Issue Fifty NINE APRIL 2016
Muhammad Ali Luxury • Culture • People • Style • Heritage
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Contents aPril 2016 : ISSUE 59
Editorial Editorial director
John Thatcher Editor
Chris Ujma email@example.com Features Editor
art art director
Andy Knappett designer
Emi Dixon illustrator
CommErCial managing director
Victoria Thatcher Group Commercial director
Business development manager
How to un-nerve an Oscar winner in 1956: make her Princess of Monaco. The private life of Grace Kelly
Delving into the complexity, passion and drive of Ali â€“ gloves off â€“ with the woman who adored him throughout
The real story behind Catch Me If You Can. Frank Abagnale Jr. discusses life on the other side of the law
The unknown singer plucked from obscurity with a voice indistinguishable from that of The King
Rabih El Turk
Telling the Truth
ProduCtion Production manager
aPril 2016 : ISSUE 59
80 competitive sail boats, 1,000 sailors, the Caribbean... it must be Les Voiles de Saint Barth Twenty Four
Gems are hand-selected; designs are perfected for each stone. Glenn Spiro is a true jewellery architect
When HYT sets about making a timepiece, they end up rewriting the rules. Welcome to hydro horology
Meet Annie F茅olde, the culinary force behind the legendary Enoteca Pinchiorri, now in Dubai
The tallest building in the world hosts two giants of the art universe. Picasso and Mir贸 are the icons at the icon
The UAE adores Bentley. Did the marque tailor its powerful, agile Bentayga for this very region?
The remarkable Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia has a speedboat at the ready to whisk you from your jet
Art & Design
Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494 Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in AIR.
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ALLAN STANTON | +971 50 653 5258 | firstname.lastname@example.org | GULFSTREAMG450.COM Theoretical range shown is based on cruise at Mach 0.80 with eight passengers, three crew and NBAA IFR fuel reserves. Actual range will be affected by ATC routing, operating speed, weather, outfitting options and other factors.
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Welcome Onboard APRIL 2016
Greetings and welcome aboard your personalised NASJET flight where you will enjoy relaxing in luxurious comfort and experience the impeccable service for which NASJET is renowned. To meet the increasing demand for private aviation and further enhance the wide range of choices available to our esteemed clients, we have added five more aircraft, bringing the NASJET fleet to a total of 81 fixed wing aircraft. The new additions include a long range Gulfstream GV based in Riyadh, which can fly 12 hours non-stop, and a Gulfstream G450 based in Dubai, which can operate Dubai to London. The other new aircraft are two Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft with one based in Riyadh and the other based in Jeddah, both of which can carry more than 25 bags in the baggage hold, and a Cessna Citation Excel based between Jeddah and Riyadh which is ideal for short flights within three hours. With the addition of these aircraft, the company now has a total of fifteen aircraft available for charter on the NASJET Part 135 Air Operation Certificate with bases varying between Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai, thus significantly expanding our reach within the Middle East, where since 1999 NASJET has been the first and biggest player in the private aviation market. As another recent activity, NASJET sponsored the Saudi Aviation Club 2015 which was a very successful event. Held for the second year running, the Saudi Aviation Club aims to support and encourage public and private aviation, not only in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also in the GCC. In closing, let me reassure you that your safety is our highest priority and at every stage NASJET operates according to the highest international standards implemented by fully qualified aviation specialists and flight crews who are dedicated to ensuring you enjoy a safe and comfortable journey to your chosen destination.
Saad Al Azwari CEO
Contact Details: email@example.com nasjet.com.sa T. +966 (0)11 217 2070 13
Nasjet APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
NASJET signs international handling agreement with Jet Aviation At EBACE in Geneva, NASJET signed a Fixed Base Operation (FBO) global service agreement with Jet Aviation. Under the agreement, Jet Aviation is to provide handling services through its global network of FBOs to the fleet of NASJET aircraft
As the largest and fastest growing private jet operator in the Middle East, NASJET operates a diverse international fleet of more than 80 aircraft. Jet Aviation currently manages 19 premium FBO facilities across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. The two companies signed an agreement at EBACE 2015 in Geneva to have Jet Aviation provide seamless handling services to the NASJET fleet. “We are always looking for strategic partners with whom we can ensure our customers receive personalized service and end-to-end support wherever they may be,” said NASJET CEO Mr. Saad Al-Azwari. “Jet Aviation shares our values and our commitment to excellence and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with them.” “Our goal is to secure the greatest comfort and convenience for our 14
customers by anticipating their needs,” said Monica Beusch, general manager of Jet Aviation Zurich and head of FBO Services in EMEA & Asia. “We look forward to welcoming the NASJET fleet throughout our network and to adding value to their operation by assuring smooth travels on the ground.” Jet Aviation’s fixed base operations provide customers with executive VIP terminals, conference rooms, business services, passenger and crew lounges, snooze rooms, crew showers, weather and flight planning services. The company offers private aircraft handling and full FBO services, including domestic and international flight handling, line maintenance services, refueling, immigration and customs services, passenger and crew transportation, as well as catering, hotel and local transport arrangements.
FOR SALE: 2010 Falcon 7X (SN 82) on exclusive with NASJET/TJB aircraft sales This Falcon 7X has the latest stateof-the-art EASY II cockpit which enables pilots to monitor and control the progression of the flight using Dassault’s highly optimized version of Honeywell’s Primus Epic digital flight deck. This one-owner-from-new aircraft has always flown privately, with its own dedicated and experienced crew. It can fly non-stop from New York to Riyadh; Riyadh to Perth; and Abu Dhabi to Tokyo. It can land at airports with restricted runways, such as London City. The luxury 14seat cabin boasts multiple options including high speed broadband enabling passengers to stay
connected while relaxing at 41,000 feet. It also includes Satellite TV that can be watched throughout the cabin ensuring you never miss your favourite TV show. If you find yourself stressed at the end of a busy day then you can unwind listing to music through the multiple ipod docks while the EMTEQ Quasar full spectrum lighting system relaxes with mood lighting of your choice. The Dassault Falcon 7X is also a very strong competitor in the market place due to its much 15
lower fuel burn (7X burns 380 GPH and Gulfstream’s G450 GPH) and lower maintenance costs (2.62 SAR maintenance hours per flight hour compared to 5.74 SAR for Gulfstream’s G550). The aircraft is also enrolled on Falcon Care and ESP platinum elite engine and APU pay by the hour programs providing peace of mind that all schedule and unscheduled future maintenance is budgeted for. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Nasjet APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Our Services A host of services await you when flying with NASJET AIRcRAft sALes Buy from the best. As a world-class owner, operator and manager of private aircraft in the middle east since 1999, we offer real-time market pricing analysis, aircraft financing with preferred lenders, aircraft inspections, sales and marketing collateral, and assertive price negotiation.
stress away and give you peace of mind knowing that an established and experienced international operator is able to manage your asset efficiently. NASJET has in excess of 70 aircraft under management. Aircraft owners gain many privileges and financial benefits by being within a NASJETmanaged fleet, including economy of scale on fuel, fleet insurance, training and maintenance.
Benefit from our experience. We have the advantage of a close working relationship with many of the leading business jet manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Gulfstream, Bombardier and Hawker Beechcraft. Over the years, the team has successfully completed over 45 new aircraft deliveries, working with owners to ensure their aircraft is completed to the highest specification and within budget.
Access a fleet of jets – with guaranteed availability. With the NASJET fractional program you buy a share in a jet, ranging from an eighth to a half. You can have all the advantages of aircraft ownership for a fraction of the cost. Your share guarantees you a certain number of flight hours per year in your jet or in a comparable aircraft. Fractional ownership costs are pre-agreed and fixed annually – no end-of-year financial surprises, just seamless international access to a fleet of aircraft. You can also enjoy all the benefits of the fractional program without the long-term commitment, with the 12-month lease program.
Have the experts do all the work. Owning a private jet is certainly a pleasure, but it’s also a major undertaking. NASJET can take that
expertise and purchasing power. Using NASJET’s unrivaled regional operational expertise and purchasing power, aircraft managed either by
the principal’s crew or an internal corporate flight department can access a menu of services provided by the NASJET flight centre.
gRound seRvIces In 2013 nAsJet, and its partner,w ExecuJet, launched ground services for private aircraft flying into the Riyadh private aviation terminal, Saudi Arabia. The collaboration builds on the two partners’ reputation for providing a superior and competitive level of service.
on-demAnd cHARteR the best option for ultimate flexibility without the commitment. Chartering with NASJET gives clients access to the largest and most closely-managed fleet in the region. We are focused entirely on safety, service and value. By owning many of our aircraft, we are able to make an immediate decision on aircraft availability. NASJET’s dedicated 24/7, 365 days a year charter department, based in Riyadh, are able to provide instant competitive quotations. The NASJET block charter program has all the benefits of ad-hoc charter but with guaranteed availability, flexible payment terms and billing based on your actual flight times. Visit nasjet.com.sa for more information
APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
The sailing worldâ€™s finest will dock at the beautiful island of Saint BarthĂŠlemy this month, as the annual Richard Mille-sponsored Les Voiles de Saint Barth welcomes as many as 80 boats to the Caribbean, crewed by 1,000 sailors. Theyâ€™re there from April 11-16 to participate in high-level competition at sea, and higher-level frivolity on land, once the sun has set and the festivities ensue. Visitors should take the opportunity to stay at Le Guanahani, which celebrated its 30th birthday this year by taking the wraps off a four-year, USD40 million makeover. lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com 19
Critique APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Film Demolition Dir: Jean-Marc Vallée A successful investment banker unravels after tragically losing his wife in a violent car crash AT BEST: “A unique take on what could otherwise be a morbidly depressing tale… dishing out tons of energy and devilish humour”. Hollywood Reporter AT WORST: “A frustratingly aimless soul-search that veers uncomfortably between quirk and melancholy.” The Guardian
The Dark Horse AIR
Dir: James Napier Robertson An emotionally-charged true story based on the life of a brilliant chess champion AT BEST: “The heartfelt telling of a truly extraordinary true story with a mesmerising central performance.” Empire AT WORST: “The script could have done without the odd bout of heavy-handed chess symbolism”. The Guardian
Everybody Wants Some Dir: Richard Linklater Hilarious comedy about ‘80s baseball players who navigate their way through college AT BEST: “Endlessly charming and sneakily wise, Everybody Wants Some epitomises Linklater’s unique ability to magnify human behaviour with levity.” Indie Wire AT WORST: “The film’s structure – off-putting in the early going, irresistible by the end – is ingenious.” ScreenCrush
Francofonia Dir: Aleksandr Sokurov A history of the Louvre during the Nazi occupation and a reflection on art, culture and power AT BEST: “As fun as it is funereal… a philosophical depth and richness that are found almost nowhere else in cinema.” The Telegraph AT WORST: “Does it all come together? Well, yes… highly personal yet captivating.” Variety 20
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lorian Zeller’s The Truth runs until May 7 at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, a new arts venue in Southwark that produces its own plays, musicals and comedies. The latest piece by the French dramatist is “funny, thought-provoking and plays seamlessly as a dream,” writes The Guardian’s Kate Kellaway. “The dialogue is pacy, with a heartless sheen… The Truth moves with the fluency of a dance that keeps turning on its own heel. It is an entertaining, unsettling, must-see show”. “Zeller delicately and dazzlingly interlaces the stories of two couples,” asserts Mark Shenton of The Stage. It’s a “sophisticated production”, which is “acted with both churning tension and great feeling”. Shenton concludes that it’s a “playful, poignant infidelity drama that cuts surprisingly deep.” On the contrary, Henry Hitchings of The Standard writes that the “production doesn’t always have enough zip”, before admitting that, “it’s shrewdly performed”. The final result, Hitchings cautiously argues, is “slippery entertainment, veering towards farce but also laced with cruel human insight”. Meanwhile, based on the Oscarwinning film of the same name, Ghost the Musical is bringing a slice of ‘90s New York to Sydney’s Theatre Royal until May 1. The Morning Herald’s Cameron Woodhead “regrettably” asserts that, “Ghost the Musical isn’t a patch on the movie it trades off.” Nonetheless, “humour is the one part of the show that unambiguously works… Romance, however, is seriously short-changed, and at one level that’s down to the sheer blandness of the songs.” Ron Cerabona of the Canberra Times explains this musical adaptation of the hit movie is “well produced” but “lacking a bit of spirit”. Glam Adelaide’s Brian Godfrey is largely positive, writing that the production “is every bit as magical, charming, funny, dramatic and romantic as the original. A stunning visual and
Above: Alice (Frances O’Connor) with Michel (Alexander Hanson) in The Truth
aural feast,” he writes. “The feel and look of the show is a wonderful combination of stage, film and music video.” Herald Sun’s Kate Herbert is similarly convinced, describing Ghost as a “spectacular display of technical wizardry, tear-jerking songs and tragic romance”. She does acknowledge that “some may find this show to be schmaltzy and too much like a rom-com,” but insists that it’s “faithful to the original movie while still creating a satisfyingly innovative theatrical production.” Ben Neutze of the Daily Review arrives at a complex conclusion. “It’s not the most intricate or profound of narratives, but it’s sweet and moving enough. “Musically, it is a somewhat mixed bag – unfortunately the weakest number opens the show – but it’s always accessible and there are some great highlights”. He writes that, “Although there’s really nothing wrong with the choreography, it’s a tad on the corny side”, before concluding, “Ghost mightn’t be your style – I’m pretty sure it’s not mine – but it’s generously entertaining and wellmade. And you can’t always say that about screen-to-stage adaptations.” 21
In New York, Aaron Loeb brings a dark comic edge to the heart of Midtown at 59E59 Theatres. Ideation, which Laura Collins-Hughes of the New York Times describes as “creepy”, runs until April 17 at this spectacular modern venue. “A comedy that satirises office politics and skewers groupthink, even as its annihilation scenario comes to seem unsettlingly plausible,” she claims. “It [the production] gradually ramps up the uncertainty and moral horror of its little band of collaborators, played by a first-rate ensemble. “The characters’ alarm mounts, the mood darkens, and their anxiety becomes faintly contagious – excellent fodder, really, for post-show conversation.” She concludes that it’s a “psychological game, one that’s both amusing and intriguing to play.” “The devilishly funny and demonically dark comedy… is as sidesplitting and, if anything, more deeply disturbing that it seemed at first encounter,” enthuses Robert Hurwitt of SFGate, while Karen D’Souza of S.J. Mercury News positively describes Ideation as a “darkly funny corporate thriller”, as well as a “suspenseful drama”.
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Left: Anton Chekhov by Iosif Braz, 1898, © State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow RIght: The Beatles, by Peter Laurie, 1964, Condé Nast Archive London
he 20th iteration of the biennale offers an intriguing, if uneven, reflection of the here and now,” writes Andrew Frost of the Guardian about the Sydney Biennale, which runs until June 5. Sprawling over six main venues, in addition to a “constellation of temporary and roving sites”, each venue is a “neutral zone of related thematic ideas” based around science fiction. Frost argues this “connection between the two genres makes sense”. They “share a history” and “both express and explore concerns about the nature of human experience”. However, he claims the biennale is “overloaded – and maybe overthought – the experience at the venues is more diffuse than this cluster of words and concepts might suggest.” Nonetheless, the “mixture of materials and metaphor works very well, and reflects the way in which literary and cinematic science fiction weaves its worlds.” Although certain exhibitions are “highly atmospheric”, others are “flippant or slight, or must be read in a context entirely unapparent”. Although the connection between the overall theme “might
seem obtuse… the combination of new and old seems, oddly enough, futuristic.” Frost carefully concludes: “That the biennale is at times frustrating, dystopic, obtuse and ugly – instead of always utopian, beautiful, accessible and optimistic – proves that it is once more a reflection of the here and now.” In London, the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibition Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky proudly features a striking collection of portraits showcasing writers, musicians, actors and artistic patrons; all have been loaned from Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery. Jonathan Jones of the Guardian writes that, “This gathering of cultural heroes from the later nineteenth century up to 1914, is intense, tortured and troubled. “[A] tough eye for human frailty is what makes this exhibition so intimate and somber.” Commenting on the artists themselves, Jones explains that they “share the sensitivity, honesty and the searching unease of the writers and composers they portray.” He writes, “modern art is often imagined to begin in the 22
revolutionary era or just before, with Malevich’s Black Square (1915) or Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International (1919-20).” Jones asserts that this is a “shallow” cliché, that can only be fully understood by visiting Moscow’s Tretyakov. Although the London exhibition, which runs until June 26, contains merely a “selection of its [Tretyakov’s] highlights”, it “introduces us to the remarkable artists who painted them”. Ben Luke of the Evening Standard concurs that, “there are moments of brilliance”. The painting of Tchaikovsky by Nikolai Kuznetsov is particularly “emotionally rich, captured in vivid, lively paint.” The Telegraph’s Mark Hudson agrees that, “this relatively small show provides not only a vivid and intimate survey of an extraordinary period, but a kind of advert for the virtues of an extraordinary period”. Reviewing Vogue 100: A Century of Style – also at the National Portrait Gallery – which runs until May 22, Hudson describes the featured portraits as “the absolute cream of fashion photography.” He goes on to claim that, “all the great names in photography are here… The impression is of extraordinary brimming creativity. Just as you feel you must have encountered every talented person of the past hundred years, here’s another roomful more”. Hudson asserts that, “this knockout exhibition may look like it’s primarily for those interested in fashion, but looking back on it, I can hardly remember any fashion... It’s all about storytelling, image-making and personalities.” Sarah Crompton of The Guardian is equally enthralled by what she saw. “It is the quality of the images that guarantees Vogue’s continuing eminence.” “Fashion may be fickle, but the fashion photographer’s lens is also a mirror,” writes Miriam Bouteba of Time Out London. “The exhibit is as much a reflection of a hundred years of our history as it is a celebration of the original glossy.”
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om Bower is to biography what Cruella de Vil was to dalmatians,” opens Craig Brown for the Mail on Sunday, commenting on Broken Vows: Tony Blair – The Tragedy of Power. “If you are his subject, you are also his victim.” According to Brown, Bower’s “bias is pervasive, the facts bent to show Blair in the worst possible light”, and that the “boundary between truth and conjecture” are obscured. “The book would carry more weight if Bower were not so ham-fisted, so clearly focused on seeing the worst in everyone,” he continues, “‘Blair’s hair had turned grey, and, despite spending an hour most days in the gym, his youthful looks had faded,’ he writes, just a few pages before the end. But whose youthful looks haven’t faded by the age of 62?” “A 600-page unrelenting, forensic monstering,” writes Chris Mullin of the Irish Times. Blair is “taken apart and trashed. All motives are assumed to be the worst.” Andy McSmith of the Independent describes the release as “dreary” and that it “does not assess Tony Blair: it sets out to shred whatever is left of his reputation… if you are furious that the Labour government was ever permitted to interrupt Conservative rule, here is a book to enforce your prejudices.” Writing in The Times, Rachel Sylvester concurs that “The barrage of criticism is relentless. The book lacks any kind of balance.” “Where Mr Bower gets it wrong,” claims the Economist, “is in casting Mr Blair as a feckless flibbertigibbet incapable of the serious analysis required to think through and implement complex policies.” However, the Sunday Times’ Rod Liddle is more favourable, claiming that it is “probably Bower’s finest, and most important, achievement so far”. “Probably the most explosive book of 2016” agrees The Times Cultural Review 2016. “Bower has a reputation for unearthing unwelcome truths.”
“From Richard Nixon’s dog to the Mughal emperor who had his cook skinned alive, MacMillan’s study of individual lives – both powerful and little-known is exhilarating,” says Kathryn Hughes of the Guardian, reviewing History’s People: Personalities and the Past. “In our celebrity-obsessed culture, Margaret MacMillan’s reflection on the role of individual great men and women in history is timely,” supports the Independent’s Rachel Trethewey. “She rejects academia’s old snobberies against biography... As a historian who admits to enjoying the ‘gossip’ of the past, MacMillan believes that history should be fun as well as enlightening”. Madeleine Thien of The Globe and Mail agrees, admitting that she found herself “thinking repeatedly of fiction.” New Stateman’s Joanna Bourke was similarly “captivated” by the author, 23
who “yet again shows that she is not only a consummate storyteller; she is also a brilliant historian.” She demonstrates “excellent dry wit, a broad range of reference – from Montaigne and Marx to Punch cartoons and hobbits – and a gift for storytelling”. Meanwhile, Melissa Harrison’s having a prolific year; Rain: Four Walks in English Weather is the third book bearing her name to have already surfaced this year. Shahidha Bari of the Financial Times describes it as a “slender book that calls for slow reading”. Harrison “writes in prose that is measured like poetry, lilting then staccato by turns, paces with pauses and breaths, her language as sure-footed as the routes she takes along uplands.” Katharine Norbury of the Guardian agrees that the book’s “a celebration on that curiously English obsession...”
Jewellery APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Heaven Set With a natural eye for precious jewels and the mastery to frame them, Glenn Spiro is a true poet of gemstones WORDS : CHRIS UJMA
hat you are about to be told should, strictly, be imparted by private appointment only, within a salon away from prying eyes. Because this impeccably-dressed jeweller and designer – who works only with the rarest and most precious of stones – conceives each piece in response to the gem’s intrinsic light, colour and shape; it is a personal
attention to character that he also affords his discerning clientele, hence the secrecy. “We use truly fabulous, rare stones, and there’s a shortage of those. That’s why we work with our bespoke clients on a very personal level to get them what they want, and to create something completely unique for them. It’s a relationship that almost always turns into a friendship,” 24
Glenn once shared with Vanity Fair magazine’s Annabel Davidson. London-born Spiro’s story is almost as fascinating to peer into as a deeplyenchanting gem itself: he trained as a master jeweller, worked on Cartier: English Artworks, and in 1995 was named a senior director of Christie’s, also assuming the role as their international specialist of jewellery.
Eventually, Spiro set up workshops in Los Angeles and Geneva to concentrate on private commissions, continuing to forge close, lasting connections with select gem dealers. Now, G London – his own specialist House – is firmly on the haute jewellery radar. Your first signpost of exclusivity is the absence of named collections. He shares with us that, “Sometimes we find a beautiful gem but no design springs to mind, so it may sit in the vault for months or years and then one day we have an idea that might work for it and we go from there. We don’t design in collections for this reason – it is a far more fluid process than that.” The earlier comparison to him as a poet stems from the way he talks about the selection process, where it seems as though he sees into the soul of every stone. “Ever since I first started working at the benches in my late teens, I’ve been fascinated by the allure of precious gems, and watching people’s reaction to them. As I’ve worked with gems from such an early age, my selection process is very instinctive; I just touch, feel them and look at them, with no help from technology. I think some of the magic of the selecting and cutting process is being lost as people are putting all their trust into technology to ensure they have the most ‘efficient’ cuts and flawless stones. Often, stones come to me that aren’t perfect but there is something about them that I just love and connect with. Technology can’t give you that emotion; you have to trust your instinct.” Once he chooses to make that ‘find’ the focal point of a piece, the results are breathtaking (though he says, rather humbly, that “The gems are Mother Nature’s great work, we simply place them in their proper setting”). Glenn cites his inspiration as originating from nature, music or just the shapes and lines, designed “with a playfulness and confidence that transcends our collections”. You’ll find a 20 carat pear-shaped blue diamond here, a rare Colombian emerald weighing 23.05
carats there, perhaps a fancy cut flat Mozambique ruby… One piece that particularly resonates is his Reveal Ring creation. It is a white gold and diamond pavé ring that, once twisted, opens in a flower-bloom fashion, to reveal a 1.01 carat pink diamond. The ring is slightly symbolic of the new direction for the House; still full of mystique and beauty, but openingup slightly, becoming more accessible. The one-to-one meetings can still be sought, of course, but there is the opening of the first G London boutique space in the UK capital, and a presence in the the fine jewellery room at Harrods. “Our corner of Mayfair is the most extraordinary property; it was the old Hartnell building, which we’ve restored to its former glory so it is a privilege to be able to show our
The gems are Mother Nature’s work, we simply place them in their proper setting designs in this magnificent setting,” purrs the founder. The new frontiers have brought new admirers. “It opened the door to clients who have seen everything there is to see from the big houses but come to us looking for oneof-a-kind pieces, which really surprises them. They are knowledgeable, so really appreciate works with intrinsic value, but also exceptional craftsmanship and the use of unusual materials.” Spiro creates each piece as a standalone, built around the beauty of a stone to enhance it when the right design is dreamt up. Until ripe, it remains firmly locked away, unearthed and admired by Spiro, but waiting for its opportunity to wow the world in the proper setting. Given their importance, perhaps the letter ‘G’ in G London represents not Glenn, but Gem. Arrange a private appointment at glennspiro.com 26
Art & Design APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Past & Present The 2016 Venice Biennale will reflect on the UAE’s contribution to the advancement of architecture and culture, by focusing on traditional Emirati social housing
he United Arab Emirates is a world unto its own, where East meets West and diverse architecture merges into a convoluted juxtaposition that, peculiarly, works. La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy, is one of the most prestigious events in the art world and this year Yasser Elsheshtawy, Associate Professor of Architecture at the UAE University, has been chosen as the curator for the region’s participation. The exhibition is titled Transformations: The Emirati National House, and will focus on how
a basic housing model was adapted by residents to reflect their own interests and lifestyle. This year’s National Pavilion will endorse the UAE’s architecture through sculptures, paintings and film, to ensure the region’s artists are at the forefront of international contemporary art. “The UAE, by participating in such a significant event, asserts its presence at a global level,” explains Elsheshtawy. “We’re showing that we’re a country that’s at the forefront of contemporary artistic and architectural debates. 28
“Moreover, only a handful of Arab countries have a permanent presence in the Biennale and consequently the UAE’s participation really asserts its regional significance. Our focus on art and architecture highlights that the UAE is a stable and maturing society.” With only a few buildings that are over a century old, the UAE is predominately known for its recordbreaking skyscrapers, improbable feats of engineering and ‘starchitects’. An oil boom led to an unprecedented growthspurt in the seventies, which resulted
Previous pages: Obaid Suroor, Untitled (1994) These pages: Moosa Al Halyan, Horse Painting (1996)
We’re showing that we’re a country at the forefront of artistic and architectural debates in some of the world’s most enviable cityscapes, featuring the jaw-dropping Burj Khalifa, iconic Burj Al Arab, and Capital Gate building. However, Elsheshtawy has decided to ditch the profusion of glass and steel that mould these architectural wonders of saildesigns and petal-domes. “The UAE is more than its iconic projects, shopping malls and obviously spectacular buildings,” says Elsheshtawy. “It has a wide-ranging scope of architectural developments that go beyond the clichéd views and elements associated with the country.” The exhibition focuses on the Emirati National House, also known as Sha’abi House; a social housing project that was implemented throughout the seventies and eighties, to offer homes and modern amenities to a transient local population. “The programme [Emirati National House] in its initial stages was aimed at providing Emirati nationals with a modern house. It was also a way to urbanise the country by settling its people, who were used to roaming the desert and moving from one place to the next,” explains Elsheshtawy. “A crucial aspect of nation building was to settle them in a fixed place – to that end, in addition to the house, a piece of land was provided for agricultural purposes.” An ancient trading port for dhows voyaging from the Gulf to India and East Africa, the UAE’s multicultural
mix of community and culture has always heavily influenced the region’s traditional Arabian architecture. A historical medley of Asian and European influences has since set the tone for Dubai’s imaginative and bizarre structural styles. Many remaining Sha’abi houses show evidence of this cumulative acquisition. “Residents over the years have modified these houses through the addition of rooms, decorative elements, and landscaping. This transformation has made the house fall more in line with people’s lifestyle and culture. Our focus is on these transformations and how they have individualised specific homes in the country.” When he relocated to the UAE in 1996, this particular type of housing quickly caught Elsheshtawy’s attention, “given its uniqueness and the degree to which is has become part of the UAE vernacular.” He settled in Al Ain, where the original National House is still common, and the social project immediately became a source of inspiration. “The UAE in its early formative years, while having substantive resources, was still in the early stages of nation building and urbanisation. Accordingly, the early houses were quite modest in terms of size and amenities. Over the years the size and space allocated to these houses increased substantively, which in turn enabled residents to have a much more 30
comfortable lifestyle in line with the country’s increased levels of wealth.” The curator argues that the places we inhabit can affect our thoughts and behaviour. “Our built environment plays a significant role in shaping our lives on a number of levels,” he explains. “Having an aesthetically pleasing visual environment plays a significant psychological function by sustaining
our interest and also stimulation, thus leading to overall satisfaction. This can be achieved by having a harmonious setting in which various components and elements work together, without it becoming too monotonous and boring.” The UAE and its main urban centres, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, have witnessed rapid urbanisation over the years. Dubai in particular has become exemplary in terms of its constantly
evolving skyline, megaprojects and iconic developments. In many ways, this has enabled the city to be placed on the map and to be considered an important urban metropolitan centre. Elsheshtway believes that, “The changing population is reflected [in the architecture]. The fact that more than 200 nationalities live in Dubai, for example, has turned it into a major cosmopolitan centre – something quite 31
unique.” However, traditional Arabic housing enables residents to enjoy the lifestyle of their forefathers, but with modern comforts. These houses are well designed and proudly protect the region’s past. Surely that is something worth fighting for. The 15th International Architecture Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia will run from May 28 to November 27, 2016
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
OBJECTS OF DESIRE
Master craftsmanship, effortless style and timeless appeal; this monthâ€™s must-haves and collectibles
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
sotheby ’s hong kong
DE BEERS mIllEnnIum JEwEl
Going under the hammer at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 5 – having been offered for sale by its private collector owner – is, at 10.10 carats, the largest oval-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction. It’s one of twelve rare diamonds which make up De Beers’
Millennium Jewels collection, unveiled at the turn of this century. Paddles will need to be raised around the estimate figures of USD30–35 million. This is the second diamond from the collection to be sold; a 5.16-carat pear-shaped blue diamond fetched USD6.4 million in April 2010. 1
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
BREnT wOOD SlIm BRIEF
A colour pallete of ivory and navy underpins Tumi’s Designer Select Collection, the standout element of the brand’s Spring/Summer 2016 offering. Comprising a backpack, tote (the perfect work-through-weekend bag for on-the-go girls), travel satchel and medium and large
portfolios, it also includes the dashing Brentwood Slim Brief. We’ve marked this for special attention not only for its multiple design details which transform the mundane brief into a style statement, but also for the premium materials used to create it. A fine piece of craftsmanship. 2
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
OCTO FInISSImO mInuTE R E p E aT E R
Back in 2014, Bulgari set a new record when launching the world’s thinnest tourbillon. Now the brand is at it again, forcing a rewrite of the history books with the introduction – at last month’s Baselworld – of the Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater, which now carries the crown as
the smallest on the market. To make it so slender in spite of its complications, the in-house developed and produced BVL Calibre 362 measures just 3.12mm thick, while the overall case thickness amounts to only 6.85mm. Limited to 50 pieces, this is a rare gem of a timepiece. 3
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
S va n c l e e f & a r p e l s
T w O B u T T E R F ly B E T w E E n ThE FIngER RIng
Van Cleef’s now iconic Between the Finger ring has always captured the imagination, but as a twist the Maison has, with the latest addition to the collection, used mother-of-pearl for the first time. Notable for its regular surface and lustre of the
highest quality, the mother-of-pearl is displayed as a wonderful contrast to the diamond-studded pink gold which adorns the adjacent butterfly, its wings open as if caught mid-flight. It’s a piece which shows off the Maison’s savoir-faire to the full. 4
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
I c h o pa r d
pRECIOuS hauTE J O a I l l E R I E w aT C h
Unveiled at last monthâ€™s Baselworld, this striking Haute Joaillerie timepiece from the Precious Chopard Collection very nearly stole the show. Itâ€™s crafted from 18ct white gold and is set with pearcut blue sapphires (25cts), brilliant-cut
pastel blue sapphires (7.5cts), marquisecut sapphires and brilliant-cut diamonds. The dial depicts a dainty corolla, while its dazzling bracelet references an ornamental jewellery lacework theme, as a nod to the high level of craftmanship used. 5
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
gi vor i
a u D R E y v I n Ta g E It’s an iPhone 6s with 128GB storage, yes. But with a Givori, it’s what is on the outside that counts. They design every cellphone as a masterpiece in its own right; hundreds of hours go into painstakingly embellishing every handset with the finest materials, to achieve a truly bespoke look. Upon this iPhone canvas is depicted
the Audrey Vintage: black and white Swarovski crystals sit alongside finer, feminine details, such as the playful kitty, the Lady Cabochon, the stiletto heel, the flirtatious red lipstick, and the blossoming flowers – all of which add a joyful nuance to this phone’s timeless design. Luxury handwear, handcrafted in Italy. 6
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
BOwlIng Bag Being onboard your jet, you’ll already know what it’s like to travel in style. But wouldn’t your journey be that touch more stylish if you had Chanel luggage? So thought Karl Lagerfeld, who made luggage a key feature of Chanel’s Summer 2016 Ready-to-Wear Collection. Reinterpreting some of the brand’s iconic designs – the
11.12 handbag has grown into a weekend bag, replete with rhinestone airplanes, an overtly playful tone sees cabin luggage shrunk into a minaudière, parked on real wheels – Lagerfeld has also worked his considerable magic on this sticker-adorned suitcase-like bowling bag, in navy blue tweed and leather. 7
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
i l l a s l a l aou i n e s
R E F. 4 4 0 6 5 2
They may be new to the Middle East market, courtesy of Ali Bin Ali, but ilias Lalaounis arrives with a rich heritage from its Greek homeland, where its gold jewellery is still handmade in Athens. From the Ilion Collection comes Ref.
440652, an 18k-gold bracelet comprised of a hand-breaded chain, stripped roundels and clasp. As with all ilias Lalaounis pieces, this one has a backstory â€“ its design is inspired by fragments of a necklace found in the excavations of Troy. 8
Art & Design APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Icons at the Icon
Picasso and Miró bring ‘Passion and Poetry’ to Downtown Dubai, a place well-acquainted with the notion that creativity can change the world
assion and Poetry, at the Burj Khalifa, is a stroll down a chronological narrative path that, curator Sergio Gaddi explains, “Crosses figures and themes that characterised the experiences of both Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, through a series of lithographs, ceramics and graphics. However the exhibition is not merely a journey which tells a dialectic relationship between history and contemporaneity, but also a dialogue between the signs of tradition lived and interpreted by the artists, and the energies that lit up their creativity.” And as an observer, you tussle with logic. Not in trying to decipher the vantage points from which Pablo captured his Harlequin with guitar in 1924, or at how Joan looked at both morning and night skies and arrived at his brushstroked interpretation of both: no, such intellectual battles come later. The first duel of the mind is when you consider the venue for this exhibition, which showcases 267 privately-owned collector’s pieces, each signed by their creator. By Gaddi’s own admission, The Annex at the Burj Khalifa – with its pipework running overhead, low-hung grey ceiling rungs and distinctly nongallery lighting – is not the first place one would expect to have a profound encounter with these transcendent masters of art. Because when first invited, you make the direct link that ‘Picasso, Miró … of course they are at the world’s tallest building’; it makes headlines, and there is a natural aura to the overall location that can shoulder such a monumental cultural occasion. Then… you are directed to The Annex, and while it is presentably decorated in striking red and black, you’re very aware that this isn’t a polished,
gleaming gallery. Yet by the end of the viewing experience, your thoughts arrive at a distinctly defiant MiróCasso mindset – ‘Who writes the rules anyway?! Who says it can’t be done?’ – because you become aware that the organisers, cognizant of the challenge, had a specific reason for choosing the location. Before getting to that, what of the exhibition’s title? Gaddi explains that, “although their starting points were similarly grounded in ‘reality’, Miró is a poet, depicting the inner feelings and the emotions, while Picasso turned to revolution, discovered new paths and ways of expression. Hence Passion and Poetry”. The works are placed in sections titled ‘Creators of Myth’, ‘Inventors of New Languages’, ‘Jugglers of Form’, ‘Poets of Colour’ and ‘Alchemists of Art’, and there is plenty here to inspire a new generation of artlovers, and spine-tingle those already acclimatised with art’s World Order. Among the mesmeric displays of Pablo ‘Ruiz’, (Picasso was his mother’s maiden name which he adopted, much to the chagrin of his artist father, our media tour is reliably told) are burin etchings from the Natural History collection, 20 Pochoir prints created between 1904 and 1953 which feature examples from his pre-cubist Blue and Pink periods, the cultural costume depictions from Le Tricorne, and an assortment of his then-new adventure into ceramics, from which sprang pieces such as the Bearded Man’s Wife pitcher. Meanwhile, 25 boards from Miró’s curling, looping, 1966 Ubu roi capture the attention with as equal force as his Le Lezard aux plumes d’or coloured lithography, and there is his bold, etched Le Marteau sans maitre 34
We thought, ‘why can’t we put art right into Dubai’s heart?’
Opener: Le Marteau sans maître, Joan Miró Previous pages: Harlequin with guitar, Pablo Picasso These pages, from left: Woman Sitting; Woman on a yellow sofa, Picasso
present too. Visual complexity from both artists sit alongside pieces like Picasso’s graph synthesis faces, which are simpler… but, WAIT. ‘Simplicity’ is almost blasphemous, and makes Gaddi impassioned: “A common point levelled at certain pieces, when someone sees, for instance, one of Picasso’s forty Carmen engravings, is that they could draw it themselves. And my response to them is that an idea is the essence, and you have to have that idea first. It appears simplistic and easy, but to replicate even precisely, would not possess the same power. Everyone has their own feelings, but not everyone can be an artist like Caravaggio, or a poet like Leopardi: the artistic masters are able to fix their mind and express a universal feeling. It is easier to say, than to do.” Returning to the question of why Dubai, and why this venue: well, one must look back to where Pablo and Joan converged in their earlier years – the French capital – to begin unravelling the mystery. Explains the curator, “At the beginning of the twentieth century, Paris was the centre of the world. Put yourself in that time period, and events in Paris had a seismic impact and would dictate culture, science and the arts. Everything important happened there during those years, and so all artists felt compelled to be there, they had to be there. And as important as Paris was to the world during that era, from certain points of view, Dubai is now.” While it might not be displayed in a museum, the artwork is housed in an appropriate location, symbolically. “Dubai has made huge technological and architectural steps in such a short period of time, and the Burj Khalifa is a landmark of that vision. So we thought, ‘why can’t we put art right into Dubai’s heart?’ Because to continue developing scientifically and architecturally, you 37
need aesthetics, you need art, and we wanted to begin with this exhibition, to inspire, in an inspirational place itself.” The other idea is that local designers can relate to these two European masters more than with, say, North European art-influences, such as Gustav Klimt. “I think that the Mediterranean landscape is similar visually to that of the Middle East, and Picasso and Miró are perhaps ‘closer’ to local artists here. We have bought two accessible artists who can get the conversation started, in what is a carefully curated and enriching experience,” Gaddi imparts. They have their differences and similarities, and upon one of the many
Artistic masters are able to fix their mind and express a universal feeling plaques at the exhibition, there is an evocative descriptor that talks about Picasso as ‘…a brilliant interpreter of the spirit and techniques of various traditions of the past… a volcano in constant eruption of creativity and energy that fascinated and seduced the public.’ It says of Miró, ‘...his mind was a universe in constant movement due to the proliferation of ideas and forms… creating a new and personal language every time the artist engaged with a new subject, a new technique, a new image.’ While at this exhibition one can see the soul of these pure, deep and genial artists in Dubai, perhaps ambitious Dubai can also see itself, within them. Picasso and Miró, Passion and Poetry, is an exhibition orchestrated by Alpha Soul, and shows at The Annex, Burj Khalifa, until May 17. For more information, visit picassomiro.ae
Timepieces April 2016 : ISSUE 59
Forty Years Of Fame TARIQ MALIk
t was 1976, during the annual Basel watchmaker’s fair, that a man sat at a table in Switzerland opposite a group of watchmakers from Patek Philippe, who were sitting in the corner of the same restaurant. The man was Gerald Genta. It must be said that new watchmakers study and admire Genta’s work the way new students of fine art admire Picasso. Genta asked the waiter for a slip of paper and a pencil, and five minutes later he sent the concept sketch he had just drawn over to the corner table. In that moment, the design for Patek Philippe’s Nautilus was born. You might recognise the moniker from Jules Verne’s dramatic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, where the infamous captain Nemo’s ship bore the same name. The watch was born under dramatic circumstances too, so I think it is quite fitting. The 1970s was a nervous decade for luxury watchmakers. The Quartz crisis was underway, and ideas about what made a fine wristwatch were being revolutionised. Just four years earlier, Genta had dreamt up another inspired design for one of Patek Philippe’s strongest competitors – the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, which despite the original skepticism, was setting a trend. In 1976 Patek Philippe broke from their highly complicated gold and jewelled tradition and created the Nautilus reference 3700. The steel bezel was shaped like the portholes of a transatlantic liner. Highlypolished centre links in the bracelet
offset the brushed outer links. All this is contrasted by the dark, deeply embossed black dial and white gold baton hour markers. It was a fairly large watch for the times, measuring 42mm in width, and earned the nickname ‘Jumbo’. It was an iconic Genta masterpiece. It’s a design that has become highly recognisable, and the specimens from the 1970’s are the favourite of many collectors. For example: a rare version of the Nautilus with a white embossed dial from 1978 recently sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva for CHF250,000 (roughly the same amount in USD). 30 years after the first Nautilus, the reference 5711 was introduced. The case of this watch was a little bigger (measuring 43mm) and the construction was in three parts instead of two. The guilloche dial had 39
an electric blue lustre, enhancing the embossing and making the design even more eye-catching. The case back was also upgraded to sapphire, to make the movement visible. Today, the latest 5711 is available directly from Patek Philippe, and houses the Caliber 324 S C Mechanical self-winding movement. The watch is a comfortable size, 40mm: it’s a sporty, elegant watch, and stays true to the original marketing philosophy. It might be one of the more ‘entry-level’ models available from this prestigious brand, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a waiting list. More often than not, they’re sold out the moment they become available. Patek also released a very limited version of this watch, the Nautilus 5711/1P, which is made entirely from Platinum. The differences between the platinum and steel versions are slight, with the dial of the latter being a more vibrant blue, and with a tiny gem set in the case. The platinum watch is also far heavier. They are very scarce, and if you can find them, they carry a price tag at least five times greater than the steel version. Another noteworthy addition to the Nautilus range is the 5990 Chronograph Travel Time, where even the pushers for the chronograph function are cleverly disguised to maintain the original shape. 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Nautilus, and it is a timepiece that deserves its time in the spotlight. Discover Tariq’s co-founded vintage boutique at momentum-dubai.com
Timepieces APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Liquid Gold Defying expectations, mechanics, and even gravity itself: meet HYT, the total non-conformists of fine watchmaking
WORDS : CHRIS UJMA
efore you even get as far as dissecting their timepieces, HYT – The Hydro Mechanical Horologists – have a name that makes your brain-cells work. One word at a time, you’re certain you know what each means: ‘Hydro’, that’s water or liquid; ‘Mechanical’, okay, got it; ‘Horologists’, watchmaking of course. Then your grey matter combines them as a meaningful sentence: water… and mechanics… in a timepiece? And you feel your grasp on conventional logic begin to melt. The confusion that reigns is natural, because you rightfully assert that horologists have been actively avoiding the combination of liquid and mechanics – nemeses, diametrically-opposed – into such a confined space. But HYT set out with the mission objective to shatter expectation and truly innovate, and say of their watches, “Never since the water clocks of the pharaohs have the laws of gravity been overcome to transpose this energy into a portable watch, uniting the worlds of mechanics and liquid within a wristwatch.” One wonders what lit the spark, and made HYT think ‘the world needs this’; CEO Vincent Perriard is on-hand, to power us through the story. “We were very bored with the watch industry, because a lot of people claim to be innovative but really, they are not! Okay, in terms of design they are, but when it comes to the system and the movement, that proves more difficult, and seismic developments are less frequent. So the idea was to exploit the paradox of using liquid to tell the
time, and create a huge element of surprise. A lot of people said it is, quite simply, impossible, and would never work. Did we struggle to harness the technology? Of course, that is to be expected when you are dealing with such advanced methods. But it is an important part of the story, to show that we prevailed.” When re-writing the rulebook on timepieces, what technology and facilities did they need to develop? Well… “Just about everything. I’ll give one example: our core idea was wanting to play with liquid inside the watch, and for this we needed two bellows, one for water, one for oil, and of course the density is different. So we had to find a supplier able to manufacture the flexible yet strong springs. Nobody in Switzerland was able to create such parts, because this was breaking new ground. So we went to the USA, to a company who worked exclusively with NASA. The bellows you see in the watch? They come from a speed capsule in the Space Shuttle: no gimmick. These were engineers working for the aerospace industry, with its own principles of mechanics, and then suddenly these Swiss guys were coming to them, talking about making a watch!” The project, now a juggernaut, was powerful enough to get even the most seasoned industry experts excited. “Each watch is a team effort. We don’t outsource, so sitting in the room at the initial stages of a new collection, around the table we have designers, chemists, engineers, and watchmakers, who collaborate. Ideas come from all directions.” 40
Water… and mechanics… in a timepiece? Your grasp on logic begins to melt
The technology they developed is stunning, and impossible to understate (though the collection names, mercifully, are easier for the brain to grapple with). The H1 is the pioneer; the gamechanger, which with its rhodiumed bellows, an unstructured dial, fluid hours, screw-locked added lugs, and a 65-hour power reserve, won the innovation prize at the 2012 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. For the H2, “We wanted to work with the crème de la crème of the watch industry: for example, we collaborated with Dominique Renaud, concept watchmaker and an Audemars Piguet mastermind.” It led to a timepiece that delivered the patented fluid mechanism in a new configuration, with its own thermal indicator at nine o’clock to point out optimal operating temperature. The 62mm-long H3 went linear, positioning the bellows at the top, in opposition, giving engineering teams an unenviable challenge to create the caliber. In the limited edition Skull Collection you could boldly ‘look time right in the eyes’, with a shape-change for the capillary glass tube, and skull design that was such a major success for the company, teaching them to extend the series in 2016. Finally is the H4, where the self-generation of light was introduced using a micro dynamo system that gives a short shot of electricity to illuminate the watch. There are three complex movements 43
inside: the micro dynamo, which is powered by 85 components, the liquid system indicating the hours, and the mechanical movement. Suffice to say, there is plenty within every timepiece to keep the aficionado enthralled, even with regard to the case materials. These have included titanium gun metal in the H1 Velvet Gun, leaves of cigar polyepoxyde in the H1 Cigar, titanium black DLC and pink gold in the Skull Maori and Red Eye models, and white gold in the H2 Iceberg. “We are always out meeting clients, and know them well. What type of person buys a HYT? They are all freaks about watches! They love timepieces, and they are total extroverts who want to be seen with the watch and show what they have on their wrist: a HYT is a conversation piece, and they want to talk about it, enthuse about the technology and celebrate how the system works.” Soon, these loyal champions of HYT tech may not only be waxing-lyrical about timepieces, but also other commercial creations. The R&D arm of company, Preciflex, is dedicated to taking the fluidic capillary system and testing how it can be applied not only in the watchmaking context but also in the medical, automotive, and design sectors – you can only wonder what will emerge next. One thing is for sure: uncharted waters are where this brand feels most at home.
60 years ago this month, Hollywood screen siren Grace Kelly married Monacoâ€™s Prince Rainier, the defining chapter in her fairytale story.
Although the story would come to a devastating end at the all-too-young age of 52, her legacy lives on. AIR reveals the private life of this very public woman WORDS : HAZEL PLUSH
When I first arrived in Monaco I was very nervous and rather intimidated
don’t know how to explain,” says Grace Kelly, her eyes cast low behind a tangle of microphones. “Taking the step of marriage is enough to give a girl a bit of a twist – and leaving home is…” she falters, “a very moving thing.” A smile dances on her lips, but as Kelly looks around at the pack of reporters her body language speaks more than she ever could. Even in this black and white footage, it’s clear that she’s nervous. It’s almost her wedding day, and like every bride she’s caught between two worlds – except that her fairytale story is headline news. It’s April 4, and the year is 1956. Kelly is no stranger to the media melee. She’s a seasoned movie star, an award-winning actress at the top of her glamorous game. She has starred alongside Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, William Holden and Co. Last year she scooped an Oscar for her role in A Country Girl. So why the nerves? She’s about to embark on the biggest role of her life. In two weeks time, she’ll become Princess Grace of Monaco. One of the journalists offers her a sip of water. “Miss Kelly, how is your French?” someone calls. “Comme ci, comme ça”, she replies with a small smile and a shrug. So so. There is no trace of Hollywood shine: right now, she’s just a girl. When Prince Rainier III of Monaco visited the USA in 1955, there were rumours that he was looking for a wife. The Principality of Monaco – a tiny city-state on the French Riviera – was fast becoming a powerful tax haven and tourist destination, but its ruler needed a leading lady. One who could dazzle the visiting heads of state, business executives and celebrities. The pair’s paths had crossed at Cannes Film Festival, but their whirlwind romance – and the media 47
frenzy – began when Prince Rainer III came to America. There were glamorous dinners, glitzy photo calls, Hollywood engagements – and then a real engagement, with a USD2 million dowry provided by Kelly’s father. She would travel to Monaco and become Rainer’s princess, the joint ruler of this European microstate. Kelly set sail from New York to Monaco onboard the SS Constitution with her family, bridesmaids, poodle, over eighty pieces of luggage, and a clutch of reporters. It was from the Constitution that she held that nervous press conference – her last interview as a single woman. She had left Hollywood behind, but Kelly’s wedding had all the razzle dazzle of the silver screen. The acting world’s own royalty were amongst the 600-strong party: Cary Grant, David Niven, Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner and many more. Her dress, the work of MGM’s Academy Award-winning costume designer Helen Rose, took 36 seamstresses six weeks to make. The materials included “twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-yearold Brussels rose point lace,” revealed Kristina Haugland in Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride. With its button-up collar, ornate bodice and long lace sleeves, the dress was demure yet dazzling. It became one of the most iconic wedding dresses of all time – indeed, the gown of England’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was reportedly influenced by its design. Kelly’s family and friends returned to America after the wedding – but she remained in Europe. And of course she could never return to acting: now, her duty was to her adopted home. To some onlookers, Kelly had simply swapped her Hollywood career for a
more secure, comfortable role. Alfred Hitchcock – her former mentor, director and life-long friend – quipped that he was “very happy that Grace has found herself such a good part”. The Princess adapted to her new duties with poise – but all was not what it seemed. She finally opened up about those early years in 1982, in an ABC 20/20 interview. “When I first arrived in Monaco there were some problems in adapting,” she admits to Pierre Salinger in the television report. “I was very nervous and rather intimidated”. Sitting in her garden in Monaco, she exudes confidence and serenity. Her gaze is now steady, her smile strong – she’s as classy and conservative as the long string of pearls around her neck. “When we returned from our honeymoon, Sir Winston Churchill was the guest of honour at the first official luncheon we had here in the palace,” she recalls. “I was very nervous sitting next to this page of history. But he was kind and sweet. We became great friends, and he often came to the principality for his holidays. We would try to get the latest films for him to see.” The Princess became Europe’s bestdressed monarch – hailed for her tiny frame and discerning eye for designers – and she was rarely photographed without her beloved Hermès Sac à dépêches. The handbag became such a staple that the style was dubbed the ‘Kelly’ – a name that lives on – but in a few months’ time the bag’s true purpose became clear. The princess was using it to shrewdly hide her first pregnancy from the media. The arrival of Princess Catherine in 1957 brought stability to the royal household. “With the birth of our first child I began to feel at home,” the Princess tells Salinger in the 1982 interview. “My main function is being a wife and mother; after that comes all
my other activities.” Prince Albert was born the following year, and a second daughter, Stéphanie, in 1965. The Princess immersed herself in philanthropy, setting up charitable foundations for the local arts and underprivileged children. She nurtured Monaco’s cultural heritage, and donated thousands of dollars to upand-coming theatre, film and dance artists in America. Hitchcock asked her to appear in his film Marnie, but she declined. Her sought-after loyalty lay with her subjects. The ABC report was the Princess’s first candid interview in decades – but it was also her last. In 1983 she suffered a stroke at the wheel of her Rover P6 3500 while driving back from the family’s country home with Stéphanie. She lost control, and the vehicle plunged down a 120ft mountainside, leaving both mother and daughter in a critical condition. Stéphanie eventually recovered, but Princess Grace of Monaco died the night after the accident. She was mourned on both sides of the Atlantic, and Rainer never remarried. He was buried next to her after his death in 2005. To some, Grace Kelly was governed by her duties to her family, her husband, to Monaco – but she was much stronger than she could ever reveal. “Women should have the right to work and choose the profession that they would like to do,” she tells Salinger in that final interview. “Very often I think the price of independence and freedom is solitude and loneliness.” In accepting her ultimate – and perhaps most challenging – role, Kelly wasn’t simply signing up for a cosier alternative to Hollywood. She was dedicating her life to seeking a richer and more fulfilling future – for her family, her husband, and Monaco itself. 48
Kelly wasn’t simply signing up for a cosier alternative to Hollywood
PRINCIPLE To commemorate Frank Abagnale’s birthday on April 27, the security consultant speaks exclusively with AIR about how he successfully conned millions of dollars’ worth of cheques, and how he turned his life around
WORDS : ANNIE DARLING
he year is 1964. The place? New York City. A bustling metropolis: a chaotic concrete jungle, creaking at the seams. This is where Frank Abagnale Jr. found himself, broke and struggling to survive – a runaway teen quickly running out of options. The third of four children; Abagnale, whose real-life story was depicted in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, was born on April 27, 1948. “Everything was great until my mother and father announced that they were getting a divorce,” he reveals. Overcome with fear and unable to decide which parent to live with permanently, he ran away from home. He never saw his father again, and didn’t see his mother for several years. “I found myself in the middle of New York City,” he remembers. “I was 16-years-old and I realised that the only way I could survive was if I convinced people that I was older than I actually was.” Abagnale, who describes his teenage self as “very creative and very observant”, altered his driver’s license to make himself ten years older; a strategy aided by his intellect and prematurely greying hair. But before long, Abagnale burned through what little money his father had saved for him in a chequing account he’d opened a few years before. “I quickly ran out of money,” he recalls. “So I started to write cheques and cash them myself; each were for around ten or 20 dollars. “Being a young kid, I justified my behaviour by telling myself that I was taking money from a big bank. Surely a big bank wasn’t going to miss ten dollars. That’s the reason why I got away with so many things,” he explains. “When I look back on that time in my life, everything I did, I fell into. Originally, I never dreamed of being a pilot, or a doctor, or a lawyer.” Even so, that’s what he became.
Abagnale obtained a Pan American Airlines pilot uniform, forged a fake airline ID, and began an unprecedented five-year crime spree. “One day I was walking down the street when I saw an airline crew come out of a hotel. It suddenly occurred to me that if I had that uniform, I’d be able to cash my cheques easier. By this time, some banks had refused me because I didn’t have an account with them. This was before ATMs and debit cards and I thought: ‘If I make up a story that I’m flying out of town and need some cash, this’ll be a lot easier.’” After acquiring a pilot’s uniform, he started visiting airports to avoid suspicion. “I didn’t want people bumping into me thinking, who on earth is that pilot?” He asked a flight attendant on a date and on their way to dinner, she told him that airline staff were able to collect their day’s earnings from deposit boxes located in each airline terminal, eliminating the risk of banks altogether. “Well, that was well worth the dinner I bought her because afterwards I hit up every airline in that airport,” Abagnale chuckles. “Before long, I started to meet a lot of these flight attendants and they’d ask me if I wanted to ride the jump seat on their aircraft. I realised that I could ride on planes for free – without having to fly – and that I could stay in all these hotels, which they’d bill to the airline.” By the time he was 21-years-old, he flew an estimated one million miles on commercial aircraft in the cockpit jump seat. “Everything I did, I learned as I went along. It was never premeditated. I never dreamed about staying in luxury hotels or flying around the world. At that time, it was all about getting my hands on that uniform to see if it made a difference when it came to cashing cheques. And it did, it was wonderful. I was shocked by the power of that uniform, nobody 53
People read my story... and assume that this was a very glamorous time in my life, but it wasn’t. I was very lonely asked any questions.” While legally a minor, he created several identities, which he used to travel to 26 countries, frequenting London and Paris. “People read my story or watch the movie and assume that this was a very glamorous time in my life, but it wasn’t. I was very lonely. I couldn’t confide in anybody.” While Abagnale was jetsetting all over the world, there was a sudden epidemic of middle class youth who ran away from home during the ‘hippie’ era of the 1960s and early 1970s. His parents weren’t worried, he explains. “I would send them plenty of postcards from all over Europe. I told them I was hitchhiking and living in youth hostels. I’d never include a return address, so they had no way to write me back, but I wanted them to know I was fine. I didn’t want them thinking I was dead in a gutter somewhere.” Abagnale did come clean once about his true identity to an American Airlines stewardess. “She asked me to come out to California and meet her parents. I did and realised she was getting pretty serious about me.” During the visit, Abagnale revealed that he was a teenager who’d ran away from home and had been forging cheques. “She got very upset,” he remembers, “but told me it was okay and that we should head back to her parents’ house.
I’m an opportunist and this was a way for me to get out of prison I told her to go ahead of me and that I needed some time to myself. “Afterwards, when I cycled down her street, I could see all these police cars outside her house. I took off. I told myself right then that I couldn’t trust anybody. I told myself that this woman only liked me because she thought I was a pilot. In retrospect, that was me thinking as an adolescent. As I grew older – I actually got to meet her again years later – I realised that she was an adult and had done the right, responsible thing.” After seeing wanted posters of himself around airport cabin crew lounges, Abagnale stopped cashing fraudulent cheques and moved to Atlanta, passing himself off as a retired pediatrician. “I knew that I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing,” he readily admits, “and I already had a lot of money, so I didn’t actually need to do it anymore.” Nevertheless, this realisation didn’t stop him from taking a temporary chief administrative role at a local hospital for a couple of weeks, with nobody the wiser. “At first I said no,” he laughs. “But I’m not the type of person who likes to pass up a challenge! I thought to myself, ‘let’s see if I can really pull this off!’” He also posed as an attorney in Louisiana, where he worked for the State Attorney General after passing the state’s bar exam. During this time, he was relentlessly chased by a number of FBI agents, most notably special agent Joseph G. Shea. “For the first couple of years he [Shea] thought I was an adult,” explains Abagnale. “What made him suspicious was that they had no record of my fingerprints, which I left everywhere I went. They knew I was American and this was back during the draft. He found it strange I wasn’t registered anywhere.” It was only until Abagnale started using the name Barry Allen, which was the same alias as DC Comics’ The Flash, that Shea began suspecting
this supposedly hardened criminal was a young runaway. Abagnale was eventually hunted down and arrested in France in 1969, aged 21-years-old, on an Interpol warrant from Sweden. Despite their troubled history, after Abagnale’s arrest Shea became a “mentor and father figure” to Abagnale, who later dedicated one of several books to him. “I wasn’t surprised when they caught me,” comments Abagnale, on what he considers to be an “inevitable” arrest. “An Air France stewardess who was on vacation saw me get out of my car and walk into a little vegetable market. She recognised me from all the wanted posters and wrote down my license plate number.” Abagnale was convicted of forging USD2.5 million in cheques, all of which he has since paid back. “Most of the money was actually recovered,” he explains. “I was just a kid. I didn’t know how to spend that kind of money. They found about USD2 million in safety deposit boxes.” After serving time in France and Sweden, he was sentenced to ten years in US Federal prison. However, not before he escaped custody on the flight back to America. “The last thing on my mind was to escape,” he insists. “I got on the plane but as we started to approach New York – I’ll be honest with you – I started to get really, very scared. I’d had a horrible time in France and I was petrified about having to go to prison again.” After the plane landed, Abagnale was briefly left alone in the aircraft, during which time he dismantled the chute in the kitchen galley, sliding down onto the runway. “I ran across the tarmac, jumped over the fence and took off as quick as I could!” Another time, once recaptured and imprisoned, a US Marshal who had forgotten his prisoner’s papers transported him to a detention facility. Seizing the opportunity, Abagnale 54
escaped once more, after persuading guards that he was actually an undercover prison inspector. “I ended up getting more time for that,” he says. “I originally had ten years for the forged cheques, and an additional two years were added to my sentence for escaping federal prison.” Four years later, aged 26-years-old, the American government offered to release him on the condition he worked for the FBI for the remainder of his sentence. “When I came out of prison, people assumed I was rehabilitated but I never thought of myself as a changed person. I’m an opportunist and this was a way for me to get out of prison.” It wasn’t until he met his wife, while working undercover in Texas in 1975, that he became a reformed character. They have “three wonderful sons, one of whom is an FBI agent” and will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary later this year. “Becoming a husband and a father made me realise the importance of family. That’s what changed my life. Also the FBI,” he concedes, with a grin. “Their character, as well as their love of country. It eventually wore onto me.” Today, at 68-years-old, he’s one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery and embezzlement. Abagnale’s been associated with the FBI for nearly 40 years and lectures extensively at the FBI Academy and FBI field offices. More than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies use his fraud prevention programmes and over the past 31 years, he’s worked with 65 per cent of America’s Fortune 500 companies. “Looking back on my life, I’m not amazed by the things I did when I was a teenage boy. What’s amazing to me is that I did all those things and still managed to get to where I am today,” he smiles. “Anyone can change. If you really want to, and you have to really want to, you can change your life.”
“ THE WORLD NEEDS HIM ”
During a heartfelt interview, Muhammad Ali’s wife Lonnie reveals more about the man known the world over as The Greatest WORDS : Matthew Syed
uhammad Ali has for a long time been a journalistic obsession. My father revered him, I watched all his bouts on tape as a teenager and by the time I arrived at Oxford I threw myself into studying his wider significance. Civil rights, Vietnam, racial awakening: Ali was an animating figure throughout what David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, called the ‘sixties phantasmagoria’. I was not an uncritical fan. I recognised the contradictions. A man who preached monogamy while living a life of promiscuity; a campaigner for black rights who once shared a stage with the Klan; a man who eulogised peace but punched people for a living. His vindictive demolition of Floyd Patterson will never be forgotten by those who watched it, Ali barking “what’s my name” as each jab bored into the visage of his hopelessly outmatched opponent. I have spent much of my career trying to deconstruct his legacy, writing a column every month or two. I have long been on the verge of writing a book but have always hesitated. Despite reading every article and watching every interview, I felt as if I had never penetrated to the true Ali. Where does the man end and the myth begin? Since his retirement, Ali has been positioned as a secular saint. A man who wants “love and tolerance”. The Muhammad Ali Center in Kentucky is all about the principles of humanity, but what about the controversial, divisive figure who catapulted into the world’s consciousness in the sixties; who took on the establishment; who loved throwing bombs into polite sensibilities? The Nation, which he joined as a young man, believed that whites were “blue-eyed devils”, argued against interracial marriage and called for a separate homeland for blacks within the borders of the United States. And they were prepared to engage in armed insurrection to get it. I never got the chance to meet Ali, despite years of trying. When he came to Blackwell’s in Oxford in 1992 for a book signing, moments from my student digs, I was at an Olympic table tennis qualification tournament in Italy. When he visited the Olympic Village in Sydney in 2000, I had a match to play (I arrived back moments after he had left). Every time I have requested an interview, I have been knocked back on the grounds of Ali’s ill health. It remains one of my keenest ambitions. Yet last month I got the next best thing: I spent a revelatory, tear-filled morning with the person who has been with him for more than five decades, who has shared a bed with him for more than three of those, who has cared for him since the moment he descended into Parkinson’s and that beautiful face became a mask: Lonnie, his fourth wife. More than anyone, she knows the real Ali. They met when Lonnie was six and he was
a 22-year-old about to challenge the fearsome Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship. She lived on the opposite side of the street to Ali’s parents, in a close-knit neighbourhood of Louisville, Kentucky. Lonnie remembers the moment vividly. “There are certain things that stick in your mind. I came home and noticed my mother looking out the front door, across the street. My sister was looking out the curtains too. I asked: ‘What are you looking at?’ They said: ‘That’s Cassius Clay!’“All the boys in the neighbourhood, every last one, was in front of his mother’s house. He was sitting on the front steps, like the Pied Piper. It was like he was magnetic. He saw me from a distance and asked me to come over. I was painfully shy, but he pulled me over. I didn’t know the pictures of that meeting existed until two years ago when I caught up with the photographer. I remember exactly what he had on: bow tie, black pants, white shirt, black socks, black shoes.” Over the years, they would meet whenever Ali was back to visit his parents and their friendship blossomed. “He was like my mentor, my big brother,” she says. “He was always a big influence on my life, telling me what to aspire to, what school to go to. He was the biggest, most extraordinary human being. I remember when he brought his first wife, Sonji, to the neighbourhood, who was so much fun. A few years later, he came with Belinda, his second wife, and I couldn’t understand it at first. I didn’t understand the idea of divorce. I kept saying: ‘Where’s Sonji’? “It wasn’t until I was 17 that I had a premonition that I would marry Muhammad. Not then, not any time soon, but at some stage we would be together, and we would die together.” When Ali became ill with Parkinson’s disease, Lonnie volunteered to look after him, and when his third marriage to the model Veronica Porsche hit the rocks, they became romantically involved, marrying in 1986. Davis Miller, Ali’s biographer and one of his closest friends, who is also with us, says: “If you really want to understand Muhammad, let me tell you about a time when I went to a book signing for his friend, Howard Bingham. It was the summer of ’93, so he’d had Parkinson’s for some time. As always during a book signing, he was the last person to leave. They want him to stay two hours, he will stay for three. He kisses babies, holds children to his chest. That is his nature. “On the way back, we are driving along and he sees some homeless people on the corner. He asks Howard to pull over and starts walking along, raises his hands and says: ‘You look like Joe Frazier.’ He approaches them, with this mock serious face, and starts tossing punches. And he is hanging out, jiving, playing. You start with three people and they morph into 50, 100. Then he pulls out his wallet, and gives them his money.
‘No liquor,’ he says. ‘This is for food.’ When he runs out of money, he says to them: ‘Stay here.’ We then rode to the closest ATM so he could get more money to hand out. That is Muhammad Ali.” Lonnie smiles through tears as she listens to the story. “I have seen that a thousand times. He is so generous, so giving,” she says. “I have seen him empty his wallet for homeless people, and he didn’t have anything like as much money as people thought. A lot of people have taken advantage of him but he doesn’t mind. They sometimes say: ‘Don’t meet your heroes because you will see the blemishes.’ With Muhammad I have learnt more with every passing year about how big-hearted he is. Even today, he wants to give back.” Does he regret joining the Nation, I wonder? Was he manipulated into signing up with an extremist cult? “Oh no, he believed in the Nation and had huge respect for Elijah Muhammad [its leader],” Lonnie says. “But you have to understand the context. He went to a segregated school. His dad grew up in an even more segregated area. And then there was Emmett Till, which weighed heavily on Muhammad’s mind.” Till was a 14-yearold from Chicago who was murdered by white men for wolf-whistling at a white shop assistant while visiting an uncle in Mississippi in 1955. Ali was about the same age as Till at the time and the youngster was brought to tears when reading of how Till’s body had been mutilated, with an eye gouged from its socket. The two men charged with murder were acquitted by an all-white jury in 67 minutes. “If we hadn’t stopped to drink pop, it wouldn’t have taken that long,” one juror said. Ali wrote a school project on the subject. “Young black men were angry,” says Lonnie. “When Muhammad lived in Miami, he couldn’t stay on the beach. He had to stay in Overtown. He would run down the causeway to get to the gym... He attended his first meeting of the Nation when he was in his teens. You know, the group had nothing to do with Islam; it is more of a social philosophy. By the late seventies, he realised that their beliefs were wrong. He became a moderate, mainstream Muslim. It was no good hating. The only answer was forgiveness . . . Muhammad, like most people who go through life, has evolved.” From this perspective, the Nation of the 1960s seems less like a militant threat and more like the vigilante response of a downtrodden minority, almost like a cry for help. The Nation claimed that whites were congenitally evil, having been bred in test tubes by a malign scientist, and that blacks would be saved from the apocalypse by a wheel-shaped spaceship. This ramshackle ideology channelled and, in some grotesque sense, rationalised the anger of young men like Ali, outraged by the horrors of slavery and the indignities of Jim Crow. Perhaps, then, it is not surprising that this proud youngster didn’t
It wasn’t until I was 17 that I had a premonition that I would marry Muhammad
join the civil rights movement, which preached reconciliation. He wanted some sort of revenge or, at the very least, separation from what he saw as his oppressors. His willingness to speak at a meeting of the Klan was not out of ideological sympathy but practical reality. The Klan was one of the only other organisations that believed that blacks should live separately to whites. They reached the same conclusion from opposite ideological perspectives. How is Ali’s life today? “He does have advanced Parkinson’s disease, so he is challenged,” says Lonnie, “but he still is a positive person. We try to keep him engaged and connected to people, especially his family. The nature of the illness is that you become apathetic. The thing he loves most is watching himself on YouTube. He becomes so intense. It’s as if he hasn’t ever seen it before. He watches the Parkinson interviews. I remember in Michigan one time, he was watching himself, and said: ‘I was crazy, wasn’t I?’ I said: ‘Yes!’ He loves watching the fights with Frazier, too. He used to do these doodles of himself in a boxing ring. The only opponent he ever put in the ring with him was Frazier.” (Perhaps there is an element of guilt: Ali regularly insulted Frazier to sell their fights.) Lonnie has brought Ali to life like never before: his character, his majesty, his contradictions. I find myself more moved, and even more captivated, by this singular man, who from humble beginnings played such a crucial role
Where does the man end and the myth begin?
Gastronomy APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
The divisive incarnation of Ali in the sixties smoothed the passage of the integrationist project in shaping late twentieth-century American consciousness. I realise something else too. In 1964, a pivotal time in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King visited President Johnson and told him that if he did not end apartheid in the south, more young black people would be driven into the hands of the Nation and other extremist groups. These groups were tiny in numbers but the young Ali had given them huge prominence. Johnson got the point, strengthening the legislation against objections from within his own party. In this sense, the divisive incarnation of Ali in the sixties smoothed the passage of the integrationist project that his later self would come to fully embrace. This is, perhaps, his defining irony. What would he be doing now if he hadn’t descended into Parkinson’s? “There are many times today that I wish his voice was stronger,” says Lonnie. “The world needs him. Islam needs him. These young people, these jihadists, are so misguided. He wouldn’t have been a politician. If he was President, the White House would be open to the public and he would give everything away. But he would be doing more travelling, trying to build bridges. That ability to stand up and say things. That person is still in his belly... The tragedy is that his illness means that the world can’t see it.” I Am The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, at the O2, London, runs until August 31. aliattheo2.com
BEHIND MASK Jimmy Ellis, a country boy from Alabama, was cursed with having a voice identical to that of Elvis Presley
WORDS : ANNIE DARLING
dirt-splattered white 1962 Chevrolet stumbles down Alabama’s smouldering country roads, spewing dusty sunbaked rock in its wake. Bouncing over sizzling gravel, a then-teenage Jimmy Ellis and his cousin, Lee Jones, embark on their daily commute. The wearisome drive takes the pair 275 miles from their hometown of Orrville in Dallas County to Georgia, where they go to school. A cultural labyrinth through geographic extremes: from ‘60s small-town
America to river-bound cities of gothic plantations and hardscrabble farmland. Jones drives, while Ellis lounges coolly in the passenger seat, feet up on the dashboard. He strums his guitar and belts out gospel. Sometimes, they’d sing together. “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high”, is a regular lyric they’d cheerfully chant, “and don’t be afraid of the dark.” Alabama has music deep within its soul. It breeds music-lovers who spend their lives losing themselves in the 66
enslaving throb of country blues. Ellis was no exception. “Although we lived ten miles from each other, I used to spend the night at his house before school,” reminiscences Jones with a thick southern drawl. “When I woke up, he’d come running in with his vinyl 45 records and he’d start listening to Elvis Presley. He just loved music.” But Ellis wasn’t just a fan of Elvis; he was both blessed and cursed with having a voice identical to that of The King. “He sounded just like him,” says Jones, “and that wasn’t all he was good at.” Jones claims Ellis, as their high school’s quarterback, had some of the fastest feet in the state, as well as being an excellent baseball and basketball player. “He loved and lived life to the fullest,” he fondly recalls. “The ladies sure loved him,” he laughs. Despite his undeniable musical talent, Ellis remained in Alabama for several years after college, spending his days training Tennessee walking horses on his family’s farm, including three world grand champions. He was “caught in the middle”, explains Jones, in that he desperately “wanted to pursue a music career but felt he needed to support his family as a talented horseman and farmer.” Eventually Ellis hired a manager, choreographer and stylist to help him break into the music business, but found that his eerie resemblance to his idol made him obsolete. After all, the world already had an Elvis. “Everybody thought he didn’t have much of a chance. We all thought that he wouldn’t go too far. Where we were from – out in the country – a lot of people were trying to make it. But having said that, Jimmy was the one who had the talent. He was the one who could’ve made it.” Ellis eventually travelled to Tennessee and California. “He said those days were hard,” admits Jones. “He was now quite a bit older than most aspiring singers. He had a hard time, but music was his passion.” Although Ellis had been recording since 1964, it was only after Elvis’ death, in August 1977, that he was given any real attention. Cunning record producer Shelby Singleton – owner of Sun Records – began marketing Ellis as a mysterious singer called Orion, who wore a glittery mask and costumes that were extraordinarily similar to Elvis’. This highly contentious publicity
campaign implied to an excitable and desperate public that Orion’s mask was worn to conceal botched plastic surgery. It further suggested that Orion was, in fact, Elvis, who had faked his own death to escape the burden of international celebrity. Orion more or less spawned the Elvisis-alive fruitcake conspiracy theories that persevere to this day, while Ellis became confined to Elvis’ ghost. The recent documentary Orion: The Man Who Could Be King sheds light on how Ellis was haunted by the realisation that he would never be recognised for himself. “When Jimmy’s promoters tried to make it out like Elvis hadn’t died and that he’d come back as Orion we were shocked,” says Jones. “Jimmy had always sounded like Elvis, but we knew that he really wanted to stand on his own. The problem was his promoters wanted him to sound and sing like Elvis to encourage people to come and see him. That wasn’t what he was about. He was trapped, really.” The peculiar similarities between Elvis and Ellis didn’t stop with their distinctive voices – both had mothers named Gladys, although Ellis was put up for adoption when he was two. “When he was adopted and came to Orrville, Jimmy was six years old,” remembers Jones. Commenting on rumours that Ellis could’ve been Elvis’ younger brother and the illegitimate son of Vernon Presley, Jones insists that he “doesn’t know anything about that”. According to Orion: The Man Who Could Be King, Ellis’ birth certificate states that his father was named Vernon, but that a surname wasn’t provided. After Ellis’ career took off, he didn’t return to Alabama for several years. Swept up in the wonderfully weird whirlwind that was rock ‘n’ roll aprocrypha, Orion successfully filled stadiums throughout the world, released nine studio albums and toured Europe, including a stint in Germany with Kiss. Jones recalls a barn party that was held in Orrville for Ellis’ parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. “He was doing really well around that time and the party was on their family farm. We cooked about 250 pounds of meat for a barbeque that lasted about a day and a half,” he laughs. Several celebrities were in attendance, 68
including singer-songwriter Jerry Lee Lewis who performed for the town’s awestruck residents. “We tried our best to keep up with him,” laughs Jones, “but when he went out to California we didn’t see him a whole lot. He left the area and became Orion. Of course, we heard the Elvis rumours and all that kind of thing, but we were never really sure of anything. One thing’s for certain, he sure spent a whole lotta money to get to where he thought he wanted to be and, well… it never quite worked out.” On December 12, 1998, Ellis was murdered in his Alabama pawnshop during a robbery. He’d returned to the area after spontaneously ripping off his mask while performing as Orion in front of a sell-out audience in 1983. “He didn’t go back out to California after he’d finished with Orion, although he did sing around here for a while afterwards. Then he had this terrible
Blessed and cursed with having a voice identical to that of The King thing happen to him,” says Jones. “It was really very tragic what happened to Jimmy.” Ellis’ music was played at his funeral at which Jones was an honorary pallbearer. “He was a very talented person; very talented. He could do an awful lot of things. He was a fine horseman, an incredible sportsman and also a great welder. It just turned out that he was also a great singer.” Ellis wasn’t trying to be like Elvis. The problem was that Elvis sounded just like him. After The King’s death, an opportunity came knocking. Anyone who scrutinised Orion – as Ellis was contractually obligated to call himself – would realise he quite obviously wasn’t the late singer, but fans wanted to believe the masquerade, and Orion played sold-out shows for years. Behind the mask, Ellis longed to be himself. He even released a single titled I’m Not Trying To Be Like Elvis. His fame proved to be significant, however it was equally fleeting. Nonetheless, Jones affirms that Ellis continues to be a much-loved and well-respected figure in his community and that: “His legacy will live on a good while longer.”
APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Where No Bentley Has Gone Before With luxury, power and amazing agility on sand, is the Bentayga the first Bentley tailor-made for the Middle East? WORDS : CHRIS ANDERSON
am driving a Bentley through the desert, actually across the dunes, and I’m having to pinch myself. Like any car you might expect from the brand, this is a sophisticated, handbuilt USD250,000 machine. And yet here I am throwing it around, sending huge waves of sand into the air, then sliding up, over and down the slopes, wondering why I’m doing this to such an expensive vehicle. A representative from Bentley is with me and he doesn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, he’s pointing at the next incline, telling me to go faster. But if either I or my co-pilot has gone mad, thankfully the Bentayga is a stroke of genius. This is Bentley’s new luxury SUV, built to the same standards as any of its current fleet. Its sculpted high-strength aluminium body sports the familiar matrix grille and four floating headlights up front, while the interior is full of hand-crafted wood, metal and leather. The ride height is different to a regular Bentley, naturally, due to the intended off-road use, but a wealth of clever technology has been included to help make that feat a reality. Powering over the dunes just outside of Palm Springs, California, for the car’s official launch, the result is more than capable, handling well and inspiring confidence thanks to its allnew twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine. Packing 600hp, this 12-cylinder offering has no trouble pulling the Bentayga over even the tallest slopes, and out on the road it delivers 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 301km/h. This is a powerful vehicle, and the potential recreation use even extends to the race track. It must be the car the Middle East has been waiting for. Bentley has always had a special connection with the region, and in Dubai, for example, it has a strong and loyal following. There are currently two Bentley dealerships in the city, with the Marina branch featuring a café, while visitors to the new St. Regis Dubai hotel can stay in a Bentley-themed suite, with leather,
wood and other touches inspired by the luxurious Mulsanne. A new flagship store is planned for the near future, making it no surprise that Bentley recently named the Middle East as one of its four key markets, up there with China, Europe and America. With that it mind, venturing into the SUV market becomes a logical next step rather than a risky proposition. If the Bentley name is faring well in the Middle East, then a car that handles its deserts just as well as the roads is bound to be a top seller. Clearly, it has to be a SUV that lives up to the brand’s values, and that means something very different to those currently traversing the dunes at weekends. To make it easy to get the most from it, four driving modes are included as standard: Sport, Comfort, Bentley (a balance between Sport and Comfort) and Custom, where owners can adjust and create their own settings, tweaking the suspension accordingly. Middle East drivers will most likely request their models with the All Terrain package, as this adds Snow & Grass, Dirt & Gravel, Mud & Trail, and Sand Dunes. The model I am driving has this, and the adjustments from road to sand are made easily at the turn of a switch. All Terrain also increases the underbody protection and adds topview cameras, showing more of your surrounds on the in-dash screen. While the outside may be about conquering rough terrain, inside the Bentayga is all comfort. There is a long list of interior trim and colour options, with other packages available to add even more technology, depending on personal preference. Go for the lot, with a head-up display, lane assist or traffic sign recognition, and you won’t have much to think about or distract you at all, leaving you to concentrate on the fun stuff. Navigation, a 60GB-hard drive for music and front seats with 22 points of adjustment, heating and six massage settings, are enough to make passengers in the back jealous, but the Rear Seat Entertainment package 72
The Bentayga impresses from both a driving and aesthetic viewpoint
will stop that. This adds removable 10.2 inch Android tablets to the front headrests, linked to 4G Wi-Fi, and with the flip-down tray tables gives an inflight feel. Three levels of sound system can be requested too, with the Naim package being the most impressive, featuring 18 speakers and a 1,800W amplifier. The options list continues with 17 exterior colours, a choice of 20, 21 and 22 inch wheels, and an opportunity for owners to really indulge, purchasing a Breitling Mulliner Tourbillon dashboard clock in place of the standard version. Costing USD160,000, carved from a single piece of solid rose or white gold and encrusted with diamonds, you can also purchase the matching wristwatch at USD175,000. A USD250,000 car by itself needs something extra, of course. A three-piece Mulliner hamper set, comprising three separate compartments â€“ with a fridge, a Linley fine china and cutlery set, plus a storage area for dry goods â€“ is another way to make the Bentayga stand out. Or opt for the Mulliner styling package, with diamond-quilted seats and doors, extra seat embroidery and a custom filler cap. It is an impressive offering, both from a driving and aesthetic viewpoint, and seems perfectly competent whatever the terrain. Before driving on sand, I tested the Bentayga on a dirt bike track, and was amazed at the control it demonstrated when pointing straight down on steep inclines. The deserts of Dubai could be explored in the morning, followed by the mountains of Fujairah in the afternoon. While the appeal for the Middle East is clear, Bentley is remaining cautious, building just 5,000 Bentaygas in total this year. It says there will be a smaller V8-engined model, plus a diesel and a hybrid at some point, and how many of those end up in the Middle East will be anyoneâ€™s guess. But the potential is there to make it a large number. This region is a unique hotspot for Bentley sales and fandom, and thanks to the Bentayga, long will it continue.
APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
The Fair Lady of Florence Self-taught triple-Michelin star winner Annie Féolde is a legend in gastronomy circles; it’s high-time her culinary expertise made its mark on the UAE
WORDS :CHRIS UJMA
must also try to improve, change, and keep in step with the times.” Which is apt, because with the the opening of her UAE-based venture The Artisan at Burj Daman, there was a cultural gap to bridge. The approach back in Italy at the pioneering ‘EP’ eatery is, “what is luxury, if not a feeling of being received, accompanied and served like royalty?” The Artisan heralds a paradigm shift, not in terms of the quality of fare and service excellence – which are elements that will never be compromised – but in the move away from ultra fine dining, in order to smooth into the Dubai cuisine scene (they tactfully describe it as ‘an invitation to break free from the usual fine dining experience’). Refined-casual is definitely achieved here: the 120-seat restaurant is welcoming and elegantly-designed, with a painstakingly-produced and perfect Murano glass-feature taking centre-stage, soft blue chairs that urge you to sink into them, and the presence of Italian craftsmanship abounds. Marble accents, imported cutlery and crockery; Flos, for example, is entrusted with illuminating the ambient and utterly relaxing dining space. Inviting hues help strike a chord of comfort and welcome. Annie admits, “Fine dining is a little bit out of fashion, as patrons want to be more relaxed, and people frequent restaurants so many times that we cannot present a very sophisticated environment which feels like a museum, especially in Dubai. It doesn’t upset me, I think it is important to seize the moment, and here we can provide simple dining with amazing ingredients.” Signature dishes at the restaurant will change with the seasons, as all produce and ingredients will be imported from Italy itself. The restaurant will have its own brand of Parmesan and olive oil, for example. “I would only open this restaurant once I was sure I could 76
Food photography: studioquagli.com
n 1993, Annie Feolde was, definitely, the first woman outside her native France to possess the coveted triple-Michelin crown. And she was, perhaps, the only winner who was taken by surprise when awarded the first of those stars. For hers is a story of absolute humility; of success not necessarily by design, but borne of passion for a craft; so it stands that she must have been proud to receive the accolade? “We were very happy but no, not proud, you must never be proud… you are never good enough to be proud” she gently scolds, while giving a vigorous stir to her piping hot cup of espresso (with a touch of water). The foundation of her success lies within the Florence-based restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri. It is an establishment that started, back in 1970, with her ambitious husband, Giorgio Pinchiorri, tantalising local tastebuds with a sensational cellar-full of enviable grape-vintages, (served, unlike anywhere else at that time, by the glass). Annie’s impact was to enrich the complex arrangement by creating hors d’oeuvres to accompany the tasting sessions. “We didn’t mean to have a restaurant – when we eventually began making food I started my cooking in the corridor, and didn’t have any space. At first, when we opened, it was only to serve glasses of grape, which was a very interesting, unusual and new venture, and people would get excited about tasting such wonderful drinks. But I realised the scene wasn’t complete. The addition of food was important because the marriage of cuisine and grape is delicate, and nearly impossible to explain. So, no, I didn’t go seeking the Michelin rating, I was simply looking to complement the tasting experience in our restaurant.” Her oft-quoted thought is, “We must always remember the culture of the place in which we find ourselves, because that’s our identity. But we
Soft blue chairs urge you to sink into them, and the presence of Italian craftsmanship abounds
get the right produce, and you can get everything here [in Dubai]; visiting our luxury produce supplier, I was actually a little bit jealous, because the things you can get here are incredible,” she enthuses. On-opening, purveyors of gourmet can look forward to a line-up that includes Tuffoli con ragu di ossobuco di vitello (Tuffoli pasta with cross-cut veal shank ragout and parmesan fondue), Linguine alle vongole veraci e pane alla bottarga (linguini with clams, breadcrumbs and cured Sardinian grey mullet roe), and Scottadito di agnello marinate (in Italian the word scottadito means burned fingers, and this dish is sonamed because the lamb chops are so delicious that you can’t resist eating them sizzling hot). She shares, “The blueprint is simple: I just want to make people who may never have experienced the finest examples of Italian cooking to fall in love with this simple, natural fare.” Also tasteworthy is the line-up of wildly-creative artisanal beverages, which are worth ordering if only for the vessels they are served in. For example, the refreshing Japanito is poured from an oriental teapot, the sweet French Mule fills a mason jar, the flavours of Polynesian echo inside a pearl shell, and aromatic Ionicis raises a smile in its clever Chinese-takeway inspired container. Heading the kitchen on these shores is her trusted protégé, Luca Tresoldi, who has worked as Head Chef back in Florence for five years. Pre-opening, the restaurant was a hive of activity, with cameos from characters that keep the homes fires burning and the standards high: when we visited, ‘fiery, Milanese and passionate’ chef Riccardo Monco is on-site alongside Luca, while master sommelier and Cellar Director Ivano Boso is deep in thought over complex vintages and pairings, until signora Feolde sweeps into the room and greets those under her charge like close friends, her smile and warmth readily reciprocated. At this establishment there are echoes of Florence, not only in the design and cuisine, but through the creative input that drives the Enoteca Pinchiorri experience. Describing the collective minds behind The Artisan as ‘like a family’ is certainly no cliché, and now you needn’t travel all the way to Italy to be welcomed into the fold.
Travel APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
3 journeys by jet
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
ambodia’s beautiful islands remain relatively untouched, the white sands which fringe virgin rainforests and give way to tropical reefs, glistening jewel-like from where they lay dotted throughout the Gulf of Thailand, awaiting discovery. It was to one such paradise that Australian couple Rory and Melita Hunter came to realise their ambition of creating a sustainable sanctuary of uncompromising luxury, a pair of sideby-side islands known locally as Song Saa – the sweethearts. Four years on from its opening, Song Saa Private Island has ensured that Cambodia’s name resonates with travellers who pine for privacy in surrounds lovingly touched by Mother Nature. Guests here will still be among the first to experience this untouched, unhurried world. Comprising 27 villas in total, each with a private pool, you can choose a jungle, beach or ocean setting for your stay, with the pick of the secluded
dwellings being the two-bed Royal Villa – it has its own private jetty for your speedboat arrival and departure, and welcomes the resort’s chefs and spa therapists to tend to your needs in-villa. It would, however, be remiss not to venture out to sample the divine dishes (fashioned from locally-sourced produce which includes just-caught fish) at Vista Restaurant & Lounge Bar, spectacularly positioned over the ocean to take in dramatic sunsets, seascapes and starry nights. Then there’s the option of kayaking through fresh-water estuaries, hiking through virgin rainforest, or snorkeling with the resort’s marine biologists. Paradise, most definitely, found. Access by jet sees you land at Sihanoukville, from where you’ll take a 30-minute speedboat transfer onto Song Saa Private Island. Alternatively, you can land your jet at Phnom Penh, and take a 90-minute helicopter transfer to Sihanoukville, before boarding the speedboat.
What I Know Now
APRIL 2016 : ISSUE 59
Lita Cabellut artist
was born in Barcelona in 1961, but I first got engaged to art at the age of 12. Why? I visited the beautiful Prado Museum. Seeing the majesty of Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez and Hieronymus Bosch up close, I immediately knew that I would become a painter. My adoptive family nurtured in me an essential belief that I had felt growing up as a street child in Barcelona: the recognition of the power of art, as the power of living. By 19, I had left Spain to study at the Rietveld Academy in the Netherlands,
because I felt there was a ‘special light’ in Holland, and I have lived and worked in the Netherlands ever since. The place, its people, and its culture helped me develop my own artistic language, and my signature technique (a frescolike craquelé surface) was inspired by the notion that the soul of the artist lies in the materials with which they work. I showed my series Color of Dew in Dubai, and it is an important collection because it shows something I have learnt over time which carries the paintings: the balance between the 80
fragility and colourfulness of Nature, and the strength and determination of life. You can learn so much about life from art; I think every viewer should feel compelled to surrender and study the skin, the pores and the soul of the piece in front of them. In my own work there is a constant, intense tension between society and the individual, in relation to life itself. Over time, I have recognised a deep and sincere love for the human being, embracing all of its aspects, be it bright or dark.
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