Page 1

JULY 2018

LILY JAMES


CALIBER RM 07-01


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


Contents JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

EDITORIAL Editorial Director

John Thatcher AIR

Managing Editor 8

Faye Bartle Editor

Chris Ujma christopher@hotmediapublishing.com Assitant Editor

Radhika Mathur

ART Art Director

Kerri Bennett Designer

Jamie Pudsey Illustration

Leona Beth Forty Two

Dancing Queen

Fifty Four

The Hunt for Success

Lily James, playing a young Meryl Streep, is back in the sequel to Mamma Mia – so here she goes again...

Likeable Simon Pegg has achieved the impossible – moving from indie cult hero to blockbuster mainstay

Forty Eight

Sixty

Hollywood Boot Shop How Salvatore Ferragamo found himself in the right place (LA) at the right time (the dawn of Hollywood) 8

COMMERCIAL Managing Director

Victoria Thatcher Group Commercial Director

David Wade

david@hotmediapublishing.com Commercial Director

Serving with Purpose

Rawan Chehab

The legend of Arthur Ashe went beyond the tennis court, setting the template for the activist athlete

PRODUCTION

rawan@hotmediapublishing.com

Production Manager

Muthu Kumar


Contents

AIR

JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Eighteen

Sixty Six

A new exhibit explores the impact of all-time love when experienced between alltime art greats

A drive inside the all-new Audi A8: a spaceship flagship to propel the German marque into the future

Twenty Eight

Seventy

To step inside one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms is to become a part of her profound art

The Michelin Guide Main Cities of Europe spotlighted continental gems – and Onyx in Budapest shone bright

Thirty Four

Seventy Four

Richard Mille’s RM 67-02 has emerged from the heat of sporting battle and earned its right to top the podium

The high life takes on literal meaning with a heady stay in a Bird’s Nest Pool Villa at Keemala, in Phuket

Radar

Art & Design

Timepieces

Motoring

Gastronomy

Travel

Thirty Eight

Jewellery

Never-before-seen pieces from the collection of Marie Antoinette are among a royal treasure trove being auctioned by Sotheby’s 10

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.


A NEW PLACE OF DREAMS AND NEW SENSATIONS

The beautiful swimming pool with its elegant pavilions nestling beneath palms and olive trees is situated in the most sensuous and life affirming of settings.

SOMMETOUTE - fusiodesign.com

Close by, shaded by the pergolas is ÂŤLe JardinÂť restaurant, offering a tempting and innovative menu throughout the day. This idyllic traditional Moroccan garden setting encapsulates the true spirit of the Royal Mansour, Marrakech.

TEL.+212 (0) 529 80 80 80

www.royalmansour.com


NasJet JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

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:

Welcome Onboard JULY 2018

• Cessna Citation Excel, which can seat six passengers and fly for up to three 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. • Boeing 767, which can seat up to 44 passengers and fly for up to 14 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, 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.

Cover: Lily James. Sean & Seng / AUGUST

Captain Mohammed Al Gabbas Senior Vice President

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


NasJet JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

A VIP addition: the Boeing 767 NasJet is proud to announce the addition of a new VIP Boeing 767 under its management programme, making it the largest aircraft NasJet currently operates. Adding a Boeing 767 to NasJet’s capabilities illustrates the full strength of the organisation, and adds to its large business jet aircraft portfolio of Boeing and Airbus aircraft. “There’s high demand in Saudi Arabia for large airplanes, and it is a blossoming niche of the market – especially in the Middle East” explains Yosef F Hafiz, Chief Commercial Officer 14

at NasJet. “Regionally, nobody can provide this kind of capacity, and the 767 has been adopted into our fleet because it suits a growing demand for sizeable, long range craft.” The 767 has been long regarded as an asset among the world’s commercial airlines, with its size enabling upwards of 250 passengers to be transported onboard, commercially. Translate those dimensions to the private aviation realm, and you’re ensured acres of jet to enjoy. This particular aircraft, which belongs to private individual, can spaciously host up to 44 passengers, and has the ability to handle any duration the

guest needs – up to 14 hours nonstop, from Riyadh to New York or Washington in the US, for example. An entourage need not travel light, either, as the aircraft stowage area can comfortably accommodate 400 pieces of luggage. Step aboard, and the vessel is a comfortable living space that promises luxury and convenience while in the air. Features include a full galley (in which the dedicated onboard chef can work their magic), two VIP seating areas (with a divan and single seats) and a conference table. The aft of the plane has been fitted with additional leather recliners for


further occupants, and a full bedroom area with en suite and shower makes for the ultimate restful journey. Captain Mohammed Al Gabbas, Senior Vice President at NasJet, regards the aircraft “a piece of art”, while an equally praiseworthy Hafiz deems it “a hotel in the sky.” The 767 is the 29 th plane under NasJet’s management and operation.

Preparing for IPO FLYNAS and NasJet are preparing for its first Initial Public Offering (IPO), mooted for the latter stages of 2018.

NasJet, which used to be a division of Nas Holding, was made part of FLYNAS in an effort to streamline the organisation under one umbrella. The move has further allowed NasJet to tap into new resources which had not been available, hence increasing the efficiency of the overall operation. Once complete, the IPO will see 30 per cent of the company released to the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), inviting Saudi citizens to subscribe to the IPO. Yosef F Hafiz, Chief Commercial Officer of NasJet Private Aviation – Commercial, says the decision

was driven by the desire for further success. “It will inject a huge amount of money into the company which will allow us to buy new equipment and new aircraft, enabling substantial growth of the business,” he explains. And while the road to IPO is complex (with many steps still to navigate), on a broader scope Hafiz is positive. “There have already been two strong IPOs in Saudi Arabia this year from real estate investment firms, and we have seen the Tadawul climb to its highest point since 2015. This would be a good year to list, but as with any IPO process it may take a little longer. However our intention is there.”


Welcome to NasJet NASJET JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

16


THE BEST JUST GOT BETTER How do you top having the world's best-selling light jet for six years running? You make it even better. More spacious. More ergonomic. More technologically advanced. And more phenomenal. Now, the world’s fastest, longest-range single-pilot aircraft is also the most intuitively luxurious light jet in all of business aviation. Introducing the beautifully designed and brilliantly engineered Phenom 300E – the new standard in value and customer experience.

EmbraerExecutiveJets.com


Radar JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Photo: Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst, Capricorn, 1947. By John Kasnetsis © John Kasnetsis © Adagp, Paris 2017

AIR

Behind many a great artist is… another great artist, explains a new exhibition at Centre Pompidou-Metz. Couples Modernes explores art through the prism of high profile unions, among them Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar, Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray and Lee Miller, plus Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Companionship has inspired a rich trove of visual art and literature, which the museum has curated in collaboration with Centre Pompidou in Paris and Barbican Centre in London. When it comes to art ambition, does love embolden dreams, or burn them? Couples Modernes exhibits at the Centre Pompidou-Metz until 20 August. centrepompidou-metz.fr

18


19


Critique JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Film Whitney Dir: Kevin Macdonald An unflinching portrait of Houston that sheds new light on her spellbinding life. AT BEST: “A sobering, haunting, but completely fresh look at Whitney’s life and death that will reframe everything you think you know about the singer.” Empire Magazine AT WORST: “It feels like we’re in need of a Houston film that digs into her music first, and the hows and whys of its enduring power.” New York Magazine

Woman Walks Ahead AIR

Dir: Susanna White Based on true events, a widowed artist from New York travelled alone to North Dakota to paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull AT BEST: “As white saviour stories go, it’s still progress to find one that lives up to such a feminist title as this.” Variety AT WORST: “Despite the estimable talent... the story never comes to convincing life and doesn’t, in the end, have anywhere particularly surprising or interesting to go.” indieWire

Damsel Dir: David and Nathan Zellner An affluent pioneer’s treacherous journey across the American Frontier to marry the love of his life

AT WORST: “Though methodically conceived and occasionally tense, it’s slight and sluggish.” New Yorker

Eating Animals Dir: Christopher Dillon Quinn An thoughtful, eye-opening look at the environmental and public health consequences of factory farming – narrated by Natalie Portman AT BEST: “Eating Animals makes it very clear that meat-eaters are driving a modern holocaust against their dinner.” indieWire AT WORST: “A passionate if incomplete protest of the American feeding frenzy.” Hollywood Reporter 20

Images: Miramax; A24 and DIRECTV; Magnolia Pictures; Sundance Selects

AT BEST: “Damsel is both on-point and one-note: a curiosity without much going for it beyond its progressive flipping of script.” AV Club


Service and detail that shape your journey. Immerse in the luxury of rich experiences at the JW Penthouse Suite and Marquis Penthouse Suite, spread across two levels of impeccably designed space with a touch of traditional Arabic design. Each 624sqm suite features two separate bedrooms with two separate living rooms. Additional benefits include complimentary airport transfers, private check-in and check-out and access to the award-winning Executive Lounge on the 37th floor. Enjoy celebratory dining in more than 15 restaurants and bars, and pampering at the luxurious Saray Spa.

JW MarriottÂŽ MarquisÂŽ Hotel Dubai jwmarriott.com/DXBJW Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971.4.414.0000 | jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com


Critique JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Theatre

AIR

“B

artlett Sher’s glowing revival of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady has arrived at Lincoln Center to prove that it can be done. A beloved musical from another era can keep on kicking, and, as is the case here, it can even do so without making radical shifts in aesthetic, as long as it’s got its eyes wide open,” explains Sarah Holdren for Vulture. “What’s most striking about the revival is the strength of the performances. Ambrose’s Eliza is immensely moving, yowling and cringing and ready to play the victim until she discovers her own great integrity. Haden-Paton is a playful and charismatic Higgins. Brash and witty, he doesn’t apologise for the character’s staggering lack of empathy, nor should he,” suggests Alexis Solovski for The Guardian. This revival plays until December and “as Lincoln Center productions go, this one, under Sher’s scrupulous direction, is among the more spectacular. Michael Yeargan’s sets, from the flower market at Covent Garden to Higgins’ magnificent library with its overstuffed bookshelves and spiral staircase, are as rich and luscious as wedding cakes. The scenes are beautifully composed and Donald Holder’s warm lighting adds a magical glow to each one,” says Marilyn Statio in Variety. “There’s a blink-and-you-miss-it visual joke in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, dropped in while the title character is belting No More Tears (Enough Is Enough), the disco anthem in which two take-charge women with killer pipes and a funky bass line vow to kick out the deadbeat men dragging them down,” believes Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney. “What Summer: The Donna Summer Musical does brilliantly is remind us why LaDonna Adrian Gaines was the Disco Queen. And why, even today, when the DJ plays Hot Stuff or Last Dance or She Works Hard for the Money, everyone gets on the dance floor. It may not have the most scintillating book, but that’s not why

22

Lauren Ambrose in My Fair Lady, image by Joan Marcus

anybody bought tickets. They’re there to enjoy themselves. For many it’s a sweet stroll down memory lane to possibly younger, more carefree days. For others it’s a glimpse into a storied past they’ve only heard about but never experienced.” Donna Herman enthuses in New York Theatre Guide that “experience it you will. From the 23 iconic Donna Summer songs to the glittering disco ball that makes an appearance in the closing scene. Yes, there are hot pants and lamé. But nothing feels dated. The costumes are cheeky and fun and the choreography is fresh and exciting.” Adam Feldman at Time Out laments, “Three talented and blameless women – LaChanze, Ariana DeBose and Storm Lever – play the late Donna Summer at different stages of her life in a tacky, subVegas jukebox biomusical that draws from the singer’s groovy catalogue of hits, including I Feel Love, MacArthur Park, On the Radio and Last Dance. At its most watchable, the show plays like a barely dramatised adaptation of Summer’s Spotify and Wikipedia pages.” With Pressure, at London’s West End Theatre, “It’s not often that you find

a weather forecaster taking up the central position in a piece of drama. David Haig has had the inspired idea of focussing on the weather forecast of all time in Pressure, a play that has finally and deservedly reached the West End after runs in Edinburgh, Chichester, and the Park Theatre,” reviews Paul Taylor for The Independent. “Haig constantly reminds us what is at stake but his play transcends its context. Given that the story involves Britain and the European mainland – though, in this case invasion rather than withdrawal – the conflict between a self-deluding optimism and a pragmatic realism takes on an unexpected resonance.” Sarah Crompton’s writing for What’s On Stage, felt that,“The performances too have a pared-back and restrained quality”, while Michael Billington reflects in The Guardian, “Haig seems reluctant to bring his play to an end and overstresses the coincidental pressure on Stagg, whose wife is due to give birth even as D-day is imminent, but he has found rich drama in the interaction of war and weather.”


BEST IN CLASS A new paradigm of flight is about to take off. Designed for discerning travelers, the G500â„¢ can fly at more than nine-tenths the speed of sound while surrounding you in a spacious, luxurious cabin. Make the most of your time. Make it a Gulfstream. GULFSTREAM.COM

NICOLAS ROBINSON | +44 7950 885 967 | nicolas.robinson@gulfstream.com


Critique JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

AIR

Art

Image 2 Orchestra East, Section B, 2016 © Alex Prager Studio and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

“Y

ou get an eerie sense of déjà vu in this show of American artist Alex Prager’s photography,” says Eddy Frankel at Time Out London of Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive, at Photographers’ Gallery, Soho until 14 October. “You’re certain that each scenario is familiar – is it a classic American film you’ve seen a thousand times but can’t quite remember? Is it an old 1970s Coke ad? A vintage sitcom?” Explains Sean O’Hagan at The Guardian, “Prager has undeniably created a signature visual style that is sustained throughout two floors of this deftly curated show. What lies beneath these meticulously choreographed mises en scene? For me, they depend so much on their photographic and filmic reference points and, as such, seem oddly empty of any deeper emotional resonance. Therein, too, of course, may lie their fascination for a contemporary art world that elevates photography about photography.” Writes Gem Fletcher for An Other Mag, “Through suspense-inducing scores, frantic eye movements and the protagonist’s respective senses of 24

calm and hysteria, she examines the conflicting emotions of an introvert. The work hinges on the smartly judged contrast between composed exterior and the inner existential anxiety that often underpins the human experience.” “In the fake news era it seems odd to think that the truth might actually be the most powerful weapon. But it was threatening enough in inter-war Germany to get Sander’s photographs banned by the Nazis,” explains Eddy Frankel at Time Out of August Sander: Men Without Masks, at Hauser & Wirth, Mayfair until 28 July. “What he did was simple... He documented everyday people at work or at home or walking the streets. Unglamorous... just real, just the truth. And it was unacceptable.” Sander’s stated intention “was neither ‘to criticise [nor] describe these people’; and this is where their power lies,” believes Ben Luke at Evening Standard. “Printed larger than I’ve seen them elsewhere, their status as a great work of art is reaffirmed.” After the war, “His negatives miraculously survived, only to be lost in a fire in

1946,” reports Studio International. “What remains is still an astonishingly prolific body of work, portraits whose clarity, empathy and sensitivity stand as a testament to an extraordinary artist working in extraordinary times.” Genevieve Gaignard: Counterfeit Currency shows at FLAG Art Foundation, Chelsea until 18 August and “gathers the results of her recent period of intense creativity,” reviews Michael Wilson at Time Out New York. “But the collages and photographs here still feel conceptually barebones in comparison to her mise-enabîme environments... These set-ups – part-sculptural, part-theatrical, part-archival – make for the artist’s most involving explorations of identity and its everyday performance.” She “exploits her mixed-race background in works that upend expectations about beauty, race, and class,” writes Sara Cascone for Art Net News. “In her first New York solo show, the LA-based artist created new self-portraits and collages addressing the malleability of personal identity, which is all too often a cultural construct.”


Critique JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Books

AIR

“W

hy is one dinner party a roaring success and another dull and awkward? Why is an acquaintance’s wedding in a backyard more memorable than your good friends’ celebration at the Ritz? Sure, people and their chemistry together play a big part in making gatherings rewarding and fun. But what if we could distill the key elements that inspire a good time, and apply them to make all our gatherings transformational?” asks Esquire. In The Art of Gathering, “Conflict resolution specialist Priya Parker draws on myriad customs from around the world to offer insights and inspiration on making our most basic human need – relating to others - more meaningful.” Quips Kirkus Reviews, “Wherever two or more of you gather, you’re probably doing it wrong... Parker nicely explores and sometimes explodes conventions: Must a baby shower be the exclusive turf of women? Can people who hate meetings be persuaded that they’re something other than a ‘Massive Exciting Opportunity for a Panic Attack’?... Parker’s enthusiastically delivered formulas [work towards] better get-togethers, from ‘sprout speeches’ to accepting that time is fleeting.” All Gates Open: The Story of Can is a new biography about legendary German avant-garde group Can. “[It] tells the story of one of Germany’s most revered cult rock bands and, quite possibly, the most celebrated underdogs since the Velvet Underground,” writes John Garratt at Pop Matters. “Imagine taking the instrumental interplay of freejazz, the rhythmic complexities of non-western music, deconstructing them in a manner befitting a 20 th century avant-garde composer, and applying it all to a rock ensemble... you’ve got yourself just a slight impression of what Can can do for you as a music consumer.” The book is “an in-depth look at a group forged via the one simple desire

26

to create a musical art form unlike any other never shying away from influences but instead of taking and copying them they absorbed them and transformed them into a new musical language...” believes Simon Tucker at Louder Than War. “It will sit comfortably on either the syllabus on a degree course or on the armchair of music fan.” This two-part tome “is a portrait of a fiercely intellectual, but hugely sensuous, band who improvised and jammed, but sneered at those terms, preferring ‘intuitive music’ and ‘collage’ to describe the spacy, evolving compositions the collective co-authored in a kind of mutual trance-state,” says Kitty Empire at The Guardian. “It is a cerebral book about a cerebral band.” Nell Painter, president of the prestigious Organization of American Historians and former director of the Association of Black Women Historians, has written Old in Art School. It is, explains Kirkus Reviews, “A candid and captivating memoir, the author recounts her experiences at Rutgers and in a Master of Fine Arts Program at the Rhode Island School of Design at the age of 64, which raised for her salient questions about identity, creativity, ageism, and racism.” Painter, observes Publishers Weekly, “notes that her fellow students, who know far less of the world than she does, are better painters, and she explores how her thinking as a historian hobbles her as an artist. Her ‘20 th century eyes favoured craft narrative and meaning while her 21st century classmates and teachers preferred the ‘DIY aesthetic’ and appropriation from popular culture’. Writes Jennifer Szalai for The New York Times, ‘What counts as art? Who is an artist? Who decides?” Painter gets more playful with these questions than she initially lets on. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is seeing her relax her historian’s grip on social meaning and open up to new ways of seeing.”


Image: The Roseate, New Delhi


AIR This page: Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016. Photo by Tomoaki Makino. Courtesy of the artist 28


Art & Design JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Polka Face Five decades of Yayoi Kusama genius is collated at Cleveland Art Museum this month with Infinity Mirrors. How will its visitors process the existential questions they’re confronted with? WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

F

or an artist, one benefit of a 50-year career (and counting) is the opportunity for their narrative to fully evolve. And, as in the case of octogenarian Japanese contemporary creative Yayoi Kusama, it gives ample time for that narrative to be fully appreciated. She is without doubt one of our greatest living artists, “Yet it’s fair to say that there was a very important re-evaluation of her work, starting in the 1980s,” explains Reto Thüring, curator of a comprehensive new Kusama exhibition that opens this month at Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). “In part, the re-evaluation has a lot to do with how she has been a female artist in New York at a time when female artists just didn’t garner the same amount of attention and respect as male artists. In that sense she is an icon for a larger shift that is happening in the art world at the moment,” Thüring elaborates, putting matters into context. The shift in perception, he says, “has lead to a more heightened awareness of her output on an international scale, and has sharpened Kusama’s position at the forefront of artistic innovation”.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is a “roughly chronologically” arranged show that spans the entire arc of her long career, from beautifully produced drawings from the 1950s through to her most recent Infinity Mirror rooms. The show has been on world tour, taking in (among others) GOMA in Sydney, the National Gallery of Singapore and The Broad in LA. Its stop in Cleveland will differ in some ways; tailored to the art space, a number of works are being shown in a different context, or are entirely exclusive to the CMA. The venue sits opposite the leafy Wade Oval, and Thüring highlights an exclusive outdoor piece called Ascension of Polka Dots on Trees, “Whereby we wrap some of the trees in front of the museum with polka dot fabric”. Kusama’s take on this recurring motif provides insight into the existentialism she inlays into pretty aesthetics: “Polka dots can’t stay alone. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environments,” she has said. It is the titular Infinity Mirror Rooms around which this showcase revolves – and as opposed to musing over a two-dimensional painting on a wall,

these Kusama-designed spaces force the observer to step inside, becoming part of the installation, absorbed into her threedimensional worlds. An initial encounter within the exhibition space is 2016’s Where the Lights in My Heart Go, located in the atrium – the vast, newly built glass space at the core of the museum. Another purposeful placement is Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field, its significance being the very first Infinity Mirror Room that Kusama created, back in 1965. Thüring says, “I intend for this to be a specific starting point, to reinforce that Kusama made her first room long before cellphones existed or selfie culture took hold. While her works are now perceived as a social media spectacle, in actuality the artist has been thinking about these works long before the looking glass was ever turned on ourselves.” The curator believes Kusama is a visionary, “ahead of her time in so many ways, thinking of specific philosophical questions expressed through deeply developed visuals”. The names of her works attest to this: The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away and Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity being two. 29


AIR

Left: Lorna May Wadsworth and Victoria Grant

Kusama made her first Infinity Mirror Room long before cellphones existed and selfie culture took hold Kusama once explained, “All of my works are steps on my journey, a struggle for truth that I have waged with pen, canvas, or materials. Overhead is a distant, radiant star, and the more I stretch to reach it, the further it recedes. But by the power of my spirit and my single-hearted pursuit of the path, I have clawed my way through the labyrinthine confusion of the world of people in an unstinting effort to approach even one step closer to the realm of the soul.” Confirms Thüring, “Many of the questions she poses are very large, existential, philosophical questions, such as the relationship between the individual and something much 30

larger than us – say, the universe, or the spaces in the world around us. Her work challenges a person to contemplate how important or unimportant they are, when confronting that larger void.” For those stepping across the threshold of one of the solitary Infinity Mirror rooms, Thüring outlines the experience as delivering “a real confrontation between oneself and a seemingly endless universe.” That topic, deeply rooted since the origins of humankind, “is thought provoking and makes people confront questions on a very personal level”. Kusama is an outspoken and a public figure, but has balanced that with an

enigmatic, mysterious persona. “That in itself makes her something of a public enigma,” laughs Thüring. It is no surprise that over the years, Kusama has had artistic dalliances on the side. Among them was illustrating a version of Lewis Carroll’s children’s book – that famous trip down the rabbit hole, with The Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter. The tale clearly resonated with the fantastical artist, leading her to the most accurate of selfassessments: “I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland.” Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, shows at Cleveland Art Museum until 30 September. clevelandart.org/


Clockwise from left: Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013), courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; The Obliteration Room, (2002 to present), collection of Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, photographed by QAGOMA; Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots (2007) courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore / Victoria Miro, London / David Zwirner, New York, with photo by Cathy Carver; Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore and Victoria Miro, London, photographed by David Zwirner, New York; Installation view. All images ©Yayoi Kusama

31


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

AIR X VACHERON CONSTANTIN

A special edition dedicated to timepieces from the Overseas collection – an ‘invitation to travel’ from Vacheron Constantin


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

O V E R S E A S U LT R A -T H I N P E R P E T U A L C A L E N D A R Beautiful, easy to read, functional, and – with an intuitive quick-release system for strap change – easy to wear. The reasons for the success of the beloved Overseas collection by Vacheron Constantin are apparent. The timepiece, reimagined with an array of functions, has been a haute

horlogerie success story, ably keeping pace with the esteemed luxury travel jetset. The journey began with the pioneering Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar, with its time, day, date, month, and leap year indication. Here, it is interpreted in this alternate precious metal - pink gold.


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

OVERSE AS DUAL TIME The Dual Time is 41mm of sleek watchmaking perfection – in this instance, cased in steel and complemented by a beautiful strap made from soft alligator leather. The Dual Time was a pre-SIHH 2018 darling, and upholds the Overseas collection reputation of visual

mastery – with its signature notched bezel, tonneau form profile shape and brushed finish. Before appreciating its heartbeat, it is worth pausing to admire its aesthetics – such as the expert finishing of the movement, for example, which can be admired through a sapphire caseback. 2


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

OVERSE AS DUAL TIME The mechanical self-winding movmement within the Dual Time – the Calibre 5100 DT – enables this accomplished globetrotter to keep pace of two time zones. Here’s how it travels: the pointed hour hand indicates the local time corresponding to its current location,

while the hand tipped with a triangular arrow shows the secondary time zone. The 12-hour display, (adjustable via the crown in both directions) is complemented by a day/night indication set to home time. Time to fall in love with a preferred lacquer hue : blue or silver dial? 3


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

OVERSE AS SELF WINDING A three-hand automatic with a black dial and steel casing: it’s a timeless look in the horology realm, yet this instant classic is a visual departure from the usual Vacheron Constantin colour palette. The sleek, black lacquered piece is a handsome creation, yet

don’t be lulled by the understated visage. The 41mm timepiece has a 60-hour power reserve, is water-resistant to a depth of 150m, and has an anti-magnetic ring to halt interference. It’s a savvy tool watch, and is effortlessly suave. 4


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

OVERSE AS CHRONOGR APH The Chronograph is a motorsport essential, and Vacheron navigated the oft tricky test of legibility with a wise, light/dark dial contrast; the combination is known in watchmaking as the ‘reverse panda’ (white counters on a black dial, a first for the

brand). This 42.5mm wide, 13.7mm thick timepiece harbours a twin-barrel chrono movement that is equipped with a vertical clutch – a technical device that prevents any potential jerking of the hand when the ‘stopwatch’ function is activated. 5


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

E L E G A N C E V E R S AT I L E / F O R W O M E N Modularity is a core appeal of the Overseas, where a folding clasp provides peace of mind, securing the interchangeable strap with equal robustness as a fixed bracelet. Six new vibrant models benefit from the quality of this reliable quick-release system, and it promises an aesthetic that

can be made suitable to any circumstance. Easy-fit adjustment means straps are interchangeable without need for a tool, so the watch it can be worn on a metal bracelet, leather strap or rubber strap. It makes for an instant, seamless shift between sporty daywear and evening sophistication. 6


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O N S TA N T I N

E L E G A N C E V E R S AT I L E / F O R M E N At Vacheron Constantin, the beauty is in the details. Each part of the watch that comes into contact with its wearer must impart the sense of excellence, and the strap is no mere afterthought. These timepiece adornments each arrive in a remarkable finish – echoing that of the well-finished

movement components within the casing. For instance, the alligator leather strap has a flat tip and a velvety nubuck lining, while the metal bracelet is domed, with a satinbrushed finish and polished interior angles evoking the half Maltese Cross – the distinguished Vacheron Constantin motif. 7


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

VA C H E R O N C O S TA N T I N

OV ERSE AS L ADY – SMALL / MIDDLE E AS T E XCLUSIV E The Overseas collection is an homage to the spirit of travel – and for a special edition piece, what better recipient than the Middle East. The region is a gateway between Europe and Asia, a destination in its own right, and gliding between time zones is woven into the culture.

This small version is adorned with 84 round-cut diamonds on the bezel, and its brown dial complements an 18k pink gold bracelet. The 37mm watch is powered by a self-winding Calibre 5300, with a subdial at nine o’clock to keep secondary time. Both exclusive, and elegant. 8


AIR X VACHERON CONSTANTIN

A Mark of Excellence The Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is a novelty by Vacheron Constantin that sets an enviable gold standard

T

he first aspect of the Vacheron Constantin Overseas UltraThin Perpetual Calendar that catches the eye is undoubtedly its elegant pink gold hue; a unique, 18ct casing that is handsomely contrasted by the (interchangeable) dark blue Mississippinesis alligator strap. Yet to the horology aficionado who is carefully admiring the movement side of this 41.5mm timepiece, the eye will be drawn to a more discreet detail – the shield that flanks the ‘Swiss Made’ lettering on the watch’s reverse. This insignia is the Geneva Seal – the Poinçon de Genève. Its presence is a distinction of quality, bestowed upon only a handful of Swiss watchmakers – a certification from the Watchmaking School of Geneva, which attests to a level of quality that is enshrined in law. It is almost expected that Vacheron has earned the right to this credit; more than 260 years of meticulous watchmaking excellence has firmly established the brand among haute horology circles, and the company is

deemed to be one of the holy trinity of luxury watchmaking. Its contemporary Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is emblematic of just how Vacheron Constantin earned such status – and the coveted Genevan endorsement. The self-winding 1120 QP/1 calibre – its module developed in-house by Vacheron –

is the heartbeat of this timepiece. The QP is a perpetual calendar movement and an artisanal marvel. Its 276 part count sounds hefty, yet in a feat of miniaturisation the movement is barely 4.05mm thick – making it one of the thinnest of its kind. The perpetual calendar is the reason this edition of the Overseas is such an accomplished traveller. The clever calibre keeps track of irregularities in the calendar, without need for adjustment until the year 2100. The 40-hour power reserve fuels the day of the week, the date, the month and leap years, on a 48-month counter. A poetic embellishment to punctuate the dial is the presence of a moonphase. Sporty, elegant and versatile, this is a timepiece both for the journey, and for the destination. The Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar was made to the highest of standards in Switzerland, and created to travel the globe, upon the wrist of the discerning. With it, time can truly fly. For more information on Vacheron Constantin in the UAE, KSA, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Bahrain or Qatar, kindly contact +971 240 63 23 33


Timepieces DECEMBER JULY 2018 2016 : ISSUE : ISSUE 86 67

Built to Win Poise under extreme pressure, a commitment to excellence and in peak physical shape; attributes that shape a sporting champion, and traits imbued into the exceptional RM 67-02 by Richard Mille

AIR

WORDS : CHRIS UJMA

T

he adage ‘you’re known for the company you keep’ certainly rings true for Richard Mille. High-profile partners – deemed friends of the brand as opposed to ‘ambassadors’ – include Formula 1 idol Alain Prost, tennis legend Rafael Nadal and cycling’s ‘Manx Missile’ Mark Cavendish. Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille is in fine company, one would agree, but, reciprocally, so too are the prime athletes. Mille, the brand’s maverick founder, is known for his steadfast passion for elite sport – and going into battle graced with one of his watches represents a personal endorsement from the man behind the brand. That’s because his watches are not made to simply look pretty on the podium, or to make an entrance during the trophy lift after victory has been sealed. “When I work with someone, my only condition is that they must wear the watch during their sport. It’s my only condition,” Mille himself proclaimed. There’s an easy way to distinguish if you’ve a Richard Mille sports piece

34

in hand, as compared to one of his lifestyle models. Beside the side screws on the case are crenetions – rounded projections – that serve to strengthen the case structure. The ridges are apparent on the black, red and gold-hued RM 67-02, developed by the Swiss watchmaker to herald its newest sporting allegiance, with German tennis star Alexander Zverev, in style. ‘Sascha’ is currently ranked number four in the ATP world rankings, and is lighting up tournaments at a prolific pace. Just 21 years old, Zverev already has three Masters titles to his credit at the time of writing – feats that involved toppling Novak Djokovic at the Italian Open and Roger Federer at the Canada Masters. The timepiece is astutely described as ‘thin, lightweight, coloured, elegant and athletic’, and the heartbeat of the RM 67-02 is an unflappable CRMA7 automatic calibre – the seventh inhouse movement by Richard Mille. Carbon TPT (the brand’s light yet robust trademarked material), is the main reason for the watch’s barely-


35


Timepieces

AIR

JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Opening pages: Alexander Zverev triumphs, wearing his personalised RM 67-02 This page: The RM 67-02 for Fernando Alonso and Alexis Pinturault, respectively Opposite: In South African national colours for Wayde van Niekerk

there 32 gramme weight – making the RM 67-02 the lightest automatic watch among the 70-strong Richard Mille family. Combine this with rigorous testing and, in Zverev’s domain, the piece is capable of tolerating the repeated in-play accelerations. Should the watch savant detect a sense of déjà vu when casting an eye across this Deutsch-tinted timepiece, their instinct proves correct. In a break with precedent, the versatile RM 67-02 has served as a foundation for other ‘exclusive expressions’. This means the watch, able to withstand a crosssection of sporting arenas, is worn by elite athletes who Mille has welcomed into the fold. Others to have donned their own personalised version of the 67-02 are Alpine skier and Olympic medallist 36

Alexis Pinturault, five-time World Rally Championship driver Sebastien Ogier, plus South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, the 2016 Olympic track champion and world record holder for the 400m. The colours of each athlete’s respective national flag are handpainted upon a grade 5 titanium dial. Deploying the same instrument across multi-sport disciplines is not as simple as it may sound, with each battleground presenting its own unique (yet unforgiving) pressures. “I love to test my watches in extreme conditions,” admits Mille. “This is why, in testing, we put the timepieces through 5,000Gs, which is a killer. But we want to go on until the last possible limit every time. It’s the same with all our materials, the weight, the


performance. Everything has to be at the limit.” As a reference point, one such limit is a Formula 1 cornering manoeuvre, where a driver can experience a lateral force of up to 6.5Gs. Others are the harsh cold of the ski slopes and the shocks received against the gates, or a 199km/h Alexander Zverev first serve. Two unreleased prototypes of the RM 67-02 are currently touring Formula 1 circuits, worn by McLaren F1 driver (and two-time world champion) Fernando Alonso, as well as Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc, who secured the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017. With the watches being subjected to the rigours of the fastest show on Earth, this allows the brand to test new technical solutions for future models. The baptism of fire in the lab is to the

benefit of the athlete when it matters most; there’s no space for unnecessary weight at the apex of competition. When unveiling the RM 67-02 Automatic Wayde van Niekerk, the brand explained of its ‘desire to create a watch that was so uniquely adapted it was practically a second skin for the athlete, permitting a sort of symbiosis; that was the guiding ambition which propelled this new development.’ Mille reiterates that, “our leitmotif since the very beginning has been opening horology to active collaboration with partners at the pinnacle of their respective disciplines.” He has bestowed the RM 67-02 on a trusted clique of elite athletes and created a timepiece that, just as a champion atop the podium, sets the gold standard in its discipline.

I love to test my watches in extreme conditions

37


Jewellery JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

AIR

Royal Treatment Marie Antoinette’s never-before-seen jewellery is to be auctioned at Sotheby’s – including her precious pearls and diamonds WORDS: SARAH ROYCE-GREENSILL

W

hen it comes to jewellery auctions, provenance always pushes demand – and prices – sky-high. Attribute a gemstone to the collection of a celebrated actress or socialite and it will most likely achieve far more than the standard cost-per-carat. So it’s difficult to put a price on a collection of jewellery owned by the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, which is set to be auctioned in a landmark sale at Sotheby’s in Geneva this November. The sale features over 100 jewels from the Bourbon-Parma royal family, many of which have never before been seen in public. Among the pieces are 38

several from Marie Antoinette’s personal collection. In March 1791, as she was preparing to flee France during the French Revolution, the queen wrapped her jewels in cotton and had them smuggled out of the palace, to be sent to a trusted count in Brussels. From there, the count delivered the package to the Queen’s nephew, the Austrian Emperor, in Vienna for safekeeping. The Queen, of course, wouldn’t live to see her jewels again: she was beheaded on 16 October 1793. But her daughter, Marie-Thérèse, fled to Vienna after being released from prison, and was reunited with her mother’s precious possessions. As she had no children,

when she died the jewels were passed onto her husband’s niece, Louise of France (granddaughter of King Charles X), and they have remained in the Bourbon-Parma royal family ever since. Marie-Antoinette was renowned for her love of jewels, in particular pearls and diamonds. The notorious ‘Affair of the Diamond Necklace’ in 1785, in which the Queen was duped by a fraudster and wrongly accused of defrauding the crown jeweller of an extravagant diamond necklace, is widely believed to have contributed to the start of the French Revolution. Five diamonds that belonged to the Queen have been incorporated into a diamond parure that’s set to


39

39


40

AIR


Opening pages: A diamond parure composed of 95 diamonds, including five solitaire diamonds that belonged to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France Opposite, clockwise: Ruby and diamond brooch; natural pearl and diamond necklace; Pink diamond ring; Diamond tiara given by Emperor Franz Joseph to Marie Anna of Austria Above: A large diamond pendeloque brooch, with an auction estimate of USD25,000- 35,000. All images, of Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma family, courtesy of Sotheby’s

It is one of the most important royal jewellery collections to appear at auction; every jewel is imbued with history be sold at Sotheby’s. The set includes a necklace, earrings and detachable pendant comprising 95 diamonds in total, many of which came from the sword of the Duke of Berry, son of Charles X. It carries an estimate of USD300,000 - USD500,000 (GBP225,000 - GBP375,000). That pales in comparison to the USD1-2 million (GBP750,000 GBP1.5m) estimate for the auction’s star lot, Marie-Antoinette’s natural pearl and diamond pendant. Natural pearls are exceptionally rare, and the pendant sees a 26mm long pearl hanging from a diamond bow motif, which itself is suspended from a sizeable old-cut diamond. More of Marie-Antoinette’s beloved pearls are up for sale in the form of a pair of natural pearl drop earrings (estimate USD30,000 - USD50,000 / GBP22,500 - GBP37,500), and a necklace of 331 pearls which are believed to be from the Queen’s collection, fastened together with a diamond clasp (estimate USD200,000 - USD300,000 GBP150,000 -

GBP225,000). “This is one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to appear on the market and each and every jewel is imbued with history,” enthused Daniela Mascetti, who is the deputy chairman for Sotheby’s Jewellery Europe. “It offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years. What is also striking is the inherent beauty of the pieces themselves: the precious gems that they are adorned with and the exceptional craftsmanship they display are stunning in their own right.” The sale also includes pieces from the collection of King Charles X, the Archdukes of Austria and the Dukes of Parma, each with its own fascinating backstory. And, as the experts at Sotheby’s continue to dig into the archive, it’s likely that more of these stories, alongside many other long-forgotten jewels, will come to light. The Royal Jewels from the BourbonParma family auction is at Sotheby’s Geneva on 12 November 2018 41


AIR

On the back of starring opposite Gary Oldman for his Oscar-winning turn in The Darkest Hour, Lily James returns to our screens this month to sing up a storm in the sunshine. WORDS: ROBBIE COLLINS

42


43


AIR

L

ily James is a young Meryl Streep, and that’s a compliment, naturally, but also a simple point of fact. In the forthcoming Mamma Mia! sequel – called Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, obviously – she plays the youthful flashback version of Streep’s Abba-singing, mattressbouncing wonder-mum Donna, right down to the blue dungarees. “Yeah, like, who’d be crazy enough to do that?” the 28-year-old star of Downton Abbey and Disney’s liveaction Cinderella says, with a laugh and a theatrical eye-roll, when I bring this up. She started fretting almost as soon as she was cast last summer, but describes the opportunity as “too good to pass up”. For one thing, she’s a sworn fan of the original stage show, having seen it eight times as various drama school friends were cast as Sophies and Skys. “And secondly, I thought what better opportunity will I ever have to study Meryl?” she says. To prepare, she watched the films Streep made in her 20s, “while constantly reminding myself that I was playing young Donna, not young Meryl,” she explains. What did she learn? “That what Meryl does is unlearnable. So I still haven’t got my thoughts in order about it. But we’ve finished filming now. I have dug my grave.” That said, James doesn’t strike me as a corpse-in-waiting. On a damp winter morning, we meet over breakfast in Claridge’s, where she works her way through a pot of tea and some hot, buttered crumpets. In conversation she’s earnest but also drolly selfcritical, with a kind of free-spraying star quality like a Catherine wheel that hasn’t been pinned down securely. She’s also a virtuoso muddler of film titles: of a few beauties, I’m particularly thrown by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which comes out as “The Accursed Man and his Dangerous Beasts”. “You know, with Eddie Redmayne?” she frowns, seemingly puzzled that I’m not keeping up. Still, no doubt as to which film she last starred in; as Elizabeth Layton, Winston Churchill’s plain-spoken personal secretary in Darkest Hour. Like us, she is a newcomer to his domain and James’s on-screen reaction to him – trepidation spiced with wonderment – becomes ours. The

44

character, though strictly a composite, is largely based on the real Layton, whose 1958 memoir, Mr Churchill’s Secretary, was among the bundle of reading material Wright handed James when she was cast. For her, the book was a gold mine: “Because it’s made up of letters written at the time, not recollections, all these moments are minutely and intimately described.” Even closer to home lay another seam of insight, equally as rich. James pored over the wartime recollections of her French maternal grandmother Marinette, now in her late 80s, who fled her home village near Paris at the age of 11 when the Nazis invaded, as the events depicted in Darkest Hour were playing out. Her grandfather William, a minister in the RAF, persuaded his wife to commit her memories to paper. The result was a harrowing child’s-eye-view of a Europe in ruins. “She talked about listening to bombs fall, then going outside to find a truck

driver she had befriended lying dead in the driver’s seat,” James says. After the war, by the time her family returned home, the place had been looted. The impressions from this time that most stuck with James were almost cinematic: memories of a fur coat swirling like seaweed in the flooded cellar, and ransacked cutlery glinting in the garden stream. “And of course after I read all this I had to talk to her about it, which was really emotional,” she says. “Because it’s a part of all our families’ recent history, yet it feels so distant.” James’s family rallied behind her acting ambitions early, perhaps because her grandmother on her father’s side was a veteran of the business. (She was the American actress Helen Horton, who appeared on British television in the Seventies and was the voice of the ship’s computer in Ridley Scott’s Alien). James’s real surname is Thomson: she took her stage name in memory of her

There are some tragic home videos of me playing the Pied Piper with a flat cap on and miming a limp


45


has worked with in the recent past. Weinstein was one of the forces behind the BBC’s acclaimed 2016 adaptation of War and Peace, in which she played Countess Natasha Rostova, the female lead. Even though her own interactions with Weinstein were limited, she says the thought of him now “makes me feel really sick to my stomach, actually. I find it really horrifying. And I completely stand in solidarity with every woman and man who has spoken out, because it has to stop.” As for Spacey, he was her co-star on last summer’s Baby Driver, a film she believes would have been pulled from release had the allegations surfaced a few months earlier than they did. “And you just think, ‘God, all of the other cast and crew who were innocent would have all been affected’,” she says. “Like, Edgar Wright, the director, started planning that film 21 years ago.” While she was filming the Mamma Mia! sequel, her make-up designer Tina Earnshaw was simultaneously juggling shifts on Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, after large

I learned that what Meryl does is unlearnable

parts of that film were reshot at the last minute to replace Spacey with Christopher Plummer. “She was right in the midst of negotiating that change, and had Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer coming in while also having to do Abba and Spandex.” Does it change how she feels about Baby Driver? “I don’t know,” she says. “It’s a difficult question.” She pauses. “But it should be difficult, shouldn’t it? Talking about this. Because we have to confront it.” After graduating from Guildhall she found her footing in theatre: “You can get cast straight away in much more interesting roles than in films and television, where typecasting is more of a thing,” she explains. Those roles included Taylor in Vernon God Little at the Young Vic, Nina in The Seagull at the Southwark Playhouse, and two parts in a Martin Crimp double bill at the Orange Tree in Richmond, when critics began to sit up and take note. Since crossing over to the screen, she says she has been careful to keep auditioning outside the “English rose” bubble: an inspiration on that front is Kate Winslet, who as a young actress matched every period drama with a Hideous Kinky or Heavenly Creatures. Watching Gary Oldman transform himself into Churchill in person gave her another prod to move outside her comfort zone. If she could be cast in anything, it would be a biopic of Janis Joplin, “but I think they’re already doing it with Amy Adams or Michelle Williams,” she adds ruefully. (In fact they were two separate films: the Adams one became ensnared in litigation, but the Williams version is moving ahead). “Doing Mamma Mia! made me realise that I’d love to play a singer,” she goes on. “Janis would be great. And I think there’s a Dusty Springfield script knocking around, too.” She sang A Dream is a Wish that Your Heart Makes in Cinderella, but that was over the closing credits, and doesn’t seem to count. “I did, very softly and prettily, yes,” she says. You sense she’s now ready to belt one out. Left: Lily James with her co-star Ansel Elgort in 2017’s Baby Driver

46

Credit: Robbie Collin / The Telegraph / The Interview People

AIR

late father James Thomson, a sometime singer and actor who died of cancer when she was 19 and studying drama at the Guildhall School in London. It’s him she credits with kindling her interest in performance: she only made the fringes of school plays, but at home she took centre stage. “There are some tragic home videos of me playing the Pied Piper with a flat cap on and miming a limp, and I’m being ever so ex-press-ive,” she trills. “And then there’s my dad, who told the best stories, and I’m trying to get involved and reading things along with him. I just found expressing yourself in a shared way completely exhilarating.” She’s also dating within the profession: her boyfriend is the actor Matt Smith, whom she met on the set of the 2016 horror spoof Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Knowing at least one good man in the industry may have been a comfort in recent times, what with the widespread allegations of harassment in Hollywood – not least around the producer Harvey Weinstein and the actor Kevin Spacey, both of whom James


47


AIR

Made in Italy Salvatore Ferragamo found himself in the right place (Los Angeles) at the right time (the dawn of Hollywood). He was among a wave of Italians who would shape the seductive appeal of the silver screen – as a new exhibition, L’Italia a Hollywood, explores

48


49


AIR

O

n the eve of Italy’s entry in the First World War, Salvatore Ferragamo was on a ship. He had left his hometown of Bonito in Irpinia at the tender age of 16, setting sail from Naples aboard the Stampalia with a family reunion on his mind. The elder Ferragamo brothers had left a few years earlier for North America. It was a decision that would change his fortunes, and the formative years he spent in the Santa Barbara, California (after a brief stop in Boston), are the focus of a new exhibition at the late-designers eponymous museum – Ferragamo Museo, in Florence. That is because his time on the west coast, from 1915 to 1927, coincides with the dawn of Hollywood’s golden age. But this is no blockbuster script, skewed to paint Salvatore as the lone force behind the rise of the silver screen. He was part of a hardworking Italian diaspora that shaped lasting perceptions of their beloved homeland. Stefania Ricci, co-curator of L’Italia a Hollywood, explains a seminal moment that made the climate ripe for an Italian influx. “In 1915, the Panama Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco was a world’s fair that was organised to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal – as well as the reconstruction of the city following the devastation of the 1906 earthquake. Although the European economy was depleted by the effects of the First World War, the Italian government dedicated resources to participate with an Italian pavilion as they felt it was important to strengthen their economic relationship with the United States,” he says. “This pavilion, designed by Marcello Piacentini, was an extraordinary building featuring a real citadel with two squares intended to recreate the artistic beauty and vibrant culture of Italian cities, which truly fascinated the Americans. For homesick Italian emigrants, the pavilion would bring them a much-needed slice of their native country a little bit closer.” The structure ultimately went on to win the Grand Prix of Architecture and was a huge success with its audiences, reinforcing Italy’s image as a centre of art and culture. “With Italy’s relatively new position as a member state of the USA, California quickly built a strong emotional 50

relationship that transcended their similar climates and landscapes, marking the start of a long-term friendship of mutual admiration,” Ricci explains. Living up to the oft-reinterpreted movie montage of the Mayflower sailing past New York’s Statue of Liberty, the USA represented the Promised Land for all-comers – “a country of great opportunity, work and the chance to build a better future,” says Ricci. “The USA was enjoying a time of economic prosperity and the iconic Roaring 20s were in full swing, representing contemporary modernity, technological innovation.”

Ferragamo, along with the influx of fellow Italian emigrants in the USA meant that there was a surge in the number of Italian artists, designers and musicians “who were introducing Americans to the refinement of Italian artisanship,” posits Ricci. “They were becoming known as heirs of great Italian tradition that was built upon centuries of know-how and taste.” Ferragamo’s own legacy would be for fine craftsmanship and innate creativity applied to his shoes. Not long after his arrival, he opened a custom-shoe repair shop with his brothers – the Hollywood Boot Shop. They had ripe inspiration to draw on.


“In Italian cinema, costume design is a revered art and plays an important role in recreating scenes, especially when referencing historical time periods,” Ricci explains. “Italian costumes are often very detailed, and they are complemented by Italian actors, who are heirs of a great theatrical tradition, bringing versatility, elegance and meaningfulness to their on-screen personas. The costume plays a big part in that methodology.” As such, Ferragamo was able to establish himself in Hollywood through the development of original and unique footwear, which catered to the specific needs of the actors, the characters and sets.

He also applied science to his craft. “In order to ensure that his shoes promoted comfort as well as aesthetic, Ferragamo studied anatomy at the University of Southern California, which enabled him to pinpoint the areas of the foot that required the most support,” claims the curator. “This scientific approach to footwear design fused with his love for exceptional customer service, enabled Ferragamo to create exceptional shoes that catered to the unique personalities and varied tastes of his clients. The made-to-measure approach made each piece a one-of-a-kind, prized possession to movie stars and wealthy patrons alike. He was a master of understanding what was required

Ferragamo, along with an influx of fellow Italian emigrants, were introducing Americans to the refinement of Italian artisanship

Opening pages: Salvatore Ferragamo in front of various celebrities’ shoe forms Opposite: Greta Garbo and costume designer Adrian on the set of The Single Standard Above: Douglas Fairbanks in the The Thief of Bagdad – Ferragamo made the shoes for the actors; Poster for the film The Eagle (1925), starring Rudolph Valentino

51


AIR

Elizabeth Taylor’s Birthday Party, 6 March, 1978

52


Opposite: Lola Todd wearing a leopard look designed by Ferragamo; Photograph Firenze, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo Below: ‘Assoluta’ and ‘Silence’

to make his clients feel special and this was evident in every aspect of his business: from the design itself to the manner in which he promoted his business to the exceptional experience he offered which made purchasing footwear a special occasion.” Says Ricci, “Salvatore was soon rubbing shoulders with California’s high society.” He began working with the world of the movies and its stars, including some of the most famous directors of all time, like D.W. Griffith, James Cruze, Raoul Walsh and Cecil B. DeMille – and the latter filmmaker commissioned Ferragamo to make the shoes worn in some of his most important movies, such as The Ten Commandments from 1923 and The King of Kings from 1927. One particular room of the exhibition – Sala 8 – is dedicated to treasures from ‘The Hollywood Boot Shop of Salvatore Ferragamo and his clients’. The prototype for laced shoe from 1927, designed for the actress Gloria Swanson; a prototype for closed shoe, with calfskin upper designed for the Hollywood actress Pola Negri; Alice White’s white antelope and blue calfskin Spectator pumps; a photograph of the actress Lola Todd wearing a full leopard look (with cub in tow), designed by Salvatore. “He was one of the first to introduce the art of costume design to Hollywood, says Ricci. “American cinema had no costume designers at the time, and outfits and shoes were either sourced from external designers or rented from European production companies. Ferragamo was able to ‘concretise the Seventh Art’ of cinema by making made-to-measure footwear specifically designed to further the historical and scenic intent of film.” But the memories do not merely flow in one direction, explains Ricci. “Ferragamo’s American experiences formed a fundamental basis for his life and work,” says Ricci. “His time in the US exposed him to the efficiencies

Salvatore was soon rubbing shoulders with California’s high society; he made purchasing footwear a special occasion

of the assembly line; a practice which he was able to successfully adapt to his own production. In Italy, it was customary for one shoemaker to fully produce a pair of shoes from start to finish – a laborious approach, which limited the number of shoes that each shoemaker could produce.” When Ferragamo arrived back in Italy, and Florence, he created an artisanal production system based upon on the American assembly line, where the shoe-making process was divided into phases and a shoemaker who specialised in a certain activity conducted each phase. “Hollywood had inspired him as a place where he learned that anything was possible and it was there that he saw his grander dreams begin to materialise,” Ricci puts into context. “Working in the American movie industry gave him exposure to the world of luxury and he was exposed to materials, models, inventions and marketing techniques which enabled him to successfully build a brand that incorporated the very best of American culture with the refinement of Italian tradition.” Still, Ferragamo remained a proud advocate of his Italian identity and his store was transformed into a Renaissance palace in order to showcase Italian art, design and culture; often promoting the local opera company in Los Angeles to publicise the diffusion of Italian music culture in the country. “When he moved home in 1927, he was dubbed by the American press as ‘Shoemaker to the Stars’,” says Ricci “evidence that Salvatore Ferragamo was a loved and established member of the Hollywood society”. He was gone from their shores, but never forgotten – and neither was the influence of his compatriots, during an historic time for Tinseltown. L’Italia a Hollywood shows at Museo Salvatore Ferragamo until March 2019. ferragamo.com/museo 53


54

AIR


Simon Pegg ascended from indie movie cult hero to summer blockbuster mainstay and bona fide fame. But to emerge from such a journey with your soul intact, Simon says, is a lot to ask WORDS: ELIZABETH DAY

S

imon Pegg was out for dinner with friends when the call came through on his mobile phone. It was Steven Spielberg, asking whether Pegg wanted to be in his new film. He went to stand in the restaurant stairwell for some privacy. It wasn’t the ideal location in which to take a call from his childhood hero, a man who had directed one of Pegg’s favourite films of all time – Raiders of the Lost Ark – but it would have to do. “Yeah, he called me just between main course and dessert,” Pegg recalls. “He said that he wanted me to play this character - and I was very excited to say, ‘Yes please.’” What restaurant was he in? “It was the Chiltern Firehouse,” Pegg says, referring to one of the hippest eateries in London. “I didn’t want to say because it just sounds like I’m an a******e.” The film turned out to be Ready Player One, a dazzlingly feel-good sci-fi romp, packed full of popular culture references. It’s a bit like The Goonies but with added CGI. Adapted from a novel by Ernest Cline, the movie features the 48-year-old Pegg as Ogden Murrow, who is the co-creator of the OASIS, a virtual reality game where people in the year 2045 disappear to escape the hardships of the real world. Pegg is boyishly excited even now, several months after shooting wrapped. He angles forward in his chair, one hand lightly placed on each almost-jiggling knee, and his face is 55


56

AIR


I’m not really one for trying to be famous for anything other than what I do for a living

crinkled with smile lines. And yet he could quite easily, in his own words, be “an a*****e”. He has spent much of the last decade appearing in some of the most popular film franchises of all time – his co-stars include Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible and Chris Pine in Star Trek. He co-wrote the latest Star Trek as well as appearing in it, and has a rumoured net worth of GBP7 million. But he is, he insists, just a normal bloke who lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, Maureen, and eight-year-old daughter Matilda. “I spend a lot of time trying to not be a celebrity,” he says. The comment is slightly undermined by the fact that we’re sitting in a vast room dominated by a twinkling chandelier in Claridge’s Hotel, and Pegg is wearing a designer doublebreasted jacket with fiddly little buttons and a light sheen of makeup for the photos. But it’s true that, beneath the gloss, Pegg is a delightful conversationalist: smart, funny, engaged and resolutely un-starry. How does he avoid celebrity? “Just by not going out,” Pegg replies, deadpan. “I like staying in. I like being at home. I’m not really one for the ‘scene’, that kind of thing, or trying to be famous for anything other than what I do for a living.” He gave up Twitter when he accrued five million followers because, “I didn’t like who I was on it… I just thought, ‘Who am I talking to, and why do they want to hear what I say?’” What compounded it for him was the relentless obligation to tweet some appropriate sentiment when someone famous died, only to see it regurgitated as part of a TV package on the Ten O’Clock News. “Why does everything have to validated by celebrity that is in any

way important, you know?” Pegg says, warming to his theme. “Oh, ‘this is what such-and-such thought of so-and-so’s death.’ It’s like, so effing what? What do you think of it?” I suspect his stalwart refusal to be taken in by the trappings of fame is due in no small part to the fact that high-wattage success came to him relatively late in the game. He grew up in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, the only child of John, a keyboard salesman and Gillian, a former civil servant and enthusiastic member of the local am-dram troupe. His parents divorced when Pegg was seven and his mother later remarried. Pegg had a tricky relationship with his stepfather, Richard, until the two of them discovered a shared love of movies (it was his stepfather who first took Pegg to see Raiders of the Lost Ark at the cinema). As a child, Pegg was obsessed with Star Wars and had a poster of the actress Carrie Fisher on his wall, which he used to kiss every night before going to bed. He went on to study Theatre, Film, and Television at Bristol University and his undergraduate thesis was a Marxist overview of popular 1970s cinema. That sounds a laugh a minute, I say. “It was basically saying that if you consume anything which has a particular bias in any way, whether it’s sexist or racist or homophobic or political bias, if you watch that and you don’t objectify yourself from it, then you’re consenting to it,” he explains. I’m still none the wiser. After graduating, Pegg became known in the UK for co-creating and starring in the cult late 1990s comedy Spaced. He wrote Shaun of the Dead in 2004, the first of a trilogy of critically acclaimed comedy films in which he starred with his best friend, Nick Frost. But it wasn’t until 2006, when Pegg was 36, that he got his first 57


AIR

It was difficult not being able to understand how I wasn’t happy and yet all my dreams seemed to be coming true

big role in a Hollywood blockbuster, Mission: Impossible III. Roles in Star Trek and Star Wars followed. Soon, Pegg was best friends with the powerhouse Hollywood director JJ Abrams and godparent to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s daughter, Apple. He became gym buddies with Tom Cruise, who gave him a cashmere blanket for Christmas – Pegg’s daughter referred to Cruise for years afterwards as “the blanket guy”. “She has been on every film set that I’ve been able to bring her on and she’s met everybody and she’s most impressed by YouTube stars.” Pegg shakes his head in mock despair. “She’s not that impressed by me. I mean, she really isn’t. It’s hilarious.” All should have been fine, but Pegg felt untethered when his career was in the ascendant. His late 30s were spent in a state of heightened anxiety. “I’d kind of made it [but] I just wasn’t happy,” he says. “My soul got lost… It was difficult not being able to understand how I wasn’t happy and yet all my dreams seemed to be coming true. And that’s what depression is. And people think that it’s a mood, and it’s not, it’s something else. It has nothing to do with your surroundings, in that you could have everything, but you could still feel like that.” Did he seek professional support? “I got help,” he nods. “And it’s something I’ve not really spoken about because, you know, I’m a private person. But I think it is important for people to know that these sort of fabled kind of material things aren’t necessarily the key to any kind of happiness. “I struggled for a long time and then managed to find my own way to come out of that and get well. I look back on 58

my 30s as being quite a dark period because even as everything was taking off, I was struggling with the idea that… Well, why isn’t it making me happy, you know? And then at 40 I figured it out and took steps to eradicate alcohol from my life and never looked back. And that also coincided with the birth of my daughter and the last eight years have probably been the happiest I’ve ever been.” Pause. “Which is a relief.” He’s teetotal now, and his greatest vice is a glass of sparkling water and a cup of black coffee. Life is good for Pegg: the sixth Mission: Impossible film is released this month, he’s producing a TV show and a film with Nick Frost, and he’s about to start shooting an independent film called Last Translation about a schizophrenic music producer. After that, he’s planning his directorial debut, although he is coy about the details at this stage; “I’m increasingly more attracted to the process of completely being involved in the creation of something and not [starring] in it either,” he admits. Still, the movie industry Pegg loves so deeply has taken a battering of late, what with the storm of allegations surrounding the disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. The director Terry Gilliam recently likened the #metoo movement to “mob rule”. What does Pegg think? “I think it’s time to shut up, really, if you’re a guy,” he says without hesitation. “I think, really, this isn’t your time… Every man is accountable and probably all guilty at some point of even just passing sexism or inappropriate comments. It’s all part of the same narrative.

“You know, it begins with that little stuff, but it ends with terrible things, and it’s part of the same contingent. And okay, you might just be guilty of being a bit of an [idiot], but at the same time, you’ve still got to re-educate yourself about not being an [idiot]. “Social change is often turbulent and people get caught in the crossfire and there’s sometimes collateral damage, but that is what happens and what’s the alternative? It seems silly to fight it or worry about it. If you don’t have anything to worry about, if you support it as a cause, if you believe in it, then you just have to let it happen.” He met Weinstein a couple of times and considered him “a blowhard, almost like a stereotype of the rotund, brash, Hollywood producer who’s rude to everybody – more a kind of figure of fun, than the sinister thing it’s emerged that he is.” Pegg speaks so quickly and with such coherence that the interview ends before our allotted time is up. There’s a mythology around Pegg, a neat and convenient narrative that is repeatedly trotted out in the media, about how he’s simply the wide-eyed sci-fi nerd who fell into success. But it’s clear, after an hour in his company, that he is driven and informed and makes an effort to be good at what he does. “I sometimes feel like saying, ‘Well, actually, I can do what I’m doing for a living. It’s not like I won a competition,’” he says. “Yes, I certainly feel like I’ve been lucky but I’ve worked very hard for it. But,” he adds, apologetically. “I don’t really mind.” It’s no surprise Simon Pegg has stayed so normal: I’m not entirely sure he has the ego required to be a true movie star diva.


59


AIR

Serving with Purpose When Arthur Ashe won the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon 32 years ago, he became the first African-American to be crowned champion. But through decades of social activism, it was off-court where his greatest battles transpired WORDS: CHRIS UJMA 60


61


AIR

A

rthur Ashe’s greatest sporting result came 43 years ago this month at Wimbledon, on the iconic grass courts of the All England Club. Ashe defeated compatriot Jimmy Connors to become the first African American to win the Wimbledon Men’s Singles title. He was on his way to becoming a civil rights icon, and Ashe wished not for his legacy to centre on his tennis accomplishments. It was his excellence with a racquet, though, that elevated him to the level where he could speak out, and effect change. Explosive, outspoken Connors, then just 22-years-old, was no upstart. He went into the Wimbledon final as the reigning champion from 1974 – a season in which he won three of the four available ‘Grand Slam’ titles. He dominated the US and Australian Opens (with only the French Open proving elusive). For context, by careerend, Connors would leave the sport as its most successful male player in terms of singles titles won, clocking up 109 – a record which still stands. Connors tore a path through six rounds to the 1975 final, and to retain his crown would have to dispatch 31-year-old Ashe, whose own Grand Slam zenith was a distant five years behind. It was expected that sixth-seeded Ashe would be steamrolled by the number one seed. “‘A Wimbledon champion’, wrote a Fleet Street sage, ‘is acknowledged as being tempered with steel from the most fiery furnace,’” recalled Joe Jares at Sports Illustrated, adding, “Most people felt Ashe had no more chance than a scoop of ice cream in that fiery furnace.” In each previous meeting with Connors, Ashe had never prevailed. But astute Ashe sprung a monumental upset at SW19 with “a methodical, measured tennis master class,” recounts Dr. Eric Hall, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Northern Illinois University. Hall wrote the book Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights Era – “I’m a historian who studies the intersection of race and sports,” he explains – and the professor feels the Wimbledon triumph itself carried a more profound meaning. “One of the things that I teach in my class is the propensity of these 62

black athletic stereotypes that have persisted throughout the 20th century, one of which is that black athletes are thought to be physically superior to white players; physically gifted but often intellectually inferior. The way only a white player would beat a black player in the sport would be to ‘outsmart’ them on the court. What was fascinating about Ashe’s victory is that, at the back end of his career, he had to adjust. He knew that he couldn’t compete with Connors in a power serve and volley style, and he really had to strategise to play him.” The night before the match, Ashe and his closest friends and advisors sat down and formed a plan: ‘How to beat Connors’. “They came up with the ‘dink and dunk’ game; the soft lob game to make his opponent run both sides of the court, to take Connors out of his comfort zone and rattle his confidence and take some of the precision off his polished game,” analyses Hall. “Ashe came out the next day and executed the strategy to perfection, and turned the black athletic stereotype on its head; here was a case of an African American star player who used a very precise, intellectual game to beat Jimmy Connors.” Ashe had been battling stereotypes and judgment his entire life. It was 75 years ago – also in July – when Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was born into segregated Richmond, Virginia, and tennis would provide Ashe the platform to effect change. He was a highly intelligent person, and voracious reader, “who understood the world around him, and that he was one person in this larger web of race, class and gender,” says Hall. “Yes, he thought big, but was really adept at making connections and starting a dialogue with those he disagreed with.” Ashe became acclimatised to having difficult conversations, be it with black militants in Los Angeles at UCLA, with the Rev. Jesse Jackson (who challenged his place in the civil rights movement), or run-ins with fellow player, Ilie Năstase. “But Ashe never made rash decisions,” says Hall. “He was contemplative and would think about things., while being willing to reach out to people for advice, and accept that. When he would sit for an interview he was well-prepared and


Nobody discovered her. Nobody launched her. She discovered herself

63


AIR

Opening pages: Arthur Ashe lifts the trophy at Wimbledon, having downed fellow American Jimmy Connors in the 1975 Men’s Singles final Previous pages: Ever the gent, Ashe shakes hands with Connors Opposite: Ashe being interviewed by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show

well-informed, in possession of all the latest facts or academic work. He could have stood as a college professor. He certainly did not come across as a typical athlete.” His most seminal moment in treading the athlete/activist line came via a runin with the South African government, in the ugly days of apartheid – decades before Archbishop Desmond Tutu would praise it as a ‘rainbow nation.’ In 1969, Ashe was formally denied a visa into South Africa for its tennis Open, and then again the following year. Hall cites this as an awakening of sorts for Ashe: “By that point he’d come to the realisation that racism was directly affecting his ability to make money and his ability to play. That was his big moment, and sparked his antiapartheid activism.” Initially Ashe responded to the rejection defensively, speaking before the United Nations and testifying before congress, looking for a groundswell to exclude South Africa from international competition. “There’s a period where he’d been trying to force his way in, but in 1972 his he changed his approach,” Hall explains. “He had heard word out of South Africa that if he kept quiet and laid low, the government would allow him in. So that’s what he did. He was allowed to travel freely within South Africa on the condition that he didn’t speak out or comment to the press until back on home soil.” In return, he was allowed go to Soweto and some of the townships, and was promised that the stands at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg would be integrated while he was playing in the tournament. He was allowed to talk to black journalists, and to other folk who ordinary athletes wouldn’t ordinarily have interacted with. 64

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic... It is the urge to serve others at whatever cost “It speaks to his ability to negotiate, and how he is so adaptive, and could change over time, getting a feel for the conditions and adjust his approach for the positive,” assesses Hall. It also shows how, with such a narrow window, Ashe could leave a profound impression. “You can see the good that he did by being there,” says Hall. “One anecdote is by Marc Mathabane, who was only young and living in Soweto at the time, and was inspired by Ashe’s trip in 1973. Seeing him participate on-court, he went on to become a tennis player himself and set up a tennis foundation there.” This was his aim – not necessarily to be a Wimbledon hero but to impact on others to contribute. “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic,” Ashe said. “It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” By speaking out, Ashe risked being polarised – and was. “Some of the far left moderates at the time called him an ‘Uncle Tom’, and those on the far right deemed him a militant and an agitator. But to garner a reaction from both sides, he must have been doing something effectively,” admits Hall. Ashe – his efforts inseparable from those of Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Bill Russell et al – has led to the emergence of the modern day ‘woke’ athlete. Now,

in America’s most-dominant sports leagues, equal media chatter is rightly generated by athletes’ pre- and postgame thoughts on wider social issues as by analysis of their scintillating instances of in-game skill. A long-standing tradition in major American team sports is for the World Champions to be honoured with a ceremony at the White House; since Donald Trump’s inauguration into the role, teams such the Golden State Warriors (2018 NBA basketball champs) and the Philadelphia Eagles (2018 NFL Superbowl victors) have elected to stay away from the photo-op, as a statement against the sitting President. The general population could not tell you the touchdown statistics of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but he is globally known for kneeling during pre-game NFL proceedings to protest the national anthem, gaining a legion of support from both players and fans; “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” he explained. These are two examples. At every postgame press conference there’s another instance of an athlete speaking out, using their platform for more than sporting comment. This is not to align Ashe with any of their opinions, but to reinforce that these athletes are upholding a collective voice which required courage and risk to assert. It’s a voice that can be traced back to the late, great tennis champion, who did indeed transcend the sport that he loved. Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights Era is written by Dr. Eric Hall, and published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The 2018 Wimbledon Championships take place from 2-15 July


65


Motoring

AIR

JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

66


Eighth Wonder How the all-new A8 L from Audi represents the pinnacle of its luxury prowess – and the quintessence of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

T

his article isn’t a pound-for-pound faceoff between the much anticipated 2019 A8 and its predecessor, but peer inside the previous generation of the marque’s flagship offering and comparisons feel more akin to keeping up with the Jetsons than the Joneses. The company has rightly deemed this ‘The All New Audi A8’, and what you see here is no mere cosmetic mid-cycle upgrade. The only similarity is in the name; so condolences to any existing A8 owners. This latest offering is light years ahead. Okay, from the exterior, matters perhaps aren’t that drastic. The all-new A8 retains that trademark aura of understated elegance; even the A8 L – (the longer wheelbase of this sedan, that measures in over 17ft long) carries itself with coupe-like aplomb. Utterances from Audi’s new design language have been imparted upon its sculpted singleframe, such as a new grille on the fascia, and subtle side mouldings. When the sunlight picks out the exterior chrome accents on its profile – specifically on the Floret Silver colourway, the angles and contours that strike a clever balance between sporty and stately. For the most significant changes one must look within. Dominating the dash is what Audi calls a Virtual Cockpit – lovers of glass-cut, bezel-less technology will be best pleased. The expansive wraparound is like a tablet – a 10.5inch infotainment screen (with full HD resolution of 1920x720 pixels) is the touch point, though the way it sits flush in the smoky glass,rather than protruding, achieves an elegant glacier of modernity around the cockpit. ‘Buttons are for coats’, quips Audi, and aside from a solitary dial, every function is conducted using haptic feedback on that expansive touch surface – even adjusting the air vent flow is orchestrated with a sweep of the fingertip across a smooth surface. Or, should you prefer the sound of your own voice, by speaking aloud to the A8’s voice assistant angel, which understands phrases without the need for predefined commands.

67


AIR

There are tech treats in abundance for those stretching out in the rear, too – or for when the driver relinquishes becomes the driven. This segment of the motoring market is built around life in the back seat, and modern life doesn’t stop when you step inside a car. Therefore, A8 occupants are connected and in control; being a passenger in these stitched leather, air-coooled seats, is no passive experience. With the mini rear seat remote, VIPs in the rear can control the four-zone air conditioning and window shades. Trip data is delivered to their Android tablet screen, though if you’re at the wheel and prefer driving without scrutiny from your entourage, slip in a SIM card and the vehicle becomes LTE Wi-Fi connected. It may sound like stepping into a life-size smartphone, but this is a smart car. In a world where autonomony is the new sheriff in Drive town, the A8 is capable of Level-3 self driving – that’s ‘the car managing most aspects of driving, including monitoring the environment’. This is restricted for now; Audi (like other carmakers) is waiting for the green light, and for regulatory decisions around self-driving capability to be settled. Fear not: a suite of 41 available driver-assist systems on the A8 are enough to impart a futuristic feel, as well as advanced AI such as Remote Parking Pilot (hands-free parking, using sensors and cameras). Overall, where the drive experience of an sprightly Audi sports series (think the TT RS) can be described ‘on the nose’, the A8 is more akin to a gentle kiss on the cheek. Yes, upon launch, it is available with a single turbo V6 engine, which knocks out 340hp. And with its customisable drive setting set to Dynamic it provides more-tactile road responses and does stimulate some kick, muscling around road obstacles with ease. But by and large, where Audi’s sport range is a firm bamboo mattress, the A8 is memory foam. It sounds lyrical to claim the A8 glides across the road, yet it’s true; the AI is ever-problem solving. The harmony of adaptive air suspension, famed Quattro all-wheel drive and slick Artificial Intelligence means that the car reads the road and makes adjustments for imperfections, delivering an assuredly soft crossing. Say, should one get out of Dubai and find themselves plunked on one of the UAE’s notoriously cratered truck roads. The blame for that detour can be pinned on this driver’s navigation error, rather than Audi’s smartly developed GPS, but I was not punished for my folly on a road where this car was out of place. It flattened the irregular surface with its intelligent adjustments, and the forgiving work of the air springs was noticeable - the road, read, to raise the body up to two inches before a bump, tracing the topography. 68

All images: The Maserati Quattroporte 2017, in GranLusso trim

It is a clever act, yet unsung; this gamechanging, praiseworthy feat was met with blasé indifference from the oblivious others sharing my luxurious cocoon. The floating becomes second nature, aided by the Anechoic chamber-like sense of calm this cabin swathes around you. Acoustic glazing reduces outside interferences to a hush, and the muted rattle of trucks went undetected – no doubt abetted by my passengers’ absorption with a deep dive into YouTube on their audIpad. Later, the clichéd chorus of ‘are we there yet?’ was delivered with part sadness and part disbelief that the destination was not ‘one more video’ around the corner. The assured strapline across the Audi A8 literature is ‘Forget the car. Audi is more.’ To experience this memorable, futuristic flagship means that on a literal level, it’s a tough instruction to comply with – whichever seat you find yourself occupying.


69


Gastronomy

AIR

JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Set in Stone Welcome to one of Europe’s most heralded fine dining establishments: two Michelin starred Onyx in Budapest WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

70


This page: Chef Ádám Mészáros 71


AIR

O

nyx Restaurant, the stylish, two Michelin star dining highlight of Budapest, is located in Vörösmarty Square – a mere five minutes stroll from the promenade along the Danube. The river, the continent’s second longest, makes its journey through 10 European nations. Similarly, the Michelin Guide Main Cities of Europe 2018 winds its way through the continent, and its stop in the Hungarian capital was a talking point. Budapest is admittedly something of a fine dining outlier but, in the guise of Onyx, the city has an international standard, Michelin-acclaimed stronghold – exactly the type that its guide intended to spotlight. It achieved its first Michelin star in 2011, becoming the second restaurant to achieve the honour in Hungary. “Fortunately, our hard work and creativity paid off this year,” says its managing director Anna Niszkács, “and in March we became the very first [and only] restaurant here to receive a second star.” Onyx sees itself not as a European outpost, but as part of a wider fine 72

The Michelin award is an honour for us as a restaurant, and for our country dining community. “It was step-by-step to build our acclaim, but we did not feel that the absence of a Budapestspecific Michelin Guide was a hindrance. Other main cities of Europe served as valuable benchmarks,” Niszkács explains. The beginning of the 21 st century was a turning point for Hungarian dining, when it took “its first steps on to the road of a gastronomic revolution,” she recalls, “and it was much needed, to compliment a flourishing tourism industry. When we opened, serving the best local cuisine was always our aim.” Before concentrating on the acclaimed cuisine, the guest must first drink-in a decadent dining setting, dreamt up by Zoltán Varró. A chequerboard colour scheme is punctuated by tastefully

applied gold accents and the sparkles of glistening chandeliers. On entry, centre stage is a huge hunk of illuminated onyx, imported from Italy and “chosen to represent our philosophy and style, force and sophistication,” Niszkács discloses. The stone makes other discreet cameos, such as being a delicious pedestal upon which cuisine is placed. “Our chef Ádám Mészáros is detailed orientated, right down to us commissioning our own plates. He works with a Hungarian potter and, in collaboration, the pair have developed many onyx plates for his dishes,” the managing director reveals. The Guide describes the fare by Mészáros and his team as ‘Hungarian flavours with a modern twist’. Niszkács elaborates, “In our opinion, Hungarian cuisine definitely needs some modern ideas and freshness. We would like to highlight the very best domestic ingredients, and as such, we guide our guests through the experience of tasting these fine and rare elements through intricately produced dishes.” That ‘twist’ comes from imported ingredients, which Chef


Mészáros harmonises into signature creations like water buffalo with tartare, pine and mushroom, catfish with bacon, fish soup and shallots, and a finishing flourish of ‘Túró rudi with forest fruits. The restaurant offers two tasting adventures: a three-, four- and sixcourse menu for lunch, and a pair of six-courses menus for dinner. Those dinner menu monikers allude to their contents: ‘Within Our Borders’ emphasises the high-quality domestic components, while the other, called ‘Beyond Our Borders’, focuses on the culinary creativity. “We are on a constant mission to obtain Hungarian ingredients, and are fortunate to have many main ingredients on our doorstep, sourced from local farmers and farmsteads,” says the managing director. “Our catfish is from a fish farm beside Lake Balaton; caviar is from the very best Hungarian sturgeon farm; water buffalo is domestically sourced, and local goose liver is also a highlight.” Mészáros ventures out on culinary sourcing tours to the countryside, to discover the best cheese makers, vegetable farmers and so on. Such is the influence of being the flag bearer for Hungarian fine dining that the chef can commandeer the very best; “He works with a particular microgreens farmer, to grow a special sprout only for him,” illustrates Niszkács. The chefs are fond of a surprise. Not to spoil the plot, but an evening here delivers unexpected curiosities; punctuating the main event are ample amuse bouche, delectable homemade bread, a trolley loaded with petit fours, plus a ‘farewell gift’ to ensure the memory lingers. The local phrase ‘Tele vagyok’ – ‘I’m full’ –becomes very useful by meal-end. It is these reasons for which many make a specific beeline to Budapest, purely to savour Michelinstarred Onyx. The restaurant is a haute travel touchstone. “The award is an honour for us, and also for our country,” Niszkács enthuses. “Onyx has shaped the country’s fine dining scene with our unique style. We cultivate an elegant atmosphere, while staying true to our philosophy, which is to deliver an encounter that imparts Hungarian tradition with modern, fine dining innovation.” 73


30 JOURNEYS BY JET

Keemala Hotel

AIR

Thailand

74


Travel JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

H

ow does a resort go about making the already alluring prospect of a pool villa that extra bit enticing? Keemala Hotel, located upon the rainforest laden island of Phuket, decided to hoist its abodes skywards – and they soar on stilts above the lush jungle canopy, promising stunning views and the utmost privacy. The result is a breathtaking selection of sanctuaries, with a choice of a Bird’s Nest Pool Villa, Clay Pool Cottage, Tent Pool Villa or Tree Pool House, each offering its own highlights. The ocean that can be spied peeking through the lush woodland f lora is the Andaman Sea, and Keemala offers a refreshing new vantage of this pretty Thai province, which is (usually) regarded for its upscale beach resorts. One needn’t surrender the surf by opting for downtime in the trees; Kamala Beach is a (complimentary) four-minute drive away, while neighbouring Laem Singh, the picturesque alternative to thronging Patong, is a 10-minute hop. Once back in this blissful base though, that feeling of escapism truly begins to sink in.

Keemala Hotel is laid-back luxury; an expression of holistic spa treatments, gastronomic offerings comprising the finest Thai cuisine and abundance of island activities. Combine these factors with a set of other-level villas and cottages, and it makes for an energising retreat. Picture this: waking up in an oversized king sized bed in the master bedroom of a Bird’s Nest Pool Villa, to the harmony of bird song. Then, opt for an awakening drench from a monsoon shower, before padding into the lounge area to sip a cup of freshly brewed coffee, while overlooking the tranquil panorama. Or, for a more active beginning to this empty-diary day, take a dip in the lap pool before drying off with a bask in the early sun. And that’s merely to begin the day. Keemala is nature, respectfully paired with sophistication; the hotel can be considered, quite literally, an example of living the high life. Charter into Phuket International Airport, which has dedicated handling for private jets. Fast-track immigration can be prearranged by Keemala, who will also provide a VVIP transfer from the airport to the hotel. keemala.com 75


What I Know Now

AIR

JULY 2018 : ISSUE 86

Raha Moharrak FIRST SAUDI WOMAN TO CLIMB EVEREST AND THE SEVEN SUMMITS

People write of how I ‘conquered’ the Seven Summits, including Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest. I never believe I conquered anything but myself. I never ‘conquered’ a mountain – if you’re human and believe that you’ve conquered a mountain then you’re arrogant. I believe I was lucky enough to be able to do it and come back down alive, with all my fingers and toes. It’s having respect for nature; aren’t we all just tiny pieces of the puzzle, in the grand scheme of things? I’ve always felt a sense of adventure, and there’s part of me that only wakes when I’m out there, immersed in that world. At the top of each mountain, my spirit would scream with delight. I must come back to reality, though – adventure is about balance and

76

extremes; the value of an adrenaline high diminishes without experiencing the opposite emotion.

then you come home and try again. The only problem is choosing to give up.’ Failure is not the end; it is a lesson.

What has resonated with me most is never to fear failure; to not try something new out of a fear to fail.

I have received a lot of attention for my accomplishments, and to begin with I was overwhelmed and nervous. Growing up I was shy; an introvert who plays an excellent extrovert.

People approach me and confess, ‘I want to do something, but I’m afraid of what could happen’. But it goes both ways. Not trying means that you indeed avoid the worst, but you miss out on the chance of life-changing success. A great piece of advice on this matter came from my father, when I was slumped at home on the couch having not been able to finish one of the biggest climbs of my career, due to bad weather and bad luck. He said, ‘Do you know the best thing about a mountain? It is always there. If you have a problem,

But I built the courage and a sense of purpose to be an advocate for girls taking part in sports because of the incredible reaction. I realised that my story does not belong to me anymore. It has grown so much bigger than an individual love of adventure and a need to rebel. Each and every woman who has broken the mould or chipped away at that ceiling, collectively, we have made our mark – and that’s the legacy we leave for the next generation.


Air Magazine - Nasjet - July'18  
Air Magazine - Nasjet - July'18