David Beckham Adds ‘Supercar Designer’ To His Resume

We sat down with the new Maserati ambassador for an exclusive face-to-face interview.

By Vince Jackson 28/10/2021

Laid over three tables is an ensemble of seemingly random objects—an elegant bottle of white powder, a strip of geometric fabric, a hardback book on space exploration. Behind them, mounted on panels, are chaotic collages of photos and magazine cuttings. At first glance the display looks like a series of unrelated odds and ends, an artistically arranged spread of upmarket flotsam. And then gradually your eyes adjust and a hardening pattern emerges from the blur, one of colour, tone, texture, emotion. Each stand is unique, each with its own personality.

There’s one exhibit, however, that stands alone on its own separate pedestal, alluding to some kind of special status. A shiny, black scale-model car, and a slab of premium leather bearing an eccentric pink logo that uses heron—yes, heron—legs to form the letter “M”.

We’re in the customisation department of Maserati cars, a capacious industrial-style warehouse that forms part of the company’s sprawling production plant in Modena, Italy. It’s here, in front of these mood boards, that the marque’s recently appointed brand ambassador David Beckham made the first ever contribution to Maserati’s new Fuoriserie bespoke-car program by designing his own personalised MC20 supercar. As owner of relatively new Major League Soccer franchise Inter Miami, it’s unsurprising that Beckham plumped= for his team’s colours (black, white and pink)as the tonal basis for his new ride. And the herons? The spindly-legged coastal birds are native to the Florida city that Beckham and his family made their second home last year. And, well, if David Beckham wants herons on his Maserati MC20, herons David Beckham shall get.

“When I first saw the car, I thought, ‘This belongs in Miami,’” says Beckham. “I only usually buy black, silver or gunmetal grey, so they [the design team] said, ‘Okay, we’ll come up with some ideas’. They came back with gloss black, matt black, all-pink, or pink and black. And I was like, ‘Let’s park the all-pink to the side’. I’m 46 years old, I’m not sure I can get away with that anymore.”

Beckham. Becks. David. Manchester United god. England soccer superhero. Tabloid-stalked celebrity. Style icon. Metrosexual pin-up. Branding powerhouse. Dabbles in the occasional lairy haircut. Everyone knows Beckham. Or at least everyone thinks they know Beckham. Because outside of his family and inner circle of friends, few people get to truly talk to the man. Even journalists, for whom posing questions informs the very basic job description, rarely get to ask Beckham about Life’s Big Questions. See, you don’t get to ask him, say, about living in Trump’s America, or what he thinks about British soccer players taking the knee in anti-racism solidarity, or poke too much into home life with Victoria and his four children Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper. Such topics wouldn’t be sanctioned by the PR team that ring fences him. Team Beckham isn’t alone in wanting to steer their client’s narrative. That’s just part and parcel of the modern media merry-go-round—today, one-hit wonder grime artists from London council estates now demand copy approval.

It’s a shame in some ways. The mid-40s version of Beckham is a finely tuned, media-savvy machine, infinitely sharper than the awkward young guy thrust into the limelight in his early-20s thanks to a supernatural right foot and a Spice Girl girlfriend. And then you remember how caustic that glare was, how Beckham and his family were hounded by the gutter press, and you understand why he’s carefully protected, why he prefers to stick to the script (today’s subject: cars, preferably Maserati) and why the handful of assembled journalists each have an allotted and tightly held 15 minutes with him. More minutes equals more chances to swerve dangerously off-piste.

Even as he approaches the big five-zero, Beckham still generates his own electricity upon entering a room, evidenced when—flanked by his entourage—he fizzes through Maserati’s customisation unit, between its fleet of ready-to-be-personalised MC20s, wearing high-waisted beige trousers, tucked-in mint green jumper and two-tone brogues sans socks. Dad fashion this ain’t.

Aesthetics aside, he carries an impressive aura of entrepreneurial and altruistic achievement beyond the numerous sporting titles he won at Manchester United and Real Madrid; he remains an ambassador for UNICEF UK; he operates two eponymous football academies, in London and Los Angeles; he’s president and co-owner of Inter Miami; Football Productions, which describes its company mission as “the exploitation of David Beckham’s name and image rights” has a turnover of $365 million; he has numerous endorsement deals, including Pepsi, Samsung, H&M, Haig and Adidas (a lifetime contract worth $215 million); Beckham Brand Holdings boasts a turnover of $455 million. It adds up to what British newspaper The Mirror claims is a net worth of around a billion US dollars, once Victoria’s earnings are factored in.

With the pick of the world’s most prolific brands, then, why Maserati?

“Every time I talk about Maserati, I talk about it as being a family,” says Beckham, his east London, “t”-dropping lilt occasionally breaking through. “There’s the history, the heritage, they’re iconic. I’ve been lucky to work with some great brands over the years but I only had to sit with the guys from Maserati for five minutes to know I wanted to be part of that family. I’ve been walking around the factory for the last few hours, seeing the MC20s being made, and it’s great to see the process.”

Beckham’s one-off MC20 was born over a handful of pow-wows with Maserati’s head of design, Klaus Busse, under the company’s new Fuoriserie banner—a program created for clients wanting more than a standard premium-car options book can provide.

Maserati call it a “car tailoring” shop. Special paint colours can be mixed; cutting-edge technologies are used to bond interior fabrics. The bodywork of a completed Quattroporte Trofeo show-car uses a monogram that projects beams of light through its windows, creating shadows that lengthen or shorten depending on the time of day. “We will allow you to do almost everything,” offers Busse. “But our job is to ensure you do not regret your choice. Maserati is not about three-year lease contracts. These cars, the way we designed them with purity, are supposed to look good in 10, 20, 30 years, because they will go into your personal collection, they will go into a Concours d’Elegance. Your car has to look as good in 30 years as it does today.”

Every client’s journey begins in front of the aforementioned mood boards, with three basic collections used as launchpads into further creative exploration: “Corse” for those who want to tap into Maserati’s racing heritage; “Unica” for modern, trend-conscious owners; and “Futura” for progressives who embrace the future and its nascent technologies. While some customers have entered the Fuoriserie scheme wanting one thing and leaving with the exact opposite, Busse insists that Beckham was, “pretty steady, he didn’t change very much”.

The result is a glossy “piano black” MC20 with “Miami Pink” accents, fitted with Corse 20-inch matt-black wheels and pink brake calipers. A graphic inspired by the Inter Miami logo is stitched into the seats (say hello to those herons again), while the headrest is embroidered with an “M”. “I’d like to think it’s more grown-up,” says Beckham, referencing earlier flirts with ostentatious car choices. “Well, it’s as grown-up as it’s gonna get with an MC20.”

Beckham’s car is slated for delivery in a couple of months after our interview, but he’s already had the chance to pilot a standard MC20 around the twisty, supercar-ready countryside roads surrounding Modena. As part of his Maserati ambassadorship, he’s also been gifted a Levante Trofeo SUV.

“To be honest, I don’t do that many driving experiences unless I’m on vacation,” he laments. “We try to go on road trips with the kids, but having a 22-year-old, an 18-year-old, a 16-year-old and a nine-year-old, sometimes the older ones go their separate ways, so getting them all in one car is challenging. But I don’t like to be driven. Wherever I go in the world, I like to drive.”

And just like that, our fleeting time is up. We’d been informed that Beckham wasn’t a fan of unsolicited photo requests, but without being prompted he offers a snapshot. That’s the thing about Becks—he comes across as an amiable, down-to-earth bloke who’s not too famous to just shoot the breeze about the unseasonably humid Italian weather, or who’s going to win the Euro 2020 soccer tournament that’s being played at the time we speak.

We leave the customisation division and head into the stewing afternoon air. Hundreds of Maserati staff—from paint sprayers in messy overalls to marketing execs in tailored shirts—are jostling alongside two MC20s, waiting for a company photo op with the main man himself. The crowd are masked-up but you can see the expectant smiles behind the material. Today, at least, everyone will get a few minutes with Beckham. maserati.com

 

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Escape from the Ordinary

Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean.

By Robb Report Team 19/02/2024

Not all cruises are created equally. Ponant, the luxury cruise line known for its meticulously planned itineraries and high-end service, ups the ante on their upcoming European Journeys that promise an unrivalled exploration of the Mediterranean. From the stunning Amalfi Coast to the pristine Greek Islands, the narrow Corinth Canal to the picturesque Dalmatian coast, historic Istanbul and beguiling Malaga, each destination is a unique adventure waiting to be unravelled. With Ponant, these aren’t just locations on a map; they’re experiences that come alive with the intimate knowledge and insight that their expert guides provide.

Ponant’s luxury cruises are renowned for their individuality, with no two journeys the same. This is not by chance. Itineraries are scrupulously designed to ensure that each passenger is left with a feeling of having embarked on a journey unlike any other.

Athens-Venise. Photograph by N.Matheus. ©PONANT

In 2025, their fleet will set sail for a combined 56 departures from March to October, exploring the dreamy locales of Greece and the Greek Islands, Malta, Italy (including Venice and Sicily), Croatia, France, Turkey, Spain and Portugal. These European Journeys offer an intimate encounter with the Mediterranean, its people and culture. As you cruise in luxury, you’ll dive deep into the heart of each destination, exploring historic sites, engaging with locals, sampling scrumptious cuisine and soaking in the vibrant atmospheres.

The company’s small, sustainable ships, which can accommodate from as few as 32 to 264 guests, have the exclusive ability to sail into ports inaccessible to larger cruise liners, affording privileged entry into some of the world’s most treasured alcoves. Picture sailing under London’s iconic Tower Bridge, crossing the Corinth Canal, or disembarking directly onto the sidewalk during ports of call in culturally rich cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and Venice, among others.

Photo by Tamar Sarkissian. ©PONANT

This singular closeness is further enriched by destination experts who unravel the tapestry of each locale’s history and traditions.

Onboard their luxurious ships, every guest is a VIP and treated to refined service and amenities akin to sailing on a private yacht. Whether at sea or ashore, their destination experts guarantee a fascinating experience, immersing you in the rich cultural and historical diversity of each region.

Indulge in the finest gastronomy at sea, inspired by none other than gastronomic virtuoso and Ponant partner, Alain Ducasse. Each voyage offers an expertly crafted dining experience, from a-la-carte meals with perfectly matched wines by the onboard Sommelier at dinner and lunch, to a French-inspired buffet breakfast, featuring all the favourite pastries, fresh bread and quality produce.

Chef Mickael Legrand. Photograph by NickRains. ©PONANT

For a more intimate discovery, consider Le Ponant, with its 16 high-class staterooms and suites—perfect for private charter—sailing eight exclusive routes between Greece and Croatia, offering guests unparalleled experiences both onboard and ashore. Ponant’s commitment to crafting unforgettable experiences extends beyond itineraries. Aboard their ships, the luxury is in every detail. Unwind in opulent cabins and suites, each offering private balconies and breathtaking views of the azure water and destinations beyond.

Ponant’s upcoming European Journeys are more than just cruises—they’re your passport to a world of cultural immersion, historical exploration, and unrivalled luxury. Don’t miss this opportunity to embark on the voyage of a lifetime: the Mediterranean is calling.

To book European 2025 sailings visit au.ponant.com; call 1300 737 178 (AU) or 0800 767 018 (NZ) or contact your preferred travel agent.

 

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Saint Laurent Just Opened a New Bookstore in Paris. Here’s a Look Inside.

The chic new outpost is located on the city’s arty Left Bank.

By Rachel Cormack 14/02/2024

Saint Laurent is taking over even more of Paris.

The French fashion house, which only just opened an epic new flagship on Champs-Élysées, has launched a chic new bookstore on the Left Bank. Located in the 7th arrondissement, Saint Laurent Babylone is a mecca of art, music, literature, and, of course, fashion.

The new outpost is a tribute to the connection that Yves Saint Laurent and partner Pierre Bergé had to the Rue Babylone, according to Women’s Wear Daily. (In 1970, the pair moved to a 6,500-square-foot duplex on the street.) It is also inspired by the house’s original ready-to-wear boutique, Saint Laurent Rive Guache, which opened in the 6th arrondissement in 1966.

The exposed concrete in contrasted by sleek marble accents. SAINT LAURENT

With a minimalist, art gallery-like aesthetic, the space is anchored by a hefty marble bench and large black shelves. The raw, textured concrete on the walls is juxtaposed by a soft blue and white rug, a wooden Pierre Jeanneret desk, and sleek Donald Judd stools.

The wares within Saint Laurent Babylone are the most important part, of course. Curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello, the collection includes everything from photos by British artist Rose Finn-Kelcey to books published by Saint Laurent itself. Some tomes on offer are so rare that white gloves are required for handling.

The store also offers an enviable selection of records that are no longer being pressed. Highlights include Sade’s Promise, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, and the debut studio album of electronic band Kraftwerk.

Other notable items on the shelves include Leica cameras, chocolates made in collaboration with pastry chef François Daubinet, prints by Juergen Teller, and brass skull sculptures. You’ll also find an assortment of YSL merch, including pens, lighters, and cups.

To top it off, Saint Laurent Babylone will double as an event space, hosting live music sessions, DJ sets, book readings, and author signings over the coming months.

Saint Laurent’s latest endeavor isn’t exactly surprising. With Vaccarello at the helm, the Kering-owned fashion house has entered new cultural realms. Only last year, the label established a film production company and debuted its first movie at Cannes.

The space is fitted with a Pierre Jeanneret desk and Donald Judd stools.
SAINT LAURENT

Perhaps Saint Laurent film reels and movie posters will soon be available at Babylone, too.

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The Best Watches at the Grammys, From Maluma’s Jacob & Co. to Jon Batiste’s Vacheron Constantin

Music’s biggest names sported some outstanding watches on Sunday evening.

By Rachel Mccormack 08/02/2024

Weird yet wonderful watches punctuated this year’s Grammys.

The woman of the moment, Taylor Swift, who made history by winning Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time, wore an unconventional Lorraine Schwartz choker watch to the annual awards ceremony on Sunday night. That was just the tip of the horological iceberg, though.

Colombian singer-songwriter Maluma elevated a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds, while American musician Jon Batiste topped off a stylish Versace ensemble with a sleek Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon. Not to be outdone, rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for the occasion.

There was more understated wrist candy on display, too, such as Jack Antonoff’s Cartier Tank LC and Noah Kahan’s Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo.

For the rest of the best watches we saw on the Grammys 2024 red carpet, read on.

Maluma: Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon

Maluma busted out some truly spectacular bling for this year’s Grammys. The Colombian singer-songwriter paired a classic Dolce & Gabbana suit with a dazzling Jacob & Co. Astronomia Tourbillon and a pair of custom, diamond-encrusted Bose earbuds. The sculptural wrist candy sees a four-arm movement floating in front of a breathtaking dial adorned with no less than 257 rubies. For added pizzaz, the lugs of the 18-karat rose-gold case are invisibly set with 80 baguette-cut white diamonds. Limited to just nine examples, the rarity is priced at $1.5 million.

Asake: Hublot Big Bang Essential Grey

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asake may not have won the Grammy for Best African Music Performance for “Amapiano,” but did wear a winning Hublot Big Bang at Sunday’s proceedings. Released in 2023, the Essential Grey model is made purely of titanium for a sleek, uniform feel. The 42 mm timepiece was limited to just 100 pieces and cost $37,000 a pop.

John Legend: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding

Multihyphenate John Legend wore a legendary Audemars Piguet with silky Saint Laurent on Sunday evening. The self-winding Royal Oak in question features a 34 mm black ceramic case, a black grande tapisserie dial, and striking pink gold accents. The watchmaker’s signature is also displayed in gold under the sapphire crystal. The piece will set you back $81,000.

Jon Batiste: Vacheron Constantin Overseas Tourbillon

American musician Jon Batiste received four nominations but no wins at this year’s Grammys. The “Butterfly” singer can take solace in the fact that he looked ultra-sharp in Versace and Vacheron Constantin. A tribute to the spirit of travel, the Overseas Tourbillon features a 42.5 mm white-gold case, a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut diamonds, and a blue dial featuring a dazzling tourbillon cage inspired by the Maltese cross. Price upon request, naturally.

Fireboy DML: Cartier Santos

Fireboy DML’s outfit was straight fire on Sunday night. The Nigerian singer paired an MCM wool jacket with a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet, several iced-out rings, and a sleek Cartier Santos. The timepiece features a steel case, a graduated blue dial with steel sword-shaped hands, and a seven-sided crown with synthetic faceted blue spinel.

Noah Kahan: Panerai Luminor Quaranta BiTempo

Best New Artist nominee Noah Kahan wore one of Panerai’s best new watches to Sunday’s festivities. The Luminor Quaranta BiTempo features a 40 mm polished steel case and a black dial with luminous numerals and hour markers, a date display at 3 o’clock, and a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. The timepiece can be yours for $14,000.

Busta Rhymes: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Legendary rapper Busta Rhymes busted out a chic Audemars Piguet for this year’s Grammys. The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph in question is distinguished by a 42 mm rose-gold case and a matching pink méga tapisserie dial with an outer flange for the tachymeter scale. The face is fitted with three black subdials, large black numerals, and a black date display at 3 o’clock. You can expect to pay around $61,200 for the chronograph on the secondary market.

Jack Antonoff: Cartier Tank Louis Cartier

Producer of the year Jack Antonoff took to the red carpet with a stylish Cartier on his wrist. The Tank Louis Cartier in question appears to be a large 33.7 mm example that features an 18-carat rose-gold case, a silvered dial with black Roman numerals and blued steel hands, a beaded crown set with a sapphire cabochon, and a brown alligator strap. It’ll set you back $19,900.

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This 44-Foot Carbon-Fiber Speedboat Can Rocket to 177 KMPH

The new Mayla GT is available with a range of different powertrains, too.

By Rachel Cormack 03/02/2024

We knew the Mayla GT would be one of the most exciting boats at Boot Düsseldorf, but a deep dive into the specs shows it could be downright revolutionary.

The brainchild of German start-up Mayla, the 44-footer brings you the blistering performance of a speedboat and the luxe amenities of a motor yacht in one neat carbon-fiber package.

Inspired by the go-fast boats of the 1970s and ‘80s, the GT sports an angular, retro-futuristic body and the sleek lines of a rocket ship. Tipping the scales at just 4500 kilograms, the lightweight design features a deep-V hull with twin transversal steps and patented Petestep deflectors that help it slice through the waves with ease. In fact, Mayla says the deflectors decrease energy usage by up to 35 percent while ensuring a more efficient planing.

The range-topping GT can reach 185 kph. MAYLA

The GT is also capable of soaring at breakneck speeds, with the option of a gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The range-topping GTR-R model packs dual gas-powered engines that can churn out 3,100 hp for a top speed of more than 100 knots (185 kph). At the other, more sustainable end of the spectrum, the E-GT is fitted with an electric powertrain that can produce 2,200 horses for a max speed of 50 knots. The hybrid E-GTR pairs that same electric powertrain with a 294 kilowatt diesel engine for a top speed of 60 knots (111 km/h/69 mph). (The GT in the water at Boot sported two entry-level V8s good for 650 hp and a top speed of over 70 knots.)

The GT is suitable for more than just high-speed jaunts, of course. The multipurpose cockpit, which can accommodate up to eight passengers, features a sundeck with sliding loungers, a wet bar and BBQ, and a foldaway dining table for alfresco entertaining. Further toward the stern, a beach club sits atop a garage with an electric transom door.

The garage has an electric transom door. MAYLA

The GT is even fit for overnight stays. Below deck lies a cabin with a double bed, sofa, wardrobe, vanity, and en suite. You can also expect a high-tech entertainment system with TVs and premium audio.

As for price, the GT with the entry-level powertrain will cost between $2.7 million and $2.9, depending on the final configuration. (You can fine-tune the layout, hull color, and interiors, naturally.) Interested buyers can set up a sea trial with Mayla, with test-drives set to begin this spring in Europe.

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Red Centre

First Nations artist Shaun Daniel Allen joins forces with Chopard to create a timepiece inspired by the Australian landscape.

By Horacio Silva 29/01/2024

Shaun Daniel Allen does not look like your typical collaborator on a prestige watch. For one, Shal, as he prefers to be known (“There are many Shauns but only one Shal,” he explains), is more heavily tattooed than your average roadie. His youthful appearance, bad-boy ink and all, belies his 38 years and leads to a disconnect. 

He recounts being recognised on the street recently by a journalist, who, unable to remember his name, shouted out, “Chopard!” “I was with a friend,” Shal says, holding court in his apartment in Sydney’s inner city, “and he’s, like, ‘What the hell? Does that happen to you often?’”

Perhaps because of his body art, he reasons, “People don’t put me and Chopard together.” It’s not hard to understand the confusion, Shal adds; even he was taken aback when Chopard reached out to him about a potential collaboration a little more than a year ago. “When I first went in to see them, I was, like, I don’t know if I’m your guy. I’m not used to being in those rooms and having those conversations.”

He’ll have to adapt quickly to his new reality. Last month Chopard released Shal’s interpretation of the Swiss brand’s storied Alpine Eagle model, which in itself was a redo of the St. Moritz, the first watch creation by Karl-Friedrich Scheufele (now Co-President of Chopard) in the late 1970s. 

Previewed at Sydney’s About Time watch fair in September, to not insignificant interest, and officially known as the Alpine Eagle Sunburnt, the exclusive timepiece—issued in a limited edition of 20—arrives as a stainless steel 41 mm with a 60-hour power reserve and a burnt red dial that brings to mind the searing Outback sun. Its see-through caseback features one of Shal’s artworks painted on sapphire glass.

When the reputable Swiss luxury brand approached Shal, they already had the red dial—a nod to the rich ochre hues of the Australian soil at different times of the day and gradated so that the shades become darker around the edges—locked in as a lure for Australian customers.

Shal was charged with designing an artful caseback and collectible hand-painted sustainable wooden case. After presenting a handful of paintings, each with his signature abstract motifs that pertain to indigenous emblems, tattoos and music, both parties landed on a serpentine image that evoked the coursing of rivers. “I have been painting a lot of water in this last body of work and the image we chose refers to the rivers at home,” he says, alluding to formative years spent at his grandfather’s, just outside of Casino.

It says a lot about Chopard, Shal points out, that they wanted to donate to a charity of his choosing. “Like everything else on this project,” he explains, “they were open to listening and taking new ideas on board and it actually felt like a collaboration, like they weren’t steering me into any corner.”

In another nice touch, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the watch will go to funding programs of the Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Corporation—an organisation, established in 1995 by Bundjalung elders, whose work Shal saw firsthand after the 2022 eastern Australia flood disasters ravaged their area. “Seeing Ngunya Jarjum suffer from the floods,” he says, “and knowing how much they do for the community on Bundjalung Country was heartbreaking. I want to see Bundjalung families thriving and supported.”

So what’s it been like for this booster of Australian waterways to be swimming in the luxury end of the pool? “I’ve done a few things with brands,” he offers, referring to the Louis Vuitton project earlier this year at an art gallery in Brisbane, “but nothing on this scale. It’s definitely fancier than I’m used to but I’m not complaining.” Neither are watch aficionados.

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