Kim Jones Plans ‘Real Clothes’ For Fendi

“I want all my friends to go, ‘I want that straight away,'” says the designer.

By Miles Socha 25/02/2021

“It’s quite a neutral collection to start the ball rolling,” Kim Jones said of his hotly anticipated ready-to-wear debut at Fendi today during Milan Fashion Week. “It’s real clothes.”

Jones approached the fall 2021 collection with an extensive crawl through the Fendi archives, much reflection, and deep discussions with Silvia Venturini Fendi and his trusted inner circle of fashionable women.

He also applied his meticulous and methodical approach to revving up heritage brands, having racked up an impressive track record at Dunhill, Louis Vuitton and Dior, where he remains artistic director of men’s collections in addition to his new duties as artistic director of Fendi’s haute couture, ready-to-wear and fur collections for women.

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview in Paris, Jones spoke excitedly about his foray into women’s fashions, and the honour and challenge of taking up a role previously held for 54 years by fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019.

It is understood Jones has harboured ambitions to design women’s wear for some time, and held discussions with Versace and Burberry in recent years. He closed his swan song show for Louis Vuitton in 2018 with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell striding out in monogram trench coats.

Jones famously amassed an impressive collection of rare vintage fashions spanning some 500 pieces, which he recently donated to an undisclosed museum, and it includes seminal looks by Vivienne Westwood, Leigh Bowery, Rachel Auburn and others.

A preview look from FendiÕs fall 2021 show, to be streamed today during Milan Fashion Week.

A preview look from Fendi’s autumn 2021 show, streamed during Milan Fashion Week.  Simone Lezzi

“Women’s wear is something that I’ve always looked at because it was more interesting to research and look at women’s wear than it is for men’s wear,” Jones said, seated in his office at Dior. “And obviously, a lot of my friends are women, and they wear my clothes.”

His ambitions for the show do not include any grandiose artistic vision or revolutionary fashion statement.

He simply wants to make “clothes that women will want to buy. I’m not gonna lie. I think that’s what my job is. I want all my friends to go, ‘I want that straight away,’” he said.

Jones said he doesn’t like being compared to Lagerfeld, and who would, considering the German designer’s illustrious and unprecedented fashion career not only at Fendi, but also Chanel, Chloé, his signature fashion house and a staggering array of unexpected design projects, from pens and tableware to luxury hotels and condo projects?

“I think I have the same work ethic, you can ask Silvia at Fendi,” Jones said, allowing one commonality with a designer he respected and admired to the max. “He was always super nice to me.”

Yet Jones does echo Lagerfeld in his wholehearted embrace of the fashion industry’s furious pace, his just-shut-up-and-do-it ethos, and his acknowledgement that fashion, however creative and artistic, must always be at the service of a brand and its business imperatives.

“For me the customer is always number one. It’s something I learned from Yves Carcelle when I joined Louis Vuitton, and it’s something that’s always stuck in my mind,” he said, referring to the late Louis Vuitton chief executive officer who helped build the historic trunk maker into a global luxury powerhouse.

When some designers arrive at a house, they often erase what was done by their predecessor, wiping clean social media feeds and sometimes complete product lines. Not Jones, who enters a solid and sizable business, part of luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. He said he’s seen other designers “go into a house and completely change things around and then get stuck when nothing sells.”

“And that’s not my job,” he said, adjusting his face mask and occasionally taking a sip of Perrier. “I think it’s really important to respect what the house is, especially when you’ve got someone there whose name is actually across the door.”

Kim Jones

Kim Jones  Courtesy of Fendi

Jones comes into the role with immense respect and affection for Venturini Fendi, whom he met about a decade ago at a luxury goods conference, immediately striking up a friendship.

The British designer collaborated with Venturini Fendi, artistic director of accessories and men’s wear collections, and her daughter Delfina Delettrez Fendi, jewellery creative director, on his spring 2021 couture collection for Fendi, shown in Paris last month. He said it was equally important to have received positive feedback from Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, and his wife Hélène; as well as the past CEOs of Fendi, Michael Burke and Pietro Beccari, who attended the filming of the couture show in a modernist glass maze set in the Palais Brongniart.

“My two roles are to do my job for A, the brand, and B, for her. The value of the family is ever present, so I want them to be happy with it. You know, I guess that’s me. It’s not about my ego. It’s about doing a job.

“I’m sure Karl felt the same with brands that he did. Not that I’m referencing myself as Karl, but you know he did Chloé, Fendi and Chanel, all at the same time, and each had different signatures. And I think it’s possible to do that when you’ve got good teams at each house,” Jones said, recalling that when he operated his signature label from 2003 to 2008 after graduating from Central Saint Martins in London, he consulted with other brands to bring in more money. “You put on your different headset, something I’ve always been used to.”

Indeed, he declared that overseeing two luxury brands is “more fun. Doing three shows in two months is kind of great.” he said. “I’m not gonna lie, it’s been difficult doing it under lockdown. Because you know, I can’t go home for the weekend, or I can’t pop out somewhere for three days for a mini-break. You know, it’s just that you have to be in one place, and I’m not very good at doing that.”

Yet despite the trying circumstances, Jones insisted on readying a couture collection for spring — something Fendi had never done — because he had already masterminded his “Orlando” theme and preferred to get on with the job as quickly as possible.

“He knows how to blend his vision with the heritage of Fendi,” Venturini Fendi said in an interview, noting the Roman house is to mark its centennial come 2025. “His work at Louis Vuitton and Dior showed us that he knows how to respect and how to use this story as a starting point for his vision….It’s not just about Kim; it’s about the brand.”

In addition, “he’s also a voracious observer of the moment, of people, and what are people’s desires and what do people need,” she continued. “He’s very interested in knowing what they’ll want.”

When Jones arrived at the Roman house last autumn, Venturini Fendi accompanied him to the archive, and he settled on the oldest pieces: luggage, whose parchment and leather colours inspired the palette for his RTW debut. “It’s very elegant, it’s very neutral-toned, I would say very Fendi,” Venturini Fendi declared.

Although Fendi has enjoyed unprecedented consistency in its design office thanks to Lagerfeld, Jones said he sees the fashion image at the Roman house as “really malleable.”

A preview look from FendiÕs fall 2021 show, to be streamed today during Milan Fashion Week.

A preview look from Fendi’s autumn 2021 show, streamed during Milan Fashion Week.  Simone Lezzi

“They’re silhouettes that can be updated quite easily,” he said, also lauding its formidable legacy in leather goods. “When I look at all the houses, Fendi’s bags are the most unique across the group.”

For his debut RTW effort, Jones zeroed in on three groups of bags from the early ’90s — not including the Baguette, introduced in 1997 — to see how they are constructed, and he transferred elements from the hardware, stitching and details onto the clothes. That implies “lots of handwork” and “quite high price points,” but Fendi has customers who seek this, Jones noted.

While Jones is honoured and humbled to take on a design job previously held by Lagerfeld, he said he certainly doesn’t dwell on it.

“I just get on with my work, and I don’t think too much. I just think that it’s good to be really honest about that. Because, you know, if you do these jobs at this level, if you think about it too much, you could drive yourself crazy,” he said. “I think I’m doing really good work. And I’m not being arrogant by saying that, but I think anyone else that works in my position that’s doing as much would probably feel the same with themselves.”

Fendi is probably first and foremost known as a fur house, and Jones arrives at a time when Venturini Fendi was already grappling with a new way forward, given how fraught and complex the use of animal skins has become.

“We’re looking at ways of how we work that ethically and, you know, in a better way,” Jones said. “It’s too early for me to talk about.”

That said, expect some fur in the autumn 2021 collection “because there are customers that want it.”

Fendi is also known for tailoring, coats and dresses, which historically sell well, according to Jones. “I didn’t know a huge amount about the Fendi customer before, and I’m learning on the job,” he said. “But I’m surrounded by a studio full of women that are very passionate about clothing. And if every single woman in that studio wants the pieces that we’re designing, then that’s a good sign.

“It’s a funny brand, Fendi. You know it and you don’t know it,” he mused. “I’m looking at it in quite a commercial design aspect, really. And I wanted it to be a palate cleanser.”

When the British designer arrives at a brand, he likes to scope out new territory, and for Fendi he already spies opportunities in shoes, and a broader offering of dresses and clothing items.

“Just easy pieces,” he said. “It was very designed as a silhouette and now the modern market requires it be designed as singles.”

Knowing Fendi’s reputation for outerwear, something Jones loves designing, he felt it natural to create coats in double-face fabrics, of which he said Lagerfeld was not very fond. “So you know, really looking at things that are very Italian in their traditional craftsmanship, and playing around with those ideas.

“It’s nice to have a shift, but not a groundbreaking shift,” he said of his first collection.

Jones didn’t flinch when asked if Fendi is expected to grow under his watch.

“That’s my mission,” he said, while demurring to share any particular business targets. “I like to see people wear what I design, or the things I work on. I think there’s nothing bigger than the thrill of seeing a stranger buy and wear your product. And when I’m in the street and I see people head-to-toe [in Dior] in Japan, New York or L.A., I think it’s super nice. And it’s touching.”

Given travel restrictions that continue to shift, Jones has not settled into a schedule as he would in normal times, but he said he’s managed to effectively juggle demands at Fendi and Dior. “I have a core team that’s with me in both. And then I have two really good teams in both houses,” he said, describing both brands as having a “family” atmosphere.

“I feel like they’ve been taking me in as part of the family. I listen to what they say,” Jones said of Fendi. “I work for the brand. The brand is first.”

To be sure, he was thoroughly impressed with the capabilities of Fendi’s ateliers.

“It’s nice to see things be created in a different way in front of you. I think that’s probably what the beauty of women’s wear is,” he said. “The only thing that overwhelmed me a little was the sheer amount of embellishment and embroideries and all those things that you could possibly do. You know I’m very clear and concise in my work.”

For his new show, Jones plans to livestream a catwalk event at Fendi’s vast showroom space on Via Andrea Solari in Milan.

“I think people enjoy seeing the runway experience. I think it’s what they want to see, especially when you’re buyers buying clothes, virtually. Now they want to see how the pieces move and understand them,” he said.

That said, Jones is also eager to exalt the workmanship of his Fendi collections, which is why he released a dreamy 20-minute film about three weeks after the Jan. 26 couture show presenting the mood and detail of the clothes and accessories. “Because, you know, it’s quite easy for people to criticise things when they look at them online. When you see them in reality, you understand what goes into it. The savoir-faire and the techniques are really important.”

Jones has had a storied fashion career, with John Galliano snapping up his graduate collection. He initially launched a signature men’s wear label, and experimented with some women’s looks in 2004. Known for its sporty, streetwear edge, the Kim Jones brand lasted for eight seasons and attracted the attention of Dunhill, where he was creative director from 2008 to 2011.

Now a veteran of LVMH, Jones came on board in 2011 as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, parlaying his zest for exotic travel into ultraluxurious collections with understated cool and sly functionality. He helped ignite the luxury streetwear phenomenon with the landmark 2017 collaboration with Supreme, the cult New York skate brand.

Since moving over to Dior Men in 2018, Jones has done collections with fine artists Peter Doig, Daniel Arsham, Kaws and Amoako Boafo, the surfwear maven Shawn Stussy, and Air Jordan. The latter yielded one of the most sought-after sneakers of 2020, the limited-edition Air Jordan 1 OG Dior.

Jones said some of the shapes from his debut couture collection will be felt in the autumn show, but he stressed that “the ready-to-wear is setting the pace for where it will go,” he said. “I think it’s always nice to start with a bang and then, you know, we’ll set a pace in a different way.”

Jones’ couture effort had a period flavour owing to the twin muses of Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, both members of the Bloomsbury Set. Yet multiple decades were referenced. Jones revealed that he looked at Lagerfeld sketches from the time when each of his all-ages models in the show were born.

But don’t expect anything retro or vintage-looking on the Milan runway. “The Fendi ready-to-wear I’m doing now is of our times,” he said.


This article was originally published on WWD.


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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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