Luxury: May 2019

Stylish contrasts; Elie Saab turns his hand to furniture; Darcey Bussell on the power of dance; and the most expensive cup of tea in India

In a recent episode of the newly launched YouTube series Moments of Fashion, Jennifer Lopez reflects on the lasting legacy of one of her most memorable red-carpet outfits. In 2000, the songstress appeared at the Grammy Awards in a revealing Versace jungle-print dress, sparking a media frenzy. The next day, it was Lopez who dominated the headlines, not the night’s award winners. And while the dress cemented the singer’s celebrity status, it also acted as the catalyst for a ground-breaking technological advancement.

“Years later I found out that because of that night and because of that dress, Google Images was actually created,” Lopez explains in the nine-minute video. “So many people went searching for this and they had no way to search a picture at that time on the internet, so they created Google Images.”

Lopez uses this to highlight the influence that fashion can have, even if it is generally written off as capricious and superficial. “It just goes to show you the power of fashion and the power of those types of moments,” Lopez maintains. “I know people try to make it frivolous at times, but what those things do is they give people an inspiration. It puts a beautiful moment out into the world ... one dress can change the trajectory of the way people dress for 10 years.”

Karim Adduchi, the Morocco-born couturier whom we speak to, makes a similar point. Adduchi moved to Spain when he was five years old and, finding himself in a strange country and unable to speak either Catalan or Spanish, he withdrew into a fantasy world of drawing. He went on to study fine art, before making a move into fashion, and is currently making quite the name for himself with his beautiful Berber-inspired creations, which utilise handwoven Moroccan textiles, local embroidery and hardware inspired by symbols from his homeland.

Through his work teaching refugees at a foundation in Amsterdam, he has trained tailors to collaborate with him, and has encouraged children who are distressed by their experiences of war to interpret their stories through art and fashion. “Fashion has a loud voice and if the message is important, then fashion can be a powerful tool,” Adduchi insists.

We discuss another powerful tool: dance. After a celebrated career as a principal with the Royal Ballet and then a stint as a judge on the popular British TV show Strictly Come Dancing, ballerina Darcey Bussell is on a mission to bring dance to every state school in the United Kingdom.

“I wanted to make sure every child of every ability had exposure to dance. Children doing this programme change and gain confidence; it empowers them,” she tells Tahira Yaqoob. She also believes that dance can be used to help those at the other end of their lives, suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, as well as people with depression or anxiety.

“It’s not rocket science,” she maintains. “Something so simple can be used for balance in life. It is not just going to be technology that makes our lives easier.”

Selina Denman, editor

Making connections

It was a “chance, once-in-a-lifetime” encounter that brought Pallavi Dean, founder of the Dubai-headquartered interior and architecture firm Roar, and Carlotta de Bevilacqua, CEO of Italian lighting company Artemide, together.

The two women took part in a panel discussion during Dubai’s Downtown Design exhibition last year, and immediately recognised in each other a kindred spirit. “Pallavi is an extraordinary woman with great professional, cultural and social commitment,” says de Bevilacqua. “We share a special empathy; we strive for the same passions and values in both life and design.”

As an upshot of that chance encounter, last month Dean became the first designer from the Middle East to produce a piece for the lighting behemoth. Interweave was launched during Euroluce, the world’s premier lighting exhibition, which runs alongside the Milan Furniture Fair every two years.

“Artemide is a pioneer in lighting design and lighting technology,” says Dean. “They create the kind of things that, as a university student, you would cut out and put on your mood board. For me, they are the pioneers in lighting design. Their creations are futuristic but also user-led and intuitive. For example, last year, they collaborated with the Bjarke Ingels Group to create Gople, a lamp engineered to help houseplants thrive indoors.”

For her own Artemide creation, Dean wanted to make a statement that wasn’t purely aesthetic. “It started with a narrative. As designers, we can’t just create pretty things. With everything going on in the world, with Brexit and Trump, I wanted to create something that connects us, because that’s what makes us stronger.

“We live in a world today where many people are building walls, fighting trade wars and rolling back globalisation, which to me is a real shame,” Dean adds. “Great art and great design often happen when different worlds meet. Interweave is a metaphor for this, by focusing on the connections and intersections between the different materials, colours, textures, light and shade.”

The lighting system comes as a kit of parts rather than a fixed installation, and consists of a series of metal pillars, with a simple strip of LED light running between them. Flexibility lies at the heart of the piece – Interweave can be ordered in countless colours and configured at will; the user has total freedom in terms of the number of pillars and their positioning. They come in two sizes, can be attached to the ceiling or to a wall, and can double up as speakers, daylight or motion sensors, or be controlled by Alexa, who will kindly switch them on and off as required. 

“As designers, we can sometimes be like bullies – we will give you a design and tell you how to use it, and tell you how to incorporate it into your space. With Interweave, you can buy three or you can buy four or five, and you can choose how you want the light to look. You can create your own shape. It is giving authorship back to the user,” says Dean, who firmly believes that lighting is the most important element of any interior.

“Interweave is all about user-led and technology-supported design. At this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, it was all about the user interacting with their space. Another big trend at the fair was wellness. And a sense of control can give you a greater sense of wellness.”

Selina Denman

My luxury life: Lucia Penrod

Born and raised in Nicaragua, the chief executive of Nikki Beach Worldwide started her career in the diplomatic corps, before founding the world-famous luxury beach club brand with her husband, Jack Penrod, 20 years ago. She also created Nikki Cares, a non-profit charitable organisation with philanthropic projects across all of Nikki Beach’s locations.

If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you be?

I think exactly where I am at that specific moment. As long as I am with family and friends, that’s it for me.

You’re sitting down to the perfect meal. Where are you, who are you with and what are you eating?

I love every Nikki Beach location that we have, because it’s like a parent – you love all your children. But there is one specific location that brings incredible memories. I see myself sitting in Nikki Beach Saint Barth. We have great friends from New York and the rest of the States, because that’s the demographic that comes to Saint Barth. So I am sitting around with friends and the water is right there. I can hear the waves and the music, and Jimmy the sax player. I would say that’s the most incredible experience for me. And we’d be eating sushi. The sushi is incredible.

What is your favourite city in the world?

The first one that comes to mind is New York. I love the vibe of the Big Apple, but I couldn’t live there. I like to visit. Instead of big cities, we are more into chilled-out beach areas – because our personal lives and our business lives are always surrounded by water – and the mountains. I absolutely love Aspen; in the summer, though.

Where do you like to shop?

At the stores of unknown local designers that can be found in any of the locations where we are. When we go to Spain, I love walking into lesser-known boutiques with very cool designers, where you find the most incredible things for the beach. I favour beach style. It is not easy to shop specifically for that lifestyle, because most of the big designers have a very short cruise collection. But when you go to these beach resorts where some of our venues are located, you find the most incredible local designers. And that’s when you get compliments, when everyone asks: ‘Where did you get that?’

What does your dream home look like?

My dream home is one that is very friendly to family, friends and dogs.

What was your first ever luxury purchase?

A Cartier watch. I still own it. But now it’s vintage!

What is life’s greatest luxury?

Health.

And the most overrated luxury?

I wouldn’t like to judge. Luxury is so different for so many different people.

Are you a collector?

Yes, I am a collector of warm, happy and good memories

What is your favourite way to relax?

Sharing time with family and friends, probably on our island. We have a home in the Bahamas and it’s very chilled. Our house is very close to the water, so those are some of my most relaxing times. And there is very bad internet.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My husband gave me a great piece of advice. He told me to stay out of the rain – unless I want to dance.

Home run: Elie Saab reveals plans to launch furniture line

In an exclusive interview with Emma Day, Elie Saab reveals plans to expand his empire beyond the realms of couture

He’s already known as the king of couture due to his ethereal runway collections, but Elie Saab could soon be earning himself a new moniker: the king of carpentry.

The Lebanese designer, arguably one of – if not the most – prominent fashion powerhouses to emerge from the region in the last century, will no longer be curtailed to the catwalk. Although his portfolio already includes ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrances, the Damour-born talent reveals that his empire is “just starting”.

Saab is known for his dreamy and intricate designs

Saab is known for his dreamy and intricate designs

We are tucked away in an elegant room in the heart of Dubai Opera. Saab is in the UAE to unveil his latest project, a collaboration with Emaar, which will encapsulate the designer’s innate elegance and almost-otherworldly creativity within four walls. The Grand Bleu Tower, located in an under-development residential community in Dubai Harbour, is due to open in the autumn of 2023, and will allow apartment-owners to imbue their home with a touch of Saab’s signature poise.

With interiors entirely imagined by the couturier himself, Saab wanted to immortalise “how he likes to live” in the one- to four-bedroom luxury apartments, each of which offer Palm Jumeirah, Dubai skyline or Arabian Gulf views.

Saab has collaborated with Emaar to design the interiors of Dubai’s Grand Bleu Tower

Saab has collaborated with Emaar to design the interiors of Dubai’s Grand Bleu Tower

Saab has overseen every aspect of design for the tower, which has been crafted as a celebration of the Art Deco era. The ground level will house boutique fashion stores, galleries and cafes, as well as lobbies, all featuring the couturier’s expert touch. “It’s about a vision,” he tells me, minutes after the project is first announced. “It’s all about a lifestyle, rather than to inspire or to create.”

But, the designer also reveals, this is not the only grand project in the pipeline: we can expect an Elie Saab furniture line in the not-too-distant future. “Honestly, this relationship [with Emaar] came at the right time, because we are launching our furniture line. The launch will be the same time as when the Grand Bleu building opens,” he divulges.

“It’s about quality, about textile, about shape,” Saab adds of what we can expect from his debut interiors line. “What I have in mind, every item comes like a piece of art. It’s more about limited edition.”

The designer, who founded his eponymous label in 1982, has spent decades building the brand and attaining red-carpet prominence, dressing everyone from Beyoncé, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Angelina Jolie to Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Mila Kunis. However, despite his seasons and seasons of tireless work, he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon. “Honestly, I feel it’s just the start,” he says of his hopes for his label, “because I like challenging myself, and am very ambitious also.”

Lebanese designer Elie Saab

Lebanese designer Elie Saab

Seeing his work on Hollywood’s greatest gives him satisfaction, but is certainly not Saab’s primary incentive. “I prefer the feeling when the woman comes to see me; this challenges me a lot,” he muses.

While admitting that it can be hard to stay creative, so many collections later, the prospect of transforming a woman into her most beautiful self is enough to motivate him for seasons to come. “I don’t work to show [that] I’m the best designer,” he explains. “No, for me, my challenge is to show the woman very beautiful, every time.”

One particular focus – of Saab’s past, present and future – is helping support the region’s emerging talent, particularly in his home country. In 2012, Beirut’s Lebanese American University created its Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design in collaboration with the designer, as well as the London College of Fashion, and it’s a cause that is still close to Saab’s heart. “I want to be a strong image for a young generation, and now I’m more in the education side of things,” he says. “I believe in my country, and I believe in our region.”

The residential building is due to open in 2023

The residential building is due to open in 2023

Despite his passion, dogged creativity and enduring runway presence, Saab does admit it’s not easy balancing so many proverbial spinning plates – though his perennial grin doesn’t slip for a second. “It’s not an easy life, honestly. I run eight collections a year, and a lot of projects,” he confesses. “The world of fashion, it’s very demanding. Imagine every 40 days you have a collection to design; you go crazy if you are not ready.”

Is it such feverishness, such a frenzied pace, that keeps driving Saab forward? He’s not sure. All he knows is that there’s “still so much more to do.”

Ankle boots for all

Christian Louboutin

The king of the red sole delivers a man’s high-top made from strips of gold foil, like something the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre might blast into the heavens. Space age and fabulous. 

Loewe

There’s an element of playfulness to these open-toe zip-ups for women. In cheerful blancmange pink, with a sandal-style toe bar, they are not made for those who take their footwear too seriously.

Salvatore Ferragamo

The classic desert boot has been updated by Salvatore Ferragamo and now comes with an intricately knotted sole. Against the sand-tone suede, the crochet element feels very urbane.

Louis Vuitton

For summer, Louis Vuitton is dressing its woman in severely pointed buckle boots. In glossy black, with a diagonal zip and mock croc finish, these are loaded with attitude.

Santoni

This simple, elegant boot by Santoni speaks volumes about Italian style. The brushed taupe suede cuts neatly across the ankle bone and comes with a hand-finished leather sole.

‘Dance opened doors for me’

After a celebrated career as a principal with the Royal Ballet, Darcey Bussell is on a mission to bring dance to schoolchildren across the United Kingdom. Tahira Yaqoob meets the beloved ballerina

Darcey Bussell has much to celebrate this year. She turned 50 a fortnight ago, an occasion she marked with a dinner in her favourite Chinese restaurant in Oxford with 50 friends and family. “I want the celebrations to last for the year,” she says. “You have to make a big deal when you get to that age.”

It is also exactly three decades since she first stepped on stage as the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer at the age of 20, a role that propelled her, fresh-faced and fawn-like, into the limelight. Many before her have stumbled under the kind of scrutiny that living a very public life brings. Perhaps spending so much time elevated on impossibly pointed toes helped Bussell keep her balance, but today she has the mannerisms, attitude and determination of a prim, can-do head girl. As the fashion designer Jasper Conran, who first worked with her when she modelled his ballet-inspired 1990 autumn/winter collection, says: “She is still exquisitely beautiful – the result, no doubt, of a blameless life.”

When we meet at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature in Dubai shortly before her birthday, Bussell is impeccably dressed in a polka-dot pussy bow blouse and slim-fitting black trousers. With perfect posture, she still has the poise and grace that first made her a darling of the ballet and fashion worlds. She has served as a muse for everyone from the late choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan, who first plucked her from obscurity to star as the heroine in The Prince of the Pagodas in 1989, to photographers such as Lord Antony Snowdon, Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz. If Bussell is daunted by the idea of getting older, she certainly isn’t showing it. “I keep myself quite busy, so I haven’t really focused on it. I’m not at all apprehensive about getting old. It’s only a number. I’m more conscious of my health and keeping a healthy mind and body.”

That’s just as well, because she has worked in not one but three industries – ballet, fashion and modelling – that have a notoriously short shelf life and can be particularly brutal on women. Four years ago, Bussell had hip resurfacing surgery, a procedure typically carried out on patients in their 60s and above, but not unusual for dancers at a much younger age because of the unnatural stress placed on their bodies during their careers. Bussell, who retired from the Royal Ballet at 38 after nearly two decades as principal, says: “It’s a young person’s profession because it is like being an athlete. It’s up to the body [how far you go]. It is not like the Paris Opera, where they retire you at 40 and that’s it, but it’s also important to let the next talent come through. If you stay there, you never give other people the opportunity.”

Darcey Bussell at an event in 2010. Getty

Darcey Bussell at an event in 2010. Getty

Beyond its physical challenges, ballet is undergoing a moment of self-reckoning in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Peter Martins, the long-standing artistic director at the New York City Ballet, stepped down earlier this year amid allegations of sexual harassment, and physical and verbal abuse. While an inquiry did not find evidence of misconduct, the lawsuit painted a murky picture of “an out-of-control, fraternity-like atmosphere”, in which female dancers were allegedly photographed and filmed nude without their knowledge by other members of the company, according to ballerina Alexandra Waterbury. One male dancer resigned and two others were suspended when the accusations emerged. In a separate incident, Ukrainian-born dancer Sergei Polunin was dropped by the Paris Opera after making allegedly racist and sexist comments on Instagram.

Bussell says she had no personal experiences of the kind. “It was very collegic and a great atmosphere. We were all there for the same goal.” But she adds: “I think this happens all the way through life in any career and has happened ever since ballet existed. There will always be some sort of scandal, whether a person is given too much power or has been directing for a long time. I don’t think it tarnishes the job in any way. The people that are going to drive [this industry] are the artists who love what they do.”

Bussell herself didn’t always love the art, despite starting Saturday ballet classes at the age of five. “I came to it quite late. I was not into it at five; I was only doing it because my friends were doing it and I had knock knees, so it was good for strengthening my legs,” she says.

Would-be dancers usually join vocational ballet schools at the age of eight. “It is a bit like gymnastics or going to the Olympics; you have got to do the hours at a young age, otherwise you might not have the technique or the body strength. You have to make a lot of sacrifices. My mother did not want me to do ballet because she realised how intense it was, so I went to a stage school first. I did not fall in love with ballet until I was 12 and told her this was what I wanted to do – and thank goodness I did.”

The cover of her 2018 book ‘Evolved’ which is published by Hardie Grant

The cover of her 2018 book ‘Evolved’ which is published by Hardie Grant

She joined the Royal Ballet School at 13 and, as she says with that prefect’s disposition, “thrived in the environment of a regimented and disciplined vocational school”. Within four years, she was touring with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, where she was spotted by Sir Kenneth. He cast her in The Prince of the Pagodas, which premiered in December 1989. “I sensed even then that it would probably set the tone for the rest of my career,” she says.

Bussell is what The Guardian once described as “flirty and guileless”; part English rose, part head girl, she is transformed on stage with sensual, delicate moves and seemingly impossible contortions that she makes look perfectly effortless. These skills catapulted her to become one of the most beloved – and certainly the most high-profile of her time – British ballerinas, joining an uber-league that included Dame Ninette de Valois and Margot Fonteyn.

So entrenched was Bussell in the British psyche that when she took her final curtain call, sobbing, on stage at the Royal Ballet in June 2007, it made the News at Ten. By then, she was a mother to Phoebe, then six, and Zoe, three. Taking the children on tour with her and returning to dancing five months after giving birth had taken its toll.

“It’s very hard to come back as a mother because it is physically demanding,” she says. “After my second daughter, I was performing in New York five months later, and it was tough to get back to that level of fitness. I wanted the best of both worlds. My mother would come with me, and a lot of the dancers were supportive and helpful, but it is not very compatible because that sort of career involves going on tour and a lot of work in evenings and on weekends.”

The dancer with daughters Phoebe and Zoe after her final performance for the Royal Ballet. Getty

The dancer with daughters Phoebe and Zoe after her final performance for the Royal Ballet. Getty

There is, she says, more psychological support for dancers now and training to help them transition to a second career. “You have a different goal because you know the career is very short so you have got to make the most of it.”

But, unexpectedly for Bussell, ballet did yield a second career – and a third and fourth. After a five-year respite in Sydney with her husband, Australian businessman Angus Forbes, and their children, she returned in 2012 as a judge on the hugely popular British TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

The show has become as renowned for unveiling an unexpected side to celebrities and propelling politicians to cult status (think former treasury secretary Ed Balls dancing Gangnam-style or former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe doing the salsa) as it has for launching “the Strictly curse” – with a number of its stars abandoning families and spouses to run away with dancers. While Bussell says it’s a “lovely show to be part of and [see] how people react as they find out things about themselves”, she refuses to be drawn on the so-called curse. But a few weeks after our conversation, she quits the show – reportedly in part because she was fed up of the scandals, according to British tabloids.

Far from taking it easy, she will instead be throwing herself headlong into her other ventures. As well as coaching at the Royal Ballet and taking part in BBC documentaries on the importance of dance to physical and mental health, she launched Diverse Dance Mix (DDMix) just over two years ago, a campaign to persuade  state schools in the UK to incorporate dance into PE lessons.

I realised what I had known all my life – that dance should be an essential part of education. I wanted to make sure every child of every ability had exposure to dance.

Darcey Bussell

Forty schools are already on board, learning moves from Bollywood and traditional Chinese and Japanese dances – as well as ballet – as part of the curriculum. “I realised what I had known all my life – that dance should be an essential part of education,” she says. “I wanted to make sure every child of every ability had exposure to dance. Children doing this programme change and gain confidence; it empowers them.”

But isn’t ballet still a bit elite? The cost of lessons alone can be prohibitive, particularly for children attending state schools. “I have been working hard to break that down,” she says. “It is often the theatre that ballet is performed in that pushes people away. The more you do dance in other arenas and mediums, the more it brings in audiences.”

She aims to introduce it in every state school in the UK and is embarking on a national tour to promote DDMix this month. She also thinks it can be used to help those at the other end of their lives, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, as well as helping people with depression or anxiety. “It’s not rocket science. Something so simple can be used for balance in life. It is not just going to be technology that makes our lives easier.”

The highlights of Bussell’s remarkable career are celebrated in the recently published Evolved, a beautiful and lavish coffee-table book cataloguing her path from a teenager, wide-eyed and tremulous in the company of greats, to her performance as a phoenix in the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, descending to extinguish the flaming cauldron.

She was also made a dame last year for her services to dance. Bussell says performing for Queen Elizabeth II in royal galas was one of her high points: “You realise everything that you worked for, all those opportunities, are being recognised. It takes your breath away. You’re there with people from all different art forms and you have been chosen to perform. It’s a great recognition.”

Darcey Bussell meets Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace in 2016. Getty

Darcey Bussell meets Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace in 2016. Getty

As for what her 50s might bring, she might have perfected the fouetté and grand sissonne, but she is now looking for greater balance in life. “I think I have got to enjoy things more,” she says. “When you’re younger, it’s easier. At this age, you have so many responsibilities that you are not as good at getting balance.” But, she adds: “I just feel very lucky to have got as far as I did. I might have given up as a performer, but dance opened doors and so many opportunities for me.”

Golden age

Drawing on the bold motifs of Ancient Egypt, Chanel’s Métiers d’Art Paris-New York 2018/19 collection is both powerful and feminine

White and gold dress in silk tweed and cotton; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); and boater with folded-back brim in crushed gold fabric, all from Chanel

White and gold dress in silk tweed and cotton; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); and boater with folded-back brim in crushed gold fabric, all from Chanel

Black and gold tweed jacket; black and gold tweed skirt; necklace in metal and resin; and gold sandals in lamé leather, all from Chanel

Black and gold tweed jacket; black and gold tweed skirt; necklace in metal and resin; and gold sandals in lamé leather, all from Chanel

Gold dress in iridescent tweed; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); and black and gold hip pack in leather, chains and faux pearls, all from Chanel

Gold dress in iridescent tweed; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); and black and gold hip pack in leather, chains and faux pearls, all from Chanel

Beige, gold and ecru jacket in cotton and silk tweed; and metal earrings, all from Chanel

Beige, gold and ecru jacket in cotton and silk tweed; and metal earrings, all from Chanel

Black and gold tweed dress; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); and cuff bracelets in gold metal, all from Chanel

Black and gold tweed dress; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); and cuff bracelets in gold metal, all from Chanel

Black and gold coat with sequins; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); gold belt in leather and resin; and 11.12 bag in embossed gold leather, all from Chanel

Black and gold coat with sequins; ecru dress in fine jersey (worn underneath); gold belt in leather and resin; and 11.12 bag in embossed gold leather, all from Chanel

Photographer Ezra Patchett
Fashion Director Sarah Maisey
Model Mia at Signature Elements
Hair Betty at MMG
Make-up Toni Malt using the Chanel Les Beiges 2019 Collection

In his shoes

Paul Andrew, creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo, speaks
to Sarah Maisey about following in the footsteps of a design legend

“Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she’ll conquer the world,” Marilyn Monroe famously said.

During the height of her fame, Monroe was probably the most photographed woman on the planet, as known for her explosive femininity, beauty and voluptuous curves as she was for her acting skills. She knew exactly how to attract attention, so it was presumably no coincidence that for much of her career, she wore shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo.

A pair of trainers displayed at the Ferragamo museum

Born in 1898, in the village of Bonito, near Naples, Ferragamo was one of 14 children, and was barely 17 years old when he left Italy to start a new life in America. Eager to make a name for himself, he started designing shoes for the newly hatched movie industry, but it was only when he began applying his recently gleaned knowledge of human anatomy – of how bones and weight are distributed in the foot – that his shoe-making skills excelled. Suddenly, he was crafting shoes that not only looked good, but actually fitted properly. This delivered unheard-of comfort and Hollywood stars raced to buy his designs. He soon became known as the “shoemaker to the stars”, making fancy footwear for the likes of Joan Crawford and Lola Todd.

Ferragamo returned to Italy in 1927 and established his eponymous atelier in Florence – as the centre of the Italian leather industry, the city was filled with craftsmen of exceptional skill. Ferragamo tasked them with bringing his daring new designs to life. He continued creating shoes for Hollywood stars, including Lauren Bacall, Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren and Ava Gardner. In the mid-1950s, he created a pointy-toed pump with a four-inch heel for Monroe. At only 5 feet 3 inches tall, she loved the design so much, she ordered a pair in every colour.

Ferragamo and Monroe are long gone, and her once treasured collection of 40 pairs of Ferragamo shoes was auctioned in 2016. However, the fearless spirit of the original designer is still very much in evidence at the company he left behind, now headed by British designer Paul Andrew.

British designer Paul Andrew is the creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo

Like Monroe and Ferragamo before him, Andrew has also enjoyed something of a meteoric rise. The shoes he created for his university graduation project were spotted by British Vogue, and led to a spell designing footwear for Alexander McQueen. He relocated to New York to join Narciso Rodriguez, designing shoes and bags, then shifted to Calvin Klein to work on collections for both men and women. His next move took him to Donna Karan, where he not only learnt the importance of perfect fit, but was also made vice president of accessories. Andrew also found time to launch his own shoe line in 2012, for which he won the Vogue Fashion Fund prize in 2015.

In late 2016, Andrew joined Salvatore Ferragamo as design director for women’s footwear, and in October 2017, was made creative director for all women’s products. In February this year, he was promoted to creative director of the entire Salvatore Ferragamo brand, overseeing shoes, leather goods, silks and ready-to-wear for both men and women. Next month, he will debut his first menswear collection for the company at Florence’s prestigious Pitti Uomo.

“As a shoe designer, inheriting the key to the Ferragamo archives is nothing short of a dream come true,” Andrew tells me. “If you had told me at the start of my career that I’d someday be given this and other such opportunities, I would have had a hard time believing you.”

Synonymous with beautiful design and cutting-edge construction, Ferragamo’s legacy would be enough to overwhelm most designers. Aside from Monroe’s famous heel (which contributed to that once-seen-never-forgotten wiggle), he  also created the Rainbow wedge heel for singer Judy Garland in 1938. A tribute to her song Somewhere over the Rainbow, it was made of riotously colourful layers of suede, and was groundbreaking for its use of cork in the sole.

In 1947, Ferragamo released the Invisible sandal, an almost see-through shoe that delicately held the foot in place with barely-there gossamer threads. In fact, so inventive was the man, he would go on to file almost 350 patents to protect his ideas.

“Certainly, there’s a level of intimidation when I really think about it, as Salvatore Ferragamo created some of the most iconic and forward-thinking footwear designs ever. Therefore, I try not to think about it too much,” says Andrew. “I just try to remain grateful and humbled by the opportunity to steward this brand, reinterpret Salvatore’s vision for new generations, and give the best that I’ve got every day. Salvatore’s designs truly did revolutionise the footwear industry. For him to be so innovative while simultaneously meeting these precise standards? That was genius at work.”

A look from the brand’s spring/summer 2019 runway show

And now Andrew is adopting a similarly innovative approach. “Just recently, I was searching for a new car and found myself in front of a variety of Italian sports cars. I was fascinated by their beauty and construction and paid particular attention to the galvanisation process. It got me thinking and, lo and behold, I now galvanise heels for Ferragamo in the same factory that galvanises cars.”

Part of the responsibility that comes with assuming stewardship of a much-loved heritage brand is making sure that you move the company forward, rather than allowing it to stagnate under the weight of its history. Innovations such as lab-grown leather and exotic skins, or 3D printing, will very soon present a world of new design possibilities and, for Andrew, leading a house that has built its reputation on daring and innovation, that future cannot come soon enough.

“There are technological advances that allow us to do things we never thought possible. This is a topic I am really fascinated with and actively keep an eye on. I’m thinking in particular of a workable leather that can be grown from mushrooms. While durability and quality of these organic materials are not yet where we would need them to be to be used at Ferragamo, such materials will be viable within a few years, given the advances that are being made. I personally can’t wait.”

For spring/summer 2019, many of Andrew’s shoes featured a sculptural heel shape that was so eye-catching, it almost stole the limelight from the clothes. “The Ferragamo archive not only has its treasure trove of shoes, but an incredible collection of photographs from Salvatore’s days. Many are pictures of iconic Hollywood stars wearing his pieces. There’s one in particular, of Loretta Young in 1938, looking gorgeous and wearing an archival cork heel. Something about the sculptural quality of the heel made me think of [Constantin] Brâncusi , one of my favourite artists. I found myself very inspired to incorporate Br âncusi-esque elements into the collection, as well as nods to the archival work of Salvatore that set the whole creative process in motion.

“My design philosophy has always been toe-to-head,” Andrew explains. “Create a strong structure and then build upwards upon it.”

A pair of trainers displayed at the Ferragamo museum

A pair of trainers displayed at the Ferragamo museum

British designer Paul Andrew is the creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo

British designer Paul Andrew is the creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo

A look from the brand’s spring/summer 2019 runway show

A look from the brand’s spring/summer 2019 runway show

Barely there televisions

The TV of the future is designed to blend seamlessly into your interior – or dwarf it entirely, Selina Denman discovers

Beovision Harmony

Committed to transforming the TV into a design statement, Bang & Olufsen last month unveiled its Beovision Harmony. When the TV is turned off, or being used to play only music, its thin screen retracts downwards towards the floor, where it is partially covered by two oak and aluminium fronts (which also house the TV’s sound centre). When the Beovision Harmony is turned on, the fronts fan out – “like a butterfly opening its wings,” according to the brand – and the screen rises to viewing height. The wings have an graded pattern that is designed to maximise acoustic performance, and are paired with a 77-inch OLED LG screen. The design is inspired by some of Bang & Olufsen’s most popular products, including the 1959 Capri series, the first example of the brand designing products that perfectly blend into living spaces. The Beovision Harmony will be available from October and is priced at €18,500 (Dh76,176). www.bang-olufsen.com

LG Signature OLED TV R

Taking the lead in the inconspicuous TV stakes, LG Electronics unveiled the world’s first rollable television earlier this year. As LG points out, television sizes have steadily increased as consumers have sought more immersive viewing experiences. But the tradeoff has been a large unseemly black rectangle that now dominates living rooms the world over. While projection TVs are less noticeable, they are unable to deliver the deep blacks that an increasingly tech-savvy audience demands. Brands have worked tirelessly to make screens increasingly slim, and thus less visually obstructive, but the race is on to take things a few steps further. With its latest offering, dubbed “the wallpaper TV”, Samsung uses flexible screen technology that allows the display to be rolled away and then rolled back out at the touch of a button. The LG Signature OLED TV R promises “picture and sound quality that is second to none”, in a TV that can be freed entirely from the wall. There are three viewing options: Full View, which consists of the whole screen; Line View, which allows the TV to be partially unrolled, allowing access to elements that do not require the entire screen, such as clock mode (to check the time and weather), frame mode (to view photos shared from a smartphone), as well as music and home dashboards. In Zero View, all 65 inches of the television are hidden entirely from view, tucked away in its base. A release date and price have yet to be announced. www.lg.com

Panasonic transparent concept screen

In keeping with the invisible theme, Panasonic displayed a transparent OLED concept screen at the 2019 Milan Furniture Fair in April. What at first appears to be a cabinet – a wooden frame holding a pane of glass in place – transforms into a vivid display once it is switched on. The display was the result of a conceptual research project by Panasonic and furniture company Vitra. The two brands have been collaborating to develop ideas about how new audiovisual technologies can be integrated into our living environments. The transparent OLED display was the first of these ideas to be brought to fruition. While it is still a prototype, Panasonic has said it is actively evaluating feedback about the device and looking into market demand, so expect transparency in a screen near you soon. www.panasonic.com

Samsung Ambient Mode

If you consider your television to be a necessary eyesore, Samsung has an aesthetically pleasing answer. Working on the premise that “you decorate your home to match your lifestyle, and a TV should fit right in, whether it’s switched on or on standby”, Samsung has incorporated Ambient Mode into its 2019 line-up of QLED TVs. Even when switched off, the screens will display content such as works of art, photos, news headlines and weather updates. If you’re really committed to making your TV invisible, you can take a picture of your wall and upload it – so the image on your screen will blend seamlessly into its backdrop. Samsung has also announced plans to partner with young, upcoming artists in coming years, to bring new and fresh scenes to its screens. Ambient Mode already showcases the abstract oil paintings of model and artist Tali Lennox; as well as the works of Dutch duo Scholten & Baijings. www.samsung.com/tvs

Sony Z9G Master Series LCD

How big is too big? When it comes to televisions, some might say there’s no such thing. Sony would agree. While everyone else is scrambling to create TVs that are more conspicuous, Sony has unveiled its Z9G Master Series LCD, which comes in just two sizes – 85 inches and 98 inches, making it one of the largest 8K TVs on the market. The latest TV catchphrase, “8K” offers 16 times as many pixels as HD and four times as many as its predecessor, the 4K, and is all set to become the next big thing. If you’re proud of the importance your TV plays in your home, and are quite happy for it to shout loud from your living room wall, Sony’s your best bet. www.sony.com

El Rancho Tajiguas, 14000 Calle Real, Goleta, California

If retiring to a ranch sounds like your pastoral dream come true, consider this historic estate in Santa Barbara county

Asking price: Dh404 million

The Gaviota Coast is a lush and largely undeveloped stretch of land that’s often referred to as the jewel in southern California’s crown. Located about 30 minutes from the main city of Santa Barbara, the area is home to fewer than 100 people, most of whom are involved in organic farming, ranching and woodwork. The Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute opened there in 2006, on the grounds of the storied Vista Del Mar School.

Unsurprisingly, new development is heavily regulated on the coast, and the sale of this estate presents a singular opportunity to invest here. The sprawling 3,500-acre El Rancho Tajiguas is located on an oceanfront cliff, with views of the Pacific as far out as the Channel Islands. With 1,100 acres of active ranch land and two opulent villas housed on-site, the estate melds pastoral and luxury living.

Courtesy Concierge Auctions

Courtesy Concierge Auctions

The former manifests itself as several hundred acres of picturesque avocado groves, a persimmons orchard and an active cattle range for a herd of up to 200. Access roads, water reservoirs and crop storage barns, as well as fertilisation and injection facilities, are also already in place.

Of the two villas, the Tuscan-style Villa del Mare directly overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The 10,000-square-foot home was built in 2014, and comes with hand-hewn walnut wood floors, steel windows, antiqued ceiling beams and a three-car garage. The 12,000-square-foot Villa Della Costa, meanwhile, was built in 2016, and comes with hand-scraped French oak floors, carved fireplaces made from Santa Barbara sandstone and a herb garden with a fountain.

Courtesy Concierge Auctions

Courtesy Concierge Auctions

Each villa has five bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, separate guesthouses, and an elevator, a swimming pool and home cinema. Their multiple outdoor patios and terraces are accessible through screened doors fitted with Sun Valley Bronze hardware, and the reclaimed roof tiles are from Spain and Portugal. Both are connected via a home automation system.

Despite its awe-inspiring size and privacy-attuned surrounds, the estate is about 20 minutes from Santa Barbara and the cultural city of Montecito, and both villas are fitted with helipads to be able to access the one at Santa Barbara airport.

Courtesy Concierge Auctions

Courtesy Concierge Auctions

The property has had a colourful string of owners: the surrounding land was originally farmed by the Chumash Indians (who were native to southern California) and El Rancho Tajiguas’s history can be traced back to King Carlos III of Spain; it was part of the 18th-century royal’s great rancho development. The estate is currently owned by Saudi Arabia-born Mansour Ojjeh, the former chief executive of the Tag Group and major shareholder in McLaren’s racing team. When Ojjeh bought the estate in 1981, he added smaller parcels of land, including a 16-acre hacienda once owned by John Travolta.  

El Rancho Tajiguas is on the market for $110 million, and listed with realty firms Compass in Los Angeles and Coldwell Banker Global Luxury in Montecito.

Panna Munyal

Shifting sands

In an abandoned village in Sharjah where the desert is slowly reclaiming the land, high fashion makes a stylish stand

Dress, Dh17,571; and earrings, Dh3,600, both from Givenchy. Shoes, Dh2,600, Tod’s. Top; and socks, both stylist’s own On the cover, dress, Dh31,721, Oscar de la Renta. Top (worn underneath), Dh365, Layeur at The Modist. Shoes, Dh5,839, Gucci

Dress, Dh17,571; and earrings, Dh3,600, both from Givenchy. Shoes, Dh2,600, Tod’s. Top; and socks, both stylist’s own On the cover, dress, Dh31,721, Oscar de la Renta. Top (worn underneath), Dh365, Layeur at The Modist. Shoes, Dh5,839, Gucci

Dress, Dh1,627, Solace London at The Modist. Trench coat, Dh33,250, Bottega Veneta. Shoes, Dh4,477, Dolce & Gabbana

Dress, Dh1,627, Solace London at The Modist. Trench coat, Dh33,250, Bottega Veneta. Shoes, Dh4,477, Dolce & Gabbana

Dress, Dh28,631; earring, Dh8,300; and ring, Dh1,024, all from Givenchy. Boots, Dh2,185, Stuart Weitzman

Dress, Dh28,631; earring, Dh8,300; and ring, Dh1,024, all from Givenchy. Boots, Dh2,185, Stuart Weitzman

Top, Dh14,000; trousers, Dh11,000; and shoes, Dh5,000, all from Hermès

Top, Dh14,000; trousers, Dh11,000; and shoes, Dh5,000, all from Hermès

Dress, Dh26,800, Gucci. Shoes, Dh2,600, Tod’s. Earring, Dh1,064, Amy Gattas. Top, stylist’s own

Dress, Dh26,800, Gucci. Shoes, Dh2,600, Tod’s. Earring, Dh1,064, Amy Gattas. Top, stylist’s own

Dress, Dh20,850, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Turtle-neck dress (worn underneath), Dh1,695, Kristina Fidelskaya. Shoes, Dh4,477, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings (just seen), Dh1,800, Dior

Dress, Dh20,850, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Turtle-neck dress (worn underneath), Dh1,695, Kristina Fidelskaya. Shoes, Dh4,477, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings (just seen), Dh1,800, Dior

Dress, Dh65,000, Dior. High-neck dress (worn underneath), Dh1,695, Kristina Fidelskaya. Shoes, Dh5,839, Gucci

Dress, Dh65,000, Dior. High-neck dress (worn underneath), Dh1,695, Kristina Fidelskaya. Shoes, Dh5,839, Gucci

Photography Ezra Patchett
Fashion Director Sarah Maisey
Model Anna at Mikas
Hair and make-up Sharon Drugan

The quiet power of purslane

Panna Munyal explains why this humble, underused plant should be an essential part of your diet and beauty regime

A tropical greenhouse in Malaysia’s Universiti Putra was the stage for a five-month-long experiment on the benefits of purslane in 2012. The most definitive study of its kind, it attributed to this humble herb superlative phrases that are manna to the ears of skincare creators and consumers alike: high antioxidant properties; richest vegetable source of omega-3; and high levels of vitamins E, C and beta-carotene.

To put these into perspective, consider: vitamins E and C are strong captors of the free radicals that wreak havoc on our skin; combining them is symbiotic, since they are able to regenerate each other. That they occur together naturally in purslane makes this a powerful anti-ageing catalyst. Add to that the plant’s beta-carotene component – the stuff that glowing, UV-protected skin is made of.

Throw omega-3 fatty acids into this heady mix, and you introduce the anti-inflammatory properties that are a crucial part of skin’s natural lipids, which bolster the barrier function. However, we lose these good, skin-plumping fats as our cells mature, and so a product with omega-3 acts like a seal – locking moisture in and irritants out.

One skincare pioneer who put purslane in a Petri dish early on is Dr Barbara Sturm, founder of German brand Molecular Cosmetics, and creator of the vampire facial and blood cream. It was this latter product, which introduces your own plasma into a truly bespoke Dh5,000 moisturiser, that first benefited from the ingredient.

Barbara Sturm uses purslane in all her skincare products including the Anti-Pollution Drops

Barbara Sturm uses purslane in all her skincare products including the Anti-Pollution Drops

“I came across purslane when I was formulating my MC1 blood plasma cream, and working with scientists from the universities of Pittsburgh, Miami and Harvard, who had been studying the beneficial effects of topical and oral purslane,” says Sturm, who holds a doctorate in sport and orthopaedics. “Purslane is packed with nutrients and anti-ageing compounds, which have dramatic anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, astringent and wound-healing properties, which accelerate the healing of damaged skin.”

So impressed was Sturm by what she observed that purslane is now to be found “in high doses” in every single product she has created, from the cleanser, face mask and eye cream to the anti-pollution drops, anti-ageing primer and Darker Skin Tones, the new collection that Molecular Cosmetics launched in Dubai in March.

The dramatic results Sturm speaks of are linked directly to the 23 pairs of chromosomes that carry human DNA. At the end of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working. “The shortening of our telomeres leads to cellular dysfunction and, ultimately, cell death. This is the cause behind much of the wear and tear associated with ageing and skin damage,” explains Sturm.

Enter purslane. Clinical trials have proved that the plant mediates and up-regulates the telomerase enzyme, which in turn prevents the telomere cap from shortening. Commonly known as the youth enzyme, telomerase was the subject of the study that won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

“Because of the antioxidant, hydrating and photo-protective properties exhibited by purslane, using it in beauty products should improve blood flow and hydration, brighten the skin and stimulate cell repair,” confirms Dr Sonia Wilson, a specialist dermatologist at RAK Hospital. “This, in turn, decreases the appearance of wrinkles, redness and scars. Some studies have shown that consuming purslane [diminishes] oral lichen planus, a chronic inflammatory skin condition. And products containing purslane are even suitable for reactive and sensitive skin,” Wilson explains.

Despite this uncontested evidence, though, Sturm’s is just one of a handful of skincare companies that uses purslane, and the only one to do so across its product range. “Purslane has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for a number of curative reasons,” explains John Eakins, managing director of Nord Mason Asia, the parent company of Huxley. The skincare brand from Singapore lists prickly pear cactus seed oil as its hero ingredient, and combines this with purslane in its top-selling Secret of Sahara Anti-Gravity cream.

Singaporean skincare brand Huxley combines purslane and prickly pear cactus seed oil in its Secret of Sahara Anti-Gravity cream

Singaporean skincare brand Huxley combines purslane and prickly pear cactus seed oil in its Secret of Sahara Anti-Gravity cream

“Purslane is a perfect complement for Huxley because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which when combined with our oil, forms a protective barrier and helps skin to better absorb the antioxidants and vitamins from other ingredients.”

Likewise, South Korea’s BioAqua and Missha skincare companies list Portulaca oleracea among the ingredients of popular but one-off products. The former uses it in the Wild Vegetables Hydra Treatment Mask and the latter combines it with cell renewing snail slime in its Super Aqua Cell Renew cream, while California company Ceramiracle has a single K-beauty-style Reboot mask infused with it to purify and condition the skin.

You’d be forgiven for believing that purslane is a sparse herb that needs to be grown in hyper-idyllic conditions on the foothills of some fabled mountain. The truth is it can and does grow everywhere and was, inaccurately, considered an annoying garden weed until a few years ago. In fact, purslane is an integral part of Middle East cuisine; you might know it better as farfahin, the crunchy green leaves that are found on every plate of fattoush and in many a fatayer.

It’s fortunate, then, that skincare potions are not the only way to get your purslane fix. In addition to what we put on our body, what we put in it also has an impact on the external appearance and internal well-being of our skin.

“Purslane is now considered to be a superfood, owing to its antibacterial characteristics and detoxifying action. It is also low in calories, with about 16 per 100 grams,” notes Dubai dietician Ruba ElHourani. “It also packs the highest amount of vitamin A present in any leafy vegetable, which is excellent to maintain healthy vision and cell integrity, while omega-3 fatty acids lower the risk of heart disease.”

Purslane can be consumed in the form salads, smoothies and skin supplements

Purslane can be consumed in the form salads, smoothies and skin supplements

ElHourani recommends adding freshly washed purslane to a sandwich in lieu of lettuce or a multi-leaved salad, complementing it with a dash of lemon-thyme dressing. Turkish beach bistro Kaftan at La Mer, meanwhile, serves purslane smothered in its yoghurt Semizotu, while most Lebanese restaurants put purslane in their fattoush and baldieh salads.

The famed Afrikaans poet and doctor C Louis Leipoldt noted at the turn of the 20th century: “Purslane was, in the old days, and should be today, a favourite vegetable. Its little succulent leaves were gathered, washed and braised with ginger powder, mace, pepper and salt in fat; a tiny spicule of garlic was added, a wineglassful was stirred in, and the result was an amazingly delicate, luscious and sapid purée.”

Tellingly, Sturm has also infused her dietary supplements with the stuff, a genre she claims has a salient role to play in the fast-paced, poor-diet lives we lead today. Skin Food and Repair Food combine a powdered form of the “fountain of youth” purslane compound with ellagic acid (found in most fruit and veg) and boswellia, a herbal extract from the tree that also yields frankincense.

“Purslane is effective not only topically, but also systemically, which is why I deploy it in my oral supplements. My family eats purslane salads and drinks purslane smoothies; it is tremendously nutritious and anti-inflammatory,” says Sturm. “Beauty and wellness both begin from within.”

At Dh10,558 per kilo, this is India’s most expensive tea

Here is what makes the Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White brew so special

Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White tea costs Dh10,558 per kilogram

Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White tea costs Dh10,558 per kilogram

Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White tea is produced exclusively for the online tea shop, Teabox, at the famed Badamtam Tea Estate, which was first planted by Christine Barnes in 1858. Commercial operations at the estate were launched by the Lebong Tea Company from the late 1860s, and it has emerged as a leading producer of prized Darjeeling teas. The estate is situated in the Lebong Valley, 17 kilometres west of Darjeeling town, facing the Himalayas – one reason why it offers some of the best spring teas in the world.

Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White was grown at an altitude of 1,463 metres, on a slope facing Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, in an area of the estate called the Lama division. Plucked on March 14, the tea is made from fresh spring leaves, which emerge after a long hibernation period, and succulent buds.

Like almost all other teas, white tea leaves come from the Camellia sinensis plant. The name “white tea” refers to the fine, silvery white hairs that cover the unopened buds of the plant, according to Teabox. In addition to being an “antioxidant powerhouse”, a major benefit of white tea is that, when brewed, its leaves have no bitterness or aftertaste.

Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White can be steeped up to four or five times, with each steep offering up a different flavour. The first steep is described as intensely floral, while a second will serve up a more mellow, fruity brewwith a pronounced flavour of raw mango. A third steep will bring out a more sweet vegetal flavour, while a fourth delivers a strong mix of floral-fruity notes. “Never in my 50 plus years of experience in Darjeeling have I come across a tea such as this. With every sip, it’s a different experience,” says AK Gomden, one of Darjeeling’s most renowned planters.

A special box has been designed for this rare blend – and it references the illustrious history of the estate, as well as Teabox’s more modern, minimalist aesthetic. The box comes in regal shades of emerald and blue, with a subtle gold embellishment. The box’s burlap texture references the earthiness of the estate, while a scroll inside tells the unique story of this tea. “We continue to push the boundaries of design-led marketing when it comes to tea, especially from an experience perspective. India has never sold an F&B product on the world stage at this price, and the excellent presales of this show that both Teabox and the tea industry are coming of age,” says Prachi Jain, brand director of Teabox.