and be touring, sports or GT cars built from 1930 to 1983, with replicas also accepted, or built since the beginning of 1984 to qualify for Maroc Prestige. Each will commence

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motoring on a drive of around 2,100km, first heading along the coast and then inland, with an average of 300km covered each day. Despite the distance and age of the cars, breakdowns are rare, according to the organisers, although technical support teams are on hand should the inevitable happen – it’s all covered in the entrance fees, which include meals and accommodation, with the transporting of the cars to and from Morocco also available. “We use a company called Autotrans, and will bring the cars in from select European towns,” says Jean Noël Lanctuit, “so owners just get their vehicle to either Dover, Calais, Brussels, Paris, Lyon, Geneva or others from our list. This is one of the most popular aspects of the Maroc Classic, and is used by almost every participant. Loading, unloading, insurance, customs and transit are all managed by us. Participants just turn up, then collect their cars from the starting area in Rabat, where they have been washed, stickered and are sat under a protective cover.” With the transportation of the cars taken care of, it means drivers can simply concentrate on the adventure that lies ahead. Luckily, the organisers cite the assistance of the Moroccan police and authorities as one of the reasons the event runs so smoothly, and why it is so anticipated by towns and villages across the country. All vehicles are required to have at least one co-driver, and some roads need abiding by certain speed limits, which means strategic planning for the race. But it is planning that pays off, as the winner of the Classic category will receive free entry the following year, while Prestige winners receive a discount of 50 per cent. An appropriate prize, seeing as the rally features many of the same drivers every time. “I started in 2000 and have not missed a year,” says Rafael Cerezo, who competes with his son as co-pilot. “It is an event where you build friendships, and learn so much about this wonderful country.”

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gastronomy AIR sits down with Yannick Alléno at Le Meurice Paris, to find out why the UAE stirs his senses – and which direction the French super chef will head in next… Words: Laura Binder

‘I think Dubai is the hub of gastronomy’


s I wait for Yannick Alléno I realise this has to be the most decadent spot for an interview yet – I’m perched upon a softas-silk white, gold-trimmed sofa in the palatial lobby of Hotel Le Meurice – one of Paris’s original palaces – a place that literally glows in gold and jewelled chandeliers. And, to top it all off, Anna Wintour passes by, shades super-glued beneath her signature bob. What better stamp of approval could one need? It’s Alléno, a gastronomic talent whose name is counted among the

small and prestigious circle of the world’s greatest chefs, who heads the hotel’s namesake restaurant, Restaurant Le Meurice, which has maintained three Michelin stars since 2007. “I’m sorry I’m late – car parking!” scoffs Alléno as he takes the seat before me (gold-trimmed, naturally). Devilishly wrapped up in a black wool coat and scarf, Alléno is as debonair in the flesh as his publicity shots suggest. In fact, as he runs a hand through his floppy brown locks, he turns the head of more than one passing Parisian. It’s a shame then, given the suave chap before me, that I step straight onto

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thin ice: just days before we meet, the French press announced the chef’s ‘official departure’ from Le Meurice for 1947 in Courchevel – a topic Alléno is quick to cut me short on. “Today we just talk about Le Meurice, no? That is better.” For the moment at least, Alléno continues to make culinary waves here, in the lavish environs of Restaurant Le Meurice – his muchlauded, artful approach marrying classic French flavours with modern methods. “Since my arrival at the Hotel in 2003, food critics and diners have showered me with accolades and the fabled dining-room has gone

from strength to strength,” he tells me. “This third star was my dream! It is the result of 22 years of work, passion and a desire to be the best at all times.” It’s an approach that’s taken Alléno far beyond the realms of Le Meurice too: Group Yannick Alléno boasts six restaurants in France, Beijing, Marrakech, Beirut, Taipei and, of course, Dubai (STAY by Yannick Allénoa at One&Only The Palm), each set in a grandiose hotel. Which of the six, I ask, proved the most challenging? “Not Dubai”, says Alléno in his soft French drawl. “Since many years now Dubai has developed so much in terms of [its] hotel industry. Most of the luxury brands are operating there and the offer is wide and of good quality. Dubai is now offering so many different types of food. I like to see all the various dishes and offers. Diversity gives me richness as Dubai is really a crossroad of cultures. “I think Dubai became the hub of gastronomy,” he says. “France was the hub before, the hub of Europe. Before people crossed around France to go to Italy, now it has become Dubai. I think Dubai is the hub of the world.” Where, then, does he see the emirate in, say, 50 years? “Cuisine is like fashion,” he says simply. “It is an answering [of] the designer’s creativity. So far, I guess that there is as much type of cuisine as chefs can cook [in Dubai] and it will continue to be like that. Diversity is very important for creativity.” But with the heady heights of creativity come high standards (those Michelin stars don’t fall from the sky, you know). So, is it hard to maintain his strict standards abroad when, frankly, he’s up to his neck in gold at Le Meurice? “No, because the team come from my area,” he tells me, “they are very, very attentive and they really make good jobs.” In the case of Dubai, Alléno tells me how he visits STAY by Yannick Alléno four times a year.

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gastronomy “I always change the menus when I go there,” he assures me. “We change the menu for the seasons.” Back in Paris, Alléno has the finest regional produce at his talented fingertips. “We are lucky in France to have so much, some of the best products in the world”. But the restaurant’s constant evolution is something Alléno attributes largely to the “foodies” themselves. “If you see the evolution of food around the world you definitely see that there is a level of growth. The people, the foodies, love to move around, take a plane to visit London, Milan, to see around. The interest of food is higher now than it was 10 years ago, for example. People love that and want to have another experience. The global situation has changed a lot.” So, what does he consider to be the secret of his success at Le Meurice? “You should be different,” he says, “to have good orientation for customers – they want to have something else. If they come to you more than say, Alain Ducasse, it’s for a reason. There’s a huge competitiveness in Paris. “I made around 600 recipes over 10 years,” he goes on. “We pushed up the creativity to give them [the diners] the opportunity to have a different experience. This is a special area, this

‘This third Michelin star is a tremendous responsibility, it is up to me to make it shine’ is not the same as others; the clientele is completely different. People used to love art, the places and the culture and the fashion, and people come to Paris for that spirit. So we let the food follow that direct line and we followed the idea of the culture, the French culture, which is definitely food.” Which, then, was harder: earning three Michelin stars, or maintaining them? “Both is much work!” he says with a laugh. “This third star is a tremendous responsibility and it is now up to me to make it shine. But I will be worried when I will not be able to work anymore, because I don’t live my job with a heavy pressure, I don’t

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Images: Supplied

feel like it is difficult. I see it like an extraordinary opportunity to renew my cuisine, to innovate, to exchange, to propose, and sometimes also to question myself. This has been even more true when I received the third star: my cuisine has been totally unbridled and I have not been afraid of anything anymore!” Describing cooking as “my passion” (“I love to do it. That’s it.”), Alléno’s fondness for food started early – aged eight, to be precise – with his parents who “ran some bistros in Paris and around…” at its roots. “We used to stay in the kitchen with my mum so always I was around food. At that time the

food was the priority, now they [kids] change to the telephones, to fashions; young people are more interested in these things, the value of families now is not the same. It’s very interesting to see how the things change.” Ah, change, this is my cue to take Alléno back to the matter of his reported career move, a move that will send him from Paris to the snow-dipped environs of exclusive Courchevel to helm the intimate, twoMichelin-starred 1947. I dare to ask, why leave the glitz of Le Meurice now? “There is nothing special to say on it,” he ventures. “I spent 10 years here and it’s really time for me to work on my

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creativity. I want to go in another way, to discuss something else, and the advantage is that the restaurant there is open for five months and we will work on food and beverage research for six months – that’s why, to push up the level.” Clearly, the prospect of Alléno hanging up his apron strings for a post outside the kitchen, as some Michelin star chefs have done before him, isn’t going to happen anytime soon. “I’m 44 and I think I will stop to work around 80”, he laughs. At that moment his mobile rings, “a reservation,” he says with a wink, before answering. Now that’s what I call star service.



ince their inception in the sun-drenched surrounds of Saint Tropez’s Café Sénéquier in 1971, when sports journalist and car enthusiast Fred Prysquel sketched and then cut the pattern for swim shorts from a chequered tablecloth, the name Vilebrequin has been as synonymous with luxury travel as that of the design house Louis Vuitton. Back then, their contrasting style to that of the favoured snug-fit trunk made them an immediate hit with the Saint Tropez in-crowd, and soon Vilebrequin became an in-theknow hit. Today, as it maintains that popularity and air of exclusivity, the resolutely playful patterns that adorn many a jetsetter’s swim shorts are sketched by the brand’s long-term creative director, Isabel De Brito, also known as Zaza. And her latest vibrant collection – a sunny cocktail of sunset red and prints featuring turtles, sharks, lizards and flowers – looks set to make waves again this summer.

Get Shorty

Luxury swimwear brand Vilebrequin has been a suitcase staple for four decades. AIR gets the lowdown on the inspiration for its latest must-have designs

“The patterns in the new collection were inspired by a trip to Namibia,” De Brito told AIR. “This country inspires a feeling of total change of scenery – facing red sand dunes, breathtaking canyons, unspoilt and wild fauna, impressive flora, but also magnificent rock paintings [that] bear witness to a very ancient human presence.” These patterns, or prints, which are the brand’s signature, stay pristine through years of wear due to a combination of time-honoured know-how, uncompromising quality (the fabric used is exclusive to the brand) and the fact that each design must pass through the printing rollers a full 12 times, so that it is rich enough to withstand the fading effects of water and sun. “Vilebrequin has succeeded in building its own story. [Its] name is today a real strength,” said De Brito. “It is always a pleasure [to see people sporting Vilebrequin swimsuits]. It makes me think that people appreciate our work. The challenge for me is to surpass myself each time, to always be more creative and original. My guideline is to not be and not do like other people, to be different.”

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The $350k ski chalet (that’s its cost per week, naturally)


hen it comes to luxury chalets they don’t come much more exclusive than Austria’s Chalet N. It is impossible to speak about this selfstyled ‘superchalet’ without bleating superlatives. Set in the glamorous resort of Lech, 1,660 metres above Oberlech, the 11-suite chalet not only boasts incredible views of the slopes but has facilities to die for. “Chalet N has been created for the richest and most demanding

clientele,” said Stefan Huemer, the general manager. “Individuals that don’t want to be seen and are used to full attention from a team of 26 specialists, [including] a tea sommelier, butlers, drivers and a high-end spa with cosmeticians, therapists, private trainers and so on.” Every inch of the beautiful wooden abode is created with toasty, luxurious comfort in mind. Take its boot room: a skiers paradise, where each guest has their own locker with heated racks to ensure dry and cosy boots each morning. A lift that runs from the boot room to the ground floor

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means guests can ski straight onto the piste, and those wishing to try out nearby St Christoph and St Anton can take advantage of the chalet’s transfer service, by Porsche Cayanne, of course. If your skiing skills leave a lot to be desired, off-piste, in-chalet attractions include a swimming pool replete with an underwater sound system, two outdoor Jacuzzis from where you can drink in uninterrupted views of the slopes, and an underground cinema room. Then there’s the rather glamorous Swarovski shower, where the crystals form a curtain, as well as hydrotherapy pools, sauna and steam rooms, and the spa’s team of attentive staff, on hand to perform massages at your asking. “The difference between Chalet N and common luxury hotels is that our guests don’t share the house with strangers,” said Mr Huemer. “The ultimate luxury is the privacy and top end service in the most expensive interior, such as a hotel would not be able to implement. “We do not set the standards, our guests do. Our service is tailored towards them. We even put our guests’ names on the pillowcases. We serve [them] 24 hours.”



erched high in the tree-studded hills that overlook the terracotta roofs and labyrinthine walkways of central Florence is the stately Villa San Michele, a former monastery turned one of the world’s most uniquely beautiful hotels. This centuries-old building owes its existence to a certain Michelangelo, but it’s the hotel’s modern creatives, in the form of its brigade of gifted chefs, that do just as much to attract the discerning traveller today. Everyday the hotel’s kitchens serve up typically flavorsome Tuscan cuisine, the seasonal ingredients for which are plucked from the neighbouring farms, villages and also the hotel’s own grounds, where the scent blown from lemon trees fills the air. And throughout the year the chefs responsible for the fine fare pass on their secrets to would-be gourmands, who have helped turn Villa San Michele’s cookery school into one of the world’s best known. Award-winning chefs from across the globe come here to teach at a school that’s fronted by Chef de Cuisine Attilio di Fabrizio, who has held court at Villa San Michele for over a quarter of a century and the famous Hotel Cipriani before that. The lessons – best taken on a Monday when the city’s museums and art galleries are closed – immerse the pupil in Tuscan gastronomy, and detail exactly how you can extract the most sublime flavour from the most basic of ingredients. When AIR visited and tried its hand at rustling up a tomato sauce to top its (admittedly odd-shaped) handcrafted gnocchi, we were thrilled at just how simple the path to gastronomic enlightenment was. Taking a handful of freshly plucked, sliced in half and deseeded tomatoes, we added them face down to a hot pan in which chopped garlic and extra virgin olive oil was already browning. Using the back of a spoon, we pressed

the tomatoes until they released all of their juicy goodness, which ran into the garlic oil, before letting them simmer for around 5 minutes. It really is that easy. The resultant sauce tasted heavenly. But better still – truly breathtaking in fact – is the view from the restaurant’s terrace where you’ll sit to enjoy the fruits of your labour. For Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, spreads before you, its resplendent architecture basking in the midday sun. A more postcard-perfect sight you’ll never find.

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Under The Tuscan Sun Words: John Thatcher

‘The view from the restaurant’s terrace is truly breathtaking’

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life lessons

What I KnoW noW

Jeremy Hackett Founder of Hackett

When my father received yet another bad school report from my teachers he warned me that if I didn’t pull my socks up I would end up working in a shop. Fortunately for me that is exactly what happened. So at the age of seventeen I began working in a tailor’s shop, picking up pins and making the tea. For me, starting work at the bottom of the clothing business was an invaluable lesson, particularly in the retail trade where building relationships with your customers can only start on the shop floor. It is not enough to have beautiful clothes and a beautiful environment in which to sell, you also need to offer the best service otherwise your customers will go elsewhere. When I started Hackett my aim was to sell classical clothes to like-minded men who valued quality and style above the vagaries of high fashion, and I have always maintained this point of view, taking only from fashion what I considered my customers would be comfortable with. Being one step ahead of your customer is fine, but three steps ahead and you are in danger of losing them. In my youth I harboured thoughts of becoming an actor, but being in the clothing business is in itself a theatrical production: you open the doors, the costumes are ready and you put on a show to excite your clients. I still get a buzz from being on the shop floor and engaging with my customers. The customer is king.

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Available at Damas Les Exclusive boutiques: Burj Al Arab: 04 3484816, Dubai Mall: 04 3398535.

Piaget Rose White gold, diamond set ring

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

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