Luxury Facts The Unique, The Exquisite And The Rare Rolls-Royce: The Epitome of Luxury Automobile Experience By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: December 10, 2019

Rolls-Royce in St. Moritz and Courchevel

The wings of the Spirit of Ecstasy are a memoir of the scope and expanse of the brand. Rolls-Royce is more than just another motor company. The brand has made automobiles a luxury experience unparalleled and exquisite only to them. The 116–year-old company has transformed motorcars into a symbol of luxury and sophistication. And the journey has been as epic as their products are.

When it all began

Some people are destined to meet and create great history. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met on the evening of May 4, 1904. Beginning a revolution, this meeting changed the automobile industry forever. Their unconventional minds and thought processes led to the creation of Rolls-Royce. They used the engines derived from that of airplanes to boost the speed and response time. And in 1907, the first ever Rolls-Royce automobile ran 23,127 kms almost non-stop!

Sir Henry Royce - Rolls-Royce

The company then went on to revolutionise the automobile industry with an eye to precision and experimenting with designs. The company time and again redefined a mere mode of transport to a status symbol and further created a niche market for themselves. The company even produces aircraft engines alongside car engines now!

Sir Charles Rolls - Rolls-Royce

The Game of Thrones

In 1973, Rolls-Royce was nationalised and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited was formed. Corniche was the first car made under the new RR Limited company with a two-door, front-engine, rear wheel drive five-seater, as a coupé and convertible. The company then was acquired by Vickers plc in 1980. Eight years later, it was time for a change in the reign. BMW was seen as the only potential contender as it already supplied internal combust engines and other components to the company, but the tables turned when Volkwagen outbid BMW with $430 million. 

The company was then divided with Volkswagan gaining the automobile operations while BMW acquired rights to the RR logo and name. The company’s future was now in able hands. The Rolls-Royce Phantom was the first product offered for sale in 2003. A four door sedan that broke all benchmarks of technology and science. Since then, the company has expanded its product line to include extended wheelbase, two-door coupé, and convertible versions of the Phantom sedan, as well as the smaller Ghost four-door sedan, Wraith two-door coupé, Dawn convertible, and the Cullinan SUV.

Rolls-Royce Phantom next to lake

Eye for detail

What differentiates Rolls-Royce from any other automobile manufacturing company is taking account of the consumer’s expectations and preferences. Rolls-Royce tapped into that way before any other company could fathom. Proudly welded by hand, it takes about two months for a Rolls-Royce car to be completely ready. Being originally from England, where the rains are uncalled and completely unpredictable, Rolls-Royce is equipped with Teflon coated umbrellas that are built into the doors and pop out with the touch of a button. In the newer Rolls-Royce models, the umbrella compartments come with assigned dryers to fasten the drying process. Rolls-Royce’s doors are heavier than most car doors, hence, once inside, you can press the DOOR button which automatically closes the door! 

The $40 million worth hood ornament ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ has been the most sought after automobile ornament. In order to prevent the prospect of theft, the ornament is now retractable into the grill, controlled by a remote controller. The coach line on every Rolls-Royce is hand painted by Mark Courts, the only person responsible for painting the coach line and takes about 3-4 hours to draw the 5 meter long coachline. 

Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy

Rolls-Royce also values the choice of colours, without restricting the patron to a limited palette, the company offers over 44,000 hues for exteriors and interiors for Rolls Royce Phantom. The extravagant interiors of the Rolls-Royce take about 8-11 bulls and 17 days to wrap! To ensure maximum privacy, peace and comfort, every Rolls-Royce uses 130 kilograms of sound proofing material to have the minimum impact of peripheral sounds and noises. 

Vision for future

The best part about Rolls-Royce is that they value innovation and exclusivity. Rolls-Royce Bespoke is a separate wing of the company that relentlessly works on making dream cars come true. Right from the conceptualisation to the assembly, the consumer has veto in everything. The process is not time restricted or budget strained, and the company allows a rare and desirable union of the consumer and the artisan. The colour that is used for the final product is named and patented after the patron’s name. Along with Bespoke, Rolls-Royce also has a platform called Muse, a stage where people can present their art, design and innovation.

Rolls-Royce in Italy

If not said enough, Rolls Royce is considered as the epitome of luxury and affluence. The car is supposed to be chauffeur-driven while the patron devours the uber copious feel of the car. Rolls-Royce believes the chauffeur plays a rather important role in the entire experience, thus, the Rolls Royce White Glove service. It is a driving coaching programme to train chauffeurs to understand the expectations and mannerisms required. It also includes the code of conduct and things to do while receiving and departing the patron.  

Strange but true!

There are numerous stories online that will list down the most bizarre stories and facts about brands and companies. Rolls-Royce has a few of its own. The regal status that Rolls-Royce enjoys is primarily because it was a royalty preferred car. Royals from across the globe wanted to have a Rolls-Royce of their own. The Indian King, Jai Singh, bought 10 Rolls-Royce cars to collect garbage after being outraged by the salesman who thought the king couldn’t afford the car. Adding to the bizarreness is the fact that Osho, the cult leader, once had 94 Rolls Royce in his personal collection. And then, the Rolls-Royce Sweptail holds the title of most expensive car in the world - a Rolls Royce Bespoke project, and the owner still remains anonymous!

Rolls-Royce on highway to future

Rolls-Royce is the only automobile producing company in the world that has more than 65% of its total production still running on the road. Talk about quality and precision! But then, do you think the luxury car would be seen as often as Toyota or Ford? Well, it can. Hong Kong has the largest number Rolls-Royce running on its roads. The city has been reported as the city with highest intensity of Rolls-Royce cars across the globe. 

The ever-evolving automobile company is progressing towards Artifical Intelligence, better efficiency, alternate energy resources, and of course, a true luxury experience. Indeed, a marvel of the industry!

A Chair for Freedom, for Liberty, for Purity By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: December 6, 2019

A chair as a friend. From that simple idea came a pop-up that captivated the imagination, and raised money for charity.

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition Shakuntala Kulkarni Sanjay Puri

10 Chairs is a collective of installations in art and design with its first edition in New Delhi raising funds for the 100 Good Karma Project, a foundation working in the foothills of the Himalayas. The concept came from designer Sonali Purewal, who worked on this with creative brand consultant Pramiti Madhavji, who came together with Gallery Espace for this art collaboration.

Ms. Purewal came about the idea of ‘10 Chairs’ from a sit-down dinner she had planned for 10 friends that met around an aged wine-stained wooden table to exchange stories. “I have been thinking of this event called 10 Chairs in my head,” she explains. “Who are these 10 friends? What are their personalities? And what are the stories they want to tell? Each chair at the event is a friend at the dinner table, and the piece is their story. These are my ten friends.” No, there is no link to New York’s 10 Chairs NYC.

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition GR Iranna Klove

Some of India’s finest artists, architects and designers have collaborated to tell their story with a statement piece. Each chair has been made as a single edition. “The beauty of these chairs is that they are single edition pieces,” Ms. Purewala enthuses. As to the reason for the collaborations, Ms. Purewal says, “Any artist or designer can be commissioned to make anything solo, which is not difficult. But as a collaboration, it is not going to happen. When people collaborate and it becomes a bespoke piece, it’s a different thing.”

Ms. Purewal chose from designers who work on an array of materials, like a variety of forms and designs. “We got architects that work in concrete, designers that work in metal, somebody who works in glass, somebody who works in paper, or fabric, literally to see how the yin and yang could be put together. In some cases, it really worked, in other cases, they were poles apart, which made them think out of the box.” Incidentally, for many of the participating designers, it was the first time working together.

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition Anita Dube Madhav Raman

Two people have collaborated on each chair. The pairs included Shakuntala Kulkarni and Sanjay Puri; Anita Dube and Madhav Raman; Bose Krishnamachari and Alex Davis; GR Iranna and Klove; Karl Antao and Gurjit Matharoo; Marcantonio and Scarlet Splendour; Martand Khosla and Gunjan Gupta; Puneet Kaushik and Ayush Kasliwal; and Valay Gada and Mandeep Nagi

The works are a mix of digital, mixed media, interactive art that are both sculptural and installations. The collaborations started around mid-August, and  everyone came on board pretty quickly. Ms. Purewala remembers the questions she faced such as - why chair, why can’t we do a table? “I had to explain that the whole thing is chair,” she says. “Any collaboration is a lot of effort, lots of work.”

The chairs literally came in all shapes and sizes and materials and designs. Even a furniture fair does not usually display such a range in variety and concepts!

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition Karl Antao Gurjit Matharoo

Shakuntala Kulkarni and Sanjay Puri made what was one of the most striking pieces, layered and incisive. Called ‘La Liberta’, they brought nine two dimensional punctuated elliptical planes of varying sizes angled differently to create an abstract composition of this chair. Made of certified green polymer board and acid free paper, its ellipses appear to be striving to escape in different direction, depicting freedom.  A closer look reveals four strips of images from Juloos, four video installations which declares each person has an equal right and freedom as an individual.

Another unusual chair – misshapen at first glance – was ‘Takème’. Puneet Kaushik and Ayush Kasliwal make a political statement. Takème has all the elements of a functional object but is disoriented in a way that it no longer performs its functions, and mocks its own existence. The chair is made of embroidered beads on canvas, wood, cast metal, synthetic fur and natural wood - signifying the variety of people and institutions that constitute India. Its bold red signals the soreness and the warnings that the situation needs to change.

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition Martand Khosla Gunjan Gupta

A very different expression of the project came from Martand Khosla and Gunjan Gupta, whose ‘Chairity Starts at Home’ are 24 small chair objects that reflect the world and its structures, while reimagining seats. The work primarily uses brass and brick dust, along with varied metals.

Valay Gada and Mandeep Nagi presented a vision in gold - ‘The Anchorite's Armchair: A Seat for the Soul’. Made of brass, mild steel, cotton, fabric, gold foil and beads, “the work reflects the tension between the often harsh realities of life and the delicacy of the internal spiritual journey. The marriage of the strength of metal and the softness of fabric recreates the inevitable tensions of modern urban life and the sublime solitude craved by the soul,” they said.

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition Puneet Kaushik Ayush Kasliwal

The only one to get an enclosure of its own – mainly due to the nature of its work, was Karl Antao and Gurjit Matharoo’s ‘Me Raaj’, a shimmering cascade of fibre optics and glass beads in a dark enclosure that lit up and went dark in a loop. Is the chair an object or a state of being? – it asks the viewer to reflect.

GR Iranna and Klove (by lighting designers Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth) created ‘The Umbilical Chair’, a light installation of metal, wood and blown glass, a visual representation of the relationship between human and social influences. Overtly, a flock of birds seem to be flying out of chair, where the birds have a desire to break free from the pressures of daily life, while the chair represents the social interactions we hold on to.

The next work, a striking diptych by Anita Dube and Madhav Raman, called the ‘O Phantom of Liberty!’ was at first glance two commode covered in velvet. Made of wood, sunmica, ceramic, plastic, velvet, mirror, acoustics, the work harks back to Luis Bunuel’s 1974 film, The Phantom of Liberty, where at the dinner table, the seats are WCs and the conversation veers towards politics, pollution and population.

10 Chairs Gallery Espace new Delhi Exhibition Valay Gada Mandeep Negi

Bose Krishnamachari and Alex Davis went a very different way in creating their work. Their Braille on canvas installation is inspired by American artist Joseph Kosuth’s conceptual 1965 installation, One and Three Chairs - a folding chair, a life-size photograph of it, and an enlarged definition of the word chair. Krishnamachari and Davis have created a fourth chair, via Braille, a nod to minimalism and even absurdity.

The silent auction, in progress at Espace Gallery, is raising funds, which will go towards the 100 Good Karma’s initiative for making more medical units for animals, to start blood banks in remote parts of Himachal Pradesh and initiate green waste disposal systems at micro village levels in the foothills of the Himalayas. The NGO is supported and funded by Ms. Purewal’s design firm based in Kasauli, Himachal.

Paradise Island: Where Heaven, Luxury & Smart Investment Meet By: George Damianos, President, Damianos Sotheby's International Realty

Posted on: November 21, 2019

The year was 1962. With the introduction of commercial passenger jets into the skies in the previous decade, air travel was becoming an increasingly popular pastime among the international elite. From wealthy businessmen to celebrated stars, the world’s richest and most famous built a lifestyle around it, flying from one glamorous destination to the next. And Paradise Island in The Bahamas was high on that list of destinations, thanks, in part, to a financier, an appliance manufacturer and an international playboy.

Bahamas Luxury Investment

The Fascinating Tale

The real story of Paradise Island (originally named Hog Island), began a quarter of a century earlier when Edmund Lynch, co-founder of the Merrill Lynch & Co brokerage firm, sold his Hog Island estate to Dr. Axel Wenner-Gren, owner of the Swedish manufacturing company Electrolux. Even though it was 1939 and the world was on the brink of war, Dr. Wenner-Gen set about building an extravagant tropical oasis which he dubbed “Shangri-La.” The lavish estate was so expansive that it included a 75-foot-wide terraced garden modelled after the gardens of Versailles Palace in France, overlooking the Nassau Harbour that stretched a quarter of a mile from the grounds of Shangri-La to the southern edge of Hog Island.

Just a few months before his death, Dr. Wenner-Gren sold the entire estate to his neighbour, Huntington Hartford II, grandson of the founder of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P). Known as a playboy and patron of the arts, Mr. Hartford was launching his career as a hotelier and had plans to convert Shangri-La into a luxury resort. Recognizing that Hog Island didn’t exactly conjure up the images of luxury and sophistication he hoped would attract the rich and famous, Mr. Hartford successfully petitioned the Bahamian government to change the name of Hog Island to Paradise Island. As for his resort, he named it The Ocean Club.

The Ocean Club Bahamas

Mr. Hartford hired the Palm Beach architect John Volk and built The Ocean Club, Cafe Martinique, Hurricane Hole and the golf course, among other island landmarks. He also acquired and installed the Cloisters, a 14th-century French Augustinian monastery. The entire opening of Paradise Island was covered in Newsweek and Time magazines.

And, just as Mr. Hartford had envisioned, the celebrities weren’t far behind. World leaders like Jackie Onassis and Sir Winston Churchill, famed artist Salvador Dali, actors Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando and, yes, even The Beatles flew from every corner of the world to see for themselves what Mr. Hartford had created.

This was the true birth of Paradise Island and The Ocean Club as we know them today, and while much has changed since 1962, Paradise Island and The Ocean Club continue to be beacons that draw in the world’s most elite high-net-worth individuals.

Paradise Island Today

Paradise Island has a long history of enticing jetsetters and celebrities, and it’s because of the resort-style lifestyle that Mr. Hartford manifested nearly a century ago. A custom-designed golf course, private beaches, tennis clubs and marinas … all of this continues to be extremely attractive to the ultra-wealthy, not only when it comes to vacationing but also when purchasing homes.

Mary's Mark #72 Ocean Club Estates Paradise Island Bahamas

To this day, Paradise Island is consistently voted as one of the top destinations in the Caribbean by distinguished travel publications like Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler. And because it’s only a 40-minute flight from Miami, travel to the island is virtually hassle-free.

High net worth individuals are attracted to the fact that Paradise Island is easy to get to on a moment’s notice. When it comes to purchasing second and third homes, they want something that’s not going to be too burdensome to own; something that’s easy to take care of, easy to maintain and offers ease of access to their favourite pastimes such as golfing, diving and boating.

Mary's Mark #72 Ocean Club Estates Paradise Island Bahamas

The island’s stunning waterfront properties set it apart from other luxury communities. Homes on the island range from elegant one-of-a-kind estates and gorgeous beachfront sanctuaries to exclusive high-rise condos and world-renowned hotel brands. Ocean Club Estates—one of the most exclusive oceanfront and golf-course communities in The Bahamas—is one of the more unique enclaves on the island due to its partnership with The Ocean Club Bahamas (now a Four Seasons Resort) which grants Ocean Club Estates homeowner full access to all of the resort’s five-star amenities.

This exclusive access adds incredible value when purchasing homes like Villa Tarka, referring to the one-of-a-kind 20,000-sq. ft. beachfront estate exclusively listed by Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty. There are very few homes currently on the market in The Bahamas that offer this combination of unparalleled elegance and wealth of amenities.

Villa Tarka Paradise Island Bahamas

And then there’s the golf course. The Ocean Club golf course is an 18-hole, 72-par championship course that features breathtaking signature holes with seaside greens and tees stretching over 7,100 yards of beautiful coastline.

Not only are investors getting the ultimate turnkey experience when they purchase a home in communities like Ocean Club Estates, but they have access to the ultimate high-end lifestyle that defines Paradise Island. There aren’t many islands that offer this level of convenience and luxury.

Villa Tarka Paradise Island Bahamas

George Damianos Sotheby's International RealtyGeorge Damianos is President and Managing Broker of Damianos Sotheby's International Realty and Lyford Cay Sotheby's International Realty. With a career spanning more than four decades, George is one of the most trusted and longest-standing real estate agents in The Bahamas, and is credited with handling more high-profile sales than any other Realtor in the country. A graduate of The University of Miami School of Business Administration, George’s continuous success working with high-net-worth individuals has earned him passage into the “Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate Billionaire’s Club” which honors Realtors whose sales records total more than $1 billion over the course of their career. Whether it’s working with international celebrities, business moguls or professional athletes on the sale or purchase of private islands, luxury homes or resort properties, George relies on his detailed knowledge of government regulations and The Bahamas to provide smooth, discreet transactions for his clients. George spends his leisure time with his wife and friends on his Sportfish cruising the islands of The Bahamas or sailing around Old Fort Bay. In addition to being co-owner of Damianos Sotheby's International Realty and Lyford Cay Sotheby's International Realty, George is a Certified Residential Broker (CRB), a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) and a member of the America’s National Association of Realtors (NAR), The Bahamas Real Estate Association (BREA) and The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce. George is also a licensed appraiser, a government-appointed assessor.

Sabrina Monte-Carlo: The Art of Tablescaping By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: November 5, 2019

Floral dinner table setup

World over, the last quarter of the year marks as the festive season. From Diwali in India, to Day of the Dead in Mexico, to Christmas in almost the entire world, food, festivities and family is what makes this part of the year most beautiful and anticipated.

As everyone gathers, there’s a lot that goes into making everything perfect. From food to clothes to décor, it takes a village to orchestrate the perfect event. Included in all this is the Art of Tablescaping. Much more than just adding one centerpiece to the dining table, setting up the platform for a delicious meal is as much about the visual treat as the meal itself.

Multicolor table design setup

To understand the intricacies of this unique art, and to get some expert advice, we spoke with Sabrina Monteleone-Oeino, a designer from Monaco, who after a successful career in the fashion industry, decided to devote herself entirely to interior decoration.

Today, The Sabrina Monte-Carlo studio assists its international clientele from design to delivery of all projects. Its team is made up of a team of 30 professionals including interior designers, naval architects, fabric specialists, tableware experts, graphic designers, logistics managers and a delivery team. The studio’s many projects include contemporary villas in the French Riviera, grand palaces in the Middle East, chalets in the Swiss Alps and private jets and yachts. In its four showrooms in Monaco and Saint-Jean-Cap Ferrat, Sabrina Monte-Carlo presents a wide selection of high-end furniture, textiles, tableware and accessories from brands such as Baccarat, Hermès, Lalique, and Paola Lenti, to name a few.

And when it comes to tablescaping, Ms. Monteleone-Oeino highlights its importance in the larger scheme of things: “It is about sharing beautiful moments all together - your table should be as inviting as the rest of your house, your table decor is a continuation of the house. It should make your guests feel welcome and to not want to ever leave the table!”

red candle flowers table design

While we all know the rules of a stunning table décor, Ms. Monteleone-Oeino offers some advice on finer nuances. Apart from having fun with the table décor, she points towards placemats and napkin rings as the most important part of the table. “Give a second life to your chinaware by switching up your placemats and napkin rings. They can change the whole look of your table, they are your table's best accessories,” she says.

Adding a personalized touch is as important as the buoyant flower arrangement. Ms. Monteleone-Oeino suggests (rightly so) placing a personalised gift on top of each plate as a ‘name tag’ for each of your guests. Trust us, that tiny gesture will add much sparkle to the happiness on the table.

Third, create an exciting centrepiece by mixing fun objects within a floral arrangement. For example, add crystal flowers in the vase or wind the flowers around sculptures. Do not hesitate to mix height levels, this will give a rhythm to the look! Having said that, Ms. Monteleone-Oeino also says, “Don’t go too high - you still want your guests to be able to talk to each other!”  

Pastel color table setup with gift

Nothing is too overwhelming, nothing is too plain. Everything depends on the mood, the occasion and the size of your home. Yes, dressing up that table takes time, creativity, inventiveness and humungous amounts of research, but then, like Ms. Monteleone-Oeino says, “An excellent meal with a boring table decor won’t be as memorable!” So, without further ado, bring on the candles and the twigs!

Curvilinearism: The Rise of Curved Architecture in China By: Leo Lian, Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty 

Posted on: November 1, 2019

Soho building by Zaha Hadid Beijing

Curvilinear architecture can be found worldwide, often under our very noses. Traditional Chinese buildings are famous for their curved features, particularly ‘Gongs’ which are imperial buildings or buildings of importance with winged edges. Turn west and witness churches with conical spires or mosque roofs decorated with golden domes. These religious buildings offer a glimpse into the largely undisclosed history of architectural curvilinearism. This form of structural design is not necessarily new – architects throughout history have taken inspiration from nature, where the most common form is, you guessed it, the curve. 

But there are two sides to this coin and China, as an international property development hotspot, has a large part to play in the rise of this curved form of design. Chinese cities growing at lightning-speed provide architects with a license to push their creative capabilities beyond what is possible in other parts of the world. Increase in demand for new buildings allows architects to trial new designs, ripping up the rule book and exceeding expectations. It is, therefore, unsurprising that we see the rise of this weird and wonderful form of architecture in China, more than in any other destination. 

Major Contributors to Curvilinearism

The National Stadium Beijing, Bird's Nest

Zaha Hadid can be credited as a trailblazer for the movement in Asia, pushing the boundaries of acceptability for the continent. Hadid’s SOHO buildings in Beijing take inspiration from historical Chinese courtyards, combining classical with the contemporary. The SOHO complexes are designed to represent the variation and dynamic nature of Beijing’s ever-changing environment, integrating China’s history with China’s future. 

This form of post-modernist architecture can be found outside of the commercial real estate market, seen elsewhere in the form of national monuments, parks and structures. The Beijing National Stadium, known colloquially as the ‘Bird’s Nest’, signifies the deep relationship between curvilinearism and nature. Now seen as an international icon, the building was the focal point of the 2008 Olympics and remains a crucial advocate for curved building designs. 

Horseshoe Hotel Beijing

Plans containing yet more curvilinear architecture are being approved across China, including the Suzhou Zhongnan Centre. The skyscraper is projected to be 729m with sides arching towards the peak of the building, following the curved trend. In Huzhou, the ‘Horseshoe Hotel’ was completed in 2013 with a Torus geometrical shape, being accredited as the third best “new skyscraper for design and functionality”. China clearly has an appetite for curvilinearism. 

Transition to Residences

Moving down from the high heights of commercial skyscrapers and onto street level, we are beginning to see curvilinear designs permeate the residential property market. Twisting Courtyard, a property currently on offer for rent through Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty, is a prime example of this transfusion. Evident within the property is a blend of classical features and curvilinear design. Indoors, undulated flooring is met by asymmetric curved walls, creating an open and active living space. Step outdoors into the more traditional Chinese courtyard and bear witness to the classical side of Chinese architecture. The winding tiled paths curve around a hawthorn tree centrepiece, as is typical with Chinese courtyards. The property is symbolic of the increase in curvilinear architectural design, but maintaining the crucial elements that define Chinese architecture. 

Twisting Courtyard Beijing China

With China’s population increasing at 0.6% per year and property being developed at a pace to match, it is no surprise that more diverse and interesting forms of architectural design are growing in popularity within the country. Curvilinearism succinctly expresses the culture, history and nature of China, showcasing its attractiveness to prospectus architects and developers. For those looking to track the development of this structural art form, keep a wayward eye on China. 

Twisting Courtyard Beijing China Curved Architecture

Leo Lian Beijing Sotheby's International RealtyLeo Lian joined the team at Beijing Xin Rui Zeng Yi International Real Estate Brokerage Co., Ltd (Beijing Sotheby’s International Real) in April 2014 when it first launched. As a Business Development Director, he is responsible for the branding and business development department with a strong focus on new development and sales overseas. Previously, Leo was the Project Director at Beijing Xin Rui Zeng Yi International Investment Management Co., Ltd, Xicheng District Beijing. He looked after the project team, selecting and managing company projects, handling overseas investments for clients.

Super Penthouses - Villas in the Sky By: Leong Boon Hoe, COO, List Sotheby’s International Realty, Singapore

Posted on: September 26, 2019

One unique penthouse in Singapore became the talk of the town around the world when British billionaire, Sir James Dyson, of the bagless vacuum fame, paid S$73.8 million (US$53.2 million) to own it. The Wallich Residence super penthouse by developer GuocoLand is the largest and highest residence in Singapore. The five-bedroom, 21,108 sq ft “villa in the sky” sits on top of Guoco Tower and Wallich Residence at 290m (961 ft), higher than many other international properties and with unobstructed views of the Central Business District, Marina Bay and even Sentosa island. 

The Wallich Residence Singapore

As much as Sir Dyson’s purchase excited the whole city, billionaires buying penthouses in Singapore and causing a splash is not exactly new. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin made news in September 2017 when he bought a 10,300 sq ft, duplex penthouse at the top of the 36-storey Sculptura Ardmore by SC Global Developments in Singapore. At a price of S$60 million (US$43.3 million), it was the most expensive apartment in Singapore since Sun Tongyu, co-founder of Alibaba, forked out S$51 million (US$36.8 million) for a 13,874 sq ft penthouse at the neighbouring Le Nouvel Ardmore in 2015. 

The love for penthouses can be found in most major global cities. In January 2019, the founder of hedge fund Citadel, Ken Griffin, caused a buzz when he bought a penthouse in Central Park South in New York, at the astronomical price of S$328 million (US$240 million). The 24,000 sq ft, unfurnished penthouse, which spans from the 50th to the 53rd storeys, atop a 290m tall building, set a new record for the most expensive penthouse in the world.

What is a penthouse other than an apartment unit that is at the top of a tall building? Why are people willing to pay such prices to own one? 

Concourse Skyline Singapore

A luxury penthouse offers top-of-the-line furnishings, private lifts and car park, generous outdoor areas and their own private pools. Some even come with hotel-style concierge. But more than just the tangible benefits, a penthouse represents luxury, space, privacy, exclusivity, great views and yes, prestige and status. 

Today’s penthouses are also chasing the superlatives. There are bragging rights associated to staying in the largest or the highest penthouse. Some are found atop the “supertalls” or “cloud-busters”, that go up to 305m to 609m (1,000 ft to 1,999 ft) in height, found in major cities like New York and Dubai. These factors lead to premiums in the price of the penthouses. 

As a result, a new breed of penthouses has evolved: the super penthouse. They are rare because not all developers cater for super penthouses, even if they do have penthouses. Just a few years ago, a penthouse at 8,000 sq ft might have qualified as a super penthouse, but now there is a following for even larger penthouses. Today, only penthouses that are larger than 10,000 sq ft warrant the accolade, and these usually come at a price only within reach of the ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals. 

UHNW buyers tend to be collectors of fine art, prized sports cars and of course, trophy real estate. They go for nothing less than the best-in-class in terms of location, size, views, privacy, luxurious furnishings, architectural merit and more. Most of them are C-suite executives, chairpersons, and entrepreneurs. These super penthouses are not just the owner’s private abode; they’re also used as a space to host meetings and personal gatherings. 

Concourse Skyline Singapore

Penthouses all over the world thrive in prime areas where real estate is highly valued. Some of these exclusive residential addresses include 57th Street and Park Avenue in New York, Knightsbridge and Hyde Park in London, Peak Road at the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong and Avenue Princesse Grace in Monaco. 

In Singapore, the most prestigious and exclusive residential enclaves are found close to Orchard Road such as Ardmore Park, Nassim Road, Paterson Road, Angullia Park, the financial and downtown districts (Marina Bay and Beach Road) and new waterfront districts like Keppel Bay and Sentosa Cove. These are also where some of the best penthouses are found. Since 2010, eight super penthouses have found owners, with the four largest transactions done in the last five years. 

Super penthouses are generally considered less susceptible to market volatility because of their scarcity. The sale of a super penthouse may even help to restore or signal confidence in the market. Case in point is how the Central Park South sale lifted the Manhattan real estate market sentiments, which had cooled off during the global financial crisis. Similarly, in Singapore, the sale of the Le Nouvel Ardmore and Sculptura Ardmore super penthouses both took place during the property market downturn period. Such significant sales can sometimes lead to an improvement in sentiments. 

The Hunt for Trophy Real Estate

Of the super penthouses around the world that are for sale right now, the one that truly stands out in terms of asking price is the uber exclusive Tour Odeon Tower Sky Penthouse in Monaco. With an asking price of S$457 million (US$335 million), it is set to become one of the most expensive luxury homes in the world once sold. Sitting atop the second tallest building on Europe’s Mediterranean coastline, the five-storey, 35,500 sq ft penthouse gives a whole new meaning to the word luxury with its 360-degree views over the sea and stunning outdoor rooftop circular infinity pool complete with a water-slide from one of the balconies. 

Reflections at Keppel Bay Singapore

Other reputable super penthouses currently looking for buyers include Miami’s Eighty Seven Park (asking price S$93 million/US$68 million) and One Thousand Museum (S$28 million/US$20.5 million), as well as the S$33 million/US$24.2 million Pacifica Towers in Auckland. 

In Singapore alone, there are four super penthouses that are currently for sale, reflecting the growing appreciation of such assets and developers’ awareness of demand from buyers. 

Of these, the largest super penthouse now is the 17,642 sq ft super penthouse at The Marq on Paterson Hill. The opulent home is fully decked out and meticulously curated in a designer house’s furniture, furnishing fabrics, wallpapers, carpets, tableware and bespoke leather upholstered items. For now, the developer, SC Global Developments, is content to hold on to the trophy asset for its corporate use. 

Over at Reflections At Keppel Bay, a large waterfront residence development by Keppel Land and designed by starchitect Daniel Libeskind, a 13,293 sq ft super penthouse is the stunning crown of the 41-storey iconic tower. The triplex features six bedrooms and a huge entertainment lounge. Besides offering panoramic views of Keppel Bay, Sentosa and the open sea, the unit is so spacious that the owner can pursue personalised lifestyle options, such as creating a private spa, gymnasium or art gallery. 

Concourse Skyline Singapore

Along the same vein, the developer of Concourse Skyline, Hong Fok Land Limited, collaborated with luxury magazine Robb Report Singapore to transform one of its two super penthouses into a magnificent home with a carefully curated selection of state-of-the-art furniture and luxury products. Highlights include De Gournay hand-painted wallpapers, Devialet Gold and Classic Phantom Speakers, a glass chandelier and table lamp mouth-blown and-hand cut by Parisian glass artist Nathalie Ziegler, and the Rocking Chair, one of only 12 pieces worldwide, by British-Israeli designer Ron Arad. Another masterpiece is luxury German brand Kaldewei’s free standing Meisterstuck Soundwave bathtub in a stylish matte black, which acts like a membrane and plays music when connected to a Bluetooth device while the water pulsates with the beat of the music. 

Super penthouses have, quite quickly, become the next high echelon of society.  

Leong Boon Hoe, List Sotheby's Realty SingaporeWith a track record of close to 20 years in managing projects and marketing premium residential properties in Singapore and key gateway cities in Asia such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, Leong Boon Hoe heads the company’s strategic development and core businesses, including brokerage, project marketing, investment advisory, research and consulting services. He is also in charge of setting up the investment team to advise and broker cross border transactions in Southeast Asia. Under his leadership, List Sotheby’s International Realty, Singapore, recently won four awards at the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2019-2020, including top awards for real estate agency marketing and website, as well as national awards for development marketing and real estate agency (single office).

How to Conquer Luxury Entertaining Like a Pro By: Rohal Kohyar, Marketing Manager, Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty

Posted on: September 6, 2019

Entertaining is a huge part of the lifestyle of Dubai. With our melting pot of different cultures, the city has established a stellar reputation in which people come together, mix and socialise. Even our leisure sector celebrates different cultures through its food and entertainment outlets. There isn’t a culinary experience you can’t try in Dubai. From our offices to our schools, our clubs to our hobbies, each environment is smorgasbord of different backgrounds, geographies and experience, all of which act as a catalyst to our growth as members of humanity, and a more global understanding. Not to mention that the pervading cultures of the city have always had a tradition of entertaining and bringing family and friends together on a regular basis. 

Burj Khalifa Penthouse Downtown Dubai

This ethos is especially evident in the property market as we see each home and development being built around ways to socialise and entertain, from the central parks and community centres to individual majlis (an Arabic term describing special gatherings), giant pool-side patios and roof terraces in villa’s and penthouse apartments.

If you are someone who prides themselves on living the luxury lifestyle, you need to know how to entertain in style. Here are some top tips on ensuring an utterly luxurious and completely unforgettable entertaining experience for your guests.

Sophisticated Touches

The main factor that will set your event apart are the little touches that novice hosts would overlook. It is in these elements that you can really demonstrate your flare for entertaining and showcase your skills as the host with the most. Whether this means beautiful linen napkins in bespoke silver rings for a dinner party or customised candles and holders for an outdoor soiree depending on what you might be celebrating, never skip the small stuff – it won’t go unnoticed.

Luxury dining table setup

Sparkling Scenes

Consider the atmosphere in your favourite restaurant, what is the lighting like? The truth is that lighting can have a huge impact on people’s mood and experience and therefore it needs to be carefully curated for any event you throw. The right tone of brightness or colour filters could mean the difference between whether guests feel welcomed or weirded out. Candlelight is still the most warming and luxurious, although be careful with mixing scents. There are ways to create a similar vibe using string lights or lamps that can be just as becoming. Obviously if you are throwing a larger event, giant strips or arches of fairy lights immediately add an elegant sense of celebration and will often make a party seem far grander than you will have had the budget for.

Burj Khalifa Penthouse Downtown Dubai balcony entertaining

Stunning Surprises

The sheer amount of entertaining and events that go on in the city does make it a little harder to rise above the rest, but finding a unique way to put a different spin on your party will be worth its weight in gold. There is no better sound than an audible gasp from a guest. It might be intoxicating dry ice buckets for service, edible mist orbs of flavour or even the addition of a vertical garden to give your room a pop of colour and wonder; whatever it is that you choose, make sure it will stand out from the crowd.

Burj Khalifa Penthouse Downtown Dubai dining area

Superb Service

What might be the common denominator of every amazing party you attended? Is it possible it was those events at which every whim was indulged, drinks never went dry and every time you turned around there was a delicious nibble awaiting you? Excellent service never goes out of style and your guests should always feel as though their needs are your top priority and that they are always being taken care of. Catering and staffing are readily accessible in Dubai and adding them to your party list will mean that you can relax a bit more having made sure that everything is designed to enhance your guest’s experience.

Party drinks

Rohal Kohyar, Sotheby's International RealtyRohal Kohyar is the Marketing Manager at Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty, and designs top-line marketing strategy for brand development and intuitive content creation for the region's top luxury real estate firm.  

Bronze, Oak, Marble: Cyril Vergniol Designs Homes at 200East59 By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: August 29, 2019

Call it a melding of American modernism and French chic. 200East59, a new residential tower in New York, is spelling luxury in minimalist ways, with witty touches of extravagance and art you can delve deep into. 

Created by Macklowe Properties, this 35 story residential condominium tower has been bought to life by Cyril Vergniol, the Parisian designer, who recently contributed to the magnificent renovated interiors of Hotel de Crillon – a Rosewood property – in Paris, along with Karl Lagerfeld and two other designers. His style of work ranges from classic and chic to modern and contemporary. From Seoul to Istanbul, from Miami to Shanghai, Mr. Vergniol has given each of his projects a unique identity, befitting the location, the tastes of the owners and his own signature style.

200East59 Homes in New York

White and pristine, the tower at 200 East 59th Street stands at the intersection of Midtown and the Upper East Side, close to Central Park and surrounded by Bloomingdale’s, the Decoration & Design Building and the boutiques of Madison and Fifth Avenues. With its signature wraparound terraces and exterior columns that create a unified visual rhythm, the building is an elegant follow up to Macklowe’s 432 Park Avenue, the Western Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower.

Matching the stark exteriors, Mr. Vergniol has created a visual display par excellence inside. Think of a diverse mixture of antique columns from Nigeria, handmade pink glass tabletops, sculptural walls made with plaster, metal mesh lamps, and many, many more elements that will delight your artistic senses. 

200East59 Homes in New York lobby

We talk to this design maven, pick his inventive brain on 200East59, and his design philosophies.

LuxuryFacts: Congratulations for creating the gorgeous design for 200East59! What was the directive given to you by Macklowe Properties for the interiors?

Cyril Vergniol: Harry Macklowe wanted to do something unexpected for these show flats and challenged me to design spaces that felt ‘daring.’ After each presentation, I got a clearer idea of who these prospective residents could be. I imagined them as worldly and adventurous and with a deep penchant for traveling. Developing this personality profile inspired my design and also led me to incorporate elements from the surrealist movement of France’s 20th century.


LF: Do you think you have been able to accomplish the interior as per the company’s needs?


CV: Harry Macklowe wanted daring, and I think that I delivered two apartments that are anything but ordinary. We worked with the most talented craftsmen in France to create custom pieces that would speak to this surreal theme, and we sourced unique art and furnishings that would add to the homes’ whimsy and charm. We found amazing pieces from some of New York’s most prestigious galleries, including Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Nathalie Karg Gallery and Par Excellence.

200East59 Homes in New York living room


LF: What was your personal vision for these homes? What kind of interiors did you want to achieve for a home in the sky?

CV: Personally, I was drawn to this incredible feeling of transparency that you have inside 200 East 59th Street. The floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive terraces and unobstructed views of Midtown are breathtaking, and I wanted to find a way to highlight the spectacle that is the city itself and not take away from it. I made the decision to incorporate warm neutrals into the design, so that the focus could be on the changing colors of New York from day to night. 


LF: What was the inspiration behind the Aladdin-esque Swarovski monkey? And the mechanical clock with the rocket? How did the idea come about?

CV: At the center of my design for 200 East 59th Street was the surrealist movement and its idea that artists should be able to create and express freely. Many of these artists, such as René Magritte, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Joan Miro, went on to great fame for rejecting what was expected. The Swarovski-encrusted monkey and rocket clock do a very good job of communicating this same message.

200East59 Homes in New York Swarovski monkey


LF: There is a lot of art in 200East59. What kind of art did you want to get in the building and why?

CV: When I imagined the kind of person who would live at 200 East 59th Street, I envisioned someone with eclectic taste who has collected unique works throughout their life. I selected art that this person could appreciate, from a modern sculpture to an 18th century master painting. It was also important for the art to look as though it’s been collected throughout this resident’s travels, so I juxtaposed many of the rooms with pieces like a bronze mask from Benin and a tapestry from a contemporary artist.


LF: We see there is a juxtaposition between the contemporary décor at 200East59 and the Renaissance style artworks. What was your thought process here?

CV: Mixing custom, contemporary and vintage styles was key to the design. As Harry Macklowe requested, we wanted the interiors to be unexpected, and what better way to keep an onlooker guessing than to combine pieces from different eras and methodologies? We opted for cast bronze, handmade glass, plaster and natural woods to complement the existing Oak flooring and Carrara marble and finished the space with pops of Scandinavian, Italian and French influence.

200East59 Homes in New York bathroom


LF: How different is it to design a home versus a hotel?

CV: At the heart of designing a private home is the resident’s personal style. Their personalities allow me to achieve something different and personal each time.


LF: You have designed homes in Turkey, Miami, Seoul, Greece, Moscow, Shanghai! How do you distinguish your design based on the various locations?

CV: My design follows a project’s architecture and its location. While I can appreciate global trends, I always stay true to a place’s local aesthetic so that you clearly know whether the space is in Turkey or Greece or New York.

200East59 Homes in New York kitchen


LF: You have also consulted for Fendi Casa and Christian Dior Home – what is your philosophy when creating furniture/home décor pieces?

CV: I study carefully what has been done for each brand, and I try to imagine what I would personally like to buy from each look. I always personalize my approach to mark the difference between brands, and I stay away from Instagram world trends...


LF: What is your personal preference: Neutrals or lots of color? Velvety or slate texture? Contemporary or regal?

CV: Everything, I like to change, depending on the location, the client, the architecture etc...

200East59 Homes in New York bedroom


LF: Can you give us 5 trends that are going to define interior décor in the next one year?

CV: Sorry, no idea. I do my best not to follow trends or fashion...

200East59 Homes in New York sculpted walls

Vertical Luxury - The Growing Affinity for High Rises in Delhi By: Roasie Virq - Director of Marketing at India Sotheby’s International Realty 

Posted on: August 22, 2019

Luxury living and the lifestyle associated with it has not just evolved, but also transformed due to an increase in wealth and disposable income in India over the past decade. While the Forbes Rich List 2018 listed 121 billionaires in India, another report stated that the number of HNIs worth over USD 50 million is set to grow by 71 per cent to 4,980 people by 2022, as against 2,920 people in 2017. 

This demographic of super-wealthy Indians want their lifestyle and assets to reflect their aspirations and advocate their success. They embody a strong sense of purpose and optimism to attain something out of the ordinary. Wealth, power and influence play important roles in measuring success, which are highly reflected in owning exclusive residential properties. Hence, premium and super-luxury residential projects have seen an increased demand across key metros, and a renewed interest from HNI and affluent non-resident Indian (NRI) buyers. 

Paras Quartier Gurgaon Haryana

Leading the Change

In Delhi, NCR specifically, there is a growing demand and popularity of super-luxury condominium complexes in Gurgaon and Noida, a testament to the growth of this category of high spenders. A few reasons have contributed to the growth in supply and demand for gated, high-rise luxury condominium complexes, which include growing connectivity across the NCR, the ample space and openness offered, the substantial green cover led by sustainable practices, and of course best in class amenities offered by Gurgaon properties such as Paras Quartier, M3M Golfestate, DLF Magnolias and many others. The Paras Quartier in Gurgaon has set a new trend in spacious high rise living which offers exclusive concierge services and green spaces, making it one of the most serene and peaceful residential properties.

These high-rises are the epitome of luxe vertical living, targeting those who are accustomed to a global lifestyle. In fact, the vertical living concept is all encompassing, and includes penthouses, multi-storey villas in the sky, and even fully equipped service apartments to cater to every whim and fancy. 

Today’s buyer is evolved, global and discerning in their tastes and outlook. Their points of comparison include the best in class residences around the world. For these buyers, luxury is in the details. Having easy access to recreational activities, shows and movies at your personal amphitheater, babysitting services, onsite laundry, etc are all on offer. Well-managed sports facilities like tennis courts, fitness and wellness sessions led and run by globally renowned experts, and award-winning golf courses make these home owners part of an exclusive community. A community that is like-minded, diverse, discerning and aspires for nothing but the best. This modern apartment in New Delhi offers a health club, state-of-the-art gym, multipurpose gym and is located in close proximity to Delhi’s finest wellness centres, schools and shopping areas.

Modern Apartment in New Delhi GK 2

Stylish Space, Minus the Hassle

These residential landmarks come with the added advantage of being open plan layouts, e.g. the Golf View apartments in Gurgaon. They are tastefully decorated and enjoy a heightened level of luxury, comfort, security and privacy. They are either fitted out by celebrity interior decorators, with the plushest fittings, or handed over as a shell for their owners to adorn and decorate in their own personal style. Floor to ceiling windows in all rooms, walk in closets, pantries and additional space for housekeepers and staff are other value adds that are most sought after these days.

Another aspect of vertical living is the outsourced infrastructure management. This takes away the hassle of managing and maintaining the home which is inevitable with sprawling single property villas. The vertical high rise villas also come with automated security systems and other logistics. The modern apartments in New Delhi’s DLF Queen’s Court benefits from state-of-the-art technology systems, including digital security and surveillance systems. 

Delhi’s NCR has witnessed a trend of older buyers, moving from bungalows in Delhi to the comfort of gated communities in Gurgaon, often driven by investments by their NRI family members, or simply looking for plush retirement options. Technology and smart homes are buzzwords for the millennial home owners too, who look for convenience and digitally savvy options where everything is at the touch of a button. 

Golf View Apartments Gurgaon Haryana

With the increase in disposable income and affluent lifestyle desired by young professionals, there has been a 50 per cent growth in demand for luxury homes in some parts of India in the current year as compared to the previous year, as per industry estimates. The share of luxury housing segment is at 4-5 per cent of the overall housing market. This figure is set to rise as the number of affluent people goes up in the country. 



Roasie Virq Ahluwalia Sotheyby's International RealtyWith 23 years of experience in PR and Marketing, most of it in the luxury brands space, Roasie is one of the most well-networked and well-respected professionals in the Indian luxury industry. An expert in image building, she has been instrumental in launching several International luxury brands in India over the last decade in the fashion and lifestyle space. Today, Roasie is Director Marketing at India Sotheby’s International Realty.

BMW - Seven for Success By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: August 8, 2019

BMW 7 series India

In a brand where every car is a byword for luxury, the 7 Series is BMW’s ‘flagship’ car, the one that the company points to with great pride. Launched in 1977, the series has gone through multiple generations, iterations and variants. It is the usually the first series to the get the company’s innovations in technologies and exterior design.  

The newest BMW 7 Series, launched in India recently, has enjoyed a major facelift which the company describes as “a completely new car”. Also, for the first time in India, the new BMW 7 Series is also available in a plug-in-hybrid option – the BMW 745Le xDrive – combining benefits of an electric motor and a petrol engine. Also, for the X7, BMW India will locally produce the diesel variant from its Chennai plant while importing the petrol version as a completely built-up unit (CBU).

Dr. Hans-Christian Baertels, President (acting), BMW Group India said, “The 2019 BMW 7 Series is a completely new car, be it in terms of design, the level of luxury or its advanced technological offerings. Symbolizing BMW’s pioneering lead in future mobility, the ‘7’ is also being introduced as a plug-in-hybrid variant in India for the first time, along with a range of powerful petrol and diesel engines. We are confident that the new BMW 7 Series will comfortably surpasses all expectations.”

BMW 7 series India 745 Le hybrid version

The prices for the BMW 7 Series range from ₹1.22 to ₹1.34 crore for the 730 and 740 variants, while the hybrids BMW 745Le xDrive is priced at ₹1.65 crore and BMW M760Li xDrive at ₹2.42 crore. Mr. Baertels expressed confidence that electric cars would be accepted in India, saying the company’s policy was to be ready. India has announced aggressive policies for EVs, though adaptation in the luxury segment is not likely to be any time soon.

What’s New

The new car definitely has a more contemporary look to it. The design of the BMW 7 Series is clearer and more modern. An enlarged double kidney grille makes the front even more impressive and powerful looking. The super-slender headlight design adds a new strand to the character of BMW’s luxury-class models. Adaptive LED headlights with BMW Laserlight technology enhance the commanding look.

The number of lines on the sides have reduced, making the exterior look more powerful, refined and luscious without losing its sportiness. Elegance of the side view is emphasized by the coupé-like roof line and a chrome trim at the bottom. The rear is extremely wide and is dominated by powerful horizontal lines. A thin light strip positioned below the chrome band stretches across the entire width seamlessly connecting the tail lights.

The Power of X7

For the X7, both the petrol and diesel versions carry a price tag of ₹98.9 lakh each. The new model is the largest sports activity vehicle ever built by BMW. The petrol variant produces 340 horsepower (hp) and accelerates from 0-100 km/hr in just 6.1 seconds while the diesel version produces 265 hp and accelerates from 0-100 km/hr in 7 seconds.

BMW 7 series India X7

The new BMW 7 Series is locally produced at BMW Group Plant Chennai. It is available in diesel and petrol variants. The 7 Series portrays the unique strengths of automaker’s ‘X’, ‘M’ and ‘i’. ‘xDrive’ takes the quintessential luxury of the BMW 7 Series to a new terrain with an all-wheel drive. With ‘M Performance’, the car reaches new dimensions of power and speed. Leading the way to a sustainable future is the environment-friendly plug-in-hybrid technology of ‘iPerformance’.

For the Indian back seat passenger, the interiors will be of particular interest. And if you are paying a crore and then some, the interiors do pander to you. Generous levels of space, bespoke leather upholstery and trims, improved sound insulation, ambient lighting, ambient air package, and panoramic glass roof Sky Lounge with LED light graphics are few among the long list of features that create the perfect ambience. Note the four-zone automatic climate control, electrically adjustable comfort seats, massage function and active seat ventilation. Yes, you can sink right in.

That’s not all. Rear-seat Entertainment Professional allows users to access the entertainment and navigation functions from the rear seats. It now comprises two 10.2 inch full-HD touch displays with a Blu-ray player. BMW Touch Command, the innovative system, offers a fully integrated control option for entertainment and comfort functions for the rear. The 7-inch tablet with touch function, which is integrated into the centre armrest and connected to the vehicle systems, can also be used outside the vehicle. 

BMW 7 series India interiors

If you are a person with an eye on the health of the planet, the hybrid variants – yes, they are pricier – have more packed in. In the BMW 745Le xDrive plug-in hybrid variant, the electric drive is powered by a new lithium-ion battery with latest battery cell technology and increased capacity, producing 108 hp and a maximum torque of 265 Nm.

For those driving, even on roads that are still to match global standards, the BMW TwinPower Turbo three-litre six-cylinder petrol engine produces an output of 286 hp and a maximum torque of 450 Nm at 1,380 – 5,000 rpm. The petrol engine combined with the electrical boost of the hybrid system guarantees typical BMW driving pleasure. Well, again keep in mind the quality of the Indian roads!

The car accelerates from 0 – 100 km / hr in 5.3 seconds with a top speed of up to 250 km / hr. Running on battery power alone, the car achieves a top speed of 140 km / hr with an electric drive range of 53 kms. Using a standard charging cable, the car be charged overnight (8 – 12 hours) from any conventional 220 V mains socket. Using the BMW wallbox charger, it can be charged in 4 - 5 hours. Thanks to smart BMW plug-in-hybrid drivetrain, the battery is charged while on the move using energy generated from various components.

BMW 7 series India X7

It’s not quite hands free yet, and again, attempting that might be foolhardy on Indian road conditions. The BMW xDrive, an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, monitors the driving situation constantly and is quick to respond. Dynamic Damper Control improves ride quality and suspension by stabilizing all irregularities of the surface. The Adaptive 2-Axle Air Suspension enables raising and lowering of vehicle at the touch of button and automatically adjusts the height of the car to suit any given driving situation.

Action Packed

If you are still wondering why you are paying what could buy you a decent sized apartment in Delhi, a host of BMW ConnectedDrive technologies continue to break the innovation barrier – BMW Gesture Control, BMW Display Key, Wireless Charging, Wireless Apple CarPlay and optional BMW Head-Up Display. The modern cockpit concept, BMW Live Cockpit Professional, running on latest BMW Operating System 7.0 includes 3D Navigation, a 12.3 inch digital instrument display behind the steering wheel and a 10.25 inch Control Display. The Harman Kardon Surround Sound system and the optional Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System provide an intense musical feast for the ears.

Of course, safety features are incorporated too. BMW safety technologies include six airbags, Attentiveness Assistance, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), electric parking brake with auto hold, side-impact protection, electronic vehicle immobilizer and crash sensor, ISOFIX child seat mounting and integrated emergency spare wheel under the load floor.

Driver assistance - no, no, not that person standing on the side and waving to the driver as he tries to squeeze the car in tiny spaces, but actual in-built technology is worth noting too. The spread of driver assistance systems is more extensive than ever. Parking Assistant Plus with Surround View Camera makes parking in tight spots easier by taking over acceleration, braking and steering. The new Reversing Assistant provides unmatched support in reversing out of parking or through narrow driveways. It keeps a record of the last 50 metres driven and assists by taking over the steering. With the BMW Remote Control Parking, a driver can park his car into a tight parking space without being inside the car. It may be your driver parking, but all this will surely help in those tight parking slots.

BMW 7 series India

The 7 series is all about quality of course, and it could justifiably also be ‘neighbour’s envy’. That its value goes beyond the car could be gauged from the fact that the media event also had piano players and perfumers on hand!

Top 5 Eco-Friendly Upgrade Ideas for any Luxe Home By: Rohal Kohyar, Marketing Manager, Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty 

Posted on: July 10, 2019

Arabian Ranches Dubai

In 2019, there are numerous ways in which we can make our homes work smarter, not harder, without compromising on aesthetics. From native plants to restored materials, these eco-friendly revamp upgrades are what you need for your next renovation, which will give your home the ultimate luxe factor, while helping the environment.  

1. Local Flora

When one wants to design an eco-friendly landscape, the most important thing to do is to select native plants. It is very important to be inclined towards naturally habituated plants while designing your landscape, because such flora requires very little maintenance, since they’re already naturally acclimated to that region’s weather and rainfall conditions, and are resistant to local pests. These plants also require very little to no use of pollutants such as pesticides and other chemicals. And talking from a design perspective, these types of plants help to enhance the sense of the place.

The date palm is a perfect example of flora that thrives in UAE gardens.

The Palm Jumeirah Beachfront Dubai

The Palm Jumeirah Beachfront Palace is an architecturally magnificent beach palace located on a private gated community. This bespoke villa boasts a stunning beachfront available for a private residence in Dubai. The 11 bedroom, 16 bathroom masterpiece is surrounded by a plethora of date palms, which provides much needed shade for the home, while protecting the privacy of its residents. 

2. Solar Panels

If you’re in the market to sell your property, investing in solar power is definitely a brilliant idea, with this eco-upgrade providing a solid, tangible return on investment. Nowadays, many buyers are searching for properties with a solar upgrade. Some are even willing to pay a premium for a solar energy system! Solar energy is now becoming a norm, even in areas where heavy clouds limit the average sunlight to 2 hours per day (while four hours is ideal).

The Sustainable City Dubai

The Sustainable City is Dubai's first operational Net Zero Energy City (Zero Net Services Fees and Zero Net Maintenance Fees) and is a pillar for creating tomorrow's sustainable world. Every home consists of roof solar panels. 

3. Natural Stone

As the kitchen is one of the most-used rooms in a home, it’s smart and wise to pick materials that are built to last for this particular area. For the floor, choose natural stones such as marble, quartz and granite - they’re virtually indestructible, while still looking beautiful! 

This beautiful villa in Arabian Ranches is flooded with natural stone. The unique designer kitchen by Häcker boasts a comprehensive range of Miele appliances, granite countertops, custom lighting, smoky quartz glass cabinets, ample storages, and a built-in wine fridge. The bespoke "Phantom Silent Move" - a thick granite countertop, which encases the sink and the induction hob, serves as a breakfast bar and is uniquely designed to fold into one piece of Silestone by Cosentino. 

Arabian Ranches Dubai

4. Reclaimed Wood

Whether your interest lies in buying or selling, it is always wise to consider the environmental impact of your investment. Sidestepping the lure of mass production, there is nothing more authentic than reclaimed wood. But beauty isn’t the only thing upcycled wood has in its favour. Most of the wood used in homes comes from older trees because it’s stronger, more resistant to rot, and a lot denser than new growth. Another reason why reclaimed wood should be preferred is because it effectively traps air, making it a natural insulator, especially when used as flooring. 

5. Technology in the home

Many people often think technology has a negative impact on the environment, which in part, can be accurate. For example, the materials needed to upgrade technology devices can generate more waste. Power consumption, which is often generated by fossil fuels, has also dramatically increased due to advent of technological devices. However, when technology is implemented correctly into your home, it can be hugely beneficial to the environment by reducing excessive usage of electricity. For example, many homes have sensor lights that automatically switch off when no one is in the vicinity. Through smart thermostats, the temperature of a home can be easily be modulated via a smart phone, thus reducing heat wastage.

One Palm Dubai

This stunning six bed penthouse in One Palm was carefully crafted with the environment in mind. It has cutting-edge technology incorporated into the home to help reduce energy when possible. The home recognises the patterns of its residents to prevent any excessive usage of electricity and determine accurate cooling requirements. 

It’s time all of us do our small bit in preserving the environment.

Rohal Kohyar Gulf Sotheby's International RealtyAs Marketing Manager for the Development Projects division in Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty, Rohal Kohyar undertakes strategy development, implementation, and management of key marketing deliverables. Mr. Kohyar is highly proficient in brand analytics, growth hacking and development strategies. He has spent most of his career helping SMEs & start-ups to create user-centric and intuitive marketing solutions across various industries, such as retail, online services, fashion and tourism. His past companies include MDXLoop in London, TimeSvr in Singapore and Phillip Morris in Pakistan, as well as other notable brands in Dubai. In 2015, he stepped into real estate as a Design Strategist for marketing initiatives. In 2017, Mr. Kohyar joined Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty, where he is responsible for planning and executing all marketing activities for the exclusive projects section, ranging from a worth of AED 100 Million to 2 Billion.

TUMI, Chris Pratt & His Travel Shenanigans By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: May 17, 2019

Tumi Chris Pratt Asia Pacific campaignI hate packing. It’s the journey that is exciting, not the pre-part. The pre-bookings, pre-prepping, pre-packing – I hate it all. Then comes Chris Pratt, who attempts to bring the fun back into this much-loathed activity. 

Luxury luggage brand TUMI paired up with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy star to create their first Asia Pacific exclusive campaign. Mr. Pratt is his usual comical-self in the video campaign, while he is brooding in the photographs.

Mr. Pratt, however, did visit Hong Kong, where the campaign was launched recently. It’s not a sham made just for the video. Landing at TUMI Loft, an immersive TUMI brand experience at Pacific Place in Hong Kong, he mentions that he only promotes products that he actually uses himself. That’s how the collaboration came about for him. On the other hand, Victor Sanz, TUMI’s Creative Director said, “To us at TUMI, Chris represents a new age of leading men in Hollywood - bold and genuine. Combined with his international appeal, Chris’s personality truly speaks to our growing millennial fanbase.”

Tumi Chris Pratt Asia Pacific campaignSporting products from the Alpha-3 collection of TUMI in the campaign, Mr. Pratt says that his current favorites are Alpha 3 Brief Pack and Alpha 3 Carry-on. “Sturdiness and durability are really the most important features to me. TUMI products are incredibly durable and will last for years and years. Because I travel so frequently and for long periods of time if I’m off to shoot a film on location, I need luggage that can take a beating without falling apart,” he says. The TUMI fan possesses about 20 pieces from the luggage maker.

This much-lovable actor’s career, in fact, sort of started with travel. When asked which is his favorite travel destination and why, he reminisced, “I love visiting Hawaii. There is something very special about the islands - it feels almost spiritual for me. Plus, it’s where I got discovered. I was living out of a van, working at Bubba Gump Shrimp in Maui when an actress walked in (Rae Dawn Chong), and she put me in a movie. The rest is history - I bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles and never looked back. I’ve recently had the opportunity to spend more time in Hawaii again because we shot the Jurassic World films there.”

Discussing the nitty-gritties of his travel preferences, Mr. Pratt mentioned that Jack, his 6-year-old son, is his favorite travel companion. Even when not traveling with him, Mr. Pratt is sure to take a drawing from Jack or one of his toys with him. Along with a Rubik’s cube. He likes to work out as soon as he lands at a destination to get rid of the jet lag, while trying to steer clear of too much sugar and bread. “Of course it’s fun to taste all the local cuisines of where you are visiting, but moderation is really key,” he advises.

And last but not the least, Mr. Pratt usually rolls all his clothes when packing his suitcase. That will explain this hilarious campaign video a lot! 

Too bad he didn’t need suitcases during his exploits in the Universe...

Farah Khan Ali - The Person, The Life, The Mind By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: April 29, 2019

Farah Khan A Bejewelled Life Coffee table bookDaughter of a well-known actor, the oldest of her siblings, a friend, a wife, a mother. But along with all these roles, Farah Khan Ali, 49, is also a designer, a traveller, and an artist. A true connoisseur of nature and beauty, Ms. Khan has never restricted herself to the expectations of others, the trends or the industry. “If not a jewellery designer, I would be a photographer,” said the picture archiver of the Khan family, having had an innate desire to be behind the lens at every chance she gets. Enrapturing the essence of the moment is what Ms. Khan truly enjoys. Her coffee table book, ‘Farah Khan – A Bejewelled Life’, is a yet another example of her creative perspective to the world. 

The co-incidental jewellery designer said designing gemmed accessories was never a goal or an aspiration. Her creative side though found its way to surface. “I have been a tomboy all my life and couldn't tell a ruby from an emerald up until the age of 21. I was artistic by nature but the last thing I wanted was to become a jewellery designer. However, fate had other plans for me when I decided to tag along with a friend to Los Angeles to party and ended up getting a degree in Gemology and Jewellery Design instead. It was a course I excelled at and so suddenly my future was clear. In that sense, I would say that my career chose me, and there's been no stopping me from that point.” 

The 304-page tome, curated and edited by Paola de Luca and published by Rizzoli, is a lavish illustration of Ms. Khan’s perspective, her journey and life. What begins from a tête-à-tête between Ms. Khan and Ms. de Luca on their way to the airport in Goa is a consummating journey of art and direction.  

The book

Farah Khan A Bejewelled Life Coffee table book

‘Farah Khan – A Bejewelled Life’ is divided into five chapters, each denoting a world of aesthetic. The first is ‘Fluidity’, describing the designer’s spirituality, her metamorphosis, and the way she has been reinventing herself. “I have learned to become the flow, rather than go with the flow. Today, I move effortlessly between many different roles. Evolution is not a passive process: it requires your active presence and passionate commitment,” the designer said.

Ms. Khan has spent a lot of her childhood in the courtyards of Jaipur’s palaces when she accompanied her father, actor-director-producer Sanjay Khan, on his shoots. She also made friends with Diya Kumari, the princess of Jaipur, and shares a lovely bond with her. The designer was mesmerised by the grandeur and artisanship of the palaces and thus the second chapter – ‘A Royal Affair’. There are some portraits of Ms. Khan herself in the Palaces, imbibing the magnum opus of an architecture and heritage. 

Farah Khan Ali is known for her depiction of nature, flora and fauna in her jewellery designs. Her inspiration are her travels, the cultures, and people that she sees and meets. The third chapter is therefore ‘Naturalia’, which enraptures the moments of her constant source of inspiration and creativity. The fourth chapter, ‘Rose’, is an ode to poetry, love and all things romance. The designer traces her memories back to Kashmir where she spent many of her holidays. The final chapter of the book is ‘Surreal Vision’, the art of tracing beauty in chaos, art in contradictions and inspiration from landscapes. In this chapter, the designer admits taking aid from the contradictions of cities, textures, and colours for her graphic jewel designs. 

Farah Khan A Bejewelled Life Coffee table book

The book includes numerous moments of her handcrafted 18-karat gold jewels and renderings with awe-inspiring landscape, architecture, and animal images from the designer’s lens, some even from her phone. But everything is beautifully tied with short write-ups from her, some quotes and some poetry by Rumi. The pictography in the book also include works of artists Chie Yoshii, Farah Mulla, Manjunath Kamath – all of whom inspire her work to a holistic form.  

The launch event

The India launch of the highly picturesque publication was held on April 16 at Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. The studio was transformed with a beautiful setup, much like the book itself, with five sections catering to each world of aesthetic. The sections exemplified her vision and portrayed the meaning and message. With every section accompanied a custom collection of jewellery. The Naturalia collection was my personal favourite with necklaces and rings depicting peacocks and leaves with painstaking intricacies. 

The book launch was preceded by her near and dear ones talking about Farah Khan Ali, sharing anecdotes and incidents so personal and heartfelt that it instantly touched my heart. The designer’s brother and Bollywood actor Zayed Khan hosted the show beginning with a beautiful poem. Ms. Khan talked about how and why she chose the five elements and shed light on the process of her drafting this book. One-by-one, her entire family, including her parents, siblings, husband and children, shared a few words, congratulating her on her new journey. One of her oldest friends and Bollywood actor, Pooja Bedi, mentioned, “She takes it on the chin and takes it with a grin,” while sharing a rather adventurous escapade the duo took during a holiday and the designer’s attitude in life. The launch of Ms. Khan’s book also marked her parents’ wedding anniversary. It was indeed a family celebration. 

Farah Khan A Bejewelled Life Coffee table book

Farah Khan Ali is the first Indian jewellery designer to get an international book release and has received rave reviews from Forbes and The New York Times. 

All that glitters is gold

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery has been a brand to reckon with for the last 15 years. Celebrities like Serena Williams, Beyoncé, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sania Mirza are just a few who have worn her designs. “More than being just a personal treasure, jewellery has evolved to be recognised as an art. Women today want statement pieces that are more fun to wear, but also have the ability to be heirloom pieces,” said Ms. Khan. 

Farah Khan Ali Jewellery DesignerWith increasing consumer awareness, the designer feels the jewellery industry is changing for good. Consumers are now open to exclusive and personalised designs instead of run of the mill collections and safe motifs. The consumer, majority of millennials, are now looking to personify their personality through fine jewellery as a way of self-expression. And that is what worked for Ms. Khan: “Personalised design has been constant for me and I have been professing it ever since I got into the business.” 

Its been over 25 glorious years of Farah Khan Ali’s journey as a jewellery designer and gemologist. The designer has been in the industry for long enough to understand and react to the currents flowing. Talking about where the jewellery industry is lacking, she said, “The current luxury jewellery market in India needs to employ more intelligent strategies that could span across the dynamic demographic makeup of India and its consumer tendencies.” To maintain your position in a cut-throat competitive and dynamic market environment, a distinctive identity is a necessity. “My brand is an extension of me and personifies my personality. I express myself through my design and my creations align with the brand's philosophy of craftsmanship and indulgence, inspiring every woman to experience bejewelled pleasure and unravel their playful side,” Ms. Khan elaborated.

Ms. Khan has been keeping us on our toes as the brand belts out new designs one after the other. After Ms. Khan’s debut collection of lifestyle products last year, called Cruise Lifestyle, an assortment of scarves, candles, hand-painted wall plates along with personalised stationery, we peeked inside her 2019 plans. “There are a lot of expansion plans in the pipeline and I am also planning to take the brand into a more holistic designing space, and not just sticking to my first love - Jewellery designing.”

Lison de Caunes - Reviving the Art of Straw Marquetry By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: March 8, 2019

A young girl was mesmerised by the technique of using straw to create art in her grandfather’s workshop. Her grandfather, famous decorator from the Art Deco movement, André Groult, used straw maquetry in his stunning furnishing, and was thus the catalyst to Paris-based designer Lison de Caunes’ affection and awe for the technique. “Straw marquetry is a childhood memory for me,” she said. Forty years later, it would not be wrong to say that Ms. de Caunes has single-handedly not only revived, but also made the art stylish again. 

Lison de Caunes Straw Marquetry Eggs

Attending Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris gave her newer perspectives on what innovations she could unfold. “When I studied book-binding, I learnt many new skills and techniques, such as ivory folding, one that I decided to apply to straw marquetry.” Her refreshing viewpoint and passion for the art helped make the art refreshing and in vogue again. 

An artist’s appetite 

Straw marquetry is perceived as a poor relative of wood marquetry. Straws are cut, flattened and then glued down to panel, tables and other furnishing to create a wood veneer effect. The 17th century saw that art at its highest point of fame when the French king Louis XV commissioned furnishings in that technique. When Ms. de Caunes took up straw marquetry as her profession in 1970s, she didn’t consider herself as a rescuer for the rapidly dying art, but was fascinated by the endless possibilities of patterns and designs straws could make. Revival was just a collateral!

For the initial years in her career, Ms. de Caunes focused only on restoring and replenishing masterpieces from 18th-20th century. When she later started creating her own pieces, she took inspiration from life. ”From nature, to an exhibition that I visit, from any geometrical pattern I happen to see in the streets, in a magazine, in a book…I really get inspiration from everywhere and anywhere.”

Lison de Caunes Straw Marquetry for Guerlain Perfumery

Ms. de Caunes has partnered with topline brands like the stunning Guerlain perfumery on the Champs-Elysées, the Louis Vuitton stores in Place Vendôme, Milan, Rome and London, and the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. In 2015, she founded her own brand Lison de Caunes Créations wherein she created original pieces of objects and furniture. 

For challenges fuel an artist’s appetite, the designer remembers her most challenging piece of work: “Around 10 years ago, I was asked by Leila Menchari to reproduce 8 Hermes silk scarves in straw marquetry for the rue Saint Honoré windows of the Hermes boutique. I had to dye the straw myself, in the fish poacher in my own kitchen. The result was amazing but it required a tremendous amount of work. I only had one month to complete the project, so I hired 10 people to help me!” 

Lison de Caunes Straw Marquetry

Straw marquetry as an art

Lison de Caunes believes that her art and the craft had its real recognition when she was awarded with Maître d’Art in 1996. The art is labor-intensive and will always be a one of its kind. While the cutting, flattening and sticking sounds easy, the execution is just as difficult. Where a square centimetre of the simplest designs takes four days, it reaches upto a week for complex ones. 

The designer has always been in a pursuit to find newer ways and materials to make the technique more holistic and refined. “Throughout the years, the technique remained entirely artisanal, and I continued to innovate and develop my approach of straw marquetry. For example, I associated different types of materials such as gold leaf, mother-of-pearl and molten glass inlays in my designs.”

Lison de Caunes Straw Marquetry The Madras Table

We say every piece of art has a life of its own, it is because the artist gives a part of him or her in making it. “My favorite piece is the Madras Table I created in 2005. It was a real challenge to recreate an Indian silk which is so flexible and supple and to give the impression of a weaving with actual marquetry.”

Art is about giving

For an art to thrive and survive the test of time, it important to have an engaging audience, but an equivalent artisanal base as well. The designer believes in propagating the art as much as possible to bring it back to its former glory. She had a pupil for over 14 years whom she taught everything that she knows. Today, she is working independently with a career of her own. 

Workshops are a great way of educating people of the art and its techniques. Ms. de Caunes holds many exhibitions and workshops for people to know about the art, encouraging them to maybe pursue it as well. “I did a lot of exhibition and demonstration in schools, museums and cities all around France to present straw marquetry to the public as I wanted to present this forgotten craft, and I think I pretty much succeeded, considering the regain of interest it has today.”

Lison de Caunes Straw Marquetry Screen

Excited to know what future creations we would get to see, the designer said, “I can only disclose that I will be presenting a piece at Salone del Mobile in Milan.” 

Cartier 'Travel with Style' - A Day with Beauties Made for Maharajas By: Veronique Poles, Luxury Lifestyle Fashion Consultant

Posted on: March 7, 2019

In India, ‘6’ is considered a lucky number, as it allows everything to be smooth and free flowing. That is exactly how the sixth edition of the renowned Cartier “Travel with Style” Concours d’Elegance went! 

Cartier Travel with Style Concours d'Elegance 2019

The sixth edition took place in the land of Maharajas, more specifically in Jaipur, Rajasthan. And what better venue than Rambagh Palace, the ‘true jewel’ of the pink city, for this prestigious and exceptional vintage automobile show?

History in context

The Rambagh Palace, originally built in 1835, used to be the residence of the Jaipur Royal Family. Extravagantly decorated with hand-carved marble jaalis, sandstone balustrades, cupolas and chhatris, and elaborate Mughal Gardens, it was the perfect conjunction between regality, history, culture and art for Cartier’s Concours d’Elegance which is one of the world’s top-rated and ranked concours.

A nostalgic atmosphere was prevailing in Jaipur, back to the era when Maharajas were meant to personify power, which was sometimes also shown by their princely passion for luxury cars, which were purchased in fleet quantity.

Those cars, very often designed according to the specifications of their owners, were status symbols used during royal ceremonies, rituals, and for another ruling passion: hunting.

Cartier Travel with Style Concours d'Elegance 2019

Maharajas with their eccentricities, exuberance, and search for rarity established themselves as the new creative patrons of European high designs! They were leading patrons of European manufacturers, and in particular the Maharajas of Patiala, who were the first to import cars in the 1898, followed by many more wonders which were “haute couture automobiles” with their custom coachwork, spectacular curves and flamboyant chrome.

With such historical context of automobiles and luxury, it’s not surprising that Cartier, 10 years ago, came to India with the inception of Cartier “Travel with Style”, bringing India to the forefront of the Concours d’Elegance tradition, much in the style of France’s Retromobile and USA’s prestigious Pebble Beach concours.

The 2019 story

This year’s edition was hosted by Mr. Christophe Massoni, CEO Cartier Middle East, Africa, and India, and curated by the Mr. Manvendra Singh Barwani, who also serves as a Judge at the Pebble Beach concours. Ms. Sophie Doireau, Managing Director of Cartier in UAE and India, was also present. The iconic event was held in the presence of His Highness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, HH Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur and Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur.

Maharaja Padmanabh Singh at Cartier Travel with Style Concours d'Elegance 2019

The chief judge for Cartier “Travel with Style” Concours d’Elégance 2019 was Mr. Simon Kidston, known around the world as a multilingual commentator and columnist, historic car consultant and entrepreneur. The world’s leading designers, successful industrialists, arbiters of taste and knowledgeable collectors of classic cars were part of the impressive and international judging panel of Cartier “Travel with Style” 2019. Among them were HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Sandra Button, Sir Michael Kadoorie, Jean Todt, Simon and Yasmin Le Bon, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, Stefano Domenicali to mention few of them.

They applied a very specific set of criteria, focusing on the vehicle’s condition, in terms of restoration, including the number and percentage of parts that are genuine or reproduced according to original specifications, and noting any non-authentic elements as well as superfluous or redundant decorative addition.

Master of Ceremonies Mr. Alain de Cadanet enchanted the audience during the award ceremony, narrating the story of each beauty, either connected with the Palace of Jaipur or of its own. The love affair of the Royal family of Jaipur with cars is quite well-known. Maharani Gayatri Devi is known to have been very passionate about cars.

Regaling with stories

In this edition, Cartier “Travel with Style” showcased three cars of Maharani Gayatri Devi, including the last car that she drove till the age of 75: a 1968 28 0S Mercedes Saloon, now with owner Sudhir Kasliwal; a 1947 Super 8 Buick Convertible which also won the award in the category of Best in Class – post-war Classic American and currently owned by Mr. Dinesh Lal; and a 1951 Red Cadillac SERIES 62 Convertible whose owner is Vikram Singh.

1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible at Cartier Travel with Style Concours d'Elegance 2019

The Maharaja of Jaipur received his guests in this Cadillac which was also used by Jackie Kennedy during her visit to Rambagh Palace! This car has received much fame as the great Maharani Gayatri Devi, the Queen of England, and Jacqueline Kennedy, all have sat in this car!

The  ‘Ford Thunderbird’ class exhibited the 1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible. This car, with ‘Jaipur 1’ number plate, has a fascinating story. There was a film made by the Ford Motor Company in 1959, when they bought two cars that they traveled the world over with to Jaipur. There is a picture of this car with the previous Maharaja of Jaipur sitting on the elephant and the gentleman from Ford sitting in the car. Then the Ford official gets out of the car and they both change their vehicles! This gentleman from Ford gets on the elephant and Maharaja sits in the Ford and goes away. This is how the Ford Motor Company gifted this car to the Maharaja and is currently owned by His Highness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh.

For this edition, 86 classic automobiles from nine distinctive classes and 26 motorcycles from three signature classes, from the esteemed stables of India royal patrons and noted private collectors, were featured.

Cartier Travel with Style Concours d'Elegance 2019

In 2011, Cartier “Travel with Style” Concours d’Elégance had introduced both, the Preservation class, that showcases original unrestored cars, and the Indian Heritage Class, highlighting early Indian built cars. These two classes have since seen an increase in popularity. The Indian Heritage class in particular has become very popular, giving a new lease of life to cars built in early independent India, and saving them from perishing. These cars are now seen as genuine collectables.

The 2019 edition highlighted a very significant mode of transportation in India, and created a new category: the “Pre-war transportation class”. Trucks and buses, with a very Indian character, have played an important part in moving goods and people in this vast country.

Till 2021

This unique experience was a delight for every one. Celebrities and royals socialized with automobile collectors, restorers, and the crème de la crème of the Indian society. This elegant gathering enjoyed mingling over lunch and high tea, clicking selfies next to all those vintage automobiles, which are unparalleled jewels part of the rich heritage of India!

Gautam Singhania at Cartier Travel with Style Concours d'Elegance 2019

Since the first Cartier Concours d’Elégance in 2008, the number of restorers in India has increased, which is a major change in comparison with other countries. The growing interest and success of this Concours d’Elégance in India is seeing increase in demand for participation in this prestigious and internationally recognized event.

From now to 2021’s next rendezvous, the challenge is open!

Veronique Poles, Luxury Lifestyle Fashion ConsultantVeronique Poles is a luxury lifestyle fashion consultant based in Mumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillete Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love.

This Exploding Lamborghini Photograph is an Artwork By: Soumya Jain Agarwal

Posted on: February 18, 2019

M.A.D. Gallery – watchmaker MB&F’s division for nature-defying creations – has released yet another invention which astounded us into sheer admiration for creators who can imagine outlandish possibilities. 

Lamborghini Miura 1972 Exploding Photograph

Presenting Fabian Oefner. And his mind-bending photograph of an exploding Lamborghini. 

The Swiss Mr. Oefner fuses the fields of art and science, creating images which challenge time, space and reality. He creates fiction which seems like reality, but isn’t so in actuality. 

Fabian Oefner Exploding LamborghiniAnd though he has created similar works with smaller models, this is the first time Mr. Oefner worked with a real car – an iconic Lamborghini Miura SV from 1972. 

The creation of the image took almost two years. The car, which belonged to a friend of Mr. Oefner’s, was being restored by Lamborghini. Following it, Mr. Oefner and his team travelled to the workshops surrounding the Lamborghini Factory in Sant’Agata/Italy to capture each piece of the car as it was being reconditioned. The final resulting image consists of more than 1,500 individual photographs, and a lot of sweat and precision.

When interviewed by the Lamborghini magazine, Mr. Oefner said, “I depended on the restoration times of the workshop and the challenge was to always keep in mind the vision that I had at the beginning…With the real car it got a lot more complicated: I was in the workshop where you’d have constant noise. Beside me, I had people working – and that was the most beautiful experience of this whole endeavor! – whom I was just asking, “Can I please have a little corner?” Also, keep in mind I did this in July, so it was 44°C in the workshop, I was sweating, and it smelled like gasoline in the air. It’s way more tangible when you do it with the real thing.”

Mr. Oefner now knows the inside-out of the car, literally, and has come to consider it as you would a friend. The artwork, which is symbolic of this relationship, is indeed a labor of ingenuity, visualization and extreme accuracy. 

The image is available in two sizes - 140x70cm limited to 18 prints and 230x115cm limited to 8 prints – along with special artists, ranging in price from US$ 4,900 to 22,000.

SIHH 2019 - The Great Five Luxury Watches By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: January 23, 2019

Before the flurry of watch showcases could start this year, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) and Baselworld shook hands over a coordinated calendar from 2020, leading to some very satisfied sighs from watch enthusiasts who pilgrimaged to these shows every year. 

MB&F HM6 Final Edition

Coming to SIHH 2019, the show saw Van Cleef & Arpels leaving, while Bovet joined the repertoire. As they recently announced, Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet will also be bowing out of the show for 2020. 

The participants this year, however, had some remarkable luxury watches to show. With quite a few brands launching new lines, the show was exciting and brimming with expectations for a fruitful new year. We list five luxury watches, which we thought stood out from the rest.

1. MB&F HM6 Final Edition

MB&F HM6 Final Edition Profile

The time machine brand MB&F’s Horological Machine N°6 has only been around since 2014, but as part of a strategic company decision to end the series, the futuristic company gives us the final edition of HM6, which comes in steel, and is available in a limited edition of 8 pieces. Only.

MB&F HM6 Final Edition Front

One of the most hi-tech luxury watches we have seen, the body of HM6 Final Edition is deeply grooved with polished lines, contrasting sharply with the usual satin-drawn main surfaces. The platinum oscillating weight, visible through a sapphire crystal pane on the underside of the case, has been given a blue PVD (physical vapour deposition) coating. The hour and minute spheres are also in this hue, with numerals and markings standing out in thickly applied Super-LumiNova that luminesces light blue.

The hour and minute spheres are oriented perpendicular to the rest of the engine to facilitate readability, and are driven by conical gears to ensure that this unusual configuration still provides the necessary precision in displaying the time. At the opposite end of the HM6 engine, twin turbines create air resistance that protects the automatic winding system – result of three years of R&D. Central to the design and construction of HM6 is the flying tourbillon, protected by a retractable shield.

The space-inspired HM6 line will surely be missed.

2. A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon

A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual Calendar 2019

Watch aficionados are not unfamiliar with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon which was launched in 2016. What is new is its striking pink gold dial. 

To break it down, Datograph is the flyback chronograph with a precisely jumping minute counter and the typical Lange outsize date. Perpetual stands for its perpetual calendar with precisely jumping displays combined with a moon-phase indication calculated to remain accurate for 122.6 years. The Tourbillon is the one-minute tourbillon with patented stop seconds that is visible on the caseback side; it eliminates the influence of gravity on the escapement inside its cage. 

A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Perpetual Calendar 2019 Pink dial

Available in only 100 pieces, the pink-gold dial enriches the A. Lange & Söhne piece with a warmer nuance, creating a contrast to the cool charisma of the 41.5-millimetre white-gold case and the rhodiumed gold hands and appliques. The L952.2 manufacture calibre powering the watch consists of 729 parts, finished manually down to the last detail.

Perfection is in their heritage.

3. Audemars Piguet CODE 11.59 Openworked Tourbillon

Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 collection

Bringing a whole new line of 13 luxury watches into existence, Audemars Piguet brings the usual and the fresh under a new umbrella: CODE 11:59. The term stands for ‘Challenge, Own, Dare, Evolve’. 

Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 Openworked Tourbillon

There are a few features which are standard for the entire fleet of luxury watches. First, AP has embedded an octagonal middlecase within a round case, making the 41mm case easy to adjust to different wrist sizes, specially since the line is conceived for both genders.

Second, the brand has created a complex double curved glareproofed sapphire crystal. The glass’s internal surface is shaped like a dome, while its external surface is vertically curved from 6 to 12 o’clock. Playing with depth, perspective and light, this double curved sapphire crystal offers a unique visual experience. 

Third, the raised 3-D logo of AP is made of thin layers of 24-carat gold, which is achieved through a chemical process akin to 3-D printing known as galvanic growth. Each letter is connected with links approximately the size of a hair and placed by hand on the dial with tiny legs almost invisible to the eye. The technique of galvanic growth has been used for the first time with 24-carat gold. 

Audemars Piguet Openworked Tourbillon 2019 back

The Tourbillon Openworked is what stood out for us out of the entire collection. The watch houses a hand-wound tourbillon openworked movement, calibre 2948, which conveys complexity and depth.

The contrast created between the 18-carat pink gold case and the dark rhodium German silver mainplate and PVD bridges accentuates the movement’s artistry and 3-D effect. The gold-toned balance wheel adds a subtle touch.

With 70 hand-polished V angles, the hand finishing on this 4.97 mm thick movement pushes openworking art to new heights.

It is beautiful and powerful at the same time.

4. Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Koi Carp

Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Koi Carp 2019 watch

It was extremely difficult for us to choose a watch from the portfolio of heritage maison Bovet. Each watch was complex and an innovation in its own way. But being a woman, I guess my heart was won by Bovet’s Koi Carp watch. A serene, decorative grand feu enamel dial surrounded by diamonds – what’s there not to adore in it?

Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Koi Carp 2019 pendant

Koi carp symbolizes love in Southeast Asia. Ilgiz Fazulzyanov, the brand’s Russian enamel artist and jeweler, has devoted hundreds of hours in creating these two carps who move in a lake scene in relief, accented with diamonds, whose radiance reproduces the shimmering reflections on the lake surface.

Each of these dials fits within the patented 39 mm-diameter Fleurier Amadeo case set with round diamonds, allowing the wearer to convert the timepiece into a bracelet watch, table watch or pendant without requiring the use of a single tool.

The exquisiteness is unsurpassed.

5. IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince"

Although the brand has created a new Spitfire line of luxury watches this year, we skipped it to admire the Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince", which is the first pilot's watch from IWC with a constant force tourbillon. The arresting watch is available with either a hard gold or platinum case, each of which is limited to 10 pieces only.

IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot's Constant Force Tourbillon Le Petit Prince 2019

This is also the first time when IWC has produced a watch with hard gold, which is created by altering the microstructure of the alloy in a sophisticated manufacturing process. Hard gold is significantly harder and around 5 to 10 times more wear-resistant than conventional red gold. 

The patented constant-force tourbillon is the IWC’s answer to a centuries-old challenge in the field of watchmaking: As the tension in the spring of a mechanical wrist watch slackens over time, less force is transferred to the escapement via the dial train, which in turn decreases the amplitude of the balance. This reduces the precision of the watch. The constant-force mechanism, however, separates the escapement from the direct flow of force from the dial train and with every second re-tensions a balance spring, which serves as temporary energy storage and transfers absolutely even force pulses to the escape wheel. Integrated into a tourbillon, which also eliminates the influence of gravity on the oscillating system, the result is extraordinary precision.

The watch also combines the constant-force tourbillon with a perpetual moon phase display, which takes 577.5 years to require adjustment by one day. The “Petit Prince” stands on the moon.

Faberge Dalliance GemAddict - Jewel in the Heart By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: January 21, 2019

Faberge is one brand which has always strived to push limits – of techniques and imagination. After all, who thought eggs could become such a prized possession?

Faberge Dalliance GemAddict watch with rubies diamondsContinuing with that pioneering spirit is Faberge’s latest creation – the Dalliance GemAddict timepiece. Made with massive rubies and diamonds, it is what lies at the centre which makes it a first ever – a one carat gemstone.

The Fabergé Dalliance line, in general, showcases the adaptable nature of Fabergé’s craftsmanship, employing both traditional techniques and pioneering techniques such as the micro-saturation of platinum on sapphire and mother-of-pearl. Using its expertise in gemstone carving, Faberge has created many a fabulous renditions which are unsurpassed by any other maison. The Russian jewelry brand is also known for its expertise in enameling. 

The Dalliance collection is powered by a mechanical movement unique to Fabergé, which was developed by award-winning Geneva watchmaker Agenhor. The watch hands travel around the edge rather than the centre of the Grand Feu enamel face, leaving the brand enough space to create artworks in the space. In this particular piece, Fabergé chose to frame a stunning one carat gemstone, which, by the way, is customizable. You can choose to lodge a ruby or an emerald instead of the diamond.

Another aspect which makes this timepiece special is its inspiration. Dalliance GemAddict was inspired by a Fabergé clock made over 100 years ago and recently rediscovered in the company’s archives. The central space on this enchanting century-old dial could house tiny works of art, just as Fabergé eggs held a surprise.

An inspired mini version of that phenomenal clock, today’s Dalliance GemAddict is perfect for those addicted to the allure of gemstones. The bezel of the 18k rose gold case is set with Mozambican rubies, sourced from Gemfields, and each carefully selected for their natural beauty and perfectly matched hue, saturation and tone. A combination of the most vibrant red tone and a flawless crystal, the rubies are cut in different, bespoke shapes to fit effortlessly around the bezel.

Rubies from Gemfields Montepuez Ruby Mine in Mozambique were forged by heat and extreme pressure over 500 million years ago, discovered 10 years ago in 2009. 

“The Dalliance GemAddict is a jewellery watch for customers who are looking to carry a piece of art, beautifully executed with the highest level of craftsmanship, on their wrist,” Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé’s timepieces director explains. “Fabergé’s tradition of creativity, ingenuity and surprise is expressed throughout this timepiece – from the state-of-the-art take on a traditional mechanical movement to the Grand Feu enamel, Gemfields rubies and the space for the wearer’s unique customised artwork. With Dalliance GemAddict, we twinned that enduring legacy with the dedication and craft of the finest Swiss watchmakers to create this unique piece.”

Price on request

The watch is available on order here.

Dive into Prestige with Pita Barcelona By: Kennedy Orrell

Posted on: December 5, 2018

If watches could speak, Pita’s timepieces would whisper elegant words in your ear. In a world where complex watches are considered the pinnacle of luxury, Pita Barcelona makes watches that are complex indeed, but extremely simple in their appearance and thought. 

Aniceto Pita of Pita Barcelona

Owned and operated by the Pita family, the company creates its pieces through Aniceto Pita’s dedication to durable, well-made watches, and his son Daniel’s designs. Together, this dynamic duo is surpassing standards of other remarkable brands with a “defined vision of creating timepieces with surprising functionality and simplicity to digest some of the complications for visual harmony and better usability by embedding the Barcelona & Mediterranean style into every timepiece.”

Born in Southern Spain, Mr. Pita has been passionate about timepieces since childhood. From his first timekeeping creation of a water and oil clock to his years of schooling in micro-engineering in Barcelona, he became devoted to a lifetime of restoring and creating. Setting up his own shop in 1971, he serviced and restored countless timepieces and received acclaimed recognition for his skillful mastery. Wanting to do more around the late 90s, he used his tools of restoring to create an entirely new timepiece from scratch. After being asked to join the AHCI, a group of “fellow-crazy-artisan-watchmakers” he started his own creations in 2005. Now, Daniel co-designs and handles business aspects so Mr. Pita can focus entirely on watchmaking tasks. 

Pita Barcelona Oceana Dive watchThe intricacies

The Swiss and German are precise. The Spaniards, however, are not only aesthetically inclined, but daring as well when it comes to pushing boundaries. A testament to this character certificate is Antoni Gaudi, whose architecture dots Barcelona. His convention-defying ideas have disgusted some, but mostly fascinated everyone, including Mr. Pita. So exceptional are Mr. Gaudi’s designs that the church La Sagrada Familia, architected by him, has been in the making since 1892.

Reinforcing this influence of the Mediterranean culture on Mr. Pita’s creations, ingenuity and relaxation are two words that come to mind. Pita Barcelona watches will always have a simple dial, but with a gear here or a bird there, adding intrigue to the watch.

With original focus on vintage and collector pieces, they decided instead to cook up new recipes. “In watchmaking, there is a trend towards Tourbillon complications. It is a respectable endeavour, although we feel it has been overly exploited, and therefore the surprise factor is totally gone,” the company said in an email interview. 

Daniel Pita of Pita BarcelonaThe brand is therefore creating unique mechanisms to offer style and utility for myriad functions. That’s how the Oceana Dive watch was born - a dive watch with no weak points. Eliminating the crown completely, which essentially is a hole inside the case, allowing air and water to escape inside, Mr. Pita has allowed underwater enthusiasts to do a fantastic task. Combining their Time Setting Mechanism with their Remote transmission allows for a distant magnetic gear connection, making it possible to set the watch underwater. No other existing watch brand is able to do that. 

The Oceana dive timepiece is their most technologically advanced, followed by their slow-motion Carousel timepiece where the whole movement rotates every 12 hours giving time without the need of a real hand, or the Sol y Luna, created in 2004 that used a rotating Sun & Moon disk to display 24 hours without hands.

Investing in relationships

Being an independent company, they are able to be flexible, fast, and direct, investing in relationships with their customers and collectors alike rather than brand ambassadors such as actors or sportsmen. Attending different fairs every year, they meet collectors face to face to showcase a selection of their creations. This is truly a family affair as you speak with Daniel or Aniceto himself rather than a sales attendant. It’s a much more intimate, trusted and carefully crafted experience.

Pita Barcelona Sol y Luna watch

As a four-person team, the biggest challenge is deciding which timepieces or special projects to take on next. The biggest decision comes when they have to reject a customer due to ongoing projects already in the production stage. Although, being a small business, they continue using transparency and honesty with prices, not having to gauge out customers for new technology.

The process of creating a timepiece is more than a mechanical money-making machine. For Pita it is a highly emotional process from beginning to end. The most fulfilling part is sharing this feeling with buyers. With novel ideas, contributions to horology, and emotional discussions with watch enthusiasts, Pita is surpassing other more well-known German and Swiss-made watch brands with their originality. 

Pita Barcelona Molinos Orbital watchAs the architect Mies van der Rohe said: “Less is More,” Pita is using this to simplify and refine their timepieces. Molinos Orbital is a homage to the old clocks with big gears which Aniceto and Daniel were always mesmerized by. “We wanted to transfer that feeling into a wristwatch, but we did not want to create a simple skeleton timepiece, where all the gears are exposed, becoming a bit messy image,” Daniel said. Therefore, they have three gears rotating constantly in a planetary manner. These gears tell you the time directly (without any hands) with two embedded stones in each gear. These timepieces are “Complication Simplified.”

Whether you’re like Aniceto, wearing two watches but always living relaxed without rush, or like Daniel, in a fast-paced city like Tokyo which demands speed, Pita’s timepieces will always make you stop and wonder at the simplicity of life. 

Manpower is Jaipur Rugs' Power By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: November 26, 2018

Jaipur Rugs India collection‘Just sweep it under the rug’ - we have practised this adage numerous times, both metaphorically and quite literally. What we consider to be a mere rug is one of the oldest and voluminous industries in the world. Indian carpets, specially, are known for their unique designs, fascinating colours, and outstanding quality across the globe. Jaipur Rugs, an Indian carpet-making company, with an annual turnover of over INR 150 crores, is completely people-led. “Innovations holds the power to change the world and each of us are capable to bring the change,” says N.K.Chaudhary, the founder of Jaipur Rugs. 

Mr. Chaudhary recounts, “Indian carpet industry lacked In innovation, technology, connectivity to global trends and efficient production processes. Hand-knotted carpets sold at phenomenal prices around the globe and this led to the mushrooming of multiple middlemen, who perpetually intended to usurp the deserved-dues of weavers.” And thus, Jaipur Rugs started with two looms, nine weavers, and a borrowed 5000 rupees in 1978. Forty years later, it’s one of the major rug producing companies in India, yet its principles remain intact.

Mr. N.K. Chaudhary Founder Jaipur RugsInnovation and Creativity

Jaipur Rugs’ major focus is creative innovation. They want to encourage the creative minds of the artisans to ensure a unique design, unparalleled colour combinations, and more than that, an individualistic approach. To subsidize it, Jaipur Rugs follows a very disruptive form of supply chain management. The raw materials are delivered to the artisans, so they can work from home. This gives the artist his creative freedom as well as ensure a healthy work environment for them. 

The artisans are also credited with their work which motivates them to create designs and patterns that are unique and represent them. The unstructured industry is now revived, eliminating the middlemen, ensuring that the artisans got the price they deserved, and quality wasn’t compromised. Jaipur Rugs also has rigorous quality checks to ensure that the customer gets what they asked.

Communication is Key

Communication when done right helps overcome almost every obstacle. Where the rest of the world focused on mass producing, at Jaipur Rugs, you see an exquisite connection between the “Doers”[artisans] and the “Thinkers” [head office]. They have a communication that is beyond formality and protocol. “When business was growing, I had very little time to go to villages. Then I focused on getting back to listening to weavers. So many solutions started coming from those weavers and there was a big change in our capabilities. We have so many leaders emerging from the grassroots who started understanding the growth opportunity for Jaipur Rugs,” Mr. Chaudhary remembers. The communication helps them create something that they are proud of.

Jaipur Rugs India collectionThere is also communication between the consumers and the artisans. This not only aids customisation but also has an unknown sense of familiarity. Jaipur Rugs also created a postcard program to start a dialogue between the artisans and the customers. 


The 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh brought forward the gruesome condition of the artisans’ that worked in the factories. The poor condition of the artisans and their minimum wage rate created a worldwide wave of awareness and forced brands to revive their labour contracts. At Jaipur Rugs, the artisans are the company’s driving force, being completely led by manpower has its own challenges, but Jaipur Rugs aims to empower. “The idea was to improve lives through personal, economic, educational and social empowerment rather than just giving away in charity. That initial vision has blossomed into a unique vertically-integrated global organization.” 

To further facilitate Mr. Chaudhary’s vision, Jaipur Rug Foundation was established in 2004 - a non-profit organisation that works tirelessly to empower the artisans and their families in the rural areas of the country. Jaipur Rug Foundation works on creating awareness about gender equality, conduct health camps and encourage overall sustainability. The foundation helps artisans’ families to become economically independent and technologically aware. “Encouraging artisan community creating something entirely of their own on an unassuming loom through Its ‘Artisan Original’ Initiative, Jaipur Rugs Foundation is now looking forward for weaver taking ownership of their work and eventually become a partner in profit sharing with Jaipur Rugs,” said the founder.

Jaipur Rugs India collectionJRF genuinely believes in the betterment of the artisans. They strive to give the underprivileged a life with decent job opportunities, financial stability and social recognition. They also believe in keeping the art and its techniques alive and thriving. 

Global Reach

According to statistics, 75% of carpets or rugs are exported overseas. Jaipur Rugs’ biggest markets are USA and Europe. From collaborating with Kate Spade to Jaipur Rugs’ 2018 debut at the Maison Et Objet, an international home décor fair, with their Manchaha Collection, the carpet brand has a massive global footprint. Plans to create a Manchaha museum are underway by Jaipur Rugs. 

“It Is amazing to see our weavers winning globally recognized design awards. From rural Rajasthan to the global stage, Bimla, one of our weaver-designer from Aspura village, brings home German Design Award Design Award by competing among 5000 professional designers.“ It is indeed a proud moment for India.

Jaipur Rugs truly inspires and empowers the youth of the world. A company that sets its foot towards innovation, equality and progress are the signs of a true captain of the industry.

The 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Supersedes Expectations By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: November 1, 2019

Porsche Cayenne Turbo 2019

“Change is easy. Improvement is far more difficult” - Ferdinand Porsche, founder of Porsche has said. Improving on a benchmark sportscar is not a child’s play. Porsche continues to out-do itself in almost every aspect one can think of. Aesthetic, style, performance, efficiency and luxury, Porsche makes it their motto to excel every time they come out with a new model. 

Porsche Cayenne 2019

The 2019 Cayenne, Cayenne Turbo nad Cayenne E-hybrid were made for heads to turn, for both the consumers as well as the critics. While with the Cayenne and Cayene Turbo, Porsche transcended the performance of its predecessors , Cayenne E-hybrid was a rather marvel to look at.

Powered by a 3.0 litre V6 engine with a single tourque charger with a boost strategy adopted from the 918 Spyder, Cayenne E-hybrid is powered to speed upto 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, giving the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace, Range Rover Sport SVR and Maserati Levante a hard run for their money. The Cayenne E-hybrid offers three modes: Hybrid Auto, Sport and Sport+. The Sport+ mode gives the driver an experience of a true sports car.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid 2019

The Cayenne, however, starts in the Electric mode only when completely charged. It would definitely take a toll on the performance, but with this Sportscar, it’s not that bad either. The Cayenne easily speeds up to 83 kmph in the electric mode. The excellent Porsche suspension tuning helps you forget the around 500 pounds weight of the car.

Spacing five people inside, the car exhibits luxurious interiors with a beautifully embedded 12.3 inch touch screen with enabled Porsche Communication Management (PCM) giving a rather arduous fight to the Mercedes Benz GLE550E. The Cayenne offers standard Apple CarPlay but does not support Android Auto - though talks are that Porsche might soon add it. 

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid 2019

The exterior is a luxurious metalsheet of perfection with acid green accents in the wheels. Porsche is know for creating a quienessential balance between perfromance and luxury and it hits another milestone with the Cayenne E-hybrid. 

Peter Vogel, Acting Chief Executive Officer and Sales Director of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE said, "No other model in the series surprises more than the Cayenne E-Hybrid. With its new standard Sport Chrono Package, optional sports exhaust system and four driving modes to choose from, this variant does not only stand for best-in-class performance but also real fun. With the Cayenne E-Hybrid, Porsche has redefined e-mobility with efficiency, connectivity and adrenaline."

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid 2019

Price: Cayenne - From $65,700 | Cayenne Turbo - From $124,600 | Cayenne E-hybrid - From $79,900

Arte by Antonio Citterio - Bringing Art into Miami By: Jessica Bond 

Posted on: October 29, 2018

Arte luxury homes Miami by Antonio CitterioAntonio Citterio, Italian master and architect and designer is no stranger to creating marvelous architecture. Based in Milan, Mr. Citterio’s work is well known throughout Europe and his work has been featured in multiple collections at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Some of his most well known creations are Bulgari Hotels in Dubai, London, Milan and Bali and its latest addition in Shanghai. Mr. Citterio’s work is known for bringing out the best features of every city that it is located in. Now he is ready to give the United States a piece of his expertise. 

Known as Arte by Antonio Citterio, Arte will be the first building in the United States by Mr. Citterio and is set to not disappoint his established clientele. To debut in early 2019, Arte takes inspiration from its geographical location, Miami.

Combining Miami’s 1930s contemporary architecture with Italy inspired terraces, Arte exquisitely combines the architect’s love for his Italian heritage with American rustic charm. 

Arte luxury homes lobby Miami by Antonio Citterio

Offering 16 luxury residences, Arte will feature a wide variety of first-class amenities such as an outdoor and indoor lap pool, a spa and a fitness centre. Exclusively for its residents, luxury amenities such as a tennis court, a residents’ lounge, and multiple purpose room will be available in a specifically housed area.  

While the floor-to-ceiling windows bring in the outside environment, the building structure itself is distinctive in the way it tapers up in an almost conical way. The décor and style is simple, sleek and exquisite in a synchronised, elegant way.

Arte luxury homes Miami exterior pool by Antonio Citterio

No luxury building like Arte is complete without making its residents feel like luxury as soon as they step in. Ranging in sizes from 3,150 to 7,523 square feet, every residential space will be delivered furniture ready with the option for customizable closets. Air-conditioned private parking will also be available, leaving every resident feeling like living in Arte is a second vacation. 

The name ‘Arte’s is not only inspired from the unique design of the building, but also the curated artwork within it. The façade will be adorned by an original “ART” sculpture by recently deceased, legendary American artist Robert Indiana. Inside the lobby will feature a work by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson called “Polychromatic Chronology.”

Arte luxury homes Miami Penthouse pool by Antonio Citterio

Sales for Arte is set to launch this fall with officially debuting in early 2019.

Zoya - Hollywood Glam Meets 21st Century Chic By: Jessica Bond

Posted on: October 26, 2018

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection ruby diamond ring

Just like clothes, the jewelry you wear, is reflective of your age or the stage of life you are in. Chic, college days demand chunky, vibrant pieces, while the newly married stage is more about elegant but dazzling designs. From the supreme reign of diamonds to a world which is readily accepting more colored stones; from simple chain pendants to magnificent necklaces, old styles are returning while the new ones are right there still. Today’s fashion, pretty much, has become the best of all the worlds. It’s no more about ‘trend’ per se, but about what suits you, your charcteristic personality.

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection black diamond necklace

Bringing all styles of designs into one jewelry collection is Zoya, an Indian brand, who has titled this expansive collection as  “6299 Hollywood Blvd”. Dissecting designs as per the various fashion eras of Hollywood, members of this collection are contemporary, some with a vintage touch, others with a personality of their own, bringing fearless, distinguishable design and rarity back to life.

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection emerald diamond earrings

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection sapphire diamond bracelet

The “Roaring Twenties” line-up featured in the collection takes inspiration from everything Great Gatsby. Taking parts of the sensuality of the flapper girls, the collection features detachable twin necklaces and gleaming tassel earrings using diamonds and emeralds. Every piece a part of this “Roaring Twenties” line-up takes inspiration from the popular jewelry worn during the time. Although the epoch is long gone, each piece can make it feel like a Gatsby party. 

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection emerald diamond ring

The 1950’s in Hollywood forever changed pop culture. Famous actresses such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe helped define this era as being bold but always elegant. Each piece a part of the “The Fabulous Fifties” line-up echos all of the elegance and daring risks taken by fashion icons during this time. One of the most popular prints during the era, known as the gingham print, can be seen on an exclusive asymmetrically cut necklace with black diamonds. Pieces such as bracelets and necklaces with diligently placed diamonds, emeralds, and other fine jewels are sure to catch the eye of more than just a Hollywood starlet. 

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection gold diamond necklace

Hollywood fashion in the 2000’s is known to combine the best details from most glamorous decades to create something that is one of a kind. Known as the “Alluring Two Thousands”, pieces such as chandelier earrings and cuff bracelets made with jewels such as yellow sapphire, yellow citrines, and beer quartz celebrate the long standing legacy of Hollywood fashion. 

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection ruby diamond earrings

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection sapphire diamond necklace

The 6299 Hollywood Blvd collection is essentially a tribute to celebrate the wondrous amount of inspiration for fashion that has come from the red carpets of Hollywood, making each one of us who owns these pieces, an icon.

Zoya 6299 Hollywood Blvd Collection ruby diamond ring

The collection is available at Zoya boutiques in Mumbai and New Delhi, India.

Maintaining Jewelry - Keeping your Stones Radiating By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: October 23, 2018

I read somewhere, ‘’A piece of jewelry is often a piece of art. But it only becomes valuable when emotions are added to it.’’ More often than not, every piece of jewellery you own has a sentimental value or is something that you loved instantly and bought. But these delicate pieces of sparkle need to be cherished, treasured and loved as a token of memory and affection. Just like exersice, healthy food and good sleep are simple practices for a robust, prolonged life, your treasured and initimate jewellery also need some tending and care. 

Jewelry collection pearls, opals, diamondsWe all want our vanity to be shining as it did on the first day. But I am a firm believer of precaution being better than cure. Instead of waiting for your bling to lose its shine, or worse, lose a stone here or there, keep some maintenance tips handy. And then someday, you can pass on that gorgeous piece to the next generation…

Getting into the grooves

Piaget, the Swiss luxury watch and jewellery brand, tells us there’s not much that you have to do in order to sustain your jewellery life. These are some simple steps that you should abide to regularly:

1. Ensure that you remove your jewel when washing your hands and putting on perfume or face cream. The particles present in these cosmetics, when not eliminated by prompt rising, may become lodged in cavities and form a corrosive blend of materials. In the longer term, this may lead to premature deterioration of the metal.

2. Avoid friction caused by sliding your pendant on its chain or wearing several rings on the same finger.

Ouch! Just when combining rings and bracelets became a trend.

Stone serious

Earrings by Rosentiques with Gemfields Zambian emeralds Adeesh Nahar, Director of Rosentiques, an Indian fine jewellery brand, advises on the general nature of stones: “Pearl and coloured stone jewellery must never be kept loosely with diamonds because they tend to leave scratches on them. Ideally, even if two pieces of the same pair of earrings are kept in a pouch, they should be packed individually, to avoid damages.”

Expanding further on organic stones like rubies and emeralds, Elena Basaglia from mining company Gemfields said, “Coloured gemstones and diamonds alike don’t like grease - so best to avoid hand creams.” Never use harsh detergents and soaps as they tend to tarnish the stones and give them a opague look. 

The place you live in also affects the life of your jewellery. It has nothing to with the jewellery but the wearer. People in tropical countries have a higher tendency to sweat than people in other regions. Oils and sweat create bacteria around the jewels, creating build up again, amounting to the jewellery losing its lustre. So, we would advice to wipe your jewellery clean once you get them off to prevent bacteria build-up.

Talking about oils, Federica Imperiali, Head of New Product Development at Forevermark, recommends a very simple step to add to your daily routine. "When removing rings, the wearer should always ensure to pick it up by its band and not by the stone or setting as this will help to keep the diamond secure in its setting as well as preventing natural oils from your hands building up around the stone, ensuring the natural sparkle of the diamond is retained," she says.

Passing on the shine

Fellows Auctioneers, an auction company based in the United Kingdom, guided us on what is the ideal way you can preserve your jewellery, specially if you want to offer them to your future generations. Beware: it may require discarding some long-loved habits and making lifestyle changes.

Gemfields X Muse Ruby Gold earringsFirst up, the auction house recommends removing your jewellery as soon as you get home from work or for the day -  so that you don’t end up cleaning, cooking or showering with them. 

Storage, as Mr. Nahar had also implied, is important. Use the jewellery box designed to store the jewelry and don’t just keep them on the side or pop them in a key bowl. And no keeping metals and diamonds together as they tend to scratch other.

A very important point mentioned by Fellows is that regularly clean your jewelry. “By doing this, you can keep an eye on the settings and see if anything is getting loose or may need repairing – before a stone falls out!”

It turns out that the famous tagline of De Beers, “A Diamond is Forever”, is not just an advertising slogan. There is quite a truthful message in it. Fellows recommends picking jewelry that is appropriate for use, since some stones are more delicate than others. “One reason people say that opals are bad luck is because they shatter so easily. You should maybe stay away from an opal, pearl or emerald engagement ring that you wear every day and opt for something hardy like a diamond.” There you go!

But if you do want a delicate stone for everyday wear, pick a setting that will protect it, like a collet setting, says the auction house.

Pick up that cloth

Diamond ring with cloth by Fellows AuctioneersFrequently polishing your jewellery could not only lead to lost of material but also ruin it in the long run. So keep that action reserved for only very important times. Till then, you don’t need to make a trip down to your jeweller every time you think of cleaning up your jewellery. These four methods, using basic household items. would do the trick for you.

1. White vinegar and Baking soda: Half cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoon baking soda is the magic potion for cleaning your jewellery. It’s light and does not casue any discoloration on your valuables. The white vinegar helps the dirt to break down and baking soda helps to clean bacteria and remove sweat odor. 

2. Dishwashing soap: Yet another basic household item you can use is non detergent dishwashing liquid soap. Take two cups of medium warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing soap to it. Stire the mixture and soak your jewellery for appromixmately 15-20 minutes. Take a clean cloth and wipe away the water. Also, never hang dry your jewellery. 

3. Baby toothbrush: Take warm water and soak your jewellery for 10-15 minutes. Then with a baby toothbrush, gently scrub away the dirt from your jewelry. Take a clean cloth to dry the jewellery.

4. Potatoes: Boil some potatoes and let it cool. Now soak your jewellery in the water of boiled patatoes after removing the potatoes. Let them soak for about 15-20 minutes and you will notice your jewellery to be more shining and bright!

Bangle by Rosentiques

We also understand that sometimes you just cannot get them clean at home. Then how should you go about it? Fellows helped us in that aspect as well. While diamonds and other hard gemstones can be put in an ultrasonic cleaner, make sure you keep old jewellery out of it, along with rubies, emeralds and sapphires as these stones are fracture filled, and cleaning them with ultrasonic cleaners can damage the stone.

A useful gadget for cleaning modern diamond jewellery is a dazzle stick (it is a little brush with cleaning fluid on them). However, avoid using chemical detergents on organic materials such as coral and pearl as it will destroy them. “Opals, being porous, should never ever be immersed in water. Wipe a damp cloth across them very gently,” Fellows mentioned in their list.

If nothing works, maybe it’s time to buy something new. But then, memories can’t be bought right?

Konstantin Chaykin - You Need a Wristwatch for Mars, Elon Musk By: Nikita Vivek Pawar

Posted on: August 24, 2018

The world has always been a place with the prodigious phenomenon and unexplainable events. One such spectacular event was witnessed on the 27th July. It held grave importance for two main reasons, this was the time when Mars and Earth were in notable sectors of their orbits, called the perihelic opposition when the distance between the two planets is minimal. In fact, Mars is going to be visible to the naked eye until September! Secondly, as it was the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century which lasted for 3 hours and 56 minutes, putting emphasis on the Blood Moon. The day was chosen perfectly for the announcement of a rather unique and game-changing idea. Konstantin Chaykin, the Russian watchmaker, and inventor announced his latest venture on this very special day: the Mars Conqueror.

Mars Conqueror by Konstantin Chaykin

Knowing the bizarre mind of Mr. Chaykin and his many famous timepieces, we are sure the Mars Conqueror would be nothing but phenomenal. He recalls a late evening in November 2017 when the idea of Mars Conqueror hit him. It was while watching an employee working on the moving parts of the Joker watch was listening to Elon Musk about colonization on Mars. Of course, the first humans on Mars will need to be in tune with their local time and those of their fellow beings on the neighboring planet! And so, Mars Conqueror was born. 

This complex watch is ideal for the future conquerors of Mars, wherein the first dial would show the Earth local time (in hours, minutes and seconds), the second dial showing the local Martian time (in hours and minutes) and the third showing the planetarian display of both the planets in their orbits. 

Mars Conqueror by Konstantin Chaykin

Even though this is the first wristwatch combining astronomy, timekeeping and space travel functions, the Mars Conqueror has ancestors. In 1954, American astronomer I. M. Levitt designed the Space Clock Mars, which was actually the first time in the history of the watchmaking when real space traveler’s function was implemented – as an electromechanical clock indicating Martian time and date, supplemented by an indication of Earth time and date. Two copies of this clock were produced by American watch company Hamilton.

The electromechanical movement, though state-of-the-art for that era, wasn’t compact enough to be used in wristwatches. The production of the first wristwatches, both mechanical and quartz, with the indication of Martian time was started by the Californian watchmaker Garo Anserlian in 2004. Mr. Anserlian’s wristwatches were used by the NASA engineer’s team controlling Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity. 

Mr. Chaykin, however, made a significant step forward by combining the space traveler’s functions of local, i.e. Martian and Earth’s time and date indications (Martian and Earth’s dates in Mars Conqueror watch are indicated approximately) with the astronomical function of the indication of Mars and Earth positions. 

Mars Conqueror is hundred percent mechanical watch, assuring their good operation both during the space flight, and on the surface of Mars, where the watch will not be protected from radiation due to its weak magnetic field, and because of the tenuous Martian atmosphere. 

Mars Conqueror by Konstantin ChaykinBut then, can a year on Earth be the same as a year on Mars? Their orbital distance from sun, and therefore lengths of days and nights is quite different. Since the scientists and space agencies have not yet developed a standard Martian calendar system, Konstantin Chaykin decided to use the annual date indication with a Martian year duration of 668 sols. The average duration of the Martian solar day, called “sol”, is approximately 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35,244 seconds, or 88775.244 seconds. A mean terrestrial solar day has 24 hours. Based on calculations by Mr. Chaykin, it is possible to make the transition from the gear system of terrestrial time to the gear system of Martian time with the use of two wheels with 109 and 112 teeth. The 112/109 gear for Martian time indication is patented by Konstantin Chaykin. 

The complicated module of Mars Conqueror consists of 159 parts, including 30 wheels, 6 pinions and 6 jewels for reduction of friction and wear. The module is installed on the tried and tested automatic Caliber Eta 2836-2. The watch is equipped with three correctors for indicators adjustments, placed in the caseback.

The development of the mechanical module of the watch took about 8 months of in-house development, says Mr. Chaykin. It would most certainly be a remarkable gift for Mars colonizers in the pursuit to still be connected to Earth, though the final prototype with a dial, strap and all the beauties attached is said to be released during Baselworld 2019. While the price and number of units produced are still under wraps, the Mars Conqueror is set to succeed in its fate.

The Worlds of Farah Khan - Luxury Gifting to Impress By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: August 16, 2018

For admirers of Indian jewellery, Farah Khan Ali needs no introduction. As one of India’s leading jewellery designer, she has been the jeweller of choice since she launched her own brand, Farah Khan Fine Jewellery, in 2004. Now she is taking her journey significantly forward with the launch of Farah Khan World, a platform that will address the Indian wedding and gifting sector.

Farah Khan World Luxury and Wedding Gifting

“Farah Khan World is a natural extension of my fine jewellery brand,” she says. “As a public figure and an influencer, many would ask me about my lifestyle choices. That led me to wanting to create more lifestyle products that people could buy into.”

Ms. Khan Ali, daughter of actor-filmmaker Sanjay Khan and interior designer Zarine Khan, has always been into design, and did a course in Gemology at the renowned Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica, California.

She realized that there was a huge gap in the gifting sector, especially in the wedding market, because there was a lack of innovative gifting which came with great packaging and branding. “Besides I had so many ideas and thoughts in design that I could not include them all in jewellery, so decided that getting into various other products was something I should explore,” she says.

Farah Khan World Luxury and Wedding Gifting Scarf Clasp

She says the focus of Farah Khan World is going to be the wedding and gifting sector with articles that are unique, like jewellery products, and especially created keeping the brand’s design identity and monogram in mind. “I believe in detailing so the packaging would be exceptional as well which has been especially created for each and every product.”

The range of products initially will be crockery, tableware, scented soy wax candles, incense sticks and incense holders, scarves and bejeweled scarf accessories, stationery that would range from wedding cards to personal stationary and other similar products. Future plans include exploring the home section that would range from artifacts to bed linen and towels. “Being a fit person, I would like to also eventually get into the fitness world as well as the beauty line of makeup, perfumes, eyewear and more,” she elaborates. 

One-stop weddings

Farah Khan World aims to help the Indian bride to design her wedding experience. “From wedding cards to gift hampers and the actual wedding, we would like to be the one stop destination for everything. From jewellery to the décor to the menu, to the themes, and her gifting options, we can help the Indian bride design her wedding and make her special day a truly glamourous, memorable moment in time,” she says.

Farah Khan World Luxury and Wedding Gifting Napkin RingThe new range is a reflection of the brand’s inspirations in design and includes bird and bejeweled motifs as well as her signature motif ‘Ayaat’ which represents the four pillars of the brand. “I would say that my designs are eye catching, unique and make a style statement. They are pieces that will go down generations and become priceless in time.”

The Farah Khan World is made up of four design inspiration pillars - Nature, Architecture, Love and Ethics. Ms. Khan Ali says, “Since I am inspired largely through nature and architecture, most of my designs in jewellery are reminiscent of that. Love forms the basis of all I do as I live to design. Lastly, Ethics forms the core of who I am, because everything I do, I do right, including sourcing ethically.”

The highlight of the collection was the signature wall plate “Bijoux a Plumes” that took 300 hours to create. “The peacock in the design was hand painted and each stone was detailed intricately to make it look like it is. The scented candles represent the special people in my life as well as the times that have taken my breath away. The stationery is a natural extension of my love for design, and the bejeweled and bird scarves are something I would wear myself because I am such a scarf person. One can do so much with scarves,” she elaborates.

Such a long journey

Ms. Khan Ali, who grew up with Bollywood stars as her friends, completes 25 years of her design journey this year. The road has brought her much success, especially after she launched Farah Khan Fine Jewellery. She recollects many of her more memorable moments. “The first special moment was in 2006 when I got nine prominent actors, professionals such as Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Zayed Khan, Arjun Rampal, Karan Johar, Kunal Kapoor, and my husband Aqeel to walk the ramp for me. That was a special moment because it was the first time so many well-known personalities had come together to walk for any brand at that time.”

Another memorable moment was when Beyonce wore the crown Ms. Khan Ali designed for Nadja Swarovski’s Runway Rocks. “It got featured on the cover of her music album. Another cherished memory was being featured on the cover of the Forbes Marquee magazine with my sisters Simone and Sussanne as the design doyens of the industry. There are many, many more such memories and I am truly grateful for them.”

Farah Khan World Luxury and Wedding Gifting Jeweled Candle

Ms. Khan Ali has also been witness to the changes in jewellery trends. Jewellery buying in India has seen a vast change since 1993, she points out. “Today it is no more considered only an investment and the customer is willing to give it a style and a fashion value as well. Even though it is still bought as a commodity and not an accessory like garments, people are more accepting of the fact that there is a cost attached to making the piece and that no two pieces cost the same.” The design aesthetics have changed, people are looking at getting more stone-based jewellery instead of just gold, and are open to experimentation in design over traditional jewellery.

“I see Farah Khan World spread across the world,” she says. In the works is a franchising model for across India and the world. With a brand like hers, the world beckons.

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery - Finding Love in Structure By: Niyoshi Shah

Posted on: June 5, 2018

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery Aayat Monogram collectionRenowned for spearheading technical excellence within the jewellery industry, Indian jewellery designer Farah Khan’s feminine narrative continues these past 25 years with collections that firmly encapsulate and define the Farah Khan brand. Enthralled by old world decadence, the master jeweller pays a tribute to the imperial appreciation for elegance and refinement in her latest monogram collection “Aayat”.

In Urdu, the word Aayat, has many meanings - miracle, verse, clue and royal – words, which as per Ms Khan, resonate with the brand. In Sanskrit, the word means rectangle, which implies safety, stability, security and peace. 

At the heart of this iconic collection is a strikingly monochromatic, bold yet feminine silhouette. Each piece is contemporary and artistic – sleekly capturing every dainty accent of ingenious designs. 

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery Aayat Monogram collectionThe collection comprises 40 unique pieces, a symbolic celebration of the classic diamond and its insatiable universal appeal. Carefully handpicked mother-of-pearl catches every light enchantingly, while deeply luscious black onyx makes a compelling harmony of contrasts. With a splash of champagne and white diamonds encrusted in rose gold, a colour pop of gemstones and hand painted enamelling, this collection is an ode to the many moods of the fashionable woman of the world.   

Much less complex and vibrant than the jewellery we have seen coming out from Ms Khan’s stable, this collection is meant to portray love, and the serenity that comes with it. Beautiful with a universal appeal, the collection’s brilliance is unique, and superbly showcased in this fine jewellery creation. 

Available at: Farah Khan Fine Jewellery, Narayan Building, 36 Turner Road, Bandra West, Maharashtra, India

The IWC 150th Anniversary Collection - A Quest for Precision By: Niyoshi Shah

Posted on: May 30, 2018

Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase Edition 36 150 YearsFrom it’s base in the Rhine river town of Schaffhausen, the German-speaking part of Switzerland, IWC Schaffhausen has been crafting exceptional timepieces since 1868. Founded by a 27-year-old American engineer, Florentine Ariosto Jones, the company has produced some of the world’s most ground-breaking and iconic timepieces in the past 150 years, shattering the notion that a watch is just a watch.

Their creations are known as “machines” – a reflection of the scientific precision in which Mr Jones approached horology.  

The brand, now owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont, is commemorating this milestone with a global series of events, including an exhibition of a limited-edition collection of contemporary and historic timepieces that will travel the world from May through November.

To mark the anniversary, IWC is breaking from its usual tradition of devoting the year’s new product output to one particular family, and instead releasing, what it calls, its Jubilee Collection — 27 limited-edition models across four families.

Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition 150 YearsA wider selection of wristwear, such as the Da Vinci Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde Chronograph, the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, the Automatic 36 and Automatic Moon Phase 36, the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar and the Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde, will also be part of the exhibition. The case and moving lugs of these models are paved with 206 pure white diamonds amounting to 2.26 carats. They all follow a set of design codes that holds the otherwise extremely diverse collection together.

The collection revisits icons from IWC memoires, and all the models feature the same characteristic dial in white or blue, with printed markers on a gleaming surface reminiscent of the enamel dials of the original Pallweber models. 

To finish off the case, each model is designed with the “150 Years” insignia. There are a few novelties that include totally new movements and complications, as well as new takes on favourite references as well. 

IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 YearsAn elegant black alligator leather strap by Italian footwear maestro Santoni, an IWC partner, completes each timepiece to provide a level of sophistication that is matched only by the watch’s technical fitness and ultimate performance, which, you can rest assured, has been proven.

The Jubilee Collection includes, among many others, The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”, Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “150 Years”, The Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition “150 Years”, Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 Years”, Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “150 Years”, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “150 Years”, and Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Edition “150 years”.

Available at: Art of Time, Sharyans Corner, Kanchwala Palace, Waterfield Road, Bandra, Mumbai, India

Jewelry 2018 - Colours that Shine By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: January 23, 2018

David Webb Diamond and Emerald ringFrom the ancient Roman empire to the Mughal kingdom to the Art deco period, colored gemstones have been enchanting civilizations and their leaders endlessly. Treasure hunters, too, have had their eyes and heart set on legendary vessels (such as the Spanish San Miguel lost in 1715) holding emeralds and so much more. Flip through Joanna Hardy’s books ‘Emerald’ and ‘Ruby’ – commissioned by mining company Gemfields - to understand the pedestal these stones enjoyed in the coffers of kings, queens, governments and renowned people.

A successful campaign, by their subtler cousin, diamond, changed the fancies of the next generation. In 1938, after Depression and at the brink of war, Harry Oppenheimer of De Beers, commissioned the New York ad agency N.W. Ayer to increase the popularity of diamonds in the United States. The price of diamonds was falling around the world. And so, N.W. Ayer worked on a hard-hitting campaign, hinged on the now popular tagline “Diamonds are forever”, to convince young people that diamonds were synonymous with romance, lasting love and great value. 

Even though diamonds became more popular, the ultra rich and jewelry connoisseurs stayed true to their love for emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Stones passed down from generations to generations continue to be nurtured as the supply of newer ones becomes scanter, and of course, more expensive.

Valani Arris Sapphire earringsEmily Barber, Department Director, Bonhams Jewellery, London, says, ”Rubies, sapphires and emeralds are traditionally seen as the “big three” in the coloured gem world and prices at auction have rocketed in the past few years with global demand exceeding limited supply of the very best specimens.  For example, Kashmir sapphires are today some of the rarest of all coloured gems and their distinctive velvety blue colour is the benchmark by which all sapphires are judged. The Kashmir sapphire mines were in production for a relatively short period of time, from the late 19th century and the mines were largely exhausted by the 1930s.  Today, top-quality specimens come from a diminishing pool of antique collections.”

Much like the historical onslaught of diamonds, today, colored stones are turning a new page in their saga. Millennials are accepting them as new symbols of love, grace, power and style. Heena Shah, designer at Valani, a New York-based jewelry brand, says, “Women are moving ahead in the workforce, investing in a wardrobe that is both sophisticated and modern, and looking for jewelry pieces that are transitional. Ideally, they want a piece that can be worn from day to night, without the look of the 'mass market' or the usual diamond accessory. There are both sophistication and edge in rubies and emeralds that appeal to many generations of women. Both are gaining significant popularity with the modern luxury consumer, who is looking for jewelry piece that is as fiercely individualistic, feminine and confident as her style.” Significantly, she points out that emeralds were the gemstone of choice during the recently held Golden Globe awards.

Very interestingly, after analysing lots sold at auction, Bonhams is reporting meteoric prices now being achieved at auction versus a decade ago. These include a 970 percent price increase for sapphires; a 1,100 percent increase for rubies and a 1,900 percent price increase for emeralds.

Bonhams has also come out with a ‘Top 10 List of Hot Jewels’ after must research and deliberation, where rubies feature at number 2, sapphires at 4 and emeralds at 5. 

Valani Rival Ruby ring

With the rise of colored stones, jewelry is becoming more interesting in terms of design and style. Mrs. Shah says, “Every colored gemstone is unique; unlike diamonds with their GIA grading, there are no generalized classifications that exist in Emeralds, Rubies or Sapphires. That makes designing for each individual piece that much more exciting and technically more difficult.”

But even though there is no grading system, Bonhams recommends keeping some points in mind when purchasing colored gemstones. “Look at the transparency of the gem and the liveliness of the colour in daylight, in artificial light and when held away from a light source. The colour should not look flat or ‘die’ when the jewel is worn. The colour should also look even throughout the stone, the colour should not look ‘patchy’,” says Ms Barber.

While coloured gemstones are the force to reckon with at the moment, do you want to know what’s next? Along with the big three, auctions are proving that there is a greater appreciation for more unusual coloured gems. In 2015, Bonhams sold the 50 carat “Hope Spinel” a rose-coloured gemstone that achieved a world record price ($1.4 million) for a spinel at auction. Spinels continue to make high prices and are increasingly seen in the contemporary collections of luxury brands. Spinels are also featured at number 10 in Bonhams’ list. 

Investing in jewelry has never been so flamboyant before.

Joanna Hardy Composes a Passionate Tale of Ruby By: Niyoshi Shah

Posted on: October 9, 2017

Gemfields commissioned book Ruby with Joanna HardyLuxury spend is shifting from goods to experiences, but certain isolated products — closely connected to self-expression and social signalling — become the sole object of everyone’s desires, and rubies have emerged as a clear winner in this ensuing shift. A rare gemstone, that evokes a rarer passion in most. The illustrious lineage created by brands like Gemfields can be distinguished from their competitors due to the strength of the communities they have been able to build through such unveilings. Their success with young consumers underscores an approach that has as much in common with Instagram savoir-faire as the traditional product launch tactics. 

Gemfields, therefore, commissioned ‘Ruby’, a coffee table book, as part of its endeavour to educate the jewellery trade and the general public about coloured gemstones. Authored by Gemmology expert Joanna Hardy, she has over 30 years’ experience in jewellery trade, working for De Beers and Sotheby’s as both a senior specialist and an auctioneer. She is a fellow of the royal society of arts and a regular jewellery expert on the BBC Antiques roadshow.

Some magnificent 60 pieces are featured in the book, many of which are previously unseen designs from royal and private collections. Historic creations sit alongside pieces from major modern jewellery houses including Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, Graff, Mellerio Dits Meller, and Van Cleef & Arpels. The book examines extraordinary jeweller techniques employed by expert houses, as well as guidance on qualities of rubies.

We had a tête-à-tête with Ms Hardy to get an insight into the gemstones trade and the Gemfields legacy

Niyoshi Shah: Gemstones have a cosmic allure and certain metaphysical properties, can you throw light on its ensuing relevance to consumer purchase behaviour?

Joanna Hardy: Everyone’s belief in gemstones is extremely personal. What might be lucky for one, might not necessarily hold true for someone else. One must feel the energy. If they feel the cosmic power of Ruby then it will work for them in every way. Rubies have a very strong energy and I have personally experienced its effect. They are an incredible magic of nature. I have a personal connection to this gemstone because I researched on it so intensely for two and a half years. 

NS: Could you let us know more about your experience being a historic and contemporary jewellery lecturer, grader, valuer and a goldsmith.

JH: You can’t put 25 years into one sentence. I have been very privileged to enter and archive countries, museums, peoples and collections. It has been an incredible journey. With gemstones and jewellery, one must feel a connection with the people who create the stone to accomplish the whole experience of it. Because it isn’t just about the stone or the jewellery. People who make it, mine it and cut it are very important in the whole scheme of things. It’s about collaboration, trust, passion and reputation, and that’s the message I want to send across. All those ingredients play a vital role in making fabulous jewellery and cutting fabulous gemstones.

Gemfields commissioned book Ruby with Joanna HardyNS: Gemfields is a big name globally for coloured gemstones. To what extent do you think people buy jewellery based on brand reputation?

JH: I think with any brand name, like Gemfields, Cartier, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc., people buy from them because they are trusted brands with integrity. You are buying into a legacy not just the stone. Everybody wants a designer piece of jewellery. You can sit behind the computer and design something incredible, but that’s not what it’s about. Great brands are built on integrity, knowledge and passion. Once a purchaser becomes knowledgeable about gemstones and their valuation, clarity and grading, then one can purchase from a non-branded designer. Because he/she understands the product and can decide for oneself. But at the beginning, it is always more advisable to buy from more reputed brands.

NS: Your point of view on the paradigm shift in the gemstone industry from diamonds to coloured gemstones? What about the emergence of rubies as a preferred gem?

JH: De Beers launched a campaign called “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” and “Diamonds are Forever”. A lot of these things were about marketing and promotion to build a strong image. I used to be the rough diamond sorter at De Beers at that time and everybody understood that it was a big educational campaign and it was a huge hit. But no one was putting a ruby, an emerald or a sapphire in front of the consumer. Gemfields was the first company to start educating people about colour. Colour was the king of gems before diamonds because they could not cut a diamond until 1400. So up until the 1400s, it was the ruby that was the most precious, then there was the sapphire, after which were pearls. Diamonds came a lot later. So, the consumer needs to start looking at history and stop looking at marketing or trends - this is the paradigm shift as we know it. People are more familiar with diamonds than they are with colour. 

Coloured gemstones are rare and precious. They are rarer than diamonds and people are now understanding and appreciating that. Not for trends but for genuine rarity. And who doesn’t like colour? Imagine a world without colour? Black and white, that would be pretty dull. Colour speaks to people and red calls out to everyone. It evokes passion and emotion. It is the colour of love and blood. The deposits that are being found at Mozambique are absolutely essential. Now more people can have the opportunity to own ruby.

Ruby, by Joanna Hardy, published by Thames & Hudson, in association with Violette Editions is available for £75

Lladró – When Stores Become Your Altar By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: July 18, 2017

Lladro Nikhil Lamba

Valencia-based luxury porcelain brand Lladró, which entered India in 2000, has established a niche for itself as Indians looked for gifts for the many festivities it celebrates.

Its eight boutiques in India have become destinations in themselves. For Lladró fans, the boutiques are akin to museums, and a new look is a landmark. Lladró has just opened its newly done boutique in Gurgaon’s Ambience Mall. Nikhil Lamba, COO, Lladró India, revealed the new look to patrons at an evening attended by many collectors of the brand. 


Despite hiccups of the past year, such as demonetisation and the impending GST, growth is happening, says Mr Lamba.


With this new look, the new outlet joins the latest generation of the brand stores in leading destinations across the world. Stores in New York, London, Tokyo, Singapore and Moscow already sport this new design, marked by a white, light airy space.


The first thing that strikes a visitor is the white aura that the new boutique has – a sort of plush white luxury world immersed in soft curves that one enters through transparent glass doors. Visitors may also note the satin finishes in furniture, or the new ‘lollipop’ signages or the curvy wall units. “An execution of this level in India called for a high level of benchmarking – furniture finishes, light specifications, marble table tops,” points out Mr Lamba.


The design of the new boutiques is driven by the Lladró family’s creative vision, and is inspired by the idea of a gallery or museum as an ideal place to exhibit the decorative art porcelain. The new store design seeks to offer the perfect frame for the whole breadth of the brand’s sculpture not compromised by shape or color. Thus the new distinctive white with curved lines, which was conceived in conjunction with the Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, who has had a decade long association with the brand. The conversion of this store was done in 45 days.  

Lladro store Ambience Mall Gurgaon

While this is the second boutique to get the new look (after the one in Hyderabad), this is the first one in a mall or public space. The new boutiques are part of the brand’s expansion policy, in place since 2012, with the brand boasting 1,000 outlets in five continents.


Any link to religious iconography definitely helps in India. Hence Lladró’s “Spirit of India” series, which includes a number of highly priced listed products, part of the brand’s High Porcelain collection.


The brand reaches out to its target clientele in multiple ways. It has eight boutiques in India, perhaps the largest of any luxury brand. Then there are annual signing events where the patrons are invited. A number of other associations with events such as in golf also help build brand associations. 


Lladró of course has it favorite customers, patrons of the brand who often end up with enviable collections, or are on the lookout for new or missing pieces, and there are about 10,000 customers who are intimated as soon as any new pieces come in. Yet the festive and wedding season account for a bulk of the annual sales, about 45 per cent.


In the most recent high season, the collection’s new offerings included a limited edition Lord Shiva. Sculpted by Virginia González, this imposing seated figurine of Shiva, measuring 62 x 78 cm, is priced at INR 7.2 lakh. For an additional INR 1.1 lakh, customers have the option of adding a lingam. All the usual symbols associated with him – the trident, the drum, the snake round his neck, the rudraksha mala, even Ganga that flows from the coils of his hair (the only metallic part) – are all there. The series already includes figurines of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, Ram Darbar and Goddess Saraswati.


While Lladró is best known for its porcelain figurines, the brand has also expanded into other categories such as lamps, lights, mirrors, vases and even jewellery. The famous Niagara chandelier now comes with golden fairies and is priced at INR 3,900,000, though most others are far more modestly priced.


In an outreach to the Indian festive gifting season, Lladró has on offer many more affordable pieces. Such as clocks priced at INR 14,000, fragrances ranging from INR 3,700 to 5,300, or patterned votive lights in a range of Indian motifs, priced between INR 4,000- INR 6,000.


While Mr Lamba declines to put a number to India’s share in revenue or sales, he does say India’s share is growing over the years. “We see big potential,” is what he quietly confines himself to.


A new look, almost a rejuvenation for the brand, should only help grow the tribe.


Montblanc and UNICEF - Right to Write By: Niyoshi Shah

Posted on: June 12, 2017

“I truly believe that writing has the power to change the world,” says cricketer AB de Villiers. “I recently slipped a letter in my wife’s passport when she was leaving for South Africa… and she responded with a text message later, saying how much that meant to her.” The ace cricketer charmed spectators with anecdotes of his writing escapades at a press conference in Mumbai where he was formally introduced as Montblanc's new ambassador for India and Southern Africa. AB de Villiers will be the face of Montblanc across all categories including watches, writing instruments, men’s accessories and leather goods, each with a hint of blue sapphire and an alphabet-inspired design, celebrating the gift of writing as a force for good. 

Montblanc UNICEF 2017 collection

For people and timepieces, making it past a century deserves some serious recognition. Montblanc is already over a decade past that milestone this year. The Maison has managed to stay in business by constantly striving for excellence, no matter what they’re producing. 

The same passion for writing that gave birth to Montblanc has shaped their belief that writing is a precious gift that has the power to change the world, and through their on-going collaboration with UNICEF they have transcended boundaries of philanthropy. UNICEF and Montblanc have been partners since 2004, united with a common passion of altruïsm. Nicolas Baretzki, CEO of Montblanc International, puts the partnership's success down to synergy. The collaboration aims to improve learning conditions for over 5 million children around the world by providing quality learning materials and better teaching.

Montblanc UNICEF 2017 collection

Commemorating the special occasion, Nicolas Baretzki said, “We are delighted to welcome AB de Villiers to the Montblanc family as our new ambassador. He is one of the most exciting athletes competing in the world today, with a disruptive and instinctively innovative approach to his sport, AB de Villiers embodies the same pioneering spirit that drives Montblanc to keep pushing boundaries, and we look forward to collaborating on many initiatives that will reflect that.”

Each of the two timepieces in the Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum UNICEF Editions is limited to 500 pieces and adorned with UNICEF’s logo on the caseback. The “Writing is a Gift”collection takes the Meisterstück, the most iconic of writing instruments and gives it a new design inspired by the Rosetta Stone, one of the most significant objects in the history of the written word. The cap top is engraved with the first letter of the six most used alphabets in the world, a symbolic reference to the early stages of education when children learn to write their first ever character.  

Montblanc UNICEF 2017 collection

The funds raised by the initiative will help UNICEF to support national education quality standards that cover pedagogy, reading and writing, the learning environment, community involvement, infrastructure and measuring of learning outcomes. It will contribute to the international campaign launched by brand ambassador Hugh Jackman in print, online and social media, using hashtags #PassItOn, #Montblanc, #UNICEF, and #foreverychild. On the campaign site, the memories of participants are being collected and transformed into virtual journeys transcending boundaries.

Each item sold between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018 contributes to the minimum of $1.5 million Montblanc has committed to donating to UNICEF to provide more children access to education.

Bombay Merchants Regatta - Sail of the Season By: Niyoshi Chudgar 

Posted on: April 25, 2017

It doesn’t get any more gorgeous than the Mumbai coastline in the summer. So smatter the already charming harbor with some classic boats, topped with an assortment of suntanned sailing enthusiasts, and you have quite the event at your hands. And when it came to assembling a team capable of winning India’s most prestigious sailing event, the one thing the sponsors did not have to worry about was organising an old-fashioned naval gang.

Bombay Merchants Yacht Regatta 2017

October to May marks the sailing season in Mumbai. Geographically blessed with a coastline that spans 149km, and a sun-kissed weather, the city is perfect for sailing. Yet, for long, the perception that sailing is prohibitively expensive deterred many from taking up the sport.

The event was hosted at the Bombay Merchant’s Club. Greatly valuing the personal achievements of its participants, the press conference started with some roaring festivités. Adding lustre to the occasion were a rich array of individuals seeking to extend their proud and impressive records, like Col Gautama Dutta who is an Asian Medalist and Nation Champion Sailor, and Lt Amit Arvind who is also national champion sailor. 

Frank Hancock's Cunning Plan boat Bombay Merchants Yacht Regatta 2017

While most participants may have a fearsome nautical reputation, the luxury yachts owned and sailed by a variety of industrialists including Jamshyd Godrej from the Godrej Group, Ravi Mariwala from the Mariwala Group, Ashish Hemrajani from BookMyShow, Bharat Kewalramani, ex-head of South East Asia for JP Morgan, and Frank Hancock, ex-MD of Barclays Bank investment banking, took the show with their unencumbered élan.

The route had been marked out, the boats had been lined up, and every skipper ready with their Time Tracker (TT) a mobile software, through which the entire race was recorded, stood fierce at the port. "It's so accurate that if you miss one rounding or even went around the wrong way, you're disqualified," says Viraf Hansotia, the chief organiser from Gurkha Cigars

The  devastatingly elegant and powerful, Cunning Plan, owned by Frank Hancock, won the Gurkha Cigars Series Trophy, which was given for the boat that cumulatively won the race over the 13 weeks long season. Cunning Plan, a monumental 34 foot Jeanneu Grand Soleil built in 2002, has won several races in the recent years. Commenting on his win, Mr Hancock said, “I've been sailing for more than 30 years, starting with mirror dinghies and lasers in the UK, then a Cornish Shrimper off Ireland, and finally buying Cunning Plan (a Jeanneau 34) in 2011. My biggest challenge is when sailing outside Mumbai, the navy and coast guard always stop me because they are not used to seeing a foreigner sailing up and down the coast. In fact I'm the only foreign cruiser sailor in India.”

Gurkha Cigars Trophy at Bombay Merchants Yacht Regatta 2017

Peace 'n' Plenty, owned by Ashish Hemrajani, won the race of the day and was awarded the C-in-C by the commander in chief of the Indian Navy. Mr Hemrajani said, “I've been sailing for close to 12-14 years. And it's taught me to look inwards even in business. In sailing you can't blame the wind, conditions or tide, you have to do what you do to deliver "given" the conditions."

The event was sponsored by Gurkha Cigars. The team from Gurkha are keen amateur sailors who are looking to encourage the development of the sport of racing luxury yachts in India. The 2.5 hour race culminated the 3 month regatta with a gourmet feast accompanied by a fine assortment of vintage cigars - rounding out a perfect day's sailing in classic style.

Automobili Lamborghini - Driving in with Force By: Niyoshi Shah

Posted on: March 16, 2017

So far, the “Lambo”, as Lamborghini is lovingly called by its fans, was available in India in four variants, the Huracan Coupe, the Huracan Spyder, the RWD Coupe and the limited edition Avio. Targeted as a powerful lifestyle vehicle for young buyers, the introduction of Huracan RWD Spyder brings the total number of Huracan variants to five in India, at par with the rest of the world. Not to be left behind, the aerodynamic Aventador ‘S’ is the suffix of previous enhanced Lamborghini models, and defines a new benchmark for the V12 line-up. As this one roars in to India as well, we check out the nuts and bolts behind these two new hypercars.

The Huracán RWD Spyder

When you’re preparing to supplant one of the most revolutionary automobiles of the twenty-first century, you can leave no stone unturned. Such was the thinking of the Lamborghini engineers when they began blueprinting the much-whispered-about successor of the P610-4 and LP580-2 coupes.

Lamborghini Huracan RWD Spyder in India

Designed to cut through the air and become one with the sky, the rear-wheel drive (RWD) Huracán Spyder is the pinnacle of Italian taste and hand craftsmanship, a sports car concept elevated to the performance and sensation of a coupé. A poster child of their explosive growth, the new Spyder is in it’s first 18 months on the market, effectively outselling its predecessor.

The luxury part of the equation is well-served by the Spyder’s interior. Combining the lifestyle appeal of a convertible with the pure on-road experience of the Huracán's RWD technologies, every single element has been redesigned for the precise purpose of eliminating the roof without compromising any of the car’s aerodynamics or torsional stiffness. The angular design is severe yet elegant; the stealth fighter–like cockpit is as luxurious as it is intense. 

Nestled behind the cockpit is a 5.2-liter lusty V-10 engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; with RWD, it outputs 580 hp and with all-wheel drive it produces 602. Unless you’re comatose, you will surely experience a fleeting taste of its explosiveness. 

Strong as it is light, the soft top on the Spyder is said to be heat and sound insulating and can be opened or closed at the push of a button at speeds of up to 50kmph. With a top speed of 319 kmph, it can complete 0-100kmph in just 3.6 seconds and 0-200kmph in 10.4 seconds. Wooded lanes will turn into blurs of emerald and straightaways will disappear within a blink of an eye. On the insides, everything from the 12.3-inch instrument console to the cockpit-inspired controls gives the driver the adrenaline rush of flying low.

The Aventador S

Chiseled like a diamond, the Aventador S’ design makes way for significantly enhanced aerodynamic performance. The four-wheel steering system offers several exterior advancements, particularly in front and rear, while its profile remains clearly an Aventador. Every modified component is redesigned for achieving maximum aerodynamic efficiency while accenting the Aventador’s complex, muscular dynamism. 

Lamborghini Aventador S in India

Furthermore, Lamborghini Centro Stile has intelligently integrated certain elements of past icons, such as the lines of rear wheel arches reminiscent of the original Countach. It unveils a new era of aerodynamic design, redeveloped suspension, increased power and enhanced driving dynamics. Its interior specification is virtually limitless through their Ad Personam customization program.

Lamborghini uses a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, engineered to deliver extremely fast gear changes. A rear mechanical self-locking differential distributes power to the rear wheels. Its Pirelli PZero tires are exclusively developed for the rear-wheel drive. Specially contoured steel brakes with aluminium brake disc pots assist in weight reduction and improved cooling.  

As some would say, savoury fare isn’t just about the superiority of ingredients, but the superiority  of ideas too. The same can be said about this luxury carmaker that decided to make two such ingenious products. With the Spyder and Aventador, Lambhorgini has struck upon a charming piece of scrumptious fare.

Longines' Century-Long Affair with Equestrian Sports By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: March 14, 2017

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Longines Brand AmbassadorMarking its 185th anniversary this year, Swiss high-end horologer Longines has broken in such a determined gallop into equestrian sports that today, it is safe to say, it truly reigns them. 

Launched by Auguste Agassiz in Saint-Imier in the Swiss Jura mountains back in 1832, Longines (or “the long meadows” after its location) started off manufacturing what its early-day peers all did – pocket watches. As the watchmaker’s creations ticked off prizes – more Grand Prix at the Universal Exhibition in Paris than any other label – they also found new inspiration and intent. Horse racing. 

In 1878, watchmaker Alfred Lugrin patented Longines’ 20H calibre, the brand’s first venture into exact timing. The movement, which allowed for second-precise measures, chugged inside a simple chronograph. Its engraving – a jockey leading his mount – relayed the horologer’s ambitions. The watch gained traction on the racetracks of America, where Longines had garnered acclaim due its founder’s business connections, and soon became a brand icon used by most sports judges in New York. 

“This chronograph was the first milestone in a long history that has led the Swiss watchmaking brand to partner with world-renowned institutions, races and jumping competitions around the globe,” a press release states. 

The 2016 Equestrian Collection by LonginesIn 1912, Longines’ precision seized the racetracks – formally. The label teamed with a jumping competition in Lisbon, Portugal. What followed next can be described as Longines’ steady trot into the equestrian industry. Today, having developed sophisticated timekeepers, it keeps counts at coveted events like the Royal Ascot, Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Dubai World Cup, the Japan Cup in association with Longines, the Breeders' Cup World Championships, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the Triple Crown among others. Longines is also associated with the peculiar White Turf St. Moritz races, which give an alpine flair to the sport.   

Since 2013, Longines has partnered with two authoritative equestrian organizations – the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and Olympic sports governing body, Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). Together with the latter, the Swiss horologer awards Longines World’s Best Horse Race, Longines World’s Best Racehorse and Longines World’s Best Jockey – prizes that honor the very top brass of equestrian sports and laud performance, elegance and tradition.  

These core horsemanship values form Longines’ watches as well – from recreations of its signature 1878 piece to its Equestrian collection. In 2016, the label reissued its 1878 pocket watch in an exclusive 20-piece collection, rendered in 18-carat rose gold. With a diameter of 55mm, the piece’s white dial includes both Roman and Arabic numerals, with the latter swerving around a minute ring. A small display at 6 o’clock tracks the seconds, which a long central hand also ticks. Adorned with a jokey and his horse, the back is as stunning as that of the original watch, which blazed Longines’ foray into equestrian sports.  

Longines original 1878 pocket watch

Longines Modern re-issue of 1878 pocket watch

The same year, the Equestrian collection – which takes inspiration from riveting details that populate the equine world – grew with four novelties. The four watches flaunt lines and shapes that quote the rectangular buckle of the show bridle of the Franches-Montagnes, the only Swiss horse breed, which, like Longines, hails from the Jura. The elongated dials come in five variations. The black lacquer, white mother-of-pearl and silver checkerboard dials boast diamond indexes. The silver-hued flinque model features blue Roman numerals, while the matte white dial carries black Arabic numerals. Dedicated to female horse sports enthusiasts, the timepieces are fitted with either steel bracelets or leather straps, whose stitching evokes the outfits of women riders. 

From its timepieces that pay tribute to horse racing to its leviathan presence at the best tracks across the world, Longines has nourished a century-long passion for equestrian disciplines that no other watchmaker has shown.    

The Statesman Vintage Car Rally - Heritage on Wheels By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: February 28, 2017

Vintage cars are part of heritage, right? Of course, and in most countries, they are accorded that status, making them exempt from many modern rules applied to newer vehicles. Well, in Delhi, home to the oldest continuously running vintage car rally in Asia, things are a bit more complicated.

The Statesman Vintage Car Rally 2017


For one, due to excessive pollution, all cars aged 15 years or more are banned, even VINTAGE CARS, which makes driving them a cognisable offence! So ever since the ban, each year a special permission is required to keep the rally running. The Statesman’s Bhupinder Singh, the man who has been behind the rally for four long decades, and has seen it all, stresses that an exception must be made for these cars.


Mr Singh estimates there are 300 of them in Delhi today, in various states of repair. Ironically, even as the ban has thrown a spanner in the works, the desire to own vintage cars has only grown. This edition of the race saw more than 100 cars flagged off on February 26 from the Statesman House. Of course, as Mr Singh explains, not all cars are technically ‘vintage’. That’s reserved for cars made up to 1939. Those made between 1940 and 1956 are classified as ‘classic’.


The Statesman Vintage Car Rally 2017Once bought for use, over the years, many of them had been gathering dust due to neglect and lack of spare parts. However the advent of Internet has opened up the market. Patrons, nay, lovers of vintage cars now seek experts from around the world and are ready to pay the world. One Rolls Royce expert travels business class and charges apparently £100 an hour while in India, reveals an owner! Mr Singh is encouraged by the interest the younger generation is showing. “It gives the young a chance to understand why their elders praised the cars, to see the workmanship and quality of these cars.”


Rishi Kapoor, with a stunning 1936 Ford V8, is a good example. A hotelier from Khajuraho, his family has 42 vintage cars. “They are like babies to handle,” he says.  At Syna Hotel, the cars transport guests from the airport to the hotel. It always adds to the pleasure of the guests, he says. 


Atul Anand is here with a 1951 MG, a company that no longer exists, making the car a rarity. Just 888 were made, and just about 80 survive, he reveals, pride apparent as he presents his immaculate car. His daughter Aditi has now inherited the interest and drives too, winning an award for driving at the previous edition of the rally.


Hotelier and Bird Group head Ankur Bhatia has five cars at the rally. Passionate about the cars, he has been part of the rally since 1994. Among the cars is a 1934 Singer, another brand that no longer exists. Incidentally, this is a race car, part of the 1935 Le Mans. There’s also a 1946 Ford jeep, a war model, which has been lovingly restored. He himself rode a grand 1949 Jaguar. He too parks some of his cars in his hotels, lending a vintage touch to them. “We have a garage to maintain the cars,” he explains as a way to maintain these beauties.


The Statesman Vintage Car Rally 2017 - 1930 StudesbakerIt would be hard to ignore Sanjay Varma’s 1930 Ford, now a canary yellow. Registered to the long gone Bombay state, his family is full of vintage car enthusiasts, having participated in the very first vintage car rally in Kolkata, flagged off by the legendary General Sam Manekshaw. A 4-cylinder convertible, Varma tries to drive it at least every fortnight.


Then there was the ‘killer car’. This 1930 Studebaker sported a red board with the word ‘killer’ emblazoned on it! A conversation with Javed Rehman, whose father owns the car, revealed this was the car Nathuram Godse rode when he went to shoot Mohandas Gandhi! Okay, that sent shivers down my spine on a hot February morning, and I never got around to admiring this once made to order car for a maharaja whose name has been lost to history. I only hoped that the tale was fanciful invention as I quickly moved on!


Young Shivraj Anand is here with a stunning 1948 Hillman. “I like the individuality of these cars. They are about enjoying the journey.”


The Commissioner of Delhi Police, Amulya Kumar Patnaik, gave away the prizes. The CR Irani Memorial Trophy for the "Queen of the Rally" for the most outstanding vintage cars judged on the basis of authenticity, maintenance, restoration and elegance went to Roshni Sanah Jaiswal for Rolls Royce 1937 while Ashish Jain won The Blue Star Trophy for most elegant British car which completes the course for his 1933 model Rolls Royce.

The HMCI Trophy for the most authentically restored car manufactured in USA went to Hitesh Arora for his 1959 Chevrolet while The Syna Vintage collections trophy for the most outstanding outstation entry went to Gurangand Singh Manco for his 1962 Mercedes Benz.

Another graceful car, HW Bhatnagar’s Cadillac 1949 won the Malibu Towne Trophy for the most elegant and most maintained classic car of the period 1940-56 participated for the first time.

Often seen as an ultimate status symbol, the cars are perhaps given more love and attention than a spouse! And they, in their shiny, even glossy, colourful best, put on a grand display as they drive in to take their place in the roll of honour at Delhi’s majestic National Stadium. Before they return next year to delight fans again, hopefully the act banning old vehicles will have exempted vintage cars by then.

Christie's India: Million Dollar Art By: Niyoshi Chudgar

Posted on: January 31, 2017

The fourth India annual sale of art auction house Christie’s may have ominously concurred with an economy besieged with cashless compromises, however, the day long auction of South Asian modern contemporary and classical art remained unperturbed in its reception.

Christie's India Auction december 2016

Attractive paintings fresh from long-established collections consistently drew multiple bids. Sixty per cent of lots were sold above high estimates, producing a total of INR 72 crore worth of sale. The highlight of the event was the sale of two celebrated paintings by India's foremost abstract painter Vasudeo Gaitonde, a leading member of India’s progressive artists’ group, well known for his retrospective exhibitionism, and another by Tyeb Mehta, also one of the progressives. The repetitive, rhythmic and subtle application of paint made Mr Gaitonde’s craft remarkable, garnering noticeable appreciation at the event. 

An important attraction of the sale was the 41 art pieces that came from the personal collection amassed by Abhishek and Radhika Poddar. Patrons with a vision that precedes the Indian market, the Poddars have built an enviable collection of modern and contemporary Indian art. Aesthetics with a taste for the finest, across genres and categories, their collection reflects their innate respect for the arts and a drive to share India’s diverse cultural landscape with the world.  

Another highpoint of the evening was the exquisite array of 40 miniatures from scholar and aficionada Colonel R.K. Tandan’s private collection. Tandan spent a lifetime acquiring distinctive works of Indian miniature paintings, his interest was academic as well as aesthetic, and hence he sought works from the scholars of his time, a flagrant example of which is the renowned Ragmala series. The crown jewel of Mr Tandan’s collection were four eye-catching and detailed Basholi folios titled ‘Tandan Ragamala’, including ‘Ragaputra Chandrakaya of Malkosa’, ‘Punyaki Ragini of Bhairav’, ‘Shri Raga’ and ‘Bhairava Raga’. Intricate court paintings from Mewar, Kangra, Bikaner, Nathdwara and the Deccan were also included in this curated sale. 

Christie's India Auction december 2016The series is the visual depiction of the classical Indian musical form of the raga, with each raga belonging to a family. It portrays abstract exhibitionism and an impression of silence that remains unmatched, circa 1700. 

Another stalwart, Manjeet Bawa’s work projected a serene quality, rarity and provenance. His signature mark was the portrayal of simplicity and spirituality in brightly-coloured allegorical paintings

Commenting on Christie’s eminent focus on Indian artists and it’s status as an emerging market for contemporary art, Sonal Singh, Head of Department for South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art said, “The recent retrospective of Gaitonde’s oeuvre at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, followed by the show at the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice, has certainly helped to expose the artist to an even wider circle of admirers. Shows for other Indian artists, such as Bhupen Khakhar at the Tate Modern in London, have helped to spotlight the greatness and diversity of contemporary art making in India, and it receives very positive international reviews.”

At the auction, the highest price commanded by a single work was INR 15.63 crore, fetched by an untitled VS Gaitonde work from 1974. The second-highest bid was also for a Gaitonde, dated 1973, which went for INR 11.43 crore. The third-highest bid was for the cover lot by Tyeb Mehta, an untitled oil on canvas from 1975 that sold for INR 10.23 crore.

Ms Singh further mentioned that, “Christie’s has been holding sales in the category of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art for the past 20 years and since then, works by Gaitonde, Mehta and other Indian masters were very much sought-after by a large collector’s community. This market has been built constantly to guarantee its sustainability and longevity.”

Christie’s India auction held back in 2015 had seen the highest tally for any auction in India with a record total sale of INR 97 crore vis a vis total sale of INR 75 crore in 2014. The auction figures of the past three years are reflective of the international popularity of big-name art as a status symbol, and the increased seriousness with which the world’s high-net-wort individual’s view art as an alternative investment. It is a signal of revelation that contemporary and classical art is on its way to substituting gold, as a store of wealth. 

Making the Box: Trunks Company Jaipur's Take on an Age-old Craft By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: January 20, 2017

Priyank and Paritosh Mehta Trunks Company Jaipur“We have created a modern lifestyle around trunks and are the only ones to do [so] across the globe,” says Paritosh Mehta, who co-founded Trunks Company Jaipur with his brother Priyank in 2011. 

Since then, Trunks Company has garnered international fame for its bespoke trunks that embody the yester glory of wooden luggage cases that boomed in the 18th and 19th centuries, the cultural vibrancy of Jaipur and Paris as well as the functionality of modern design. TV stars, artists and socialites aside, the brand’s masterpieces grace the homes of dignitaries in the likes of Maharaja Gaj Singh II and the Qatari ruling family.   

For the Maharaja, Forbes India has reported, Trunks Company created a watch trunk of navy-blue leather exterior, finished with a personalized brass panel, and duck-yellow suede interior that houses a Rapport watch winder. According to Business Today, Sheikha Hessa Al-Thani of Qatar visited Jaipur in 2013, spotted Trunk Company’s conceptions at the hotel she stayed, took a fancy for them and commissioned eight trunks to take home, including a one-of-a-kind piece to store flower-extracted ittar perfume. 

Six watch trunk by Trunks Company JaipurTrunks Company may have captured the media’s glare with its prominent clientele but the Mehtas and the label’s chief designer Livio Delesgues maintain reverential discreetness. Instead, they talk about – and take pride in – the attention and care they regale their clients with. “[E]very trunk that is created in our atelier is bespoke,” says Mr Mehta. “When we begin working on a trunk, we sit with our client to understand his tastes, hobbies [and] lifestyle, which in turn echoes in the final product. In this entire process, our client plays the major role.”

The cases – from travel classics like steamers and briefcases to whimsical novelties like bar, vault and jewelry trunks – might be unique extensions of their owner’s personalities, but they all rest on two distinct features that have earned Trunks Company its reputation. Exquisite materials and craftsmanship. The latter oozes from some 50 talented local artisans – “the creators of [the] trunks” who “[w]e personally identify […] and educate […] as per the requirements of the brand,” Mr Mehta says. These craftsmen usually invest around 400 hours in the refinement of a single trunk. 

“From sanding down a piece of wood, finishing process of leather, carving, stitching of leather, to hammering the nails – every aspect is handled with singular focus, care and discretion,” says Mr Mehta. “The expertise of Indian craftsmen, [their] great attention to minute detailing, and uncompromising quality give life to these classic, timeless creations.”

Music trunk by Trunks Company Jaipur

At the brand’s Jaipur-based atelier, this undivided devotion to artistry fuses with the most superb raw materials. Leaning on the expertise gleaned at their family export business, which often took them to Europe, the Mehtas meticulously source the label’s materials from India, Germany, Italy and France among other destinations. As a result, world-class grain leather and suede, vintage brass embellishments and teakwood contouring form the brand’s creative codes.

Polo trunk by Trunks Company Jaipur

Yet, Trunks Company’s contraptions do not only denote the label’s signature design aesthetics as “an antidote [to] routine treasurables.” They test it. The Music trunk, for instance, subverted the brand’s recognizable style to complex acoustic and electronic installations that needed to be imbedded within in order to build a cutting-edge sound system. “Eventually, the design came out to be a real delight, both in ways of appearance and the functionality,” Mr Mehta says. 

Such challenging concepts, Mr Mehta says, prompt the evolution of Trunks Company, which functions in a quaint field dominated by established giants like Louis Vuitton and Goyard. A novice in the industry, the Indian label, betting on its piquing blend of the West and the East, past and present, luxury and practicality, has indeed grown. With no international physical-store presence and little social media engagement, Trunks Company has somehow garnered a global following. 

Perhaps, the secret to Trunks Company’s success lurks in its simple philosophy. For the Mehtas and their team trunks are not just a business venture. They represent a “way of living life on our [own] terms.”

Trunks Company’s creations can be found at: 

Boutique at Rambagh Palace, Bhawani Singh Rd, Rambagh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302005, (0141) 2385775 

Trunks Company at Sabyasachi, One Style Mile, Kutub Serai 6-8, Kalka Das Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi 30 Inquiries: (011) 26644350

Bespoke orders: Trunks Company Jaipur Atelier, 44, Lane Number 4, Kartapura Industrial Area, BaisGodam, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302006, (141) 4064999

The company intends to launch an international store sometime this year. 

Luxurious Micro Homes - What's Driving the Trend By: Prabjjyot (Sukham) Kaurr Bindra, Senior Vice President, North India Sotheby's International Realty

Posted on: January 10, 2017

The concept of Micro Homes has been very popular in the West. Homeowners have realized that a small abode actually helps them to easily connect with family, friends, and nature while freeing them from wastefulness and unnecessary expenditure. 

Luxury Micro Homes

Monuments to the aspiration to simplify life, mini houses focus on the use of eco-friendly materials and solar power panels. The usual cost of construction of a luxury mini homes range between US $65,000 – $200,000 depending on the size and features. A mini house may be built in as less as 7 days but can also take up to a year, in some cases. Hence, they are far better in terms of construction, maintenance and tax costs and easily survive the strain of rough handling, lifting and shifting to desired sites. They might even have wheels to ease the movement from a place to another. Units without wheels can be effortlessly lifted by cranes or trucks. 

Despite their small size, these structures maintain their charm and luxury with thoughtful, smart and innovative designs. They still manage to provide all the amenities you’d expect in a full-size home, offering enough room for a bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom regardless of their footage, location and neighborhood. They utilize dual-purpose features, multi-functional furniture and space-saving equipment and appliances. Vertical space optimization is also a common feature of these houses and apartments. Extravagant services like a health club, swimming pool, sports facilities, and clubhouses could be used on a sharing basis within a community. 

Luxury Micro Homes

These mini homes are a hit amongst many young couples nuclear families, young entrepreneurs, and retirees who have an urge to travel often and live a simpler, minimalistic way of life with as little impact on the environment as possible. These type of individuals wish to settle in these homes either permanently or temporarily. Micro homes are also attractive as second homes options, guesthouses or retirement houses – they are usually set in resort-like surroundings with gorgeous scenery, high-end amenities, and neighbors who share similar views. 

Even the most affluent class want to break free from the typical mindset of living in huge, massive estates and are now shifting to smaller yet accessible smart homes. They do not see it as a sacrifice but believe that sometimes “Less is More!”

Lastly, because these small but highly functional dwellings include all the amenities you’d expect in a luxury hotel room, and are sometimes built to travel, they maintain their value for years. One can firmly say that there has been a positive social movement from the traditional large farmhouses, mansions and bungalows to simple and compact Micro homes, that highlight a lifestyle rich in comfort and luxury!

Prabjjyot Kaurr Bindra Sotheby's IndiaWith over 18 years of corporate work experience, Prabjjyot (Sukham) Bindra has gained abundant knowledge in real estate management, office operations, facilities management and strategic marketing. Her core competencies include business development, customer management and creating partnership alliances. She has worked with iconic establishments such as CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Hamptons International, DLF and the Australian High Commission. She also played an instrumental role in setting up a temporary office for the Australian PMO in Delhi on two occasions where she closely interacted and worked with the Honorary PM Mr John Howard. Ms Bindra spent her growing up years in Thailand and is well versed with multiple languages including English, Hindi, Punjabi, Thai and Marathi. She has also worked as an educator at Delhi’s Vasant Valley School. Her personal interests include painting, listening to music and exploring new destinations.

SIHH 2017 - Bigger and More Accessible Than Ever By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: December 9, 2016

Tidal changes are to sweep the upcoming 27th edition of the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie. Only a term ago, the watchmaking industry’s first-of-the-year and perhaps most coveted event comprised an invite-only affair, featuring around a dozen high-end brands within the fold of the Richmond Group. In 2017, after its last installment saw the inauguration of the Carre Des Horlogers, the SIHH will unprecedentedly welcome seven new high-end horologers and will open its last exhibit day – January 20 – to the general public.  

“As you can see, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is pursuing a policy of openness,” said Fabienne Lupo, chair of the SIHH’s governing body, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FIHH), to the South China Morning Post

SIHH 2017

The More, The Merrier? 

Among the newcomers are Kering Group’s Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, one of the SIHH’s founding members, which returns to the forum after a five-year hiatus. The two maisons will showcase their latest creations in Geneva Palexpo’s main hall, alongside historic exhibitors in the ranks of Cartier, IWC, Mont Blanc and Jaeger-LeCoultre. 

Meanwhile, the Carre Des Horlogers, dedicated to contemporary and emerging labels, swells to receive five additional independent watchmakers. Gronefeld, Ressence, Manufacture Contemporaine Du Temps, Speake-Martin and Romain Jerome will join 2016’s veterans URWERK, MB&F, Christophe Claret, H. Moiser & Cie, Voutilainen, Hautlence, Laurent Ferrier and HYT (De Bethune will not present this year). 

Buoyed by the favorable reception of its initial upgrade in 2016, the SIHH’s spectacular expansion for its upcoming installment – the largest in its history – tallies at 30 horologers, spread over 40,000sq m. of exhibiting space. Industry insiders see it as a response to the recent hike of luxury watch events, which, peculiarly comes amid a slump in sales. 

Maestro by Christophe Claret

Some hail the development as the SIHH’s right step in a fast evolving market. “This is a natural thing,” said Vincent Perriard, co-founder of HYT. “It took 20 years to happen, but most Swiss watch brands are closer to Geneva than Basel. And SIHH is offering an incredible luxury space at the beginning of the year; where at Basel, the show takes place later in the year (March or April) and where you can find cheap or really affordable brands... the mix between luxury and low-end is everywhere in Basel. So when [the] SIHH decided to open its doors to more brands, we all knew it would be a success.”

Others, nonetheless, approach the enlargement with measured caution. For URWERK’s co-founder Felix Baumgartner, who thought the 2017 edition would focus on consolidating this year’s upswing, the boost in numbers is an unexpected leap into the unknown. 

Charris Yadigaroglou of MB&F is also wary. “I think the general feeling is that [the SIHH] has now reached its maximum size. Growing bigger than this would substantially change the concept of the event, which I personally feel would be a big mistake.”

A Lange and Soehne Lange 1 Moon Phase

Whether this clamour of brands will push lesser-known labels to the fringes of media and guests’ attention is anyone’s guess. Yet, Christophe Claret of the eponymous maison exalts the benefits. “[The expansion] will allow independent watchmakers to access a privileged clientele and accelerate their [name recognition],” he said, “and, for the big brands exhibiting, [it will] bring a new breath of youth and dynamism to this salon.” 

Welcome, general public!

Much of these qualities will presumably peak at the closing day of the SIHH 2017, when, at the cost of CHF 70 ($69) per ticket, the general public will be admitted to the forum for seven hours, from 11am to 6pm. The SIHH has rolled out some 7,000 passes, several sources have reported, allowing watch aficionados to spot the industry’s latest trends first hand. Ms Lupo of the FIHH has recently described this move as a due extension of the brands’ long-standing custom to host their suppliers and staff, who usually do not have access to the Salon, on the last day.    

“I think it is a good move,” said Patrik Hoffmann, CEO of Ulysse Nardin. “It shows [that the SIHH is] getting closer to the end consumer.” 

Conflictingly seen as both compounding and clouding the SIHH’s exclusivity, this break with the forum’s past rudiments has, by and large, prompted nods of approval. The added visibility, however, might particularly favour the smaller maisons that have limited retail presence. Echoing the general sentiment, Mr Perriard described the shift as a “smart evolution, which corresponds to [our] brand’s needs.”

“[Opening the SIHH to the public] is great. It is quite rare to find us in stores as we are only working with very few partners all around the world,” said Mr Baumgartner of URWERK, a 12-member label, which produces around 150 timepieces a year. “For people [who now know] about URWERK and they are quite a few, the SIHH is the perfect place for a first [face-to-face] rendezvous. Not only to see the watches but also to meet us, the team hidden behind the brand name.”   

It is all About the Watches!

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Moon Phase and Retrograde DateLarger than ever and for the first time open to the public, at its core, the SIHH remains a premium event for horology’s top brass to unveil its novelties. Some are already piquing connoisseurs’ interest with their pre-SIHH releases that only cue to the array of watches to grace the forum’s window cases.

Among the first to let a sneak peak at a timepiece slated to premiere at the SIHH 2017 was Vacheron Constantin. Its new retro-looking Patrimony Moon Phase Retrograde Date timepiece draws inspiration from the brand’s past, which stretches more than two and a half centuries back. Coming either in white or pink gold, the watch features a delicate, vintage date complication, which fans out at the upper half of the dial, between 9 and 3 o-clock, and a strikingly accurate moon-phase display above 6 o’clock.  

Also upgrading its celestial-induced collection is A. Lange & Söhne, which has just debuted Lange 1 Moon Phase. Building on the maison’s signature Lange 1, the new timepiece ticks with an improved, manually wound Lange calibre, L121.3, which provides a power reserve of 72 hours. Dressing the watch’s movement is a silver dial that houses an outsized Lange date indicator as well as a cleverly united moon-phase and day/night functions. Composed of 70 parts, the display flaunts a solid-gold moon disc, which tracks its 29-day long loop across a larger, realistically changing sky circle. During the day, it is bright and intense, while at night it turns dark, sprinkled with laser-cut stars. 

Roger Dubuis 2017 collection of watches

Meanwhile, remaining on terra firma, Roger Dubuis is looking to set off a watchmaking quake. In early November, the manufacture presented to the press three “code-breaking, convention-blasting” models of its iconic Excalibur collection that are to “rock the watchmaking world” at SIHH 2017. Rendered in eye-popping cerulean shades, the masculine Quatuor Cobalt MicroMelt and Spider Skeleton Automatic as well as the delicate Essential 36 Automatic pair bold materials, cobalt chrome being the most radical, and high mechanisms, including a 16 Hz hand-wound movement with five differentials and four sprung balances.   

Ahead of the SIHH, Christophe Claret introduced its new Marguerite, a crimson “floral wonder,” sprinkled with more than 600 diamonds. The manufacture, however, only hinted at its novel concept, the Maestro. Part of the brand’s line of traditional complication watches, it will be in preview at the SIHH, expected to later flaunt a price tag of CHF 68,000. “This piece will be nonconformist, dynamic and essential. It will breathe new life into this collection,” said Mr Claret. 

Christophe Claret MargueriteSimilar to Christophe Claret, a bevy of maisons keep their newest creations under wraps, allowing only for the vaguest of descriptions to spike up curiosity. Building up its most sought-after collection, HYT is to debut a SKULL pocket watch that is to double as a reading night light. “We have changed the shape of the liquid tube (capillary) to design a SKULL and indicate time via a liquid turning around the SKULL shape,” Mr Perriard said. “We have then added a micro dynamo, which enables the owner to generate clean electricity (no battery, no electronics) thanks to a genius mechanical device.”

Much like HYT, MB&F is known for its ingenious aesthetics. For SIHH 2017, it readies its Horological Machine No. 7 – a reflection of a new form of childhood memories, which have laid out the creative foundation of the brand. “[Horological Machine No. 7] is not about science fiction, or airplanes, or supercars,” says Mr Yadigaroglou, keeping an aura of surprise. 

Mr Baumgartner is also pointedly tight-lipped, letting only that “we are going to prove that URWERK is a serious player when it comes to Haute Joaillerie. We are finalizing a timepiece that had put stars in our eyes.” So is Mr Hoffmann of Ulysse Nardin, revealing that the theme of the maison’s inaugural exhibit at the SIHH will be much in line with its DNA – “Marine at Innovation.”

With merely a month until the SIHH commences its 27th installment on January 16, 2017, horologers, journalists, buyers and mavens, alike, are succumbing to the event’s whirl. After a bout of stress-induced, finance-sapping preparations, newcomers speak of honor and excitement, while last year’s entrants vow to avoid any rookie mistakes. 

MB&F adds a fourth office to better meet the deluge of private meeting requests, while HYT doubles its exhibiting lot. For 2017, URWERK embraces a zen poise, asserting not to again “[run] around like chicken with their heads off.” 

“Our first participation in 2016 was extremely positive,” says Mr Yadigaroglou. “We just hope that the 2017 edition will be just as good!”  

Luxury Pet Care - What, How and Why? By: Shannon Heggem, Pet Luxury Expert  

Posted on: November 4, 2016

Dogs and cats have been helpers and companions to humans for centuries. However, a societal shift commenced in the early 1990s, when the role of pets within families first really started to change. A trend towards humanizing pets emerged, as many people began to view them more as actual family members. Pet retailers and service providers soon noticed, and the entire pet marketplace was forever altered. 

Gigi by Shannon Heggem

Even though the beginning of luxury pet care is somewhat easy to pinpoint in time, the factors that sprouted the haute trend are harder to define. The 80s was the decade of decadence, marked by a booming economy and so much excess, and yet we really did not see an emergence of luxury for pets. Perhaps, indulgence – and, not for oneself but for an animal – was still a foreign endeavor. The 1990s, however, rolled in to upend some staunch societal mores. It finally became more "acceptable" to choose purposely not to have human children. Many of these Generation X couples opted for "furkids" instead. It seems that, with that shift, it then became more common to spoil these hairy children. 

Prior to that time, pet owners who needed to board their dogs and cats had no other choice than to drop them off either at crowded vet clinics or stark, concrete and chain link facilities. As a result, owners were seeking a higher level of services for their beloved pets while they were away, and they were willing to pay top-dollar. The boarding industry responded, and more upscale facilities began to emerge. Rather than cold and depressing pet prisons, industry trendsetters began designing and building more high-end, comfort-centric pet resorts. The grooming industry soon followed by experimenting with pampering spa services, in addition to regular grooming offerings. It was an instant hit. Pet owners then wanted to bring this new level of care into their homes, thereby introducing the segment for luxury pet supplies and accessories. Thus the high-end pet niche market was born, and has continued to grow and expand in the decades that followed. 

Gigi in her room by Shannon Heggem

Now that luxury pet treatment has taken a foothold in modern society, high-end products, care facilities, and services are commonplace. And, like the human luxury market, these have all become more specialized, more targeted, and, of course, more over-the-top. The luxury pet industry is a big business. The American Pet Product Association expects the pet segment’s revenue to spike by 4% over its 2015 figure and top almost $63 billion by the end of 2016 A recent Packaged Facts report identifies upper-income households as a dominant force in the pet industry, estimating that three-fifths of pet market spending this year will come from this group. However, it isn't just high-income households who are purchasing luxury products and services. Middle-income families are also a force in the market. Therefore, a large portion of that $63 billion comes from spoils on the high end. Luxury-centric companies now cater to pet owners who will stop at nothing to have only the finest for their best friends. 

Let's consider for a moment that you have a pampered Papillon named Penelope. The only limiting factor to what is available for your precious Penelope is budget. If that isn't a concern, then the sky is the limit.

Perhaps the first purchase should be a custom-built 18th century-styled ornate dog bed, with a price tag of just over $24,000. It is important to note that the gold-threaded mattress will be an additional $3,000. This bed would be a great addition to Penelope's luxury pet room, which has been custom-built in your home to specifically showcase Penelope's unique personality, starting at a design cost of $100,000, in addition to construction, furniture, and décor fees.

Gigi getting a Pawticure Foot Massage by Shannon HeggemPenelope would also surely appreciate some pampering services, such as weekly treatments at the grooming spa, where she will enjoy relaxing massage therapy, whirlpool baths, and conditioning facials, all with transportation to and from via limousine. And, because Penelope is a fashionista, she will also need to be dressed in the latest canine couture for these outings, all of which has been custom-made for your little companion. If you are seeking the "ultimutt" fashion accessory, consider a $1.8 million-dollar diamond-encrusted collar, boasting 52-carats-worth of bark-worthy bling.

And, when life dictates that you must leave Penelope behind on your next business trip, she will be able to maintain her indulged lifestyle while she is a guest at a luxury pet resort. She will, of course, insist on staying in the Royale Suite, where she can enjoy her own television, gourmet meals, and housekeeping services, all ending with a great night's sleep on her infrared dog bed. The nightly cost of these accommodations will rival your own last visit to your favorite boutique hotel.

Gigi's closet by Shannon Heggem

Penelope will have an ongoing need for medical care as well. Veterinary services have come on board and begun catering to the specialized needs of high-end clientele. Focus-specific hospitals are now offering more wellness and rehab-associated services such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and even under-water treadmill rehabilitation. With cancer on the rise, even in companion animals, some vet hospitals are now specializing in oncology and radiation therapy. Even sophisticated procedures such as bone-marrow transplants are available, at a cost of around $16,000. Pet dentistry has also become a separate practice. Penelope can visit the dog dentist for teeth cleaning, check-ups, and even orthodontic braces. Overall, the specialty veterinary field is sure to continue a similar expansion in the coming years. 

Regardless of the amount of pampering that Penelope receives, the sad truth is that her lifespan will be much shorter than a human's. When that unhappy time arrives, perhaps a stuffed plush toy, customized to look exactly like her, will help with the loss. Or, for a more animated alternative, consider an actual living and breathing genetic clone. A special skin sample is taken while the pet is still living, and stored until it is time for Penelope #2. This controversial operation is currently available at a cost of near $100,000.

In general, the luxury pet market does not show signs of slowing down any time soon. New products and services are making their way to the market every day, and pet owners continue to support the entire concept. Interestingly enough, many people who do not necessarily live a luxury-focused lifestyle themselves often embrace it for their pets. This makes one really ponder the reason why...why are these creatures so important in our lives?

Gigi's shoe rack by Shannon Heggem

The fact is that these are the only relationships, which are completely without judgment, blame, or expectations. Pets love their humans – no matter what. It is the most simple and rewarding relationship. This is likely why they have taken on human roles in our lives, sometimes substituting for spouses, children, parents, or friends. This constantly positive relationship inspires owners to want to give back somehow, or reward their best friends – these precious little things – for the love and companionship they so generously give. Providing these loving and loyal creatures with the most luxurious accommodations and experiences is a great way to do so.  

Gigi and Shannon HeggemShannon Heggem is a pet luxury lifestyle expert; she has been shaking up the pet industry since the early 1990s, with her bold and daring high-end pet spaces. From luxury pet resorts to home-based custom pet spaces, Ms. Heggem continues to accelerate the level of pampering for the most-fortunate four-legged friends. The work of her design firm, Luxury Unleashed, has been featured in magazines and reality television. Shannon Heggem is considered the global authority on pet luxury. She is also the human behind doggie social media starlet @gigglesbygigi, probably the world’s most pampered dog. You might meet them both at one of their many speaking appearances around the globe, and hear first-hand about just how pampered a pup can truly be!

Unusual, Sculptural, Womanly - Amy Burton's new collections for Hancocks London By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: September 28, 2016

In its 167-year long history, fine jewelry dealer Hancocks has become synonymous with rarity and splendor. Its window has served as a meeting spot for Cartier, Bulgari, Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Boucheron among others. This fall, a promising young brand is to join the roster – Amy Burton Fine Jewelry. 

Amy Burton Fine Jewelry Crescendo Necklace

Yes, the same Amy Burton, whose parents have run Hancocks out of its upscale venue on the historic Burlington Arcade for over two decades. Since 2009, when Ms Burton joined the family business, she has delved into the technical and artistic qualities of antique pieces. Certified gemologist and jewelry designer, she now claims the craft with three inaugural collections – Disorient, Unum and Crescendo – that bear her creative musings, informed by her formal studies and work at Hancocks. 

Amy Burton Fine Jewelry Disorient Aquamarine and Diamond RingPresented on September 26 at the Morton's Private Members Club in London, Ms Burton’s works are as uniform in intention as they are distinct in aesthetics. Memorably bold and strikingly stylish, the jewelries – executed by British craftsmen and studded with gemstones – invoke subtle sophistication despite their sturdy shapes. Drawing and painting every piece by hand, Ms Burton dedicated two years and a half to taking the collections from sketch to finish. “In a lot of my design I love to walk a line between architectural, sculptural design and femininity,” Ms Burton said. “I keep toying with the design until I can feel that balance.”

The pursuit of harmony has jolted into disparate explorations with each collection, shaping up their unique characters. While Disorient wields geometry to configure five ornaments that are, at the same time, substantial and light, Crescendo brushes into hue and shade graduation to create two intense pieces. Unum, on the other hand, follows no tenets but the individual shape of the gems around which its three jewelries are built. 

Amy Burton Fine Jewelry Unum Yellow Sapphire RingAlthough apparent in every adornment, the personality of the lines crystalizes in several masterful centerpieces. A gold cuff bangle entwined in a seemingly messy braid around a 123.7-carat purple amethyst embodies the dynamism of Disorient. A bib necklace that mixes tourmaline, garnet and amethyst to layer together tender lilac, raspberry pink and royal plum crowns the color study of Crescendo. A stunning ring of 63.8-carat yellow sapphire, which rests in a platinum basket beaded with diamonds, showcases the one-of-a-kind premise of Unum. All three cue to the sensuality and sensibility of Amy Burton Fine Jewelry.    

“Jewelry is made to be worn, not hidden away in a safe. I want to design jewelry that people will wear and that will bring joy,” said Ms Burton, whose creations – ranging in price from £3,750 to £48,000 – are to add a fresh, modern counterpart to the retro and vintage offerings of Hancocks London. 


Breaking First: Rolex's History of Innovation By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: August 31, 2016

Hans Wilsdorf, RolexFew luxury brands can state they have birthed and shaped their market segment. Even fewer can aver they have done so with spiking success. Luxury watchmaker Rolex comfortably claims both.   

The Swiss Maison boasts annals that stretch back some 111 years to include several “firsts,” which truly redefined watchmaking. In fact, the very genesis of the label was one such incident. In the heyday of pocket watches, Rolex’s founder, German Hans Wilsdorf set out to create wristwatches, which until then had been regarded as trinkets, inaccurate and feminine. Yet, grasping the potential value of wristwatches, Mr Wilsdorf (together with his brother-in-law) commenced a venture that would set precedents.

The first among them was the Oyster – the wristwatch that ever since its 1926 debut has served as an emblem for ingenuity. Presenting his creation to an assembly of watch retailers the following year, Mr Wilsdorf boldly stated “[t]he Oyster is, in our opinion, the most important invention regarding watches of recent years.” And it has remained so ever since.

First Rolex Oyster 1926Perhaps, always ahead of its time, in a span of 50 years, the Oyster inaugurated such modern horologic fundamentals as precision and waterproofness, self-winding rotors and date and day displays. With the Oyster, Rolex not only founded today’s high-end wristwatch industry. It has continuously reinvented it. 

Rolex’s quest for ground-breaking excellence, however, commenced a decade prior to the Oyster premiere, with Mr Wilsdorf’s entrepreneurial resolve to amend the segment’s flaws. First to be corrected was chronometric precision, which in the early 1900s largely evaded wristwatches. By 1910, nevertheless, Rolex wristwatches had made horologic history by obtaining two coveted distinctions for their ticking exactness – the first-ever certificate by the Official Watch Rating Center to be granted to a wristwatch as well as the prestigious Kew Observatory’s “Class A” stamp, previously reserved for marine chronometers. The Oyster made good on those recognitions. 

Precision, though, often drowned in water.  Mr Wilsdorf knew that and worked to prevent it. He spent years in developing water-impermeable designs that, as it happened, crystalized in the Oyster. Elegantly simple, the Oyster featured what is now the distinct Rolex fluted bezel that could be screwed down to the case back, hermetically sealing the tiny movements from water-borne damage.

A Rolex ad in Daily Mail 1927Nonetheless as revealed in Mr Wilsdorf’s own account years later, his peers were less than enthused about the Oyster’s waterproofness. “In those days, the idea of a watch impermeable to water appeared quite utopian and without future to the majority of manufacturers and technicians who did not, in fact, see its necessity or utility. At trade congresses and meetings, the ‘waterproof’ watch was held to scorn by specialists and a discussion of the problem provoked sarcasm rather than useful and objective arguments.”

Yet, Mr Wilsdorf trusted the Oyster’s worth. And soon, so did everyone else. It only took a dive into the man’s PR acumen. In 1927, he equipped English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze with an Oyster for her grueling stroke across the English Channel. After 10 hours, the Oyster emerged out of the waves to keep on its reliable track of seconds. To mark the feat, Mr Wilsdorf commissioned a full-spread commercial on the front page of the Daily Mail. “The triumph march of the Rolex Oyster around the world,” as the ad proclaimed, began in earnest.

Following a somewhat trodden pattern, Rolex’s next grand advance built on the one prior. The newly achieved waterproofness could not be easily maintained in hand-wound wristwatches, whose proper functioning required daily unscrewing of the crown – a seemingly benign action that could seriously impair water resilience. 

First Oyster Perpetual by Rolex 1931To keep its horologic reign, Rolex needed a mechanical movement. It materialized in the form of a weight, which triggered by the gestures of the wrist, freely oscillated along a central axle. A time-keeping novelty that presaged its contemporary sophisticated kin, Rolex’s Perpetual rotor quickly started chugging inside the Oyster.  

Once the Oyster became synonymous with precision, waterproofness and self-winding, the brand turned its revolutionary savoir faire to complications. Rolex further tweaked its signature Oyster line with the adoption of what were then unheard-of faculties that are nowadays common calendar features. In 1945, the label introduced the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, the first-ever self-winding wrist chronometer to display the date on its dial, at 3 o’clock. A jewel in the watchmaker’s portfolio, it was followed by the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, which in the mid-1950s, became the first wristwatch to show the day of the week, scribbled in an arc across the 12-o’clock mark. The Day-Date also added a Cyclops lens over the date, enlarging it for easy reading – a touch present even in Rolex’s latest contraptions. 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day Date 2016Although Rolex’s collections have since featured many small – yet essential – improvements, it was not until the mid-aughts that the brand got the industry buzzing again. In an era when few concepts are truly newfangled, Rolex broke the odds, claiming two breakthroughs in a row. In 2007, the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II became the world’s first watch with a programmable, mechanical countdown. A year later, the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea emerged. Or rather, submerged, given that its ingenious case remains airtight up to 12,800ft under the surface – a depth as mind-bending as Rolex’s record of “firsts,” itself. 

Even though Rolex has released and refined other lines, the Oyster has lived on as a testament to horologic excellence. Chances are no one can speak of the Oyster’s essence better than Mr Wilsdorf did. And he once put it plainly yet powerfully, “[y]ou just keep your Oyster on your wrist, whatever happens and it will never fail you."


Watch our exclusive, short video, highlighting the triumphs of Rolex

Shopping Redefined: All in a Luxe Provence Box By: Ashley Wolfe

Posted on: August 15, 2016

Imagine traveling to another country without even leaving your couch. The smell of foreign soil and the taste of authentic French wine enjoyed right at your kitchen table in, say, Hawaii! This can be found in the world of subscription services like that of Luxe Provence, a company who delivers seasonal boxes of authentic items from Provence, France to customers all over the globe.

Luxe Provence Box

Luxe Provence delivered its first box to customers in the Fall of 2015. Since then, they have been committed to bringing the essence of France to those without the time to travel there in person. For an annual fee of $1,020, subscribers receive four boxes each year, coinciding with each season, which include home, beauty, and lifestyle products.

“The Luxe Provence Box was designed to be a luxury indulgence and escape experience to France each season, particularly with stressed women in mind,” said Founder and Chief Creative Director Tarik Koivisto. “Women are so busy taking care of their families, working, shopping for necessities and giving gifts to others that they often do not treat themselves.”

Although subscribers receive only four boxes per year with their subscription, customers can expect nothing less than the unique and exquisite. Each box is stamped with a gold foil logo and tied beautifully with a ribbon. Upon opening the box, subscribers are met with assorted items, which can range from accessories, clothing, or even decadent chocolates, as well as a seasonal aroma, which is designed specifically to greet the customer when they open their box.

Luxe Provence Box

Products are tested for feedback in France and in the United States, by a varied group of individuals, to ensure that Luxe Provence box items appeal to more than just a select few. In addition, the company works with local French artisans as well as French markets and boutiques to help curate their collections for each season.

Each box contains a variety of items chosen specifically to accompany the season. The most recent box included a summer tote bag made with French linen and nude leather, along with a wine and champagne cooling bag. Both were made exclusively for Luxe Provence subscribers. 

With this in mind, one can agree that the Luxe Provence box isn’t for simply anyone. Those gifted with this opportunity are given the chance to not only indulge in French market items, but also products which are not on the market.

“Our goal is to deliver a seasonal experience from Provence around the globe to clients who appreciate authenticity, luxury and handmade French objects,” said Ms. Koivisto.

Luxe Provence Box

Due to growing access to online shopping outlets, consumers no longer are required to visit physical stores in order to purchase desired items. Subscription services like that provided by Luxe Provence furthers this growing trend by gifting subscribers with the beauty and awe of Providence right in the comfort of their own homes. 

In addition, customers can purchase a subscription for both themselves and also as a gift for another. If the latter doesn’t appeal, many of the items in each box can be re-gifted individually.

“We seek to support the local economy by highlighting French traditions of quality craftsmanship and materials made in France,” said Ms. Koivisto. “And combining that with an artful approach to gift-giving that is getting lost in today's fast-paced, digital world.” 

Luxe Provence Box

In a ‘massified’ world, Luxe Provence is bringing the attention back to niche products, that are handcrafted, and made with the same care and attention that a luxury product deserves.

The Luxe Provence Box is available for purchase individually each season or as an annual subscription. Individual items as well as subscriptions can be purchased on their website

Electro Music & Haute Horlogerie Become One - Audemars Piguet X Gener8ion By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: August 11, 2016

Have you ever wondered how haute horlogerie sounds?

Cacophonous – yes; but also astoundingly soothing. Different at disparate times of the day.

Or, at least, so do the compositions of ultra-luxury Swiss watchmaker, Audemars Piguet, which strikes the musical notes of the craft in an industry-first collaboration. The two-century old Maison teamed with French house-electro DJ, Surkin, aka Gener8ion, to capture the tunes of its flagship Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie as well as of its bucolic home in Le Brassus village in the Vallee de Joux. 

Audemars Piguet X Gener8ion

The imaginative outcome – four around 2-minute long tracks that clock the passage of the day through a seamless mesh between synthesized cadences and the unlikely, organic melodies of Audemars Piguet manufacture. From the low hiss of a blowtorch to the rhythmic clicks of a mechanism to the hushed grate of guilloche to the cheery chirp of birds, the pieces paint a poetic atmosphere where revered legacy and stunning innovation meet. 

“Each step involved in the making of a timepiece delivers an extensive range of sounds ready to be captured,” said Gener8ion who spent days recording the chords inside the horologer’s workshops. 

Audemars Piguet X Gener8ion

The chime of Royal Oak Concept Supersonnerie, an exclusive watch with unprecedented acoustics, opens each soundtrack that, then, progresses in accordance to the whims of the hour after which it’s titled. Fusing the pulse of a watch escapement with the throb of a complication, taped at Audemars Piguet’s Museum, 6h03 is all about awakening. 10h45 ticks off at the core of watchmaking, combining the hum of manual chores and the hubbub of machines.  

As characteristic the resonances of the brand might be, they, alone, hardly relay its full essence. Part of what truly makes Audemars Piguet is the untrammeled landscapes, which quiet time in Le Brassus, the Maison’s residence. The remarkable unison between Audemars Piguet’s buzzing ateliers and their tranquil surroundings defines the 16h15 track. The closing salvos reverberate in 22h17, when both Audemars Piguet’s workshops and nature dim – until 6:03am tolls again. 

Audemars Piguet X Gener8ion

A sleek finish to the sonorous project are the tracks’ videos that illustrate both the crispness and sophistication of the music. Rendered in milk white or graphite gray (for 22h17), the videos comprise a single continuous pan across a graphics-generated expanse, where each beat sets off an undulation – uncannily reminiscent of the mountainous flanks of the Vallee de Joux. 

All segments fade to a single bold sentiment – “To break the rules, you must first master them.”  Audemars Piguet seems to have adopted that mantra, under a ravishing music accompaniment. 

Audemars Piguet X Gener8ion

To watch & listen to the Audemars Piguet X Gener8ion playlist, visit the brand’s YouTube channel

Sky is the Limit: Airlines Personify Luxury in the Air By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: August 10, 2016

A sliding door opens to a den with cozy leather sofas that flank a square, white-clothed table, set with porcelain plates. Down a hallway, passing a roomy shower equipped with pampering ointments, is the bedroom, decked in designer linens. Private butlers buzz around, attending to every whim, while skilled mixologists fix drinks with the finest liquors in a near-by lounge. 

The Residence in Etihad Airlines

Welcome aboard, where several premium airlines offer indulging luxury that rivals the crème-de-la-crème hospitality on the ground.

If fold-out beds in semi-enclosed cubicles, a restaurant-worthy menu and a wide range of TV entertainment usually denote first-class flying, then the revered likes of Etihad, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are soaring a notch higher. With their truly VIP experiential offers, which log five-digit price tags, the destination fades in the exclusivity of the journey.   

The (air)craft of opulence 

Sky-high luxury careens into some basics of massive proportions. The world’s largest commercial jet (238ft long, 79ft high with 261ft of wingspan), A380 overtakes Boeing 777 as airlines’ preferred hulk-in-the-clouds onto which to graft their opulent modules (Cathay Pacific is a notable exception, choosing Boeing over Airbus). First to operate A380 in October 2007, Singapore Airlines today boasts a fleet of 19, which take its top-tier Suites Class to Paris, Sydney and Tokyo among other cities. Nonetheless, the biggest squadron of A380s – 72 in service, 68 pending delivery as of Feburary 2016 – belongs to the Dubai-headquartered Emirates, the world’s best airline of 2016, according to review and rating consultancy Skytrax. 

Singapore Airlines

Similar to any edifice, A380 presents a husk that airlines pack with the interiors of leading designers. Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines, alike, dissect the fuselage into separate lofts, furnished in leather and wood that invoke striking sophistication. The Emirate’s gold-splashed Private Suite often vies for the laurel of the poshest first-class cabin with the First Apartment on board the four A380s of Etihad, the United Arab Emirates’ national carrier. 

Nothing, though, compares to Etihad’s The Residence – the first-ever three-room penthouse in the skies between New York, Sydney, London, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai and Melbourne. LCD screens of tween-digit inches, an onboard shower, smart stow-away compartments that double as Ferrari-leather upholstered ottomans and couches (that, in defiance to the industry’s more, do not stretch into cots) fill the space – big enough to accommodate a plush double-sized bed (the first in the air).  

When it comes to vanity, Emirates and Singapore Airlines do not fall behind. Although the former is guilty of a luxury nay-nay with its flat-out cribs in Emirates First, it more than makes for that with its shower spa (on long-haul routes) with Bvlgari lotions and fragrances to tickle the senses. The latter has its own shortfall – its glaring lack of on-deck showers. Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits, Givenchy pajamas and flight crew that cheerily makes its guests’ beds, however, cover that absence.

The Bar in Emirates Airlines

The rare fare

In fact, to badge any of these airlines’ cabin crews with the generic title of flight attendants would be an understatement. Call them butlers (Savoy-trained in Etihad’s case) who have mastered the craft of courteous – constant yet unobtrusive – attention. Yet, they only function at the fore of a tailored service that stretches to include Michelin-star chefs, ready to veer away from gourmet, a-la-carte menus to prepare bespoke meals. That variety of dining options often rests on locally sourced ingredients that flavor the cuisines of the carriers’ destinations. 

While Singapore Airlines’ 8-strong team of internationally acclaimed cooks – its International Culinary Panel – are available to be booked 24 hours prior to a flight, Etihad brings a chef on board to cater to any dietary wishes, be they sophisticated meat platters or simple toasts. Emirates sprinkles its multicourse carte-du-jour with healthy, low-fat, oils-free specials.

At the same time, Cathay Pacific, which has recently teamed with celebrity chef, Daniel Green, takes on-board dining to another level. “In First Class, we were one of the first airlines to have rice cookers, toasters and skillets on board our aircraft, enabling our flight attendants to prepare freshly steamed rice to accompany our passenger’s meal,” a representative said.  

Cathay Pacific First Class

To provide the perfect complement to any belly-bulging fare, airlines partner with sommeliers in the curation of extensive wine lists – often flaunting Dom Perignon and Krug. As if that is not enough, in-flight lounges  – think Emirates’ A380 Onboard Lounge (which flaunts a mixologist behind a circular bar) and Etihad’s The Lobby on its A380s’ upper deck – create a relaxing ambience to socialize, cocktail in hand. Those in-the-air retreats bear the lavishness – albeit in tinier dimensions – of their on-ground counterparts, which whisk first-class travelers away from the clamor of airports and into the serenity of privilege, which often comes with chauffeurs and concierges. 

Yet to arrive 

The marriage between the exclusivity of private jets and the attainability of commercial airlines is just at its dawn. First-class flying is steadily ascending to above-the-clouds peaks  – more over-the-top, and yet more conventionally stately. Both the Emirates and Singapore Airlines are to roll out their novel suites in 2017, which are anticipated to propel ritzy air voyages into the realms of the grandest ground experiences. 

“[W]e’re talking fully enclosed rooms, with all the touches and amenities that you’d expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on,” said Emirates CEO Tim Clark, as quoted by Australian Business Traveller.

The Lobby in Etihad Airlines

While the Emirates has styled its new-generation luxe cabins in-house, a number of independent design firms are taking it upon themselves to reimagine the near future of five-star flights. London-based company Seymourpowell is one of them, having recently unveiled a six-room lot, called “First Spaces.” Dubbed a “Boutique in the Skies,” the concept – outfitted with king-size beds, a 42in TV and smart controls – is still to be adopted by any airline. Yet, it exemplifies the high-end trend to sell spaces – not seats, and individual care – not general service. 

Etihad seems to steer the very fore of that dynamic, now taking not only passengers but also their luxury vehicles on personalized rides from Abu Dhabi to several European hubs, including London, Berlin, Paris and Zurich. The carrier is slashing 20% off of cargo and ticket rates for first-class and business passengers who wish to lug along their car, as well. 

Apart from upgrading its top-tier package, Etihad is also taking The Residence to Melbourne with the June launch of its twice-daily flights from Abu Dhabi to the Australian city. Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific is building up its fleet (having recently acquired its first A350) and Emirates is gliding new routes. Only this July, in a trial flight, Emirates piloted one of its A380 to Chicago’s O’Hare International airport, recently revamped to accommodate the monster of a jumbo. A full-operation expansion to Chicago, nevertheless, is still in the stage of careful consideration, with Emirates expressing doubts whether the US metropolis would entice enough economy-nixing fliers to justify such a move. 

The Residence in Etihad Airlines

As the luxury segment of the industry takes off, one thing is certain. Premium air carriers are only beginning to redefine comfort, entertainment and excess in the skies.  

Welcoming the new Dawn: Rolls Royce Launches the Car of the Future By: Niyoshi Chudgar

Posted on: July 26, 2016

Rolls Royce Dawn

In the world of opulence, innovation, top-notch technology and potent engine power, Rolls Royce upped the ante with the launch of its latest convertible luxury coupé. It has all the right elements of becoming one of the true great Rolls Royces of our era. With a hulking 6.6 litre twin-turbo V12 up-front, churning up 563 horsepower at 5250 rpm and 575 lb-ft of torque at 1500 rpm, the engine’s remarkable power is unmatched. 

Embodying contemporary finesse, the car’s silhouette is characterized by gallant optimism, which is poised and ready to go. Four individual seats offer matchless comfort. The classic interior with a wooden and chrome dashboard is crafted for the ultimate motoring experience. Other details include a bespoke audio system with 16 speakers and a Spirit of Ecstasy rotary controller with a sleek touchpad. The system recognizes handwritten characters in several languages, including Arabic and Mandarin. 

With the top up, it provides captivating privacy and with the top down, you can effectively display your refined choice to the world. The top roof can be taken down in a record 20 seconds, meaning you’re just half a minute away from modestly changing your style statement. Working with a fabric roof configuration, they have aimed to make the quietest convertible in the world. This quest for silence applies to all aspects of the roof’s engineering. Now carved into motorized parlance – the noiseless mechanism of Dawn’s roof is called the ‘Silent Ballet’.

Rolls Royce Dawn

Campaigned with a unique social media blackout 24 hours prior to the launch, with the tagline “It is always darkest before the…Dawn”, the Dawn is aimed at a broader, younger and more digitally aware audience than the traditional Rolls Royce customer. The APAC Regional Director, Mr Paul Harris says, “The average age of the Rolls Royce customer has dropped from 53 to 45 year olds in a matter of just 5 years, thanks to our advanced luxury saloon Ghost and fastback coupe Wrath, the most powerful Rolls Royce ever built. Therefore, to cater to this new audience, we launched Dawn in a pure online campaign. This is the first time we have ever launched a new model in this way. Thousands of journalists across the world watched a live online streaming of our Chief Executive, Torsten Muller-Otvos and renowned UK personality Jodie Kidd presenting this seductive convertible in all its luscious glory. We have acknowledged that our customers are global citizens, almost entirely online and mobile. Digital engagement is a ‘need’, not a ‘want’ – we call this phenomenon Online Oxygen.” 

While it may resemble the Wraith with the top chopped off, the British luxury marque steadfastly assures us that the Dawn is its own car. “Dawn is designed from the ground up, the majority of its body panels being new,” says Mr Harris. The engine is a different rating from the Wraith to suit its more relaxed disposition as a boulevardier. The Dawn is meant to deliver a striking, seductive encounter. 

To say that the Dawn is a must-have luxury would be an obvious understatement. This is a car intended to appeal to luxury lovers do their leisure activities stylishly, whether scampering from the golf course to the café or maneuvering along a picturesque route. Dawn lives in the moment and the moment is now.

Rolls Royce Dawn

The company has also announced the all new hi-tech aluminium architecture which will underpin the new Phantom, scheduled to be launched in 2018, as well as all the other future Rolls Royces. In addition to this, they have also launched “Project Cullinan” – a high sided Rolls-Royce vehicle which will be able to negotiate all types of terrain “effortlessly”. 

Recommended retail pricing for the Dawn in India is from INR 6.25 crore, with the car available in Rolls Royce Motor Cars showrooms in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad, New Delhi and Chandigarh. 

Blue to Define - The Jane Seymour By: Gabriella Bomben

Posted on: June 27, 2016

“Even though I make those movies, I find myself wishing that more of those magic moments could happen in real life.” – Jane Seymour 

The Jane Seymour Blue Diamond ring

One of those magic moments has happened and it is the creation of The Jane Seymour, a rare blue diamond ring recently added to Miss Seymour’s private collection. Unveiling the ring in Singapore made it that more magical, an “invitation to behold this creation would rather you not compare The Jane Seymour to anything else in the high jewelry world.” A chance to be in the presence of a graceful woman who never fails to stun everyone with yet another piece of jewelry that radiates pristine glamour. 

An exceptional 2.08 carat blue cushion-cut diamond ring in platinum, enclosed in an exclusive handcrafted leather chest, it is not any standard piece of jewelry. Instead, the ring exudes luxury and opulence, with a touch of character that is elegant, yet strong. Through every ray of its glistening blue hues and meticulous cutting techniques, the ring seems to have achieved the pinnacle of perfection. 

Ms Seymour is a powerful celebrity who has clinched an Emmy Award, two Golden Globe Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. No ordinary ring could have personified The Vortex actress or a former Bond girl. The selection of materials, and the way it is acquired, is as unique as the celebrity attached to the ring. 

The Jane Seymour Blue Diamond ring

The flower detail on the band is inspired by the Erodium malacoides, a plant part of the geranium family commonly known as the Mediterranean stork’s bill. The rose gold plating compliments the rare blue diamond beautifully, as if one was looking into the bright blue sea with every sparkle it catches from the light. The contrast gives the ring an unexpected jolt of boldness and creativity. 

It is no easy feat to acquire this gem. Apart from fulfilling the price tag, which shouldn’t be too difficult for a connoisseur, he or she must also fulfill certain criteria established at the discretion of the Chairman of The World of Diamonds Group, who has created the ring. So far, there have been a few enquiries, including from royal families. But who will be the eventual owner of this ring is yet to be seen. 

Flaunting an intellectual infrastructure beneath the apparent simplicity, the scintillating diamond ring emulates a star. This enigmatic treasure draws on a shared passion and affinity for Jane Seymour, for only she can replicate the magical enchantment. 

Power Collaboration: Bibhu Mohapatra X Forevermark By: Niyoshi Chudgar

Posted on: April 28, 2016

Bibhu Mohapatra X Forevermark Artemis jewelry collectionHow do you say diamonds in haute couture? Bibhu Mohapatra’s collaboration with Forevermark India, to launch the exquisite Artemis Collection is the answer to that. 

The designer, who hails from Odisha, has always cited his Indian roots as an inspiration for his work. At the same time, his designs are edgy, quirky and bold, representing a woman who is not afraid to show another, unknown dimension of her personality. This new collection with Forevermark follows a similar philosophy. Stimulated by the surreal forms of the sun, moon and stars, replete with modern shapes, structured geometry and subversive placements, the jewelry collection has three key motifs seen in an array of earrings, rings, bracelets, pendants and brooches. 

Mr Mohapatra does real and accessible clothes, often quite imaginatively. This celestial collection romanticizes jewelry and will have you seeing the stars. Red carpets to sit down events, the line offer pieces that are ideal for the most extravagant events. Talking about the collaboration Mr Mohapatra says, “I always wanted to work on a jewelry line and was on the lookout for a brand whose core ethos blends with mine, who could give me the support system to create a truly unique collection. The conversation started about 2 years ago over coffee with Mr Sachin Jain and now that the collection is out, I do feel that we have created something that will add meaning to many lives” 

Bibhu Mohapatra X Forevermark Artemis jewelry collection

The collection is made up of delicate pieces with an ethereal quality, and a dominant diamond emerges as the focal element in each design. These transitional pieces surpass traditional Indian jewelry and yet retain its primal heritage value. 

The extra-wide bracelets and luminous stud earrings are a particularly versatile styling trick—either as a simple foil to an OTT evening look or as a touch of sparkle for day—and you have already been lured into the world of the master couturier. Citing his inspiration behind the line, Mr Mohapatra said, “The central thought behind the collection was inner balance and outer strength, making it a very special collaboration for me. I wanted to do something that was deeply rooted in our culture, so I looked into some of the ideologies that come from Vedic scriptures. One of them was the idea of cosmic alignment. Since centuries, the skies have been looked upon for guidance and harmony in our lives." 

Bibhu Mohapatra X Forevermark Artemis jewelry collection

The designer follows a business model that integrates celebrity endorsements to boost brand image and credibility. With Michelle Obama sashaying in a customized Bibhu Mohapatra dress during her India visit, along with Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Blanchett, Jennifer Lopez following suit, the brand has become synonymous to haute fashion.“It becomes important to have a celebrity endorser who has an incredible number of followers as they give instant visibility to your brand. But you have to have a strategy for it, who is wearing it and for what occasion, all of it is taken into consideration to give out a focused voice that truly matches the vision of your brand,” Mr Mohapatra explained. 

Commenting at the event, Mr Jain, President, Forevermark India said, “Forevermark diamonds are amongst the rarest and have been formed over millions of years. These diamonds are said to be as old as the sun, moon and stars, so this collection has a powerful story to tell.”

Bibhu Mohapatra X Forevermark Artemis jewelry collection

From New York to New Delhi, this collection will certainly appeal to women who know the art of standing out. This 22-piece collection is available exclusively with C Krishniah Chetty, Abaran, Mahesh Notandas, Om Jewellers, Hazoorilal Legacy, NTS Navrattan Jewellers, Sawansukha Jewellers, Narayan Jewellers, and VBJ in India.

Skoda Superb 2016 - When Design Speaks By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: March 30, 2016

What are the words typically used to describe a car? Power, engine, size. 

However, very different feelings came to fore when we saw the latest film on Skoda Superb 2016. Opening with a harmonized symphony between violins and a piano, the video stirred our senses to create different impressions! Juxtaposing subtle views of the car with the musical spectacle. We realized that each line in the car, each stroke, is equivalent to the perfection with which a violinist swipes her bow over the strings.

Skoda Superb 2016

As a dancer stealthily moves on the screen, we noticed how each elegantly placed foot by the dancer is parallel to the seamless drive that Skoda provides. Notice how the headlights look formidable and exclusive! The new front grill fans out like the wings of an eagle. 

And just as you start to think that this car is only for the elderly, who like to sit at the back and watch the world pass by, your attention is captured by the high-octane sounds of guitar, and a powerful voice making you dance right there and then! Oh well, anyone can indulge in the new Skoda Superb 2016, provided they understand and demand luxury.

“Mood” is the underlying theme behind the creation of this car. The feeling of pure class led us to delve more into the machinations of the car, and here are five reasons why Skoda Superb 2016 is Simply Clever.

Art on the road

Angular lines, elegant folds and sharp cuts. This is how Skoda Superb 2016 has made its mark, proving to be better than the last generation. The car looks sophisticated, yet masculine with bold details. 

The headlights and taillights, in particular, are making quite an impression on all those who see Skoda Superb 2016 for the first time. The intricately detailed headlights draw inspiration from and celebrate the renowned Bohemian glass-cutting skills. The Czech cut crystal looks jaw dropping when lit up. Crystalline elements also appear in the ‘inactive’ area of the taillights. And the reverse and flasher lamps, plus the LED part of the fog lights, are hidden behind ‘gems’, making the Superb’s lighting even more distinctive.

Lighting plays an important role in the car’s interiors as well. Make it cosy, or jazz it up for that party as ambient lights (in white, green and blue) run along the inside of the car.

Skoda Superb 2016

Service, at your seat

Isn’t that what drives most luxury purchases? It has to be comfortable, built just right for you. Skoda Superb 2016 adheres to that rule. There is immense legroom in the car. And there is an angled foot rest at the rear attached to the textile floor mats, making long trips even more relaxing.

The Boss button is exactly what it makes you – the Boss! With this button, the front passenger seat position can be electrically controlled from the rear seat for added comfort.

As for those tidbits that you have to carry around, there is a place for them all. The new Superb features a multitude of compartments, pockets and holders, keeping the interior tidy, and your belongings safe from loss, breakage or spillage. Multimedia holders will ensure you are never far from technology if you don’t want to be!

And then comes the incredibly spacious 620-liter boot space with foldable hooks, nets and LED lights, making shopping items easier to transport and more secure. You can also automatically open and close the boot space, without you having to touch it! Just swipe your foot underneath and it will open, magically. The virtual pedal enables contact-free access and is available exclusively with the electrically-controlled 5th door and KESSY (Keyless Entry, Start and exit System).

The Superb also has an electronically-adjustable panoramic sunroof. Let the fresh air come in!

Engine power

So what if the video didn’t start with the customary “Vroom!” Skoda Superb’s new powerful, efficient engines still aim to provide that smooth, powerful driving experience. 

The new design has made the Superb more aerodynamic than ever before. It is almost 20 per cent more powerful, up to 75kg lighter and has improved fuel efficiency.

The new generation 1.8 TSI petrol engine packs an impressive 132kW punch, and is significantly lighter than its predecessor. The 2.0 TDI diesel engine yields 130kW of pure performance, with no compromise on fuel consumption. Both engines are available with modern DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) dual-clutch transmissions.

The mood of the car and the driver is taken care of here as well. No hurry? Drive your car in the Normal mode. Want to feel the thrill? Select the Sport mode, and feel the adrenaline rush!

Smartness personified

Your smartphone will make driving smarter as well now as you connect it to your car. With the SmartLink system, the radio enables the driver to safely use the phone while driving. All installed applications that are certified as safe for vehicles are compatible with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The Canton Sound System offered on the Laurin & Klement version has 12 speakers, including a central speaker and a subwoofer in the luggage compartment. Party up the experience!

Skoda Superb 2016

Safety first

Paramount, of course, safety has been well looked after by the Skoda team. The Multi-Collision Brake system makes use of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC). If the driver's or front passenger's airbag is activated, the system starts braking to prevent further uncontrolled movement of the vehicle and thus reduce the likelihood of further collisions.

Apart from the front airbags provided for the driver and front passenger, rear side airbags protect the pelvis and chest of the driver and other passengers in the event of a side collision. Upon activation, head airbags create a wall, which protects the front and rear occupants against head injury.

After looking at the car, everyone is giving an admiring pat to chief designer Jozef Kaban. He deserves it we think! Skoda Superb 2016 is stunning “inside outside” indeed! Now, how about another symphony?

The Transformation of Couture Jewelry: Tiffany & Co. 2016 Blue Book Collection By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: March 7, 2016

Nearly two centuries of exhilarating opulence and glamor, of undying artistic mastery and craftsmanship sparkle in Tiffany & Co.’s most regal catalogue – the Blue Book. First published in the distant 1845, it has showcased some of the brand’s most extensive and exquisite collections, including striking pieces flaunting diamonds from the French and Spanish Crown Jewels. The label’s rarest and finest bijoux have filled its sleek pages. Blue Book 2016 is not different.

A gorgeously vivid exploration of nature and its wonders, the Blue Book 2016 collection – titled ‘The Art of Transformation’ – boasts splendid gemstones, which, under the creative vision of Design Director Francesca Amfitheatrof, burst into extraordinary designs. The collection is a timeline of landscapes and moments, transforming from the deepest underwater secrets to the dancing rays of the sun on the shore. Diamonds, tanzanites, aquamarines, sapphires and tourmalines – among other precious stones – glimmer on bases of platinum and gold to form dazzling couture ornaments – from earrings to necklaces to cuffs.

Tiffany & Co. 2016 Blue Book Art of Transformation Collection

“Wearing these extraordinary gems enriches our lives and changes the way we move though the world,” Ms Amfitheatrof said in a statement. 

The jewelries, themselves, are epitomes of movement and allure. From a flexible bracelet with streams of round diamonds that encase square-cut and pear-shapes stones to an imposing ring with a 2.16-carat Fancy Intense Yellow Green diamond, the Blue Book 2016 sets capture and disperse light to create floating glows in solid shapes. A pinnacle in that regard is the sun-shaped pendant of 22.11-carat yellow sapphire that shines amid a crust of brilliant white diamonds. 

Tiffany & Co. 2016 Blue Book Art of Transformation Collection

Fealty to the potent sources of its inspiration – from the blazing sun to the deep ocean, the Blue Book 2016 strikes with its natural execution. Its purity, to a large extent, stems from Tiffany & Co.’s master stonecutters and setters, who have painstakingly arranged rows upon rows of tiny, bright gems around multi-carat central cuts. 

A trio of dancing starfish covered in diamonds, sapphires and tsavorites as well as a slithering Octopus whose diamond-and-sapphire tentacles swirl around an outsized baroque pearl bespeak the brand’s unmatched techniques, in general, and the Blue Book 2016’s unparalleled brilliance, in particular. 

“It is my privilege to work with the world’s most beautiful diamonds and artisans with incredible skill. These jewels with mixed-cut stones began as powerful ideas that turned into rough sketches, and, finally, intricate designs that shine with spirit and energy,” Ms Amfitheatrof said. 

Tiffany & Co. 2016 Blue Book Art of Transformation Collection

Boundless creativity and verve reign at the fetes Tiffany & Co. annually stages to unveil its legendary Blue Book collections. Last year’s edition debuted in a socialite-studded cocktail party in the chic ABC Kitchen restaurant in New York. Earlier collections have merited a gala at the Guggenheim museum as well as a soiree under a Tiffany jewelry box-shaped tent over the ice rink of the Rockefeller Center.

While Blue Book 2016 is still to officially premiere in its entirety, Best Actress Oscar nominee, Cate Blanchett wore three of its exquisite pieces to the red carpet of the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony recently. Opting for the platinum line, Blanchett stunned in drop earrings with marquise and round diamonds, starfish diamond bangle and a 2.30-carat round-diamond ring. 

Bearing the legacy of more than 170 years of magnificent jewels, the Blue Book 2016 befits the most dazzling event in Hollywood.  

Tiffany & Co. 2016 Blue Book Art of Transformation Collection

Independent Fine Watchmakers are Shaping Haute Horlogerie's Present and Future By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: February 19, 2016

Moser & Cie Endeavor Center Seconds Funky BlueThe cerulean dial is devoid of any emblems or indices, revealing a vintage yet striking design. Another dual-time dial curves around a remarkable miniature rendition of the world map in 18-karat white gold. Yet another inky black dial bulges with several high-end complications – from a power reserve indicator to an amplitude checker to a performance readout. All three dials grace fine straps and rest atop slick cases of myriad, tiny devices, fine-tuned to measure the slippage of time. 

With their precision and excellence, these watches may remind a layman of haute horology labels like Cartier, Mont Blanc and Patek Philippe. In fact, they are H. Moser & Cie’s Endeavor Center Seconds Concept Funky Blue, Laurent Ferrier’s Galet Traveler Globe Night Blue and Urwerk’s EMC Time Hunter.  

With the onset of 2016, Laurent Ferrier nudges in its 6th year, Urwerk rounds up its second decade, while H. Moser & Cie marks its 188th birthday since its establishment in the distant 1828. They belong to a cohort of independent horologers, some fledglings other veterans in carving a niche for themselves in the exquisite world of fine watchmaking. 

Laurent Ferrier Galet Traveller Globe BlueHaute horlogerie has always seemed to split between the grand old names and the daring Bohemians. Although the latter have often championed innovation in ways the former seldom could, they have largely thrived on the horological sideway.

That is, until this past January, when the Geneva-based Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) recognized the rise of independents and opened its 40,000sq.m of winding halls and lavish chambers to nine artisan watchmakers – Christophe Claret, De Bethune, H. Moser & Cie, Hautlence, HYT, Kari Voutilainen, Laurent Ferrier, MB&F and Urwerk. Through a series of dialogues, we understand their motivation, experience and traditions.


During its quarter-century history, SIHH, an exclusive invite-only, five-day exhibition, has become synonymous with horological excellence, presenting novelties of brands with global renown. Maisons in the ranks of Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Officine Panerai have been SIHH regulars along with around a dozen others, the majority of whom huddle under the luxury umbrella of Richemont Group. 

Exhibiting at SIHH amounts to a seal of recognition, which for many small labels has resided in the realms of bold dreams never likely to be accomplished. Private hotel showcases during the time of the Salon have provided little exposure, if at all. 

Urwerk EMC Time HunterThat changed with this year’s installment of SIHH (Jan 18 – 22), which in an unprecedented move, invited the nine artisan watchmakers to form the Carre Des Horlogers at the shop Ralph Lauren occupied in past exhibitions. With a firm dedication to represent both the historic and the novel in haute horlogerie, SIHH submerged the newcomers in its exhilarating swirl of showcases, business meetings and press interviews.

SIHH through the first-timers’ prism: 

Vanessa Monestel, CEO of Laurent Ferrier: “The [whole] week was like a marathon for our very small team, hardly time to eat or drink but a lot of very interesting meetings with a great deal of people from all over the world.”

Estelle Tonelli, executive director of De Bethune: “Our stand was completely full, for the entire five days! Many people did not know that much about De Bethune and many of them discovered the brand, its creations and also our ability to craft unique pieces.”

Christophe Claret, founder of the eponymous brand: “We met several new retailers that we did not know, [they had] a great interest in our brand and I think we will definitely conclude a collaboration agreement in the coming months.”

Christophe Claret MargueriteIf SIHH 2016 stirred a furor, the process of accession sparks a thrill, on its own right. Obtaining a much coveted spot at one of the world’s most revered horological events exacts time, patience and effort. Initiated by SIHH’s organizer – Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), negotiations to join the Salon usually stretch for so long that many watchmakers’ hopes for a formal invitation evaporate after several years. Yet others did not even suspect they stood a chance. 

The long route to the Salon:

Charris Yadigaroglou, head of communication of MB&F: “A long process with a very quick conclusion! There had been informal discussions with the FHH for many years - but we all knew it was highly unlikely it would ever be possible. Then, totally by surprise, we were approached mid-2015 by the FHH who informed us that there was a small window of opportunity.”

Edouard Meylan, CEO of Moser & Cie: “They [FHH] came to us out of the blue to let us know that we had been selected. No need to say it was an amazing surprise. The selection has been extremely strict with a precise criteria based on brand positioning, production methods and quality.”

On Horological Inspiration and Tradition  

Described by SIHH as the epitome of fine watchmaking’s “new guard,” the nine independent horologers flaunt leading-edge aesthetics  – sometimes astonishingly classic, but often extremely modern. They spell out innovation within tradition, ingenuity within precision, distinction within artistic defiance. 

De Bethune World Traveler

In craftsmanship the new guard rivals the old. In creative aesthetics it winds further than the establishment. From sleek designs of myriad complications and basic movements, each artisan workshop creates watches that do not merely tick time away. They style it. 

From MB&F’s HM6 to Kari Voutilainen’s GMT-6 to De Bethune DB25 World Traveler to Hautlence Invictus 04 to Christophe Claret’s Marguerite, the intricate measurements of fleeting moments charter various creative spurs – from vivid dreams to quirky cartoons to horological tradition. The latter, as paradoxical as it may initially sound, defines and drives innovation.

The customs behind the artist’s work:

Felix Baumgartner, co-founder of Urwerk: “Tradition is the cement of our work. My father and my grandfather are the ones who taught me the history of Haute Horlogerie. And it’s because I know my basics that I can play with them, break them and go a step further.”

Hautlence Invictus 04Sandro Reginelli, co-founder and CEO of Hautlence: “We bring our unique vision of time to more than 400 years of watchmaking history. In other words, we are borrowing from the past creating our own unique signature.”

The pursuit of individuality often warrants independence from industry’s large players. Paired together, freedom and expertise spawn zany yet refined, provocative yet elegant timepieces, often rendered in traditional materials like gold and steel that only accentuate their  unconventional designs Such bravery to experiment with concepts and techniques is rare among the old corporate brands.   

The independent business model 

Kari Voutilainen, of the eponymous label: “There is a person behind [the brand], we do our movements entirely in my workshop, customers can shake the owner’s or founder’s hand and visit the workshop where the watches are made.”

Mr Yadigaroglou of MB&F: “The big brands are businesses – they naturally follow a logic that makes business sense, since their objective is to maximise their shareholders' value. 

Kari Voutilainen GMT-6

Independents like us have an entirely different logic. We create products which we believe in and are proud of, without taking into consideration factors like market share, pricing, profit, etc... This is why independents take much more creative risks!”

On Baselworld 

With a modus operandi that escapes corporate trappings, many artisanal watchmakers have for years participated in Baselworld – a rather fitting exhibition as it is largely considered unbendable to the whims of dominant luxury businesses. Since its inception in 1917, its pavilions have annually hosted thousands of watch and jewelry brands as well as precious gems companies. Held in March in Basel, Switzerland, the week-long show has cobbled a reputation of a trendsetter, drawing huge throngs of mavens, journalists and customers, alike. 

Despite its buzz and inclusiveness – or, maybe, because of them, Baselword has offered independent fine horologers a somewhat subpar experience, compared to the exclusivity of SIHH. Although there is no dearth of attention, deep appreciation may be elusive in the exhibitors’ frenzy to unveil their latest collections and the crowds’ urge to glimpse them all. 

Nevertheless, for some of SIHH’s newcomers, Baselworld remains an exciting chance to mingle with clients and peers - an once-a-year opportunity they are reluctant to forgo. Others took a drastic decision.   

MB&F HM6Between Basel and Geneva:

Ms Tonelli of De Bethune: “We indeed decided to concentrate our resources on one exhibition [SIHH]. There are only two months between the two major events and we made a choice.”

Ms Monestel of Laurent Ferrier: “Our participation in SIHH 2016 is a significant investment that impacts the available budget for our booth at Baselworld. We will exhibit in Hall 2.0 instead of the Palace but we are happy with the location and space as it is still important for us to be officially present in Baselworld.”

On the future

With a trifle over a month until its opening, Basel promises to carry on a shift in fine watchmaking that SIHH only officially exposed. Shaken is the rule of big names and automatic watches. Haute horlogerie returned to the mechanical era of small watchmakers. In an age of a constant obsession to measure, divide and optimize time, independent fine horologers – reverent to the past and hopeful of the future – are blazing on a novel way to render time timeless.    

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Towering Luxury By: Laura Philhower

Posted on: February 16, 2016

Creating luxury residential properties commands a drive to effortlessly incorporate the far-reaching list of amenities essential to the luxury-seeking family, while simultaneously capturing and honoring the surrounding culture into its space. Mr. Adarsh Jatia, Managing Director of Provenance Land, has showcased this drive and genuine passion in the company’s creation of five Greenfield projects, numerous highly desirable developments, and India’s two iconic properties: the Hyatt Regency Pune, and most recently, the Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai. 

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Facade

Mr. Jatia and his company are establishing themselves as a formidable player in the luxury real estate industry by not only identifying and comprehending the high net worth individual’s needs, but also conceptualizing those needs into beautiful and refined living spaces. Provenance Land has collaborated with the world-renowned Canadian luxury hospitality company, Four Seasons, to create the stunning Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai. 

The astonishing fifty-five floors of the Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai hosts twenty-six marvelous residences, providing guests with one-of-a-kind views of Mumbai’s city and sea along with the promised hospitality of the Four Seasons brand. Mr. Jatia has designed the residences with a focus on the valuable “bungalow style” of one or more floors, giving guests the space they need to feel relaxed and at ease. To be completed in 2018 and towering 650 feet over Mumbai, this building is said to be the first of its kind. We speak to him to understand the new homes and the Indian real estate market in which they are placed. 

Laura Philhower: How have you worked with Four Seasons to successfully symbolize Mumbai and the Indian culture in these residences?

Adarsh Jatia: Four Seasons does not adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach – especially in luxury residential development. They develop residences that are in harmony with each market, adapting to the local culture for the style, design, floor plans and hotel-inspired amenities. We at Provenance Land understand our local culture and celebrate it. Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai has been designed keeping in mind the demographics of the HNI family and their needs. For example, our apartments cater to multi-generational living where you may require larger living spaces and multiple master bedrooms, more generous wardrobe spaces. We have had instances where we have combined multiple residences and created a triplex that caters to the needs of all family members. This allows the residents the freedom to customize their apartments to suit their individual lifestyles that is not product mandated.

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Art Gallery

LP: Additionally, were there any Indian cultural inspirations that weighed heavily in deciding fabrics and interior design?

AJ: A motif that recurs across the interiors is that of heirloom gemstones and jewels. The interiors of the property will be punctuated by the sumptuous theme of jewels – precious possessions that have been passed down through generations of Indian families. This theme touches upon India’s heritage of gemstones – where they have been historically been found and cut. This theme will be expressed, however, with a decidedly contemporary expression of angular lines and fine proportions.

The jewel element will be expressed through objects such as lighting and select furniture items in public areas and diaphanous finishes such as perforated bronze.  This layer will add elegance and femininity to the otherwise masculine core of the building. In broader terms, it alludes to the scarcity of a true luxury experience by referencing an object that has traditionally represented and embodied family wealth and prestige. 

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Master Bedroom

LP: How have you created a private, personal and timeless space? What features do you think best promote luxury in the residences?

AJ: At a time when luxury living spaces offer designer interiors and celebrity endorsements, what’s missing in my opinion, is the understanding of what constitutes true luxury. Luxury is more about the intangibles than just the tangibles.  It is an immersive, encompassing experience that lets the consumer put down his guard entirely. Take privacy for instance, a timeless luxury that allows one to switch off from the chaos of the world and sink into a lifestyle that offers respite and re-energizes the mind. There is a quiet beauty in privacy that is priceless. 

The vision for the development is that it becomes an escape – a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. We are creating a magical setting with extensive landscaping, which will provide palpable relief from the urbanity of the city. As soon as you enter the property, you will feel like you have arrived into a sanctuary, where life slows down.

Today’s luxury customer is social and entertains extensively. With this in mind, our project has been planned with fully serviced private amenities – an extension of the Residences. Whether it is a private dinner for ten at the dining room at The Residence Club on level 51 or a movie screening or a celebration for 300 guests on the rooftop lounge, all this will be available at the Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai. Furthermore, our residences are themselves very large with living rooms ranging from 1,100 to 2,600 sq.

LP: The economy in India, while getting better, is troubled in real estate at the moment. How do you see these luxury residences as an opportunity to work in your favor?

AJ: These kinds of developments are recession proof.  A home is not just an investment. When you are buying a home, your investment parameters should be different from those of a financial investment. It is important not to confuse the two.  Investments usually have a defined term while homes are for a lifetime. A home addresses a lifestyle need of a family while an investment should only be focused on returns. A home is not just about IQ, it is also about EQ (emotional intelligence). 

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Kitchen

LP: What risks did you factor in your decision to take on this project in India’s market?

AJ: As a generational hotelier fascinated by fine living and bespoke services, it has been my vision to bring the two worlds of hospitality and home together and craft a quintessentially luxury residential development.  

I wanted to pioneer one of the most inspiring residential developments in the country. I am proud to say that there are many firsts in this project. To begin with, a 55 story tower with only 26 Residences, in the heart of Mumbai is in itself unique.  To put things in perspective, this would be the lowest density high-rise residential project by Four Seasons globally. This level of exclusivity is highly coveted. It allows for a lifestyle reminiscent of the landed residential tradition but with a contemporary twist.

As far as risks go, being a pioneer in any field comes with its own set of risks. However, we believe that there is a pent up demand for a product like ours and the Indian residential market is ready for such developments. As a testament to this, our initial list of residents has only reinforced this belief.

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Grand Staircase

LP: If you had to give us one very important trend in residential design, what would it be?

AJ: A branded, managed and serviced residence is the new trend. And we are the pioneers of this in India. With us you are not buying into a property, you are buying into a Four Seasons lifestyle. The Four Seasons brand is involved with the development from preconstruction all the way through the lifetime of the asset.

LP: After the 2018 completion of the Four Seasons Residences in Mumbai, are you working on developing more Four Seasons hotels and/or residences in India?

AJ: We are working on a couple of very exciting properties in Mumbai that I cannot disclose at this stage. Watch this space this for more.

LP: What is the future for your company? Does Provenance Land have an interest in new markets outside of India? 

AJ: Our strength over the last 35 years has been in luxury hospitality, having built five Greenfield Hotel projects in partnership with Hyatt International and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. We are now focusing on mixed-use luxury developments (residential, hospitality and retail) in major metros of India. We are currently working on two projects in Mumbai that will be announced shortly.

Apart from luxury mixed-use projects, I am deeply passionate about evolving urban environments. Take the High Line project in New York for example, or even projects like the Gardens by the Bay, the Esplanade or Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. These cities are constantly reinventing themselves with a keen focus on great architecture, arts and culture for their future generations.

When was the last time Mumbai created something like that?  It is about time Mumbai started to think on these lines. I would love to build the next iconic center for performing arts, or an arts and entertainment district like Singapore’s Dempsey Hills or Toronto’s Distillery for Mumbai.

Four Seasons Private Residences Mumbai - Twilight

Elegance Meets Flexibility - Fine Jewelry with Myriad Possibilities By: Dimitria Vitanova

Posted on: January 19, 2016

Elsa Peretti mesh necklace for Tiffany & CoA solid diamond-studded bracelet that stretches. A gold gauze-like necklace that drapes around like a shawl. A jewelry box built of the ornaments it stores. 

From jewelry mavericks in the ranks of Tiffany and Cartier to solo designers of boutique pieces, fine jewelry is obtaining functions and forms not possessed before. Reinventing – as much as defying – the delicate femininity and the bold exoticism of the past decade, designers are now rethinking the basics of the industry. Ingenuity and simplicity, solidity and flexibility define an emerging trend of fine jewelry designs, which transforms traditional adornments into modern art statements. Single pieces twist and bend, unfold and coil, dismantle and assemble in smart shapes to be worn in a myriad ways.

“Designs that include flexible or multi-functional elements are increasingly popular and newer techniques and materials mean designers do not have to compromise on the aesthetic in order to create a functioning piece,” said Jean Ghika, Director of the Jewelry Department in Europe of international auction house Bonhams. 

Nirav Modi Embrace Collection bangles

Take, for example, Indian jewelry designer Nirav Modi’s Embrace bangle collection. Made up of over 700 moving parts, a craftsman needs over 200 hours to put together a single bangle. Made of gold and diamonds, the bangle stretches and slides over the hand before springing back into shape.

Bending and bowing

Seeking to couple elegance with mobility, many designers, Ms Ghika said, are turning to an old and well-known element – titanium. Lustrous and firm, it is also lightweight – traits that have only recently earned the silver-hued metal a merit in fine jewelry. Designers are increasingly meshing titanium with the ageless staples of precious gems, plump pearls and shimmering gold to compose highly flexible pieces.    

Dutch designer Annelies Planteydt, for instance, molds titanium in thin, long plates weaved along strands of pearls and colorful alloys to construct her Beautiful City collection, which plays with space and perception. Laid out flat, her jewelry designs resemble ground plans of perfect, shiny squares, circles  and rectangles that seem to efface their adorning purpose. Looped around the neck or wrist, however, the rigid geometry recedes into layers of intricate swoops.

The untrained eye can easily take titanium with its greyish-white tinge for silver. However, while designers are still discovering titanium, sterling silver has consolidated its recognition as a strong yet malleable basic material for flexible fine jewelry. It dominates the works of Italian designer Elsa Peretti, whose emblematic Mesh collection for Tiffany & Co. ushers in a new design aesthetics of organic and fluid forms. Rendered in both gold and sterling silver, Peretti’s Mesh necklaces lithely fold and swerve in the manner of light scarves.  

Solange Azagury-Partridge's Water Lily Jewelry Box

The creation of pliable and multi-faceted pieces is not only reimagining the purpose and function of precious metals and gems. It is also elevating craftsmanship by pushing for imaginative jewelry techniques. Yielding to the inventive techniques of contemporary fine jewelers, even traditional materials shed their predictability and acquire a sheen of newness. Computer-aided designs are only beginning to blaze a foray into fine jewelry, spurring precision and exertion hard to otherwise obtain. Coupled with the return of vintage techniques, the results might be strikingly artistic. 

London-based designer Solange Azagury-Partridge said, “I blacken the surface of the metals used a lot, this gives a very graphic feel to the settings, references antique jewels which are a passion and offsets the stones in a way that I enjoy very much.”

The deft reinterpretation of jewelry as ornamentation reaches a creative precedent with the Ms Azagury-Partridge’s Metamorphosis collection of five jewelry boxes. They represent intricate sculptures of marble, gold, diamonds and opals which can be pulled apart into various jewels, from bangles to pendants to earrings. Calling them “beautiful objects for the home that deconstruct into wearable jewels for the body,” Azagury-Partridge aptly summed up the collection, conceding it was her hardest artistic endeavor. 

Inspiration for the future

If the burgeoning flexible jewelry trend emits a distinct modern and sophisticated feel, it often draws on a rather yester flair. Many of today’s striking designs quote vintage jewelries, Ms Ghika of Bonhams said, pointing to a Cartier multi-functional bar brooch of the early 1930s. A string of five shield-shaped clips, the diamond-and-platinum brooch morphs into a bracelet, an epaulet, even a hair clasp. Such fluid artistic functionality also characterize Gaia Repossi’s Berbere collection.  

Gaia Repossi Berbere Collection

Inspired by the elaborate multi-line yet simple tattoos of the Saharan nomads, Tuareg Berbers, the Berbere collection weds the ancient and enigmatic to the current and chic. Classic and minimal in material – gold and diamonds, Berbere features clear and crisp sets of cuff earrings, which embrace the ear to create an illusion of multiple pieces, as well as dramatic 9-row rings, which encase the finger, following its natural curve.  

Contemporary flexible jewelries may trace their antecedents in the dainty, transformable designs of the 20th century or in the bewitching ornamentations of little-known peoples. Nevertheless, their unique spark reflects the modern woman – sensual, smart and in control. “There is a definite trend for financially independent women buying fine jewellery for themselves,” Ms Ghika said. “Amongst this group there is a real appreciation of strong, bold design.”

Gender no barrier

Alan Ardiff's Out of this World pendantIt is not only women, however, who seek the designs – busy with movement and originality – that capture their 21st-century lifestyle. Men might be equally drawn to flexible jewelry, even if it is only to parse how it is made. 

“I find all types [of audiences] are able to enjoy my work. Men, in particular find it much more entertaining to buy an engineered piece of jewellery than perhaps a plain pearl on a chain,” said Irish designer Alan Ardiff, whose kinetic works are masterpieces of motion. Delicate and often miniature, Mr Ardiff’s pieces come alive with action – from the flutter of bird’s wings to the spin of copter’s blades to the rise and set of the sun. 

Diverse in form and function as well as in inspiration and appeal, flexible jewelry captures the pace and rhythm of our age. True to its contemporaneity, it encompasses constant movement and transformation. It piques and refines our fascination with bygone times and unfamiliar cultures. Unlike many ephemeral fads of the day, flexible jewelry, experts and designers seem to agree, is only coming to stay.

Museum of Contemporary Art showcases whimsy commercialism By: Steve Johnson

Posted on: December 17, 2015

Pop Art at Museum of Contemporary Art, pop home decor furniture, heart sofaPop art wasn't just happening in the galleries, as a new show opening Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Art makes clear.

It was happening in design studios, in furniture stores and on the streets, and the results included such tweakers of convention as a sofa shaped like a garishly lipsticked mouth and a chair in the shape of a foot.

Andy Warhol's soup cans counted as pop — uber-pop, even — but so did a garbage can shaped and painted like a Campbell's soup can, produced by a design firm in homage to Warhol, the new exhibition "Pop Art Design" argues.

So, too, did Tupperware designs such as four colored plastic nesting bowls with lids, shown here under museum casing even as items very similar might be found in the MCA employee break room refrigerator.

"Pop had such long tentacles into all kinds of aspects of culture," said Michael Darling, MCA's chief curator and curator of "Pop Art Design" plus a concurrent, adjacent, more fine-art-focused show, "The Street, the Store and the Silver Screen: Pop Art from the MCA Collection."

On both sides of the museum's fourth floor, the fine art half and the mostly furniture half, the galleries this week were awash in color and in vibrant, playful, often plasticky ideas as the shows were being installed.

Italian-designed chairs, one with a bicycle seat for its perch, one with a tractor seat, dared people to think more closely about the idea of furniture.

Floor lamps that look like rocks asked, Why not? Nobody would question the notion of carving stone into a lamp.

American flag sofa, pop art furniture, pop art at museum of contemporary art

A sofa dressed in American flag colors and built of cardboard arrived in a puzzle of sturdy little pine boxes bedecked with metal clasps.

"The crates are way more elaborate than the couch was ever designed to be," said Darling.

But whimsy is a big part of pop art, toying with the idea of what is artful. It's one of the reasons the museum is optimistic about the shows drawing crowds, as "Pop Art Design" has done at European museums. (It originated at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany; Darling curated its installation here, which includes MCA artworks on the walls in dialogue with the furniture.)

"Pop art still is a viable kind of language," Darling said, stressing the "colorful slickness" and continued "accessibility" of the work. Not many of us will hang anything like one of the Lichtensteins featured here, or even the Warhol prints, but many of us did hang the Milton Glaser Bob Dylan poster, the one with the rainbow-colored hair. We've all used a vintage Coke machine, and we've all sat in an aggressively designed chair that made us wonder whether Aunt Ethel was cooler than we realized, or completely off her rocker.

The shows are neat complements to the two recently mounted exhibitions on the MCA's main (second) floor. "Kathryn Andrews: Run for President" showcases an up-and-coming artist with overt pop sensibilities, a conscious choice, Darling said. "Surrealism: The Conjured Life," like the new pop art show upstairs, features works from the MCA collection and includes the work of Chicago painter Ed Paschke.

Marshmallow sofa, pop art at museum of contemporary art, pop art furnitureMeanwhile, down Michigan Avenue at the Art Institute, the new Edlis/Neeson Collection relates to all this pop, as well, with its batch of modern and contemporary masterworks. A centerpiece is the gallery of 10 works by Warhol, who really is the godfather of pop art, Darling said.

A big Rauschenberg that collectors Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson gave the MCA is part of its own pop art shows. And there's a lot of Warhol on display at the MCA, too, from a soup-can-print dress to a row of soup-can prints.

"You really can't extinguish his influence. It keeps going and going," said Darling. "It's still so radical. He's cozying up to banality so strongly that it's still shocking people today. 'Why is a picture of a soup can art?' "

Such questions are engaged with throughout the pop art shows. Because an exhibition about furniture and ideas needs appropriate places to sit down and think, Darling has bought some modern versions of the very seating implements on display: a George Nelson Marshmallow sofa, for instance, some Eames chairs.

"These artists were so unabashedly interested in commerce and consumption," Darling said. "It feels like they were the first people to embrace that and accept it as a true expression of the modern era."

'Pop Art Design' and 'The Street, The Store and The Silver Screen'

Coordinates: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave.

December 19, 2015 through March 27, 2016

(The article originally appeared in Chicago Tribune. Edited by LuxuryFacts)

The Watch Circle By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: November 20, 2015

There are multiple reasons for why you might want to sell your luxury watch. First, it could be because you want to trade up to a better brand. Second, you want to lessen the watch clutter in your home. Third, you think the cash could be used better somewhere else. Four, the watch is too old fashioned and heavy – you want something more contemporary. Maybe the new smart watches coming in the market?

Jager-LeCoultre Ultra Thin watch

Whatever the reason, however, you need to be careful where and how you are selling your luxury watch.

Can it really be sold?

To begin with, check the working condition of your watch. It’s highly likely that you won’t get a fair price if the watch is not functioning properly. Luxury watches require expert attention – a proper service history helps in the value of the watch. Do not do DIY repairs as they might just end up hurting the proper functioning of the watch, and consequently, its value. So show it to a credible watch center before putting it out in the market. Be assured, this further investment will certainly reap benefits.

IWC Schaffhausen women's watchTo put it down in a checklist, there are various other factors that affect the value of a watch as well. 

1. While the brand name has value attached it, its original paperwork and packaging will help you get a good price as well. These help to determine that the watch is genuine (and not fake) and made with the customary level craftsmanship associated with that brand. 

2. Swiss precision is known and trusted world over. Is you watch Swiss made? Well, you can definitely score a good value for your timepiece. Having said that, German made watches, such as A. Lange & Soehne and Glashutte also command a high amount of respect in the market. Provenance matters, but so does the craftsmanship and history of the brand.

3. The mechanical prowess of the timepiece is an immensely important feature. Is it a chronograph? Does it show moon phases? Or is it a traveller’s watch showing time in multiple cities a la Vacheron Constantin? Such features set a watch apart from others and can fetch good prices. 

4. It goes without saying, the more the amount of metal and gemstones in a watch, the higher its value. Whether it’s a rose gold case or a dial encrusted with diamonds, the timepiece will surely shine out from under the loupe. 


The go-to places

As for places to sell, there are several options available, but each have their pros and cons. 

Ebay and Amazon are probably the first names that jump to our consciousness. While they give you control over the entire selling process and payments and pricing, it is tough to sell luxury items on such mass marketplaces. Consumers can be uncomfortable spending high value of money for an item they can’t see and touch before buying. It is risky for the buyer and seller and there is no guarantee of success.

Auction behemoths such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams are another, very credible options. While it adds brand value to your selling project, you might just also score more money than what the watch is valued at – if, and it’s a big ‘if’ – you have a special limited edition or antique watch buried in your treasure trove. Normal watches – meaning more recent purchases, or those, which really have no history to speak of – are not suitable for auctions. Selling a watch through an auction house is usually a long process, often taking up to six months. Also, significant amount of fees are associated with auctioning a watch. Dreams aside, you might not end up getting much even after being patient and going through all the hassle. 

The third category, which has recently come up, is selling watches online through specialty websites. The specialists behind these websites have the expertise to give correct appraisals, and also ensure that the process is smooth. As for the time, sites such as WP Diamonds mention that the transaction can be completed with money in your account in as little as two days! Having low overheads, my best guess is that not much fees are attached to selling your watch through such websites.  

Breitling Galactic Luxury Watch

Just be sure you research such websites carefully, check their past reviews and then take a decision. After all, it is not easy to part with a watch you probably love dearly!

Luxury Homes - What to Buy By: Saba Ali, Senior Vice President, Global Real Estate Advisor, Sotheby’s North India

Posted on: October 29, 2015

Luxury Home Decor Bathroom

Ultra wealthy individuals are investing in luxury homes around the globe to further diversify their assets as it continues to hold a special place within their portfolio. Owning a second or third house is one of the most common activities for affluent individuals. Globally speaking, 79 per cent own at least two properties and 53 per cent have invested in three or more. 

For many individuals, these choices are motivated by familiar considerations: lifestyle fit (owning a property in a particular location), as well as short-term and long-term investment potential. While they may purchase real estate for a variety of reasons – spanning from practical to passion to investment purposes– it represents one of the most intimate asset classes characterizing their wealth. 

However, it has been recently observed that for some HNIs, reasons for buying a property goes beyond these long-established motivations, or re-interpret common motivations in a new way. For these buyers, properties are more like ‘opportunity gateways’ and buying decisions are made based on the options that would be available after making an investment.

The definition of luxury varies from customer to customer. However, for any property to qualify as a ‘luxurious proposition’, there are a certain defined elements that makesthem a home worth millions.

Luxury Home Decor Location

Location is the key

Excellent infrastructure, easy access to nearby locations, neighborhood status and other such factors play an important role when debating about a home’s ‘luxury value’. For example, villas on golf courses are the all-time favourite development, and golf communities remain a strong trend till date.

Green Quotient 

With increased focus on environment, homes that have low carbon footprint and curtails the use of traditional construction materials, always attracts the moneyed buyer. Having high awareness on the subject, buyers today prefers to use solar energy based equipments, wood flooring, recycled material while constructing, and then further complementing it with beautiful landscaping, water conservation features, etc. Not only does it look beautiful, but blends the property with nature in a stunning way.

Luxury Home Decor eco-friendly green architecture

Technical Innovations

Be it built-in features that would turn–on the air-conditioners just before you enter your home, controlling your alarm system with a click of your phone, security features such as pre-programmed access cards and high-tech features such as super-fast lifts always makes a mark. Technological updates and improvements are highly in demand as new features keep cropping up at a fast speed.

Luxury Home Decor Lounge

Additional features

Amenities such as clubhouse and pools are quite a norm now. What sets a luxury home apart, however, is when the pool is located on the top floor with large viewing decks and F&B facilities. Children’s areas, crèches, event areas, and many other such facilities make the home worthwhile!

The décor, too, adds that luxe quotient to any home. The minimalist look, highlighted with extensive use of glass continues on exteriors, with floor to ceiling windows offering maximum panoramic views. Statement Starck-esque chandeliers, sleek neutral accessories giving a zen ambience, and more are on the platter. 

Luxury Home Decor Living Room

The future of luxury residential real estate looks highly promising and positive. With its tendency to gain in value faster than traditional real estate and its greater appeal to UHNW individuals with inherited wealth as well as its reputation as a safe asset, luxury residential real estate is set to see more and more growth in demand.

Saba Ali, luxury advisor, Sotheby's North IndiaSaba Ali has over two decades of experience in business development, partnership building, media & Government relations, with a special focus on Indo European business and institutional relations. Since 2008, she has represented Fondazione Altagamma, the luxury foundation of Italy with over 80 Italian companies as members. As Altagamma’s Sr India Associate, she has been the key advisor in the fast evolving Indian market for luxury lifestyle products and services, with deep insight and experience of engaging with Indian businesses, institutional, government, cultural & media communities. She has an in-depth understanding of engaging with the growing high end Indian clientele. She has also advised the Commonwealth Business Council, the office of the Mayor of London & its multiple agencies and marquee lifestyle companies, including The Berkeley, Tecnomar Luxury Yachts, Miramax Films and Natuzzi S.P.A. She co-founded Mirabilis, in 2006, a branding and marketing advisory with a focus on urbanization, mobility, FDI and related issues. Since its inception in 2012, Saba has been on the board of India Design Forum (IDF) as Senior Advisor. IDF has emerged as the most significant platform addressing the dialogue on Design in India.

Iconic Auctions: Art & Jewelry Picked Up By: LF Correspondent

Posted on: October 1, 2015

Bonhams Auction for Nepal Charity 2015Auction houses have been busy with gavels banging, rare items coming to fore, and collectors investing in beauty ever more. With some particularly noteworthy auctions happening recently, we list out the updates in one place.


Combining art with philanthropy, Bonhams recently raised $60,000 for Nepalese charities - Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust and Save the Children. Top-quality Indian and Himalayan art was sold during its week of Asian art sales in New York on September 13-14. Notable among the top lots sold were the powerful 15th-century Tibetan sculpture of Gayadhara, achieving $209,000, as well as the dazzling 14th/15th-century Tibetan Buddha and prabhamandala, which brought $185,000.

Bonhams has always been strong with its jewelry arm. The rare British-owned Hope Spinel gemstone, with its incredible history to back it up, was sold for a record price of $30,000 per carat (as per the price on September 24, 2015) at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in London. The total? £962,500 (approx. $1,455,460). Intriguingly, this gem was bought by a private telephone bidder.


Tutti Frutti Bracelet by CartierOther coloured gemstones, signed jewellery, antique jewels and diamonds also caught the interest of bidders at Bonhams London Fine Jewellery sale. The event achieved a total of £5.16 million.


The second top lot of the auction was another icon: an Art Deco enamel, gem-set and diamond 'Tutti Frutti' bracelet by Cartier. Made in New York in 1929, the bracelet, with a beautiful geometric strap and vine motifs, was sold for £458,500 to a telephone bidder. A circular natural pearl ring, set between baguette-cut diamonds shoulders, sold for four times its pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £70,000, achieving £206,500.


Bonhams is expecting the strong market to be reflected during its next two Fine Jewellery sales in New York on October 13 and Hong Kong on November 30, 2015.


Achieving an astounding value, Christie’s recently auctioned Indian artist FN Souza’s Birth for a remarkable $4,085,000. This work by Mr Souza is also the world auction record for the category, meaning the most expensive work sold at any South Asian Art auction.

Mr Souza painted the masterpiece in 1955, and is particularly iconic since the painting comprises all the subjects to be found in his early practice: the pregnant outstretched nude with hairpins, the autobiographical man in priest’s tunic, a still life on the window ledge and beyond the window, a townscape with corniced buildings and tall steeples. 

FN Souza Birth auctioned by Christie's

Winston Churchill pocket watch for auction by sotheby'sSOTHEBY’S

Sotheby’s London auctioned the unique Victory Watch, commissioned for Sir Winston Churchill, for a magnificent amount of £485,000 - eight times the low estimate. It is one of four individual watches created for the Allied Leaders after the Second World War - the others presented to Charles de Gaulle, Joseph Stalin, and Harry Truman. 

The watch features a distinctive enamel dial showing St. George slaying the dragon, with a trident as the hour hand. As a symbol of the victory of good over evil, Mr Churchill has been reimagined as Britain’s modern day saint for this watch. ‘V’ for Victory is proudly engraved on the back of case together with a personalized dedication: “1939 – Prime Minister Winston Spencer Churchill – 1945”.


Couldn’t get more amazing than this...

Nirav Modi: Madison Avenue Sparkles Up! By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: September 28, 2015

“India was the only diamond producing country in the world until the 1700s and has a deep savoir faire around diamond cutting and polishing. Even today, 8 out of 10 diamonds are cut and polished in India. Jewelry has been intrinsic to Indian culture for centuries and there is a sensibility that we bring to crafting fine jewels,” said Indian jewelry designer Nirav Modi, while he was recently in New York, to celebrate the opening of his first international store.

Nirav Modi Madison Avenue New York Boutique

And that certainly excites us since this is one of the few Indian born brands that we are witnessing becoming global in such a spectacular way.

Sample this: Hollywood actress Naomi Watts and high fashion model Coco Rocha were seen at the boutique’s launch party. Representing India were Indian actress and model Nimrat Kaur and model, actress and Bollywood star Lisa Haydon. A private dinner was hosted at the rooftop of the iconic Rockefeller Center, where celebrity DJ power couple Hannah Bronfman and Brendan Fallis entertained guests. Along with other guests, Donald Trump Jr. & Vanessa Trump were spotted at the ‘do’!

And the new boutique, by the way, has opened at New York’s iconic Madison Avenue.

Nirav Modi Maharani NecklaceConcentrating on US, the Far East and India, this New York store is just the first in many more to come. “The US is a mature market, with exposure to international design and quality ethos. The Far East has had exposure to our jewels through auctions and has exhibited great appreciation for them. Establishing a presence in the United States is a key milestone of our growth strategy as a leading international luxury brand,” explains Mr Modi.

Differing from fashion and apparel, jewelry speaks a universal language – one that Mr Modi knows very well how to speak! “The NIRAV MODI design ethos is timeless and transcends borders; the jewels are made so that a woman in America, India, France, Hong Kong or China can wear them and pass them on to the next generation. The response to our designs, therefore, has been very positive. Clients are very appreciative of our craftsmanship, especially our unique techniques to set diamonds and create jewels that are so flexible and light,” he said with a smile.

As is available at the brand’s other stores, this one too stocks their core collections: the Luminance Collection (draws inspiration from the different shades and intensities of light); the Fluire Collection (with unique Jasmine cut diamonds); the Lotus Collection (emulates the sacred lotus flower); the Mughal Collection (inspired by the art and architecture of the Mughal era); the Celestial Collection (inspired from galactic bodies) and the unique Embrace Collection, where the unique mechanism of the Embrace bangles makes the jewel stretch, allowing you to lithely slip on the bangles. “We will launch Embrace rings for the first time in NYC,” Mr Modi informed us.

Nirav Modi Private Dinner venue on Rockefeller Center Rooftop 2015Further on, bridal solitaire jewels will also be featured in the New York store. This range will have solitaires in three specialized settings: Tulipe, Signature and Celestial. According to Mr Modi, there will soon also be a special ‘Bombay Collection’, which is a selection of enchanting earrings. 

The highlight this day, however, was the renowned Maharani Diamond Necklace and Earrings set, valued at $1.65 million, which was displayed in the window. A stunning piece that will blind with its brilliance, the set is certainly a beautiful example of what customers, new and old, can expect from this jeweler. 

This particular New York store took more than a year to open - from scouting the right location to opening doors. But Mr Modi is not resting his feet yet. “We are scouting the right locations, and will soon be present in many more states here,” says Mr Modi. The next stop, for now, is Hong Kong. In the next 5 years, the brand aims to open 20-30 boutiques in key cities such as New York, London, Hong Kong in the Far East and India.

Targeting the jet-setting woman, NYC seemed to be an apt choice to launch Nirav Modi’s first international boutique. Explaining the step, Mr Modi said, “We have an international clientele and one that is very mobile. [The NYC boutique] allows us to reach the New York clientele as well as international clients that visit NYC on a regular basis.”

With the kind of talent, craftsmanship and design imagination India possesses, brands from the country should become global successes. And Mr Modi gives some sane advice. “I would say that the single most important factor to make any brand successful internationally is to offer incomparable quality and have a unique point of view,” he says. Since that is quite inherent in the philosophy Indian luxury brands, we hope to have more of them lining up the streets of Times Square or Champs-Elysées. Nirav Modi should be a fine example to go by…

Coordinates: 727 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10065

Ph: 212-603-0000

Soumya Jain, LuxuryFacts, Luxury Market in India: Maharajas to MassesSoumya Jain is the Chief Editor & CEO of LuxuryFacts. She is also the Co-Editor of ‘The Luxury Market in India: Maharajas to Masses’, along with Glyn Atwal, published by Palgrave Macmillan and launched in September 2012. The book is a window into the highly complex Indian luxury market. Soumya is also a visiting lecturer for luxury marketing and online journalism at leading educational institutes in India. She has been invited to speak at conferences and address industry colleagues about the Indian luxury market. Recognising her knowledge of the market, she has been quoted in the media several times, while also contributing articles on luxury in various publications.

Exquisite Jewelry - When Nature Calls By: LF Correspondent

Posted on: August 3, 2015

Seeking inspiration is a tough task. And being journalists, we can understand that. You sit down, with laptop in hand. All the raw research and interviews are done. You simply have to write all that information in a coherent manner. And suddenly comes the writer’s block!

This dilemma is pretty much true in any creative field. Therefore we salute any person who does aesthetic work for a living.

Similarly, jewelry designers, we are sure, are always looking for fresher ideas, newer motivations. If that wasn’t difficult, it’s even tougher to keep presenting new designs from the same subject.

Nature inspired products never go out of fashion. Most of these designs are so classic, you can mesmerize at them in any era, whether it’s a floral scarf (think Gucci Flora scarfs) or a vivid mountainous scenery painted on a simple canvas. 

And so, we gazed in wonderment at the beautiful jewels, which Indian jewelry brands have crafted recently, giving nature a fresh approach in their own way! While one signifies its colors, the other emulates its shapes. Each refreshing take is amazing to look at, and of course, wonderful to wear.

Dwarkadas Chandumal Jewellers

Epitomizing the monsoon season by personifying the colour blue, Dwarkadas Chandumal Jewellers new collection shines with the brilliance of clear blue sapphires and diamonds. 

The collection has a range of exquisite earrings, statement rings and grand neckpieces that leave a striking, crisp impression. The colour blue that symbolizes royalty adds an imperial charm to each piece as well! 

Dwarkadas Chandumal Jewellers Monsoon inspired jewelry

Dwarkadas Chandumal Jewellers Monsoon Inspired Jewelry

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery

A pink here and a green there, Le Jardin Exotique by Farah Khan Ali is a palette of vibrant precious gemstones, creatively set in unique color combinations, using nature as the central theme of inspiration.

Carvings teamed with faceted gemstones and cabochons transfix you into a magical world of fantasy and fairy tale romance. The collection is a vivid mix of intricate hand-made necklaces, sautoirs, earrings, cuffs, rings and amulets. Emulating a variety of flora and fauna, Le Jardin Exotique transported us into a world of exotic gardens…

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery - Nature inspired Jewelry

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery - Nature Inspired Jewelry

Farah Khan Fine Jewellery Nature Inspired Jewellery


It seems monsoons are the flavor of designers this time around. Mirari too creates a few, exclusive pieces after taking inspiration from peacocks dancing in the rain. This collection portrays the sublime imagery of the dancing peacock under a rainbow-clad sky after a rain shower. Every individual piece expresses its love for India’s national bird, while manifesting the simple, common sight in a lovely way.

Mirari Rain Dance Jewellery peacocks in rain

Mirari Rain Dance jewellry peacocks in rain

Nirav Modi

Nirav Modi, using his aesthetic sense, creates The Enchanted Garden collection, which probably looks the simplest as compared to the rest in the list, but is as intricate as any of them. The collection represents diversity through beautiful forms and patterns and fluidity, textures and intricacy of design. Flower petals with twists, foliage with layering, and natural silhouettes of creatures are recreated using a blend of crisp diamond lines, sporadically placed larger diamonds and special settings that allow for movement. The collection consists of six distinct lines, Orchid, Plumeria, Chrysanthemum, Clover, Snake and Butterfly. The Enchanted Garden collection comprises of rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and cuffs. 

Nirav Modi Enchanted Garden jewelry

Nirav Modi Enchanted Garden Jewellery

Enchanting indeed, each of these jewelry pieces are a marvel, and delight to behold!

Bang & Olufsen - A Rosy Affair By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: July 27, 2015

90 isn’t an age generally associated with pink. But the iconic Danish brand, Bang & Olufsen, is not just another ageing brand. Over the past nine decades, it has not only redefined audio quality, but also become a byword for quality itself.

Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 18 Speakers pink


So Bang & Olufsen chose to commemorate its 90th birthday with the Love Affair Collection, in which it has launched six of the company’s current products rejuvenated with a new palette option, in keeping with the surge in interest towards beautiful materials – especially rose gold, which is experiencing a renaissance in the jewellery industry.


BeoPlay A9 Music System Magic Touch Pink colourThe Love Affair Collection consists of the following six current products:

- BeoVision Avant 85, a 4K, 85” TV

- BeoVision 11-46, the all-in one entertainment solution

- BeoRemote One, a remote like none other

- BeoPlay A9, the extremely popular magic-touch music system

- BeoPlay H6 headphones, elegant and lightweight

- BeoLab 18 speakers - classic, slender and straight-lined with a new walnut lamella front and a cabinet in a stunningly elegant rose golden version.


“We see this exclusive collection as a living illustration of the love affair that has lasted from our origin, where the passion and dedication to craftsmanship and quality of two Danish engineers Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen has caught the attention of people all over the world,” states Marie Kristine Schmidt, VP Brand, Design and Marketing. Always Bauhaus-inspired throughout its history, the brand has chosen to extend the philosophy to the new range as well.

Bang & Olufsen BeoRemote One Pink Colour


B&O is trying to reinvent itself in India after its earlier stint did not work out very well and it exited the market. Now, with a new exclusive distributor, it is seeking to rebuild itself with the launch of a new flagship store in Delhi. “There are a lot of customers here,” says Gaganmeet Singh, MD, BeoWorld, exclusive distributor of the brand. He says stores in Bangalore and Mumbai are next on the agenda as the brand expands in India.


The flavor of pink

Each is a product to marvel at. Take the new BeoLab 18 – essentially an updated version of B&O’s most successful floor-standing speaker - the BeoLab 8000. With an entirely new look, the BeoLab 18 carves its own identity with its striking rose gold finish. Acoustic art at its best.

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones pink B&O, which targets luxury consumers, is confident of finding its target customers. It isn’t going to be cheap. While the headphones may start from INR 25,000, the price of the top of the line BeoVision Avant 85, a flat panel 85” television, goes well above seven figures – in Indian rupees though – give or take a few duties. INR 30 lakhs is just for the TV, add additional lakhs for the wall mounting, for a stand or a remote. There are lots of cool features about the Avant 85, from three channel speakers that come out from under the screen as you switch on the television and go up when you switch it off to motorised wall brackets that swing the screen at an angle of your choice. Quick note, do ensure there is room enough on all sides to do the latter! There is of course no doubting the sound quality, and watching high adrenalin movies brings out all the TV is capable of.


Even the BeoRemote One, at a mere INR 40,000 is one of the most elegant looking comparable devices.


The radiant and romantic Rose golden nuance is achieved through a unique dyeing process, which is combined with warm and elegant walnut wood, to represent the passion, pride and persistence that has been driving Bang & Olufsen for the last 90 years.

Bang & Olufsen BeoAvant 85 TV pink


The brand’s history has been legendary for acoustics perfectionists. When founders Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen started their journey into technology while it was still an almost magical phenomenon, and with the accompanying flourish of Art Deco, it was clear that luxury, glamour and exuberance were at the heart of the time. The record was maintained over the decades and the Love Collection too aspires to capture the mood and style of the contemporary era. Combined with warm colour fabrics recently developed in cooperation with fashion designer Stine Goya, the company hopes it will capture the hearts of loyal customers while finding new ones.


Even quality requires sheen. It would be hard to find someone unhappy with the sound quality or timbre of a Bang & Olufsen product, so one would guess the appearance mattered a smidge less. Bauhaus principles wouldn’t allow that, and Bang & Olufsen has never disagreed. With a new rose gold sheen, it is designed to stand out!

Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him.

BMW 7 Series - When Cars Become Intuitive By: LF Correspondent

Posted on: July 17, 2015

BMW 7 series features and functions

By this time, you would think that BMW doesn’t have much to really improve upon. And then the brand comes up with something to simply astound you, and delight you, in equal measure!

The new 7 series by BMW has been the talk of the town, and for good reason. This short video recounts some of the best new features of the new BMW. And we are sure there are more that probably couldn’t be fitted into the video.

In the new BMW 7 Series, the iDrive operating system’s monitor comes in touch display form for the first time. You can now operate the system in the same way as smartphones. Another new addition is BMW gesture control. Hand movements are detected by a 3D sensor control in an extremely intuitive and user-friendly fashion. The gestures can be used for a number of functions, including controlling the volume in audio applications and accepting or rejecting incoming telephone calls. The new parking function with a remote key in excellent for ‘tight’ positions.

Electrically adjustable comfort seats with massage function in the rear and Active seat ventilation for all seats adds comfort. The Executive Lounge rear console houses a fold-out table, additional cupholders and the Touch Command system. This removable 7-inch tablet computer allows you to control the infotainment and comfort functions available in the rear of the new BMW 7 Series and can also be used to play back external audio and video files, as a games console or to surf the internet. Ambient scent and lighting options are spectacular. 

You have to experience it to believe it! For now, we are satisfying ourselves with the video.

Bonhams - Finds of Fortune By: LF Correspondent

Posted on: June 24, 2015 

Old ruby broochBonhams is inviting collectors, or even those not, to get their jewelry estimated and probably auction if agreed so by the owner. Result: many incredible finds are coming to the fore as unique pieces are ushered out from boxes and casks.

A dusty ruby brooch bought in a charity shop for £1.50 sold for an amazing £2,400 after being identified as valuable by experts at Bonhams auctioneers. The incredible provenance of the flower brooch – found in a basket of ordinary trinkets - was finally revealed after ‘scratches’ on the back turned out to be a Cartier signature!


The valuable antique piece was rescued from a Cambridgeshire charity shop after its buyer decided she rather liked the pattern. On a whim, she decided to get it valued and, after the leading international auctioneers identified it as by Cartier, it sold to a collector for a staggering 1,600 times its purchase price.


It is part of a haul of forgotten jewellery worth an estimated £60 million that is gathering dust in drawers and attics across Britain.


Millions of pounds worth of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other pieces are simply set aside and forgotten as a result of changing tastes, according to Bonhams. Picture these: a £20,000 diamond ring buried in a back garden; an art deco brooch bequeathed to a young girl by her grandmother and considered ‘costume jewellery’ until it was valued and sold for £12,500; and a ring inherited from a client’s grandmother that was revealed as an ultra-rare Burmese unheated ruby which sold for £134,500.


Old flower broochJean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said, “Many clients tell us they had forgotten about a piece of jewellery that might have been handed down to them when an elderly relative passed away or that it was just sitting in a safe deposit box and not being worn and enjoyed. A lot of people have no idea just how valuable these pieces could be.”


Hundreds of pieces of jewellery are valued for free every year with a view to sale by Bonhams during its long-running Jewellery in June campaign. “We're asking everyone to have a look in their drawers and jewellery boxes, dust off any items they haven't worn for several years or may not know much about and bring them in to any one of our regional offices during June,” said Ms Ghika.


Some of the stories are made of fairy tales, literally. A Bonhams client, organising his late mother’s belongings, found a five shilling note sewn into a curtain hem. Spotting a bulge in the lining, he uncovered an antique amethyst necklace which was sold by Bonhams for £6,000! 

Bonhams plans to hold over 40 dedicated jewellery auctions across the world, including London, New York and Hong Kong. The auctions attract interest from international buyers who can bid online, on the telephone and in person in its salesroom. And for these auctions, during June, Bonhams team of jewellery specialists is giving confidential valuations, free of charge, on any piece of jewellery you may be considering for auction.


For more information, please call 020 7468 8278 or email

Woven Art - 5 Rug Trends for Luxury Homes By: Ayush Choudhary, Director, Cocoon Fine Rugs

Posted on: May 11, 2015

Faux Bois collection abstract pattern luxury rugsRugs can be passed on as heirloom from generation to generation. As such they are evergreen. More and more people now are also taking a keen interest in customizing their rugs,  making them unique art pieces in the process. It isn’t out of the ordinary to find a rug hanging as wall art! The intricacies of making a rug make them equivalent to any of those high-valued artworks created by artists today. 

Buying a rug or creating one from the first weave? Here are 5 trends that would not only last for years, but also give your home that wonderful edge over others. 

1. Patterned rugs, whether sophisticated abstracts or transitionals, continue to be extremely popular because of advances in textures and design preferences. The mix of multi-dimensional cut/loop constructions, bold designs, and yarn variations create beautiful rugs.


2. Designs inspired by non-conventional ideas, such as texture of wood, are being made which was something unheard of. Rugs with the texture and look of wood grains has been interpreted in a sophisticated way in our Faux Bois collection.


Bombay Collection by Cocoon Rugs India abstract pattern contemporary luxury rugs3. Two-toned rugs that brighten up your room by breaking the monotony of colours are in vogue. This can be achieved using innovative yarn dyeing or design techniques.


4. Vibrant oriental rugs have a certain charm due to their authentic simplicity and inherent elegance. Made from fine hand spun silk using sophisticated, fashion forward colours, you can’t go wrong with oriental rugs.


5. Art inspired rugs can add drama and flamboyance to your home. These can be customized as well to suit an individual’s sensibilities. Our collections pay tributes to works by expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock to graffiti artists such as Banksy.

Fine threads, exceptional designs, and an interplay of thoughtfully placed colours will do the magic in your rug art!


Ayush Choudhary, MD, Cocoon Rugs IndiaAyush Choudhary, 30, through his fresh perspective towards contemporary and vintage design aesthetics, textures and sustainable materials, has managed to give a new life to the traditional hand crafted rug industry. Belonging to a family that has been an integral part of rug design and manufacturing, his passion for rugs started as a young boy when he visited carpet weavers around Rajasthan and Gujarat with his father. His unique design sensibilities reflect in his signature collections which are heavily inspired from his extended stays in vibrant world cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, Barcelona and London.

Cartier - The Name Says it All By: Sukriti Singh Rao

Posted on: May 4, 2015

cartier old watch by luxury ownersFounded in Paris, France in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the company remained under family control until 1964. Cartier is a 'royal' favourite, that has a long history of sales to royalty and celebrities. King Edward VII of England referred to Cartier as "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers." For his coronation in 1902, Edward VII ordered 27 tiaras and issued a royal warrant to Cartier in 1904. Similar warrants soon followed from the courts of Spain, Portugal, Russia, Siam, Greece, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, Egypt, Albania, Monaco, and the House of Orleans. And our very own, Bhupinder Singh, The Maharaja of Patiala, for whom the diamond necklace was created, has been known to be a great patron of the brand.

I come from a family of Rajput's and we royals love our bling in an understated sort of way. My mother gifted me my first Cartier after my 10th Boards as a prize for ‘studying hard and performing well’. From where I come, performing well means not flunking in more than one subject, so you see I’m gifted that ways.!

I still remember the gorgeous deep red box with its delicate gold etching, and once I opened it, my heart stopped beating. Encased in a smooth beige velvet was lying this exquisite piece of timepiece. 

A Platinum ‘ballon bleu de Cartier’ timepiece. A little bit of heaven.

Floating like a balloon and as blue as the sapphire safely nestled in its side, the Ballon Bleu watch by Cartier adds a dash of elegance to male and female wrists alike. Roman numerals are guided on their path by a sapphire cabochon winding mechanism protected by an arc of precious metal. With the convex curves of the case, guilloche dial, sword-shaped hands, and polished or satin-finish links of the bracelet... the Ballon Bleu watch by Cartier floats through the world of Cartier watchmaking.

In the highly competitive luxury space, where brands are expanding and creating collections that can be of questionable designs and intelligence just to stay ahead in the game, Cartier stands out and maintains its numero uno position by being the leader of understated luxury, but a luxury that no one can compete with.

I would like my next Cartier purchase to be a Panthère De Cartier Necklace, just for the sheer simplicity of its classic and timeless design. Maybe with my next pay chequ, (who knows!), from one of the Cartier Boutiques operating in more than 200 stores in 125 countries.

This is an opinion-based piece written by a luxury consumer or appreciator who enjoys the nuances of luxury, and is a part of LuxuryFacts 5 Year anniversary activities!

A Sheaffer to Remember By: Shobha Jairaj

Posted on: May 4, 2015

sheaffer pen affordable giftingWhile visiting a William Penn store a few months back, I went in to check their latest collection. I have a couple of Cross pens and a prized Montblanc (which is not functioning currently, but still very dear to me).

The sales personnel was a delight to deal with and supremely patient, showing me fountain pens with his gloved hands, placing the pens on royal blue velvet platter, encouraging me to try the pens on super smooth, executive bond paper.

He showed me fountain pens, ball point and roller ball pens one after the other, and I loved testing them to sign off on a stack of bond papers to feel their smooth writing, the dark ink creating deep impressions, and the ink’s smudge-free and quick drying capabilities.

Sheaffer instruments are elegant, with exquisite craftsmanship, and I realized, with their writing, silky smooth experience, you never want to put it down! Needless to say, owning a Sheaffer is prestigious. 

The sturdy metal pens felt so smooth and powerful between my fingers, writing was a pleasure all over again. The Sheaffer fountain pens are a completely divine experience altogether. The flow of the ink, the nib's shine, its precision, the look of the pen, the way it yields to your subtle movements, and finally the nib gliding over paper…it was sheer poetry. I felt like Ghalib!

I finally bought a Sheaffer Legacy Heritage roller ball pen. The chrome silver finish is subtle, yet speaks volumes about what joy lies within. I gifted the beautifully wrapped box to my husband, but it remains on my worktable, alongside my Apple Mac, accompanying the Cross and Montblanc. A leather covered metal visiting card case that came with the Sheaffer is also my prized possession today.

This is an opinion-based piece written by a luxury consumer or appreciator who enjoys the nuances of luxury, and is a part of LuxuryFacts 5 Year anniversary activities!

5 Important Contributions by India's Royals By: Royals of India

Posted on: April 27, 2015

Whenever we talk about luxury in India, we always look at our Maharajas and the luxurious lives they led. The jewels, the cars, the palaces – they all manage to glamourize the era of plenty for us.

But then, there has been more to the lives of Maharajas than what is usually made public or is known. They have certain talents, skills and resources which made India grow significantly. And so, we chronicle the contributions of some royals in 5 key areas in India.

Maihar Band origins photograph india's historyMusic

Maihar Gharana was founded by Ustad Allauddin Khan Sahab & HH Maharaja Brijnath Singh Judeo of Maihar under the generous patronage of the Maihar Royals. The great Maihar Gharana of Indian Classical instrumental music has seen three generations of outstanding performers including Maharaja Brijnath Singh Judeo himself, Ustad Allauddin Khan Sahab, his son Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Sahab and his grandson Ahish Khan. Their contribution to Indian music includes the likes of renowned international artists such as Pt. Ravi Shankar.


Ustad Ali Akbar Khan was one of the Eastern world's greatest musician. A five time Grammy nominee, Ustad was called by Yehudi Menuhin, "an absolute genius, the greatest musician in the world." He made his public debut during a concert in Allahabad in 1936. It was in 1955 that Yehudi Menuhin invited him to US. In addition to performing at the museum of Modern Art in New York, he recorded the first western album of Indian classical music and became the first Indian musician on an American television when he appeared on Alistair Cooke's Omnibus. He has received many awards. If Noble Prize was to be given in performing arts, he would have surely received it. In 1956, Ustad founded the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in Calcutta and started teaching students who were interested to learn music from him.

Textiles & Banking

An international state-owned bank now, Bank of Baroda, was founded in 1908 by the Gaekwad family of Baroda. The bank has become the second largest bank in the country. The Gaekwad family was also key to the initial progress of the textile industry in Gujarat. All of their efforts were very progressive, driven by pure logic and inculcating sound economics. The Laxmi Vilas Palace was the largest ever private residence to be built by them, four times the size of Buckingham Palace, and built in an area of 700 acres - a great global feat.  

laxmi vilas palace baroda india's luxury palaces


The royal family of Darbhanga played the most vital role in the spread of education in India. Darbhanga Raj was a major donor to Benaras Hindu University, Calcutta University, Allahabad University, Patna University, Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University, Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital, Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Aligarh Muslim University, and many other educational institutions in India. 

Maharaja Rameshwar Singh Bahadur was a major donor and supporter of Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya for starting Banaras Hindu University. He donated Rs. 5,000,000 start-up funds and assisted in the fundraising campaign. Maharaja Kameshwar Singh was also the Pro-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University. 

Maharaja Rameshwar Singh donated the Darbhanga House (Navlakha Palace) in Patna to Patna University. The Maharaja played an important role getting Maithili introduced as a subject in Patna University, and in 1920, he donated Rs. 500,000 to establish Patna Medical College Hospital, becoming the single highest contributor. Maharaja Kameshwar Singh donated his ancestral house, Anand Bag Palace, on March 30, 1960, along with a rich library and land surrounding the palace, to establish Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University. Nargona Palace and the Raj Head Office were donated in 1972 to the Government of Bihar. The buildings are now part of Lalit Narayan Mithila University. Raj Darbhanga donated 70,935 books to Lalit Narain Mithila University for its library.

maharaja lakshmeshwar singhRaj School in Darbhanga was founded by Maharaja Lakshmeshwar Singh Bahadur. This school was established to provide English medium education and to introduce modern teaching methods in Mithila. Raj Darbhanga was a major donor to Calcutta University, and the central library building of Calcutta University is called the Darbhanga Building. 

In 1951, Mithila Snatkottar Shodh Sansthan (the Mithila Post-Graduate Research Institute), located in Kabraghat, was established through the initiative of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, first President of India. Maharaja Kameshwar Singh donated a building along with 60 acres (240,000 m2) of land and a garden of mango and litchi trees located beside the Bagmati river in Darbhanga to this institution. 

The Maharajas of Darbhanga were the main patrons, trustees, and financiers of Mahakali Pathshala, a school established by Mst. Gangabai in 1839 for promoting education for women. Similarly many colleges like Bareilly College received substantial donations from Maharajas of Darbhanga. Maharani Rameshwari Bhartiya Chikitsa Vigyan Sansthan at Mohanpur is named after the wife of Maharaja Rameshwar Singh

maharaja maharani kurupamWelfare 

The royal house of Kurupam in Andhra Pradesh, located on the border of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, is an exemplary example of promoting welfare and equality in their region. Since 1200s, this family has been the tribal Chieftains working as custodians of the community. Kurupam never had a Treasury, a fact almost unheard of in any royal family or kingdom. Kings of Kurupam were also very aware of co-existing with the environment, as one would imagine all tribals to be. Their contribution towards irrigation in the entire belt of Kurupam to Vizag still exists, as their legacy projects still provide irrigation to the belt. The current Raja Sahib was the former Cabinet Minister for Tribal Affairs until very recently, and contributed extensively to integrate and solve issues of tribals across India.


Radical Social Reforms

Maharaja Ratan Singh, 18th Maharaja of Bikaner, put an end to the practise of lavish dowries in Bikaner in 1844. Later the Maharaja, together with several hundred followers, set off on a pilgrimage to Gaya and it was there that he made the Nobles of his court take a solemn vow never to kill their infant daughters, and warned them that should they do so, they would face confiscation of their estates and Jagirs. It was a very progressive and radical reform judging the times he lived in, and it seems that Maharaja Ratan Singh was the first Indian ruler to introduce and take effective measures to suppress both excessive dowries and female infanticide.

Do these facts change the way you perceive and look at India’s royals now?


Royals of India is a voluntary coming together of erstwhile Indian Royals. Founded in 2010 by Deepak Kapoor, more than 300 Indian Royal families support this umbrella congregation. A collaboration for common cause - to revive, celebrate & honor the culture, customs, heritage, history and arts that were upheld by their forefathers. To bring back to life nostalgic experiences from an era long forgotten. By its contemporary custodians who illuminate relevance from latent shadows. In addition to serving as a stage for networking with social, humanitarian & cultural purpose within the closed group and beyond. Royals Of India is a private interest group that is completely non-political, neutral and impartial. Reach them at


5 Reasons why Rubies, Emeralds & Sapphires are becoming popular By: Sophie Stevens, Jewellery Specialist, Bonhams London 

Posted on: April 20, 2015

emerald and diamond ring photo luxury jewelry

Since DeBeers’ 1940s marketing coup with the now-renowned campaign slogan “a diamond is forever”, this stone has appeared to be just that – an enduring symbol of rarity and beauty touted across the global jewellery retail industry.

However, over the last 10 years, the market has seen a notable growth in the demand for precious coloured gemstones, particularly those from certain locations in the world that have not been subjected to any treatment used to improve their colour and clarity. On some occasions, prices for these significant gems have greatly exceeded those achieved for diamonds. As of 2014, the world record price at auction for the price-per-carat of a ruby fell just shy of $1million. Even the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond achieved only just over the $250,000 mark per carat in 2011. Here at Bonhams in London, we waved goodbye to 2014 with the December sale of a pair of art deco ruby and diamond clip brooches by Cartier for $785,000 – vastly exceeding the pre-sale lower estimate of $130,000.

When discussing coloured stones, we typically refer to the ‘Big Three’ – sapphires, rubies and emeralds. While some other gems are becoming more widely recognised in their own right, such as spinel, topaz and Padparadscha sapphires, it is still these main three that attract the most attention - and the highest prices. Their desirability lies in five principal categories: colour, durability, rarity, lack of treatment, and design.

cartier ruby and diamond clips earrings luxury jewelry


The industry nomenclature of describing the colour of rubies, sapphires and emeralds goes far beyond simple ‘red’, ‘blue’ and ‘green’. One will often hear references to the ‘intense velvety blue’ of Kashmir sapphires, the ‘violety cornflower tint’ of Ceylon sapphires, and the ‘warm bluish-green’ of Colombian emeralds. 

Specific colour terms have become so important in grading these stones as the best of the best that even gemmological laboratories can contain references in their reports on the ‘Pigeon Blood’ red colour of the top Burmese rubies.

Some organisations have attempted a colour grading system for sorting coloured gemstones – similar to the procedure used to grade diamonds – but the sheer range of numerous hues, tones and saturations make this an extremely challenging task.

cartier sapphire deco ring luxury jewelry


While diamond is the hardest known material in the world, the Big Three do not fall far behind. Mohs scale of mineral hardness is used to measure the resistance of gems to scratches and scrapes. With diamond at number 10, sapphire and ruby come a close second at 9, and emerald coming in at a high 7.5. Not only do these gemstones look wonderful, but they can also withstand the inevitable knocks and scuffs of everyday wear!


The fact that many of the mines, which produce the best-quality rubies, sapphires and emeralds, are now closed is one of the main driving forces behind the recent price increase for these gems. There simply isn’t the supply available to meet the growing demand! For example, the Kashmir mine that produced some of the world’s most exquisite and highly-prized sapphires was only accidently discovered after a landslide in the late 1880s, with the majority of the stones mined in a five-year period lasting until 1887. Large gem-quality rubies, sapphires and emeralds from other mines in Burma, Sri Lanka and Colombia are extremely rare and scarcely discovered.

With the growing consumer desire for the colour and liveliness of these gemstones, other regions in the world are stepping up to the challenge of meeting this demand. In the near future, we expect to see an increased number of stones from other areas that also produce beautiful gems, such as Mozambique rubies, Zambian emeralds and the continued supply of Sri Lankan sapphires.

van cleef and arpels burmese ruby ring luxury jewelry

Lack of Treatment

It is widely accepted that the majority of rubies and sapphires are subjected to some form of heat or chemical treatment to improve their colour and clarity. It is believed that around 95% of the world’s rubies and sapphires are treated in this way, with some estimates going so far as to propose that only 0.5-1% of these gems are free from any treatment. Therefore, untreated stones are considered exceptionally scarce.

This becomes more pronounced when we look at emeralds, which naturally contain many inclusions and are therefore commonly treated at the mines and cutting centres with oil to conceal their cracks and fractures. The rarity of untreated emeralds becomes apparent when we look at recent auction results: in April 2014, the Fine Jewellery auction at Bonhams London featured a ring set with a step-cut emerald weighing 10.49 carats, which was Colombian and free from any indications of treatment. The ring sold for £362,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £150,000-200,000.


Big jewellery houses have long used these three gemstones within their most exquisite and famous designs. Jacques Cartier, the youngest of the three Cartier brothers, made frequent trips to India from 1911 to source their stones from Indian merchants and explore the intricate carving techniques employed by the Maharajahs’ lapidaries.

The partnership of exceptional untreated gemstones with period jewellery designs by these houses can command remarkable prices. In December 2014, Bonhams London sold an art deco ring set with a 5.34-carat step-cut Kashmir sapphire for £206,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £100,000-150,000, and a ring by Van Cleef & Arpels from 1923 set with a 13.34-carat sugarloaf cabochon Burmese ruby for £350,500, which was originally estimated at £80,000-100,000.

With sales such as these at auctions, the jewellery market can certainly look forward to a colourful future of these gems, giving the ‘King of Gems’ diamond a run for his money! 

Sophie joined Bonhams in 2013 as a Specialist in the Jewellery department and is based at their New Bond Street headquarters. Prior to joining Bonhams, Sophie worked for an international jewellery and gemstone company since 2009, after working in PR and Communications in Beijing and London. Sophie gained a degree in Theology from the University of Bristol and holds gemmology and diamond grading diplomas from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. She is also Reviews Editor at Jewellery History Today, the magazine of the Society of Jewellery Historians. Follow on Twitter at @Bonhams1793

Live Grand! - Top 5 Luxury Residential Destinations in India By: Emmanuel Balayer, Sr VP Global Real Estate Advisor, North India, Sotheby’s International Realty

Posted on: April 15, 2015

isprava goa luxury homes

Is the demand for luxury housing also rising from NRIs, fuelled by the depreciation in the rupee value? "Yes” to a large extent. There is a greater influx today of NRIs returning to India and they are mainly looking for that 'exclusivity' of super luxury projects. Hence the demand is rising.

High-end homes have today evolved into a statement among discerning consumers. Such homes are not just about pricing, but an amalgamation of several qualities, starting with the aesthetics to the amenities to signature styles and so on. At the end of the day, however, the two most important features needed for a super luxury apartment remain a lot of space and a prestigious address. 

At North India Sotheby’s International Realty, in fact, we focus on residences designed as a union of practicality and dreams, and create a paradise for our customers. The idea is to gift people a distinctive lifestyle in terms of opulence, grandeur and sheer luxury. And so, we talk about five Indian destinations, where an influx of residences that spell luxury are pulling the rich and famous towards them.


Apart from its historical importance of being a home to the Mughal Empire and the political hub of India, Delhi also happens to be the luxury real estate destination. A recent addition to the luxury developments in Delhi is the 2 Hailey Road project, developed by Tata Housing, in the heart of the National Capital. The project comprises four signature villas on one acre land. This fully approved project is located in the historic avenues of Lutyens’ Delhi, where the nation’s most illustrious citizens reside. Residences are designed around a series of atria letting natural light filter into the home, and floor to ceiling glass walls frame views of central Delhi’s lush environs. 

2 hailey road delhi luxury home


So far, you had known Gurgaon as an industrial and commercial hub for its high-rise buildings and extraordinary farmhouses. Even as the Haryana government is in the final stage of formulating a policy for 'farmhouse colonies', Gurgaon it is set to add more to its real estate kitty with projects such as the IREO Grand Hyatt Gurgaon Residences. Artfully designed by the world renowned Foster+Partners and Tony Chi, these residences are masterfully and meticulously planned with gracious layouts and elegantly wide dimensions. Adding to this are extraordinary amenities such as famed Grand Hyatt service, world class sports facilities, a fully serviced clubhouse, luxurious SPA, retail and restaurants. With the Grand Hyatt within a short walking distance, these new residences are a perfect combination of art and science. 

ireo grand hyatt goa residences luxury homes


In Mumbai, customers want their homes to be located within the city, but the moment they step into the compound, they should be transported away from it. The view, the calm ambience is the clinching factor. Generously proportioned homes offering an un-obstructed and breathtaking view are a key consideration for a luxury home. Developers, thereby, are providing large apartments and condominiums associated with luxury. 

For instance, Rustomjee is presenting ‘Elements’ a niche living experience in the heart of Mumbai – in the new and upcoming premium locality of Upper Juhu. Elements, an avant garde concept design by renowned Hong Kong based architect James Law Cybertecture, is fast becoming the place to live in. The most alluring factor? A sky lounge connected to the infinity pool and roof top garden – patisserie included. Spend the evening just a little closer to the sunset. 

rustomjee elements luxury homes


In Goa, the pressure on the residential market has been continuing for a while now, though it impacted high-end premium projects more than the mid end apartment projects. However, developers are very conscious of maintaining the exclusive quotient of their clientele. So, many of these luxury homes are 'by invitation only’. Recently, there has been an increasing interest among NRIs for villas, especially in premium construction projects such as  Aalia Villas by JPL. Comfortable and spacious villas, these homes feature unique glass and wooden flooring with Mangalorian tiled roofs, large kitchen and ample al-fresco spaces. The villas are air conditioned and fitted with the latest amenities in design and functionality. Strategically located, these villas are 5 minutes from the beach, offer great value and are investment sound – especially for NRIs. 

In addition, of late, plotted development in Goa has started experiencing keen interest from locals, as well as NRIs. ‘Isprava’, a company specializing in the design, construction and refurbishment of sophisticated luxury homes, employ light, breeze, nature and sunshine to create a homely, yet stellar design. Lending more authenticity are locally-sourced materials that are incorporated into the overall design to create a sense of country chic. Architects and designers from Germany, Italy, Australia and UK, were hired to create a Mediterranean-inspired space that also celebrates the Goan-Portuguese style. And the result: a beautiful amalgamation of elements and styles that can easily make you feel like you’re either in a Goan villa or on a Mediterranean island. 

aalia villas goa


There has always been a sense of nostalgia about Shimla, with its old bungalows and their gabled roofs and beautiful gardens. Luxury holiday homes in the hills are once again becoming an object of desire and India's top real estate companies are ready to meet this demand. Entrepreneurs, retired industrialists and top executives are all looking to pick up a second home to get away from the hassles of city life.

This is no surprise since the former summer capital of the British India, and the present capital of Himachal Pradesh has been blessed with all the natural bounties which one can think of. It has scenic beauty, surrounded by green hills with snow-capped peaks. The spectacular cool hills accompanied by structures made during the colonial era create an aura which is very different from other hilly areas.

Bulging at its seams with unprecedented expansion, Shimla retains its colonial heritage, with grand old buildings. Among them is the stately Viceregal Lodge, with charming iron lamp posts and Anglo-Saxon names. The Mall packed with shops and eateries, is the centre of attraction of the town, and Scandal Point, associated with the former Maharaja of Patiala's escapades, offers a view of distant snow clad peaks.

One of the most iconic projects is from Tata Housing who recently launched a gated project in Kasauli located on a high promontory. ‘TATA MYST’ blends contemporary design seamlessly with the unique ecology of the area and has 70 villas spread across 24 acres. It brings residents closer to the pristine nature of the hills, while presenting them with every luxury, and are designed by the leading expert in sustainable architecture, Llewelyn Davies Yeang. Expansive mountain views, indigenous plants, clean air and cascading streams of water become a part of the living experience. Airy living spaces boast large balconies and windows to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. Green walls in the shower area of select residences add a unique soothing effect. Some residences even have a gallery from which residents can observe the area's flora and fauna while indulging in other hobbies! A fireplace,  and glass-sided infinity pool are just about enough to calm you down we suppose!

tata myst shimla luxury homes

emmanuel balayer luxury consultant luxury real estate sotheby's international realtyOver the course of a decade spent in India, Emmanuel Balayer has become one of India’s most successful individuals, serving luxury real estate requirements of most affluent HNIs, celebrities and top industrialists. Beginning with his time as Regional Director for the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce & Industry in 2002, Balayer has built a career on his unique understanding of the Indian luxury real estate market and ensuring that clients quicken their journey of buying their dream home. Balayer is a French national who has extensively traveled around the world, fluently speaks French, Spanish and English, which helps him serve global clients effectively. Balayer has also shepherded some of the world’s foremost luxury brands into the Indian market. Balayer’s intensive strategy, sales and marketing process hinges on his ability to quickly and creatively identify brand partnerships that generate rich and meaningful shorthand for new consumers. Brands like TOD’s, BMW cars, Rolls Royce, Aman Resorts, Vacheron Constantin and others have emerged powerfully on the Subcontinent, while lifestyle spaces like ‘AER’ at the Four Season’s Mumbai launched with Balayer’s capabilities, have permanently redrawn the topography of Indian style.

5 Ways to Make Your Home Magnificent By: Anouska Hempel, Luxury Hotelier & Designer

Posted on: April 9, 2015

Anouska Hempel’s transformation of her interiors and her houses is always startling, intense and stylish. It is conceived as a journey – a rite of passage into an exotic world of the imagination and a progression from one intricately wrought space to another. And so, she emerges with 5 creative ideas, choosing one for every year of LuxuryFacts especially for its readers, on how to makeover your home in the style of best global hotels!

Think Big for 2011

Proportions up-high. If you are building a space and the volumes allow, consider the possibility of reaching high into the heights with domes and cupolas covered in Baccarat Crystals. The light and reflections of water or candlelight below will create a majestic interior with memorable consequences.

baccarat chandeliers high ceilings decor

Earn Your Stripes for 2012


When designing your space and setting, consider stripes: the widths, the tones, and the proportions. Try not to use large stripes in a small room – it just won’t work. In a longer, larger space, have conviction and keep repeating your stripes to work the shapes. This gives you depth and proportion. The stripes create dimensions where there aren’t any. Match your furniture to the choice of your stripes: blacks with black, cinnamons with cinnamon, ochres with ochre. Plan it with your tape, and set a new scene. You can do it.

luxury home decor with stripes

Be Dramatic for 2013

Create a sense of the unexpected and add a touch of drama to a room for a person to respond to the mood a certain design creates. Use a painted stripe-motif with two colours on the floor, here black and white, and add warmth to the room with of some large white candles, organised in interesting places, to flicker and dance across the walls and mirrored panels - this always does the trick.

unique luxury decor in neutral shades with candles

Play with Light for 2014

Light and shadows are an essential part of your design plan. Consider where your sunlight starts and where the moonshine ends the day. Give these natural sources of light a chance to come inside. Reflected daylight can turn black surfaces to white, Lattice screens and blinds can reveal or conceal as you desire, but give the play of light an important role.

luxury decor enhancing light and shadows

Embrace The Eclectic for 2015

On travels this year, be spontaneous and bring something back that catches your eye at first glance: it will have a place with you back home. An interesting mix of furniture, desks, books, chairs, baskets, lamps, cushion shapes and glassware will in turn catch someone else’s eye, and create more stories about faraway travels – real or not! 

eclectic luxury decor with unique pieces

anouska hempel lady weinbergAnouska Hempel is a celebrated designer with her work spanning architecture, interior and furniture design, haute couture, fashion, garden and product design. As a hotelier, she has owned, designed and managed three award winning boutique hotels (Blakes London, Blakes Amsterdam, The Hempel) which showcase her signature style and are produced with the highest attention to detail from the guest bedrooms to the imaginative menus. A fusion of west meets east pervades her design whether it is a classical or contemporary feel. Hempel's restaurant designs range from modern minimalist to theatrical. She has designed retail stores for Van Cleef and Arpels and Louis Vuitton. Hempel has also designed two yachts, ‘Beluga’, her own personal yacht, and San Lorenzo, a sleek minimal design for a private commission. Hempel has taken several private commissions for homes and landscapes, such as a garden in honour of Princess Margaret in Oxford. She has designed haute couture clothes for many famous women - including Princess Diana and Princess Margaret of the Royal Family. Hempel’s creative design efforts are chronicled in a recently released coffee table book in the UK with Thames & Hudson, and in USA with Rizzoli book publishers. Anouska Hempel Design is a truly international practice with projects completed or underway in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle and Far East, and the book reflects the scope and scale of the work to date.

Jyoti Kapoor Fine Jewelry - To Stun, or Not By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: March 13, 2015

Armed with jewelry designs that meld both India and America, Indian-born, NYC-dwelling Jyoti Kapoor enchants with her interpretation of the Mughal era…


Jyoti Kapoor NYC jewelry designer portraitFor a woman with four identities, NYC Designer Jyoti Kapoor seems to have it pretty much under her sleeve. Explaining that she is an Indian, a New Yorker, a working woman and, above all, a talented designer who knows how to express her inspirations into breathtaking bejeweled forms, she is pretty inspirational for all the multi-faceted women in the world today.


Taking her inspiration a step further, she designs especially for a woman who gives her best to every role that she assumes. Designed in 14k and 18K gold, the collection for 2015 that was showcased in Mumbai is perfect for transitions, allowing the wearer to seamlessly go from work to dinner, without having to trade accessories. Each piece is a classic statement that transcends the time of day and still remains the focus of conversation at night!


Take a leaf 

Seeking inspiration from gems and their raw cut, color and form, this is one designer who likes to keep her eyes open. Some of Ms Kapoor's signature pieces include freshwater Pearl Necklaces set with turquoise stones in the ancient ‘kundan’ setting, maintaining its old world charm. Another highlight is her Hoop Earrings with special karigari (craftsmanship), which weaves a foliage pattern within the hoop, creating an elegant effect that blends new age kitsch with tradition. 


Absolutely in love with New York City, what with its street culture, the artists in the subway, the Opera to the change of seasons, she is quite passionate about the city that inspires her. Her most recent line is designed with the modern bride in mind. It conjures up the love affair with all things Mughal, with ornate, decadent and multi layered necklaces, chokers and chandelier earrings that are reminiscent of what Rajasthani princesses wore. In keeping with the renewed interest in headgear, she has also designed maang tikkas and passas.


gold earrings with kundan jyoti kapoorMoving to an ‘everyday’ line that pulls from this rekindled obsession with all things Rajput, she also has statement cuffs and rings that can be clustered and layered, and chains that are layered among themselves, fashioned in 'everyday metals' such as 14 and 18kt gold. The absolute stunners from this collection are the “Sunehla Ring" (Golden topaz  with round diamonds set in 14kt gold), the Amber Ear Studs (a sparkling emerald cut golden topaz surrounded by round diamonds and oval topaz in 18kt gold setting), and the “Bamboo Ring” (round diamonds set in carved and contoured 14kt yellow gold).


Other designs include the Esme Ear Studs (Russian emeralds surrounded by asymmetrically placed pear and marquis diamonds), Everyday Hoops (miniature freshwater pearls intricately beaded into gold hoops bringing a fresh flair to this classic design) and City Ear Studs (uncut diamonds and brilliant rounds in black in 18kt gold setting). 


Back to the beginning

"These new design have been inspired by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when many of the Maharajas fancied the work of Western designers and commissioned them to rework and create new pieces from their personal treasures. Therefore you will see a lot of traditional techniques, stones and designs paired with new age settings, which is what makes each piece a timeless classic," says Ms Kapoor.


Ms Kapoor’s foray into design started with reworking her grandmother’s heirlooms. Fashioning an antique bracelet into a magnificent neckpiece, it is strong design sensibilities and creativity that gives her the necessary push to really bring out the best in the most simplistic ornaments. As a woman of South Asian descent, her design sensibilities always hearken back to India, but reflect a fresh, modern New York flair. Trained at New York City’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), she always aims to create ‘wearable art’ that can be passed on for generations.


pearl and kundan necklace jyoti kapoorHaving said that, her collection is dynamic enough to reflect differences and personalities of a multi-faceted woman. "Half my life is in Manhattan. Half my life is in Maharashtra. I have designed a collection that is reflective of this dual identity. In every piece, you see my Indian heritage, but I’ve designed it with a flexibility in mind with a contemporary feel," said Ms Kapoor. Whether for an Indian wedding or for Western formal events, her designs are quite versatile.


Feather in the jewel 

Living and designing out of New York, she is not new to the glamorous power packed world, and has been a part of prestigious events and runway shows. Her jewellery has been worn on the red carpet in LA, as well as by prominent fashionistas in India and New York.


Pieces come to life when design meets passion, and nonetheless via unique and dynamic personalities that exude grace and power. "When I think of my jewellery adorning one character, it would be Aishwarya Rai from ‘Jodhaa Akbar’. She was no wilting flower. Rather, she was a real source of strength for her husband’s character in the movie. Or Deepika Padukone, a style icon today, with a strong sense of personal style and taste," said Ms Kapoor.


While online portals are a great introduction to her pieces, Ms Kapoor finds that at her price point, clients need to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the pieces in person. "I’ve pursued several different channels when it comes to retail. Some of my pieces are on loan to a store in Madison Avenue for sale. I regularly host trunk shows so new audiences can be introduced to Jyoti Kapoor Fine Jewelry and my trademark style," she said proudly.


With fine jewellery like hers, we know and hope that this designer’s passion continues to rise and please consumers. India has a global platform through her…


Coordinates: Jyoti Kapoor Fine Jewelry will be available in Mumbai in Juhu and Oshiwara - By Appointment Only.

Tel no. for appointments: +91-9833402976 or +91-9702096896

Follow the author at @KarishmaParkash
BMW i8 - Speed Devil By: Karishma & Akshay Suri

Posted on: March 2, 2015


A clear winner with its devilish good looks and that zip around speed BMW is famous for, the i8 will drive straight into your heart and consciousness!


bmw i8 front style black colourThe Indian roads are blushing with pride and the reason is simple: the launch of BMW i8. Offering progressive driving pleasure, the BMW i8 is ready to revolutionise its vehicle class with features that would make even the usual loyalist go weak in the knees. As the first sports car with the consumption and emission values of a compact car, this sweet thing boasts perfect synchronisation of electric motor and combustion engine, which makes itself apparent in maximum efficiency and dynamics on the road. First revealed in production form at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2013, India saw it a year later at the Delhi Auto Expo 2014.


At the recently held Chicago Auto Show, Mr Dave Buchko from the BMW Product & Technology Communications at the brand’s US office explained how the need of the car was felt when the company spoke to customers in highly dense cities such as London, New York and Beijing. There was one resounding answer – the residents want compact vehicles, seating four, with electric concept. 


So, at a whopping price of approx. INR 2.29 crore, this is BMW's first plug-in hybrid and features a 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine along with a 131PS electric motor, designed and built by BMW's team. The engine will be coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, and being plug-in hybrid car means you can charge it on the go from a suitable power source. Giving an impression of nothing less than a fully-fledged supercar, you can't but love the ridiculously low, ground hugging, wide body and coupe like structure giving a slick look and an even slicker feel.


bmw i8 back style black colour open doorsThe heart of the matter

The carbon fibre-reinforced plastic body of the i8 reduces the cars weight by 200 kgs (as compared to its aluminium or steel counterparts) and adds to its performance. In its heart, the i8 is a petrol engine and an electric motor working individually or in tandem and pleases at every level.


Featuring a completely exciting sports car design that includes comprehensive, sophisticated aerodynamics features and environment friendly materials, it could be love at first sight as this swanky car purrs to please. 


At an exclusive VIP launch held recently in Mumbai, the legendary Indian sportsman, Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, unveiled the BMW i8 amidst leading Bollywood celebrities, socialites and customers. Philipp von Sahr, President, BMW Group India welcomed the guests and reiterated BMW’s commitment towards providing sustainable mobility solutions. Mr. Tendulkar unveiled the iconic car and shared his experience of the BMW i8 with the guests, which he believes is the most progressive sports car of the twentieth century – a ‘game changer’ in his words.


And, if you need one technical detail to understand the power of this vehicle, it is the fact that BMW i8 takes only 4.4 seconds to rev up from 0 to 100 kms/hour, taking only about two hours to charge fully.


The BMW i brand comprises vehicles and services developed since 2007 as part of ‘Project i’, an innovative and visionary think tank set up by BMW Group to explore sustainable mobility solutions. Caring for the environment, your image and well, your driving pleasure, this car is set to roll into your garage as soon as you say start!


Follow the author at @KarishmaParkash



SIHH 2015 - Watches to Watch By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: February 9, 2015

From meteorites to spider webs, Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie had some innovative pieces to show this year


It’s that time of the year again. The start of every new year means the first big watch trade show of the year – the Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie, is ready with its surprises. That there will be several big reveals at SIHH is a given. Here are some highlights of the top watches this year.


sihh 2015 iwc schaffhausen portugeiser baume and mercier classima




For its 75th birthday, IWC has relaunched its Portuguese line. Note the slight twist in the name. It is now the Portugeiser. The perpetual calendar features a double moon phase, which simultaneously shows you where the moon is in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Projections of various movements, dial colours and case colours give the model an endless series of new faces, while a direct connection to the Internet enable it to display the current time. The annual calendar shows the month, date and day in three separate, semicircular windows. The switching mechanism automatically takes into account the differing lengths of individual months. Unlike a perpetual calendar, however, the annual calendar is unable to factor in the differing length of the month of February or the leap years.




Baume & Mercier celebrates tomorrow’s talents through the new Classima. This collection looks towards the new generation, and motivates it to take on new challenges, proudly accompanying them on the road to success. Placing itself as affordable luxury, yet bearing the name of Baume & Mercier, this collection will naturally be sought after by young people who are proud of their first academic or professional successes. The collection comes in a variety of designs for men and women, bearing alligator straps in various colours, or elegant, metallic straps. Most of the models offer a glimpse into the mechanism with a sapphire caseback.


sihh 2015 lange and soehne datograph up down roger dubuis excalibur spider jaeger-lecoultre master calendar



Excalibur Spider

It is one of the most highly rated watch lines. Excalibur by Roger Dubuis, with its legendary connotations and its memorable design codes including a round case, fluted bezel, triple lugs, dedicated Dauphine hands, has become the emblem of a subtly offbeat, unconventional and unexpected approach to watchmaking traditions. Roger Dubuis presents two skeleton-work Excalibur creations in 2015, one of which is the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillion, where the skeleton theme goes beyond the movement alone, now extending it to encompass a skeletonized case, flange and hands. Inspired from the complexities of a spider’s web, this latest collection gives an unconventional twist in true Roger Dubuis fashion. It actively endows the latter with the stature of a true contemporary art form serving a three-fold purpose: improved visibility, intricate sculptural effects and enhanced transparency.



Datograph Up / Down

The Datograph Up/Down is endowed with milestone technical features: a classic column-wheel control mechanism, a precisely jumping minute counter and a flyback function come together in a movement showcasing true engineering finesse. The aesthetic quality of the calibre is reflected by the balanced dial layout with the characteristic Lange outsize date and the two argenté subsidiary dials for the seconds and the minute counter forming an equilateral triangle. UP stands for the maximum power reserve of 60 hours when fully wound, while DOWN means that the energy of the mainspring has been depleted and the pink-gold arrow enters the red zone of the indicator. The black dial made of solid silver is embedded in an 18-carat pink-gold 41 mm case. Luminous hands and pink-gold baton hour markers accentuate the aesthetic design. The sapphire-crystal caseback allows the many components to be observed in action.



Master Calendar

The new Master Calendar is endowed with all the attributes that have forged the success of this line, It is also imbued with an intriguing appeal exercising its own laws of gravity, thanks to the choice of meteorite stone to compose its dial. In this new watch, the strange and fascinating meteorite stone used for the dial shakes up the traditionally pure, understated aesthetic of the Master Calendar. To get a perfect dial, this block of meteorite is cut into several thin plates in a process involving countless precautions, until the exact plate corresponding to the demands imposed by Jaeger-LeCoultre is achieved. The cleverly mastered dial architecture ensures immediate and pleasing readings of the information, with hours and minutes shown by dauphine hands and small seconds at 6 o’clock. With a 39 mm-diameter, this 10.6 mm-thick case is designed to adapt to the curve of any wrist. Master artisans have fitted an automatic movement with a full calendar inside the case. This concern for detail runs all the way to the very heart of the watch.


Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him


Land Rover - A Dose of Adrenaline By: LuxuryFacts Correspondent 

Posted on: December 8, 2014

Land Rover Discovery celebrates its 25th anniversary with fans sending clips of how Discovery has helped them on tough journeys 


We doubt any other brand has seen the love of its fans the way Land Rover has recently. Marking the 25th anniversary of Land Rover Discovery, the brand has released a ‘crowd-sourced’ film, which showcases clips of owners using their Land Rover Discovery in an adventurous, exciting way!



Giving a glimpse of expeditions including trekking 12,000km across Africa to simply getting people to work in heavy snow, the film shows the Discovery assisting owners in a variety of challenging situations, including transporting them safely through blizzards and deep water, up and down mountains, over sand dunes and into the world’s most inaccessible places. 


Owners from over 36 countries accepted the invite from Land Rover to submit home footage of their favourite Discovery moments. Over 1,000 clips totalling an estimated 100+ hours of footage and demonstrating the Discovery’s key qualities of strength, capability and versatility were submitted via social media and on the Land Rover website. The final 4:13 minute film includes 70 different Land Rover owners (and two dogs) from 24 countries around the world. 


You have to watch it to believe it!
Tonino Lamborghini - Dial L for Lamborghini By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: December 2, 2014

In an era, where the upwardly mobile Indian wants increasingly greater validation of his having made it to the top, visible symbols play an important part. Expensive addresses, fast cars, fancy yachts, flashy watches and, of course, that ever present companion – a smart phone that exudes luxury.

The well-heeled Indians have been opting for luxury brands such as Vertu to meet this need. Come next January, they might be in for more choice, as they could flash a Lamborghini phone, possibly even without the car!

Robert Hatefi, head of Tonino Lamborghini mobile and audio manufacturing division, was in New Delhi recently to talk about and give a sneak preview of the new generation Lamborghini Tonino Tauri 88 cell phone. While Lamborghini phones have been available globally for the past couple of years and have much sought after statements of luxury, the Tauri promises to marry style and technology as never before and introducing the techno luxury segment.  

Like other phones by the brand, the new phone too is named after a constellation. The 88 Tauri, named after multiple star system in the Taurus constellation, is going to be the world’s first DSDA 4G phone based on Qualcomm’s SnapDragaon 800 chipset (2.3 GHz Quad-core) with 3GB RAM and a 5 Inch screen. The ‘88’ in the name is inspired by the Asian belief in 8 being a lucky number, especially in China.

Running on customized Android 4.4.4, this phone will be available in several colour options to suit tastes of both men and women alike. A 20 megapixel main camera and 8 megapixel secondary camera with DTS HD sound should obviate the need for a separate camera. The phone also includes Wolfson’s noise cancellation system and the world’s biggest 3400 mAH battery with 1000 hours of standby time, making it the luxurious smartphone of choice. The phones are manufactured in Taiwan, while being designed at the brand centre in Italy.

Lamborghini Tonino smartphones“In this era, you have to be technology driven,” says Mr Hatefi. “When a phone goes wrong, a brand goes wrong. A phone must be unique. The uniqueness comes from the brand and design.” Mr Hatefi says the brand researched markets in UK, Russia and Europe to understand what the Lamborghini brand meant to people. “We have high ambitions, but are humble,” he stresses. “Just having a brand will not sell. It has to be something that meets the user needs,” he says. “The ultimate decision makers are the consumers.”

Mr Hatefi is confident of taking on the competition. “For us, Vertu is not a competitor, but a collaborator and a path breaker,” he says. “Our customer is the young high society generation, not necessarily old business people,” he says. “The people we target are in sports, cinema, fashion, lifestyle.”

The phone is expected to launch in UK, Dubai, Russia and Milan first, though it will be available in India soon after. The Tauri is expected to be priced at about INR 4.5 lakh, a shade below Vertu.

Deepak Kumar, Managing Director of Luxury Quotient India is confident about the market in India. Just to underscore the difference to customers, he says buyers will be given a free iPhone6 “just to play with”! He is confident the brand will sell double the number of Vertus in India.

Lamborghini phones started as a project about two and half years ago, says Mr Hatefi. The largest markets are in Russia, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK. United States has not yet been tapped, though future plans could include this lucrative market, which the brand plans to enter in 2015.

Both TL 66 Antares (priced at INR 2.75 lacs) and 88 Tauri will be available with Curations, a luxury boutique at the Gallery on MG in New Delhi from mid-February 2015.

Ph: +91-11-4615 1000 (Curations)

Suman TarafdarSuman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him 


Bvlgari - "We Want to Sell to Indians in India" By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: November 28, 2014

Well, that’s a big reason India is back on luxury brand Bvlgari’s horizon, as it re-enters India with a brand new store


It’s a return that was eagerly anticipated. Luxury brand Bvlgari, best known globally for its contemporary Italian jewellery, is back in India after a short hiatus as it reopens a store in Delhi’s DLF Emporio.


The brand is celebrating its 130th anniversary and is now part of the luxury conglomerate LVMH. The opening of the Delhi store is one of the luxury brand’s many milestones this year, which will be marked by a number of international and regional high jewellery events and glamorous brand exhibitions around the world, often recapturing celebrity moments where the brand has featured, such as Richard Burton's proposal to Elizabeth Taylor. 


A part of these celebrations included Bvlgari hosting an evening at the city’s Taj Palace Hotel for 400 elite guests of the brand, with Bvlgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, actors Sonam Kapoor and Arjun Rampal, and designer Anamika Khanna, who styled models for the fashion event of the evening.


Bvlgari is confident of gaining a significant market share in the top end luxury jewellery category. In fact, the Delhi store gives huge primacy to jewellery in its layout, and Mr Babin explained why.


“Indians are very big jewellery consumers and are buying more than any other nation,” he said. “We believe we will be able to get a growing market share out of the total cake, most of which is unbranded jewellery.” He pointed out that Indian customers were buying Bvlgari while travelling abroad, and now they could do so right here.


The brand is the country through a joint venture (JV) with a silent partner, and has a majority stake this time around. It had applied for a license under Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) after India had announced the opening of its market for single brand retail under the previous UPA government. Mr Babin said, as a majority stakeholder, the brand would decide the way ahead. Bvlgari had first entered India in 2004 and exited about seven years later in 2011, with a store at the same mall in Delhi. The brand however continued to retail out of multi brand outlets in India, especially for watches.


While Mr Babin is bullish about growth in India, he said the biggest limitation was the lack of adequate retail spaces. Though the brand is looking at other cities to set up boutique stores too, they will be choosy about retail spaces in them.


He also said that the pricing would be according to rates in neighbouring markets such as Singapore and Dubai. “We will be absorbing much of the luxury duty that India imposes,” he said. “We want to sell to Indians in India.” He also points out that not everything is very high priced – pointing to pieces that cost as low as €1,000.” Ninety per cent of the business is in the €1,000-20,000 bracket, he says.


The Delhi store is in keeping with the brand’s global store format. The brand is synonymous for its jewels, watches, accessories and fragrances of distinctive style, and striking a balance between classicism and modernity. The Delhi store amply reflects these qualities, as it is characterised by typical elements that define Bvlgari stores worldwide. The flooring of the 168 square metre store is oak parquet with gold ‘Veneziana’ on a single level that includes a main central area displaying iconic Bulgari jewellery with dedicated spaces for the bridal, watches and accessories collections. An exclusive section of the store has been specifically dedicated to securing the privacy of clients who seek it.


The central counters, shaped like the number eight, or infinity, are bathed in light from 5,500 pieces of crystals from the precious Murano chandelier above it.  Originally conceived by designer Angelo Mangiarotti and crafted by Italian glass artisans, this hand-assembled cascade of light architecture is an impressive invitation to browse and indulge in the most recognisable and iconic jewellery collections.


The brand’s rich history is portrayed on the walls decorated with vintage advertising campaigns of the Heritage Collection and famous celebrity endorsements such as the unforgettable image of Elizabeth Taylor kissing Richard Burton.


Bulgari was founded in Rome in 1884 as a single jewellery shop and progressively imposed itself with its magnificent jewellery creations, emblems of the Italian excellence.  It became part of the LVMH group in 2011 and has continued to enthrall the rich globally. Just how many of India’s well heeled become part of this luxury story may determine the success of the brand this time around.


Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him
GPHG 2014 - Perfecting the 12th Art By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: November 9, 2014

luxury watches in indiaFamiliar with names such as Longio, Asmara-King Of Forest, Seahorse, Golden Bridge Dragon, Sirius Artist, or Coromandel Twin Volute Enchantée? What unites broken glass, pop art, pear diamonds, complex minute watch hands, and even an ode to the sun god? One look at the list of winners and short listed watches for Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) would make it clear that this was a show as much for watch lovers as for lovers of art.

The coveted GPHG, amongst the most prestigious awards in horology, made its first ever stop in India. It was a historic opportunity for Indians to catch up with arguably the most elite shortlist in global horology.

The Grand Prix, which makes a tour of about three cities annually with the shortlisted watches for the year, is seen in global luxury capitals before the award ceremony in Geneva in November. On hand to explain the stopover in Delhi recently were Carlo Lamprecht, President, GPHG foundation, and Aurel Bacs, President of the Jury – GPHG and former director of watch auction division at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

“We need to be coherent with our main objectives, while at the same time focus on markets that are key for the brands we represent,” says Mr Lamprecht, explaining the choice of India as a venue for displaying the shortlisted watches. “Indian consumers have developed an extraordinary ability to appreciate fine watchmaking, and have thus become more critical with regards to creativity, innovation and craftsmanship,” he adds.

As horology moves to being a fine art rather than a functional service, global watchmakers - both mega brands as well independent fine watch ateliers - are increasingly focusing in bringing out the best in their craft. “Horology is art in miniature,” points out Mr Yashovardhan Saboo, Chairman – Ethos, a leading watch studio in India with 45 outlets, and believes India will reach its tipping point in watch sales soon. India is currently the 24th largest watch market globally by export volume. The high end watch market in India is estimated to be about INR 600 crore.

2014 Prize list of GPHG

At the exhibition held in the Swiss Embassy in Delhi, watch lovers and collectors admired 72 timepieces from participating luxury brands including Breguet, Blancpain, A. Lange & Söhne, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jaquet Droz, Harry Winston, Omega, Bulgari, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Breguet, Mont Blanc, Hublot, Hermes and Tag Heuer. Less familiar to Indians, though internationally acclaimed luxury watch brands such as Urwerk, Frederic Jouvenot, Grönefeld Parallax, Delaneau among others, were a far rarer treat.

GPHG is a public interest organization, established in 2011 by The Republic and Canton of Geneva, The City of Geneva and Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Microengineering (Timelab) among others. It aims to contribute to promoting Swiss watchmaking and its values around the world.

The Foundation annually organises the GPHG, which is intended to salute the excellence of worldwide horological production and reward the finest creations and luminaries of the watchmaking sector. The award ceremony is held at Grand Théâtre de Genève and draws the crème de la crème of the watchmaking profession, who vie with each other for the coveted honours. The winning watches then participate in a travelling exhibition that enables an international audience to admire the finest timepieces of the year.

The awards were announced in Geneva on October 31. The international jury handed out 16 prizes this year. The ‘Aiguille d’Or’ distinction - regarded to be the top prize - was awarded to Breguet for the Classic Chronométrie model. The ceremony was attended by around 1,500 guests including influential figures from the world of watchmaking, finance and politics, who congregated in Geneva for this annual celebration.

Suman TarafdarSuman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on TV. Yes, current politics bothers him

Anouska Hempel - Spaces that Speak By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: November 4, 2014

Calling herself “like a grasshopper” who can jump between various design themes quite easily, Anouska Hempel, or Lady Weinberg, gives a feast to our eyes with her book which chronicles some of her most beautiful projects


Hotel or home. Restaurant or yacht. Minimalist white or vibrant Thai hues. Anouska Hempel, also known as Lady Weinberg, understands her clients - much like a fine actor would get into the character of his role - and designs spaces which are breathtakingly splendid. And more importantly, unique. 


While most designers have a signature style, Hempel chooses to be different with each space. And probably, that design diversity is her signature. Counting clients such as The Baccarat hotel, Oxford Gardens, stores of Van Cleef & Arpels and Louis Vuitton, and a magnificent yacht named Beluga, Lady Weinberg knows luxury interiors like the back of her hand. 


To bring all that beauty in one location, a book was recently released to celebrate the creativity of Hempel. A stunning coffee table book showcasing double spread upon double spread of gorgeous halls and lush gardens, we took opportunity of this occasion to interview her in London.


Soumya Jain: The book is very interesting! What was the purpose behind commissioning it? 

Lady Weinberg: My husband Sir Mark [Weinberg] commissioned it. It was a delightful surprise!


SJ: I can see rich Victorian designs, minimalist white designs, Thai inspired designs, and more varied themes. How do you manage to shift your thought process from here to there?

LW: I can crossover very quickly. I am like a grasshopper. I don’t have trouble hopping from here to there!


SJ: From all those projects listed in the book, which was your most favorite one and why?

LW: I can’t really say which is my favourite because I work with so many people. Everyone gets upset if you like one more than the other so in this case I’ll be diplomatic.


SJ: How was doing the yacht different from doing a house?

LW: It’s not really much different. It depends on the expanse, one is stable and one is still. I have the same attitude to both things.


SJ: Chicago has an artistic vibe, while New York is more fast-paced. What elements would you add in a house in these 2 cities ideally?

LW: It really depends on the client. In New York, the design might be more carefree. In Chicago, more historical. But it really depends on the client and whether its a high rise or a low level house. I think it’s very corporate in many ways but it totally depends on who you are working with, a client or a friend.


SJ: I read that you find the grey skies of London most challenging. How do you counteract that in all your projects?

LW: It depends on the client again (as always), but we must counteract the grey skies with sudare blinds. Grey skies are not good for design or for yourself!


SJ: Finally, what does luxury mean to you?

LW: Time to do what I am good at, time to do it well, and areas where in which I can excel.
Cabinet de Curiosities 2014 - Think, Feel, Create By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: October 9, 2014

Picking works of art from world over and congregating in a luxurious location, Cabinet de Curiosities by Thomas Erber is an event which presents myriad ways in which artists can envision and create


Luxury, for many, means something that is inaccessible in terms of its material value. For some, however, it’s to do what is unique and one of it’s kind. ‘Curiosities’ might be too dramatic a word to call such products, but then, nothing else defines them that magically…


Cabinet de Curiosities were once sprawling rooms in early Europe, filled with unique objects and artifacts, which mankind hadn’t learned to recognize yet. Borrowing this term, and creating one of his own, is Mr Thomas Erber.


A journalist, Mr Erber curates a fine collection of artifacts, fashion, unique mechanisms and designs that the world is still learning to appreciate. Some of these creations and their artists may not be too well known, but have such a characteristic which many haven’t been able to capture yet, or understand it, except Mr Erber. “I wanted to transform the antique cabinet into a modern one – and more connected with my own fields of explorations for when I was a journalist. They were very mysterious in ancient times. I want to make them more curious instead of mysterious now, and interesting for other people too…,” he says.


The response to his thought has been phenomenal too! Mr Erber gushes about the global attention and media support he has received till now. “I think it is coming from the fact that journalists can feel the sincerity of the event. It is not fake. Every guest is talented, renowned, excellent in what he or she does, whether it is jewelry, design, fashion, watches, etc. They create a unique or limited edition piece especially for the event, the host is, every year, really famous for being avant gardiste in his own country, and I try to be a good curator,” he says.


One and only

Organised in collaboration with Siwilai, a Thai retail marketplace, sharing international fashion that compliments the Thai lifestyle, the fifth edition of this annual property is happening in Bangkok from November 20 to December 21, 2014. Apart from the creations, of course, this year’s event is bigger and more wholesome than previous ones. Adding to the long list of must-see products, Mr Erber adds a list of must-experience factors too in this event. He enumerates them and says, “This year we have two bands and four DJs coming to play in Bangkok, four chefs that will stay in Bangkok for one week each and serve special dinners every night, more than 70 guests instead of 56 last years. A true scenography made by Diplomates.”


The event is going to showcase some permanent guests like fashion brand Maison Kitsune, jewelry brand Harumi Klossowska, eyewear brand Maison Bonnet, accessories brand Alexander Olch and many more. Other 2014 guests include design brand Paul Smith, watchmaker Jeanrichard, Atelir Perceval’s luxury knives, ceramics from Astier de Villatte, furniture from Pierre Frey and a lot more. It’s a tad bit difficult to mention all the 70 participating brands here. 


Curating them all, I am sure, wouldn’t have been an easy task. But for Mr Erber, the process is quite simple. “I need to like what people make, and I need to like them too. I am a very emotional person. That said, I visit every studio, every workshop where each guest is working, I check how they work, with who, based on what is their knowledge built on – and then I decide,” he explains. Feelings and the attention to detail are of primary importance. Quite natural considering this is art we are talking about here. 


Ask him which are his favorite products from this year, and he can’t say them all enough, mirroring my dilemma too. But press a bit and he mentions “the HCC motor bicycle, the Jeanrichard watch, the thaï rubis helmet, the lightest jacket ever created by Officine Générale and many more.” Apart from this, Mr Erber publishes a book every year around this event, which is his art, his curiosity for the world. 


Luxury’s true form

Taking luxury back to its original meaning, Mr Erber says he is “fighting for a world of individualities not masses”, and rues the narrow mindedness of people in general. An artist who creates for the love of it, Mr Erber curates this show every year, whether it reaps in some profits for him or not. “Like for everyone involved, it’s a great window of visibility, and amazing platform for networking with creative people, an artistic challenge, and some very good fun!” he says.


Mr Erber, through this event, has painted an ingenious world, which supersedes anything mundane and leads viewers to expand their own perceptions, interpretations and boundaries.
Harman Kardon - New Age 2.0 By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: September 29, 2014

Sound doesn’t necessarily mean powerful or loud, it also means stylishly impactful. Does Harman Kardon Nova make the cut?



If your eyes are a window to your soul, it is your ears that connect you to it. Say hello to an age where connection does not necessarily mean physical. Where wireless is the way to go, and extended can only relate to bass response, the Harman Kardon family gives birth to the futuristic looking Nova speakers.


Designed for beauty and performance, the Harman Kardon Nova has been developed with attention to the smallest details of acoustics and materials. From the seamless, see-through enclosure that exposes the brilliant woofers and drivers, every detail of the Nova demands a second look of sincere appreciation. Watch and nod as the body of each speaker is made with transparent and good quality plastic so you can peek at the whirlpool like inners while a small circular rubber stand is built into the bottom of each enclosure to stabilize it. 


The clear plastic and a classy black shade give it a tasteful look, making sue they look like a perfect accessory for any living room interior, whether colorful or adorned in monochromatic colours. Being small, desktop speakers, they won’t demand too much space. Hitting high on the style quotient, this one should make it to your Christmas list.


Think of the Harman Kardon Nova as your all-in-one home audio solution. Compatible with nearly any sound delivery device, using an analog 3.5 mm connector to connect to computers, smart phones, tablets, or stereo equipment, it also offers seamless optical connectivity with televisions, Apple TV, or a Roku Box. It comes with Bluetooth wireless with NFC so you can pair it to your smartphone, computer or table with no cables needed. What a boon! I literally just activated the Bluetooth on the speakers, searched for it on my phone and voila! There was love at first connection between the two as I joined in on an acoustic version of my favourite song which sounded amazing on this speaker system.


Point out your finger as this model has capacitive touch controls for Power, Volume, audio sources, and a Bass Boost mode that sits on the top edge of the right speaker's front panel. The Volume control also works with your Bluetooth source's volume, so while in the middle of your favourite jig, be sure to amp up the volume on your phone from the middle of the room!


While the Nova speakers sound phenomenal for their size and can get quite loud for an average sized room, don’t get too disappointed as there is some distortion when the volume hits maximum. Having said that, the clarity and detailing of sound is what makes this a good piece to invest in.


Get set and rock those table tops!
Boss Home - Boss in the House By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: September 9, 2014

Hugo Boss Home Decor IndiaThey say good things come in small packages. And these small packages often come with a heavy price tag. But one thing is for certain, they do know how to make you look and feel like a million bucks. One thing leads to another, and then you want to ensure that your entire paraphernalia spells that feeling too. Getting a first mover’s advantage for Boss, Nirav Meswani, Director, Surprise Home Linen, brings the brand's bath and bed collection to Mumbai at a time when the luxury consumer is craving for design, style and decor.

"As retailers of luxury and high end home furnishing products, we saw a demand for high end international brands in the furnishing segment too. India, and especially Mumbai, is now geared for the onset of branded items for home and lifestyle. What started with garments and accessories is now moving to other domains like home interiors. The discerning client wants stylish products along with the psychological gratification that they get by using famous brands like Hugo Boss, so why not give it to them?" said Mr Meswani.

Surprise Home Linen, a two decade old home textiles company, aligns some of the most coveted home linen brands from across the world along with its exquisite selection of in-house fabrics and soft furnishings. Unveiling the iconic brand Hugo Boss’ home line exclusively in India, Surprise offers a distinct bed and bath experience from the brand at the Boss Lounge in Mumbai.

Taking a walk around the corner that houses the products, the Hugo Boss Home collection is everything you would expect and more. A selection of luxury bedding and bath lines, there is now no excuse to keep last years’ sheets. With two seasonal ranges a year, here's looking forward to beds and bathrooms that look like they have just popped up from a stylish interiors magazine. The exclusive designs elegantly reflect the distinctive characteristics of the BOSS core brand, matching quality materials with refined designs.

Hugo Boss Home Decor IndiaStylish surprise

I, for one, was quite excited for the launch of Boss Home in Mumbai. But it seems like I wasn't the only one. In a conversation with Mr Meswani, he proudly mentioned that he has had a very encouraging response to Hugo Boss for their Home collection already. "It is surprising to see how many people know the brand and its design sensibilities so well," he said. The brand's entry into Mumbai is a strategic one, and one that required a handful of planning and market studies. Surely, the decision to pick Surprise would have been a well researched one. Shedding light on this, it is interesting to note that Hugo Boss for Home follows a fixed strategy of working with limited retailers in any country. For example, in London, they work only with Selfridges. Similarly in India, they would want to identify the leader in the luxury home textile domain for a specific market and then be present in that particular country only with them. The synergy between Surprise Home Linen and Hugo Boss brings a quality product of a global brand to the right customer in the Indian market via a perfect channel that houses more brands than you can even think of.

So the next time you are at the store, keep in mind that they know what they are doing. With specific staff to look after the Hugo Boss corners, with training on the quality and technical aspects of the product, as well as the overall Hugo Boss "look" so they can relate to the brand better, you just may be in for a surprise!

Line for bosses

There is news for Boss home lovers. The line is exactly the same in India as available internationally with the exception of the time frame needed to ship the goods here. No modifications to the products have been made for the Indian market, so you and your friend in America can sport the same design as you are face timing. “Making modifications to iconic brands defeats the purpose of introducing the brands to local markets. A typical customer for Hugo Boss home products would be a patron of the Hugo Boss brand or a well travelled individual who has global taste when it concerns interior design," said Mr Meswani. So, in both cases, the customer would want the global look of the brand to be retained, and that is exactly why he would want to buy the product.

Hugo Boss Home Decor India

With products ranging from bed sheets to towels and napkins, they most definitely are a lovely addition to your home. Ask Mr Meswani for his favourite product, and his selection matches mine. "My favourite product is the kimono. It is very versatile in use and stylish at the same time and made with good quality Turkish cotton. The best part is the bold branding on the lapel of the kimono. It really makes the person wearing it feel like a boss," he said. Besides feeling like a boss, why would you want to buy their products?

Perfect for Indian climates, Boss bed linen is 100 per cent cotton and predominately 300TC (120 threads/cm2), woven from the finest combed cotton, with reactive printing and dying. The cushions are made of cotton, silk, leather and other quality materials while plaids are woven from fine wool with embroideries and rib stitching. The finish on the pillowcase is a piping or inserted bias to add sophistication and elegance and their Duvet covers are not to miss with a button finish. Boss bath linen is woven with care to provide maximum absorption, while still remaining soft and smooth to the touch.

Luxury lovers can rush to their nearest Surprise store and admire the quality of the products. Enjoy the pampering as the Egyptian cotton sheets and the Turkish cotton towels literally love the skin. Go ahead, sink into luxury.

Next page

The latest Boss Home collection includes sophisticated colour and designs, featuring soft floral and geometrics and abstract patterns for the fashionable home. Cool classic colours and smart cut lines are combined to create a must have fashion homeware line that the world has been clamouring to collect. Collections are designed to be mixed and matched together, easily transitional, perfect for transforming or subtly updating your interior with the time of year.

With perfect looks that underline the customer`s individuality and meet superior standards in quality, design and workmanship, Indian homes are ready to welcome the brand with open arms, and pockets. Going forward, the new season’s collection is going to be a mix of eclectic yet urban, and simple prints and colours, inspired from the Manhattan skyline. We recommend you start making space in your linen closet.

White for Chic Charity By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: August 7, 2014

Responsible luxury becomes much more enjoyable at the annual White Party in Chicago

Benefiting causes has always been a great way of giving back to the society for many luxury brands and influential personalities. Some do it by restoring a part of their culture and heritage, some by donating, and some, like Marco Foster, by celebrating life with lots of glitz and glamour!

Aiding One Hope United, an organization which safeguards the welfare of vulnerable children through community-based and in-home programs, Ms Foster recently held the fourth edition of his annual ‘The White Party’. A fabulous affair which involved some of the best brands and the rich elite of Chicago, the party turned out to be a huge success, with everyone looking forward to the next one already. “I got my tickets just about an hour ago! It was just my luck that a friend’s friend wasn’t able to come and sold her ticket to me through Facebook. I had wanted to come to this party for so long!” said one of the revelers at the party. Another had come in from Michigan just for the event.

The tickets were sold weeks in advance, Maserati and Effen Vodka were some of the sponsors, and the party was held at Parliament Chicago – one of the chicest venues in town. Some of the best cars from Maserati, Porsche and Ferrari stood outside. Everyone dressed in white, the party was not just charity, but Mr Foster’s birthday celebration too. A man who knows how to get the best of both the worlds, we got in touch with him for a tête-à-tête!

Soumya Jain: How did you conceive the idea of The White Party?

Marco Foster: Funny enough, The White Party began as a birthday party. Four years ago, I decided that the best birthday gift that anyone could get me would be to donate to an organization that was very close to my heart, One Hope United. From that first event, The White Party has grown immensely and each year I strive to create an event that tops the last and is both stylish and charitable. Having been a foster child myself, I truly understand the value and importance of organizations like One Hope United that give back to children and families all over the country, and I can’t think of a better way to show my support than to hold a benefit in their honor each year.

SJ: What have been the aim and activities of One Hope United in the past few years?

MF: One Hope United was actually founded right here in Chicago and has expanded throughout the state, as well as in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida. The main goal of the organization is to ensure that every child is treated with love, care, and safety. It aims to ease the process of fostering by offering programs that educate families and give the necessary outlets for families to understand each child. In the past few years, One Hope United has been focusing on helping as many children and families as possible and the organization continues to grow.

SJ: How was the 2014 The White Party bigger and better than the previous years?

MF: It is really special to me to see how much The White Party has evolved. What started as a gathering of friends a few years back has grown to an event which truly makes a difference. Of course there are obvious changes such as the amount of people in attendance and the increase in funds raised. However it’s great to see the rise in awareness for One Hope United and its goals. Each year the party reaches a new audience of people who may not have known about One Hope United, and to me, that’s a huge change that I love to see.

SJ: Are you pleased with the turnout the event received this year?

MF: Absolutely! I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and the quality of attendees. We had over 600 attendees, which is amazing, and larger than any year before. It’s really heartwarming to walk into a room of people and see familiar friends as well as new faces all coming together for a great cause.

SJ: How much did you manage to raise this year for the charity?

MF: This year we raised $11,000 for One Hope United. Through ticket sales, donations, and raffle sales every person who attended The White Party made an impact, and I am extremely proud to have accomplished this goal.

SJ: What is the future of The White Party? Will you make it more frequent, or have more city editions, etc?

MF: Planning The White Party is one of the highlights of my year. It is such a fun event, and I think people really enjoy themselves and appreciate the cause. Although we just wrapped this year’s event, I’m already planning to make next year even better. You never know what the future holds, but I know that I’m always thinking about the next event and for now, that is my annual Grinch Party benefiting the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, that will be held at Underground Chicago in December, so stay tuned! 

SJ: At the end of it all, did the event prove to be worth it, or are there miles to go still?

MF: I am very determined, so I think that there will always be ways to improve and grow, but I am very proud of how The White Party turned out. I am very lucky to be surrounded by amazing friend and family who constantly support me and help give back. That being said, I know that The White Party will only be more successful in the years to come, and I look forward to it!

Kelly Hoppen - Design, From the Soul By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: July 15, 2014

Looking to reinvent your home? Or building your dream house? The very efficient home designer, Kelly Hoppen, shows the way

“Living is feeling and how you want to feel can be reflected in every aspect of your home.” Great words of wisdom to live by, Kelly Hoppen’s relentless passion for design has made her a brand today. Given the opportunity to design a family friend’s kitchen, it made her explore her inner tastes and talent, and soon become one of the most successful home designers in Britain.

In a conversation with Ms Kelly Hoppen, Creative Director, YOO, we studied the graceful yet powerful world of design. “From an early age I had a passion for seeing show houses. I loved looking around them as it was a great opportunity to see design in action as well as visualizing how designers expect their clients to live within the space. This has now become a part of my lifestyle,” explained Ms Hoppen.

It was with the help of her mother that her entrepreneurial streak flourished. Ms Hoppen today has a celebrated interior design studio, which employs 35 staff members. Creating  stunning interiors for houses, apartments, yachts, private jets, ski chalets, sports centre, hotels and numerous corporate spaces, for an ever expanding, international, high-profile client base from the world of business, sports, film and fashion, there is no looking back for this talented designer. Some of Ms Hoppen’s most renowned projects include the British Airways first class cabins, the Royal Mougins Golf Club in the South of France, Rhodes W1 Restaurant in London and boutique hotel Murmuri in Barcelona. She has even designed homes for some of the most rich and famous such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Elton John, Madonna, The British Royal Family, Victoria & David Beckham and many more.

Acknowledged as one of Britain’s most influential style gurus, Ms Hoppen mixes an elegant décor with little details of luxuriousness and excitement! Picture an all white décor, with a very simple layout, and there you notice a rug of pure cashmere and a here a sudden burst of orange flowers to add some drama. Taking clean lines, sleek designs and neutral shades as the starting point, she builds on to create spaces that are innovative because of their style and detailing.


Individualistic design

Why is it that design is so universal but yet so individualistic to each and is expressed in so many different ways? The diverse branches of design, ranging from fashion to interiors, is so far fetched and an integral part of every day life, even though we may not realise it. Agreeing, Ms Hoppens expressed, “Style and design is a reflection of who you are, your interests, etc., of not following trends, but being individual yet classic.”

Reflecting her personality through her work, she pays attention that her design style should be same for her clients. However, it is necessary to adapt designs to suit her client’s needs, the way they live and the way they interact with their home. “When I am commissioned to design homes, my clients understand my style, they understand that I start with a neutral palette, design with texture and then accent with colour. I really enjoy working with clients who have a clear vision of their personal style and it is lovely working with someone who has lots of their own ideas enabling you to bounce off each other, but keeping in line with my design principles,” she shared. Swearing by her signature look of neutral colours, a minimalist setting and splashes of colours and accessories, it is her creativity and ability to visualise the final outcome that makes her one of the most sought after designers today.

Word of advice

While designing a house, Ms Hoppen states that it is very important that the design will stand the test of time, will not date and will always look chic. Throughout all her projects, she would describe her style as timeless elegance, which ensures that these principles are adhered to and will be passed on to future designers. With so many design elements and principles, it is possible that one may be caught off guard and may make wrong choices. That’s what it is with so many designs today. She shared that designers today often overdo trends and try and be too clever. So remember, there can still be too much of a good thing and over kill is never a good look. Advocating the principles of less is more and just about enough - that’s a word of advice for upcoming interior designers.

“I am not a big believer in adapting your home to move with trends as it is very dating to an interior. Adapt your home for the season by changing your accessories, update your sofa with some new cushions, hang some new art. But stay strong on the design front so that is always fresh, but yet so classic,” she advised.

Design India

Keeping in mind Indian homes, they are on a different tangent than most western homes. Ms Hoppen’s design philosophy has always been influenced by the combination of East and West, and India, therefore, is a tremendously exciting country for her. India brings together the best of all worlds, the cutting edge in technology, design and the best in luxury. According to her, it is very important to keep in mind the place and kind of people living there and also climatic factors while working on design. Also, the simplicity and balance of eastern style would come into play while conceptualising for India, as it has a taste and commands a design of its own, we think.

A striking inspiration to all the creative people out there, India inspires Kelly too. “Travelling always inspires me and India presents an incredible canvas for modern design. My design philosophy has always been influenced by different flavours, from customs, architecture to the very essence of a place,” she said.

Coping with the demand of untapped luxury in today’s houses, Ms Hoppen signed off by explaining that luxury is all about relaxing and creating a feeling of sanctuary. This can be created with an uncluttered ambiance to help rebalance the body and soul.

Ms Hoppen has successfully implemented her unique approach across a multitude of business areas, firmly establishing her reputation not only as an award-winning designer; but also as a retailer, author, educator and innovator. The Kelly Hoppen brand, keeping true to its core values has even partnered with a select number of licensees to offer consumers a range of home products. Whether it is wallpaper or taps or furniture, Ms Hoppen has a range for all! If that’s not enough, it’s time you contact her to adorn that space for you.

Emerald - A Green Date By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: June 10, 2014

As gorgeous as they are to wear, emeralds make an interesting read too! We delve into its depths with jewellery expert Joanna Hardy.

Emeralds, much like diamonds, have that ethereal quality, which make them much desired by women. With that unique, deep green, beautiful shade of its, many women have turned the same shade at seeing it on other women!

Emerald crystals grow one molecule at a time. And each molecule requires specific conditions, time and space to grow into a quality crystal. Emeralds that are mined today are actually relics of geologic events that took place hundreds of millions of years ago, deep in the Earth’s crust. You own one? Then you own a piece of history and a slice of geographical wonder as well… Can anything be more beautiful than that?

Recognising a true emerald, however, is an education in itself. You know Zambian and Colombian emeralds are supposed to best, but how do you know where a gem is from? We caught up with Ms Joanna Hardy, who has recently penned down all this and more, in a coffee table book titled ‘Emerald’.

Ms Hardy has 30 years’ experience of working with jewellery, initially beginning her career as a goldsmith before moving into the diamond world as a trader. Having worked at Phillips the Auctioneers in London, and until recently, at Sotheby’s Fine Art Auctioneers, Ms Hardy is a credible jewellery consultant. She has recently established a series of Jewellery Master Classes within her business. She lectures widely and is a Freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company, a Freeman of the City of London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Ms Hardy regularly conducts charity auctions and delivers seminars and lectures for various charities and institutions.

Under the microscope

The technicality behind a true emerald is quite intricate. But as they say, practice makes the man perfect. Ask Ms Hardy and she talks about how to identify a good emerald: “Remember that emeralds typically have eye-visible flaws or inclusions. These can make a stone more affordable without affecting its durability and beauty, but some flaws can block the passage of light, making the stone look dull or lifeless. The fewer the flaws and the higher the transparency of an emerald, the greater its fire or life, and the higher its value. Surface-reaching cracks or inclusions may compromise durability and are best avoided. Take a careful look at the stone with light reflected off the surface.”

Of course, when buying these glittering gems, make sure you get a certificate from a recognized gemological laboratory, giving the stone’s dimensions, weight and origin, and disclosing any treatments it has undergone. “Emeralds have been oiled for centuries, which is acceptable, but modern enhancements and treatments need to be disclosed as these greatly affect the value,” says Ms Hardy

The evenness of colour is important as well. Uneven distribution of colour means lesser value. As mentioned, probably everyone worth their jewellery is aware that Colombian and Zambian emeralds are of high standards, though Ms Hardy presents a caveat that there is a variation of quality from mine to mine too. But you’ll be surprised to find out, as we were, that many a good quality emeralds come from Afghanistan, Brazil and Pakistan too!

A fascinating read

Ms Hardy, who wrote the book with co-authors Jonathan Self and Hettie Judah, was delighted to have been asked to contribute. “So many books have been written on diamonds and pearls but never in depth on emeralds. And I am always up for a challenge!” she says. 

The book is not a technical bore as one would expect, but as glittering as its subject, as it delves into the extraordinary world of emeralds and the mysticism it held for many a diva! It showcases 200 emerald jewellery pieces, compiled by Ms Hardy, as she traces beauties such as Cleopatra and their emerald pieces. She also talks about commissions by grand Indian Maharajas. Ms Hardy says, “Emeralds have always looked good mounted in yellow gold and, therefore, because of India’s love of gold, emeralds are a great compliment to Indian jewellery. Emeralds have always been revered by the Moghul Emperors and Maharajahs, so they are part of the cultural heritage of India.” Creations from brands like Cartier, Boucheron and Bulgari feature in the book too.

One of the top five precious gemstones in the world, people sometimes undermine the complexity and allure of emeralds. Ms Hardy wants to change that with this book. “I wanted people to get a sense of how important emeralds have been throughout history, and throughout the world, and also put jewellery into a social context to make it easier for people to understand that there is more to jewellery than just ‘bling culture’,” she says. The quality, in-depth research and storyline of the book ‘Emerald’ will certainly solve the purpose we think.

Fashion tip? Ms Hardy hints emeralds look quite splendid in candlelight. You know you have to wear it at that romantic dinner now…

JJ Valaya - Curating Fashionable Homes By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: May 28, 2014

What do Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Versace, Paul Smith and JJ Valaya have in common? Apart from being fashion designers, they all have a piece in the pie of home décor. More than just that, you only need to look at Hotel Armanis and Hotel Moschinos to know that the interior design sector is incredibly tempting for fashion designers.

JJ Valaya Home of the Traveler

In India, while the designer duo Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla have been revamping celebrity homes for years now, designer Suneet Varma recently adorned the Dusit Devarana hotel in New Delhi.

Taking the next step forward in India is JJ Valaya and his brother TJ Singh. With a lovingly created The Home of the Traveler, Mr Valaya stands proud with their curation of home décor products, collected from all over the world over the years. With each artifact having a unique story of its own, you will surely find things that will fit your perfect home. Ornate mirrors, minimalist sofas, brass stands, exquisitely carved furniture – everything is larger than life in his store.

Ask Mr Valaya about the thought behind the venture, and he says, “We have approached this segment in a two pronged strategy. The first, The Home of the Traveler, is a culturally inspired experience where everything is curated by me and put together as a cohesive story which supports our core belief that the old and the new must coexist in any modern home. The second, Valaya Home, will be an uber luxury brand where everything is designed by us, be it the furniture, the floors, the walls, the soft furnishings besides, of course, our signature wall tapestries for which we are already well-known.”

The furniture and décor items in The Home of the Traveler have been divided into six definitive moods - Art Deco, Vintage, Organic, Glamour, India and World. A creative and intelligent way to do it, Mr Valaya has immense passion for design and the way it is presented and interpreted. After all, he started his label in 1992!

You can see the same passion in the way he has done up Home of the Traveler. It speaks sophistication, classiness, and most importantly, roots to one’s culture, the way his clothes do. “There is one thing I strongly believe in that Art in any form needs to be statement making and that’s one consistency you will notice across all our ventures. I like to believe in "a life less ordinary". Be it curation for The Home of the Traveler or the unique experimentation in cutting edge Couture at JJ Valaya or the handling of spaces in the uber luxury Valaya Home (which is soon to be launched),” says Mr Valaya.

Valaya Home is their next step forward in the world of interiors. Forward from curation, Mr Valaya is venturing into designing spaces and signature furniture and accessories, and accomplishing projects of varied scale.

If you have seen his apparel collections, you wouldn’t really be worried about his interior products. Luckily, some of his cushions adorn my sofa, and they assure me that his interior projects are going to be as fascinating!

Summarising his design philosophy, Mr Valaya says, “The element of drama is very important in design, but in an elegant way, whether it is for clothes or interiors. I believe in scale and detail, therefore life needs to be replete with "awe" moments, be it clothing or interiors. This philosophy forms the very basis of my designs, hence for me, there is a distinct commonality in the way I approach both. We also have a distinct signature anchored in the Nomadic Royal look, one which defines what we are all about.”

JJ Valaya Home of the Traveler

With grandiose plans for his interior projects, just like his designs, Mr Valaya aims to have two large format The Home of the Traveler flagship stores, one in Delhi and one in Mumbai, whereas with ‘THT Living’, they hope to reach 20-30 stores in the next five years, most of which will be franchised. Thereafter, they are keen to look at taking this model international.

Creating a seamless blend between fashion and interiors, Mr Valaya knows how to keep his customers satisfied. Indeed, The Home of the Traveller has been acknowledged quite well by all his fans!

Coordinates: Flagship store: K # 368 & 369, Sultanpur MG (turn into lane opposite Metro pillar # 16 B), New Delhi, India

THT Living: Unit # 100, Mehar Chand Market, New Delhi, India

A. Lange & Soehne - Adorning with Simplicity By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: May 26, 2014

A. Lange & Sohne women's watches 2014No more are watches the prerogative of men. Nor are they just another accessory for women. They are well thought about, each jewel scrutinised, and wrapped on the wrist – much like jewellery- before purchasing. Women sure know their taste, and that can be seen from the expanding market for women’s watches. Watch brands are featuring women celebrities in ads and are crafting more pieces for women!

So when A. Lange & Soehne released many new women’s watches this year, we were quite elated!

Shades of class

A part of the acclaimed, minimalist Saxonia family, two new watches by Lange made an appearance at SIHH this year. Flaunting diamond-set white-gold cases, the two new models are a fascinating combination of horological precision and artisanship – for which the brand is known – and feminine elegance.

Available in white and brown faces, our preference goes to the latter. In a world where white and pink seem to rule, this unique shade is making its own sophisticated place!

With svelte hands and baton hour markers in rhodiumed gold, the white- or brown-inlaid mother-of-pearl face indicates the hours and minutes, as well as the seconds on a subsidiary dial. Located at 6 o’clock, the subdial stands in equilibrium with the A. Lange & Söhne signature beneath 12 o’clock. The cool gloss of 18-carat white gold emphasises the graceful silhouette of the two-part case that sparkles with 60 brilliant-cut diamonds. Straps in white or brown crocodile leather match the colour of the dial and amplify the glamour of these watches.

A. Lange & Sohne women's watches 2014The manually wound manufacture calibre L941.2, with a power reserve of 45 hours, assures high accuracy. As usual, Lange focuses on small aesthetic details, which build on to the character of their watches! The surfaces of the movement are lavishly decorated by hand as well as the Glashütte ribbing that adorns the three-quarter plate made of German silver. Screwed gold chatons and the hand-engraved balance cock complete the look. The sapphire-crystal caseback reveals the movement as a showpiece of mechanical ingenuity.

More magnificent than little

The Little Lange 1 “Soirée” is another striking watch. The warm gleam of pink gold, the lustre of mother-of-pearl, and the sparkle of 52 brilliant-cut diamonds strike an endearing chord. Much like the Saxonia watches in design, they also feature in white and warm brown shades.

Despite its compact case with a diameter of only 36 mm, the Little Lange 1 “Soirée” is endowed with all of the features of a Lange 1: the exclusive manufacture calibre L901.4 with a twin mainspring barrel that delivers power for more than three days, a power-reserve indicator, and the patented outsize date. With these assets, it will surely appeal to the continuously growing circle of discerning women who are fascinated by mechanical finesse.

The slender hands and appliques in pink gold on the mother-of-pearl facing emphasise the enchanting and timeless personality of this model. The signature Lange watchmaking artistry, such as the three-quarter plate in German silver decorated with Glashütte ribbing, the hand-engraved balance cock, and the gold chatons secured with cornflower-blue screws, can be admired through a fine sapphire crystal caseback.

Combining aesthetics with technical finesse, A. Lange & Soehne presents watches which all like-minded, classy women will surely appreciate!

India Art Fair 2014 - Consolidation Mode By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: March 20, 2014


More modest in ambition, the latest edition of India Art Fair had more works harking back to artists’ roots


That contemporary Indian art is in search of its idiom becomes clearer each passing year. India Art Fair (IAF), easily the largest event of its kind in India, has become the default gauge for assessing confidence in the Indian art mart. Its initial years, which coincided with the collapse of economic boom in the global economies, were nevertheless upbeat as it took time for the slowdown to impact India. Indian art, however, was a different story, as prices of art works, especially contemporary art, dramatically fell. So IAF in its past editions has seen gallerists encourage artists to create more ‘affordable art’, or ‘statement pieces’ or even installations. Well, this year, it was the turn of photographs to take centrestage.


The art fair, held again at Delhi’s NSIC grounds, came at the end of a year which evidently felt the impact of the larger slowdown. This edition, there were 30 international and 47 domestic galleries, which had displayed their collections in 91 booths over 20,000 sq ft space – hardly any change in participation numbers since the previous year. Interestingly, Neha Kirpal, founder of the fair, and now co-owner, said the fair had moved on from just its founding vision:” IAF now means different things to different people. Our responsibility is to listen in.” She also says the fair will play the role of the market builder for the next few years.


Agrees Shireen Gandhy of Gallery Chemould, not an early advocate of the fair, saying, “This annual event has created ripples in the Indian art market”. “From buyers and collectors, the whole community is small, but evolving,” said Sandy Angus, chairman, Montgomery Worldwide, a global events company and co-owner of the fair (he also co-owns the Hong Kong Art Fair). “India has many potential collectors, and this fair can help bring any on-board,” he says. “This fair will expand the collector base in India, when very young, rich Indians have collected other pieces of success, will look at art.” He feels the fair is punching above its weight, and the potential might take a while to get realised.

Redoing the walls

Even at first glance, mega statement pieces out as more two dimensional works were on display. Targeted firmly at a younger audience, the prices of photographic art were much lower, often starting from a few thousand rupees. While a top end work from a modern master could cost nothing less than 50 lakh (approx $80,200), a Raghu Rai (one of India’s most celebrated photographers) photo would be available at about a tenth of that price, and be just as stunning for the buyer.


Many a contemporary star shone brightly at the fair. Subodh Gupta, who also has shows in Delhi National Gallery of Modern Art going on simultaneously, revealed new works here.


The interesting aspect about international participation, often a gauge for maturity of art markets, is that it has been inconsistent at best. While some galleries have returned, many have cited poor sales and extremely difficult procedures, not to speak of high costs involved in getting works to India, and taking them back. Just the fee for standard carton is about 8,000 euros, and even if works are sold in India, laws decree that they be taken back, and then sent to the buyer, adding to already considerable transportation costs for galleries. Peter Femfert of Die Galerie has been returning, and this time too, there were modern European masters interspersed with Indian artists at the stall. “We see India as a long term market,” he says, admitting sales have been slow. Son Damiano expresses surprise that works of Chagall (for under Rs 50 lakh/$80,200) and Picasso lithographs (under Rs 10 lakh/$16,050) remained unsold!


Reg Newitt, an Australian working out of Beijing, says what makes this fair unique is the number of people visiting and their curiosity. While he wants greater exposure for the galleries he represents in India, he is also on the lookout for works by Indian artists. “There is interesting work coming out of India,” he says, though he says that if an artist is genuine, he does have to overtly try to make his work more ‘Indian’, often a demand by gallerists.


Melissa Digby-Bell of London’s Scream says the gallery has decided on India as an upcoming region. “We feel the audiences are open for contemporary art. We are also committed to supporting artists on a global scale.” The stall was a magnet for visitors for Pakpoom Silaphan’s works on Gandhi and Ye Hongxing’s crystal sticker collage.


London’s Grosvenor Gallery, a repeat exhibitor and with a focus on Indian art, especially modern Indian art, admits sales have been slow. “This is a good chance to meet collectors and artists, says Charles Moore. Harry Hutchison of Aicon Gallery says there is some interest in the moderns since the auction by Christie’s in December. Hoping for a better response for contemporary works as well, he says the gallery has an aggressive calendar for them, and that the art needs to speak for itself. Aicon, which displayed works of F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza and Ram Kumar, made Rs.3.2 crore (approx $513,240) on the sale of about a dozen works. A G.R. Iranna work was sold for Rs.17 lakh (approx $27,265), indicating a returning confidence in more contemporary work.


Adding meaning

The need to make their audiences think remained paramount in the works though. Tasveer Gallery was one such booth that displayed stylish and rare pictures taken by former fashion photographer Norman Parkinson in the 1950s in India. Gallery Mark Hachem from Paris presented a sketch of Coco Chanel with a red lipstick in the frame as well as plexiglass sculptures of Chanel perfumes with the names of countries undergoing social upheaval – Tunisia, Egypt, Thailand, Iran, etc, printed on them, but with strong political messages. ‘Parfum de revolte’ indeed. Spectacle sells, and the bottles ended up sold! Bhavna Kakar of Latitude 28 says the buyer response has been as good as last year. Ashish Anand of Delhi Art Gallery says works by great modern Indian artists still have the confidence of the buyers, and that buyers go by aesthetics of a work. Interested buyers are taking longer to decide, often repeating visits before buying, says Sukriti Dugal of Palette Art Gallery. Uday Jain of Dhoomimal Gallery, specialising in modernists, mentions the increasing demand for contemporary art.


The need to create greater awareness about the finer points of art is involving more and more stakeholders. The artist duo Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra conducted a walkthrough, in conjunction with Le Meridien hotels, for those attending the art fair. Arnaud Champenois - Brand Director, Asia Pacific, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, says it is important for hotels to connect better with their guests. “This is how a whole generation of new travellers gets connected, who visit a city for work, but also want to discover, and arts is a great way,” he feels.


The organisers no longer mention how many people attend the fair. To be pushed and jostled at an art fair may be a rare occurrence globally, but going by the sheer crowds at IAF, at least attendance, ticketed at Rs 300 (approx $5) this year, was considerable. Even if a fraction translated to sales, this fair will count its success in a year that has seen spending on disposable luxury shrink considerably.

Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.

Ganjam - Rediscovering Heritage By: Karishma Parkash & Soumya Jain

Posted on: March 3, 2013

Ganjam heritage jewelry

Old Indian dynasties and Maharajas knew what opulent jewellery means. Creations made under their reign are celebrated till today. Indian jewellery is not just putting together of gems and metals. Each curve and wave has a meaning and the designs have immense symbolism hidden under them.

Each part of India has a different design, art and craft of making jewellery. One of the most celebrated and awed at is Carnatic jewellery, or jewellery inspired by South Indian temple architecture. Temple jewellery, as it is also known, conforms primarily to the great scriptures: Shilpa Shastra, Brihat Samhita and Jyotish Shastra.

Ganjam is probably the only brand keeping this traditional form of jewellery making alive. One of the rare Indian jewellery brands representing ancient traditions, Ganjam recently held its eighth annual exhibition showcasing South Indian heritage jewellery, and on the occasion we caught up with Mr Kumar Ganjam, Director at the jewellery brand.

Showcase of tradition

Ganjam heritage Carnatic jewelryThe archival jewellery showcased at the exhibition spans close to five centuries of south Indian history and craft. While some were hand created by Ganjam, some are pieces acquired by the Ganjam family over the years from other private collections. “These unique jewels are priceless as it is impossible to replicate not only the making but also the jewels used. They now act as inspiration for our famed Heritage Collection of jewellery that is handcrafted by Ganjam at our century old workshop,” said Mr Ganjam. Not only was the exhibition a way to celebrate the re-launch of Ganjam’s Mumbai boutique at the Heritage Wing of the Taj Mahal Mumbai, but also an attempt to promote the ancient craft of Carnatic jewellery.

Ganjam, in existence since 1889, were the official jewelers for the Mysore royal family. After years of service, the then king gifted a Ganda Baruda, the symbol of the Mysore family, a pearl encrusted one of kind neckpiece, to the Ganjam family. “This piece, on display as part of the Archival Exhibition, is the only one of its kind in existence,” says Mr Ganjam proudly. But this is not the only creation which made people stand in their tracks. The Vanki armlet shows two studded, poised peacocks, which will surely make your heart skip a beat with its complex yet simple design. A Benaras cut diamond and ruby rosette form the central focus of the armband. A diamond pendant with dangling pearls is suspended from the central rosette. A beautifully crafted bead-head set with carved emeralds forms the screw type clasp for the piece. The rosette and the pendant form the other part of the cleverly crafted and concealed clasp.

The Makarakanti is true opulence on display. A ceremonial necklace, this piece is made in the traditional South Indian closed setting style of ‘Kundala Velai’. The main gemstone used in this style of jewellery is cabochon Burmese rubies with highlights of rose or Benaras cut diamonds and emeralds which could be cut or cabochon. The word ‘Makara’ stands for a mythological sea monster combining the body of crocodile with other animals, while ‘Kanti’ means necklace. In this piece, two peacocks again make an appearance to frame the central motif. The tail of the peacock follows the form of the makara. The lower central pendant motif is surrounded by further motifs depicting foliage. Hollow gold beads hang from the lower pendant. Nine floral elements on each side of the pendant and one bird based element on either side form the links that support the central ‘Padakam’ (pendant). Technically, these elements are held together by two flat, handmade chains called sharadus, which run at the back.

Ganjam heritage Carnatic jewelryChanging times

Even though the backbone of Ganjam is its history and traditional craft, and will always remain so, Ganjam has moved ahead with times without compromising on its basic foundation. Mr Ganjam agrees that the brand has widened its horizons over the years to include other inspirations apart from South Indian temples. “Our contemporary collections take inspiration from elements of nature and the world around us. Jewellery is art and must be constantly evolving while still staying true to its inspiration,” he says. Mr Ganjam further adds that their century old workshop in Bangalore houses the original workshop along with a state-of-the-art design studio, stone setting department, quality control, etc. “It is important to preserve the DNA of the brand while also adopting new ideas,” he expands.

You don’t need us to tell you that the price of gold and gemstones has increased manifold over the past few years, and is continuing to increase at a breakneck speed. Ganjam, thus notices, a shift in consumer preferences, which shows in their purchasing habits. He explains, “The price of gold and gemstones, on an average, has seen an inflation of 8-20 per cent year on year in the last three decades or so. In the recent times (2-3 years), it is on the higher end. On the other hand, the new generation of gemstones has started seeing consumer passion as well. The purchase of jewellery is thus becoming more specific to suit specific aspirations.” On the other side, the craftsmanship and designing of Ganjam jewellery is progressively getting refined, and with Heritage craftsmanship, the intangible value of the sustenance of craft itself has taken the critical focus.

Ganjam has a national retail footprint in the three cities of Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. However, it is also one of the few Indian brands that has created a following internationally too. We were, therefore, quite happy to hear that Mr Ganjam is keen to have a store in Europe to start with, and then expand internationally gradually.

Unique design, detailed craftsmanship and an allegiance to heritage – Ganjam has made sure that it always includes these three ingredients of luxury in its creations. A force to reckon with in the Indian luxury industry, the brand knows how to make its work speak for itself…

Chicago Auto Show - Luxury Drives in the City By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: February 25, 2014

The recently held Chicago Auto Show saw exclusive launches, luxurious four-wheelers and daring concepts.

The Chicago Auto Show (CAS), considered to be one of the biggest auto shows in United States, was recently held at McCormick Place from February 8-17, 2014. To check that and more, we revved up our car towards the venue.

Promising an impressive mechanical extravaganza – considering all the most important vehicle brands were participating – it was BMW and Maserati’s conferences that we were eager to attend. And it proved worthwhile as we got the opportunity to see their gleaming beauties up and close. Not to forget Audi and Porsche creations too!

Stalwarts ahoy!

BMW, acknowledging that US is an important market, introduced the 2014 BMW 740Ld xDrive during CAS. For the first time in the country, this BMW 7series will be available with a diesel engine.

David Buchko, product and technology communications manager at BMW, not only iterated the success BMW saw in 2013, but also predicts an even brighter 2014 for the brand in US. “The recovery has been strong and people are buying cars in the country,” he said. The 740Ld will also have new M Sport equipment and styling line and will be available beginning this spring with a retail price starting at $83,425. 

Also presented for the first time at the 2014 CAS, BMW introduced a new line of M Performance parts for the 2014 BMW X5. Features include mirror caps, unique 21-inch wheels and high-performance tires. In the interior, the Alcantara-covered sport steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and an assortment of carbon fiber accents give a classy look. Apart from these, BMW’s i8 caught our fancy as well.

Maserati, on the other hand, highlighted its new sport sedan, the Ghibli S Q4 during CAS. The new sport sedan offers a 3.0 liter twin turbo V6 engine that can easily accelerate up to 404 horsepower. “If you like firing up your car every day, not just starting it, you have a new option on the menu – Italian.” said Jeffrey Ehoodin, public relations manager at Maserati. This beautifully proportioned car struck chords with many men during the event, not just with its engine, but rich interiors too.

Other cars showcased by Maserati were Quattraporte GTS and GranTurismo MC Convertible. Talking about the recent economic downturn, Mr Ehoodin emphasized that in a way, it was good for his brand, because consumers have become conspicuous and are more focused on buying true, unique luxury.

Adding spice

Another exhibit that caught our eye was Comcast Business’ Supercars where McLarens, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Rolls-Royces excited quite a frenzy among the crowd. Sporting colours like vivid reds, yellows and blues, the supercars drew a lot of attention. CAS also saw brands like Honda and Toyota introducing futuristic vehicle concepts. Toyota’s bike, which connects physically and emotionally with its driver, particularly interested us, though seeming like a very far-fetched concept.

The entire show worked with clockwork precision and wonderful organization, minus the chaos and screaming. Right from registering for the show and receiving specific instructions for parking to receiving our identifications and finally touring the show, everything happened smoothly without any hassle or disappointment.

With many people driving or flying into Chicago for CAS specifically, the show is surely one of the most successful ones. According to Foresight Research conducted at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, nearly two-thirds of show visitors were intending to purchase a new vehicle in the next 12 months, a number that’s double the local market average. At the show, attendees spent an average of three hours and 43 minutes on the show floor. Furthermore, more than one-third of show goers added at least one brand to their shopping list. The 2014 show is surely an achievement as well from what we could see!

Valentine's Day 2014 - Love Luxuriously By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: February 3, 2014

We give you some options on how to pamper your sweetheart this 14th February!

It’s the L-month again, when everyone is hunting around for options and gifts to celebrate that day, irrespective of caste, colour or creed. And no magazine is complete without doing at least one story dedicated to Valentine’s Day in the month of February. Then how can we break that sacred, and sweet, tradition? We list some varied, exciting options for how you can treat your loved one this year!

Stayin’ alive

Who said Valentine’s Day can only be mushy? The destination of Orlando offers many exciting activities which couples can do together, and discover a whole new facet about each other and their relationship.

Participate in Bob's Balloon Flights over the beautiful central Florida, and start your day with a champagne toast and buffet breakfast, for USD 175 per person only. Continue that feeling with Walt Disney World's Wild Africa Trek. Journey just above Nile Crocodiles across a suspended rope bridge, get a close-up look at massive hippos, and enjoy the stunning views of giraffes and rhinos from an exclusive safari camp for USD 189 per person plus park admission. 


Your interaction with the wild is not over till you visit SeaWorld, where you can enter the water and see the beautiful and friendly beluga whales up and close together. Share an unforgettable experience with the one you love in this rare opportunity for USD 99 per person after park admission. Continue the day by heading towards Truffles and Trifles which offers several evenings of Valentine's Day themed cooking classes that will ensure a delicious meal and a fun, romantic night together for USD 140 per couple.


Orlando is also hosting the Winefest XXIV at Lakeride Winery & Vineyards, from February 14 – 16, where you can enjoy an extensive variety of table wines. Over 80 local artists and crafters are invited to display their work as you enjoy live music alongside.

Clinking flutes

Probably all hotels across the world have something planned for Valentine’s Day. And while we can’t mention all of those fabulous programmes, there are some that caught our eye especially.

Make a beeline for Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou’s Festive Celebrations package which includes a Premier Suite Stay and a private viewing at Cartier – perfect for adding sparkle to the occasion. One of the best combinations of love and luxury we have seen.

Visit The Imperial New Delhi and you and your love will be spoilt to your heart’s content. San Gimignano, their Tuscan Italian restaurant, is offering a specially crafted five course aphrodisiac menu and a bottle of sparkling wine in a visually stunning canopy setting. Put together under a starlit sky, it is priced at INR 50,000 + taxes per couple. Our special favourite at the hotel, Spice Route, is also offering a South East Asian five course menu with a bottle of sparkling wine with the traditional Thai Khantok seating, artistically raised on a wooden platform and beautifully lit up with candles. Priced at INR 50,000 + taxes per couple again, bring out the epicurean in you and enjoy each other’s company.

Take your love to new heights at the Tower Club at lebua’s restaurants in Bangkok. Reach for the stars as you enjoy a seven-course dinner for two at the famous Mediterranean restaurant Sirocco for THB 21,999++ per couple. Sirocco is the highest alfresco restaurant in the world, and offers a breathtaking backdrop to this annual celebration of love. In India, the brand offers Devi Garh by lebua, Udaipur, a magnificent 18th century palace overlooking hills and a traditional village. At the property, indulge in a two nights romance package which includes private dining experience, daily Champagne breakfast, double massage at la Terre Spa by L’Occitane (or treatment of same value) for 90 minutes; a romance bath ceremony with candles, fresh milk, honey and roses and many more romantic touches throughout your stay. Priced at INR 79,000, the resort has made the complete checklist for this special day!

If a private dinner appeals more, Chandon makes it a tad bit easier with its Brut Rose wine. Place it on the table, and half your planning is done, as it heightens the romance quotient of the evening incredibly. A vibrant rose gold with hints of pink peach skin and a fine persistent effervescence, the Chandon Brut Rosé is created with Shiraz and Pinot Noir grapes. On the palate, the wine holds a rich, creamy texture with a crisp 'Brut' finish.

That red box

But all this celebration falls flat if you don’t have that gift ready! Shopping for a gift for women is easy. Louis Vuitton Horlogerie’s two new models in the Tambour Monogram collection, however, particularly caught our eye as a potential gift option. The Tambour Monogram Valentine’s Day 2014 edition has a mother-of-pearl dial set with 11 diamond indexes. It has a bright coloured strap in red Pomme d’amour Vernis leather. Available in 28 and 33 mm, the watches have a quartz movement.

A girl never has enough makeup. Knowing that, Bobbi Brown has launched a special, vintage collection, which will forever remain close to your darling’s heart. With retro red colour lip shade; shades like ivory, golden pink metallic and chocolate bronze for the eyes; and solid gold glitter nail paint, you won’t be able to make your girl any happier…

Cuff links for men are a cliché, but Paul Smith offers such delightful little designs that you and your man won’t be able to resist them. From tiny colourful cars to matchsticks, you will be spoilt for choice. And nothing pleases a man more than having a stylish drink. Tumi’s Earl Grey Mixology set, therefore, seems like the perfect gift for him according to us. So hand it over to him and see that lovely, mischievous smile spread over his face!

Enter The Big Door By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: January 1, 2014


Starting with jewellery and home décor artifacts, The Big Door in Mumbai knows how to pay respect to Indian heritage! Bring the opulence into your home too.


To every fortress, there is The Big Door. And behind every Big Door, is a story, or two.


Launched on October 18, 2013, a distinctive store aptly named 'The Big Door', intends on infusing Mumbai with the best of Indian jewellery, handcrafted home decor and heritage collectibles. At first glance, you may classify it as a jewellery store and then an antique furniture or collectibles store, but if you linger just a little bit longer, the store offers much more than what meets the eye.


Presented by Vivek and Sunita Gupta, a couple with a love for Indian heritage products, the store is located at the foot of Pali Hill and is an effort to make art and grandeur a part of your life. Spread across an area of 7,500 sq. ft, each piece is created exclusively and can be customised, and that's where it hits the nail on the head because I'm sure you can't possibly squeeze a grand four poster bed made of silver into any of Mumbai’s space starved rooms. But when you offer a miniature version of the same without compromising on the grandeur and style, I know they have caught your attention. And while their jewellery and interiors transport you to a rich Indian past, the creations so passionately spoken about lend a lasting statement of style. Is Mumbai ready for a concept like this? We think so.


Style and smiles

The Big Door, so called because of literally a larger than life door that will powerfully invite you into its warm and quaint chambers, is said to house Mughal, Nizam and Rajput inspired jewellery from Ravi Jewels, Jaipur. Named after Ravi Ajmera, who hails from a family that has over three generations of experience in the craft of fine jewellery, the brand offers limited and one of its kind statement pieces. Ajmera is said to have met the royal families of Rajasthan as well as their court jewellers to understand original designs and techniques. I can feel you getting tempted, so go ahead and pay a visit to the store at least once.


Ranging from precious and semi-precious jewellery, set in gold, silver and silver-gold plated metal, to Victorian, polki and jadau pieces, each of the mesmerising creations is unique, design oriented and exhibit fine workmanship, tradition and exclusiveness. And if this diverse range was not enough, you can also custom design your jewellery at The Big Door.


Moving to styling up your humble abode, take a walk to the interiors section of The Big Door. Each creation is a conversation piece sourced from all across the country and is a product of the aesthetic sensibility of Hemant Periwal who established Mayur Arts in Udaipur. Every home will have a story to tell when adorned with pure silver furniture inspired from the Raj period or marble fountains and jalis, traditional pichwai from Rajasthan, bronze work from South India, Persian calligraphic fauna, antiques or even intricate woodwork. The options are endless! At The Big Door, you can have anything that your heart desires. Even the ceiling with mirror work and miniatures can be yours! While walking around the store, two prominent products caught my eye, which I would want in my house! One is a four poster Queens bed made from 75  per cent silver on teak wood and is inspired from the French renaissance period with floral motifs.


Another eye catcher is a necklace - a Victorian design - made with diamonds and emeralds set on silver. Inspired from old ethnic jewellery using grey diamonds in a close setting, this one is a must-add to your collection.


A traditional effort

Talking about The Big Door, Mr Gupta, Partner, comments, "It’s an effort to bring back the value of our traditions with original genuine art pieces, showcased on an apt platform and reviving the past. It’s our passion for genuine art that inspired this project. It’s very close to our hearts and we shall make sure our customers have a memorable experience.”


The significance of The Big Door harks back to the idea of an auspicious passage into a fortress, in this case a fortress of beauty. The logo for The Big Door is a blend of Indian motifs, and is called The Conchflower, inspired by the first greeting or welcome in any Indian household – the rangoli. Within its curves are the auspicious conch and a swastika.


The collectors’ items at The Big Door weave hidden tales, just like the logo. Let the designs do the talking as you indulge in some opulence. You will be spoilt for choices but when you do finally make up your mind, you are promising to take home not just an artifact or a jewel, but an aspect of our generous Indian heritage, a legacy in fact.


All in all, the duo’s chief challenge is to present Mumbai with a distinctive store that saves the secrets of Indian artistry and makes you feel at home. Look out for this brand new store in Khar and experience the mystic Indian heritage right at your doorstep!

The Bride & Her Jewels By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: December 27, 2013

Will this season be filled with diamonds, polkis or coloured stones? Let's find out.

It's that time of the year again when jewellery, fused with fashion, takes centre stage. As the wedding season approaches, some brides are seen breaking their heads over their wedding, and then there are some who have it all together. Preparations for the wedding seem endless, be it food, invites, décor, garments or jewellery. Apart from the lehenga and the food, it’s the jewellery that perhaps commands the most attention at any wedding.

An integral part of a bride’s wedding trousseau, jewellery adds the perfect dash of effervescence to any outfit. Finding the right bridal jewellery can turn out to be an arduous task. Every bride wants to feel like a princess on her special day. Adding a touch of elegance are the diamond neckpieces that will be a perfect match for a blushing bride’s graceful attire, adorned with rubies or emeralds. Or polki sets that reflect tradition and authenticity of Indian culture. Be it a quaint or a contemporary bride, brands today offer effortlessly graceful jewellery designs which can be adorned with the age-old traditional or contemporary Indian ensemble. So what are you picking?

Brides, today

Bridal jewellery today is traditional yet contemporary. Trends are evolving practically every season. So how should today's bride decide? "Most brides prefer jewellery that are heirloom pieces but can be worn on several occasions and are not just locked away. Brides always prefer jadau, uncut diamonds and polki. Growing popular are the solitaires these days with the cocktail ring as a highlight that can be worn on functions such as the reception, cocktail nights, sangeet, etc.," said Mr. Sunil Datwani, owner of Gehna Jewellers. Ask the team at Jasani, The Jewellery Lounge, and they will explain that though diamonds have always been a girl’s best friend, her social circle today extends to include rubies, emeralds, pearls, topaz, amethyst and other beautifully coloured stones. Colours add sheen to your otherwise plain diamond jewellery, and you can even match the colours to your wedding dress! Fancy shaped diamonds like pears, marquise, emerald cut, princess and ovals, look stunning when mixed with traditional round diamonds, so you can literally combine anything to suit your fancy and create an absolutely unique look!


As we have already established, the Indian bride is more creative than just relying on the trusty diamond. "With changing times, the assortment of bridal jewellery today ranges from diamonds and emeralds to tanzanites, pearls and corals. From uncut diamonds to more contemporary jewellery, India has taken a step forward in designing. There has been a tremendous evolution in jewellery trends," said Mr Biren Vaidya, MD of Rose Jewellery. He furthered, while yellow gold is the first choice for bridal jewellery, the modern bride is taking a step ahead and breaking the mould. "The modern bride likes a mix of gemstones in her wedding jewellery. Design and craftsmanship too play an important part in choosing one’s wedding trousseau," he said.

The design varies from bride to bride depending on factors like her personal taste, body structure and clothes that she’ll be wearing for the wedding day. For the bridal theme, gemstones like diamonds, rubies, pearls and emeralds set in white and yellow gold are seen making an appearance almost always. Yellow gold is dominant for the more traditional wedding. And for evening functions like receptions and parties, diamonds with white gold take a bow.

Designs, and yet more

"A lot of times, brides experiment with the maang tikkas and the kadhas (bangles). These jewellery pieces can be crafted in interesting ways with a tinge of colour from precious and semi precious stones," said Mr Datwani. Brides are seen breaking conventions and are not afraid to experiment with unique jewellery. The chandbaalis available at Gehna have won a lot of popularity. Their Mashrabiyas collection, inspired by architecture, is also preferred for a lot of occasions owing to its versatility, including weddings.

But how does a bride break the clutter and set a trend for others to take a cue from? Ask the team at Jasani and they will explain that the use of coloured diamonds is a new and upcoming option for today's brides. Shades of pink, yellow and brown are surely going to make your heart melt while the use of pearls in necklaces and earrings will add the ideal finishing touch to your jewellery according to them. Embellished mangtikkas and turban headgears are a must this season according to them, and the idea behind wedding jewellery is to wear it with style, and not overdo it. So if classic pieces like a single string of diamonds or even fancy coloured pearl string does it for you, then who are we to stop you?

Agreeing with this is Mr Vaidya, and he explained, "Colours, I feel, is the new trend and this has been the inspiration for our Colours of Life collection. In terms of designs, pieces that take inspiration from the nature with motifs like flowers, paisleys, leaves and others, are something that is seen often lately. Metallic hues of gold like rose and dull gold is also something that lends a strong bridal appeal." The bride today, therefore, is not necessarily looking for heavy or multiple jewellery. One classy, unique piece – and she is done and adorned!


Intricate and lovely

While weddings continue to get more intricate and detailed, the jewellery must balance and, of course, complement the entire occasion. "Weddings have always been an important part of our traditions giving in to big celebrations. The detail specific weddings, destination weddings, themes etc., do add an element of fun and frolic. In terms of jewellery, the brides become more selective. Most of the times, the jewellery for the traditional pheras remains ethnic, and for other occasions, the brides prefer theme specific jewellery like floral, coloured stones, solitaire, cocktail rings etc.," said Mr Datwani.


Mr Vaidya, on the other hand, points out that the cultural and social element of any country plays a vital role in almost everything! "The wedding industry today has grown into an empire and is relatively huge. Everything, right from the jewellery ,clothes, flowers, music and many other elements that are a part of the ceremony, can be catered by the wedding industry today," he said. Jewellery has always been an integral part of the Indian culture and will continue to remain the same. There's no denying that!

Even the team at Jasani agrees and has come to terms with the fact that the Indian bride and groom are spreading their wings and want to personalise their wedding. Becoming more detail specific and having a fixed idea in mind, they simply know what they want. This is also true in respect of jewellery and brides today prefer to give a personalised touch to their jewellery. She takes pride in wearing a one of a kind piece owned only by her. Bride and groom are well educated about diamonds and jewellery trends and hence come up with their own ideas to style every piece on their own…It can be as simple as getting your names engraved on the ring or wearing your birthstone or even mix and match designs to suit your style.

Have you sketched out your jewellery in your mind?

Christie's - Auction Anticipation By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: December 12, 2013

Luxury auction market in IndiaWhen the global economic crisis scorched the globe in 2008, one of the most spectacular losers was the nascent Indian art market. Indian art had seen a quantum leap in valuation between 2000 and 2007, with the stock of many contemporary artists rising more than hundredfold. And then the crash happened, and many opportunistic investors are still chasing gallerists who sold them the duds, to find a buyer a tenth of the price they paid!


Well, the following years have not been easy, even though the India Art Fair gave a much needed fillip to the market by keeping it afloat. Art aficionados are hoping that Christie’s, the largest global art auctioneers, will provide another leg up to this struggling sector when it has its first auction in India on December 19, almost 20 years after it set up office here in 1994. A high profile art event such as this one could be a gauge of the extent of renewal.


Christie’s first auction in India, incidentally its 12th auction room in the world, will feature 83 modern and contemporary Indian arts, estimated to fetch $6-8 million. Going under the hammer will be artworks by modern masters and leading Bengal School artists such as S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, M.F. Husain, V.S. Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, FN Souza, Amrit Shergil, Tagores – Rabindranath, Abanindranth and Gagendranath, Ganesh Pyne, Nandalal Bose, Ram Kinkar Baij, Somnath Hore and Jamini Roy, while works of more contemporary artists such as Anju Dodiya, Shibu Natesan and Jitish Kallat feature too.


The targets are modest, especially when compared to prices of works such as Raza’s Saurashtra, which sold for $3.4 million in 2010, and the sale of Tyeb Mehta’s Mahisasura, which had spurred the Indian art market by selling at $1.58 million in 2005.


Luxury auction market in IndiaAmong the collections that will be on sale, one is by Mumbai-based gallerists duo, the late Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy of Gallery Chemould. The Gandhys started collecting in the 1940s, and played a significant role in establishing modern Indian art. “Together Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, initially through their framing business and later on at Gallery Chemould, prepared the framework for young artists to thrive. The value of their support and patronage to this group is reflected among the works of art in their collection,” said Mr Hugo Weihe, International Director, Asian Art, Christie’s. Mr Wiehe incidentally had met Gandhy’s eldest daughter in Switzerland years ago, and from then had connected with the family.


Mr Wiehe also stresses the importance of Tagore and his role in shaping thought, and opines that the Bengal school works should be valued much more.


Auctions of Indian art have hitherto been held abroad, by Christies, and other auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Bonham’s. Dr Amin Jaffer of Christie’s says, “The drivers of the market were high net worth Indians living abroad, mainly in America and the UK. Indian art auctions have therefore been held in New York and London.” He, however, points to a shift that indicates buyers would prefer to buy in India. "We will look at the response of this auction closely to understand the market, says Dr Jaffer. This would eliminate the 14.7 per cent import tax and reduce the cost of transport considerably.


There is also a strong collector base in India, feels Mr Weihe, underscoring the need to focus on the country. “We hope to attract resident collectors,” he says. “We want to raise recognition about Indian art, not just in London and New York, but also in India. Everyone wants to learn about India, its India’s moment now.” 


About putting the collection for this auction together, Sonal Singh, a specialist at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary art department, says the auction was very clear that they had a few boxes to check. This included having some specific artists, a concentration on quality and about 80 -90 lots to sell. “As it is an evening sale, we wanted a tight sale of the best quality,” says Ms Singh, keeping her fingers crossed for a good response to the auction.


Luxury art auction market in IndiaFor an inaugural sale, we are cautious,” stresses Mr Jaffer, though he also expects that the auction will be a success. He mentions that Christie’s will analyse the sale post auction, and will decide further on making it an annual feature in the Indian art calendar. As for the return of the contemporary artists to greater financial favour, Mr Jaffer says, “We believe they will have staying power. The joy of contemporary art also lies in its unpredictability.” Christie’s usually has bigger sales of Indian art in New York and London, and has quite a number coming up in 2014.


In what is surely a first sign of a geographically broader art market, 15 per cent of Christie’s bidders have been from Asia this year. Incidentally, this year saw the auction house host its first sale in mainland China, in Shanghai, in September. Of course, its Hong Kong office has had a long run of success since its first auction there in 1986. Christie’s global network includes 10 auction centres and 53 offices in 32 countries It conducts auctions in 80 different categories worldwide. Christie’s links to India go back to 1766 when founder James Christie offered ‘four fine India pictures painted on glass’ in its inaugural sale. In 1995, it held its first India art sale in London. The news of its first Indian auction has certainly created ripples in the Indian market. Irrespective of how it goes, it is a significant milestone for Indian art. The auction has works by six artists designated ‘National Treasures’, and whose works by law, cannot be sold outside India.


The auction in Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel was preceded by a preview exhibition in Delhi from December 7-9, 2013. To what extent it will help revive confidence in valuations of Indian art remains to be seen, though it will refocus the spotlight on the best of Indian art.

Suman Tarafdar luxury writerSuman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.

My Tailor Home - Seeking Inspiration By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: December 9, 2013

Adding that unique, eclectic touch to your space, My Tailor Home knows how to bring the best of all worlds…

Making a house a home takes a lot of effort, love and imagination. But, of course, in the end it is all worth it, because as they say - home is where the heart is. And if you are left with a dazzling home that you can call your own, why not? Does your heart desire bespoke designs to reflect your unique personality? I am sure it does and that’s why we have two visitors from France who will attempt at turning your concept into reality. The two founders of My Tailor Home, Isabelle Vernhes and Philippe Coudray, are both passionate about beautiful objects and travel, and want to offer unique French creations in India to aid professionals and private clients, and spearhead French taste in luxury decor. Thus, the showroom of My Tailor Home, based in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai was set up.

It might be a little difficult to locate the store, but you can call them and all possible help will be given to you. Laid out in the form of small display scenes of items designed and produced by artisan-artists, eclectic, warm and refined feelings will greet you as you acquaint yourself with the heritage of each brand present, reflecting the image of the city where it has been established. An absolute haven for interior designers and individuals passionate about design, as well as builders, hotels, restaurants and wedding planners, go ahead and work on your interior decoration projects, and also complete them with items and fine pieces from the numerous luxury brands present. The 12 brands showcased at My Tailor Home are all working on Haute Couture interiors in France and across the world, with the objective of leaving you with a home that will impress, and pave the way for interior excellence.

The start in India

A first of its kind studio in India to offer a range if bespoke furniture and pieces of art made by French traditional “artisan d’art” (art craftsmen), My Tailor Home opened its doors in February this year. Travel, encounters, cultural discoveries, a love of India and of beautiful objects, have transported the two associates into this new adventure much to our glee. It was a dream for the duo to create a showroom in India, as they loved all the moments they spent in the country. The optimistic nature they observed about the country, that everything is possible here with people who are confident about the future and always on the look out for something new, motivated them in launching this new concept and adventure.

My Tailor Home differentiates itself from other interior showrooms by providing bespoke and made-to-measure items and a personalised service, along with surprising collections of furniture and pieces of art. We assure you that you will be spellbound, enchanted by the stunning creations, and will be racking your mind as to where you could place these pieces in your home! With designers that will work closely with professionals and individuals in order to build a unique and exceptional décor, one is free to choose from collections. But definitely make use of their bespoke and made to measure services, which enables you to mix the designers ideas, expertise and talent, with your desires. The result is simple. Fantastic Indian-French décor!

Coming to India, in a country where tradition is a must, the team believes expertise from overseas can be well understood and received. "Each country and civilization has its specialty with India providing the best silk for example, or the best jewelry. Our brands want to bring their ancestral know-how and offer it to its clients, in terms of upholstery (inheritance from the royal period), bathroom fittings (first products were made in France), porcelain and also share rare products such as precious alabaster, or LED light techniques," said Ms Caroline Joire of My Tailor Home.

The need to be unique

Indians are a different lot of people, and so, understanding the Indian psyche is most important. Since 2008, Ms Vernhes and Mr Coudray have been participating in events, fairs and were part of different studies and researches in order to see if an offer like the one provided by My Tailor Home would be interesting.

The team also understands that gifting is a big part of the Indian social behavior. My Tailor Home offers a collection of accessories and decorative items hence. "Our designers have complete collections for homes and interiors decoration, from customized tableware (ideal for a wedding gift, anniversary, housewarming, new family member welcoming…), vases, sculptures, designer lamps and anything else that your heart may desire. These products are the perfect gifts as they will be original, unique and for most of them can be customised on the clients wishes, something that you will always be remembered for," said Ms Joire.

The family

With My Tailor Home, Ms Vernhes and Mr Coudray take along with them on this Indian Journey all those, who, like themselves, possess a rare know-how and the vision of artisan-art as an ambassador of the French way of life and tradition. There are 12 brands that come together as part of this family and have been known to deliver quality and expertise - guaranteed.

The two founders of My Tailor Home are also the Directors of the French brand Ateliers Philippe Coudray. As an Haute Couture upholsterer, Mr Coudray often partners with other designers in luxurious projects. That is when his interactions with the 'family' began and led to this beautiful team being formed. In order to select the ones who will be part of the projects, they first selected the ones with a rare know-how, like Philippe Coudray, and the ones with whom he appreciated working with on exceptional projects. Moreover, the other brands offer products and services that the two founders appreciate, which complement what they offer. It is then not only about the product, but also about the person - after all, building a family is no easy task!

Works by Klaus Dupont caught our eye quite fast. He creates pieces of art from contrasting materials with compositions often made from antic brass, bronze and murano glass, installed on plinths of marble or painted wood. Some of the bases are finished with leaf gliding or silvering. Floating on top of them are exquisite fragments of dyed Chinese coral, tree-like corals (gorgonian) or obelisk crystal/agates. Mr Dupont also experiments with antelope horns, antlers and rock pagodas, feathers, ostrich eggs and unique beads. Needless to say, each piece is absolutely unique.

Having a different interpretation altogether is Jean Boggio. Usually seen as a UFO in a professional universe dominated by minimalism and black and white, Mr Boggio claims a candy side recalling his childhood. He likes calling himself "permanent child adult", and likes to work through a young and juvenile eye. His creations are colourful, eclectic, full of small details which you can discover day-by-day, and represent joy and beauty of life. Through his collection of jewellery, furniture and decorative items in porcelain, silk and other magic materials, he takes us all into his fairy tale world, and makes us feel the tremendous sentiment that life is about joy, colours and beauty.

By no means does this limit the creativity at My Tailor Home. So go ahead, explore more brands, and you’ll find yourself recreating that atmosphere in your space…

Coordinates: Unit no 16th/2nd Floor, Evergreen Industrial Estate, Shakti Mill Lane, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, India

Rolls-Royce - Edge of Desire By: Suman Tarafdar

Posted on: October 7, 2013

The powerful new Rolls-Royce Wraith has just driven into India, with a price tag of Rs 4.6 crore


There aren’t many cars that speak status as openly as a Rolls-Royce. In an era when many cars are sold annually in millions, Rolls-Royce sold 3,575 cars globally last year. And that was a record for the company! 

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the Wraith, much like a Bollywood star from a bygone era, emerged from behind a smokescreen at the brand showroom in Delhi, its first appearance in India recently. That Rolls-Royces aren’t for everyone is a given. Priced at Rs 4.6 crore in India, the Wraith is more expensive than the Rs 3.6 crore Ghost, touted as the volume car for the Goodwood, UK-based super luxury car brand. The top level model, Phantom, starts in India with a base price tag of Rs 6.1 crore, with the final price depending on the level of customisation required.

The Wraith is being positioned as the most powerful Rolls-Royce motor car ever made. The luxury four-seater, two door coupe 2,360 kg, 17.3 foot long vehicle is powered by a twin-turbo V12 engine coupled with an eight-speed automatic ZF transmission. The engine can generate 624 brake horse power and attain 0-100 km speed in 4.6 seconds. The Wraith debuts the most intelligent drive train ever to feature in a Rolls-Royce, including the application of ground-breaking technologies like Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT). This processes GPS data to predict the driver’s next move and automatically select the right gear for the road ahead.

Said to be ‘edgy’, the car is aimed at a younger buyer. The signature coach doors, the distinctive crest and a fastback design are combined with two tone presentation of diamond black lower and silver sand upper paint. Interiors measure up, though as in other Rolls’ the customer is free to customise as desired. There’s voice activation, and navigation requires no manual input, all part of the on-board valet system.

Design details like the expansive Canadel panelling, and blood orange needle tips for speedometer and power reserve gauge, hint further at agility, speed and performance. Look upwards, however, and Rolls-Royce presents something more traditional – at least for the 21st century. Starlight headliner – offered for the first time beyond the Phantom range – features thousands of tiny fibre optic lamps hand-woven by craftspeople into the roof lining.

It comes to India ahead of many other markets as the company sees India as one of its growth markets in the near future, economic slowdown notwithstanding. “We have seen an exceptional last year. We are confident of surpassing targets that the company has set. India continues to be one of the strongest markets and we expect the sales momentum to continue even this year,” said Mr Herfried Hasenoehrl, General Manager, Emerging Markets-Asia, Rolls-Royce Motor at the launch of the vehicle.

Mr Hasenoehrl is bullish about India, and says there is a need to be closer to the customer. While Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad have a showroom each, two more are opening this year in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. About seven in total would be good number, he feels, which he also points out will make it the highest number for a country in south and south east Asia. Of course, there is no country the size or population of India in this region. Incidentally, in 2011, Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos had set an annual sales target of 100 cars for India, which Hasenoehrl feels can be met with more showrooms.

The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of German auto major BMW, declines to name how many cars it had sold in India since it came here five years ago. Though an intrinsically British brand oozing traditional values, of late China has emerged as the top market for it. India is now the third largest market for the company in Asia, excluding China. Yadur Kapur, whose Select Motors sells the brand in New Delhi, says the Wraith is sold out globally and that “the Wraith will change boundaries for Rolls-Royce”. He is confident about the market, observing that a cross section of Indians have been buying into the Rolls-Royce story.

India is being widely seen as one of the future growth areas for the luxury car segment, which had two per cent market share with 52,940 units sold in 2011-12 in India. The premium segment, led by German majors Mercedes, BMW and Audi, have held their own despite the downturn. While Tata Motors acquisition of British marquee brands Jaguar and Land Rover in 2007 made India a second home for the brands, advent of other supercar brands such as Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini have brought these brands much closer home. Aston Martin, and Fiat’s Italian brands Ferrari and Maserati, all opened showrooms in India in 2011.

The car is now on a three-month tour of major Indian cities as potential customers get a closer look. On order, delivery takes about three months, and the company expects the first ones to be on road around the end of the year. How many actually buy this ultimate status symbol, whether due to constrained budgets, or fear of the taxman, remains to be seen. But if you can afford it, a waft in the new Wraith will be an experience unlike any!

Suman Tarafdar is a journalist and writer based in Delhi. He has worked with a number of leading Indian media organisations, and writes on various aspects of luxury, lifestyle and culture. When not writing to earn a living, he likes to travel, read, cook, chat, shop and watch all kinds of soppy stuff on tv. Yes, current politics bothers him.

A. Lange & Soehne - One Giant Leap By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: May 24, 2013

As soon as you enter the A. Lange & Soehne store in the sprawling Dubai Mall, you are greeted by an elegantly attired space, smiling staff and their fascinating watches right in front of your eyes. The store epitomizes the philosophy of Lange, which is perfection.

A. Lange & Soehne SIHH 2013 watch

Incredibly, the A. Lange & Soehne store in Dubai Mall, is the largest yet the brand has globally. And it is quite impressive may we add. Divided into three sections, in the entry area itself you could admire some timepieces from the brand, while also browsing through a short history of the brand which has been creatively presented just opposite the entrance.

Step further inside and you’ll see an elegant area with two sales corners where the well-trained sales executives of the brand present Lange creations to potential customers. A worker’s table on one side, furnished with all the necessary tools, gives walk-in guests a live insight into the making of a watch. And a television on the wall shows the intricacies and behind-the-scenes of what makes Lange.

The third area, located further inside, is a plush VIP Lounge, where special guests can consider and marvel Lange watches with ease and comfort. The book lined walls add that extra touch of sophistication and classiness to the lounge. And if you browse through these chronological publications, you’ll be mesmerized with the incredible history and craftsmanship of A. Lange & Soehne.

And to be fair, I must put in a good word for the knowledgeable staff, who’ll tell you everything you ever need to know about the Lange watches. With the sprightly and bright staff, the customer experience at the Lange store is exemplary.

Watch wishlist

But while the store definitely wowed me, being my first visit to this particular Lange store, it was the new watches which I was keen to glimpse. To state a fact, not many ground-breaking innovations have come up in the recent years in the watchmaking industry. Considering that, I sincerely believe that A. Lange & Soehne has gone beyond convention, and crafted watches this year which are a step above the usual pieces you see by everyone.

I gasped as the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” came up on the screen during the presentation of the new watches. Featuring the brand’s signature outsize date, the Grand Lange 1 – inspired from Lange 1 – snatches your full attention with its attractive dial. The watch, which is limited to 200 pieces only in platinum cases, has a semi-transparent dial which exposes the ingenious mechanism of the first luminescent outsize date display by Lange. Parts of the dial consist of semi-transparent sapphire crystal. Only the outer ring and the surfaces of the displays for hours and minutes as well as small seconds are made of blackened silver. The sapphire crystal surfaces reveal the disc mechanism of the outsize date that glows in the dark. Additionally, the time and the power reserve are also legible in the dark.

A. Lange & Soehne SIHH 2013 watchQuite a bit of thought and prowess has gone behind ‘lighting’ this watch. The tens cross is coated with a white luminous compound and subsequently imprinted with black numerals, while the units disc consists of transparent glass imprinted with black numerals and rotating before a luminous background. The sapphire crystal sections of the dial are treated with a special coating that blocks most of the visible light. For the invisible UV light spectrum, however, the coating is not a barrier. Therefore, UV radiation can pass through the luminous surface unhindered. Due to this, interestingly, the wearer can see the perlage (a manually-created design effect), which was normally seen only by the watchmaker. The small, overlapping circular graining produced by hand using a rotating abrasive peg is usually concealed underneath the dial. I think explaining too much will spoil the charm. You have to see it to realize the magic…

The 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar is another awe-inspiring watch. With a rattrapante (fly back) chronograph, a perpetual calendar, a moon-phase display and a power-reserve indicator, it includes quite a few complications. And if that wasn’t enough, I am absolutely fascinated by the 410 stars which have been created in the moon-phase display with the moon made in solid gold.

Of the 636 parts of the calibre, more than 200 components are part of the perpetual calendar mechanism. It not only knows the durations of all months in a year, but also indicates all leap years until the year 2100, after which the date must be manually advanced by one day. The paired calendar indications are positioned at 9 and 3 o’clock. The subsidiary dial on the left indicates the date and the day of the week, the one on the right the month and the leap year. The moon-phase only needs to be corrected by one day every 122 years. Arabic numerals, a railway-track minute scale, gold and blued hands as well as four round subsidiary dials in a clover-leaf configuration characterise the design of the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, being placed in a platinum or pink gold case with a diameter of 41.9 mm.

The most powerful of all

The pride of the pack, however, is the Grand Complication. This masterpiece, which took seven years of research to be conceived, takes a year to be made. To be limited to six beautiful pieces only, there is quite an interest in this watch already, with only one piece fully prepared. Chiming mechanism with grand and small strike, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph with minute counter and jumping seconds as well as a perpetual calendar with moonphase display – the watch has everything a collector could want.

If we get into details, this watch demands an entire article. With its many virtues, it makes sense to sift through and control to whom the watch goes. So if you are interested in this Euro 1.9 million watch, you have to apply. And if Lange finds you appropriate, you can purchase the watch from them. Snobbish you’d say? I absolutely second this move, because not everybody can understand the glory that A. Lange & Soehne stands for…

While this is not the complete collection, I found these three to be the most awe-inspiring. The 1815 Up/Down and Saxonia models feature in this year’s collection, making a complete set, which can be considered by men and women both!

Les Petits - Teaching Children Luxury By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: March 26, 2013

Kids today are born with a silver spoon – we have pretty much established that. And while parents pamper and indulge themselves, how can they leave their precious children behind? This global trend of giving kids the best of fashion has hit the Indian consciousness too.

And it was this that led Ms Swati Saraf to scout for a gift for her sister’s new born baby. “When we surveyed the market, there was hardly anything there. There was only Burberry at that time. And even if you go to GK or other places, you do find clothes for kids, but there is nothing special. It is regular stuff – clothes that you wear at home,” she said.

And thus Les Petits was born. India’s only multi-brand store retailing outfits and accessories for children from brands like Dior, Fendi, Blumarine and now Versace, Les Petits has made it its mission to dress children stylishly. It is a part of the burgeoning INR 30,000 crore kidswear industry, which is growing at a rate of 20-25 per cent in the words of Ms Saraf, and is estimated to reach INR 80,000 crore by 2015.

Sorting the jigsaw puzzle

But as is true largely with the luxury scene in India, opening Les Petits was no cakewalk. “Me and my husband did not have a background of retail when we were launching Les Petits. And the main question we had was what brands do we get into India? So deciding on the correct brands was the first priority,” Ms Saraf said. The kind of brands they chose was perfect. After all, moms wearing Dior and Fendi would obviously like to see their kids decked in the same!

Les Petits childrens storeTaking the luxury image seriously, as they should, they booked a space at DLF Emporio, which is the prime retail option for luxury brands. The interiors have been done by PLS Design who, as per their website, have also done work for brands like Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tom Ford and Vacheron Constantin among others. “There was great pressure because it was the first multi-brand boutique for luxury kidswear in India. And when you talk about luxury, the store also has to be like that. So those were the pressures, otherwise it has all been fine,” said Ms Saraf as she smiled.

The concept of international luxury brands has picked up in the past five years in India. Though we know and understand luxury, many people are probably not aware about international brands. So as we adults update our style quotient and wardrobe, is too soon to bring in the aspect of childrenswear in India? Ms Saraf begs to differ quite enthusiastically. “I don’t think it’s too soon. These brands have been there for quite a while in DLF Emporio and DLF Emporio has been there for almost five years now. And you know people travel so much these days. Awareness is already there. So I don’t think it’s the wrong time to enter. It is the perfect time because luxury in India is booming at a phenomenal rate, and kids’ luxury is also growing at the same time,” she says confidently.

Swati Saraf Les PetitsThe Les Petits team personally goes to select the collection that is stocked at the store subsequently. With 12 brands in their kitty, we are sure that’s not easy. And being India, they create their assortment carefully. “We do a lot of whites for summer and winter. But Indians are not very comfortable with whites all the time. They look for more colours definitely. They want a lot of accessories - accessories sell really well for us. And also we get a lot of feedback from customers on whatever we have sold in the past. We analyse what is doing well and what is not, and then select our collection. We keep improving as per the feedback,” said Ms Saraf.

One baby step at a time

Though the demand is there, she also admits that at times parents don’t understand the high pricing these clothes have. They have to explain it to them patiently, which is not easy at times. “But that’s how the market will grow,” she says as she shrugs her shoulders.

The multi-brand store is obviously a win-win situation for all, more so for the customers. A variety of choices helps in doing a mix-and-match to get the perfect look. As for Les Petits, it expands their scope of brands and the collections they bring in to satisfy the well-pampered, price-conscious Indian customer.

So as fairy-like princesses and little dapper gentlemen emerge confidently on the fashion scene, the luxury childrenswear market is set to grow in India, as fuelled by the sustainable expansion plans by Les Petits.

Fendi Casa - A Fashionable Home By: Priya Verma

Posted on: February 26, 2013

Fendi Casa HomeLuxury fashion brands like Bottega Veneta, Versace, Paul Smith and many more have marked their place in the heart and wardrobe of countless style aficionados around the globe, fulfilling their needs and dressing them fashionably. Since the last decade, however, many of these brands have formed a great connection with home decor too. Coming up with their own creations, they have maintained their aura and individuality in their interior collections as well.

The Italian fashion brand Fendi, which is well known for baguette handbags, was probably one of the first few to dabble into home décor, making sharp business and brand sense. In 1989, Fendi launched its home decor brand by the name of Fendi Casa, which soon bought a new approach to interiors.

The 23 year old brand believes in dressing up the room in the same manner as its fashion clients by adding bling, fur and leather. Fusing two creative inspiration, Fendi and Club House Italia (the official licensee of Fendi Casa), have given birth to a new concept of beauty by re-interpreting ordinary home furnishing design fashion through elegant spaces created using luxury materials like mink, sable, sheepskin and more for furnishings and other decorative elements. As is expected, Fendi pays attention to workmanship and ingenious extraordinary details. Fendi Casa truly takes luxury linen to a different level.

Fendi Casa Home IndiaFendi Casa is available in almost 60 nations including India where Terra Sans Home Couture is the exclusive distributor of the brand. Fendi Casa celebrated its 1st anniversary in India and also unveiled their new range of collection in January 2013. When asked about the collection, Seetu Kohli and Neha Nagar of Terra Sans Home Couture said, "The new collection is not just a design collection; it is an expression of art and a joyful fusion of design, functionality, aesthetics, comfort, style, originality and experience.”

Fendi Casa has always believed in the philosophy of minimalism. Clean surfaces, sleek lines, classic designs and monochromatic pieces define Fendi Casa. The cushion covers sport their signature inverse Fs with bling, thus, adding a touch of glamour to the room. The new collection comprises of Elizabeth's Arm Chairs, Marco Aurelio bed, Frangie and Epoque Dining Chairs, Brunello Dining Table, Raffles Coffee Table and Hemingway Coffee Tables which have been created using exquisite materials like exotic leathers, fur, horn, onyx, dark chromed steel, veneers and lacquers.

 When asked about how Fendi Casa fared in the past year, Ms Kohli and Ms Nagar said, "The experience has been amazing, consumers have increased and so has the demand for luxury living." That’s not very surprising considering the large following Fendi has. As India gets ready to spruce up its spaces, the Italian brand is more than ready to meet the Indian consumer’s imagination for elegant and enchanting homes. .

Coordinates: Terra Sans International Pvt. Ltd., Ground Floor, Paras Twin Tower, Tower - B, Sector -54, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon

Lord Mark Poltimore - Decoding India's Art By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: February 20, 2013

You know you are in for a treat when fashion and art get together under one roof. And that is exactly what Sotheby’s planned for us, as we caught up with their charming Deputy Chairman, Lord Mark Poltimore, to ask about his impressions of Indian art scene.

It was a glowing evening with an ambience exuberating art, fashion and culture. And the credit goes to the MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta, FN Souza and SH Raza artworks lined up on one side of the wall at The Imperial New Delhi, while the other side gave  a glimpse into the artisanal line of Indian designer duo Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla. 

But it was Sotheby’s, one of the world’s biggest auction houses, which brought all of them under one roof. Collector and author, Ms Amrita Jhaveri, selected 43 paintings from her collection, now named as Amaya Collection, which will be auctioned by Sotheby’s on March 19, 2013, in New York, in the Evening Sale. And it’s a completely private, black-tie affair we are told!

The collection comprises important modern and contemporary Indian Art produced during the second half of the 20th century through to the early 21st. These 43 lots, comprising artworks from Husain, Mehta, Souza, Raza, and Vasudeo Gaitonde, is estimated at approximately $5-7 million. Part of proceeds from the sale will fund a project space and lecture room at Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi.

On the same day, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla launched the much-hyped ‘India Fantastique’, a chronicle of their 25 year journey, which had already been launched by Sotheby’s in London.

Roaming among these artworks, we spotted the contemplative, but equally approachable Lord Mark Poltimore, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's, who was taking in the beauty of these canvases. On getting introduced, his face lit up with a bright smile. An art connoisseur and a treasure trove of knowledge on the subject, we decided to grill Lord Poltimore for some much-needed education on the world of art.

Soumya Jain: How did the collaboration with Amrita Jhaveri come about?

Lord Mark Poltimore: Well, it’s a long story, but I am lucky to be working with Amrita for about 10-15 years, since the time I was in Christie’s earlier. Now we have a wonderful, young lady working with us, who was also from Christie’s, Yamini Mehta. So with that connection and my connection and various other reasons, we decided to sell a small part of the collection in Sotheby’s New York. It’s only a small part, only 43 lots.

SJ: Forty three is not small!

MP: Well it is compared to her collection which is much, much bigger. I think Amrita thought that the collection is very big and she can’t see it all, so these are the pictures she and we have selected, to sell in New York.

SJ: On what basis did you select them?

MP: We always look for quality. We have been very careful about what we have selected. Also, the pricing is very conservative. We have tried to make it very realistic in today’s market. And, of course, Amrita had a huge influence because she had other pictures by the artists, and she had to be relaxed as well about what she was going to sell.

SJ: How does this collection add value to the Sotheby’s portfolio which is already very impressive?

MP: One of a kind it is (with a twinkle in the eye and a smile). For us, this is probably the most exciting collection we have ever had of Indian contemporary art. I think it launches our new team and Sotheby’s India with wonderful razzmatazz. So we have got the perfect scenario – a single owner collection, great examples of the artists works, and competitively well-estimated. We think this can inject the Indian market with hopefully lot of excitement. We believe in India, and I think it has huge potential, as you already know, with many more buyers now. I have been to the India Art Fair for instance, I was there for 5-6 hours, and it was fantastic! I am so excited by the buzz and so many people there. And I don’t think that was the scene 20 years ago! If we have seen that much change in, let’s say, 10 years, we will see even more changes in the future…

SJ: And the changes will be much quicker now…

MP: Of course, with internet and communication being so much quicker. So India is a vital part in our future plans.

SJ: What is your impression of this collection which is going to be auctioned? And which is your personal favourite out of these?

MP: Ohhh, that’s a difficult question. I have only seen, at this stage, a few of the works, not all 43, and I have always had a soft spot for Raza. But there are so many works I would like to buy…though I can’t afford to (said cheekily with a laugh). But I think we made a very strong choice of quality works here. We tried to get the best Husains, the best Mehtas…we have been very careful. So do I have a favourite? I am too greedy for that. I’d like to take all (again with a hint of naughtiness and smile).

SJ: What is it that distinguishes Indian art from, let’s say, European art?

MP: I think they are based on a subject matter, on many things that are important to India, like religion or everyday life or story telling. I would hate it if it became too westernized because they are losing their character then. What’s the point in looking at an object of which, in a way, you can’t determine its soul or origin? And I think where the Indians are being so clever is that they absorb what’s happening in the west and in the east, and they have taken what they like and made it their own. I think it’s a wonderful amalgamation of influences, but it’s always Indian.

SJ: How large is Indian art a part of Sotheby’s business?

MP: Well, we see from day to day, that more and more Indians are interested in art. Not only Indian works, but they are also buying impressionists, contemporary by international artists, objects like jewellery… So our business with Indian clients is growing every year, and when you look at the graph, it’s going nicely up.

SJ: How is an Indian art buyer/connoisseur different from one in western countries?

MP: I don’t think there is any difference really. There are some who are passionate and want to buy specific things for specific places. Others perhaps for decoration, but that’s the same in London or New York. I like the fact that it’s grown so quickly, this love for art. Twenty years ago, when I first came here, I don’t think people here loved their artists enough. They knew about them, but weren’t passionate about them. It’s lovely to see that art is being recognized. And I think they [artists] create something very important. You can be from any walk of life, and you can appreciate art and music, whether you are Icelandic or South African or Californian or Japanese, art and music are great communicators.

SJ: Do you approve of this trend of buying art for investment or because an artist is popular?

MP: I don’t think there is anything new about that trend. This is true all over the world. It’s not up to me to approve or disapprove a trend. There are artists that people feel comfortable with because of their names and therefore feel happy about buying. To a certain extent, it’s a status symbol. But I see a lot of people buying not for investment, but because they seriously love the object. I think that in every society, whether it’s a Gucci bag or you want to go to a concert with the greatest musicians, you are attracted by the name, but you are also attracted because you know there is quality there. By and large, they are important figures in the art world who create wonderful things. I don’t quite believe in your statement. I think it’s just human nature…

SJ: So according to you Indians are maturing?

Oh definitely! Indians are mature, they are savvy, and they are clever. They research! My goodness do they research! They check out the artist, go to galleries, go to fairs, buy books. It’s a very savvy, clever, educated buyer that’s in the market today.

SJ: Russia has been huge part of Sotheby’s business due to your efforts. Do you see India coming up to that level?

MP: Ahh! Russia has been huge for me, yes. It could get to that level. At the moment it’s not by any means. I mean the first Russian schools of art started in the 1850s and then continued until Russian revolution and beyond. And some of the great artists are making millions and millions of pounds. So it will happen, but it will take more time for the Indian market to catch up. Not exactly catch up, but get to that level. What has happened in India in the past 10 years has been absolutely phenomenal. If they keep that progress rate, who knows what may happen?

SJ: In India, we are absolutely enamoured by royals. How much does the royal title mean to you?

MP: (Laughs heartily) I am afraid it’s not a royal title. It’s just a title which my forebears were given by the king for services to them I guess. So, one is proud of ones name, but I don’t think in today’s world it’s that important anymore. I am proud of it, but at the same time, you know I am as ordinary as anyone else! And my children, I don’t know whether they’d like the name, because in English customs, the older son inherits the name. I don’t think my elder son would be keen at the moment. I think he’s rather embarrassed by it. And people always have an illusion that we live in a castle, we are old fashioned, and we have eye glass with the top hat and the cane, but it’s not like that. I live in a small farmhouse and I go to McDonalds, like everyone else does. I have to work for a start! That’s life! But it’s good, and I would prefer it like that any day…

Beckon the Luxury of Love By: LF Team

Posted on: February 8, 2013

Confused and jittery about what to gift on the approaching Valentine’s Day? We give you a luxurious selection to pick from.

As most will agree with us, there is nothing more luxurious and special than love. And we don’t need to remind anyone that the celebration day is approaching! Although quite a few would be dreading it too, we try to make the hassle easier for them by suggesting some wonderful gift and indulgence options, ranging from watches to spas to dinners!


If you have already showered her with numerous diamonds, then take it to a different level, and gift a diamond spa. The Imperial Salon at The Imperial New Delhi hotel offers Natura Bisse’s 90 minute Diamond DNA facial which promises lasting results and a happy Valentine! Setting you back by INR 8100 (plus taxes) only, the salon has thrown in a complimentary mini manicure or pedicure as well in the package.

Or why not simply indulge in a relaxing rendezvous together at Ananda in the Himalayas? Book a three or five night Couple Connect package and experience spa therapies in your very own couple's spa suite, and one special candlelight dinner with a bottle of house wine and customized menu. The luxurious spas you’ll be treated to include a romantic Himalayan Honey and Rose Facial and Aroma Cocoon. So hold hands across the bed as you drift into a calming sleep…

Jewels can speak!

A good, intelligent watch makes everyone’s heart swoon. Gift this heady feeling to your partner with well-crafted and subtle Lange 1 Daymatic watch. Manufactured by A. Lange & Sohne, the watch has a characteristic dial with a retrograde day-of-week indication that forms the perfect counterpoint to the outsize date display. The case has a diameter of 39.5 mm and is offered in yellow gold, pink gold and platinum.

Women can never tire of jewels. Gift her one and her smile will lighten more than those zillion diamonds and stones! Zoya’s Banaras collection stole our heart, as we are sure, will appeal to your lady love as well! These striking statement pieces use 22 karat yellow gold, polkis and diamonds, made immortal with techniques such as partaj, chitai and intricate banarasi meenakari and the use of exquisite stones such as malachite, turquoise and pink opals. See the spiritual bliss spreading on her face…

A Moroccan adventure

Feeling a tad bit exotic? Whisk off your love to Marrakech where the stunning resort, Amanjena, has planned dinner by candlelight in a Moroccan olive grove for Valentine’s Day. Located on the outskirts of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Marrakech in Morocco, Amanjena presents beautiful views of the High Atlas Mountains. Dine beneath the retractable skylight in the elegant onyx-columned Le Restaurant as Moroccan musicians set the mood. Or enjoy a private dinner set in a candle-lit olive grove within Amanjena’s caidal tent, beguiled by the romance of the Moroccan night. For accommodation, a maison at Amanjena starts at Euro 1,900 (approximately INR 1,35,400)

Love on the table

Nothing beats the old-fashioned way of expressing your love and spending time together – a private dinner. Overdo on the pink factor and visit Fairmont Jaipur where an exquisite five course meal complemented with a welcome glass of wine or champagne awaits you, enhanced with captivating views of the Aravalli hills. Savour signature champagne cocktails and dance the night away starting at INR 5000 per couple.

The opulent surroundings of Le Cirque at The Leela Palace New Delhi will instantly make a couple feel special! So make your way to this French-Italian restaurant where a romantic ambience, sheer elegance with a live kitchen, and breathtaking views of the city will make this an unforgettable experience. Be welcomed with a glass of Champagne as the Chef orchestrates a finely crafted set menu, which is priced at 6,500 + taxes per person.

The Zodiac Grill at Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai takes love and grandness to a higher level. With designer tableware, lilting tunes of a pianist, the magical ambience cast by a star-spangled dome and glowing candlelit tables, pamper your partner through an 11 course menu and a truly romantic evening for INR 15,000 per person.

JW Marriott in Mumbai also has many options to fall back on. The one we got attracted to most is the exclusive five course aphrodisiac French meal at Thai Pagoda where a moon-lit sky, the pool and a bottle of champagne will ensure privacy and delight for INR 35,000 + taxes.

Clink the flutes

Talking about champagne, nothing spells romance better than it! Certainly not better than a seductive and customizable Moët Rosé Impérial! You can personalize your bottle of love with your own message and spinning some memorable moments to cherish forever. The premium ‘Love Case’ includes a pen and an elegant booklet with an array of stickers to personalize and decorate the bottle, along with the Moët Rosé Impérial bottle of course. And instead of heading out, why not create your own dinner date with a beautifully paired menu, as guided by Moët Rosé Impérial’s dedicated iPhone and iPad application?

Hoping we have given you enough to keep you busy and buzzing with love, LuxuryFacts wishes you a very romantic (and peaceful) Valentine’s Day!

Globe-Trotter - An Elegant Trot! By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: February 5, 2013

The travel season is coming up and quite soon at that. How about rethinking your luggage options along with refurbishing your holiday wardrobe? India has Globe-Trotter now!

I heard about Globe-Trotter for the first time when fashionista Pernia Qureshi did a column for us on bridal trousseaus. Since then, we have bided time, and waited for the brand’s entry in India.

This heritage and niche luggage brand has finally hit the Indian shores with Entrack Heritage Products Pvt Limited. Also credited with bringing Montblanc to India, Entrack is the exclusive distributor for Globe-Trotter in the country. Making news recently, the first Indian Globe-Trotter store has now opened at the posh ITC Maurya Sheraton & Towers, in the Diplomatic Enclave area, in New Delhi.

In a market overflowing with Louis Vuitton luggage and cases, Globe-Trotter will bring a fresh air to the luxury luggage scene in India. A brand focusing on craftsmanship and uniqueness, not many know that Globe-Trotter has been receiving patronage from many opinion leaders and celebrities like Sir Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, Daniel Craig, Kate Moss, Dita von Teese and Kylie Minogue. Founded in 1897, the brand has been serving connoisseurs for more than 100 years now.

One of the most iconic traditions of Globe-Trotter is its tough, aesthetic corners, which are produced by the leather team, who form the corners over a period of 5-days on antique Victorian presses. Is that a scratch or a nick you see on your case? Don’t worry! Loyalists say that the older it gets, the more artisanal it looks. Beyond just a pretty face with vibrant colours, Globe-Trotter, through its method of manufacturing, ensures your belongings are safe from any hazard.

To learn more about the brand and its India foray, we have a small conversation with Ms Vishakha Doshi, Director Communication & Marketing, Entrack Heritage Products Pvt Ltd.

Soumya Jain: Congratulations on getting Globe-Trotter in your portfolio! You have had Montblanc for quite a long time in your group. What took you so long to bring another brand?

Vishakha Doshi: Thank you very much. We have had other brands in the past too - we look at each opportunity as it arises and do our best to see what synergy exists between both partners.

SJ: Why Globe-Trotter? What about this brand appeals to Entrack?

VD: Globe-Trotter is a great brand with a great heritage. It involves traditional craftsmanship and they still manufacture the cases as they did when they started. They have a story to tell and we have great synergy with Globe-Trotter as a brand. Globe-Trotter products are style icons adopted by purveyors of traditional craftsmanship and a timeless aesthetic.

SJ: What is the USP of Globe-Trotter which you think will appeal to Indian consumers?

VD: Its uniqueness and its vibrant colour combinations without losing the heritage touch.

The cases are very unique and classic. Indian consumers have fine taste and want the very best each category has to offer. Globe-Trotter stands for heritage and craftsmanship. These two values define the British luxury spirit with a rich historical archive and hand-made philosophy true to original Victorian-era manufacturing that lends the product its wonderful charm and personality. Its qualities are entirely unique and therefore impossible to imitate.

SJ: Can you throw more light on the craftsmanship of Globe-Trotter luggage?

VD: Produced at the Globe-Trotter factory in Hertfordshire, cases are formed by hand on Victorian machinery from a special material called ‘Vulcan Fibre’ or vulcanized fibre board. Invented in Britain during the 1850s, Globe-Trotter Vulcan Fibre is 14-layers of paper, bonded, then coloured to specification. Each case is riveted, lined and leather trimmed by hand - from start to finish.

SJ: How tough is it going to be to compete with LV and Tumi in India?

VD: I think all the brands are great in their own way and each has its niche. We are merely providing customers with more good choices to make.

SJ: Even though Globe-Trotter is a heritage, well-known brand, do you think Indians recognize it the same way they do LV? How do you plan to increase awareness for Globe-Trotter?

VD: Globe-Trotter produces only limited quantity yearly and are restricted to this practice. The brand has a huge following and will grow organically in India too.

SJ: In general, what are your views on the Indian luxury market and what are the biggest challenges for you to sustain here? What are your future plans for Globe-Trotter?

VD: The Indian luxury market is expanding gradually and there is of course great potential. Customers are aware of all that is available globally and it is great to offer it to them locally. The biggest challenge for retail in India is quality retail space at affordable prices. We would like to make Globe-Trotter available in more cities across the country in due course.

Perry Oosting - Sensorial Luxury By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: November 19, 2012

“Luxury is different things for different people. It’s not a rational argumentation. It’s an emotional purchase,” says Mr Perry Oosting, President & CEO of Vertu. We hear more from this man, who is single-handedly leading the luxury mobile phone category, and very well at that!

Dressed in an Ermenegildo Zegna suit, with an A. Lange & Sohne watch on his left wrist, and settled in a plush suite at The Leela Palace New Delhi, Perry Oosting couldn’t have set up a better ambiance to talk about luxury. The only contrast was that though we were surrounded by traditional luxury, we had actually gathered to talk about luxury in technology.

Being the President and CEO of Vertu, the world’s first luxury phone brand, his appreciation for true luxury comes naturally, also because he has spent 26-27 years in the luxury industry. Anticipating knowledge and lot of insight into Vertu, we further talked to him. And neither did he cut back on words to iterate his opinions and ideas!

India Focus

Mr Oosting was in India to celebrate the opening of their first store here at DLF Emporio. As a part of the celebrations, they were also talking about their association with Smile Train with a series of photographs by Mary McCartney, who happens to be Paul McCartney’s daughter.

Praising his partnership with Matrix Distributors in India as “great”, Mr Oosting said that they were already making profits in India even though they were being retailed at multi-brand watch and jewellery stores here. The obvious infrastructure limitations in India didn’t allow them to open a store earlier. But DLF Emporio was the first mall in India which they felt was appropriate for their brand. “In a mono-brand store, you have a total brand, total selection, dedicated staff who can express the brand the right way. A multi-brand serves multiple brands, so they can never be on that level for a single brand. This is not a criticism, but normal human behaviour. You cannot be a specialist for each brand. But in a mono-brand, you can give lot more access to the brand and can show the total collection,” he further explained.

The recent allowance of 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail has increased a lot of expectations from this market even though the 30 per cent local sourcing clause is playing quite a dampener. Mr Oosting, too, wasn’t excited about it and didn’t want to change the current setup. Citing limitations in luxury retail space, he preferred operating through local partners as the best India route for the time being.

Changing scenes

There have been, however, quite a few changes within the company. And Mr Oosting is content with recent sale of Nokia’s stake in Vertu to EQT VI. “The whole team is very excited because we can finally make the company fit for purpose. Second, we have a great partner with EQT, because they put us on their priority list with a board that is really focused on giving us support. Within the Nokia portfolio, we were just a small fish in the pond. We were not strategically important to Nokia. Yes, they helped us, but we were not top of mind. But the good thing was we always delivered the numbers, and always over-delivered, both on the top and bottom line. So in that respect, we were no distraction for them. Nevertheless, all our operating systems and processes were of course Nokia. They were good for Nokia and in certain instances for us, but not always, with respect to the size of business we were running,” he said.

Luxury brands have been diversifying quite a lot in a bid to get increased business. The result? We now have luxury phones from watchmakers like Ulysse Nardin, and fashion brands like Dior and Versace. Mr Oosting considers this a positive development though, not a threat. “I see it as a compliment because we were quite alone. And if you are alone on the beach, with whom do you share the beautiful beach?” he says smiling like a Buddha. This snatches their chance of being a monopoly in the luxury mobile phone market, but Mr Oosting clears the air that that was never their intention anyway. On the contrary, it helps them to stay on the edge, keep doing better, remain dynamic and keep evolving.

The king because…

These other brands aren’t a threat also because Vertu gives a better overall offering according to him. “We are much closer to the car market where you see performance technology and craftsmanship materials coming together,” he says. Apart from the actual product, Mr Oosting differentiates on the basis that none of the other brands have a dedicated retail space for their luxury phone category. Vertu, on the other hand, delivers everything, from the UI (user interface) design and the UX (user experience) to the service proposition and key differentiating materials.

Certain detailed aspects also make a difference to the product. “Talking about crocodile leather on the device, we only take the middle of the skin. That leads to a lot of waste, but we believe that’s the most beautiful part. And we do tumble testing on ceramic, which includes dropping and rubbing sandpaper over leather, because obviously the durability has to be tested. We do ruby bearing in all keys to make sure you can click as many times as you want without any distraction or deformation,” he explains. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Much like A. Lange & Sohne, where the engraver puts a metaphorical signature through his or her design, Vertu phones are actually signed by the craftsman who has put the entire product together. Their in-built members club gives concierge services to the proud owner of a Vertu phone. And what’s most astounding is the 24 months time needed to build one Vertu phone. “It’s our lead time from concept, design to testing. There are a lot of restrictions and you need to make sure you comply with the law. It’s much more complicated than a handbag which is a one-dimensional product. We are almost three-dimensional. We have to consider and assess partnerships with payment solutions and other devices. It’s a great category and it never stands still.”

So at the end of it, ask him what the five key USPs of a Vertu phone are, he easily counts them on his fingers: “Quality build; sensorial durable material; optical performance strength; sound like you have never heard in a mobile before; and services that give you peace of mind.”

In fact, Vertu takes a step further with the varied applications they provide. They recently collaborated with Ferrari to create a functional and innovative application which centers on parking of luxury cars. “When we spoke to Ferrari owners or other luxury car owners, they all admitted to facing the problem of where to park their luxury car. We have combined our application with normal parking apps that are available as just a mapping solution – on where you could park secure – which is usually in a luxury hotel,” Mr Oosting explained. In Russia also they are looking at solutions to switch different keypads for different languages, that is, Russian-English. “These are the elements we’d love to work more on through partnerships. But we are still relatively small with tons of ideas. We are running hard to realize them. But, of course, we need to deliver something which makes sense. We don’t just want to make a normal application and put lots of colours on it. We want to create and curate,” he says.

A smile and the future

Why Smile Train? Why not larger, more important causes like poverty or hunger? Smile Train gives medical attention to children who have a cleft lip and helps them smile again. Since Vertu, a phone, is built on the sensory elements like listening, speaking, seeing, hearing, with speaking being the most essential, Smile Train fit the brand ethos perfectly.

“Instead of doing a very expensive product, we said, you know, it’s not about doing something expensive and selling it to the cream. Let’s do as many quantities as we can at the entry price and push ourselves. So we made devices for Euro 3900 (the price point in Europe), each sale of which gives one operation to a child. And we are putting a lot of PR and marketing behind this project, also to help Smile Train get additional awareness and therefore indirect support from other avenues,” said Mr Oosting. Adding glamour and substance, Mary McCartney went around the world and took photographs of children, partly helped, partly not yet helped. These photographs were put together in a book, which is sold out already, and those proceeds also went to Smile Train.

And since no interview about the Indian luxury market is complete without talking about its closest rival China, we posed the question to him too. Echoing the thoughts of many other luxury brands, Mr Oosting also says that China is way ahead of India. But there are various factors which make China the darling. Chinese buy goods abroad as well, especially since Chinese credit cards are being well-accepted throughout Europe. Tax situation is much smoother in China. “But everything comes and goes,” says Mr Oosting, “First it was Middle East, then Russia, then Japan, now it’s China, maybe tomorrow it’s South America. In the end you just need to create great promise and have an interest for everybody. And by everybody I don’t mean everybody, but the target that you have.” Wise, experienced words indeed!

Sonia Irvine - The Amber Life! By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: November 14, 2012

You want to party? Do it at the best haunt – Amber Lounge. But sorry folks, you got to wait till next year now. In the meanwhile, here’s a little glimpse as we talk to Sonia Irvine.

India loves to party. You just need to look at our festivities and the amount of money we spend on celebrations to ascertain this fact.

So when Amber Lounge followed the footsteps of Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula 1 race and came to India last year, we knew no bounds of our happiness! This mother of all after parties is not only the most exclusive, but the most expensive as well. Their many options of tables, seating eight guests, started from 5,200 euros going up to 15,000 euros, while the individual passes cost one 650-800 euros, depending on the day of the party you wanted to attend. And a dinner at Amber Lounge cleaned people of 250 euros.

While the crowds frenzied over Lady Gaga last year, they swayed and sashayed to the tunes of Taboo (from Black Eyed Peas) this year. Belvedere Vodka became the official pouring spirit of Amber Lounge and they even created six special cocktails which were only served at Amber Lounge. The lovely Dom Perignon champagne flowed freely of course at the party place which was located at The Claridges Surajkund.

After all this excitement and whirling around, we caught up with Ms Sonia Irvine, the founder and owner of the Amber Lounge party concept, who gave us a short, candid interview.

Soumya Jain: How did the concept of Amber Lounge come in your mind? What led to the planting of the seed? Was it your brother Eddie, who is a F1 racer, who gave the idea?

Sonia Irvine: I was with the Ferrari team in Brazil when I came up with the idea. We were trying to find a place to party and celebrate the end of race but gave up and it was then that the seeds of Amber Lounge were born – a place where everyone from the F1 fraternity could come together and enjoy themselves over the Grand Prix weekend. As for Eddie, well, he knows what is and isn’t a good party and he keeps coming back!

SJ: How has Amber Lounge grown from strength to strength? Was it difficult to implement the idea for the first time?

SI: I wanted it to be stylish and different – a fun, lively party rather than a formal black-tie affair. I was lucky that I had been involved in F1 for quite a few years and knew the teams and drivers who all supported me with my new idea. Ten years on, I still have their support for which I am grateful.

SJ: Comparing with Monaco, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, do the Indian rich demand something different from Amber Lounge? Any unique experiences you had in this country which you can share with us?

SI: We have found that our Indian clients want a more exclusive and intimate party. So the number of guests is more limited in Delhi.

SJ: Amber Lounge is the most luxurious F1 after party. How do you manage to raise the bar every time? How difficult is it?

SI: The key to a really great party is the atmosphere. We work hard on the seating arrangements to ensure people get to sit where they feel most comfortable and so relax. We know who to put on the dance floor tables and who will stand and dance on the sofas… Music is also key. We have DJs who play for VIP guests and know music which will invigourate the crowd. Live acts have now become an element of Amber Lounge and we make sure this act adds to the night. In Delhi, we had Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. He was incredible with his singing, dancing and DJing. He really did bring a world class element to the two nights!

SJ: Do you consider the many other Indian after parties in India as competition?

SI: Amber Lounge was the first Grand Prix after party. We have such a strong reputation now. I always believe on focusing on what you are doing. Do the best you can rather than look at others and lose yourself. Just do what you do to the best of your ability and one can ask no more.

SJ: What three things you take care of diligently when creating the exclusive Amber Lounge experience in each country?

SI: Inside Amber lounge, we always have our signature white sofas, black walls and carpets, lit branding boxes and bars and our Moroccan chill out terrace.

SJ: How do you define luxury and how do you incorporate your concept in Amber Lounge?

SI: Being able to enjoy life is a true luxury, and at Amber Lounge, clients are encouraged to really let their hair down and have fun in a magnificent atmosphere. The concept is to give people a VIP experience, to make them feel special from the moment they enquire about Amber Lounge right to the service they receive inside the club. Nothing is too much trouble. Amber Lounge has no roped off VIP area as we believe everyone there is a VIP. It’s a place where people relax and do business as well as have fun. So we try and tick all the boxes for all needs.

SJ: Where do you go from here? Any future plans?

SI: Next year Amber Lounge will celebrate its 10th anniversary and will host its first party in the USA along the Austin Texas F1 Grand Prix race. I am really looking forward to 2013!

Luxury Homes - Redefining Space By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: October 25, 2012

Recall those fabulous houses you usually peek into in glossy magazines? Make that house your home.

Plush interiors, the sweet smell of luxury, multitude of appreciation and self satisfaction, and it’s all about your house. With more houses becoming ‘luxury friendly’ these days, it is not surprising to see home luxury brands making waves in India. And while the dining and drawing rooms have been the pride of our grandmothers till recently, the entire house is now coming under the radar of fashionable people, who want to make each corner sparkle. There is always a pesky neighbour anyways who’ll check everything with slit eyes. So watch in glee as brands like Fisher & Paykel, Devon&Devon and Savoir Beds, catering to those other often-neglected rooms, weave their way through the psyche of the Indian consumer and simplify life with a touch of luxury.

India is a key market for any and all luxury brands across the globe. But Fisher & Paykel isn’t as keen on the sales quotient that comes with expansion, but the evolution of the customer. “We see the average man wanting to transform his life – at work, home, et al. With already busy schedules, there is a demand for smart technology to simplify mundane tasks at hand. The kitchen design trends in India reflect the fact that modern kitchen interiors are becoming multi-functional. People now prefer kitchen designs that blend harmoniously into any home architecture and complement any interiors style. They now cook food, listen to music, watch TV, work on iPads, eat, entertain and socialize with their guests in kitchens, hence the concept of the Social Kitchen,” said Mr Craig Reid, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Fisher & Paykel Appliances Limited.

It is a fact that while mature markets battle economic turmoil, the Indian luxury market - with its unrivalled growth opportunities - appears as attractive as ever. In 2012, the Indian retail market is estimated to be one of the top five retail markets in the world by economic value. “However, what is of key importance in India are not just the rising income levels, but a shift in attitude of Indian consumers who are optimistic, self-confident and aspirational. Indian luxury consumers are increasingly conscious about the image they wish to project to the outside world and are quite demanding in what they expect from a brand like Devon&Devon for which they are paying such a premium,” said Ms Teresa Tanini, Head of Marketing and Communication for Devon&Devon.

Home, Sweet Home

Gone are the days when Indians would rather spend on materialistic goods that could be flaunted to the world. A fusion of comfort and style is what matters today, especially in the house because that is where most of the time is spent, whether relaxing or entertaining.

Not only the house, but it is time to notice the role of the bathroom, and boy, is it changing rapidly! Spacious rooms, closeted toilets, double bowl lavatories, whirlpool tubs, and large walk-in showers have found their way into our homes. No longer just a functional room, the bath now forms a kind of inner-sanctum where people can literally dip in luxury. “The bath is becoming our private sanctuary - a place to get away from it all. It has become subject to fashion and is fast becoming the focal point in anyone’s house,” said Ms Tanini.

Undoubtedly, the kitchen is the heart of the home, what will all the multi-purpose tasks it performs. Thus, this space has to be functional, comfortable as well as one with positive vibes. “We are seeing lot of changes happening in India with the concept of Island Kitchen being considered. Functionality and ergonomics are two most important things to be kept in mind while designing kitchens and our modular appliances fit in well to make clutter-free, easy to operate kitchens,” said Mr Reed.

There are many people, globally, who have the luxury of not having to choose as they can afford both the ultimate in less visible “home comfort” and the more visible, logo clad items such as handbags. “Many brands who are doing well in today’s financial climate are brands where the luxury is not so much the logo and ‘in your face’ element but rather an emphasis on more discreet luxury, where quality and finish are the most important elements. Hermes is a brand that comes to mind when talking about this, and so is Savoir Beds,” said Mr Roger Ericson, Creative Director, Savoir.

The Indian taste

Being present all over the globe, it is exciting to see how brands have altered their offerings to suit the Indian taste and please Indian consumers. Take Savoir for example. As most of the Savoir beds are bespoke, made to the exact specifications of the client, the options are really endless. Enter Indian designer Rohit Bal in the equation. “At this point, working with Rohit Bal, we are likely to get some great inspiration to design with the Indian market in mind and, at the same time I am sure that the future Savoir clients in India will be quite happy to tell us exactly what they want as far as style/design goes,” said Mr Ericson.

One of the key elements of Devon&Devon’s success is their strong brand identity, allowing them to not give in to popular marketing strategies to adapt its unmistakable, unique and timeless style, to various reference markets. Leaving their design intact, they only make functional changes to suit the market. “Last few years we have been undertaking ethnographic studies to understand the Indian consumer…and have modified our products to suit the Indian conditions. We believe design is universal and appreciated globally and we have products which can be customised…in order to suit conditions like power surge, hardness of water, etc,” said Mr Reid.

Humor me

If you have got notes to spare and like to impress your senses, brands have got quite a few options for you. The Savoir No. 1 bed is the Savoir product with the highest price tag at around £55,000 for the standard set up. “Since design options are really without a limit, so is the price tag for this product. You dream it, we build it. It does have a future in a place like India. There is a wide appreciation of true luxury in India which goes back a very long time and today’s consumer is really no different. The finest of what life has to offer will always have an audience!” said Mr Ericson.

“Our most expensive product is the President Bathtub, an impressive mono-block piece of understated elegance and a fascinating tactile surface texture made of White Tec, designed and produced exclusively for Devon&Devon to deliver high-tech performance and compliance with the highest quality and environmental standards. Our most popular-icon item is the Admiral bathtub, a stylish object of design that blends with both contemporary and classic environments. We are confident that for both of them there will be a future in India,” shared Ms Tanini.

Of collaborations and more

Along with its first collaboration with Rohit Bal for the project ‘In Bed with Savoir’, Savoir Beds is collaborating with some of the most brilliant minds in the 21st century fashion to dream up unique Savoir Beds and each creation will be auctioned to raise funds and awareness for the designers’ chosen charities. Talk about sprucing up your homes and being charitable at the same time! An outstanding combination I’d say.

“Though getting the opportunity to work with any person who is outstanding in her/his field is in many ways advantageous, I prefer to look at the collaboration with Rohit, and four additional designers, as something that will be good for the charities we involve with the project, as well as the In Bed with Savoir ‘community’ as a whole. I also sincerely hope that we will bring the designers something by offering a new type of ‘canvas’, a new challenge for them to use their vision in a way they have not been able to before, as well as to work with Savoir, a brand that has a heritage, so much history of style, glamour and luxury,” said Mr Ericson.

Devon&Devon features in the homes of illustrious personas belonging to the international political scene, top-class designers and celebrities while also furnishing the bathrooms of hotels such as the Four Season Hotel in Florence and Istanbul, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei, and more recently the Hilton Hotel in London and the Grand Hotel Europa Palace in Capri. Obviously, the brand is more than good enough to find a place in your relaxation island too! Beds should be the focal point of a home’s décor. No point in messing up your day due to lack of good sleep, right? And foodies, who consider cooking an art, will not undermine the importance of a kitchen which not only makes tasks easier, but also inspires to innovate.

The definition of home décor is expanding now. And home brands are slowly intertwining India on their silken fingers. But we can’t hear anyone complaining! Only contented sighs from all quarters of the house…

A. Lange & Soehne - A Factory of Marvels By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: September 24, 2012

A. Lange & Sohne historyWhen I asked Mr Anthony de Haas, Director Product Development at A. Lange & Söhne, to tell us five innovations they have done in watchmaking, he coolly asked back, “Do you have some time?” and started recounting the names of all their watches with a small description of what makes them unique.

“It all began when we restarted the brand in 1990. In 1994 the first watch collection came out. One of them was Lange 1 with the outsize date. It was an innovation at that point. And the Tourbillon [Tourbillon ‘Pour Le Merite’] with the fusee and chain mechanism was at thar point a big bomb,” said Mr de Haas excitedly.

In their Langematik calibre, launched in 1997, if you pull the crown to set the time, the little seconds hand jumps to zero through the zero reset mechanism. So after adjusting the minute and hour hands and pushing the crown, the watch runs from 0 seconds, thus giving precise timing. Their 1999 Datograph has the exact jumping minute counter which was never done before. In 2001 they created the first perpetual calendar with outsize date. Then in 2004, they made the Double Split which was a novelty. In 2005, they created the Tourbograph with the split second chronograph and the Tourbillon. “Imagine since 200-300 years Tourbillons have been made and everybody says its precision. But it became true only in 2008 when we presented the Tourbillon where, again, when we pull the crown, the Tourbillon cage stops so it allows you to adjust the watch exactly on the seconds, which was not possible before!” said Mr de Haas.

Even after being shrouded for 45 years after World War II, it is incredible that A. Lange & Söhne has devised these major developments. Their quintessential German meticulousness aids in the process too as I found out during my visit to their manufactory in Glashütte.

A. Lange & Sohne FactoryThe time trail

Driving from the small, charming city of Dresden, we reached the centre of German watchmaking – Glashütte – by passing through vast, lush fields of greens. We parked outside the unassuming white building that serves as the first point of our tour. But before we were ushered in, our eyes caught a large A. Lange & Söhne board adorning a field opposite. We were proudly informed that the foundation of a new manufactory building had just been laid a day before on this land. After a short meet with the PR Team and gasping at their watches, we were led towards the manufactory area, to witness how some of the most beautiful watch complications are made.

The milling and drilling room was humming with high-tech machines as we watched Lange’s ‘signature’ three-quarter plate being made. The three-quarter plate is what we see gliding gracefully under the sapphire case back. It accommodates the bearings of the going train. During assembly, it must be accurately positioned over several arbors to add stability to a movement. It also makes movements more resistant to soiling.

After the plates are done, they are taken to the measurement department. The Optical Comparator machine checks whether all the 100+ little holes are in place while the Video Laser Measuring Device checks if the size is perfect or not. Measuring up to 1/10th of a micrometer, any discrepancies are shown through red dots. Too many of them and the plate is made again completely. The fixation of quality control is so strong, in fact, that this machine sits on a granite slab weighing a ton, so that it is not disturbed by the vibrations caused by heavy vehicles passing by on the road.

Before we could proceed to the finishing department, we were given a glimpse into the Wire Electrical Discharge Machining, where the tiniest of parts are made, including, clicks, levers and jumpers. About 25 parts take three hours to be made! Considering each movement has about 200-500 parts (at times more), one can only calculate the amount of time needed to craft a complete set…

Magical hands

The finishing department is where a flurry of polishing and decorative activities take place. And this is where the work of machines is minimised and human hands take over to eradicate any possibility of a mistake, for Lange’s craftsmen are more hawk-eyed than any machine could be, owing to their immense passion for watchmaking. 

The Lange finishers were engrossed in ‘chamfering’ to ensure that all the edges are smoothened out. The Lange Zeitwerk date display alone takes 1.5 hours for deburring, chamfering and polishing. Other kinds of polishing Lange excels in are flat polishing and black polishing. In flat polishing, tiny watch parts are polished with diamond abrasive paper, the success of which is dependent on how long you are doing this and which kind of diamond paper you use. Black polishing, which is done for the Tourbillon bridges, is a technique which is handled well only by very few watch brands. It is the most difficult kind of polishing which has been mastered by Lange.

A Lange & Sohne watchmakingThere are also six kinds of finishes that Lange gives to all its watch parts: circular graining, solar graining, contours satin finish (done with a diamond stick), Glashütte ribbing (equi-distant stripes on the three-quarter plate), straight graining, and the Perlage. For the Perlage, tools with different diameters are used to give the desired effect. The ‘biggest’ one has a diameter of 5mm. With their loupes perched on their eye, one can only wonder how intricately these watchmakers work on the finishing, considering that each and every part is finished, polished and/or engraved. Lange’s superiority is evident by the fact that 80-90 per cent of polishing is done only for visual, decorative purposes!

Engraving, however, is the tour de force of Lange watches I think. They have six master engravers, who first made their own engraving tools according to the shape and size of their hands, and then went on to engrave. The balance cock, which is just a centimeter long part of Lange watches, is the epitome of their engraving capabilities. After all, carving elaborate patterns on such a miniscule piece is not a simple task. Lange engravers employ two different techniques of engraving. In the flat technique, engravers cautiously remove chip after chip with their tool, to make complex patterns. The other is the relief technique. The balance cock however uses flat engraving technique.

Like handwriting, each of these six engravers, have a distinct design character. So much so, that if you were to take your watch years later to Lange to figure out exactly who engraved the balance cock in your watch, you’ll get your answer fast enough!

A Lange & Sohne watchmakingEngravers have another, more important task, as well. Many watch connoisseurs like to have their initials engraved on the balance cock. The engravers ensure that not only is the balance cock embellished with beautiful floral design, but also with the initials. And this hidden ‘monogram’ is not easily seen or discernable – a true mark of watch sophistication. Need a larger hallmark? Remove the sapphire crystal back, and get a precious metal back lodged instead. Engravers can then etch the initials on the back or even an entire family crest. Believe us, they have done it before!

Engraving the minute lavish floral patterns need superhuman power I think. But Lange puts it in simpler words – artistry, dexterity and perseverance. More so because the material of the balance cock, German silver, is very soft. If it is chipped the wrong way, it has to be re-done entirely.

A beating heart

Parts made, measured, polished, finished and engraved. Then comes the most crucial step of actual assembling. In another mark of quality control, Lange has two separate assembling rooms – one for their classic models, and the second one for their complications. In the classics room, first there is a pre-assembly of individual parts into sub-systems which are then integrated together. The specialists first mount the levers, shift the pallet stones in the arms of the lever, adjust the active length of the hairspring, measure its frequency, bend the terminal curve, attach the balance to its cock and then insert the balance spring. But it is only an elite group of watchmakers who are able to assemble a Tourbillon.

A Lange & Sohne watch partsAfter the first assembly, it goes to the regleurs, sensitive experts, who achieve perfect accuracy, by eliminating any potential deviation. They regulate the movements in five directions – horizontal with dial facing up and down, and vertical with the crown pointing up, down and right.It doesn’t end at the first assembling. Lange is especially known for double assembling. The watches are disassembled and then re-assembled again to ensure that each and every part is placed perfectly. At times, it is during the second assembly, that the parts are polished and given the final finishing. The blue screws are also put during the second assembly only. All gold chatons are polished by hand and positioned in the plate. The watch mechanisms are then sent to the next department for encasing into the gold or platinum cases. The encasing room has a special air system, which avoids the circulation of any particles in the air – absolutely clean space – because even a tiny little particle could ruin the movement or the parts and their communication with each other. And, by the way, we did not enter this room – just peeked longingly through the windows.

Having said that, the master watchmakers for complications are still are on the top of the game. They not only do the first assembly, but also the second assembly and the encasing. No multiple hands are trusted with these complex mechanisms. Only two hands are what make the Lange complications.

A Lange & Sohne watch testing processTesting times

The process does not stop here. After the watch is made, it is put through rigorous testing. The first one is the ‘Windmill test’. Lange watch cases are strapped on to the different hands of their small windmills which revolve and rotate. Every Lange watch runs eight weeks on this windmill. Out of the 86400 seconds a day, only an error of 1-2 seconds is tolerated by the Lange team. If the watches don’t pass this test, they are sent back to the assembling department to be re-adjusted.

Lange also likes to talk about their final step in the cycle of watchmaking, much like from the Q in James Bond series, where the precious watches are made to go through “every possible thing that can happen to your watch”. They are given exposure to extreme temperatures, thrown ruthlessly on the floor, and left into depths of water to check whether the watch is able to endure these processes.

And once the watch finally passes the mark, and reaches your wrist, Lange recommends that every 3-5 years, watch owners should send their mechanical watch to the service department. Here, the watch will be disassembled, grease will be applied on all moving parts, and then re-assembled. Any scratches outside are also removed. The servicing becomes mandatory because after five years, the balance wheel oscillates nearly a billion times (or 30,000 kms). Each little part goes through immense pressure during this period. At this stage, Lange personnel ensure that each part is able to work perfectly for the next five years.

In short, even my four-page ‘summary’ of what goes into a Lange watch, hasn’t done justice to their watchmaking quality. This is something which you see, be in awe of, and then believe. And after actually trying our hand at chamfering and engraving (in which I was extremely bad especially), I have turned a true loyalist of this brand. Leaving the manufactory with our very own, slightly enlarged German silver balance cocks, chamfered and engraved by us, I can assure you that Lange doesn’t compromise at any step. No wonder then that watch purists swear by an A. Lange & Söhne creation.

Forevermark & Tarun Tahiliani - Of Sparkly Ties By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: August 16, 2012

Tarun Tahiliani and Forevermark showThey say that diamonds are a girl's best friend and this is one relationship that has passed the tests of time. Whether to adorn a gorgeous bride or just to glam up any occasion, the only luster that need anyone’s attention today are diamonds. To celebrate the association between weddings and haute couture, Forevermark diamonds collaborated for the fourth time with renowned designer Tarun Tahiliani for this year’s Couture Exposition. Held on 6-7 August, 2012 in Mumbai at Mehboob Studio, the exposition witnessed a stunning selection of Forevermark diamond jewellery from Mehta Jewellers.

Ask Mr Sachin Jain, MD, Forevermark India and he was keyed up about Forevermark’s partnership with Mr Tahiliani. “Forevermark is a diamond brand and our association with the Tarun Tahiliani Couture Exposition is only natural as both the companies speak to similar audiences and target one market – brides and the wedding industry. Such an association helps both the brands to reach out to their target audience in a combined venture. Today, any Indian wedding is incomplete without couture and diamonds and here you get to see and experience both, under one roof,” he said.

Tarun Tahiliani and Forevermark showDistinctive Indian cultural richness and unabashed modern glamour was on full view in 35 spectacular Tarun Tahiliani couture creations along with Forevermark that showcased exclusive handcrafted pieces from Mehta Jewellers, where each piece is designed and handcrafted only to remind each bride of the princess she truly is. Quick note? With absolute glee you will notice that the collection brings back in trend the classic precious gemstones – diamonds with emeralds and rubies – in jewellery art forms. Almost impossible to miss is the asymmetric alignment of stones with diamonds which bring out the brilliance of the creations – something that will please every liking. More than complementing the wedding attire, the creations will surely bring to life any outfit and match any mood. A perfect balance between traditional and western, brides can blindly pick their best friends organized into elegant designs.

A tale of time

Four years into the partnership, change is inevitable but for the good. The basic concept of marriage is the same, but has been decorated and spanked up with millions of innovations and accessories. Since the wedding industry has grown manifold, it comes as no surprise that consumers too have become very particular about what they want. Information and awareness plays a key role today when it comes to weddings. “In the past four years, the demand for diamond jewellery for weddings has shot up. Today, a would-be bride prefers more of diamond jewellery for her wedding day. And she is not only fond of her diamonds but wants to know about them – colour, carat, clarity and whether it has been responsibly sourced. The fact that less than 1 per cent of the world’s diamonds are eligible to be Forevermark and be inscribed with the Forevermark icon and unique identification number assures every bride that the diamonds that adorn her on her special day are beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced,” shared a proud Mr. Jain.

Tarun Tahiliani and Forevermark showA tale of a tie

Creating a special bond, Forevermark and Tarun Tahiliani work hand in hand to ensure that the final product that reaches you is an absolute beauty. With Mr Tahiliani’s creations, every bride can sigh in relief, as he is the essence of every wedding saga. This year, the theme for Tarun Tahiliani Couture Exposition was ‘Jewel Box’, an edgy set made entirely of glass featuring the latest offerings from the Tarun Tahiliani bridal couture collection. Forevermark strengthened the Jewel Box concept by adding their expertise and sparkling diamonds. “Our jewelers spent a lot of time with Tarun to understand his design sensibility and the couture collection to create bespoke pieces that would go with his theme. The research and coordination went on for three months and the end result is there for everyone to see!” said Mr. Jain.

The Forevermark attributes of craftsmanship and quality were well communicated during the expo. “At the Tarun Tahilian Couture Expo, we showcased a carefully selected, exclusive collection of handcrafted pieces and solitaires. Each piece was designed in sync with Tarun’s theme,” Mr Jain shared. For all those who aren’t aware, Forevermark diamonds are carefully selected and come from sources committed to the highest standards and are beautifully crafted by a select group of Forevermark Diamantaires. At the end, all you are expected to do, is shine!

The Lust for Metal & Stone By: Bina Goenka, Jewellery designer

Posted on: July 31, 2012

Jewellery has gone beyond its usual fashionable aspect and added the consideration of investment now. While the increasing zeroes in price tags may not affect high-profile readers, they won’t complain either about jewellery climbing the investment ladder today!

Jewellery in India is given paramount importance. To say the least, right from the day a girl is born, jewellery starts playing a role in her life. Though at one point it would be right to perceive jewellery as a norm rather than a luxury, this perception has swiftly reversed in the recent past.

With gold and diamond prices rising heftily, jewellery is definitely an asset that has grown in value, but this is only part of why it is now considered a luxury. The prominence of fashion and beauty within a woman’s psyche grows with each progressing day, as does the appreciation for art as an investment. Jewellery, with its ability to fuse the above factors in perfect balance, is sometimes considered the ultimate luxury, catering to the desires of women and men alike.

In India specifically, the shift towards jewellery as a piece of art, rather than a complement to a garment, has been observed most recently, therefore consolidating its perception as luxury rather than a norm.

Wear or conserve?

Today when people invest in a passion purchase, they look to own something that adds flamboyance to their lifestyle, along with satisfying their need for a long-term asset. Luxury jewellery tantalises investors as it makes them feel like they own modern art while ensuring that they receive a safe return on their investment.

In India, jewellery will always be considered first a piece of adornment. But with the recent addition of the ‘investment’ tag to jewellery, the consumer now aims to get ‘the best of both worlds.’ Statistics say that though more gold is imported into India to meet jewellery demand, the investment demand for gold is rising to meet this figure. The World Gold Council recorded 567.4 tonnes imported in 2011 to meet India’s jewellery demand, as compared to 366 tonnes imported to meet investment demand. With time, the difference between these figures is quickly decreasing, therefore demonstrating the changing perception of the average Indian, who is progressively seeing luxury and investment as one and the same.


Nevertheless, as with any investment, one should be sure to consider all the factors to ensure that the investment is going to retain value and be an effective manner of preserving future purchasing power. When investing in diamonds, it is important to have a trustworthy supplier, and also an eye for any irregularities. Today, it is advisable to demand GIA certification, as well as be aware of the colour and quality one is investing in. That said, with these above factors considered and optimised, a diamond is capable of being one of the most reliable ways of storing liquidity.

As for the appropriate time to invest, with diamonds and gold, it is important to consider the basics of the supply and demand cycle. These two luxurious commodities are increasing in demand along with a fast-growing percentage of the world’s population. In terms of supply, the quantity that is available for mining is severely limited, and will remain so. As a result, the supply deficit will ensure a rise in price, making now a better time to invest, even in comparison to the upcoming week.

In India, specifically, the peak periods for jewellery purchases used to be dominated by season, relying heavily on when one would need to attend a wedding or even a festival. Though this remains, there is a growing awareness of prices, juxtaposed with a growing need for fashion as part of the daily wardrobe, and not just for key dates within the year. This trend is validated in our day to day dealings with customers too! From one year to the next, I am noticing an increase in impulse buyers. These are those who purchase not with an event in mind, but with an image.

The joy that a new jewellery purchase brings now is coupled with a better bank balance tomorrow. And with the wedding season coming up, I hope you’ll get up right away and select your glittering piece of investment!

Jewellery designer Bina Goenka has an eponymous brand which is synonymous with luxury, exquisite craftsmanship and quality. Having studied her craft for over 15 years, Bina creates jewellery akin to modern art. Bina Goenka’s flagship store is located at Grand Hyatt Plaza Hotel, Mumbai. She boasts an impressive international clientele of distinguished celebrities, diplomats, business people and even royalty. Bina’s list of notable credits includes being a founder member of the WJA (Women’s Jewellery Association) and a spokesperson at a FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) panel discussion on the emergence of designer jewellery and future prospects of the category.

Cooke & Kelvey - A Master Creator By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: July 25, 2012

Cooke & Kelvey clockCooke & Kelvey (C&K) is a name which has been whispered through the years, generation to generation. Those who are ‘in the know’ understand that C&K is the destination for all their silver needs. And this group includes erstwhile Maharajas, industrialist, politicians and many popular personalities. Don’t ask us for names though. We have been requested not to divulge the names of their high-profile clientele!

Historical perspective

Founded by Robert Thomas Cooke and Charles Kelvey in Calcutta (now Kolkata), in 1858, C&K was frequented and desired by many in British India. The company was helmed by seven successive owners before passing onto the Khemka family in 1946.

But its silver goods are not the only thing that attracted an influential group of buyers. Their status as watchmakers was a puller too. Records indicate that the first C&K branded quarter-repeating pocket watches were received in Calcutta, from Cooke & Kelvey, London, in the early 1870s. Till the advent of wristwatches, C&K remained the most coveted name in master-crafted timepieces in British India. Its range of personal watches and clocks, case-stamped in England, boasted of finest Swiss movements, including that of the peerless Audemars Piguet.

An example is the Grand Sonnerie Carriage Clock of 1899 vintage, by none other than the French-Victorian master, Henri Jacot, which surfaced for sale in Devon, UK, in 2010. It bore the label of the retailer under its original carrying case – “Cooke & Kelvey, Watch, Clock & Chronometer Makers to H.E. The Viceroy & Governor General of India”.

A Cooke & Kelvey Bracket Clock – incorporating hourly audio and animatics – still mesmerises visitors at the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad, where it was shifted from the Nizam’s palace in 1951. This bespoke piece of art and engineering was commissioned personally by the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Cooke & Kelvey pocket watchThe Cyclopedia of India: Biographical, Historical, Administrative, Commercial (Volume 1, 1907), recognizes C&K as contractors to Government and manufacturers of station and office clocks, of which they supply large numbers to the different Railways in the country. Their chronograph watches, in fact, have been used by the Calcutta Turf Club for timing all important races.

Their expertise and history of fine watchmaking eventually led to an association with Rolex. But before that, C&K also dabbled in wristwatches alone. An evidence of this showed up at the Gorringes Auction Galleries in Lewes, East Sussex, UK, in September 2010 under Fine Art, Antiques & Collectibles. Lot 1296 showed a Cooke & Kelvey Calcutta-branded “Lady’s Early 20th Century Swiss 15k Gold Wrist Watch”. The photograph showed a delicately-crafted hand piece with age showing on the dial.

Leading Singapore-Malaysia purveyors, Passions, recently proved that C&K was a sought-after co-brand for Swiss luxury watchmakers. Their Stock 7511 displayed a handsome, ultra-slim Ebel in steel – with Ebel featuring below the 12 hour, and Cooke & Kelvey above the six.

Cooke & Kelvey and Rolex wrist watchBetween the 1920s and 1970s (when import of watches was suspended for the next three decades), C&K had an envious relationship with Rolex in India. Some of the classiest models from Rolex were retailed and serviced in Calcutta, Delhi and Lahore (till 1948), by C&K. One of them which came under Christie’s hammer in November 2007 was “A Highly Unusual Lady’s 18k Two-colour Gold Square Wristwatch with Bracelet & Concealed Dial (Signed Rolex, Precision, circa 1950)”. The Christie’s listing further said that accompanied by a Cooke & Kelvey presentation box, the watch was made on special request for a prominent family in Asia.

Several variants of the extremely rare Rolex Sporting Prince Chronometer (rectangular, curved, 15 jewels, four-body masterpieces produced in the 1930s), with the Rolex and Cooke & Kelvey signatures on the dial, keep surfacing in different parts of the world. The best and rarest by far is the one which had Christie’s in raptures again (October 2006 auction, NY, Rockefeller Plaza) – “Circa 1931…. the front lid with raised monogram beneath the Pakistan symbol of the star and crescent, monogram repeated and engraved on back….

Though strange since Pakistan didn’t even exist in 1931, collectors have been intrigued by the watch, and have noticed the Rolex and Cooke & Kelvey’s shared branding on the dial.

Cooke & Kelvey Rolex wrist watchThe Rolex Oyster Imperial played the most frequent host to the Cooke & Kelvey name on its dial. A mail communication from Rolex SA, Geneve, dated September 21, 2011, confirms:

…. Concerning this vintage Rolex (Oyster Imperial) piece with ‘Cooke & Kelvey Calcutta’ printed on the dial….. Our Heritage Department investigated in their books and archives, and this watch was effectively corresponding to a Ref. 2574, although they couldn't trace its serial number. This model was on current production from 1935 until 1945”.

The times today

Roused by the heritage of C&K, we interviewed Mr Massod Huq, senior brand consultant, Cooke & Kelvey, to seek what the present and future looks like for the company after such an illustrious history.

“C&K ceased to be watchmakers in the 1930s or thereabouts. As silversmiths, they have been and still remain front-end players in the luxury segment. We no longer have any ‘national’ silverware brands of pedigree. C&K is the only one. C&K’s clientele includes customers from different parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even Singapore and Malaysia (all ex-British dominions where C&K was well known for its silverware),” said Mr Huq, summarizing their current status.

Being the oldest franchise partner of Rolex in India, Mr Huq terms their current relationship as “happy and rewarding”, but refuses outright that we’ll ever see a co-branded watch again.

Cooke & Kelvey pocket watchWith numerous luxury brands venturing into India, however, and with quite a number of silverware brands too taking birth, how does C&K compete in the contemporary times? “We are Victorian era silversmiths. Our craft and designs came from England. Our ‘native’ craftsmen in Calcutta were handpicked and trained by British artisans. By the 1880s, almost all of our mastercrafted ware was being produced in Calcutta. Eighteen families of craftsmen employed by C&K then are still employed by C&K. Some members of these families have been relocated to Delhi to broaden our production base. The case with the other big names, Hamilton and Barton’s, was the same. But, alas, those heritage enterprises wound up,” says a passionate Mr Huq.

That’s, however, not the only reason for which consumers should enter C&K’s threshold. Mr Huq reiterates that its attribute of mastercraftsmanship is unrivalled. There are players who have entered with machine-made ware, but there will always be takers for mastercrafted silverware. C&K’s quality assurance makes sure you don’t rap any other door. “The C&K customer knows he’s getting 92.5 Sterling Silver. No compromise there. Sell it, melt it 10 years later and you are the richer by God knows how much,” says Mr Huq.

Mr Huq also has confidence in the magic that C&K instantly spreads just with its name. “Without mentioning the name – there’s been a case when an Indian goes to England, buys out a dying, lesser-known English brand and launches it in India. That hardly makes a dent in C&K’s business. Because tradition matters, craftsmanship matters, the assurance of 92.5 matters.”

The brand, though, is stretching its muscles to match up to the high speed and demand of its consumers. An expansion plan and image rebuild is in order. “For one, we wish to erase the painful memories of labour unrest and return to retailing in Calcutta where things are looking up for business. We cannot reopen in Lahore. Shimla may not be viable any more. But other metros, yes,” says Mr Huq.

A brand which commands respect till today, Cooke & Kelvey has seen a glorious past. The allure of C&K is so great that connoisseurs world over collect heritage C&K creations. As it gets ready for an even more dazzling future, we wish that their tradition, heritage and commitment to quality remains untouched.

Coordinates: 3 Scindia House, Janpath, New Delhi, India

Raymond Weil - Watching & Walking Ahead By: Soumya Jain & Veronique Poles

Posted on: July 21, 2012

What is Mr Olivier Bernheim, the President & CEO of Raymond Weil, like? The fact that he answered our questions in between a much-deserved vacation says volumes. And mind you, they were not one-liners either. They were well-thought of and explained. His vacation came just after launching a stand-alone boutique in Mumbai’s CR2 Mall, and another one in Palladium, making their country count to an impressive five stores. A sixth one is in the anvil which will be opened in August in Borivali, Mumbai.

Olivier Bernheim and Shobhaa De Raymond WeilSo while other brands are happy having a store in Palladium or DLF Emporio, Mr Bernheim looks determined to go the interiors of a city and establish a strong presence. India, then, features very high on their priority list as we see it. “The developing market of India contributes 5% to our annual business. Though the main growing market for us is China these days, India does hold a good commercial stature in our global plans. The Indian luxury watch market has evolved a lot in the last five to six years with a well informed and conversant customer base. However, the market is yet to graduate itself to a degree to match up to the global scenario, considering the governmental constraint that it faces with high custom barrier,” Mr Bernheim reiterated our thoughts.

Brick by brick

With only three to four golden gates in this country, creating a luxury retail space becomes a challenge. Having said that, launching a boutique in CR2 Mall is not usually heard of from luxury brands. Mr Bernheim cites an emotional and logical reason to the decision, “I have been visiting Bombay since the late 1970s and have had a deep attachment with the city. Nariman Point being the heart of the city has captured my heart and lured me into launching a Raymond Weil boutique here. The place where we have opened our boutique also houses other luxury watch brands and our dealer is aware of the crème-de-la-crème in that part of Mumbai.” With Raymond Weil having a presence in India for more than 30 years now, Mr Bernheim knows what he is talking about.

The new boutique was launched with the razzmatazz expected of a luxe brand now. Honouring the brand’s motto of ‘independence is the state of mind’, they felicitated designer James Ferreira, novelist Shobhaa De, artist Bose Krishnamachari and director Shoojit Sircar. Mr Bernheim explains, “Raymond Weil has raised a toast to these four individuals who have crowned their individuality and made a mark for themselves in their respective professional spheres independently.”

As has Mr Bernheim himself. It’s quite well-known now that Raymond Weil was the brainchild of his father-in-law. Before Raymond Weil, Mr Bernheim was working in Unilever in Paris. One fine day, his boss offered him a new position in the company, parallel to his father-in-law asking him if he would be interested in working for Raymond Weil. The choice was quite obvious. Geneva, for him, is heaven. And so he moved to the city of watchmakers. Mr Bernheim has now been helming the company for an astonishing 30 years, and has ensured that it reached new heights.

The Indian connection

Like India still reveres the strong family support system, Mr Bernheim too takes pride in the fact that Raymond Weil is one of the few luxury companies which is not a part of a conglomerate yet. Nor does it plan to be in the future. “Regardless of the many brands in the watch industry, we have successfully created our own forte, and therefore we don’t really feel any pressure to consolidate with a conglomerate. For us, ‘independence is the state of mind’, and any kind of fair competition is welcome. RW has always followed a family owned business policy and will continue to do that in future,” he clarified.

Raymond Weil watchesMr Bernheim is quite right when he says that they have created a forte. Indians, however, may not be too aware of the brand. Breaking through the clutter of the various timekeeping brands, that have been setting a foot in India, is not going to be an easy task. But the smart manager is ready for the challenge and has a battle plan ready in his mind. He is all set to communicate to the Indian consumer that the major attributes of Raymond Weil are “quality, reliability and novelty,” and they see themselves as a traditional brand that has woven elegant designs with latest technologies.

The product is prince

The helmsman also counts novelty as one of their strengths. Raymond Weil recently introduced a new feminine range called Jasmine which is a voluptuously round, ultra radiant and feminine collection with curved case. The brilliance of diamonds is dazzling in the set version while the bracelet wraps harmoniously around the wrist. The dial of the watch is embellished with blue-tinted, leaf-shaped hands. “Jasmine collection exudes modernity, classicism and exclusivity,” says Mr Bernheim of the collection which has him spell bound too! The brand also launched the flamboyant masculine collections called Freelancer and Urban Black at BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Show 2012.

Raymond Weil doesn’t make its own movements as of yet. They, however, don’t see the need to as well. “It is not required by our customer base as demonstrated by detailed market study and research. Our watch connoisseurs are fully aware of the special RWG complicated executions we assemble into our watches. They are keen for the brand to keep its renowned price point,” he said. That being said, we do hope that the company will get into movement manufacturing in the future, as a natural progression in the lifecycle of a luxury watch brand.

Competing with the dragon

In today’s gloomy economic scenario, when luxury brands are hopefully looking towards Asia, a natural priority assessment arising today is between India and China. Both are huge countries with two of the largest populations in the world. These colossal proportions translate to dollars in the dreams of many brand managers. India, however, is shattering many of those dreams today. Comparing the two, China, at the moment, is the obvious winner. Mr Bernheim too reinforces the prevalent sentiment, “China’s growth rate in terms of luxury is far better as compared to the India. More that 12% of our sales comes from China whereas India is just 5%. I sometimes feel it is not accurate to compare the two counties as India has still many miles to go to reach that zone of luxury which China has already attained.”

Indian watch collectorsHe, however, lives up to his reputation if being an optimistic and charming soul. He sees much more goodness in India still. “I can clearly distinguish the Indian consumer broadly into two categories. Category A comprises of 40-60-year old customers who are all well informed. The second category is aspirational, falls in the 25-30 age bracket, and are in the infancy stage of understanding luxury. I consider both these categories as a strong customer base for Raymond Weil. While Indians are watch collectors and have always shown interest towards luxury watches, most Chinese only so far have one watch – it’s a matter of use for them – but Indians love to collect watches, especially men,” he says.

This not only shows a larger potential for a watch brand in India, but also a much more evolved mindset when it comes to luxury. Maybe we can credit our history of royal tastes for this understanding. So when Mr Bernheim wants to get into the interiors of India quickly for increased business, he can’t be blamed. The next steps for this tireless man include “looking forward to increase presence by engaging the youth and expanding presence in tier 2 cities like Vishakhapatnam, Bhopal, Indore and more.”

With a stylish and optimistic smile, he signs off, as we wished him an uninterrupted vacation.

Luxury Interiors - Dress Up Your Home By: Karishma Suri & Soumya Jain

Posted on: July 11, 2012

Your home is what you see first thing in the morning and the last too before you retire for the night. It better be what you like, non? And of course, should complement and supplement your lifestyle. How do you do that today?

It’s not just fashion where you have to worry about trends, designs and the ‘in’ look. Giving your home or commercial space the latest touch reflects your personality as much as the kind of LBD you are wearing or the Hermes Kelly you are hanging on your elbow.

Unlike fashion, however, furniture has to have a longer shelf life. While you can change your clothes and accessories to suit the ramp, it’s not so easy with furniture. You live with your choices, literally, for a longer period of time! So when a plethora of options are available in the market, what should you exactly pick up, so that you don’t end up regretting your decision for the next few months at least?

A question of style

Trends have certainly changed in the past decade or so when it comes to giving a luxurious face to your home. The changes range from the way of production and go on to how functional they are today. Ms Gunjan Gupta from Wrap says, “Furniture has changed immensely in many ways and in some ways it has remain unchanged. The antiques and reproduction segments of the fine furniture industry are still very much in demand and are consumed by a wide range of decorators. The refined/luxurious furniture, which is experimental and at the same time very accessible, is hugely consumed by the hospitality and real estate industries. The market for cutting edge design that positions new ideas, forms and materials is becoming more and more important.”

Mr Nitin Kohli, Director of Terra Sans, explains the changes in home design by comparing it with changing lifestyles. A now hectic, complex life demands a cleaner, uncluttered, sleeker home. “Earlier people were interested in classic or antique furniture, but there has been shift, and now the trend is towards the sophisticated, with emphasis on clean lines and rich materials. Earth tones were once very popular. Now brighter colours are the top choice. Green, red and orange are a few of the most popular colours for walls or furniture,” he said.

Art vs Functionality

This sub-heading above is wrong actually. In today’s busy, quick world, the demand is for art and functionality, whether it’s in clothes or the latest gadget. Only a few maestros like Christian Louboutin can afford their art to sell like hot cakes without necessarily having to worry about mundane qualities like ‘functionality’. He recently said in an interview to Vogue UK, “I don't want to create painful shoes, but it is not my job to create something comfortable. I try to make high heels as comfortable as they can be, but my priority is design, beauty and sexiness. I'm not against them, but comfort is not my focus.”

How many interior or furniture designers can really say that? Home and furniture, after all, are designed to make life easier. Mr Kohli echoes the same thought. “With the advent of the furniture fair in Milan and luxury brands making a foray in this sector, the rules of the industry have undergone a change where functionality is being preferred over extravagance. However, luxury in home is no longer a privilege, but a necessity to keep up with the evolving lifestyles,” he said.

This can be seen in the way designers today take age old concepts, and convert them to not only ‘look’ like a contemporary design, but also be functional. Ms Chanya Kaur from Pure Concept gives a perfect example, “The revival of antique cabinets has been helped by complementing it with design. The innovative use of eye-popping colour combinations brings a vintage style to the cabinet and makes it up-to-date.”

So what should you choose?

Whatever designers might say about their creations, it’s your home which has to be outfitted. While each person has a certain taste and image of what they want from their ideal home, furniture designers give a pointer or two on what consumers usually look at. “Every piece determines whether or not it’s a good fit. Firstly, what one looks at is, if it’s their style and will complement their space. And then comes in the quality and the comfort,” said Ms Kaur.

Reversing the priorities of the Indian consumer, and explaining the psyche behind it, Ms Gupta says, “Brand, quality, comfort, price, durability and statement value. Design for posterity and as investment is still a new concept in India.”

Bringing out the luxury aspect in a home, however, is a combination of various factors. Limiting your planning and thoughts to the colour on the walls and individual furniture pieces is not enough – while these are the two major components we accept. Mr Kohli goes a step beyond and advises that “lighting, flooring, accessories, the kind of furniture used and colour scheme enhance the luxury quotient of interiors.”

Dressing up your home is even more challenging than making latest fashionable changes in your wardrobe. More often than not, it takes months to define what kind of home will suit your personality, needs and moods. Does it have to be light and airy to give you the feeling of openness? Or should it be vibrant and bright enough to keep your creative bent of mind always churning with ideas? In any case, there is nothing that a pinch of luxury and originality of thought can’t do. And with unique concepts and brands like Fendi Casa, Ipe Cavalli, Wrap and Pure Concept available in India, it won’t be too difficult we are sure…

Take a Seat By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: May 30, 2012

Looking to reinvent the decor in home decor? It’s time to complement the permanent residents of your home – the furniture.

You may want to take a seat, literally, as you read this. Creating the perfect emotional experience for you, say hello to a brand that strives to heighten one’s sensational experiences by creating beautiful pieces which are passionately inspired, crafted, and delivered by people who love what they do. Add to that an experience which exudes exclusivity, and behold an assembly of happy customers. Contrary to the direction of these words which are leading your tranquil mind to some secluded hill with a spa atop, we are discussing a furniture brand. Each piece promises to take you on a journey of pleasure, to places you have never been before. Enter Boca do Lobo.

“With Boca do Lobo you should expect the unexpected, since you will not only receive a Boca do Lobo piece, you will also receive our soul, our life’s work, our identity. By then adding your identity, your taste and way of life, you get more than a decorative statement. You gain a passion for furniture, a respect for the noble material of wood, intensity in your space and a new emotionally evocative element in your life,” said Ms Liliana Ferreira, a designer with the brand. Boca do Lobo was started in 2005, created by Amândio Pereira - graduated in Product Design, and Ricardo Magalhães – graduated in Interior Design. A perfect fit of two jigsaw pieces should we say?

Leading Portuguese design across borders, it is impressive to watch the dreams of these two entrepreneurs unfold.

The Motivating Factor

Boca do Lobo is known for its exclusive design. The pieces are created with a lot of handwork and are inspired by themes of Portuguese history. Yes, you amongst others will agree, that age old legacy make people feel emotional and nostalgic towards products and this brand is no exception. “We are also known for a great mixture between art techniques and contemporary ways of finishing products,” said Ms Ferreira. If you are not familiar with the brand, worry not. It is will be a wonderful journey of exploration as you go through their products and learn about the inspiration behind them. The Marie Antoinette mirror, for instance, has royal roots, while the Equator bar has a mystical enchantment which can be attributed to Portuguese cultural heritage. 

Needless to say, there is abundance to be drawn from the rich cultural heritage and roots from any origins. The results, God bless, are always extravagant. Boca do Lobo is no exception. Portugal has a specific culture influenced by the various civilizations that have crossed the Mediterranean and the European continent. It's an old country of conquests, legends of navigators and explorers, overseas regions and commercial trade roots. Boca do Lobo has proudly created a fusion between contemporary design and ancient craftsmanship techniques.

“The influences for each piece is everywhere in our country, in our history, in our people. Combining ancient Portuguese craftsmanship and cutting edge design, Boca do Lobo has discovered new possibilities on materials and has gained international acclamation for its exclusive design,” added Ms Ferreira. Representing Portugal in its materials too, the most used materials for Boca do Lobo are wood, glass and metal. In the Large Emotion Collection (Limited Edition), aficionados will be impressed to note that there were artisans and craftsmen invited from all over the country to contribute to the masterpieces that are seen today.

On the map

With luxury brands expanding their step every second, one can only hope that their preferred brands will show up on Asia’s map soon enough. As for Boca do Lobo, their marketing department is focused in entering Asian markets, especially India and China, though multi-brand design stores located in these countries. For those who are not aware, they sell directly from Portugal to Asian markets like India, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Phillipines. “Our main buyers are interior designers, architects and decorators who contact us through our website, or meet us in tradeshows in Milan, Paris, London, New York and Dubai,” shared a happy Ms Ferreira.

The high decoration furniture by Boca do Lobo complements and satisfies even the most demanding admirers. Their exquisite collections blend sophistication and modern refinement into a very elegant decorative furniture line unlike any other. A perfect blend between tradition and modern, be prepared to wow your interiors!

The Magnetism of Technology By: Soumya Jain

Posted on May 25, 2012

Some love technology while for others it’s a necessary evil. Ms Devita Saraf falls into the first category. So much so, that she calls it a “fun business” as she talks about her six year old Vu Technologies.

Sitting confident at the café in Le Meridien, Ms Devita Saraf gave a gracious welcome as I approached her. This young owner of Vu Technologies, a luxury technology company dabbling mainly in televisions, was impeccably dressed with each hair in place.

After exchanging a few pleasantries and ordering the F&B paraphernalia, we sat down to begin the interview. My questions arose from the central thought of how can you define luxury in technology? So after apologizing for my marginal disinterest in anything technological, I asked her that question. “You answered the question when you said that you don’t know technology and it doesn’t interest you, but you still are a buyer of it,” she said. “For many, buying electronics in India is like buying vegetables. It’s unglamourous, not interesting. So we decided to make it appealing. We try to make it easy for a non-technical person to understand the products when they come to our stores. Also, luxury is a lot of fun which we try to incorporate in our products. Like we came out with the Opulence TV. The idea is to appeal to someone who may not be very technical but has an eye for beautiful things.”

She continued to talk about the various layers in which luxury has to be reflected, whether it is the packaging or the customer service. Luxury, for Vu Technologies, also comes through its customized, bespoke, personalized pieces. “For example, we had a customer who wanted to have a very tech-savvy and stylish theatre. So we mounted it on the floor for them where people could walk over it. Then we came up with a waterproof TV, so you can take a bath with the TV. We keep coming up with unique products because luxury is about pampering the customer. And a customer purchasing TV wants something unique with it. So we have taken a boring product and made it fun using the best that luxury can offer,” she explained.

Down to basics

This is not her first brush with technology. Ms Saraf, before starting Vu, was handling marketing for her father’s Zenith Computers. But that being a mass company, it was quite a jump to the opposite end of the spectrum, to start a luxury goods venture. “When training at Zenith Computers, I realised that India is changing and is starting to become a very luxury oriented market. Interestingly Indians are talking about luxury in every nook and corner. It’s not just South Delhi, South Mumbai buying luxury products. So that’s when I decided to start a fun luxury brand,” she reminisced.

With six stores in India currently, Vu can boast about having a good presence, with flags stuck in Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Gujarat. But the run-up to these six stores hasn’t been easy as well. “We started a lot of stores, shut them down and then reopened. The market is very fluid. Our first store was in Nariman Point (Mumbai) at the only available large mall which was the best place for retail. Then Phoenix and Palladium developed and we moved there. In India, you have to be willing to invest, because it’s not like DLF Emporio mall has been there for 25 years and that’s the only place to go for luxury, like when you go to Singapore, you know Takashimaya is the place to buy luxury, and that’s been there since I was a kid. Luxury is still finding its bearings in India,” she said.

Jaipur, in fact, has turned out to be the hen laying the golden eggs for Vu. The Opulence TV, which has crystal studded in the panels, has seen much popularity in the ‘jewel city of Jaipur’, as compared to the more practical Mumbai.

The India story

Being a brand started by an Indian naturally brings me to ask her opinion about Indian brands, and why they are not as popular globally as their European or American counterparts. Ms Saraf applauded the quality and designs of Indian brands and products, but reasoned about the intent of the designers. She rues the fact that Indian designers have, maybe, not taken that “leap of faith” to build a, say, New York office from a scratch, settle there to further the business and then take it globally from there.

“I think others are making more use of the India story rather than Indians themselves. For example, I bought the limited edition Hermes sari because it was a master piece. Probably the piece I bought was the only one. Something I can treasure for a long time,” she said. 

The next rung

Geographical expansion is one of the main plans at Vu Technologies right now. Apart from that, they are always on the run-up to introduce innovative products. And the latest one is India’s first 3D camera! With the Vu 3D camera, you can capture 3D HD movies and still photographs, in real time with its dual lens-dual sensor (DLDS) technology. Their integrated 3D display does not require any glasses to view 3D videos and photographs. The 3D camera comes complete with two 16-megapixel sensors. It has the capabilities to connect to HD TV and allows for live streaming of video in 3D and 2D. It also comes with a 32 GB expendable SD card slot. On-the-fly 3D to 2D switch allows capture of 2D FULL HD 1080p videos and high resolution 16 MP photos as well.

Having started a very exciting run-up to Vu Luxury Awards last year, we were curious to know at what stage the awards are and when are they happening. Ms Saraf, however, does not have a set date in mind, having faced some roadblocks in the process. Being quite an unorganized industry in India, it is quite a task to get the industry together. “People don’t have that relation with one another. The coop-etition mindset is not there. So we decided on getting people together this year and then have the awards. I am expecting to host them sometime next year. But we are trying to find the right format where we get the right people in the industry together and not people on the periphery who just act as if they know luxury. At the end of the day, it is a business-oriented award, and not some celebrity shindig,” she said.

Reaching the tail-end of our conversation, it suddenly struck me to ask something which I should have probably asked her first. Why would a young, intelligent, vivacious woman choose technology over more exciting fields like fashion or hospitality? “Because I think technology has the capacity to reach a lot more people. A bag will only be restricted to a few people. The hotel will only be restricted to that area. But something like a Blackberry Messenger reaches the whole country. And it’s fun. It’s not just for men or women. It’s for youngsters, kids, older people – everyone gets involved. It’s a fun business.”

“Ah, that’s the root of it all,” I thought, as we went into an off-the-record conversation on joys of entrepreneurship.

That Little Trunk By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: May 25, 2012


Trunks Company JaipurTaking something old and turning it into something enticing is not everybody’s cup of tea. Turning back the pages of a mature black and white book and filling it with vibrant colours is somewhat daring and difficult. Old world charm and glamour custom made to perfection is one thing, but translating a conventional trunk into an article of luxury is what the Trunks Company, Jaipur vouches as its forte. Deriving inspiration from the glorious Indian maharajas of Rajasthan, the brand is the first ever to create luxury trunks in the country under the aegis of Mr Paritosh and Mr Priyank Mehta. Both chic and svelte, it offers a diverse and exclusive product range. While Goyard and Louis Vuitton have been creating trunks for over a century now, this Indian duo brings the idea of portable lifestyle to India which is rooted in the aesthetics of the country.

Admirably enough, the collection is available with high end retailers. “We started the Trunks Company, Jaipur out of sheer passion and our zest to create India’s own one-of-a-kind luxury brand of trunks. We aspire to create unique and extraordinary products to fulfill the needs of customers with an aesthetic taste and thus we founded this luxury brand to create the finest quality trunks,” said Mr Paritosh.

The Jaipur Story

Set up in Jaipur, Trunks Company has made its foray within the country starting with the fashion capital Mumbai and is looking at expanding to key cities across India. World over, the luxury luggage market is dominated by giants like Louis Vuitton amongst other brands. India is no exception. Wanting to get a pie of this market, the Trunks Company Jaipur focuses on creating trunks for a contemporary lifestyle. “We will continue to focus on trunks that can be customized to reflect a person’s personality. Unfortunately, we do not provide travel solutions, gear or bags like LV and Goyard,” shared the duo. 

About Trunks Company JaipurStretch your imagination and play around with all your needs because the Trunks Company offers specific purpose trunks such as Safe Trunk, Watch Trunk, Bar Trunk, Cocktail Trunk, Music Trunk, Steamer Trunk, Wardrobe and Vanity Trunk along with a host of other customized trunks! “All of our products are made to order and created with the highest leather craftsman techniques available. These are handmade in our workshop in Jaipur by experienced craftsman using the finest of materials,” said Mr Priyank. With a team of 25 people working for them at their manufactory, it is impossible for one not to be interested in exploring the world of trunks that has enticed, and continues to entice many over centuries. “Usually it takes 60 days to deliver a trunk, although a bespoke trunk could take even up to 90 to 120 days. Each trunk is a result of 400 man-hours by various skilled craftsmen that work on trunks at different stages,” he further explained.

The Design Principle

In a very short period they have gained enviable expertise in trunk making with the help of a French Designer, Mr Livio Delegues. The Trunk Company has taken the art of trunk making to new heights of corona. As rightly said “Design is intelligence made visible”, Mr Delegues stands as a clear exemplar of this. An architect by profession, Mr Delegues is a young French   designer with Italian roots. Presently residing in Jaipur, he has penned his ideas by crafting luxury trunks for the Trunks Company, Jaipur. While functionality and design of trunks could be customized, he has effectively made it possible to create trunks with modern functionality yet holding that regal charm from outside


Trunks Company JaipurThe entrepreneurs hold a firm belief in fine and detailed craftsmanship. Thorough efforts are invested on research and development of such masterpieces. “The leather is sourced from Italy and the suede is procured from the finest tanneries of India. Even the hardware is sourced from Germany and France to ensure sturdiness and longevity of the products,” they shared. The brand has created a niche for itself owing to its statement pieces, customization, and attention to detail along with the highest quality of materials. The grandeur and panache associated with these trunks, makes it an aspirational article for every luxury home.


Stepping Stones

A complete fusion of classic style and contemporary needs, the Trunks Company, Jaipur makes the humble trunk an apt style statement. Their trunks offer a great functionality by securing premium articles like watches, jewellery, wines, music and other items.

With a price range of over INR One lakh, these trunks are royal and elegant on the outside, stylish and voguish on the inside and are a perfect fusion of class, élan and comfort. Each trunk holds great aesthetic and painterly value for its patron and provides him the chance to dwell in phenomenal comfort and luxury.

From India, Back to India By: Veronique Poles, Luxury & Fashion Consultant

Posted on April 10, 2012

When it comes to living life to the fullest, hardly anyone can surpass the ingenuity of Indian royalty. The Cartiers, Louis Vuittons and Christofles of this world have bowed down in front of their whims and fancies. It’s time to witness that yet again…

This specific edition of LuxuryFacts on Royalty is a great opportunity to reminiscence Indian royal families who lived lives of unparalleled opulence and luxury. However, for almost 50 years after Independence, India cut all ties with luxury, owing to a cautious nature. It’s only in the past few years that the romance between India and luxury has been rekindled.

Luxury brands are re-conquering territories where they had first established their business and had their best clients, that is, in India. We return to that magnificent era when Maharajas, Nawabs, Nizams and Sultans had power, wealth and accessibility to products ordered to fit their lifestyle. Their wealth was so great, that, as cost was not an issue, they could indulge themselves with orders defying the norm.

The brand fascination

Indian royalty became huge patrons of some of the major European fashion and luxury houses in the British era. Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Christofle, Van Cleef and Arpels, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Mauboussin, Rolls Royce are just a few of them who served royal families and the aristocracy. Treasures were crafted by outstanding European luxury goods manufacturers, fashion houses and decorators of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Leading a mystical life, anecdotes on memorable and iconic products, and luxurious commissions by Maharajas have enchanted many. Luxury maisons, which went through more than 150 years of existence, have had long connections with India. And India, with its landscape of luxury, has inspired many of them.

In particular, Maharajas actively participated in the development of prestigious jewellers and auto manufacturers. Luxury cars were given as gifts in trousseaus and many were custom-designed! The Maharaja of Mysore had no less than 24 Bentley and Rolls-Royce. 800 Rolls-Royces were delivered to India between 1903 and 1945, and some were gilded in fine gold!

Indian royalty created palaces designed by the best architects. Among them was Charles Mant who built the luxurious Laxmi Vilas Palace in Vadodara. As Indian royal members were avid travellers, they encountered western luxury products and became addicted to the trappings of the Western world. Travelling to Paris and London became mandatory for shopping everything from their wardrobe to their trousseau. Luxury products were particularly attractive as they were not accessible in their country. They were extremely brand conscious and Western luxury houses soon became their personal prerogative.

They adopted a western way of living: they ate in the best China from Royal Worcester and Minton, drank from Lalique and Baccarat, ordered customized stationery from Smythson of Bond Street, bought perfumes and cosmetic products from Detaille which was founded in 1905 and counted the Queen of Bulgaria, Queen of Belgium, several Maharajas, Countesses and Princesses as its customers.

All that glitters is gold

Maharajas were known for their love of beauty and style which shown through their bespoke orders to jewellery houses like Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels. They entrusted the jewellers of Rue de la Paix and Bond Street with their family treasures so that they could be re-set to the fashions of the day. Nothing was too beautiful for them, nothing too spectacular. Indian royals were flamboyant spenders.

Cartier’s tryst with India began when Jacques Cartier visited India in 1911 looking for fine pearls. In November 1913, Cartier’s vision of India was showcased with an exhibition on Fifth Avenue, New York. 20 pieces ‘inspired by Indian art’ were also depicted in a previously unpublished catalogue. Cartier revealed the incredible diversity of its designs, drawn loosely on Islamic and Indian art. This led Mr Cartier to work on various creative projects. He worked on an emerald engraved with verses from the Koran, which he mounted for Aga Khan in 1930. He produced an emerald engraved with the Hindu Gods Shiva and Parvati on a tiger skin backdrop.

Mr Cartier’s creations reflected the perfect blend of East and West: India with the profusion of gemstones, and the West with its rigid structures and settings. The West soon became infatuated with the riches of India.

In 1926, Cartier received a trunk full of precious stones and jewellery belonging to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, who wanted his stones remounted in Parisian style. The creation that emerged is famous the world over: the Patiala necklace. The necklace comprising five magnificent platinum chains, a cascade of seven large diamonds, the celebrated yellow De Beers diamond of 234.69 carat, a tobacco-coloured diamond and two rubies, remains one of the grandest pieces ever made by Cartier, perhaps even by any other jeweller.

The Maharaja of Kapurthala, also an admirer of European creativity, had 250 timepieces, majority of which were Cartier’s and for which he hired a servant specifically in charge of winding up the mechanisms!

The art of travel

Empress Eugénie, who married Napoleon III in 1853, counted the crinoline fabric as her favourite item of clothing, and she liked it to be as wide as possible. Eugénie’s gowns, the most voluminous ever, required proper upkeep. This Empress, thus, was the first crowned head to have direct influence on the destiny of Louis Vuitton. Having heard that Mr Vuitton’s specialty was ‘fashion packing’, she turned to him and entrusted him with the ‘packing of her most beautiful gowns’, Louis Vuitton Company soon became the destination for the courts of Europe and monarchs worldwide.

Louis Vuitton was synonymous with the ultimate in luxurious luggage, combining pragmatism and elegance. Louis Vuitton trunks, in fact, remain an icon of the golden age of travel, when journeying to a foreign land involved adventure, romance and style.

The Russian nobility were among Vuitton’s loyal patrons, but in the 1920s were gradually replaced by Indian princes, maybe because of their luxurious dresses which were in tune with the fabric and embroidery trends of that time. These intricate dresses had to travel without affording even a single line of damage on them. Sayajirao Gaewak III from Baroda had become one of Vuitton’s important and faithful clients in the 1920s, and his second wife remained a client until 1956. Among his purchases was a Torino suitcase with toiletry accessories in vermeil and ivory, a shoe trunk and a tea case, as elegant as practical, in particular for tiger hunts.

The Vuitton Company took pride in filling the special orders of Jagatjit Singh, the Maharaja of Kapurthala in Punjab, who was an avid traveller. He owned over 60 large Louis Vuitton trunks that would hold his clothes, paraphernalia, swords, turbans, suits, shoes and elaborate traditional dresses.

Among Louis Vuitton clients were the Maharajas of Alivar, Rajputana, Jodhpur, Holkar and Indore as well. The Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir have also been important Vuitton clients since 1919. In particular, in 1925, Hari Singh, a polo fanatic, ordered several special trunks from Louis Vuitton for his sports clothes and equipment, including one specially designed for his mallets. He, in fact, placed 38 orders between June and December 1928 alone! These included a special box for polo outfits, twelve boxes for drying cigarettes and three suitcases one of which was a shoe-maintenance kit; and another superimposed a toiletries kit on a tea set.

The toiletries kit consisted of more than 50 items in silver and had two uses: it held everything required for personal hygiene (brushes, bottles, soap boxes, razors and so on) and was also a jewellery box. The whole ensemble seemed a curious mixture for the time, but in fact, was in tradition of the elegant toiletries kits of 19th century English travellers.

The sheen of silver

An apt example exploring India’s fabled wealth and great eccentricities is an order placed in April 1882 by Saddiq Muhammad Khan Abassi IV, the Nawab of Bahawalpur. It was truly a masterpiece conjured from the strange and whimsical dream of this extraordinary individual.

He commissioned Orfévrerie Christofle, founded in 1830, a bed of ‘dark wood decorated with applied sterling with gilded parts, monograms and arms, ornamented with four life-size bronzes figures painted in flesh color with natural hair, movable eyes and arms, holding fans and horse tails’! The execution of the bed required, in addition to a team of silversmiths, the assistance of many different types of artists and craftsmen.

The silversmith covered the structure of Brazilian rosewood with 290 kilos of chased and engraved sterling silver in the form of garlands in leaf and foliage in relief. Ingenious mechanics allowed the statues to wave fans! And the bed was also fitted with a music box that played a 30-minute interlude from Gounod’s Faust when activated by a button! Such technology was unprecedented and unheard of during that era!

When Christofle received the order for the bed, the firm was already the largest silversmith in France. Supplier to King Louis-Philippe, and then the Emperor Napoléon III, Christofle continuously used the most modern techniques to create exceptional pieces.

The Nawab’s bed, however, was neither the first nor the only piece of furniture that Christofle created or sold. Executed most often on the request of prestigious clients or for world fairs, their pieces always attracted attention and were admired for their technical and aesthetic qualities.

After Independence, and with the decline of the fortune and power of Indian princes, luxury houses saw new markets opening up in Middle East and in Russia. Today luxury companies are reassessing their strategy. They are shifting their hopes yet again to emerging markets such as India and China. From India…back to India.

When these luxury brands were born, the Indian royalty increasingly became their ladder to financial and creative success – not only by buying their designs, but also by enriching their knowledge by introducing them to a high-cultured land such as India. These fabulous creators gleaned many aesthetic references from the country.

Today, when half the world is reeling under economic difficulties, luxury brands have approached Indian shores again. The difference, this time, is that the ‘New Maharajas’ in India are the wealthy kings and queens of industrial houses, the scions of booming businesses, the Bollywood princes and princesses and the nouveau riche.

The cycle is back to the first point: uber-luxury brands are back to the lucrative Indian market.

A heartfelt gratitude to Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Christofle and Detaille who kindly accepted to share with us documents and images from their archives and for their patrimony.

Veronique Poles is a freelance fashion and luxury consultant based inMumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillete Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love. For LuxuryFacts, she unveils some of the best kept secrets in the sphere of ‘word of mouth landmarks’ for connoisseurs of products with substance. They are greatest creations made by artisans of excellence and guardians of tradition, who work with passion for detail and quality to make your dreams come true.


The Gift Angels By: Karishma Parkash Suri

Posted on: March 10, 2012

Big things do come in small packages. We find out what big things does the new luxury gifting website, GiftVault, offers.

Once upon a time there was a man who ordered a three carat heart-shaped engagement ring and needed help with the proposal. A website suggested hiding the ring with a special message in one of its specially commissioned life-size sweet tree which was delivered by two security guards!  The wedding took place in Italy and the couple lived happily ever after. No, this isn’t a fairytale; this is a story of an actual GiftVault customer!

Shopping could be a great fun-filled activity and even therapeutic at times, but if only for yourself. Because at least we have a certain idea of what we may like, even if not always (yes, it’s true). Come to shopping for someone else, and it turns into an absolute nightmare! Because you may have absolutely no idea what they may need or even want. Taxing and taking a toll on your mind, shopping for someone else can be quite a task. Even if you know what you wanted to gift, you might have wondered if it will be an appropriate gift for that particular occasion or not. As the above example suggests, you can easily leave all your gifting woes to the new luxury gifting website,, which we think will make gifting as easy as tying a ribbon on an already wrapped present. Yes, really.

Wish lists and registries have always been life and time-savers for most people and this portal is no exception. has different services to suit the various demands of luxury gifting. The GiftVault Social Network makes buying the right gift for the right person easy and fun. GiftVault users share wish lists, gift ideas and experiences, upload videos, discuss how to make an occasion perfect, surprise friends with gifts without having to ask their shoe size, shop via Facebook, and post favourite products on their wall. GiftVault Planner ensures users receive SMS/email reminders of special occasions along with friends’ updated wishlists. It provides all the services to make gifting as enjoyable and easy as possible, while ensuring you always get the right gift.

The third part is, of course, where patrons can actually buy gifts. Choose from a selection of extravagant gifts like Christofle wine decanter, de Grisogono Tote, Dom Perignon White Gold Champagne Jeroboam, Louis XIII cognac, Caran D’Ache pens and many more. The easy navigation, clean design and uncluttered interface make it a treat to browse through the website. 

Occasions come and go, but the gifts are the ones that get etched into one’s memory. GiftVault’s forthright, glamourous and passionate owners Ms Lee Greenberg and Ms Violetta Winkworth-Gruosi know social networks are pivotal to their future expansion. “At the time of GiftVault’s early development there were no e-commerce websites that targeted the luxury gifting market,” said Ms Winkworth-Gruosi. Existing sites were either specialized in certain products or categories or were gift sites for lower end / mass products. “We wanted to create one place where affluent, cash rich, time poor customers could go to satisfy all their gifting needs,” she shared.

From the start

The brainchild of Ms Greenberg (a former Beijing-based new media fundraising and venture capital specialist) and Ms Winkworth-Gruosi (a luxury expert with degrees in business, gemology and international management, and the daughter and step-daughter of the heads of Geneva-based jewellery brands de Grisogono and Chopard), the two are now putting their heart and soul into making your materialistic dreams come. After completing their business degrees together in 2007, both the ladies followed different career paths. Ms Greenberg was working in the Internet and online network industry in China and Ms Winkworth-Gruosi in the luxury jewellery industry in Switzerland. The two met again in 2010 in a social media conference and have been working together ever since. Having come from such different experiences, yet having the same goals and ideas seems to work in the favour of the two.

“We offer gifts for everyone. Our product categories fall under men, women, children, and the home. We want people to be able to come to our site and buy a gift for their partner, children, grandparents, colleagues and pets - all in one place. We want our customers to be able to do this with the assurance that everything they are browsing through is handpicked through a strict selection process. Essentially, our customers do trust GiftVault and we take this trust very seriously,” said Ms Winkworth-Gruosi.

Behind the scenes

Violetta Gruosi is a star child and has attempted to stand on her own two feet. Difficult as it may be, she seems to have done an outstanding job nevertheless. Her great great great grandfather was William Wilberforce who led the movement to abolish slave trade. Her grandfather was Peter Winkworth, a collector of nationally significant and rare Canadian art and her father, Fawaz Gruosi has built an international brand, de Grisogono. “Growing up with such a background has inspired me to want to do something, and more importantly, it has given me the confidence that anything is possible with hard work, passion and good and positive people around you. I am extremely proud of what my father has achieved, and being his daughter has allowed me to see firsthand the work and passion involved in creating an international brand,” she shared.

As for Ms Greenberg, if you are wondering if she has funded any new media ventures recently, you may be disappointed. “I haven’t funded any new media ventures. I have, however, been involved in numerous start-ups and enjoy challenging and exciting experiences,” she said. We wondered if she primarily handled the finance part of the website and she shared that she was predominantly more hands on with the website and its development. “Being a start up in its baby phases, we share many responsibilities together,” she said.

Is this for me?

Both the founders have a clear profile of their intended customer in my mind. “Our customers are those that care and take pride in getting the right gifts that will have the ‘right’ reaction. They enjoy giving gifts, but do not have time to scan the market or to understand completely what would be appropriate,” they said.

Planning the logistics of delivery can often be quite complicated, But it is quite well-planned out by the two. “For London deliveries we have our own small service, and for national and international deliveries we work with the biggest courier companies, ensuring real-time tracking and insurance. We realize that this is a main differentiator in the e-commerce industry and we strive to offer the highest service. We often receive last minute orders from customers desperate for their gift to arrive on time and we so far we have managed to fulfill even the most seemingly impossible of requests,” Ms Winkworth-Gruosi said confidently.

The website caters to all countries in terms of shipping. However, the duo would like to grow slowly and surely and not run before they can walk. “We are using the UK as our starting point and from here we hope to become more and more international. One of our ethos is that we under promise and over deliver. It is important to get things right and as perfectly as we possibly can,” they shared.

If customization is what you want, they do that too. “It is possible to receive pretty much whatever your hearts desire. We will personally try to solve any gift related request – just try us!” Ms Winkworth-Gruosi said.

Click away!

The Internet is the most exciting industry to be involved in. It is continually developing and innovating, and with good reason. Ask the ladies and they will share that right from nurturing the site to its developments in functionality and navigation, to choosing magnificent products to future expansion in emerging markets, the internet gives them easy access and serves as a perfect medium to reach out to their audiences. And the audiences too will agree that it is convenient and efficient to another level! Thinking rationally, it is a win-win situation for all.

Harnessing the potential of internet, GiftVault has made selecting gifts easier, as has hinting about desired gifts more subtle and fun. And we, for one, applaud the unique idea!

A Vivid Discovery By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: March 10, 2012

Jewellery is not just about how it looks, as most Indian women understand. It’s also about the craftsmanship and comfort. Entice jewellery brand scores full marks on all points!

It is always a little difficult to judge for us whether a jewellery brand can be deemed as ‘luxury’ or not. Since jewellery is a luxury item in any case, and most of the brands use certified diamonds and stones and have work-able designs, which one brand out of those plethoras can be put on the same pedestal as Cartier or Ganjam?

Entice jewellery brand, however, can surely be termed as luxury we think. Having being retailing at the Blues Jewellery store in New Delhi’s South Extension area, Entice has now opened a stand-alone store in Greater Kailash I, New Delhi. The brand also has a store in Jaipur, the city being close to the heart of the controlling family group – KGK Group. In Mumbai, however, they offer personalized service only as of yet.

Locational luxury

This first boutique in Delhi truly stands out as a luxurious oasis due to its elegant design and interiors. The Rajasthani inspired display windows are heavily reminiscent of the iconic Jal Mahal in Jaipur which was recently restored by the KGK Group. It’s location in the bustling Greater Kailash M Block market, however, is a little confusing.

Sharing space with probably 20 other jewellery brands was quite a risky step we think. But Mr Sanjay Kothari, Vice Chairman of KGK Group of Companies, is not worried about the competition. “This shopping area is frequented by our target audience which makes it an extremely beneficial location. As for competing with other jewellery brands here, we don’t think just opening the store will make a difference. Consumers need to come in and experience our quality for them to really agree with Entice, which we are sure will gradually happen,” he said.

The luxury charm

If, indeed, the consumers do come in to review Entice, they will be floored by the quality of the brand and will be tempted to try it. What primarily makes Entice luxury, according to us, is its making.

The quality of its stones is absolutely verified since in the 1990s, KGK became an authorised bulk purchaser of rough diamonds by being awarded Sightholder status by the Diamond Trading Company (DTC), the marketing arm of De Beers. KGK’s rough diamonds are sourced from mines in South Africa and from organized markets in Antwerp, London and Russia. The emeralds, rubies and sapphires are sourced from mines in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Sri Lanka, and tanzanite from Tanzania. These gems are cut and polished in group’s India and Thailand factories, thus eliminating any involvement of a third party.

Secondly, the jewellery being handcrafted at their manufactory in Hong Kong, is extremely lightweight and flexible, as opposed to jewellery made in India which is usually metal-heavy. The necklaces are crafted in such a way so as to make them fall and drape over the neck and adjust itself to the contours like a second skin. This leaves out any chances of having that embarrassing gap between the neck and the jewellery piece. Also, your neck or ears won’t sag with the weight of the jewellery and will turn out to be exceptionally comfortable even if you have to wear it an entire day.

Third is the stunning design of the jewellery. The look is quite contemporary, allowing them to be worn with traditional Indian dresses as well as with evening gowns. Designed by Mr Kothari’s wife, the pieces reflect the simplicity coupled with sleek and straight lines. Precious stones are combined with diamonds in a beautiful way so as to dazzle the on-looker with their sheer luminosity!

Fourth, and probably the most important reason, is that each piece is one-of-its-kind and exclusive. They don’t duplicate the designs to make a large collection. Customisation and bespoke services are of course available at the store.

Entice breaks some conventionalities and boundaries in jewellery design and production. Eventually, we feel the brand will set some new trends in the industry. In the meanwhile, let’s dabble in their brilliance…

Wine Wellness By: LuxuryFacts

Posted on: March 10, 2012

If you have become immune to those same spa treatments or the everyday relaxing tub bath, it’s time to reinvent the definition of wellness for yourself with this fabulous wine-making estate in France!

Much like luxury, wellness, as we all concur, has different definitions for different people. For some it can be regular spa treatments while for others it can be a home-cooked meal with family.

What charmed us, however, was vino wellness, coupled with stunning countryside and peaceful surroundings! What better way to ensure bliss than enjoying some wine which is prepared on your very own grounds!

Emile Garcin Properties provides that chance. With a number of properties in their portfolio, this particular one in France (which does not really have a name), enticed us the most. The location is conveniently located about 30 kilometers from Aix-en-Provence, and 40 minutes from its TGV station and from Marseilles Provence international airport. Ideally placed in the heart of the Luberon hills, it gives the opportunity to benefit both from peace of the Durance lower valley (leading to the Luberon hills) and the proximity of the ‘civilised’ Aix-en-Provence.

The estate enjoys a Mediterranean climate with cool nights and cold winters and protection from the Mistral (strong, cold winds) due to the Luberon hills. The property includes a master residence, a caretaker’s cottage and the various winery buildings. A park is a part of the property too which has been enhanced with fountains, ornamental pools and waterfalls. Beyond, the domain covers 18 hectares of woodland on a hillside, olive groves, two vegetable gardens, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a truffiere (truffle oaks), a cherry orchard and 20 hectares of AOC vines, the whole in one piece.

Stand at the height of the property and take in the gorgeous views over the Sainte Victoire, Mount Ventoux and the Alpilles. You’ll be transfixed to that spot for life…

The wine deal

The vineyard on the premises produces AOC wines and is bordered by a small mountain stream. Created before Roman time, the vineyard is about 35 years old. The quality of wine is highly dependent on the ‘terroir’, that is, the land conditions on which the grapes have grown. At these vineyards, the soil is clayey and chalky, with a deep subsoil and ideal sunshine levels. Currently, 23 ha are exploited, including two ha of young vines and three ha in rental system. An extension of the vineyard area could be easily created.

The grape varieties grown are traditional of the region, including Grenache, Syrah and Carignan for red wines, Vermentino, Clairette, Ugni and Viognier for white wines. The final production is composed of 55 per cent red wine, 25 per cent white wine and 20 per cent rosé wine. Around 120,000 units of wines from this estate are sold, mainly exported to Great Britain, Japan, China, USA, Canada and Benelux. The sale from the in-house tasting cellar takes advantage of the fame and touristic site of the nearby village.

Two employees work for the domain, in addition to the owner and his wife. The property is organized around a GFA (grouping farmland) and an EARL (farming exploitation limited liability).

Costing a whopping 6,360,000 Euros, the property is well worth it! Be a part of the wine-making process, or simply sip over some quality wine, this will certainly prove to be a better well-being experience than any other luxury service provider…

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Adoring Time By: LuxuryFacts

Posted on: February 10, 2012

It is the time of the year when watch novelties take the stage yet again. As we await the second watch fair of the year – BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair – we pick three watch releases from Salon de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) 2012 which we loved!

Cartier – Tank Folle Watch

Distorted probably never seemed as beautiful as it does in the Tank Folle watch by Cartier. As with the previous and current Tank models, the watch has a sun-style dial, Roman numerals and blued-steel sword-shaped hands. But the dial shape, which gives a ‘distorted’ effect to the watch, is the new factor. To give a jewelled twist, the dial and the winding mechnism is outlined with brilliant-cut diamonds. The watch is powered by a manual-winding mechanical movement and is available in a limited series of 200 timepieces.

IWC Schaffhausen – Pilot’s Watches

IWC has reworked its range of Pilot’s watch family and given it rebirth with better complications and more attention to detail. The Perpetual Calendar models, however, are remarkable in our opinion. The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun houses the in-house caliber 51614 mechanical movement with a high-performance Pellaton winding system which preserves an amazing 168 hours of power reserve. The Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month, on the other hand, is the first IWC Pilot’s timepiece to feature a digital display showing the date and month in large numerals.

Piaget - Gouverneur Tourbillon

The new Gouverneur line by Piaget is clean and subtle which will suit all your formal occasions. Introduced within the Black Tie collection, the line includes automatic, chronograph and tourbillon watches. The Gouverneur Tourbillon model has struck our eye though. It houses the slender and ultra-thin (2.8mm) new Calibre 642P flying tourbillon which is visible at 12 o’clock on the openworked dial. It also features an astronomical pointer-type moon-phase display at 6 o’clock requiring a one-day correction only once every 122 years. Endowed with an approximately 40-hour power reserve, the white gold and diamond version is probably the most beautiful from the entire set.

Artistic Strokes By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: February 10, 2012

The India Art Fair had everyone spinning on its fingers as art experts, enthusiasts and connoisseurs flocked to the venue to experience pure beauty and intellect. The gallery owners who exhibited at the Fair are surely in high spirits!

As the warm winter sun shone through the venue of the 4th India Art Fair (IAF), a swarm of people thronged to get a glimpse of the artistic creations exhibited by some of the most well-known galleries in the world.

And it was quite a mélange! Proudly strutting artists, well-dressed gallery owners, fast-paced PR professionals, kitsch-clad art aficionados, high-heeled fashionistas and suited up VIPs were all animated about the Fair, which has become quite an awaited event in India. As people streamed in, servers were waiting in line, like a guard of honour, holding trays of wine and canapés.

And once inside, all around were paintings, sculptures and installations big and small - it was an oasis of art!

Redefining Art

It is not only the art itself which magnetically drew people to the Fair. Concrete changes have been made in the management of the Fair, the outcome of which a number of people were rather curious about. In 2011, Ms Neha Kirpal, Founding Director of IAF, divested a 49 per cent stake of the Fair to two of the co-founders of the Hong Kong International Art Fair – Sandy Angus (Chairman of exhibitions company Montgomery Worldwide) and Will Ramsay (Founder of the Affordable Art Fair and Pulse Art Fair). The Fair was renamed from the previous India Art Summit to India Art Fair. And the venue was shifted from the Pragati Maidan to the unusual but more spacious NSIC Exhibition Grounds in Okhla.

IAF featured 91 exhibitors from 20 countries presenting about 1000 modern and contemporary artists across a 12,000 square metre custom-built space. The Fair saw a diverse contingent of galleries, with about 57 per cent of them being Asian (more than half of them Indian), 26 per cent from Europe, and the remaining 14 per cent from North and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. The state-of-the art setup was under the guidance of the company doing the Frieze Art Fair in London while the venue space was designed by Indian set designer Sumant Jayakrishnan. Alongside, the space also included well-placed art projects, a video lounge, an art bookstore, cafes and an open-air amphitheatre.

The change of venue and management improved the event considerably. Ms Maren Kirchhoff, the curator and gallery manager at Die Galerie, which participated for the second time in IAF, said, “The new venue was certainly a difficult location to develop into a reasonably professional Fair location. But nevertheless, we welcomed more seriously interested clients for Western art, made profound new contacts and continued establishing Die Galerie in the emerging Indian art market. And, last but not the least, in contrast to last year, we did sales.” Germany-based Die Galerie was the cynosure of most eyes as it showcased artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Marc Chagall.

First time participant Richard Mauger, Director of Mauger Modern Art, was all praise for IAF saying, “Large, well-produced and excellently attended. Neha has brought the event up to a level where it can be compared to the Art Basel’s and Armory’s of the art world. The IAF committee ensured a high quality of work was exhibited.” Mauger Modern Art showcased contemporary art works leaning towards unique 3D effects.

The VIP Lounge, sponsored by watchmaker Officine Panerai, was spacious and better equipped compared to the previous year. Mr Milvin George, Managing Director of Officine Panerai (Middle East), was visibly pleased at the improved Lounge. The relationship between IAF and Officine Panerai has been rock solid as the watch manufacturer has been sponsoring the VIP Lounge since the first edition of the Fair.

Though not to say that there is no scope for improvement, Mr Mauger iterates, “I know that this was a new venue for the Fair, and there will always be teething problems with temporary structures, but the clients we spoke to said that they found their Fair experience better than last year. Certainly it means that with the extra space available, the Fair has the option to expand and integrate aspects such as project areas and restaurants perhaps. I know many people were keen on the idea of a defined space for large scale installations. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens next year. I do think, like many others, that this Fair will go from strength to strength.”

IAF also had sessions scheduled to educate people about the meaning of art, its history and the current culture of buying art. Interestingly, there was even a session titled ‘You don’t have to be a millionaire to collect art’, which was moderated by Ms Maithili Parekh, Director, Sotheby’s India.

In a commendable step towards nurturing art collectors under one umbrella, the India Art Fair Collectors’ Circle was launched in September 2011. This membership-based programme reaches out to young and new collectors in cities across India. These members will get access to talks, studio visits and social events throughout the year.

The Response

Exhibitors happily welcomed the positive response from guests. “The interest was overwhelming, especially in the known names such as Picasso, Dali and Chagall. Those classics are, of course, well-known in India. But we also got a good response for our contemporary artists such as the Italian painter Claudio Massini and the German painter Volker Stelzmann. Many Indian visitors truly consider the Fair as ‘the’ new platform for art in their country and are enthusiastic to get in touch with art from abroad,” Ms Kirchhoff said.

This feeling of exhilaration was shared by Mr Mauger too. He said, “The quality and level of interest was staggering. We had one client deciding between a Martin C Herbst oil painting steel sphere on our booth, and an Anish Kapoor on another. People were definitely in the mood to buy, but it had to be very special pieces with high integrity for them to seriously consider taking the plunge.”

Both exhibitors though, were not too happy with Indian laws, which restricted them from importing their works safely without incurring high costs. While Ms Kirchhoff rued the fact that they couldn’t get a larger collection to India due to high costs and absence of proper logistics, Mr Mauger was perturbed with the barrage of formalities. “There were a spaghetti junction of forms, documents and permissions needed to get the art into India, coupled with the headache of actually making a sale. We decided to ask our clients to make their orders once we land back in London to avoid the stifling paperwork. We do hear that tax laws will be relaxed in time for next year, which will make releasing works from the Fair – rather than sending from London – much easier,” he said.

Competing with Korea

Much to our surprise, a lot of exhibitors were gauging the maturity of the Indian art market vis-à-vis the Korean market. Interestingly, Ms Kirchhoff and Mr Mauger view the market with different eyes. According to Mr Mauger, this other Asian market is more inclined towards buying works from native artists rather than international art. “Our experience in Seoul was that the Korean market is good, but Korean buyers are keen to purchase works from Korean artists primarily. The ratio of sales was explained by a Seoul gallery to us as 80 per cent Korean art, 10 per cent A-list international artists, and the final 10 per cent of sales consist of non-expensive, exceptionally well-produced works. The Indian art market (in our brief experience) is still very Indian artist centric, but more open to exploring art from other countries. The response to Jeff Robb’s 3D Lenticular’s was very strong, with the sales to support this. A number of museums are currently in touch with us at the moment to work out the best way to showcase his work here,” he said. Ms Kirchhoff, however, stated quite the opposite, saying that Indian audiences were more knowledgeable about and prone to buying Indian art rather than international art.

Another crucial point is the red tape that international galleries have to face in India. “In Korea, as in Singapore, no tax on art is required and the temporary import of art is much less bureaucratic – two very important factors – which in contrast are still very complicated in India and constrain the art market’s growth,” Ms Kirchhoff said.

Despite the tangling laws and sheafs of paperwork, India is still a very important market for international galleries and artists alike. Mr Mauger says that he will “definitely” take part in IAF next year. The Die Galerie too promises to take steps to strengthen their relationship with the Indian market. Ms Kirchhoff explains, “After having returned from the Fair, it’s our most important duty to keep in touch with our contacts during the year. We have to gain and maintain the personal confidence of our (new) clients as it is the first and most important basis of successful gallery work, but not easy to achieve. Another activity to strengthen the Indian market will be the active contact with other professionals based in India. We might be able to initiate first cooperation with Indian galleries.”

There is optimism in the air, growth is on the charts and art lovers are eager to learn and embrace art intrinsically. IAF took the right steps at an opportune time to plant its feet.

German Build, Turkish Reinvention By: Ashish Gupta, CEO, Beyondesign

Posted on: February 10, 2012

The economic crisis of 2008 claimed many brands and companies. Drettmann, however, rose even stronger.

Much like the Googles and Apples of this world, the German company, Drettmann, was founded in 1970 in a garage. But this was no dotcom or IT brand. It was originally a modest business selling pre-owned boats, started by the husband-wife duo Traute and Dierk Drettmann. The concept soon proved viable and capable of expansion. After a few years, the couple took over an agency for Dutch steel boats which became their first step on the road to global success. The next milestone was in 1989, when their son Albert joined the business.

After a few years, Albert and his wife Claudia undertook the management of the company. In 1993, the firm began to build the Elegance Yachts series, which was then followed by four more company yacht brands which received great international acclaim. One particularly successful example was the Bandido line, whose high-class design and celebrity owners repeatedly made headlines.

The company grew swiftly owing to its location on the banks of the River Weser, with private berths and crane facilities, as well as well-appointed showrooms for the yachts. However, due to the decline of the prices in the used yacht section of the market, the company declared bankruptcy in May 2010. A statement from the company said that the objective of the insolvency was to restructure the company and preserve its employees. The Drettmann management hoped that this step would have no further detrimental effect on the company’s customers, with the continuation of the Drettmann Groups products being sold worldwide. 

Soon after the declaration, in August 2010, the company detected positive signals with large numbers of sales and the increasing interest of several potential investors. As a boon, the reputation of Drettmann had suffered very minor damage. “The quality of our yacht brands and the unique Refit-Programme by Drettmann” was considered as a major and important reason by the couple Claudia and Albert Drettmann for the preservation of its status. Despite the insolvency proceedings, prominent clients continued buying Drettmann yachts. DTM and Formula 1 race car driver, Ralf Schumacher, in fact, bought the Bandido 75’ from the Bremen series by Drettman during this time.

The number of pre-owned yachts sold also raised continuously during this period. The ordered temporary insolvency administrator, lawyer Edgar Grönda, said, “The actual situation is not the direct consequence of mismanagement, but can be primarily traced back to the worldwide economic crisis.”

Experiencing the huge success and support, the company continued to focus on new yacht builds ‘made in Bremen-Hemelingen’ which generated interest from many investors. The brand, though, still tried to function without an investor.

However, judging the flow of air, Drettmann’s owners, Claudia and Albert Drettmann, partnered with Sunrise yachts to form the Drettmann-Sunrise Group in December 2010. The partnership came about after a potential client of Sunrise’s reportedly commented, half-jokingly, that if he could buy a German-quality yacht at a Turkish price, he’d be thrilled. Herbert Baum and Guillaume Roché, the founders of Turkey-based Sunrise Yachts, met with the Drettmanns over the summer to discuss combining resources, thereby positioning Drettmann as a contender against the North European yards. The new Drettmann-Sunrise Group now has operations in both Germany and Turkey.

The focus of the group’s strategy became the re-birth of the Drettmann brand from a successful yacht marketing firm to a full-fledged yacht-building company. The ‘new’ brand was launched with new yacht designs at Boot Düsseldorf, Germany’s leading international boat show. In addition to the superyacht designs created at Sunrise Yachts, the Drettmann also introduced new product lines focusing on the core business and loyal client-base developed by Claudia and Albert Drettmann over the years.

The activities of the company expanded to include the creation of Drettmann Motoryachts (20m to 37m); Drettmann Explorers (27m to 37m and above); Drettmann Superyachts (46m to 65m); Drettmann Classics (12m to 18m); Custom motoryacht projects in the 40m to 65m size range in collaboration with world-class yacht designers; and refit up to 600 tons, which has now increased to 1,200 tons. During the launch, Mr Roché said, “This is definitely the most exciting project I encountered in my twenty years career as a yacht-builder.”

The partnership soon bore fruits as Drettmann Yachts presented two new superyacht lines in February 2011 along with the Drettmann Motor Yachts (DMY) and the Drettmann Explorer Yachts (DEY). Now, a year later, the Drettman-Sunrise Group, expects to lay the keel of its first Drettmann Motor Yacht, the DMY 32m.

The DMY 32m is targeting yacht owners who like sleek lines, voluminous interiors and innovative features. The open main-deck layout provides a combination saloon-dining area, flanked by sole-to-ceiling windows. Buyers can opt for the fold-down balconies to each side. Good-size windows also characterize the main-deck master suite, but so, too, do two skylights, adding to the airy feel. Owners and up to eight guests, accommodated in four equal-size staterooms, get an innovative aft beach club that can be outfitted in a variety of ways. The center of the transom can fold down and be set up with sun lounges, with a bar tucked inside the yacht. Alternately, a sauna or gym can be fitted inside. Furthermore, additional platforms to each side of the DMY 32m can fold down, making a far larger, wrap-around swim platform. All of these touches are items a buyer would normally expect in a larger megayacht.

The DEY has also been designed and tank tested. The keel of the first DEY, also 32 meters, should be laid soon after that of the DMY 32m. Both the DMY and DEY lines are being built at Sunrise Yachts’ facility in Turkey.

“Our concept of ‘Made in Germany, built in Europe’ has proved us right,” says Albert Drettman happily, “and this is just the start. We may have achieved lots of new things already – but we are planning much more.” With a new life, higher targets, and much more zealous spirit, Drettmann will continue to scale oceans upon oceans!

At present, Ashish Gupta is India’s only promising yacht designer and is making waves in this sector. He started Beyondesign in 2001 and created India’s first superyacht, which propelled him into the global yachting world. He is currently working on designing yachts for HNIs globally and on projects with Feadship, Oceanco, Heesen & Royal Huisman Shipyard.

Long Range Expeditions for 2012 By: Ashish Gupta, CEO, Beyondesign

Posted on: January 10, 2012

Scintillating , powerful, chic and lavish – these yachts will take your breath away! How about picking up one of these sea going beauties and sailing around to your heart’s content before the world (theoretically) ends?

The New Year rings in fresh styles, reworked trends and newer desires. As consumers typically explore fashion and its improvements and novelties, the same goes for yachts. Yachts launching in 2012 have better engineering and superior interiors to offer. Here are a few curtain raisers  which are my personal favourites and will define the cruising and yachting experience this year!

Aerospeed - The Supercar of the Seas

The 18 metres Aerospeed, scheduled to be delivered in August 2012, is truly the supercar of the seas with F1 technology and feather weight hull. It provides incredible performance with a maximum speed well over 55 knots (100 kms/hour), taking only five minutes or less to reach Alibaug from Gateway of India!

What makes it different from all the other ‘supercars’ of the seas is the interior space including three cabins, a galley with a day head  and an air-conditioned lounge for guests. Aerospeed is designed for flamboyant owners who want to cruise with style and panache. In addition, owners can specify any exterior paint scheme, providing the ultimate in customization.

She is fabricated entirely using hand-stitched leather, titanium trim and carbon fibre inlays that seamlessly merge with touch-screen audiovisual technology and user-centric details which are quite expected from a superboat now.

Maxi Dolphin MD65 Power

This semi-custom cruiser motor yacht, which will be delivered in November 2012, stands out with small yacht characteristics - unlike the Aerospeed. MD65 Power can be described as a teaser yacht and an upgrade for owners who currently have a speed boat. She can achieve a top speed of 40 knots approximately.

MD65 Power best offers three kinds of internal settings - Top (speed boat version), Fashion (will include sun bathing and convertible version of the windscreen) and Family (will be designed more for overnight stay onboard). These settings meet the desires and the tastes of the most careful ship owners. They grant extreme functionality and comfort of exclusive level during long navigations alone, or with family and friends. The contemporary design hits the eye with high elegance and careful details. The high quality materials used, from wood and marble to leather and enamels, make sure you are seated in the most regal atmosphere.

The deck area is characterized by an airy and panoramic sunbathing area shadowed for the daytime. A large and elegant cockpit is adorned with comfortable sofas. The windscreen, that can be opened, is a unique innovation in its genre, allowing a stylistic living continuum that makes you fully enjoy the sea even more.

Pershing 82’

Pershing 82’, to be first delivered in spring 2012, is best fitted for owners looking for a cruiser where class and sporting spirit come together to enhance the pleasure of yachting. Pilot house and leather finishing is exclusively crafted by Poltrona Frau which showcases brilliantly designed interior spaces and aggressive looks. Lifestyle options include three and four cabin versions; an exclusive hard top that extends and retracts completely; and a spacious and highly modular sundeck area in the bows. The sundeck, in fact, features a comfortable sunbathing area, with dinette and a table, to provide complete privacy while relaxing.

The Pershing 82’ is 24.97 metres long and provides four comfortable guest cabins (the master suite amidships, a VIP cabin forward and two twin cabins) in the standard layout, or three guest cabins in an optional version, with a lounge-cinema room starboard, and two crew cabins with three beds. Speed is not a problem with a maximum speed of 45 knots. And considering it’s a Pershing, there is no question on quality and mechanics!

Curvelle - Catamaran Quaranta

With construction solely based on in-house funding, the Quaranta motor yacht is currently in full production in Tuzla, Istanbul, with delivery set for November 2012.

The USP of this 33 metre Quaranta catamaran is that the beam is relatively bigger so the interior space is as voluminous as a 45 metre mono-hull yacht. She is designed for owners looking for a value for money Turkish built yacht at a highly competitive introductory price, staying well below 10 million Euros. With her transatlantic range, and a cruising speed of 22 knots, superyacht Quaranta is currently the largest carbon hybrid composite power catamaran in the world.

She can be totally custom-made with the right balance of interior and outdoor spaces depending on the owner’s requirement. Curvelle has teamed up with Beyondesign, India, to design the yacht with similar specifications for Indian market at a much more attractive price!

M/Y Cannes

This elegant performer with ‘go anywhere’ capabilities is another Turkish built semi custom yacht. Scheduled to be delivered in December 2012, it is priced at 10,950,000 Euros.

M/Y Cannes has a stylish, modern, raised pilothouse design with a sailboat look, low profile and a huge flying bridge. Doing away with an upper saloon gives her as much space as a 50 metres motor yacht. She is ideal for summer conditions in Europe. The interior finish equals the best work from European yards and the level of engineering is superior.

Designed by Dubois Naval Architects-Holland with interior design by Beyondesign, India, the 41m motor yacht is an accomplished, muscular performer at sea and a stylish head turner in any anchorage. The smooth exterior lines are enhanced by uninterrupted black glass windows sweeping along the main deck. Beautifully finished stainless steel louvres wrap around the aft side coamings (a raised rim to keep out water) and forward superstructure. The permanent composite bimini on the fly bridge adds a futuristic flourish, while the matching curved stairways from the aft boarding platform up to the main deck provides a dramatic entrance. The yacht provides a maximum speed of 18 knots.

Star Fish

The 50 metre Star Fish is projected to launch in April 2012. Pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules, Star Fish is the ultimate luxury expedition yacht.

This yacht is rugged, stylish and designed to thrill. It has the world's first stone deck driven by innovation. One of the standout features of this yacht is best enjoyed in the tropics with a massive foldout deck that wraps around the stern, creating a ‘beach’ that provides passengers easy access to the water. Star Fish is exclusively for owners who desire to stay onboard, exploring all seasons sailing across the globe!

Instead of simply hopping from one idyllic Caribbean cove to another, or dropping in at Mediterranean’s most glamorous ports of call for cocktail hour, Star Fish gives birth to a new style of yachting. Built for traveling through icy waters, explorer vessel Star Fish (built by Aquos Yachts) can cruise comfortably from the Northeast Passage to Antarctica – thus ensuring a complete, continuous and enthralling journey.

At present, Ashish Gupta is India’s only promising yacht designer and is making waves in this sector. He started Beyondesign in 2001 and created India’s first superyacht, which propelled him into the global yachting world. He is currently working on designing yachts for HNIs globally and on projects with Feadship, Oceanco, Heesen & Royal Huisman Shipyard.

Certified Sophistication By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: January 10, 2012

If you are spending that fortune on a watch, you might as well have it proven tough in all aspects. Chopard does that for you by achieving three prestigious certifications for its latest LUC model. Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is visibly proud!

Chopard has another feather in its cap, or should we say, three. The newest edition in one of Chopard’s most prized creations, the LUC series, has managed to get three prestigious certifications. This is not only the first time for Chopard, but a first time in the world as well! The new LUC Triple Certification Tourbillon now proudly struts with Swiss watchmaking certifications: COSC, Poinçon de Genève and Fleurier Quality Foundation label.

Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co President, Chopard, was definitely ecstatic. “Our team is indeed very proud and in general this combined certification is a great recognition for years of hard work on the LUC development. It also provides a big motivation to reach higher goals,” he said.

This achievement, however, comes on the heels of many previous milestones. The LUC was first created in 1996 with the launch of its first movement, the LUC 96.01-L. “If I had to select just a few of our milestones, I would highlight the world-first LUC Quattro watch, equipped with a LUC 98.01-L movement featuring a new patented technology with four barrels endowing the chronograph with a 9-day power reserve, introduced in 2000. In 2003, we launched the first LUC Tourbillon model - a major technological accomplishment in the field of fine watchmaking. In 2009, the LUC Tourbillon Tech Twist watch equipped with a silicon escapement was launched. And in 2010, to mark our 150th Anniversary, we presented four new calibres and four new models, including the LUC 150 All in One, which bears a Tourbillion, a perpetual Calendar and the equation of time,” recounted Mr Scheufele.

To explain the three prestigious certifications which the LUC has received, the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark is only bestowed after a watch has passed 12 strict criteria ranging from the making of individual parts to the finishing of components, along with the nature of the materials as well as movement construction and assembly. The COSC is the only neutral body entitled to grant the title of ‘Chronometer’ - which depends on the rating precision of a movement, which undergoes a number of tests lasting 15 days, conducted in five different positions at three different temperatures. Finally, the Fleurier Quality Foundation certification includes COSC tests, as well as, the Chronofiable testing procedure, which simulates six-month wear in just 21 days in order to attest to the long-term sturdiness of a movement by subjecting it to strains such as impacts and variations in humidity. The Fleuritest is also done which reproduces 24 hours of wrist movements and is designed to appraise the reliability of cased-up mechanical movements.

The Fleurier Quality Foundation, however, has Mr Scheufele, and two more Chopard luminaries as a part of the foundation. An instant question is that how genuine is the attainment of this particular certificate then for the watch manufactory? “Chopard is one of the three founding companies of Fleurier Quality, the others being Parmigiani and Bovet. None of the member companies have a direct influence on the decision taken. A technical committee, for example, decides independently on the rules and regulations which are applied. Although no other brand outside the founding members certifies with FQF so far, it is extremely valuable for technical development and quality control of our own products, and it is therefore certainly not only a marketing tool,” clarifies Mr Scheufele.

Coming to the splendid design, the LUC Triple Certification Tourbillon has a voluptuously curving 43 mm diameter 18-carat rose gold case. The polished and satin-brushed lugs have been redesigned. The crown, engraved with the LUC logo, appears slimmer while remaining as ergonomic as ever. The dial focuses on providing readability. Silver-toned and grained in order to catch the light, it provides a remarkable contrast with the rhodiumed black hands representing a personalised version of the ‘Dauphine’ style.

The watch houses the hand-wound Chopard Manufacture LUC Calibre 02-13-L (LUC 1.02QF), which is the world’s only movement to be fitted with four stacked and series-coupled barrels ensuring nine days of operating autonomy. This movement drives central hour and minute hands, a power-reserve display at 12 o’clock and small seconds on the one-minute tourbillon visible at 6 o’clock. “It took about two years to conceive, develop and produce the LUC 02-13-L calibre. Its movement consists of 224 parts on which two engineers, one complication watchmaker as well as a dozen of other highly experienced craftsmen worked,” informed Mr Scheufele.

Chopard is obviously a favourite of many while being exclusive. Large production numbers may risk in losing that coveted crown though. Mr Scheufele, however, allays all fears as he believes that their production numbers are quite moderate - “Chopard will manufacture about 80,000 timepieces this year, of which around 4,000 are LUC models. Chopard has a passion for excellence. The quantity of watches we produce has no influence on their quality. Compared to some other luxury watch houses our production figures are quite modest and remain very exclusive considering the variety of different models offered.”

Positioning itself as an exclusive watchmaker means that it has to compete head-on with many independent watchmakers, who are not only good in their craft, but have even smaller production numbers. That does not disturb Mr Scheufele. He welcomes competition as a driving force for creativity. The complexity of the Indian market also does not make him despondent. “India is indeed an interesting, however, complex market. I have enjoyed meeting real, passionate watch collectors and have understood that India will soon be one of the most important markets internationally speaking for luxury goods,” he says.

The LUC series still has a full pipeline of developments for the coming years. Mr Scheufele assures that “there are a number of complications we have not yet interpreted”. Chopard is currently finalising a “High Frequency” movement which will be revealed at the BaselWorld Watch & Jewellery Fair in 2012. We look forward to another marvel!

The Shining Light By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2011

If you see a brilliant light at the end of a dark tunnel, it can be one of those Golconda diamonds the world still lusts over today. One of them, The Light of Golconda, just fetched a whopping amount at an auction, courtesy Sotheby’s.

The Mines of Golconda are fabled for their diamonds. Golconda was once renowned for the diamonds found on the south-east at Kollur Mine (Guntur district), Paritala (Krishna district) and cut in the city during the Kakatiya reign. At that time, only India had the known diamond mines in the world.

Golconda was, in fact, the market city of the diamond trade, and gems sold there came from a number of mines. The fortress city within the walls was famous for diamond trade. From these mines has come the Light of Golconda diamond – a large, well-cut brilliant diamond, which took everyone’s breath away at the recent auction held by Sotheby’s.

The diamond was cut by the hand and eye of a skilled artisan, thus distinguishing it from the majority of large diamonds available today that have been cut with 20th century technological precision. Its unique shape gives it the appearance of being significantly larger than its 33 carats.

“Every great diamond has something special about it, but this one is a truly magical stone. It has everything: its translucence is breathtaking, like looking through limpid ice water, and the antique cushion cut that spreads out along the hand makes the stone look different every time you see it. That combination of qualities gives the diamond seemingly endless sparkle and mesmerizing charm, drawing you in like the best works of art,” said Ms Maithili Parekh, Director of Sotheby’s in India.

The Golconda diamonds possess some unique chemical and physical properties as well. Known as type IIa diamonds, they are part of the less than two per cent of the world’s gems that are most chemically pure. Being virtually all carbon, they have an exceptional transparency.

The Light of Golconda, however, is not the only feather in Sotheby’s prestigious cap. “Sotheby’s redefined the auction market for jewellery in 1987 with the record-breaking sale of The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, which remains the record for any single-owner sale in this field. We continually provide discerning buyers with the world’s most extraordinary jewels, including a 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink Diamond that established a new record for any jewel at auction in 2010. Earlier this month, Sotheby’s set a world auction record for yellow diamond when it sold the Sun-Drop Diamond for $12,361,558. Weighing 110.03 carats, this exceptional stone ranks as the largest known pear-shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond in the world,” elaborated Ms Parekh.

Working with connoisseurs and collectors across the country, the Indian art market has been fruitful for Sotheby’s. According to Ms Parekh, while the art market in general has developed through galleries, auction houses and dealers, the not-for-profit sector including public art spaces, museums and public engagement platforms are still in the nascent stage.

Ms Parekh enjoys artists that have fresh ideas and concepts and have the skill to execute them through process and material. She believes that Indian art has set itself apart due to its modern and contemporary ideologies. “Indian modern and contemporary art has defined the art of the times. The modern art movement, formed during the late 1940s, captured the social and political transformations of a newly formed independent India. Artists MF Husain, FN Souza, SH Raza, Tyeb Mehta and VS Gaitonde, among many others, worked to create a space that defined the idea of ‘modern’ for Indian art. Contemporary art in India is equally engaging with artists working with the transitions of a fast-changing India today,” she said.

Owing to the fast moving economic scenario in India and soaring prices of jewellery, Sotheby’s is sure to see good business in the coming years, whether it’s from connoisseurs or investors looking towards the future.

Hunt the Jungles! By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2011

Two brands have scoured forests and mines to discover natural and rare materials to provide their customers with a new experience. House of Raro and Lindberg, both know that uniqueness is what sets a product apart, and that is the self-assigned goal they work towards.

Exotic and novel materials seem to be the flavour of the season. And surely it’s quite expected. India is done to death with leather and the usual materials. It’s time to experiment and dazzle everyone with sophisticated tastes and uber-luxury ideas. Our attention was captured by two such brands which are making an effort to break barriers.

Exotic opulence

Indian-born interior decoration brand House of Raro recently launched its store in DLF Emporio, New Delhi, while showcasing its Penthouse and Palaces Collection. As I entered the store, my attention was arrested by a large oval table. Apart from the flawless finish, the unique aspect of the table was the black African ebony wood which was used like a lace around the table. It might look ordinary, but it’s a very difficult wood to carve. “African ebony wood is actually used to cut very hard materials. Therefore, it’s an immense task to carve this wood itself for which we have to use steel tools. Acquiring this wood was another challenge. We managed to get it at the last auction held for this wood a long time back!” said Ms Rajeeta Gupta, Partner, House of Raro. This illustrious piece of furniture costs INR 24 lakhs!

From the two centuries old heirloom African ebony wood to crocodile and stingray skins, lapis lazuli, sterling silver, 24-karat gold leaf, semi precious stones, rich leathers and silk chenille – House of Raro use these resources to make various articles of furniture opulent. Only Hermes fabrics are used for furnishing needs. “Raro is Italian for rare. Thus, it is our constant endeavour to present our customers with a unique product every time,” said Ms Gupta.

The Palace Collection, which was displayed stunningly using Venetian mirrors and an exquisite chandelier, sparkled us all completely. Apart from the seating arrangement, the area also showcased some well-crafted bars, again made with ebony wood, and well-shaped glassware.

House of Raro, which has been quite understated, prides itself on its bespoke, customised service. “All this indulgence is exciting as we work closely with our clients, getting inputs on materials and finishes. So it ends up being a one-off piece and it’s their baby too…and usually there is nothing minimal about such unique commissions,” explains Ms Rolly Gupta, Partner, House of Raro.

Sparkling eyes

The other brand which had us startled again is Lindberg, makers of light, yet strong, classic, elegant eyewear, from Denmark.

One of Lindberg’s strongest competencies is rimless frames. They have also created a new series of elegant titanium plate temples which are combined with a series of new lens shapes to make new and appealing models. Titanium makes the frames very light, yet equally strong as well – also helping in creating frames without screws, welds and rivets.

The Precious collection, however, is what caught our undivided attention again. The collection features unique combinations of 18-carat solid gold, platinum and exclusive pink diamonds, along with unusual and distinctive natural materials like water buffalo horn, musk ox horn from Greenland and mammoth tusk from Siberia. The pink diamonds were procured in an auction from the Argyle mine in Australia. Been one of the rare places to produce these naturally pink coloured diamonds, the auctions happen very rarely. And Lindberg managed to buy 50 diamonds recently.

Even the gold used in the Precious collection has a story of special creation behind it. The raw ore is mined at Nalunaq Gold Mine in Greenland – one of the world’s smallest mines. The ore is then shipped to Spain where it is refined to make pure 24 carat gold. The pure gold ingots are then melted in Germany where they are alloyed, pulled or rolled into gold wires or plates as per Lindberg’s instructions. In fact, Lindberg has the exclusive world rights to use this Greenlandic gold as wire and plate for manufacturing spectacle frames.

The most expensive piece in the collection is The Eye which has sports 18 princess cut diamonds and one rose-cut diamond centerpiece – worth a very deserving INR 1 crore.

Lindberg has been sported by many celebrities and members of European royal families. However, Lindberg is mostly proud of the royal warrant that it was granted by the Danish court. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II, the Prince Consort and other members of the

Danish royal family, are often seen with Lindberg eyewear.

Since making light frames is an inherent characteristic of Lindberg, their Precious collection is also not heavy even though they use gold and platinum – owing to their minimalist design. In the true Danish spirit, Lindberg believes in classy, simple designs, nothing over-the-top, and straight lines. Each frame is handmade and individually customized to meet the preferences of particular customer. Made of titanium, the optician makes sure to fit the lens perfectly by reshaping it on the wearers face so that it doesn’t slide off or pinch the nose.

It’s time to makeover your home and strut proudly in simple, yet dazzling eyewear, which you can be proud to say is made for you, and you only…

Breguet - The Luxury of Frequencies By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2011

It was a day well-spent understanding chronographs, as Mr Christophe Viguerie, Vice-President India & Thailand, Montres Breguet, took the pains to explain it to us with the help of diagrams, videos, sound and finally, the actual inspection of the newly launched Type XXII chronograph.

Breguet Type XXII watchType XXII has an interesting and long history behind it which starts from Louis Breguet, the great-great-grandson of A. –L Breguet, the illustrious watchmaker and company founder. Louis Breguet had an immense passion for airplanes. In 1906, Louis Breguet created the world’s first helicopter to leave the ground with a pilot on-board. This was followed by his first biplane in 1909, first hydroplanes in 1912, and in 1918, the period between the two world wars, the Louis Breguet aviation company exported its planes to many countries in Europe, America and even to Japan.

Alongisde the aeronautical achievements by Louis Breguet’s aviation company, Breguet too took an interest in the aeronautical market and developed various timepieces for aviation. Over the years, Breguet supplied aeronautical firms and airline companies with sophisticated chronographs. Later came the TYPE XI and TYPE XII watches that still equip airline companies in around 15 countries!

However, the best-known aeronautical watch from the Breguet stable is Type XX which was ordered for the French Air Force in 1960. These watches were state property and were only personally given to pilots in exceptional circumstances. The TYPE XX soon became a much sought-after item for all aviators, which led Breguet to create a version for civilians. To celebrate the 45th anniversary of this iconic model, Breguet launched Type XXI a few years ago, which retains the military bearing of Type XX, albeit with a more modern interpretation.

It is the next in line, Type XXII, for which we were gathered at The Leela Palace New Delhi. Still having a military look, this version is much more powerful with 10 Hertz frequency – which gives the watch an exceptional regulating power. The energy transferred from the main spring to the hair spring increases. And this transfer of energy gives such a high speed to the mechanism that you won’t even be able to discern the rotation of the wheel at the back of the watch! Where other watches usually have a frequency between 2-4 Hertz, Breguet has taken a step forward in sheer mechanical genius.

Breguet watch mechanismsHowever, to avoid the problem of lubrication in high frequencies, Breguet uses a silicon escapement. Other reason for why the silicon escapement is important is that it’s impervious to magnetic fields, increases manufacturing precision and decreases the thermal influence on rate of the watch.

An extra hand at centre counts the minutes by adding together 30 second spans. The dashes in red and white, situated on the flange, combined with the numbered seconds graduation also appearing in red and white, help to understand whether the chronograph counter is in its first (red sectors) or second (white sectors) 30 second revolution.

Breguet Type XXII chronograph surely features a flyback function which allows the totaliser to be returned to zero and instantly restarted in the same operation through the push of a button.

At 6 o’clock, the dial features a second time zone indicator along with a window for a date calendar. A two-position crown resets the second time-zone indicator by moving the hour hand at centre without affecting the minute hand. The date calendar, however, shows the date according to the time of the main time-zone displayed at centre. A 24-hour night-and-day indicator at 3 o’clock conveys whether it is day or night in the area covered by the second time-zone. At nine o’clock, a subdial shows the running seconds making full rotations in 30 seconds.

Type XXII has a 44mm stainless steel case and is fitted with an integrated veal strap. “We have created the watch after a lot of testing. It took us four years to make it! But our end user is still the final tester since only then we’ll get to know how well the watch functions in prolonged use. And we hope they like it!” said Mr Viguerie.

All the ‘scientific’ talk about hertz and silicon led us to another query. If Breguet could harness the power of 10 Hertz frequency as opposed to the usual 4 Hertz, is it possible to go even higher than 10 Hertz? “It is probably possible. But the challenge with higher frequencies is how to counteract the effect of high use on the escapement. That’s the test,” explained Mr Viguerie.

Well, while Breguet continues to innovate in the sphere of watchmaking, much like the founder who is credited with creating various advanced timekeeping techniques, we will certainly have more such novelties to look forward to.

Anselm Reyle - A Splash of Art By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: December 10, 2011

Art has different perceptions for different people. Coming from a country which has produced some pathbreaking luxury cars and even highly mechanized watches, artist Anselm Reyle defies all pre-conceived perceptions, and gives contemporary art a new meaning as he showcases his work in Galerie Isa in Mumbai.

Wide colourful strokes giving a psychedelic and punk look and scraps of metal shaped together to form a structure – that’s Anselm Reyle’s art if described broadly. And yes, art critics and lovers of impressionist paintings have derided his artworks for their ‘superficial’ allure. But does that perturb Mr Reyle? Not one bit.

“I think that terms such as effect and surface have rather negative connotations in the art world. Some works are often quickly dismissed as being supposedly ‘only’ superficial or fishing for effects. I have always been aware of this kind of critique and those considerations are part of my work. So, this form of critique has become an important component of my art and is also embedded in my concepts.” That’s Mr Reyle, who seeks to experiment with light and unorthodox industrial materials.

Born in 1970, in Tübingen, near Stuttgart, Mr Reyle attended the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and Karlsruhe Academy of Fine Arts. Soon after graduating in 1998, Mr Reyle began to create abstract paintings, sculptures and installations in his studio in Berlin.

Mr Reyle was, and probably still is, identified with his vertical stripe paintings. He uses quite jarring colours and his stripes also bear wildly varied textures like silver foil and glittering black sandpaper. “I am interested in the direct confrontation of colour. There is a history of the stripe paintings. Actually, many artists before me seem to have dealt with this issue, so nothing new is to be expected. It is exactly this tradition that I find interesting,” says Mr Reyle when we asked what fascinates him about this particular pattern.

In a short time, Mr Reyle amassed many fans and became an international art star. He has now moved into a larger Berlin studio and hired about 60 assistants to fulfill orders and an ever-growing waiting list for his creations.

Ever loyal to the abstract form of art, he gives his works a contemporary twist as well. “I am interested in the basic elements of painting - colour, texture, surface and composition – things that you’ll find in their most pure and direct form in the abstract art. However, I also use materials and objects that don’t belong to the traditional art context, like mylar, mirrors, car lacquers, objects from the flea market and of architecture which I bring together with abstract painting. This way of working attempts to open new doors and pull us out of the dogma of abstract art, that is what makes them contemporary,” he said.

Apart from the premium that his own artworks demand, Mr Reyle also took a try in the glittering and expensive world of luxury fashion, and collaborated with Dior for a special collection. The collection, which was recently showcased at Art Basel, drew a lot of gasps. This transformation in the field was a little perplexing for Mr Reyle, but it proved to be quite an eye-opener in the end. “When Dior contacted me, I first had to think about it. However, soon I thought it would be interesting to work with them on a cooperative project. I was surprised to find that such a big fashion label develops ideas in a similar way to an artist in the studio – for instance by using a pair of scissors, glue and tape. I really liked that,” he reminisced.

The Dior collection sports a blast of cheerful colours, made stylish by well-coordinated shades and perfect shapes. Apt for all the fashionistas to flaunt in the coming up party season we think!

However, Dior is not the reason we are talking about him today. It is his first, upcoming exhibition in India, titled ‘Indian Mylar Vision’, at the soon-to-be opened Galerie Isa, which is owned by art collector Ashwin Thadani. And Mr Reyle tells us quite frankly that he has absolutely no idea about India. “It will be my first time that I am in India. Until recently, I haven’t had much contact with this country, except for when I was a child. Some family friends here in Germany were Indian. Of course, I know Bollywood films which have become quite popular in Germany. I am looking forward to seeing if real life is reflected in any way in the films. I don’t know the Indian art market that well, but there are some Indian collectors who have purchased works of mine,” he said.

Expect some blinding, flashing works of art – whether in terms of colour or in terms of materials which you never thought could consolidate so artistically. But don’t make the mistake of considering these artworks as just a pretty picture. There is a meaning behind them all which is the actual soul of his creations…

Show Dates: December 17, 2011

Coordinates: Galerie Isa, 132, Great Western Building, 1st Floor, SBS Road, Opp. Lion Gate Clock Tower, Fort, Mumbai 400 023, India

Innovative Luxury Products - Kitsch Redefined By: Akshita Maithani

Posted on: November 10, 2011

Boca do Lobo crochet chestHow many times does one come across furniture relics being inspired from a disappearing mode of transport or the process of creating a cloth fabric? Or have you ever thought of savouring a six course meal with chillies not just as a flavour, but as the main ingredient, and still asking for more? If this sounds intriguing to you, read on...

The Indian city of Kolkata boasts of having the oldest electric tram in Asia running since 1902. The tram has since been a favourite of the city’s residents and forms an integral part of the public lifestyle there. Taking a cue from the mechanical wonder and giving your bar a historical yet innovative touch is Aiza’s first collection, aptly named ‘Quintessential Bengal’. The bar is in the form of a tram made out of pinewood and is different from the conventional glass bars. The tram bar, creative yet practical, has enough space to hold your drinks and the cabinets gives one ample liberty to keep accessories. You can bring home this tram and relish the automotive artifact for INR 35,000 (available at

Re-interpreting the art of spinning yarn and giving it a futuristic twist, Boca do Lobo, a furniture design brand, created a Crochet Chest for storing precious bits and pieces. The Chest draws its inspiration from the traditional craft of crochet, a process where fabric is created by pulling loops of yarn through other loops. The crocheting method is symbolized here by forging 60kg of classic brass pulls resulting in a mesh which graces the silhouette of the piece. The solid wood frame consists of seven drawers finished with a darkened gold leaf that ensures a mystery and an elegance which contrasts with the vibrant jewel toned purple of the handles.

de Grisogono monkey ringWhile our brain stores the information that we absorb, you can now save the same in a heart on your neck. That too with embellishments! Swaroski has launched the ‘USB Heart Indian Siam’, which is a funky neck accessory and a USB key as well! Hanging on a stainless steel chain, the red silicon heart holds a heart-shaped USB key embellished in 54 Indian Siam crystals. This neckpiece is a perfect combination of beauty and brains!

Moving on from sheer elegance to absolute quirkiness is something which can stun your beloved and make her feel incredibly special at the same time. Luxury brand de Grisogono, as a part of their Animal Collection, has come up with a stunning monkey headed diamond ring. The ring is an assortment of 317 black diamonds and seven white diamonds that are bound to radiate on the fingers. To add a little more quirk, the monkey head is movable too! This piece of jewellery will not only be a luxurious asset, but will also demonstrate your crazy and caring side to her.

And, finally catching on the innovation fever, the food & beverage sector is not far behind. To sustain the appetite, there is innovative cuisine being dished out to food connoisseurs as well. Giving your taste buds a fiery seasoning, Six Senses Laamu in Maldives has come up with the concept of the ‘Chili Table’ where guests are served a six-course menu based on Chili varieties from all over the world. Twelve varieties of Chili are grown at their organic garden, using which, chefs accelerate their creative engines to create enlightening, fun and colourful menus that surprise and delight our guests. Extending authenticity at its best and to make the guests feel more into the lap of nature, the personal waiter wears a gardener apron, gardener boots, and serves flower essence on the dish with a can that reminds of a plant watering can!

Six Senses Laamu Maldives

Start the meal with Carpaccio of wahoo, tomato essence, habaniero chili and pickled cucumber, go on to Fillet of reef fish with island chili, boulangère potatoes, herb purée and squid, pine nut salsa and end it with the Red wine chocolate cake with chili mint shooter and frozen chili yoghurt dessert!

Time to surprise and delight your senses!

Aston Martin - 007 on Wheels By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: November 10, 2011

Aston Martin cars in IndiaJames Bond made his official entry into India on April 15 this year. No, I am not talking about the mystifying idol and his larger than life charisma on screen but his oh-so-very-smooth ride which has been the object of envy by millions, maybe more. In collaboration with an eminent luxury car dealership, Performance Cars (a division of Infinity Cars Pvt. Ltd), Aston Martin recently embarked on its presence in India by introducing the British marquee’s luxury sports car to a discerning Indian audience. With India’s luxury market expected to touch a staggering $14.7 billion by 2015, it comes as little or no shock of the brand’s interest in our lands.


Located at Kemp’s Corner at the junction of the ultra-premium Peddar and Altamount Roads, Performance Cars’ exclusive Aston Martin dealership provides enthusiasts with a high-end boutique environment and the ability to custom specify the cars according to their preferences. These days, if you have got the stash of notes – sky is the limit. So customising your toy for the roads hardly seems innovative. Yet, Aston Martin offers among the widest possible customisation among automotive manufacturers. Customers can individualise the paint trims, upholstery, alloys, sound systems, and more, all to suit their needs. The cars are hand built – so the production processes allow for such customisation. If customers chose to customise beyond the norm, their facility, Works Service, accommodates diverse requests – right from gold plating and special customised upholstery and stitching, to monograms woven in the cars interiors. Sigh!

Can you feel the adrenaline rush and the testosterones rising? In a conversation with Mr Lalit Choudary, Managing Director of Infinity Cars Private Limited, we take a quick look at Aston Martin’s entry into India.

He founded the company in 2006 after re-locating to India post his eight year Investment Banking position at Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong. Seeing the opportunity for luxury cars and products in India, he established Infinity Cars with the dealership of BMW in Mumbai and subsequently in Madhya Pradesh, India. In late 2009, Mr Choudary initiated dialogue with Aston Martin to bring the brand to India. With a hefty price range starting from Rs 1.35 crore and going up to even Rs 20 crore, I can already sense the excitement and aspiration in the air. The product range consists of six to seven models across various price-points.

Aston Martin cars in IndiaCloser to home

Mr Choudhary shared that the brand is meant to be very exclusive with 30-50 units being sold annually in the country. With these volumes split across cities, the cars will remain a rarity on the roads. As a result, they will retain their exclusivity and remain an aspirational purchase. However, Indian road conditions do not really allow a consumer to thoroughly enjoy such high power cars - what with the potholes and rough roads. What’s to say this mean machine will pass the test? Mr Choudhary opines, “The roads are improving, especially with respect to highways. Further in the city, driving the Astons offer a comfortable and smooth drive in comparison to other sports cars. Ground clearance on the cars is also fairly good and allows for them to drive comfortably over speed bumps and the like.” Wondering which model is most suited to Indian road conditions? “The Rapide is a practical car given its four door functionality. Ground clearance and driving comfort is unlike other sports cars. Other models in the Aston range, such as the DBS, Virage and Vantage S have also performed well on our roads. Having said that, to best enjoy these cars, one needs to drive them in sections of the city or expressways that offer the best surfaces to drive on,” Mr Choudhary suggested.

Stylish reasoning

Performance Cars, as the name suggests, is Mr Choudhary’s endeavour to represent the best of ‘performance cars’ the world has to offer. “Having got into the luxury car business a few years ago I saw that there is an appetite for a company such as Performance Cars in India. Several brands were yet to make an entry into the market. Among them though, Aston Martin stood out. One grew up seeing these cars in various James Bond movies,” he shared. He recalled that whenever he spoke with potential customers, their eyes lit up at the prospect of owning an Aston Martin. That got him thinking and prompted him to visit the Aston Martin factory at Gaydon in the summer of 2009. Seeing the passion with which the team put these cars together and witnessing the cars roll out of the factory custom-built one by one, it left him with a craving for the brand and deepened his desire to bring it to India. The result is there for one and all to see.

Even if you are not the typical James Bond type, Mr Choudhary has a fair enough image of the people driving these machines on the streets. “Buyers of these cars will be fabulously wealthy individuals. However, it’s not wealth alone that determines a buyer. The buyer will be someone who is sophisticated, widely travelled, has a taste for luxury and is on the lookout for something very exclusive; that only a few will possess,” he said. Owning an Aston Martin makes a unique and compelling statement – true that!

If you prefer to give this baby to your driver to pompously sightsee Mumbai, worry not. Mr Choudhary assures that these cars are very, very powerful. “However, it’s not all about a 0-100km drive. They are uniquely beautiful. They are widely regarded as the best looking cars on the planet. The legacy, the heritage, the craftsmanship all make for these wonderfully soulful machines. This point in itself would urge customers to enjoy the experience by driving the cars themselves. Customers often use chauffeurs to drive them during the week day, but on week nights and weekends, its often seen that customers enjoy driving themselves and want, as a result, a unique and fun car to drive,” he said.

Aston Martin cars in IndiaEye catching and extraordinary

It is said that at Rs 20 crore, the One-77 model is the most expensive in the company’s line-up on Indian roads currently. Motoring enthusiasts will acknowledge that the car is a fine art form offering stunning looks, a commanding road presence, driving exhilaration and fine interiors. It is meant for individuals who value these attributes. I’d say, definitely worth a look and I bet you would agree. Interestingly enough, all the cars are imported as fully built units and ready to sell and electrify!

Representing the brand on the forefront, the staff at these dealerships has been trained at the Aston Martin factory at Gaydon. “They are best equipped to represent the brand locally and further, on the after-sales side, can handle the upkeep of the cars in the most effective way,” said a proud Mr Choudhary.

With close competition from brands such as Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche, the brand that brought to life James Bond movies seems unruffled. Mr Choudhary is quick to mention that the values of the brand are very different from the competitor’s brands. “From cursory review, one would agree that Aston Martin cars are elegant and typically understated – not too flamboyant.  Further, they are hand built cars and meant for a select group of buyers whereas some of other brands are typically production cars which produce 10-20x the volume of Aston Martin. The prestige and exclusivity accorded by Aston Martin is unmatched,” he said.

With time, everything seems to be getting better and India is at the forefront when it comes to automobiles, fashion or even technology. “We are currently focused on consolidating our presence in the Mumbai market. With time, as the population of cars increase in other cities, one will consider establishing a presence. However, this will need to be done with full support of Aston Martin and needs to also reflect the evolution of the market locally,” said Mr Choudhary. Prep your eyes to feast and follow this beauty as it makes it way on Indian roads!

Visconti - Pen down your Luxuries By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: October 10, 2011

Limited editions or not, you have got to make these pens by Visconti a part of your collection. Or even better, get writing with them!

“Yes, perfect, your interaction at the Pen World 2011 is scheduled for 16th September at 2 pm,” said a representative and I thought to myself what could possibly be so exciting about a bunch of mechanical instruments that millions of people all over the world use everyday? Turns out, a lot. If you had attended the exhibition, you would know what I am talking about. If not, make an entry in your little black diaries for next year. For those who aren’t aware, Visconti is an Italian manufacturer of fine fountain pens, ball pens and rollerball pens, and Emonte Pens have brought this brand to India.

After taking a quick look around the eye catching and interesting pens, my curiosity got the better of me. An enthusiastic and knowledgeable sales assistant offered to give me a personalised tour. The stall displayed the full range of Visconti pens, including the most interesting limited editions as well. No attempt at describing these pens would do them justice. My advice? See them to believe it. After a thorough examination of all the pens displayed, I picked out five that intrigued me and I hope they do the same to you. Yes, the prices are of essence here, but trust me, the pen does all the talking necessary!

The two faces of style

Again, to try putting my thoughts into words here will be a task, but I will attempt and hope that the image will give you a fair enough idea. My first pick, the Alchemy Silver, is a pen divided in two with two nibs, which symbolises the dualistic thought proclaimed by CG Jung (Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker), which says that we cannot speak of Good without Evil, of Light without Darkness, and of Above without Below.

The pen is magnetically suspended inside a display with two dragons forming a circle, which represents the life cycle. Alchemy is one of the forgotten finds that Mr Jung had brought to light from the darkness of our past and Visconti’s Alchemy Silver pays homage to Mr Jung. Being a limited edition, only 1038 pieces are available!

Oh, the Gold!

Visconti’s intention was to create a wonderful pen inspired by the myth of the Golden Man. Visconti used the same motifs of the Scythian art in its collection of fountain pens where skilled goldsmiths have artistically reproduced the magic of the mysterious warrior. The red and gold on the pen immediately manages to catch your attention. Again, a limited edition with a count of 388 pens worldwide, the nib is made from 23kt Palladium Dream Touch Two Tones.

Religion comes first

Visconti is said to produce limited editions with themes that impact, change or describe our lives. One of its collections is dedicated to the religions of the world. The first in the series focuses on the Bible, the most read and printed book in the world, and the religions linked to it – Christianity and Judaism. Intricate drawings on the pen depict scenes from the Old Testament on the barrel: Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark, David & Goliath and the Ten Commandments.

The Jewish version intended to have a classical, ancient look in natural, unadorned ivory, with the cap representing a spiritual moment of prayer at the Wailing Wall. Also, notice that hidden in the cap is an engraving of a Temple. Intriguing, isn’t it? The Christian version is painted in subtle colours through a difficult technique never before used on a pen. The cap features the story of Jesus: his birth, baptism, the Last Supper and his ascent into heaven. An image of the Holy Grail is also hidden inside the cap.

Both pens have a decagonal crown and end cap, the latter engraved with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew. The fountain pen is fitted with Visconti’s two-tone, 18K gold nib and features a power piston-filler. Needless to say, a limited edition with 999 pens worldwide.

Opera Elements

At origin, the word “Opera” meant ‘product of human mind’ – from both an intellectual and a material point of view. For this reason, Opera Elements means that human activities have to be in harmony with nature and the elements surrounding our existence. The sales assistant very strongly explained that Visconti pens are influenced by the world around us, with each piece stating a love affair with the elements that influence and direct our lives. Not surprisingly, this collection comes in four colours: yellow for air, red for fire, blue for water and black for earth. As obvious, Opera Elements have been designed to represent the four elements of nature. Which element are you?

Wall Street

Visconti’s Wall Street pens embody the spirit of the fast paced life of Wall Street. It’s unique four-sided design symbolises the tall skyscrapers that surround the busy Wall Street. (It actually does! It took me a few seconds to figure it out, but I did.)

Fans and practitioners of ergonomics will be amazed by this pen. Visconti states that it is not round as any other pen, but it is not square as well which would make it not ergonomic. The perfect proportion of the volumes of the cap and the body, and the elegant shape of the clip and its perfect mechanism complete this tri-dimensional masterpiece.

The pen is highly symbolic, not only in its shape (circle/square), or in the number four (depicting the four elements), but also in its material which recalls the wall and the skyline of Manhattan by night and Wall Street - the centre of finance for the globalized world. It is made of celluloid, the ‘queen of materials’, as Visconti claims. Got you thinking yet?

With these beautiful pens in front of you, your dreams no longer seem farfetched. A perfect pen has been told to bring out your innermost dreams and aspirations so you can pen them down and action them at the earliest! Maybe one of these will do that for you?

Vacheron Constantin - The Cult of Bespoke By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: October 10, 2011

The lavish lifestyles and unique passions of Maharajas always make for a fascinating study. It’s always interesting to hear about the unique products they commissioned for from around the globe. Various legends abound when it comes to the relationship between international brands and our Indian royalty. But there are very few chances to actually know more about them – straight from the people involved themselves…

Vacheron Constantin watches for MaharajasOne such opportunity was an event by the prestigious watch brand Vacheron Constantin, in collaboration with Tasveer – an organization committed to the art of photography. While Tasveer had put up some fabulous images of India’s umpteen Maharajas in all their finery, Vacheron Constantin exhibited two fabulous timepieces which were owned by the colourful and much known Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala.

The elegantly framed black and white, sepia and two rare coloured photographs were line

d up on black walls. Dressed in varied attires as per their particular cultures, the Maharajas looked back at you proudly. “We got them from various collections, and we instantly fell in love with them. They are like little miniatures. The two coloured ones were hand-painted in karkhanas (studios) in the early 20th century as per the style of that era. So we acq

uired them in bits and pieces, got together this entire collection, and decided to partner with Vacheron Constantin for this,” said Ms Shalini Gupta from Tasveer.

The two historic timepieces, placed in two glass cases at the opposite ends of the room, claimed my undivided attention as well. One was a 1909 pocket watch with perpetual calendar. “It has an alarm, moonphase as a chronograph and a minute repeater too. It is a piece truly exceptional for its time. And it was made-to-order for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. He wanted something unusual, so we had to combine all these complications together for him,” said Mr Yassin Tag, Brand Manager, Vacheron Constantin, Middle East and Subcontinent.

The other one was even more intriguing! It’s a ladies wrist watch, dated 1916, and a special order again by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. He wanted a watch where he could see the time very discreetly. “Usually you have to lift up your wrist to see the time on your hand. But this is a like a bracelet, a piece of jewellery. And by just standing and looking down at your wrist you could see the time,” explained Mr Tag.

Vacheron Constantin watches for MaharajasMr Tag admitted to having many Vacheron Constantin watches in their archives which were owned by Indian royalty and have been brought back to the brand through either of the two methods. “Either when these watches are put on auction, we buy them back. Or sometimes, owners before going to auction houses, come to us and ask if we would be interested in buying it. If it’s an important watch in terms of history or complication, then yes, we acquire it from them.” He hoped to bring more such watches to India for an exhibition in the future.

But this exhibition of two heritage watches was organized at quite an opportune time. Vacheron Constantin’s bespoke department, called Atelier Cabinotiers, has debuted in India. “In Geneva we have a dedicated team that travels around the world to meet people who would like to order special made-to-order pieces. We have started this in India and so far we have got very good response from customers who want a special dial or special complication. So this was also a way for us to revive the history of bespoke watches in India,” said Mr Tag.

To add a conclusion, Vacheron Constantin is taking India very seriously. And to make a connection with India, among other methods, they are taking a historical route (which many other brands have used to their advantage – sometimes successfully). But more importantly, they are also bringing back the tradition of exclusivity and bespoke. And as far as we understand the exclusive group of India’s niche, mature luxury consumers, Vacheron Constantin should be inundated with even more orders soon…

For that Sparkling Sensation By: Priyanka Choksi, Business Head India, A Jaffe

Posted on: October 10, 2011

Shopping together for the perfect engagement ring is probably one of the most exciting moments for a soon-to-be married couple before the wedding. Make it special for the rest of your life too by choosing only the best. We tell you how…

The tradition of an engagement ring dates back centuries to the early Romans. One would think that after more than 2000 years, we would know how to find the ideal ring. Unfortunately, most couples are dumbfounded when it comes to making this important decision. Often the task is left to a relative or close friend, which leads to the purchase of something adequate, but far from perfect.

According to leaders in the field, a woman looks at her engagement ring approximately one million times through the course of her lifetime. Whether it’s a fleeting glance or hours of admiration, you should enjoy every single one of those million moments. In India, we have extravagant weddings with designer lehengas and jaw dropping jewellery. They make for wonderful photos and a fabulous party. However, the one thing you walk around with every single day after your wedding, is your ring. Your ring should be special. It has to be.

While choosing a ring, there are technical, personal and budgetary criteria to consider. They are all related to each other and are equally important when it comes to your big decision.

The Diamond

As soon as you enter a jewellery showroom, you’re going to be bombarded with salesmen telling you about the 4 C’s and all the different certificates that prove authenticity. To simplify the process, here’s a run down of what they actually mean:

Carat: Carat is the size of the diamond based on weight. Traditionally, for an engagement ring, 0.50 cents to 2 carats is ideal. It should be comfortable enough to wear on a daily basis. There are always anniversaries and other milestones to demand larger fancier stones from your partner!

Colour: Diamonds are graded based on the whiteness of the stone. The highest grade is of DEF coloured stones and they demand a huge premium. Honestly, even to the trained eye, it is difficult to determine the colour of a stone without using a special eyeglass or loop. The important thing is you choose a stone that is white in your eyes as opposed to yellow. It’s a safe bet to stay within the GHI colour range. And most retailers will offer you this option.

Clarity: Grading diamond clarity has become more complicated over the years. Retailers will try to convince you that their diamonds are VVS quality or above because they know that you won’t be able to determine this for yourself. VVS is basically what a diamond expert would find in your diamond under a 10x microscope - very very small inclusions. How often are you going to be looking at your diamond through a microscope? When it comes to your engagement ring, a diamond of VVS to SI clarity would get the job done and it will significantly affect the price of your centre stone.

Cut: This is the easiest of the 4 C’s. The cut refers to the facets on your diamond and how they reflect light. Surely you want your diamond to sparkle, so it’s best to choose a diamond that is ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ in cut.

Remember to ask for a certificate from a trusted international lab such as the GIA, IGI or HRD.

If you aren’t sure which shape of diamond to get, my personal advice is try on rings with different fancy centre stones. You may covet an emerald, but a round might flatter your finger the most.

The Mount

Contrary to the way most people buy engagement rings today, with focus on the centre stone alone, the mount plays an equally important role in your perfect ring. The setting of your diamond can enhance both your stone and the way your engagement ring looks on your hand. The design of a mount can vary based on the width of the band, the size of the accentuating side diamonds, the color of the metal as well as the aesthetic appeal of the ring itself.

Most specialist boutiques will keep in mind a 360-degree approach when designing an engagement ring. The top view and side view should be complementary. Attention to detail and overall comfort to the wearer are given utmost importance. To decide what kind of mount you prefer, there really is no substitute for trying on as many rings as possible and choosing what feels right. This isn’t a purchase you can make through an image in a book or on the Internet. You’re going to wear it everyday and look at it about a million times.

Never compromise on quality and durability while choosing the mount. You might have to pay a little more for high quality engineering, but it also means diamonds won’t fall out, the colour of the metal won’t tarnish and you’ll be comfortable wearing your ring for the rest of your life.

The Fairytale

Leaving all the technicalities aside, your engagement ring should speak to you. There should be a personal story behind it that pops into your head every time you sneak a glance at the dazzler on your left hand. I love looking at my ring because it reminds me that my husband had selected the diamond months before he actually proposed. The second he saw it, he knew he had to buy it and keep it aside for me, no matter how long it took him to work up the nerve to pop the question! I chose the setting myself, and the process led to the opening of A.Jaffe in India. Whether it’s about your first meeting or the instant you fell in love, your ring should bring a smile on your face - always.

The Budget

In the West, DeBeers led a campaign that seems to have set the bar for how much a man should spend on an engagement ring. They say it equates to three months of his salary. Assuming you’re going to live a happy and healthy life together and leaving out the days that you simply forgot to put it on, you’re going to wear your ring for about 15,000 days.

That should put everything into perspective.

Stick to your budget, but don’t compromise when it comes to choosing an engagement ring. If there’s anything worth splurging on, this is it.

Priyanka Choksi, Business Head India of the diamond engagement ring brand A Jaffe, has immense experience in retail and business, coupled with inherited knowledge of jewellery. Priyanka started her career working with her father at the Gitanjali Group. Soon after she bought A Jaffe to India, realizing that the country lacked a specialty engagement ring brand.

de Grisogono - Skin on Skin By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: September 10, 2011

de Grisogono stingray leather braceletStingray leather, or Shagreen as it’s also called, has been mystifying artists and consumers for centuries now. This ‘material’ has had a history brimming of exclusivity and uniqueness. So why won’t those fashionistas still swoon to own something crafted from stingray leather?

Stingrays are actually water animals – quite like winged phantoms - evolved from sharks more than 200 million years ago. Early craftsmen, after witnessing stingray’s sturdy and multi-patterned skin, itched to transmit this beauty in their craft. They believed the stingray brought strength and power to those who handled it. The white, pearly backbone was thought to bring good luck and prosperity.

Mr Fawaz Gruosi of de Grisogono also reminisces these times in history - “Since time immemorial, people have been working with Galuchat (French name for stingray leather). Some Egyptian tombs contained funerary objects wrapped in fishskins – as was noted by Jean Perfettini in his book ‘Le Galuchat’. But probably the first people to work with galuchat by polishing it were the Japanese. They used this robust material to decorate sabre handles and sheaths, as well as Inro (miniature portable medicine boxes).” Coming a little more forward, 18th century French artisan Jean-Claude Galuchat (hence the name Galuchat) used stingray skin for Louis XV to adorn various items like sheaths, wig cases and snuff boxes.

de Grisogono stingray leather accessoriesThe magic that stingray leather still holds over consumers is perhaps best spelled out by Mr Gruosi himself. “Shagreen is a rare gift from the sea. Skin upon skin. A precious jewel encrusted leather, lovingly following the curve of the neck, nestling in the nook of the wrist just where the heartbeats are most clearly felt. The very name, Shagreen, or Galuchat, is evocative of its mysterious maritime nature, for it is indeed a treasure which comes to us from the depths of seas,” he fondly says.

Mr Gruosi started working with this material when he made straps for his watches out of it. But today, de Grisogono also has a complete collection fashioned out of shagreen. He rediscovered galuchat in Paris through an artisan who still knew how to work with it. Mr Gruosi recalled this fine material which he had worked into fine watch straps. Having experienced this fascinating element once, Mr Gruosi seriously started contemplating dedicating an entire collection of high-jewellery to this beautiful leather.

And here is the result. The necklaces tenderly wrap round elegant necks, intimately following the curve of the nape. The eye is arrested by this brutish material scattered with diamond like droplets of sparkling sea-water. A number of spectacular necklaces, bracelets and earrings, made of stingray leather, are adorned with diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones.

But while we are enjoying this artistic, beautiful jewellery, is it actually correct? In this world of increased environmental consciousness, how justified is it to use living beings for our pleasure, especially for purposes of vanity?

de Grisogono stingray watch strapThe shagreen that de Grisogono uses comes from the Dascyatis Zugei species, a pale-edged or sharp-nosed specie. This small stingray lives in the Indo-Pacific region and is highly sought after for its meat which is consumed by Koreans in particular. These stingrays come from Indonesia and de Grisogono says that the fishing is done by trawlers who are licensed to fish for stingrays.

“The skin of these stingrays is recovered as a by-product of fishing. Therefore the stingray leather is a derivative of the more common practice of catching them for food. The stingrays are already dead when their skin is removed,” says Mr Gruosi. He also insists that extreme care is taken while gaining the stingray leather. de Grisogono ensures that all its stingray suppliers conform to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora & Fauna) norms on slaughtering of stingrays.

To be able to exert absolute control, Mr Gruosi is also contemplating starting his own stingray farm.

A system seems to be in place to protect stingrays, and de Grisogono and other jewelers don’t seem to be scared of animal protection organizations coming to their doorstep. So how about turning back to appreciate the stunning galuchat jewellery?

The Black Mystery By: Veronique Poles, Luxury & Fashion Consultant

Posted on: September 10, 2011

It is the pleasure to own something beautiful and bespoke that commands such a premium. MB Watches in France prides itself on this very fact…

Some things don’t need colour to jazz them up. All they need is internal beauty to make them a force to reckon with. That’s exactly the motto of MB Watches, a unique brand making only custom watches on demand.

Everything at MB Watches, starting from their watches to their communication material, is only in black and white. Mr Mikael Bourgeois, the owner and creative brain behind the brand, understands that it’s the mechanism and technology in a watch that needs to resonate with the consumer. Rest all is circumstantial…

Time is precious. And when it is expressed by a custom made watch on the wrist, it becomes even more precious. It becomes a reminder of where you were and where you are at the current moment in life. Nothing better than an haute couture timepiece to excite that feeling… “We never look for something easy to make and this influences and gives a very distinctive signature to all our creations,” says Mr Bourgeois. 

It is imperative that we would love to know more about and understand the mysterious MB watches and the man behind it…

Veronique Poles: How did you get your true calling to become one of the top haute couture watchmakers?

Mikael Bourgeois: It happened by chance. Following my studies, my desires were limited to create and invent professionally. In 1999, with my father (who had been dismissed after 25 years of experience in a research and development company), we started our own R&D company, specialising in high precision engineering industry (Haute Horlogerie is a part of this specific sector). Hence, very quickly, I started working exclusively for the watchmaking sector. I was immediately fascinated and fell in love with the blend of traditional know-how, technology and aesthetics.

And then I got the chance to meet big names in the Haute Horlogerie sector. Those craftsmen, watchmakers and masters trusted me and encouraged me to forge ahead with my creativity.

VP: Can you tell us about your specific qualifications and professional experience, and how did you start?

MB: I haven’t studied specialized watchmaking or design. I attended general studies, then went further with higher technical studies in an engineering program in the fields of micro technology (watch making was part of it). I should say that what I know, I learnt it from the ground! Luckily, I had very strong fundamentals in technical skills. Hence it was just a matter of deepening it step by step to master the art of watchmaking later on. As for design, let’s say I have a lot of imagination and I know how to transcribe it in a technical product such as a watch.

VP: It’s a long way to become a watch craftsman. How many years does it take to become one of the best of them?

MB: It takes time! In fact, I was lucky enough to be independent and work for many famous brands, each one with their specific know-how, image and codes. Not to mention that I was always given the most delicate projects to work on. After 10 years as an independent watchmaker, I had designed nearly 300 models of high-end watches.  However, even today, I can spend days to find the solution to a problem. And to be honest with you, this is also what motivates me to always look further!

VP: Can you tell us which was the most memorable timepiece you originated while freelancing for 10 years?

MB: There were so many! But all this is confidential! Of course, in the Haute Horlogerie sector, everyone knows the watches I've worked on, but I’m not allowed to disclose information on them. Projects that made a mark on me were where I had to invent complex assemblies and which I continued to think about even in my sleep! And then there were watches with a lot of craftsman work, like engraving, the setting of precious stones, hand decorating the box and intricate details on the mechanical movement. Nowadays, these are the techniques on which I emphasize and concentrate on.

VP: You started your own brand ‘MB Watches’ in 2008 and as master watchmaker, you decided to design bespoke watches. What was the key factor that led you to this decision?

MB: There were two key factors that led me to create MB Watches. First of all the desire to offer the finest, the most perfect, the most finalized watches for people who share their dreams, tastes and desires with me. Also, there’s the passion, the desire, to keep alive the know-how and values of watchmaking. My greatest reward is when a client marvels at a mechanical movement or gets impressed discovering all the intricate details of his masterpiece.

And there was also a sad event (my father passed away) which made me realise that it was the right time for me to come out from obscurity, be on my own and bring my expertise to those who need their dreams to come true...

VP: What fascinates you about creating unique timepieces?

MB: The design, engineering design, prototypes, choice of colours and materials, manufacturing, decorating, finishing, assembling, adjusting and even the packaging! So many steps have to be implemented to finalise a masterpiece! The number of hours and the number of people that are a part of the process of developing a made-to-measure watch is incalculable. Everyone is deeply involved with his best to give birth to this haute couture watch...and I am endlessly fascinated!

VP: What is the most important to master an haute horlogerie timepiece?

MB: I have always emphasised on quality. To me, the meaning of creating an Haute Horlogerie timepiece is to make a watch that remains timelessly beautiful and is designed to live much longer than us.

VP: Your workshop is a laboratory of ideas and there is no limit. What is most stimulating and challenging?

MB: The pleasure of creating!

The joy of seeing a client getting a watch completely matching to his wishes!

And the fact that we never create the same watch twice!

VP: Can you share with us one of most awesome and outstanding dreams you made come true?

MB: The most beautiful request came from a man who just became a father wanted us to create a watch for his son, who was born a few hours earlier. In such projects, we forget the technical aspects, the calculations and theory. Suddenly, everything just becomes emotional. Wondering what that child will think about this watch in 18 years is my biggest question…


VP: What is an average budget to get a bespoke watch? What is so far the most expensive timepiece you have created?

MB: The average price for having a made-to-order watch is € 30,000. The most expensive masterpiece we have designed is the watch named ‘Vanity’, which is a part of my 2010 collection called ‘7Sins’, and is priced € 122,000. I should also mention another one which unfortunately did not happen. It was a bi-axial Tourbillion plus chronograph in a platinum box set with baguette diamonds, with an estimated of production time of 12 months, and priced at € 750,000.


VP: What drives collectors or enthusiasts to have a custom made timepiece?

MB: We live in a world where everyone follows trends and fashion statements. Nevertheless, many are back to the need of having a watch designed specially for them, like it was the case in the 19th century. Besides, in addition to the pleasure of having a timepiece that no one else will have in the world, there is also the satisfaction of giving  birth to your ‘guardian of time’, the pleasure of choosing even the most intricate details of it, the pleasure to know the ‘made in’ and quality origins, and above all, to have a personalized background on your watch as you know who designed and created it.

Nowadays, the watch sector is fragmented into two worlds. One is more ‘industrial’ and the other is the craftsmen world. The craftsman watchmaker is an artisan and an artist. He is the only one who can take care of stages where the industrial sector will never be able to be involved in: listening, offering excellence in quality and guaranteeing a watch which will always remain in perfect condition.

VP: What about new emerging markets and their demands?

MB: So far, MB Watches does not have many customers from the emerging markets. I do not understand why, because French luxury is an ideal for those countries. Maybe they prefer to indulge themselves with timepieces from better known brands?

VP: How do you get the best relationship and synergy with your customer to create the piece of their dreams?

MB: It’s not so complicated. Nowadays, when we start a project for a person who lives at the other side of the world, the main way to communicate is to use online medium. Basically, we are contacted by email. To be able to give a quote, we email back a short list of questions. This is the starting point. Of course, the best is to have direct contact. Some of our customers take opportunity of meeting us if they are travelling to France or Switzerland. Sometimes we travel and meet them at their place. When it comes to some countries where we don’t know the language, we come along with a team of interpreters.

At the stage of designing, we email the sketches to the customer. When everything is confirmed, we start processing the timepiece. Moreover, we are very pleased when our customers come to the workshop, and we unveil to them the different stages of the process. We always deliver the watch by hand. It is never couriered. Wherever the customer is in the world, we never ship an order. We have learned how to work in situations of long distances as we need to be in contact with our customers to be able to meet their expectations.

Our watches are serviced in our workshop only. Therefore, we keep a close relationship with our customers. We also keep them updated with events and exhibitions we are part of.

VP: You have also created your own collections. What inspired you to design your first collection ‘7 Sins’ (launched in 2010), followed by Thunderbird, a sober, elegant and timeless chronograph, unveiled recently (8 numbered pieces worldwide)?

MB: People often ask me where I find my inspiration, and I never know how to explain it. Often it begins with a theme or subject, and the way it will affect/touch me. Inspirations come from what I like, what appeals to me or from subjects on which I am questioning myself. Then from this step, it becomes a timepiece with its shapes/designs, functions and features. Each design has a meaning and a reason to be. The first sketches are drawn by hand. Then once I have a general design, I work on the computer and start designing in 3D.

Rest is less poetic and more technical. We have to take in consideration so many components for every stage - manufacturing, decorating, assembling and sealing.

VP: So far, you have mostly dabbled in the masculine arena. Do you plan to have a limited edition collection for women?

MB: Yes, I am working on a limited edition for women. This will be the 2012 limited collection. Also we have decided to launch every year a limited edition, always 10 pieces per set. And it’s not a man's world! We also design masterpieces for ladies, and it happens that sometimes they are even more intricate than timepieces for men!

VP: What is luxury for you?

MB: Luxury is, above all, excellence and mastery of a product. In addition, in our case, it is also about the attention we spend to listening, which is a kind of service that goes beyond mere creation. Our creations come alive once they are on the wrist of our customers. We accompany our clients throughout their life and take care of maintenance, at any time. Thus, we are a privileged partner for our customers!

Véronique Polès is a freelance fashion and luxury consultant based in Mumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillette Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love. For LuxuryFacts, she unveils some of the best-kept secrets in the sphere of ‘word of mouth landmarks’ for connoisseurs of products with substance. They are greatest creations, made by artisans of excellence and guardians of tradition, who work with passion for details and quality to make your dreams come true.

Square Moon - Straighten up your Gun By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: August 10, 2011

You are all sweet and innocent from outside. But God forsakes those who dare to provoke you! You can pull up a swift kick making hard contact with your victim’s chin! Is that what you have always dreamt about? It’s time to make this episode a reality…

Have you ever fantasised about being someone you are not? Stepping into someone else’s shoes and leading that glamourous, exciting life that has probably eluded you till now? Despair not! Ms Mayuka Goenka has arrived to rescue you and transform you into that very special person you ever wanted to be!

Her uniquely named company, Square Moon, creates various themes under which women can find themselves experiencing new worlds. “Square Moon was born from my desire to give women the opportunity to discover the many aspects of their own personality. I strongly believe that every woman is multi-dimensional in spirit. Square Moon attempts to provide a platform for her to explore and express her different personas,” says Ms Goenka.

The current theme is Bond Girl where women learn to go for the kill with some martial training. Or if it’s the glamourous part of it you are more interested in, learn how to shake a mean martini as you strut around in some fabulous gowns to impress your man!

Ms Goenka explains how the idea of this theme came about, “Every woman who has seen a Bond movie, or even Lara Croft or Charlie’s Angels for that matter, has at some point thought to herself, ‘Wow, I would love to be able to do that!’. The truth is that there is a little Bond Girl / Lara Croft in each of us! This program helps to explore your own different personas. The theme in fact does exist in Europe and the US, and was a great point to start with in India.”

The theme is a combination of several extremes, ranging from weapons training, Isreali hand-to-hand combat and espionage training, to martini mixing, seductive dancing, poker skills, makeovers, photoshoots, private choppers... Sounds extremely fun, doesn’t it? This two-day programme, which gets played out at The Leela Kempinski Hotel in Bangalore, takes immense time to be organised. “It is a long and detailed process of tailoring the entire themed luxury experience. Each element of the experience is carefully chosen so that while each session is top-notch in itself, the overall experience ties together in a mad, unforgettable bundle!” says Ms Goenka enthusiastically.

All the hard work and brainstorming does pay off when you see those women enjoying themselves. The glowing testimonials are enough to imagine these women beaming after the experience. “Besides the fact that every woman of any shape, size or age has imagined herself as a Bond girl, I chose to be a part of the experience because you cannot say ‘no’ to opportunities like this! It gave me license to be the risqué woman that I always wanted to be. In a simpler language - I got in touch with my ‘daring’ side. I mixed a martini, danced to kill, and bruised myself blue, looked sizzling for a photo shoot and shot a fully loaded rifle - all in a day’s work!” says Nupur, founder of a design company in Chennai.

Ms Goenka plans to start smaller versions of these themes in New Delhi and Mumbai as well. “We are launching our 24-hour module in Delhi on September 1, 2 and 3 and Mumbai on September 30 and October 1, 2011. This is an abridged, power-packed version of the classic 48-hour version in Bangalore,” she informed.

If the high-action Bond Girl theme doesn’t excite you, then just wait a little more because the next themes are Bollywood Superstar and Warrior Princess which will be launched early next year. But these experiences don’t come at an easy price girlfriend. Be prepared to shell out anything between INR 75,000 to 2,50,000 per person, depending on duration and contents. “The concept of spending large amounts on an ‘experience’, as opposed to a ‘product’ is something that we are only just getting warmed up to,” says Ms Goenka.

But does the price really matter when you are getting an experience of a lifetime and a skill-set which you probably won’t have another chance to obtain? I don’t think so. After all, this is probably the closest we mere mortals can ever come to becoming a true-blue Bond Girl or Bollywood starlet!

Size Zero Watches - Thinning Down By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: August 10, 2011

Those large and think dial watches do make you look as if you know your mechanisms. But is there another way to make an impression in a classier way? You should probably look at thin watches and give your wrists some relief…

Have you noticed how luxury watch manufacturers are spending more time in the factories and working hard to come out with the thinnest watch possible? Each is launching a slimmer, classier and more complex version than the previous.

A Lange & Sohne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin – all are a part of the bandwagon. But what is it that attracts watch manufacturers and collectors to this size? We turned to two of the best timepiece creators to find the answers.

Mr Tarun Sharma, Country Head, Jaeger-LeCoultre points out the change in trend – “Watch industry is seeing a trend shift from casual, big sporty look and going back to elegant, thin classic look. Our collection of Ultra Thin Reverso and Ultra Thin Master Control Moon Face is in line with the trend.”

A Lange & Sohne’s Saxonia Thin is another example of this small size which is making quite some waves in the market. Mr Matthieu Dupont, Regional Brand Manager – Middle East & India, A Lange & Sohne, outlines the challenge of creating such a thin timepiece – “It [Saxonia Thin] is the thinnest timepiece we have ever made. The challenge was to keep all the elements that make every Lange timepiece an example of performance and precision.”

Owing to its smaller size, the watch is more comfortable, and is therefore a better option than burdening your wrists with large cases with all those features which you might not actually require. Both our experts agree. “Yes, ultra thin watches are much lighter, elegant and classic in look and compliment formal look very well. For example, to ensure optimal comfort, the designers of Reverso have made it ultra-thin (at just 7.2 mm thick), light and gently curved to mould the feminine wrist,” says Mr Sharma.

Mr Dupont also echoes the same thoughts, “The new Saxonia Thin is light, thin and very comfortable to wear on a daily basis. Despite its thin case and pure design displaying only the hours and minutes, the watch possesses all the elements of a true and exclusive Lange timepiece.”

Indians are slowly learning to distinguish between mechanisms and starting to yearn for highly complicated watches. Are they actually accepting these simpler watches at a time when they would rather flaunt their money and knowledge? “Elegance isn’t about needing to make a fashion statement with an oversized watch. India is no exception. Our clients appreciate smaller case sizes rather than oversized watches, among other elements, when making their choice. Technically, the Saxonia Thin is cased in a 40 mm pink gold case and transparent case back, with a unique mechanical three-day power reserve, never seen on a thin watch,” said Mr Dupont.

Mr Sharma also sees a similar trend and opines that it’s here to stay – “Our classic Reverso and Master Control range of watches have always been popular with Indian market, and therefore we are getting a great response. This trend is going to stay for a while we feel, which makes us even more hopeful about our new ultra thin collection.”

Piaget’s Altiplano Skeleton also dispels the myth that thin watches don’t have good mechanisms. This ultra-thin watch has creative interpretations of the finest horological complications with the mechanism being improved year-on-year!


So if you prefer to keep your style subtle with minimal pomp and show, these ultra-thin watches are perfect for you!

Giorgio Galli - Creative Timing By: LuxuryFacts Team

Posted on: August 10, 2011

Mr Giorgio Galli’s expertise has led to him create many ‘bestsellers’ in the watch industry for some of the biggest brands. We converse with his about his thoughts and views on watch design.

Watches are more of baubles today than actual timekeepers. But making them such a stunning wrist accessory – with new designs every time – is a supremely difficult task. Much like fashion designing, designing watches includes getting all the functionalities in place along with that design theme which will hypnotise the consumer enough into buying it!

Mr Giorgio Galli knows this art well, considering his vast amount of experience in watch designing. He has the distinction of being the youngest art director for Swatch Group for two years. Today, as the Head, Global Design Centre of Timex Group, Mr Galli dabbles in designs for luxury watch brands like Versace and Salvatore Ferragamo, among other brands.

On his recent visit to India, LuxuryFacts interviewed him on his craft and passion – which reflects clearly in his answers.

LuxuryFacts: What made you get into watch design?

Giorgio Galli: Watches have always been my passion, but the big break-through has been when I started to work for Swatch

LF: What is the most exciting thing about your profession?

GG: For any design category, to bring to life a product that I have in my mind is the most exciting thing - from an idea to the wrist of a person.

LF: Do you see a difference in watch design expectations between a European and an Indian watch consumer?

GG: There are many differences, due to cultural and environmental aspects, but we also have to note that expectations are getting much closer on certain segments of the market. Generically speaking the luxury segment is one of them.

LF: Can you explain to us the process of watch designing step-by-step?

GG: Generally it starts with a briefing identifying the segment, price point and consumer category (generally driven by the price). Then the design process starts, with the first phase of concept sketches, leading to an internal selection of few of them. The second phase is to develop scaled and detailed renderings for presentation purpose. Then comes the presentation to the client for the final selection. The final phase begins with the industrialization and production, divided in many phases, from initial prototype to final samples. The process takes approximately nine months.

LF: Being a watch designer, what do you think clinches the deal for a watch buyer – the design or the mechanism?

GG: For a large part of consumers, I would definitely say the design, but for a watch enthusiast like me, the combination of both makes excellence. Again, in this case, it all depends from the contest and the watch segment.

LF: What is the difference between the design DNA of Versace and Ferragamo watches?

GG: Each brand has a very different heritage and history in addition to the style and culture. So it is totally different because when you design for a brand, you have to dive into that entire heritage. You have to get immersed in that culture so that what comes out of your mind is exactly in perfect symphony with what and who the brand is.

LF: Which do you personally enjoy more – designing elegant, bejeweled creations or the more sporty ones? Which kind has more scope for creativity?

GG: Each category of watch requires a different approach with a different level of concentration and scope of creativity. Sport watches in general have much larger number of details.

LF: How many designs do you actually make before you get that perfect one on paper?

GG: With the experience that I have, I am able to elaborate a restricted number of designs before the final. The final selection is always made on the sample, not the designs. And this is the most important phase that can drastically change the initial design.

LF: How do you feel once the sketch is realized into the final watch? It must be an exhilarating feeling?

GG: The best part is to see people around wearing my design. If I think that someone has chosen my watch over another one, that is a great feeing - a big reward for all the work I put in each piece I design.

Ginza State of Mind By: Salman Z. Bukhari

Posted on: August 10, 2011

LuxuryFacts takes you to the streets of Japan’s fashion capital in Tokyo, the all fabulous Ginza.

Ginza is a lively place where fashionable people stroll on the streets and enjoy good food in restaurants. ‘Shiseido in Ginza since 1872’ reads the new window display at the Shiseido Parlour in Ginza - Japan’s answer to 5th Avenue. The window is covered with a sketchy Parisian art of women and men donning the finest clothes, sipping coffee and nibbling petit fours, their shopping bags in tow. It is not just a whimsical fantasy of the artist who fabricated the shop front for the month. Step onto the main street. As you soak Japan’s summer sun, you will see that the Ginza of 1872 still exists as that fashionable place where people shop and eat at fine places, enjoying life as they dash from one store to the next, one café to another. True, the Victorian clothes are gone, only to be replaced by a Chanel 2011 resort dress and Ferragamo pumps, but the heart of this glorious space is still intact, beating for those who appreciate the finest things in life.

Japan is a Cinderella story, a nation which had everything going against it post the Wars, which devastated everything worth holding on to. That’s when a collective will and determination stepped in, making an entire generation work with perseverance and commitment to build a nation they envisioned to live in, all created by their own hands. Build they did. The country stood on its feet and then just soared making it the third largest economy and the first Asian nation to gain a developed world status in a matter of decades. Call it the power of humanity for Japan is a phoenix which rose from its own ashes and ensured that its natives became as prosperous as the land they tilled.

Having found wealth, after a prolonged period of hard work and austerity, new Japan was all ready to self-congratulate itself for the years of nation building, with wads of Yen in hand. So what do they do? They start traveling, with the closest stop at Hawaii and rest of America, and what do they find there? Luxury, of course. This newly rich Japanese wanted nothing but the finest, the most decadent and often outrageously expensive.

This was timed well with many a luxury brands’ aspirations to grow out of the stagnating European and American markets by setting sail for more lucrative shores. First in list was the Land of Rising Sun (ironically that’s what Japan proved to be for these French and Italian luxe brands).

Ginza, named after the silver-coin mint established there in 1612 during the Edo period, went through multiple reconstructions because of the fires, earthquakes and more recently the World War. It became the model street on which rest of the country’s modernization plans were based by the Meiji government. Native brands of repute like Shiseido already had a booming business on the street, so did local departmental stores like Mastuya and Wako, which attracted the rich and famous, making the street a cornerstone of every luxury label.

There was no short-changing the well-travelled Japanese consumer who had seen the quality of service and retail experience the world over, making each luxe brand put their best foot forward for their new favourite consumer and the future of luxury. Ginza turned into a haven with flagship stores of multiple-storeys, display of architectural excellence and one-upmanship.

Today this street has two Tiffany & Co. standalone boutiques, two Louis Vuitton mega stores, Chanel, Apple and every other brand you can imagine. These monstrous stores spread over multiple floors house everything and anything in luxury. Take Hermès for example. Floor one is for scarves, ties, accessories, one level down is a male haven, one level up and you are in women’s ready to wear, further up and you can find home accessories and baby wear. Go to yet another floor and there’s an art gallery and more merchandise. Armani has a café or two while Dior showcases large screens from floor to ceiling playing latest runway shows on loop.

Mt. Fuji, step aside, for Mt. Prada is more impressive. With so many levels, the store has its own escalators connecting one level to the next. Gucci, Burberry, Ferragamo, Van Cleef & Arpels, Lladro, Swarovski (with their new dreadful Crystal Hello Kitty collection this season), an entire mall dedicated to the Swatch Group watches (Rado, Omega, Breguet, Tissot, Longines, et al) - if this does not get your heartbeat racing, we doubt anything else will.

Abercrombie and Fitch, though not as famous with natives, has managed to attract tourists and expats with its over sexualized bare-chested escorts who will guide you through the 12 (or was it 13?) levelled store with a loud club-isque music in the background. High street must be applauded for making a gutsy Ginza entry. Right across A&F you will see the tallest Zara and Swedish brand H&M sitting smug in between. Electronics major like Yamaha too have a stellar building complete with a restaurant and an orchestration hall in its flagship.

What about those who haven’t managed to get real-estate on this haloed street? Enter the malls, the saviours, which house Japan bred Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons and Yōji Yamamoto. They find their retail space in the half dozen departmental stores along with Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Dolce&Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Tod’s, Christian Louboution, YSL, and of course all the brands which have their own jumbo stores just a few feet outside. Why miss any Nipponese action? If statistics are to be looked at, Chanel has less than 15 stores in its home city Paris, but in Tokyo, alone, the count is 19. This does not account other prefectures (states) which form this island country.

All the card swiping might leave you a bit exasperated and the feet sore with all the retail high-drama. So rest a while at the umpteen swish cafés which are either hidden like little treasures or sprawled on the street itself. Lunching ladies should most definitely visit Shiseido’s Faro - slow time for a chic lengthy luncheon overlooking the action outside on the street. While at it, do indulge in the most delectable pastries, macaroons and cookies at the landmark Shiseido Parlour’s Deli on the ground level. We promise, you might never want to leave the place.

The sun which rose, is slightly dull thanks to the turbulent financial scenario caused by the global recession from which the country is yet to fully recover, adding to the woes are the natural disasters which engulfed the region recently. Today the stores are filled with people, and many of them have come with empty bags, larger wads of notes and an insatiable appetite for luxury glory. The only difference is that these new arrivals are not the Japanese who are holding the pulse of the retail revival, but the newly emerged, nouveau riche Chinese whose country’s lifecycle is now in the same spot where once Japan was. But Ginza has seen worse days and refuses to let her bright lights become any dimmer. She adorns herself with finesse and style, for this is where the fashionable people shop and dine, so someone needs to welcome them always…no?

The Whirlwind Tourbillon By: Rahul Kapoor, Co-Founder, Excedo Luxuria

Posted on: August 10, 2011

Tourbillons are probably the highest order of watchmaking, mesmerizing many with its elegant, circumferential dance Here is a small explanation for why it commands such an elevated throne…

Sitting proudly, with head held high, among minute repeaters, grande sonneries, petite sonneries, perpetual calendars and chronographs, the Tourbillon is one of the most awe-inspiring complications of horology. Considered by many to be the most complex and difficult to make watch escapement, its has been mystifying watchmakers and watch connoisseurs since its inception in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Today, the Tourbillon is a testimony of high quality workmanship and often fetches high prices in auction houses and in the luxury watch market.

The Tourbillion was a result of sea-goers’ constant quest for improved accuracy of their marine chronometers. These marine watches governed the chances of survival of sea men. They were an index to allow sailors to steer themselves away from harms way, especially on high seas. Chronometers were known, and still are, for their high accuracy. The chronometers used to be placed on deck, subjecting the balance wheel and balance spring (the organs of a watch which are responsible for the literal movement of the hands) to gravitation forces. This invariably affected the accuracy of the chronometer, thus risking lives, as minutes either way could have been a difference in life or death.

This problem was solved by the invention of Tourbillon. How I hear you ask? Well, depending on the position of the watch, especially when vertical (crown left, right, down or up), different variations in the frequency of the balance wheel will occur as a result of changes in its center of gravity. When a watch is vertical, the Earth’s gravity normally either accelerates or slows the balance and the escapement (a mechanism which controls the speed of rotation of the wheels), causing a gain or loss in the rate. Even a watch in excellent condition, which has been recently lubricated, serviced, and adjusted, will suffer the unavoidable effect of the gravitational forces of this Earth.

In an ordinary Tourbillon, the carriages are pivot-mounted on one side and bridged on the other, or bridged on both sides. A flying Tourbillon, however, is much more complex as the entire cage (where the tourbillon is located) must be supported from the bottom only. As the flying Tourbillon’s carriage is pivot-mounted on one side with no supporting bridge, it is like a floating mainspring barrel. That means a flying Tourbillon is actually a complication built onto the Tourbillon complication.

Ordinary Tourbillons were effective for pocket watches, as these are held in the vertical position and, therefore, have only one dimensional displacement from lying flat. Flying Tourbillons are designed to be effective at any angle.

The flying Tourbillon regulator was invented in 1920s by Alfred Helwig in Saxony and it began appearing in wristwatches in 1930. Regulators have the hour and minute hands on two separate axes on the dial. Even today, watchmakers have to build a regulator watch as their final exam to become master watchmakers. The Tourbillon regulator, as well, is a proof of a watchmaker’s technical creativity and skill. The Tourbillon regulator spatially separates the hours and minutes dials arranged vertically in a highly legible manner. The Tourbillon builds the visual center of the dial at the 6’oclock position.

It is critical that energy expenditure be at a minimum as the energy from the mainspring used to power the gears is also needed to move the Tourbillon. Any instability or disturbance in this energy flow will decrease the accuracy of the watch. Even to adjust the Tourbillon movement requires specialists who have to disassemble and reassemble the Tourbillon to regulate the balance.

Tourbillions have been taken even further by specialists such as Thomas Prescher, who with his Tourbillion Trilogy has captured many watch connoisseurs’ attention. The Trilogy collection has three different types of Tourbillon movements, even though they look similar. The single Tourbillon travels along one axis. Then comes a double Tourbillon, and finally a triple axis Tourbillon. Why all the fuss about the number of axes that a Tourbillon travels around? To be honest, it is only two things: visual splendor and bragging rights. Thomas Prescher is the first watchmaker to successfully place a triple axis tourbillon in a wrist watch. They said it could not be done! Well, whatever ‘they’ said, it was done, and in a manner that is outstanding to view. Thomas Prescher Tourbillons ensure that the focal points of the design are the tourbillon cages.

Tourbillions are the epitome, the ultimate in watchmaking prowess. With only about 300 experts being able to create a Tourbillon, these experts are further filtered down to an even more exclusive category, based on which type of Tourbillion one requires.

Historically, Tourbillons have commanded top prices and were out of reach of all but the extremely wealthy. Very few watch houses have the time and experience to produce Tourbillon watches, driving up prices even higher. Usually,  Tourbillon watches are made on request with a very controlled number being created each year as only the most skilled watchmakers are capable of making the handcrafted movement.

The higher price is attributable to the complexity of the Tourbillon mechanism, which is created within extremely tight mechanical tolerances with specialized tooling. Crafting a Tourbillon requires more parts and time than other movements. Dedicated tools and machinery are used to manufacture Tourbillons and special lightweight and durable metals are required. Most importantly, the creator him/herself must possess vast experience, patience and greatest attention to detail

Even though Breguet is credited with bringing the Tourbillon to this world, there are a myriad brands manufacturing this movement accurately like Cecil Purnell, Hysek, IWC Schaffhausen, Thomas Prescher and more. So make your pick carefully!

Rahul Kapoor, co-founder of Excedo Luxuria, works with exclusive boutique brands including Thomas Prescher Haute Horlogerie. Aided with experience in bespoke creations, Excedo Luxuria has also created the first all-services bespoke and customized accessories boutique for the ‘media-shy’. An avid watch collector, he loves scrutinizing and talking about watches as well.

Wedding Cafe & Le Mill - Pleasure Therapy By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: July 10, 2011

The face of India is changing, and how! With a variety of new concepts making their advent towards the country, luxury consumers have a lot to look forward to.

Diamonds have always been a girl’s best friend and have always managed to escalate her moods no matter what. Throw in a wedding haven and a luxurious shopping destination in a city like Mumbai and the smile that you will see on her face will be priceless. With wedding planning and luxurious shopping growing leaps and bounds in India, two unique concepts have made their mark in Mumbai in a very limited span of time. Let’s delve a little deeper into the face of luxury in Mumbai today.

A new birth

The Wedding Café & Lounge is a wedding concept based fine dine restaurant which celebrates the institution of marriage and epitomizes romance. The managing director, Mr Zuzer Lucknowala, during one of his visits to Europe came across many wedding cafés in the region, and that’s when the idea of introducing the concept in India struck him - to build a restaurant that serves as a one stop shop for all things wedding.

The Wedding Café & Lounge strives to connect the best of wedding industry related vendors to the concerned customers. Under one roof you have a gamut of wedding related services ranging from destination wedding planning to wedding trousseau designer to wedding filmography. Elaborate and scrumptious Global Fusion Cuisine along with a wide range of wines and signature cocktails takes the whole experience to a whole new level of sophistication.

Women work very hard for shopping. Strutting across the various streets and malls, selecting the best out of a multitude choices and paining your feet excessively to get the crowd stunner is not easy. Enter Le Mill. “We wanted to open a store that offered a different retail experience, outside of a shopping mall. We felt that what was missing in Mumbai was a cleaner, more organic, aesthetic experience - whether in clothing, jewellery, homeware or furniture. So we set about trying to create that aesthetic through pieces manufactured in India, or a selection sourced from abroad,” said Ms Cecilia Morelli Parikh, Co-Founder, Le Mill. The concept started when they decided to gather goods that were made in India, but primarily exported. Frustrated at always paying for excess luggage after trips to Europe, only to come home and realize the goods carried a Made in India tag, the four women owners of Le Mill set out to find, make and source products in all categories that were made locally, but displayed a distinctly European aesthetic.

The Golden Touch

There is always an ‘x’ factor in every facet in life which we as individuals would fail to put into words but is distinctly there. Wonder what these concepts have that are attracting everyone’s attention these days? “We help the customers connect to vendors right under one roof, where they have a wide range of services to chose from - starting from finding the right match to deciding the honeymoon destination. We provide a platform to wedding related industries to showcase their products to the right audience and hence, our brand position is that of being India’s largest wedding management service provider,” says Mr Lucknowala of The Wedding Cafe & Lounge. The experience in India is unique for consumers as well as the floaters of the brand. “It has been both challenging and rewarding. Like any other start-up business, there were some roadblocks that we faced, but the sailing so far has been smooth and the concept has been very well received by one and all,” Mr Lucknowala shared.

According to Ms Parekh, a perfect balance is what sets them apart from other multi-brand houses. “We have an eclectic mix of clothes, furniture, homeware, jewellery as well as a cafe and a flower shop. We like to think that we have a large range of products and price points. It is the first time that India is seeing something of this sort,” she said. The experience seems to have been really thrilling for the women who have all lived in India for over three years with all the excitement of a place where one can hang out with friends or make new acquaintances. “It’s also really exciting to get such great feedback from our customers. We also learn about

what the modern Indians wants. And its not just bling! There are always logistical issues, but once you have tore your hair out a couple of times un-puzzling these, the next time is much easier,” she fondly remembers.

Change, is constant

Looking at the altering social setting of India, one cannot help but observe the changing face of the country. With specifics towards weddings, without breaking into a sweat, one will notice how the wedding budgets have increased exponentially and opulence today is synonymous to any wedding ceremony. “It is time that wedding industry was given a structure and this is an effort from our side to help bring the wedding retail concept to India where all wedding related services are provided under one roof to give customers/guests a more genuine touch and feel of wedding services,” said Mr Lucknowala. Looking for an innovative wedding? Many new services have been introduced with this concept. For example, on their elite vendor of panels, is an associate who provides wedding filmography where wedding movies are Hollywood stylized and not shot in the traditional way, but like a movie where the bride and groom are the protagonists. “We have another who makes innovative personalized coffee table books and another who specializes only in bridal shoes. So we are trying to bring innovation and style to weddings to make the next wedding even better and larger than the previous..We can plan your wedding to suit your budget and personality and individuality.” he said.

Ask Ms Parikh and she will be quick to tell you that in the four years that she has been in India, the retail scene has completely transformed. “Competition has been great for Mumbai. There is much more choice and retailers are ready to take risks. I am sad that so much

retail is happening in malls. I wish it were different. But I think a standalone store like Hermes’ at Horniman Circle will hopefully create a great new trend - so that shopping is not just about the goods you buy, but also the experience you take away,” she said. The perfect target audience for their store? “Our customer is either a young working girl or man. They could either be starting out and sourcing for their first apartment, or a mother

adding to her existing apartment. We like to think of our customer as someone who is always looking for something unique and special. But he or she is also a busy individual, therefore, great customer support and at home services are very important to them,” she shared.

So whether it is a wedding that you have to plan or just those few hours of retail therapy that you are looking for, the Indian market has a lot to offer you these days and it does not seem like it is ending there!

Tous - Masculine Maestro By: LuxuryFacts Team

Posted on: July 10, 2011

With years of experience, product offerings and style to their credit, take a look at what Indian men have in stock for them this season by Tous.

If David Miller’s looks and names weren’t already enough to attract you towards the contemporary and masculine bottle, then let the brand name speak for itself. Tous, a leading Spanish jewellery brand, unveiled their new fragrance, Tous Man Sport in India early this year. None other than supermodel David Miller, global brand ambassador of Tous Man Sport, graced the event.

Started in 1920, Tous is globally famous for their unique style of jewellery and a variety of accessories ranging from fragrances, handbags, watches, vision, textile, leather goods and a special collection for the home. With all this and more, it isn’t much of a surprise that the brand is present in over 400 stores spread across 45 countries. What’s so special about the brand you may ask? Give a thought to the absolute freshness of the product offerings and its unique ability to understand trends in design and style that have enabled Tous to expand rapidly in the global market. Celebrities like Kylie Minogue and Jennifer Lopez have also endorsed Tous.

Coming to the fragrance, Tous Man Sport has a fruity aromatic fragrance that is fresh with a touch of modernity. It is informal, spontaneous yet with a definite style. It is best suited for those who love to live for the moment.

Speaking on the occasion, David Miller, Brand Ambassador, Tous Man Sport, said, “The first time I saw Tous Man Sport, on the day of the shoot, I thought “how modern!” I really liked the colour and shape of the bottle. Then I tried it. It really suits me and I am positive that Indian men will also relate with the fragrance.”

Taking Mr Miller’s word for it? I bet yes!

Cecil Purnell - For the love of a Tourbillon By: LuxuryFacts Team

Posted on: July 10, 2011

While most watch brands attempt to project themselves as a ‘complete’ brand with every kind of mechanism in their stable, Cecil Purnell has been daring enough to restrict itself to tourbillons only. Read on to know more about the brand, its owners, and the watches…

No. The watch brand Cecil Purnell is not named after the founder of the brand. Cecil Purnell was the grandfather of the founder – Mr Jonathan Purnell. Isn’t that a rarity? The founder’s name is usually the brand name! This single fact shows the amount of respect Mr Johnathan Purnell has for his craft and its pioneers.

At the age of eight, Mr Purnell, fascinated by his grandfather’s watchmaking skills, was already dismantling and reconstructing watches. Once he grew up and started working for well-known Swiss brands, Mr Purnell travelled the world for 30 years in search for knowledgeable watch fans, well-informed collectors and watch enthusiasts. His travels also served to deepen his knowledge and appreciation for mechanical timepieces. At the end of the 30 years, his address book contained names of prestigious families and men of power. Thus, he was ready to create an indelible mark on the world of haute horlogerie and set up his own dream which only consisted of tourbillons.

Mr Purnell was joined by Mr Stephane Valsamides who also has immense experience in the watch business. He has a charm for old-world craftsmanship and a strict rule of perfection. Together, the duo started the watch brand, Cecil Purnell (CP), in 2006.

Working on the three core philosophies of know-how, independence and commitment, CP truly believes that the tourbillon movement is and will remain the benchmark of watchmaking. Thus, the brand focuses only on this particular mechanism.

CP watches are limited edition and customizable on request. Incredibly, they produce only 50 watches per year, because, in their words, “Quantity is the enemy of quality”. They use their in-house developed calibers for the watches. Not to mention, their watches are absolutely top-notch in terms of design as well!

The Parade

Without wasting the precious time of our readers, we talk about CP’s five astounding creations, with each almost overshadowing the other! Classique 43 is a timeless beauty and will be recognized by most classic enthusiasts as something which they need to add to their collection. The dial design allows the owner to see deep down into the heart of the watch and admire it to heart’s content. Being a neutral size of 43mm, the watch is a good size for feminine wrists as well.

Built much like Classique 43, the 47 model by CP has a larger avant-garde feeling. The watch is being introduced in black PVD treated steel with microbillage finish. The 47 will soon be available in rose gold and white gold (150 Palladium). Palladium provides a unique glow to the gold and allows the colouring to maintain its youth.

Housing the CP Caliber 3008, the Hambergé, has a little more aggressive and sporty feel to it. The super-luminova dial has an opening at 6 o’clock again which gives a peep at the mechanism of the watch.

The Big Date watch by CP, on the other hand, seems like a treasure trove of gears and wheels. The careful construction of the case and dial allows for an optimal use of the ‘Big Date’ without making a mess of the watch – thus proving that technicalities can be presented aesthetically. The large date display mechanism is situated at 11 o’clock, with the date being adjustable by a pusher on the crown.


The La Croix is our personal favourite. CP has been inventive enough to move away from the usual round or rectangular watch dials and create the new broad-cross kind of shape. La Croix is available in rose or white gold. The complex five-axis case integrates a convex-cylindrical sapphire glass built in four parts. Another impressive feature of the dial that aesthetes will appreciate is the indices whose corners are floating.

Watchmaking is not just about creating a functioning timepiece. It’s also about inventing constantly. By focusing on tourbillons only, Cecil Purnell has created its niche in the large and competitive ocean of Swiss watch brands. Its presence is only set to get bigger!

Salvatore Ferragamo - Pink Delight By: LuxuryFacts Team

Posted on: June 10, 2012

Incanto Bloom Salvatore FerragamoChic, fashionable and sophisticated – if that’s how you define yourself, then Salvatore Ferragamo’s latest fragrance, Incanto Bloom, will certainly enhance your personality. This fragrance will complement a metropolitan fashionable woman.

A part of the Incanto Cult Collection, Incanto Bloom is a dizzying and heady mix of flowers. Starting with Grapefruit Flower and Freesia, the notes in the fragrance graduate to Tea Roses and Champaca Flowers. The base note is highlighted by the sensual and glamourous aroma of Musks and Cashmere Wood. This tantalizingly fruity scent has been created by Sophie Labbé from IFF.

The beautiful Incanto Bloom flacon is elegant with its opalescent white body and the Vara Bow as the cap. The Vara Bow, which we are sure all you fashionistas already know, is the instantly recognizable symbol of Salvatore Ferragamo. It represents feminine sophistication and pure Ferragamo style.

The flacon, much simpler and classy than the previous Incanto fragrances, is printed with black and pink dandelions, and the Ferragamo logo is engraved like on all of the brand’s fashion accessories.

The aromatic Incanto Bloom range consists of Eau de Toilette natural sprays in the price range of INR 2,200 – 4,500 for 30ml, 50ml and 100ml flacons.

Kiehl's - All Round Goodness By: Soumya Jain

Posted on: June 10, 2012

Kiehl's Pharmacy historyThe ‘trend’ of philanthropy started about 20 years back. Before that, I guess, hard-earned money was too precious to be given out to anyone. But Kiehl’s, an apothecary that came in existence as far back as 1851, understood the need to give back to the society much earlier.

The ‘Mission of Kiehl’s’ was written by Mr Aaron Morse, the second generation successor to Kiehl’s, about 40 years ago, before ‘eco-friendly’ became a buzz-word. It clearly states that apart from producing efficacious products, Kiehl’s would strive to give back to the society in which it lives. Today, the brand supports three major causes worldwide – research and prevention of AIDS; supporting local communities, especially children; and environment.

L’Oreal bought Kiehl’s under its fold in 2000 – taking charge from the Morse family and making it a global brand. So when I was given a choice, I asked to interview Ms Cammann Cannella, Vice President, Global Education Development at Kiehl’s. Apart from her obviously impressive designation, I was excited to interact with her since she has been working at Kiehl’s since 1995. She has seen the pre- and the post-L’Oreal era as well!

My obvious question was that how did the take-over by L’Oreal help this family-protected brand? Many family-owned luxury brands are scared of the ‘corporatisation’ that comes after being bought by huge conglomerates. Ms Cannella, however, told us - In 1999, the Wall Street Journal published an article about Kiehl‘s entitled, ‘Ad Budget Zero. Buzz Deafening’ – talking about the Kiehl‘s business model of reaching customers through sampling and word of mouth. That year, the business finally outgrew their means. Kiehl’s had been first and foremost dedicated to customers. But the founding family realized this was no longer happening the way they wanted to and the way Kiehl‘s customers expected. For example, they had only one freestanding store in the world (in New York) with a global customer base! They were frequently challenged with out-of-stock situations as they struggled to meet customers’ demands.

Kiehl's New York store designConsequently, Jami Morse and her husband, handpicked L‘Oreal out of the numerous companies that had been ‘courting’ Kiehl’s for years, for two specific reasons: because of the company’s commitment to product development (L‘Oreal spends more than any other cosmetic company in the world on R&D)) and because L‘Oreal valued all of aspects of the Kiehl’s business model and saw them as central to the brand’s success (at the time of the merger, Kiehl‘s flagship store was one of the most successful freestanding cosmetic stores in the world).

Therefore, instead of changing anything about Kiehl’s, they simply gave them more resources to support their growth. The next major article published after this partnership was in the New York Times, titled ‘New Owners Let Kiehl’s Be Kiehl’s’.

Kiehl’s kitschy image, if eradicated, will definitely mean the death of the brand. The stores sell skin products, but are adorned with vintage motorcycles, historical photographs lined up on brick walls, and a quite lovable skeleton called Mr Bones!

But coming back to the main point of this article, Kiehl’s, as we said before, is very eco-friendly. “Kiehl‘s has been dedicated to protecting the environment since our business began back in the 1800‘s. Many of our long-standing practices – such as using minimal, recyclable packaging for our products and printing on recycled paper for our collateral - are actually essential parts of our business philosophy, as our primary commitment to our customers is to bring them the most efficacious formulas. We therefore have always avoided unnecessary packaging,” says Ms Cannella.

Kiehl's Cammann Cannella interviewFor the past several years, Kiehl’s has been promoting a ‘Recycle and Be Rewarded’ program to their customers. Although Kiehl’s packaging is recyclable through most local recycling programs, their specific recycling program invites customers to bring back their empty bottles back to the store and be rewarded with new products and/or samples. Kiehl’s, then, recycles these bottles and jars. And, whenever possible, when creating new products, Kiehl’s selects post-consumer recycled materials for packaging. “Our number one priority is the safety and efficacy of our products, so we are not always able to use PCR materials for formula compatibility reasons, but more and more going forward, we are seeking to use these options,” Ms Cannella explains.

In India, as well, Kiehl’s has been doing a lot of work to keep standing on its core of commitment to the society. Their usual practices, like the Recycle and Be Rewarded program; using recycled paper for printing collateral in stores; and being green in their stores (which means that employees recycle their trash as much as possible, save energy and choose environmentally-friendly cleaning products for maintenance, whenever possible) are also encouraged in India.

Kiehl’s has also formed a partnership with ‘Nanhi Chhaan’ in India which works towards the protection of the girl child and preservation of the environment. Kiehl‘s supports the organisation by periodically donating a part of its profits from the sales of its products in India. So if you are buying a Kiehl’s product, be assured you are automatically contributing to a worthy cause relevant to India today.

In fact, Kiehl’s employed those empties for a fashionable cause as well and roped in musician Pharrell Williams to design a kitschy tote for all the lunching ladies. Kiehl’s partnered with Mr Williams’ Returns Textiles,, which manufactures eco-friendly materials and is also the innovator of Bionic Yarn technology. 

Since we are talking about celebrities, let me throw in a few more names. Brad Pitt and Kiehl’s introduced the Aloe Vera Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser, 100 per cent of net profits of which benefited JPF Eco Systems, a charitable foundation created with Mr Pitt to support global environmental initiatives. The first project of JPF Eco Systems supports Make it Right, a charity which focuses on minimizing environmental impact through thoughtful design. Make it Right helped to fund construction of environmentally sustainable, affordable housing in New Orleans for the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. This Kiehl’s body cleanser was formulated with minimal number of ingredients, which are 100 per cent environmentally conscious, readily biodegradable ingredients – which helped to minimize our impact by biodegrading in the earth within 28 days.

Similarly, on Earth Day in 2010, Kiehl’s announced a limited edition collection, where 100 per cent of net proceeds benefited the Rainforest Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods. For this cause, ‘friends of Kiehl’s’, created limited edition labels for the 100 per cent natural and ECOCERT-certified organic, Açaí Damage-Protecting Toning Mist. The product utilizes a high concentration of super-antioxidant organic açaí berry, which is grown and cultivated in the Brazilian Amazon. The limited edition series featured four special labels designed by internationally renowned, socially-conscious influencers – actress Julianne Moore, artist Jeff Koons and musician Pharrell Williams. Each created a label that depicts their vision of social responsibility. One of the labels also featured a colourful pencil sketch, hand drawn by one of the children in the Brazilian Amazon community. Not that it’s necessary to add, but the açaí berry range of products by Kiehl’s is one f my favourites!

In case you still think it’s a marketing gimmick, let me tell you that all these superstars are regular users of Kiehl’s and associate with the brand for these causes free-of-charge!

Heritage Philanthropy - Culture Shock? Not! By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: June 10, 2012

Defining luxury aside, luxe consumers today are conscious about their art, culture and heritage. These are certainly considered worthwhile causes to contribute to as much as ‘serious’ causes like environment, poverty, education and food.

Art has a million ways of expressing itself. What may appeal as art to one may not even receive a second glance from another. Everything put aside, one cannot underestimate the power, impact and support that art has all around the globe. Each culture defines and respects art in their own way and both co exist in society and create a world around them that is well respected. Taking this a step further, luxury brands today are redefining classic philanthropy which typically encompass important issues such as environment protection, poverty and education. Pushing the boundaries of the term to include causes such as arts and culture, brands know well how to stand out in a sea full of competitors!

If you are a luxury brand looking to make a statement this year, look to these brands for inspiration. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder! So be it any art or cultural form that interests or inspires you, give it a helping hand and show the world you care. And what better way to do that than to preserve long-forgotten, but equally important, cultural heritage in any form?

Reel life

Films are an important element of any culture and one of the most expressive and popular art forms today. Look back to the times when you have watched a film that has touched your heart or made you laugh till your jaws hurt. Luxe brand Jaeger-LeCoultre sure does remember this and thus became the official partner of the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival. The cooperation between Jaeger-LeCoultre and SIFF will last for three years, during which both sides will work together to restore a number of Chinese classic films and support young and prominent Chinese film directors. This isn’t the first time that Jaeger-LeCoultre has shown their inklings towards moving pictures. Being the official partner of the Venice International Film Festival for six years now, Jaeger-LeCoultre shares the common devotion to the art heritage.

This is not all! During the 64th Cannes International Film Festival, Jaeger-LeCoultre supported the ‘Cannes fait le mur’ photography exhibition in partnership with the Contour by Getty Images photo agency which started around May 10 and will go on till July 5, 2011. With such lights, camera and action - it is bound to be a hit with the masses.

If we are talking about motion images and films, Gucci is surely not far behind. Early June saw The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and Gucci announce the 2011 recipients selected for the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund. The Fund, now in its fourth year, provides finishing finances, year-round support and guidance to domestic and international documentary filmmakers with feature-length films highlighting and humanizing issues of social importance from around the world. Nine projects have been selected from 450 submissions from 38 countries to receive a total of $150,000, to be administered by the Tribeca Film Institute. If that’s not enough, this year the PPR Corporate Foundation for Women’s Dignity & Rights, has joined the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, and created the Spotlighting Women Documentary Award, which will annually provide funding of $50,000. Three film projects that illuminate the courage, compassion, extraordinary strength of character, and contributions of women from around the world have been chosen for the inaugural award.

Going back in time a little, last year Gucci and The Film Foundation announced that Martin Scorsese would attend the 5th International Rome Film Festival that took place on October 30, 2010, in order to present the world restoration premiere of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960). The premiere of the 4K digital restoration celebrated the 50th anniversary of this Italian cinema classic. To date, Gucci has supported the restoration of six iconic films and donated a total of $1.5 million to The Film Foundation as part of its ongoing commitment to preserve the artistic and cultural heritage of landmark cinema.

Dramatic Art

In London this March, The Whitechapel Gallery’s annual fundraising party in partnership with Tod’s and Harper’s Bazaar celebrated the fusion of art and drama in an exceptional one-off event featuring stars of stage and screen at the Gallery. The Tod’s Art Plus Drama Party 2011 raised £225,000 to provide vital funds for the Whitechapel Gallery’s Education and Community programme that works with over 3,000 children and 30 diverse community groups each year.

The event featured a multitude of entertainment. Guests bid for a special Tod’s D-Bag customized by artist Ian Davenport, as well as for artworks during an auction led by Sotheby’s Oliver Barker. The high profile guests enjoyed a unique evening of dramatic performances by world renowned actors with scripts written by leading contemporary artists. The evening also celebrated Teatro alla Scala’s ongoing collaboration with Tod’s with the screening of An Italian Dream and a solo performance by Marta Romagna - prima ballerina at Teatro alla Scala. Fashion designer Erdem created a dramatic mask invitation especially for the event.

For those who are unaware, Teatro alla Scala, inaugurated in 1778, is one of the most famous havens for arts in the world and the spiritual home of opera and ballet in Italy. Believe it or not, this is the first time Teatro alla Scala has partnered with a luxury or fashion brand on a project on this kind. Tod’s created a conceptual video together with Teatro alla Scala that starred ballet dancers interpreting, through dance, the multiple steps that take place in the creation of a Tod’s shoe! Through the partnership, Tod’s will help Teatro alla Scala to cover the costs of their productions for an artistic season (one year).     

Rememeber the mighty Colosseum that you have seen in a million and one pictures? Many will be glad to know that Tod’s is also associated with this historical landmark. Diego Della Valle, President of Tod’s Group, and Italy’s Ministry of Culture confirmed in January this year that the Tod’s Group will finance the complete restoration plans for Rome’s historic Colosseum with a monetary commitment of 25 million euros. Mr Della Valle supported his decision by mentioning that since Tod’s is a strong representative of ‘Made in Italy’, it is their duty to contribute to Italy’s image and credibility, as well as its cultural heritage.

So sit back, relax and watch how time has passed by all these years and get up to give a standing ovation to these brands that have not only redefined luxury for the world, but also preserved a little bit of everything in any possible way.

Cannes Film Festival 2011 - Through Rose Tinted Glasses By: Arundhati De

Posted on: June 10, 2011

Cannes Film Festival fashion jewelryAs I carefully packed my suitcase before my trip, I looked at every item very critically before putting it in. Flying cattle class for the Cannes Film Festival isn’t so cool with a meagre 20 kg luggage allowance, given that normal wear in Cannes is the current season’s prêt-a-porter collections, fresh from Paris and Milan! I quickly weighed the saris I so wanted to take with me. Ahh, 100 gm a pop, not too bad. I would dress them up with Indian baubles. Givenchy could wait till next year.

So in a sentence, yes, the Cannes Film Festival is 10 days of high-voltage glamour. People come dressed to impress. Even the TV Crew or the regular Joe, who comes to the Croisette to watch one of the movie screenings, must be appropriately dressed. Men must be in Black Tie (The Smoking was the preferred outfit) and ladies painfully endure slinky heels and even slinkier dresses, all in the name of fashion.

I swished into the city late on May 11 and quickly scrambled into something little more festive than my travelling attire and rushed to the Croisette to catch some of the action. The festival was opening with the screening of Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ as I strutted in what I thought was appropriate for the ocassion, only to see throngs of people in their slickest best, clambering all over the Croisette, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite celebrities sashaying down the red carpet. “To hell with it” - I thought – “I am here now and nobody knows me, no pap’s looking my way”. I poked myself into a neat little vantage point and watched as Woody Allen and friends made their way to the dinner marquee. Ahh, I spotted our very own Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, looking sublime in Elie Saab and Chopard jewels. I couldn’t help but shout out, “Ash, I love you!”. And you know what? She turned towards me, gave her characteristic wave and sent a flying kiss my way. Oh, I was in sheer bliss. “Welcome to Cannes”, I thought to myself. It was only going to get bigger and better from here…and in deed it did.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan cannes film festival chopard jewelryBefore I go on, one must understand that despite the heavy-duty drama and glamour of the festival, it is not a holiday. Quite the contrary actually. Almost every one at the festival has a mission in mind. It is a lot of schmoozing, networking and foo-faa-ing. You spend the day either watching movies and quickly getting back to the press room to file your piece, or you are spending Nespresso over Nespresso with possible financiers to float your feature in the ‘marché des films’ (film market where individuals have stalls to get funds or distributors). Adding to that, there is a fashion shoot or photo call or press conference in every nook and corner of the city. If that isn’t enough, you need to work your way to get a pass for the much-coveted red carpet screenings that take place at 7pm every evening. Maximum energy goes into getting into one of the high-fly celebrity glittering soirées each evening.

This year, like every year, there were parties, parties and some more parties. Before I got here, a good friend who had been to the festival a few years ago had given me a low-down on the ‘hierarchy’ of the parties at Cannes. At the lowest rung, were the pavilion parties where any one with a badge could get into and grab a plastic cup and enjoy the festivities. Higher up are the parties thrown by production homes to celebrate the launch of a new feature. This requires an invitation, but tipping the bouncer with 10 Euros is sufficient to get in. Edging up were parties thrown by the jet-set for their ‘closest friends’. Here it gets sticky. Finding your way in deed needs an invitation or guest listing, unless you are a drop-dead gorgeous group of ladies with ample of confidence and charm!

Finally, at the top of the pyramid are the parties thrown by exclusive luxury brands or by a world-famous celebrity at the most fabulous locations. Getting into these is almost airtight if you didn’t have your invitation. Invites are strictly non-transferable as well. I got lucky and made my way for two of the most glittering evenings thrown by two of the most dazzling jewellers who had dressed up the most illustrious personalities on the red carpet.

My Monday night entertainment was a performance by the delectable girls from Crazy Horse can-canning and tantalizing the imagination of all those present at Chopard’s party, titled ‘Happy diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’. The mood was burlesque and the décor was inspired by the wild world of the red light district in Paris during the roaring 1950s. The dramatic passage leading to the main hall was filled with huge photo frames and had models dressed in breathtaking jewels of this year’s Red Carpet Haute Joaillerie collection. The black and pink décor continued in the dimly lit, velvet draped ballroom. Guests included Jury members Uma Thurman and Jude Law, actress Jane Fonda, Julia Saner, Bar Rafaeli, Sonam Kapoor and Zhang Zilin - all in Chopard - as well as Naomi Campbell, Jo Jackson and Kenneth Cole to name a few. In keeping with the colour code, guests chose between pink Boizel champagne and cocktails created especially for Chopard by Grey Goose. While conversation dazzled as much as precious baubles, renowned deejay, Bob Sinclair, popped on to the stage to ensure that the decadence continued till the wee hours of morning.


Chopard at Cannes Film Festival 2011Still reeling from that, I was whisked away from busy Cannes to the picturesque Antibes on Tuesday evening. In its true unimitable style, de Grisogono celebrated a decade at Cannes with an evening to remember! For its 10th soirée at the Eden Roc, de Grisogono set Cap d’Antibes on fire with a ‘Gypsy Glam’ themed evening. Three hundred handpicked guests from all over the world shared this moment with Mr Fawaz Gruosi. Among these happy few were the stunning Bianca Balti, Goldie Hawn, Karolina Kurkova, Rob Lowe, Boris Becker, Emmanuel de Savoie and his wife Clotilde Coureau, along with Quincy Jones – all longstanding and faithful friends of the brand.


The high-profile guests made their way through the red carpet, lined with huge flaming torches, and were welcomed into the main party area with the music and clapping of Gypsy musicians that had everyone on their toes. The evening demanded glamour and the guests were, of course, suitably dressed in an incredible array of gowns and unbelievable jewellery. Guests seated for dinner after a burst of dazzling fireworks. With a crisp Mediterranean wind bringing down the temperature, the ladies were given shawls made out of silver foil to keep warm. The dinner ended to the thumping beats of the deejay that got the stage heated up for the next round of entertainment – The Black Eyed Peas! As if things couldn’t get any better, Leonardo de Caprio made a surprise entry at 3 am! The party went on till sunrise with guests sipping the last of their Rosé, ending a historic night at the Cote d’Azur…

Both Chopard and de Grisogono are inextricably linked to the festival. Both the brands were the jewellers of choice for top celebrities on the red carpet. For Chopard, this festival is personal since Caroline-Gruosi Scheufele loves cinema and this association is very significant for her as she seeks inspiration from it. This is the 14th year that Chopard has designed the Palme d’Or. For de Grisogono, again it’s an extension of the brand’s universe, which is about glamour and creativity. This year was especially special for them as it marked a decade partnering with this prestigious festival.

As I look back at the time I had, I only think, “Wow!”. I was there and I survived. Can’t wait to do it again. Next time it will be me shining on the red carpet!

Best Philanthropic Initiatives - Luxury's Super Heroes! By: Salman Z. Bukhari

Posted on: June 10, 2011

Estee Lauder Breast Cancer AwarenessCorporate Social Responsibility is the new order in today’s world. Be it a mass consumer product giant or a boutique service agency, every business has understood the importance of societal contribution, not only as a favourable public relations exercise, but also as a commitment towards the world in which they thrive. Business is no longer a monologue, but a dialogue, a two way alley, where consumers accept the company’s offerings and the company contributes towards making a difference in the lives of those who support and sustain it.

This month we highlight Luxury with a Conscience and present to you some memorable and iconic CSR initiatives championed by luxury brands across the world.

Estée Lauder goes Pink!

In 1992, the Corporate Vice President of Estée Lauder, Ms Evelyn H Lauder, launched what would become one of the most definitive CSR activities undertaken by any brand and that too much before it became fashionable to attach oneself to a cause. More than 2,00,000 people signed a petition initiated by the company urging White House to allocate more funds towards Breast Cancer Research. Before we knew it, the Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign was born to raise awareness that early detection of breast cancer can save lives.

In 2010, the BCA reached more than 2 billion people in more than 70 countries by communicating to women and men around the world to conquer breast cancer once and for all. “Women around the world are realizing that knowledge is power and, therefore, the fear that once surrounded breast cancer is diminishing. Today we are making more progress than ever and reaching more people each year with the message that if a localized breast cancer is detected early, it’s 98 per cent curable,” says Ms Lauder on the movement she started two decades back.

Shiseido for Japan relief campsShiseido for Japan

The world’s oldest skin care company, Shiseido, is today a global giant, but has never forgotten its origins. It all began in Japan.

Japan experienced one of the worst natural disasters in modern times with multiple earthquakes, tsunami, subsequent flooding in 2011, causing immense loss of life and property. When the country thought it was over, a possible nuclear disaster hung above its future.

Shiseido was amongst the first companies in the world to stand up and take charge of the situation. Apart from making huge monetary contributions towards relief efforts, the company dispatched its Beauty Consultants to the relief camps, who provided massages to everyone affected, making life a bit better for those traumatized. Tonnes of cosmetic and personal care products were sent to victims with instructions on preventing and dealing with thrombosis that evacuees were at risk of suffering from. The company also initiated the Shiseido Social Contribution Club – Hanatsubaki Fund - which urges everyone to donate towards rehabilitation of the victims.

Diane von Furstenberg for women empowermentDiane von Fürstenberg, a crusader for everything good!

Ms Fürstenberg arrived in the fashion world in 1972 with her iconic wrap dress and the seed of what is today a full fashion house. By 1976, she had sold millions of her dresses, coming to symbolise female power and freedom to an entire generation. Today DVF is a fashion force to reckon with.

Elected as Council of Fashion Designers of America’s president in 2006, she understands the responsibility she has at the helm of a luxury business and the meaningful impact it can have on people’s lives.

A firm believer in the power of women, Diane sits on the board of Vital Voices, a women’s leadership organization that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the world. She has pushed successfully for model age limits to be increased on the ramps and stressing on not using underweight girls at any showing by American designers. DVF has always been at the forefront when it comes to using multi-racial talents for its shows and publicity. Ms Fürstenberg remains committed to making the most of her title and famous fashion house for humanitarian causes.

Tiffany for coral conservationTiffany’s Oceanic Initiative

In 2009, the windows of Tiffany & Co.’s retail stores worldwide featured images of coral reefs, publicising Tiffany’s commitment since 2002 not to use coral in its designs. This ‘Under the Sea’ social campaign was designed to raise awareness about the damage coral harvesting inflicts on critically important marine ecosystems. Destructive fishing methods, climate change and their removal for use as decorative objects and jewellery caused the ‘Coral Crisis’ which urged the brand to discontinue selling coral jewellery in 2002.

In addition, Tiffany supports SeaWeb, a non-profit organization, and the ‘Too Precious to Wear’ campaign, designed to educate consumers and retailers about coral conservation. Tiffany also backs the reauthorization of a US Coral Reef Conservation Act and the addition of red coral to the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which lists species that could become threatened with extinction if trade is not carefully monitored. Tiffany is committed to what it calls ‘sustainable style’, enduring designs of beauty that pose no threat to natural resources.

Louis Vuitton Green House Gas conservationLouis Vuitton Goes Green!

LVMH’s champion luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, is at the forefront of the social responsibility campaign, and is undoubtedly one luxury brand which is going all out to cover as many causes as possible, with the planet Earth being the core cause. Since 1998, Vuitton awoke to its accountability towards the environment through the establishment of the Green House Gas Protocol. Since then, it has taken efforts to cut down on its carbon footprint by reducing employee travel, installing energy saving equipment and buildings, and making green-conscious stores.

A few years ago, the brand launched a ‘Core Values’ ad campaign, that has featured tennis player Andre Agassi, rocker Keith Richards and, most recently, astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The ads have emphasized the company’s support for the non-profit group Climate Project, and the celebrities appearing in them have donated at least part of their modelling to the organization which was founded by Al Gore. The brand also recently took a stake in Edun, an organic-clothing company, founded by the singer Bono and his wife, to emphasise the importance of recyclable and sustainable resources.

A. Lange & Soehne - A Horlogical Extravagance By: LuxuryFacts

Posted on: June 10, 2011

Combining traditional mechanism techniques with modern time indication is not as easy as it sounds. It takes years of experience and eons of patience to devise something like this. Trust A. Lange & Söhne to even consider a challenging assignment like this!

Progress is always a result of curiosity. Lange’s calibre engineers and designers resolved to explore uncharted territory and devise a watch that would be evolutionary and progressive in every respect. The result is the first mechanical wristwatch with a truly eloquent jumping numeral display. This watch not only endows time with a new face, but also defines a new direction in watchmaking.

A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk mechanismThis watch, which embodies the spirit of time, is uniquely called Zeitwerk – a name coming straight out of the future! The fresh design concept of this watch underscores a paradigm shift. We explore the Zeitwerk family and the astounding characteristics of the ‘most technologically advanced’ watch in the world.

Lange Zeitwerk

A German-silver time bridge unfolds its wings across the entire width of the dial to frame the large numerals in the laterally aligned windows presenting the hours and minutes. It extends down to encircle the subsidiary seconds dial as well and enclose it in a harmonious setting. The power-reserve indicator on the upper side tells the owner when it is time to re-energise the movement.

With a whispered click and within fractions of a second, the minute display advances step by step until the watch initiates the big jump at the top of the hour. At this point, all three numeral discs switch forward simultaneously by one unit.

A revolutionary movement fully occupies the space inside the 41.9mm gold or platinum case. A patented constant-force escapement between the barrel wheel and the balance acts as a pacemaker for the jumping advance of the hours and minutes. Glance through the sapphire-crystal caseback and admire the lavishly decorated caliber, which, with technical novelties, also features a three-quarter plate, a hand-engraved balance cock and stunning screwed gold chatons.

A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Striking Time watchLange Zeitwerk Striking Time

Ludwig van Beethoven’s prodigious reputation is due in large measure to his Symphony No. 5 with its four-note fanfare opening. The fate motif ushered in a new chapter in the history of A. Lange & Söhne. The Lange Zeitwerk Striking Time is endowed with a chiming mechanism which strikes the quarter-hours with high-pitched tones and the full hours at a lower pitch. Played fast-forward, the result is the famous leitmotif.

The design concept of the watch is similar to Lange Zeitwerk. When the numeral discs are advanced, a sizeable force vector is unleashed. After the switching cycle, enough energy remains for use by the chiming mechanism to tension the springs that actuate the two hammers. They are made of black-polished steel and are integrated in the dial layout on either side of the subsidiary seconds. The left hammer strikes the hours and the one on the right the quarter-hours.

Not in the mood for constant reminders? The ability to turn the chime off is possible. Actuating the push piece at 4 o’clock causes the chiming mechanism to become mute. The sonorous timepiece comes in a 44.2mm white gold case with a black dial or in a limited edition of 100 platinum cased watches with rhodiumed dials.

Lange Zeitwerk Luminous

Holding the usual Zeitwerk properties of indicating accurate time, Lange Zeitwerk Luminous stands for further uncompromising clarity. With this watch, Zeitwerk’s exciting progression of time can be observed in the dark as well.

The German silver time bridge is coated black with the PVD process. Coated with white Superluminova, the glowing numerals in the windows seem to float incandescently above the black background - even at night. This is assured by a dark-tinted sapphire-crystal glass. Its light-permeable coating allows the numerals to be charged with enough photonic energy to uniformly emit it again during the night for several hours.

The design of the watch, showcasing dark and bright contrasts, is emphasised by the platinum case, a black crocodile strap, and a solid platinum crafted buckle.

With its graceful appearance and intrinsic values, the Lange Zeitwerk family is not only a seminal timepiece, but it also makes a strong statement about the personality and the style of its owner. It delivers a new experience in time – whether with eyes wide open or shut.

Considerations of Precious Time - II By: Rahul Kapoor, Co-Founder, Excedo Luxuria

Posted on: June 10, 2011

Taking things forward from the previous column, this one explores more points which you should keep in mind while selecting a watch just made for you.

Hoping that my previous column helped to clear some confusion, or rather, helped put some hitherto unthought questions in your mind, I mention some more charateristics which you should look for in your perfect watch.

If your lifestyle is a little less active, and you overall prefer a lighter watch, or you do not like the black matte finish, you may want to look at metals like steel, gold, platinum and titanium. Steel is generally very light and cost effective, but the most popular is gold. Generally the watch unit is lighter than the DLC or PVD options. Though if you choose a watch with a solid gold strap similar to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, the full creation would be a little heavier.

Opting for gold doesn’t mean you have to look at ‘run of the mill’ brands like Rolex or Patek Phillppe. There are boutique brands such as Thomas Prescher  known as the ‘Master of Regeneration’ and ‘Master of Tourbillon’ by connoisseurs and critics alike, but also recognised as the ‘worlds first and only bespoke watch service’. With some exceptionally unique designs in classic materials, they have managed to maintain an excellent balance between classic and modern. The Thomas Prescher Tempus Vivendi collection is a prime example of this. Wearing such as rare yet revered creation would immediately identify you as a unique and bold personality who does not want to conform to the old norms, and has carved a name and reputation for him/herself. Such a watch can set the precedence for many business & personal engagements to come.

It is not just the bezel, body and material which effects the weight and perception of the watch. Each movement is unique in it’s weight and placement, giving the watch a very small left to right weight ratio. Some will sit ideally in the centre, others will feel as they lean a little to the right or left. This is key to comfort. Not everyone can wear a perfect centre-focused watch, thanks to our wrist bone bumps. With thousands of movements, it can be very difficult to analyse and choose, hence it is best to focus on functional categories.

There are three main categories of movements: Manual/Mechanical, Automatic/Auto-Mechanical and Quartz movement. Each movement is popular in its own right. When you are choosing a movement, you should bear in mind the level of interaction and the aftercare needed. A watch with a mechanical movement gives you the most interaction with the watch - similar to how some prefer a manual car over automatic. With a Manual/Mechanical watch, it is the handwinding that makes the watch run. When the watch runs out of energy produced by the handwinding, the watch stops. In some cases, some manual wind watches are more efficient then other manual wind watches and can have more then a week long power reserve. Additionally, the famous tourbillon movements, are mechanical and can be