Heir to the tailoring dynasty, Luca Rubinacci is a regular on blogs around the world

Heir to the tailoring dynasty, Luca Rubinacci is a regular on blogs around the world

Our columnist is renowned as one of the world’s most inspiring dandies; and he says wintertime can combine flair with practicality, whether your February is spent in Mayfair, Moscow or Manila


To be unique, you don’t have to be fashionable; you just have to build your own style. It is your profile, your message to the world. It isn’t about wearing the most glamorous clothing, it is about making your own mark and you shouldn’t be afraid of asking for inspiration if you need it.

In winter, heavy cloths, unlined, are always a good bet. Colours appear much warmer because the materials – cashmere, wool and heavy tweeds – give a deeper tone.

Pick your colour palette carefully. Black and brown are a very gentlemanly combination look at these guys. Red, green and mustard yellow worn during the day give a rural impression. Colour will almost always make you feel a little happier. I tend to prefer darker colours in the winter for the city, but lighter colours do look good when skiing. It brings a countryside ambience to the slopes.

With 45 tailors in the studio, Rubinacci is arguably the largest handmade tailor company in Europe

With 45 tailors in the studio, Rubinacci is arguably the largest handmade tailor company in Europe

I have recently created ‘Dandy Pashminas’. Closed, you just see a dash of colour, but when you open them up you see a cartoon of ‘La Toilette du Dandy’, an image I discovered in a vintage book of my father’s from the thirties. It captures the dandies as they are primping and preparing. Only you know what’s inside your scarf, it’s your secret. I like to parody fashion, which is why I created the ‘Happy Skull’ pashminas, a play on the reams of skull motifs that emerge from designers’ studios. We don’t use characters like Superman; we are tailors, not a fashion brand.

Winter shoes can be difficult. This season, I was inspired by Knickerbocker shoes, but tried to create something warm. The shoes have a formal shape, so I used tweeds in grey, green and brown, with a splash of colour on the inside. They have a thicker sole than our winter shoes and double canvas to protect from the rain. They are not boots. They are the sort of shoe worn by a gentleman who walks a few paces from the car to the restaurant, or from the hotel to the meeting room.

An image taken from a vintage book, ‘La Toilette du Dandy’ is a secret known only to its owner

An image taken from a vintage book, ‘La Toilette du Dandy’ is a secret known only to its owner

I personally don’t like carrying an umbrella, so I replace it with a flannel hat. People have a tendency to think they are oldfashioned, but with a little colour they can be made more modern. Forest green, tobacco or blue are popular with younger customers and it’s better than a baseball cap. There’s something quintessentially English about it.

I noticed that whenever men arrive at a dinner or at their friend’s home, the first thing they do is remove their coat. They feel constrained by it. It is stiff, you can’t stretch your arms – it isn’t comfortable. If they are wearing a jumper, they keep it on. However, if you remove the lining from the coat and use softer materials, it changes how you behave in the coat. It won’t only be the man that notices; any woman he is accompanying will also feel the difference when she touches his arm.

There is a misconception that work clothes mean you must be conventional. I created a Korean style jacket pullover in cashmere for my friend with a painted silk Thai lining. You can be smart and retain your individuality and humour. I’m always wary of a customer who arrives in the store and asks for the most fashionable item. It may well be a red jacket, but there’s no guarantee that it will suit them. They might look like a clown. If it doesn’t look good, I won’t sell it to them. They may not like, or be used to hearing no but it shouldn’t be about fashion. It needs to be about you, what you feel comfortable in. That’s when you receive admiring looks, in summer or winter.


Reading time: 3 min
Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa

Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsuhisa

It is a quarter of a century since Nobu Matsuhisa first teamed up with Robert De Niro to open a restaurant in LA that would change the way the A-list eats. DARIUS SANAI sat down with Nobu recently to talk taste, celebrity, and hotels

Everyone remembers their first visit to a Nobu. Mine was quite a few years back, in London, accompanied by a number of hard-worn journalists determined not to be star-struck either by the other guests or the food. After chatting to Queen Rania of Jordan, exchanging hellos with Uma Thurman and tasting the original black cod that made Nobu famous around the world, it was hard to remain skeptical.

Nobu himself is an intense, modest man, with huge presence but little noise. As his empire, still owned in partnership with De Niro, has expanded, to 22 restaurants around the world and now hotels in Las Vegas and Riyadh, with others coming soon in London and Bahrain, he is no longer spending his days in the kitchen but remains very involved with the creation of the dishes. Nobu-style food, while Japanese influenced, with hints of South America, is as distinctive and original as the highoctane, dazzling service and venues.

As a brand, Nobu envelops a highly contemporary concept of healthy, expensive, minimalist dining and socialising that is the polar opposite of the traditional Escoffier-influenced fine dining experience; it speaks of the casual yet highly stylised living experience of today’s image-conscious high net worths. Which is why celebrities from Kate Moss, Elton John and Brad Pitt to Naomi Campbell, Tom Cruise and various royals remain regulars. And every slick Asian-fusion restaurant in the world, from Zuma to Sushisamba Las Vegas, owes a debt to Nobu, the man, and his restaurants.

What are the most exciting things you are doing at the moment?

You know, I’m a chef, and I now travel every three or four days, seeing the different restaurants in different cities. I see the chefs, I see the managers, and then I talk to the chefs about creating something; about creating new dishes; about cooking. That’s exciting. It used to be that I was much more involved with training, but now we have four teams around the world – two in America, one for the European restaurants, one for the Asian restaurants, and we’re opening the Nobu hotels, so everyone’s excited about getting involved in the new projects.

When you started out did you ever think it would come to this?

No, no, no. My first restaurant opened in 1987, I was so happy and it was only a 38-seat restaurant. I didn’t think at all about the future, I just like to try my best day to day. And then here I am, opening restaurants all over the world…

Nobu Berkeley ST -  Located in the heart of Mayfair, the lounge is located within the twostorey restaurant

Nobu Berkeley ST – Located in the heart of Mayfair, the lounge is located within the twostorey restaurant

Do you still work in the kitchen?

The first time I create something I have to show to them how to do it, so then I teach one chef, so this chef can teach all over the restaurant. Recently I went to Dubai, we created one dish, so this Dubai chef then taught this recipe [to his colleagues]. Then we went to Moscow, and did the same, and London. These days I teach them how to do things. I don’t stay in the kitchen all day any more.

When you started in 1987 the world was very different to now…

It’s good because I appreciate it when people understand my food and also when they appreciate quality. When I first opened in LA, we were using frozen fish: yellowtail, eel, shrimp, mackerel, a lot of frozen produce. Now it’s all fresh produce, and that means I know that people now appreciate what fresh fish tastes like.

But you have a lot of competition now.

The competition is very good because it means people understand. We have a lot of new restaurant openings, but each restaurant has its own character. I don’t want to say we are the best, because each restaurant has its own character. I try to do my best, make new creations, and customers come because it makes them happy. When new restaurants open they can compare, they can think, I love this restaurant but Nobu is better. The competition means, we always have to try our best.

Restaurants come and go – how have yours stayed up there for so long?

It’s a passion, I think any kind of job requires this: writing, movies, music. If you try your best, at least you’ll make one plus one equals two. But my way, I like to make it one plus one equals plus one hundred. Without passion, that is impossible.

How important is everything apart from the food? Service, ambience, décor?

It’s all about food and service, because the restaurant business is hospitality, people are spending money not just for the food, they have to enjoy the experience from the beginning to the end.

Interior design?

Number three for me.

Is your celebrity clientele important?

I’m very happy celebrities come, and regular customers also. Regular customers come and spot celebrities. But celebrity people are very sensitive about what they eat. People like Victoria Beckham and David Beckham come because they trust our food, which is very important.

How much has the food changed over the last 25 years?

I create sushi and fish dishes. It used to be that people were wary of fish; they thought the smell was off-putting. But fresh fish does not have any smell, or “fishy” taste, it has clean flavours. More people have understood this over the past 25 years. And a lot of people like fish now because it is healthy.

Does cooking come from the heart?

Yes. If I see a beautiful girl I want to approach her with my cooking. To show off what I can do.

Is your food becoming technically more complex?

Everything in Nobu has a Japanese background. Best example: the burger uses bread, but you know in Japanese cooking we never use bread. So we made a tofu bun, very good and very healthy. So this is like a Nobu style: I like to keep the Japanese concept of food. It would be easy to make pastas or sausage or ham, but the Nobu restaurants have a background in Japanese cooking.

Do you overrule your chefs in your restaurants?

Yes. Yesterday a chef showed us one of his new dishes. It was with turbot, which has a very nice white meat. He did a smoke, but too strong a smoke so you couldn’t taste any other flavours. So the chef asked how was it, and I said, “I didn’t like it, please remove it.” Sometimes, when you work too hard on something it doesn’t work. My way is simple, but with heart and detail.

How important is being on TV to a chef like you?

Actually, I don’t like being on TV.

Is it necessary?

To do interviews about the cuisine, yes, because a lot of people watch it. You are starting hotels now. Tell me about that.

We had a lot of restaurants in hotels, all over the world. My partner, Robert De Niro, has his own hotel, the Greenwich in New York City. Then one day he said, “Wait a minute, we do restaurants in hotels, why don’t we do hotels ourselves?”

How important is the Nobu food element in the hotels?

In the Las Vegas hotel, you can have 24- hour room service of anything from the Nobu menu. Anytime you like.

Will Smith and son, Jaden The restaurant regularly attracts an A-list clientele, including celebrities such as Smith

Will Smith and son, Jaden The restaurant regularly attracts an A-list clientele, including celebrities such as Smith

What irks you when travelling?

When you go to a restaurant you are excited about, and the food is good, but the service is so slow, or they don’t pay much attention, it is so disappointing. Training staff for watching tables is so important.

What is your service philosophy – Nobu is not formal like traditional fine dining restaurants?

We are not looking to be a Michelin-star restaurant. I like to show energy, and also, not too much service. Too much service means that the customer gets tired. But if the customer is looking for something then the waiter is immediately there, then that is my perfect service.

Any new types of dish you are creating?

I like to stick to my Japanese concept. We don’t use creams, we don’t use butter much, and no cheese. Food has fashions, but I want to keep my concept, my ingredients.

Black Cod with Miso

Black Cod with Miso

What do you think of all the imitators?

I opened in 1987 and a lot of chefs said it’s not a Japanese restaurant. Now after 27 years, there are a lot of restaurants with a ‘Nobu influence’, with the black cod; a lot of people have copied us. Some restaurants even call it “Nobu-style black cod”, and we complain. People want to use our name, and I don’t like this. There is a cookbook, they can copy my food, but no one can copy my heart. Nobu is cooking with a heart. Now black cod is all over the world, the price of black cod used to be 70 cents per pound, now it is US$8 dollars per pound, the price has gone up but I support this: Japanese produce is growing in popularity all over the world, which is very good.

What’s your latest creation?

I have created soya salt. Try some.

Wow. It’s… like nothing else. Does it come from Japan?

No. I created it a couple of years ago. I’ll be selling it.

How do you define your food? What would you call it? Japanese? Japanese-influenced?

Nobu-style food.

Where do you experiment to make this? Do you have a laboratory?

We talk to customers and they give me homework to do!

Nobu London

Nobu London

Umami is very important to you?


In everything? Are there different types of umami?

Japanese umami has no calories, so that is why Japanese food is very healthy. So the basics are umami, then you work out how much salt, how much sugar, how much sour, all the different combinations, then comes the perfect balance and it automatically tastes good.

Is umami one taste, like salt? Or is it a range of flavours?

Soya sauce has umami because of the glutamate, miso too. It is a balance, it’s about deliciousness. It is a balance in the whole flavour. Spain has ham, Italy has cheese and tomatoes, China has dry seafood, you know, each country has its own umami. Japanese umami has no calories. You know the mother’s milk for the baby after it is born, this is also umami. All over the world, the kids have the taste of umami, it is the mother’s milk, no salt, no sour, no bitter, no sweet, just umami.

noburestaurants.com, nobuhotels.com

Reading time: 9 min

Planning a holiday en famille? Kids and parents, know now that kids’ clubs are very 2013. Caroline Davies outlines eight proper children’s activities for the imaginative and adventurous

Wild Child 1


The practical way to teach look before you leap. Sign your child up to learn parkour, the art of ‘overcoming’ obstacles, progressing from a frog leap to full blown urban exploring. You can tell your child it’s good exercise and great for their balance, but they’ll be doing it to look like Spider-man.

Where to do it: Baltimore, USA
Age range: 6-14 years
Top tip: The phrase bouncing off the walls might take on a new meaning.

Wild Child 2


Fresh air, great views, a heartstopping plunge… Even the thought of watching your child jump from a great height, tied only to a piece of elastic, can cause sweaty palms. No longer the preserve of the gap year student, bungy jumps are available even before they hit the tweens in New Zealand.

Where to do it: New Zealand, find a good gorge
Age range: Certain bungy jumps are possible from 10+
Top tip: Buy the video. You might not want to watch it live.


Some children love animals. Some love gore. There’s something for everybody at a taxidermy class. Death Warmed Up specialises in anthropomorphic taxidermy: animals engaged in human activities. Starting with baby rats and progressing to the advanced stage of foxes, you may end up with an entire menagerie. Try to find an iPad app which teaches anatomy and creativity in the same hands-on way.

Where to do it: Death Warmed Up, Stockport
Age range: 9-17 years (under 16 needs adult permission)
Top tip: Don’t bring your own pet.

Wild Child 3


Camel rides are so 2010. To guarantee that your child comes back with the best holiday diary, let them ride an ostrich. For those of you who haven’t read National Geographic in a while, ostriches can’t fly, but they can sprint. Up to 43 miles an hour. Just watch out for their legs; a single swipe can kill a lion.

Where to do it: Cango Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn, not far from Cape Town, South Africa
Age range: 6+
Top tip: Don’t grab their neck. It’s their throat, not a joystick.

Wild Child 5


You’ve made the mistake of showing your 8-year-old ’Jaws’. Perhaps the only way to confront the fear you have instilled in your child is to face it head on. Deep Sea World in Scotland offers scuba diving with sand tiger sharks. Around 3 metres long with rows of ragged teeth, they look vicious but are known to be docile “unless bothered”.

Where to do it: Deep Sea World, Scotland
Age range: 8+
Top tip: Keep your hands inside the cage.


One of the most risky of the Winter Olympic sports, groups of four squeeze into a fibreglass sleigh and set off on their steel runners down an icy track for over a kilometre, reaching up to 100km/h. A step up from sliding down the stairs on a cushion.

Where to do it: Innsbruck, Austria
Age range: 12+
Top tip: Hold on tight.

Wild Child 6


Is your child a mini Mariah or a budding Kanye? Set your small songbird’s sights high and rent out an entire studio for them to “find their sound”. Villa RockStar at Eden Rock has an inbuilt slick studio, Grammy award winning producers and the console used to record John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to tease out a hit. Beware; once you let your child near a mic, you’ve no idea where it might end.

Where to do it: Rock Star Villa, Eden Rock, St Barths, Caribbean
Age range: If they can hold a note…
Top tip: Think twice before putting it online. Remember Rebecca Black?

Wild Child 4


Life isn’t all about digging in your spurs and cracking the whip. Teach your child the art of equine deliberation. Horses are pretty picky about who they listen to; highly strung conversation causes them to panic, too quiet and they don’t consider you a leader. Lessons for life…

Where to do it: Monty Roberts, California
Age range: You can start learning a language at any age.
Top tip: Horses’ ears are their tell. Not all lessons translate to the boardroom.

Reading time: 3 min

When the photographer ANNA SKLADMANN returned to her parents’ homeland, Russia, she discovered a generation of privileged, sophisticated children. She thought of them as little adults, and has devoted a book to shooting what will become the next generation of Russia’s economic rulers. We publish some of her images from “Little Adults” on these pages, and Skladmann speaks about her experiences to LUX below

LUX Why did you decide to shoot these very privileged children?

AS I was born in Germany to Russian parents. The first time I came to Russia was for the millennium where I accompanied my parents to a masquerade ball. At that event there was a table with children who held themselves, talked and behaved in the manner of Little Adults. Even though I was very young, these images never left my memory.

LUX Did anything strike you about them in general?

AS I started working on the project while graduating from university (Parsons School Of Design in New York) and finished the project two years later. I, as a visual artist and photographer, grew up and shaped myself with these children. They taught me many things and motivated me. My plan is to rephotograph them 10 years from the time the project was finished.

LUX Who was the most interesting?

AS All of them had their interesting facets and stories but there were a couple of striking surprises. For example with Jakob (‘Jakob Shooting at Ballerinas’, Moscow, 2009) I had a planned photoshoot with his sister who was fourteen at that time. She was very ahead of her age and I started to realise that she was actually “too mature” for my project. After the shoot we sat down for tea and she started to show me around the house and in one of the rooms sat Jakob, her younger brother. He was sitting on his bed casually shooting at ballerinas on the TV screen with a Kalashnikov. The Cultural Channel was playing on TV because his grandmother turned it on a few minutes before.

What was the most compelling part of this project?

AS Again, every part of the project had its own appeal. Starting from the simple act of photographing Nastia, my muse for this project, to generating the idea and up to its realisation. Every single chapter and story has shaped my critical and creative thinking. It was the nature of these children which evoked such a desire to create, perfect, and bring this project to life.


Reading time: 2 min
Roof Terrace - A state-of-the-art stage boasts elaborate pyrotechnics and laser shows
Roof Terrace - A state-of-the-art stage boasts elaborate pyrotechnics and laser shows

Roof Terrace – A state-of-the-art stage boasts elaborate pyrotechnics and laser shows

The new Ushuaia Tower brings a whole new dimension of rave to Ibiza’s party scene, observes DARIUS SANAI on a flying visit to his favourite summertime island

It’s midnight on a July Friday night in Ibiza – the night is just getting going – and a thousand people are waving their arms and tanned bodies in front of uber-DJ David Guetta, who is on stage playing Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child”. The crowd has shaped itself around an enormous swimming pool, which is cordoned off for the night; beyond them, another crowd of onlookers is swarming on the beach; in the distance are the lights of Ibiza Town.

I can see all this because I am at a party of my own, on the roof terrace of the just-opened Ushuaia Tower Beach Hotel, where a competing DJ plays equally vibrant music. The crowd downstairs, where I have just come up from, is young, Hoxton-chic boys and girls delighted to get into the pool party, dressed in a mix of designer and carefully picked fast fashion: it feels like being in the moving heart of a particularly snappy Instagram feed: #gowildbaby.

Upstairs on the roof, it’s a little cooler, in every way. Brands have been pushed together with foresight. Partiers are a little older, a little more restrained: their wild days, you feel, are either behind them, or a couple of hours ahead. The moon reflected in the smooth Mediterranean would be almost romantic, if the DJ weren’t pumping out Avicii at the highest octane.

Welcome to the Ushuaia Tower. I have been invited as a guest to see the opening of the party island’s coolest new club, which sits atop a new luxury hotel tower between Ibiza Town and the airport, built for a new generation of highenergy, high-tolerance, new-gen guests-cum-ravers.

Pool Party - The Tower hosts renowned, exclusive daytime parties featuring top-notch live performances

Pool Party – The Tower hosts renowned, exclusive daytime parties featuring top-notch live performances

Room categories sum it up: there’s the Anything Can Happen Suite, the Anything Can Happen Suite with Stage View (offering the same view I was catching), the Fashion Victim Suite, and the I’m on Top of the World Suite.

I was slumming it in a mere luxury double, with views of sea, beach, and mountains, a suggestive minibar, and a minimal-chic bathroom. Unlike some hotels, the room is just an accessory to your experience: a place to spend the morning and early afternoon recovering from everything you have come to Ibiza to do.

You don’t necessarily need to venture outside the hotel’s boundaries to do so, either.

The amorphous giant pool which is a backdrop to the likes of David Guetta at night is the pool terrace of the Ushuaia Beach Hotel – part of the same complex, and already in existence before last summer. The brand new Tower next door has a pool of its own; step onto the beach from either and you are greeted with an array of sun loungers and a beach bar belonging to the hotels. Here they serve an excellent club sandwich made with Jamon Iberico, as I discovered the next morning when indulging in my recovery brunch.

It would, however, have been a little coarse not to drop in on other favourite spots in Ibiza, and here the hotel also came into its own. The cool will tour Ibiza on a 1960s Moto Guzzi motorbike, raven-haired brunette hanging on, vintage Hermès headscarf pulled tight over vintage Cartier, shouting directions and admonishments from behind. I had no such option and opted for what must be the next best thing: a two-seater micro-Smart car, dressed in the hotel’s colours. I headed off for lunch to Cala Jondal, a hidden beach only accessible by a more or less unmarked side road, just two cliffsides away from the nearby airport but a different, secluded world of Ibiza.

The Ushuaia Tower Hotel with its poolside stage is a new concept on Ibiza’s Playa d’en Bossa beach

The Ushuaia Tower Hotel with its poolside stage is a new concept on Ibiza’s Playa d’en Bossa beach

At Blue Marlin on Cala Jondal, I ate grilled local sea bream with a glass of Ibizan rosé. A supermodel I can’t name was having a discreet birthday lunch with some mutual friends at the next table, and I spent a relaxing afternoon with them before tearing myself away back to the hotel, where a symphony of DJs was warming up for the evening. I slipped into some light Margiela and Lanvin for the evening and made my way over to Lio across town – now an established joint but, with its live Cirque du Soleil shows, still the most glamorous restaurant on the island. The friend I dined with had a family engagement afterwards – only in Ibiza can someone go to their aristo mother’s 60th birthday party in a club, something I just didn’t have the mental range for – and I headed back to the Ushuaia.

Hotels as self-consciously cool as the Ushuaia Tower need to employ striking looking staff to keep themselves on brand. And it’s no secret that striking staff tend not to be excellent staff, as they are naturally en route to a career in modeling, acting, or headlining at the O2 in London, and have limited patience for the day job. It’s been a problem since Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell first opened the Morgans in New York and eye-candy staff of both sexes became the equivalent of contemporary art for a hotel.

Maybe I just caught them on a good day, but the Ushuaia Tower’s staff had plainly been drawn from a different modeling agency. The ravishing (male) concierge had almost burst out of his designer uniform in trying to get me a good table for two at almost no notice at Lio; the (female) receptionist was patience and efficiency personified in dealing with various airline bookings and IT tasks; even the housekeeping staff were fluent and efficient.

There is one proviso for anyone wishing to have the ultimate urban-Ibiza-clubbing experience at the thrilling Ushuaia Tower; no, two. First, while the views are striking, don’t expect gentle romance or trad luxury: this is the hotel equivalent of a Shoreditch superclub. And, if you expect peace and quiet after midnight, or indeed, more or less anytime, then you should probably be getting yourself to another part of the island: or, better, to another island altogether. Otherwise, get there while it’s hot – and while you are, honey.

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Reading time: 5 min
Christian Hemmerle and his wife Yasmin

They may have begun by bejewelling Bavarian royalty, but Hemmerle is far from being a throwback. CAROLINE DAVIES speaks to the family-owned German jeweller about breaking the rules 

It is October in Munich. I am nestled in a wooden booth in a “traditional” Bavarian inn, erected 15 days previously. Oktoberfest songs blare from painted speakers, echoed by the swaying crowd. Our table is laden with sausages, roasts, apple sauce and several half-finished litre glasses of fine German beer.

“First time at Oktoberfest?” Seated to my right is my host, Christian Hemmerle. He also happens to be the next generation of fine jewellers. Hemmerle jewellers is a Munich dynasty. Founded in 1893 by Joseph Hemmerle, Christian’s great-grandfather, the company has been decorating Europe since they won the warrant to produce medals for the Royal Bavarian court. They even occupy the same spot on Munich’s Maximilianstrasse as they did in 1904. Yet there is nothing staid about Hemmerle.

Today the company is renowned as one of the most innovative jewellery houses in the world, setting rare precious stones into copper, iron, steel, bronze and even wood. The end result is elegant, but minimal. The textures and colours, simply but smoothly arranged, make for tactile and unique pieces. Their one store, an understated glass façade on a street crammed with designer labels, is a favourite for art world impresarios including New Yorker Beth Dewoody.

“We definitely have a tendency towards art more than other manufacturers,” says Christian, shouting over the trombone. “We are just not afraid of doing something unusual.

“My father realised that there was a strong need for understatement. People in the 1980s had very grand jewels. They were getting them out once a year for a gala event, but the jewels were not incorporated in their daily lives.”

In 1995, Christian’s father, Stefan, tried something that would send a shiver down some fine jewellers’ spines. He set a diamond in iron. “My father realised that with these new materials and new possibilities you can make something much more wearable,” says Christian.

Christian Hemmerle and his wife Yasmin

Christian Hemmerle and his wife Yasmin

Hemmerle remains a family company. Stefan and wife, Sylveli, continue to manage the business alongside the dapper couple, Christian and his wife Yasmin. Perched neatly at the table, dressed in a traditional Bavarian dress, white blouse and green corseted top, Yasmin has been fully enveloped in the fold. Originally from Egypt, she once worked at a diamond dealer in Paris, long before she met Christian.

“I always knew I had a passion for jewellery,” she says. “But I never knew why. I think it was meant to be.”

The creative process is a collaboration.

“We start with a stone,” says Christian. “There is a momentum, having these two generations together. We bring out the maximum creativity in one another. We sit around a table and criticise it until, by the end, it is a perfect thing.” It wasn’t always destined to be like this. Raised surrounded by jewels, Christian was uninterested.

“After school I wanted to get involved with real estate,” he says. “I couldn’t have imagined starting to work for the family business at that time.

“It was a very sudden change. I wanted to go to New York and my studies required me to find a work place for six months. I called my father, because it was short notice. He said, ‘I can help, but the bitter pill is that it has to be in my industry because those are the people I can call on.’

“I worked for a very small diamond dealer’s firm and I really fell in love with it on the first day. It was doing something natural. Working with precious jewels felt so normal.”

None of the Hemmerle team are nervous around priceless stones. It is unlikely many of their designs would have made it past the first sketch if they were.

“I like to think of myself as someone who pushes boundaries,” says Christian. “A lot of people only do things that have been done before because that is the way it has always been. I like to be innovative and try something new, to try to optimise.”

Creating something new requires an understanding of the old. Hemmerle’s workshop is particularly unusual for its glass beading technique, the 200-year-old skill of ‘sorting and knitting’. The work is so detailed, stones appear as though they are woven together, without a visible binding “

I want you to realise there is engineering behind it but you don’t need to see it,” says Christian. “I want to see the beauty of the piece. It should be beautiful at first sight. Love at first sight.”

Particularly popular with the art world, Hemmerle’s understated pieces are a collector cult.

“I’ve heard stories of people bonding over it at dinner parties,” says Yasmin. “They recognise a brooch or a bracelet from across the room. It’s a good conversation point because many of our clients are very passionate about it.”

“Some people would call it daring,” says Christian. “Others would say we are crazy.

“But there are other people who think the same way as we do and are very supportive of our work. We make so few pieces that we want to attract people that feel the same way about beauty as we do.”


Reading time: 4 min