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FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
FEATURES Thirty Eight
Anya Taylor-Joy on the personal cost of journeying through twenty four characters since her breakout role.
Jane McFarland heads to Milan for a rare audience with true fashion royalty - ‘King’ Giorgio Armani.
From a Kenyan refugee camp to walking for fashion giants, meet Adut Akech, the new queen of the catwalk.
His private life never veered from scandalous and the studios hated him, but was everyone wrong about Brando?
Credit: The Taste Wall at Alchemist @ Søren Gammelmark
FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Critique Twenty Eight
Timepieces Thirty Two
Objects of Desire
EDITORIAL Chief Creative Officer
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Chris Anderson, Lara Brunt, Sophia Dyer, Ronak Sagar
Journeys by Jet
ART Art Director
What I Know Now
Hiral Kapadia Illustration
COMMERCIAL Managing Director
Victoria Thatcher General Manager
David Wade Sixty Six
Gastronomy Lara Brunt meets Rasmus Munk, the chef whose extraordinary Copenhagen restaurant has a waiting list of 20,000 – and counting.
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Empire Aviation Group FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Welcome to the aviation lifestyle magazine for our aircraft owners and charter clients. For over a decade, Empire Aviation has been providing a comprehensive range of turnkey business aviation services to aircraft owners and charter clients. Our award-winning services offer customers a personalised one-stop-shop approach for aircraft sales, aircraft management, charter and CAMO (Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization) certification, which is a central part of aircraft management and is now a stand-alone service we provide to aircraft owners and other operators. We offer operational support to customers across the globe, from North America to Europe, Asia and Africa. Our aircraft registries include our home country of the United Arab Emirates, as well as San Marino – enabling global charter operations - and a NonScheduled Operator’s Permit (NSOP) in India permitting our affiliate partner to provide its aviation management support to private aircraft.
ISSUE ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE
Empire’s team of over 150 highly qualified personnel is responsible for handling a myriad of services including the hiring and training of flight crew, flight planning, scheduling maintenance, fuelling, arranging commercial charters and many other details. We also have a dedicated team of aircraft sales specialists continually monitoring global markets for available aircraft to source for buyers of new or pre-owned aircraft. We would like to take this opportunity to share in detail some of the services that we provide at Empire Aviation and the work we do to ensure we maintain the highest levels of safety, security and care at all times.
Paras P. Dhamecha Managing Director
Contact Details: Cover: Giorgio Armani Andrea Blanch/Getty Images
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Empire Aviation Group FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
EMPIRE AVIATION GROUP As a global private aviation specialist, Empire Aviation provides aircraft sales, management, charter and CAMO services to owners and clients around the world, with a distinctive personalised style. Since 2007, we have expanded our operations and grown our business through tailored services delivered across the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. We have experience working with owners across a wide range of aircraft types, from seaplanes to air ambulances, helicopters to super-sized business jets. Today, the company manages a large fleet of business jets that includes a balanced mix of mid-sized to super-sized aircraft, based in several international locations. In a highly regulated and technically demanding industry, you can only be as good as your people and Empire is highly selective in building teams of exceptionally talented, experienced and qualified aviation professionals. EMPIRE AVIATION SERVICES Private aviation is all about people and our success has always been based on our personalised service ethos of transparency, efficiency, professionalism and pride in our work. The Empire team comprises more than 150 highly qualified personnel with extensive aviation experience, who ensure that every aspect of your flying experience caters to your needs â€“ whether you are an owner or charter client.
Management Empire Aviation has been managing aircraft on behalf of owners since 2007, inducting over 70 aircraft into the fleet, based across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. These include a diverse selection of business jets from most of the leading aircraft manufacturers, including helicopters, seaplanes, air ambulances and super-sized corporate jets. We can
provide customers with flexible options when deciding where to base their aircraft, with a choice of three aircraft registries in the UAE, San Marino and India. Our successful aircraft ownermanager service has been built on close personal working relationships with owners to develop a high degree of personal trust, openness and transparency. We build this trust and manage expectations by looking after every operational and maintenance detail of their aircraft, from nose-to-tail. This includes the negotiation of all contract services with supplier companies and tracking all costs to ensure our owners are receiving the best deals with open books at all times. Aircraft Brokerage At Empire Aviation, we understand that buying a new or pre-owned private jet is a significant financial investment for an individual or company, and it is vital to make the right decisions and select the right aircraft.
Empire Aviation Group FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
on-board from our ‘silver service’ trained cabin crew and enjoy the freedom, convenience, security and privacy of private air travel.
We have been advising aircraft buyers and sellers since 2007 and the team has sold and acquired various types of aircraft across the globe. Our solid reputation is based on the expertise of our team of seasoned industry specialists with over 80 years of combined aircraft sales experience. Our international research and sales support team co-ordinate the process with specific local market knowledge, with the added benefit of our geographic presence, enabling us to deliver a seamless and personalised sales experience to our customers, based on particular sales briefs and objectives. Aircraft Charter In the business world, when you absolutely need to be at that international meeting in a remote location at very short notice, or you have a complex itinerary with tight deadlines, there is only one way to guarantee it – business jet charter. At Empire, we understand this and operate one of the largest and most diverse fleets of business jets in the region with a range of different 12
aircraft types that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our charters are not just available to business travellers but also offer an enjoyable and stress-free travel option for leisure travellers. A charter flight can offer an unforgettable start or end to a travel itinerary and will get you as close as possible to your final destination – whether it’s a remote Indian Ocean island, a difficult to access Alpine resort airstrip, or a city centre airport with demanding flying restrictions. Whether you need a private charter for business or leisure, contact the Empire Aviation team today for a unique travel experience with first-class personal attention
CAMO Empire Aviation offers world-class CAMO services to aircraft owners and also third parties on CAMO only contracts. Our Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) certification is a central part of aircraft management. Under CAMO, we take responsibility for the quality management, auditing and all the maintenance records of an aircraft. This is a vital component in ensuring the safe operation and the long-term value of aircraft. Empire Aviation provides a onestop service for individuals and companies who need and value the benefits of private aviation and the assurance that they can enjoy these efficiently, safely and economically.
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The Art Of Gifting
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The world lost one of its truly iconic photographers when Peter Lindbergh passed last year, leaving behind a body of work that captures perfectly the power of black and white portrait photography. DIOR by Peter Lindbergh, the last book project he worked on, is an homage to his career partnership with the brand, showcasing shoots, never-seen-before images, and the spectacular results of his most daring of ideas: capturing 70 years of Dior haute couture creations against the backdrop of everyday Manhattan, for which Dior allowed an unprecedented number of its most iconic garments to travel across the Atlantic. DIOR by Peter Lindbergh, published by TASCHEN
Image: Linda Evangelista, Paris, 1993, Harper’s Bazaar, October 1993. Mirror dress and hat Autumn-Winter 1993, Haute Couture collection, Dior by Gianfranco Ferré Makeup artist: François Nars Hairstylist: Odile Gilbert
FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Critique FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Film The Gentlemen Directed by Guy Ritchie After building an illegal business empire in London, Mickey Pearson faces schemes, bribery and blackmail when he decides to get out of the game by selling off his operation. AT BEST: ‘The film is a triumphant return to home base for Ritchie... It’s his wit which energises the film and shapes the characters – with a lot of help from his actors.’ – Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald AT WORST: ‘It’s very clear that there are heroes and villains in this story, and the heroes are the white gangsters.’ – Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies
Troop Zero Directed by Bert & Bertie
Christmas Flint creates a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts in order to win a competition to send a message on NASA’s Golden Record into outer space. AT BEST: ‘Troop Zero goes down easy like the best cinematic comfort food.’ – Nick Allen, rogerebert.com AT WORST: ‘Suffocatingly twee, designed to be a cute and warm hug of both empowerment and acceptance, and for many, it’ll succeed at doing just that.’ – Nick Johnston, Vanyaland
Weathering With You Directed by Makoto Shinkai
AT BEST: ‘As irresistibly romantic as it is awe-inspiringly gorgeous.’ – Carlos Agullar, The Wrap AT WORST: ‘Once again, Shinkai takes sure aim at the teenage market and its taste for romance and magical realism’. – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
The Traitor Directed by Marco Bellocchio Based on a true story, Marco Bellocchio’s mafia drama re-creates the story of how Tommaso Buscetta, the highest-ranking mafia don, turned into an informer for the authorities. AT BEST: ‘The Traitor is big, bold, confident film-making.’ – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian AT WORST: ‘There’s just no real perspective on Buscetta, which separates this brisk but uninvolving history lesson from the truly great mob movies’ – A.A. Dowd, AV Club 16
Image Credits, from top to bottom: Christopher Raphael, Amazon Studios, Sony Picture Classics
After running away to Tokyo as a high school freshman, Hodaka befriends a girl who appears to have the ability to control the weather.
Critique FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Jagged Little Pill @ Darrett Sanders
iss Americas Ugly Daughter (running until March 1 at Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater in New York) is based on the true story of an ugly duckling growing up in the shadow of her marvellous mother, and it has the critics delighted. “Grant’s soliloquy is spellbinding, gossipy, heartbreaking yet always truly entertaining. She may have lost her self-esteem under the circumstances but not her sense of humor,” says Ingrid Wilmot of willcall.org Iris Mann of Stage Raw says, “The humour is strengthened by its foundation of genuine pain and angst. Grant’s air of vulnerability, her sense of having been through the fire, draws the audience into her journey. Always in command, she drops comedic gems in a deadpan manner; avoiding an obvious play for laughs, she relives painful moments in a conversational style and without any self-pity – making those moments all the more potent.” Playing at Trafalgar Square Studios, London, until February 29, A Taste of Honey has the critics pondering. “The scenes with Helen and Jo’s suitors are
the least convincing, but that’s perhaps how it should be. This is a play that yearns for love but rarely finds it”, says Miriam Gillinson of The Guardian. “When Jo (an amazingly mercurial Gemma Dobson) flirts with her young sailor (Durone Stokes), their conversation sounds stilted… But then Stokes sings and the scene transforms. Jo glides through the air on a swing, set against an orange glowing sky, and the young couple’s love – which Jo knows will not last – momentarily convinces us all. Rosemary Waugh of TimeOut London writes, “It would be tempting to play the at-each-others-throats relationship as a drawn-out screaming match. Yet the convincing thing about this bullying and neglectful, but also co-dependent, setup is how well-worn the insults seem. A lot of the sadness of the play comes from the suggestion of being trapped in cycles of repeated mistakes, poverty, and toxic relationships.” Jagged Little Pill is a rock musical running on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre until July 5. Of it, Marilyn Stasio of Variety writes, “What makes this musical so seriously smart is the way
that some of the most beloved songs from Morissette’s iconic album come right out of the dramatic content, rather than being slapped on top of a wobbly book scene. Ironic, for one clever example, becomes a poem that Frankie is unsuccessfully trying to read out loud in class, hooted down by classmates who point out that the examples she uses in her poem are not, in fact, ironic.” Jerry Portwood of Rolling Stone shares his opinion on the album-turnedmusical, “It’s like a spoiled teenager you want to throttle for being so selfinvolved and whiny but can’t quite reject because of its enthusiastic beauty and unspoiled passion. As its name has always so annoyingly suggested, Jagged Little Pill is that essential bitter medicine that – despite our jaded impulses – must be swallowed and enjoyed so we can be cured.” “The musical never really settles down to a central subject or a main character, but under Diane Paulus’s vigorous, unsubtle direction it happens so fast and for the most part so fluidly that it hardly matters,” says Alexis Soloski of The Guardian.
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Critique FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
iley Reid’s coming-of-age fiction, Such A Fun Age, has collected a mix of different reactions from critics. “This is a book that will read, I suspect, quite differently to various audiences – funny to some, deeply uncomfortable and shamefully recognizable to others – but whatever the experience, I urge you to read it,” says Ilana Masad of NPR. “Let its empathic approach to even the ickiest characters stir you, allow yourself to share Emira’s millennial anxieties about adulting, take joy in the innocence of Briar’s still-unmarred personhood, and rejoice that Kiley Reid is only just getting started.” However, Lauren Christensen of The New York Times Book Review has a different opinion. “Many lapses in credibility that beleaguer Reid’s plot ... an interracial love triangle whose convoluted dynamic lets some of the steam out of its worthy message… Overall, the characters’ melodrama is unwarranted.” “Electric”, heralds Nina Maclaughlin of The Boston Globe in her review of Normal People by Sally Rooney, “Rooney’s control keeps [the book] from turning down worn roads... With 20
intelligence and heat, Rooney reveals the myth of normal people: there’s no such thing. She shows us how strange we are, how isolated, how confused, how alone with our wounds and pain, and how it’s this that joins us, makes us normal. And what a rare, beautiful thing to find someone who can, even just for moments, make us feel safe in our strangeness, and less alone.” Maureen Corrigan of NPR is simply impressed by the writing, “The great poignancy of reading Normal People derives from being totally swept along by the force of Marianne’s and Connell’s psychological insights into each other or events, and then witnessing how the solid certainty of those insights dissolves. Sally Rooney could write a novel about bathmats and I’d still read it. She’s that good and that singular a writer.” “This is a beautiful novel with a deep and satisfying intelligence at its heart. In the end, a little like Rooney’s first book, it’s a sympathetic yet pithy examination of the myriad ways in which men and women try – and all too often fail – to understand each other”, writes Julie Myerson of The Guardian. Barbara Hoffert of Library
Journal says that Dear Edward by Ann Napolatino is, in a word, “Penetrating. Edward does go forward, in illuminating if unexpected ways. But what makes this narrative so effective is its alternating between the ordinary events unfolding on the flight and the aftermath of the crash, which keeps the sense of loss and the significance of what has happened fresh in readers’ mind.” “There’s something brutal about killing a planeload of people and then introducing a handful of them and killing them all over again. But the cruelty of this aspect of the novel’s structure is countered by the astonishing tenderness of other sections”, writes Ron Charles of The Washington Post. Marylin Dahl of Shelf Awareness shares her insights in her review, “Napolitano poignantly explores a child coming of age in the aftermath of tragedy and trauma ... Edward’s father used mathematics to ‘tie together pieces of the universe’; Ann Napolitano uses words to do the same in Dear Edward – a dazzling, tender novel about sorrow and despair, resilience and great love.”
Credit: Penguin Random House
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D E S E RT R E S O RT & S P A - D U B A I
Critique FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Image:NG626, Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Young Man probably about 1480-5, Tempera and oil on wood 37.5 x 28.3 cm © The National Gallery, London
pen at London’s National Gallery until March 1, Young Bomberg and the Old Masters has collected favourable reviews from critics. “Besides the Botticelli portrait and a painting attributed to the Studio of El Greco, the ‘Old Masters’ in this exhibition are strangely absent. By foregrounding Bomberg, the show highlights the young artist’s great achievement,” writes Adam Heardman for Frieze. “This free exhibition at the National Gallery shows how this radical, 22
visceral (and often sorely underrated) artist was influenced by the bigname ‘greats’ of art history”, reviews Rosemary Waugh for TimeOut London. “It’s a convincing argument and one that could underpin a full-scale exhibition, as the accompanying catalogue, which goes beyond what’s on the walls here, suggests.” Troy: Myth and Reality, exhibiting at the British Museum until March 8, aims to tell the journey of the ancient city. TimeOut London compares the story of Troy with the modern world.
“Troy is a myth that won’t die. It has persisted for 3,000 years because its lessons are never learnt. Humanity is still vain, jealous, deceitful, angry and endlessly willing to wage war. All the lives lost – for nothing – in the story of Troy have taught us naff-all. Lives are still being lost – for nothing – today. This beautiful exhibition shows us that Troy is a warning, just one that nobody is willing to listen to.” In contrast, Kristine Foster of Culture Whisper was left a little disappointed, “Although the exhibition’s title promises to give equal weight to both ‘myth’ and ‘reality’, there is only a brief pause from the fictive to ponder Troy as a real place… Apart from some curious jars shaped like owls and hedgehogs, these archaeological finds pale in comparison to the art inspired by the myths. Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company (at The Wallace Collection, London, until April 19), honours historically overlooked artists. “This gorgeous show brings together botanical, portrait and everyday scene paintings commissioned by wealthy European patrons. And if nothing else, you have to admit they had taste,” writes Eddy Frankel for TimeOut London. “It’s that insight into the being of nature that makes these artists so arresting. They go beyond all anthropomorphism in their appetite for wondrous life. A painter whose name has not yet been found portrays a river fish from Bengal as a pewtercoloured, leaf-shaped ovoid with its eyes and mouth twisted around its flattened form. It’s not like us, but it is as interesting as us”, writes Jonathan Jones in his review for The Guardian. Meanwhile, Melanie McDonagh of London Evening Standard was fascinated by the artworks, “The botanical paintings – a tiny sample of the enormous archives in places like Kew – are minutely detailed, often spectacular, combining with the close observation of a botanical drawing a keen sense of ornament and symmetry.”
We Are The Robots
Photographers Marc Ninghetto and Rafi Kabbas have teamed up to bring Japanese manga robot Grendizer to life in the UAE through a fusion of skills that captures the imagination WORDS BY: MELANIE SWAN ADDITIONAL WORDS: FAYE BARTLE
ike many youngsters around the world, Marc Ninghetto grew up in his native Switzerland fascinated by robots and science fiction. Enthralled by the Terminator films and Transformers, it seems inevitable that these early influences would find their way into Ninghetto’s future work as an acclaimed art photographer, yet it has been decades in the making. A student of the Vevey School of Photography in 1995, Ninghetto worked in Paris as first assistant to Dominique Issermann before returning to Geneva to start his own photography and graphic design agency, La Fabrique. It’s there that he carved a niche for himself in haute horlogerie and art photography. All the while, however, Ninghetto was also channelling his energy into his personal artworks, drawing upon his trademark ‘digital sampling’ technique – capturing images of three-dimensional models and expertly incorporating them onto landscape and background photographs – for a surreal effect. Working on a photo series that championed his childhood heroes was always on the mind, but the opportunity didn’t present itself until 2012, when M.A.D.Gallery got in touch for a bespoke commission. The result was a powerful photography series entitled ‘The Solitude of a Machine’, which pays homage to the iconic Japanese manga robot Grendizer – part of the Mazinger series and a character that holds a special place in the hearts of many comics fans who grew up in the Middle East in the 80s. Created by Japanese manga artist Go Nagai in 1975, the adventures 24
of the golden-horned robot were broadcast on television screens across the region. Dubbed in Arabic, the mighty protagonist’s larger than life adventures offered children an exciting escape from the real world. Today, the third edition of the series is on display at the MB&F M.A.D.Gallery at The Dubai Mall until April 2020 – and it’s expected to be a sell-out. For this latest instalment, Ninghetto looked to the UAE for inspiration for bringing his heavy metal muse to life. Indeed, with its distinctive skyline, majestic desert and futuristic architecture, the Emirates seemed a natural home for the science-fiction superhero. For help bringing the vision to fruition, he enlisted the services of UAE-based Syrian landscape photographer Rafi Kabbas, marking the
Art & Design FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
These pages, clockwise from above: The Beast; The Edges Of The Abyss; The Spy Who Came From Vega 25
AIR Above: The Awakening Of Volcanoes Right: The Burning Lake Opposite: The Invincible Of The Cosmos 26
first time Ninghetto has collaborated with a fellow photographer. “The concept of working with someone local was interesting,” Ninghetto explains. “I could have come to do the pictures myself but I thought it was better to work with someone who knows the city and has a local eye.” Thanks to Kabbas’s magical way with landscapes, the partnership flourished with the creative duo producing eight awe-inspiring large-format prints that juxtapose Grendizer with compelling locations in the Emirates. Drawing upon his digital sampling technique, Ninghetto places Grendizer in the real world. Through the skilful use of shadow and light, the robot either dominates the scene or appears more subtly for a visual feast that leaves a lasting impact. The series took two months to create, requiring a constant dialogue between the two artists. “The process was interesting,” admits Ninghetto. “We hadn’t met before and it was really difficult in the beginning to let go of the control. I didn’t want to drive it that much but, ultimately, I wanted the pictures to be the way they were in my mind. In the creative field it’s hard to let someone outside in, so you need to have a lot of psychological change. For Kabbas it was difficult too. He was out of his comfort zone, so it was a thought-provoking experience.” “Working with Marc was truly a great opportunity and privilege yet, as my first collaboration, it was also a challenge,” adds Kabbas. “After seeing Marc’s previous masterpieces, however, I was excited and motivated to start working on the project. The final artworks are very unique and innovative – I love them all as each piece offers a different idea, perspective and feeling. They are all special and memorable in their own way.” The creative process starts from an empty page. “I would begin with the landscapes, and then start to fill the spaces,” reveals Ninghetto. “I knew I had to have the two aspects of Dubai; busy full spaces to reflect the city and the empty landscapes of the desert. It’s a really nice mix.” Although in Switzerland his audience is traditionally male, the way he blends the romantic soft sands with the eerie portraiture of his robotic
People feel they can relate to the character, who has become very emblematic. It takes them back
star, or the iconic architecture with the statuesque robot’s presence, makes his concept speak to all. “People feel they can relate to the character, who has become very emblematic,” he says. “I think the exhibition is very appealing for people in their 40s and 50s who saw the likes of Terminator come to life. It takes them back to their childhood. For the younger generation, Grendizer is very simple compared to the robots of now. Personally, I feel very connected to the character. The oldschool robots are much more human than the very advanced robots of today. It made it very easy for me to shoot this with a human feeling.” M.A.D.Gallery could not be a more fitting home for the works. Founded by Maximilian Busser, also the founder of watch brand MB&F, the gallery has played host to Ninghetto’s exhibitions since it opened in 2016. He is also a regular at the gallery’s other three branches in Taipei, Geneva and Hong Kong. Now prolifically creating an increasing
number of personal projects compared to the fashion and jewellery endeavours of his former years, Ninghetto has had over 15 exhibitions around the world in just as many years. Of the latest series, his favourite work is the aerial shot of the sandy desert highway, an evocative scene which embodies the essence of the city emerging from the sand. “It’s really soft, smooth and peaceful,” he says. “I’m also especially drawn to the image of the skyline by night. It’s so Dubai. For those who don’t live there, it feels symbolic of the place.” And while the series posed a fresh creative challenge, Ninghetto would do it all again in a heartbeat. “It’s a very interesting way to work,” he says. “As artists, we like to do everything ourselves, but this new way of working was a great success and I’m really pleased with the outcome,” he says. “We’re capturing a side of Dubai in a way that has not been done before.” The Solitude of a Machine III Grendizer photography series is on display at the MB&F M.A.D.Gallery, The Dubai Mall until April. 27
Timepieces FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Nick Watkins meets Pascal Raffy, the man whose lifelong fascination with luxury timepieces brought the historic House of Bovet roaring into modern times
WORDS: NICK WATKINS
o the untrained eye, a timepiece tells the time. To the trained eye, it tells a story. Look closely and you’ll see the tens of hours of careful precision that have gone into creating a unique work of art. You’ll notice the intricate designs created with the steadiest of steady hands, designs that can’t ever be replicated exactly. It’s the design of a timepiece that catches the eye and attracts you to it. It’s the design that makes you want to put it on your wrist, to buy it, to add it to your collection. Usually, anyway. On occasion, the mere touch of the material can say more than the design ever will. The feel of the quality was enough to convince Pascal Raffy to dedicate the current chapter of his life to timepieces. Having left his successful pharmaceutical business to take time out to be with his family, an opportunity arose for Raffy to invest and restore the grandeur to Bovet, founded in 1822. His passion for haute horlogerie developed in childhood, thanks to weekends spent with his grandfather, a watch connoisseur who was eager to
share his passion for timepieces with his grandson. “Watchmaking, for me, is a childhood experience, that began at thirteen years old,” Raffy says with a smile. “Thanks to my grandfather I have been involved in understanding, being educated, learning what makes a beautiful timepiece. Not only the mechanics, the way you dress it, every single component has to be finished by hand – both sides, not only the one the collector is going to see.” Sitting in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai’s International Financial Centre (DIFC), Raffy fondly recalls the day he fell in love with Bovet, just by touch. “One day a friend was in my house, and he brought a Bovet timepiece and at that time some watchmaking houses were seeking investors. He asked me if he could take a few timepieces from my collection, which he did, and he covered them and asked me to guess which timepiece was from which brand. So, I did and when I discovered the uniqueness of the design, the beauty of the dial, it was not a complicated timepiece, but beautifully executed – I fell in love with the House of Bovet. That was the beginning of my journey.” It was in 2001 when Mr. Raffy officially became the owner of the company and set out his vision, which has since seen it win over thirty awards worldwide. It’s said that a life lived without passion isn’t a life lived at all, when Raffy speaks about his timepieces the one thing you hear above all, is passion.
The kind of passion you need in life to succeed. When passion and quality are mixed, the results can be amazing – yet one mustn’t get carried away. Raffy insists Bovet assembles a maximum of 1,000 pieces a year, “The House of Bovet is about quality, not quantity,” he says firmly. “We made the decision to limit our production because it’s impossible to express this quality of watchmaking for more pieces. I don’t want to have a collectivity of 300 artisans, I rather prefer to take care of all my artisans personally.” In-house, Bovet has 70 artisans, including some of the world’s finest watchmakers. When you produce a timepiece of the highest quality, often the challenge for watchmakers is coming up with a movement even more special the next time around. This is something carefully considered by Raffy as he explains that all of Bovet’s timepieces are unique by way of definition. They include the spectacular Virtuoso V, complete with a brand-new face. First introduced in 2015, the new look improves the readability of the hour and minute displays thanks to its elegant blue lacquered guilloché. It contrasts subtly with the rest of the surface, which is entirely hand-engraved with the emblematic “Fleurisanne” motif that has symbolised the true supremacy of Bovet’s craftsmen in terms of decorative arts for almost two centuries. Opening pages, from left to right: The Virtuoso V; Bovet owner Pascal Raffy These pages, clockwise from left: The Virtuoso V as a free-standing table clock; one of Bovet’s carefully handpainted dials; the Récital 29
Sometimes I’ll be in front of a window and will choose a timepiece to buy and add it to my collection because it deserves respect Raffy gives me a personal demonstration of the uniqueness of the design, which is fitted with the patented Amadeo convertible case, allowing it to be transformed into a reversible wristwatch, a table clock, or a pocket watch, without the need for a single tool. In seconds, the watch has gone from the wrist to a free-standing table clock right before my eyes. “Sustainability is the most important thing in the collections that I cherish,” Raffy explains. “Inspiration comes from anywhere, sometimes in a very natural way, intuitively, and sometimes it’ll need years to fine-tune. It can be from nature. Nature never makes mistakes. It’s colours, it’s flavours, it can be related to your children. It’s a passion related to expression of time.” I’m also shown the revolutionary Récital 29, with the ‘writing slope’ case designed by Raffy himself. Its reverse construction makes it possible to admire the swinging of the balancehairspring on the front face of the timepiece, whereas this element is usually only visible through the back of the case. Inside, a second dome displays the moon phase at 6 o’clock and fills the volume of the ‘writing
slope’ case, offering intuitive reading. The engraving on the dome’s surface is covered with a luminescent material applied by hand that illustrates the lunar surface with a striking realism. It’s these finer details that make each and every timepiece within the Bovet family unique, and these details that make the difference when deciding what Raffy himself adds to his personal collection. “Luxury is about detail with good taste. It’s that component, that dial, these hands, that strap, that buckle, that case, its shape, its colour, its finishing,” he says. “Timepieces are different from watches. I don’t need a watch to live. I also became a slave to technology; I can read the time on my mobile. A timepiece will talk to me via the details. And not only Bovet timepieces, I do not have a closed mind. Sometimes I’ll be in front of a window and I will choose a timepiece to buy and add it to my collection because it deserves respect.” It’s thanks to this passion and respect for the craft of watchmaking, that has enabled Raffy to develop the Bovet brand, from the one he fell in love with just by touching it, to one that’s now impossible not to look at.
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
RU BE S M I L A NO
IMPERIAL NECKL ACE Ahead of Valentine’s Day Rubes Milano unveiled its showstopping Imperial necklace, which now stands as one of the world’s rarest and most expensive jewellery pieces to date. The necklace’s standout feature is the central multitoned
gemstone, which is the largest alexandrite gem in history at 69.37 carats. Alexandrite gemstones are some of the most sought after in the world, changing colour from bluish-green in daylight to reddish-purple and even violet in incandescent light. 1
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
M O Y N AT PA R I S
JOSEPHINE PM BAG golden lock. The sophisticated bag is perfectly accessorised with one of the two rat-shaped leather tags that also feature in the collection (affectionately named Stuart and Little), each made using the houseâ€™s unique leather marquetry technique.
To mark the Year of the Rat, Moynat Paris has released three special-edition pieces. Designed by artistic director Ramesh Nair, the elegant Josephine PM bag has reimagined its graphic leather panels, combining bright red and black with geometric curves and a 2
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
STELLAR SHOES Calligraphy taken from the manuscripts by Olga Berluti in the early 2000s is a clear motif of French menswearâ€™s house Berluti. The Scritto typography often features across their collections, contrasting with the brandâ€™s trademark sharp shapes, but
this season, it is taking on an urban twist. The delicate writing has been fashioned in vibrant cosmic hues, giving the collection a distinctly youthful spark. Running with the vivacious feel, the Stellar shoes pair an edgy diamond cut toe with bright orange script. 3
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
FA L L 2 0 2 0 B O O T S Designed by Natacha Ramsay Levi, the ChloĂŠ Fall 2020 collection perpetuates an urban softness. Combining bourgeois sophistication and romantic tailoring, Levi urges wearers to create complex feminine characters with their looks. Simple in design,
the soft black leather boot with gold buckling is the perfect fit for any woman who dares take their style to a new dimension. The quintessential biker style is ideal for offsetting floaty outlines, such as floral dresses, by adding a tougher edge. 4
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
BV LGA R I
SERPENTI SEDUT TORI TOURBILLON Reviving pre-1970s high-watchmaking tradition, Bvlgari introduces a watch featuring the smallest tourbillion mechanism on the market. Known as the ‘Jeweller of Time’ due to its blend of jewellery creation and Swiss watchmaking,
Bvlgari fits the tourbillion into the serpenthead case for a pleasing finish. The rose gold with diamond pavé holds the haute horlogerie movement, which is decorated with Côtes de Genève. Also available with a diamond bracelet. 5
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
SPECTRE RUNNER SOCK LOW SNE AKERS Inspired by the vibrantly modern aesthetic of young men in Korea, Clare Waight Kellerâ€™s S/S collection reexamines the athleisure trend. Using her classical tailoring education from Ralph Lauren, this season sees a blend of suits
and sportswear. Joining the collection, the Spectre sneakers nod to the hyper modernism of Asian athletic wear with their strikingly bright colour. The padded footbeds lend themselves to flexibility, and give a high performance. 6
OB JECTS OF DESIRE
D I S N E Y X G U C C I C A R R Y- O N D U F F L E To celebrate Chinese New Year, Gucci has collaborated with Walt Disney to produce a collection featuring the original Mickey Mouse. The perfect fit for the modern-day Gucci, which is fashioned with a surrealist eccentricity, the much-loved motif is a
playful addition to its repertoire. The GG canvas carry on duffle bag is trimmed with light brown leather and finished with antique gold-toned hardware, giving it a vintage look that is sure to be a timeless classic for years to come. 7
OB JECTS OB JECTS OF DESIRE OF DESIRE
T H E LU M A S PORT FOL IO
COLLECTING FINE ART With works by over 250 contemporary artists exhibited in 29 locations worldwide, LUMAS is the leading international gallery for limited edition photographic art. This coffee table book presents a curated selection of over 100 of the finest
and particularly noteworthy pieces from the LUMAS collection. A celebration of its 15-year anniversary, the breadth of its portfolio is demonstrated, from landscape to portraiture photography through to architectural images and fashion shots. 8
Timepieces FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Time To Say Goodbye
As the owner of a vintage watch boutique, Tariq Malik has bought and sold his fair share of precious pieces. But as he tells AIR, some are harder than others to part with
very watch that comes into my life is a unique story – a mystery and a pleasure. But some pieces are simply more memorable than the rest. Over the years I’ve had rare and remarkable watches arrive at Momentum, either for repairs, appraisal or trade, and some of them have been particularly hard for me to part with. Anyone who reads my articles from time to time might guess – and rightly so – that my real passion is vintage Rolex, so perhaps it’s no surprise that all three of the timepieces I most miss have crowns on the dials.
The 1977 Day Date ‘Salmon Stella dial’ ref. 1803 The Day-Date always attracts a certain kind of personality. It is the watch for presidents, luminaries, high-power handshakes, and red carpet occasions. It is right at home at those elegant evening soirees, where the important conversations take place that shape the destiny of our world. It is also a Rolex collector’s dream to find a vintage Stella dial in such perfect condition. I was lucky to pick this one up from the original owner’s son, who carefully took it out of a safe, where it had been resting for almost 25 years. Probably the most collectible of all Day-Dates are ones fitted with lacquer ‘Stella’ dials – because each one is unique, cracks, dots and scratches included. In this case, the rare and unusual salmon color is the star attraction, and the condition is flawless. The tone contrasts beautifully with diamond and baguette markers and, incredibly, the lume pots are all present and match the hands, more than forty years down the line. The 18K white gold case is also exceptional, with crisp serial numbers, and the bracelet, although a bit short, is not bad either. It looked like the watch
1977 Rolex Day Date ‘Salmon Stella Dial’
had never been opened. All in all, it’s love at first sight, and there’s just something about that salmon dial that, well, makes me smile. Paul Newman 6264, White Dial Rolex started making the ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona back in the 60s, and it was then called ‘the Rolex Cosmograph.’ At the time, this version of the dial with a white background and black sub-dials was not very popular – it was too ‘exotic’ for the tastes of the sixties and seventies. Believe it or not, these coveted Daytonas once used to sit on shelves, collecting dust. But times change and the perceived value of a watch changes along with the times. All it took for this watch to climb the ladder of fame was a picture of Paul Newman wearing one, and the association got stuck permanently, making it so recognizable and memorable – not to mention valuable. Today, this watch is one of the most talked about vintage Rolexes on the market, and the 6264 is scarce, so therefore ultimately desirable.
GMT Master Ref. 1675 ca 1977 While a well-preserved GMT Master will always draw at least a little attention from collectors, this particular piece is exceptional for another reason. It is one of the most historically important watches we have ever owned – and as every collector knows, provenance is key. It features the UAE Quraysh Hawk on the dial, along with an inscription of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His Highness, who was Minister of Defense at the time, presented it as a gift, and as if that wasn’t reason enough this watch was also owned by renowned collector, scholar, dear friend and watch author, John Goldberger. It made its appearance in John’s book, 100 Superlative Rolex Watches. Letting go can be bittersweet – and we are going to miss these three extraordinary old friends.
Dubai’s DIFC is home to Momentum, Tariq’s vintage watch boutique. momentum-dubai.com 33
Jewellery FEBRUARY 2020 : ISSUE 105
A Multifaceted Family Nagib Tabbah, chief designer and CEO of the House of Tabbah, talks family ties, sourcing legendary stones, and bringing high jewellery fantasies to life WORDS: FAYE BARTLE
amous for acquiring some of the most prestigious and historical precious stones in the world, from the 77.67-carat Zanskar Sapphire (since sold to a private collector in Switzerland) to the Aurengzeb Emerald, a 261-carat drop that once belonged to the Shah Jahan, Tabbah has an illustrious history that shines as brightly as the creations that bear its stamp. From its 19th century origins, when the family specialised in engraving wooden blocks for silk printing (the name Tabbah means printer), to the stunning collection of fine jewellery that’s coveted by high profile clients and at auction today, the journey to the pinnacle of high jewellery is as charming as you’d expect from a company that puts family values at the fore of its operations. The House was officially founded in 1862, when Joseph Tabbah began exploring his talent for engraving and embossing, becoming highly regarded for his delicate filigree work along the way. Through the decades, Tabbah has built its empire, designing and crafting some of the most striking jewellery pieces of the Art Deco era, founding its first boutique in Beirut
Central District (formerly Bab Idriss) in 1945, producing its first watch in 1950 and launching myriad pieces and creative collaborations beyond that. The late seventies marked a turning point in its history, with an expansion into Europe at the hands of fourth generation Nabil Tabbah, who relocated to Monaco in 1978. Fast forward to today and Nabil’s son Nagib, chief designer and CEO, is in the spotlight, carrying the weight of the family-run fine jewellery company’s legacy on his shoulders. Yet for Nagib, any pressure he feels is more than outweighed by the joy of working in an industry he is intensely connected to. “Jewellery is my life, my raison d’être. I live it passionately every day,” enthuses Beirut-based Nagib. “Every morning, my grandfather Nagib Tabbah Sr. routinely went to the goldsmiths, setters and cutters to check the work,” he remembers. “One day, he asked me to do the tour with him. I observed him giving precise, direct technical instructions to the goldsmiths and I felt they had a tremendous respect for him. During the tour, I saw an elderly man working on a ring, which moved me. His hands were aged, both by time and hard years of experience. His fingers were delicate,
as if he was playing an instrument. I was fascinated. I felt the love.” From then on, Nagib often visited the workshop to spend time with the designers. “The only place I wasn’t allowed to go to was the foundry,” he reveals. “The furnaces, high heat and heavy casting machineries made the area unsafe. However, one day, without anybody noticing, I peeked into the room and witnessed the most astonishing scene: a man wearing a huge face protector was pouring melted gold into a crucible. There was no noise, no scent, just the sparkling liquid cascading like water. An indelible feeling of tranquillity washed over me and I emerged from that experience with a desire to make my mark.” Growing up in Monaco in the 1980s exposed a young Nagib to the glittering lifestyle the company’s clients were accustomed to. “It marked my understanding of glamour during an era of exuberance and creative energy that celebrated excesses,” he says. “In jewellery, nothing was big or expensive enough. The most incredible stones, such as the Red Cross, The Blue Lily and The Ashberg Diamonds, which were part of the Tabbah collection, epitomised this decade.” 35
Opening page: Tabbah New Looks B-Glam Collection: Earrings – Single Stud and Cacholong Single Charm Earring; Pendant; Cacholong Ring; Diamond Ring; and the Fusion Collection Pearl Choker This page: Tabbah New Looks B-Glam Collection Ear Hug Opposite: Tabbah New Looks Aquatica Collection Ring; Choker; Bracelets; and the Fusion Collection Choker
I love to design for women who have a strong “ personality, who love art and design, and appreciate the exceptional quality of our stones ” He moved to New York to study Gemology at the Gemological Institute of America, graduating in 1991. “New York is a vibrant and very exciting city to live in when you are 21,” he says. “The experience of studying there opened my eyes to a vibrant cultural diversity and a brand new perspective of the world. I always knew I would become a jeweller and I studied for that.” Lessons learned, and after clocking up some career experience in Freiburg, Switzerland, before turning his attention to the Tabbah headquarters in Geneva, Nagib came full circle by returning to Beirut in 1997 at a time when the city was flourishing. “Beirut is unique,” he says. It’s full of paradoxes and people who inspire you to create. It exudes a lot of energy. The women there are amazing, and beauty is a serious concern – they always look beautiful. As a designer, you want to give them your best because they are looking their best. I love this city because of its people.” Feeling inspired, Nagib set about putting his stamp on the brand, launching the Designer Line by Tabbah in 1998 – his first ever collection, at the tender age of 23. “The idea of was to integrate Tabbah’s incredible expertise in high jewellery into more accessible pieces without sacrificing quality,” he explains. “It was Tabbah’s rejuvenating elixir.” It certainly had the desired impact, capturing the attention of everyone 36
from Hollywood stars to serious collectors. Since then, Nagib has become known for producing exquisite one-off privately commissioned pieces, such as those worn by HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco for her marriage to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2011. Today, exclusivity, he says, is the result of “a successful combination of creativity, know-how and the exceptional quality of materials used”. “There is a strong desire within the Tabbah client to create an intimate, immersive experience,” he explains. “They want to marvel at the creative audacity of a jewellery piece. It has to be something very personal that will be bequeathed. A House like Tabbah allows them to co-sign their creation because it reflects their personal journey. For Infinite Cascade, the famous necklace HRH Princess Charlene De Monaco wore on her wedding day, her love of the sea inspired me immediately and I designed waves of tranquillity made of diamonds and pearls.” Credited with creating iconic pieces, from The Beret to Enter the Dragon, much of his inspiration is sought in nature. “Being connected to nature is a very important part of my life. It can be a promenade in a captivating city, a hike in the mountains, or an amazing road in South Africa,” he says. “Music is my other interest. Many of my concepts were born from listening to a piece of music that transported me to a different realm.”
In terms of muses, the door is open. “I love to design for women who have a strong personality, who love art and design, and appreciate the exceptional quality of our stones and craftsmanship,” he says. Bolstered by its rich archives, the House continues to evolve its design DNA, moving confidently forward while staying connected to its heritage. “Most of my knowledge about stones comes from my father,” he says. “His experience in that domain is vast and his advice is valuable. To this day, I continue learning from him, from the technical aspect of the workshop, to the work of the goldsmith, to the settings. A highlight of my father’s work is definitely the design of The Galaxy of Light, a set comprised of a necklace, earrings, bracelet and ring made with more than 350 carats of intense pink and D-colour internally flawless clarity diamonds. The centre stone is the stunning 70-carat The Star of the Orient – a D-colour internally flawless clarity pear shaped diamond. To celebrate it, a special book was made accounting for all the certificates.” When it comes to future goals, only time will tell what the sixth generation will bring to the table (Nagib has two daughters, Annalisa and Isabella). For now, keeping it in the family and being known for fulfilling desires and encouraging an emotional dialogue between its clients and the stones, is what motivates Nagib to keep on dazzling the world.
After a string of dark roles brought critical acclaim, Anya Taylor-Joy changes tack this month to star as Emma in the latest big-screen adaptation of Jane Austenâ€™s novel. Eleanor Halls meets her to discuss her journey through multiple characters
n the first day of shooting a new film version of Jane Austen’s Emma, the woman in the titular role, 23-year-old Anya Taylor-Joy, decided to quit. It was January 2019, the actress raised in Argentina and London was in a taxi home and her mind was turning over the 24 skins she had slipped into since her breakout role as Thomasin, a girl believed by her Puritan family to be possessed by the devil, in 2015’s critically acclaimed 17th-century folkhorror film The Witch. Among them were the sexually abused teenager Casey, who gets kidnapped by a serial killer (James McAvoy) in Split, superheroine Magik in X-Men film The New Mutants, and Lily, the rich college girl so bored she plots to murder her stepfather in Cory Finley’s esteemed indie thriller Thoroughbreds. Just wrapped was Gina, the ballsy American in the most recent series of Peaky Blinders, and Brea, the puppet princess she voices in Louis Leterrier’s fantasy Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. She was soon to start filming Edgar Wright’s psychological horror Last Night in Soho. Taylor-Joy realised she had been in character for 360 out of the past 365 days, and wasn’t sure where these characters ended, and she, Anya, began. “The best way to explain it,” she says across the table from me at her favourite brunch spot in west London, her cartoonlike eyes saucer-wide, “is that I could go to an art gallery and I could tell you which pieces of art Lily would like, Thomasin would like, Casey would like. But what did I like? I didn’t know what was character and what was myself, and I’m still working that out.” 40
I didn’t know ‘ what was character
and what was myself, and I’m still working that out
Greeting me with a tight hug, before warmly insisting we share our breakfasts, Taylor-Joy seems nothing like the dark and complicated characters she presents on screen. And thankfully, she never did quit Emma, which is released in cinemas this month. Her co-star, Mia Goth, was in the cab with her that night and talked her out of it. “She said to me, ‘Anya, that is the scariest thing you could ever say to me, because if there’s one thing you do, you act.’” Taylor-Joy was six when she announced to her mother, an AfricanSpanish psychologist, and her father, a Scottish-Argentine powerboat racer, that she would become an actor. Ten years later, she was scouted by Kate Moss’s agent Sarah Doukas while walking her dog in high heels past Harrods, and, a year after that, she was called in for a shoot which shared the same set as the cast from Downton Abbey. Her big break came in the form of a poem. Studying for the following day’s English GCSE, Taylor-Joy was reading Seamus Heaney’s Digging in a corner when Allen Leech (aka Downton chauffeur Tom Branson) asked her to read the poem out loud. “Afterwards, he took my name and number, and told me to expect a call from his agent. She called that week,” says Taylor-Joy, who later quit school in west London and sent an audition tape for Robert
Eggers’s The Witch. It was the first audition tape Eggers watched. “It can’t be that easy,” he thought to himself in astonishment, knowing she had the part. So he watched it over and over again. It was that easy. “She had this amazing ability to blush emotion across her face without doing anything,” says Ralph Ineson, who was involved in the casting process and played Thomasin’s father. “I remember one night, as I was driving her home, she asked me this hilarious question. She said, ‘Ralph, when you say you’re going up to your room to work in the evenings, what do you mean by that?’ And I had to explain to her the process of practising for a part: you learn your lines, you stand in front of the mirror to deliver them, you think about the next day’s scenes. I said to her, ‘Don’t you do that too?’ She said no. And I was amazed, but then it made complete sense.” Taylor-Joy has a near photographic memory, and describes herself as an empath. “At four years old, I remember crying in the playground when my friend told me a boy had been mean to her,” she tells me, laughing at the absurdity. “My best friend is also an empath, and when we go on holiday, we have to book separate rooms, because we can’t experience each other too regularly.” I tell her it all sounds rather exhausting, and she nods wearily. As a result, she doesn’t need to spend hours learning lines, and never researches a part – she simply makes each character a Spotify playlist. “She’s not a craft actress, she’s an instinctual actress,” M Night Shyamalan, who directed her in Split (2016), tells me. “By the time I’d watched her audition for Split, I’d seen hundreds of girls
Credit: Eleanor Halls / The Telegraph / The Interview People
on tape, and it was like they had all come together to decide on how to read the role the same way, with the same inflection, the same emotion. And then Anya came along, and it was like she was doing a different scene. I thought, OK, she’s the character.” His protégé’s greatest skill? Silence, says Shyamalan, whom Taylor-Joy credits for teaching her “to be quiet”. Indeed the uniting theme between all her films is that, despite leading the cast, Taylor-Joy always says very little, letting her eyes do the talking. “I remember the first scene we ever shot,” says Shyamalan, “Casey is in the car, turns, and sees the stranger, and she’s fighting her instinct freeze. And when Anya turned, essentially staring down the barrel of the camera, I was looking at the camera with James [McAvoy] and we both just went, ‘Wow, did you see that?’ Her visage is like a silent movie star’s from the Thirties. She is so atypical, physically, and emotionally. Ineson recalls the day his co-star cried for nine hours straight after filming a scene where Thomasin fights with her mother, as well as how she became depressed after wrapping the film and “missing” Thomasin, while Shyamalan tells me he had to keep an eye on her after the first cast readthrough for Split. “She was very, very shaken,” he tells me. “And on Split I was worried, because when her character struggled, so did Anya. Luckily in Glass [the sequel], the character was stronger, so I worried less.” For her role as Lily in Thoroughbreds, Finley tells me he watched her go “to a very unpleasant place”. While
I have worked with a lot of actors, but I’ve never met someone like Anya. In 10 years, I’ll be working for her
Taylor-Joy usually keeps a piece of clothing from each character, she tells me she drew the line at murderous Lily. “Absolutely not. I couldn’t do it. I’ve never been…” she searches for the right words, her expression disturbed, “under the influence of a character before. I truly believed she wasn’t a bad person for the whole time shooting her. I constantly defended her as misunderstood and people would look at me like I was f---ing crazy. And then I realised, after… and I felt shame.” From Thoroughbreds to The Witch, Taylor-Joy’s CV reads like a cinephile’s must-watch list – until recently. Her two most recent films – Glass and Playmobil – were criticised by reviewers as badly directed. How does she deal with negative feedback, particularly at such a crucial stage in her career? She doesn’t flinch, but her tone tightens. “I mean, if someone gave me a scathing review about my performance, I would care. I’m not immune, but with Glass, Night had won before the movie even came out, just by uniting Bruce [Willis], Sam [L Jackson], me, and Sarah [Paulson]. The fans loved it. And with Playmobil, I just wrote to Lino [DiSalvo] and said,
we made a beautiful film for kids, and if critics didn’t like it because it wasn’t skewed towards adult sensibilities, then I don’t care.” Taylor-Joy may be an empath, but there is an unmistakable steeliness to her as well. She sports a bracelet that says “F--- the Patriarchy”. “Recently,” she says, “a producer was treating me like a little girl, like I didn’t know what I was talking about. So I sat him down in his office and, even though I was afraid that he was physically stronger than me, and that he could affect my career, I said, ‘I’ve made more films than you have, so, actually, I really do know what I’m talking about’.” Has MeToo contributed to her empowerment? “Yes. I am so grateful to be an actor in this day and age. When I walked on the set of Last Night in Soho, the cast and crew were amazing, but I thought: ‘Wow, you’re all scared of me. Because if I say I’m uncomfortable with something, you’re going to listen to me. Because otherwise, you’re going to get cancelled.’” So what’s next for Taylor-Joy? Music, she admits, a little coyly. She has, as videos on Instagram confirm, a beautiful voice, and is considering songwriting for her characters. Directing, too, is part of the master plan, and everyone from Shyamalan to Leterrier tells me they could see her in their shoes. “Listen,” says Leterrier, after proudly telling me directors questioned with jealousy how he “got Anya” after Dark Crystal’s cast announcement. “I have worked with a lot of actors, but I’ve never met someone like Anya. In 10 years, I’ll be working for her.” 43
KING Heâ€™s one of fashionâ€™s true greats: a designer, hotelier and restaurateur with a billion-pound business to his name. But who is the real Giorgio Armani? Jane McFarland is granted a rare audience at home with the fiercely private man the Milanese call King Giorgio
WORDS : CHRIS UJMA
t’s not wholly exaggerating to compare securing an audience with Giorgio Armani (or Mr Armani as he is known to his inner circle) to arranging a casual cuppa with Queen Elizabeth II. Or maybe the Duchess of Sussex. He rarely talks to journalists, so when I’m finally granted a 15-minute conversation at home with the king of Italian fashion, solo owner of Giorgio Armani SpA, who Forbes estimates to have a personal fortune of $11bn, I’m excited to chat. Except, he doesn’t speak much English. It’s more than a little odd to be at liberty in his sprawling Milan palazzo while he finishes breakfast, enjoying a tour with his translator, right-hand woman and all-round head honcho, Anoushka Borghesi. But any hopes of a glimpse into his fiercely private personal life are quickly quashed: first impressions are sparse but serene. With few personal effects, it’s a lot like a luxury hotel – of which Mr Armani owns two. It smells utterly divine and the sofas are plumped to perfection. Housemen regularly appear from hidden corners. For a man who trades in understated, elegant clothing, he owns one hell of a flat-screen television. There are animal figurines on some surfaces, from panthers to reptiles – perhaps unsurprising, given his second home, an hour from Milan, has a zoo. Outside, there’s a parked Bentley, doormen and 24/7 surveillance. Across the road are the Armani offices, and nearby, his hotel, the Emporio Armani cafe and the Via Manzoni concept store. Even the hangar at Milan Linate airport bears a giant Armani logo; make no mistake, Mr Armani wields the power in Milan. According to one Italian editor I spoke to, a rare glimpse of the designer in the wild provokes applause from locals. Despite only starting his label at the age of 40, he has more influence than any politician or football star (incidentally, he also designed the national teams’ off-pitch uniforms) in Milan. A selfmade man and a household name, “King Giorgio” is the local hero. Now 85, Mr Armani still epitomises the three Ts – trim, tanned and toned. Despite a severe case of hepatitis in 2009, he remains in good shape, with a permanent sun-kissed glow (his eyewatering property portfolio includes houses in St Moritz, the Sicilian island 46
of Pantelleria and Antigua, plus a yacht) and a shock of white hair. He works out regularly and fastidiously follows a strict, chef-prepared diet, which he likes to consume alone. Despite his somewhat diminutive stature, it’s clear Mr Armani, who slowly descends a staircase to join us, is the alpha male in the room. There are few designers who are as entwined with their brands as he is, meaning he can run his independent business as he wishes. With no shareholders to answer to, earlier this year he added the title of general manager to his existing chairman and chief executive officer roles. It’s 9am and he is already issuing his instructions with alarming intensity. His dedicated team, which grows in number by the minute, spring into action – regardless of the request, it appears “no” isn’t a word often heard at Armani HQ. He may have been talked into a shoot at home, but it’s clear he isn’t staying – he has a press conference to attend, then he will prepare for the brand’s first pre-fall show this evening. He loves to work and insists it keeps him healthy. “My happy place, where I feel best, is my office. It’s where I achieve my visions, where what’s in
my head becomes real and tangible,” he says. “It’s the most incredible feeling. It fills me with energy and adrenaline every single time.” His office uniform is pristine white trainers, navy trousers and a navy cashmere jumper. Today he is wearing a fluid navy cashmere jacket in the style of deconstructed tailoring that first put him on the map, after designing Richard Gere’s wardrobe for American Gigolo in 1980. Dubbed the “master tailor” by The New York Times in the 1980s, Mr Armani has had an undeniable influence on fashion – he dressed men and women in soft, rounded suiting, defining the new working wardrobe of the late 20th century. If you wanted elegant yet relaxed suiting, you went to Armani. “I made ease and sophisticated simplicity a powerful style tool, liberating men and women from many constrictions,” he says of his work. “That’s my achievement. That’s where I want to stand in fashion history.” The same rings true today: the impeccably dressed Borghesi, who previously worked for Saint Laurent, is a walking ambassador for his tailoring. He dutifully shows me around, pointing out some of his favourite
Mr Armani certainly doesn’t do warm and fuzzy, but it does feel more personal through his eyes. He shares the elegant space with his true loves – two cats, Angel and Mari, and his talking blackbird, Merlino. There is also a larger-than-life gorilla in his living room, a discarded model from the Cinecitta film studio in Rome. I ask about the TV. “At the end of the day I take time for myself, just to think. I usually have a simple dinner at home, after which I like to relax in front of the television watching a good film or a TV series. I’ve watched all of them with the royals – I’m obsessed. I’ve just finished Catherine the Great with Helen Mirren.” Warming to the
topic, we discuss the hit series The Crown. “The Queen is an institution and everyone knows her, but you can’t get close to her. The series is the only way to have an imagination of how her life could be. People are looking for a myth.” Did he dress Princess Diana over the years? “Yes,” he nods discreetly. “She liked our jackets.” Mr Armani’s female devotees are numerous – he became the go-to designer for Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett and more, harnessing the power of celebrity long before multimillion-pound ambassador contracts were the norm. “He was one of the first people to use actors in their campaigns, and I was lucky
Credit: Jane McFarland / The Sunday Times Style Magazine / News Licensing
things. The minimal space, with low lighting and dark floors, is devoid of personal photographs, bar one: an old picture of him, his two siblings, Sergio and Rosanna, and their mother, Maria. “She was stylish,” he sighs. “She had little money, but look how modern we are dressed.” Next is a Matisse drawing, given to him by Eric Clapton. “I love him. Moltissimo. He is the greatest. Because he is modern, but he is not annoying.” (One senses Mr Armani gets annoyed easily.) He takes me to his cinema room, complete with plush recliners, and an extensive library, which is organised by theme. Decorative artefacts, picked up from his travels to the Far East, are scattered throughout.
enough to be one of them,” recalls Kristin Scott Thomas, who first met the designer in 2003. “I have collected some pieces from various collections and wear them 17 or 18 years later.” Winslet has a similar history. “I hate the idea of wearing a dress once, but Armani’s elegance doesn’t go out of style. My daughter has her eye on a few of my gowns, so she’ll wear them one day,” she said. “Stepping out on the red carpet is exciting, but it’s still a bit daunting, even after all these years. I know if I am dressed in Armani, I’m ready for anything – his gorgeous gowns give me stealth power.” He also counts the Beckhams as fans: they starred in an Emporio Armani campaign more than a decade ago. “His creative flair and eye for detail are legendary,” says David. “He is a great person and a good friend who deserves all the love and admiration he gets from his industry, and anyone lucky enough to wear his clothes.” “I first met Giorgio in Paris during the 1960s,” says the actress Sophia Loren. “It was the start of a great friendship, one that we still enjoy today. I was taken by his charm and pure elegance, and since then I have always known I am in good hands. He is a brilliant designer, a tireless worker and, above all, he is my dear, dear friend, who I love very much.” Mr Armani first met the supermodel Eva Herzigova “a very long time ago, in St Tropez”, when he was struck by her unique beauty. “She’s a beautiful woman, but it’s not obvious,” he says. “They would fly me over every season and I never did the show,” Herzigova laughs. “They always wanted to use me, but I wasn’t the Armani girl at that time – I wasn’t androgynous enough. It feels like I’ve known him for ever because I have seen him so much over the years.” In 2016 Herzigova – who shot to fame in 1994, thanks to the Wonderbra campaign – officially became an Armani face, cast alongside fellow 1990s supermodels Stella Tennant, Nadja Auermann and Yasmin Le Bon for a campaign. On set, Herzigova and Mr Armani
The pace has become faster and faster, and as designers we are forced to dish out products at an alarming rate, something I do not like that much
reunite like old friends. “It’s amazing to see how he has dominated the market for so long – in each sector, he makes beautiful things. The furniture! He is modern, in his way,” she says. “Look at him now, he’s still so immaculate and elegant.” Mr Armani admits he fell into fashion almost by accident, working as a window dresser, then a menswear buyer, after studying medicine. “I ended up in this world because I wanted to dress real people and meet their needs, but I don’t come from this environment,” he says. Encouraged by his partner in life and work, Sergio Galeotti (who died in 1985), he founded his brand in 1975. In 1981, he launched the diffusion label Emporio Armani, followed by fragrances in 1984. (A bottle of Acqua di Gio is still sold every minute.) In 2000, he brought the celebrity haunt Nobu to Italy, with business partner Robert De Niro. From haute couture to hospitality, the Armani empire now includes hotels, nightclubs, cosmetics and fine jewellery, but it’s fashion that remains his true love. “The main focus is still fashion. It’s stimulating and every six months you have to do something new, so you have to create. It keeps you alive,” he says. “The fashion system has changed so much, I inhabit a completely different environment compared to when I started. The pace has become faster and faster, and as designers we are forced to dish out products at an alarming rate, something I do not like that much.
On my end, I never forget that we are here to dress people with something authentic, useful and beautiful.” The Giorgio Armani Group currently employs 8,000 people worldwide and has more than 12,000 points of sale – the scale of his one-man brand is vast. The elephant in the room remains the question of Mr Armani’s successor: there have been mutterings of a legacy plan. With no children or named other half (his private life has never been up for discussion), Mr Armani’s closest family is his sister, Rosanna, and her son, Andrea Camerana, plus his two nieces, Roberta and Silvana, daughters of his late brother, Sergio. His closest friend is the sixty-something Pantaleo Dell’Orco, known as Leo, who has been a menswear collaborator and confidant for more than 20 years. Several hours later I find Mr Armani backstage ahead of the catwalk show. Ever the perfectionist, he examines each model and makes necessary tweaks. He never raises his voice, but his exacting eyes flicker cold when he sees something he doesn’t like. Nearby, Dell’Orco is watching a basketball game on his laptop. Later, they sit together at dinner, where Mr Armani will nibble on a crispbread (even he isn’t immune to the odd carbohydrate), before shaking hands with well-wishers and excusing himself. The collection is a masterclass in Armani signatures: elegant eveningwear with a twist. An ode to the pantsuit, there are inky-black velvet trousers and cropped tuxedo jackets. An embellished capelet would look divine slung over Blanchett’s shoulders this awards season. Herzigova, fresh from our shoot, sits front row wearing a sequined blazer. As Mr Armani takes his finale bow to a standing ovation, he gives his first real smile of the day. His face, usually solemn and stern, betrays a softer side – this truly is his happy place. Fans on the front row queue for a photograph; he happily obliges. “Maybe it’s a bit presumptuous to say,” he shrugs, when asked if he considers himself the godfather of Italian fashion, “but yes, maybe I am.” 49
The new star of fashion has journeyed from a Kenyan refugee camp to the catwalks of Paris — and she’s only 20. Jane McFarland meets Adut Akech, a young woman changing the industry from within WORDS: JANE MCFARLAND
f models have historically been seen and not heard, Adut Akech represents the next generation intent on moving the needle. Outspoken, impassioned and a self-confessed “chatterbox”, the South SudaneseAustralian model is set on making the fashion world more inclusive, from pushing diversity in the industry at the recent British Fashion Awards, to changing the narrative around refugees. Born in war-torn South Sudan, Akech spent her early years in Kakuma, Kenya’s largest refugee camp, before moving to Australia at the age of six. Her family set up home in Adelaide, where her mother and six siblings still live, and Akech acclimatised to the western world: learning English, playing sports and, at 13, discovering fashion after modelling for her aunt’s clothing boutique. Scouted by Saint Laurent in 2016 (she is now a longterm friend of the label), Akech walked exclusively for the brand for two seasons. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history. In just two years Akech has ticked off most big model milestones: a Valentino beauty campaign, 13 Vogue covers and closing the Chanel couture show as the finale “bride” — only the second black model to do so. To round out a momentous 2019, she then scooped the model of the year award at the British Fashion Awards in December. Visibly emotional on the night, she took the opportunity to remind the industry of her less-than-ordinary journey from refugee to supermodel. “This award is bigger than me … it is for the little girls and boys who are not heard and seen, it is for refugees around the world who … feel like there’s no way out,” she said, to cheers and tears around the room. “A nomination like this is what every model works for. This award is equivalent to an Oscar for actors or a Grammy for musicians,” she tells me when we meet in London two days before the awards. It was part of a whistle-stop tour for Akech, who had travelled to China and Paris during the previous month, as well as several trips between Los Angeles and New York, where she lives alone in Brooklyn.
I’ll always be a refugee. It’s part of who I am, it’s a part of my identity and it’s nothing that I’m ashamed of
In what seems a somewhat transient, isolated life, this is an average month for the 19-year-old model. Usually indefatigable, she admits to having “zero energy” and seizes the chance to catch 40 winks mid-manicure. She may possess a supernatural beauty, with cherubic lips and endless legs, but Akech is just like the rest of us: she counts down the days to her holidays. In December, that meant a return to Australia to celebrate her 20th birthday (on Christmas Day). She was in charge of her siblings, as her mother was visiting South Sudan after 20 years away. “I still have family in Kenya, I still have family in the refugee camp that I grew up in,” she says. “I wanted to go with my mum, but when you have so many kids, someone has to look after them. I had to grow up very quickly, so I’m used to doing all the cooking and cleaning.” It’s clear responsibilities and family are at the heart of everything Akech does, whether that is a recent trip to Disneyland Paris with her older sister (“the best place in the world”) or buying her mother a house. Rather than struggle to reconcile her present and past, Akech believes her success story can inspire others. “I grew up in a refugee camp, until I moved to Australia and created the life I live today, but I’ll always be a refugee. It’s part of who I am, it’s a part of my identity and it’s nothing that I’m ashamed of.” Working with the UN Refugee Agency to reshape the global conversation around refugees is her priority. “Being a refugee is not a choice. You don’t get to choose to be a refugee; you don’t get to choose to leave your home. It is the
Credit: Jane McFarland / The Sunday Times Style Magazine / News Licensing
In 2020 we still have diversity problems — it’s ridiculous and it’s time people grew up
circumstances that people fall into, and I don’t think it’s fair that the rest of the world punishes them for something that is out of their control,” she says. “We’re so misunderstood, we’re so judged. A lot of people only hear the negative things that they see on TV, and no one ever tells them about the other side. If I can educate just one person, that person is going to tell somebody and so on, and that’s how we get the message across.” Part of the seismic shift towards greater diversity in the fashion industry, Akech is hopeful about the current celebration of black beauty. “I’d like to think the changes that are happening are real and not just a trend,” she says. “Going into 2020 we still have diversity problems — it’s ridiculous and it’s time people grew up. If you’re still that ignorant in this day and age, and you don’t want to be inclusive, and you don’t want to have a diverse brand, then you shouldn’t be in this industry where everybody is somebody from somewhere. It’s important everybody
is celebrated, accepted, welcomed and respected, so hopefully these changes continue to happen. It’s sad that it has taken so long, but it is better that it is happening than not.” Still, she admits, it’s baby steps. Last year, an Australian magazine used an image of another black model to illustrate a piece about Akech, and she took to social media with impassioned outrage. It’s her mother, who couldn’t finish her own education and raised seven children alone, she credits with giving her the confidence to model and a voice to speak out. “A lot of African parents have the mindset that they bring their kids to Australia, the US or UK to start a better life and it’s all about education. Many of them didn’t get the same opportunity, so they tend to force it onto their kids. They want their kids to be lawyers and doctors. If one has a dream that doesn’t involve anything educational, they don’t get the support they need. I was very fortunate that my mum could support what I wanted to do.”
As Akech is so in demand, she doesn’t have time for much else — any free minutes are spent sleeping or writing, which has helped her manage her mental health during the past few years. “I suffer from anxiety and depression,” she says, “and I’ve learnt that talking is the medicine. It’s a challenge for me, as I grew up keeping everything in. Writing my feelings is a way for me to let them out, without feeling vulnerable.” In future she hopes to return to South Sudan to open a hospital and school, and start a modelling agency representing South Sudanese women. She’s also writing a book about her journey. “I’ve never really spoken about my story, not because I was ashamed of it, but because no one really asked. Now I see the impact that I’m having and the type of inspiration I can give to someone. I’m not just Adut the model, I am more than that. I am the little girl who was once in a refugee camp with no food, and I made my way out of that — that is what my story is.” 55
His private life was a mess, studios hated him, but a new biography wants to make us love Marlon Brando WORDS: VICTORIA SEGAL
y 1970, Marlon Brando had become a Hollywood pariah. Just eight years earlier, he had been the first star to command a $1m fee when he signed on to play Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty. From his 1951 breakthrough as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, he heralded a new kind of acting – a new breed of actor – masculine yet meltingly beautiful, natural yet imaginative. The “whaddya got?” rebellion he embodied in 1953’s The Wild One caught the low rumble of a youth culture revving up just over the horizon, yet that same year his performance as Mark Antony in Joseph L Mankiewicz’s Julius Caesar created a New World rival to Olivier and Gielgud. When he was nominated for an Oscar for his role as contender-turned-bum Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront in 1954, fellow nominee Humphrey Bogart issued a simple torch-passing statement: “Wrap up all the Oscars, including mine, and send them over to Brando.” 57
Opening pages: Marlon Brando acting in Last Tango in Paris, 1972. These pages: Marlon Brando attending the Black Panther Party rally held as a memorial for Bobby Hutton, a young Panther killed by police, 1968
He rejected his best-actor Oscar and issued a statement about Hollywood’s legacy of racist westerns
As author William J Mann records in The Contender, his acutely sensitive and generous biography, Brando’s fall from grace was bruising, the golden boy hitting every rung on his way down: bad romantic comedy; selfdirected folly; tabloid drama; “difficult” reputation. No wonder, then, that when Francis Ford Coppola informed Paramount he was considering the actor as Don Corleone in The Godfather, a ferocious telegram roared back: “WILL NOT FINANCE BRANDO IN TITLE ROLE. DO NOT RESPOND. CASE CLOSED.” Mann recognises that Brando’s reputation as a mercenary, careerscuttling narcissist still endures 15 years after his death. But some of his crimes, he says, have been distorted. It wasn’t just box office that made the establishment suspect Brando. Long before stars could fashionably mix acting and activism, Brando was a committed civil rights campaigner, tithing one tenth of his income to Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and delivering a eulogy for Black Panther Bobby Hutton in 1968. In 1960, he campaigned to save convicted rapist Caryl Chessman from execution, a mission that was unpopular with nearly everyone, especially the gossip mavens of the film press. It has, suggests Mann, led to harsher judgments than he might otherwise have received. His directorial debut, One-Eyed Jacks (1961), for example, was not the indulgent calamity of legend: yes, Brando once insisted on waiting hours for the “right wave” in 58
All exhibition images: AlaĂŻa Galleria Borghese Below: ÂŠ Peter Lindbergh
These pages, clockwise from left: Anna Kashfi, Brando’s ex-wife, hoists the couple’s son, Christian; Marlon Brando in a still from Last Tango In Paris, 1973; Marlon Brando gives a kiss to his son Christian in a courtroom during Christian’s murder trial in 1990
Unless he “ could make
world-changing art, he felt that his work was useless
Credit: Victoria Segal / The Times / News Licensing
the ocean, but as Martin Scorsese later said: “That’s what you do. You wait for the waves.” When Brando asked Frank Sinatra to run lines during 1955’s Guys and Dolls, Sinatra – who called his costar “Mr Mumbles” – sneered that he didn’t “go in for that method crap”. Yet Brando, says Mann, “loathed the very concept” of method acting, despite his intractable popular image. It’s such misconceptions that drive Mann to write, audaciously, that “nearly everyone who has written about him has gotten him wrong”. Instead, the author sets out to prove Brando deserves re-evaluation from modern audiences, given that speaking out is pretty much a duty of today’s stars. Yet Brando’s commitment to activism was also a stick he could beat himself with, a way of setting impossible goals. His curse was not the alcoholism he feared would be passed on from his mother, Dodie, but his contempt for his talent. Unless he could make worldchanging art, he felt that his work was useless. Born in Omaha in 1924, Brando grew up dreaming of being a jazz drummer, but his demons chased him right on to the stage. After stopping his father – a philandering travelling salesman he hated all his life – from striking his mother, he was sent to military school where, un-martially, he excelled at drama. It made Manhattan’s New School the best destination possible when he was kicked out for “smoking” (a possible cover, hints Mann in his
biography, for what may have been a liaison with his tutor). Bud, as he was then known, blossomed in the beatnik demimonde, playing bongos and keeping a racoon called Russell. In class, according to Elaine Stritch, girls would “faint” just so he could catch them. Brando’s romantic life is chaos for the most scrupulous biographer: three ex-wives, 11 children, countless broken hearts. Rita Moreno, whom he dated on and off for eight years – attempted suicide in his house; actor Anna Kashfi, his first wife, pursued him through the courts over custody of their son Christian. It was a horrible foreshadowing of the court case Brando would endure in 1994, when Christian was charged with murdering the lover of his half-sister Cheyenne. Yet for all the sadness, all Brando’s flaws – and despite Mann’s sympathy, he’s often infuriating – this book does achieve a quiet vindication. Brando secured the part in The Godfather, beguiling the studio with boot-polish hair and stuffed jowls, yet again he refused to enjoy his triumph. On Oscar night 1973, he sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather to reject his best-actor award and to issue a statement about Hollywood’s legacy of racist westerns. John Wayne was so outraged it took six security guards to keep him from Littlefeather. As Mann compassionately shows, Brando could mean more now than he has for years. He just had to wait for the waves.
Motoring FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Electric Dreams There is a growing market for converting classic cars to electric. But while it may be kinder to the environment, how does it affect the carâ€™s true nature? WORDS: CHRIS ANDERSON
he future is electric, at least as far as the car industry is concerned. Most of the major manufacturers now have electric vehicles in their line-up, and at some point will stop making their fossil fuel counterparts. We all want to be greener, with cleaner towns and cities, and this is one of the factors driving change. So where will that leave owners of classic cars? How can you still enjoy a Jaguar E-Type or a Lamborghini Countach in a world turned electric? It is not just the style and timeless cool of a classic that appeals, but also the sound, the characteristics and even the little niggles, which like it or not owe much of their existence to a petrol engine. But change is on the way here too, with opportunities arising to convert your classic from petrol to electric â€“ and Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin are two of the companies involved. The idea is, if you are developing and making electric drivetrains for newer models anyway, then why not take that technology and offer it as a retro-fit for your much-loved classic? Jaguar got there first, through its dedicated Classic division, with the E-Type Concept Zero, swapping out the 1961 six-cylinder engine for a 40kWh battery, based on its I-Pace technology (the car was driven by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to the reception of their 2018 wedding). Offering 295bhp, with a 150mph (241km/h) top speed, it closely matches the original performance, but weighs 46kg less. You can take your own car in and convert it for around 63
Opening pages: Aston Martin, Heritage EV Concept These pages, clockwise from below: Dashboard of Aston Martin Heritage EV Concept, which mirrors the original; Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero
There are advantages to converting a classic ‘from petrol to electric, in addition to the greener credentials. The first is better acceleration ’ £60,000 (AED286,995), or have Jaguar Classic find, restore and convert one for you for £300,000 (AED1.4 million), and even choose digital instruments and a touchscreen for the inside, or keep it looking traditional. Similarly, Aston Martin Works, the company’s own classics division, is offering an electric conversion, initially fitting it to a 1970 DB6 MkII Volante. The so-called ‘cassette’ powertrain has its own self-contained cell, with cords to link it to the car’s electrical system, and a discreet interior screen to help monitor consumption. Like the Jaguar conversion, the Aston Martin equivalent uses the original engine and gearbox mountings for the new components, with no major changes to the body – in each case, it will be easy to reinstate the original engine if required. VW has become the latest addition to the market, with an electric conversion for the classic Beetle, based on its new e-up! powertrain. The German automaker says it can fit a 36.8kWh battery into what it calls the e-Beetle, with a top speed of 150km/h. Pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed, but Thomas Schmall, chairman of the board of management at Volkswagen Group Components, is already planning other conversions. “An e-Porsche 356 could be pursued in the future,” he said. But then, why wait for a specific manufacturer to start offering electric conversions? Instead, take advantage of the many independent companies that are cropping up all over the 64
world, ready and waiting to convert any classic car you might have. Oz Motors in Tokyo, for example, has offered VW Beetle conversions for a while, with Zelectrics in San Diego is working on Porsche 356, 911, 912 and 914 models. In the UK, London Electric Cars has converted the classic Morris Minor, while RBW Classic Electric Cars has teamed up with Zytek Automotive, which supplies technology to Formula E cars, to revolutionise the MGB Roadster. And there is more. How different The Italian Job might have been if it featured electric classic Minis, converted by Swind, based in Swindon
in the UK. Or The Fast and the Furious franchise, had it featured any of the vehicles being worked on by Electric Classic Cars in Powys, also in the UK – here, the company has electrified original Range Rovers, Fiat 500s, a Ferrari 308, and even a few rarities. “We’re converting a Gordon Keeble at the moment – only 100 were ever made – and an Isetta bubble car, which is a challenge, as it’s so small,” says Electric Classic Cars founder Richard Morgan. There are advantages to converting a classic from petrol to electric, in addition to the greener credentials. The first is better acceleration, as an electric motor will deliver maximum torque from the start of the power delivery – and with the car being slightly lighter as a result of the conversion, this will help too. There is also probably less to go wrong, with
reliability increased thanks to the modern technology. And no doubt, it could open up the classics to an entirely new audience, with a younger, greener generation happy to embrace them, hopefully improving their longevity. But there is a backlash too. Some may gripe about the current costs involved, or the fact that the infrastructure for running electric cars needs improving. Or, as in the case of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), a leading industry body, others will slam the idea completely. It released a statement that reads, “vehicles so converted cease to be historic vehicles.” The document, issued in October 2019, added that the organisation felt it “cannot promote, to owners or regulators, the use of modern EV components to replace a historic vehicle’s drivetrain,” as
it does not help in “preserving the car and their related culture.” Purists may also cite changes to the distinctive engine noises and other characteristics, but the companies offering the technology say they need to respond to a changing world, with most conversions reversible to preserve the vehicle anyway, which is what FIVA recommends. There is a debate to be had, and one that may not reach a satisfactory conclusion for all involved. But to ensure our continued love of classic cars, and the enjoyment it brings, then a change is surely needed. Could an artificial engine noise be added to satisfy the purists? Possibly. Maybe you could even add the sound of a Ferrari to your humble electric Mini? A talking point and a source of enjoyment for sure, but perhaps not the right one. 65
FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Food For Thought The 50-course menu at Copenhagenâ€™s Alchemist blends food, theatre and politics. AIR chats to chef Rasmus Munk about his boundary-pushing new restaurant that has taken the culinary world by storm WORDS : LARA BRUNT 66
Food for Thought A tribute to foie gras producer Eduardo Sousa who figured out a way to produce natural foie gras from wild geese that land in Spain once a year to feast on acorns and olives before migrating further south. Details: Sautéed foie gras in a Madeira casing topped with yuzu gel and aerated foie gras. Photo: Claes Bech Poulsen
he second incarnation of Noma is just down the road, but the most-talked-about new restaurant in Copenhagen couldn’t be more different from René Redzepi’s terroir-based cuisine and minimalist, blond-wood dining space. Opened last summer, Alchemist has already reached near-mythical status among gastronomes: three months’ worth of reservations sell out in minutes, with a waitlist stretching to 20,000 people. Ferran Adrià declared Alchemist “one of the most memorable meals I have had during the last 10 years”, while Denmark’s influential White Guide has crowned it ‘Restaurant of the Year’ – knocking Noma off the top spot. Housed in an old warehouse once used to build theatre sets in Copenhagen’s former dockyards, Alchemist is the brainchild of Rasmus Munk, a 28-year-old Danish chef with a reputation for multi-sensory molecular cuisine. He has labelled it ‘Holistic Cuisine’, a gastronomic experience that stimulates both mind and palate by incorporating elements of theatre,
art, music, science and technology. “For me, Holistic Cuisine is just focusing on the whole instead of only the parts,” he explains. “It’s common sense that you need the best cooking skills and the best ingredients possible, but I wanted to see if we could add more layers on top of that. Could we talk about important issues and use food [as a tool] to communicate? Could we use elements from the worlds of theatre, arts and technology to surprise guests with an even a greater sensory experience?” Those lucky enough to land a table at the 40-seat restaurant pass through four-metre-high bronze doors and then enter a dream-like world of graffiti-splashed rooms, LED-adorned dancers and slow synth beats. The 50-course menu is divided into five dramatic acts; guests move through nearly a dozen different spaces, with the majority of dishes served beneath a planetarium dome illuminated by hypnotic video projections. The five-hour experience is as thought-provoking as it is theatrical. Many of the bite-sized courses – called 67
Amber Red wood ants are trapped in a honey and ginger candy (pate de fruit with a beeswax and sugar shell). Details: On the coast of Jutland it is common to hunt for amber on the beaches. You often need to bite it, to test if it’s the real thing and not glass. Photo: Søren Gammelmark
Andy Warhol An interpretation of Andy Warhol’s iconic banana that first appeared on the sleeve of the Velvet Underground & Nico album from 1967. Details: Under a crispy casing made from banana juice lies a sorbet made from Manzano bananas, paired with South American flavors like cachaça, tonka beans and caramelized egg yolk. Photo: Søren Gammelmark
impressions – aim to spark debate about issues such as immigration, animal welfare, food waste and plastic pollution. “Restaurants have such a huge impact on our culture these days,” Munk says. “With that power to speak out, chefs have a responsibility, first of all, to create a positive food culture, and then I think, if you can, to add layers on top of it with activism.” At Alchemist, development of new dishes tends to be informed by issues, rather than ingredients. “For most chefs, it’s about taking the ingredient first and then doing a dish. For me, most of the impressions are done with a lot of research on different subjects or things that touched me in some way, from climate change to hunger,” he says. Plastic Fantastic, for instance, consists of grilled cod jaw topped with edible ‘plastic’ made from dried cod-skin broth. Served on a plastic plate, recycled from debris washed up on Denmark’s western beaches, the dish is accompanied by images of jellyfish floating among plastic bags projected onto the giant domed ceiling. Food for Thought, meanwhile, features ethically-produced foie gras from Spain served inside a silicone human head with a removable skull. Danish Kiss is even more confronting; created to celebrate a friend who 68
survived tongue cancer, tiny morsels of beetroot puree, pickled blackberries and fermented plums are designed to be licked off a silicone human tongue. Does Munk ever worry he’ll push his experimental style too far? “For sure. That’s really the balance we need to find, because we want people to come and have a great evening – not feel like a bad human being when they leave. When you provide experiences that cost this amount of money, along with the effort [diners] need to put in to get a table, then it needs to be more than just good food,” he says. Not all dishes are quite so intense. “There are also a lot of dishes that are just inspired by cultures, technology and techniques – it’s quite a mix,” he says. A visit to MoMA in New York inspired an edible interpretation of Andy Warhol’s iconic banana – sorbet encased in a crispy skin made from banana juice – while a pristine white snowball made from fermented tomato and eaten with ski gloves conjures up childhood memories of playing in the snow. It’s fair to say that a career as a maverick chef was not on the cards for Munk. He grew up in a family of non-foodies in Randers, a mid-sized city in the Jutland region, predestined “to become either a mechanic or join a biker gang,” he says. Instead, he
The Omelet Rasmus Munk’s attempt to create the perfect omelette. After years at culinary school trying to create a perfect cigar-shaped omelette and eating hundreds of bad ones during his travels, he set his mind to creating the perfect rendition. Details: A membrane made from egg yolk is filled with an egg yolk and comté cheese filling that has been carefully heated to 52 degrees to retain the flavor of raw egg yolk. The omelette is topped with paper thin lardo and black truffles. Photo: Claes Bech Poulsen
The Toast A toast where the element of surprise lies in realising that it is feather light and actually not a toast at all when lifting it up. The flavour reminds Rasmus of ‘kryddere’, the crisp brioche toasts he used to eat as a child. Details: The toast is made of aerated vegetable cellulose, and then sautéed in brown butter (no flour is used). It is topped with fermented almond cream and oscietra caviar. Photo: Claes Bech Poulsen
Provocative dishes with ethically-charged messages won praise from diners and critics alike followed his best friend to culinary school and serendipitously found his calling. After staging at restaurants including Noma and The Fat Duck, Munk spent several years working in the kitchens of top restaurants in London. Back in Denmark, he was appointed head chef at Treetop, a fine-dining restaurant in eastern Jutland, aged just 22. Two years later, the young chef opened his first solo venture in the Danish capital – a 15-seat restaurant, also called Alchemist – and began experimenting with avant-garde cuisine tinged with activism. “It was a very tiny restaurant, the smallest one in Copenhagen at that point, with four chefs and two front-of-house [staff]. The philosophy was the same as now, but we didn’t put a word on it back then. Everybody was putting us in this box of molecular gastronomy and we just accepted that because we didn’t have a better description,” he reflects. Provocative dishes with ethicallycharged messages, such as Ashtray (king crab and potato topped with hay ash to resemble an overflowing ashtray) and Rotten Lamb Brain (mousse of brains and foie gras in an edible lamb’s ‘skull’), won praise from diners and critics alike. In 2016, Munk was named the White Guide’s ‘Innovator of the Year’ and Alchemist debuted on the
guide’s Top 10 list for Denmark. But it was Organ Donation – lamb heart tartare served inside another whole lamb heart, sliced opened and doused with ‘blood’ from an IV bag – that convinced Munk about the power of the plate. Presented together with a leaflet about organ donation, the dish prompted 1,500 diners to register as donors. “Organ Donation was the dish that really changed my perception about the restaurant,” says Munk. “I was still a little bit doubtful whether you could really communicate through food, and it was one of the dishes that really showed me that it’s possible, actually, to make a change and [to see] how far can you take it.” The restaurant closed in 2017 after Munk accepted an offer to scale up his vision from investor Lars Seier Christensen, owner of three-Michelinstarred Geranium in Copenhagen. Twenty times larger than the original and with a staff of 50, Munk has ambitious goals for Alchemist 2.0. “I hope we will set things in motion. I want Alchemist to comment on the present and create something that can resound further than the restaurant industry. I want people to eat – and then think,” he says.
Thinking Outside the Box Lamb’s brain is not normally eaten in Denmark and is otherwise discarded as waste. It was therefore quite challenging to work out the logistics of having it on the menu. The lamb’s brain is coated in a cherry sauce made from cherries from Frederiksdal cherry orchard. The brain is presented floating in walnut oil in a transparent box and is lifted up and sliced table side and then served atop an onion marmalade on a cherry meringue. Details: The brain is salted and steamed for 7 minutes at 52 degrees to preserve the texture. Photo: Claes Bech Poulsen
Reservations for April, May and June will be released on February 10; alchemist.dk 69
FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
45 JOURNEYS BY JET
Bawah Reserve Indonesia
here aren’t many places left on Earth that remain untouched by the human hand, where wildlife is king and where nature needs no filter. For the first time ever, in May of this year, the island of Elang, situated within Indonesia’s breathtaking Anambas Islands, will be accessible to a privileged few. It’s one of six pristine islands that make up the beautiful Bawah Reserve, and on it will sit just six sustainablymade, ocean-facing lodges, perched on the island’s slope. The lodges’ creator, Sim Boon Yang, has designed them so views of the Insta-worthy waters are completely unobstructed, as are those from the new guest-only clubhouse, which pays homage to tribal communal houses in Indonesia and are designed around a rock formation. The island, home to an exclusive restaurant and powder-soft beach, has numerous private pathways to explore, along with a saltwater pool, created
from a natural hollow and refreshed with every tidal change. Nature lovers will rejoice in the fact that the Bawah Reserve is immensely proud of its conservation work and eco-friendly practices, including the island’s zero-waste programme and fishing ban. Beaches are cleaned every two weeks and a nursery is in place to repopulate the islands’ forests, not to mention any cutting or burning of the primary forest is now strictly prohibited. Education programmes are also set up to teach local communities the importance of protecting the wildlife and changing their mindset to a more sustainable way of life. Guests of Elang have access to the wider reserve, comprising 13 beaches and a plethora of leisure pursuits. The ocean is calm enough for swimming, paddle boarding, wind surfing, kayaking, and snorkelling – plenty to keep you outside and active, with no televisions in the rooms to distract you from paradise.
For the even more adventurous, diving here is spectacular, with hundreds of marine species to marvel at. There’s also a gym and grass tennis court to make use of, not forgetting a hiking trail that’ll get your blood pumping. On the trek, you can communicate with staff via a two-way radio when you’re ready to eat and your food will be brought to you in no time. But if physical activity on holiday isn’t your idea of fun, fear not – daily treatments at Aura spa are available for those looking to kick back and relax. While you may worry about the best way to spend your time, you won’t worry about the best way to spend your money – here, all meals, activities and daily spa treatments are included in the full-board fee.
Fly your jet into Indonesia’s Batam Airport, from where Bawah Reserve is around one hour 20 minutes away via a seaplane transfer. 71
What I Know Now
FEBRUARY 2020: ISSUE 105
Sir Ranulph Fiennes EXPLORER My first big success in life was when my first wife Ginny finally agreed to marry me. We’d been engaged once before, but she gave me the ring back as I couldn’t decide on a wedding date. A year later, I heard someone else was going to propose so I bought a motorbike to get me from Sussex to Inverness, where she worked, to quickly pop the question. I was about to set off on an expedition to Norway, so she asked one of my team members for advice. He explained that it was a very dangerous expedition and I was likely to die anyway, so she said yes. I try to ward off this extremely unpleasant thing called old age. The good news is that it happens to everybody. But if you look at people like David Attenborough, who is 93, you may realise you’re not doing very well in comparison. The solution is to motivate yourself to exercise every morning. When I’m at home in Cheshire I always try and go for 72
a quick walk – for an hour and a half. It’s a chance to process my thoughts, especially when writing a book. I’ve learnt the hard way to plan expeditions based upon the worst possible weather scenarios. As an example: if we look at situations in which our predecessors have tried yet failed to achieve a polar record, despite their eminence in polar travel, we’ll usually be able to pinpoint them running into a risky situation. The lesson is figuring out the best way to avoid it, rather than thinking of a better way to tackle it. I’m inspired by people who write incredibly good books – John le Carré is a favourite. I have written 26 nonfiction books, but I’m now thinking about branching out into pure fiction. I wish I had the imagination to do so. That said, my book, The Feather Men, was a number one best-seller for about three
months on the general book list (neither under fact nor fiction). Thirty years on, people still ask me about it, which means readers are still left wondering. I spend virtually no time looking back. You can’t change the past, so it’s like crying over spilt milk. I concentrate on the present and the future. Records will continue to be broken. I was the first man to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole overland and to cross the Antarctic Continent unsupported with Mike Stroud. Aged 65, I was the first old age pensioner to conquer Everest. There will always be someone else hot on my heels but I have no problem with that. Sir Ranulph Fiennes is taking part in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, which is taking place from 4-9 February in Dubai, visit emirateslitfest.com
Sanitaryware Wall Floor
: RAK-ILLUSION : MAXIMUS MEDICEA MARBLE : LAVA CONCRETE