Sommelier pouring wine in modern style kitchen
Sommelier pouring wine in modern style kitchen

Gaggenau 2018 UK Sommelier competition winner Zareh Mesrobyan is a sommelier at the two Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie restaurant at Gleneagles in Scotland

Last week Gaggenau’s 2018 UK Sommelier competition took place in London to decide which young sommelier would go on to represent the UK in the global challenge later this year. As a member of the judging panel, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai recalls the event

There was a welcome relief from the soaring heat in central London last week when I spent half a day at Gaggenau’s home-like showroom near Mayfair (replete with icy air-con) judging their 2018 UK Sommelier competition. The winner would go on to China in October to represent the UK in Gaggenau’s global sommelier challenge, a significant accolade in the Somms world.

Detail shot of hand holding glass of red wine tilted at an angle

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Sommeliers are at once underestimated and overrated. In some (perhaps old fashioned) establishments, the sight of a patronising and overdressed gentleman approaching the table to tell me what to drink is enough to make me switch to ginger beer. But in most restaurants these days, sommeliers are younger, enthusiastic, and too often overlooked by customers who either don’t care what they drink or just plug wine list entries into an app – which doesn’t give the same results at all.

line of wine glasses with three men in suits sitting behind considering documents

The judging panel from left to right: Craig J Bancroft MI, Managing Director at Northcote, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai and Richard Billett, Managing Director of Maisons Marques et Domaines UK

So kudos to Gaggenau for celebrating the sommelier, and it was a fascinating event and a close call between the eventual winner and runner-up. In the end, Zareh Mesrobyan‘s clear, fast and superior knowledge in the rapid-fire quiz (sample question: What is cremant?) distinguished him. Zareh Mesrobyan works at the rarefied two-Michelin star Andrew Fairlie restaurant at Gleneagles in Scotland, and good luck to him in China later this year. I’d be delighted to listen to the recommendations of this smart, well-presented and intelligent young man next time I go to Gleneagles.

Discover Gaggenau at

Reading time: 1 min
Three female models standing in a field wearing pastel coloured outfits
Two images of models posing in bright yellow and pale pink clothing standing on grass

Looks from the Brøgger PS19 Collection

Bright colours, androgynous silhouettes and billowing fabrics: just three of the reasons we’re currently obsessed with womenswear label Brøgger. We speak to the Danish co-founders Julie Brøgger and Linn Norström Weiler about Renaissance fashion, dressing with confidence and HRH Queen Margrethe of Denmark 

Colour portrait of founders of womenswear label Brøgger

Linn Norström Weile & Julie Brøgger

1. Describe the Brøgger mood

Julie and Linn: Bold, with a play on the feminine versus the masculine.

2. If you could travel back in time to a fashion era from the past when would it be and why?

Julie: Late 1920s/early 30s, I would try and run between Coco Chanel and her rival, Elsa Schiaparelli’s ateliers, just to observe these women change fashion forever. They did it in such different ways, but it is hard to think of anyone else other than these two – they were and still are the epitome of modernism.

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Linn: I agree with Julie, but I have to highlight the Renaissance as well. Especially in Italy, where art and extravagant fashion was thriving. Maybe I’m drawn to it because it is in such contrast to our Scandinavian simplistic heritage.

Woman walking up curved wooden staircase wearing bright blue billowing coat and trousers

Look from the Brøgger AW18 Collection

3. Is there such thing as a fashion faux pas?

Julie: Not really, as long as you wear it with conviction and confidence anything goes. We all know that feeling when your friend wears something a bit ridiculous but makes it looks so cool and effortless, then you try to replicate and it’s a disaster.

Linn: Hear! Hear! In addition to confidence and conviction it’s about dressing to your body type and height, don’t force it if it doesn’t fit.

Three female models pose in front of billowing pastel pink fabric wearing yellow patterned dresses and coats

Looks from the Brøgger PS19 Collection

4. What do you never leave the house without?

Julie: Dog poo bags….they seem to turn up in every pocket and bag. Now I find them really handy – great for disposing gum when you can’t find a bin.

Linn: Staying on theme, baby diapers…

woman lying on her back wearing black dress, boots and red jacket with one arm lifted to the ceiling

Look from the the Brøgger AW18 Collection

5. What’s inspiring you the most currently?

Linn: This is Julie’s field!

Julie: I’m obsessed with HRH Queen Margrethe of Denmark at the moment, especially the 1980s era where she worked closely with Danish couturiers Erik Mortensen (of Balmain) and Holger Blom (a royal family favourite). She is such a brave and adventurous dresser, I have great respect for that.

Two images of models wearing pastel coloured clothing and walking through fields

Looks from the Brøgger PS19 Collection

6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Julie and Linn: Succeeding in the fashion industry requires patience and persistence, there’s no fast lane sadly!

Shop online and view the full collections:

Reading time: 2 min
large gorilla sits at edge of river looking into the distance surrounded by lush jungle
large gorilla sits at edge of river looking into the distance surrounded by lush jungle

Gabon is one of the few countries on this planet that is still relatively untouched by tourism, says Geoffrey Kent, it’s also where you can find mountain gorillas

In his latest column, Abercrombie & Kent Founder Geoffrey Kent considers the difficulties of discovering new destinations and crossing frontiers – from space travel to Gabon’s national reserves

In the noughties, I decided that having explored every continent in the world, I would set myself a new challenge: to add space travel to the range of tours offered by my company. Space is the ultimate unexplored destination.

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In South Africa, at a place called Thunder City – at the time, the site in Cape Town for ex-military jet flights – I boarded an English Electric Lightning plane, captained by a pilot named David Stock. We took off and went from zero to 40,000ft in one minute. We levelled out at 65,000ft and accelerated to full speed (Mach 2.2) whilst looking at the purple curvature of the earth. After I landed back on earth having taken on 5.5 GS, with my feet firmly back on the ground, I called the head scientist and engineer on my A&K Space team and asked about the chances of accidents occurring during space travel. He replied: “There’s a 100 percent chance we will have an accident”. I quickly took stock and decided to cancel the whole thing. It was too risky.

Omo valley tribesmen dressed in bright blue cloth holding wooden sticks and standing against a red mud wall

Suri tribesmen waiting for a stick fight (donga) to commence in the village of Kibbish in the North Western Omo valley, Ethiopia. Image by Trevor Cole.

It was one of my most audacious exploits, but a good entrepreneur knows to pull the plug when all the odds are against you. I may be a risk-taker in my personal life but when it comes to travel and my clients, safety is paramount. When some holidays have been dismissed by A&K staff as unfeasible, I have undertaken them myself to ensure they can be offered safely to travellers. This has involved travelling from the source of the Upper Amazon in Peru to where it enters the Atlantic Ocean – a hairy experience with a swift current and moving sandbanks – and cruising to the North Pole.

Colourful skyline of Tbilisi in Geogia

The colourful skyline of Tbilisi and Narikala Castle, Tbilisi, Georgia

It’s true that the world is well-travelled, but there are still unexplored spots. The limitation is that in these places there is no hospitality infrastructure, and few have a desire to really rough it like explorers of old. I launched my eponymous Inspiring Expeditions with Geoffrey Kent based on the question: why not take people to spots of immense beauty and interest, but where others rarely venture? I lead every expedition and if required, we bring in everything required: beds, Michelin-starred chefs, specialist guides, and even espresso machines.

Read more: Co-founder & CEO of Spring Francesco Costa on creative co-working

I’ll be at the South Pole with my guests this December. Next year on various voyages, we’ll travel by private jet to lesser-visited places like Georgia – that great cultural crossroads; Kamchatka, Russia’s last wilderness; the Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia; and West Papua in Indonesia.

barren lake landscape of the Danakil depression in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression has one of the most extreme climates found on Earth

These Inspiring Expeditions are all about where I haven’t been. I’m mildly obsessed with an app called Been, in which I list all the countries to which I have travelled – around 140, which equates to 70 per cent. In a decade, I want that figure to be at 100 per cent.

One country to which I’d never been before but had the privilege to travel to recently is Gabon. An impressive 11 per cent of this unexplored part of Africa is designated as national reserves and, in this parkland, mountain gorillas can be found. From a luxury executive Puma Helicopter, I cruised the coast and flew over forests, the sand cliffs and Kongou and Djidji Falls. I fell in love with Loango National Park where I spotted elephant, hippos and buffaloes. One group of elephant were swimming off the beach with their trunks raised out of the water like snorkels. Tourism is still a fledgling industry in Gabon, but I predict it will take off in a big way and very soon, and I hope A&K can be at the forefront of that.

Find out more about Abercrombie & Kent’s ‘Inspiring Expeditions with Geoffrey Kent’:

Reading time: 3 min
Colour photograph of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo holding a traditional figurine against a blue door
Colour photograph of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo holding a traditional figurine against a blue door

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is an examination of the creation of an artist – and a person, – rather than of the artworks themselves. Viewers enter through a corridor made to resemble Casa Azul in its brilliant colour (the ‘Blue House’ in Mexico City was where Kahlo grew up and lived with her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera) – a fitting invitation into the artist’s intimate world. On display are grainy family portraits scribbled with Kahlo’s own hand (one striking image of Kahlo dressed for her Catholic Confirmation reads Idiota! revealing the artist’s retrospective self-perception and changing views towards religion), video reels, Kahlo’s iconic costumes, medicines, lipstick, jewellery.

Mexican artist Frida Kahlo pictured in blue silk blouse standing against a maroon background

Frida Kahlo in blue satin blouse, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

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It’s haunting and atmospheric with speakers playing birdsong and ambient music as you drift through the different coloured rooms, and in some ways, it does feel like an intrusion. You can’t help, but feel an air of macabre voyeurism as you gaze at Kahlo’s illustrated body casts, bottles of pills, lipstick stain on a pocket photograph of Rivera… You might well question whether Kahlo would have wanted these things exposed at all?

And of course, we can’t know for sure, but Kahlo was, in every aspect of her life, a performer. She was, as the exhibition shows, an extension of her art.

Iconic Love Embrace Painting by Frida Kahlo

The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Me, Diego, and Señor Xolotl, Frida Kahlo, 1949 (c) The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and The Vergel Collection

It is deeply moving, and important to see the physical evidence of Kahlo’s suffering (at the age of 18, she was in a bus crash that left her with lifelong disability) and to place this alongside her iconic paintings that are steeped with complex symbolism and emotion. She was a proud and brave woman, and the exhibition is a beautiful celebration of all that she achieved and endured.

‘Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up’ is sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, and runs until 4 November 2018 at the V&A. For more information visit

Millie Walton

Reading time: 1 min
Close up image of swimming pool with white sun umbrellas reflected in the water and the ocean in the distance
large grand mansion building nestled into lush green trees

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat by Four Seasons sits perched high on the cliff edge with stunning views of the Mediterranean

Club Dauphin at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat by Four Seasons feels more like a private island than one of the most famous poolsides in the Cote d’Azur, says LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai

It’s high summer, and you are almost certain to be suffering from one of two types of holiday envy right now. Either you’re sitting in your office swiping through Instagram posts from people in exotic locations, wondering why you’re not there; or, worse, you’re on holiday in an exotic location, swiping through the same Instagram posts – and you’re still envious. Because, just as there’s always going to be someone richer or more successful than you (unless you’re Bill Gates or Nelson Mandela), there’s always a better place to be than where you’re at.

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Luxury swimming pool area with large swimming pool surrounded by white umbrellas and sunbeds

Club Dauphin’s infinity pool surrounded by sun loungers facing out towards the ocean

Unless you’re sitting poolside at Club Dauphin at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, sipping a glass of rosé (poured by the cute bartender from a magnum, as is the current fashion), with a little tartlet by your side – a tartlet of the pâtissier kind (before you get any ideas – we’re not that type of magazine) created by the pastry chef as a special summer délice.

Close up image of swimming pool with white sun umbrellas reflected in the water and the ocean in the distance

The Club Dauphin is the swimming pool area at the Grand-Hôtel, itself a dramatic creation at the very tip of the most exclusive spot on the Cote d’Azur, surrounded by the Mediterranean on three sides and avenues of stone pines shrouding hundred million euro Belle Epoque villas on the other. To get to the Club from the hotel, you wander along the lawn and down through a tropical garden sloping down a cliffside, which reveals a deep blue pool lined by sun loungers on two sides, rocks crashing into the sea on another, and a poolside restaurant/terrace. It is entirely private, more like being on a private island than in the heart of the Cote d’Azur, one of the world’s busiest and most beautiful holiday destinations, in high summer.

Read more: Co-founder & CEO of Spring Francesco Costa on creative co-working

dining table in front of infinity pool with white sun umbrellas and the ocean in the distance

Open-air dining by the poolside

And that’s the beauty of the Grand-Hôtel. It’s rather like being on a yacht, except without the seasickness and the feeling of being hemmed in with other guests and their kids. You are surrounded by sea, but when you stand on the sea-side edge of the pool and look back, you see the dramatic backdrop of the Alpes Maritimes and the Corniche leading to Monaco, just 10 minutes drive away. You can visit Michelin-starred restaurants, drop by the Casino, wander the ancient streets of Eze or Saint-Paul de Vence, and then disappear back into the Club Dauphin for silence and another glass of rosé, please.

It’s so good, you’ll forget all about Instagram.

For more information on Club Dauphin and Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat by Four Seasons visit:

Reading time: 2 min
stylish contemporary interiors of a lounge space with orange chairs, big glass windows and wooden detailing
stylish contemporary interiors of a lounge space with orange chairs, big glass windows and wooden detailing

Spring Place New York: members-only collaborative workspace and social club

Co-working spaces are already well integrated into our urban landscapes. Companies like WeWork provide communal offices for start-ups and self-employed workers whilst the likes of Soho House invite members to use their residences for wining, dining and the occasional signing of a multi-million deal. Spring, however, aims to marry the two by offering physical studio spaces to rent and membership to a network of high profile brands and individuals. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the co-founder and CEO Francesco Costa about his vision
Colour portrait of founder of Spring Studios Francesco Costa wearing a black blazer and a blue shirt, smiling

Francesco Costa

LUX: Can you tell us about the concept of Spring?
Francesco Costa: I see Spring as a brand and an experienced company. It’s a brand that helps other brands and individuals in the luxury and aspirational industries to grow their businesses. We work with already established brands and freelance individuals, and it is the connection between these more established brands, emerging brands, talented young people and established talents that creates a unique environment.

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We now do creative agency production, post production and digital; we have studios, we have event spaces, we have co-work spaces and all of this together means that our clients or members or even our shareholders see us not as transaction opportunity, but as a long term opportunity. We are building a community and as a member of that community you are entitled to certain benefits. For example, we did an Estee Lauder campaign with Misty Copeland, the first African American Female Principal Dancer with ABT (American Ballet Theatre) and then we started working with ABT, and now we are the agency for ABT. We create certain content for them and some programming and then through us ABT got in touch with other brands that they want to sponsor ABT, and that creates further opportunities. That’s how this ecosystem works. Of course, the physical space has a key role because a lot of co-brands are trying to complete this without the investment – by that I mean not just a financial investment but an investment in time and the effort of finding a physical space – and it’s very difficult to do without having a physical hub in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan where people can actually meet, where people can create opportunities. I think it is impossible to achieve what we are trying to achieve now.

Contemporary co working space with shared tables and woman working on laptop

An example of Spring’s stylish co-working space at Spring Place New York

LUX: When you started Spring, was the intention always to go in this direction? Or did it start more as a studio space that companies could use?
Francesco Costa: It’s interesting because everything started as a real estate investment in New York. Myself and Alessandro Cajrati, my business partner, had the idea to create a studio event space, a hub for fashion. Our partner was Jimmy Moffat, the creator of Art and Commerce, let’s say he was our expert in the field. And then we discovered this company in London called Spring Studios (founded in the late ’90s strictly as a studio space), which we thought could be a good partner – they approached us and we liked their vision.

Read more: 6 Questions with world record-breaking sailor Giovanni Soldini

colourful contemporary interiors with pink arm chair, patterned pink wall and an electric guitar

The music room at Spring Place NY

Robin Derrick had just joined and Robin’s vision was to create content for companies that were functioning in the digital space. Then at a certain point, when the project in New York was growing, we saw that there was a synergy in what we were doing so we merged the two companies (the American investors remain the majority investors). That’s how Spring Studios as we now know it started.

Then a bit later, approximately two and a half years ago, there was a co-worker revolution which attracted a lot of attention – it became a kind of trend – and I thought it was interesting to give a physical space to the fashion community. The fashion community, but also the art community and other communities involved in the business of culture, tend to travel a lot and have a lot of social interactions. Frieze is a good example, or events or fashion shows or dinners that fashion brands put on, but there was no place where you could meet more professionally and during the daytime so I thought that there was a need for this kind of space, a place where CEOs or the head of communications can connect and collaborate with other brands and individuals.

Open plan industrial style dining room with exposed ceiling and square wooden tables

The main dining room at Spring Place NY where professionals can meet and socialise

LUX: How does your business model work? How do you benefit from the collaborations?
Francesco Costa: There two things that I get out of it: one is the attachment to the brand, to the physical space. The co-brand has an advantage working with Spring or being at Spring which brings them closer to us. The second is on the offer and the pricing. For example, we have showrooms that we rent for 2000/3000 dollars a day and we don’t rent for 2000/3000 a day because the real estate is better that the real estate next door which rent for 1000 a day, we rent it at that cost because the odds are that a journalist or a CEO or a famous blogger walks by, sees the product and thinks that it’s worth talking about or engaging with. I actually have a recent example of this. A very small, new shoe brand run by two young women with limited capital, launched their product in one of our showrooms and a buyer for one of the biggest retails was in the space for another meeting at that time. He saw the product, loved it and they signed a multi-million contract. This is what we offer, and this is what I mean about the benefits the community can provide.

Stylish industrial style bar with leather stools, exposed ceiling and bar tended preparing drinks

Travelling professionals and members of Spring can also make use of the bar area to meet with friends or relax

LUX: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about the brands that work with you and the kinds of projects you might work on together?
Francesco Costa: Of course – Estee Lauder might shoot a campaign in the studio, but that’s just the start. If we talk about our clients for whom we do the production, we have Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, L’Oreal to name a few. We do their campaigns. Then we have a whole other set of partners or clients for whom we run events. For example, we work with Universal Music, we did the Grammy’s week in January, New York Fashion week twice a year, Tribeca Film Festival, the list goes on.

To learn more about Spring’s studios and events visit:

Reading time: 5 min
Maserati Multi 70 sailing boat pictured in action on the ocean
Colour portrait of world famous sailor Giovanni Soldini

World record-breaking sailor Giovanni Soldini

Giovanni Soldini is one of the world’s most famous sailors, most recently setting the Tea Route record sailing from Hong Kong to London in 36 days on the Maserati Multi70. LUX Digital Editor Millie Walton caught up with the sailor at the Italian Embassy in London to hear about his most recent adventures 

1. Why sailing?

I had always been interested by the ocean, being out on the water and sailing in general from a very young age. However, the defining moment when I knew sailing is what I had to do for the rest of my life, came when I was 17. I managed to convince an old American captain to take me on his boat, sailing across the Atlantic. We sailed from Palma De Mallorca to Antigua and I’ve never looked back. Not only did I pick up an incredible amount of sailing know-how on that trip, but I also learned to speak English from the captain – it really was a defining journey in my life.

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2.What’s it like sailing alone compared to sailing with a team?

People think that sailing alone must be an incredibly lonely experience, but in all honesty, you don’t have time to be lonely. Your mind is racing at 100mph at all times. There’s so much to consider when sailing solo, so you are constantly focused on not capsizing, maintaining speed, checking directions. I’d love to say that it’s therapeutic and you get a lot of time to think but the reality is that you don’t. Sailing with a team is a different experience – especially when you have such a great bunch of guys as we had in our last adventure. The little interactions with each other keep you going.

Maserati Multi 70 sailing boat pictured in action on the ocean

The Maserati Multi70 in action during the Tea Route race from Hong Kong to London 2018. Credit: Team Maserati Multi70

3. What makes the Maserati Multi70 Trimaran exceptional?

It’s just such a fantastic boat to sail. The combination of cutting-edge technology, beautiful design and performance engineering mean that I have the best possible trimaran at my disposal – much like you would have when driving a Maserati car. It is a truly unique boat for ocean racing, with its ‘Manta’ foil that keeps the boat horizontally stable when we are up at speeds of over 40knots out of the water. The adrenaline you feel at these speeds, when you are virtually out of the water flying apart from the rudders is incredible and is a feeling I haven’t been able to replicate elsewhere – except from maybe on a racing track in a Maserati.

4. What’s been your most challenging race to date?

Definitely the two Round Alone races because they were just so hard on the mind and the body. Each regatta has its own challenges anyway, they are all different and unique. The last record, along the Tea Route was very difficult because there were so many unknown factors to take into account and no matter how well you plan in advance, there is always something unforeseen happening and you just have to react as best as you can. When we broke one of the rudders we immediately went to change it (luckily we had decided to take a spare one on board) in the open sea. But not for a moment we let ourselves go, we had to find a way to carry on and beat the record and thankfully we did.

Read more: Model, actress and director Florence Kosky on mental health and women in film

5. You’ve broken so many records — what’s your ultimate ambition?

When I am doing something I am fully dedicated to it. So with Maserati we are currently doing a lot of research and development with the ultimate goal of creating the best trimaran for the Ocean. In the Autumn, after spending the Summer doing Drive&Sail Events we will start racing again.

Maserati sailing boat with maserati car parked in front on the road

Maserati Multi70 on the Tea Route from Hong Kong to London 2018

6. How do you relax when you’re not at sea?

I am always thinking about sailing, even when I am not on the water. I constantly imagine my next challenges or when I can next get out on the water. My family would tell you I never think about anything other than sailing. When we like to relax or go on holiday with my children, it is usually a sailing holiday – although definitely more relaxing than my cross-channel sailing challenges.

For updates on Giovanni Soldini and the Maserati team visit:

Reading time: 3 min
Model poses in pattered one piece swim suit leaning against wooden door with tie headband

graphic banner in red, white and blue reading Charlie Newman's model of the month

campaign image of model wearing oversized black and white fur coat leaning on her knee against gold background

London based model, actress, filmmaker and Mental Health Foundation ambassador, Florence Kosky

colour headshot of blond girl laughing with hand against face wearing multiple rings

Charlie Newman

LUX’s model of the month series is back with new contributing editor Charlie Newman. Charlie is a model with Models 1 and has starred in numerous international fashion campaigns. She also works as a journalist and in the relaunch of this exclusive online series, she interviews her peers about their creative pursuits and passions

THIS MONTH: British model Florence Kosky is no ordinary 22 year-old. Since being scouted by Models 1 at the tender age of 16, Florence (known as Flo by her friends) has walked the catwalk for the likes of Dior and Dolce & Gabbana, starred in the Burberry AW 2015 campaign shot by Mario Testino, and studied at The New York Film Academy and the Met Film School. She is also an ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation, and earlier this year she released All the World’s a Stage, a film dealing with youth depression.

Charlie Newman: How easy was the transition from model to director/filmmaker? Did you feel as though you had to prove yourself that bit more or were you welcomed into the film industry with open arms?
Florence Kosky: Generally I think people have been very welcoming – I’m luckily working in a time where there is not only a momentous shift in the film industry for female voices to be heard, but also whilst there is a movement happening within fashion for models to be more than just a face for a brand. You know, people like Adwoa Aboah and Teddy Quinlivan are using their platforms to speak loudly about stuff that’s important to them, and people are listening! So it’s kind of great for people like me because it’s already tried and tested that we are more than just pretty faces.

Obviously though, there’s been a bit of pushback – I have actually been on my own sets and people have come up to me and been like ‘oh yeah so you must be art department’ or ‘oh so you’re one of the actresses’ when I’m directing and it’s a bit frustrating to have those snap judgements made because of my age and gender and what I look like, but I think the best thing to do to fight those assumptions is just be as polite and professional as possible, whilst making really great art.

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Charlie Newman: If you could cast anyone who and why?
Florence Kosky: That’s such a hard question! There’s so many incredible actors I would love to work with. I think predominantly for me it’s people like Jessica Lange and Mark Rylance, the older generation of ferocious actors who are just captivating to watch and so fully embody their characters that you forget you are watching them. Although, there’s a young British actress called Florence Pugh who I think is incredible – I saw Lady Macbeth with her in and she just has this strength and stillness that I think is really wonderful. I’d love to work with her.

Watch Florence Kosky’s short film All the World’s a Stage below:


Charlie Newman: If you could pick anyone to design your costumes who and why?
Florence Kosky: So actually one of my oldest friends from Dorset, Pandora Ellis, has also recently started in the film industry as a costume designer! And she’s fucking brilliant! She did all the costumes for All The World’s A Stage and The Otherworld and just smashed it. I couldn’t really think of ever using anyone else – we’re both massive fantasy and sci-fi nerds and it’s so lovely to work with someone who just understands how your brain works. The only way I could see myself deviating from this is if there was a specific character who only dressed in a certain designer or something – kind of like Tilda Swinton‘s character wearing only Dior by Raf Simons for A Bigger Splash.

Read more: Ollie Dabbous’ new fine dining restaurant in Piccadilly

Charlie Newman: How would you describe the aesthetic of your films? Do you have any particular inspirations within the industry?
Florence Kosky: I would say my aesthetic is very stylised. I like things to be hyper-real and full of colour. I use a lot of dancing and silhouetted figures and I like to have natural elements in my work, like the stars or water or flowers (or sometimes a combination). I guess you could say it’s quite girly, I grew up on fairytales and then got lost in Tumblr and Pinterest as a teenager and then have worked in fashion for nearly five years so there’s definitely a soft prettiness that I’m drawn to and have always been… it’s hard to sum up really but I guess if I had to I would say it’s dreamlike. From the film industry, I’d say visually I draw the most from Wes Anderson, Guillermo Del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Lynch and then from fashion I’ve always loved Tim Walker‘s aesthetic and more recently Petra Collins and Charlotte Wales.

close up black and white headshot of model smiling in leather jacket

Florence Kosky for All Saints. Instagram: @floskyyx

Charlie Newman: In light of the #MeToo movement, you work in the midst of two industries that are being lambasted in the media. Is there anything you would personally like to see change in the film and fashion industry?
Florence Kosky: I’d like more protection for models. The girls who are working a lot of the time are still practically children and I think it’s dark that more often than not they don’t even have somewhere private to get changed and if they complain they’re branded as ‘difficult’. I’d like agencies to stop sending girls out on go-sees to photographers who they KNOW have reputations for being creepy or persistent just because they take nice photographs. There’s a lot of people out there who take nice photographs and to be honest, I don’t think having a pretty picture in your book is worth being harassed via instagram DM by a photographer or stylist or whatever for months or years to come!

With regards to the film industry, it would be great if twenty-something-year-old dudes writing their first script could avoid chucking in sex or shower scenes just because they want to make it racy. It’s gratuitous and boring to watch. If it serves the narrative then, fine absolutely, I get it, but otherwise it just pisses me off because there’s no point and it just adds to the objectification of women, and for a lot of young actresses that is their first experience of a set and it’s just shitty, especially if the director isn’t experienced, it’s putting people in a vulnerable situation without the correct tools to make sure they’re okay just to give a ‘gritty’ feel to your film.

Read more: Painter John Virtue’s monochromatic world at Fortnum & Mason

Charlie Newman: Huge congratulations on your film All the Worlds a Stage that shone a light on the perils and understanding of depression. As an Ambassador of the Mental Health Foundation, how do you think we can implement awareness and help day to day, especially in schools?
Florence Kosky: Thank you! I think there’s a responsibility that parents and schools have to educate their children about mental health and suicide. PSHE lessons provide a really good platform to educate young people about mental health and suicide and I do think that there is actually traction there – the government announced a Green Paper on mental health last year so hopefully we’re going to see a bigger push in education about these issues.

I think it’s crucial that conversations are opened up at a young age as school aged children are at risk – 200 kids a year die by suicide in the UK and so we really have to do something about it to save those young lives. The first step to prevention is awareness and the creation of safe spaces where these children know that it’s okay to speak about mental health and feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. Aside from education though, I think on a personal level it’s important that we remember to just be kind to one another. If you think your friend is struggling, text them and tell them you love them! Go round their house and watch a movie and bring them snacks! Send someone a song that reminded you of them! The littlest things can mean the most to someone whose feeling alone.

Model poses in pattered one piece swim suit leaning against wooden door with tie headband

Florence Kosky for Harvey Nichols. Instagram: @floskyyx

Charlie Newman: What’s next for you?
Florence Kosky: I’m actually working on my first feature which is terrifying but very, very exciting. I’m still working on the script at the minute with another writer, the wonderful Josh Willdigg. It’s a fantasy film that deals with mental health, sexuality, feminism and summoning demons! It’s quite a bit darker than my previous work but I’m very excited to get into development.

Charlie Newman: Lastly, who’s your role model of the month?
Florence Kosky: My role model of the month is my good friend Amber Anderson. She’s a beautiful model, a talented actress and one of many women who accused Harvey Weinstein. She has been a bit of a SHERO for me the past 6 months by giving up her time and working on All The World’s A Stage and helping me share its message when it was released. She’s also helped me personally by giving me someone to speak to about my own experiences with sexual assault, whilst maintaining a good sense of humour and a talent for cooking vegan shepherd’s pie. Soppy, but I am grateful to have her in both my professional and personal life!

Find Florence Kosky on Instagram: @floskyyx

Reading time: 8 min
Open restaurant kitchen with window showing chefs preparing food
sleek exterior of HIDE restaurant with glass windows reflecting the trees of the Green Park opposite

Hide sits in prime position on Piccadilly, overlooking Green Park

Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous’ latest restaurant Hide is one of the hottest openings in London this year. A joint venture between the chef and Hedonism wines, Hide offers a dining experience for all the senses, says Digital Editor Millie Walton

Hide may seem like an ironic name for Ollie Dabbous’ new restaurant that sits on the north side of Piccadilly with almost entirely glass walls, but think of the name more in relation to a hunter’s hide, i.e. a camouflaged shelter used to observe wildlife and then, it doesn’t seem quite so ironic. The restaurant’s theme is nature; Hide Above is accessed by a spectacular wooden spiral staircase that takes the appearance of an ancient tree trunk, leading up to a floor of sparsely positioned tables that overlook Green Park.

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Open restaurant kitchen with window showing chefs preparing food

The partially open kitchen at Hide Above

We are led to a table in the far corner, right up against the glass. This could easily have been a moment for panic for both myself and my guest as we’re both wary of the exhibitionism of dining out, but surprisingly, we both find it a very relaxing place to be. It’s far enough from the neighbouring table so that we don’t feel that we’re being spied on and the elevation makes it feel removed and private.

Read more: Painter John Virtue’s monochromatic world at Fortnum & Mason

This has a lot to do with the restaurant’s atmosphere, which unlike a lot of restaurants in this part of London, is friendly, informal and welcoming. Our waiter – French, dressed in a beautiful cream linen apron to match the natural colour scheme (apparently designed by Dabbous’ mother) – is natural, funny and puts us instantly at ease. After gently placing my handbag on its own special stool – a touch which always makes me giggle – he hands us both a cream embossed box, which as, he has to explain, contains the menu. The Hedonism wine list comes on an iPad – it would take several people to carry a printed version to the table.

Waiter crouching to lift bottle from the wine cellar at hide restaurant

Inside the Hedonism wine cellar at Hide

Hide is a partnership by Ollie Dabbous and Yevgeny Chichvarkin (the owner of Hedonism) and together they have managed to create a multi-layered (quite literally) experimental fine dining experience. Each level of the restaurant has its own unique mood. Hide Ground is the sultry, cool hang-out, where you can order à la carte breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner – at night, when we arrive at the restaurant, its packed full of trendy fashionista types. Whilst Hide Below, the bar, is cosy and intimate with several private dining rooms tucked into cave like alcoves, and the Hedonism cellar. Our sommelier kindly gives us the grand tour, explaining that if there’s anything a guest wants and the restaurant doesn’t have it, they’ll order it in straight away from Hedonism round the corner. You have to admit, its a slick operation.

Hide Above is tasting menu only with the option of eight courses, or ten if you choose the Cornish fish courses. And it really is an incredibly beautifully space, with light wood tables, soft cream furnishings, textured walls and hanging lights which look like a broken egg shell with a gold leaf interior.

Read more: Dara Huang, Founder of Design Haus Liberty on the importance of balanced design 

plate of artistically arranged baby vegetables on a white plate with bread basket in background

To begin: a bowl of broth, raw vegetables accompanied by a tangy dip and bread basket. The dining experience is designed to be sensory and interactive in a use-your-fingers, mix-it-all-together kind of way, and aside from being completely delicious, it’s a lot of fun. This is followed by the most flavoursome avocado we’ve ever tasted, served with a light basil sauce and gooseberries, and the first of our wines: Samuel Billaud “Les Grands Terroirs” Chablis 2016. Dabbous is a master at pairing delicate flavours, and in a tasting menu – where it’s so easy to overdo it – you appreciate that skill even more. Then – one of our favourites – delightfully cold, cured wild salmon with crème cru (we have to restrain ourselves from lapping up the remains of the sauce) & Exmoor caviar, paired perfectly with LUNAE Colli di Luni Vermentino.

Dabbous’ famous dish: the nest egg ( an open-topped egg containing a scrambled, mushroom sauce, nestled into a bed of smokey hay) comes served in a black clay pot. The waiter lifts off the lid dramatically, to release the scent of wood-fires, setting us both reminiscing about winter, family evenings and all things cosy. Both Cornish fish courses are delicious (especially the sashimi) and the steamed turbot with nasturtium broth is one of all time favourite dishes for the surprising and delicate flavours.

detail image of fish fillet in bowl of green broth decorated with nasturtium

Tasting menu highlight: steamed turbot with nasturtium broth

Full, but not unpleasantly so, we welcome the (bright green) Garden Ripple ice cream which arrives on a large ice block containing frozen flowers. My dining partner asks, with wonder, whether they have a whole fridge full of these beautiful ice blocks and we’re shown to the kitchen to meet Dabbous himself, who opens a drawer containing said blocks whilst we both gush about the meal, and the wine, and the interiors until we’ve suitably embarrassed ourselves and everyone around us. We finish the meal with an elegant stick of liquorice decorated with golden marshmallow and a gold chocolate leaf.

Hide is well on its way to starry success (ehem, Michelin). Make sure to get in while you can, the waiting list is growing by the minute.

To book a table and view the menus visit:

Photography by James Houston

Reading time: 4 min
Grand restaurant interiors with plush leather arm chairs, white table cloths and open kitchen
Exterior shot of Four Seasons Hong Kong tower at night

The Four Seasons Hong Kong towers over the exclusive IFC mall complex in Central, the heart of Hong Kong, and has spectacular views over the water to the Kowloon side of the city

Why should I go now?

Summer is hot and steamy in Hong Kong and traditionally a stopover in this most exciting of Asian cities at this time of year involves spells of freezing inside air-conditioned rooms and baking while strolling the streets of Central in search of dim sum, art, or cocktails. Stroll out to the pool terrace of the Four Seasons, though, and you are greeted by a very refreshing alternative: two huge outdoor pools with an extensive terrace, made of beautifully carved marble, with views across the sea to the mountains of the New Territories. Ferries, speedboats and bigger ships waft through the harbour beneath you, and you are at once in the very heart of Hong Kong, and in a resort hotel on an island in the South China Sea.

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What’s the lowdown?

For further relaxation, turn left just indoors from the pool area and you are in the vast spa zone, where you get your own butler to tend to your every need and show you around (it’s easy to get lost between wet rooms and plunge pools and treatment suites and relaxation rooms). A tip: take your treatment in the evening, when the whole city seems to surround you with a light show reflecting off the waters of the Harbour. We do this just before setting off for the airport for our overnight flight back to London, and it’s the most spectacular way to get a treatment in any city we have seen.

luxury infinity swimming pool with woman practising yoga treepose on centre walkway

The infinity-edge pool is equipped with underwater speakers

We also recommend getting a room with access to the Club Lounge on the 45th floor; this takes the concept of such a lounge to another level, with endless dim sum, afternoon tea, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne on tap and a mesmerising view. You’ll have no reason to visit the hotel’s Blue Bar on the ground floor, which would be a shame as it is surprisingly funky – no old-style Four Seasons wood and leather here – although the view is at ground level.

Grand restaurant interiors with plush leather arm chairs, white table cloths and open kitchen

The hotel’s two Michelin star French restaurant, Caprice

The Four Seasons is located at one end of the prestigious IFC mall and tower complex, meaning it also hosts two of the city’s (and by extension, greater China’s) most significant power venues for lunch and dinner, Lung King Heen and Caprice. We loved dining in the private room (with private chef) at Sushi Saito with some of the butteriest nigiri outside Tsukiji Fish Market.

Getting horizontal

Our bedroom looked out over the Harbour and Kowloon; at night you could stay up for hours looking at the lights, and this was a distraction as the capacious desk was located right by the window. The things we suffer in the name of research. Everything else was Four Seasons-correct, from the vast, bright, marble-clad bathroom to the huge bed and array of amenities.

Read more: Former Cognac warehouse becomes luxury hotel, Hôtel Chais Monnet

Luxury hotel suite with plush double bed, chandelier and soft, cream furnishings

The luxurious bedroom in the presidential suite


If there’s a summer storm, the rush for drivers and taxis outside the hotel and IFC complex in general can mean it’s a little congested outside; but you can, in fact, walk almost anywhere within Central Hong Kong from the hotel by strolling through a series of interconnected (and indoor) luxury malls.

Rates: From 4,092 HKD (approx. £400 / €450 / $500)

To book your stay visit:

Darius Sanai

Reading time: 3 min
Architectural render of white spiral staircase in an open gallery space

Render of a project for a confidential client in China by Design Haus Liberty

London-based architecture and interior design practise Design Haus Liberty might be a relatively new name in the industry, but it has already developed a reputation for creating unique atmospheres in residential and commercial properties across the globe. LUX Editor Kitty Harris speaks to founder Dara Huang about her fascination with pottery, sustainable design and the importance of place

Colour portrait of Dara Huang, architect and interior designer

Dara Huang

1. What’s inspiring you at the moment?

I have been really inspired by pottery lately, it sounds strange, but I find the medium of clay, porcelain and the art behind how it’s made and formulated incredibly interesting. The different ways you can finish, heat or perform pottery in multiple ways is inspiring. I am mostly inspired by the volumetric forms and natural colours it comes in. There is a really nice LOEWE show at the Design Museum that really highlights some gorgeous pieces.

2. How important is sustainability to your design approach?

I think sustainability is such an important issue to think about when you are designing something. It is not always as superficial as where the materials are made out of, or the ratings of the installation. At Design Haus Liberty, we think about the direction the wind blows, the pattern the sun sets and how that effects the way the architecture passively sits in its environment. This is to ensure that the occupiers are as comfortable as possible.

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3. What are some of the challenges you face when refurbishing existing properties/developments?

Definitely everything you can’t see. Opening up a building to refurbish it is a can of worms as you never know what is going on inside. You will find rotting structure, asbestos and leaks. It is usually the most difficult to refurbish grade listed buildings. We have had to replace old timber inside floors which needed reinforcements on either side.

Bright interiors with blue wall, potted plants and images hanging

Design Haus Liberty and House of Sui Sui project: Hampstead Manor in London for residential interior refurbishment, for client Mount Anvil – completed 2017

4. What makes good design?

Balance. I don’t really practice Feng Shui but I do think that it doesn’t feel right when the design is off balance. I use my intuition for that rather than a calculated metric. Once the design feels balanced, the way you live in the space will too. Some of these principles do coincidentally correlate with Feng Shui but I think it’s common sense. It can be in colour, objects, the direction doors open or where they face, placement of furniture or art etc.

Read more: andBeyond CEO Joss Kent on creating luxury in the wilderness

5. Do you believe that contemporary architecture should reference the past?

I believe all good architecture should reference the context whether it’s a nod to the history, the urban planning, or the cultural references. Architecture should tie in with the place and not be 100% foreign. With that said, it is not that it needs to look like its surroundings, but it should have a concept derived from the place.

Installation of lines of hanging silver balls

Design Haus Liberty Mercury installation in the penthouses at South Bank Tower, for client CIT – completed 2015

6. What’s your favourite building in London and why?

Good question! It would have to be something historical. I don’t particularly have one building in mind but I do love St Paul’s Cathedral. I love spaces more than buildings such as Carlos Place, Mayfair and Regent Street, for the grandeur of buildings enveloping you. It is quite breathtaking. The more contemporary work in London has been a disappointment compared to its past.

For more information and to view Design Haus Liberty’s full portfolio visit:

Reading time: 3 min
Abstract black and white landscape painting by British artist John Virtue
Abstract black and white landscape painting by British artist John Virtue

John Virtue Landscape No.174 (1990 – 1992) acrylic emulsion charcoal gouache pencil black ink shellac on board. 181 x 298cm Courtesy of Albion Barn

This September, Fortnum & Mason in collaboration with art collector Frank Cohen will present an in-store exhibition of British landscape artist John Virtue. LUX Digital Editor Millie Walton explains why she’s already looking forward to it

John Virtue is no ordinary landscape painter. And I say that for all of those who are reading this and thinking landscape painter means traditional means boring. I am normally one of those people.

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Abstract black and white painting by british artist John Virtue

John Virtue Untitled No.1 (2012-17) acrylic on canvas 183 x 183cm Courtesy of Albion Barn

For starters, Virtue’s paintings are monochromatic (i.e. no sunshine, flowers, cows, quaint farm buildings or windmills). They’re moody, turbulent, textured. His depictions of London are heavy, drizzling scenes of a kind of shadow city, bereft of all the usual iconic shapes. I’d go as far to say, it’s more of a mood than a landscape, and it’s one that any viewer – with or without knowledge of art history, or in fact, of London – can feel. A visual poetry.

Read more: India’s most significant modernist painter S.H.Raza at Piramal Museum of Art, Mumbai

Trained at Slade School of Fine Art, Virtue now resides in North Norfolk where he gleans inspiration from the harsh, flat, stretching expanses, whipped by wind and rain. Mixing swathes of white acrylic paint with black ink and shellac, his paintings are charged with the energy of the weather, dripping with the un-predictability and almost frightening power.

Ink painting of wood landscape by British artist John Virtue

John Virtue Landscape No.43 (1986-87) black ink shellac gouache on paper laid on board 147 x 220 cm Courtesy of Albion Barn

The juxtaposition of these huge, dark canvases set amongst Fortnum & Mason’s gleaming colours and grandeur will be an intriguing one.

Fortnum’s X Frank 2018 is curated by Robert Upstone and runs from 10th September to 20th October at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly. For more information on the exhibition visit:


Reading time: 1 min
contemporary facade of brass curving lines
contemporary facade of brass curving lines

Dramatic architecture by Paris-based architect Didier Poignant has created a spectacular contemporary hotel out of a cognac ageing warehouse

A former warehouse in the heart of the town of Cognac is set to reopen this year as a luxury hotel. Emma Love gets an exclusive preview of the dramatic Hôtel Chais Monnet

It’s no secret that cognac has become cool. Where once the French brandy – determined as such by being made specifically in the Cognac region in southwest France – had a fusty reputation as an old man’s after-dinner tipple of choice, now the 390 cognac houses producing the stuff seemingly can’t make enough of it (the Hennessy label, owned by LVMH, recently opened a new bottling plant to keep up with demand and increase annual production). The fact that it’s a huge hit in China where it’s seen as a status symbol of wealth, and in the US, where it’s synonymous with rap music, are undoubtedly part of the reason why five bottles of the amber-hued spirit are sold every second somewhere in the world. And just as cognac the spirit has gone through a cultural shift, now the historic town where it’s produced is finding itself in the global spotlight, too.

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Last year Tony Conigliaro, a mixologist and major influence on London’s cocktail scene (he is behind the legendary bar 69 Colebrooke Row) opened Luciole, a bar with a cognac-based cocktail menu and this summer, the game-changing Hôtel Chais Monnet will open its doors in a former cognac warehouse, set in two hectares of land in the centre of town. Backed by British investor Javad Marandi, who is also the owner of the Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, the hotel will house 92 rooms and suites, plus 13 apartments. “Here in the town we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said mayor Michel Gourinchas. “We’ve asked ourselves a number of times what we could do with this site and thanks to this hotel we’ll be able to see a reality of what’s possible in a way that’s in the best interests of our town, its inhabitants, and tourists.”

sleek contemporary interiors of spa relaxtion room with tiled floor and day beds

Luxury interiors depicting a marble and wooden hallway with hanging contemporary lights

The public areas of the newly designed Hôtel Chais Monnet, such as the spa (top image) and the hallways, combine cool contemporary design with some original features of the former Monnet warehouse

The site itself has a unique history. The original 19th-century property was once owned by cognac trader Antoine de Salignac who, in 1838, founded the Society of Cognac Vine-growers, a community of several hundred small-vine growers who wanted to pool their strength to have sufficient stock to sell at the same time. Towards the end of that century, the shareholders asked Jean-Gabriel Monnet to manage the society and as part of the role, he and his family moved into the stately mansion and warehouse, naming it Chais JG Monnet. His son, also named Jean Monnet, left school aged 16 to follow in his father’s footsteps, travelling to Germany and America to sell cognac. He went on to become a political economist and diplomat, and an influential proponent of European unity (he is considered one of the founding fathers of the European Union). Later, the site was bought by the LVMH group, and then sold back to the town of Cognac in 2006.

grand interiors of a luxury sitting room with wood panelled ceilings, sofas, chairs, a fireplace and soft lighting

The next chapter in the property’s life looks very different – quite literally. Today, Hôtel Chais Monnet comprises seven original and three new buildings, all designed or remodelled by Didier Poignant of Ertim Architects in Paris. Looking at the hotel, what’s perhaps most striking is the way that the old and modern have been fused together, and how cognac references are subtly employed throughout. “I have never worked on, or seen a hotel like this in France,” says Poignant. “Transforming a historic cognac warehouse with such a large site in a town is very rare. For this reason, it is such a special project.”

Read more: Street artist Alec Monopoly on the purpose of art and wearing a disguise

At the heart of the property are a pair of new Les Ceps glass buildings surrounded by a twisting metallic structure inspired by grape vines. These house some of the rooms (the rest are in an original building, where the cognac was once aged) on the upper levels; on the ground floor of one there is a spa and wellness centre with seven treatment rooms, an indoor/ outdoor swimming pool, a hammam, jacuzzi and gym. The third new building is a series of apartments, which can be rented from three nights to a couple of weeks. The former old barrel-repair warehouse has been turned into a jazz bar with vaulted ceilings, Chesterfield sofas and a piano in one corner. As you’d expect, it will be stocked with a large selection of cognacs, from bottles by the small, lesser known houses to the famous Louis XIII from Rémy Martin.

Architectural render of luxury hotel bedroom with cream walls and large double bed

Render of one of the bedrooms

There are two restaurants within the old ‘Chai Cathedral’: a relaxed French brasserie and a more formal fine-dining offering which has old barrels, once used for cognac ageing, at the entrance. The chef chosen to head up the kitchen of the latter is Sébastian Broda, best known for his light, Mediterranean cooking at Michelin-starred Le Park 45 within Le Grand Hotel Cannes. “What matters,” explains hotel director, Arnaud Bamvens, “is that Sébastien Broda is a name of tomorrow. In his kitchen, which upholds a gastronomy of excellence, we can find his humility, his passion for cooking, and his interest in local produce. We want a cuisine of land and sea, rather than one or the other.” The hotel also has a private cinema, cigar lounge, kid’s club, a rooftop garden bar for summer sundowners, and a series of rooms dedicated to re-telling the story of Chais Monnet so far. The multipurpose ballroom (for up to 220 people) and four seminar rooms are suitable for meetings and events.

Architectural render of a glass entrance linking two warehouses

Render of the glass-encased entrance linking the two original warehouses

Of course, one of the biggest reasons for staying here will be the draw of visiting some of the many cognac houses that are on the doorstep, but the hotel is equally keen to promote the region’s many other attractions. The cobbled streets, the perfectly manicured gardens and traditional architecture, and the Charente river that runs through it, all point to a slower paced, more charmed life.

Read more: andBeyond CEO Joss Kent on creating luxury in the wilderness

“Cognac has a small bar scene but it has a lot of potential,” says Conigliaro, who decided to open a bar in the town with Guillaume Le Dorner, the former bar manager of 69 Colebrook Row, when he returned home to France. It was a smart move, and one that might encourage more drinking of cognac in the town itself (according to figures released in 2016, 97 per cent of cognac is exported, bringing the country 3 billion euros in annual revenue). With the cultural redevelopment of the nearby city of Bordeaux, it means a whole new part of France is opening up to the luxury traveller.

Large indoor swimming pool surrounded by white marble

The hotel’s swimming pool and (below) one of the 21 suites that will be available

interiors of luxury suite decorated in contemporary style with cream and wood furnishings

Four must-visit cognac houses


Meukow was founded in 1862 by two brothers, August and Karl Meukow. They first visited Cognac on behalf of the Tsar of Russia, who hired them to buy French brandy supplies for the imperial court at St Petersburg. Look out for Meukow Extra, made from a blend of the very oldest eaux-de-vies in the Paradis Cellar.

Domaines Francis Abécassis

Domaines Francis Abécassis is a young cognac house with 220 hectares of vines. It is owned and run by Francis Abécassis and his daughter Elodie, who take a contemporary approach to producing classic cognac, such as in ABK6, blended from a selection of old eaux-de-vies.


One of the largest independent, family-owned cognac houses, as well as one of the largest landowners in the sought-after Borderies cru. Headed up by fifth generation owner Cyril Camus, the house recently launched a new addition to its Borderies range, Camus XO Borderies Family Reserve.


Established by Baron Jean-Baptiste Otard in 1795, this house is known for its medieval residence and its distinctive teardrop shaped bottles. The one to buy is Fortis et Fidelis, created in homage to the house’s founder and featuring the Otard coat of arms motif on the bottle.

For more information and updates on Hôtel Chais Monnet visit: 

Reading time: 7 min
Street art painting by Los Angeles based artist Alec Monopoly depicting TAG Heuer's CEO Jean-Claude Biver
Street artist Alec Monopoly wearing hat and scarf covering half of his face

The artist in his signature (dis)guise in Hong Kong

Street artist Alec Monopoly’s distinctive creations are a blend of subversive graffiti culture and post-pop colour. And he has now been tasked with rejuvenating the culture at watch brand TAG Heuer. Nathalie Breitschwerdt catches up with the elusive – and anonymous – LA-based graffiti genius.

The manufacture of luxury watch brand TAG Heuer consists of a series of modern buildings on the edge of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in western Switzerland. The town is built on a US-style grid system, seemingly at odds with the rolling forested hills of the Jura that surround it.

Inside, it’s as you would expect a high-end watch factory to be. A sanitized workshop floor contains rows of technicians piecing together different watch components; other rooms contain test laboratories and machines for finishing the timepieces.

Walk from the workshop through some connecting corridors to the corporate offices, however, and you are greeted with an extraordinary sight. It is a glass-walled room with paints, canvases and strikingly colourful artworks, finished and in progress.

There was no artist at work on the day we visited – he was back in his home city of New York – but Alec Monopoly is no ordinary artist in-residence. Not long ago, his art was illegal. A graffiti artist, his trade involved tagging (painting) buildings – other people’s buildings – with his distinctive design. Monopoly developed a cult following on Instagram, and was then discovered by pioneering, maverick watch CEO Jean-Claude Biver. A key player in the revival of the luxury watch industry and now head of the LVMH watch division (which includes TAG Heuer), Biver made Monopoly a brand ambassador, launching the partnership at Art Basel Miami. Explaining why the artist would be given his own studio up in the Swiss mountains, Biver explained that Monopoly would play a key role in updating the brand for the new generation. “The most important thing is that Alec will be our art provocateur,” Biver said. “He will bring his influence inside the company. He will infuse the culture of TAG Heuer. That is the real job.”

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Monopoly’s real identity is still a secret: he hides his face behind a red bandana. But his post-Roy Lichtenstein takes on pop culture characters (and specifically the banker from the Monopoly board game) give him a universal and instantly recognisable appeal – as does his nuanced take on the world’s economic system.

Monopoly’s artworks are now appearing in TAG Heuer stores around the world, and he is more likely to be courted than taken to court by the property world now.

Street art painting by Los Angeles based artist Alec Monopoly depicting TAG Heuer's CEO Jean-Claude Biver

Alec Monopoly’s depiction of TAG Heuer ’s CEO Jean-Claude Biver at Art Basel Miami

LUX: When did you start making street art?
Alec Monopoly: I have been painting on the streets of New York since I was 12 years old. Growing up in the city, I loved skateboarding and the graffiti culture in the city. In 2008, I moved to Los Angeles and that’s when I started integrating my artwork into street art. I was a graffiti artist before and that’s when I became a street artist.

LUX: How has the perception of street art changed since you first started?
Alec Monopoly: It’s changed big time. It’s become more accepted into pop culture recently, whereas before it was much more frowned upon. In the early days especially, graffiti was looked on as pollution and destruction, but now it’s transforming the grey walls of cities into things of beauty. If you look at the Miami Design District and Wynwood, it’s changed a dangerous neighbourhood with abandoned buildings and actually turned it into something beautiful. Take a look at the Wynwood Walls where some of the best artists in the world come to paint; it’s a great example of how street art has been accepted into society.

Read more: Megan Balch & Jaime Barker, Founders of Flagpole on their inspirations and creative process

LUX: Tell us about your fascination with the Monopoly Man.
Alec Monopoly: I started painting the Monopoly Man in 2008 when the economy started to dip. I was playing the game Monopoly, which I love, and was watching the news where I saw Bernie Madoff being arrested. I remember thinking how ironic that situation was, as he sort of looked like the Monopoly Man. There was so much meaning to it. People really connect with the Monopoly Man, so that’s when I started painting him for fun in the street. Originally it was for fun, but it also became more real due to the situation. That’s when I started spreading more intricate characters into my paintings, like Robert De Niro, Twiggy and Jack Nicholson.

Large scale mural by Alec Monopoly on the side of a building in Miami's design district

An Alec Monopoly creation in Miami’s Design District

LUX: Why do you think your artwork is in such high demand?
Alec Monopoly: People can really connect with my work. I create a lot of work that has a positive message; it’s fun and brings happiness to people. A lot of people have found that my work is inspirational. Having the Monopoly Man with bags of money and seeing him run with them, it’s kind of like a good luck charm, which you see in the offices of CEOs. Now, I draw a lot of inspiration from life: travelling, meeting new people, experiencing new things. I truly live through my artwork and express who I am as a character, as a person, through my paintings. I think it’s important for an artist to express themselves through their work in a way where people can see life through their eyes – my eyes.

LUX: Are there certain places in the world that are “street art hubs”?
Alec Monopoly: I would say there are different cities where street art is more popular. Berlin would be one of the top cities for emerging street artists and for street art in general because it’s more accepted into the culture there. I would say LA is great due to the massive walls throughout the city and then, of course, Miami Wynwood is the Mecca of street art, for now.

Street artist Alec Monopoly painting TAG Heuer onto wall

Alec Monopoly tags for TAG at a pop-up store in California

LUX: You’re a brand ambassador for TAG Heuer. How did that come about?
Alec Monopoly: It came about through an organic relationship with Mr Biver. We met in the south of France in my studio and created a relationship. I was really taken aback by him – he’s a genius. He’s like the Steve Jobs of the watch industry. Hearing him talk and his passion, we really connected as I have a great passion for watches myself. My dream has always been to create a watch with my artwork in the dial. We really saw eye to eye with the collaboration and it’s been an amazing journey for both of us. All the watches sold out immediately!

LUX: Is it strange for a street artist to be associated with a luxury brand or do you see it as a step in the right direction?
Alec Monopoly: I definitely think it’s a step in a positive direction. I’m very picky who I do brand collaborations with, but I think TAG is the perfect fit. It’s the perfect vehicle to pursue one of my dreams, which was to put my art inside a watch. I was very happy to do it.

Read more: Luxury in the treetops at Chewton Glen

LUX: Anonymity and graffiti seem to go hand-in-hand for street artists such as Banksy and yourself. Why is that important to you?
Alec Monopoly: For me, it represents the freedom to keep painting in the streets where I would like to paint. I paint in some places where it’s kind of a grey area with regards to the law, so it’s important to remain anonymous. It’s kind of fun too; I can take my hat, my mask and my jewellery off and no one really knows who I am – it’s kind of nice to have that double life. It’s very interesting that when I cover my face people recognise me and when I don’t, people have no idea who I am. It’s the weirdest thing!

LUX: How do you define art and its purpose?
Alec Monopoly: I see art as very important for culture. It’s a way of seeing what’s going on in that part of history and what’s going on in the world. For me, it’s a form of therapy and expression, but it also brings happiness to other people’s lives. When I’m painting one of these graffiti walls, I’m transforming that neighbourhood through bright colours. People driving by, kids growing up there – I try to bring them as much happiness as possible. I’ve met kids who started painting their own versions of the wall and creating their own art, which is really inspirational to me.

LUX: What do you do when not making art?
Alec Monopoly: Honestly, I’m always creating art. Yesterday I was at the beach and started making these drawings in the sand – I can’t even relax when I’m at the beach! I love art, it’s who I am.

View Alec Monopoly’s portfolio of work at and Tag Heuer’s collections at

Reading time: 8 min
Model wearing blue and yellow off the shoulder swimsuit lying on a pebbled beach
Model poses on beach wearing blue bikini and light blue jumper

Flagpole Summer 18 Collection

New York based swimwear label, Flagpole is a Cali-surfer girl’s dream. Clean lines, block colours and bikinis that won’t fall off every time you dive into the sea. LUX asks co-founders Megan Balch and Jamie Barker how they do it.

Colour portrait of Jaime Barker and Megan Bolch Flagpole NYC founders

Jaime Barker and Megan Balch

1. Describe the Flagpole woman.

The Flagpole woman loves to travel, always active in her pursuit for exploration. She is sophisticated, practical and embraces a sporty edge to her style. She appreciates quality in all aspects of her life.

2. How does the collaborative design process work?

We have the same taste but very different strengths in our designing. We like to choose the colour palette together and with that, the collection really starts to come together. It’s the blend of Megan’s focus on functionality and Jaime’s artistic vision that gives Flagpoleits signature design.

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3. What’s inspiring you at the moment?

It’s almost always architecture. We just returned from a trip to Chicago bursting with ideas and appreciation from their skyline.

Model poses in yellow bandana bikini top and blue striped full length skirt

The Lori top with Frida skirt from the Flagpole Summer 18 Collection

4. What comes first, functionality or style?

Honestly, it’s a combination. They are not mutually exclusive. Without artistic vision, Flagpole would not have its voice. Without functionality, it would not have its progress. We must have both to embrace and succeed in our story. So when we approach a new concept, both are simultaneously in conversation.

Read more: The ultimate mid-week escape at The Royal Crescent hotel, Bath

5. Your collections always have a distinct colour palette. How do you decide on the shades?

Colour is something we both find very emotional. We spend a lot of time working to find the perfect colour combinations that speak to what we want to feel in our collection. The painstaking process of balancing warm and cool tones is honestly one of the most exciting and aggravating stages. But we will work until we both feel that every shade is perfect.

Model wearing blue and yellow off the shoulder swimsuit lying on a pebbled beach

The Gia one-piece from the Flagpole Summer 18 Collection

6. What’s next for the brand?

There are so many things in the works we can’t wait to share with the world. One we can say, and are excited to announce, is that this summer we’ll be launching our Men’s line!

View the collections and buy online at

Reading time: 2 min