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Issue Seventy two may 2017

James Franco Luxury • Culture • People • Style • Heritage


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Contents may 2017 : ISSUE 72

air

Editorial Editorial director

John Thatcher Editor

Chris Ujma christopher@hotmediapublishing.com

art art director

Kerri Bennett illustrations

Vanessa Arnaud

CommErCial managing director

Victoria Thatcher Group Commercial director

David Wade

david@hotmediapublishing.com Commercial director

Rawan Chehab

rawan@hotmediapublishing.com Business development manager

Mohamed Galal

mohamed@hotmediapublishing.com

ProduCtion Production manager

Muthu Kumar 8

Forty Two

Fifty Six

The polarising enigma that is James Franco ignores the labels – he’s too busy tirelessly perfecting his craft

40 years since the release of Star Wars, dedicated collectors are still exploring a galaxy of memorabilia

Forty Eight

Sixty Two

Cristóbal Balenciaga pulled the strings of fashion while shrouded in secrecy. Just who was this shaper of style?

With its bespoke suit-making expertise, Berluti can dress the accomplished gentleman from head to toe

127 Hours A Day

The Godfather

Life And Darth

Grande Mesure


Riyadh: Kingdom Center - Olaya - T +966 11 211 1316


Contents

AIR

SEPTEMBER MAy 20172015 : ISSUE : ISSUE 72 52

Eighteen

Seventy

A new exhibition in Paris oozes with sophistication – a fitting tribute to the beloved late diva, Dalida

How is Ferrari celebrating its 70th anniversary? A big, year-long celebration of the Prancing Horse, of course

Twenty Eight

Seventy Four

Irving Penn knew how to get his photography subjects to bare their soul, even if they were trying to conceal it...

Cuisine, art and creativity collide in Dubai, as a new restaurant gets down to the molecular level of dining

Thirty Four

Seventy Eight

Refreshingly simple in looks, the handsome timepieces by Glashütte Original have a hidden complexity

Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius: an opulent dose of service, plus private jet-primed

Radar

Art & Design

Timepieces

Motoring

Gastronomy

Travel

Thirty Eight

Jewellery

In carefully setting its own high jewellery history, Boghossian pays homage to time-honoured techniques

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.


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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 1,700 industry experts, operating 24/7 from our state-of-the-art flight centre in Riyadh and across the world delivering a superior level of safety, service and value. At NASJET we have the expertise and international experience to operate corporate aircraft worldwide. Every hour of every day, we are moving planes, crews and inventory across continents. We give you peace of mind when it comes to our commercial operations. As a Saudi company we are backed by some of the most prominent shareholders in the world. We are established. On our Air Operator Certificate (AOC), NASJET currently operate the following aircraft types: • Hawker 750 Aircraft, which can seat up to eight passengers and fly for up to four hours non-stop. • Cessna Citation Excel, which can seat six passengers and fly for up to three

Welcome Onboard MAY 2017

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

Ghassan Hamdan CEO

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


Nasjet MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

‫األنظمة والقوانين‬ ‫الجديدة للهيئة‬ ‫العامة للطيران‬ ‫المدني‬

Revised Saudi Arabian GACA rules & regulations Consolidating its leadership role in the Saudi Arabian aviation sector, NASJET, the largest private-aviation operator and management company in the Kingdom, has announced its decision to extend compliance support to the local aviation community, with a proposition that will allow aircraft owners to operate their aircraft on a NASJET Private or Commercial Air Operator Certificate (AOC). The welcome move came on the back of the introduction of new General Authority of Civil Aviation Regulations (GACAR), which were brought into effect on 1 March 2016 and are applicable to all aircraft based in Saudi Arabia regardless of the aircraft’s country of registration. NASJET currently manages a diverse fleet under its AOC, including Boeing Business Jets, Airbus Corporate Jets, and Gulfstream, Falcon, Legacy, Hawker and Cessna Aircraft. By operating their aircraft on NASJET’s AOC, owners will also benefit from exclusive discounts on fuel, handling and insurance, which can help reduce their aircraft operating costs by 25%. 14

“As a leading player in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector, we are committed to catering to the needs of the aviation community as a whole and our decision to offer compliance support comes as part of our continued efforts to offer advisory and a range of specialised services to aircraft owners. To make the transition to the new regulations as smooth as possible, we will also be providing consultations to help owners understand the full scope and impact of the new regulations, as outlined by GACA,” says Yosef F Hafiz, chief commercial officer, NASJET. The new General Authority of Civil Aviation Regulations (GACAR) stipulated that aviation companies in Saudi Arabia submit a comprehensive plan by September 2016, stating their decision to operate their aircraft on either a Private or a Commercial AOC. Failure to comply with the new rules and regulations meant severe consequences, including restrictions on annual landing-permit renewals or refusal to provide a one-time landing permit, which could have lead to the grounding of the owners’ planes.

NASJET Sales Team +966 11 261 1199 sales@nasjet.com.sa nasjet.com.sa

‫ أكبر شركة خاصة‬،‫أعلنت شــركة ناس جت‬ ‫لتشــغيل وإدارة الطائرات في المملكة العربية‬ ‫ عن دعم جهود شركات الطيران‬،‫السعودية‬ ‫المحلية لالمتثال لمعايير التشــغيل من خالل‬ ‫شــهادة ناس جت الخاصة أو التجارية للتشغيل‬ ‫الجوي؛ وذلك في خطوة تعزز من مكانة‬ ‫الشركة ودورها الريادي في قطاع الطيران‬ .‫الخاص بالمملكة‬ ‫وتأتــي هذه الخطوة التي القت ترحيب ًا عقب‬ ‫إصدار لوائح الهيئة العامة للطيران المدني‬ ‫في المملكة العربية السعودية والتي تم‬ ‫ ويجري تطبيقها‬،2016 ‫ مارس‬1 ‫تفعيلهــا بدءاً من‬ ‫على كافة شــركات الطيران الخاص التي تتخذ‬ ‫مــن المملكة مقراً لها بغض النظر عن بلد‬ .‫التسجيل‬ ‫وتقــوم ناس جت في الوقت الحالي بإدارة‬ ‫أسطول متنوع بموجب شهادة التشغيل‬ ‫الجــوي بما في ذلك طائرات بوينغ وإيرباص‬ ‫وغلف ستريم وفالكون وليغاسي وهوكر‬ ‫ ومن خالل تشغيل الطائرات بموجب‬.‫وسيسنا‬ ‫ ستحصل‬،‫شهادة ناس جت للتشغيل الجوي‬ ‫الشركات المالكة للطائرات على خصومات‬ ‫حصرية على سعر الوقود وأعمال المناولة‬ ‫ وهو ما سيســاعد بدوره في خفض‬،‫والتأمين‬ .%25 ‫تكاليف تشغيل الطائرات بنسبة‬ ‫ رئيس الشؤون‬،‫وقال يوســف فيصل حافظ‬ ‫ «كشركة رائدة في‬:‫التجارية لشــركة ناس جت‬ ،‫قطاع الطيران بالمملكة العربية السعودية‬ ‫تلتــزم ناس جت بتلبية احتياجات مجتمع‬ ‫ ويأتي قرارنا بدعم شركات‬.‫الطيران ككل‬ ‫ في‬،‫ فيما يتعلق باالمتثال للمعايير‬،‫الطيــران‬ ‫إطار جهودنا المستمرة لتقديم العديد من‬ ‫الخدمات االستشارية والمتخصصة للشركات‬ ‫ ولكي نجعل تطبيق اللوائح‬.‫المالكــة للطائرات‬ ً ‫الجديدة أمراً سه‬ ‫ سنقوم أيض ًا‬،‫ال وممكن ًا‬ ‫بتقديم االستشارات لمساعدة تلك الشركات‬ ‫في فهم اللوائح وأثرها بشــكل عام وفق ًا لما‬ .»‫أقرته الهيئة العامة للطيران المدني‬ ‫وتنــص اللوائح الجديدة التي أصدرتها‬ ‫الهيئة العامة للطيران المدني على ضرورة‬ ‫تســليم شركات الطيران في المملكة العربية‬ ‫السعودية خطة شاملة بحلول سبتمبر‬ ‫ توضح ما إذا كانت ســتقوم بتشغيل‬،2016 ‫طائراتها بشهادة تشغيل الطائرات الخاصة‬ ‫ وقد يؤدي اإلخفاق في االلتزام‬.‫أم التجارية‬ ‫باللوائح والقوانين الجديدة إلى تداعيات من‬ ‫بينهــا فرض قيود على تجديد تصريح الهبوط‬ ‫الســنوي أو رفض منح تصريح الهبوط المؤقت‬ ‫لمرة واحدة؛ األمر الذي يمكن أن يتســبب في‬ .‫حظر الطيران‬


‫‪Nasjet‬‬ ‫‪MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72‬‬

‫تطور‬ ‫ناس جت‬ ‫ّ‬ ‫من أدائها لتواصل‬ ‫إنجازات ‪2016‬‬

‫وتستمر بدون أي حادث‬ ‫طيران منذ تأسيسها‬ ‫الرياض ‪ 9 -‬يناير‪:‬‬

‫بخطوات تطويرية تهدف إلى زيادة الكفاءة‪،‬‬ ‫والعمل باحترافية على معايير عالمية في األمن‬ ‫والسالمة؛ واصلت شركة ناس جت‪ ،‬الشركة‬ ‫الرائدة في حلول الطيران الخاص‪ ،‬تميزها‬ ‫بالعمل على برامج تطوّ ر جميع المنتمين لها‬ ‫من موظفين‪ ،‬والعمل على تدريب طواقم‬ ‫الطيارين ليصلوا مراحل متقدمة من الخبرة‬ ‫والكفاءة‪.‬‬ ‫قدمت ناس جت دورات تدريبية لجميع‬ ‫حيث ّ‬ ‫موظفيها على نظام إدارة السالمة (‪،)SMS‬‬ ‫حيث يساهم هذا النظام في احترافية إدارة‬ ‫المخاطر عند حدوثها والطريقة المثالية‬ ‫للتحكم بها من خالل ا ّتباع إجراءات منظمة‬ ‫ومجربة وخاضعة ألنظمة إدارة المخاطر‪.‬‬ ‫كما ّ‬ ‫أن ناس جت تعتمد تدريب طياريها مرتين‬ ‫في العام في (‪،)Flight Safety International‬‬ ‫وهي منظمة عالمية معتمدة للتدريب في‬ ‫عالم الطيران‪ ،‬حيث يتلقى فيها طيارو ناس‬ ‫جت دورات متخصصة احترافية‪ ،‬وتدريب على‬ ‫أحدث التقنيات المصممة لمحاكاة الطيران‬ ‫ألجل رفع الكفاءة في خبرة التعامل مع‬ ‫المخاطر‪ .‬وال يقتصر التدريب في هذه المنظمة‬ ‫على الطيارين فقط‪ ،‬بل يتم تدريب المضيفين‬ ‫للتحقق بشكل دائم بأنهم على كفاءة عالية‬ ‫في متطلبات الطيران التجاري‪.‬‬ ‫وقد حقق كل هذا االهتمام برفع الكفاءة‬ ‫والتدريب االحترافي على أن يكون تاريخ شركة‬ ‫ناس جت بال أي حادث طيران منذ تأسيسها عام‬ ‫‪1999‬م‪ ،‬وحصولها في عام ‪2016‬م على االعتماد‬ ‫(‪ ،)IS-BAO‬وهو اعتماد يتم الحصول عليه من‬ ‫المجلس العالمي للطيران التجاري عند تحقيق‬ ‫المعايير العالمية لعمليات تشغيل الطيران‬ ‫التجاري‪ ،‬حيث يأتي هذا االعتماد للتأكيد على‬ ‫ّ‬ ‫أن ناس جت هي شركة الطيران الخاص التي‬ ‫حققت أعلى مستوى من االلتزام بأعلى معايير‬ ‫األمن والسالمة في المنطقة‪.‬‬ ‫وتعمل ناس جت على إدارة وتشغيل طائرات‬ ‫مسجلة بأربع دول مختلفة‪ ،‬وهي المملكة‬ ‫العربية السعودية والواليات المتحدة األمريكية‬ ‫وكيمان وسان مارينو‪ ،‬حيث تعتبر الشركة‬ ‫الوحيدة في المنطقة المسجلة في أربع دول‬ ‫مختلفة كمشغل طيران معتمد‪.‬‬


Welcome to NASJET

16


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Radar

AIR

MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

Had Dalida crested a few decades later, she’d be an entertainment news cycle dream. A beauty queen and actress, her velvety singing voice enraptured audiences and conquered both global charts and hearts. What’s more, despite being an international diva of the highest order she was never out of touch with an adoring public, who warmed to how she emerged from personal tragedy and respected how she maximised her every component for success. With panache, tenacity and grace, Dalida was able to bridge cultural barriers – the songstress delighted in Arabic, Greek, German, French, English, Japanese, Dutch and Spanish, plus her mother tongue of Italian. But perhaps the main language of this former Miss Egypt was effortless style, and it has been translated into a spectacular sartorial homage – being shown at Palais Galliera’s Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris until 13 August. palaisgalliera.paris.fr

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Critique MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

Film The Lost City Of Z Dir: James Gray British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century, discovering an unknown civilisation At Best: “A miraculous movie, at once moving, intimidating, and gorgeous to behold.” The Atlantic At WoRst: “…Fails to find the core of a story cluttered with... sexism, racism, classism – and possibly more ‘isms’ than we’ve realised yet.” Pop Matters

The Dinner AIR

Dir: Oren Moverman A tense familial drama set at the table of a fine restaurant, as a congressman tests the true relationships of those around him At Best: “Glories in juxtaposition, as exchanges of bestial ferocity hiss back and forth… as poisonously feral barbs are traded across a table laden with elaborately effete hors d’oeuvres.” The Playlist At WoRst: “…Can’t help but go for those big meaty moments when a little veg might have helped in-between.” The Film Stage

Last Men In Aleppo Dirs: Firas Fayyad & Steen Johannessen A portrait of Syria’s reluctant heroes – volunteers contending with fatigue, dwindling ranks, and concerns for their families’ safety At Best: “May not be the most comprehensively explanatory… film yet made on the war, but it’s the one that provides viewers with the most sensorily vivid and empathetic sense yet of how it feels to live (and die) through the carnage.” Variety At WoRst: “Hard to watch, but necessary.” Hollywood Reporter

The Girl With All The Gifts Dir: Colm McCarthy In a group of unique children (infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world), a girl must discover what she is – both for herself, and for the human race At Best: “Might be the most inadvertently appropriate analog to life in 2017’s increasingly unstable world.” The Wrap At WoRst: “It’s all fairly interesting if less than captivating, driven mostly by Sennia Nanua’s bright performance.” Detroit News 20


Critique MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

AIR

Books

“I

t captures the essence of an enchanting place with a story combining adventure, family drama, and local history over the span of centuries…” writes Publishers Weekly of Taylor Brown’s second book The River of Kings. “The historical chapters focus on Jacques Le Moyne, a real-life artist who recorded the expedition, and include his actual drawings of the Native Americans they encountered and the settlers’ harrowing experiences… Brown makes this nostalgic trip down the river a gorgeous ode to the Georgia coast.” Steve Nathans-Kelly penned for Paste, “The novelist might be described as a silent filmmaker who writes so vividly he makes motion pictures with printed words… The book draws its real power not from the variety of its intertwining storylines or its intimations of deep family conflicts, but from the luminous strength of his writing. Because the force of his prose never lets up for a sentence, the characters and visuals he creates bore into your brain with a slow, insistent burn.” Writes Ben Steelman for Star News, “This looks a lot like Hemingway 22

country, but stylistically, Brown is closer to Cormac McCarthy, with a convoluted syntax and a vocabulary with words like ‘benthic’, which will send readers to the dictionary more than once. Brown’s themes are similarly subtle and indirect, usually dealing with the interplay of blood and gold... [The author] clearly beat the sophomore slump.” Thanks to a new translation of Frontier by Can Xue, the Chinese author can whisk a fresh batch of readers to her mesmeric realm. Words Without Borders describes it as, “A straightforward and accessible translation… [that] describes life in a town… near the border with Outer Mongolia… [yet] it seems to be set on the border with reality itself. Newcomers… struggle mightily to adjust to the town’s magic. The earth shakes and punches them when they sit down. A southern garden appears and disappears; walking out to find it, they are lost in a wasteland. The townspeople are subject to constant hallucinations. They see wolves in the marketplace and panic. They mistake snow leopards for sheep.” Frontier, “is so layered with metaphor and mystery

that one imagines it to be informed less by real-life circumstances,” writes Kirkus Reviews, adding, “[It’s] odd, atmospheric, and enchanting.” While the facts of the narrative are simple, “The themes of the story are complex and difficult questions. Each chapter focuses on the life of an individual resident… Through the hazy events... the narrative explores concepts of time, growth, nature, and the divine… The novel is a sensual delight and challenging glimpse into the nature of the human condition,” purrs Publishers Weekly. Back in reality, Never Out of Season explores ‘how having the food we want, when we want it, threatens our food supply and our future.’ Explains Raj Patel in The New York Times, “Toward the end of his engrossing book, Rob Dunn, a biologist at North Carolina State University, meditates on the humility with which his colleagues and forebears have preserved the planet’s botany: ‘Protected by these people keeping guard at the levees, our civilisation’s position is one in which we are behind the levee but below the level of the water.’ He shows how we have been spared catastrophe by legions of unsung heroes and heroines working across a range of crops, from cassava to cocoa to rubber to wheat.” Publishers Weekly writes, “Using the banana as an example, [he] shows how the desire for consistency and uniformity in a particular product often ignores the larger picture. [Now] bananas are ‘all genetically identical’ and susceptible to an evolved version of the pathogen that destroyed Gros Michel bananas before them.” Kirkus Reviews say Dunn has written, “A convincing argument that the agricultural revolution that has made food more readily available around the world contains the seeds of its own destruction… [while] suggesting that, armed with knowledge, we can reverse this way of treating the plants that feed us and find a way toward a more sustainable diet.”


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Critique MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

Art

AIR

“A

one-woman riot” is how The Arts Desk describes enduring artist Geta Brătescu; the 91-year-old’s The Studio: A Tireless Ongoing Space shows at Camden Arts Centre until 18 June. Sarah Kent goes on to write, “[She’s] the Romanian artist who has come in from the cold… Behind closed doors… she has perfected the art of making something out of nothing. Her materials could not be simpler – paper, charcoal, ink, scissors, string, bits of material and a sewing machine, or lengths of wood and a blanket. With these humble means she produces drawings, collages, sculptures and installations… a declaration of war against the forces of negativity – against anyone bent on inhibiting one’s freedom of thought and action.” London Exhibitions explains, “Her continued use of everyday objects… are key to the semi-autobiographical nature of her work… Her studio soon became her contemplative space, free from political influences; a place to reflect on herself and the world around her.” Helen Sumpter spoke to the pioneer for ArtReview, and wrote (of this exhibit’s subject matter), “Brătescu’s [workspace] is not only a place for current work and a repository for past works… it’s also a space that is highly significant to her work... often as an interchangeable stand-in for the artist herself. ‘The studio is myself’ is an oft-quoted statement of hers.” Those with a nose for art will rejoice at Life Is Cheap by Anicka Yi, at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum until 25 July. The Hugo Boss Prize winner has fine art sense (and scents): “Her titles can range from the abstruse to the sinister, as with 7,070,430K of Digital Spit… [It’s all] accomplished with the help of a team of molecular biologists and forensic chemists... With their unlikely combinations of beauty, science, organic material and occasional living things, [her] works rarely fail to intrigue, provoke and delight,” writes Roberta Smith for The New York Times. “Art is almost always 24

Lady Oliver In Her Travelling Costume, 1980 - 2012, by Geta Brătescu

a form of death… yet Yi’s exhibit subverts such a concept to offer truly vivacious works… [It’s] intentionally smelly, as Yi worked with… Parisian perfumers to amplify the scents from her biological samples [and] then encases and sustains the live bacteria that create these smells in plexiglass, letting spectators see what they can smell,” writes Joey Haar for Trendhunter’s Art and Design. Time Out asked the artist why her work emphasises the olfactory over the visual. She said, “It’s a political statement to counter what I call the ocularcentric society we live in... We think of scent as being subjective, when in fact there are objective truths around it. So using scent is a way of dismantling the misunderstandings around it.” “You wouldn’t necessarily think of Marc Quinn as a misty-eyed Romantic,” says Alastair Sooke at The Telegraph. “Yet Drawn from Life, his latest exhibition of 12 new sculptures

at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, tackles, seemingly without irony, the tender, tremulous, pulsequickening theme of love… though we might term it infatuation – specifically, his ecstatic obsession with his ‘muse’: his partner of three years, the beautiful dancer Jenny Bastet.” Laura Cumming observes in The Observer, “He almost gets away with the classical fakery, especially when his specially aged surfaces blend in with the waterstained marble around them, or when light pours through a pair of fragile fibreglass hands, turning them into funereal wings. But warring against this are unfortunate technical glitches... where a fringe of cast fabric looks like a secondary school project… These skins are presented here like sacred relics in glass vitrines. Quinn, always so intelligent, if curiously drawn to the brash, appears to be losing his rueful sense of humour.”


Critique MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

Theatre A

play where the leading female protagonists change roles each night? Yes, in The Little Foxes, at Samuel J Friedman Theatre on Broadway, until 18 June. “It wasn’t trick casting on the part of director Daniel Sullivan to have Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon alternate lead roles in Lillian Hellman’s brilliant, blistering indictment of a rapacious southern family in post-Civil War America,” says Marilyn Stasio for Variety. “Each actress... finds drama in the life-and-death conflict between the declining aristocracy and the rise of the decadent merchant classes at the turn of the 20th century… More than a hundred years on from when the play was written, we can still relate to the Hubbards and those bruising battles over money that can tear families apart and leave everyone involved bleeding on the floor.” Asks Alexis Soloski in The New York Times, “Why have the actors switch… at all? Well, it’s… a chance for each woman to display her collarbones and her range… But maybe there’s a weightier idea at work here. Regina shows how wicked a woman can become when she steps out of line, Birdie how broken when she doesn’t. To have these actresses switch from night to night stresses that in a world like this, women can’t win.” The play, “Is as political as it is black of heart, sharing with Chekhov a conflicted observation of the world moving on from a land-owning, debt-ridden gentry to the rising merchant class hell-bent on taking over,” writes Jeremy Gerard for Deadline. “In all, a rich, satisfying deep-dive into miserableness and ill-will.” “Unlike far too many musicals regurgitated from hit movies, Groundhog Day is a delirious reinvention with its own defiantly unique personality...” waxes David Rooney in Hollywood Reporter. “The fiendishly crafty creative team has devised a musical that cracks open the source material to amplify its themes, using the story’s collision of misanthropy and sweetness to explore existential

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questions about lives stuck in neutral and the liberating power to unlock meaningful change by savouring every moment as a fresh experience.” Andy Karl is stuck in an ever-repeating day – as befell Bill Murray in the 1993 movie. Reviews of the production (at August Wilson Theatre until 7 January) thankfully don’t repeat. Writes Jesse Green for Vulture, “Even vastly foreshortened, the story’s monotony is a problem far harder to address onstage than on film… The business of Phil’s awakening and dressing each morning, the groundhog ritual with its marching bands and dignitaries... all take loads of stage time, and lots of cumbersome bustle… Despite the musical’s theatrical cleverness it is often literal and choppy, like word-by-word Google translation. But at least it gets better as it loops along. Perhaps all it needs is a few thousand more iterations.” Whisper House didn’t make much noise for the Evening Standard’s Henry Hitchings. “As a character study this surprisingly short show feels insubstantial. Kyle Jarrow’s book is

Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney in The Little Foxes

cobweb-thin, and the lyrics, which he co-wrote with Duncan Sheik, are earnest and at times inelegant. Much of the music is bland, though a bright seven-piece onstage band does locate some moments of genuine drama.” The Stage’s Mark Shenton was more vocal with his support of the play, at The Other Palace until 27 May. “This darkly riveting [production]... is a fantastic statement of the theatre’s intentions. It stretches the form and gives voice to a top-flight cast of UK musical theatre creatives…” Alun Hood for What’s On Stage agrees: “Ghost tale, love story and thoroughly intoxicating treat… Visually the production is a knockout, with Andrew Riley’s circular set ingeniously evoking the lighthouse, numerous external locales and the seashore itself. Alex Drofiak’s lighting is gorgeous although sometimes so dim that it is hard to make out Richard Pinner’s clever magic tricks… This captivating, grimly rollicking house is worth a visit. It deserves to be a great big hit.”


Art & Design MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

AIR

Mightier Than The Sword At first glance, the pared-down portraits by Irving Penn are minimal and bleak – yet on closer inspection, the candid photographs bleed with introspection and truth. A new exhibition shows where to look for clues WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

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ultural icons are carefully honed – public images, curated and managed. For this, Irving Penn was the equaliser, the antithesis, the clearer of the mist. From his archives: a plump Alfred Hitchcock sits – protective? – glancing back over a robust shoulder; Pablo Picasso peers back, hat-dipped, collar-up – hiding?; Georgia O’Keeffe stands in a corner – wedged?; Audrey Hepburn, face on chin, smiles – forced? Questions arise from every capture (and countless others), but each legend sat patiently for Penn, with the results showcasing a bleak method of portrait photography that he perfected. Penn stamped his mark on multiple phases – fashion photography, still life, street material, advertising work with Clinique, and his seminal body of work for Vogue. Indeed, the Irving Penn: Centennial retrospective (at Big

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Apple-based Metropolitan Museum of Art) comprises 150 photographs, which represent every period of the artist’s dynamic career wielding the camera. It’s his portraits of public figures that stoke curiosity, though. A slew of marquee names underwent his visual interrogation, and while the subjects swoop in anywhere from fragile to playful, they’re always human. There is no gory or sensationalism with the portfolio – Penn didn’t use sex or scandal to sell his subjects. The photographs, taken in a far-from-slick studio setting, are simply raw. “Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world... Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe,” he once said of the process. In a New York Times


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article titled “Irving Penn Is Difficult ‘Can’t You Tell?’”, Vicki Goldberg unearthed of his character, “Beneath Mr. Penn’s gentle, almost courtly manner and quiet calm lie hints of the stubbornness, the uncompromising determination and perfectionism bordering on obsession that have driven his natural gifts and earned him an international reputation.” Laser-like and austere, the portraits, “wiped the slate clean of comfortable home environments and clues to the professions of his famous subjects,” Goldberg observed. Maria Morris Hambourg, an Independent Curator who knew Penn well, points out, “The amount of freedom he had was extraordinary. The magazine was his playing field, and he could also progress because he had to work every day – for 60 years. He would describe to me the moment of taking those pictures – how he was so taken with what he was doing that he wanted to go on and on until, as he put it, something godly would happen.” It was legendary editorial director Alexander Liberman who hired Penn as an assistant at Vogue in 1943 – specifically to suggest cover ideas – and the Russian-American was a champion of modernism, ahead of his time by pushing conceptual boundaries. Even so, eventually, “Liberman said to me, ‘I must cut back on the work you do for Vogue. The editors don’t like it. They say the photographs burn on the page’. After some years, I began to understand that what they wanted of me was simply a nice, sweet, clean-looking image of a lovely young woman...” Penn recounted. He eventually conformed, “I began to do that… Up to that point I had been trying to make a picture. Then I began to try to make a commodity…” There are two understated components to his celebrated portraiture. First is Penn’s technical expertise of not only lighting and lens but of print – silver gelatin prints created a moody early look, and were replaced in the 1960s by platinum printing upon handmade paper, and never was a shortcut taken. “Over the years I must have spent thousands of hours silently brushing on the liquid coatings, preparing each sheet in anticipation of reaching the perfect 30


Every so often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe Opening page: Rochas Mermaid Dress (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn), 1950, Promised Gift of The Irving Penn Foundation © Condé Nast Clockwise from below left: Pablo Picasso at La Californie, (Cannes, 1957). © The Irving Penn Foundation; Truman Capote, (New York, 1948), purchase by The Horace W Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel; Naomi Sims in Scarf (New York, 1969), promised gift of The Irving Penn Foundation. All from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and © The

print,” he confessed of the abiding kinship with his craft. Second is oft-communicated self-awareness, driven by fear of plummeting off a precipice. “I’ve tried a few times to depart from what I know I can do, and I’ve failed,” he once said. “I’ve tried to work outside the studio, but it introduces too many variables that I can’t control. I’m really quite narrow, you know.” Of that very New York studio where he accomplished so much, New Jersey-born Penn remarked, “I like it to be in no way grand. Nor do I feel grand, because I’m full of doubts still about the ability to get the picture I’m going to take.” He deployed this ‘backs to the wall’ approach – literally – during a particular photography phase, whereby Penn would place two

backgrounds to form a corner where his willing models would sit. “It was a means of closing people in. Some people felt secure in this spot, some felt trapped. Their reaction made them quickly available to the camera,” he explained of the tactic. The photographer often contributed to Interview Magazine, and upon his passing in 1999 they solemnised, “Whether it’s the faces of writers, models artists, actors, whether it’s the unseen guedras of Morocco, whether it’s apples rotting, poppies popping, croissants crumbling ... this artist has managed to prove that everything on Earth can rise to the occasion of being looked at as if the eyes looking are eyes that see with understanding.” Irving Penn: Centennial shows until 30 July at the The Met, New York 31


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

OBJECTS OF DESIRE

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


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

D av i D M o r r i s

BuRma BluE SapphIRE mEDallIOn nECkl aCE

David Morris exhibitions are hotly anticipated and when this necklace was first unveiled in Doha, the wait was worthwhile. The official traits of this fine jewellery piece are a 46.10ct cushion-cut blue sapphire in 18ct white gold, with weights of 118.38cts for the sapphire,

14.67cts for the Paraiba tourmaline and 49.59cts for the white diamonds. (The show-stopping necklace has a matching ring, too). Doha was an apt debut for the piece, with the Qatari capital a city of importance for the House, what with its new locale on the prestigious Pearl-Qatar. 1


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

Chanel

C O R O m a n D E l G ly p T I C

Founder Coco Chanel was one-of-a-kind, and the same can be said – literally – of this timepiece from the Maison. The unique piece belongs to the Mademoiselle Privé collection, and evokes a jewellery technique known to the ancient Egyptians. Like the civilisation’s lacquered folding

Coromandel screens, ‘glyptic’ imparts a depth and realism to a watch dial which took 100 hours to painstakingly produce. 18k beige gold, a snow-set case with 513 diamonds (5.16cts) and non screw-down crown snow-set with 61 diamonds (0.16ct) are notable beautifications. 2


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

alex anDer MCQueen

ThE BOx BaG

If this piece imbibes your imagination with antique luggage and treasure chests, then it’s mission accomplished for the minds at McQueen. Recognisable at first glance with its twist and lock closure, ‘The Box’ is distinctive and versatile – it’s transformable using the detachable wide

leather strap or decorative fine gold chain, and can be worn as a crossbody, shoulder bag or clutch. Exotic fabrics include twotone suede and leather, stamped crocodile print leather, exotic crocodile and python skin. Should size matter most, there are 16cm and 19cm options. 3


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

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OB JECTS OF DESIRE

MClaren

720S SupER SERIES When a design team cites its muse as the Great White Shark, that’s one hell of a statement of intent. The kneeweakening 720S echoes the sleek yet brutal traits of its natural muse, and every single millimetre of this car benefits from McLaren’s obsessive focus on driver

engagement – it’s lighter, stronger and faster. A 4l twin-turbo V8 engine blisters the demon to 99km/h in 2.9 seconds, while the driver has supreme visibility from the glass canopy, plus responsive handling which was five years in the making. Both Jaws and jaw dropping. 5


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

C h r i s T i e ’ s G e n e va

ROlE x auC TIOn

Christie’s first ever auction session dedicated to Rolex takes place on 15 May, and there’s 116 lots (comprising 55 different references) to tempt enthusiasts. Timepieces date from the 1930s through to the 2010s, and among the coveted lots is this unique 18k gold, ref 6264 Daytona

Chronograph which once belonged to Paul Newman. The natural elements have tropicalised the blacks into chocolate browns and the straw yellow dial to rich lemon – add in that the watch wasn’t even known to exist until recently, and you’ve a perfect storm for bidding frenzy. 6


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

Cruz Bu e no

FlOR al T WEED CROp JaCkE T

On the website of this couturist, there’s what appears to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to a certain Medusa-headed insignia (replaced with his own visage). When it comes to bespoke couture, though, it’s serious business; the dainty floral lace jacket above is a fine indication

of the beauty that can emerge from a byappointment-only meeting at this atelier. The label was founded in Lisbon, head designer Lucas Cruz Bueno is inspired by Ancient Greece, and they are based in London – so plenty of perspectives to pour into a bespoke masterpiece. 7


OB JECTS OF DESIRE

va n C l e e F & a r P e l s

FRIVOlE

The Maison is aflutter with a touch of Spring, and has chosen to revisit a fanciful source of enchantment with its 2017 Frivole collective. The suite showcases singular corollas and shimmering bouquets across a choice selection of pieces that hark back the lightness of the 1950s –

especially the pendant above, in yellow gold with round diamonds, most dense in the heart-shaped centre. There’s a delicacy and sunshine-like brilliance to the collection, which captures the signature traits of movement and poetry that the Maison has mastered. 8


Timepieces MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

At Home in the Sky TARIq MAlIk

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erhaps the most recognisable men’s luxury timepiece of all time is the Rolex GMT Master – and ever since it was first created in 1954, it has also been one of the most desired. Sitting snugly on the wrist, peeping out from under an airline pilot’s neat cuff, or perhaps even the cuff of an expensive Italian suit in the elite cabin, it tells the story of the wearer – who will inevitably be an international man of taste. It’s an image that was carefully engineered by Rolex from the start, and one that has endured to this day. To speak of what first inspired the GMT, I must mention the early years of aviation, and the 1950s era that saw the long-haul flight, across multiple time zones, make its first appearance. Jet pilots were almost like celebrities in those years, and Pan American World Airways was catering to a kind of international elite sub culture of jet-setters. Advertising was big, showing debonair passengers being transported safely in the capable hands of smartly dressed expert crew on board the new jetliners. Rolex, ever alert to adventurous lifestyles, capitalised. Before too long some of those advertisements read: “Pan Am flies with Rolex.” In this exciting milieu there was suddenly a need for a watch that could keep track of both the time at the point of departure and in the country of arrival – and so the GMT MasterRef 6542 was born. The first GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) was a regular Rolex Turn-OGraph (also known as the Ref. 6202), but with an updated GMT bezel and a modified movement to provide an

extra hand that showed the alternate time zone. When it was first launched in 1954 it came with a Bakelite bezel, but this was found to crack quite easily and so was soon replaced with a sturdier metal design. (Today, these early Bakelite models are some of the most sought after by my fellow watch collectors. So it goes with vintage watches). Over the years the GMT Master has gathered quite a following among statesmen, celebrities, musicians and sports stars. The notorious Fidel Castro was often seen showing off his GMT, while puffing on his huge Cuban cigar – and later Che Guevara was known to do the same, with a GMT of his own. Jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, actors Brad Pitt and Marlon Brando, John Paul Jones from the legendary rock band led Zeppelin, and even the charismatic surrealist painter Pablo Picasso were all big fans of the GMT. Besides a long list of admirers over decades, the iconic GMT Master

has also picked up a variety of nicknames – depending on which model you’re referring to. The first series is often called the ‘Pussy Galore’ – after the character with the same name from the James Bond movie Goldfinger, who wore her GMT as she tried to seduce the secret agent. Other nicknames include the ‘Root Beer’, the ‘Fat lady’ (because of an oversized case), ‘Coke’ and ‘Pepsi’ (depending on the whether it has blue and red or a black bezel), and the ‘Sophia loren.’ Despite a number of upgrades, including the release of the GMT II in the 1980s, the watch has stayed aesthetically consistent, and remained as recognisable as ever. The newer watch has some advantages over its predecessors, such as the ability to read the time in three zones. In 2007 Rolex made a few more changes, added a new bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel that was easier to adjust, and changed the materials used – such as the scratch-free Cerachrom and, later still, the introduction of white gold. Even so, it remains true to the design ethos, and character – the latest GMT II is still unmistakable, and feels a lot like the original. It’s a watch that surpasses its pure function – and it’s worn not so much to tell the time in different time zones anymore, but to inspire that special feeling of being airborne, with the world stretched out below just waiting to be explored and conquered. The GMT Master truly is at home in the skies. Find Tariq’s co-founded vintagewatch boutique Momentum in Dubai’s DIFC; momentum-dubai.com 33


Timepieces MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

AIR

Sax Appeal Glashütte Original caught the eye at this year’s Baselworld, with a Senator Chronograph that pulses with sophistication and looks oh-so simple. That is, until these watchmakers of Saxony origin explain the complexity concealed beneath… WORDS: ChrIS Ujma

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egibility. The word can seem an often-neglected ingredient in present-day horology – a candy shop of tempting time treats. There’s a flurry of immensely complex haute timepieces that are breathtakingly intricate but, err… can you glance at them to quickly read the time? Well noone can accuse the crystal clear classic Senator Chronograph Panorama Date of such oversight – actually, if you catch someone taking a prolonged look at this steel, elegant Baselworld highlight, they’re almost certainly admiring its stunning craftsmanship. “Ours is a pursuit of excellence based on the idea ‘less is more’,” outlines Thomas Meier, CEO of Glashütte Original. “This principle has been 34

our engine for many years. It’s been driving us to keep raising our own bar, developing unique products distinguished by technical ingenuity, innovative yet useful functions, easy operability and distinct purism of design.” Theirs is a product philosophy that has found perfect expression in their Senator Excellence line, introduced last year. “This new generation of timepieces featuring ultra-high precision, has a very long running time, extreme stability and timeless beauty,” he impresses. Their current suite of timepieces contain vintage-inspired works – two such examples being the classic Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date and the lollipop-colour-dialled


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Purism of design, ‘Made in Germany’ engineering and traditional craftsmanship are at the heart of our watches re-energising of the retro Sixties Square. But the Senator Excellence line is without doubt the King of Saxony. “The line incomparably represents the quintessential and traditional design patterns of watches made in Glashütte,” Meier says. Visually, traits include a clear and well composed dial, centrally positioned hands and a balanced arrangement of displays that are easy to read. It’s about power, too: the in-house made manufacture movements carry numerous traditional elements, “and finishing typical for the watchmaking art in Glashütte paired with the highest technical standards regarding precision, functionality and user friendliness”. The Calibre 36-powered Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar, for instance, is bestowed with stability, precision, and beauty – crowned with one of the most challenging complications in the art of watchmaking, the perpetual calendar. Another new addiditon to the collection – the 42mm, 70-hour power reserve Senator Chronograph Panorama Date, in steel for 2017 – is a sight to behold. “With the new version in stainless, we have added some 36

sporty charm to the Art of the Chronograph,” the CEO enthuses. The tasteful timepiece is gorgeous, with its blue lume (officially, SuperLumiNova) harmonising nicely when you opt for the alligator leather strap with blue stitching. Indices keep the dial uncluttered, it’s expertly polished along the bezel and the lugs, while the large date indicator at the 6 o’clock mark achieves visual balance. Notably, it also contains the Calibre 37 in-house column-wheel, automatic flyback chronograph movement. The creation of this in-house movement itself marked a significant milestone, even given this horologist’s longstansing fine pedigree. “The Calibre 37 combines the positive attributes of a high-end, ultra-precise column wheel chronograph with the advantages of an easy to use, robust cam chronograph, making it the perfect, reliable companion for everyday use,” details Meier. “The 4Hz automatic movement offers a well-balanced combination of highly integrated functions and features, among them: central stop second, 30 minute and 12 hours counter, a fly back mechanism, a power reserve of 70

hours and our typical Panorama Date,” he further elaborates. Certain mindsets exist among watchmaking consumers, and respect is hard earned. When a manufacture crafts in-house proprietary movements (as Glashütte does), it rightly draws admiration. Another ‘instant recognition’ among aficionados is the ‘Swiss Made’ stamp – so how are they placed, with watchmaking built on 170-years of German heritage? “The Swiss watch industry is big, and they create exquisite watches. It is an honour for us to be able to race with them and to be part of the game,” the CEO admits. However: “They recognise that we are a solid and serious player in high-end watchmaking. In order to compete with Swiss brands, we have to be very good at precision, accuracy, and exceptional functionality. And as a German brand we are very good at exactly these things,” he stoically adds. It is not only mechanics, of course. “We have our own sense of elegance and beauty. It is usually very clean, and we are very much focused on functionality. Our watches are very complex on the inside, but very clear, and easy to read


on the outside. Customers appreciate us for that typical design purism, paired with high end ‘Made in Germany’ engineering and traditional Glashütte craftsmanship at the heart of all of our watches. The authentic manufacturing process in which almost all our movement components as well as our dials are made completely in-house adds to that value tremendously.” An indicator of this excellence emerges from the Senator Excellence line. Each is delivered with a promise of quality from the manufactory: Meier explains, “We guarantee that each watch has been examined through a long-term 24-day test cycle, to criteria even more demanding than these for the German Chronometer standard. The special engraving on the case back serves as the seal of quality on every single watch. In addition, the owner is provided with the key test results for his watch in the form of an individual Examination Certificate.”

Be your horology preference be sporty or for a formal occasion, Glashütte Original ticks the right boxes, gliding through the proper social circles. Those fascinated by these timepieces are drawn to an authentic, high-end manufactory with a production depth of over 95 per cent. “We’re proud to make exclusive timepieces with beautiful yet functional design,” Meier says. A direct design language, clear historic lineage and dedicated pursuit of precision make Glashütte Original a watchmaker whose philosophy and motives are easy to read. Just as with a clean, legible watch dial, it’s a particularly refreshing trait to possess. To explore the watchmaker’s history, visit the fourth Glashütte Antique Watch Market. It’s a look back on 170 years of watchmaking, and has become an international gathering for watch enthusiasts and collectors. The event takes place on 13-14 May, at the German Watch Museum

Opening page: Senator Chronograph Panorama Date, in steel with black dial Opposite: The Calibre 37, made in-house Below: Senator Chronograph Panorama Date in steel, with alligator leather strap option

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Jewellery

AIR

MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

Delicate Harmony Boghossian never shies away from a challenge, actively taking the road less travelled. For this family, cultural homage blends with daring technique – and all to break fine-jewellery codes WORDS: CHRIS UJMA

I

t often seems like the Ancients had more time on their hands. Past techniques lack shortcuts and the only route to excellence was to sweat out pure dedication. Boghossian neglects to take the ‘easy’ route too; one need only look at the art of inlay – a centuries-old technique that they painstakingly resurrected – effortlessly displayed in an array of their beautiful collection pieces. The Geneva-based jeweller is curious: they’ve an old soul laced with an adventurous streak. On one hand they’ve deployed the hot-right-now Bella Hadid in their latest visual campaigns, yet the boldness is underpinned by classic charm. Even Boghossian’s self-assessment as “a palace of wonders where East and West meet”

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sounds like a mantra from a time of wonder and exploration – endless horizons and newfound learning. Six family generations bring deeprooted knowledge, and that aligns with an ability to break the codes of jewellery design. Add into this the appointment of Singaporean Edmond Chin as creative director, and their current mindset reached another level. Chin was welcomed in 2015 and the chief executive describes the results as being, “like an orchestra: we each master our own instrument and craft, joining forces to deliver harmonious performance, materialised in Boghossian jewellery”. A look at the hierarchy reveals the familial line of the company. Chief executive Albert Boghossian heads the House, and his nephews – head of research and development Ralph and head of sales Roberto – are sixth generation. The House began in the 20th century as a stone-trading business out of Aleppo (with Amernian origins), before moving first to Antwerp then Geneva, by then crafting bespoke jewellery pieces. “We are people who come from the East, yet it’s been 40 years that we have been working in Europe,” says Albert. “We have an inheritance unique to us, and our work is continuing what my greatgreat-grandfather established. Every generation adds a steppingstone.” Inlay is one example of their quest for

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daring: the technique involves a stone being delicately carved and set into another: in one of their collections, jewellers carved coloured stones like black jade, pink opal and chaorite and fused them with transparent precious stones such as heliodore, morganite and amethysts – a method inspired by the Mughal civilisation, the original masters of Inlay. In the Kissing Diamonds collection, meanwhile, a diamond is laid atop another larger stone without visible setting, ensuring the contrasting stones appear to ‘float’. Another method, Les Merveilles, was unveiled late last year after 48 months of development, and the result was described by The New York Times as, “creating a tapered column that gleams on all sides – a swooping strip that looks as if it was made of solid diamonds”. Chief executive Albert Boghossian muses, “Designing jewellery is like painting with light. Since gold interferes with light reflection, we work hard to find new ways of weaving the stones together with minimal metal intervention.” Of the techniques, Chin adds, “Boghossian jewellery has a very sumptuous richness associated with an Eastern feel, but most of the extraordinary technical innovations originate from the West (using titanium, the mounting, the pavé techniques, the association of gems,


The East brings femininity and intricacy, while the West brings modernity, the avantgarde touch and innovation

the cuts). Ancient and modern are put together. Many Eastern and Western aspects are intertwined and are almost impossible to detangle because they are held together by the brand and that is how the brand is.” Albert explains the ethos as “wanting to inspire curiosity. We are thrilled when our jewellery raises questions. We seek to challenge the norms of jewellery craftsmanship”. The company does not look to the past yearning for glory days of yore: they’re merely inspired by past aesthetics and breathe fresh life into them, bringing beauty to a new crop of jewellery lovers. “Art and culture are key inspirations,” explains Chin – “I’ve roots in Asian art and culture but I’m also inspired by Middle

Eastern and European cultures.” Albert, heir to the jewellery legacy, says, “We blend both civilisations in our thinking and our philosophy where the East brings femininity and intricacy, the sophistication of the workmanship like you see in the Taj Mahal or the Alhambra, while the West brings the modernity, the avant-garde touch, the innovation. Our jewels reflect these two strengths”. In the historic eras Albert mentioned, complexity and endeavour acted as a badge of honour to the patient artisan. So on reflection, maybe the Ancients didn’t have more time to create after all. Perhaps – like Boghossian – they merely knew how to best utilise their hours, forging resplendent results. 41


talent never sleeps AIR

James Franco has a sizeable appetite for creativity – even those with a mere passing interest in cinema will have clocked his prolific body of work. He’s oft misunderstood but, through the arts and academia, he’s far more concerned with understanding life WoRds: Kaleem aftab

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t is hard now to conceive of the opening of a major film festival without James Franco appearing in at least one film – he is arguably the hardest working actor in show business. In 2017 alone he has an astonishing 18 movie credits to his bio, and you’ll ensnare him this month, cinematically, as captain of the ship alongside Michael Fassbender in director Ridley Scott’s latest chapter of the Alien saga – Alien: Covenant. But he’s an evergreen cover story: pick up this magazine at any point in the year and Franco will likely have a movie release or creative idea being unveiled. Among his current post-production projects are horror (in the shape of Nina Ljeti’s Blood Surf), and a directorial turn plus lead role in The Pretenders (about a love triangle involving a photographer, a director and an actress). It was also announced that Hulu have picked up a teen drama that will be produced by Franco and his long-time on-screen foil Seth Rogen (as well as longtime collaborators Vince Jolivette and Evan Goldberg). The actor will likely be happy that the talk finally centres on his Renaissanceman qualities, and has moved away from the real world scandal that rocked Hollywood a few years ago. The actor (and director/producer/ scriptwriter/university lecturer) was – as a producer and star of The Interview – at the centre of one of the biggest Tinseltown stories of the decade, one that eventually brought down the co-chairman of Sony, Amy Pascal. A quick recap: when the trailer for The Interview (about a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un) was released, North Korea issued a statement that releasing the film would be a “war action”. Sony refused to pull the film, although the chief executive of Sony in Tokyo, Kazuo Hirai, argued for some cuts to be made. Then, in November of that year, an organisation calling themselves Guardians of Peace hacked into the Sony computer systems and publicised the private emails and salary information of the staff. A month later

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the hackers sent an email demanding that The Interview never see the light of day. Cinema chains then refused to show the film after the hackers threatened a terrorist attack. In all of the destruction there was a silver lining for Franco. When the film was eventually released on video-ondemand platforms it made USD40m, making it by far the most successful film ever released online. Franco and his regular cohort Rogen benefitted from an American public who wanted to show that they refused to put up with tyranny, cyber or otherwise, from a foreign state. Yet, what could have been the last laugh for Franco was somewhat tainted by Pascal failing to save her job at Sony. “I think it’s a shame,” said Franco of the firing. “I mean, everybody was surprised and hopefully, when something like this happens again, we’ll learn from it. In the end it was a real shame that Amy Pascal had to step down because she was an incredible studio head, and I don’t think she should take the blame for what happened.” He doesn’t think he should take the blame, either. As he told David Letterman, “we never felt like we were responsible or doing something wrong”. He also believes that the film would have been a blockbuster hit had it been released in cinemas as planned. It’s an example of a ubiquity (see also his maligned Oscar hosting stint alongside Anne Hathaway in 2011) that has made him a love-him-orloathe-him kind of guy. He has danced between huge blockbusters (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Spider-Man), comedies (Pineapple Express and This Is The End), and critical hits (Milk and 127 Hours, for which he was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award). And whereas a lot of actors would rest in between times, possibly spending their money, Franco has been making art. As a director he seems to revel in impossible adaptations. His two versions of William Faulkner classics – As I Lay Dying and The Sound And The Fury – infuriated most critics.


People like to split it up and make me seem like I’m g schizophrenic or somethingg

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With my writing... I’m the initial creator, so there is more freedom

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At 39, he is a chameleon; a successful acting career is no longer enough to satisfy him. Perhaps it never was. “I’ve had moments where I was searching for alternative ways of living, for me it was mostly professional. I was unhappy with how I was conducting myself in the professional film world and I was making myself very unhappy,” he says. “So I had to find new ways of working. It wasn’t really a crisis of faith or anything like that... But I did have a similar thing, when I was 27 and I went back to school.” He enrolled at UCLA for an English major in 2006. When he moved to New York in 2010 he signed up to courses at four different schools and counts himself among Yale’s English PhD students. “People like to split it up and make me seem like I’m schizophrenic or something,” he shrugs. “I see everything as connected and the guiding force behind all of it is my interest in all these different things and my pursuit of new forms of creativity. So the producing, writing or directing are just alternative outlets.” Oh, he also writes books. This month marks the release of a coauthored project with David Shields called Flip-Side: Real and Imaginary Conversations with Lana Del Rey, which explores the relationship between celebrity performance and persona. His short story collection Palo Alto, about the California town he grew up in, was turned into a film. He followed it up with James Franco: Dangerous Book Four Boys, which detailed an exhibition that contained video works, multimedia installations and sculptures by Franco. Back in 2013 he wrote a novel, Actors Anonymous. “One of the things that I tell people is, ‘go and do it’. Don’t wait for the gatekeepers to say, ‘okay’. Don’t wait around, because we can now take advantage of the technology.” Some might see this answer as pretentious, but in person the side of Franco that shines brightest is his academic side. He dresses like a hipster but brown corduroys would be more fitting as he gives considered, erudite, answers to questions. Working on his own projects gives him a sense of creativity that he doesn’t get from acting. When I met him for the first time some years ago, he told me: “As an actor I feel like it’s my job to serve

the director. I’ve accepted that. In some ways it feels like a craft rather than an art form. Sure I had some freedom of interpretation, but I feel like I’m serving someone else’s vision. With my writing... I’m the initial creator, so there is more freedom.” He’s aware of the criticism he attracts and could easily shy away from it, but it is all part of his best creation, his most important role – being James Franco. He has played himself enough times. In his collaboration with the artist Carter, Erased James Franco (2008), he re-enacted every performance from his career. This resulted in Franco persuading the soap General Hospital to give him the role of Franco, an artist and serial killer, which was then dissected in his 2012 film Maladies. He also re-purposed the footage for his metaphysical film Francophrenia (Or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where The Baby Is). And, in the comedy This Is The End, he played himself, as the host of a party on the night of the apocalypse. The need to put himself in his own work comes from his struggle to separate his personal life from work. “My work is one thing and my identity is something else, but when acting was all I had, my identity was inevitably tied to my career. So if my career was not doing well, I inevitably felt bad.” He admits that he struggles to switch off. Between takes, he likes to read books. Rogen would make fun of him for reading on the set of Freaks and Geeks; on the set of his film, Every Thing Will Be Fine, where he played a writer who is driving in the snow and kills a child, he was preparing for his oral exams in literature between shooting scenes. One of the most fascinating Francoassociated projects was a documentary by his former student Lisa Vangellow, who followed the actor around for a year and a half. “There were times I regretted saying yes,” admits Franco. “But only because it’s annoying having someone follow you. And then, automatically everyone thinks it was my idea, that I’m this vain guy that wants a camera following me around all the time.” When you dig deeper, the idiosyncratic bachelor simply isn’t like his publicly perceived persona at all. It’s just that he never lingers long enough to allow such exploration, already off seeking that next creative challenge. 47


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How could one of the most influential designers of the century – whose creations are code for modern fashion DNA – still be a mystery? The Cristóbal Balenciaga legacy is shrouded in myth, but that hasn’t stopped the curators at the V&A from inspecting the very seams of his genius WoRds: Chris Ujma

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t’s frustrating.” Cassie DaviesStrodder is Fashion and Textiles curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and she’s dedicated months to carefully plotting a journey through the world of the legendary Cristóbal Balenciaga. She’s excited about the exhibit and her knowledge of fashion history seems to know no bounds…. but the topic of his personality is a stumbling block for even the most proficient expert. “You just can’t find his first person voice, anywhere other than one interview back in 1972 after he’d retired,” she says. “When you look through the fashion press of the time, there are articles asking ‘does he even exist at all?’” Admittedly, there’s plenty said of Balenciaga: Christian Dior called him “the master of us all”, while Mademoiselle Chanel claimed Cristobel was “a couturier in the truest sense of the word… The others are simply fashion designers.” Adds Davies-Strodder, “In the area of the exhibition where we are introducing him, we explain that he’s a very private character and have a fabulous quote from Gloria Guinness – one of his most devoted clients – saying, ‘He was very shy and private – but not nearly as shy and private as he likes people to believe.’ He had a kind of protective shell around him and I think the mystery probably works in his favour.” 50

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion opens at the museum on 27 May, and is distinctly not an entire career retrospective – he was in fashion from 1917 until 1968, a long stand at a time when there were seismic changes in the fashion world. This showcase settles upon explaining a two-decade period, and also on the Spaniard’s contemporary influence. Explains the curator, “The 50s and 60s are the latter part of his very long career, and we felt this was the period when he’d solidified his ideas about design and fashion, and came to be an expert in his way.” His wonder years, if you will: “It’s the period when he breaks away from his contemporaries and starts to do things that are a lot more avant garde and forward thinking. In the 50s, Christian Dior’s new look was still very dominant with the hourglass shape, but Balenciaga promoted these much more modern shapes like the barrel line and the sack dress, which completely eliminates the waist and makes abstract shapes of the body. He explores that right through the 50s and 60s through to when he retires, when he’s almost creating completely abstract forms of the body.” The V&A has produced quite the run of fashion-inspired retrospectives of late, so why Balenciaga, and why now? The timeliness is down to the 100th anniversary of the House he founded, but the opportunity is also ripe

because “He’s somebody who’s slightly forgotten,” Davies-Strodder says. “Not in fashion – as everyone in the fashion world knows who he is – but in terms of him being a household name, perhaps he is not on the tip of everybody’s tongue. His work is so significant in shaping the development of fashion and you still see his remnants in what people wear everywhere, so it’s important to reassert his importance for a new generation of fashion enthusiasts, where they can see the roots of their raglan sleeves, cocoon totes and much more”. Visitors will encounter an exhibition that is split into three segments, prefaced by an introduction, “because we’re very aware that he’s perhaps not the familiar name that someone such as Dior is, so we’re explaining his Spanish background and heritage.” The trio of exhibition sections look at his front of house, workroom and, lastly, his legacy – bringing the exhibition into the present day rather than being a mere meander through sartorial archives. The front of house segment “imparts the experience of being a client at Balenciaga, and attending fashion shows and sittings. Within this portion we have a case set up as a catwalk with all the iconic pieces of the 50s and 60s inside. The highlight is undoubtedly the Envelope dress from 1967, which you can see from its four point design how abstract his approach was by this time”.


opening pages: Cristóbal Balenciaga at work, Paris, 1968. © henri CartierBresson, magnum Photos Above: Dovima with sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux magots, Paris, 1955. © The richard avedon Foundation

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Left: Lisa FonssagrivesPenn wearing coat by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1950. © Condé Nast, irving Penn Foundation Right: Flamenco-style evening dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1961. © Cecil Beaton studio archive at sotheby’s

A couturier in the truest sense of the word… The others are simply fashion designers Moving onto the workroom portion affords a behind-the-scenes look that, “picks apart what made him so exceptional as a designer,” DaviesStrodder outlines. “One of his defining features is his pure craftsmanship and skill – he started tailor’s apprenticeship training very early on (at the age of just 12), and what makes him so revered among his contemporaries is his competency toward every stage of the making process – from pattern drafting and cutting to assembly and finishing of garments. So we’re looking at different skills like pattern cutting and draping.” There’s an evening dress here from 1954 made out of huge expanses of the finest silk taffeta, and alongside it is a short film that explains what draping is and how it works (as well as an X-Ray that shows what’s going on underneath the garment – it’s being supported by hoops and boning in the bodice, not visible to the naked eye). The third area casts an eye over his legacy, including pieces by people who trained and worked with Balenciaga and also more contemporary designers who cite him as an influence today. There are, obviously, creations from the House’s current creative director Demna Gvasalia, and there’s a look at the parallels between the House

founder and what is being produced by the brand today. “Demna explores the heritage in a really interesting way, and with Balenciaga known for couture and Demna regarded for avant garde streetwear, the match-up can seem strange at first. But actually he’s been delving into the archives – some of his pieces fall at the shoulders, and he has kimono designs that fall at the back of your leg, so he’s been very careful of observing the lineage, and reinterpreting it.” Balenciaga has fingerprints through fashion far and wide. “His contributions are many – one of them being redefining shape and creating silhouettes which frame the body, rather than restricting. You can see it throughout the 20th century with the shift dresses of the 1960s or the sack dress, a Balenciaga introduction in the late 50s. His more abstract forms have influenced the work of people, Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons, for instance, where she did a whole ‘Lumps and Bumps’ collection which abstracted the body and was about creating these forms around it – not flattering it. Right through to today, designers like Iris van Herpen, who creates these sculpture-like pieces to be worn.” Another influence she mentions is “his minimalist aesthetic,

which he brings in during the 60s, was about creating pieces with as few seams as possible – very little decoration and hardly any embellishment.” That approach was carried into the 1960s by André Courrèges and Emanuel Ungaro, both of whom trained with Balenciaga and wove their own interpretations of space age minimalism. “It has been revised today with designers – notably J W Anderson and Phoebe Philo for Celine, who incorporate strong lines and a very simple look,” Davies-Strodder reflects, swiftly adding “But because it is so simple it has to be done perfectly. People can misinterpret simplicity to be simple but it is actually probably the hardest thing to create, because everything is exposed and it has to be cut flawlessly, and the fabric has to be exactly right. There’s a personal pride that Balenciaga perfected.” And there, like a clearing in the fog, a glimpse of Balenciaga emerges; there’s a message about his character found in the very observation of how he conducted his craft. “He was immensely serious about his work and was a perfectionist who went to great lengths to secure the tiniest detail in the garment. The pattern-cutting team who helped us with the exhibition were 53


Left: alberta Tiburzi wearing the iconic envelope dress in Harper’s Bazaar, 1967. © hiro Right: a model wears an orange coat in the Balenciaga salon, Paris – a scene photographed by mark shaw in 1954

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People can misinterpret Balenciaga’s simplicity to be simple, but it is probably the hardest thing to create astounded that anybody would go to great lengths to produce a certain type of soft collar or a dress made out of a single piece of fabric.” Such observation gets paired with confirmed stories; for one, an account of him pulling apart a garment at the last minute and reassembling it because [to him] the sleeve wasn’t quite right, and for another, him not taking bows at the end of a show. “We were quite careful to pick apart some of the myths and also just say what we knew,” says a conscientious Davies-Strodder. “For example, one thing we dispelled is it has been over-written that he was very protective of his work, was worried about others copying and that he didn’t license his work out.” It’s a well-worn but regurgitated lie. “We found as we were going along that he very definitely did. One of the stories we’re telling in the exhibition is that you could get hold of a Balenciaga design from many a department store.” Here’s how: Harrods would have attended the showing of his collections, bought a number of designs, and Balenciaga insisted that aside from just the pattern, they also acquired the finished garment – which they would 54

then copy. “Harrods had an entire floor devoted to making copies of couture garments, which I didn’t know about,” she says with wonderment. “There’s lovely photographs of all these people working-away, and fabrics were even ordered from the same suppliers as Balenciaga was using.” (Abraham in Switzerland is one, and a particular textile manufacturer he favoured). It’s an astonishing secret that was not even a secret, she explains. “None of it is hidden in any way – we’ve got past copies of Vogue, with a photoshoot of the current Balenciaga pieces and it says at the bottom ‘copies available at Harrods’. We didn’t know about it, or that it was so widespread.” Comparable department stores such as Sachs and Bloomingdale’s would have also bought pieces and recreated them in a kind of demi-couture way, with customers buying a standard size and then having it fitted to you. “It wasn’t quite bespoke but it would have been a fraction of the price.” So he was a designer both ‘of the people’ and of his own habits, and certainly not concerned with the trappings of coverage. Balenciaga actively shunned the media, refusing

to give press interviews and even banning journalists from the unveiling of his collections for a decade. “He insisted that they come for inspection a month after revealing, as he wanted a period where the designs were exclusively for the clients and the buyers. It’s quite a powerful approach, and would be a bold thing to do today. All the factors build up a picture of someone who is quite serious about his craft and less interested in commercial matters,” reveals the curator. The media dictates so many historic narratives that you begin to ponder if the love-in with Dior and Chanel (while deserved) edged Cristóbal into the background, as payback for restricted access. It’s perhaps another theory to add to the enigmatic designer’s long list of conspiracies and rumours… But it’s of no matter in the grand scheme, especially when pondering ‘Who was Balenciaga?’ The answer to that is at the V&A: he was one of the very best. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, opens at the V&A, London, on 27 May, 2017, and shows until 18 Feb, 2018. Tickets are available now, via vam.ac.uk/ exhibitions/balenciaga-shaping-fashion


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40 years on, the original Star Wars movie represents an epic quest. For the freedom of the galaxy and to save a captured rebel Princess from evil clutches? Well, yes. But the adventure lives on for avid collectors – superfans on the hunt for franchise heirlooms WORDS: Will Storr

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n early 2008, a British collector of film memorabilia, Stephen Lane, was reading a book about the making of Star Wars. It claimed that, after close of filming in 1976, director George Lucas wanted to thank the president of 20th Century Fox, Alan Ladd Jnr, for taking a chance on his project when all the other studios had passed. Lucas invited his boss to the facility in which the props were housed and told him to take what he wanted. “He picked a model Y Wing,” says Lane. “It’s one of the ships you see doing the first run on the Death Star in the finale of the film. It’s about three-feet long, an incredible artefact – just the detail, the aesthetics of it are amazing.” Lane began to wonder. Could it be possible, after all these years, that the

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executive still had it? Alan Ladd Jnr was a god of Hollywood, having also sat behind gigantic desks at Paramount and MGM, and been involved with a sluice of legendary pictures, including Alien, Thelma and Louise, Chariots Of Fire and Blade Runner. “Still,” thought Lane. “Maybe I could give him a call.” He tracked down the number of Ladd Jnr’s company and got through to a receptionist, who laughed at him down the phone. “Fair enough,” he thought. Half an hour later, his phone rang. “This is Alan Ladd Jnr calling from LA,” said the voice. Lane was astonished. He listened as the legend explained that he had planned on giving the Y Wing to his kids but they were now grown-ups with grandchildren. Perhaps he could

sell it and distribute the proceeds among them? They agreed a sixfigure price (like all serious Star Wars collectors, Lane refuses to say how much) and he flew to the US to collect it. “It’s a stunning, stunning piece,” he says today. “And it now resides in my home.” Lane is a member of a small group of rival fanatics who go to incredible lengths to peck out original and often obscure Star Wars artefacts. Because, in their early years, it was generally believed the films would soon be forgotten or even flop completely, little care was taken over the often makeshift creations that were used for costumes, sets and weaponry. Some pieces were given away, some lost, some kept by


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obscure backroom hires. Much of it is now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lane describes himself as “one of the most active Star Wars prop collectors within the core who are on quests to locate and identify where these treasures are buried. We’re like the Indiana Joneses of prop collecting.” They scour old crew lists and embark on detective hunts for forgotten staffers who might have some souvenir in the back of a drawer; they travel the world to extreme filming locations with nothing more than vague directions and dreams of buried marvels. In 2005, Lane and two friends skidooed up Norway’s remote Hardangerjøkulen glacier, where scenes from The Empire Strikes Back were filmed: “We found some old cables.” Another well-known collector, Gus Lopez, once journeyed to the great redwood forests of northern California that featured in Return of the Jedi. “My friend tracked down a local guy who worked on the film from crew lists and called him up,” he said. “He had saved 58

the panels from the Imperial Bunker to make his backyard fence. We bought him a new fence and drove them home.” Most of the items they uncover were once considered worthless. “In films of that era, there was no attribution of value to the props,” says Lane. And yet today pieces from the original Star Wars trilogy are auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was a British set decorator, Roger Christian, who was responsible for the creation of much of what Lane, Lopez and their fellow prop hunters seek today. “There were only six of us, including George [Lucas],” says Christian, of the early team. “We were in a tiny studio in London trying to work out how to make the film because Fox hadn’t green lit it and George was paying for everything out of his own pocket.” Christian’s total budget was set at GBP200,000. “Flash Gordon had probably had GBP3 million,” he says. “So it was a very small amount. That’s when I realised I couldn’t make anything. It had to be found items.”

One of Christian’s triumphs was Hans Solo’s blaster. Today, prop fetishists go to extreme lengths to build replicas (fans Carson Case and Pat Matera, for example, spent 18 months obsessively examining the tiniest details over a 68-page thread at the Replica Prop Forums) of the gun. But for the original, Christian picked up a secondhand Mauser pistol from Bapty & Co, the Middlesex supplier of weaponry to the film business, then glued an army night-sight on, facing backwards, as well as some other bits and pieces he had lying about. “George loved it,” he says. “I thought, okay, the process works.” Another assemblage of junk and glue was the lightsaber. “I knew the laser sword was going to be an icon,” he says. “But I couldn’t find anything I could make it out of. It was getting later and later, and they needed one on the set in Tunisia.” At the last moment, he found himself in a photography shop in Great Marlborough Street, London. “I said to the guy, ‘Have you got any unused bits


of equipment?’ He said, ‘There’s boxes over there that have been untouched for years.’ ” Christian opened a dusty container to find five old flashgun handles. “It was a slow-motion moment. They were beautiful.” He rushed back to the studio, glued some tape and bits of old calculator onto them, and they were done. “I reckon they cost about GBP9, the lot,” he says. “Two of them sold last year, to a museum in Seattle, for GBP160,000.” Other props sourced by Christian, who won an Academy Award for his work on Star Wars, were repurposed from other films. The script demanded an enormous skeleton for the desert scenes. “When R2-D2 and C-3PO first land, George wanted this feeling of ‘Oh my god there are big things out there’. But I couldn’t afford to make one.” He asked Frank Bruton, from Elstree Studio’s prop department, for help. “Frank said, ‘Why don’t you go upstairs, boy? There’s a lot of s--- up there.’ I found the model they used for Moby Dick and these bones from a Disney film about lost dinosaurs. Frank said, ‘You can have it.’” The bones were painted and the skeleton shipped out to Tunisia. “It’s still there,” says Christian, laughing. Except it’s not. “I’ve been to Tunisia four times,” says supercollector Lopez. “I brought back huge fibreglass bone pieces they left out in the desert, for the scenes when they first land on the planet.” He managed to track the correct location,

They travel the world to extreme filming locations with nothing more than vague directions and dreams of buried marvels in part, by “triangulating from production notes” and began his hunt. “Some of it was just wandering about in the middle of the Sahara,” he says. “But there were also a bunch of kids in the area. I made it clear I was interested in buying and would come back tomorrow. I got a ton of stuff.” Lopez, an IT director for an e-commerce company, has been collecting Star Wars memorabilia since 1977 and began by placing one-line ads in the Seattle Times for people with items to contact him. One of the props he is most proud of is his original Death Star; the internet is full of rumours that it was found in a skip. But the tale of how it actually ended up in his Seattle home is truly extraordinary. It begins in 1988 in a quiet region of Missouri, three hours south-east of Kansas City, called Lake of the Ozarks. Todd Franklin, a Star Wars fanatic

and trainee cameraman at a local television station, was filming for a story on antiques stores when he saw a strange object in the corner of a junk shop called Mexican Hillbilly. It seemed impossible, but it looked exactly like the Death Star. The proprietors told him they used to run a storage facility in California and the owners of the mysterious ball had told them to destroy it. Instead, they took it with them to Missouri. Franklin called Lucasfilm to see if it could possibly be what he thought it was. They told him he was mistaken – the original Death Star had been blown up during filming. Soon after, a theatre specialising in country and western shows called Star World bought the sphere for display. Franklin went on to study film at college, where he happened to attend a lecture by Marc Thorpe, a model maker from George Lucas’s special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic. Thorpe believed the prop was real. In 1994, Star World shut down. “It had been liquidated and everything sold – except the Death Star which was still sitting in the corner,” says Lopez. “They were using it as a trash can.” Franklin and two friends, he says, “Picked it up for virtually nothing.” Lopez declines to reveal how much he paid Franklin for it, or even guess how much it’s worth today, but says he knows that the object is real via a process called screen matching. “You take an image from the screen and find

Opening page: Mint condition and graded Star Wars figures – the mainstream face of a movie memorabilia iceberg Opposite page: Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in costume as luke Skywalker and Princess leia This page: C-3Po (voiced by Anthony Daniels), Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill, in a picture taken during filming for Star Wars (1977) 59


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Left: Harrison Ford as rebel smuggler Han Solo... though collectors may be more interested in his drawn gun, and the fantastic space shuttle behind him Opposite page: An original Darth Vader costume, auctioned at Christie’s back in 2010

artefacts that were unintentional – scratches, tears, details. The Death Star is easy because if you put a light source inside it, it illuminates with thousands of tiny light points. You can match the pattern to the onscreen image.” Since the release of DVD and then Blu-ray versions of the film, this technique has become easier for collectors. It was used by Stephen Lane to confirm another of his most impressive finds – Darth Vader’s lightsaber from The Empire Strikes Back. “I was cruising the prop forums and this photo turned up from someone who had seen it in a casino in America,” he says. But Lane was sceptical. “There are a lot of replicas out there.” Nevertheless, he checked with his substantial store of reference materials, which include personal photos from crew members, for intricate characteristics. “It didn’t take long to realise it had a very real possibility of being the real thing.” Everything matched, from the construction to the grip to the screws. “But the real fingerprints were two dings on the metal work,” he says. “It became undeniable at that point.” After he had solved the problem of finding 60

Someone dressed up as a delivery man, rented a van, made up fake documents and said, ‘I’m here to pick up the costume’. It’s never been found someone to take him seriously, he encountered a taller barrier. “A casino is cash rich, asset heavy. How do you persuade one to sell something?” After a full year of efforts, Lane thought he had finally persuaded them. But at the last minute they mentioned a nearly impossible caveat. “They said, ‘I think we’re going to do this but one of our senior executives is a James Bond fan and we’d really like Daniel Craig’s tuxedo from Casino Royale.’ And then nothing happened. I kept pushing. I was on the cusp of making this happen. It was so frustrating.”

Although he was once a signwriter, Lane’s job now involves running the business he founded based on his passion. The Prop Store, launched in 1988, sometimes works with the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in Berkshire, helping it organise fundraising auctions. “We do their displays and make sure they get the right money for their charity,” he says. One day, the NFTS called Lane to ask for help with a sale of costumes. “What have you got?” he asked. “Eva Green’s dress from Casino Royale,” they said. “And Daniel Craig’s tuxedo.” “You’re kidding,” said Lane. “I’ve got no problem making them look good for you, but I want tickets. I’m going to be bidding.” Two months later, he had successfully spent “north of GBP10,000” on the tuxedo. “I got in a black cab after the event and immediately emailed the casino, saying, ‘It’s in my hand.’ Minutes later, I got an email back saying they wanted to buy it. I told them it had to be part of the lightsaber deal. Within a week, the deal was done.” But to a place where tatty props, frenzied collectors and hundreds of thousands of dollars meet are drawn


the shady and the greedy. “There are stories about fake props that have sold for a lot of money,” says collector Jason DeBord of the Original Prop blog. “There are people who study the films and figure out the different components so they can make a replica that’s pretty much indistinguishable. You can do it with USD100 of parts from eBay.” Even items sold by crew members can be suspicious. “I’ve seen people who’ve worked on films turn around a little cottage industry selling things ‘from the film’, but they seem like they have an endless supply.” The nature of the items that individuals attempt to trade can also be extraordinary. A senior Star Wars propman, who worked on the trilogy and is employed on the new film, tried to sell me an anecdote about a prop. I politely declined. “There’s also a grey market in things that shouldn’t have left the sets,” says DeBord. “The most interesting pieces are things people will never talk about publicly because they’re afraid Lucasfilm might come knocking. One of the best I’ve seen is a ‘hero’ lightsaber from the original trilogy that was constructed out of metal and made for close-up shots.” Because it took several years for it to become clear that Star Wars props were inherently valuable, much was lost from the sets of the first film, A New Hope, and its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Collectors still fantasise about their whereabouts. “I don’t know if it’s true, but one story I heard was that Lucas had a Darth Vader costume sent to a company that had a licence to make replicas,” says DeBord. “Someone dressed up as a delivery man, put on a uniform, rented a van, made up a fake document and said, ‘I’m here to pick up the costume for Lucasfilm.’ It’s never been found.” A full Darth Vader costume is certainly on Stephen Lane’s fantasy list. “There was only one made for A New Hope and that’s missing,” he says. “It went out to shopping malls and places like that to promote the film. Then the trail runs cold.” Other mythical items include Luke Skywalker’s “macro binoculars” that he used on the planet Tatooine. “I handmade that from bits of camera parts,” says Roger Christian. “It’s worth USD250,000, now, easily.” Also

much fantasised about is a device called the “commlink”. “That’s the most legendary prop of all,” he says. “It’s a tiny transmitter that was held by Luke, the stormtroopers and C-3PO to communicate. I was up in the office when George called to say, ‘I need the commlink now.’ I unscrewed the bottom of this u-bend and out dropped a little filter. I put one little piece of rubber round it, rushed it to the floor. George put it straight into a stormtrooper’s hand. It’s probably worth half a million dollars. There’s so much desire for this thing. It’s like the holy grail. It’s vanished for 30 years.” (There are rumours that Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz, who worked on the first twom ovies, has it within his collection.)

And still, despite all these efforts, there are treasures as yet unburied. “A few years ago, someone went to a car boot sale in the UK and found a stormtrooper blaster,” says DeBord. “He paid very little for it and got about USD20,000. If he hadn’t been a fan who’d researched it, he would have had no idea what it was and it would’ve been lost.” And that’s an ever-gathering fear for the men who hunt.“Many of the people involved in the original films are getting old,” says Lane. “If they pass away, someone might come along, empty the attic, have no idea what they’re looking at and throw it away. There’s a lot of stuff out there waiting to be found. It’s up to us to save it.”

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AIR All images: Berluti master tailor Karim Rebahi, at work 62


A Measure Of Elegance Aside from a century of refined experience as a legacy shoemaker, the expertise of Berluti includes Grande Mesure (with its tailoring gracing the UAE, to boot). An appointment with the French maison’s accomplished master tailor gets down to the true meaning of bespoke; has the industry lost its thread on a time-honoured craft? WoRds: ChRis Ujma

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eclined in a soft leather chair at the Berluti boutique, I’m privy to a private conversation that doubles as a bespoke masterclass. Expert shoemaker Patrice Rock flanks Maison master tailor Karim Rebahi, as Berluti general manager Alberic Leman explains that, “90-95 per cent of the suits that you find on the market, they put two fabrics together, then you just try going under the rain – you’ll throw the jacket in the garbage afterwards. With a good suit, inside you have wool on camel hair, and you can do whatever you want – take a shower in your suit if you wish.” I begin to venture a follow-on question, about “the role technology has to play with…” and I don’t make it to the word ‘fabric’. Across an opaque Franglais language divide, the question is misconstrued, and there’s uproar among the trio over the trigger word: technology. “No technology!” they lambast. It’s passion for the craft that stokes their flames, not discourtesy. Compels Rebahi, “Nothing is better than individual human attention. In the industry, you have modern developments creeping into the making of shoes and ready-to-wear, with the customer being subjected to a 3D scan. But bespoke is for aesthetics, and those who can afford something entirely different. Not every customer looks like a male model or is easy to dress, but that is the point – we work to individual silhouettes and everyone is different, and we adjust accordingly.” With a mix of traditional expertise and laid-back classicism, Berluti has been shoeing men since 1895, but the move into bespoke suits was something 64


of a natural progression. They begin by crafting the shoes, then sprinkle in the suit tailoring and before you know it, are delivering a special experience from head to toe. As such, Berluti’s reputation is beginning to evolve. Long respected for its technical virtuosity in the shoemaking sphere, “Offering Grande Mesure was obvious. If the House offered unique expertise in its bespoke footwear and ready-to-wear collections, then it was a point of pride to offer a Grande Mesure service of the highest calibre,” says Leman. Berluti operates in the upper echelons of the UAE’s discerning luxury segment, and our meeting transpires at their gentleman’s enclave in Mall of the Emirates. Boutique touchpoints in the Emirates are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with the flagship atelier being in France. Rue de Sèvres, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré and Rue Marbeuf are the places to find them in Paris, with complimentary representation on Conduit Street in London, Madison Avenue in New York, and an inspired move into Hong Kong. They’re generating international dialogue, yet the tailoring methodology itself is entirely grounded in oldfashioned one-to-one simplicity. Explains Rebahi of the relationship, “Suit-making is not about the perfect client – it is about their imperfections, and incorporating those into the design. Some customers will already know what is bespoke and know what he wants, so it will be quite a fast process. The second kind wants to discover exactly what shape, fabric and colour he prefers, so we enter dialogue and discussion with them to understand what are their needs – 65


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If the House offered unique expertise in its bespoke footwear and ready-to-wear collections, then it was a point of pride to offer a Grande Mesure service of the highest calibre

for example, if the suit is for business or casual purposes, or for an event.” Firstly, though, “We need to guide them towards which fabric they want to use, before we discuss the shape or anything else.” Ah, fabric – now here’s a realm within which the connoisseur could linger for a lifetime. In terms of choice, Berluti has more than 2,000 varieties, as well as access to boutique suppliers and coveted creators such as Loro Piana – “a tailoring family under the LVMH umbrella, who are the Rolls Royce of cashmere worldwide,” enthuses Leman. An example of their depth of choice lies in the South American Andean range, and with the vicuña camelid. It’s a once-endangered animal under safeguard and legislation makes for strict collection-quotas – this rarity means only the most exclusive brands have access. “You can only collect the hair from the neck once a year,” Leman explains. “We propose it combined with other certain types of fabric 66

like mixed cashmere, and you cannot imagine – even with 5-10 per cent of the component being vicuña, you can really feel the difference. Does it take more attention to make a suit from this? “Of course,” says Rebahi. “It can be a fragile medium to work with.” Once the fabrical stargazing is despatched with, then comes the true mastery – and all options are open. One, two or three buttons, patch or jetted pockets, peaked or notched lapels, half belt… everything is feasible. “I take the measurement, and discuss with the customer their preferences, then begin to work on the paper pattern,” explains the master tailor. “The second stage is the canvas, allowing the customer to try the fitting. All modifications made to the canvas will be immediately reflected on the pattern. After that we begin to cut the fabric. All of the stitching can be adjusted. Everything at this stage is temporarily stitched, and be modified at every stage…” Each customer buying

bespoke has his own model. It is not a regular pattern – each one is started from scratch. Around six people work from the same atelier in Paris, and the location has an interesting element, explains Leman. “When you arrive, Karim is working in the front of house, cutting the fabric and such – meaning he engages curious observers in conversation about their suit. Behind a door where he is working are all of the other artisans, busy cutting, stitching and such – there are people for the shirts, for the trousers etc, and every team player has a dedicated task.” Residing in Dubai does not hinder the personalised process, either, when tweaks are required over the lifetime of the suit. “I come to the UAE every month-and-a-half,” says Rebahi, who had jetted in from Hong Kong the previous night. “It works efficiently, though of course sometimes the gentleman is out of the country and not available to match schedules. Generally,


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Everything is made by hand as tradition – you see our artisans working on the table at the atelier as per the methods of 200 years ago

though, we have found that those who care about the product and are sensitive about their bespoke creation will do what they can and will cancel a meeting or trip just to get their suit attended to. There is also the flexible option, of course, to meet them when they are in Paris or London.” Beyond the process itself, what also rouses Rebahi is the emotional resonance behind bespoke. The trio discuss that understanding of the skill is on the wane, and listening to them it dawns on you that Berluti is one of the bastions maintaining a commonly misunderstood art. “I think people are beginning to lose a grasp on the meaning of bespoke,” Rebahi muses. “Many people are calling what they do ‘bespoke’, but they are simply modifying existing silhouettes. At Berluti we make a suit without any machines, by hand – expertly overseeing every step from A-Z for each customer.” It means that once a suitor indulges in the Berluti bespoke journey, his bar of expectation is raised. “We earn the respect of the customer, as they know everything is made by hand as tradition – you see our artisans working on the table at the atelier as per the methods of 200 years ago,” explains Rebahi.

Leman adds that, “We see less and less houses doing bespoke, perhaps because they didn’t invest in the artisan – the master retires, and the next generation does not follow through in terms of training.” Berluti is priming the next generation through a carefully cultivated apprenticeship school, and their sensei is accomplished. “Not so many people have this distinction,” Rebahi proudly points out, referring to his Meilleur Ouvrier de France, bestowed by the French President and earned by this tailor after 20-25 years of honing his craft. “Something about the new generation is that after two or three years they think they can manage,” Leman bemoans. “It really is a lifelong passion, and it’s a long way to managing all the aspects of the art.” Even the masters are still learning: “We are always challenged by customers, and every day we have to adapt, especially when working with new fabrics.” With Berluti, a gentleman is joining a club – you could even call it a family – “and when men really like a brand and have familiarity, they’ll trust that house to dress them for the long-term”, says Rebahi. “Bespoke is akin to when a lady wears a fur and sets herself apart,“ correlates Leman, “For men, when they

wear bespoke suits and shoes, many of them come back and say, ‘My wife said “Woah, you look so elegant… you look different”’. It’s because they have had their wares created by an artist.” Fine art comes at a cost – a suit can be north of Dhs200,000 for an ensemble that incorporates the aforementioned vicuña. Such sums are a true investment, though, and Rebahi implores that the reward is not a piece of transient ‘fashion’. “I follow the requests of the customer, but I am not a fashionista and I am not part of fashion. I am an artisan, I have my know-how, and I can meet any request. But I am not following the magazines and tracking the changing trends.” He shares an anecdote about creating some suits for a customer ten years ago, and when the client recently returned, the suit style was still ‘of the mood’. “Fashion may have different interpretations but it always comes back to its roots. When you have a lawyer or businessman who does not consider themselves trendy, he wants something elegant – nice fabric, nice cut,” an impeccably dressed Rebahi expresses, intensely. “For us, the definition of luxury is that elegance is fixed to your personality. A nice classic suit can last for your whole life.” 69


Motoring

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MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

The Magnificent 70 It has been seven decades since Enzo Ferrari drove the first car bearing his name –so how does an iconic motoring brand like Ferrari celebrate? WORDS: ChrIS AndErSon

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n 12 March 1947, those walking the streets of Maranello, in the north of Italy, would have heard for the first time a sound that has become synonymous with the town in the years since: the roar of a Ferrari engine. This date in particular has been chosen as the birth of the iconic car brand, when founder Enzo Ferrari jumped into his 125 S – the first model to feature his name – and bolted out of the factory gates, taking it for a test drive. A little over two months later, the whole world would begin to learn about the car, with Franco Cortese driving it to victory in the Rome Grand Prix – the first of seven major racing victories delivered in 1947. The Ferrari name has remained consistent in motorsport ever since, while its road cars are some of the most desirable around. So with 2017 marking the 70th anniversary of the brand’s official debut, how do you celebrate in a way that is worthy of its enduring legacy and continued appeal? For motoring writer Dennis Adler, the answer is to release a book marking the occasion, which he has done with Ferrari 70 Years, offering readers a comprehensive guide to the company’s first seven decades. In collating information, he also found clues as to why it is so successful. “Enzo Ferrari brought the best people together, that was his strength,” says Adler. “He was the maestro, orchestrating the creation of unbridled performance and visually stimulating coachwork to establish a standard maintained to this day.” Ferrari had always been a prominent race driver, originally making his debut in 1919, and in 1932 partnered with Alfa Romeo to launch his own team, Scuderia Ferrari. It was this that eventually led to him creating a car brand in his own right. “After the Second World War, an old friend, Luigi Chinetti Sr, convinced Ferrari that he should build his own brand of race cars, sustained by road cars sold to the public, mainly in the US,” says Adler. “In Europe, the race cars were winning and this established the company’s reputation, and that in turn helped the sales of the road cars which funded them.” Looking back, Adler is able to describe how the cars evolved. “The 12-cylinder engines became the hallmark of the original cars,” he says. “But body styles were the foundation for Ferrari’s various generations, beginning in the late 1940s and early 1950s with the 166MM, the 212 Sport and racing models. There were many significant designs that secured the Ferrari legacy, such as the 410 Superamerica, the 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France, the 250 Testa Rossa, 250 GT Spyder California, 275 GTB and GTB/4, 250 GTO and, of course, the Daytona – and that only takes you up to the 1970s. “Later years saw significant models like the 512 BB, the Testarossa and 512 TR, the F40 and

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F50, the eight-cylinder F355 Berlinetta and then the magnificent V12-powered 550 Maranello of the 1990s. In the 21st century, we’ve seen the evolution of the V12 designs, with models like the 575M Maranello. Ferrari has gone from strength to strength, with very few exceptions”. Ferrari itself is marking its 70th anniversary with a new car, as it has done in the past when reaching other significant milestones – the F40, released in 1987, for example, and the last model personally approved by Enzo Ferrari before his death, was created to help celebrate the brand’s 40th birthday. The LaFerrari Aperta, launching in 2017, is without a number in its name, but it is a limited edition, open-top version of the popular LaFerrari supercar. There are other ways to celebrate. Under the banner of ‘Driven by Emotion’, the brand is helping to organise special events in more than 60 countries, with exhibitions, club meets and driving tours. Festivities officially commenced in Australia on 12 March – the day of the anniversary – and will conclude on the weekend of 9-10 September in Maranello. A special website has been set up to provide enthusiasts with information, and among the highlights on it is a video created by Ferrari featuring a re-enactment of the original 125 S exiting the Maranello factory gates. The mechanics apply the final touches, with a quick polish of the famous Cavallino Rampante (prancing horse) badge on the bonnet, before Enzo Ferrari climbs behind the wheel. As the car drives through the town, it transforms into the modern

Opening pages: The 1952 Ferrari Type 225 S Clockwise, from above: Testa rossa meant ‘red head’ – to be exact, the red crackle paint used to cover the cylinder heads on Gioacchino Colombo’s V12; The first Ferrari appeared at Piacenza in 1947, with one Italian newspaper referring to the Tipo 125 as “small, red, and ugly.”; The longest-produced model in Ferrari history, the 308; The 2007 Ferrari 430 Scuderia, loaded with Formula onederived technology. All images courtesy of dennis Adler


Ferrari is driven on two fronts, styling and engineering – and not always simultaneously

LaFerrari Aperta before returning to its factory base – now also the site of the Ferrari Museum, which hosts its own 70th anniversary exhibition from May onwards, organised in partnership with the Design Museum of London. It seems that this year will be special for Ferrari in other ways too. At the Geneva Motor Show in March, the marque unveiled its fastest, most powerful car yet – the 812 Superfast. Featuring a 6.5-litre V12 engine, it produces 789bhp at 8,500rpm, resulting in a 0-96km/h time of 2.9 seconds and a top speed of just over 339km/h. This also makes it the fastest production car with a front-mounted engine, and the first Ferrari with electric power steering. It looks as sleek and attractive as any other car released by the brand in its history. Ferrari is also seeing a resurgence in motorsport, winning the first race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia with a Sebastian Vettel triumph. The performance left former champion and title rival Lewis Hamilton stunned, telling reporters, “We’ve got a race on our hands.” For Adler, the combination of new models, race wins and high-lifestyle events is what the company has always been about. “Ferrari is driven on two fronts, engineering and styling – and not always simultaneously,” he says. “The future of Ferrari is just as promising as its past, building cars that leave an indelible impression on both the road and track”. Ferrari 70 Years by Dennis Adler is available from Quarto Publishing 73


Gastronomy MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

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Up And Atom

Dubai Design District-based Molecule is perfecting its simple science – a curious composite of Michelin-inspired bistronomy, curated art and innovative interior design. At the emirate’s newest culinary addition, creative juices abound…

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Bistronomy is a movement from France which mixes causal dining and simple food with a fine dining plating technique

ubai’s dining scene is an expanding galaxy full of worlds to explore, though free of Michelin stars (for now). That hasn’t halted the highest calibre chefs from gracing the city with their ‘anything is possible’ creations, and there’s something about Dubai that seems to encourage creative freedom; a space to play with new concepts. Molecule is emblematic of having a blank slate to work with in the culinary and cultural melting pot that is Dubai – selecting a flourishing area (Dubai Design District, or ‘D3’), embracing an up-and-coming dining trend, and combining the best of multiple disciplines. So alternative is this bistronomic restaurant that it could easily inspire an article about architecture or art – but it is the fantastic fare that will first draw patrons in, and chef Udo Moreau has plenty up his sleeve to impress expectant diners. His reputation stems from a twodecade association with excellence – Moreau has experience, with eight other European Michelin star restaurants under his belt, including launching the iconic Joël Robuchon in both Paris and London. I’ve thrown the word ‘bistronomic’ in a couple of times as though familiar, so for the uninitiated, Moreau describes the hybrid phrase as – “a new word for Dubai, and we’re the first ones to use it. It’s from a movement in France which mixes causal dining and simple food with a fine dining plating technique.” An approachable and bijou take on deliciousness. His dishes (much like art itself) encourage the recipient to be washed over rather than be schooled or drawn into a game of ‘guess the flavour’. Says Moreau of Molecule’s menu, “It’s very simple food but full of fresh, local produce, and that’s a very important part of the process for me – taking something that is brand new every day and interpreting the ingredients in a fine dining way. I’m working with local ingredients such as herbs, mint aubergine, coriander, parsley… as you can see, nothing challenging. But these are familiar dishes presented in an unfamiliar and refined way.” There’s plenty of innovation. “Dishes that capture the restaurant’s spirit are 75


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the Molecule salad – a mix of salad, cooked and raw vegetables, embellished with nut dressing (made with almond and hazelnut powder) served with tomato and oregano crepes – like a dough but very crispy. It’s something new, something different, and a signature dish I am proud of.” As for the main courses? “I think a standout on the evening menu right now is the paella, which has the typical ingredients of the meal but I cook the rice like a risotto rather than typically dry – it’s a small but significant fine dining twist on the dish.” Molecule represents the chef’s first venture in Dubai, but with five other restaurant openings he is now suitably unfazed. “My brain is full of ideas but to make them a reality is a different matter,” says Moreau. “Here in Dubai we have a broad audience and want to satisfy allcomers, so we tried and tested the menu over six months to see what would work and what wouldn’t.” He did this by assembling a crack team of tastemasters – not forgetting the kitchen cohorts he hired. “I like to have different nationalities because we need to satisfy a whole range of flavour palates and it’s important to have an assembly of personalities in the kitchen as I have one interpretation, my 76

commis from Nepal will have another, my chef de partie from Morocco will have another… and so on. It’s crucial to strike the right balance, so we can achieve something which will delight the customer.” Away from the plate, the surrounding décor at Molecule is no mere cast member: it shares top billing and plays an essential role in the overall concept. Eight contributors collaborated to create a space of both comfort and curiosity. For example, Nomad Inception are the ones behind the floors, swooping steeled ceiling and the angular black walls that make you feel you’re ensconced inside an Onyx gemstone. Light Func strikes the mood with the lighting, The Third Line masterminded the interior art, Architettura Sonora and 21dB ensure the right tones for the enhancing music, sound-system and signature beats, while Design Ras Al Khor sees to fittingly conversation worthy tableware. “Molecule was ‘dressed’ with accent pieces from some of the region’s best furniture and lighting designers,” explains Samir Kerchiched, managing director of ‘the overseer’, Ansonia Concepts. “The combination gives the space a homey, comfortable feel which is suitable for all-day dining. Our team,

My brain is full of ideas but to make them a reality is a different matter


Patrons will have a total experience, from what is on the plate right through to the design and even to the music, all laced with particularly high quality

who were behind the interior design and concept development, wanted to create a space that compliments the creative hub that D3 has become. We also wanted to encourage local talent to use the space as a display area and create a space in line with our vision for collaboration.” Guests can take the experience home – literally, when it comes to the artwork. As of the last month’s opening, the restaurant was adorned with objects and motifs that comprised the dialogue-sparking exhibit Locals Only, by Iranian artist Amir H Fallah. Changing shows will make Molecule a gallery of sorts: featured pieces will be for sale, should they catch the taste of an avid collector. With an ever-changing seasonal menu, on-trend art installations and an on-the-pulse radio station, Molecule represents not only a novel concept, but a restaurant where every visit produces something new for the senses to absorb. “It’s a cosy place where patrons will have a total experience, from what is on the plate right through to the design and even to the music, all laced with particularly high quality,” says Moreau, now part ‘scientist’ as well as influential chef – the artist of epicure among the artistically abstract. 77


Travel

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MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

16 journeys by jet

Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius 78


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hen James Hilton wrote of a ShangriLa in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon, the author was describing an imaginary, beautiful place; an earthly utopia, harmonious and far away… Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius, captures the best of those aspects – breathtaking and paradisiacal – but makes eden a tangible experience that is well within reach. Culture-rich Mauritius evokes many a superlative, with its talcum-white sands, verdant jungles and inspiring past – there’s much here for the curious traveller to explore. Shangri-La’s five-star property is set upon the eastern coast by Trou d’Eau Douce Bay, and is the essence of natural privacy – such as its own beaches and harbouring Ilot Mangénie, the resort’s own secluded island hideaway. Here’s just how laid-back the living is here: the only ‘events’ on your agenda will be deciding where to dine, which recreational activities to indulge in and, foremost, which abode to select as ‘home’. Even the latter choice is made simple for the VIP – this Indian Ocean sanctuary has its exclusive Beach Villa, promising a slice of ‘personal paradise’. The oceanfront address affords a discreet 24-hour butler service, private beach access, personal swimming pools, lush tropical gardens and a host of tailored experiences. ‘Open for imagination’ is the approach adopted at this villa, and it’s an invitation to delight the senses and indulge (with bottles of bubbles at your behest). Bespoke, of course, opens doors to limitless opportunities, but some examples to spark curiosity are a Dine by Design dinner under the stars on an exclusively reserved parcel of Ilot Mangénie, a romantic sunset cruise aboard a luxury yacht, or the commissioning of artwork by acclaimed Mauritian artist Gaël Froget. Spare time can unfold in two directions. Choose from a relaxing menu of treatments at Chi, The Spa, or alternatively plan a day of immersive and energetic marine endeavours such as surrendering to an irresistible dive into fascinating lagoons or an on-water adventures. Alternatively, connect with the surroundings on dry land and pad your handicap with a round of Mauritian golf on the championship-calibre, Bernhard Langer-designed 18-hole course. Whether your visit here is to embark on an epicurean journey, soak up precious culture or merely lounge in ocean-facing privacy, blue-skies and sophistication oversee every proceeding. Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius is nature and luxury – beautifully combined. Your A-list arrival begins on landing at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, with exclusive access to YU Lounge private terminal, plus resort transfer in a Porsche Cayenne. Luxury means choice so should you prefer, there are options to arrive via helicopter for a bird’s-eye view, or get close to stunning ocean scenery on a luxury speedboat transfer. shangri-la.com/mauritius/beachvilla/ 79


What I Know Now

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MAY 2017 : ISSUE 72

Justin Packshaw EntrEprEnEur and ExplorEr

I own and run a luxury brand, plus highlight important social and environmental issues... however, my alter ego is properly happy when I am in some remote corner of the world testing my wits and battling nature full on. My time is split between talking to businesses all over the world about the ‘Science of Achievement’ and leading expeditions. I have been lucky enough to visit some of the remotest parts of this magnificent planet of ours – from trekking to both Poles, standing atop Mount Everest and sailing around the world. I have met some quite exceptional people along the way – it’s human bonds 80

that tie people together when the chips are really down. The most influential people to me are those I come home to – my wife Tamsin and our children, Lula and Blake. Tamsin is the creative genius behind our De Roemer brand and is extraordinarily talented. They all inspire me to be better. The last 30 years has taught me that you have to ‘believe’. We’re meant to excel, and when one realises how capable we are and how adaptive the human spirit is, anything is achievable. The more heart we put into things that matter, the luckier we become.

I’ve served as an officer in the British Army, represented Britain at sailing, and led expeditions all over the world – but I’m always looking at how these lessons can be made relevant and applied within the commercial space. I strive to be my best, to learn, to improve, to have fun and to make a difference, and I apply this same philosophy to running the company – on a quest to design beautiful pieces that are unique, relevant and exciting. I am a huge believer in living life to the fullest, and love this poignant quote from Goethe – “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”.


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