Inside Milan Fashion Week

More skin, loose-fits and added elegance from Brioni, Prada, Fendi, Zegna and more.

By Luisa Zargani, Miles Socha, Alessandra Turra, Sandra Salibian, Martino Carrera 22/06/2021

Brioni

 

Brioni Men’s Spring 2022

“The softness puts the wearer in a good mood, and I want the clothes to bring out the personality, without overpowering the individual or shouting designer label,’” Brioni’s design director Norbert Stumpfl said about the spring collection, which was made with the most sophisticated materials. A trained tailor himself, Stumpfl highlighted the craftsmanship of Brioni’s artisans, who succeeded in creating a lineup that had a nonchalant and relaxed attitude, for men “who don’t spend too much time in front of the mirror.”

The designer underscored the importance of lightness, emphasized by the fabrics, which ranged from blends of linen, cashmere and silk to Sea Island cotton and double-layered knitwear crafted from Escorial wool, cashmere and silk blend. A trench in nubuck was treated to be water-resistant. Shapes were looser as the designer wants the Brioni man to be comfortable — and cool, too, hence the linen sleeves on a suede jacket, all finished by hand. A jacket was made from the same nylon used for women’s hosiery, which makes it extremely light, a quarter of the weight of a regular jacket, said the designer.

Stumpfl also created pyjama-style shirts and pants crafted from unused samples of silk necktie fabrics which are re-dyed, so that each piece is unique. Brioni’s eveningwear was stunning as the designer presented the Veronese jacket crafted from a brocade hand-woven on a late 19th-century jacquard loom, in a process that takes five months from start to finish. It’s clearly a garment for those in the know — and with deep pockets — as the floral embroideries are made with gold and silver threads, bumping up the retail price to 50,000 euros. Another showstopper was a dinner jacket in faille ombré silk carefully dyed by hand using 50 shades of black and greys with an iridescent effect in a “workintense” technique that Stumpfl said had “not been used since the times of Christian Lacroix and Roberto Capucci.” Further pointing to Brioni’s craftsmanship, the brand also introduced silver jewellery hammered by hand. — Luisa Zargani

brioni.com

Prada

Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, intellectual designers both, have come up with a clever response to these turbulent times: simplicity, joy and the human touch. Their codesigned spring 2022 collection had a light spirit, and it felt honest and effortless, while still brimming with that edgy coolness that is quintessentially Prada. “The world is so complicated — so overcomplicated — we can lose the essence of human life,” Prada said in the notes sent to reviewers after the show. “This is an idea I have been interested in for a number of seasons, and which we have been exploring in different ways. We come from previous collections that were all about technicality, machines, that reflect the necessity of technology. Now, we are thinking of the opposite. Human, real. Our interest in technology came from its place as a communication tool for humanity. But this expression is much more direct.”

According to Prada, the collection was very much about portraying the joy of the everyday. “The notion that living your life can be a euphoric experience,” she continued. “Much joy can come out of something so simple: when times are complicated, we are searching for simple, direct joys. An innocence.” What’s more innocent than childhood? Cue the key item of the season, the romper, shown with rolled-up cuffs and presented in different variations, from solid options to printed designs, including a couple featuring irregular vertical stripes. The collection’s summer vibe was amplified by the video, which combined the concept of human artifacts and nature.

A red tunnel installed inside a warehouse at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, became a portal to the natural environment, leading to the sandy beaches and crystal clear water of Sardinia. “The show represents a transition — between a tunnel, an urban space and the sea. We don’t feel it should be complicated — the story is pure, direct. A move from indoors to outdoors. After constriction, the power of that feeling of infinity, an endless horizon. It gives you the feeling of freedom again. It’s human nature,” Simons said. “What we are interested in is: How can these two moments, these two environments, fuse together? A contrast between the system of the fashion industry — the runway — and nature.

We started in the previous autumn show to introduce these moments of different behaviour from the cast, and here, you see the models in another context, another environment, a different reality. You see them be totally free, in reality. It’s natural.” The collection fell somewhere between fashion utopia and everyday reality. Unfussy silhouettes were repeated across the lineup, adapting to the urban or beach environment. For example, the romper became a metropolitan uniform in a dark navy version styled with polished brogues, or exuded a carefree chic vibe when rendered in a white cotton printed with sea motifs, including anchors, and layered under a boat-neck sweater with crisscross details.

The precise outerwear, spanning from minimal trenches and car coats in joyful colours to leather jackets with a lived-in look, anchored the lineup in an elevated, everyday practicality. Elsewhere, tank tops with squared necklines were matched with relaxed pants, while charming hoodies in surfer prints were paired with rolled-up short pants. While Prada and Simons focused on simplicity and timelessness, there was plenty for hype beasts. The short shorts that resembled miniskirts, the bucket hats with the triangle pouch on the back brim, and the striped knits with a naif-like look were all items that will influence the season, at a both creative and commercial level. — Alessandra Turra

prada.com

 

 

Ermenegildo Zegna

Ermenegildo Zegna Men’s Spring 2022

What can digital add to the experience of the physical show? Storytelling, according to Ermenegildo Zegna artistic director Alessandro Sartori. While the company expects to return to the live format in January, the designer thinks that digital will continue to play a key role to reach a wider audience and share the story behind the clothes. For Sartori, the pandemic didn’t only showcase the power of digital, but strongly accelerated a process of transformation in consumers’ approach to fashion. “I think we are going through a very exciting moment, where we are radically changing the way we design and sell the collections,” said Sartori.

While he thinks that classic formalwear will continue to be relevant in the luxury world of bespoke and customisation, ready-to-wear has to adopt to meet the new needs of today’s consumers. His spring 2022 collection pointed to a new path for the brand, and Sartori questioned the traditional idea of suiting. “The suit now becomes a combination of separates,” he said, explaining that the brand will now give retailers and consumers the chance to create their own suit combining pants with a range of matching tops. This new approach to suiting was the main theme of the beautiful video that the company created to present its latest collection.

Filmed in different locations across Italy, the video showed models running across a labyrinth in the huge park surrounding the castle of Masino in Piedmont and then they are suddenly catapulted into a more industrial space where they walk down the stairs of the new building of Milan’s IULM university. The distinctive architecture of the Monte Amiata housing complex in another Milanese district, which was built by Carlo Aymonino and Aldo Rossi in the late ‘60s, offered another impressive backdrop for the runway show that ended with a waterside dinner in the Rho Fiera area. Fashion-wise, the collection felt like an ode to comfortable elegance with a relevant cool factor.

Utility uniforms from the 1940s and 1950s served as starting point for the lineup’s overall spirit, merging urban sophistication with practical functionality. Baggy or slightly roomy pants were paired with boxy jackets with kimono sleeves. They featured a range of details, including straps and inside buttons to allow multiple fits. Over shirts, rendered in a wide selection of materials, from linen and stretch knit to supple leather, stood out, as did charming sweaters with 3D effects.

The overall sense of lightness and relaxed elegance was heightened by the delicate pastels, such as lilac and pistachio green, alongside refined neutrals, including tobacco brown, blue and military green. Softness and comfort also defined the accessories. Bags with multiple pockets were crafted from kangaroo leather, that was also used for padded chunky loafers and slip-ons with elastic inserts. With this collection, the Ermenegildo Zegna brand made a bold statement, in tune with the times and its legacy of textile experimentation and elegant dressing – Alessandra Turra.

zegna.com

Fendi

In a world that necessarily got much smaller for all us, Silvia Venturini Fendi found inspiration in her work environment. “I strongly believe that what is close and familiar can be as much as inspiring as what is far and exotic,” she said during a preview on the set of the short movie by artist Nico Vascellari that portrays the Fendi’s men’s spring 2022 collection. Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, that houses Fendi’s headquarters in Rome, served as the grand set for the video. It also offered Venturini Fendi the privileged point of observation on the Eternal City that deeply influenced the creation of her latest collection.

Looking at her native city from the top of the palazzo, one of the tallest buildings in Rome, she started thinking about proportions and perspectives, that, along with a study of the changing colours of the Roman sky across the different seasons, became the focal points of her beautiful lineup. While sticking to uncomplicated clothes that reflect the needs of the real life, the designer developed an exciting wardrobe that was luxurious, but also light and playful.

Colours played a key role. Neutrals were juxtaposed with lemon yellow, lime, ice blue, lilac, pistachio green and peony pink, sometimes mixed and matched on abstract patterns. A sense of adventure and exploration, combined with practical functionality, informed the lightweight, precise outerwear, the suede over shirts and the short pants featuring multiple patch pockets. Trenches dabbed with leather and jacquard denim jackets were roomy, while Fendi’s new, fun suit for the season featured pants and shorts with elastic waistbands matched with cropped double breasted boxy jackets.

They added a touch of fun and fashion frivolity to the collection, as did the adorable accessories, spanning from bags cut in the shape of bucket hats, Plexiglas mini Baguettes, table tennis rackets case holder and swimming goggles developed in collaboration with specialist Arena. Putting the accent on her top view, Venturini Fendi also splashed a range of pieces, including a languid silk pyjama set, with an archival maps of Rome, and abstract patterns inspired by the views of the globe from space. The short film depicted the models walking by the arches and on the rooftop of the Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana hit by the light of the Roman sun at the different hours of the day and ends with the Fendi fashion parade taking over the facade of the palazzo at night. A woman designing for men, Silvia Venturini Fendi gave her clothes a practical romanticism and a graceful attitude. — Alessandra Turra

fendi.com

 

Etro

Etro Men’s Spring 2022

With his spring 2022 collection, Kean Etro paid tribute to the Italian musician and artist Franco Battiato, who died last month. For his lyrics, often containing culturally exotic, philosophical and religious references, Battiato was nicknamed Il Maestro, and he deeply influenced Etro’s own vision and life since their first meeting back in 1985. To the soundtrack of Battiato’s music, Etro’s men’s wear creative director unveiled the collection at Milan’s former railway station Scalo Farini — one of the three live shows in Milan this season. Models walked on the train tracks in the open air, which seemed to Etro “to have no beginning and no end,” surrounded by wildflowers, which all contributed to the sense of freedom and joy the collection telegraphed. The tracks were an additional reference to globetrotting — always an inspiration for the designer.

This time, Etro wanted to “explore the nomadic spirit.” (Incidentally, “Nomadi” is also a 1988 song written by Battiato.) To further convey the idea of wanderlust, the designer also cited travel writer Bruce Chatwin and Agatha Christie, not for her detective novels, but rather for her trips accompanying her husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, on his excavations in the Middle East. Etro’s inspiration, however, was not literal — no cargo pants or trekking shoes in sight. Instead, Etro’s collection was all about offhand fluidity and colours that transmit “energy and optimism.” To wit, the first part of the show hinged on modern suits, silk shirts and Bermuda shorts in bright orange, yellow, fuchsia and metallic green — at times tie-dyed.

Models paraded in silk cadi caftans, knitted vests with silk georgette inserts and fil coupé shirts lit up by golden threads. The brand’s unmistakable paisley prints alternated with archival patterns on silk pyjamas. Earthy colours infused the second part of the collection, on bombers and shirts embellished with patterns inspired by petroglyphs, or rock carvings, but these were not literal, either. “I wanted clean and graphic symbols, as if they were memories of the past,” Etro said. He paid attention to the accessories, too, ranging from colourful and functional pouches and cool sneakers to large and soft backpacks and saddlebags in washed leather. The collection had a rock ‘n roll vibe running throughout — after all, Etro has been dressing the winners of the Eurovision music contest, Italian rock band Måneskin. — L.Z.

 

MSGM

MSGM Men’s Spring 2022

Once again, Massimo Giorgetti proved that he understands youths and their codes like no other. For spring 2022, he channelled their desire for freedom in a poetic fashion film evoking the sun-drenched atmosphere in the photography of San Diego-based artist Stephen Milner. Cantered on a group of boys spending a day at the seaside, the short movie showcased a more contemplative mood compared to MSGM previous digital presentations. “I noticed there’s this desire to reveal the skin but not in a sexy way, rather more delicately, with romanticism,” Giorgetti explained. Connection with nature played a big role in the fun and spirited collection. Literally, the underwater theme — which charmed also Prada’s co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons this season — informed the bold prints splashed on the garments. An artisanal feel ran through a charming intarsia cardigan with shell motifs, a mohair sweater depicting a mermaid and structured sweatshirts handwoven using strips of recycled organic cotton. (Attention to recycled fibres and natural techniques was heightened throughout the range.) The ‘90s-inspired range included workwear jackets and cargo pants dyed naturally for a watercolour-like effect. Sharks motifs and prints of crabs and shells outlined with piercings popped up on knitwear, raw-cut hoodies and bowling shirts. Pastel tones with energizing orange and vibrant green gave everything a joyful zing. Sport references, including wetsuit tops and leggings, nodded to the Californian surf scene portrayed in Milner’s images and punctuated another fresh and cool collection from MSGM. — Sandra Salibian

msgm.it

 

Tod’s

Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi can’t wait to return to a physical show, but once again found a way to present his collection with a video that in sync with his sensibility and the brand spirit. He chose to portray an eclectic and diverse group of young men — actors Saul Nanni and Meledeen Yacoubi, musician Lorenzo Sutto, singer Theo Isambourg and model Yonghong — enjoying a day in the sun at the Petra vineyard in Suvereto, Tuscany. The striking and avant-garde design of the building by Swiss architect Mario Botta is a recognizable landmark in the country and Chiapponi said he was seeking “a place immersed in nature with a modern architecture.” That it is, with its sectioned cylinder in pink travertine and a stairway running the height of the hill in the Maremma countryside.

Inspired by the adventurous images of artist Peter Beard, Chiapponi delivered a collection that was more nonchalant than usual, with a touch of sensuality. Chiapponi made a statement with the new canvas Jack Biker jacket with leather gommino pads — the brand’s signature pebble motif — as patches on the elbows. Developing an urban safari theme, the designer offered canvas shirts or field jackets worn over Bermuda shorts; quilted jackets; nylon shorts; suede hoodies and a shirt jacket with contrasting patch pockets in leather — a signature material for Tod’s.

There were trenchcoats in light nylon in bright hues and soft chambray trousers. Chiapponi mixed different checkered patterns on cotton gauze shirts and jackets. All garments were light and deconstructed as the practical pants in parachute canvas with drawstrings at the ankle. With John F. Kennedy Jr. as another inspiration, it’s obvious that Chiapponi never strays from elegant and sophisticated designs, even when he veers toward more casual looks. Accessories, always key for Tod’s, were strong, ranging from the new Dots Run sneakers in nylon and leather in contrasting colours with expanded gomminos on the soles, to camera bags and soft, ruched moccasins. An expanded lion head appeared on several items as a crest. — Luisa Zargani

tods.com

Brunello Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli Men’s Spring 2022

Brunello Cucinelli’s take on things is generally an upbeat and optimistic one. This was once again the case on Saturday, when he spoke of rebirth after the pandemic, which is leading men to rediscover a taste for elegance and dressing well. As a consequence, at the physical presentation at Cucinelli’s headquarters in Milan, there was a strong focus on the suit, “synonymous of elegance, but not the Wall Street kind of business suit” of yore. The fit must be “relaxed and contemporary,” he noted. Case in point, the traditional pinstriped suit was revisited with more understated, almost faded patterns; deconstructed jackets, and feather-light natural fabrics.

The fabrics were also practical, such as Tasmanian wool, which allows for high performance without wrinkling, he noted. Blends of linen, wool and silk contributed to the summery ease of the suits. Cuffed ankle pants with front pleats were slightly longer than in previous styles. Adding a sportier touch, Cucinelli showed cargo pants, either short — Bermuda style — or elasticized at the ankle. Mismatched blazers also contributed to the easy style as did the range of soft unlined suede bombers, which were also presented with lasered chevron patterns or quilting motifs. The palette was neutral, with delicate pastels, from yellows, pinks to azure, alternated with a range of greys, off-white and panama or sand. Jeans were shown in the traditional indigo hue — among the bestselling pants for the company, Cucinelli said. “Simplicity in Elegance,” summed up the brand’s look book, but the former at Cucinelli is achieved through skilled craftsmanship and extensive research and development of fabrics. — L.Z.

brunellocucinelli.com

Canali

Canali Men’s Spring 2022

A fuchsia suit worn with a plain white T-shirt was unexpected but stood out in its simplicity in the Canali spring 2022 collection, which was filled with relaxed silhouettes and lightweight fabrics. The Italian brand showcased the Canali 1934, Exclusive and Black Edition lines, underscoring to the label’s versatility in catering different customers and demands beyond its roots in tailoring. “The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already present: The need to break the rigid schemes that separate formalwear from the informal one.

Fusing these two dimensions enables customers to easily mix and match the pieces,” said the company’s president and chief executive officer Stefano Canali, explaining that, overall, the collection was inspired by the natural landscape in Los Angeles and 1990s cinema. Neutral tones dominated the Canali 1934 line, which focused on reinterpretations of the trucker jacket — including a white denim version with geometric tobacco suede pockets and a chic aquamarine suede option — as well as on knitwear, often styled with pleated pants. The laid-back attitude took a bolder turn in the Black Edition line, with vibrant suits and a bowling shirt splashed with floral prints.

Sportier garments such as a black anorak and a hooded jacket with black and-white graffiti graphics veered toward a more functional and urban direction that was a stretch compared to the rest of the collection. Although these two lines made for eye-catching items, the Exclusive section best exemplified the Canali ethos and the effortless mood it wanted to convey this season, thanks to pieces such as a taupe buckskin blazer and a green suede jacket with details in napa leather. Among the three souls of the collection, this was definitely the most authentic and truthful to the brand’s signature elegance. — Sandra Salibian

Canali.com

Originally published by WWD.

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The 10 Best Omakase in Sydney

Sydney’s best Japanese chef’s-table dining experiences.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 06/06/2024

In Japan, where food is a cultural art form, omakase stands for traditional Japanese foods made with seasonal ingredients. A good omakase meal, prepared with purity and mindfulness, can make an unforgettable imprint on the culinary memory. Yet in a land defined by seasonal traditions, omakase is a relatively new concept.

Omakase originated in Japan in the 1970s as affluent Japanese began to dine more regularly at first-rate sushi counters. Bowing to the expertise of the sushi master, omakase loosely translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” In a setting where money is no object, letting the chef decide was designed as a chic way to take the awkwardness out of ordering.

In Australia where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, omakase menus have experienced a recent rise in popularity. Today omakase is any series of small dishes served directly by the chef to the diner. Each part of the meal is presented on beautiful ceramics and lacquer wear, with a great —and somewhat— intimidating reverence for elegant details. It’s a chance to see a chef’s knife skills up close and get a feel for their cooking style.

Omakase menus are based on whatever is freshest at the market and can be influenced by the chef’s mood, expertise, and response to the guest. They can be slowly paced like a ceremony—hushed and reverential—but they can also be rowdy, humorous, and personal.
Here we give you 10 of the best to try in Sydney.

Yoshi’s Omakase at Nobu Crown Sydney

Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. Open: 12–3 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm Phone: 02 8871 7188 Reservations: F&B-SYD-Nobu@crownresorts.com.au; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake). Crownsydney.com.au

Sushi Oe

16/450 Miller St, Cammeray; Tue – Sat. SMS only 0451 9709 84 E: jizakana16@gmail.com Phone: 0426 233 984 $230 per head. jizakana.com.au

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point; Tuesday – Saturday: 17:30 – 10.45 (closed Sunday/ Monday) $185-200 per head Kisukepottspoint.com

Haco 

102/21 Alberta St, Sydney. Lunch, Friday to Saturday 12 -2:00 pm Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday 5:45 pm – 8:1 5pm (closed Sunday & Mondays) P: 0408 866 285                                     E: haco@hacosydney.com.au; $150 – $210 Hacosydney.com.au

Kuon

Shop 04 2/58 Little Hay St, Sydney, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30 pm. Dinner  Tue-Sun 5:15 pm or 7:45 pm sittings.  Reservation via SMS at 0488 688 252; $220 per head @kuon.omakase

Sokyo 

The Darling, Level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. Open dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:45 pm P: 1800 700 700 $300 per head Sokyo.com.au

Kuro

368 Kent St, Sydney; Open Tue – Wed – Thur: 6 pm Fri & Sat: 5:30 pm P: 02 9262 1580, reservations@kurosydney.com $220 per head. Kurosydney.com;

Choji Omakase

Level 2, 228 Victoria Ave, Chatswood —upstairs from Choji Yakiniku. Every Monday to Wednesday at 6.30 pm. One seating per day only. $295 per head. Chojiomakase.com.au

Gold Class Daruma

The Grace Hotel, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney; 12–2:30 pm, 5:30–9.00 pm Phone: (02) 9262 1190 M: 0424 553 611 booking@goldclassdaruma.com.au·$120 – $150 per head Goldclassdaruma.com.au

Besuto

Besuto Omakase, Sydney Place precinct, 3 Underwood Street, Circular Quay. Omakase is available to book for dinner – Tuesday to Saturday. 5:30 pm & 8pm sittings. From $250. Besuto.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is no soy and wasabi offered during my omakase meal?
Even though sushi and sashimi are being served, the chef is serving each piece of sushi so quickly and directly that the chef is applying the wasabi and soy to the sushi themselves. Watch as they brush the top of the fish with soy and dab a tiny amount of wasabi on the rice, under the fish. You should not need to add extra, and in fact, it can be insulting to the chef to add more. Bathing the bottom of the rice of your sushi in soy sauce is considered bad manners, as it is seen as detracting from the flavour of the fish.

Nobu, Sydney

Can an omakase experience accommodate my dietary needs?
Although there is often little variation once the chef has set the daily menu, some customisation is possible. Advise the restaurant when you book and remind them of allergies or aversions again as you sit down. They will let you know when you book if your allergy is possible for the chef. Japanese menus feature a lot of seafood and dashi so accommodating a no seafood request can be genuinely tricky.

What are the golden rules for chopstick etiquette?
Use your chopstick holder in between eating, rather than putting chopsticks on your plate. Don’t use your chopsticks to gesticulate or point; if offering food to someone to try, never pass food directly from your chopsticks to theirs. Rather place the food onto a small plate and let them pick it up.
Never touch communal or shared food with your chopsticks. The longer, slightly larger chopsticks are like sharing cutlery, never put these in your mouth.

Without a menu, how can I know what I am eating during omakase?
Omakase is often a no-menu situation, and you are expected to try new things. Attending an omakase experience with an open, trusting mind yields the best results.
There are Wagyu and tempura omakase that reflect the chef’s personal predilections and training, but in a standard luxury omakase, the format will include a lot of freshly caught seafood and will usually kick off with a delicate appetiser. This will be followed by a sashimi and sushi course, a savoury egg custard (chawanmushi) with meat and seafood, a cooked or blow-torched market fish, a soup course, and dessert.

Can I talk to the chef during omakase? What is the protocol?
Guests at an omakase experience are welcome to ask questions of the chef; in fact, interacting with the chef is part of the experience. It is considered polite to ask questions or inquire about the food so they can explain.

What is best to pair with omakase  in terms of drinks?
In general, wine and sake are a perfect match for omakase. Aged fish and vinegar have strong umami flavours so depending on which course you enjoy, different wine and sake will pair well. Dry chilled sake is a great choice. Amazing sakes are imported into Australia, so trust the restaurant to advise you and take you on a sake journey at the same time.  If you don’t like sake, drinking chardonnay, a crisp young riesling, or even a dry complex Riesling is also totally acceptable. All three styles help bring out the flavour of the fish. Champagne can also be good. Try a blanc de blancs— 100% chardonnay —for a great way to start the meal. As you progress, remember that sake is good for dishes with a strong taste, such as uni and eel.

Nobu, Sydney

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The Sonos Ace Headphones Are Music to the Ears

The audio giant has (finally) revealed its foray in the personal listening category.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

In the ever competitive market for premium headphones, few brands have captured the hearts (and ears) of audiophiles, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony, and even Apple come to mind when debating great audio brands in 2024. Then there’s Sonos.

For over 20 years, the American audio manufacturer has been lauded for its high-end capabilities, particularly in a home setting; Sonos changed the game for the integration of home entertainment. But it had yet to venture into the realm of headphones.

Until now. Earlier this month, the company marked its long-awaited entry into the personal-listening category, with the launch of its highly anticipated Sonos Ace over-ear headphones.

“Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones,”says Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, “and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with.”

Sonos

On paper, the Sonos Ace is an enticing proposition: a premium over-ear headphone featuring lossless and spatial audio, intuitive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Aware Mode. Most appealing, however, might be its new immersive home theatre offering; the Sonos Ace can pair to compatible Sonos soundbars with just a tap of a button. The new TrueCinema technology, which arrives later this year, will precisely map your entertainment space and then render a complete surround sound system for an unparalleled listening experience.

Sonos

Retailing at $699, they aren’t exactly cheap, and there more affordable headphones that compete with Sonos in terms of audio output and high-fidelity sound. But where Sonos thrives is in the details. Available in  stealthy black and pure white, the Sonos Ace are sleek and stylish right out of the box. Sure, there is some resemblance to the Apple Air Max Pro—arguably its greatest rival in the over-ear headphone segment—but Sonos has also added its own design touches, and it’s clear the Ace was made to look and feel as good as it sounds.

Its distinctive, slim profile elegantly blends metal accents with a sleek matte finish, and thanks to the use of lightweight, premium materials like memory foam and vegan leather, you get an airy fit that isn’t overbearing, even after extensive use. The design of the Sonos Ace is also intuitive; tactile buttons make controlling the headset a cinch, and pairing with Apple or Android devices is also straightforward. The dedicated Sonos App is also helpful for customising (somewhat) your listening experience, from altering EQ to turning on certain capabilities, like Head Tracking.

Sonos

It does fall short on a couple of key fronts.  I was expecting more from the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for over-ear headphones of this price point; there’s no way the ANC as it stands will filter out the sounds of a plane engine, for example. I also found the Sonos Ace has an issue, albeit subtle, with the mid-bass, which can sound muddy and lack punch at times.

But these are small nits. The Sonos Ace only adds to the company’s impressive standing as an unimpeachable innovator in the audio industry.

For more information, visit Sonos.

 

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Wake Up To World Martini Day 19 June

Cocktail legend Dale de Groff talks Grey Goose, World Martini Day and getting wet.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 18/06/2024

Dale de Groff knows his way around a bar. Back when late nights and heavy drinking were a badge of honour, he presided over one of New York City’s most legendary venues, The Rainbow Room, and is credited with reviving the classic cocktail across Northern America.

To promote World Martini Day on June 19 he’s teamed up with vodka company Grey Goose, for which he has served as a brand ambassador since 1997, to make a winning case for the classic Martini everywhere. He is even lending a hand at the opening of Le Martini bar at Crown Melbourne. 

We asked de Groff about his time serving stars like Michale Douglas, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood and, of course, how he likes his martini.

Dale for the uninitiated, please describe the Rainbow Room.

In the 1980s Rainbow Room was situated high atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Back then, it was just the pinnacle of glamour.

It has stunning views of the city from way up on the 65th floor. Being situated in the same building as NBC Entertainment, still pretty synonymous with late night TV,  it was and still is the home of Saturday Night Live. You can imagine the kinds of people we’d be getting in each week—from celebrities, musicians, even governors, you name it. 

Robb Report ANZ: What was one of your favourite memories from that time?

Dale de Groff: In ‘88 we held the 30th anniversary Grammys afterparty at the Rainbow Room which I’ll never forget. The event took place over multiple floors, but in the bar itself, the three tiers that go up from the dance floor were taken over by the who’s who of the time. I remember roping off a zone just for music legends like Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and Madonna—who was no stranger to the bar during those times. Not bad for a Wednesday night.

RR: What role do cocktails play in making a good venue truly great?

DD: A venue’s popularity ultimately comes down to the bartender or team behind the bar. How they interact with people, size them up as they walk through the door, talk to them over that three feet of mahogany, I mean, it’s everything.

RR: What’s the trick to becoming a great bartender, one who can easily impress guests, friends and family?

DD: Knowledge behind the craft. Let’s face it, understanding how to create a really high degree of deliciousness is required, but getting deep into how beverages are made is a massive skill in drink making. The research and innovation behind it is just mind-blowing.

RR:What three cocktails should every sophisticate know how to make?

DD: Well, a martini obviously! I personally like mine 50/50—equal parts vodka and vermouth. I used to drink my martinis for the power, but now I prefer a wet martini. Then I think a classic spritz is a must—always effervescent, lower in alcohol, really it’s the preprandial libation. Then thirdly, it’s gotta be an Old Fashioned.

RR: How do you make a solid martini at home?

DD: If I’m making a classic martini at home, I’m adding Grey Goose, vermouth and bitters to a mixing glass with ice, stirring then straining into a chilled glass. Garnished with lemon twist of course.

Le Martini, the world’s first standalone Grey Goose bar, is now open and will welcome guests in time for World Martini Day on 19 June. You can follow:  @LeMartiniBar 

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Can Italy’s Lake Garda Finally Compete With Como—or Will It Become a Victim of Its Own Success?

Crowded, cacophonous Lake Como is overflowing, filling its nearby villages and lakes with new luxury hotels and savvy, in-the-know travellers.

By Jake Emen 17/06/2024

The sun is shining down and your wooden Riva Aquarama boat is slicing through the lake. The crowd is beautiful, well-tanned and they like their spritzes. Sound like Lake Como? Almost. You’re about 150 kilometres southeast on the larger, yet less frequented, Lake Garda.

As the popularity of Lake Como has grown thanks to non-stop celebrity endorsements filtered down via social media, an in-crowd is discovering that Garda offers the same glitzy perks of its neighbour with far fewer headaches.

“Giorgio Clooney is to Como what Tom Hanks is to Garda,” says Katie Parla, author of “Food of the Italian Islands” and a tour leader across Italy. “Sure, Como is beautiful and charming, but Garda is equally talented, and some would say, more versatile and well-rounded.”

Grand Hotel Fasano, which turned 135th anniversary, is welcoming a new crowd.
Grand Hotel Fasano,

Long the preferred destination for Italians and other continental families, the secret of Garda has now well and truly been leaked. Investment is pouring in at Ferrari speeds.

On the hotel front, historic, legendary properties such as Grand Hotel Fasano (from USD$470)—which celebrated its 135th anniversary in 2023— are joined by a flock of newcomers. There is the new family-owned spa hotel Cape of Senses, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World member (from USD$628). Conti Thun (from USD$225) debuted as an on-vineyard wine resort last year. And this spring, Borgo Tre (from USD$640) opened a small collection of luxury apartment suites in a converted 18th-century farmhouse. (If you haven’t noticed already, a stay here is still considerably cheaper than say, Lake Como’s Passalacqua at USD$2,660 a night).

The region’s established properties are doing their best to stay ahead of the new arrivals, too. The mountain-top wellness haven Lefay Resort & Spa (from USD$460) is famous for encouraging its guests to wear their plush robes across the grounds from morning to night, as the saunter from treatment to treatment. It’s just unveiled a new, elevated room category dubbed Sky Suites that will speak to Como expats. These top-floor units are 1,500 square feet and come with a terrace hot tub, a private in-suite sauna and, of course, unimpeded views of the lake, mountains, and valleys beyond.

Lefay Resort & Spa is drawing wellness activists to the region.
Lefay Resorts

But change like this always comes at a cost. Locals and long-time visitors worry that the region’s newfound popularity puts it in danger of losing its distinctive atmosfera. Ironically, even the new guard hotels are concerned.

“We don’t want that, we’re not a mass tourism product,” says Cape of Senses general manager Alina Deutsch of any attempt to clone Como at Garda. “What is luxury today? It’s what people are missing from their lives, and that’s space and time.”

“Locals, like me, really hope that our beautiful destination will remain as authentic as it is now, even if international tourism is booming and new luxury properties are going to continue opening in the next couple of years,” added Alice Lancini, Grand Hotel Fasano’s sales and marketing manager.

But the scene in Lake Garda’s is already shifting. Lancini says that in the last three to four years, U.S. travellers have made the lake hotel the brand’s second strongest market after Germany. “Lake Garda is becoming more popular in the States as it’s much cheaper than Como, less crowded—still, for now—and it’s a completely different experience than Lake Como.”

Parla adds that the 50 kilometre-long Lake Garda has a natural protection from “becoming a Disneyland” overnight: its massive size makes it feel more like a sea than a lake at times.

“Como the town, Bellagio, and all the fancy hotels are beyond overcrowded and have become the playground of influencers generating their FOMO-inducing content,” she says. “I don’t see a way to enjoy the lake if you stick to those two towns, which most do…Lake Garda is so much bigger.”

Its other protection? Garda isn’t a first stop for first timers. After all, would you tell someone to skip the Eiffel Tower on their first trip to Paris, or forgo the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? Icons are icons and that includes Lake Como.

The new family-owned spa hotel Cape of Senses just opened on Lake Garda.
Cape of Senses

“Lake Como is for romance and honeymoons, and lounging around on a boat and never leaving the confines of a luxury hotel,” adds Parla, noting that other lakes and villages attract a more active, creative and adventurous crowd.

So will Garda ever become Como? Lancini thinks it’s likely, and that’s why you should get there sooner rather than later. “Lake Garda is going to boom as a destination in the next three to five years,” she says. “Now is the time to take advantage and come to this beautiful destination before it becomes too crowded.”

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Kyoto Has the Most Michelin Restaurants per Capita: Report

There are 100 Michelin-starred spots in the Japanese city, serving some 1.5 million people.

By Tori Latham 17/06/2024

The residents of Kyoto, Japan, are positively swimming among Michelin-starred restaurants.

The Japanese city is home to the highest density of eateries ranked by the French tire company, including five three-starred restaurants, according to a new report from website Chef’s Pencil. With 100 Michelin-ranked spots and a population of almost 1.5 million, Kyoto has one restaurant for every 14,637 people.

Coming in a close second is—unsurprisingly—Paris: The city’s 122 Michelin-starred restaurants serve 2.1 million residents, resulting in one spot for every 17,235 people. (Paris also has the second-highest absolute number of Michelin-starred restaurants, behind Tokyo.) Third place may come as a shock: Washington, D.C., has ranked highly, with 25 restaurants for 690,000 residents, or one for every 27,582 people.

Of course, there are some caveats for the Chef’s Pencil report. The website looked only at cities with 500,000 or more residents. And the restaurants had to be located within the city limits, rather than the larger metropolitan area. The Michelin Guide itself often includes eateries in a broader region, so this list may be slightly more abbreviated than the official selection.

To address some of that disparity, Chef’s Pencil has also released a ranking of Michelin density in midsize cities, those with 100,000 to 500,000 residents. At the top of that list is Nara, Japan, which has 23 starred restaurants for a population of just 367,000 (one restaurant for every 15,972 residents). That’s followed by Maastricht, Netherlands (six Michelin-starred restaurants and 120,000 residents, or one restaurant for every 20,038 people), and Geneva, Switzerland (eight starred eateries and a population of 204,000, or one spot for every 25,494 residents).

And while France is the country with the most Michelin-starred establishments, Switzerland actually has the most starred spots per capita. The country’s 134 Michelin-starred restaurants serve a population of almost 9 million, or one for every 66,872 residents. The much smaller Luxembourg, with just 672,500 residents, comes in second for this metric: With 10 Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s one for every 67,250 people.

While many people travel to the areas with the most Michelin-starred restaurants, they may be better served by going to the areas where they’re the densest. Neither Kyoto nor D.C. may be called its respective country’s culinary capital, but both are teeming with Michelin-ranked spots relative to their size.

 

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