How José Neves Became The Most Powerful Man In Fashion

Not who you were expecting? With a US$1.15 billion deal, the Farfetch CEO has
 gone from the industry’s David to its Goliath.

By Kareem Rashed 16/02/2021

Sun-tzu’s The Art of War is a favourite reference for many a hard-charging power broker, but José Neves cites a decidedly less aggressive classic of Chinese literature as an early influence: Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching. After stumbling upon Taoism’s foundational text as a 13-year-old in northern Portugal, Neves delved into Eastern philosophies and emerged as a Zen Buddhist. It’s a school of thought that the founder and CEO of the luxury online retailer with the largest audience in the world, still follows today.

“I’m a Buddhist by philosophy, not by religion,” says Neves, who spends much of his time in London with his wife and five children. As we Zoom, he certainly looks like a Zen acolyte by way of Jil Sander, wearing a minimalist black T-shirt against the backdrop of a pristine, all-white room. That morning, he’d meditated for 45 minutes—though he endeavours to employ mindfulness throughout the day. The practice has been especially helpful during the turbulence of the past year. “The essence of Zen is: Be here now,” he says. “In crisis, that’s really useful because you train your mind to be aware that the external situations around you, they’re all going to pass. Your role is to allow them to be there and find out what is the right action for you.”

Farfetch's store network offers everything from GH Bass loafers to vintage Rolex and leather goods from Bottega Veneta.

Farfetch’s store network offers everything from GH Bass loafers to vintage Rolex and leather goods from Bottega Veneta. Farfetch

His discipline has paid off. As the fashion industry grappled with shuttered stores, unsold inventories and how to survive it all, Farfetch experienced staggering growth: an 82 percent year-over-year increase in gross profit. But it wasn’t just a case of luck fueled by homebound shoppers on stimulus spending sprees. Even Farfetch’s digital competitors were forced to cancel orders and shut down fulfilment centres, inevitably leading to losses.

Farfetch’s point of differentiation is that it isn’t a retailer in the conventional sense. While it carries over 3500 brands, from heavy hitters Gucci and Prada to niche labels such as Lardini and Girard-Perregaux, Farfetch doesn’t actually buy any inventory. Rather, the stock is supplied directly by manufacturers and by the sales floors of 750 retailers—from specialty boutiques to department stores across 50 countries, creating a lifeline for luxury shops that were otherwise closed by pandemic restrictions. So, while other e-tailers struggled with getting their handful of warehouses up to speed, Farfetch’s extensive global network was able to adapt nimbly.

The pandemic created a perfect storm for proving the strength of Farfetch’s model, to the tune of a 475 percent surge in market capitalization in 2020, totalling more than US$21 billion. To put that in context of 2020’s other breakout stars: Vaccine developer BioNTech’s value grew by 125 percent and Zoom’s by 408 percent. Farfetch’s performance alone would have made for a remarkable year, but the ante was upped with November’s announcement that Neves had orchestrated a blockbuster deal with an unlikely alliance of titans.

The parties involved sound like a bad joke overheard at Davos: Alibaba, Richemont and Artémis walk into a bar. . . . One is a poster child for the increasing might of Chinese shoppers; another owns tony houses like Cartier and Dunhill as well as Neves’s biggest competitor, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group; the third controls Kering, the stable of white-hot brands such as Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent.

“If it hadn’t been for Farfetch, many of our favorite local boutiques would have disappeared.”

All are rivals in the e-commerce wars, yet all three are placing their bets on Neves’s ability to reimagine how we shop. Alibaba and Richemont invested US$300 million each in Farfetch, while Artémis, run by François-Henri Pinault, doubled its 2018 investment in the company, to a total of US$100 million. Alibaba and Richemont also joined forces with Farfetch for a new venture called Farfetch China, chipping in a combined US$500 million for a 25 percent stake, with an option to make it 49 percent in three years. Amid all the bankruptcies and hand-wringing about the future of retail, Neves emerged from the annus horribilis as luxury’s lodestar for navigating this new world order.

Born in 1974, the year Portugal toppled its fascist regime, Neves likes to joke that his revolutionary streak comes from his mother “being heavily pregnant on top of a tank.” But rewriting the rules of luxury retail wasn’t the coup he intended to lead. A self-described geek, Neves reveals his first love was coding. On the precocious 8-year-old’s Christmas list was a ZX Spectrum, one of the first widely distributed home computers. He recalls seeking out every book he could find and teaching himself how to build increasingly dynamic user interfaces. In college, he didn’t even bother with computer science, opting to study economics instead.

All the while, fashion was part of the furniture of Neves’s early life. The region from which he hails is the mecca of Portugal’s centuries-old leather-goods heritage, and his grandfather ran a shoe factory. But like any angsty adolescent, he was repelled by his hometown industry.

“I hated fashion,” he says. “I thought it was frivolous, a waste of time and money, and vain, essentially. I really despised fashion, like a lot of techies still despise fashion to this day.”

But the entrepreneur in him eventually had to embrace the local economy. While still in college in the early ’90s, Neves was developing software for dental clinics when he met Cipriano Sousa, who now serves as Farfetch’s chief technology officer. Together, they began a business creating software for the many shoe factories throughout the region.

Proto-Balenciaga sneaker designs from Jose Neves's sneaker line, Swear.

Proto-Balenciaga sneaker designs from Neves’s sneaker line, Swear. Jose Neves

Unsexy as servicing sole suppliers was, Neves came to see fashion as a passport to a wider world. While attending a footwear trade show in Milan, mingling with a United Nations of vendors and retail buyers, he got the itch to create something of his own. Ever tenacious, Neves convinced a shoemaker to train him one hour each morning before work, learning pattern cutting and last moulding by hand. In 1996, at the age of 22, he moved to London to open a shoebox of a store for his sneaker brand, Swear.

Beginning his career almost simultaneously in technology and in fashion, Neves has always had a clear vision of how the two could cohabitate. In fashion’s C-suites, it’s a unique pedigree. “Entrepreneurs who love and are intimate with both worlds are rare,” says Sousa, who continued working with Neves on the software business throughout Neves’s expansion into retail. “Someone who programmed in a low-level language and understood technology, the potential and the limitations, and at the same time was a fashion creator and knew every aspect of that world.”

“We’re only a platform. We can only sell what they sell. By making them successful, we are able to succeed.”

Technology first is more than a business strategy to Neves— it’s an instinct. In 1997, when e-commerce was embryonic, Neves took the bold step of launching a website for Swear. Initially, he saw it as a pragmatic solution to the headaches of brick-and-mortar reality. His storefront was tiny, didn’t have prime visibility and—like most shops of its kind—was largely reliant on foot traffic. “But in the back,” Neves realised, “I can have a website that the rest of the world can see literally 24/7, with the same inventory and the same staff.” His audience could grow exponentially. That was when it all clicked: “It took me 11 years from that realization to launching Farfetch, but that was the moment when I knew that fashion was going to be transformed by the internet.”

Neves’s firsthand understanding of the struggles of an independent brand and store owner are at the core of Farfetch. He likes to think of the company as a cooperative, equating it to vineyards that band together to share a bottling facility while retaining independence. It provides stores with resources and reach that no individual boutique could access on its own.

Farfetch’s platform model is most often compared to Amazon, with Neves frequently deemed the Jeff Bezos of fashion. “I think it’s very flattering,” he says, adding he has nothing but admiration for the king of click-to-buy. Still, the comparison isn’t entirely analogous. “Amazon sees it as a zero-sum game. They come in to wipe out the off-line world,” says Neves, whereas his role is not to compete with off-line retailers but to be their “enabler.” “We’re only a platform. We can only sell what they sell. By making them successful, we are able to succeed.”

Playwright Jeremy O. Harris, right, in a Farfetch campaign.

Playwright Jeremy O. Harris, right, in a Farfetch campaign. Farfetch

It’s what sets Neves apart from other retail heavyweights: a sense of duty to the larger fashion ecosystem.

“If it hadn’t been for Farfetch, many of our favourite local boutiques would have disappeared,” says Carmen Busquets, a founding investor in Net-a-Porter and a businesswoman dubbed the fairy godmother of e-commerce. An investor in Farfetch since 2015, she describes Neves as a “refreshing presence” in the worlds of both fashion and finance.

“In my 30 years of experience, I have not come across another founder like him,” Busquets says, remarking on his ability to rally opposing parties around a shared goal. “It requires you to remove your ego from the picture.” Neves’s knack for building bridges rather than burning them facilitated something that has never existed in the history of retail. “He knows how to be friendly, which is something that very few of us in the fashion industry are capable of.”

“I think it can be bigger than LVMH and Kering. No one else at the moment understands the luxury industry better than José.”

With Farfetch, Neves says, he “created this community of people who, theoretically, are competitors,” noting that a shop in Milan and a store in London often sell the same items. On Farfetch, that just means a larger inventory and fewer worries about “Do they have it in my size?” Depending on the buyer’s location, the item will be dispatched from whichever retailer is closest; in some cities, certain items can even be delivered within 90 minutes. From a shopper’s perspective, having access to hundreds of stores’ products on a single website is a big draw. For a commission on each order, Farfetch takes care of photographing, marketing, selling and delivering the wares to 2.7 million shoppers in over 190 countries.

Swear’s cyberpunk sneakers were a product of the ’90s—chunky soles and clownish silhouettes that, today, look like proto-Balenciaga—and the style eventually reached its expiration date. The brand took a nosedive, but, undeterred, Neves pivoted to a new retail venture. His multi-brand boutique B Store opened in 2001 and became a launchpad for a new generation of London designers, eventually moving to Savile Row and, in 2006, earning the British Fashion Award for Retailer of the Year.

Images from Fartech's resort and pre-spring 2021 campaigns.

Images from Fartech’s resort and pre-spring 2021 campaigns. Farfetch

It was at B Store that Neves experienced the magic of brick-and-mortar at its best, but his inkling about online shopping’s potential was too great to ignore. During Paris Fashion Week in October 2007, he shot off an e-mail to Sousa saying he had an idea: Pause the software business and channel all their coding power into building an e-commerce platform.

Having worked with Neves on technology for numerous facets of the industry, from manufacturing to selling, Sousa recalls, “The first idea that occurred to me was that he wanted to share all that with the world, to consolidate all this know-how on a platform accessible to others.”

Farfetch launched one year later with 25 retailers from throughout Europe. It was a promising start—until Lehman Brothers went bankrupt two weeks later. For the first three years, the website was entirely self-funded by Neves and his other businesses. But that wasn’t the worst of his growing pains. Most marquee fashion houses were still vehemently opposed to e-commerce. To them, Neves was something of an insurrectionist, sidestepping traditional wholesale channels to sell their products online. Things got, in a word, tense.

“The first five years, I almost had nervous breakdowns every fashion week,” Neves remembers. The boutiques would go on their usual buying appointments with brands only to be confronted with an ultimatum: Stop selling on Farfetch, or forget carrying our collection. “It was me, jumping on a plane to Paris, going to Milan and trying to beg them, beg them, to let us have a chance at survival.”

As luxury’s elite gradually came around to digital, they knew whom to call. Now over 550 of those brands sell directly on Farfetch, including Farfetch-exclusive collections from Gucci and Burberry, among others. Moreover, the company also provides the technology that powers many brands’ own e-commerce sites.

The interior of Stadium Goods's brick-and-mortar store in New York City's SoHo neighborhood.

The interior of Stadium Goods’s brick-and-mortar store in New York City’s SoHo neighbourhood. Stadium Goods

Ten years after it debuted, the company went public in 2018 with a splashy Wall Street IPO. Valued at some $6 billion, it became one of the elusive “unicorns” of fashion. Despite the enthusiasm, some investors were left scratching their heads when Neves went on a buying spree of his own over the next year. The acquisitions of Stadium Goods, a sneaker reseller, and New Guards Group, a hub of buzzy brands such as Off-White and Palm Angels, for US$250 million and US$675 million, respectively, came seemingly out of left field. In a single day, the company’s shares plunged 42 percent.

Neves, of course, had a plan. Stadium Goods seized on the booming secondary market for collectible kicks, which no major retailer had yet to tap into. He was drawn to New Guards’ portfolio because its designers, including Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, possess what Neves calls a “knack for creating movements.” Paradoxically, brand building has been one area where Farfetch has struggled; it still doesn’t have the name recognition of Net-a-Porter, much less Neiman Marcus. These acquisitions afforded the website exclusive products from brands coveted by millennials and Gen Z, cornering the market on haute hype. They have been good for business, too: The launch of Off-White’s collaboration with Nike marked one of Farfetch’s busiest sales days, and products from New Guards’ collective labels have consistently grossed more than any other brand on the website.

“Netflix, like us, started aggregating content from others,” Neves explains. “There’s a pivotal moment where they say, ‘If we want to create a really unique brand, we need to have original content that no one else has.’ ” With a collection of brands under the Farfetch umbrella, Neves has his own original-content factory—and a thoroughly modern breed of fashion consortium, rooted in the digital era. It’s an approach to luxury that’s very different from the heritage houses of LVMH and Kering, one that reflects Neves’s distinctly 21st-century attitude. “The world has changed,” he says. “It’s not about a conglomerate buys you and opens 200 shops around the world. That’s the old days.”

Jose Neves

In other ways, too, he comfortably breaks from the fash-ion-CEO template, eschewing immaculately tailored suits in favour of edgier fare from Rick Owens and Undercover. Many days, his footwear of choice is a pair of sustainable fish-leather sneakers by the Brazilian brand Osklen. Regardless of his uniform, Neves’s strategy has earned him a place in the major leagues. When asked about Farfetch’s potential, Busquets doesn’t mince words: “I think it can be bigger than LVMH and Kering. No one else at the moment understands the luxury industry better than José.”

Another addition to Neves’s growing stable was the pioneering British boutique Browns, which serves as a laboratory for translating Farfetch’s technology off-line. For all the innovation that has happened digitally, Neves saw that brick-and-mortar had stagnated. “The shops still operate as if we were in the ’90s,” he says, also noting, “We don’t really know the customer’s journey. There’s no 360-degree view.” So he set out to make one.

In 2017, Farfetch invited 200 executives from fashion’s biggest brands to an event introducing a technology suite it coined the Store of the Future. From a clothing rack that detects which items a customer handles while browsing to a fitting-room mirror that allows one to summon pieces in alternative sizes or colours, Neves presented a vision of physical retail bolstered by the insights of e-commerce. “This division between physical retail and online, it’s imaginary,” he explains. “It’s only separated because companies have not had the technology and the strategy to really unify it. For me, that is the next frontier.”

Chanel’s top brass were so impressed that they negotiated a two-year exclusive on the technology and invested in Farfetch. While Chanel continues rolling it out in its stores, the exclusivity lapsed in September, and the system is proving to be a hot commodity.

A demo version of Farfetch's Store of the Future technology.

Farfetch’s Store of the Future technology makes trying on clothing an interactive pursuit. Farfetch

Increasingly, the brands that Neves once begged to sell on Farfetch are turning to him for the answers. His fluency in both the on-and off-line retail landscapes is one thing, but his new potential to conquer the highest levels of Chinese e-commerce makes him a singular fixture in the industry. Bain & Company reports that Chinese consumers accounted for 33 percent of luxury-goods sales in 2019, a figure expected to hit 45 percent within five years. And yet no fashion retailer has been able to crack that market online—mainly due to the peculiarities of Chinese regulations and the nuances of local shopping habits.

In 2019, Net-a-Porter launched a channel on Tmall, Alibaba’s existing website dedicated to high-end wares. While the company hasn’t released details on the Chinese site’s performance specifically, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group’s profit margins have been slipping, and Richemont’s overall business in Asia has dipped. Discussing the new Farfetch deal with shareholders, Richemont chairman Johann Rupert dodged questions about how it would affect Yoox Net-a-Porter’s operations. Instead, he reiterated a plea he made (to LVMH and Kering) to get on board with a neutral selling platform back in 2015, telling them that e-commerce “was a very big game that I was not sure that any single luxury-goods company, no matter how big, could do on their own. . . . That fell on deaf ears.”

Busquets, who was Rupert’s partner in Net-a-Porter before unloading the last of her shares in 2015, recalls things a bit differently: “The truth is that the people who surrounded Johann Rupert didn’t understand e-commerce, fashion or women, and I know this because we were equal partners with the same rights for eight years.” Rupert declined interview requests.

The year that Busquets completely divested was the year that Richemont merged Net-a-Porter with Italian e-tailer Yoox. She had been vocal about her disapproval of the merger. Why? She thought it should have been with Farfetch. “Johann himself admitted that Richemont were not internet experts, and time has proven that he should have listened,” Busquets says. She applauds the new deal and sees it as a sign of how far Rupert and Richemont have come in their thinking about the digital frontier.

The exterior of London's Harrods department store, which uses Farfetch's Store of the Future OS.

The exterior of London’s Harrods department store, which uses Farfetch’s Store of the Future OS. Katrin Lock

On his call with investors, Rupert suggested that the new Farfetch deal provided strength in what has proven to be Richemont’s blind spot: technology. Comparing his organization with Farfetch, Rupert evidently borrowed a line from his new colleague, saying, “Currently, the two companies, in [Neves’s] words, have got different blood types.” The partnership certainly gives Richemont a digital edge, but the big question is what that means for business in the fastest-growing market. Even Farfetch’s previous forays into Chinese e-commerce, Neves has admitted, did not perform as anticipated. Partnering with Alibaba, however, is a game changer.

“It’s absolutely transformational,” Neves says, noting Alibaba’s domination of Chinese e-commerce in general and Farfetch’s luxury prowess in particular. “The combination is a win-win for the brands and for consumers and boutiques globally.”

“I always wanted to be the innovation partner for this industry… It’s not the stock price that dictates, ultimately, if we’re doing the right thing or not.”

Their partnership was borne of a mutual desire to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. What Farfetch has done with fashion boutiques around the world, Alibaba has done with convenience stores throughout China. Merging their brainpower could have global implications, laying the groundwork for luxury’s first retail supergroup. While the initial leg of their strategy is bringing blue-chip brands to the Chinese web, beginning the first half of 2021, the bigger aim is to provide the technology behind every luxury purchase, be it in-store or online.

Thanks to widespread pandemic restrictions, global online sales doubled last year, but they still account for only 23 per-cent of luxury purchases worldwide, according to Bain, leaving considerable room for Farfetch to expand its influence. In that sense, this alliance isn’t just about Chinese e-commerce. It’s about shopping—full stop.

“You are either a disrupter or you are a disrupted, and I hate being the latter,” Rupert, discussing his backing of Neves, told The New York Times. “We see this deal as an acceptance of a new way of retail.”

For his part, François-Henri Pinault said in a statement, “The investment by Artémis demonstrates our belief in the future of Farfetch, and I am personally looking forward to exploring the future of luxury retail with this group of visionaries and experts.”

Jose Neves, the founder and CEO of Farfetch, is fashion's most powerful man.

Neves at home. Anna Neves

Two of the industry’s top dogs effectively rolling over and conceding that the future of shopping lies with Neves—surely, that reversal of roles must bring him some satisfaction? “It is a big shift,” he modestly admits. But pressing Neves on this topic is futile; his Zen even keel applies in times of feast as much as famine. “When the stock price goes up and [the team] goes, ‘Whoa!’ I say, ‘Hold on a sec.’ It’s the same way when the shares fell,” Neves says, recalling the day Farfetch’s stock tumbled by almost half. Instead, he keeps his eye on the long-term goal. “I always wanted to be the innovation partner for this industry. We need to respect our shareholders, explain our strategy, and sometimes it won’t be understood. That’s fine. We have to live with it and accept it and accept the lessons that they’re trying to show us. But that’s not going to change the mission of this company. It’s not the stock price that dictates, ultimately, if we’re doing the right thing or not.”

Reflecting on their early days, Sousa observes that Neves “remains as revolutionary as he was then, but with much more wisdom, more serenity, more focus.” Cool, calm and eagle-eyed, Neves may be grounded in the present, but his sights are firmly set on changing the future.


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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; 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.

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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