IS SU E SIX TEEN | SEPTEMBER
Produced in International Media Production Zone
Engl and’s rose on how being so successf ul isn’t as ea sy as it look s
MARK WAHLBERG How Hollywood’s former bad boy became one of its biggest and best players
PIERRE GAGNAIRE Does the super chef really rate himself as “not very good”?
BRIGITTE BARDOT How the blonde bombshell brought the world to St. Tropez
LION’S PRIDE The inside story of Raffles Singapore as it marks 125 years standing
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by the Central Bank of the UAE (license No. in Dubai 13/1844/2008; Abu Dhabi 13/952/2008). Barclays Bank PLC in the Qatar Financial Centre (Registered No. 00018) is authorised by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority. Barclays Bank PLC QFC Branch may only undertake the regulated activities that fall within the scope of its existing QFCRA authorisation. Principal place of business in Qatar: Qatar Financial Centre, Office 1002, 10th Floor, QFC Tower, Diplomatic Area, West Bay, PO Box 15891, Doha, Qatar. This information has been distributed by Barclays Bank PLC. Related financial products or services are only available to Business Customers as defined by the QFCRA. Barclays Saudi Arabia is a closed joint stock company with its registered office at Level 18, Al Faisaliah Tower, King Fahad Road, Riyadh 11311, Saudi Arabia. Authorised and regulated by the Capital Market Authority (CMA Licence No. 09141-37). Commercial Registration Number 1010283024.
CONTENTS / FE ATURES
Managing Director Victoria Thatcher Editorial Director John Thatcher Advertisement Director Chris Capstick email@example.com
Group Editor Laura Binder firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking time out from filming Anna Karenina, the beautiful Brit tells why movie roles and Chanel ads come with no guarantees...
Sub Editor Hazel Plush email@example.com
Mark of Success
Designer Adam Sneade
Everyone’s favourite tough guy, Mark Wahlberg reveals a softer side – by co-starring with a teddy. AIR talks to the man himself.
Designer / Illustrator Vanessa Arnaud Production Manager Haneef Abdul
Senior Advertisement Manager Stefanie Morgner firstname.lastname@example.org
AIR takes a look at how a French bombshell seduced Monaco’s glitterati – all the way to the once-sleepy shores of St Tropez.
Advertisement Manager Sukaina Hussein email@example.com
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A Daimler Brand
You can read history, or you can drive it. Introducing the new Mercedes-Benz SL. The iconic SL roadster is every bit as enthralling as it was 60 years ago. With exhilarating performance delivered by an ultra-refined 435hp V8 bi-turbo engine, to advanced safety features and a body 120kg lighter than its predecessor; the sixth generation SL is everything you would expect from a car born of legends. www.mb-me.com www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzME
CONTENTS / REGUL ARS
AIR checks in to some seriously stylish hotels for the fashion events of the year – and chronicles Raffles Singapore’s 125th birthday.
The global guide to what’s on, where to go, what to buy and what to be seen in.
AIR relives 175 dazzling years with the timeless Tiffany & Co.
AIR makes for Geneva to meet the world’s oldest watchmakers.
Sixty years on, the Mercedes-Benz SL 300 is looking as handsome as ever.
Arabic artwork and an ocean masterpiece to quench your design thirst.
AIR peels away the layers of one of French cuisine’s top chefs: Pierre Gagnaire.
Eccentric accessories that will add designer impact to your residence.
Founder of Roberto Coin jewellery, Mr Coin shares his pearls of wisdom...
Art & Design
Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494 Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in AIR.
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What I Know Now
A. LANGE & SÖHNE AUDEMARS PIGUET BACKES & STRAUSS BAUME & MERCIER BELL & ROSS BLANCPAIN BREGUET BREITLING
THE NATURE OF TIME
BREMONT CELSIUS CHANEL CORUM DELANEAU FRANCK MULLER FRÉDÉRIQUE CONSTANT GIRARD-PERREGAUX HERMÈS HUBLOT IWC JAEGER-LECOULTRE JOHN ISAAC GENÈVE LONGINES MAURICE LACROIX MONTBLANC OFFICINE PANERAI OMEGA ORIS PARMIGIANI PHILIP STEIN RADO RICHARD MILLE ROGER DUBUIS ROLEX TAG HEUER ULYSSE NARDIN VACHERON CONSTANTIN VERTU ZENITH
THE FINE WATCH ROOM
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EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP
Welcome to the September 2012 issue of AIR, Empire Aviation Group’s lifestyle and onboard guest magazine. In this issue, we look at the amazingly versatile KODIAK turboprop aircraft, which EAG has introduced into the Middle East. Performance and reliability underpin KODIAK’s other assets — modern STOL (short take off and landing) design, rugged construction and High Useful Load; the KODIAK was built to carry loads into places that other aircraft cannot reach, thanks to its high power-to-weight ratio which delivers better performance regardless of the load. The KODIAK is a perfect workhorse or a comfortable executive/passenger transport. With its unparalleled safety record, KODIAKs are in service around the globe with charter operators, corporate operators, personal owners, skydiving operations, governments, and humanitarian organisations. In contrast, we also highlight the distinctive approach to service taken by EAG, which extends beyond the aircraft to the ground, for owners and charter clients. Our commitment runs to an array of 5-star services, from meet and greet to security, ensuring end-to-end convenience for all our clients – and you can read more on this overleaf... Enjoy the issue.
Steve Hartley Executive Director
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org empire.aero
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Paras Dhamecha Executive Director
EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP NEWS TURBOPROPS TAKE OFF IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Empire Aviation Group operates the region’s largest managed fleet of business jets with around 20 aircraft under management but the company also has substantial turboprop experience, having managed and operated a fleet of Cessna turboprop float planes in the UAE. In 2011, EAG signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Quest Aircraft Company, the US manufacturer of KODIAK turboprop utility aircraft, which are especially well suited to the demands of the region. The international dealer agreement covers 12 countries across the region including the GCC (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE), Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine), Yemen, Turkey, Iraq and India, where the company is soon to open its first branch, in Bangalore. EAG believes the typical turboprop customer will be public and private sector organisations working in harsh and remote environments, where a business jet would not be able to operate. For example, the KODIAK provides operators with the versatility needed to accomplish any mission
regardless of the destination, and is able to land on grass, gravel, water, or any runway. This ‘go anywhere’ ability makes the KODIAK ideal for the Middle East and India. In fact, the KODIAK is now in operation in more than 10 countries in a variety of applications, in service with charter operators, small businesses, personal owners, skydiving operations, U.S. and international governments, and humanitarian organisations. The company recognises the potential demand for turboprop aircraft in all the GCC countries and believes the KODIAK turboprop aircraft will generate a lot of interest in the Middle East. Driving the rise in turboprops in the region is the development of private aviation generally. The rapid maturing of the regional market is creating interest in a broader range of aircraft – and not just the premium business jet segment. The region poses some challenges to aircraft access – such as high temperatures, high altitude unimproved airstrips, and mountainous terrain, where turboprops provide the ideal solution.
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This is increasingly being recognised as the value and potential of private aviation is explored. The KODIAK is a 10-place single engine turboprop utility airplane, designed for STOL (short take off and landing) use and float capability. The KODIAK’s rugged aluminum construction combines STOL performance and high useful load. It offers turbine reliability with the Pratt & Whitney PT6 turbine engine, has the ability to land and take off from unimproved surfaces and is capable of working off floats without structural upgrades. The KODIAK can take off in under 1,000 feet at full gross takeoff weight of 7,255 lbs and climb at over 1,300 feet per minute. The KODIAK aircraft offers a new dimension to aviation in the region and meets many of the mission demands, including special missions’ capability, flown across the Middle East and India. This unique airplane is based on a different perspective - focusing on where the KODIAK can go, what it can do when it gets there and then the ability to get you back.
THE DEDICATED AIRCRAFT MANAGEMENT COMPANY www.empire.aero Tel: +971 4 299 8444 - 11 -
EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP NEWS Many missions – one aircraft The KODIAK is an effective platform for special use missions. With low direct operating cost, high useful load and superior performance, the KODIAK is a workhorse for multi-function, multi-role operations. Here are a few examples of what the KODIAK can do: Aerial Photography/Mapping – low operating costs; turbine reliability; high useful load for cameras, equipment and fuel; high endurance – nearly 10 hours; incredible stable flight characteristics. Medevac – excellent dispatch reliability; excellent cabin volume; ability to land and take off on semi-prepared surfaces within short distances. Combined with excellent economy of operation and quick change interior, the KODIAK makes an excellent team member for air ambulance operators. Surveillance/Reconnaissance – the premier ISR platform is now the AIR CLAW™, developed in conjunction with Northrop Grumman Corporation. With the capability to loiter for 10 hours, stability of platform and the integration of high tech ISR packages installed for specific mission requirements, the KODIAK enhances the capabilities of military, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, plus numerous foreign government operations. Search and Rescue – unsurpassed low speed characteristics and handling; search and rescue flight plan capability through the Garmin G1000 avionics suite and excellent visibility equal a superior SAR platform. Parachute / Jump Operations – the KODIAK has proven to be a world class jump platform for both sport skydivers and military training. Climbing from sea level at nearly 1,400fpm, the KODIAK is certified to carry up to 15 jumpers. Four cycles per hour from sea level to 14,000 means excellent cash flow and profits for jump centres.
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Staying grounded – 5-star service on the ground Empire Aviation Group’s 5-star approach to jet charter services is not confined to the onboard experience – it starts and ends on the ground to provide a seamless experience from charter booking to the final destination. When time is of the essence, personalised support on the ground can make all the difference. Ports of entry and airport terminals can be negotiated quickly and efficiently with a personalised VIP Meet & Assist service, expediting passage through the formalities of immigration, customs and baggage checks with the support of our local ground staff and operations coordinators, negotiating the occasional bottlenecks that can occur at any air terminal. Charter clients demand end-to-end convenience and this applies equally to the arrangements for ground transportation. Whatever the requirement – from a family people carrier to a fleet of luxury chauffeured limousines – our services extend to more than 400 cities worldwide and offer a wide range of luxury vehicles along with professional, multi-lingual, uniformed chauffeurs to ensure a totally personalised service and tailored itinerary on the ground, to match the onboard experience. The safety and security of our clients is our constant priority. In a world which can be unpredictable, carefully planned and tailored security arrangements provide the peace of mind to allow our clients to focus on the travel objectives rather than the security aspects. In some locations, security is a necessity rather than a luxury. Whatever the destination or purpose, our specialist personal security services will plan and deliver support through highly trained expert professionals, anywhere in the world.
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The man simply dubbed The Greatest is the subject of the fantastic mixed media exhibition In the Rings with Ali, which continues in London this month. In addition to iconic and in some cases previously unseen images of Ali in and out of the ring, the show includes memorabilia, audio and video installations and poetry, comprising one of the biggest and best collections of Ali-related works ever shown. Whatâ€™s more, all artworks displayed are available to buy and all proceeds will be donated to Amnesty International and Parkinsonâ€™s research. smokehousegallery.org
Ring Master - 15 -
RADAR > Bringing together over 100 of the most iconic movie costumes ever worn, the Harry Winston-sponsored Hollywood Costume is the V&A’s showpiece exhibition for the autumn (it opens October 20), giving attendees the chance to see countless clothes made famous on celluloid. Pieces include those worn by De Niro in Taxi Driver (below), as well as Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz and Indiana Jones’s famous hat from his quartet of adventures. vam.ac.uk
> Andy Warhol’s pop art creations are arguably the most recognisable artworks of all, yet the full extent of his influence on the art world has never been wholly explored – until now. Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, which opens at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art this month, juxtaposes over 40 of Warhol’s works with those of 60 other artists to show how ingrained his ground-breaking work has become. - 16 -
> Nena Von Schlebrugge modelling Yves Saint Laurent’s first collection for Christian Dior (1958) is one of the lots
at Christie’s London Sale on September 3, where the offerings capture the city’s ever-eclectic style down the decades.
Best In Show
Celebrating Neil Libbert’s multi-award yielding, 55-year career as a photojournalist, London’s National Portrait Gallery will from September 17 display a selection of his finest pictures, some made famous as front page news, others on show for the very first time. Libbert’s enduring reputation as a master of his art was hard-earned through street photography and reportage, taking in all walks of life, from the famous (George Best pictured here) to the infamous, as well as devastating events throughout which he was always at the heart of the action. npg.org.uk
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Chicken with Plums
Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud When musician Ali Khan loses his violin, he loses his reason for being; but, through the depths of his sadness, the troubled man also regains his life.
AT BEST: “Deeply melancholic, yet so full of humour and humanity that it pulses with life” Slant
magazine AT WORST: “It does feel awfully fluffy and insubstantial at times”
Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal A failing writer steals the work of an old man – and the stolen novel is met with great acclaim. Can his duplicity stay a secret?
AT BEST: “The film boasts a litany of great performances”
The Playlist AT WORST: “The dialogue is simply atrocious, leaning heavily on too many clichés and stilted platitudes”
Nicholas Jarecki Robert Miller, successful businessman and loving family man, epitomises the American dream – but, as his world crumbles around him, can Miller keep up his high-flying façade?
AT BEST: “Incredibly accomplished for a first feature, with production values on par with full-blown studio pics” Variety AT WORST: “Familiar but not stale… Nothing about the plot is novel” The Hollywood
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Lee Daniels When a man is convicted of murdering a police sheriff, only his pen pal can save him. They’ve never met, but their bond is much tighter than they will ever realise. AT BEST: “The actors rise to the challenge, giving juicy performances and seemingly having a fine old time” TIME AT WORST: “Like clips from around 20 other films, none of them good” The Telegraph
Books There are few reads as juicy as a tell-all memoir, and when Marcus Samuelsson – revered chef and owner of feted New York restaurant Red Rooster – decided to pen his own, the publishing world couldn’t wait to sink its teeth in. The simple title of Yes Chef belies the complexity of Samuelsson’s life: detailing everything from his childhood in rural Ethiopia to the daughter he fathered illegitimately aged 20, the chef is striking in his openness. It’s a recipe that Kate Thornberry of The Austin Chronicle can’t get enough of: “It is the honest confession of his mistakes that makes this book more than just an interesting look at the making of a chef,” she writes. “Samuelsson makes no pretension to effortlessness or perfection in his career, or life… it’s radically inspiring.” For Craig Seligman of The New York Times, the book was always going to capture the imagination: “For years Marcus Samuelsson had a high-concept ID that made him an easy figure for New Yorkers to remember: he was the black Swede who cooked at Aquavit. You figured there was a story there… His rise is gratifying to read about, partly
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because he never sounds as if he’s crowing… This is a memoir written with sparkle and grace.” Judge Tigers in Red Weather by its cover, and you’d be forgiven for expecting a breezy read of 1950s America. The narrative of Liza Klaussmann’s debut novel is led by five twenty-somethings, wartime brides and ex-soldiers attempting to ease into post-war life. What lies beneath the surface, however, is a tangle of duplicity – and as time progresses, tensions ride – threatening to unveil the group’s secrets. Viv Groskop of The Independent is captivated: “Klaussmann turns an elegant period piece into a creepy psychological thriller. There is something compelling about the setting and the cinematic feel of the book.” For Holly Hunt of California Literary Review, however, it’s little more than a throw-away summer novel: “There’s plenty to enjoy here; the evocations of food and drink, clothes and music, give the book a sensuous texture… [but], in the end, it’s more upscale beach read than Great American Novel.” Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s rise from obscurity is one of recent history’s biggest literary success stories – and The Prisoner of Heaven, the multi-million-selling author’s third novel, looks set to further his fame even more. The tale of a young man struggling to find his identity – quite literally, for he stole his name from a deceased bullfighter – is set in a mythical Barcelona, where nothing is quite as it seems. Thornton McHamish of Sydney Morning Herald is enthralled: “Zafon stuffs long chunks of catch-up exposition into his dialogue with an unabashed glee that is, like almost every other storytelling trick he tosses in, hard to resist.” On the other side of the world, Arts Hub’s London reviewer is also a fan: “Zafon succeeds in cultivating an intricate plot that few authors could make so believable… A great read.”
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As the Paralympics raises London’s patriotic fever yet again this month, the capital puts on another triumphant exhibition of life in the big smoke – just when you thought it had run out of works to display. Reaching back into the archives to the 1930s, Tate Britain’s Another London showcases vintage snaps captured by visiting photographers – but what does this outsider’s perspective bring to the London landscape? “For the 41 photographers featured in this show, eccentricity and Britishness were synonymous,” admits The Independent’s Charles Darwent. “The scenes in Another London are now as strange to us as they were to them. Time makes tourists of us all.” The collection of photographs verges, at times, on the absurd, finds Marina Vaizey of The Arts Desk: “Nannies and market traders figure large, as does
Tower Bridge. And there are lots of moustaches… The whole is a highly satisfactory saunter down memory lane, mixing with myths lightly dusted with reality.” California’s VDL House, designed by ground-breaking architect Richard Neutra, has become the west coast’s hottest exhibition space this month. In Architectones, abstract artwork by Xavier Veilhan pays homage to Neutra’s vision, roots, and vast body of work. For Scott Timberg of The LA Times, the effect is intoxicating: “The scene could come from a Sofia Coppola movie: Coolly casual Parisian artist, hanging artwork in a stunning Modernist house overlooking the Silver Lake Reservoir, while a clutch of young, European-accented hipsters with cameras and video recorders swarm around him to capture his every utterance.” Writing in The New
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York Times, Brooke Hodge is also a fan: “The installations spur a dialogue between the house’s architecture and its history… [The project] reactivates an important building of L.A.’s architectural history through the eyes of a contemporary artist.” There’s nothing the critics love more than a contentious subject, so it comes as no surprise that Controversy: the Power of Art at Sydney’s Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is proving popular with reviewers. As Steve Proposch of Melbourne Time Out writes: “Art and controversy go together hand in hand... Studies of human psychological and behavioural responses referenced by this exhibition have shown how society both needs images and fears them. Controversy is the result whenever the twain entwine.” The images, plucked from various parts of the world, are a thought-provoking bunch, as Sydney Morning Herald’s Stephanie Holt explains: “The potential to shock, challenge and provoke is crucial to art’s claims for significance. These works have stirred controversy, commented on controversial issues, been adopted for controversial ends. The difficulty for the exhibition is to convey such nuances – rarely inherent in an image – without disrupting its conventional presentation.”
Images: Another London, Tate Britain
Theatre Stephens’s adaptation is faithful and slick,” wrote Alexander Gilmore of the Financial Times. “The approach is consciously theatrical and very physical. Events pop up on stage as they pop into Christopher’s head and electronic sounds and video projections illustrate Christopher’s neurological hyper-computations.” Luke Treadaway, starring as Christopher, captured the imagination of reviewer Matt Wolf from The New York Times: “Mr. Treadaway
Image: End of the Rainbow, Capitol Theatre
Woe betide the theatre company whose adaptation of a bestselling novel fails to live up to the original – especially when that novel is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon’s much-beloved tale of Asperger’ssufferer-turned-sleuth Christopher Boone. When The National Theatre’s long-awaited production opened last month, however, it was met with great acclaim – it’s a faithful and inventive reproduction by all accounts. “Simon
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was the original lead in War Horse, and it is bracing to see him back at the National in a play where he isn’t eclipsed by outsized puppetry.” Across the pond on Broadway, actress Tracie Bennett stepped in to fill similarly tough shoes: those of Judy Garland, for Peter Quilter’s bio-play End of the Rainbow. Spanning Garland’s final years, the play immortalises the great performer’s demise – posing a challenge that, according to some critics, Bennett has relished: “Tracie Bennett channels an off-the-rails Judy Garland near the completion of her downward spiral,” writes David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter. “Bennett’s highly physical performance is a chewy mix of mimicry and interpretive essence, approximating the self-adulation and self-destruction that define Garland in her addled twilight.” Not all reviewers share Rooney’s enthusism, however – Terry Teachout of Wall Street Journal included: “Bennett’s portrayal of Garland-at-the-End-of-Her-Rope is a heavily shellacked impersonation that slops over into shameless caricature. [This is] a yawn-making exercise in theatrical taxidermy.” Meanwhile, age-old Broadway favourite A Chorus Line shimmied onto the stage of The Capitol Theatre, Sydney last month. Directed by Baayork Lee (on whom the show’s original creator Michael Bennett based the character of Connie), the show is true to its roots: big, brash, and brassy. It’s a spectacle that Jason Blake of Sydney Morning Herald can’t resist: “[Bennett’s] expertise ensures we are looking at the right dancer at the right time… There is an undeniable thrill in watching everything come together to Marvin Hamlisch’s score, which sounds bright and fresh.” Writing in Australian Stage, Jack Tiewes is equally ebullient: “There is not a weak member in this large cast… The show is full of energy, laughout-loud humour, great dancing and affecting drama. [It’s] a major latterday classic.”
Masters of Art With centuries of history and countless accolades to its name, Vacheron Constantin is the worldâ€™s oldest watchmaker; AIR peers into the Swiss legendâ€™s fabled workshops
Words: Hazel Plush - 26 -
hristian LeFrancois puts down his pair of long steel pincers and lifts the magnifier from his eye. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and sunlight still floods through the large window above his workbench, but LeFrancois’s work is almost done: after years of development and painstaking assembly, the minute repeater is nearing completion. Actually, LeFrancois shouldn’t really be here. The master watchmaker was due to retire from Vacheron Constantin’s Grand Complications workshop last year, but he chose to stay, to continue his work on the next generation of designs. After 46 years of service LeFrancois is one of the most experienced watchmakers in the world. LeFrancois’s story would create a stir in companies across the world, but here it is just met with a signature Swiss shrug. Vacheron Constantin isn’t just a watch brand, you see: it’s a way of life, an attitude, a passion that runs in the veins of its workforce. The story started in 1755, when a young Jean-Marc Vacheron, a master watchmaker by trade, opened a workshop in Geneva and began engineering precision timepieces. When seasoned salesman François Constantin joined Vacheron’s heirs in 1819, he opened up the markets of Europe and further afield. Soon, those timepieces were established as some of the best in the world – and, closer to home, the manufacturer was one of the first watchmakers to receive the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva certification, a label of origin and guarantee of immaculate quality. When I arrive at the Geneva head quarters I find a company that now employs hundreds of watchmakers, engineers, designers and craftsmen, and has boutiques in every part of the globe – but the main workshop is still based in the historical watchmaking hub of the Vallée de Joux, and that pursuit of perfection still borders on obsession. One thing that has changed, however, is the criteria for the Hallmark of Geneva. Until this
‘Each movement is hand-finished and hand-decorated, even the ones that are concealed under the case and dial’ year, the watch was judged as a whole, but now all of its components – from the movements to the casing screws – are under scrutiny too. The bar has been raised significantly, but Vacheron Constantin has set the precedent yet again: released earlier this year, the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon with the Calibre 2260 was the first of the manufacturer’s timepieces to achieve the new plaudit. With a vastly complex design that features 231 components, two large bridges and a carriage inspired by Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese Cross
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motif, it’s a truly deserving recipient – the tourbillon bar alone required 11 hours of manual decoration. At the doors of the airy workshops, I’m met by Jérôme Meier of the Expert Watchmaker Heritage Department. When I offer my congratulations for the Traditionnelle’s hallmark, he is gracious, but he explains that the quest for perfection drives each one of the horologists’ creations: “Every movement is checked – the accuracy, the finishing. Every link.” For each watch, roughly two thousand hours are spent manufacturing, testing,
TIMEPIECES of Vacheron Constantin’s artistic director Christian Selmoni: “We are exploring art history from all over the world,” he tells me as I scrutinise the workmanship. “We are looking at international culture, preserving it, and putting it on display for people to see and understand. There are so many wonderful crafts involved in our work, but you have to learn them as an apprentice, so they are in danger of being forgotten.” Since the company’s beginnings, an individual number has been engraved on every movement and casing of each watch, allowing them to be traced back to their origins. I browse the early
decorating and assembling each movement – and that time can be doubled for even more intricate designs. “Each movement is hand-finished and hand-decorated, even the ones that are under the case and dial,” Meier tells me, pointing out an large-scale replica so I can see for myself. “A simple movement has 100 components, and sometimes they can have up to 600. And the owner of the watch will never ever see them – only the watchmaker or servicer.” When we enter the decoration workshop, half a dozen heads are bowed over telescopic microscopes. This is where the concealed adornments takes form. Everything from the bar bridges to the brass main plate is adorned by hand: “We engrave the signature pearling pattern,” says Meier, “as well as the Côtes de Genève parallel lines, chamfering outline and bevelling. Then, every surface is plated and polished; on the finished movement, all of the patterns have to match up.” The finished result is dazzling – the movements are lacelike, mesmerising – but there’s more than aesthetics at stake, he explains: “The finish improves the balance, and contributes to the accuracy. It takes hundreds of hours, but this can double for Hallmark of Geneva pieces.” Every watchmaker is a craftsman of the highest order, and each creation a work of art. Such parallels aren’t lost on Vacheron Constantin’s visionaries, either: the ever-evolving Metiers d’Art collection is perhaps the finest example of the fusion of horology and art, and encapsulates the brand’s overarching ambition to nurture traditional craft techniques. The most recent additions to the collection are the Les Univers Infinis timepieces, each of which is adorned with engraving, enamelling, gemsetting and guilloché of the highest order. I spy the faces in progress: intricate designs of shells, doves and fish draw inspiration from the geometric tessellations of Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, a feat of precision echoed in the Hallmark of Geneva self-winding Calibre 2460 concealed beneath. Such synergy is the vision
sales ledgers (you’ll find them in the Maison Vacheron museum, Geneva) and spy hand-written entries of each watch’s purchaser, features, and the name of the craftman who created the piece – not only a fascinating read, but a priceless resource that allows Vacheron Constantin’s heritage department to conduct rigorous authentication checks. The records are now digital, meaning that future generations will still be able to trace today’s creations. By investing in the timepieces, buyers are investing in the watchmaker’s heritage.
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This year, as part of an annual rite of passage that has been honoured for over 250 years, 12 apprentices will start their journey with Vacheron Constantin. Back in the workshops, LeFrancois introduces Alain Lambercy, one of the younger members of the Grand Complications team, who represents this new generation of master watchmakers. Lambercy’s vision for the future? “We are working on another new minute repeater – a great challenge. We must look forward, create new things. We have a long, fantastic history to live up to.”
TIME MACHINES As Dubai’s vintage watch boutique Momentum gears up to showcase rare and unique World War timepieces on October 4, AIR gets the lowdown on this increasingly popular style from exhibitor Tariq Malik
hile matters of war have always been an unpleasant topic, the six-week long Pioneers of Aviation exhibition will remember the very best watchmakers of the World War II era, as well as feature a selection of more contemporary pilot watches. In the 1940s, watchmakers were under pressure to perform and had to prove their crafting abilities in order to manufacture instruments that could help pilots on their way to glory. Precision instruments had to be engineered. Only the best watchmakers achieved these goals, which is why we don’t want to forget them today. For today’s pilot watches, we find it important to highlight why they are designed the way they are: they have to be easy to read and at the same time highly accurate to be used as an instrument when flying. Charles Lindbergh, for example, used a Longines watch to navigate the first transatlantic crossing and securely landed in Paris without looking out of his cockpit. One of the most iconic pilot’s watches to be seen at the exhibit is the IWC Big Pilot – the so-called B-Uhr, which was made in an edition
of 1,000pcs in the early 1940s. With a case diameter of 55mm, a height of 16.5mm and a weight of 183g, it was the most imposing IWC wristwatch ever built. Today it is one of the rarest IWC watches. Those pilot watches with a real aviation heritage will be the highlights in our exhibition. Functionality, precision plus the feeling of freedom and the adventure
associated with flying make such World War II watches popular styles today. Aviator’s watches are robust and have a masculine design. The basic (mainly black dials with Arabic numbers) and especially the diameter of pilots’ watches make them quite attractive to watch-lovers of our era. Though many of today’s pieces are
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chronographs, navigators in the past used to carry separate stopwatches for time-taking duties. The most prominent brands of that time will have been Longines (Lindbergh) , IWC (Big Pilot) and Omega – all leaders in their field. Lange & Söhne (B-Fliegeruhr) and Tutima (Fliegerchronograph) all excelled in quality too. From an investor’s perspective, all World War watches have seen a significant price increase over time. IWC and certain Longines watches (Lindbergh) have proven to be sound investments, with Hanhart, Lange and Tutima all set to follow. (The modern aviation watches from these brands are also worth following.) A lot of these timepieces have been produced for military use only, thus are made in small numbers. That affects the value immensely. International auction houses are listing more military and pilot watches too, and values are increasing. If you’re visiting the exhibition intent on finding an investment watch, the early aviation models are the ones to look for, as are some extremely rare exhibition-related pieces. One of these is the first ‘black box’, a watch movement-powered, altituderecording device. momentum-dubai.com
ART & DESIGN
Rich Pickings Held next month, Christieâ€™s Modern Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art auction promises to be the biggest yet â€“ AIR meets the mastermind behind the lucrative sale
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History and tradition will always have an influence on art, but when observing international events and the changes within society, local artists are now achieving even more interesting dialogues…” It’s a bold statement, but Hala Khayat is speaking from experience. Specialising in Contemporary Middle Eastern and Iranian Art for Christie’s Dubai, Khayat is one of the region’s most knowledgeable curators – and it looks like the world’s art investors have picked up on her observations too. “The international interest in Middle Eastern Art has developed year on year,” says Khayat. “We have seen an increasingly active interest from our Middle Eastern clients, and the buyers at our Dubai sales are 45% international and 55% regional. Since our first sale in 2006 we have sold Middle Eastern art for over $225million.” If those trends continue, Christie’s Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art auction this October looks set to achieve a new record. The line-up preview is impressive, that’s for sure. Renowned artist and musician Reza Derakshani is represented by Sensibility Green (estimate: $70,000-90,000), a signature oil and enamel piece inspired by his childhood in the north of Iran. Famed for his abstract works, Derakshani is considered a ‘modern master’ – and lists the likes of Sting, Mirella Haggiag and Isabelle Van Den Eynde among his collectors. Abdallah Benanteur’s Carnaval Venitien, a colourful interpretation of the masked figures at Venice Carnival, is another high-worth addition. Expected to command $60,00080,000, the piece fuses an undeniably European subject with colours and forms undoubtedly inspired by his Arab contemporaries – an aesthetic that Algeria-born Benanteur has continually explored throughout his 60-year career.
Alongside the more established names, you’ll find a plethora of upand-coming artists too – part of a new initiative that reflects the new blood entering the MENA art world. Unique to Christie’s Dubai events, the sales will be split into two parts: “In the first section we offer the more established artists, and in the second we present the younger generation,” says Khayat. “It gives us much more flexibility to introduce more artists to the market and portray the fresh developments in the region.” This October’s second half is looking just as rich as the first, with the proceeds from six lots being invested in Caspian Arts Foundation, an initiative to support young artists in the Arabic region. The catalogues are yet to be released, but as Michael Jeha, Managing Director of Christie’s Middle East and the specialist in
charge of the sale, says: “The [more established] consignments already secured are an encouraging sign for another successful season.” It’s a fruitful time for the region’s art connoisseurs to explore new avenues for investment, but does Khalat have any advice for the inexperienced patron? “You have to do your homework before starting to buy art. It is important to know the market and to have detected trends and artists which are in demand, but you should only ever buy what you like.” Christie’s three-day previews offer an up-close glimpse of the works on display, and a chance to meet artists and analyse market trends. And with the region’s creative industry enjoying a renaissance of its own, there’s never been a better time to invest in the Arab art world.
1. 2. 3. 3.
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Sensibility Green, Reza Derakshani Le Carnaval Venitien, Abdallah Benanteur Figures, Paul Guiragossian
ART & DESIGN
Against the Grain The latest wooden craft from Art of Kinetik to tear up the waves, does the high-design Antagonist live up to its name?
vision of teak and boxy, blunt-cut lines, the Antagonist slices a mean silhouette against the horizon. This is a boat that means business. Discerning seafarers have long lusted after Art of Kinetik’s radical all-wood designs, and this latest high-speed wonder is creating waves all over the world. At 37 feet, she’s smaller than Kinetik’s flagship yacht Hedonist, but still packs a mean punch. With a maximum speed of 42 knots, this is the perfect weekend cruiser – but only the image-conscious need apply. The exterior, clad in honey-hued teak, sets this machine apart from its counterparts, and bespoke handcrafted fittings bring the exclusivity inside. Think cream leather upholstery (with maximum resistance to sea water, UV and suntan oil), vast open cockpit and throne-like pilot’s chair. Art of Kinetik is no stranger to highdesign concepts: “We were founded with a vision to create a new kind of luxury boats, marrying timeless materials such as mahogany, teak, stainless steel and leather with modern progressive design,” says the Serbian boatmaker. “Our focus is on creating a new way of living on the water, with
interior design and space more often found in fine homes, and functions in line with a contemporary style of living.” The result: a muscular body, designed to stir envy through even the most discerning of Marinas. But can the kinetics live up to the aesthetics? Those silky tapered lines are an ergonomic dream, and as the Yanmar engines (designed specifically for the craft) purr into life, it’s clear that she’s built for speed. Even with the maximum number of passengers
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– there’s plenty of room for a party of eight – there’s enough raw power to carve up the depths. Not only style, but substance too: and already an icon of speedboat design.
Price: on request Length overall: 37ft Maximum speed: 42kt Cruising speed: 33kt Engines: 2 x Yanmar 8LV-370 Propulsion: 2 x Yanmar ZT370 Sterndrive with SS props
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SARA COSGROVE The head of interiors at Harrods says simple luxury at home is best achieved with cashmere… Being inspired by luxurious fabrics and discovering the next hot home trends in texture is a major part of everyday life for an interior designer. One luxury element that remains a firm favourite in many of my schemes is cashmere. Whilst overseeing numerous deluxe projects around the world, cashmere would always come to my mind as a beautifully
subtle but oh-so-luxurious choice. As an extremely tactile component, it translates incredibly well in upholstery, giving a first-class ‘Saville Row’ tailored finish for occasional stools and chairs and is particularly successful when used in more masculine schemes – selecting a clever pinstripe can give a wonderfully English club feel. Though available in a spectrum of colours, cashmere is often best used in its natural form, in a soft neutral palette, allowing the fabric to take the limelight. If you have muted interiors, however, one piece can also be a wonderful way to add a daring splash of colour. Working in collaboration with stunning fabric houses such as Italian brand Loro Piana we at The Studio are able to introduce cashmere into our designs in a range of imaginative and often unexpected ways, from lining the walls of a super-sleek bedroom suite; creating a backdrop for a new model aboard a luxury yacht; or lining the jewellery drawers of a custom-
> The aptlynamed Hybrid crockery collection (available at Seletti) will either delight or distress: each piece of the eccentric range has been created from two bold, mismatching designs, creating a weird and (we think) rather wonderful way to dine. seletti.it - 36 -
made wardrobe – cashmere can bring a supremely luxurious feel to an array of spaces. Cashmere also has its place in the arena of home styling and accessorising, and it works especially well in heavily air-conditioned environments: there is nothing more pleasing than reclining on a sofa draped with a fine cashmere blanket and some deliciously-soft cashmere cushions when you need to relax. Recently, I selected a deep purple cashmere throw from the stunning Spektra collection at Oyouna to style a living room for a magazine photoshoot. Elsewhere, there is a fabulous range of more heritage-style cashmere available at brands like Johnston’s of Elgin (who produce classic collections as well as adventurous pieces using damask prints), a selection of which can be found at the Harrods Homewares department. This season, I would thoroughly recommend investing in cashmere for a little luxury at home. thestudioatharrods.com
Black Magic Those seeking a dramatic light fixture with which to illuminate the home should cast an eye over Fendi Casa’s Florian chandelier. Its jet black, gloss finish will cut a dash in grandiose lobbies, or when suspended low over long dining tables (for added impact, hang two or three overhead). AED65,000 at Aati.
Walk on the Wild Side House of Hackney’s outlandish vintage wallpapers are causing quite the stir among fashionable London residences. Take your pick of birds, leopard prints and English wildlife for an animalistic look…
Flights of Fancy
Hackney Empire Stripe
International Architectural Exhibition, Venice September 1–28, 2012
Those with a penchant for Italian design should reserve their admiration for Venice’s 13th International Architectural Exhibition, which this year pays tribute to Gio Ponti (pictured) – one of the most important Italian architects and furniture designers of the 20th century. Here, luxe
brands Molteni&C and Rubelli will play homage to the late Ponti in a Vivere alla Ponti exhibit, set in Palazzo Corner Spinelli, Rubelli’s historical head offices. Serious buyers can peruse reissued Ponti furniture collections by Molteni&C – but keep eyes peeled for the limited edition Gio Ponti-designed armchair, created for his via Dezza home in Milan and upholstered in Punteggiato and Rattoppato velvets.
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The Great Tiffany This month Tiffany & Co. celebrates its 175th anniversary. AIR flicks through the history books of a New York legend
Words: Laura Binder - 40 -
diamonds and a hefty helping of high society. Charles Lewis Tiffany’s first steps into business weren’t exactly what one would consider a success – after opening a ‘stationery and fancy goods’ store in 1837 (with a $1,000 advance from his father), the 25-year-old’s first day earned him a grand total of $4.98.
Clearly, the Tiffany Empire was some way off. But – knowing what we know today – it’s evident his efforts were not to waver for long. Tiffany took a risk: betting the store’s profits on the purchase of diamonds from French aristocrats, he then decided to reset the dazzling stones in an original ‘Tiffany’ setting. The risk paid off. The press branded him the “King of Diamonds”, a media stir that caused the Tiffany & Co. name to spread through New York society’s grandest circles. This was a time when fashionable women wore silks, satins, beribboned bonnets and travelled by horse and carriage – to them, Tiffany bore a new American style unlike the European look of the day, which was rooted in Victorian pomp and ceremony. Perhaps ignited by confidence, Tiffany brought a flurry of firsts for the United States: in 1851 Tiffany & Co. used the British silver standard (92% pure), making it the first American company to do so. In 1878 Tiffany made a payment of $18,000 for a rough 287.42 carat diamond
‘The 20th century saw pieces lavishing some of the world’s most glamorous figures, Jackie Onassis among them’
Images: Courtesy Tiffany & Co.
here’s something about the sight of that little blue box, wrapped up in a snow-white ribbon, that can evoke an involuntary stir of excitement in a girl – in fact, I defy you to find me a woman who says it isn’t so. “Tiffany, for me?” It’s near impossible to resist. Whether it’s the image of Audrey Hepburn in her larger-than-life shades looking longingly at Tiffany & Co.’s Fifth Avenue window display; glossy ads boasting eye-widening engagement rings; or a mere flash of ‘Tiffany blue’ (a colour trademarked in 1878), we can all spot a Tiffany & Co. creation a mile off. She is the stuff of legends, of diamonds and glamour, of movies and stars – which would explain that stomach-swirl of anticipation on being handed a little duck-egg blue box. This year brings the perfect excuse (as if you needed one) to purchase your next piece: September not only marks Tiffany & Co.’s 175th birthday, but 2012 would have been the 200th year of the man behind the diamonds, Charles Lewis Tiffany. To recount Tiffany & Co.’s path to success then takes a significant bout of time travel; a journey that encounters risktaking, American firsts, jaw-dropping
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from a South African diamond mine, had it cut to 128.54 carats and declared it the ‘Tiffany Diamond’ – it became one of the largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds in the world. And in 1886 Tiffany was the first to create engagement rings that lifted the diamond above the band (so allowing the light to enter the stone and illuminate it, magnifying its brilliance) – it remains the most popular style in the world to this day. The commission to really cement Tiffany & Co.’s reputation as a world-class jeweller, though, was the acquisition of the French Crown jewels in 1887. It came at a time when New York was flourishing; the Big Apple’s Gilded Age, a time when showstopping extravagance embraced the 19th century’s final decades. Paris, Chicago and St Louis all took part, and in each of them Tiffany earned the highest recognition – an 1889 Paris fair hailed his works as “the most extraordinary collection of jewels ever produced by an American jewellery house.” Charles Louis Tiffany’s death in 1902 saw his son Louis Comfort Tiffany take the reins as Tiffany’s first Director of Design. To the relief of Tiffany followers everywhere, ‘LCT’ (as he became known) had inherited his father’s talent: asked to redecorate the White House by President Chester Arthur, he quickly became America’s leading designer and, by 1900, he was a world leader in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements (leaded glass, enamelled and painterly jewels being his most credited works). Understandably, every American millionaire worth his or her mint
wanted a piece – Astors, Vanderbilts, Whitneys, Havemeyers, J.P.Morgan, F. Scott Fitzgerald – all coveted Tiffany & Co.’s collections. President Lincoln reportedly bought a seed pearl necklace for his wife, while a young Franklin Roosevelt purchased a Tiffany engagement ring in 1904. The 20th century, meanwhile, saw pieces lavishing some of the world’s most glamorous figures, Jackie Onassis and Diana Vreeland among them. Impressively, Tiffany had managed to move with the times: extravagance in the 1920s; modern in the 1930s; aerodynamic in the 40s and 50s. And, in 1961, a work by worldrenowned jeweller Jean Sclumberger for Tiffany & Co. became imprinted on peoples’ minds for years to come: the Ribbon Rosette necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn in publicity shots for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Indeed, the legendary Fifth Avenue store which we see Hepburn peer into on an early New York morning was the first of Tiffany
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& Co.’s stores – opened in 1956 it drew the fashionable and fabulous from across the globe. Since then, Tiffany & Co. has stepped into each era with the late Charles Lewis Tiffany’s trademark gusto: the 1970s saw of-the-moment model and designer Elsa Peretti design pieces of elegance and simplicity; the 80s drew on the talents of fashion icon Paloma Picasso (in contrast, she debuted a range with brilliant colours); while, in the 21st century, architect Frank Gehry (he of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao) delivered arresting shapes and unique materials in a predictably artistic display of jewels. The glitz and glamour long synonymous with Tiffany, then, is still very much alive some 175 years on – and it remains the dream brand for would-be-brides who need only see that little blue box to know they’re in for a dazzling diamond. (Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson were left ecstatic by the Tiffany engagement ring featured in Big Apple blockbuster Bride Wars.) As for Tiffany’s most legendary star – the Tiffany Diamond – its cushion-shaped form is still very much in existence. Now reset in a stunning necklace of white diamonds, it will mark the anniversary in a world tour, appearing in gala celebrations in Tokyo, Beijing, New York and – in December 2012 – Dubai. But this diamond cannot be bought: rather, she will return to her roots, on the main floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue store, in permanent and spectacular tribute to her maker, the late Charles Lewis Tiffany: a true gem.
‘Talk to me Harry Winston. Tell me all about it!’ – Marilyn Monroe
t’s for good reason that Monroe called on Harry Winston during her sparkling rendition of Diamonds Are
a Girl’s Best Friend – hailed the Genius of Gemstones, Winston’s good name has long been synonymous with rare stones, pure-cut diamonds and an A-list following ever since the
brand’s 1930s origins. What better way, then, to chronicle his work than in a hard-backed tome? Harry Winston (with foreword by André Leon Talley) takes you through archival shots
of time-honoured pieces, right up to modern designs worn by timeless beauties, among them Elizabeth Taylor, Gwyneth Paltrow and Marilyn Monroe. rizzoliusa.com
> Two new and coveted collections are now available in the Middle East for the first time: Graff’s Love Collection, a feminine assortment of diamond pieces, from studded earrings to rings – the highlight of which is a band of white diamonds encircling Graff’s iconic yellow diamond (pictured top). While the new designs from Forevermark see the brand make good on its promise to bring the ‘world’s most carefully-selected diamonds’ to the region. Both are sold at Damas boutiques.
LES ARTS DECORATIFS, PARIS September 20 – February 13
Four hundred pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels will go under the spotlight later this month in an exhibition of the jewellery maison’s creations dating to its 1906 origins. Archival documents and illustrations will accompany them in this superbly-researched, Join-Manku designed exhibit, taking voyeurs through all manner of designs in chronological form (the Chrysantheme clip, pictured, can be found among its heritage collection). lesartsdecoratifs.fr - 43 -
She’s beautiful, in demand and, thanks to those Chanel ads and a blockbuster or two, richer than she cares to tell. But as Geoffrey Macnab discovers, being Keira Knightley isn’t as easy it looks
t's a cold morning and Keira Knightley is sitting alone in the library of a central London hotel. She is close to the end of shooting her new film Anna Karenina (set for a November release), in which she stars opposite Aaron Johnson's Vronsky and Jude Law's Karenin. No, she confides, she hasn't shot the suicide sequence in the train station yet. That is a treat waiting in store for the final day of filming. Knightley is a disconcerting interviewee. She is very pretty in a sylph-like way. Still only 26, she is friendly, articulate and seemingly unguarded, but quickly makes it clear that there are certain no-go areas where interviewers are forbidden to tread. Miss Jean Brodielike, she tells you primly that she does not want to discuss her beauty routine or her love life. She doesn't enjoy reading such tittle-tattle herself and insists that she doesn't “owe the public” details of who her boyfriend is. However, ask her anything related to her work and she will answer completely frankly. For the first few minutes of the interview, her arms are folded tight and her body language is defensive. Once she is in her stride, she relaxes. She doesn't have the usual phalanx of publicists and hangers-on who make interviews with some celebrities such a trial. Instead, Knightley gives the impression that she is far too sensible and self-deprecating to take the business of being a big-name movie star too seriously. The way she tells it, she's just a hard-working actress from Teddington who got lucky. “If you're offered the work, you should take it,” is her mantra. She seems suspicious of her own glamour and is still fatalistic about
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Words: Geoffrey Macnab
her future prospects. “Within the profession I am in, there is no guarantee of anything,” she warns. “You can make three wrong choices and all of a sudden, the parts dry up.” Given her Oscar and Bafta nominations and reportedly vast earnings (another subject she is very coy on), there are no prospects of her striking out any time soon. On the one hand, Knightley has learnt to be thickskinned. On the other, she says that, as an actress, she needs to be “emotionally available”. That is why she is such a strange mix of spontaneity and reticence. She claims that there have been “many occasions” when “I just sit on the bathroom floor and burst into tears” as a result of something that may have been written or said about her. “Then, there are other days when you go, OK, it just doesn't matter. That's fine. I think it depends on the day of the week really.” On the day I meet her, the Leveson inquiry is in full flow with its never-ending revelations about phone tapping and Stasi-like surveillance of celebrities. Knightley claims she has been too busy making Anna Karenina to follow it closely. None the less, her opinions are categorical. “I think everybody has the right to a private life,” she declares. “The line is actually quite clear. When you do interviews like this, you present a piece of work, talk about it and hope that maybe the journalist is interested by it in the same way that you were interested by it and maybe the public will be interested, too.”
‘I’ve had some extraordinary experiences, not all of them happy and quite a lot lonely’ Has her own phone been hacked? “I haven't asked. I would be very surprised if I hadn't been... but, yes, I think lines were completely and utterly exploded.” It's clear that she'd much rather discuss Tolstoy. She's a big fan of War and Peace and used to love Anna Karenina, too, but is beginning to suspect that the Russian novelist had a hidden agenda when it came to his adulterous heroine. “I read the book when I was about 16 and absolutely loved it and thought it was so romantic,” Knightley reflects. “But I then re-read it to do this [film]... it's interesting coming back to a book when you've read it as a younger person and then seeing it through very different eyes, because I never thought that Tolstoy hated her [Anna Karenina]. And you really think, 'My God, he hates her!'” Whatever challenges playing Anna Karenina presents, the role is a breeze by comparison with Knightley's other recent part in David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, in which Knightley plays a forgotten pioneer in the history of psychoanalysis but one who knew both Carl
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Jung and Sigmund Freud. “Has a hysterical fit. Is ravaged by tics,” was one of the first lines of the description of Sabina. Bend It Like Beckham or The Pirates of the Caribbean it isn’t. To prepare for such a gruelling role, Knightley met both Freudian and Jungian analysts and, for good measure, steeped herself in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, too. She had Spielrein's diary translated and paid special attention to a passage in which the former hysteric described herself as being “like a dog or a demon”. Then, to round off the preparation, she studied Francis Bacon's paintings, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, and listened to Stravinsky's The Firebird. What's impressive about Knightley soldiering through that reading list is that she was dyslexic and still doesn't find it especially easy to read. She was six at the time her condition was noticed. “I tricked them,” Knightley remembers of hoodwinking her teachers and parents when she was growing up in Teddington. “I would memorise when people read books to me and then I'd pretend to read back to them. They didn't figure it out for quite a while.” Through constant tutoring and the intervention of her parents, she was able to overcome the condition. “I am a slow reader. I always loved words, which is a strange thing given that I couldn't actually read them. By the time I was 11, they deemed me to have got over it sufficiently.” She still can't sight-read, though. “If you gave me something and said, 'Read it out loud', there is something that happens that I can't really do that.” Few profiles of Knightley fail to mention that, at the age of three, she asked for her own agent. How on earth would a three-year-old know what an agent was? “My mum [Sharman Macdonald] is a writer and my dad [Will Knightley] is an actor and they [agents] were always phoning the house and I answered the phone,” Knightley explains. “I don't think I knew what an agent was but I knew they both had one and it was quite exciting when they phoned up.” Like most theatrical families, her parents had some tricky moments when the work would run dry. They were broke and living on a diet of lentils, bread and tomatoes when Keira was conceived. (Her father challenged her mother to sell a script or a play before she had a second child. It was at that point Sharman Macdonald wrote her first – and wildly successful – play, When I Was a Girl, I Used to Scream and Shout.) Always mindful of the family finances, Knightley talks about her constant desire as a kid to be “useful financially” and “to be not dependent on people... I've always wanted to work”. She was six when her parents finally relented and allowed her to sign up with a children's agency. “I wasn't allowed to do commercials. I wasn't allowed to do TV series. I wasn't allowed to do soaps or basically anything that would mean I missed
‘I would be very surprised if I hadn’t been [phone hacked]’
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Directors like Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) and Gillies MacKinnon (who directed her as the young drug addict in Pure) speak of her “vitality and confidence” and of her obvious “star” quality. However, she claims to be paralysed by shyness. “That didn't help.” In interviews and auditions, she may have appeared confident and precocious. “But it's a completely different thing when you go into a party in a roomful of people. I've always found that difficult. I don't any more but I did when I was younger. The idea of going downstairs at the end of the night when people are going to meet in the bar – I just couldn't do it.” As for the fame, that wasn't easy either. Five years ago, when the fever for Pirates of the Caribbean was at its peak, she couldn't walk in the streets without being recognised. That doesn't seem such a problem today. As she takes more roles in independent and art-house films, the public interest in her has diminished slightly. She doesn't enjoy parties. “I am crap at parties. I tend to sit in the corner. I'll sit in the corner and find one person to talk to or I'll go on the dance floor and get quite drunk. But I am not good at that whole...” her voice tapers off. When she was Oscar-nominated for Pride and Prejudice, she did the round of the parties with her brother and parents in tow. “We all stood in a corner, saying 'Oh, this is weird'.” She tries not to read reviews. “If you read a good one, you'll keep going till you find a bad one and then you'll keep going till you find the worst one possible – and that's the one that will stick with you.” If her private life is off-limits – she dated actor Rupert Friend for five years and is currently seeing the Klaxons' James Righton – so are questions about money. Roles in Jerry Bruckheimer movies combined with her parallel career as the face of Chanel have earnt her millions. She is very guarded about how she spends her earnings, saying only that she has “a very, very nice flat; that's about it”. Back to what we are allowed to discuss: in playing Anna Karenina, she is following in the steps of two of cinema's greats – Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh. Will she match up? Knightley parries the question, suggesting that the “beauty shots” are as much the responsibility of cinematographer Seamus McGarvey as they are dependent on her own looks. “He knows how to shoot me.” As for the rest, that (Knightley claims) is simply a matter of “a lot of lighting and a hell of a lot of make-up!”
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Images: Getty Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Geoffrey Mcnab / The Independent / Interview People
too much school.” Her acting was confined to one or two jobs a year in the summer holidays. On the advice of her head teacher, her parents “dangled” the prospect of an acting career in front of her to push her to overcome the dyslexia. “The head teacher told them (my parents), 'Get her to do it but tell her she is not allowed to do it unless the grades go up'. That was the first thing. If I dropped a grade, I wasn't allowed to go up for auditions. It was that that led to the getting over (of the dyslexia) and starting to read and working very hard.” School was the local mixed comprehensive. She didn't boast about her burgeoning acting career. “It was kept very separate. I never said I was going for an audition. It was always I had a dentist's appointment.” She paints a surprisingly grim picture of her early years as a film actress. Her mother had led the traditional stage actor's life: living in digs, working in rep and performing around the country. Whereas Knightley found herself far more isolated. “Film is a much lonelier process than theatre. You really don't have any rehearsal time in film. You don't shape it together... with theatre, there is a complete kind of family atmosphere. The sociable side of this business is the theatrical side, it really isn't the film side.” Having seen her parents struggle, Knightley took a very pragmatic approach to her craft. “Having parents within the industry, I sort of understood that just because something is offered one day, doesn't mean it is going to be offered the next.” She had originally planned to go to university or drama school but after her breakthrough with Bend it Like Beckham, new roles kept coming – and she kept taking them. “There was a moment when I thought, should I step back and go to university or drama school? Possibly, that would have been a good thing to do but, equally, I thought that if it's happening now, I've just got to jump on if I want to be an actress.” Has she enjoyed the decade or so since Bend it Like Beckham (2002), which has seen her rise from child actress into the most highly paid British movie star? She strikes an ambivalent note. “Like anything, it has been up and down. I've had some extraordinary experiences, not all of them happy and quite a lot lonely. In the last half of this decade, it has been incredibly creatively fulfilling. But the blame is never on anybody else other than yourself if it isn't [enjoyable]. You have to find ways of working.” With no drama school or rep background to draw on, Knightley had to teach herself how to act. She has learnt on the job. Now, she is clearly more confident in her own ability than she was at the age of 16. Her stints in theatre – in London stage productions of Molière's The Misanthrope and Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour – have helped. The “loneliness” that she refers to several times in the course of the interview is no longer such a factor.
Mark of Success Words: Jamie Graham
A powerhouse presence in front of the camera, Mark Wahlberg is now flexing his muscles behind it too, producing a string of critical and commercial hits. Next up, though, a comedy alongside a stuffed bearâ€Ś
ark Wahlberg is 40, minted and respected in Hollywood, both as actor and producer. Think he’s softened, then? Sold out, even? Fine, but know two things: 1) you’re wrong; 2) you’d be a fool to say it to his face. Dressed down in sneakers, jeans and black V-neck sweater over a white t-shirt, Wahlberg tolerates zero bullshit. He answers anything you sling at him – risible music career, 45-day stretch in prison, his part in stinkers like Planet Of The Apes, The Happening and The Truth About Charlie – and his biceps swell to the size of melons whenever he crosses his arms. Compared to this guy, most of Hollywood’s pampered stars look and talk like pussies. Exhibit A: Working with David O. Russell on Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter… “Nobody had a worse reputation than David O. Russell, and nobody deserved it more. But he did his job. And if he didn’t, I’d have cracked his head open.” No smile, no irony. Exhibit B: Doing many of his own stunts in his last film, smuggler-thriller Contraband, including crashing a truck at speed… “I did what they wanted me to do but I’m not Tom Cruise, hanging off buildings. I wouldn’t do that – I have a wife and four kids and three guys who look just like me, so they can do it. But I hate that, when people try to come off as cool and tough. We all know that there’s a platform underneath and 20 guys holding onto them. It’s Hollywood. Let’s save the hero stuff for the firefighters and the police and the soldiers.” Exhibit C: The incapable capermovie The Truth About Charlie… “I wanted to work with Jonathan Demme. But I knew when I read the script we were screwed, and then they had me put on the beret and I knew we were really screwed.” Wahlberg is a man of action, on screen, in the boardroom, in life. That’s why he loved working on Contraband, a movie shot in the dockyards of New Orleans and on the grey waters of the
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Panama Canal. It might have involved manoeuvring huge ships and a talented ensemble cast but it was filmed in 30 unfussy days. “After all that, Ted (written and directed by Seth McFarlane) took almost twice as long. There’s no action in it, nothing, just people standing in a room, talking. It’s like, 'What the hell is going on here?'” Contraband was shot for approximately $40m – a snip given the location work and huge ship – it’s how Wahlberg, the youngest of nine kids growing up on the mean streets of Dorchester, Massachusetts, likes to roll. “It’s crazy, the movies they’re making with these $250m budgets,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Oh my god, they’re not gonna do Lone Ranger, they gotta take it down to 220 from 270…’ It’s a guy on a horse and an Indian guy. What could be costing $250m?” Wahlberg’s shot many guns and slugged many faces in his movie career, but his role in Ted was not one that required much special training… “I love the preparation, I do whatever the director wants me to do, but I no longer have the luxury to go some place three weeks early and rent a place and go to places that I think my character might go to,” sighs Wahlberg. “My wife would be like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’ But I certainly do what I have to do to prepare, whether it be physically or mentally.” This is the guy who boxed for five years to resemble a champ in The Fighter, and whose abs caused a worldwide sensation when he modelled underwear for Calvin Klein and headed up Marky Mark And The Funky Bunch. He says it gets harder to stay in shape as you get older, but swears he doesn’t dedicate a slab of each day to keeping the guns fully loaded. “I don’t really try to keep it,” he says, so straight-faced you want to believe him. “If I have to do it for a movie, whether it’s being in shape or out of shape, then I’ll do it for the job. That’s part of the gig. But other than that, I just like to swing a club…” Wahlberg is one of the rare ones for whom the American Dream is
more than an illusion. Tellingly, at the start of this interview, he stands before a window on the 45th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, looking out over Central Park and murmuring “Beautiful view” before turning his eyes upwards at the penthouse suite of a towering skyscraper. “Imagine the view from up there,” he says. Wahlberg pulled himself up by the straps of his gym boots. Originally he got in shape to “survive”, such was his reality, and then pounded the gym to stay out of trouble. Most people would have accepted the escape hatch of a music career, even if it brought with it sneers from the public and orders from the suits. Not Wahlberg. Refusing to continue to “take my pants off” or “duet with a girl”, he decided to wait out his six year contract rather than be anyone’s puppet. His salvation came in the unlikely form of Penny Marshall (Big, A League
‘I’m not Tom Cruise, hanging off buildings… I hate that, when people try to come off as cool and tough’ Of Their Own), who, hard to believe, hails from the Bronx. She decided to take a chance on this Boston-born bruiser and Wahlberg debuted in the movies opposite Danny DeVito in 1994’s Renaissance Man, aged 23. He suggested leading man credentials in crime drama The Basketball Diaries and teen thriller Fear, then commanded real respect for arresting turns in excellent movies like Boogie Nights, Three Kings, The Yards (James Gray’s criminally underrated gangster movie) and The Departed, for which he received a Supporting Actor Oscar nod. There have been duds along the way (“It’s part of the game,” he shrugs) but, right now, Wahlberg holds more power than at any time in his career. Why? Because he’s established himself as an savvy producer, in cinema and TV. “It’s great because it gives you a lot more freedom to control your own destiny,” he says. “I was always
frustrated, sitting around and waiting for great scripts to fall in my lap. It doesn’t happen. You’ve gotta go out there and find stuff and develop stuff. Certainly with the success of The Fighter, it made it a lot easier.” Ah yes, The Fighter, Wahlberg’s personal triumph having nursed it through years of travails (including the departure of director Darren Aronofsky) to seven Oscar noms and two wins. Even more impressive is his boardroom work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, plus In Treatment, How To Make It In America and, based on his own rambunctious life as a Hollywood star, Entourage. “Entourage?” he says. “The real thing was definitely much harder but we still had a lot of fun. We all really care about each other and want to help each other. We’d do anything for one another. Entourage was the watered down version. I don’t think people
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Images: Getty Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye Text: Jamie Graham / Total Film, FUP / The Interview People
would be too entertained by watching these guys slap each other around…” So you often had a scuffle at the end of the night? “Exactly.” That life is behind him. Now based in California with land for his kids to run about on and golf courses to stretch his own legs, he’s adamant he misses nothing about the old life. “I loved New York when I was going out till four or five in the morning, getting high. But now there are too many people stacked up on top of each other. I hate having my kids in New York, too. People smashing into people, cabs flying around… It’s crazy.” So now that Wahlberg is an LA player, respected, rich, powerful, is there any business that still needs taking care of? “Spielberg, Eastwood, Cameron, a lot of the younger guys out there – the new Scorseses – and the talent coming in from overseas,” he reels off. “These are the guys I want to work with.” Of course, he’s already notched up Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton and the
aforementioned David O. Russell and Jonathan Demme. Chances are, the ones that have so far got away will be reeled in. “Spielberg and those guys are doing their own stuff but you can certainly get them on the phone to see if there’s something they’re interested in,” he explains, nonchalantly. “Obviously they’ve got a lot on their plates, but if you have something that piques their interest, it could happen.” Then he grins, spilling a secret. “A couple of times, those guys have come to me but I couldn’t do it. They don’t like to hear ‘no’ but it is what it is…” Mark Wahlberg softened? You’ve got to be kidding: it takes balls the size of basketballs to turn down Hollywood’s royalty. Make no mistake, this guy calls all the shots – apart from at home, that is: “I’ve gotta stop collecting art,” he sighs. Really, why? You love art… “I bought a Chagall [Marc, RussianFrench artist] and my wife wanted to kill me. She said that it looked like my daughter painted it…”
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With its gullwing doors, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL looks almost like a fighter jet. But there are many other reasons to love this car, starting with its 60th anniversary Words: Chris Anderson
arlier this year, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL fetched a staggering US$4.62 million at auction – a record for this particular model. Granted, this was an ultra-rare all-aluminium-body version, of which only 29 were built, but even the standard 300SL has been known to sell at around US$1 million. Not bad for a car that this year celebrates its 60th anniversary and is regarded as one of the greatest Mercedes-Benz of all time. It is also the subject of The MercedesBenz 300SL Book, published by teNeues and featuring the fantastic photography of René Staud, shown here. The source of the car’s appeal is complex, and people can end up liking the 300SL for a number of different reasons. On a purely aesthetic level, how could anyone resist the eye-catching gullwing doors or streamlined body? Both have led to the 300SL being ranked highly in numerous motoring magazines’ top 10 coolest car lists – even though the design is a happy accident, and the result of the German company’s quest for performance rather than styling. The speed, and in particular its racing background, is another reason the 300SL is so loved, winning countless races ahead of Ferrari and many others during the early 1950s. When the roadgoing version was released, it became the first customer car to feature a fuel-injected engine, producing 215bhp, and with its top speed of 257kph it was the world’s fastest production vehicle for a time. But it was still made in low numbers and with a price tag reserved for the rich and famous – Carey Grant, Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra were all owners. For Mercedes, though, the reason to love the car is that it helped to re-establish the company as a major force in motorsport after the war, and also to change its perception in the US from steady and reliable to fast and prestigious. This would make 1952, the year of the car’s debut, a milestone for the brand. Germany was in a period of rebuilding itself, and keen to return to its pre-war racing success Mercedes had considered building a car based on its Type 300 limousine. A tuned-up version of the engine was taken from that, placed in a lightweight tubular frame, and made into the two-seater coupé shape, with gullwing
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MOTORING doors to help the car drive faster on the straights. The ‘300’ in its name referred to its three-litre engine displacement, while the ‘SL’ was an acronym for ‘Sport Leicht’, meaning ‘Sport Light’. The 300SL managed both second and fourth place in its first outing, the Mille Miglia, and went on to overall wins in the 24 Hours at Le Mans, the Eifelrennen at the Nürburgring, and in the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. It actually had less power at 175bhp than the Ferraris and Jaguars it competed against, but its light weight and aerodynamics made it faster than them all. The road-going version that followed was the brainchild of Maximillian E Hoffman, the official US importer of MercedesBenz. The son of a Catholic mother and Jewish father, Hoffman had previously worked as a car importer in Europe before the war. However, the Nazi invasion saw him flee France for the US in 1941, and by 1947 he had a showroom on New York’s Park Avenue. From 1951, he was importing Mercedes-Benz vehicles. With the 300SL causing a stir on the track, Hoffman pitched to Mercedes the idea of a street version, convincing the board that he could sell high numbers in America. The road-going version made its debut two years after the race model in 1954, with the addition of fuel injection actually giving it more power at 222bhp, but with the added weight of such luxuries as a milled steel dashboard, leather interior and an ivory steering wheel making the top speed less – although still impressive for a production car. There was an option to order the 300SL with that highly collectible allaluminium body too, saving 80kg.
‘On a purely aesthetic level, how could anyone resist the eye-catching gullwing doors or streamlined body?’ The gullwing 300SL was produced from 1954 until 1957, at which point a roadster version was introduced. Some drivers had complained that the gullwing doors of the previous model with its high sills made getting in and out tricky – a roadster solved this problem, creating a convertible at the same time. But both options were popular, and within 17 months of its debut at the New York Auto Show, 996 gullwings had been sold, with 850 in the US. When it ceased production completely in 1963, 1,400 coupes and 1,858 roadsters had been produced, making a total of just 3,358. So whether you opt for rare, great looking, race winning or company milestone as your reason for liking it, the 300SL is a car that demands attention. But perhaps most important is its legacy, changing the perception of the Mercedes-Benz name and influencing future generations of cars. The SL-Class still exists today, continuing the range of sporty, powerful and popular machines. And for Mercedes at least, you can’t put a price on that. The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Book is published by teNeues, US$125. A collector’s edition, presented in a crafted box with a signed and numbered print by René Staud, is available for US$3,000. For more information see teneues.com
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‘I’M NOT A VERY GOOD COOK’ As modest as he is Michelin-starred, molecular super chef Pierre Gagnaire shares a slice of his ‘small’ talent with AIR
Words: Laura Binder - 62 -
hen sitting down with one of the greatest gastronomic talents of our time – Pierre Gagnaire – the last thing one expects to hear him utter is the phrase “I’m not a very good cook.” After all, the Michelin-starred chefs I’ve met in the past have been virtually boiling over with self-confidence, not to mention a temper to match – though, thankfully they tend to leave that out of interviews (Marco Pierre White was quite the delight). In comparison, it’s hard to imagine the unassuming, softly-spoken Frenchman before me losing his rag and flinging frying pans. Quite the opposite. Gagnaire’s mane of white hair (good enough to make any discerning gent book in for hair plugs), kind blue eyes and warm smile are the traits to strike me first as he strolls casually into our interview (not a minute late) at the private dining room of Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire – his decadent French restaurant in the InterContinental Dubai Festival City hotel (arguably the city’s finest eatery). This is a restaurant where delicate molecular dishes and a flamboyant pink/plum colour palette attracts as many male
admirers as it does female. (If you’re yet to pull up a damask velvet pew here then you quite simply must.) It’s at Reflets then that, espresso before him, Gagnaire utters those words: “I’m not a very good cook.” I almost choke on my Cappucino. Yet, Gagnaire does not flinch. How so, I venture? “I’m not a technician, but I think I have the talent to really taste, to recognise on the plate the carrots, the ’erbs…” (His French accent is wonderfully thick.) “The way that I combine the taste, I am able to bring something totally different.” As for when he recognised this gift Gagnaire is equally modest: “No, no, no, no, I was not always a natural cook,” he insists, shaking his head. “I discover my small talent when I felt that I have the emotion to cook. I was 15 when I began to work.” This “small talent” quickly took Gagnaire to the fore of the ‘fusion cuisine’ movement, a position that would make him world famous for his imaginative juxtaposition of flavours, textures and ingredients (book a table at Reflets, for instance, and you’ll be dipping your fork into the likes of marinière of baby squid and cuttlefish perfumed with soubressade or tender veal chop with green cabbage leaf, cream of almond and pistachio, green
bell pepper and Guernica piment. It’s a delightful mouthful). It was a talent that also earned the chef 11 Michelin stars worldwide, a 48-year-long career (to date – Gagnaire has no intention of retiring yet) and a string of firstrate restaurants including London’s Sketch, Twist at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, Dubai’s Reflets by Pierre Gagnaire, Gaya Rive Gauche par Pierre Gagnaire and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris (where Gagnaire is based) and Les Solistes by Pierre Gagnaire at Berlin’s Waldorf Astoria, expected to open in November 2012. When it comes to Dubai, it is with complete honesty that Gagnaire confesses he was unsure about accepting a venture in the emirate – after all, the native spice souks and fish markets of Deira don’t exactly lend themselves to the molecular ways of the master chef (“just a touch of spice in my work, eh?”). But sand and skyscrapers are hardly an obstacle for a visionary of his kind. (“Produce is imported from France, from Australia, Italy, Canada – we have very good veal from Canada. A lot comes from France, a lot of vegetables”). “When InterContinental asked me to work in Dubai, I say, why? Because, to be honest, when you look at the
‘I’m not a technician, but I think I have the talent to really taste... the way that I combine the taste, I am able to bring something totally different’
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reputation of Dubai it is not very good with the quality of the food. “I’m no business man,” he goes on, “but I do my job and I try to be honest in my work.” And it shows. Unlike many ‘celebrity chefs’ who are seen flying in (and rather promptly) out of Dubai for glitzy restaurant openings rarely to return again, Gagnaire is a comparatively frequent visitor to his restaurant – time your reservation right and you may see the chef at work in the kitchen during your sitting. “We have a very good team here, the very same that was here in the beginning” he tells me. “Quality is important, the quality of the relationship with staff is important – they maintain the quality, the philosophy. With a good team [maintaining high standards from abroad] is possible. I wouldn’t say ‘easy’, but comfortable, comfortable.” And how has he retained the same kitchen team for so long? (Surely a rarity in a professional kitchen?) “The success to work is to keep in touch with people, to love people – that is the key to life, to respect people, the guests, the people who are with you – your family, your friends, your team. Because if you’re alone you’re dead.”
It’s a philosophy that Gagnaire credits for much of his success. Though, despite his dedication to international ventures, it’s clear that Paris is his first and true love. There, his namesake Pierre Gagnaire restaurant at the Hotel Balzac is the ‘epicentre’ of his work. “It’s my home, oui? My art, it’s my business. I have two restaurants in Paris now, but Pierre Gagnaire it is the bar for quality. People come from outside to see it so they must see something that is perfect all the time – and it is never perfect!” As for the inspiration behind his ever-evolving menus (courses that include the likes of creamy sauce and flesh of spider crab with rhurbarb sticks and medallion of gilt-head bream with Kombu seaweed) you have to wonder: how does he think such flavours up? Poetic, as only a Frenchmen truly can be, Gagnaire’s answer sounds simple: “inspiration is everything, everywhere, it is myself. “In our job we are always in relationships with guests but we must keep the time to think about our work. It is important to take time and to think ‘cuisine, cuisine, cuisine’.” Asked if he is always thinking of new ideas he nods and says “I try.”
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While Gagnaire appears to be his own worst critic, I wonder what he thinks to those who have critiqued his work over the years. Is Michelin still the body of respect for top chefs that it once was? “Yes,” says Gagnaire after some thought. “It’s not perfect though – there are so many new destinations that it is difficult for them to judge it. To judge truly you need to have the staff. It is like me, to open all of these restaurants, but I have done this job for 48 years. I work in one restaurant for many many years; I was focused a long time on one place. It is the same [for Michelin] if your extension is too quick you can upset the team.” Regardless, Gagnaire has retained his status as the beau of French gastronomy. But what of Pierre Gagnaire outside of the kitchen? Do your research and there are no tales of tumultuous tantrums or bust-ups, no rumours of a ruthless quest for the top. Ask him and he’ll tell you that family, love, people are at the root of his happiness – usually with the odd poetic phrase thrown in (“life is very strong and sometimes very fragile”). Indeed, judging by Gagnaire’s success, it seems nice guys don’t finish last after all...
‘The success to work is to keep in touch with people, to love people – that is the key to life... Because if you’re alone you are dead’
THE FAB FOUR Make for London, Paris, New York or Milan this month – fashion week is coming. AIR spotlights the only hotels worth checking into when the show’s over
ny designer or supermodel worth their weight in Manolos knows that just one week in September really matters – and this month (which will see the world’s top designers send their SS13 collections down the runway) is no different: accept an invitation-only seat at any of the city’s shows and you’ll be amid the focused-faces of fashion editors and star-studded VIPs, your head turned by supermodels strutting down the runway. And when the camera flashes, air-kissing and iPad tapping subsides, a handful of hotel names will sustain your place in the fashion ‘it’ crowd. In the Big Apple (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, 6-13 September) there’s little point straying far from the Lincoln Center (between West 62nd and 65th Streets), which has played host to NYC’s fashion week since 2010 after the glamorous Bryant Park ‘tents’ were deemed too small to host the swelling sunglasses-clad crowds. The Empire Hotel is right across the street from the Lincoln Center, on 63rd and Columbus and has long been a hive of activity – last year its rooftop lounge formed the backdrop to the Fall collections’ grand reveal, as well as the Fashion Week Party – and this month will be little different. Elsewhere, The Standard (East Village at 25 Cooper Square) is not only a real New York landmark (set in the hip Meatpacking district) but its suites look fit for a fashion shoot – the Empire Suite with
its white-lacquered walls and ceilings and Hudson River views being a case in point. In the Big Smoke (London Fashion Week, 14-18 September) the fash pack has historically flocked to The Covent Garden Hotel (interiors designed by hip hotelier Kit Kemp), The May Fair, The Savoy, The Metropolitan and Claridge’s (we suggest eating at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant while you’re there). Quite frankly, it’s not worth stepping out of your car at any other address. Few suites trump the newly-opened Diane Von Furstenberg piano suite at Claridge’s. Arrive at room 312 (butler to hand) and you’ll find a virtual shrine to fashion: chandeliers glitter, animal prints paw surfaces and clashing shades of pinks, purples and greys dominate. Over
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at The May Fair – London Fashion Week’s official hotel partner, it’s favoured by French Vogue’s editorin-chief – suites are equally top-totoe glamorous, with the Schiaparelli suite being almost-entirely coated in fuchsia pink. (It’s splendid.) For timeless style, though, The Savoy is a British icon: Coco Chanel stayed here in the 1920s, Christian Dior held a fashion show in the 1950s and last season Sir Paul Smith showcased his collection in the ballroom (and rumour is it will transform into a catwalk again this month). Hop off the fashion carousel in Milan (Camera Moda, 19-25 September) and you’ll be faced with some 170 shows. But, from a travel point-of-view, its designer hotels take the biscotti. The Bulgari Hotel Milan
between Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga is a natural choice. Set in an 18th-century Milanese palazzo it proves a thoroughly stylish way to immerse yourself in all-things Bulgari (the namesake Bulgari Suite being the hotel’s showstopper). Look too to the Armani Hotel Milano, every inch the sophisticate you’d expect at the hands of Giorgio Armani. Its Bamboo lounge has proved itself as a chic contender for after-show mingling with its marble and onyx-panelled walls and creamy leather chairs. The neoclassical Hotel Principe de Savoia, though, is a worthy rival with clientele that includes supermodel Karen Elson, designer Giles Deacon and style icon David Beckham, design by architect Thierry Despont and a bar sculpted from crystal.
With the legendary Ritz Paris closed for a two-year renovation, fashion-followers must find their timeless glamour elsewhere in Paris this season (Mode à Paris, 25 September-10 October). Having long drawn the crème de la crème of Parisian society (not to mention the sparkling 1930s receptions of Coco Chanel), Le Meurice is an obvious choice: it remains a sublime platform from which to admire allthings ‘Paris’, from its period-style furnishings to its views of the Eiffel Tower. (Our tip is the Belle Étoile Suite for 360-degree views.) The Rue de Rivoli sees much of the action during Mode à Paris, which is why the Mandarin Oriental Paris also proves wise. Set on the Rue Saint Honoure, its trademark Mandarin
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Oriental luxuries will be just the ticket for the show-weary, and Christian Louboutin’s nearby atelier presents a fine excuse for a pre-party purchase. For a discrete option, seek out the white townhouse façade of Hotel Particulier – its charm has enticed Keira Knightley through its wrought iron gates, as well as hosting Paris Vogue’s masked ball and serving as a residence for Karl Lagerfeld. We’d say that makes it a credible enough name to drop at your next fashion soirée.
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The May Fair’s Schiaparelli suite Junior suite, Le Meurice Diane Von Furstenberg piano suite, Claridge’s Christian Dior and models, The Savoy, 1950
Munich The prevalent horse-drawn carriages have swept dignatries and celebrities over the city’s cobbles for centuries, and the horses are often bedecked in traditional tassles, bells, and brightly-coloured livery. Even today there’s no better way to view Munich’s Englische Garten than from its lofty pews.
Marienplatz square has been a shopping hub since the Middle Ages, and remains one of the most picturesque spots to watch goldsmiths, wood carvers and toy makers at work. Every December, the vast Marienplatz is adorned with strings of lights and spectacularly decorated trees for the annual festive market; an event which draws visitors from all over the world.
Bayern Munich – the city’s most successful football team – are one of the game’s biggest names, having won the Champions League on four occasions. Their last triumph was against Valencia in 2011, a match decided on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
The ‘Eisbach wave’, on the Eisbach River next to Haus der Kunst art museum, is a Munich institution: since 1972, surfers have tested their skills on the metre-high break. The spot is a permanent man-made fixture, but thanks to the chilly, shallow waters it’s only suitable for experienced boarders.
Four generations of the Krone family have directed Circus Krone, making it the oldest performance spectacle in Munich. During the 1950s, Bimbo the tiger drew crowds from all over the world with his flying leaps and stunts. Today, the shows feature a cast of lions, parrots, elephants and horses.
The Baroque Nymphenburg Palace was built to accomodate the Bavarian royal family in 1675, and features a dazzling array of original frescoes, ornate pavilions and 200-hectares of landscaped gardens.
Munich has been BMW’s home since 1916, and the birthplace of many an immortal automobile. The 1930s 328 BMW is no exception: the type was among the most popular sports cars of the era, and is now a sought-after collector’s item.
The National Theatre, the largest of the city’s two royal opera houses, is a veritable palace of marble, gold and crystal – but has been rebuilt twice following fire damage and WWII bombing. Munich’s 1.3million-strong population has 61 theatres, four major orchestras, and a prestigious state ballet to its name.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Supplied
Words: David Whitehouse
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ong before glamour was invented, AD68 in fact, the Gallo-Grecian city of Heraclea was bothered only by the wet lapping tongue of the waves and the dry kneading heat of the sun. Legend has it that one day, steered by the tides of a monstrous storm, a drifting boat washed ashore. On it were a cockerel, a dog and the body of a decapitated man. The cockerel, startled by the gathered crowd, flew panicked into a nearby field of flax – lin, in French – and the flaxen coq lent its name to the port of Cogolin. The dog was chased though the streets. “G’chien!” they shouted after it, and the village of Gassin was named too. Another village, hidden close by in the fond arms of the sun-kissed hills, took the name of the mysterious decapitated man. They say he was St Torpes, one of Emperor Nero’s Centurions who became a martyr when he refused to renounce his faith and was beheaded and cast out to sea with the animals, who it was intended would feast on his remains. St Torpes prospered on the back of this story, but it became St Tropez long before its next most famous, no less intriguing visitor arrived to change its fortunes once more. Her name was Brigitte Bardot. Her beauty was legend.
How Brigitte Bardot Created St Tropez - 71 -
TRAVEL Thrust onto the international stage, St Tropez began attracting the glitterati from nearby Monaco, the traditional party town in the region. Bardot’s championing of the place sparked a free-for-all. Princes parked their super-yachts in the harbour where the Centurion’s uneaten torso once washed up. Palaces were built in the hills. The sky buzzed with helicopters like hornets dividing up the air. It was the eye of a hurricane blown in all the way from Hollywood. Mick Jagger, then the biggest rock star in the world, proposed to Bianca in Le Byblos, the legendary hotel Bardot herself had ‘christened’ in 1967. Bardot
in every field. The press is responsible for inventing people who already exist and endowing them with an imaginary life, superimposed on their own. Brigitte Bardot is a perfect example of this odd concoction. It is likely that fate set her down at the precise point where dream and morality merge. Her beauty and talent are undeniable, but she possesses some other, unknown quality which attracts idolaters in an age deprived of gods”. And that is what Brigitte Bardot has in common with a headless Centurion. A myth. A legend. The muse not of a man, but of an entire town, nay planet, full of them.
‘Like the siren she looked as she emerged from that water, her lure was powerful and immediate’ later called the place “jet set base camp”. What she brought to the place was that very essence of the sixties. She was carefree, vibrant and with a naïve sexuality, not mired in the stuffy customs the elite were used to in the likes of Monte Carlo and Cannes. And where the superstars went, others would follow. Soon the beaches were festooned with sun worshippers. The women, they all dressed like Bardot did. The men on the other hand, they just wanted to be with her. None however could get to her for the baying gaggle of paparazzi that by now followed her everywhere, part of the overwhelming attention that infamously pushed her close to the edge. By 1968, when she walked up a St Tropez red carpet on the arm of Sean Connery at the premiere for the western Shalako, she was ready to turn her back on the acting career that had propelled her to stardom. Just five years later she did. Jean Cocteau perhaps summed Bardot up best when he said “I’ve always preferred mythology to history. History is composed of truths that become lies, mythology of lies that become truths. One characteristic of our age is that it creates instant myths
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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye
Blessed as it was with sunshine and scenery, the key ingredients of both success and excess, St Tropez was already popular with artists and writers by the time Bardot chose it as her home. Many spent their summers there, travelling from Paris because the light was perfect for painting the magnificent backdrops that lined it, but it was still a quaint fishing village, and for all that it inspired these creative souls to capture its magic in pictures and words, only someone as beautiful, as majestic, as truly sensational as the young Bardot could ever embody it. She arrived, all succulent pout and legs long like golden rope, with her then husband, the director Roger Vadim, to film And God Created Woman in 1956. Bardot walked on to that hot crisp sand by the waterfront in the old town, the Port des Pecheurs, a relative unknown. She emerged from its warm mirrored sea an icon of female sexuality. The celebrated had graced St Tropez before, yes. Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Errol Flynn and Greta Garbo all took cocktails at the starry club Aioli. But none had the raw power and impact of the young Bardot. In 1956, this sleepy enclave was woken with an almighty bang. Bardot had fallen in love with what she called “its genuine charms… the mulberry trees, the sheep grazing in the scrubland; the mighty farmhouses smothered with bougainvillaea which belonged to the wine producers, their vaulted cellars filled with barrels of maturing Provençal wine. Here, local people raised their poultry and kneaded their loaves, while fisherfolk in their tartans – small flat-bottomed skiffs with wide square russet-hued sails – returned with their nets full of the sea’s bounty”. However, the price of her discovery soon became apparent. Like the siren she looked as she emerged from that water, her lure was powerful and immediate. Not for any ships or sailors, but the photographers and playboys, film stars, producers and those that sought fame and counsel with the famous.
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BUCKET LIST NO.27
See the world’s fastest motor race
Over the blazing Nevada desert, the most thrilling race on earth takes to the skies: Reno Air Races, where the world’s fastest aircraft – and their razor-witted pilots – pitch war. This year (September 12-16) marks the 10th year of the event’s most cut-throat category: the Jet Class. Tearing up the heavens at over 500mph, aviators must battle crippling G-forces on a circuit marked only by red-painted pylons. It’s a game of precision, passion, and sheer nerve.
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It’s a deadly lottery, too: casualties have blighted many years, including 2011, but the fever rages on, with competitors continuing to try their luck. It’s also a hub for vintage aircraft, top-class aerobatic displays and the newest (and fastest) types on the market. Since the races’ beginnings in 1964, some of the world’s greatest airmen have flourished – and perished – in their fight for first place: high above those desolate plains is where racing legends are born.
affles. It’s a name synonymous with peerless grace, endless charm, and a history that could eclipse many of her worldwide rivals. To peek into the records is to snatch a glimpse of the great and the good: from royalty to rock stars, these hallowed suites have hosted them all. The story began in 1887, when the industrious Sarkies brothers opened a ten-room boutique in honour of Singapore’s founder Sir Stamford Raffles. It was a modest affair, but the hotel grew in popularity – and capacity – as word spread of its luxurious accommodation and international fare. “The most magnificent establishment of its kind East of Suez,” read a newspaper report at the turn of the twentieth century. It was a haven of colonial grandeur tucked away in the East – well-heeled travellers flocked there to sample the costume balls, the convivial Long Bar, the atmosphere that inspired A. Dietz to compose The Raffles March. A legend was born. Early guests included author Joseph Conrad and a ravenous Rudyard Kipling (“Feed at Raffles,” wrote the latter while on a world trip in 1888), sparking a literary tradition that has stayed with the hotel ever since. Legend has it that Somerset Maugham, a British journalist-turnedplaywright, spent the 1920s penning gossip columns under a frangipani tree in the hotel’s lush Palm Court, spinning over-heard dinner party snippets into the following day’s top stories. Noel Coward frequented the same spots in the Thirties, inspiring gaggle of celebrities, performers and creative minds to follow in his footsteps. The hotel’s guest listings – Charlie Chaplin, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Harlow – feature some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Not all guests have been so welcome, however – especially not the tiger who crouched under the Billiards Room in 1902, the final tiger to be shot in Singapore. Even so, in 1986 (the Year
LEGEND HAS IT As Raffles Singapore celebrates its 125th anniversary, AIR uncovers the events that made her great
of the Tiger), one of the striped species was invited inside to make amends – posing for a photoshoot atop the billiards table this time, it marked 99 years since the hotel’s inauguration. This year, you won’t encounter any four-legged fiends, but the hotel’s
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history is ever-present. The iconic Raffles treats – delectable Snow-Skin mooncakes, the zesty Singapore Sling – are as inviting as always, as is that elegant colonial charm. Singapore’s First Lady is here to stay; here’s to the next 125 years… raffles.com
WHAT I KNOW NOW
Founder and president, Roberto Coin Jewellery Unfortunately by losing my parents at a very young age, I didn’t have the opportunity to have a ‘guided tour’ of life but I found there were numerous maestros willing to teach and share their experiences with me and with those who have the patience and curiosity to learn. I don’t equate money with happiness. They are two separate issues. My pursuit is to be happy. I firmly believe that everything in life has to be based on respect regarding religion, traditions and culture. One of my favorite sayings is “the future belongs to those people that believe in the beauty of their own dreams” – and I am still dreaming. I think it’s important to dream. As a dreamer I have an inborn curiosity and desire to know the world beyond its own borders. This drove me from owning a hotel to being an iconic jewellery designer. All of these achievements were by using my dynamic and forceful personality (I’m known to be an ambassador of Italian style) but always humanity, simplicity and charity were words dear to me. My chief advice is always to follow your passion, and follow up your happiness. This will create the right successful formula of family and your business. The business itself must always be based on the quality of your product and the credibility of your company. It’s important to learn that being kind is far more important than being right.
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Limelight White gold, diamond set watch Piaget Manufacture
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