Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris Watch – A Revolutionary Icon

In 2018 it celebrated it’s 50 years, the Polaris was a great revolution for not only the world of diving but also in the lives of aesthetes. 

When we talk about the most famous of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s timepieces it is without doubt that the Reverso comes first in our minds. However, if we want to find out which is the most revolutionary watch of Jaeger-LeCoultre we would find the answer with the Polaris. How come? The watch was a true innovation in the history of watchmaking: a watch that – for the first time – made the alarm function an indispensable signal for distinguished divers. 

Hence in the 1960s, the Jaeger-LeCoultre watchmakers worked on the diving concept of “Memovox”, in latin – “the voice of memory”. The idea? To make the alarm function a vital part of diving. The workshops of the Swiss maison worked for eight years on the creation of the perfect watch: the 1968 Memovox Polaris would become an icon. It must be noted that its assets work to its advantage – a 42mm casing that facilitates the reading of the hour,  a triple case-back system, a more resonant alarm, and a third very  watertight crown. What’s missing? Absolutely nothing. 

With their strong expertise, the watchmakers at Jaeger-LeCoultre were able to set a new stage in the history of watchmaking techniques – the triple case-back system would allow the impossible. Under water, the voice of memory calls back to the divers when it is time to come back to the surface – the Memovox resounds like never before! The optimal diffusion of sound under water is made possible by the novel shape of the inclined case that prevents the potential pitfall stifling of the sound through contact with the dive suit. 

Baptised with a name din direct resonance with the great adventures of the 1960s, the Polaris incarnates the journey of going beyond the possible. Oceanographic discoveries, space exploration, expeditions to the Poles – it defied all the challenges! Hence in 2018, the Memovox Polaris celebrated its 50th anniversary and the maison Jaeger-LeCoultre dedicated the watch an entire collection. 

“I wanted it to be the sport-chic watch par excellence. The timepiece that you can wear daily! I wanted to find both the comfort and simplicity of use of what I call a “montre a vivre” as the complications of the watch are useful, simple and efficient and it’s alarm function is quite practical for arranging the time of a meeting!” explains Lionel Favre, the talent that contributed to the new Polaris watches from Jaeger-LeCoultre. The result?

A new line with elegant sophistication and sportiness,  contributing to the attributes of an icon with a very contemporary character. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris presents an even more beautiful version in steel but limited to 1000 pieces. The back of its case is decorated with an engraving depicts a diving suit – the very diving suit that would come to decorate the original 1968 model. Placing the Polaris in the ranks of the most desirable pieces signed by the expertise of the vallée de Joux!

The New Mizzles By Allbirds: Durability At Your Feet

The first impermeable wool sneakers by Allbirds align design, comfort and respectful solution for the planet!

Allbirds concocted a small revolution for the start of the school year. A pair of wool sneakers baptised the Wool Runner Mizzle that guarantees resistance by rain and an ideal solution for the planet. 

Conceived out of environmentally respectful and fluorine free materials (which do not decompose with time and end up polluting our soil and water), Mizzle also abandoned the rigid form of its fellows. 

One of the cofounders of Allbirds, Tim Brown, is clear: ‘“Allbirds is continually searching for ecoresponsible alternatives to materials traditionally used in the shoe industry”. This is how the two new Mizzle models align design, comfort and environmental interest! A first that will know how to please aficionados of a frankly functional style. 

Hennessy, Cognac Makes Itself Festive for Christmas

The house which will celebrate its 255 years of existence in 2020 will introduce, once again, exceptional bottles for the end of year celebrations!

We can read the story of the Hennessy maison in its emblem – the family crest of its founder Richard Hennessy, now become a symbol of its savour faire. The legendary hatchet leave sits sign on the most desirable cognacs of the world. This savoir-faire goes way back, almost 255 years to be precise. Irish officer at the service of King Louis XV, Richard Hennessy discovered Charent and the city of Cognac all the while learning about trade. In 1765 he founded his own house which quickly conquered the palace of the French King’s court. A business yes but nonetheless a family one, Hennessy transmits itself from generation to generation. A rule that applies just as much to the founders as to the master blenders. 

Some hundred years later, in 1870, Maurice Hennessy begun another international reference for cognacs. With the XO designation (for eXtra Old), he put out into the world the finest cognacs in the galaxy. Initially reserved to family and friends, Hennessy X.O. is now accessible to all! And it is evidently this same Hennessy X.O. & Ice that the maison chose to put into the spotlight for the end of 2019. 

The maison revisited a frosted case that transforms into an ice bucket, a way to accompany the new ways of enjoying the drink – around ice! This is thanks to the Comité de Dégustation  of the Hennessy maison, who each morning at the same time in the heart of Cognac gets together in order to follow the gustative evolution and potential of cognacs. This time, it proposes three ways of experimenting with Hennessy X.O. With three ice cubes, one large ice cube or even five or six ice cubes, the goal stays the same: reveal it’s rich and complex aromas!

Another novelty intimately related to the history of the brand – In 1947, Gerald de Geoffrey de Chabrignac, Richard’s nephew, drew the now iconic Hennessy carafe. Its shape, inspired by an inverted grapevine with embossed vines running along the glass is a homage to the vines of Charente. The novelty continues when in 1979, the master blender Maurice Fillioux created “Hennessy Paradis”, a cognac assembling hundreds of exceptional brandies, the house begun a new chapter in its history. 

This is now captured in the new crystal carafe, a jewel of the collection – the Hennessy Paradis Imperial. Conceived by contemporary artist and designer Arik Levy, the new crystal carat brings about a delicate and audacious balance. It contains the Hennessy cognacs that have reached their points of elegance, the decisive and ephemeral moment where a brandy is deemed ready to enter the composition of a Hennessy Paradis Imperial assemblage. 

And since Hennessy holds luxury to be of primary value, it is at the heart of a specially created trunk by Louis Vuitton that the icon will nestle. The Hennessy Paradis Imperial trunk by Louis Vuitton celebrates thus the excellence of savoir-faire, the two maisons offering both a unique vision of the world. A vision largely inspired by refinement of taste and a joint affinity for the world of travel. A gustative journey that awaits you for the end of year festivities!

La Païva And Precursor Of The Belle Epoque Style

She wanted to build the “most beautiful hotel in Paris” – and it still resides 25 avenue des Champs Elysées. La Païva was both a grande horizontale and patron of the artists that made the grandeur of the Belle Epoque style. 

Esther Lachmann, aka La Païva (1819-1864) was without a doubt the most brilliant of the Parisian cocottes. Arrived alone and with empty pockets, she met the composer Henri Herz. Quickly, the later introduced her to all Paris. Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Théophile Gautier, Emile de Girardin, La Païva makes a sensational impression in all men of good taste but soon prefers a certain Portuguese Albino Francisco de Araújo de Païva. She married and took his name, but barely had the marriage been consummated that she took leave. She divorced in 1852 having caught her eye on a young Prussian lord, Guido Henckel Von Donnersmarck. A cousin of Bismarck and second largest fortune of Prussia, he was for La Païva the missing puzzle piece in accomplishing her dream. During her marriage in Passy, she is already honoured when the public notices her tiara – so remarkable that it rivalled in its splendour to that of the French Imperatrice. A few months later, her husband would begin the great works for her hotel particulier  in 25 avenue des Champs Elysées. Her influence on luxury and the arts was just beginning. 

Hence, as it were in bon tom at the time, La Païva would furnish and decorate her hotel in the pure pomp and splendour of the Belle Epoque. It took ten years of works for the edification of one of the most sumptuous hotels of the capital – and close to 40 million euros were spent. Commissioning artists that were unknown to the public, La Païva contributed to the reputation and to the elaboration of the Belle Epoque style. For example, there bathtub made from the same bloc of Algerian yellow onyx – equipped with three faucets. One for water, the second for lait d’ânesse, the third for champagne. It is also the artist Paul Baudry that was entrusted with the realisation of the high ceilings of this hotel particulier. An execution of such beauty that  he would receive the Prix de Rome in 1850. A few years later, Charles Garnier called on his talent to create the iconic foyer of the Opéra Garnier.

Once again the silverware is signed Christofle. The goldsmith maison at which César Ritz would later acquire the crockery for his palace. At the Musée d’Orsay are visible two console of a wild beauty – created in bronze by the illustrious Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and Aimé-Jules Dalou. A most accomplished incarnation of the taste of the Belle Epoque, La Païva’s hotel particulier became the place to be. Napoleon III himself would pass a few times to see with his own eyes the exceptional taste of which all of Paris was talking. However, the influence of La Païva was not only a question of taste for design. 

She was also a figure of fashion. Contributed to making khôl fashionable. It is towards her that, Charles Worth – pioneer of Haute Couture- turned to when he wanted to remove crinolines from his dresses – the fascination was so that La Païva would serve as a muse to the couturier for a long time. To jewellers as well! Her vision, all in extravagance, allowed the nascent reputation of today’s legendary houses. Among which Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, La Païva had indeed very precise taste in jewellery. After having noticed a jewel at the exposition universelle in 1878, she passed an order for a collerette of 407 diamonds with François Boucheron! Her “babies” as she called them were part of one of the most spectacular sales at Sotheby’s. It was in 2003. The sale of two large yellow diamonds named Donnersmarck – they flew for 3 million euros. A sign that the inspiration of the greatest of the cocottes resides even today in the pantheon of objects of desire!

Bollinger: James Bond’s Champagne

With the launch of “La Grande Année 2008” and the celebration of 40 years of partnership with the James Bond movies, the end of the year will be an iconic one for Bollinger!

The refined and remarkable champagnes of the maison Bollinger have been brightening days, parties and celebrations since 1829! And when the exceptional harvest of 2008 is finally bottled, we can only imagine the impact of such a vintage. The 2008 harvest gave birth to a wine with infinite depth – a wine that with time has achieved the characteristic acidity of Bollinger. Bottled, this gives “La Grande Année 2008”. It took ten years to unravel the nobility of this unique vintage.

Aromas of citrus fruits, fleshed fruit, berries, spices, floral and mineral notes, longevity on the palate, structure and density make up the key gustative notes of these great Pinots Noirs d’Aÿ and Verzenay. The backbone of the Bollinger champagne. “The elaboration of each La Grande Année bottle requires patience and precision and is only possible thanks to the work of the men and women of the maison whose artisanal methods have been passed on from generation to generation” affirms cellar master Gilles Descôtes. 

Complex and harmonious, this exceptional champagne is the very image of a hero that makes it an icon – a certain James Bond. “It is with great pride that we celebrate the 40 years of partnership between Bollinger and James Bong, a homage to the friendship born in 1971 between my father, Christian Bizot, and the producer of James Bond, Cubby Broccoli” says Etienne Bizot, CEO of Bollinger. 

It is true that since the first appearance of the champagne in the film ‘Moonraker’ in 1979 that Bollinger has only continued to symbolise the chic audacity of Bond’s character. So, what better than to carve out two limited editions to celebrate the 40 year partnership? The first, a nod to the space themed universe of ‘Moonraker”, revisiting the spaceship created by the legendary set designer Ken Adam. In doing so, Bollinger invited designer Eric Berthès to create an object made of tin and plated with noble wood. It encloses thus a Saint Louis crystal bucket as well as a magnum of Bollinger 2007, the Bond Vintage par excellence! The pieces, worked and adjusted by hand, make each 407 numbered pieces a unique œuvre!

The second limited edition Champagne Bollinger and 07 anticipate the highly awaited release of the 25th opus of the ‘No Time To Die” series. The idea? To create a 2011 vintage dedicated to the universe of Bond. The bottle, entirely in black, carries the number 25 formed by the titles of the previous films. It is the first time that Bollinger created a vintage entirely from the 2011 harvest – a historical one coming exclusively from the Pinot Noir Grand crus from village d’Aÿ. Better yet, these champagnes as admirable as they are inspired are already available! Something with which to celebrate Christmas and the new year in a very Bond fashion, James Bond fashion!

Icons of Art and Icons of Luxury: When the first Remodels the Latter

May iconic pieces of our universal heritage inspire themselves form art and artists in order to renew their character of desirability. A very inspiring affair!

If the connection between art and fashion leaves no doubt, the ability of one to replace the other is yet to be explored. Indeed, many artists and artistic practices have been able to depend on fashion to raise their throne. The more these worlds seem paradoxical at first, the more complete the revolution. If proof would be needed, we can look the most skilful of designers in the subject. In 2001, Marc Jacobs succeeded in bringing a once scorned discipline to the patrimony of one of the most respected maisons.

In 2001, he invites the artist and designer Stephen Sprouse to revamp the emblematic canvas of Louis Vuitton. In a few strokes of colourful graffiti with quasi-exaggerated movements on the monograme, the duo entered both the universe of luxury and another all while placing street art at the pantheon of the coolest practices of the beginning of this century. 

What follows is a string of artistic collaborations all reinventing the habillage of Louis Vuitton’s icons. In 2004, Takashi Murakami is given the same task. This time, Murakami’s pop and motley universe comes to play with the monogram to create a most psychedelic illusion. In 2012 we see the work of Daniel Buren and in 2017 we reach the apotheosis: Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton reveal a series of bags offsetting a jumbled Titian, Da Vinci, Gaugin, Van Gogh and more on the iconic Speedy and Neverfall bags. 

In 2008, Fendi called the most sought out the most covetable artists on the contemporary art scene to reinvent the iconic Baguette bag. The first it-bag created in 1997 passed through the creative hands of André, Sylvie Fleury, Jeff Koons, Tom Sachs or even Damien Hirst – proving it’s ability to to be an image of it’s time. The roman’s maison’s double F logo fashions itself into “Fun Fur” by the digital artist Reilly. This makes sense for an age where art is experienced through Instagram. 

At 30 Avenue Montaigne, the arrival of Kim Jones and Maria Grazia Chiuri strengthened the connection of Dior with art. With Kim Jones we saw the return of the emblem, the lucky charm of Monsieur Dior. The bee, so dear to Christian makes a comeback in the Brit’s first collection. However, in 2018 it draws itself in the figure of Kaws, key artist of our time. Making an appearance on the Saddle imaged from the  brand’s iconic cannage, the bee like the other icons of Dior cosies up to the lightness of our time.

Here once again we can see the benefit of making the two meet – the latter help the first in staying desirable under commercial constraints. Take the example of Lady Dior as the perfect case. A bag that had stayed in the shadows of the ateliers until Bernadette Chirac took over the prototype in order to gift it to Princess Diana for her Paris visit. This is how an icon was created and then produced for the public. Even so, when the Art Lady Dior project came to life, it came under the creative licence of John Giorno, Jack Pierson and Lee Bul. In 2016, Maria Grazia Chuiri launches a feminine and feminist version, the result? A series of Lady Dior bags just as divine and revolutionary as the works of Olga De Amaral, Polly Apfelbaum, Burcak Bingol or even Pae White. 

In the same spirit, Hermes continues its quest for fantastical and original prints inspired by the same creative energy as Robert Duman. The spirit behind the very first Hermes carré. Under the name of “Hermes Editeur” the project sporadically calls upon artists to imagine new prints for the iconic carré. It is thus that Daniel Buren would imagine 365 carrés for Hermes, one for each day of the year. Definitely something to refresh the desirability of an icon born in 1937.

Christmas in the Sun, Luxury and Voluptuousness in the Canaries

From snow to sun, sand and volcanoes – the archipelago reveals itself as the best spot for the end of the year. At the same spot as the milky way. 

The most luxurious destination of this winter? The Canary Islands. Birthplace of the superb Manolo Blahnik, the Canary islands are above all the place where we can feel the softness and luxury of living! The seven-island archipelago is caressed by the winds, coiled in the anticyclone of the Acores. Small corner of absolute pleasure and softness at all times of the year, it is above all else the place to be for an inspiring end of the year. Between luck-bringing dips in the ocean at the stroke of midnight under the world’s most starry sky, passing by the traditional Nochebuana (New Year’s Eve) seafood – the Canaries have more than one delicacy to offer. 

leave your luggage at the Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque or at the iconic Abama Ritz Carlton for an experience where tradition meets surprise. At the many Christmas Markets, the Mont Teide shows it’s fresh snows in the distance under a balmy 22°C in the middle of December. Even better is to watch the sunrise on Mont Teide in it’s white coat contrasting against the black lava – a breathtaking experience! This is Christmas celebrations at the Canaries. A touch less convoluted than Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” filmed for 17 years on the archipelago… but just as iconic!

The Aston Martin DB3, The Racing Car

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In the aftermath of the Second World War, David Brown, the recent purchaser of the Aston Martin team, commissioned the most famous engineer to build his new car. Eberan von Eberhorst, known from before the war for his work at Auto Union, is made in charge of building a race car using the DB2. Powered by the 2.6-litre DB2 Vantage and loaded with 133 horsepower it reached a considerable weight. In the same year of 1950, the DB3 car received a 2.9-litre,163-horsepower vehicle. Thus launched on the slopes, the newly discovered sports model soon became a disappointment… 

Heavy and under-powered, the car took second, third and fourth places in Silverstone in 1952. Unable to fulfill David Brown’s wish, Aston Martin remained far behind the Type C Jaguars.  During the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a few months later, it was a disappointment; the three cars gave up the race. However at Goodwood that same year, an hour before the end of the first British night race, the DB3 won the race with Peter Collins and Pat Griffith at the wheel. Unfortunately, this was not enough to convince David Brown who would later assign engineer A.G. Watson to make a new car! He was convinced – Aston Martin had everything in it to win. 

At the end of 1952, engineer A.G. Watson lightened the DB3 by 75 kilos – better yet, he offered it a chassis with a reduced aluminium wheelbase designed by Frank Freely. Enduring, graceful, and perfectly proportioned with its indentations in the front wheel arches, the DB3 is complemented by the initial “S”. Ready to run, the DB3 S did not miss its promise. Out of the 35 races she competed in, she took fifteen first places and thirteen second places, notably in 1958 on the highly coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans! James Bond had no choice but to choose it – now the official car of the most elegant spy, the Aston Martin DB3 became a legend. 

Aston Martin’s DB3, Some Key Dates

2018 :  The Aston Martin DB celebrates  its 70th anniversary.

2017 : The DB3S exhibition takes place at Retromobile.

2016:  An Aston Martin DBS3 is auctioned off at Bonhams.

1959: James Bond drives an Aston Martin DB3.

1958: The DB3 takes second place at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

1957: The DB3 wins the S 3.0 category at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

1956: The DB3 wins the S 3.0 class and second place at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

1955: The DB3 wins the S 3.0 category and second place at the Le Mans 24 Hours. 

1955: The DB3 wins the National Oulton Park category S 3.5.

1955: The Aston Martin DB3S is created.

1953: The DB3 wins the National Silverstone S 3.0 category.

1953: The DB3 takes second place in the Spring Cups in Montlhéry.

1952: The DB3 was second and third in Silverstone International. 

1952: The DB3 wins the Goodwood 9 Hours.

1951: The Aston Martin DB3 is created.

Sarah Bernhardt, Actress, Cocotte and Fashion Icon

The Belle Epoque actresses are wrongly confined to the status of courtesans . After all, they are the ones who, through their extravagance, have made it possible for luxury and fashion to take off. Of which Sarah Bernhardt is an absolute icon!

At the age of 15, the Duke of Morny introduced her to the world of theatre. The man behind the founding of Deauville sets his eyes on Sarah Bernhardt – the first great international actress. Her count? More than 120 roles. It is said that she invented the “star” status; that she initiated countless extravagances in clothing, which today have become commonplace in women’s fashion. She was a woman that inspired women of the time but also those of the times that followed.

It must be said that during the Belle Epoque, the actress, at times cocotte, at times large and horizontal, represented everything that was impossible for a woman of high society. So much so that theatre and opera performances often distributed leaflets describing with fervent precision the outfits worn by the star artists. Among them, Sarah Bernhardt was an absolute icon!

Cocteau would say “un monster sacré!” It was for her that the most mundane of academics thought up the term… What can be found in the papers? The exact description of the pioneers of sewing who, for love of art and for the beautiful, also made theatre costumes. Before Chanel and Nijinsky, Dior and Grace Kelly, Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent… It is Sarah Bernhardt and Charles Worth and Jacques Doucet. Dresses, hats, perfumes, make-up – everything is described in such a way that the bourgeoisie copied and bought pieces of Sarah Bernhardt’s free and bohemian life.

It contributed to the launch of the S line in 1898. Soon, Fortuny’s Delphos dress became an icon. Better yet it became celebrated all over the world for the way she died on stage, in a negligee, a death so splendid that she made this outfit a basic part of domestic life. And this is true for women all over the world!

Having travelled ten times around the world; having travelled to the Amerindian tribes; performing throughout America… Sarah Bernhardt has greatly contributed to the reputation of these couturiers, and jewellers working in Paris. The fue de la Paix and the Place Vendôme owe their fame to her. Boucheron, in particular – with her, and for her, he created breathtaking jewellery… Of which, in 1882, the most iconic piece of Sarah Bernhardt’s outfits: a breastplate like a garland of flowers, set with 317 diamonds.

René Lalique was also a great collaborator. With the taste and audacity of Sarah Bernhardt, he refined a style that soon placed him in the pantheon of Art Deco artists. At the 1905 World Fair, he attracted praise and excitement. Sarah Bernhardt had the eye, and particularly the right eye, to notice the talents that still to this day provoke an unparalleled emotion. Take Alphonse Mucha, for example. It is Sarah Bernhardt who took notice of him and offered him to make the advertisements for his shows. Displayed on the Morris columns, the posters inaugurate the advertising, and the Art Nouveau style!

From rice powder to aperitifs, Sarah Bernhardt embodied the aspiration of the women of her time. And it is Marcel Proust who captured the character perfectly in his masterpiece A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu. She is “La Berma”… The one who launched the fashion for cinema in 1905. She ended her career shooting in one of the first films in history. But that, precisely, is another story!

Ruinart Champagnes and the Blancs de Blancs Icon Dress Up For Christmas

At the approach of the holiday season, Ruinart expressed it’s interest in art once again around two exceptional collaborations – the talent of Vik Muniz and that of Ron Arad accompany the most legendary of champagnes!

It is in 1729, at the highest of the Lumieres revolution that the Sillery vineyard, south-east of Reims, became that of the Ruinart maison. In 2018 it is the very same vineyard that the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz spent long hours finding inspiration. “My relationship to images is not quite related to the history of art but more to memory” describes the artist. Yes, for already in the 18th century the chefs de caves of the Ruinart house sourced in the materials, colours and spirit of time the original composition of their vintage. The Blanc de Blancs keeps these memories alive today. 

If Viz Muniz is the eighth artists to collaborate with Ruinart in the creation of an exceptional bottle, the history of Ruinart with artists goes back to 1896. Before Jaume Plans or Erwin Olaf, it is a certain Alphonse Mucha who was the first invited for a collaboration. Andre Ruinart, head of the maison, saw the artist’s posters bloom on the Morris columns. Imagined and even invented for Sarah Bernhardt, these posters where the first with her to begin the art of advertisements. Much conceives then an advertisement full of voluptuousness showing the cocottes of the Belle Epoque. Art Nouveau was throned in this way as Ruinart set in stone the most complete illustration of it’s savour faire. And what of it today? Ruinart and art glisten and sparkle, especially in the bubbles of the Blanc de Blancs!

The end of year celebrations have brought Ruinart to create two exceptional pieces – one of these is an exclusive bottle imagined by Via Muniz. The second consists of three tin champagne buckets by Ron Arad. As a homage to the art of assembly so unique to Champagne, the famous designer and architect imagined these buckets around a single joining link of leather. Forming in this way a large basin, the three nestle in a trunk made of oak coming from sustainably managed forests. Made in the purest of French traditions! Inside, the magnums Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2014, Dome Ruinart Rosé 1998 and Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 1993. 

As for Vik Muniz, he reiterates his first inspiration stemming from the vine cuttings. This time expresses himself on a limited edition box set of which there are only 30 – this time hiding a Blanc de Blancs Jeroboam. Created using parts of darkened wood and charcoal, the figure extends its lines on the four faces of this imposing wooden box set. Going further in his concern for memory, Vik Muniz sought out to give this exceptional object a second life – becoming in itself a unique piece of furniture. Ruinart thus offers two artworks that are just as inspired as they are original and ready to be discovered!