The Aston Martin DB9

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Aston Martin’s luxurious story begins in 1913, when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford imagined a British brand of luxury racing cars that fit right in line with English stolidity. Headquartered in Gaydon, Warwickshire, the very first Aston GT was conceived at the hand of Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker. The excellence of its technique and high quality of Aston Martin’s craftsmanship succeeded in making it one of the most iconic GTs in the world.

In 2004, Aston Martin launched the DB9 – an unsettling beauty. The manufacturer was indeed able to make the DB7 line evolve in the style department by giving it just the right touch of aggressiveness. One gaze is enough to bring out the DB9’s savage aspects. With a streamlined front side underneath a glass bubble, the wide radiator grill shaped like a “guard’s hat” houses the bulk of the inner workings including a noble V12 5.9 straight out of the Vanquish line. In just 4.5 seconds, the Aston Martin DB9 can go from 0 to 100 km/h.

No surprise then that Aston Martin took advantage of the release of the latest James Bond film Spectre in order to launch a limited edition of its DB9 GT, the “Bond Edition”. With only 150 cars produced, this series includes features such as Spectre Silver paint, discrete 007 Bond Edition exterior logos, and a brand new Bond Edition interior start-up touchscreen complete with an Aston Martin infotainment system. Invincibility strikes again!

The Rolls Series by Bernard Buffet

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Bernard Buffet’s art is absolutely timeless. Far from the abstract avant-gardists of his day, completely disconnected with contemporary works that worry too much about conforming and being liked, Buffet’s work has the audacity of great artistic production. Born in Paris in 1928, Bernard Buffet left school for museums in 1945; he was already renowned by age 20. His first paintings depicted the streets of Paris like no one else; with a pointed and sharp stroke, creating a lugubrious but lively atmosphere, Buffet’s style goes beyond the definition of figurative paintings. Somewhere between expressionist descendance and the prefiguration of pop art, his paintings entered the scene.

In an era where the art world was obsessed with abstract, Buffet’s work was a bull in a china shop. A popular painter, his style left critiques flabbergasted: “Horribly beautiful” or “magnificently ugly”… No matter since alongside his companion Pierre Bergé, the artist would become the art world’s first pop star. Starting in the 50s, they got a bike, then a moped, then a 2CV, a used Jaguar, then a Rolls, then finally they got a castle. Barely 30 and at the height of his celebrity, the artist who didn’t know how to drive rolled around in a Rolls Royce. At the wheel was his chauffer Joseph. A man of money perhaps, but Bernard Buffet was a man of taste first and foremost: “Money only interests me to the extent that it gives me my peace of mind (…) it can isolate me from the monstrous people that surround us,” he explained.

His main enemy was abstract art, grave digger of “a work’s immediate intelligence” in his own words. And so Bernard Buffet got down to it starting in the 70s, devoting himself entirely to his art within his various properties. “Picasso’s successor” would open up to various universes: corridas, Japanese culture, scenes of daily life, urban or rural landscapes, but also automobiles. Bernard Buffet dedicated hundreds of his works to Rolls Royces. He would paint several, always with an elongated stroke, anguished but sublime. In 1956, Paris Match would publish an article showing him within his magnificent Manimes property, hidden away in the Montmorency Forest, with his gleaming Rolls Royce Phantom IV. This Rolls would eclipse him; the art world was unable to grasp the subtlety of this aristocratic apparatus.

The Vespa: A Book for the Symbol of the Dolce Vita

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A princess subjected to suffocating protocol, Audrey Hepburn had not a minute of free time during her Roman Holiday. Guided by the charm of a young journalist, she finally took advantage of a moment to escape, criss-crossing the town on a little Vespa, before her condition caught up to her… Born after the tragic 40s, the Vespa incarnates the renewal of Italy, home of the arts and fine engineering. When you think of sun-soaked Italy, this image may come to mind: in unspeakable tumult, an elegant Italian slips in between cars, horn jammed and helmet casually hanging off the shoulder. The Vespa has become a myth, a phenomenon, and a way of life that’s intimately tied to the urban world.

 The “Wasp” marks a true turning point in the history of two-wheelers through its comfort, its modern design, and especially its retro glamorous aspect. It’s a true fashion icon doubled up as a tool of mobility where the 60s in London, the air of Saint Germain, the heat of Ibiza, and a nonchalant Dolce Vita all come together. Timeless, it’s been adopted by generation after generation as a symbol of liberty and emancipation.

 An emblem of a happier era, this unique moped incarnates the symbol of friendship and liberty. Valerio Boni, sports journalist specialized in motorcycles and two-wheelers, and Azura Della Penna, Italian fashion and society journalist, have joined forces to release a new book that renders homage to this iconic object.

The Lotus Elise

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In the mid 90s, Lotus was on the brink of disappearing. They weren’t selling cars anymore, and the F1 Team Lotus officially filed for bankruptcy in late 1994. General Motors would seek to sell its subsidiary, but to no avail. And that’s just when one man came across this brand in crisis: his name was Romano Artioli. He was already behind a renaissance at Bugatti – to reinforce his Italian troops, Artioli opted for the exceptional expertise of Lotus Engineering. Artioli bought out Lotus Group and, without wasting any time, put their technicians to work on a project that would bring the world a new ultra-light car keeping with the tradition of sport roadsters. And thus was born Elise, a race car that eschews neither comfort nor luxury, named after Artioli’s granddaughter.

No carpet, cupholders, or glove compartment to be found here: the only thing that matters is the drive! Elise is a car that takes on the spirit of Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus: “Truth is found in lightness.” And light this car is. Revolutionizing the world of sports cars when it arrived on the market in 1996, the Lotus Elise was a shock to all. Once it hits the road, this car offers simple and no frills pleasure. No surrprise then that it was a huge commercial success.

Built around an extruded aluminum bonded chassis structure, the car is not only very light but also extremely rigid. The bare bones chassis is also used with cars that go over 600cv. To hold its weight, a no holds barred approach was taken and thus the car has very few frills: no direction or braking assistance, no central door locking, no electric windows or rearview mirrors… With the Elise everything is in the motor, the 1800cc Rover “L” that develops 120cv. And the driving experience becomes all the more instinctive for it: on small wayside routes, the Elise by Lotus reveals its true strength. This vehicle is prestigiously efficient and right in line with the racing world.

The Bentley, A Dreamy Icon

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While manufacturers traditionally produce cars with ever wilder performance capabilities – meant to boost their performance in competitions – Bentley opted for a car with extraordinary talents this time around, to be used safely on existing routes. Faster than any other on paper, the Continental GT project is laying the foundations for an automobile with theoretical performance potential that is now becoming more explicit than ever: all of its aptitudes were specially adapted, allowing it to achieve its desired pedigree in the simplest and most natural of ways.

With its 365ch, 820Nm couple, and W12 motor, the GT Speed gets up to its top speed in just 76 seconds over 9,4 kilometers. The Grand Tourisme 6.0 liters is able to cover the dumbfounding distance of 92 meters per second at its top speed. The Continental is an awe-inspiring machine that allows you to cruise over huge distances with the added satisfaction of being able to drive even longer. These feats are accompanied by a top notch interior compartment that is soundproof and free of excess. This aesthetic gem dives right into the very sources of luxury: with decidedly démodé command functions and precious wooden plating, the least one can say is that tradition has been respected to a T here.

But Bentley is focused first and foremost on the heart of the car. With the Continental, each turn of the key propels the passenger into the embrace of a sumptuous padded leather seat, while the W12 biturbo hums in the background. It roars to life every time you take off; this is where the true power of a Bentley lies. On the subject, John Bowe, six-time Australian touring car champion and two-time winner of the Bathurst 1000, declared: “This isn’t a modified racecar; it’s a luxurious grand touring road car fresh off the production line. It took us a little over a minute to go from a standstill to 331 km/h. That’s extraordinary. Even when you break through the 300 km/h barrier, the GT Speed just keeps accelerating.” And there you have it: the iconic nature of the Bentley Continental GT.

Bentley and Aston Martin are two brands that are the apple of every auto lover’s eye. For those who dream of driving one of agent 007’s sports cars, Aston Martin created the DB10, the replacement for the legendary DB9.

The Range Rover, the XF Sportbrake Premium Estate, and Wimbledon

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The first version of the Range Rover came out in 1970, but it was far from the off-road limo we know today. In 1970, Land Rover expanded on their position as a manufacturer of powerful, rustic vehicles made for difficult terrain by introducing the Range Rover project – “an all-terrain vehicle with the comfort of aRover sedan.” For the first time, the British manufacturer bet on pairing solidity and beauty, efficiency and comfortable details. On June 17 of that year, theRange Rover was unveiled to the press in the wild landscape of Cornwallis. It was a far cry from the vehicle we know today, since its engineers wanted to preserve its practicality. Doubtful about the prospects for a 4×4 if it were to be too luxurious, they gave it an interior that could be power washed. Charles Spencer King imagined his ideal client as being a gentleman farmer. But soon, the Range Rover would go beyond its initial definition.

The world’s first luxury 4×4, it earned its pedigree in 1979 when it won the first edition of the Paris-Dakar. It would even go on to do it again in 1981. With time, successive models and versions would be improved; now in 2017 the manufacturer is introducing the new Range Rover Velar. With its visionary design and pure lines, the Range Rover Velar is a high-performing, luxurious, and refined SUV. Its avant-garde design combines an undercarriage line and a floating effect with the charismatic simplicity and ease that’s characteristic of the Range Rover line. “The Velar is an avant-garde Range Rover that brings a new dimension of prestige, modernity, and elegance to the brand,” says Gerry McGovern, the brand’s designer.

This elegance can also be found in the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, a new car being produced by the Jaguar Land Rover group. This vehicle tickles the senses with its proportions and technical exploits. With a new lighter platform made largely of aluminum, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a 4.95m estate car that has all the latest Ingnieum innovations from Jaguar Land Rover, whether in a 4 of 6 cylinder gasoline or diesel engine. But where the Jaguar XF Sportbrake really delights the masses is in being the official partner of the Wimbledon tournament – the oldest tennis tournament that began in 1877. On June 14, 2017, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake was presented to the public at Wimbledon in the presence of number 1 world champion and titleholder Andy Murray. On July 16, it will also transport the coveted trophy for the tournament’s finale!

 

The Etihad Airways Super Jumbo A380 Jet Inaugurates a Paris-Abu Dhabi Route

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On July 1, 2017, the world’s most luxurious airline Etihad flew its first Paris-Abu Dhabi and back again on one of its Airbus A380s – a plane with a ravishingly sumptuous First Class. It all started in July 2003 when Etihad Airways was founded by royal decree, with Abu Dhabi as its primary hub. The airline would soon become a leader in the sector and, in just a few years, boasted the fastest growth in the history of commercial aviation. But Etihad doesn’t stick out just for its numbers; the airline has been known for its outstanding hospitality and comfort from the very start. First came the acquisition of the latest and best in airplanes, with the A380 as a shining example. Then, a new airline model for the 21st century: defying and breaking the rules of air hospitality all while inventing new ones. Cultivated, attentive, warm, generous… Etihad’s hospitality is second to none. And the airline has a number of awards to back up this claim, notably winning “Best Airline in the World” at the World Travel Awards for five consecutive years.

In 2014, Etihad Airways definitively cemented its position as the world’s most luxurious airline by redefining First Class. Onboard the 10 A380s in the company’s possession, Etihad Airways rolled out a brand new way to travel in ultimate style: First Apartment and First Suite. The idea is simple: imagine First Class with a degree of refinement and customization never before seen. “Our new First Class Apartments and First Suites are an important step for Etihad Airways and the aviation industry globally. This marks the beginning of an exciting new era for luxury air travel. This launch is the cumulation of five years of research, conception, and implementation – with the creation of a design innovation center in Abu Dhabi bringing together three large design agencies to this effect – but also hard work that is finally bearing its fruit. The final product is superior to anything that exists on the market and closer to the offerings of the best 5 star hotels, as our guests on board our A380 and B787s will soon be able to discover,” explained Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer for Etihad Airways.

And they were right on the mark with this new offering. On the upper deck of the Etihad Airways A380, nine First Apartments came to life. This living space came complete with a recliner and a sofa bed that’s 203 cm long when undone. All along one wing, a first as well, the First Apartments offer 74% more space than Etihad Airways’ First Class. Six of them have interconnecting doors that create apartments for guests traveling together. Even better, the First Apartments each contain a minibar, a personal dressing room, and a separate dressing table with light-up makeup mirrors, all of them overflowing with luxury products like Christian Lacroix’s First Class Amenity Kit. In shades of chocolate, cashmere, and café, the Lobby between the First and Business class cabins opens up onto a salon space and a bar furnished with leather couches, marquetry tables, and a big-screen TV. The A380’s First Suite offers an improved suite equipped with a minibar, and central seating that can be put together to form a double bed, allowing guests to travel in total tranquility. Etihad Airways leaves nothing to chance, with a chef on board that prepares meals on-demand for guests. Why not let yourself be taken for a ride through the skies and into perfection?

Ponant Releases the First Cruise Ship Equipped with a Multi-Sensorial Underwater Area

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Ponant, the leading provider of polar expeditions, is offering four new ships in their fleet that are as luxurious as they are high-performance. These four super yachts are named after famous French explorers: Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville, and Le Dumont-d’Urville, all of them set to hit the water in 2018 and 2019. Ponant seeks to satisfy a calling to explore the great unknown. To meet different peoples and nature, to live out authentic and comfortable experiences, these explorers are made for both tropical and sub-tropical expeditions – a unique alliance that makes Ponant one of the only companies to brave these uncharted waters. From the secret coves of the Mediterranean to the majestic glaciers of Antarctica with the warm waters of the Caribbean or the farthest reaches of Alaska in between, each Ponant cruise is an extraordinary adventure.

“Exploring a silent world and discovering ocean floors like in the Nautilus or the Calypso.” This is how Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, president of Ponant, puts it. This 5-star expedition definitely has what it takes to delight curious travelers. Onboard a Ponant Explorers ship, passengers are sure to be swept off their feet. A journey, an experience, an opera of emotions… Ponant’s expeditions are exceptional in that they’re unlike any other. Their crew is experienced, with nature experts and passionate speakers all along for the ride. The infinite mystery of dark abysses will light up little by little as the ship moves through unfamiliar seas. The strength of Ponant indeed relies on this very respect for nature, history, and exploration. Loyal to the company’s philosophy, their ships are perfectly sized and boast cutting edge design, technology, and a respect for the environment.

Their latest advancement is the stuff dreams are made of. Orchestrated by architect and sea enthusiast Jacques Rougerie, Le Lapérouse will be the world’s first cruise ship to be equipped with a multi-sensorial underwater space called Blue Eye. This space will be open to the ocean, with absolute comfort that will allow travelers to experience a spectacle like none other. “Feeling the sensations of a diver… discovering, watching, observing a living spectacle,” is how Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée once more puts it. This underwater lounge, at the heart of the ship’s hull and beneath the waterline, is accessible to all passengers; and that’s not all! The fabulous world of the deep seas can be discovered while the marvel elicited by this brand new and little-known universe is sure to inspire you like never before. The lounge’s lines, lighting, acoustic design, and furnishings are all imagined to bring the focus to two portholes, shaped like gigantic cetacean eyes that look out on an entire world beneath the sea. A mural decor puts live images filmed by three underwater cameras on an array of digital screens. Placed at strategic points on the ship, they allow passengers to witness, among other things, dolphins playing in the bow waves. All aboard! 

The New Air France Business Class Kit: A Small Gesture that Changes Everything

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Choosing Air France Business class means becoming a special guest. It means enjoying a precise attention and customized service at every moment. From the time you set foot on board, the team personally introduces themselves in a sober yet efficient manner. Once in the cabin, the reassuring elegance of certain materials tempers the volume: leather, suede, tweed accents, metallic finishings, and wooden shades. It’s no surprise that Air France is known for the elegance of their services. After all, France itself is the country of couture, chic, and absolute refinement.

This haute couture look is signed by Priestmagoode and Brandimage, two design consulting agencies that make for pure style suites. French elegance is on the menu with starred French chefs like Guy Martin, Joël Robuchon, and Michel Roth all orchestrating meals in order to “Make the skies the most beautiful place on earth”. Air France is no doubt synonymous with French luxury, refinement, sensuousness, and art de vivre; Clarins’ participation in the new Business class kit is but a charming echo of this.

Clarins will accompany Business class passengers from the moment they arrive at the airport. Starting with free access to Clarins skincare centers in salons, this delectable well-being continues on board. Once on the plane, moisturizer and lip balm as well as Clarins’ purifier and ‘eau dynamisante’ are all in free supply until you arrive at your destination. This extra attention is sure to make for a pleasant journey filled with relaxation and an arrival as soothing as it is sublime. For the next six months, Business class passengers on board Air France’s long-haul flights will also receive a new comfort kit. Practical and emotional all in one, this new kit includes a number of unique Clarins products that can be brought home with you.

The Orient Express Puts Art Back on the Rails

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It was in the early hours of October 8, 1883, that the Austro-Hungarian steam train emerged from the Bosphorus to enter into Constantinople Station in present-day Istanbul. On board, 24 travelers had just accomplished a historical voyage. This route was the first for the Orient Express, a train imagined by Georges Nagelmackers to unite East with West in an unprecedentedly short amount of time: two to three days at most. By creating a link between Paris and Constantinople, with Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna, and other European cities in between, the train only ran twice per week on what was then the very first international railway. In the 20s and 30s, it was the privileged mode of transport for the crowned heads of Europe, aristocrats, and celebrities. It was nicknamed “The Train of Kings, the King of Trains”. But two World Wars would put an end to the Orient Express, just as aviation was first appearing.

A regular service between Istanbul and Athens definitively ceased in 1977 due to crushing competition from the airplane. And yet, several years later, one British entrepreneur, Sir James Sherwood, would decide to bring the legend of the Orient Express back to life. Indeed, a number of pens helped to forge its reputation: from Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express to Ian Fleming’s daring James Bond escapade in From Russia With Love, the train has served as an illustrious decor on more than one occasion. With restored original materials, Sir James Sherwood put a new version of the train back on its tracks; it would soon be considered an icon of luxury travel in Asia. Today, travel group Belmond has decided to renew the Orient Express experience once more by initiating an unprecedented journey alongside a number of creative souls all bound together within the same sensorial experience.

Until April 28, two of the train’s emblematic cars will host a fascinating artwork created by Singaporean street artist Rajesh Kumar; this unique work is called The Koi Pond. Incarnating the joy of traveling, movement, and being reunited, this artwork is a visual surprise that accompanies the magnificent landscapes of Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand while the train rushes through the region. “Koi ponds always fascinated me. The bursts of color from these fish in the water evoked a palette of emotions and I felt like they perfectly incarnated the spirit of Eastern and the Orient Express,” confides Rajesh Kumar. Giving a new meaning to art in movement, Belmond is offering from January to April then from September to October a 2-3 night journey between Singapore and Bangkok for 82 passengers on board luxurious cabins. Sometimes it’s the journey that counts.