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FALL 2017 Couture Chanel

It was a Chanel Haute Couture collection that was as finely engineered by Karl Lagerfeld and the skilled petites mains of the house’s legendary workrooms as the giant model of the Eiffel Tower that rose above the sand-and-gravel runway into a dry ice–misted sky in the highest reaches of the dome of the Grand Palais.

“I’m feeling very out of it,” confided a jet-lagged Katy Perry. “I wasn’t sure if they’d chopped down the Eiffel Tower for Karl!”

The city of Paris may not have gone that far, but after the show, the audience remained seated as Anne Hidalgo, the city’s dynamic mayor, did the next best thing and presented Karl with its highest honor, the Médaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville.

“To say that I was impressed is too weak a word,” said Hidalgo in her stirring presentation. “Your imagination is boundless, and your ability to transport us into a different universe. You are a universal person,” she added, “but you are also someone who makes Paris more beautiful and more creative. You are a Parisian.”

“I am a foreigner,” said Karl, pointedly, “and strangers see things through different eyes, with a detachment. Vive la France!” he added, “and above all, Vive Paris!”

It was a touching moment, for in many ways, this “foreigner” has defined Parisian fashion from the birth of its dynamic ready-to-wear to the hautest of haute couture since he won a prize in the 1954 International Wool Secretariat, alongside an equally youthful Yves Saint Laurent. Karl subsequently went to apprentice with the theatrically-minded couture designer Pierre Balmain before becoming the couturier chez Jean Patou. From the early ’60s through the ’90s (as a current exhibit of Guy Bourdin’s images for Chloé in that brand’s newly opened Maison Chloé reveals), Karl made a profound impact on the city’s ready-to-wear identity in his work for that house.

The front row buzz at the Chanel collection was generated by an Amazon army of glamorous performers, all sporting the new peroxide crop: Cara Delevingne, Tilda Swinton, Katy Perry, and Kristen Stewart. Notable too were the doting, Chanel-clad mothers with their young daughters dressed to match. Couture, as Karl was about to show them all, has no limits.

Karl’s collection showcased the skills of the Chanel ateliers and the amazing craftspeople—the feather-makers, the embroiderers, the boot makers, the pleaters, et al.—whose work brings his pulsing imagination and expressionist sketches to life.

The emphatic coats (belling to the ankle or sheared above the knee) that opened the show fit through the body like second skins and erupted into great arcing shoulders above and bell-shaped skirts below—masterpieces of construction. The skinny-bodied jackets over lean skirts to the lower calf gave the girls the look of the dashing demimondaine in a pre–World War I Lartigue photograph. The Chanel canotier hats—so like the ones that Coco herself wore in just that period to defy the fussy creations then in fashion—were made from matching tweed (and worn with every look, including the pneumatic wedding dress), and the heels of the patent leather ankle boots were half clear Lucite so that it looked as though the girls were daintily tiptoeing down the runway. The classic Chanel braid trims were replicated in froths of feathers in colors plucked from the flecked tweeds. Feathery aigrettes sprouted from shoulders, chemise dresses were frosted with subtly beaded Deco motifs, and great swathes of stiff faille and satin were draped and manipulated so that they looked like a river’s liquid eddies.

Tilda Swinton summed up these skilled craftspeople’s contributions best. “It’s doing something that is both ancient and deeply rooted in the traditions of Mademoiselle Chanel,” she told me, “and rooted in the street. It’s a shame for those who only ever see the photos—or even sit at the show—but never have a chance to see the pieces up close.”

The sketch for the penultimate dress—the Eiffel Tower–silhouette ballgown of tiers of pleated black tulle edged with giant feathery rosettes—was handed to the workroom a mere two weeks ago. “If you turn back the feathers,” Swinton explained, “the backing of each is Eiffel Tower–shaped. Only the woman who wearing the dress would ever know that—or someone very close to her! That’s what I’m moved by, really,” she added, “and Chanel really engages with that.”

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Source: Vogue.com     Photos: Vogue.com  

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A Moment With… Alina Reyzelman of Elite Club, Luxury Lifestyle Management

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Alina Reyzelman is an entrepreneur based in Moscow, London and Los Angeles. Her core businesses, under the umbrella of Berkeley Enterprises, include a nutrition and wellness project, entertainment, alternative investments, lifestyle and luxury consulting. Elite Club, Ltd. is a luxury lifestyle advisor offering creative solutions, innovative ideas, convenience, and discretion. Elite Club, Ltd. offers luxury lifestyle consulting helping individuals bypass the need to have various agents or companies booking travel, organizing events, or simply searching for exquisite items from around the world. We chatted with Alina about the Elite Club to learn more about the founder, their services and to get her insights into Luxury Lifestyle Management, a valuable service for the time-strapped affluent.

What is the Elite Club and what is its mission?

Elite Club is a Luxury Life Style management and consulting company. Our mission is to provide our clients with exclusive access to luxury services and products through our services and trough our online guide/magazine. We offer creative solutions, innovative ideas, convenience, and discretion when we book trips or manage events for our clients. We believe that Elite Club is different because our team combines highly professional standards with a tailored service to meet clients’ individual needs. We are international team and we offer unique consulting services and one of a kind perspective on luxury.

Tell us about the services you offer and the market you serve?

Elite Club offers bespoke lifestyle services are a guarantee of first class service. We try to offer to clients best luxury options based on their taste, needs, wishes and budget. Elite Club offers the “full package” – you don’t have to use various agents or companies to book your travel, organize an event and look for an exquisite gift. We will do it all for you. Elite Club also offers exciting content about the most amazing travel destinations, exclusive gifts, elite real estate and more. Weekly editorial content provides an insight into latest trends, new collections, information about most desired destinations and most exclusive gifts.

What sets in the Elite Club apart from other luxury lifestyle management companies?

Elite Club offers a wide range of bespoke services for every aspect of a luxurious life style. Elite Club does not work with intermediaries or dealers, we work directly with the service providers and are able to offer our clients the best in class – super yachts, private jets, elite real estate and private wealth management.

What inspired you to start the Elite Club?

I believe there was a niche for such services back in 2007. So, when I found the company we used a different business model and offered standard concierge services. However, the company evolved over the years. Last year we decided to focus only on bespoke services and we also launched online luxury guide. We are a boutique company and we are still going through a few changes. Like any business we want to develop, learn, and be best in class.

What do you use see as the future of luxury lifestyle management companies?

I think North America is still the future for luxury demand and growth. So companies offering exclusive services in that part of the world would definitely benefit from it. Emerging markets such as Middle East, Russia/Caspian and China are also lucrative markets for companies that work in luxury lifestyle management. I think in order to stay on top of the game it’s important to be creative, flexible and always follow the trends.

What do you think it makes a luxury lifestyle management company excellent?

Discretion, first class services, and professionalism.

What do you wish people knew about using luxury lifestyle management services?

It’s very expansive.

What is your vision for the future of the Elite Club?

It would be great to expand and work in such markets as UAE, China and Caspian region. We want to become credible online publication and build a global brand. At the moment we are just focusing on developing our bespoke services and making sure we have the best luxury management solutions.

How do you keep up on the industry trends and changes in emerging markets and cultural needs of global clients?

Understanding cultural differences is vital. Knowing customs and etiquette is crucial while dealing with high network individuals from various parts of the world. Elite Club works with many luxury hotels, travel agents and other luxury services providers and always stays on top of the news. We network, we read, we travel and we always learn.

For more information visit http://eliteclubltd.com/

Source: EatLoveSavor.com     Photo: EatLoveSavor.com  

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The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet is an Electric Car that You’ll Actually Want to Drive

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At the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Mercedes revealed the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet, a two seater convertible that boasts an elegant design and the luxurious feel that we know and love. It makes us glad that German car manufacturer Maybach was given a new life as a sub-brand of Mercedes.

This is not a vehicle for anyone looking to maximize a small space. It may be a two seater, but with a length of 236 inches, it takes up plenty of space. Designed as an electric car, the Vision’s drive system has an output of 550 kW (750 PS) and its shallow underfloor battery allows a range of over 500 km according to the NEDC. The car can accelerate from 0–100 km/h in under four seconds and its top speed is electronically governed at 250 km/h.

The Nautical Blue Metallic exterior loos even more expensive thanks to the 24-inch wheels with 26 spokes and a rose-gold center lock. The radiator grille with 25 vertical slats is to be a new defining feature from the brand. We also love the side line that extends from the grille to the rear.

The interior incorporates a two-spoke steering wheel, futuristic lighting effects, quilted leather, and wood with aluminum accents.

Source: LuxuryLaunches.com via Designboom     Photos: LuxuryLaunches.com

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Top 10 Things You Did Not Know About Hermes Birkin Bags

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So you say you love your Birkin, but how much do you really know about it? The Hermès Birkin has legions of fans, but there’s still a lot to learn about the world’s best loved luxury handbag. Are they really as rare as Hermès wants us to believe? Where was this piece of fashion history born? Which colors are the most popular? Find out the answers as we take you on a journey of the little known facts about the world’s most famous handbag.

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10. The illustrious Birkin was born on an airplane barf bag
Jane herself told the Daily Telegraph, “I remember it well. I’d been upgraded by Air France on a flight to London, and was sitting next to a man. I’m not quite sure what type of bag I had with me – my husband, Jacques Doillon, had reversed his car over my basket, crushed it on purpose not two days before. Little did he know that on this airplane journey, when everything fell out of whatever bag I had, the man next to me said: ‘You should have one with pockets’. I said: ‘The day Hermès make one with pockets I will have that’, and he said: ‘But I am Hermès and I will put pockets in for you’.”
I said, ‘Why don’t you make a handbag that is bigger than the Kelly but smaller than Serge’s suitcase?’ And he said, ‘Well, what would it be like?’ And I think I drew it on the sickbag – or the not-be-sick bag. And he said, ‘I’ll make it for you’.”

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9. A Birkin’s size, color and texture are described in its name
The name Hermes Birkin Bi-Color Porosus Crocodile 35, indicates everything that a potential buyer may want to know. The two color design, the croc leather exterior and the 35 cm size.

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8. There’s no such thing as a Himalayan Crocodile!
You’re not the only one who Google searched the words Himalayan crocodile time and time again hoping to see a picture of an ultra-rare mountain dwelling white and brown crocodile. Those pictures don’t exist and neither does this reptilian unicorn. “Himalayan” refers to the white and brown color of the bag which supposedly resemble snowcapped mountains. The Hermès Himalayan Crocodile Birkins are made from the skin of Nile crocs which are found in parts of Africa.

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7. The Birkin wasn’t always the Queen Bee of handbags
The bag made its debut in the big hair and power ballad era of the ‘80s but it didn’t really take off until the mid to late ‘90s when the grand craze of It Bags finally had women swooning over it. While the Birkin itself seems to carry a sense of history and legacy, Birkin fixation is not a very old phenomenon. The bag’s status was probably solidified in 2001 when it was featured on Sex and the City. After the episode aired, the bag’s actual waiting list supposedly tripled.

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6. Jane Birkin receives a royalty for the use of her name
In the beginning Birkin agreed to be compensated with one Birkin every year in exchange for the brand using her name. These days, she is paid an annual royalty of £30,000 which the style icon donates to charity. A while ago, she had asked Hermès to take her name off the bag as a response to hearing about the unethical treatment of the animals whose skins are used to make the bags, but she ultimately changed her mind.

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5. Each Hermès bag takes about 48 hours to make
Birkins are not made in an assembly line fashion where each element is taken care of by a different craftsman. Instead, just one artisan creator works on each bag from start to finish. This is the reason why it takes 48 hours, which is almost a full week of work to produce a single bag.

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4. Birkins aren’t as scarce as you think
It’s something of an urban legend in the handbag world that the waitlist for Birkin bags is two years long. Some people have also mentioned having to befriend Hermès sales associates to be offered a chance to buy one. But then again, Purseblog’s Megs scored one just by walking into a store and asking nicely. So what’s the truth Hermès? The benefit of living in the internet age is that these days it’s really easy to buy a quality second hand Birkin online or at auction.

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3. A Birkin bag is a better investment than stock market shares
Just last year we learned that between the S&P 500, gold, and Birkins, the latter are the most sound investment earning an average annual value increase of 14.2 per cent without ever dipping. They also have an excellent resale value. And speaking of resale…

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2. The most expensive Birkin in the world sold at auction for $377,000
The auction took place not too long ago and the bag in question was a Himalaya Niloticus crocodile diamond Birkin 30. As the name suggests the bag features 18-carat white gold and diamond hardware and is now under the ownership of an anonymous buyer. Incidentally if the buyer is reading this, he or she will be smiling after reading the next fact.

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1. Birkins exist in around 25 shades of blue
Your imagination may be restricted to light and dark blue, but Birkin creators have created an entire spectrum of blues for Birkin lovers to choose from. In the 31 years that the Birkin has been around, the artisans have produced Birkins in at least 25 separate shades of blue. Some iconic shades are Blue Jean, Mykonos and Bleu Roi.

Source: LuxuryLaunches.com     Photo: LuxuryLaunches.com

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This impressive Home in Marietta, Georgia is Very Much Outfitted for “Today’s King and Queen”

Recently offered for $2.49 million. Now Selling at or above only $1 million

Recently offered for $2.49 million. Now Selling at or above only $1 million

There was more than half a million dollars spent just in Honduran mahogany in this impressive mansion in Marietta, Georgia, and that’s before the cost of the brick, stone, and fine finishes located throughout.

Situated on a lush, wooded lot that borders historic Sope Creek and adjoins the Chattahoochee National Park and Forest, this one-of-a-kind Property is a stately and serene retreat located only 25 minutes from the heart of Atlanta.

Influenced by notable castles and manors across Scotland and England (including the home of Sir Walter Scott, circa 1771), this exceptional estate sits on more than an acre at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in coveted East Cobb – named Georgia’s Best Place to Live by Money Magazine in 2016 – within the affluent Atlanta suburb of Marietta.

Inspired by centuries-old castles and manors throughout Europe, this luxurious home will be sold at a live auction on September 9, 2017.

Inspired by centuries-old castles and manors throughout Europe, this luxurious home will be sold at a live auction on September 9, 2017.

The estate is comprised of a main residence and an adjacent carriage house. The main living quarters occupy three living levels, with 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half baths distributed throughout more than 8,400 square feet of living area. The carriage house sits above a three-car garage (with lofted bays to accommodate up to five cars with lifts), and adds 1,300 additional square feet of area. It features one bed and one full bath, a large living room, and a laundry area.

Beautiful Honduran mahogany hewn by English craftsman trained in Gibraltar is used extensively throughout the home, including no fewer than 55 hand-carved doors. The property also contains materials actually recovered from them. Items such as 100-year old sconces, an entry door from an English castle dating to the 1700’s, and fireplaces accented in marble imported from a French castle are examples of the unique elements that comprise the property.

The home features a gourmet kitchen outfitted with professional-grade appliances by Viking and Sub-Zero, a butler’s pantry and wet bar, 1,500-bottle wine cellar, media room and fitness center.

There is also a home’s media room, which features large display cases, in addition to the vast, two-story “trophy room,” which serves as a beautiful display venue for the big game hunter, or that could function as a gallery for the art collector or photographer.

The luxurious mansion has been scheduled for a luxury auction sale this September. Miami-based real estate auction house Platinum Luxury Auctions, the firm retained by the property owner to conduct the sale, has announced that the home will be sold to the highest bidder who meets or exceeds the auction’s reserve bid of $1 million. The live bidding process will be held on the property site on September 9, 2017.

Source: 2Luxury2.com     Photos: 2Luxury2.com

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Cryptocurrency Goes Mainstream: Estonia Proposes World’s First Government Bitcoin

Estonia just announced a proposal to make the world’s first Sovereign backed cryptocurrency – a version of a bitcoin dubbed Estcoin through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

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Neighboured by Finland, Latvia and Russia, the Republic of Estonia is a highly developed high income economy ranked among the fastest growing in the European Union. Having shed the shackles of communist Russia in the 80s, the country in the Baltic region has clawed its way out of economic mismanagement and become one of the richer European states in the North.

As a member of the European Union, Estonia is considered a high-income economy with a 2017 GDP of $40.275 billion and per capita income of $30,764. Estonia also has the lowest ratio of government debt to GDP among EU countries at 6.7% at the end of 2010.

Since its independence from Soviet rule, Estonia has become one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies – in 2005, they held the world’s first elections over the internet and 3 years ago, they became the first nation to provide E-residency. On 24 August 2017, the Managing Director of Estonia’s e-Residency program Kaspar Korjus announced a proposal to make Estonia the first country in the world with its own cryptocurrency – their very own version of a bitcoin dubbed Estcoins through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Rise of the Digital Economy: Estonia E-Residency

When you consider the bureaucratic red tape surrounding the incorporation of a business enterprise anywhere in the world, Estonia’s E-Residency program offers a stark example of a pioneering model where artificial barriers like national boundaries no longer matter. Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world. That’s right, you don’t even need to be a citizen of Estonia nor have an Estonia shareholder in your corporate business structure, Estonian E-Residency offers anyone the freedom to easily start and run a global business in a trusted EU environment – it must be said, if not already implied, that this is fundamentally game-changing program.

“Estonia’s e-Residency is a game-changer. Anyone in the world can now apply for a rock-solid digital ID, giving them what Estonians have taken for granted for years: the ability to identify themselves online, to make binding agreements and to communicate securely. This turns the internet from a confusing Wild West into an environment where trustful interaction is frictionless and ubiquitous.” – Edward Lucas, Senior Editor of The Economist and 1st e-resident

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According to Korjus, Estonia’s e-Residency program was founded on the belief that no one should be held back from their entrepreneurial potential just because of where they live or where they choose to travel. As a result, Estonia e-Residency pioneers the age of the digital nation with a digital economy backed by a population e-Citizens ready to share the vision of a borderless digital world. As such, a sovereign backed crypto-token or cryptocurrency like Estcoin, is an enticing glimpse into the new market to come – a digital economy.

“Even though there are only a little over a million of us, thanks to Estonia’s capabilities, we can make ten million payments, perform ten million requests and sign ten million contracts in just ten minutes. Even ten times larger states cannot beat us. But the good news is that it is possible to join our exclusive club of digitally empowered citizens.” – Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia

How has cryptocurrency and the digital economy been developing?

Writing for Seeking Alpha, Michael Atassi, an equity and tech specialist states that Bitcoin has grown 600% to date, valued at $4150 while Ethereum has grown 4700% to date albeit holding lower values to Bitcoin, the prevailing opinion is that cryptocurrencies should now be part of any balanced investment portfolio especially with the current political uncertainty affecting the markets.

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Ethereum versus Bitcoin, the “uncorrelated hedge”

Where cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin both use a platform of Blockchain technologies, Ethereum differs from Bitcoin as a decentralised smart-contract solution as opposed to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies or alt-coins like it. Essentially cryptocurrencies as an investment vehicle stand apart from traditional assets in that they’re not typically affected by world issues and geopolitics – therefore, they are an “uncorrelated hedge” where a typical market crash affects everything else. Thus, a cryptocurrency like Estcoin, Bitcoin, Jetcoin etc, can be argued to have better robustness than even gold in hard times where even mild currency manipulations are irrelevant. That said, a fundamental weakness in digital currencies are their volatility and over-dependence/reliance on technologies like the Internet.

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Cryptocurrency Goes Mainstream: Estonia proposes World’s First Government Bitcoin, the Estcoin

In a blog post on medium, Korjus lays out the fundamental rational for the Estcoin, the Estonia bitcoin: ‘Estcoins’  managed by the Republic of Estonia, but accessed by anyone in the world through its e-Residency programme and launched through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) would revolutionise a small nation-state with just 1.3 million residents by offering them a digital economy and access to at least 10 million digital residents.

Estonia e-Residency offered huge value to entrepreneurs seeking trust, location-independence (it’s an online world, your business is, by its very digital nature, a global one as a result), minimal bureaucracy, low business costs and access to a wider range of fintech services.

Furthermore, partnered with the United Nations, Estonia’s e-Residency program provides eTrade For All, a digital fintech platform helping tackle the problem of financial exclusion in developing countries. When one considers the immense potential of untapped, underdeveloped economies and markets in the world, the financial upside outweighs the risks

Advised by cryptocurrency heavyweights like Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Estcoin has the potential to snowball into a digital investment fund which not only benefits Estonia but also provides incentives to investors in the success of Estonia and its growing digital economy. Additionally, the Estcoins could be built on a blockchain platform giving it the flexibility of a bitcoin, making it easy and convenient to convert and use in smart contracts and a myriad of other applications.

As the digital investment fund grows through the initial coin offering (ICO), Estcoin can then be invested in public and private ventures mimicking other successful Nordic investment funds like the Norwegian oil fund. With Estonia e-Residency, the infrastructure, by way of government issued digital identities, is largely available for such a venture already.

Where bitcoin operates in a veil of anonymity, Estcoin, a national cryptocurrency uses the country’s platform already developed with secure digital identities and a safe, trusted and transparent digital economy, side-stepping the bitcoin downsides of potential for illegal activities.

“Bonds may create financial instability if a country faces a difficult economic situation. Then, its ability to pay back debt would go down and its need for more debt would go up, leading to a vicious circle. Creating instruments where incentives between government and holders of these instruments are aligned seems to me to be a win-win.” – Korjus speaking to The Next Web

According to The Next Web, their article postulates that “a state run ICO is merely the 2017-version of government bonds” however, Korjus’s response is that while there are similarities, the Estcoin is imminently more flexible and tradeable than a typical Bond issue.

But the issue is now one of execution – so far, Korjus as reached out to captains of the startup industry in Estonia to submit ideas and proposals. The government is also looking out for hashtags #estcoin and #eResidency on social media to listen in on comments, opinions and ideas from netizens everywhere.

Source: Luxuo.com     Photos: Luxuo.xom

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Aman’s Luxury Private Jet Journey will Take Guests Across Pan Asia this October

Specially curated by Aman experts, the 17-day trip includes visits to cultural landmarks and scenic destinations in China, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka.

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As Four Seasons has demonstrated, private jet journeys are all the rage right now, especially to those for whom the mundanities of holiday planning seem like too much to conquer. Aman’s private jet journeys are no exception. Returning for its 4th edition this October, the luxury hotel group’s 17-day tour across Pan Asia will host up to 16 guests — double the amount from last year.

Specially curated by travel experts for a holiday experience unlike any other, Aman’s upcoming private jet getaway will take flight from October 8 to 24, 2017. Up in the air, guests will travel upon Aman’s 2 cosy Gulfstream G200s, which will accommodate only four couples each. Sticking to tradition, guests will embark on a tour that spans across the lands of China, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka, all in the comfort of a private car.

On October 8, the tour will kick off at one of China’s most beloved tourist destinations: Hangzhou, the capital city of the Zhejiang province. Guests will travel to the centuries-old village of Amanfayun, where they will explore some of China’s famous terraced tea plantations and bamboo forests.

For a dose of history, guests will also pay a visit to Lijiang’s Old Town. The UNESCO World Heritage Site offers breathtaking views of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range and a peek into the unique lifestyle of the ancient Naxi community.

The private jet by Aman

The private jet by Aman

Next up on the itinerary is a stay at the luxury lodges of Amankora in Thimphu. There, guests can easily experience the best of what Bhutan’s capital has to offer: Buddhist monasteries, charming markets and a wealth of museums. Over at Paro, guests will embark on an exciting half-day hike to the legendary Tiger’s Nest temple, which clings to a cliff face, 900meters above the ground.

Guests will then whisked away to India’s “Pink City”, Jaipur, where they will have the unique experiences of glamping at the grand tents of Aman-i-Khas, as well as a surreal yoga session atop a stone pavilion in the ruins of Bhangarh city.

Arriving in Sri Lanka, the tour’s final destination, guests will get to explore yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site: Galle. The historic fort is perfect for sightseeing with its ancient colonial architecture, followed by a relaxing session at a hydrotherapy spa. The last day of the tour promises scenic nature trails, market visits and a sunrise yoga session overlooking the beaches of Amanwella resort.

Priced at $64,888 per person, Aman’s private jet expedition across Pan Asia is sure to create memories unlike any other, enriched with unparalleled experiences and insights into Asian history and cultures.

Source: Luxuo.com     Photos: Luxuo.com; Aman

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Sicily Luxury Retreat: Villa Il Siciliano

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Boasting nine bedrooms with breathtaking views of the sea and Mount Etna, Villa Il Siciliano in Italy is opulent and elegant. This inspiring retreat is located on the eastern coast of Sicily in a lush valley, offering a high degree of privacy.

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A scenic road among lemon trees hints the way towards the main entrance. From afar, the villa looks imposing with its tall walls, arched windows reminiscent of the neoclassical style and large terraces. This is a place where past and future are bound together, so don’t be surprised if the overall traditional style of the property is “interrupted” here and there by highly modern additions. For example, the inner garden is home to a contemporary bedroom and the terrace on the second level features avant-grade glass details. The old-new association can be observed inside the villa as well. Some of the interiors showcase a charming contrast between preserved walls and modern furniture. Find the mix appealing?

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Source: Pursuitist.com     Photos: Pursuitist.com

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Petrossian Caviar and Champagne Bar at Los Angeles Airport

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Plane delayed, who cares? Now you can wait for your flight in the lap of luxury. The French world-renowned caviar house Petrossian has opened a caviar and champagne bar at Los Angeles’ Tom Bradley International Terminal. Menu items at the post bar include a caviar martini garnished with a caviar-stuffed olive, caviar deviled eggs, hand-sliced smoked salmon, a smoked trout platter and caviar flatbread, according to The Los Angeles Times.

And you no longer need to suffer from terrible airplane food. For the traveler on the go, Petrossian offers “Caviar in the Air” carry-on picnic packs that range from $205.50 to $1,581.50. The packs include a choice of caviar—such as Tsar Imperial Ossetra—blinis and crème fraîche in an insulated carry-on Petrossian pouch. According to the LA Times, other “to go” options include a selection of Parisian-smoked salmon and charcuterie.

The bar also features over 20 vodkas, a wide selection of high-end champagnes and various caviar choices based on availability, include Royal Transmontanus, Alverta President Transmontanus, Tsar Imperial Siberian, Tsar Imperial Shassetra and Tsar Imperial Ossetra.

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Source: Pursuitist.com     Photos: Pursuitist.com

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Sublimotion Returns to Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, Adds the Samsung Gear VR to Create New Senses

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After launching the incredible, not to forget- most-expensive dining experience there is, Sublimotion by two-Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero at the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, has unveiled his art meets sensory meets gastronomy meets technology experience. What takes his dining experience to new levels will be the addition of Samsung’s latest wearable technology; the Samsung Gear VR.

So just as guests settle in for dinner, they will be handed a Samsung Gear VR that will transport them to the bottom of the sea giving them an augmented reality experience of the dishes to be served. So seafood starters will experience their food being served in a giant illuminated shell along with an ionised cold broth while surrounded by views of the sea world and sea aroma while a video-recipe pops at each bite. Their dining journey also takes them to Peru where they will experience the deconstruction of a traditional ceviche and to Japan where they will eat and experience nigiri made with ventresca, served with shallots, seaweed, sea beans, red Shiso and a wasabi dressing.

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For the uninitiated, Sublimotion is a technology capsule spread across 350 square meters that promises to surprise with a mise-en-scène so that guests can experience a multi-sensory dinner. The dining room itself is a blank canvas with sophisticated audiovisual installation.

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Sublimotion allows only 12 diners each day to enjoy their multi-sensory dining experience.

Source: LuxuryLaunches.com via Hedomag     Photos: LuxuryLaunches.com

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Los Angeles’s Baker to the Rich and Famous Shares Her Chocolate Chocolate Teacake with Pursuitist

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Artisanal bakeries are the current kings of the gourmet food scene, even in bread-phobic Los Angeles where the rich and famous famously watch out for their waistlines. And there’s no L.A. baker more acclaimed than Zoe Nathan, who opened Huckleberry Café and Bakery five years ago with her restaurateur husband Josh Loeb, in celebrity-central Santa Monica. Every day since, their display case has been piled high with fresh organic breads, rustic pastries, savory tarts and oodles of cookies to tempt crowds who indulge in Nathan’s extraordinary sweet treats after coming in for a healthy Romanesco Frittata for breakfast or tender brisket hash and roast chicken for lunch.

Wholesome foodie fans include regulars Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, and Gwyeth Paltrow who says Nathan’s “rustic, delicious food (is) a staple in my house.” Elijah Wood singles out her “ridiculously delicious” salted caramel squares, and Bear Grylls raves that Huckleberry is his “favorite restaurant in the world.” We tend to believe him since, coincidentally, Bear named his son Huckleberry.

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After receiving such applause, it was inevitable that L.A.’s celebrity baker become an author with her first cookbook: “Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from Our Kitchen” (Chronicle Books). With 288 pages of recipes and nearly 150 photos by Matt Armendariz, the book finally shares Huckleberry’s recipes, re-proportioned for home bakers. “Giving something you made to someone you love is just about the best feeling in the world,” says Nathan.

In that spirit, Zoe Nathan and Chronicle Books gave us permission to share her rich Chocolate Chocolate Teacake recipe with Pursuitist readers. Resistance is futile.

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE TEACAKE
Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf.

¾ cup pastry flour
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups coarsely chopped dark chocolate, 60 to 70% cacao
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 eggs
Powdered sugar for topping (optional)

1. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-5-in loaf pan.
2. Sift together the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Combine the coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside. Melt ¾ cup of the chocolate gently over a double boiler or in a small bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the chocolate over the double boiler to keep warm while you mix the cake.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well. Pause mixing and add the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the coffee mixture. Fold in both the melted and chopped chocolate.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool completely.
6. Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake. Rest your serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right-side up onto the plate. Once cooled, top with powdered sugar, if desired.
This keeps beautifully, tightly wrapped, at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

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Source: Pursuitists.com     Photos: Pursuitist.com

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Discover: Buying a Castle or Vineyard in France: Agence Internationale Mercure

You’ve always dreamed of buying a castle in France. Did you know that you actually can?

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Since 1936 French company Agence Internationale Mercure has led the way in the Castle and ‘belle demeures’ market in France. Passionate about castles, character properties, country Estates and vineyards.

You can actually buy a piece of French history!

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Its charismatic CEO owner Pierre Chasseigne is fascinated by history and a true admirer of ancient houses. This impressive of portfolio includes historic castles, private residences, country Estates, vineyards, apartments in Paris, all making up a grand catalog of beauty and history.

What’s Available

Agence International Mercure’s company’s portfolio includes historic castles, private residences, country houses, hotels, prestigious apartments, hunting grounds, vineyards comprising catalogue of more that 2500 prestigious properties in France.

www.agencemercure.com

Source: EatLoveSavor.com  Photos: EatLoveSavor.com

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Karl Largerfeld and Vans’ Capsule Collection Hits Stores Next Month

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You may usually associate Karl Largerfeld with couture and runway fashion, but the designer is bringing his aesthetic to the high street through a collaboration with sneaker company Vans. The resultant capsule collection will feature six shoe styles including remakes of classic Vans styles like the Sk8-Hi laceless platform and Old Skool laceless.

You can also look out for Vans’ classic checkerboard pattern slip on shoes this time featuring Lagerfeld’s profile as well as a black leather Classic Slip-On with a quilted “K” pattern. Apart from shoes, the collection will feature a graphic T-shirt, a bomber jacket, and a backpack.
With prices ranging from $40 to $300 the collection will be available online and in stores on September 7.

Source: LuxuryLaunches.com via Elle     Photo: LuxuryLaunches.com

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Train with PGA Professionals: GOLFTEC Opens Singapore Instructional Centre

Backed by Motion Measurement and PGA professional mentors, GOLFTEC Singapore Instructional Centre will train golfers to drop average 7 strokes from handicap.

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Part tech company and part mentor-trainee golf discipleship, GOLFTEC (hence the name), the world leader in golf lessons and provider of GOLFTEC Swing Evaluation, a Motion Measurement technology designed to “quantify the mechanics of your swing”, is opening their first Singapore Instructional Centre, the company’s most recent expansion into Asia.

Train with PGA Professionals: GOLFTEC opens Singapore Instructional Centre

Thanks to an exclusive alliance with the PGA of America, GOLFTEC is the largest employer of PGA of America Professionals in the United States; it’s a commitment which the golf training provider takes seriously, ensuring employment opportunities for PGA Professionals while providing superlative golf instructional standards for its trainees at its Instructional Centres worldwide.

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With five teaching and practice bays, two large putting greens and TECFIT® club-fitting services, the GOLFTEC Singapore Instructional Centre joins Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Canada as the latest exemplar of the company’s astounding success and subsequent rapid expansion. Every student starts with the vaunted GOLFTEC Swing Evaluation, a fact-based diagnosis based on tried and tested technology which provides a measurable path to improvement instead of the usual opinion-based mentor-mentee relationship.

“The overseas interest in GOLFTEC has picked up tremendous steam in recent years, especially in Southeast Asia. Our world-renowned approach to instruction and club-fitting has revolutionised the way that golfers learn and improve and we’re excited to bring our unique approach to Singapore.” – Joe Assell, Co-Founder and CEO of GOLFTEC.

This technical diagnosis is provided with additional recording of your swing from two directions for slow motion and stop-action review and then followed by a certified personal coach recommending a specific game plan: the most important elements of your swing are quantified: such as degrees of shoulder turn and hip sway. The result is a clear, measurable and most importantly, ACTIONABLE.

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At the latest GOLFTEC Instructional Centre in Singapore, the majority of lessons are taught indoors in private bays. GOLFTEC then supplements the latest in golf coaching technology with real world tutorials as coaches accompany players for on-course/outdoor lessons to ensure realistic situations and learning experiences. Situated at 3-21, Republic Plaza II, 9 Raffles Place, the newest GOLFETEC Instructional Centre promotes a dynamic and holistic golf experience through an inviting and inspiring atmosphere. Thanks to total golf immersion and start of the art amenities and services, GOLFTEC’s pioneering programs have led to a 96 percent success rate among GOLFTEC students.

The GOLFTEC Singapore Instructional Centre is overseen by Centre Managers Craig Crandall and Chris Neylan. Crandall is a PGA of America member and Neylan has taught more than 12,000 lessons over a nearly decade-long career at GOLFTEC, both will supervise other highly trained GOLFTEC coaches, including Australian PGA Member Chris Marriott and British PGA Advanced Professional Matt Chalmers. So potent is GOLFTEC’s combination of tech and experienced mentorship that current students often drop an average of seven strokes from their scorecard.

Pro Golf Asia Limited owns the master license to open and operate GOLFTEC Instructional Centres in Hong Kong and five countries in Southeast Asia. GOLFTEC expects to teach nearly 1 million lessons in 2017.

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Source: Luxuo.com     Photos: Luxuo.com

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Air France is Experimenting with Virtual Reality Glasses for In-Flight Entertainment

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Long haul flights mean back moans and the agony of sleeping up right, with ‘enjoyment’ being a distant dream! One good offering on these flights though is the endless movie spree that we can indulge in, without an iota of guilt in their minds! And here to spice up this entertainment avenue for its guests is Air France that recently teamed up with SkyLights- a startup that manufactures virtual reality headsets and systems like a pro!

The exclusive service will provide guests with virtual reality headphones for an out- of -the world experience and will be made available to business class flyers only. Travelers can choose to view films, television series and soothing music videos from a selection of 40 visual treats, with the help of 2D cum 3D headsets. The service further aims at providing a private theatre like experience to its guests, that is isolated from the rest of the cabin and its irritants (read snoring co-passengers and wailing babies!). The VR headsets also act as apt noise cancellation devices, thus ensuring a sweet slumber to guests onboard!

Currently, the service is in its pilot phase with only 4 of these headsets being tested on the Airbus A340 operating between Paris-Charles de Gaulle to/from St. Martin. However, Air France soon plans to roll out the service to its remaining fleet of flights. While VR headsets sure sound like a promising experience, we wonder when economy flyers would get perks like these!

Source: LuxuryLaunches.com     Photo: LuxuyLaunches.com

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Sneak Peek – Inside the First Equestrian Themed St Regis Hotel in the World

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St Regis’ very first equestrian themed luxury resort is almost ready to receive guests. The tall buildings and glittering lights of Dubai form the backdrop to the St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club which officially opens its doors in October. However, a sneak peek of the palatial property shows that it’s every bit as opulent and fabulous as you expect a Dubai luxury resort to be.

The resort’s 151 rooms, suites, and villas boast floor to ceiling windows or balconies that offer dramatic views of the four polo fields that the resort is built around. The décor is equal parts equestrian and Art Deco, giving the rooms a subtly glamorous feel.

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The equestrian theme is not without context. Jacob Astor IV, founder of the first St. Regis in New York, was a Polo enthusiast. At this resort’s Polo Academy, an expert team of instructors will offer polo practice and riding lessons for guests. Experienced as well as novice riders are welcome.

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Even the spa offers special treatments for riders like Riders Relief Massage and the Equestrian Journey, which are designed to relax sore muscles.

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When not riding, guests can enjoy a high tea at the Equestrian Lounge or sip a cocktail at the St. Regis Polo Bar.

Source: LuxuryLaunches.com via RobbReport  Photos:  LuxuryLaunches.com

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George Lucas New Property Acquisition Adds French Chateau Margui to His Skywalker Vineyards

George Lucas has added Château Margüi, a French vineyard to his list of growing Skywalker Vineyards.

Image rights: George Lucas’s latest acquisition Chateau Margui vineyards by Var Matin

Image rights: George Lucas’s latest acquisition Chateau Margui vineyards by Var Matin

After months of rumours surrounding the lush region of Coteaux Varois en Provence, it’s finally been confirmed that George Lucas has added Château Margüi, a French vineyard to his list of growing Skywalker Vineyards. First reported in French newspaper Var Matin, Lucas added the property north adjacent to Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Château Miraval to his portfolio of vineyards with the April 28th purchase of the historic chateau located in Provence, France for $14 million.

George Lucas new Property Acquisition adds French Chateau Margui to his Skywalker Vineyards

Château Margüi boasts 287 acres of prime verdant grounds, 42 acres devoted vineyards with 7 acres to olive trees. The Château is an agricultural tour de force since Roman times in the south-west corner of the Bessillon ranges. With rolling hills, dry-stone walls, natural springs and of course, the vines.

Image rights: http://www.luckymiam.com/en/chateau-margui/

Image rights: http://www.luckymiam.com/en/chateau-margui/

Since the early 2000s, 15 hectares of vines (Syrah, Cabernet, Vermentino, Cinsault, Grenache, Sangiovese) were replanted by Marie-Christine Baylet-Guillanton and Philippe Guillanton (serving presently as winery manager) on clay and limestone soil that had been dormant for 30 years. With the recent acquisition of the vineyards by George Lucas, the heritage Provence property joins other Skywalker Vineyards in Marin, California and Lucas’s other European vineyard,  Il Convento in Umbria, Italy.

Since the resurrection of the fertile wino-nursing greens, for over 40 years, the land of Margüi has not known any chemical fertilizers, as a result, Margüi’s entire surface is classified AB Organic by Ecocert. The construction of relatively recent wine-making facilities started in early 2003, where architects and builders pursued concepts and ideas in accordance with the vineyard’s coming to age: modern wine-making tools under heritage Roman stone work.

Image rights: View of Château Margüi vineyard http://www.luckymiam.com/en/chateau-margui/

Image rights: View of Château Margüi vineyard http://www.luckymiam.com/en/chateau-margui/

George Lucas’s latest vineyard Château Margüi is considered to be an architectural jewel of Provence and as such, the elegant 18th century chateau was lovingly restored with traditional materials, organic hemp, and natural pigments for all buildings including the chateau, chapel and other outbuildings on the farm. As a result Lucas’s latest vineyard pays homage to its unique history as a 15th century castle with Romanesque structures.

According to a statement by Winery Manager Guillanton to Provence Wine Zine, “fans of Château Margüi need not worry that the wines will change as the crew is remaining the same.”

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A variety of wino flows from the estate, a duo of roses serve lovers of pink wines with the Perle de Margüi rose and the Toscane de Margüi; white wines titillate the senses via the refreshing Les Pierres Sauvages and L’Or des Pierres while a sole, Titien de Margüi offers the palette a delectable red. Château Margüi reached full production of around 65 000 bottles with the 2008 harvest. While starting to produced Olive oil with the first press in 2009.

Source: Luxuo.com     Photos: Var Matin; http://www.luckymiam.com/en/chateau-margui/;

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Inside Manufacture Minerva: Home of Montblanc 1858 Collection

Adapting a vintage design for the modern age is right up Montblanc’s alley, thanks to its two manufactures that offer both traditional and cutting edge approaches to watchmaking

Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition

Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition

In the pantheon of Roman gods, Janus is the one who presides over beginnings, transitions, and endings. Time itself is part of his domain, and Janus was often depicted with two faces – one gazed back at the past, while the other looked into the future. Montblanc shares a striking similarity to Janus in that both bridge the past and future: the maison constantly seeks to break new ground, yet keeps a keen eye on its heritage, both to protect it and to draw inspiration from it. This trait is characterised, quite fittingly, by the brand’s timepieces.

Dawn of a New Manufacture

Montblanc only started producing timepieces in 1997. This was admittedly a late start, especially in comparison to other manufactures that already boasted over a century of watchmaking heritage by then. Considering how the maison has managed to establish itself as a bona fide manufacture with both mass market and haute horlogerie offerings within two decades, however, it is clear that the length of time is but one factor in determining the relative success that a brand has in this field.

Montblanc’s Le Locle Manufacture

Montblanc’s Le Locle Manufacture

Montblanc’s initial foray into timepieces was centred on Le Locle, where it established its watchmaking operations. The choice was an easy one to make – the little town nestled in the Jura Mountains had a long history of watchmaking, and already depended on it as its chief economic activity from the 1840s. As Montblanc was part of the Richemont Group, it could also count on technical support from sibling brands such as IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre. From the get-go, however, the maison was determined to maintain its autonomy in design and product positioning. To that end, its initial offerings heavily mirrored the fountain pens that the brand was then better known for – gold cases and black dials recalled classics such as the Montblanc Meisterstück 149, and drew an instant link between the two product universes. The stylised six-pointed white star was also a recurring motif and appeared in places such as the crown and the seconds hand. Over time, Montblanc expanded its range of watches to include women’s collections such as the ultra-feminine Star Lady, and sportier lines like the Timewalker. The brand’s ability to master both the traditional and the avant-garde was evident from the start – even as it pushed the envelope with technical details such as the use of DLC in some sports watches, it also offered classic designs in lines like the Star collection.

Acquiring Minerva, Transforming into Villeret

Montblanc received a major boost to its watchmaking capabilities in 2006, when the Richemont Group acquired Minerva. The Villeret-based manufacture was nearly 150 years old by then, and the terms of the deal included unlimited rights to its calibres, existing ébauches, machines, tools, and even the building itself. Considering that Minerva did produce its own watches, it was certainly possible to establish the manufacture as a distinct brand within the Richemont Group’s portfolio, albeit one that operated on a smaller scale. The ultimate decision, however, was to integrate it with Montblanc.

Inside Manufacture-Minerva, now known as Villeret, Home of Montblanc 1858 Collection.

Inside Manufacture-Minerva, now known as Villeret, Home of Montblanc 1858 Collection.

Minerva was only named as such in 1929; the company was founded in 1858, and was initially an établisseur that merely assembled finished components into complete watches. It reached a major milestone in 1902 with the introduction of its first in-house movement and, by 1910, was producing around a dozen different ébauches alongside chronographs and stopwatches. As an entity, Minerva changed hands several times and, as was common in the past, had its products marketed under many different brands, such as the now defunct Rhenus and Tropic. There were common threads running through its history though. For one, despite the ownership changes Minerva remained private until its acquisition by the Richemont Group. This gave the manufacture an independence that also shaped its development – automation, for instance, was never considered, which kept the quantities of movements and watches produced relatively modest. In turn, Minerva’s limited scale safeguarded its independence, as it was too small to attract the attention of conglomerates keen on acquiring watchmaking assets. Ownership aside, the company’s winning of the timing contract for the 1936 Winter Olympic Games also set an important precedent by firmly establishing chronographs, stopwatches, and measuring instruments as the second key pillar of the business, in addition to watches. This business unit kept the company afloat during the Quartz Crisis, as it supplied stopwatches and other measuring devices to clients outside the watch industry.

The vaunted 500 hours test within Montblanc’s Le Locle facility

The vaunted 500 hours test within Montblanc’s Le Locle facility

Inside Manufacture Minerva: Home of Montblanc 1858 Collection

Under Montblanc, Minerva was rebranded as the maison’s Villeret manufacture. This addition meant that Montblanc now had two synergistic watchmaking assets under it –the state-of-the-art Le Locle manufacture that produces tens of thousands of watches annually, and the traditional Villeret manufacture with an expertise in movement development and production honed over one and a half centuries.

Indeed, the maison took full advantage of this, and eventually separated the watchmaking functions among the two manufactures to play to each’s strengths. The Villeret manufacture now handles in-house movement development and prototyping, as well as the assembly of all in-house movements from small to high complications. Selected timepieces that are produced within the manufacture’s high watchmaking atelier are encased there as well, with each watch cased up by the same watchmaker that assembled its movement. Finally, the Villeret manufacture also produces hairsprings. This fairly uncommon capability that has allowed Montblanc to offer atypical oscillators, such as the Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110 Years Anniversary Limited Edition watch, which uses two concentric cylindrical hairsprings (one set inside the other) within the tourbillon escapement.

Hairspring production remains a key competency of the Villeret manufacture

Hairspring production remains a key competency of the Villeret manufacture

The Le Locle manufacture, on the other hand, handles the watchmaking functions outside of movement development and production. These range from the initial design and prototyping work, to the production of cases, dials, and hands, to final assembly and quality control. Montblanc’s Laboratory Test 500 Hours, which subjects all Montblanc watches with in-house movements to a battery of tests totalling 500 hours, is also conducted at Le Locle. Finally, with the recent establishment of a dedicated business unit for watches, even the staff involved in marketing and other such functions are now based there.

Minerva – Villeret – Le Locle – Montblanc: Managing Fine Watchmaking Know-how

With the cutting edge design and production capabilities of one manufacture to complement the rich heritage of the other, Montblanc has been able to flex its watchmaking muscles and offer vintage inspired watches with decidedly modern twists. The recent three additions to the maison’s 1858 collection epitomises this, beginning with the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition. This timepiece is the flagship of the three new watches, and harks back to the early days of chronograph technology with its monopusher layout. The modern self-winding chronograph movement with two pushbuttons, such as the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750, is the result of several cumulative developments, which the monopusher chronograph predates. Instead of two pushers, the sole pusher here starts, stops, and resets the chronograph sequentially, and is thus unable to total the elapsed time for separate events by stopping and restarting the chronograph – a quaint limitation today, but the norm in the past.

Left: An earlier Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition in steel. Right: Its successor, 1858 Chronograph Limited Edition in Bronze

Left: An earlier Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition in steel. Right: Its successor, 1858 Chronograph Limited Edition in Bronze

Choice of complication aside, the watch’s design also alludes to the past, specifically Minerva’s history of producing watches for military use. The importance of keeping accurate time in a military context should be easy to understand. Coordinating troop movements to predetermined times, for one, would maintain the element of surprise. A chronograph with a telemeter scale, on the other hand, would allow an artillery battery’s commander to gauge the distance to the enemy. Pilots, too, relied on chronographs when navigating, by timing the various legs of a flight pattern. The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition’s design is based on an earlier reference in blue, which was itself derived from a pilot’s monopusher chronograph Minerva made in 1932. Note how the cathedral hands, vintage typeface for the hour indexes, and oversized onion crown have all been maintained as throwbacks to the original.

The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition’s bronze case has been matched with a champagne-coloured dial

The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition’s bronze case has been matched with a champagne-coloured dial

In lieu of an exact facsimile, however, Montblanc opted to update the original’s design while preserving its vintage military vibe, with the most striking change being the usage of bronze instead of steel. Bronze was, of course, never used in any vintage watch – the material was only introduced as a case material in the mid-1990s. The alloy immediately imparts an aged look to the watch that will intensify over time as it acquires a patina. Lest one is worried about this choice of material, rest assured that the variant used here is aluminium bronze. This alloy will start to develop a dark, even patina after two to three weeks of wear, but lack the pitting or green discolouration commonly observed in standard bronze and brass. Meanwhile, the timepiece’s case back is bronze-coloured titanium, so skin allergies are a non-issue. The choice of bronze is certainly atypical for a timepiece positioned at this level. Davide Cerrato, managing director of Montblanc’s watch division, agreed. “It’s clearly not a watch for everyone. If you think you’re buying a gold watch, then you’ll be disappointed because it will get darker – we’ve communicated this very clearly. For the collector who wants a watch with a patina, however, it’s the perfect timepiece.”

The 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition’s bronze case has been matched with a champagne-coloured dial, which is yet another anachronism. Period correct military watches would, of course, have high contrast dials in either black or white for maximum legibility. This was also deliberate. According to Cerrato, this dial colour was chosen to impart a monochromic look, for an even heavier touch of vintage appeal. The crystal also remains domed like the original, although its material has been updated from acrylic to sapphire. The finishing touch on the front of the watch is the vintage styled Montblanc logo, which currently appears on all 1868 collection timepieces.

The Montblanc MB M16.29 calibre here features impeccable hand finishing on every single component and there is much to see thanks to the chronograph’s horizontal clutch layout

The Montblanc MB M16.29 calibre here features impeccable hand finishing on every single component and there is much to see thanks to the chronograph’s horizontal clutch layout

Flip the watch around, and the transparent case back presents a feast for the eyes. The MB M16.29 calibre here features impeccable hand finishing on every single component – frankly a given that’s expected of the Villeret atelier – and there is much to see thanks to the chronograph’s horizontal clutch layout. The V-shaped chronograph bridge and arrow-shaped component, signatures of the Minerva manufacture, are also present here, with the latter executed at one end of the chronograph blocking lever. In a first for the brand, the movement bridges and mainplate have been plated with red gold, to complement the hue of the bronze case. The greatest visual delight is served up by the large balance wheel, which beats at a leisurely 18,000vph. This oscillation frequency is inherently less accurate compared to movements beating at higher frequencies, and thus demands much more work to reach similar levels of chronometric performance. The consequence is of this is that every watch becomes a luxury product through and through given the time lavished on its movement.

The Rest of the Montblanc 1858 Collection

The 1858 Automatic Dual Time and 1858 Automatic were conceived to be accessible translations of the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition’s concept, and have been priced accordingly. The most striking differences lie in their designs: in lieu of full bronze cases, the watches are bi-colour instead, with stainless steel providing contrast to their bronze bezels and crowns. The two watches also have high contrast dials that are closer to the original’s in spirit.

1858 Automatic Dual Time

1858 Automatic Dual Time

Of course, the movements housed with the two watches also differ from the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition. In fact, the small complication housed within the 1858 Automatic Dual Time, a second time zone display with day/night indicator, is also anachronistic, as it had only been developed in the 1950s. Cerrato described this watch as “almost a pre-GMT”, yet again demonstrating Montblanc’s deft touch in combining the best of elements from different time periods. The Automatic Dual Time’s MB 29.19 calibre is an in-house development, and is capable of “hiding” the second hour hand below the first should the watch’s wearer not require it. Finally, the 1858 Automatic rounds out the trio as the most affordable timepiece among them, with a simple two-hand layout that only displays the time.

Despite having designs rooted in a military chronograph produced during the interwar period, the three timepieces have been refreshed with modern elements, and look like perfect blends between a modern watch and its predecessor from a century ago. What’s even more impressive is how they can effortlessly put a dressy twist on the rugged tool watch aesthetic – none of these timepieces will be out of place under a suit in the boardroom. Cerrato opined that the right combination of elements can render such categorisations moot, because “[a] good design transcends such categories”. The three watches here have certainly done that.

1858 Automatic

1858 Automatic

Source: Luxuo.com     Photos: Luxuo.com

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How A Jewelry Artist Is Using Her Creativity To Save Elephants In Africa

When jewelry artist Alexandra Mor moved to Bali for a year she was looking to replenish her creative juices while learning Balinese craftsmanship. Her adventure took an unusual detour which made all the difference in finding herself, carving out a new outlet for her creativity and using it to bring attention to a larger cause.

Mor is known for elegant, well-crafted jewels with signature characteristics such as the use of large colored gemstones, “floating” diamond melee and knife-edge wire trim. In seven years she achieved critical acclaim and a strong following among jewelry loving consumers. However, in recounting her experience recently, she sounded like someone who was feeling burned-out.

A necklace made of tagua seeds, baroque pearls and 22k gold beads with carved red wood lotus flower

A necklace made of tagua seeds, baroque pearls and 22k gold beads with carved red wood lotus flower

“I was working for so long, so hard and grateful to achieve so many great things, but creatively I felt like I was not really connecting to my work and the balance between the business and my work,” she said. “At one point somebody told me you’re going to have to decide whether you’re a jewelry designer or a business woman. I’m not willing to let go of being a jewelry designer, being an artist, because that’s what makes what I do so special.”

Alexandra Mor holds the tagua seed

Alexandra Mor holds the tagua seed

In August, 2016, Mor, her husband Alon, and their three school-age children left their New York home and moved to Bali. While focusing on her creative process and immersing herself in Balinese craft and culture, she befriended Nadya Yuti Hutagalung, an Indonesian-Australian model and television host, who co-founded the organization, “Let Elephants Be Elephants,” and produced a documentary film of the same name to raise awareness about the connection between high levels of elephant poaching in Africa and the consumption of ivory in Asia.

Alexandra Mor in Bali

Alexandra Mor in Bali

It turned out that this chance encounter provided the creative spark Mor needed. “The film came at the right time,” she said.

Mor understood that poaching elephants for their tusks was a serious issue but when she saw the film she was shocked to learn the extent of the problem and the amount of jewelry and art objects still being made with ivory.

Long carved tagua and baroque pearl earrings

Long carved tagua and baroque pearl earrings

“Every 15 minutes an elephant is being killed and not only elephants but so many other species for their tusks, horns, fur, whatever,” she said. “I was surprised to learn how much of it is used for jewelry still. It has different powers in different cultures and it’s so well established in the collectible world.”

She continued, “I started thinking what can I do as a designer? My comfort was always around the design, the craftsmanship and the quality. I decided that I evolved from that place. My work has to have a bigger intention and has to resonate with a bigger conversation that gives back, influences and inspires—whether it’s a little drop in the ocean or something bigger.”

Carving a tagua bead by hand

Carving a tagua bead by hand

In her research Mor learned about the tagua nut (phytelephas), also known as vegetable ivory. It’s not a nut at all but a South American palm tree seed. Its brown skin reveals a hard white kernel that resembles ivory in appearance and texture. Its traditional commercial application is for the manufacture of buttons.

Carved tagua, baroque pearls and carved wooden lotus earrings

Carved tagua, baroque pearls and carved wooden lotus earrings

Mor saw tagua as a sustainable alternative to ivory in creating jewels and as a way to raise awareness to the poaching of elephants for their tusks.

She is not alone in trying to end elephant poaching. Other organizations are involved in the cause and today (August 12) is World Elephant Day, which brings attention to the plight of Asian and African elephants from poaching and habitat loss. A week earlier the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation crushed about $8 million worth of confiscated jewelry and art objects made of elephant tusks illegally sold in the state.

A Balinese craftsman working with Tagua for a Bali-inspired jewel

A Balinese craftsman working with Tagua for a Bali-inspired jewel

While Mor applauds these efforts she says she is focused on developing creative solutions to this problem.

“I can go and be upset at the poachers like many organizations do. There’s a lot of effort against something but I think instead of going against the Buddhist way is that you go with. You bring a solution and you bring it with love,” she said. “Maybe that could change the conversation. I think that’s what this nut is all about. It brings love, positive conversation and alternative solutions.”

A ring with an oval cut garnet, tagua, 22k gold wire work in a lace pattern and diamonds

A ring with an oval cut garnet, tagua, 22k gold wire work in a lace pattern and diamonds

Mor found a tagua supplier in Ecuador and started working with Balinese craftsmen to create jewels based on her designs. Bone and wood tools are used to carve and shape the material. It also responds well to dyes.

The use of tagua as an ivory substitute for jewelry and art carvings isn’t new. However, Mor is giving this common material a luxury touch by combining it with artisanal craftsmanship, local organic materials, and precious gems and metals.

A ring with a pearl set on wood and tagua seed

A ring with a pearl set on wood and tagua seed

Working with a local Balinese team that included a wood carver, a bone carver, a goldsmith and a small pearl farm in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Mor produced the “Tagua Seed Collection” of about a dozen one-of-kind jewels. The pieces combine hand-carved tagua, black and red Balinese wood, Sumatran pearls, 22k yellow gold wire work by Balinese craftsmen, various colored gemstones and diamond melee.

Carved tagua seed cuff

Carved tagua seed cuff

The designs and craftsmanship are consistent with the Alexandra Mor brand embellished with traditional Balinese motifs and in a couple of cases Nepali influences inspired by a trip Mor took to the Himalayan region. The tagua is carved in flower-like arrangements for hoop earrings and paired with Balinese black wood. Openwork gold is used throughout the collection with designs as intricate as the finest lacework. Baroque local pearls are paired with gold beads, and lotus flower designs carved from red wood and tagua.

Carved tagua seed and carved wooden lotus flower and diamond stud earrings

Carved tagua seed and carved wooden lotus flower and diamond stud earrings

Mor admits to being apprehensive about how her clients will react to her new direction. “It’s actually really scary because a lot of times people are used to a certain thing you create and they love it so why would you shift away from it,” she said. “I’ll still do my bespoke work and I still have my collections but I think it’s really necessary to evolve both as an artist to explore the new materials and with the path I’m on today.”

On September 6 Mor will unveil her collection at Vogue Italia's annual "U.S. Protagonists" event to be held at Springs Studios, New York. Mor is dedicating 20 percent of the proceeds of her Tagua Seed Collection to an elephant organization. In addition, Mor convinced the other jewelry designers participating in the show to create capsule collections using tagua that she supplied.

Tagua seed, baroque pearls and 22k gold beads bracelet

Tagua seed, baroque pearls and 22k gold beads bracelet

For Mor, the tagua nut not only raises awareness of the plight of elephants, but it supports communities in Bali and Ecuador while creating a luxury product that communicates a message of sustainability to her clients.

“I think there is something about this tagua. It’s the seed of a lot of things,” she said. “Symbolically it’s a seed of a palm tree, a seed of an idea, a seed of potential and a seed of what we can create. Not just for elephants but for everything that’s coming our way. There’s a lot of symbolism around it.”

Source: Forbes.com     Photos: Russell Star

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