The Man Behind Aman

Meet Vladislav Doronin, who currently leads one of the most premium hotel brands in the world.

By Helena Madden 08/04/2021

It’s no small thing to work with Kengo Kuma. The architect has, among other things, recently designed Japan National Stadium, one of the main venues for the now delayed 2020 Summer Olympics. Vladislav Doronin commissioned him to design a skincare bottle. It might seem too insignificant to matter, but it speaks to the Aman chairman and CEO’s ability to wave his hand and suddenly be working with one of the biggest architects in the world, even for something as mundane as the packaging of a branded body mist. But for Doronin these details—from the bottle’s curved shape to its soft, vein-like patterns—are all important.

His go-to list of architects has taken time to grow—adding names since his days developing commercial and residential real estate in Moscow in the 1990s. “I had to convince the mayor and the city planners to let me bring in foreign architects,” he says. “It was a bit controversial. They didn’t want it. I told them, ‘I’m not going to build for the moment. We can learn from the western architects’ process.’ ”

Doronin’s introduction to Aman, the five-star-hotel chain that he would helm years later, happened even earlier, as a consumer, when he checked in to the very first Aman, the Amanpuri—its name translates to “place of peace” from Sanskrit—in Phuket, Thailand. He became infatuated.

Aman resorts distinguish themselves by their limited number of rooms—at Amanpuri, for example, there are only 40 villas, and it feels like even fewer—in remote, largely untouched locales. Service offerings are impeccable and indulgent; there’s now an Aman private jet that guests can charter at their leisure. The design aesthetic leans toward serene minimalism, and immersive wellness programs can be tailored to the individual. The brand’s devotees, or “Aman junkies”, stay exclusively at Aman locations for these reasons. Some even make it a goal to visit every single location—no small feat, as today there are 32 in 20 countries.

Aman New York Residence

Doronin counted himself an Aman junkie from then on and made a concerted effort to stay at one, even if it meant travelling hours out of his way. But it wasn’t until many years later that he made a bid to acquire Aman. The time in between was spent working on Capital Group, his real-estate development firm, which oversaw the construction of more than 70 buildings and helped to create Moscow’s business district. Buying Aman would give Doronin the keys to a brand he personally revered and, perhaps even more importantly, help him expand his burgeoning real-estate portfolio into international markets. But a peaceful transfer of power it was not.

Doronin purchased Aman from its founder, Adrian Zecha, for approx. $470 million in 2014 as part of a joint venture with entrepreneur Omar Amanat. Boardroom disputes quickly broke out: Doronin accused Amanat of committing fraud when negotiating their partnership and forced him to sell his shares; Amanat claimed that Doronin illegally seized them. When Zecha subsequently stepped down—some reports say he was pushed—Doronin crowned himself CEO. That conclusion didn’t sit well with all parties involved, and it wasn’t until two years later that the high-profile lawsuit was settled. When asked about this contentious executive change, Doronin pauses—and you can almost hear the public-relations coaching in the background—then says, simply, “I am the chairman and CEO of Aman.”

Now, four years after the verdict, the smoke has largely cleared, but much has changed for Aman. (Zecha is off reimagining the ryokan concept in Japan as part of his new brand, Azumi, and Amanat was found guilty in 2017 of defrauding start-up investors.) Long-time collaborators have taken notice. “It’s mostly commercial and food and beverage changes,” says architect Jean-Michel Gathy, who has designed 12 resorts for the brand since 1989. “Adrian was a man who didn’t really believe in that. Vlad is the opposite. He wants to make money and be a bit more aggressive commercially. He believes in more rooms. The 20 or 30 that Adrian liked is not enough. He wants 40 or 50.”

Aman New York Residence

As proof, take Aman New York, which will open in autumn 2021. On paper, it seems like the antithesis to all that the typical Aman junkie values: instead of some far-flung outpost, it’s located smack in the middle of Manhattan; rather than 30 rooms, it has 83. Architecturally, it’s hardly the minimalist teak façade that the brand is commonly associated with. Doronin dropped approx. $624 million on floors four through 26 of the Crown Building, a 26-storey tower at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue that reeks of Gilded Age grandeur. Completed in 1921, it was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the same architects who built Grand Central Terminal. Over the years the building has primarily housed interior-design showrooms and corporate offices; MoMA opened its first gallery there before it moved to 53rd Street in 1939.

Aman New York was Gathy’s first assignment from the new CEO, and the drastic change of pace was immediately apparent. “Adrian would say, ‘Jean-Michel, you design. You know better than me.’ He would never make a comment,” the architect notes. “Vlad, no. He comments on everything. He’s extremely analytical. He will comment on the wood, the fabric, the number of seats, the plates. Everything. It’s an expensive building. He has to make sure he makes money.”

Part of the return-on-investment strategy has to do with branded residences. Doronin has been especially bullish on implementing these, and Aman New York will be the first batch in the US and in a major city. The timing, though, isn’t exactly advantageous. “It’s coming online at a particularly challenging point in the market,” says appraiser Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of real-estate consulting firm Miller Samuel. Aside from the urban flight to the Hamptons, New York real estate has other challenges at the high-net-worth level. “We’re still waking up from the Covid-19 lockdown, and most of the activity can be found below the $2 million [approx. $2.6 million] threshold.” That’s a segment that Aman New York’s 22 residences can’t touch, with prices starting at around $17.7 million.

What makes Doronin so sure they’ll sell? “One, I can replace any skyscraper. I just need to find the land or the building demolition. But I cannot replace the Crown Building. It’s unique,” he says. “Two, location. It’s an unbeatable location with a park view. I tell buyers, ‘You’re above the clouds.’ And it’s full-service. We can arrange your romantic dinner for you. We can bring hot cappuccino to your apartment. You don’t need to have a butler or chef. We have everything.”

Amanpuri, Thailand – Retail Pavilion by Kengo Kuma

He says more than half of the apartments have already been sold. And if it’s true that the Aman New York’s five-storey penthouse is under contract for approx. $236 million, as has been reported, then that would make the residence far and away the most expensive apartment ever sold in New York on a per-square-metre basis.

For further perspective, take the rival Mandarin Oriental Residences, which are located nearby at Columbus Circle and could scarcely achieve approx. $39 million or a penthouse sale in June, settling for approx. $30 million. Meanwhile, a midtown Ritz-Carlton penthouse was originally shopped for approx. $125 million eight years ago; now its price has been slashed to approx. $64 million. The residences’ sales matter, as Aman New York’s performance, will be seen as a bellwether for the brand’s Miami location, which is set to open in 2023 and will also feature branded residences.

One would think that something of Aman New York’s scale (and timing) would represent Doronin’s most complex undertaking. But of all his professional and personal projects, he counts his own Moscow home as one of the most difficult. It’s also the one he’s best known for, as it’s the only private residence designed by the late Zaha Hadid. The two were close friends and shared a love of Suprematist art, a short-lived and deeply radical movement characterised by geometric shapes on an otherwise blank canvas.

The plan was to build a house on a slope in the Barvikha forest where Doronin could wake up in the morning, open his window and see the blue sky and the tops of the trees. Hadid sketched her idea on a napkin while the two were having lunch in London. He liked it, and with that, they were on their way. “I’ll tell you the truth, it was very challenging,” says Doronin. “She does not let you cut any corners. She wants exactly want she wants. We changed construction companies three times because nobody can build what she suggests.”

The results, however, speak for themselves. Known as the Capital Hill Residence, it’s a sprawling, one-of-a-kind home that marries land and sky. Spaces such as the garage and fitness studio are underground, with the night club and pool carved into the slope of the hill. The primary bedroom floats 36 metres above it all, connected by three slender columns.

It looks part grounded starship Enterprise, part air-traffic-control centre—basically, there’s nothing else like it. “For me it’s important that there are people like Vladislav who have the means to invest in something and explore what the good life is at the highest and most refined level,” says Zaha Hadid Architects principal Patrik Schumacher, who worked on the Capital Hill Residence with Hadid herself. “These things were initially prototype solutions, and they can become more accessible, but someone has to initially explore them and help figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

But at the moment it’s Janu, Aman’s new sister brand, that Doronin seems most eager to talk about. His idea is to create a slightly larger, more affordable and more social Aman that still has the brand DNA but targets a younger audience. “Aman I want to keep very quiet, very private. We play jazz music there. I don’t want that to change,” Doronin says. “For Janu we can go more open. We can create more life, more energy, different kinds of music, sports.” He’s going big, too, launching eight Janu properties over the course of 10 years. But is it counterintuitive to be doubling down on a socialised hospitality model in a Covid-19 world? “The exclusivity and the luxury of not too many people around is still strong,” says James Bidwell, the former CEO of Visit London and the chair of Springwise, a database that analyses the potential of innovative new business ideas across multiple industries, including travel. “I think one would want to avoid being the WeWork for hotels at all costs.”

Regardless of whether it succeeds, Janu requires Doronin to recruit a fresh roster of architects and designers to originate a similar but different look for the brand. Among them is the renowned and youthful interior and product-design firm Yabu Pushelberg, which is lending its expertise to Janu Montenegro. “In the public spaces there’s more food and beverage programming and there’s more ability to stay apart or come together,” says Glenn Pushelberg, one of the two principals.

“The vibe is a little less monastic.” The firm will oversee all of Janu Montenegro’s interior elements, from finishes and wall sconces down to smaller elements like cutlery and glassware. Who’s on deck for the next one? “I don’t want to give you the name because Aman competitors will try and steal from me,” Doronin says. “Let me finish my work at least. Everybody copies and pastes now, unfortunately.” Except, it’s implied, for Doronin.


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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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