17 Ways To Do Europe After Lockdown

It’s a way off yet – but you can still dream and plan with our ultimate luxury guide to avoiding cliches and crowds.

By Natasha Dragun & Richard Clune 07/05/2020

There will always be another European summer – and with that in mind we’re happy to provide some dreamy plans and an undisputed cure for the quarantine blues. From sailing the Med in a multi-million dollar superyacht to an overlooked French island, the best dining and most exclusive accommodation, we’ve pulled together the ultimate luxury guide to avoiding cliches, crowds and finding newfound fun for when we next can. 

Corsica, France

‘We’re not French and we’re not Italian – we’re Corsican’. It’s a refrain proudly ousted by locals across this mountainous Mediterranean island known to most as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The claims of autonomy, despite being one of 18 French ‘regions’, coupled with the Franco and Italian influences, make this a unique European option that delivers on picturesque hilltop villages, passionate locals and stunning white sand beaches lapped by transparent waters. The food culture here is strong – so too the growing luxury market, especially along the southern coast around towns such as Porto Vecchio and the enchanting Bonafacio.

The Thinking Traveller holds the keys to the island’s most indulgent villas – Cala d’Istria and I Bruzzi two Robb Report faves – though exquisite and exclusive hotel offerings come in the form of Porto Vecchio’s Casadelmar and, further south, the elevated Hotel Version Maquis Citadelle.

Take a week, grab a car or a bike and soak up this remarkable island that remains comparatively overlooked when compared to some of its closest neighbours.

thethinkingtraveller.com; casadelmar.fr; hotel-versionmaquis.com

Kea, Greece

Yes, a Greek isle that isn’t Mykonos and which still curiously flies somewhat under the radar – at least until One & Only opens its doors here in 2021.

Overlooked by the hordes who push on past to islands better-known, Kea (Tzia) is, in fact, the closest to the mainland, located just an hour from Lavrio.

On offer is a wonderful local setting that delivers a ritzy yachting scene around Koundouros and Vourkari and, beyond, the subtle charms of a dusty island of desirable space and general tranquillity.

There’s also some brilliant wreck diving to be done and many secluded beaches on which to laze. That’s if you can be bothered leaving accommodation such as that on offer by White Key Villas – newcomer, Villa Ligaria, proving to be a side of secluded Grecian perfection that comes with private beach, pool, and heightened levels of chic.

whitekeyvillas.com

Million-Dollar Med Cruise

What does $1.13 million a week get you on the Med? Seventy-two metres of lavish cruise power, it turns out.

Available exclusively for charter, superyacht Coral Ocean has more than enough space for a neat group of 12 (plus crew) to sail and explore some of Europe’s most picturesque ports.

Gleaming bathrooms aside, the appealing, designer cruiser comes with plunge pool, spa and gym. If that’s not enough to keep you and yours entertained (well, working off any excesses) she’s also fitted with a full suite of fun – jet ski, wakeboards, stand-up paddleboards, towable inflatables, more – and a main deck that can easily accommodate a party of 80.

ahoyclub.com

Capri Palace, Italy

Italy’s original luxury island retreat, Capri, is where the who’s who convene to shop for designer fashion and sip limoncello in bougainvillea-draped villas. The sun-kissed isle in the Bay of Naples has attracted Europe’s beautiful people for decades, many of them checking in to the iconic 1960s Capri Palace, styled on an 18th-century Neapolitan palazzo.

In April, the grande dame will welcome visitors once more, fresh from a revamp courtesy of the Emirati Jumeirah Group. The brand’s Italian foray is a polished version of the original, its 68 airy rooms each a vision in white.

Public spaces, meanwhile, come with pops of colour thanks to a collection of contemporary artworks by Mirò, Magritte and Warhol, among others.

While its foundations are storied, the hotel’s chefs are as forward-thinking as they come, securing three Michelin stars across the two restaurants and promising endless culinary highlights.

capripalace.com

Aman Jet Charter & Concierge

Unlike other upscale hotel brands with private jets, Aman Resorts’ new sky-high offering is more like a luxe charter than set (read: forced) itinerary.

Here, you and 11 of your closest can sink into Italian leather armchairs on board the brand’s Bombardier Global 5000, carefree considering a private concierge has customised everything from in-flight meals and beverages to various ground itineraries at Aman’s no-luxuries-spared properties (there are now five across Europe).

Touch down first, say, in Montenegro, where Aman Sveti Stefan’s 58 rooms sit pretty in 600-year-old stone houses on a private fortified island. Connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, the exclusive property is within easy reach of pink-sand beaches and various World Heritage-protected villages.

From here, buckle up and jet south toward Amanzoe in the Peloponnese. This architect-designed aerie, around 60 kilometres southwest of the Greek capital, affords views for days: a mise-en-scène of olive groves that tumble toward the Aegean. Speedboats await to zip you between secret coves or out to the islands of Spetses and Hydra, with helicopters on call to convey you to Athens’ hilltop Acropolis (at these heights, the journey takes just 15 minutes).

It doesn’t take much longer to fly on to Aman Venice – a gilded rococo palazzo with sumptuous Jean-Michel Gathy interiors at your disposal. Step outside, and a polished mahogany motorboat awaits on your Grand Canal doorstep.

aman.com

East London

Young, cool, chic – all adjectives worthily used to describe East London since the hipsters moved in during the early naughties. OK, late ‘90s.

While postcodes in this formerly industrial part of town are now ever-popular among tech creatives and advertising types – even Hackney boasts dads sporting three-piece Richard Anderson creations pushing Bugaboos – a new breed of upscale travellers are also making their mark on this once-maligned part of town.

Why leave Mayfair, you may ask? Because, beyond the comparative and alluring edge of the East, the area now boasts some of the city’s most happening hotels – like Nhow, a design-driven bolthole and the UK’s first outpost from the NH group.

Following the lead of its older European siblings –  Milan, Rotterdam, Berlin – the new London Nhow comes with style to spare. Think bright and bold interiors with whimsical flourishes that nod to their location: a larger-than-life mural of the Queen, a sculpture of Big Ben in the lobby, cockney rhyming slang carved into tables.   

Helping to cement the eastern appeal is Nobu Hotel Shoreditch – a slick designer destination and the brand’s first European hotel, replete with eponymous restaurant serving Japanese-Peruvian menu favourites – including signature Black Cod Den miso as well as a first in breakfast.

There’s a buzz to the east not found elsewhere in the capital. While the independent galleries have been booted by various tech start-ups, there’s still some exciting ventures like the pending launch of Fotografiska London and planned exhibitions from the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Sally Mann, David LaChapelle and Helmut Newton.

As for dining, we’re for Champagne delivered at the press of a button at Bob Bob Cite (a rather curious upscale French affair that’s best experienced first hand), the New-Nordic Lyle’s, the energy and voluminous stylings of The Ned and its various offerings (inclusive of some rather decent upstairs digs) and the wonder of the cocktail menu at Untitled Bar on Dalston’s Kingsland Road.

nhow-hotels.com; london-shoreditch.nobuhotels.com

Zizanj Private Island, Croatia

Dalmatians call it fjaka – a deliciously lazy mood of utter contentment. And it’s found in spades on Croatia’s turquoise-sea-rimmed islands, from Hvar to Korcula.

When done sharing the sand with strangers, set your yacht’s GPS for Zizanj Private Island. One of the country’s lesser-known – but no less alluring – slips of land, Zizanj is only accessible to visitors who rent it on an exclusive basis. Aside from luxe villas with space for 14, there’s nothing else to distract you on this drop in the Kornati Archipelago. Well, aside from an olive grove producing a punchy extra virgin oil that will spoil you for all others of its kind.

Here there are no roads and no cars – meaning the only way to get around is on foot or via the water.

‘A’  is for Adriatic bliss.

Submarine Exploration

Ocean going vessel Scenic Eclipse is a bombastic union of high-end expedition frivolity and serious underwater exploration – replete with a shiny six-seater U-Boat Worx Cruise Submarine 7 known as the Scenic Neptune.

Self-described as the world’s first ‘discovery yacht’, the 228-passenger Eclipse is designed to conquer the world’s most remote regions – also, colder northern European waters.

As for the Eclipse’s sub, it can sink to a depth of 300 metres, allowing a personal Bond moment well below the waves this summer – and beats getting wet.

scenic.com.au

Cheval Blanc Hotel, Paris

France, Paris, 1st district, Pont des Arts and Samaritaine building

One of the most anticipated openings of the year and for good reason. The Parisian newcomer – a first city outpost for the LVMH brand – lands in the thick of things next to the Seine and adjacent to Musee du Louvre this May. Housed in the landmark, and lavishly updated, La Samaritaine building, a tightly-held 72 rooms and suites means a boutique feel with Art-Deco interiors by Peter Marino.

Art runs throughout the property, which also boasts swimming pool and terrace alongside a Dior Spa.

Adding further appeal is new, in-house restaurant from three Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Donckele – a venture set to celebrate the city with a largely locally-sourced menu wrapped in his trademark inventiveness.

chevalblanc.com

Forte San Giorgio, Capraia, Italy

An exclusive rental unlike anything else you’ll come across – a sensitively, luxuriously and ecologically refurbished 16th century fortress on the tiny island
of Capraia in the Tuscan Archipelago between Italy and Corsica.

$87,600 a week (high-season) means eleven bedrooms, ten bathrooms, two infinity pools, direct sea access, endless space and walking distance to local restaurants and so much more.

It took more than a decade of dedicated work to bring this unique property, a listed National Monument of Architectural and Artistic Merit, back to life and it simply cannot be overlooked in thinking about 2020’s ultimate European sojourn.

thethinkingtraveller.com

Restaurant Mirazur, Menton, France

This exquisite, Cote D’Azur fine diner largely flew under the radar – at least until its announcement last year as the world’s best. Chef Mauro Colagreco has taken from his Italian-Argentinian heritage, paired to French learnings under the likes of Alain Ducasse, to deliver a unique menu – forged on what’s available from an impressive rear garden and the ocean it overlooks. Two so-called ‘surprise’ menus are offered and run to nine courses and unparalleled views for approx. $426 per head.

mirazur.fr

Private Train Travel

When the journey matters just as much as the destination, there’s no better way to see the world than by rail. And when the rail journey demands decadence, there’s no better company to enlist than Golden Eagle.

With two trains click-clacking across Europe, the luxe line is ideally enjoyed on a private charter. Think of the cabins on the Golden Eagle Danube Express as moving five-star hotel rooms, transporting you across captivating Balkan landscapes in serious style. Or, spend 15 vodka-fuelled days on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express between Moscow and Vladivostok, enjoying what is arguably the world’s most epic rail ride.

Butler service, ensuite bathrooms, high-tech entertainment and Michelin-esque restaurant meals are just some of the on-board luxe.

goldeneagleluxurytrains.com

Rome’s Grand House

Hospitality brand The Grand House allows access to some of Rome’s most prestigious residences, while providing the high-touch services you’d expect from a five-star hotel. Included on their books of Roman apartments is a three-bedroom pied-à-terre owned by an art collector in a historic building just steps from the Pantheon, and a five-bedroom abode in a Renaissance palazzo on Piazza Mattei – the seat of the aristocratic Costaguti family for centuries.

Here, at the Costaguti home, period details like original frescoes, terra cotta floors and marble fireplaces are juxtaposed with contemporary art and mid-century furnishings by Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton and Achille Castiglioni. Services include 24/7 concierge, access to The Clubhouse for work and luggage storage, exclusive tours and dining options and the general ability to peek behind curtains usually drawn on tourists.

thegrandhouse.com

Volcano Dining, Iceland

When you’re sated by the parade of eye-popping courses at Catalonia’s three-Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca, and you’ve lingered over every bite at Copenhagen’s NOMA, the only European culinary experience left to thrill is one that sees you seated in an extinct volcano.

Jacada Travel has created the world’s coolest (hottest?) meal, served inside a magma chamber of Iceland’s Thrihnukagigur Volcano. You could fit the Statue of Liberty tilted on her side in here, but instead, the luxury operator sets an intimate scene with starched linens and crystal and a menu entirely of your design. Befitting of such a setting are helicopter transfers and the night’s lighting – time your visit right and feast under the glow of the Aurora Borealis.

jacadatravel.com

A Plummy Guide To Paris

There’s something quite wonderful about staying in a well-appointed city apartment – tranquil, private and grafted to tangible emotions that touch on being ‘local’.

Of the wealth of operators that ascend well beyond Airbnb, The Plum Guide opens the front doors of some seriously luxurious properties across continental cities – each vetted by humans, not algorithms.

The Bilbury, Paris, is a standout worthy of some summer downtime. Located in the central 8th arrondissement, a mere meander from the Champs-Elysees, Arc De Triomphe and most luxury distractions, the two-level, light-filled and spacious apartment boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, impressive views, designer touches and an enviable terrace.

plumguide.com

Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes, France

This is the elevated setting of F Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night, where A-Listers play whether attending the Cannes Film Festival or not – a place that simply must be experienced, if only to realise lofty expectations can be met and to engage the ‘Haute Cote’ at its finest. 22-acres of luscious grounds wrapped by the ocean, 117 rooms of which the Eden Roc Suite is best and a cliff pool that only furthers romantic notions of historic Riviera glamour.

hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com 

Kate Moss’s pad, Cotswolds, England

Give the British Cotswolds a twirl this European summer – all green charm, rolling hills, quaint gastro pubs and more just two hours west of London (quicker still by chopper, with a wealth of transfers available from the capital). Once here, opt for a stay at contemporary villa Barnhouse – the centrepiece of the sprawling Lakes by Yoo estate and a property boasting interiors styled by the supermodel Kate Moss.

Put aside any images of what such wording may first prompt – this ‘barn’ is a slick, if colourful, slice of airy living shielded by stunning woodland and which features five bedrooms, private pool, fireplaces, art by Damien Hirst and an insight into Moss’s musical taste via a slate of chosen records to play. The villages of Thornhill and Claydon are a five-minute drive away.

mrandmrssmith.com

 

This story comes from our latest Autumn 2020 issue. To purchase a copy or to sign up to an annual subscription of Robb Report Australia & New Zealand click here. To stay in touch with all the latest news click here.

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The Finer Things

Shimmering with gold, diamonds and precious stones, these women’s watches represent the pinnacle of haute horology. Just look at them…

By Belinda Aucott-christie And Josh Bozin 16/07/2024

Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chanel, Piaget, Chopard and Cartier were among the prestige brands to unveil women’s novelties at this year’s Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva. Here we review some of our favourites, including a new style from Bulgari who impressed via an artistic collaboration with architect Tadao Ando and Chanel whose latest bobbin cuff was inspired by a spool of thread.

BULGARI

Tadao Ando Serpenti

The brand’s collaboration with lauded Japanese architect Tadao Ando artfully remixes the enduring Serpenti Tubogas model. The collection celebrates the four seasons; pictured here is the Summer (natsu) with a two-tone, yellow-gold-and-steel bracelet and a green aventurine dial. $27,600. Availability on request; Bulgari.com

VAN CLEEF AND ARPELS

Lady Arpels Brise d’Été 

The maison’s Poetic Complications novelties ensure that telling the time becomes a spectacle. On this occasion, the flowers on the dial blossom and close in a randomised pattern at the touch of a button. Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest lesson in horological theatre was four years in development, with the dial alone taking 40 hours to master. Price and availability on request; vancleefandarpels.com

CHANEL

Bobbin Cuff Couture

Playing on the vintage “secret” watches of the 1920s, the Bobbin Cuff Couture was inspired aesthetically by a spool of thread. The idiosyncratic jewellery-watch is crafted entirely in 18-karat yellow gold, set with rows of brilliant-cut diamond “threads” and a 17-carat emerald-cut sapphire that hides the watch face. Price and availability on request. Chanel.com

PIAGET 

Limelight Gala Precious 

At 26 mm, a timepiece that captures the poise and elegance that has come to define Piaget’s jewellery watches. Now, with the inclusion of 38 brilliant-cut diamonds, the 18-karat rose gold “Decor Palace” dial and matching bracelet, this Limelight Gala is arguably the best of a collection that interweaves art, design and jewellery, with an emphasis on beauty. Around $118,500. Availability on request; Piaget.com

CHOPARD 

L’Heure  Du Diamant Round 

Chopard showcases its smarts in the art of diamond setting. Here, the maison’s artisans have orchestrated an amalgamation of contemporary design and alluring precious stones. The green malachite dial is a standout feature, as is the Chopard MD29 hand-wound mechanical movement. Price and availability on request; Chopard.com

CARTIER 

La Panthère de Cartier

From one of the brand’s most symbolic collections, this iteration of the Panthère de Cartier watch is designed in a rhodium-finish white gold case set with 136 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a rhodium-finish white gold panther head set with 297 brilliant-cut diamonds. The striking, pear-shaped eyes are crafted from emerald. Price and availability on request; cartier.com

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Marc Newson Has Designed Everything from Pens to Superyachts … Now He Wants to Go to Space

On the heels of a new career-spanning book, the industrial designer and Apple alum shares his ultimate design project.

By Lee Carter 16/07/2024

Sporting shades, Marc Newson reclines on a sunny terrace of his Greek island retreat. If he appears exultant, he has every reason to be. Devoting his life’s work to elevating everyday objects into items we covet, Newson has become one of the most sought-after industrial designers in the world.

Case in point, Newson has just returned from Salone del Mobile, the sprawling design fair in Milan, where he launched a colossal book about his equally colossal career, signing copies for devoted fans barely able to lift it.

Over 400 pages, the monograph chronicles Newson’s nearly four decades in design from his start as a jewelry major at Sydney College of the Arts to producing avant-garde furnishings to now crafting luxury speed boats for Riva and even a concept plane in an art project for the Fondation Cartier. All told, Marc Newson: Works 84–24 (Taschen) is a testament to his tireless pursuit of perfection.

Asked to reflect on 40 years of soaring success, the Australian designer all but blushes—or perhaps it’s the Mediterranean sun. “When I look at my own work,” he says, “particularly in the context of a document that begins and ends, it almost feels like I’m reading about someone else.” After all, he demurs, he’s only doing his job. “The core of my occupation is troubleshooting [and] problem-solving. I apply the same rigor, process, and rules to every project, whether it’s a pen or a mega-yacht.”

Marc Newson’s Horizon luggage, designed for Louis Vuitton, and his Orgone chair demonstrate the importance he puts on curves. Taschen

The Newson look is aesthetically niche, but touches almost every sector, from fashion to household goods. It’s bold yet pragmatic, sumptuous yet futuristic, reverential yet iconoclastic. A transparent timepiece for Jaeger-LeCoultre, a sensuously curved cognac bottle for Hennessy, and a sleek aluminum luggage collaboration with Louis Vuitton (the latest of which just appeared in Pharrell Williams’s spring 2025 collection) all point to a singular, forward-looking vision. Or how about the katana sword he created in 2019 with a ninth-generation master swordsmith in Japan? He calls the tradition and sophistication required to execute that work “unfathomable, almost alchemical, practically spiritual.”

Two decades ago, in 2004, he created the Zvezdochka sneaker for Nike. Modelled entirely on a computer and made from a single piece of injection-molded resin, the footwear—named after the 1961 rocket-riding Russian dog—was intended for astronauts to wear during their daily exercises in zero gravity. As Newson notes, “Where else would you need the perfect sneakers but running on a treadmill in space?”

Newson’s groundbreaking Lockheed Martin Chaise.
Taschen

From the beginning, Newson—who helped lead Apple’s design department, and the development of key products such as the Apple Watch, for five years—has always possessed the unusual ability to bend ideas about design to his will. His Lockheed Lounge, a shapely chaise pieced together from curved aluminum panels, became an instant phenomenon with its 1988 introduction. Named for its resemblance to the early aeronautical stylings of Lockheed Martin, the furniture piece bucked the reductive ethos of modern design at the time. In 2006, it broke the record for the highest price paid at auction for the work of a living designer, topping that price 11 years later in 2015, going for $3.7 million at Phillips London.

Around the turn of the millennium, Newson—a vintage sports car enthusiast who once flew to the U.S. to purchase a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 with the entirety of a paycheck—shifted gears to focus his energies on the transportation sector. Asked by Ford to jot down some concepts, he came up with the 021C in 1999. A radically simplified three-box configuration, the model had a main cabin, hood, and trunk; the latter two sections were mirror images.

The Ford 021C, which Newson claimed caused “a lot of head-scratching” at the American car company.
Taschen

“It was utterly ridiculous and childlike,” Newson says of the design with a laugh. “There was a lot of head-scratching [at Ford], but I reasoned that since I’m not an automotive designer, I don’t want to and can’t play the typical automotive games.” Thanks to the support of Ford’s “brilliantly curious and open” top brass, the cartoon of a car became a drivable reality and a beloved Newson fan favorite. Soon after the release of the 021C, the Australian airline Qantas came knocking, seeking Newson’s design eye for a variety of projects, including the interiors of its airport lounges and, more challengingly, the invention of a fully horizontal bed for its premier passengers on long-haul flights. No small feat of imagination, this triumph led to his appointment as the company’s creative director.

The Qantas Skybed, designed for the Australian airline’s long-haul flights. Qantas

As Newson’s fame ascended, so did the demand for his work—in the design industry and beyond. New York gallerist Larry Gagosian was quick to add the maverick designer to his roster of art stars, such as Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Michael Heizer, and in 2007, he mounted Newson’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., featuring a limited-edition, experimental furniture series. “The stuff I do with Gagosian is not exactly mainstream design,” Newson says. “They’re these sort of rarefied follies [or] crazy experiments that I concoct. I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself—and perhaps Larry.” One object in the exhibition was a nickel surfboard with a storied lineage. “I wanted the prototype to be tested by [professional big wave surfer] Garrett McNamara,” Newson recalls. “He took the board to a Pacific island notorious for its huge swells on top of a coral reef. He actually lost the board in the waves and was driving back to his hotel when he saw a local with this tangled mass of metal under his arm. The story goes that the Mir space station had plummeted into the ocean the day before, and this guy thought he had found pieces from the crash. He had no idea it was a crushed surfboard.”

Is there a project he has yet to tackle? “Every time I think I’m at the end of the list,” he says, smiling, “I think of something new.” Space, for instance. “I would love to work more extensively in the area of space exploration. That is something I continue to find compelling and fascinating. It ticks all the boxes for me in terms of engaging with technology, incredible processes, and modern materials. And, of course, I would love to go to space. That’s the end game.”

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Piaget Just Dropped a Colourful High-Jewellery Line with 1970s Style

“Essence of Extraleganza,” a fusion of the words extravagance and elegance, is a tour de force of haute joaillerie that celebrates Piaget’s 150th year.

By Victoria Gomelsky 16/07/2024

Long before Piaget was a jeweller, it was a watchmaker. The luxury brand traces its roots to La Côte-aux-Fées, a village in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel where Georges-Édouard Piaget founded a movement-making company in 1874.

In 1959, the maison introduced jewellery for the first time, showcasing its creations at the new Salon Piaget in Geneva. Almost immediately, the brand established itself as a trendsetter across both realms.

Piaget

Proof that the watchmaker-turned-jeweller continues to occupy the most rarefied precincts of the luxury trade arrived last month, when Piaget unveiled its “Essence of Extraleganza” high jewellery collection. The third and arguably most spectacular of the brand’s 150th anniversary product introductions (following the reboot in February of its Piaget Polo 79 timepiece and the April unveiling of the thinner-than-thou Altiplano Ultimate Concept Flying Tourbillon), the collection of 96 jewels and bejewelled timepieces is a tour de force of craftsmanship and gem-setting that bears an explicit connection to Piaget’s roots in jewellery.

“Of our three major launches this year to date, none of them have just been a launch — each and every one of them has hinged on a product, a story, a saga bringing the past and present together,” Benjamin Comar, CEO of Piaget, tells Robb Report.

Piaget

“So of course, this high jewellery collection had to bring more density than a regular collection. And this is why it’s called ‘Essence of Extraleganza’ — because through these 96 pieces, Piaget’s artistic director, Stéphanie Sivrière, went back to the Piaget DNA, to the moment when Piaget evolved from watchmaker to jeweller, to the decisive moment where this Swiss maison decided to revolutionise the watch world by imagining a new avant-garde vocabulary, filled with colours, textures and gold: the 21st Century Collection.”

That collection, introduced in 1969, included an array of jewellery watches that reimagined how to wear time. From metal bracelets with a fabric-like texture to swinging sautoirs, the pieces were bold, colourful and utterly of the moment.

Piaget

Three years ago, when Sivrière began working on what would become Essence of Extraleganza, she took her inspiration from those heritage designs of the 1960s and ’70s. The result is a stunning lineup of bold, cheerful and wildly original jewels, including highlights such as a necklace featuring a fiery cascade of trapezoid-cut carnelians set in rose gold and centered on a 21.23-carat cushion-cut spessartite garnet; a cuff watch loaded with 26.11 carats of baguette-cut Colombian emeralds; and a suite of blue-on-blue designs including a V-shaped necklace set with sapphires, tourmalines, and marquise-cut aquamarines surrounded by opals, turquoise and diamonds, along with a matching ring and pair of mismatched earrings.

Piaget

“Stephanie chose to highlight the couture inspiration of Piaget and paid homage to our chainmaker skills as a golden thread throughout the collection,” Comar says. “This was very impressive to witness unravelling in front of our eyes week after week. The carnelian necklace, for instance, was created like a never-ending puzzle: first the mesh structure completely hand-woven, then every hue and piece identified by a number and patiently assembled to create this mix-and-match yet balanced effect.”

The throughline that connects the 2024 collection to the one introduced 55 years earlier is, undoubtedly, Piaget’s willingness to embrace modernity while employing traditional techniques in service of timeless designs.

“Piaget’s jewellery style is still coherent and that’s the beauty of it,” Comar says. “When Valentin Piaget asked his Swiss designers in the early Sixties to go to Paris in order to attend a couture show and get inspired by this fashion revolution (think Cardin, Courrèges, Twiggy) this was so incredibly new for the time. And today, when we look at their past gouaches where they would create the swinging sautoirs directly on the glossy pages of the fashion magazines to really picture what this woman would be wearing today, it’s so modern. And still has the same effect today: timeless yet modern. That is the Piaget paradox.”

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Bay Watch 

After losing its lustre for decades, Sydney’s Double Bay is undergoing a renaissance. And with harbour views, lush parks and a friendly village feel, it’s no wonder luxury developments are flourishing.

By Horacio Silva 16/07/2024

The boarded storefronts on the strip of New South Head Road in Double Bay currently under construction near Cross Street are plastered with archival images of the harbourside suburb in its 1960s and 1970s heyday. In the grainy black-and-white images, passers-by dressed in their imported European finery inhabit the bustling streets and fashionable shopping destinations of the time, including Mark Foy’s department store on Knox Street and the chic boutiques of Claire Handler, Maria Finlay and Nellie Vida—three Hungarian expats who sourced the latest trends from the Continent for style-starved locals. 

The images serve as a reminder of an era when European designers dictated the style for modish Australians. They’re also a document of how much this prestigious enclave, located 11 minutes’ drive from the CBD and a snow-cone’s throw from some of Sydney’s best beaches, has changed.

The area’s once-thriving boutiques are a thing of the past, replaced by all manner of beauty-focused establishments. Gone too are the open-air dances in Steyne Park, the old Hoyts Theatre (an Art Deco gem of a building on the main drag that was the nexus of the community) and the illegal casino a few doors down from it called the Double Bay Bridge Club.

Which is not to say that this once-sleepy hollow, whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed in the last 50 years, has become the profligate relic that detractors, who pilloried it as “Double Pay”, predicted it would become after it fell from favour over the past few decades. Far from it. “There’s only one Double Bay,” says Angela Belle McSweeney, director of Australian Turf Club and a former public relations maven whose office was located for years on Knox Street, above the famed 21 restaurant.  “In terms of Australian glamour, it’s always been the benchmark and now more than ever.”

Joseph Hkeik, the owner of All Saint Clinic, which caters to the taut skin of the city’s high society, concurs. “There really is something palpable in the air,” says Hkeik, who is in as good a position as any to talk about the changing face of the place.

“A lot is happening, and everyone wants to be seen in Double Bay. It’s the hotspot of Sydney.”

All Saint Clinic

If Double Bay is once again the talk of the town, it’s in no small part due to chef and restaurateur Neil Perry. After stepping away in early 2020 as founder of the Rockpool Group, through which he created legendary restaurants such as Rockpool and Spice Temple, Perry resurfaced a few months later with plans to start anew on the prized willow-festooned corner of Bay Street and Guilfoyle Avenue. In June 2021, he opened his award-winning seafood restaurant Margaret, and soon after, the adjacent bar Next Door and the Baker Bleu bakery two premises along.

He has not looked back. The fat cats today may be younger than the potentates who used to frequent the area’s old stamping grounds like George’s and the Hunter’s Lodge, and the ladies who lunch are more “wind-swept” than their pre-Botox predecessors, but the Lamborghinis and Ferraris parked nearby suggest that this is once again where the elite meet to eat.

“It is definitely going through a renaissance,” says Perry of his new domain, “but I honestly think it’ll be more than a passing moment. Double Bay has the beautiful parks and waterfront, and for all the glitz it also has that village atmosphere close to the city that everyone wants. And there is so much investment in the place.” That’s somewhat of an understatement.

Originally earmarked to be the site of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens when it was settled in the 1820s, the suburb remains as green as ever, but these days it’s hard to see the trees for all the construction cranes. 

On Bay Street alone, real estate powerhouse Fortis has broken ground on mixed-use properties that are among the city’s most hotly anticipated new addresses. Of the new developments, perhaps the most eagerly awaited is Ruby House, a luxury five-storey strata office block on the corner of New South Head Road and Bay Street, due for completion in early 2025. A collaboration of luminaries, including Lawton Hurley as lead architects and interiors by Woods Bagot, Ruby House will offer a range of sun- dappled office spaces, ranging from 60–550 m², with starting prices around $3 million. The ground floor will feature retail spaces, as well as three best-in-class restaurants, adding more culinary heft to a street that already includes Bibo, Matteo and Tanuki.

Ruby House

“Our vision for Double Bay is to bring life back into this once-great suburb,” says Charles Mellick, director of Fortis, “and to create a vibrant precinct that is seen as the most sought-after neighbourhood in Sydney, if not all of Australia.” Big call, indeed. And yet take a stroll along the suburb’s verdant paths and suddenly Mellick’s words do not feel so hyperbolic. A few doors down from Ruby House, 24 Bay St is slated to open this August in the heritage- listed modernist masterpiece, Gaden House, designed by Neville Gruzman, a former Mayor of Woollahra and one of Sydney’s most influential 20th-century architects. Fortis is also teaming with architects Lawton Hurley on the building, which will house Song Bird, Neil Perry’s (does this man ever sleep?) new three-storey, 230-seat Cantonese restaurant. Underground will be the speakeasy Bobbie’s, helmed by Linden Pride of Caffe Dante in New York, voted best bar in the world in 2019. 

“Double Bay used to have two of the best Chinese restaurants in the city,” says Perry, referring to the defunct Cleveland and Imperial Peking. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with Song Bird so it’s going to be great to continue that tradition.”

Across the street at 19-27 Bay Street, the first flagship RH Gallery, formerly Restoration Hardware, is also under construction. A five-level commercial building, opening in late 2025, it will house bespoke luxury home furnishings and a rooftop restaurant not unlike the company’s jumping location in New York’s Meatpacking District. Meanwhile, a few blocks over on Cross Street, Ode—a luxury tower developed by Top Spring Australia—is slated to open in 2025 next to the InterContinental Hotel (itself recently sold and being reimagined to include top-floor apartments and retail). Designed by Luigi Rosselli Architects, Ode’s 15 spacious residences and penthouses, with shimmering harbour views, are being eagerly contested by the one percent, with two of the three penthouses already being bought off-plan for $21.5 and $24.9 million.

Ode, Double Bay

For all the positivity, and dollars, swirling around the suburb, there is no cast-iron guarantee that these new commercial opportunities will help rekindle the moribund boutique scene and return Double Bay to its former fashionable standing. It’s been a while since Claire Handler and her Hungarian cohorts made cash registers sing.

As such, not everyone is convinced about the suburb’s supposed rebirth. “The rents in this area are astronomical as it is,” says Tony Yeldham, the legendary menswear impresario who opened his Squire Shop for discerning gentlemen as a teenager in 1956. “It’s going to be near impossible for smaller players to stay alive, but I’ve seen this area go through so many ups and downs so I’m hopeful if sceptical.” For the most part, the locals remain sanguine about the area’s potential, with one proviso. As Joseph Hkeik explains, “We just need these lovely builders to finish up so we can all get some peace and quiet.”

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Parmigiani Fleurier Just Dropped 3 New Perfectly Sized Tonda Watches

The growing demand for smaller watches isn’t slowing down, and these new models from Parmigiani are on trend.

By Cait Bazemore 16/07/2024

For the past several years, we’ve seen a growing trend of smaller watches. According to veteran dealer Matthew Bain, 36 mm to 38 mm is the ideal watch size, and it seems many collectors agree as the demand for smaller watches continues to grow. The trend goes beyond proportions and is part of a bigger movement toward more accessible and inclusive watches for all wrists, regardless of gender. This push reflects a growing prominence of female watch collectors like Lung Lung Thun who told Robb Report this week that she desires more watches in the 34 to 37 mm range. In response, countless brands have been reimagining some of their most iconic models with smaller proportions, from Chopard’s 36 mm Alpine Eagle to Breitling’s 36 mm Navitimer. At this year’s Watches & Wonders, it was even a tiny Cartier Tank measuring just 24 mm x 16.5 mm that stole the show.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF 36 mm in Rose Gold with Sand Gold Dial and Diamond Accents. Parmigiani Fleurier.

Parmigiani Fleurier is a brand who is no stranger to creating more modestly sized timepieces with consideration for all wrists and all genders. The brand first launched its Tonda PF collection in 2021 with a larger 42 mm model. A year later, they updated the line with a 36 mm Tonda PF, which went on to win the Women’s Watch Prize at the GPHG. This smaller version was so successful, Parmigiani added a 36 mm two-tone variation for the first time just last year. Now, we get three new 36 mm versions of the Tonda PF Automatic in new dial and metal combinations and with the addition of gem setting.

Tonda PF 36 mm in three new distinct styles.
Today, Parmigiani has unveiled three new takes on it’s perfectly proportioned Tonda PF: one in rose gold with a sand gold dial and diamond accents priced at $125.400, one in rose gold with a warm grey dial and diamond accents priced at $101,471, and one in two-tone stainless steel and rose gold with a white citrine dial and a more subtle touch of diamonds just on the hour markers priced at $50,662.
Tonda PF 36 mm in Two-Tone with White Citrine Dial and Diamond Accents
Parmigiani Fleurier

For each version, you get the classic curves of the Tonda PF you know and love with sweet-spot 36 mm sizing, and it’s loaded with Parmigiani’s automatic PF770 manufacture movement with a 60-hour power reserve. For the rose gold iterations, there’s a bit more bling with diamonds on the indices, bezel, and bracelet for the sand gold dial and diamonds on the indices and bezel of the warm gray dial. With each of the new 36 mm Tonda PF watches, the brand has used fully traceable and ethically sourced gold and diamonds.

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