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January 2018

Jessica chastain


In nature, the falcon is a fierce fighter. In business, the Falcon 8X is just as powerful and agile. Every inch reflects its military DNA, with lean and mean aerodynamics an advanced Digital Flight Controls to get you to places others can’t. Nothing flies like a Falcon because no other jet is built like one. Fierce. Fast. Agile. Falcon 8X.



IMPOSSIBLE IS JUST A DARE. At Embraer, we find inspiration in the greatest of challenges. The creation of entirely new aircraft, and categories. And the inclusion of technology previously unavailable in aircraft this size. The better way. The efficient way. The unconventional way. You see, we’ve never been ones to settle for the status quo. And we’re looking for those who share a similar mindset and are willing to act upon it. Because we believe for those who do—doing the impossible is just the beginning.

Contents JanuarY 2018 : ISSUE 80

Editorial Editorial director

John Thatcher Managing Editor

Faye Bartle Editor

Chris Ujma



art art director

Kerri Bennett designer

Jamie Pudsey illustrations

Leona Beth

CoMMErCial Managing director

Victoria Thatcher Group Commercial director

David Wade

david@hotmediapublishing.com Commercial director

Rawan Chehab


ProduCtion Production Manager

Muthu Kumar

Forty Four

The Real Deal Jessica Chastain takes on Molly’s Game, but her own story is a triumph of less risk, more reward Fifty

Fifty Six

The tenacity of photographer Albert Watson results in iconic imagery – from desert horizons to stylish couture

How the partnership of Frank Sinatra and his manager Eliot Weisman lead to the bestselling Duets

Great Scot


Come Fly With Me





Sixty Two

Having once enjoyed cult status, Dapper Dan’s Boutique is back – this time endorsed by Gucci itself

Experiencing the next generation of S-Class innovation, at the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG S 63

Twenty Eight

Sixty Six

Joanna Hardy reveals the profound mysteries of the ruby, from her historic analysis of The King of Gems

Only a dozen guests taste The Experience, on a night of intrigue and adventure with chef Reif Othman

From Thirty Four

Seventy Two

Longines sets sail with a new Flagship, while Officine Panerai honours Chinese New Year

Slipping into a cosy Moroccan riad is just the beginning of a sensory stay at Royal Mansour







Thirty Eight

Art & Design How Robi Walters has made finding beauty in the discarded a poignant art form


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. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in AIR.


Elegance Without Pretence at the world's tallest hotel. The stunning JW Penthouse Suite and Marquis Penthouse Suite present two levels of impeccably designed spaces. The suites are contemporary with a touch of traditional Arabic design. PENTHOUSE SUITE FEATURES 624sqm in size set across 2 floors consisting of: 1 master bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe, 1 twin bedroom, 1 living room, 1 kitchenette, 1 study, 1 dining room, 1 majlis foyer area, 1 private spa room where in-room spa treatments are available upon request and 3 bathrooms with integrated steam sauna. GUEST SERVICES Complimentary return airport transfer in private limousine Private check-in inside the Suite 24 hour butler service upon request Access to 24 hour Executive Lounge and 24 hour Concierge services For reservations or inquiries, please visit jwmarriottmarquisdubai.com or call +971 4 414 0000

Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971 4 414 0000 | jwmarriottmarquisdubai.com JW Marriott Marquis Dubai I JWDubaiMarquis I jwmarriottmarquisdubai

Elegance is an attitude Simon Baker

The Longines Master Collection

NasJet is the first private charter company in Saudi Arabia, providing bespoke aviation services for the most discerning clients and institutions in the world since 1999. Currently, the Group operates more than 24 corporate aircraft, making us the largest and most experienced private jet operator in the region with a managed fleet value exceeding USD1.5 billion. NasJet, which is part of NAS Holding, employs over 1,800 industry experts, operating 24/7 from our state-of-the-art flight centre in Riyadh and across the world delivering a superior level of safety, service and value. At NasJet we have the expertise and international experience to operate corporate aircraft worldwide. Every hour of every day, we are moving planes, crews and inventory across continents. We give you peace of mind when it comes to our commercial operations. As a Saudi company we are backed by some of the most prominent shareholders in the world. We are established. On our Air Operator Certificate (AOC), NasJet currently operate the following aircraft types: • Hawker 750 Aircraft, which can seat up to eight passengers and fly for up to four hours non-stop. • Cessna Citation Excel, which can seat six passengers and fly for up to three

Welcome Onboard JANUARY 2018

hours non-stop. • Embraer Legacy 600, which can seat 13-15 passengers and fly for up to five hours non-stop. • Gulfstream GIV-SP and G450 Aircraft, which can seat 13-14 passengers and fly for up to eight hours non-stop. • Gulfstream GV, which can seat 16 passengers and fly for up to 12 hours non-stop. • Airbus 318ACJ, which can seat 19-22 passengers and fly for up to eight hours non-stop. NasJet is pleased to offer the following services: • Aircraft Purchase and Sales. We have aircraft available for sale and management, or we can manage the purchase or sale of other aircraft. • Aircraft Acquisition, Acceptance, Completion and Delivery. We can find you the new aircraft that suits your needs, customise it to your liking, monitor the build of the aircraft at the manufacturer, and supervise the final delivery process to ensure a smooth and rewarding private aircraft experience. • Aircraft Management, where we are responsible for your aircraft from all aspects to provide you the highest safety standards, the best service and the most economical management solutions. • Block Charter, where we provide you with charter solutions sold in bulk at discounted rates. • Ad-Hoc Charter, where we can serve your charter needs where and when you need us on demand. With the new GACA Rules and Regulations having come into effect as of 1 March 2016, NasJet has established itself as the first to market our Private and Commercial AOC Services. We welcome the opportunity to serve you, and look forward to seeing you aboard one of our private jets.

Captain Mohammed Al Gabbas Vice President

Contact Details: sales@nasjet.com.sa nasjet.com.sa T. +966 11 261 1199 13

NasJet JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80

The Pride of Saudi Arabian Aviation NasJet is a leading private aviation operator and services provider, delivering worldclass services in aircraft sales, completions, management, flight support, charter and FBO. The company was launched in 1999, in affiliation with US partner NetJets Inc. NasJet, originally NetJets Middle East (NJME), demonstrated the highest levels of regional expertise by being the first private company in Saudi Arabia to be awarded an Aircraft Operating Certificate (AOC) by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). The company has since grown to managing/supporting in excess of 24 fixed-wing aircraft, with a fleet insured value exceeding USD2 billion. As the largest Gulfstream operator in the Middle East – and one of the top 10 in the world –NasJet is also a part of an award winning aviation group, employing 1,800 in-house aviation industry experts. The company operates 24/7 from a state-of-the-art flight centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, delivering superior levels of safety, service and value. It is a founding member of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), and was the lead sponsor of the first MEBAA Conference in Riyadh 2014. MEBAA is a principal forum for understanding and gathering information, while communicating the needs and benefits of Middle East business aviation to businesses, governments and media worldwide. It also serves the needs of the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association Members in ways that enhance safety, security, efficiency and acceptance of business aviation throughout the region. NasJet successfully participated in the Middle East Business Aviation Association Conference in Jeddah on 3-4 October 2017, and was a 14

proud Gold sponsor for this event, participating in several panel discussions and providing a comprehensive presentation on the challengers to – and experience of – NasJet. Vice President Capt Mohammed Al Gabbas, Capt Hashim Hashim and CCO Yosef Hafiz of NasJet were in attendance, and each participated in the three panel discussion. NasJet stressed the importance of implementing the new GACA rules and regulations by the upcoming deadline of 1 March 2018, and reassured that this will help enhance safety and productivity in the Saudi aviation market. Gray market was an important topic discussed at a roundtable, which included valuable ideas on how NasJet can regulate the charter market through GACA providing brokers with official license hence constraining them to legal charter. They also discussed the push of the new GACA rules which will help them ensure Private aircraft fly privately and commercial AOC holders are the only ones who fly legally for charter. One of NasJet’s greatest strengths is aircraft management, and it can better serve the aviation community by being compliant with the new regulations. NasJet Aircraft Management Services provides management services for clients with aircraft that are not fractionally owned, and charter services on selected aircraft from its managed fleet. NasJet has been the first to market in fully supporting the new GACA rules and regulations. The new GACA rules came into effect as of 1 March 2016, and GACA has given the aviation community in Saudi Arabia a two year window to fully comply with the new regulations. All aircraft owners based in Saudi Arabia (‘based’ meaning on-ground for more than 72 hours) will be required to apply for a GACA AOC or

join a company which has an AOC. There are two types of AOC’s Private and Commercial, Private will allow only for personal usage of the aircraft (non-charter) and Commercial will allow for full charter benefits. NasJet currently has Private (Part 125) and Commercial (Part 121 Special Unscheduled) AOC’s, and they are able to add any type of aircraft on their own AOC. NasJet will be able to apply for annual landing permits for aircraft and obtain them based on their AOC and provide continued support for the aviation community in Saudi Arabia. Finally, NasJet would like to thank MEBAA for organising such an event and look forward to future participation.

Under Our Wing NasJet is a strong advocate for the new General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) rules and regulations, and has seen an increase of requests from aircraft owners in Saudi Arabia for adding their aircraft under the NasJet Air Operator Certificate (AOC). GACA has begun the process of implementing the new rules and regulations, and has given every aircraft owner a strict deadline of 1 March 2018 to comply. Aircraft owners have been approaching NasJet to add aircraft under our Private and Commercial operations, to ensure they meet these new requirements and are allowed to renew their annual landing permits.

GACA has made it very clear to all the aircraft operators or owners who do not have an AOC within Saudi Arabia that they will not be able to renew their annual landing permit, and this will lead to operators and owners having to apply for individual permits for takeoff and landing within the Kingdom. These may not be granted in an expeditious manner, and it may lead to further questions as to whom is onboard. Aircraft owners are beginning to feel the pinch, and have reached out to NasJet to become the operator of the aircraft in order to support them with the new requirements laid out by GACA back on 1 March 2016. Aircraft owners who join NasJet

can enjoy multiple added-value services, including the ability to generate income through chartering their aircraft, as well as receiving lower costs on fuel, handling and maintenance through the discounts we provide our clients. We also provide owners under our management programme a backup aircraft when needed, and will provide support on any aircraft that may be grounded for technical reasons until it is returned back to service. NasJet is backed by leading airline Flynas, resulting in a combined fleet of 58 aircraft between both companies. We are established yet continue to grow, offering the best quality of service available in the region.

Welcome to NASJET





From the mid-Eighties through to the early Nineties, bespoke tailor Dapper Dan’s Boutique enjoyed cult status. From its Harlem address it worked up eccentric efforts which reimagined designs of brands such as Fendi and Gucci - a little too closely in the case of the former, whose lawyers helped force the boutique’s closure. Yet Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele has always been a fan, and last May paid homage to the tailor via his cruise collection. Now, Gucci has partnered with Dapper Dan to open a stunning studio atelier, housed within an historic brownstone close to the boutique’s original location in Harlem. From this month, the atelier will open ‘by appointment only’ for clients to purchase bespoke Dapper Dan of Harlem garments made using Gucci raw materials, fabrics, prints, embroidered patches and hardware. gucci.com



Critique JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80

Film The Post Dir: Steven Spielberg Two heavyweights of journalism forge an unlikely partnership to break a story on government secrets At Best: “Works on many levels, from polemic and thinly veiled cautionary tale to fun period piece and riproaring newspaper yarn.” Washington Post At WoRst: “A slick drama... but its patriotism and idealism have an air of selfcongratulation.” New Republic

The Leisure Seeker AIR

Dir: Paolo Virzi Two Baby boomers run away on a road trip looking to recapture a passion for life At Best: “Working with some of Italy’s top craftsmen, Virzi delivers a smooth and attractive-looking film.” The Hollywood Reporter At WoRst: “Even having tremendous actors like Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren in the front seat can’t enliven this vacation.” Variety

Django Dir: Etienne Comar King of Swing Django Reinhardt plays to packed out crowds in 1940’s Paris – only for his life to take a drastic turn when he’s sent to Germany At Best: “It is praiseworthy that [it] avoids the clichés of the prototypal biographies that try to tell a whole life in less than two hours.” Ostro Cines At WoRst: “Will please fans of his music while dismaying those looking for concrete facts about the guitarist.” The National UAE

Paddington 2 Dir: Paul King (VII) The cuddly ambassador for marmalade sandwiches gets into another sticky situation At Best: “A million and one famous British thespians having a whale of a time, with good cheer, love and joy.” ABC Australia At WoRst: “Won’t save the world, sadly, but its existence makes everything just that tiny bit better and more, well, bearable.” Hollywood Reporter 20

4:51 PM The moment she made you float into a fairytale. At Fairmont, we believe in making moments. We believe that every exquisite luxury, every lavish setting, and every unforgettable adventure you have with your loved ones at a Fairmont hotel… is a memory worth cherishing. That’s why we’ve spent more than 100 years perfecting the art of making moments. Are you ready to find yours?

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Critique JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80




irst comes the reunion. Then, the reckoning,” writes Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News of The Children. “So it goes in this slow-moving but ultimately thought-provoking and haunting drama about legacies and how the past always catches up with the present.” Off Broadway at Samuel J Friedman Theatre until 4 February, the play begins with, “First the earthquake. Then the tsunami. Then the nuclear reactor shuts down when the tidal wave reaches its seaside dome. But not to worry. That’s why they have emergency generators,” details Jesse Green in New York Times. “And yet one of [its] astonishments… it is completely successful as an eco-thriller, bristling with chills and suspense and foreboding sound effects, denuclearization is not its subject… No, the ‘fault sequence’ Lucy Kirkwood wants to explore is a great deal larger and, given human nature, more intractable.” Marilyn Stasio talks of its inherent risk in Variety, saying “Structurally, the play is composed in the I’ve-got-a-secret storytelling style, which means that the playwright withholds the big payoff until the very end while teasing our expectations with subtle and not-so-subtle clues. It’s a treacherous device… Luckily, these mesmerising performers could keep us enthralled through any of the cataclysmic events alluded to in the play.” As King Philippe of Spain, Oscarwinner Mark Rylance is “on his royal bed, in royal pajamas, a fishbowl in one hand, a bamboo rod in the other, in mid-conversation with the goldfish eluding his line: ‘I see you are ignoring my bait,’” pens Jeremy Gerard of the actor’s triumphant return to Broadway in Fairnelli and the King, showing at Belasco Theatre until 25 March. “We, on the other hand, not being fish, take the bait, hook, line and, as they say, sinker. We are in his spell for the next twoand-a-half hours.” Sam Crane fills out the character of Fairnelli, while as the voice of the character, “The 22

Ron Cook, Deborah Findlay and Francesca Annis acting in The Children. Photo by Joan Marcus

identically costumed Iestyn Davies steps in to sing whenever a Handel aria is called for,” explains Variety of the score. “The nine selections, all chosen from arias first sung by the real-life Farinelli in the 1730s, range from Ho perso il caro ben from Il Parnasso to the melting Bel contento from Flavio, and Davies delivers them with Baroque precision. But as a countertenor, he never reaches the stratospheric scale of a true castrato, and the limitation hurts.” The deteriorating mental health of a monarch, “doesn’t constitute a sustaining narrative arc, even if Rylance’s commanding performance remains the centre of attention,” shares David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter. “The interesting thread is the motivation of Farinelli to extend his stay in Madrid, his love for Isabella becoming a contributing factor, and his refusal to sing in public ever again.” “The city of love provides a backdrop for marital discord – and worse,” in Belleville, the Amy Herzog play showing until 3 February at Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden.

Matt Wolf in The Arts Desk continues, “It is [an] elusive and slippery piece: a Hitchcockian study in physical and emotional displacement that isn’t beyond occasional forays into grand guignol. But Longhurst keeps Herzog’s tensions simmering until they boil over: An American in Paris was never quite like this.” Reveals Culture Whisper of its darker tone, “It’s a subtle, markedly human play that captures the drama, disappointments and desperation of everyday life... They are bright, attractive and in love, but lies and tension lurk beneath the perfect facade. Slowly, then all too quickly, the pressures graduate to violence.” Adds Sam Marlowe in The Stage UK, “[The play] examines the disintegration of a marriage and the illusions of intimacy through the lens of a lurid Hollywood thriller. There are plot twists, far-fetched revelations and sinister secrets. [The] meticulous production is acted with pungent precision and the dialogue often has verve, yet the play is tough to believe in.”

Critique JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80




ff the back of Garth Risk Hallberg’s success with City on Fire comes A Field Guide to the North American Family. “Focusing on two modern-day middle class families in the Long Island suburbs, [it] is a svelte novella made up of 63 interlaced vignettes, which runs to just over 120 pages,” writes Alasdair Lees in The Independent. “The fracturing of the Hungate and Harrison families – neighbours whose lives are thrown into turmoil by divorce and a death – is told through sketches that never run to more than a page. The entries are alphabetised under thematic headings, such as ‘Optimism’ and ‘Grief’, each illustrated with pictures taken by a different photographer,” Kirkus Reviews asks, “What kind of relationships are best described in a guidebook supported by art photos? It’s complicated… Readers are also encouraged to bounce around chapters, à la Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch… the plot is straightforward, capturing anxieties and tragedies… Hallberg has a fine novelist’s grace and sensitivity but delivers this story with a taxonomist’s heart.” It’s an emotional roadmap, deems Andrew Wetzel at Masters Review. “The book can function as a choose-your-ownadventure, but only if you wish to lose yourself in the journey. In short, you’ll have to keep track of which chapters you’ve read so you don’t retrace your steps too many times… As innovative and bruising as it was, it does not seem far off the mark to wish there had been more.” Ross Simonini’s debut novel The Book of Formation,“Is one of the strangest novels I’ve read this year,” admits Lucy Scholes for The Independent. “It begins in 1994 when a journalist accepts an assignment to interview one Mayah Isle, a talk-show host in the style of Oprah who peddles an increasingly popular self-transformation philosophy known as the ‘personality movement’… First and foremost, it’s astonishingly well done. I was gripped, which is remarkable given


how jargon-heavy much of the conversations is… This is due to Simonini’s impressive handling of his form. The majority of the text is laid out as interview transcripts, and he magnificently recreates the feel of real conversations and genuine interactions.” The author “constructs a parallel culture just a few degrees shy of the present,” say Kirkus Reviews, in a debut, “reminiscent of modern art – often unsettling, not always easy or beautiful, but rewarding to the reader willing to grapple with its questions.” Describes Matt Mullen for Interview Magazine, the book is a “hypnotic [and] genre-bending debut novel… The interviews, which begin in the 1990s and span 20 twisting years, question the nature of faith, entertainment, celebrities, and, ultimately, the way we tell our own stories. ‘It’s the responsibility of any subject to help their interviewer adore him,’ the reporter says at one point. ‘They give me curiosity, and in return, I give them attention, and therefore, love’.” Of Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister, Ian Thomson opines

in The Guardian, “The author’s flair as a novelist makes a gripping story of Churchill’s unlikely rise to power in 1940. [It] chronicles Churchill’s lightning-quick rise to power following Hitler’s invasion of Norway. Nicholas Shakespeare has written an absorbing account of how events 1,300 miles away across the North Sea led to the most drastic cabinet reshuffle in modern British history.” Lawrence James posits in The Times, “The result is a superbly written drama in three acts... He gives a kaleidoscopic view of events that got out of hand, the men who tried to control them and those individuals who were the victims of their fallibility. Shakespeare’s research is thorough and he has a novelist’s flair for depicting the characters and motives of great and lesser men.” Saul David notes in The Evening Standard, “Most books on this crucial period of the Second World War concentrate on the dark days of 1940 – Dunkirk and the fall of France – This one... covers the less well known, but no less vital, month... and reminds us that Britain’s ultimate deliverance depended upon a highly unlikely, if fortuitous, sequence of events.”

Critique JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80

Art “C

harles II had the face of a corrupt satyr. His portraits resemble the one Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray kept in the attic. Every sin seems etched into the work as a grotesque wrinkle. His heavy black eyebrows and ungainly nose add to the ugliness. In a popular print that was pinned up in about 1661 (it still has the pinholes), these features are exaggerated into an almost devilish mask,” writes Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. Art admirers can study the King in finer detail at Charles II: Art and Power, showing at Queen’s Gallery, London until 13 May. Reviews Will Gompertz for BBC News, “If... you are in the market for a richly told, thought-provoking history lesson that feels surprisingly relevant in today’s Brexit Britain... then you might consider the ticket price as money well spent.” Most surprising about the collection, “is a series of mezzotints of Charles II, almost the size of life and on the scale of a modern poster,” glows Laura Cumming in The Observer. “These prints bring the king right up close, eye to eye with the viewer, soft and breathing. Echoing the show’s premise about the power of art, they make a human being out of a monarch.” The art of Rose Wylie is described in The Observer as “Grand, ungainly and defiantly young. It is a strange and anomalous combination, especially since she is now 83.” Looking at her enormous canvases, “which might show a park bench, a film star surrounded by flying ears or a biscuit on its way into someone’s open mouth, you reel at the sheer directness of the painting, presented with all the primitive force of a child’s drawing. Her works are as awkward as she wants them to be.” Rose Wylie: Quack Quack at Serpentine Sackler Gallery shows how, “With her colourful dollops and scrawled captions, the lateblooming painter channels the liberation of childhood to point a way forward for British art,” says Jonathan Jones in The Guardian. “She was certainly painting fast: at 26

Charles II, circa 1676, by John Michael Wright. Photograph by Royal Collection Trust, © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

least getting each set of marks down fast, with a great graphic visual wit,” thinks Matthew Collings, writing for Evening Standard. “There are changes of scale, canny overlays of one kind of mark-making over another, and patterned elements brought in to weight the picture in a certain way, so the eye is pleasurably guided about the whole space.” “If Kehinde Wiley’s good enough for Barack Obama, he’s probably good enough for the rest of us,” quips Amah-Rose Abrams for Time Out of In Search of the Miraculous, at Stephen Friedman throughout January. “The American painter was announced as the first African American to paint an official portrait of an American president. But for this show of new paintings and video, he’s keeping his

sights set on people a little further from power.” Details Aida Amoako in The Quietus, “Nine huge seascapes hanging in the main gallery and a three-channel film – Wiley’s first – projected in the gallery across the road. The physical separation of the film and the paintings serves to underscore that while they both explore the relationship these black, mostly male figures have with water, there is a marked visual contrast in that depiction.” Skye Sherwin summarises in The Guardian that, “With its big, brash aesthetic, Wiley’s work shouts loudly about its own contradictions, preempting any protests and leaving little room for conversation. At times the artist handles these ironies with an almost world-weary knowingness.”





Paint the Town Red In the Gemfields tome Ruby, jewellery specialist Joanna Hardy explores the historic fascination with a flame-hued gemstone that has beguiled high society throughout the ages




uby remains an enigma to many. What exactly is a ruby? Diamonds have been revered for centuries amongst royalty, traders and merchants, but so have many coloured gemstones. The last 70 years have seen the clever and persuasive marketing of diamonds, which then overtook coloured gemstones in popularity. Yet rubies are far rarer than white diamonds, a fact that is being recognised in the world-recordbreaking prices that they set at auction. I first tried to consider the wide significance of the colour red itself and the variety of its hue in this exceptional gemstone. The beauty of all coloured gemstones lies in their hue. How we react to a certain colour will depend on how it makes us feel. Red is a powerful chroma, seen in burning fires and in the blood that runs through the veins of every mammal on Earth. It is no surprise, then, that the rarest red gemstone found in riverbeds or deep within the Earth’s crust has always generated intrigue and captured our imagination. Traders would hunt far and wide to lay their hands on these elusive red gems that were believed to give protection against death and evil while increasing the owner’s wealth and status. These stones found by traders and explorers in centuries past intoxicated the senses, stirring deep emotions in those who came into contact with them, from undying love, passion, beauty, temptation and desire to power, anger, jealousy and heartfelt pain. Many red stones originally regarded as rubies, or balas rubies, were later classified as spinels. Although a trained eye is able to tell the difference between a red spinel, garnet, tourmaline, ruby and even foil-backed red paste found in antique jewels easily, some old and ancient jewels still lie in vaults and museums under the assumption that red stones must be rubies when in fact they may be pink sapphires or spinels. Nevertheless, this is all evidence enough that gemstones displaying the colour red were clearly of significant importance in the ancient and medieval worlds. Rubies of gem quality in their natural state are not formed in large crystals, but their vibrancy compensates for their modest size when compared with other gemstones. I have been amazed at the impact a ruby or rubies can have on a design. Just recently I went to see the stunning exhibition in Paris of jewellery from the Al Thani royal family collection: the Nawanagar ruby and diamond that was on display there literally took my breath away with its supremacy. The rubies seemed to glow and their presence dominated the other impressive jewels. It was clear to me at that moment why ruby has 30

been labelled the King of Gems. Maybe it is subconscious, but there seems to be a common belief that rubies are not for the faint-hearted. Women with attitude and strength, who ooze passion and are wildly independent, have chosen to wear rubies or have been given ruby-set jewels by their admirers. This stone and its colour seem to have perfectly complemented their larger-thanlife personalities. A trader once said to me of all gemstones, ‘You do not choose the stone, the stone chooses you’, and I think this is particularly true of rubies. On my journey it was particularly exciting to be reunited with the long-hidden archives of the firm Hennell, with which I have had a long association: to find in an early 20th century Hennell ledger a design similar to the famous 15 th century Hylle Jewel, reinterpreted so that it could be a suitable gift for Queen Mary (as well as the similarly derived ruby-set jewel designed by Castellani in the late 19th century), felt like real detective work. Spotting the coiled snake holding a ruby heart on the left sleeve of Elizabeth I in one of her most famous portraits was a thrilling discovery to me. Another revelation was that the ruby and diamond Cartier necklace bought by the ever-generous Mike Todd for Elizabeth Taylor was in fact able to be worn as a tiara, which none of the past descriptions of this necklace had indicated, not even that which appeared in the Christie’s catalogue that accompanied the sale of Taylor’s jewels. Gemstones can also influence the performing arts. In 1967, Jewels was first performed by the New York City Ballet after choreographer George Balanchine was inspired by the beauty he saw in a jewellery display in the shop window of New York’s Van Cleef & Arpels. This ballet has three movements, each drawing respectively on emerald, ruby and diamond for inspiration, along with a suitably different music score for each. Balanchine saw fire in ruby, and his visionary choreography beautifully depicts the vitality and passion felt from a ruby, using music from Stravinsky and the Jazz Age energy of New York. The performance was magical: it was almost as if the stones had been brought to life. Since Van Cleef & Arpels is famous for its iconic ballerina jewels of the 1940s (among many other creations), it was fitting that the creative art of ballet should have been used to portray the power and radiance of this gemstone. With the recent significant discovery of rubies in Mozambique, it is certain that rubies will continue to be desired, collected and worn by many generations to come. Excerpt from Ruby, written by Joanna Hardy

Opening pages: Transformable Hummingbird Aigrette c1890 ©Chaumet; Ruby necklace This page, top: Platinum swirling ring with cushion-shaped ruby from Mozambique ©Fei Lui; 1979 choker with oval medallions of concentric cabochon rubies ©Bulgari Middle: 1924 brooch in the form of a headdress (Photo by Patrick Gries), ©Van Cleef & Arpels; Open view of the Van Cleef & Arpels Rubis Secret bracelet, ©Van Cleef & Arpels; Ruby Pear Shape Diamond earrings Bottom: 2003 cabochon ruby ring ©Hemmerle; The Wrapped Sash Heart brooch c1940, ©Verdura. All images from Ruby 31


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


H a r ry w i n s t o n

lEgaCy DIamOnD COllECTIOn The King of Diamonds continues its reign with 22 extraordinary white diamond pieces that glimmer with the finest of stones. The suite derives from the Winston Legacy a 101.73-carat pearshaped flawless diamond acquired by Harry Winston at auction in 2013. It is

the realisation of a three-year creative process. A link between a storied legacy and its contemporary direction, the house showcased the suite in its Dubai salon back in November. But its lasting impact elevates it beyond a solitary month; Legacy rules as unprecedented jewellery royalty. 1


B u r B e r ry

DOODlE TOTE In an effort to deconstuct its trademark check pattern, Burberry has deployed the whimsical doodles of British artist Danny Sangra upon a host of its totes. ‘Unexpected’ is one design theme, with shapes, zigzags, spots, stars, and stripes felt-penned upon the iconic motif.

The reversible coated canvas bags with rolled leather handles, are available in medium and large sizes. On in the inseam is all you need to know: ‘Burberry. London. England.’ It’s art meets style (on-the-go), direct from a capital city able to influence both creative realms. 2


louis v uitton

gaSTOn anklE BOOT Famed for embossing its own ‘LV’ monogram upon supple leather travel companions, when Vuitton introduced the popular Mon Monogram it was quite the initiative – allowing loyal clientele to personalise travel pieces with their own lettered moniker, applied with the

flair of savoir faire. These ankle boots in waxed calf leather resurrect that visual, bestowed with an LV signature that echoes the stripes and lettered initials of that successful monogram. A leather handpainted outsole offsets the handcrafted patina, which takes 45 minutes per pair. 3




r m s o t H e B y ’ s a r i z o n a 2 018

a CEnT u Ry OF Sp ORTS CaRS for 2018 is a consignment of cars, which, crucially, have no reserve. Should a 250 GT already grace your garage fleet, fear not: there are plentiful other motors to entice. A 1921 Alfa Romeo GT, a 1919 Ford Model T, and a 1955 Austin Healey are also among this history-laden line-up.

Only 200 of the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II by Pininfarina were ever built, and the blu scuro beauty shown above is just one of the tempting lots from RM Sotheby’s 18th Arizona sale. The auction house is looking to leave rivals in the dust this year, and setting the tone 5



SpRIng 2018 The showcasing of the fashion house’s new collection had a telling detail: at the catwalk unveiling of the Spring 2018 lineup, lookbook mastermind Phoebe Philo placed sleeping bags on audience seats for onlookers to slip into in order “to feel comfortable”. Set within a ‘tent’, this was

glamping on a whole new level, but Philo’s aim of providing comfort is simply the brand all over: soothingly reassuring style, via go-to wardrobe items that are reliably on-trend. Small but mighty, this mini clasp bag in crocodile green is emblematic of the collection’s outdoorsy colour palette. 6


f e r di na n d Be rt Hou d

ChROnOmè TRE FB 1.4 There are watch wishlists, then there are grail watches – that one timepiece a collector considers a simply must have. The recently-released FB 1.4 has already vaulted into latter consideration, with plenty for the admirer to appreciate: an all-titanium case; bright blue accents;

chamfered sapphire bridges; a fusée-andchain transmission. The brand has limited a production of this edition to 20. A watch worthy of pursuit, and of its namesake: the man whom in 1770 was awarded the warrant of Clockmaker and Mechanic, by appointment to the French King and Navy. 7


GiorGe t ti

pROgE T TI puRE 1987 is a sobering three-decades past, but a positive glint to this passage of time is being able to determine which designs from the decade have endured. Unusual armrests made from fine Brazilian Pau Ferro hardwood were one component of a recognisable seating series from Giorgetti, which recaptures nostalgia in an

anniversary release. The beech structure is left exposed this time, in order to highlight woodcrafting skills honed over more than a century. Recline into supple leather and imagine fresh air from the Alps, at the foot of which lies the company’s Brianzabased workshop. Available at Obegi Home in Dubai and Beirut 8

Timepieces JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80

Race Time


nthusiasts of both vintage motor racing, and the legendary watches that go along with the sport, were treated to an exceptional spectacle in Abu Dhabi last month when the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship came to town. Such was the success of the event that a Dubai edition of the race event is planned for 2018. The glorious Golden Age of Formula 1 – considered to be from the end of the 1960s to the mid-1980s – rightly deserves more than one celebration. During that era, racing tires got wider and fatter, lap times got faster, and top speeds heightened. Remember when cigarette brand names adorned the tail fins, instead of energy drink companies? Legends like Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, Mario Andretti, and Riccardo Patrese each made their mark in history, notching up new records and staying in front of the pack. Back then it was still possible for an unknown yet motivated racing team to win – without the need for a multimillion-dollar advertising sponsor. It was pure adrenaline and razor-sharp reflexes – with some remarkable engineering in the pit lanes. The spirit of the Masters is to treat guests to a trip back in time, where cars from that era exit the museums and private garages, and take to the circuit, where motoring thoroughbreds belong. Speaking of motorsport lineage, the event will also include some of the most-loved racing watches of all time. As an official event partner, Momentum Dubai celebrated the achivement of split-second


timing and Master-Horology, trackside. Besides the watches inspired by motorsport, a few other watches of note were shown. Perhaps the most famous of all racing watches is the Rolex Daytona. The ‘Crown’ has been a partner to motor racing since the early 1930s, when they sponsored the legendary speed demon, Sir Malcolm Campbell. He set five of his nine records on the sandy beach race track of Daytona, USA – hence the name we know so well. While racing technology was improving by leaps and bounds in those decades, watchmakers faced a new challenge – how to measure lap times down to the tiniest fraction of a second. A new kind of chronograph was needed – so the Swiss master watchmakers set to work.

When Formula 1 became official in 1950, it was not Rolex, but Heuer which took centre stage with its manually wound mechanical chronographs. Ferrari, Lotus, Lancia and Maserati used chronographs by Heuer – and back then, very often these were operated by the driver’s girlfriends or wives, with lap times recorded on paper. There was plenty of room for error (accidental or otherwise). TAG Heuer laid the groundwork for modern race timing in the seventies by developing their ACIT system (Automatic Car Identification Technology). Small transmitters were fitted to the cars, sending a unique frequency to a receiver at the finish line. At the 1971 Italian Grand Prix in Monza, the first five cars crossed the line with only 0.061 seconds between first and fifth place. Without Heuer’s technology, nobody could have singled out the winner. Chronometers and racing have an enduring relationship. TAG Heuer, Longines, Hublot and most recently Rolex, have all been Official Timekeepers of Formula One racing at one time or another – so it’s only fitting that these magnificent machines took their proper place in Abu Dhabi on race day, next to the racing cars. And when the event does come to Dubai in 2018, there’s sure to be more time to reminisce about the Golden Age of race timekeeping. Dubai’s DIFC is home to Momentum, Tariq’s co-founded vintage watch boutique. momentum-dubai.com 33

Timepieces JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80

Flying the Flag Having celebrated its 185th anniversary last year, our columnist Tariq Malik believes its high time to reflect on some of Longines’ most prized pieces, and how they have been reinvented for its Heritage Collection


WoRds: TarIq MalIk


ere it possible to go back far enough in time, right to the turn of the last century – before the first man walked on the moon, and before the great wars – you would find very few men wearing wristwatches, let alone dress watches. Men only carried pocket watches, as they were practical at the time. You could close the lid, and stuff it in your waistcoat pocket to protect it from the rain and which would easily ruin such a rare and intricate thing. It was during the tumultuous decades of war that sturdier wristwatches first appeared – they were called ‘wristlets’ back then. Only women wore dress watches which were always delicate, often adorned with jewels, and easily broken. As watches became sturdier and of better quality, men finally saw a need for a dress watch – something that would be fitting for a formal occassion. As a reflection of the times, in 1957 Longines created its distinctive Flagship line of men’s dress watches, a line now hailed as highly representative of the era. In a Navy fleet, the ‘flagship’ is the one that carries the commander, and the flag of honour. It’s the ship which is usually at the frontline of the battle, the most heavily armed, and the best equipped. Fittingly, for 34

lindbergh Hour angle Watch

By staying faithful to their originals, few brands revive their historic pieces better than Longines the line’s reincarnation last year, Longines decided to emboss a caravel (which was a highly manouverable Portugese sailing ship) on the back of the Flagship Heritage 60th Anniversary 1957-2017 series. What is particularly enjoyable about this piece are the elongated, faceted lugs, and the thin polished bezel, along with the elegant fluted crown. These are all features typical of dress watches from that period of history. The aligator strap may not be exactly true to the era – although the brushed silvery dial is designed quite faithfully in line with the original – but it doesn’t detract from the overall effect. Indeed, it is as true to the original style of dress watch from the 1950s as any timepiece can be, and a worthy leader of Longines’ modern-day fleet. Back in 2014, the Longines Conquest Heritage was released in homage to another of the brand’s classic dress watches, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.

What delights about the Conquest Heritage is just how faithful it is to the original. Eschewing the opportunity to follow the trend for a larger sized case – as most modern reinterpretations do – Longines was bold to stick with the 35mm case size, and the watch is all the better for it – one for those who love their vintage pieces. Its launch preceded those of 2015’s Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch – originally co-designed by aviator Charles Lindbergh to meet his need for a navigational tool and released in 1930 – which is almost an exact replica of the original. And 2016’s Longines Railroad, a revival of the watch Longines introduced for the rail service in the 1960s, is another near identical piece. We’ve seen a lot of brands reinvent their most important historic watches in recent times, but by staying so faithful to their originals, few do it better than Longines. 35

Timepieces JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80


Written in the Stars

In its latest annual homage to Chinese New Year, Officine Panerai appreciates the Eastern nation’s heritage – while adding a touch of Italian artisanship


here is more than one detail of the Luminor 1950 Sealand 3 Days Automatic Acciaio that is indebted to China for its origins. The depiction of a zodiac hound, exquisitely inlaid upon the watch’s dial-protecting cover, is of course the most apparent: its presence recognising an astrological belief that the culture considers a predestiny of personality. On a more discreet level, the numerals ‘6’ and ‘12’ upon the concealed dial also find their roots in Chinese lore. While the universal 0-9 number system was cemented in a later method – the famed, symbolic Hindu-Arabic system – mathematician Sun Tzu (of The Art of War fame) penned Sunzi Suanjing 425 years prior. In his third century mathematical treatise, he recorded a counting rod system that emanated throughout the ancient world. It was the genesis of the West’s eventual numeric rule. adopted by traders on the Silk Road during the Tang Dynasty. 36

Society is indebted to China’s innovative discoverites in many ways and Chinese New Year, its largest celebration, has specifically served as a springboard for a series of Officine Panerai horology fables. The Luminor 1950 (with P.9000 movement) is the brushed steelfoundation upon which the brand has chosen to commemorate the next phase of the astrological calendar: the Year of the Dog, observed on 16 February. Milvin George, managing director for Middle East and India, explains, “This year’s timpiece is the tenth such model created by us since 2009. In admiration of a fascinating tradition, we annually introduce a dedicated edition, with superb related engravings on the cover.” For that cover detailing, the Florentine watchmaker has brought a healthy dose of its own history to proceedings, deploying the decorative Italian craft of Sparsello to beautify the sophisticated timepiece.

The first part of the complex technique is grooves being hand-carved in the steel, then inlaid with parallel gold threads; these are then beaten until completely smoothed, for a glittering design with visual (and tactile) depth. Panerai feels it is a painstaking yet proud endeavour: “We curated this piece as the successor to similar models dedicated to the astrological animals of the Sheng Xiao – the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit et al. Each has been adorned with cues inspired by traditional Chinese iconography, in this case plum flowers,” explains George. “It is to appeal to our Chinese clientele during one of the grandest and most profound seasons of their calendar.” A 44mm diameter and 7.9mm thickness makes for a comfortable wrist presence, and this Luminor 1950 carries an auspicious production number of 88. The weight of the heritage and historical significance it honours, though, is immeasurable.




Art & Design JANUARY 2018 : ISSUe 80

One Man’s Treasure Robi Walters is living proof that social mobility in the arts is possible – the will just needs to be strong enough to get you there WoRds: Carû SanderS


I come across many things which have been abandoned and find something more in them than their intrinsic worthlessness



ransforming abandoned materials such as discarded flyers, cardboard and old vinyl into works of beauty – all while inspired by his long-standing meditational practice – makes perfect sense in the context of Robi Walters’ background. His early years were marked by an initial period of trauma and upheaval, and he found himself separated from his mother and placed in social care. When he arrived in the care of a foster family, aged five, it took significant time for them to coax him out of his mute acceptance. Now joyfully reunited with his mother (who he sees every day), and in close contact with his foster family, Walters has managed to find an aesthetic that characterises who he is as an artist and as a person. He explains, “I come across many things that have been abandoned and find something more in them than their intrinsic worthlessness.” Walters, a rising star On the London art scene, was advised to paint every day by Chris Offili. Embracing the advice given by the Turner Prize winner, Walters does indeed paint every day, but has become most-recognised for his multimedia and collage works. Walters made his first sculpture out of unwanted trash seven years ago, when he started to think about our consumption habits. He rifled through the bin, pulling out an old cereal box and started cutting it up into petal shapes. He then arranged these into an exuberant, thousand-petalled lotus, all constructed according to the sacred rules of geometry. The artist wanted to see just how far he could take it: the resounding metaphor and coherent throughline to his life and work.


‘How far can this go?’ is the sort of question he may have been asking himself on the eve of his gallery opening in Soho, a space that exists solely for him to make and show his own work, as well form the nucleus of his multiple charitable projects and ambitions. He’s already in discussion to hold a fortnight of charity supper club events with some of the city’s most decorated chefs, to raise money for food poverty in London. Some may say it could be considered unorthodox – foolish, even – to open a gallery in an area that has reached a developmental tipping point, and when many artists are becoming priced out of London entirely. But then Walters would say that he would always venture off course from the well-trodden path. “I think having a place where you work and show that work is really important,” Walters says by way of explanation.

“I was having lunch in The Groucho Club last week and I started chatting to a lady on the opposite table. She mentioned that her son was an artist too. It turned out to be Damien Hirst’s mother. She was lovely; we exchanged numbers, and she said she’d drop by but I didn’t know if she meant it. But she came in today.” He adds, “I think when you say you have a gallery in central London which I don’t think a lot of artists do, people take you seriously. I’ve already had visitors who I believe wouldn’t have come had it been just a studio. I also believe when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, such as making a huge financial investment, it increases your drive and focus.” In 2015, he was recognised as one of the top creatives in the UK by The Telegraph, acclaimed as the winner of the ‘Arts and Culture’ section. He has become a popular

figure among the famous, creating artworks in collaboration with and for countless celebrities, including Paul McCartney, Adele, Thandie Newton and Bryan Adams. Walters recently unveiled a collage piece of Usain Bolt to the sprinter, which he completed six years ago when he was a struggling artist. The composition, so characteristic of Walters’ work, composes thousands of tiny pieces to feature Bolt’s trademark ‘lightning’ stance. Walters presented it at a mutual friends’ venue, and an overwhelmed Bolt asked for it to be sent to his home. Creating art is another way for Walters to access a meditative state of mind, as well as the profound healing it brings. It functions as more than an escape: it “keeps him sane,” he claims. The objective is to create pieces which manage to straddle pop and spirituality, to tap into a deeper and

quieter part of ourselves; a place of inner stillness: “Over many years of self reflection, travel, meditation, psychedelic experiences, and bringingup a family, sacred geometry, I feel, is what I want to do with my artwork and life. Ultimately, I think my buyers feel some kind of personal and spiritual connection with the artwork, as well as enjoying the aesthetics.” The process is deeply spiritual, driven by an overriding aim to stimulate the viewer’s imagination, as well as his own. Constructing mixed media pieces with recycled materials that most of us see as merely disposable, Walters sees beauty and value. This is the undercurrent of his work. That, plus an overriding ambition to see just how far both he and his art can go. Walters’ work will be exhibited in the UAE during Art Dubai, from 21-24 March. robiwalters.com opening pages: Sharpness opposite page: Gheto Music This page: robi Walters; Seven Prayers


Shoot the breeze Capturing the pure brilliance of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Diamond Breeze selection

Art DireCtor: Kerri Bennett PhotogrAPher: GreG AdAmsKi, mmG Artist

Page 1 Volutes d’Hiver necklace Fleurette earrings Snowflake Fleurette watch Fleurette wedding band (model’s right hand) Enlacement wedding band (model’s left hand) Dress: Jarlo, Namshi Premium Page 2-3 Fleurette earrings Enlacement wedding band (model’s left hand) Zip Antique Celeste Dress: Alexis, Bloomingdales Page 4 Flowerlace necklace Snowflake watch Flowerlace ring Flowerlace earrings Jumpsuit: Alexander Wang Page 5 Flying Butterfly earrings Envolee Precieuse Butterfly Between The Finger Ring Aporia Butterfly Clip Dress: SemSem Page 6-7 Palmyre necklace Lotus earrings Lotus Between The Finger Ring with Diamonds Dress: Lanvin Page 8 Folie des Prés earrings Folie des Prés necklace Folie des Prés ring (model’s right hand) Noeud bracelet Socrate Between The Finger Ring (model’s left hand) Top: Theory Skirt: Alexis, Bloomingdales

Model Michelle MMG Models Stylist Gemma Jones MMG Artist Hair and Make-up Katharina Brennan MMG Artist Location Fish, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina

Jessica Chastain appears on-screen this month as a female protagonist navigating a poker-faced world, where her reputation is in danger. Fortunately in real life, her career instincts have yielded less risk, more reward IntervIew: Fabian waintal addItIonal words: chris ujma





egas may be the interview backdrop, but Sin City is not about to waver the steely resolve of Jessica Chastain. “Honestly, I just don’t like to leave things up to chance,” she confesses. “Probably not the best thing to say in Las Vegas – but I like security and would rather spend my money going to a show. I don’t like things being up in the air.” Such measured consistency is the very ingredient that has elevated Chastain’s acclaim – from a TV bit part in E.R. and Independent Spirit Award nomination for Take Shelter, to the brink of a Best Actress Oscar and all the way to clutching a coveted Golden Globe (both for Zero Dark Thirty). “I guess being an actress was the biggest gamble in my life, because so many people try to do that for a job and it’s very rare that you find any success doing it”, she admits. “But I never took a gamble making a movie, because you never know how a film is going to be received. When I’m on a set, that’s all I care about. You never know what’s going to happen politically or socially when the film comes out, so there’s no way you can win or lose making a film.” The Sacramento-born hopeful was dealt an early hand of fortune, though, in one of those outré morsels of Hollywood happenstance. Robin Williams, of Aladdin, Jumanji and Good Will Hunting fame, was her own genie – providing the scholarship that paid for her college education. “It’s crazy. He was very generous man who gave so much and never wanted to be acknowledged for how much he gave. I mean every two years they chose a student at Juilliard who they would bestow this gift on, and it made it possible for me. I’m the first person in my family to go to college – it really changed my life,” she says, poignantly. So Chastain fostered a close relationship with the comedian, before his passing in August 2014? “I didn’t. I never got the chance to meet him. I wrote him letters to thank him,” says the actress. “I was in Los Angeles after I graduated and had a meeting with some director. We were sitting at a restaurant and then Robin came in and he looked at me, but I’m very shy and I didn’t want to interrupt his meal – when he sat down his food


had already been ordered. So I said to myself, ‘when he’s not eating I’m going to go over and say hello’, and before they cleared the plates he ran out like he was late for something. I was going to chase after him but thought, ‘I don’t want to make him uncomfortable and I don’t want to scare him’. So I didn’t do anything. I just I assumed that I would have another opportunity and I never had that.” The financial boost was the final favour, though, ace card duly played. For, when she left the New York-based arts institution, reality was as sharp as the school building’s angular architecture. “It was depressing because we left a place where there was always work and then all of a sudden were out in the industry, and no one cared in Los Angeles that I went to Juilliard or that I had worked on Romeo and Juliet. It wasn’t something that was important to anybody, and I noticed a lot of people just fall into a depression of just waiting for the phone call to say, ‘Here’s your audition.’” Chastain, though, created a “master’s programme” for herself, which proved to be an advantageous sleight of hand. “I adapted Hamlet as a movie for myself: things like that to keep my brain and my creativity flowing. I had a great teacher who once said to me that luck will find anyone, but it doesn’t mean anything if you’re not prepared for when that moment hits you.” Her breakthrough did ‘hit’. Then-unknown Chastain was chosen by Al Pacino for the play Salome in 2006, following an audition. “If I had spent those four years before just feeling sorry for myself and watching television and not really continuing my creativity, I don’t think I would have been cast in that play,” she considers. That she was first ‘noticed’ on stage – as opposed to on the silver screen, for which she later became synonymous – was somewhat apt. “My grandmother took me to a play when I was seven years old. It was in Sacramento and she said to us ‘this is a professional play, this is a big deal’. It was a special treat for us. And we went in and the lights turned off and there was a little girl on stage as a narrator.



I don’t even remember the musical – but as soon as I saw that I just immediately decided, ‘This is what I’m going to do’. So I’m thankful to my grandmother for exposing me to the arts.” She cites watching The Piano Teacher, directed by Michael Haneke and starring Isabelle Huppert, as the ‘big bang’ moment that shaped her outlook of the industry. “It completely changed my idea of what film acting was. Huppert is an actress who doesn’t force anything. She doesn’t try to convey anything to an audience. She’s just there. She feels it and then leads you forward with her, and that’s the kind of acting I realised I wanted to do.” Chastain “likes movies that look at society and the place they put those women in,” and her résumé is replete with such roles – and also with films directed by women. Kathryn Bigelow helmed the acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, while The Zookeeper’s Wife is another of her parts played under female direction. “Working with Nikki Caro on that movie was one of the best experiences of my life and for the first time on a film-set it was like I wasn’t one of five girls out of a hundred guys. There was balance.” The artistic liberation came from Caro “not putting marks on the floor – she creates a space for you to explore... She really helped create a safe place for everyone to be creative.” Chastain is back on screen this month as the lead in Molly’s Game, with Idris Elba and Kevin Costner in supporting roles. It’s an adaptation of the 2014 memoir written by real-life Olympic-level skater Molly Bloom, whose alter ego was as a queen of arranging tournaments for Hollywood stars – before the racket came crashing down following an FBI investigation. ‘Adaptation’ is a key word with this movie. “It was really important for Aaron [Sorkin] that I didn’t copy her speech pattern or her voice. I talked to Molly a lot. I met with her. He wanted me to create another version, but yes, you always hope, as an actor, it goes into your pores. But she’s not someone that I sat and considered ‘I have to get her inflections’, because the director stressed many times not to,” Chastain says, “even though it is an acting method that I love,” she adds with a laugh. “She’s a woman who does what she can to achieve power, and she gets sucked into these misconceptions of what a woman ‘should’ be. She’s a woman trying to make a name for herself in a society that encourages woman to be powerful in certain ways that don’t focus on intellect.” Bloom sits back, observing the game; a facilitator: “Molly doesn’t actually play. She sets up the games, but she doesn’t take that actual risk.” And, by opting for choice roles and making prudent script choices, it’s evident that neither does the actress portraying her. 48



Kaos Theory Unwrapping the mind and creative method of Albert Watson – one of history’s most acclaimed photographers WORDS: Chris Ujma

WORDS: Chris Ujma

Opposite: Butterfly Man from Lost Diary Story, New York City, 1997 © albert Watson, 2017 50


Right: Charlotte with Sombrero, Arizona, 1988 Below: Cindy Sherman Polaroid, New York City, 1994. Both images © albert Watson, 2017



r. Jobs hates photographers,” uttered a PR executive to Albert Watson, five minutes before a prearranged photoshoot with the late Steve Jobs. Watson may have captured some of the greatest names in celebrity, business and fashion, but a four-decadelong career and stellar reputation doesn’t equal an easy pass, or quell the anxiety of those being pictured. Yet the photographer cites the anecdote not as an example of negative subject matter, but as one of countless instances where he had to think on his feet – and turned the odds in his favour. “Something jumped into my mind out of the blue. When Jobs arrived, we were introduced and on the spot I said, ‘Actually, I have some good news for you. I know I have you for an hour, but I think I can do it in half an hour,’” he explains. “His whole demeanour changed right away. He replied, ‘That would be wonderful; I’ve got so much to do.’ I was taking a chance, and would never have said that without that nugget from the PR associate; it changed the dynamic of the situation for the better.” Adaptability is a Watson trait. Publisher Taschen releases his compilation tome Kaos this month as a collector’s edition (with a black furry cover, no less). However the very genesis of the ‘photography collection book’ concept was kickstarted by Watson himself, two decades prior with the eclectic Cyclops which showcased the Scotsman’s diversity. Stylish images of Parisian couture sit alongside to stark insights into a Louisiana penitentiary jail. Elvis’ favourite gun – beside The King’s gold lamé suit – is on one page, while overleaf are desert landscapes of Morocco. “That’s me. That’s what I do,” says Watson with a smile.


“It’s a strange thing. A lot of photographers are more specialised, and become famous for doing one thing. I was always a photographer who enjoyed taking fashion photographs, but I was never solely dedicated to fashion photography. I was interested in a mix: some still life campaigns, some landscape work, some celebrity.” Without shelving his stellar landscapes and life pieces, though, it is his peoplebased portraits and fashion photography that have proven most resonant. His portfolio is full of recognisable portraits – work that categorises as graphics, film, or the two combined in a picture. He’s the quintessential ‘I knew that photograph, but not the photographer’. Producing over 250 magazine covers is bound to have such impact. For example, his seminal photograph of Alfred Hitchcock holding a deceased goose – snapped for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar – was his first breakthrough, and vaulted Watson into the wider creative conscious. He boldly adapted the magazine’s wishes for that first famous shoot, relying on instinct rather than instruction. “At that point I was lucky because Hitchcock responded to the idea – as opposed to what the magazine wanted, which was the goose on a plate. I immediately saw that as quite difficult, these were the days before Photoshop, and you could probably put the plate on a stand where he could pretend to hold it. But I just thought that the plucked goose with some Christmas decorations around the neck was the best solution. In the end, had he refused, then the idea would have been off the table. I appreciate that he actually did it.” It reinforces that, for all his technical know-how (and Watson, who cut his teeth in a pre-digital age before

If you’re a people photographer, your best asset is your own persona



Opposite: Jack Nicholson, Aspen, Colorado, 1981 Below: Magic Monkey, New York City, 1992. Both images © albert Watson, 2017

self-levelling contrast values and colour, has bundles), his greatest weapon is not the camera or array of equipment. “If you’re a people photographer your best asset is your own persona,” he enthuses. “It’s about how you communicate with people, because they’ll be nervous – even famous stars – as they don’t know you at first. You want to make them feel confident, because they hear about you being a good photographer but you could actually be a pain in the neck.” To facilitate the conversation, Watson determines research as crucial. “With celebrities, you have to know their background and what their latest project is – it makes communication that much easier. If you’re photographing a Johnny Depp, it’s important to get additional information and any behind-the-scenes facts you can get hold of, to make that dialogue easier.” Elaborating on that archetypal Steve Jobs job, Watson explains, “I’d had something planned to say to him, of course, having done a massive amount of research on him from the available literature, and for the prized shot I said to him, ‘Imagine you’re across the table from a lot of people who disagree with you – but you know you’re right’. He responded, ‘Well that’s the easiest thing in the world for me because I do that every day.’ With me he was funny and charming, and loved the picture.” A great picture is a surefire way to negate any apprehension, and Watson learned from one particular early experience to assert his expertise. Shooting a cosmetics advertising campaign, Watson took a snap at the beginning of the day when the model first arrived on set, deciding the polaroid “looked pretty good.” The creative director, though, said, “‘I think we should change the hairstyle’, which led to a knock-on effect of the blouse being changed, then the jewellery, and such. We continued until evening, but the director later picked up that initial polaroid – from before the changes – and said ‘did we shoot this?!’ It appealed to him hours later.” 54

So a black mark against the creative director, then? “Only five per cent. I would take 95 per cent of the blame for that, because when I first saw it, I knew inside that it was a good shot, and should have said so right away. I never allowed it to happen again,” he admits. There can also be a dissonance between expectation and reality to contend with. Watson explains. “Very often, people are wrong – in my opinion. If they’d like a picture taken a certain way, I try to work that way to give them something they like, but that I feel is non-compromising, with strength and power…” One senses a ‘but’. “But sometimes you have to protect people against their own ideas. Some have been abrupt where they want it done a certain way, and the creative director will concur that it’s perfect. I’ll insist on capturing my own additional concept, very quickly. nine times out of 10, the creative director will say ‘make sure you send those to me as well.’” Though he has masterminded a glut of commercial campaigns, movie posters and elaborate concepts, Watson cites the key to his success as “simplicity”, saying, “A lot of my pictures have a straightforwardness. You’re trying to work with people to get something out of nothing. Very often you start a portrait of the person that is not ‘in situation’ – on a beach or on top of a building with a view of the city – but in the studio. Your first hit on the camera may just look like their passport picture. Therefore the mission is to elevate it to something that retains the simplicity, but has a lot more intensity.” Visual candour can have a profound effect: a photograph of Kate Moss that Watson took in 1993 unexpectedly garnered USD103,000 at a 2007 Christie’s auction. Sometimes the picture is intangibly right and – armed with planning, research and talent – Albert Watson confronts the unpredictable, finding that blink of perfection within the swirling chaos. The collector’s edition of Albert Watson’s Kaos is released this month by Taschen. taschen.com

Sometimes you have to protect people against their own ideas

Rei Kawakubo has changed the course of late 20th and early-21st century fashion. If she didn’t already exist, we’d have to invent her




Mr. ‘The Voice’. ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’. Frank Sinatra was given many a nickname, but to long-time manager Eliot Weisman, the singer was simply ‘Boss’. The relationship between crooner and confidant resulted in his most successful ever album WoRdS: Chris Ujma




egrets, he had a few, but Duets – the Frank Sinatra record which introduced his songs and suave to a whole new generation – would not end up being one of them. It was a close call, though: the singer’s triple platinum-selling album almost never materialised. The record came to mark the pinnacle of Sinatra’s swansong, which coincided with the managerial stewardship of Eliot Weisman. The timing of his tenure admittedly came during the home stretch of Sinatra’s illustrious career: post Rat Pack glory; after Come Fly With Me had flown; after Ol’ Blue Eyes had ruled much of the 1950s and then led off the 1960s with “one of the greatest ever bodies of work in popular music,” his manager believes. But Weisman’s managerial guidance (and priceless friendship) oversaw some imperative Sinatra moments – and those decades of allegiance produced not only the aforementioned collaborative hit and bolstered a reputation for live performance, but applied final, gracious touches to a proud legacy. They met “as a matter of circumstance”. Indeed Weisman had ‘never had plans of entering the entertainment arena.’ From a disastrous stint as president at the Westchester Premier Theatre (which sank within a mere four years), he emerged clutching a life preserver. Weisman had worked for accounting firms and obtained a law degree prior to being involved in the theatre, and began to hang around the entertainers and their industry managers who he was ‘able to relate to’. “To be honest, when the theatre went down I wasn’t looking at options to make a living – the opportunity was there and I seized it, building credibility by managing Liza Minnelli plus Steve and Eydie, then Frank came on board and all of a sudden I had the best male entertainer in the world, the best female entertainer, and the best husband/wife team. You could say I had a great start.” When Sinatra parted ways with his former manager – Hollywood powerhouse Mickey Rudin – Weisman “Wanted to help them put things back together. Rudin thought Sinatra’s career was over and he had other, more


The lustre of the Sinatra name shone on everyone around him. If you had him as a friend you didn’t need much else in life

important clients to tend to.” But when Rudin passed away, more than a decade after their parting, the headline in the New York Times still read, ‘Lawyer for Sinatra and Other Stars’. “Sinatra was everyone’s biggest and brightest star. If you had Sinatra as a client, his allure extended to all your clients. I never once had to use Sinatra’s name to negotiate a better deal for another performer, but his influence was ever-present.” The singer was far from done, and in Weisman he’d found a firm believer. “The Sinatra name was a brand long before building your own brand became a national pastime,” he explains. “The lustre of the Sinatra name shone on everyone around him. If you had Sinatra as a friend, well, you didn’t need much else in life. Sinatra made men. He certainly made my career.” In deference, Weisman only ever called him ‘Mr. S’, or ‘Boss’, and was kept on his toes. He says, “I spent so many hours of my life trying to stay

ahead of him, and he appreciated that. I was always trying to be ahead of the game so that his wellbeing – accommodation and such – was very well taken care of, and I think that he appreciated that.” But, as Weisman’s son Roy implored, ‘Don’t you owe it to the world to make another Sinatra album?’ And the seeds for what would become Sinatra’s bestselling triumph were first sown in late 1980s. “I was sitting with Jilly Rizzo – the Boss’ confidante and bodyguard – after a show in ‘87,” Weisman recalls. “The Boss had gone to sleep a little early that night, and a few of us were discussing how Warner Music had started to become a pain, putting a lot of pressure on Sinatra to lay down a recording. The last time he’d been in the studio was in 1983, and every year record executive Mo Ostin would call to ask, ‘Hey, is he going to work on finishing the album?’ And the Boss would go for a day to do a little work.



Jilly remarked, ‘They’re wasting their time. He’s never going to find 12 new numbers to put into an album.’ He added, ‘What they should do is get everyone to sing their favourite Sinatra song with him, on a duets album.’” The idea percolated in Weisman’s mind. Fast forward to 1992, and he was having an after-show dinner in The 21 Club with [Capitol Records executive] Charles Koppelman. “He said, ‘Eliot, I know Frank’s not signed to any record label, and I’d like to produce his last album.’ My reaction was, ‘Well, Charles, have you got material for him to sing?!’ He said ‘No, that’s your problem.’ I didn’t have 12 new songs and even if I had, I didn’t think he’d be able to make it. When I came back to New York in the middle of the night I woke up and said to myself ‘I’ve got it. Jilly’s idea. Duets’. He bounced the idea off Barbara Streisand’s manager Marty Erlichman, and his songstress client agreed, choosing I’ve Got a Crush On You. Luther Vandross selected The Lady Is A Tramp, while Come Rain or Come Shine was a Sinatra duet with Gloria Estefan. Julio Iglesias featured on Summer Wind; I’ve Got You Under My Skin starred U2’s Bono; on What Now, My Love? he teamed with Aretha Franklin. But despite settling the business side of the record, “Mr. S fought me tooth and nail – until he heard the completed master and admitted being satisfied”. Sinatra was 77, and it had been almost ten years since his last recording, LA Is My Lady. “It was the first time I had ever been in a studio with the Boss, and his presence sent an undeniable wave of nervous excitement through the room,” says Weisman. But, attuned to the frequency of this musical genius, he recognised something wasn’t right. “He stood there in his satin Members Only bomber jacket and his demeanour was all wrong. This was the guy who owned every room he ever walked into. He looked uncomfortable, and almost shy. In more than two decades together, I had never seen him scared before. Nothing fazed him. He was the Boss, he was in charge – always. He directed with surety and everyone followed his cue. So here we were, ready to make the boldest move of his career in years, and he was hesitant.” 60

opening pages: Frank sinatra as Nathan Detroit in Guys And Dolls 1955 Previous pages: sinatra and Eliot Weisman; sinatra circa 1950 opposite: sinatra recording at Columbia recording studios, Liederkrantz hall

He was the Boss, he was in charge – always. He directed with surety and everyone followed his cue The apprehension gained traction from cracks of self-assurance, believes Weisman: “Mr. S lived his life with strength, courage, and at times even reckless abandon. Yet nothing frightened him more than eroding the patina of his glorious run. Still, he forged ahead, refusing to be shelved with all the forgotten musicians of a bygone era. Nothing made him happier than staying relevant and in demand.” The man Weisman proclaims ‘the champion of the underdog’ needed those around to champion him. “You can do this,” he recalls telling Frank. “I ran through all the protections I had set up for him. If he didn’t like the final cut, nothing would be released. He had no financial responsibility; Capitol paid for everything. Best of all, technology had significantly improved since the last time he was in the recording studio. If a note were off, now it could be fixed.” Once in the recording studio, the magic did indeed flow, capturing an aura the manager had witnessed time and again in front of adoring crowds. “I think he always had that look about him; he had that air of being the boss, and of being in control,” Weisman

explains. “When on-stage, with the ability he had, he wasn’t singing notes. There was a feel and a meaning to every lyric. What endeared him to the fans was a professionalism – he was in charge, was second-to-none, and carried himself as such.” To Weisman, that the album came to fruition is less a cause for celebration and more a fulfilling of duty. “I considered all my clients to be my friends, and while money matters were my strong suit, I learned to play psychiatrist and protector as well,” he confesses. “I knew their likes and dislikes and when to push and when to pull back. That was especially important with the Boss. I learned to read his moods and his body language.” Sinatra famously “did it my way” until the end. Yet in those final years, it’s the support from loyal custodians such as his wife, bodyguard and manager that ensured he never lost his way. The rapport with Weisman in particular, unsung though it was, proved to among his most important ‘duets’. The Way It Was, My Life With Frank Sinatra is written by Eliot Weisman with Jennifer Valoppi. Available from Hachette Books




Motoring JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80

Great Expectations The 2018 Mercedes-AMG S 63 does everything you’d expect it to (but better), plus a whole host of things you don’t. How quintessentially S-Class WORDS: ChrIS UJMA




hile rivals are busy building the car of tomorrow, the futuristic S-Class lineage takes an approach that feels light years ahead. Across the generations, features have been admired but underrated in their own time. The flagship offering from the Affalterbach-based marque serves as the vessel to deliver cutting edge, unseen innovation that, eventually, seeps into the industry at-large (by which time, Mercedes-Benz is yet further miles ahead). As the brand itself says, ‘What begins as a breakthrough becomes the standard for every car on the road’. So many recognisable industry staples were traits first bestowed upon this pioneer; one needn’t have owned a Mercedes to be familiar. Adjustable, separate heater controls for driver and passenger (from the 1954 Ponton); front and rear crumple zones (1965 Fintail); the first application of ABS anti-lock braking (1972’s W116); first ever seatbelt pretensioners (mid1990s); voice activated phone operation (1991-98). Mercedes’ list of ‘you saw it here first’ is endless. An adage springs to mind with the S-Class and its innovative trope: ‘Don’t give the people what they want. Give them what they never knew they needed’. Which leads neatly to the current crop. Each new wave of S-Class means an array of configurations to suit all tastes, yet our gaze turns to the sculpted 2018 Mercedes-AMG S 63, in the upper echelons of the S-Class heirarchy. White-knuckle sports performance is blended with an interior that mimicks the Maybach (the long-wheelbase luxury super sedan) in comfort. Those craving vast power see the dynamic S 63 as the most menacing ‘S’; a belief confirmed on our four-day drive. There’s a certain duality to its personality: a classy sedan visage belies the track-tuned performance it is able to unleash, due to the ‘One Man, One Machine’ work of AMG. For the best example of the duplicity, look to the features of its ‘face’. Stately and sophisticated with a Ponton-esque fender and understated hoodtop crosshair, the fascia evokes a suave first impression when chaffeuring a VIP occupant to the red 64

carpet edge of a high society soiree. The large air inlets located below the numberplate are indicative of its alterego; dormant aggression, waiting for the ‘driven’ to become the ‘driver’. Out on the road, it was a Dubai dream. In Comfort drive mode, it sailed serenely down UAE boulevards past coveted addresses and towering skyscrapers. Then, when galloping down desert highways flanked by rocky slopes and caravans of camels, a click to Sport+ (which enables a gearshift strategy optimally adapted to the needs of the racetrack) kicks up a maelstrom. Expect 0-100km/h in just 3.5 seconds. Yes, from this innocent-looking sedan; no compromise necessary. Today’s roads are fraught with anxiety: erratic road-users ramp up stress levels, while unavoidable traffic jams add to that feeling that the car has become a second (or third) home.

The cabin of the S-Class is a secluded cocoon from that snarling outside world; a sanctuary stuffed with personalisation points for the most particular of guests. You’ll have to swish down the windows to appreciate those gutteral Sport+ engine rasps, such is the soundproofing of the cabin, and a wall of rich surround sound emits from bassy Burmester speakers. Rather than its long-form name, you might end up calling this car ‘The Mood-Maker’: its world-first Energizing Comfort Control (ECC) swathes those inside with wellness technology that mirrors emotion. The aura is set by those little calibrated touches: interior perfume (in my case, fragrant Freeside Mood) delicately wafts through the vents; multi directional contoured seats pulse ten-minute massage programmes into tired muscles.

All images: 2018 Mercedes-AMG S 63 sedan in Designo diamond white bright

It has a simple way to impress those who don’t salivate over a 4-litre handcrafted AMG V8 biturbo engine, and nine-speed automatic transmission (which the S 63 has); flick through the menu on the 12.3 inch high-resolution display to the ambient light settings. Up pops a rainbow colourwheel, from which to choose one of 64 different LED colour settings in which to bathe the cabin, and the option of soothing, multi-hued light-shows such as Dawn Blue, Jungle Green and Fire Red. Anything to suit your mood (or your outfit). “I’d buy it just for this!” beamed my style-conscious friend. But beneath that unbridled joy lies a salient psychological point: Mercedes ensures its vehicles achieve optimal performance, yet the raft of intuitive ECC settings change the playing field, from ‘how does the car feel?’ to ‘how does the driver feel?’.

Mercedes is as concerned with driver health as with performance vigour: lighting, climate, fragrance, heating, and massaging functions, combine to create an on-road haven. Of course, safety plays an integral part in securing peace of mind, and the driving systems act as a reassuring co-pilot. Some of those helping repel intrusion of this personal space: active distance assist to keep the car ahead at bay; cruise control cleverly adjusts for curves and speed limits; lane change and steering assists that vibrate or discreetly nudge you to make corrections, ever-protective. With DNA that traces back to the Mercedes Simplex 60 hp from 1903, the S-Class badge is a Mercedes-Benz symbol for modern luxury. With layers of opulent comfort –and quite literally with the array of hyper-alert driving systems – nothing comes close. 65

By the Dozen

Designed to seat just 12 people, The Experience is Reif Othman’s bespoke 10-course gastro gallop through some of the finest ingredients to hit the UAE’s fair shores. We meet the man who continues to lead Dubai’s culinary charge


WORDS : John ThaTcher


Gastronomy JANUARY 2018 : ISSUe 80




eif Othman is a ball of excitable energy, bouncing from his kitchen to welcome me from the elevator, which opens at the 37 th floor of The H Dubai. It’s here, a little short of four hours from now, that his dinner guests for this evening will gather to embark on a culinary journey Reif has termed The Experience, a 10-course menu of dishes conjured up at short notice. Actually, scrap that. It’s not short notice. Short notice implies advance warning. Reif doesn’t work with the luxury of pre-knowledge: “Sometimes I don’t know what ingredients we have to work with until seven o’clock. By seven thirty the first dish might be served up,” he says, before his mouth widens to a warming smile. The reason for his seat-of-your-pants style lies in a desire to serve only the finest ingredients, “to give the best of the best to my customers”, which means working with what his trusted suppliers (just the two) are able to bring in on any given day, from places as far and wide as France and Japan. “I squeeze them to get the quality I want,” he says, before unleashing a devilish laugh. “I’m very lucky and blessed that our investor backs me to do exactly whatever I want. I can be who I want to be here.” From an early age, Reif had only ever wanted to be a chef. Born in Singapore into a family of four, Reif’s father, though, had laid a different path for his son to follow. “My dad didn’t want me to go into this trade. He wished for me to enter the corporate world. But I had this passion for food.” Fueling this passion, perhaps unwittingly, was Reif’s mother, who ran her own food stall from where she served Javanese cuisine, a mix of Indonesian and Malaysian flavours. Reif helped out on the stall when time allowed, observing how particular ingredients combined to make unique flavours. “To see how a raw ingredient is turned into a dish is something special. I used to head to the market with my mum to buy the ingredients and then watch how she turned them into this amazing family meal. It was always a wow moment for me.” By way of appeasing his father, Reif took an accountancy course, yet 68

wouldn’t be denied his dream, secretly studying at one of Singapore’s top culinary schools and seeing his skills flourish. Then came the hard work. “I wanted to prove my dad wrong,” he says, pumping a fist into his hand. “I had the drive, this desire to succeed.” Every holiday was spent working in restaurants, grafting to gain knowledge and experience. “When I started out it was very tough for chefs. You had to start right at the bottom, washing pots and pans long before you actually got to hold a knife. You had to have patience. You had to know the basics. These days you see people leave (culinary) school and next thing they’re head chef of a restaurant.” As someone who has sweat for his success, such scenarios clearly rankle Reif. “These days a chef appears on the TV and bang, you’re a big name. Being a chef is a trend now. It’s not that. The likes of Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Gordon Ramsay, these are the boys, the real chefs, because they’ve had to work really hard for it.” It’s not the only element of modern day gastronomy to irk. “Bloggers are taking the world, and some are simply annoying. They just want a free meal and aren’t honest with their reviews. That’s wrong. To provide critique you really need to know about food. Same goes for restaurant awards in Dubai. I won’t mention which ones, but it’s often a case of ‘you like me, I like you, I’ll give you this award’. I ask if Reif thinks the idea of a genuine culinary authority, such as Michelin, launching here to rate Dubai’s restaurants would be a good idea? “I’m in two minds about that. It would be good to show the world that Dubai is on the up and that there a lot of little places serving good food now. And it would help set and keep standards high, keeping chefs and restaurants on their toes to make sure that the service and quality is consistently there. But, on the other hand, right now I’m not sure people here have the adventure to regularly go out and spend the sort of money you’re talking for Michelin restaurants.” Reif’s own star first shone in Singapore, where he held the position of Group Executive Chef for One Rochester Group, and then



later at Zuma Dubai, where he was instrumental in planting a flag for Dubai on the world’s culinary map. For four years, under Reif’s tenure, Zuma Dubai was voted among Restaurant Magazine’s prestigious list of the world’s best 100 restaurants. “I think it shook the Dubai culinary scene,” reckons Reif. “Nobody from the company had a connection to anybody involved with the awards or their sponsors, so when the list came out it was the first we knew of it and a huge shock.” Consistency was key. “We were routinely doing 600, 700 covers, and my thinking was that if we have that many covers the food needs to taste the same tomorrow as it does today,” says Reif, who had by then established himself as Dubai’s most innovative chef. He spent six years at Zuma Dubai. Was that long enough? “For sure. I did what I had to do. On top of Dubai I opened up Abu Dhabi, revamped the one in Istanbul, had pop-ups in Miami and Hong Kong. My last task was with Zuma New York, while concurrently planning the kitchen for Zuma Rome. I did my part. Zuma was created by Rainer Becker. I had this desire to get out and do something on my own.” First, however, came PLAY time. The sprawling lounge venue one floor below The Experience, where Reif has made Dubai dining icons of such dishes as pita surprise, a baked crispy pita bread filled with wagyu beef and truffle paste, was never meant as his next venture. “When I joined I wasn’t involved in PLAY. I was working on another, solo project (more of that later), but when the owners suggested that food could play an integral role in their nightlife lounge concept, I thought, why not?” PLAY’s success gave Reif further license to indulge his creativity, and hence The Experience was served. Its location was originally earmarked for an office, before Reif intervened. “With room for only 12 people, it doesn’t feel like a restaurant, and that’s what I aimed for. I want people to feel as though they’re in my home, eating at my table and in relaxed company.” When I dined at The Experience, I thoroughly enjoying the myriad flavours which peppered the ten courses (an adventurous yuzukoshō sorbet through to pillow-soft chunks 70

I want people to feel as though they’re in my home, eating at my table and in relaxed company of sendai filet) the couple next to me prefaced each course by taking a photo of the dish for Instagram. I ask Reif for his thoughts on this, following news that the threeMichelin starred Waterside Inn in England has banned diners from photographing their food. I half expect him to support such a move, given his thoughts on bloggers who blag, so his answer surprises. “Instagram for me can help me see my dishes in a different light, from a different angle. Maybe there are elements that I don’t see when serving up that I then spot on Instagram, and I can use that knowledge to improve for the next time. I’d never be like, ‘no pictures!’. I like to give our guests freedom, and at the end of the day they’re a paying customer.” More chef’s apartment than chef’s table, The Experience arguably ranks as Dubai’s most unique all-round dining experience, one which Reif always hosts and cooks at when it’s open from Wednesday to Friday. “I have to. It’s my name on the wall,” he says, pointedly. This is another topic to stir Reif’s

emotion. “A lot of people have asked me to bring The Experience to London and New York, but as I can’t be there to cook I said no. I don’t want that. “This kind of chef is just in it for business reasons, nothing else. Hotel owners feel privileged to have these big-name chefs as part of their offering, but if the chefs aren’t there, what’s the point? When the chef’s not around, the food isn’t good or the restaurant is empty. When the chef’s in town, the restaurant is full. It shows that people have to wake up. “We’re starting to see more homegrown brands in Dubai, but many places are still making the mistake of franchising big-name chefs and brands, putting their name to a restaurant yet not being there themselves. Dubai doesn’t want or need this. It wants homegrown brands with innovative thoughts.” Which leads us nicely to that next project of his, due to see the light of day at the end of this year. “It’s going to be something casual, yet funky. I’m going to create something new all over again. I’m excited.”



24 journeys by jet

Royal Mansour Marrakech WoRds: TIFFany ESLICK


Travel JANUARY 2018 : ISSUE 80


t took 1,200 artisans just over three years to produce the masterpiece of Moroccan architecture that is the Royal Mansour. It’s a remarkable feat, almost unbelievable – especially once you enter its enormous etched bronze doors. This five-star property was the vision of King Mohammed VI, who wished to pay homage to traditional craftsmanship and hospitality. Beyond its mosaic-clad lobby with its billowing curtains and burbling fountains, lies a secret city where staff scurry along underground passages to ensure guests’ privacy and a riot of Moorish patterns, carved cedar wood, stained glass, inlaid marquetry, chandeliers and extravagance awaits. Wrapped inside the ancient ramparts of Marrakech’s medina, the hotel offers guests 53

riads. These terracotta-toned bastions are set along winding alleyways flanked by cascading bougainvillea, knobby olive trees, citrus and pomegranate trees and date palms. Each one is spread across three floors and built around a traditional courtyard (with a canopy that automatically unfolds should it rain). Inside you’ll find a sumptuously appointed salon with a fireplace; a bedroom dripping in silk and a marble and onyx bathroom with a gargantuan bathtub, rain shower and amenities by MarocMaroc - a native brand which uses ingredients like dates, argan oil and rose. Private rooftop terraces featuring plunge pools and vistas of the Atlas Mountains beckon for you to spend languorous afternoons in the sun. 73



The hotel’s three restaurants are overseen by French chef Yannick Alléno, who brought three Michelin stars to Le Meruice in Paris. La Grande Table Marocaine serves reinterpreted local classics, such as a cucumber salad with thyme and orange blossom foam, a superb pigeon pastilla and slow-cooked metchoui-style lamb that falls off the bone. White-gloved butlers wearing traditional hooded robes glide around the candle-lit setting, anticipating your every need. La Grande Table Française offers innovative fare with standout dishes including a langoustine and crab puff pastry tart topped with gold Oscietra caviar for the coconut desert, smashing open its meringue shell to unveil an ice cream explosion may seem like unruly behaviour given the elegant French setting, but it has to be done. The more casual Le Jardin, which neighbours a sprawling new outdoor pool area with cabanas and bars, is Alléno’s latest gastronomic venture where the focus is on Asian food served al fresco. There is also La Table, an all-day dining space, a trio of bars and a salon de thé in the spa. The latter is set within a giant glass atrium that’s flooded with sunlight and designed around a latticed wrought-iron frame. It’s perhaps best known for its indulgent hammam rituals with fragranced steam, warm water and cold plunge pools, however, the menu’s list of treatments are no less impressive. An orangery houses a long rectangular swimming pool and there’s a Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio By Bastien Gonzalez, the world renowned podiatrist. It’s obvious that keeping hidden within Royal Mansour’s walls would be an easy choice during a stay. For those looking to explore, the hotel offers a handful of exclusive experiences that no other visitor to Marrakech would ever be able to do. An example is exploring the incredible house of renowned fashion designer, photographer and perfumer Serge Lutens, which is another showpiece of traditional craft. Bespoke tours of the medina’s alleyways and atmospheric Djemaa El Fna square are also an option. Once you tire of the markets, musicians, soothsayers and food vendors, look for the Koutoubia Minaret or the hotel’s cluster of towering palm trees and follow the scent of orange blossom home. Marrakesh Menara Airport is just a short drive from the city and Royal Mansour. The property offers complimentary private transfers in Bentley and Range Rover fleets. royalmansour.com 75

What I Know Now




You’ll think I’m making this up, but my first memory is of cars. Toy cars. Corgi. Matchbox. Hot Wheels. I used to set up tracks complete with corners – turn one, turn two, turn three – where trucks raced Lamborghinis, they both raced Formula One cars, and sometimes the trucks even pulled off an unlikely victory. There was no eureka moment. No single event that changed me from normal average Jenson Button into ‘Jenson Button, Car Fanatic’, it just sort of… happened, like learning to walk and talk. It was just in me. No sport offers a greater potential for letting the team down than Formula One. The difference is that I never believed in my ability to play team sports, whereas I’ve always had confidence in my skill as a racer. I always knew that I’d 76

earned my place on the team and on the grid.

guy in the car, which in my case means bursting my race engineer’s eardrums.

If I crashed, then of course I’d be upset for the team and I’d go round saying sorry, but I never thought I’d let the side down; that I shouldn’t be there. I’m not sure if it’s an especially admirable way to live your life but I made sure to stick to what I was good at.

People said that after Judy Murray my dad was the most influential parent in sport. That may be so. But to me he was the old boy, Dad, Papa Smurf. He was the leader of my gang. He plotted me a route through life, a way of being; he showed me that you should work hard at something and excel, but never lose sight of why you’re doing it in the first place.

What I love to do is watch old races and qualifying sessions. Not to see my driving (well, not much) but for that bit they always show on TV when the picture flicks to the reaction of your team or your friends and family. There was a great shot of my mates hugging when I won the World Championship in Brazil, an image I’ll treasure for ever... Seeing it later means I get the best of both worlds. I witness the celebrations but I also get to be the

He guided me, not by cajoling or insisting but by coaching and nurturing. He made it so that I only ever got in the driving seat out of a love for racing. He made it fun.

Abridged excerpt from Jenson Button: Life To The Limit, My Autobiography, available from Blink Publishing

Profile for Hot Media

Air Magazine - Nasjet - January'18  

Air Magazine - Nasjet - January'18  

Profile for hotmedia