Laucala Island might just be the most perfect resort in the world

South Pacific charm meets Teutonic precision in Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz’s private Fijian paradise.

By Michael Stahl 13/01/2019

Among those who’ve not visited Laucala Island, it is probably best known for two things. One, that its accommodations are among the most expensive in the South Pacific, ranging per night from US$4800 for a single-bedroom villa to US$45,000 for the three-bedroom Hilltop Estate – or indeed, an island buyout (24 villas, excluding Hilltop) at US$170,000 per night.

The second thing? The fact that Laucala Island’s private owner is Mr Dietrich Mateschitz, co-founder of the Red Bull energy drinks business and said to be among the 40 wealthiest people in the world.

No matter how grand an expectation those two tidbits might create, Laucala Island will exceed them. Not with unimagined opulence or overbearing service, but with a simple and disarming sincerity and an outwardly effortless attention to detail.

The statistics go a long way towards explaining how Laucala, situated among the Vanua Levu island group in Fiji’s north-east, achieves its get-under-your-skin specialness. The 1350-hectare island, of which more than two-thirds remains untouched, hosts a maximum of 80 guests. Around 400 staff tend not only to the 25 super-luxury villas, four restaurants, five bars and the whims of those guests at any hour, but also to a 100-hectare farm and garden that provides almost all the island’s livestock, vegetables, fruits and herbs, and contributes to Laucala’s being 80 per cent self-sustaining.

The island’s activities are, simply, the best of the best. The 18-hole championship golf course is designed by David McLay Kidd. The water activities include a full complement of jet-skis, water-ski boats, cruising and fishing vessels, but also extend to a classic teak yacht, Rere Ahi, and a $2.4m Deep Flight two-seat submarine. And the activities’ being “all-inclusive” means exactly that.


Laucala Island’s classic teak yacht, Rere Ahi

It’s our suspicion that behind Laucala Island’s strivings for ultimate privacy and perfection lies the greatest luxury of all: the absence of need to be profitable. Indeed, it’s possible that the island was only opened to tourism at all to better enable it to retain its world-calibre staff (such as executive chef, Jean Luc Amann) – a task more difficult if there’s only a smattering of visits from the owner’s family, friends and Red Bull athletes each year.

Mateschitz purchased Laucala in 2003 from the estate of the US publishing baron Malcolm Forbes, who had owned it, with its small copra plantation, since 1972. Forbes renovated the main Plantation House mansion, later added a sprinkling of thatched huts for guests, and built a house and small estate on the nearby hilltop.

(Incidentally, actor Mel Gibson and Oakley sunglasses founder Jim Jannard also own islands hereabouts).

So fond of Laucala was Forbes that, after his death in 1990, his ashes were buried beneath a small concrete monument on the Hilltop Estate. The inscription reads: “While Alive, He Lived.”


Laucala Island’s Peninsula Villa with Seagrass Bay beyond

Mateschitz evidently waited until 2005 to commence building an authentic and (eerily, at all hours) postcard-perfect resort, focused on the lovely Plantation House – now the main fine-dining restaurant – and with its villas, bars and dining areas strung along 4.5 kilometres of the heavily-wooded island’s northern coastline.

The Laucala experience begins on Fiji’s main island of Nadi, where arriving international guests are greeted at the aeroplane door and fast-tracked through passport control on a short walk to the private Laucala lounge. This anticipatory oasis, luxuriously yet authentically decorated in local hardwoods, offers the first true feel of Laucala. Literally, too, as its washrooms are stocked with the soaps, lotions and shampoos that are made on the island, from its own produce.


The island has an 18-hole championship golf course designed by David McLay Kidd

From Nadi it’s a 45-minute flight to Laucala on one of the resort’s two Beechcraft King Air twin-engined six-seaters. The island’s 1143-metre airstrip also handles private jets (with a landing fee of US$10,000, and departure fee of US$8000 if Customs formalities are required). That’s handy for the likes of the owner, who’s also a renowned aviation enthusiast and is said to fly in from Europe in his Falcon, after a final hop from Cairns.

A Land Rover Discovery travels the final few minutes to Laucala’s main village. As one emerges from the woods, the view unfurls with the glorious Plantation House mansion and its aspect over mown lawns dotted with coconut trees and a cluster of thatched-roof buildings (client services, gift store, the Pool Bar with its signature infinity pool), to the crisp white sand and blue ocean beyond.


Laucala’s Pool Bar in the focal Plantation area

The Villas themselves are large and luxurious, with impeccably maintained gardens and sprawling swimming pool, yet they are outwardly inconspicuous and quite private, each being camouflaged in its own enclosure of mature bushland. The 14 single-bedroom, eight two-bedroom and three three-bedroom villas are divided variously among the Plantation beachfront and the overlooking Plateau, a golf cart’s journey west to more waterfront villas at Seagrass Bay and finally to the Peninsula, on the island’s north-west tip.


Bedroom in one of the Plateau villas

Among them are three specialty villas: the two-bedroom Overwater; the clifftop-clinging one-bedroom Peninsula; and the “resort-within-a-resort” Hilltop Estate. This latter compound of three luxury villas and pools, intended for three couples, is the owner’s preferred residence during his one or two stays each year.

Our Plantation single-bedroom villa awaited with a dedicated golf cart outside the private gateway, along with a pair of painted coconuts – red and green, replacing door swing-tags – atop a traditional hollow wooden drum, used by staff as a doorbell. The “single-bedroom” accommodation actually comprised three adjoining thatch-roofed huts (lounge, bedroom and bathroom), while in the large waterfront gardens outside, additional open pavilions provided for dining, poolside relaxation and an outdoor bath.


One of Laucala’s entry-level Plantation one-bedroom villas, with its private gardens, beach and outdoor pavilions

Each building is crafted from local hardwoods and decorated in a masterful blend of traditional Fijian themes with bespoke luxury; just one example being the immense “jellyfish” lampshades, unique to Laucala, that hang like primitive chandeliers from the fascinating network of rope-bound timber rafters.

The overall aesthetic of dark timbers, billiard-table green lawn, white sand and blue ocean demands that every photo be tagged #nofilter. The scene glows with an almost super-natural crispness. It takes some time to realise this is because blurry lines are being constantly excised.


Ambience and smiling servce at the Beach Bar

One does not see untidy edges, peeling flakes of paint, drips of rust down the sides of swimming pools. Irrespective of the number of guests (which totalled just four, during my stay), every restaurant table is set. Pebbles accidentally kicked onto the path on my way to dinner were magically gone when I returned; my golf cart, hurriedly parked nose-in at the clifftop Seagrass Lounge, had rotated 180 degrees during dinner, its rain curtains lowered against intervening showers.

At the risk of torturing the Teutonic stereotype, this is Fiji done by an Austrian.

There is clearly a lot going on behind the scenes, though at the same time, the service is utterly unobtrusive; the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the world manifests not in endlessly scurrying golf carts – very much the opposite – but as an elevated level of attentiveness and caring. With so few guests, those one-on-one interactions – whether with the golf pro, the spa staff, the water activities team members, the personal concierge who each day leaves incredible, freshly-made cakes and pastries – soon lull you into feeling like a family member whose uncle owns the place.


Dinners and desserts are created almost exclusively from produce from the island’s own farm

Our first dinner was at the Plantation House, a degustation menu that included lobster with watermelon sorbet, followed by baked fennel, then A5 Wagyu Angus fillet – all these ingredients sourced from the farm, mere hundreds of metres away, where chef Nico and gardener Pedro enjoy the ritual of personally picking the day’s vegetables and herbs. Guests are made very welcome to join them.

The following day, my wife and I enjoyed lunch with executive chef Jean Luc in his kitchen, watching and chatting as he personally prepared the meal. A stunning dinner followed at Seagrass followed, perched among treetops with views across to the neighbouring Qamea island, home to many of Laucala’s staff and to the artisans and performers of Laucala village’s wonderful cultural activities.

Our final meal, the next day, was to be something quick at the Pool Bar. Instead, Jean Luc popped in with a prepared Szechuan lobster dish: “I picked up that you both liked Asian food, so I thought I’d do this for you …”

Such service never feels contrived nor forced, and applies equally to the many guests who will opt never to leave their villa for the duration of their stay. Indeed, it’s quickly evident that, from the point of entering the lounge at Nadi, one can completely and confidently disappear from view; even to the extent of being protected by Laucala’s negotiated sea and air exclusion zones.


Laucala’s $2.4m Deep Flight submarine – one of only a handful in the world – is at your service

Images and words can’t fully communicate that which elevates Laucala Island beyond an outstanding, five-star luxury South Pacific experience. It lies in the eager attention to detail, the efficiency and circumspection of the staff, the excellence in absolutely all things.

As we boarded the King Air to depart, my wife and I once again having the plane to ourselves, we were sung Isa Lei, the ubiquitous Fijian farewell song. It speaks of the joy of one’s visiting, sadness at one’s leaving, and the unforgettable beauty of Fiji. We did not need to own the island to own the feeling.

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Everybody Loves Naomi 

Fashion fans adore her. And so do we. Lucky, then, that a new exhibition is paying homage to four decades of snake-hipped catwalking.

By Joseph Tenni 22/06/2024

Naomi Campbell contains multitudes. Since emerging on the scene in 1986, modelling for British designer Jasper Conran, the statuesque stunner has used the runway for takeoff. She has ventured into all aspects of the culture, from Vogue to Playboy and reality TV. In the business arena, she has dabbled in publishing and the two F&Bs (fragrance and beauty, and food and beverage). Her philanthropic efforts are legion.

Naomi is better known than any of her peers and, aged 54, remains more relevant than ever. As a testament to her pervading influence, a new exhibition, Naomi: In Fashion, is opening at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Celebrating her 40 years in the spotlight, the show includes clothes from the model’s closet and some of the designer fashion she has helped to immortalise.

We all know her snake-hipped walk, her glowing skin, her famous paramours, and—yes—her many tantrums and tiaras. But how much do we love her exactly? Let’s count some of the ways. 

1. She Was Born to Be Famous

Many people know Naomi for her appearances in music videos for Michael Jackson’s In the Closet and George Michael’s Freedom! ’90—the latter also featuring fellow supermodels Linda, Cindy and Christy. But Naomi has been in front of the camera since she was a child, and her prolific music-video career predates her modelling. At 8, she appeared in the official video for Bob Marley’s 1978 hit Is This Love. At 13, Culture Club cast her as a tap-dancing teen in I’ll Tumble 4 Ya. It would be another two years before she was discovered by model scout Beth Boldt, while shopping in London’s Covent Garden.

Courtesy Off-White. Photo Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

2. She Hits All the Right Notes

As anyone who has ever seen Unzipped, the 1995 cult fashion documentary by Douglas Keeve, Naomi always has a song in her heart. She put her mouth where her money was in 1994 and recorded an album, Babywoman. The cover art featured Naomi, photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth, shaving her legs while sitting on the toilet. Fittingly, the album was canned—despite assistance from contributors like Donna Summer and PM Dawn. 

3. She’s Always Ready for Her Close-Up
Hollywood’s history is full of models who went on to become successful actors. Naomi is not one of them. But not for want of trying. Her turn as a nightclub singer in Vanilla Ice’s 1991 movie Cool as Ice flies under the radar but doesn’t deserve to. Nor does her scene-stealing cameo as a French cheese shopper in The Night We Never Met, alongside Matthew Broderick and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Or her playing a sexy telephone operator in Spike Lee’s Girl 6. Who else has that kind of range? 

4. She Tells It Like It Is

We’d be remiss not to mention her 1994 novel Swan. A roman a clef about a young girl breaking into the modelling industry, flanked by her four besties who are also divas in training heels, it certainly played with genres. A murder-mystery-cum-sexy-romance-cum-vocational-advice page-turner, or something like that, this guilty pleasure was cruelly overlooked and relegated to the annals of bargain bins everywhere. 

5. She’s Got a Mind for Business

Naomi has been vocal over the years about making less money than her white peers and was not going to wait for the industry to catch up. Instead, she has ventured into businesses ranging from her former stake in the Fashion Cafe in New York to her signature fragrances, first released in 1999. What does Naomi smell like? Subtle yet complicated, consisting of top notes of peach, coconut and bergamot with a deep, woody base of cedar and sandalwood—apparently.

6. She Gives Until It Hurts

For a so-called narcissist, Naomi has often put her fame to philanthropic use. She has galvanised black models in fashion with the Black Girls Coalition and has raised money for Africa, Haiti and disaster relief worldwide, including after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. When she was dating the Russian billionaire and Aman Resorts owner Vladislav Doronin, she became committed to saving the tiger. Is there anything this overachiever can’t do?

7. She Can Make Hay From Anything

When she was sentenced to community service following allegations by a former employer that Naomi had attacked her with a mobile phone, the model emerged from her punishment dressed in couture and trailed by a photo crew who were shooting a fashion layout of her for W magazine. And when she was summoned in 2010 to appear in a war crimes trial against former Liberian president Charles Taylor—in relation to an uncut blood diamond he’d allegedly given her—our girl showed up in an Azzedine Alaïa twin-set and wearing a silver “evil eye” necklace, turning the courtroom into a photo opportunity.

8. She’ll Be on Your Side for Evermore
The fashion industry is hardly known for its loyalty or congeniality, but Naomi has maintained decades-long friendships with not only her supermodel sisters like Christy Turlington but also some of the most powerful and difficult players, including John Galliano and Marc Jacobs. That she has remained tight with so many of her friends is not lost on her adoring public. She must be a loyal person and in return, fans everywhere remain loyal to her.

Naomi: In Fashion runs from June 22, 2024, until April 16, 2025, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; vam.ac.uk

Courtesy Vivienne Westwood. Photo Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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The Sapphire Dinner 2024 Raises Support for Ocean Conservation

This year’s boldfaced bash raised funds for our critically under-supported national treasures. 

By Horacio Silva 22/06/2024

The big fish of Sydney society came out Thursday night for the third annual Sapphire Dinner to raise much-needed money for ocean conservation. Held in conjunction with the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the boldfaced bash was the first sit-down dinner held at the Tank, a repurposed World War II fuel container that sits beneath the Art Gallery’s new wing. 

Set against a backdrop of immersive ocean-inspired video projections by South Korean digital creators d’strict, and with a dress code that inspired guests to recycle their most fabulous fashions, the zero-waste dinner supports The Sapphire Project’s mission to galvanise the community to take action to protect our oceans and the Great Barrier Reef.

Deep-pocketed VIPs who walked the evening’s blue carpet included  Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull, real estate maven Monika Tu, Penelope Seidler, Anna Marsden (Managing Director of Great Barrier Reef Foundation), Michael and Tina Brand, Andrew Cameron, MCA Chair Lorraine Tarabay, Myer boss Olivia Wirth, benefactors Paris Neilsen and Beau Neilson, and Paul Howes and Olivia Wirth, the power couple known as ‘Paulivia’. 

Retired swimmer Giaan Rooney MC’d the event, hosted by Sapphire Committee co-chairs Hayley Baillie and Ryan Gollan and committee members Ian Thorpe AM, Luke Hepworth, Clare Herschell, Susan Wynne, Brioney Prier, Bianca Rinehart, Doris Ma, Kate Champion, Ellie Aitken, and Chong Chua. 

A troupe of former Australian Ballet dancers and a musical performance by the Fijian-Australian singer and actress Paulini entertained the revellers.   

Among the auctioned items was an original work by Del Kathryn Barton, which raised more than $200,000 in a high-spirited bidding war led by Four Pillars Gin founder Stu Gregor, whose expletive-laden entreaties were suitably salty. 

Nobody minded, given that more than a million dollars were raised to support the criminally underfunded ocean conservation (it’s estimated that only about 2 percent of philanthropy in Australia goes towards the preservation of our precious national treasures), with funds going to support important initiatives such as The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the University of Sydney’s One Tree Island Research Station, the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station, the Australian Sea Lion Recovery Foundation and Biopixel Oceans Foundation’s Project Hammerhead

The Sapphire Project Dinner 2024
Clare Herschell, Kate Champion, Bianca Rinehart & Hayley Baillie
The tablescapes at the Sapphire Project Dinner
Ian Thorpe
Adrian and Beck Buchan
Monika Tu
The Sapphire Project Dinnner 2024
Lucy & Malcolm Turnbull
Sapphire Committee co-chairs Hayley Baillie & Ryan Gollan

For further information, visit SapphireProject.com.au

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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 Tod’s SS25 Men’s Collection in Milan Was a Showcase of “Artisanal Intelligence”

It was also the debut men’s collection by creative director Matteo Tamburini.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

Earlier this week, Tod’s presented its SS25 men’s collection at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) for Milan Fashion Week, where all eyes were fixed on Matteo Tamburini and his debut menswear collection as Tod’s newest creative director.

Striking “a balance between tradition and modernity”, was the former Bottega Veneta designer’s intention, and indeed his showcase offerered a spotlight on the quality, materials, and detailing that are central to the Tod’s wardrobe.

“The collection is more about subtraction rather than addition, highlighting the very elevated, timeless and relaxed materials,” says Tamburini via a statement.

Tod’s

In line with Tod’s restrained design codes, the garments presented were characterised by timelessness, unmistakable Italian flair, yet a casualness appropriate for everyday wear. Only the best leathers were used in the collection—thanks to the Pashmy project, which Tod’s unveiled in January to champion high-end Italian materials—used in creating garments like the Tod’s Bomber, the Gio Jacket, the Shirt Jacket, the Di Bag sack, as well as footwear staples, like the Tod’s T-Riviera.

Of course, the iconic Gommino driving shoe wasn’t without an update, too: you’ll find a new sabot interpretation, as well as the Bubble Gommino introduced in a new boat model with the T-bar accessory.

“Craftsmanship” was at the forefront of messaging, with chairman and chief executive officer of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, reiterating the message of honouring artisanal arts in an increasingly digital-first world.”[It’s] important to uphold artisanal intelligence, keeping under control artificial intelligence as it is now developing rapidly and powerfully,” he said via a statement.

“Individuals and artisanal intelligence at the centre, with its traditions and values, will contribute to keep artificial intelligence in check. Our Italian craftsmanship and supply chain can be an example of the combination of tradition and the new speed of artificial intelligence.”

tods.com

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Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed Men Cut Through the Noise With Personal Style

From vintage gems to tasteful tailoring, attendees of Florence’s biannual tradeshow brought their best sartorial selves.

By Naomi Rougeau, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Whether or not you’re well versed in the ins and outs of Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear tradeshow in Florence that brings together buyers, press—and, naturally, a vast ostentation of peacocks—the chances are that photos from the gathering are still making their way into your newsfeed. You might even smirk at the mention of it. To be sure, you’ll encounter plenty of “overdressing” strolling through the main venues but by and large, great personal style manages to cut through the noise.

Part of what makes the Pitti scene so exciting is that menswear moves relatively slowly. It’s less about seeing something earth shatteringly new but rather gradual shifts and discovering fresh ways to put things together. Menswear regulars such as Alessandro Squarzi, owner of a considerable vintage archive that influences his Milanese boutique Fortela, can be relied upon to provide inspiration on how to make tried and true staples and silhouettes feel modern.

Speaking of new old things, vintage fashions made their way into the chat in a big way this June, whether in terms of rare finds or sustainable efforts via upcycling, fabric development and natural dyes (Paris-based De Bonne Facture achieved an ideal medium brown using coffee, for instance). At the heart of the conversation was another bona fide vintage guru Maurizio Donadi who made a case for the timelessness and democratic nature of indigo with his centuries-spanning exhibit of antique garments from around the globe.

Below you’ll find a dozen of our favorite looks from Pitti Uomo 106, lensed by our eagle-eyed street-style photographer Lorenzo Sodi. We hope they inspire.

Lorenzo Sodi

A lesson in simplicity and the power of a classic palette—good quality vintage accents such as a turquoise embellished belt buckle add interest to timeless workwear. Ray-Ban’s universally-flattering Wayfarer sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch.

Lorenzo Sodi

Sans suit and shirt, the neckerchief (of which there were many at Pitti), adds a welcome dose of colour to a white tee and relaxed jacket and proves that sometimes one choice detail is all it takes. A well-loved, slightly-too-long belt and canvas Vans contribute to the casual harmony.

Lorenzo Sodi

Whatever the weather, you’ll find Douglas Cordeaux, from Fox Brothers, looking immaculate in shirt and tie… and a suit made of one of Fox’s many fabrics. British elegance, embodied.

Lorenzo Sodi

Relaxed elegance is the foundation of the Brunello Cuccinelli brand. Here, the maestro himself shows us how it’s done in a double-breasted linen ensemble featuring a few personal flourishes.

Lorenzo Sodi

Designer Alessandro Pirounis of Pirounis offers a masterclass on the rule of three with a contemporary twist, subbing the usual jacket with an overshirt of his own design.

Lorenzo Sodi

A renaissance man takes Florence. True to his roots, US Marine veteran, Savile Row-trained tailor and photographer Robert Spangle blazes a sartorial trail that’s all his own.

Lorenzo Sodi

Cream trousers are an essential element of elegant Italian summer style. Designer Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis channels one of the greats (Marcello Mastroianni) in a dark polo of his own design, collar spread wide across his jacket’s lapel for a welcome retro lean.

Lorenzo Sodi

Proof of the power of tonal dressing, that can create an impactful outfit just by sticking to the same colour family. A chic ensemble and in some ways an elevated version of the double-denim look, every element is working hard in service to the whole.

Lorenzo Sodi

UK-based stylist Tom Stubbs has long been a proponent of blousy pleats, lengthy db jackets, and statement-making neck scarves and here, in vintage Armani, he embodies the louche, oversize look that many designers are just now catching up on.

Lorenzo Sodi

A tailor splitting his time between Berlin and Cologne, Maximilian Mogg is known for his strong-shouldered, architectural suiting. Yet in Mogg’s hands, particularly with this non-traditional colour scheme, the effect is always modern and youthful.

Lorenzo Sodi

If Max Poglia’s relaxed Hawaiian shirt and suit combo is any indication, summer has truly arrived. But it’s an excellent example of how to wearing tailoring in more casual fashion. This cream db would look perfect with shirt and tie at a wedding in August and just as chic here with slippers and a laid-back shirt.

Lorenzo Sodi

Another example of how tailoring can be laid-back and breezy for summer, from a dude who looks no stranger to enjoying the best of the warmer months. Jaunty pocket square, sandals, untucked linen shirt…go forth and emulate.

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