Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London
The Frieze art fairs in London and New York are the reference points for the brave new world of contemporary art: at once ground-breaking and commercial, edgy and established, and a badge of honour for the galleries selected to sell there. Frieze co-founder Matthew Slotover talks to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai about digital art, the future of culture, and new developments.
Co-founder of Frieze art fair, Matthew Slotover

Matthew Slotover

Matthew Slotover is the co-founder of Frieze art fair in London and New York, and is fast becoming one of the art world’s éminences grises. Although that’s probably a misnomer for this boyish-looking 48-year-old who looks as insouciant as he did the day he and Amanda Sharp founded Frieze magazine in 1991, soon after they had left Oxford University.

Their art fair – the slightly less brash, slightly more cerebral, but just as influential, alternative to Art Basel – is still the most desirable place for the world’s biggest gallerists, collectors, and their armies of hangers-on, to display and purchase.

Slotover and Sharp have resisted the impulse to roll out their brand around the world. Founded in 2003 in a tent in London, Frieze only opened in its second venue, in New York, in 2012. This year, a quarter of a century after the specialist art magazine that spawned the fairs was founded, they took on some outside investment, for the first time, from the sports and entertainment agency WME-IMG – behind Slotover’s innocent facade and genuine love of the new in art is as tough a businessman as any.

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“People have been talking about digital art for 20 years, and your perspective on the subject partly depends on how you define it. Is it art that exists in a purely digital form? If so, what does that mean? Or does it mean art that exists only on the web, or as a video file or an audio file?

Art that only exists on the web is not, I think, the way you define digital art. We have not had very many brilliant examples of artists using a purely virtual presence in that way.

Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London

‘Annals of Private History’ by the Spanish installation artist Amalia Ulman at the Live section of Frieze London, 2015

In the past couple of years there has been a conversation about what some people call post-internet art. This usually has a physical component to it. It can be a video animation, but it can also be a sculpture or a flat artwork that refers to the internet and to modern communication, using images collected from the internet, such as logos, graphics and text from Instagram and other social media. It uses the language of technology and new communication to make art.

The art world wants objects [not purely virtual art], and artists want to create objects. I didn’t like Richard Prince’s Instagram paintings  when I first saw them, and now I think they’re brilliant: the work is about taking images that exist already and contextualising them. Richard loves photographic imagery; he used to be a photo editor before he was an artist. So he goes on Instagram, finds images that he likes, and makes a gnomic comment underneath them. He then does a screen grab and then a big print out with the image, with all the comments below. He is both inserting himself virtually into the Instagram world as an artist, and also making a physical object out of it. This leaves him open to criticism by the original image makers. When he did a stand comprising these pictures at Frieze New York last year, we had Facebook and Instagram comments saying we steal people’s copyright.

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Prince’s response was that recycling images is what he has always done. One of the girls whose image he took did a grab of his picture, which was on sale for $90,000, and started selling prints of it for $100. He thought recycling his work and questioning the value was great.

I find it hard to distinguish between painting, photography, sculpture, digital art and installation. People say to me at Frieze, “There was a lot of photography this year”. I reply that I didn’t see it as photography. A lot of artists move between media. And if digital art has to be shown on a monitor in a gallery, is it physical or not?

Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London

‘Collection of Suppressed Voices’ by the Czech artist Eva Kot’átková at the Live section of Frieze London, 2015

What everyone looks for in art is something new that relates to its time, that isn’t just an updated version of what was done before. Most great artists historically follow this pattern: their work could only have been made in their time, they were pushing boundaries.

As to the companies that sell digital images to be displayed on mobile devices, it turns out that what people want on their phone is not beautiful images created by an artist or designer: it’s the age of the selfie, and they want to take the picture and they want it to be of themselves. If you look at Instagram, what are people doing and sharing? It’s very egocentric, and a bit disturbing. I’m not sure art sold for digital devices is really ever going to take off.”

“According to TEFAF’s market report this year, the amount of art being sold online is estimated to have gone up from 6% to 7%. Still a small amount, but going in the right direction. Clearly, we are getting more comfortable spending larger amounts of money online. But there are caveats. A couple of months ago I saw a picture that was for sale in an online auction. It looked great. But when I spoke to the artist’s dealer, he told me he had done a physical inspection, and the condition was terrible – something you would never have known if just looking online.

So there are some significant hurdles, which is why the online art market hasn’t exploded in the same way that music or film or clothing has. Many galleries have joined online sales platforms or invested in their own websites, but they are not seeing the returns they expected. They tend to get a lot of inquiries with a very low conversion rate into sales.”


Frieze London has been held in a temporary space in Regent’s Park since 2003; it was more recently joined by Frieze Masters, focussing on non-contemporary art, held across the park

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“We are not going to rush into rolling out several new fairs. Our clients – the galleries – are the content. If you don’t have the right galleries, you don’t have a fair. But if the right opportunity arises, we will take it.

We set up the magazine in 1991 and Frieze London in 2003, and then in 2012 we launched our two new fairs, Frieze New York and Frieze Masters in London – so our timing has been roughly a new venture every 10 years!

We now have another new development, Frieze Academy , which has a series of talks, lectures and courses, such as how to write about art, and how to start an independent magazine. This September we are launching a course on art collecting, which will feature several fantastic art consultants, and could grow from London to other cities. And in October we are doing our first conference, for private individuals and museum professionals commissioning architecture for art spaces – homes, private museums and public museums.”

Frieze Academy opened this year;

Reading time: 6 min
Jude Law pictured with classic car for Johnnie Walker Blue Label's short film

Is Jude Law the coolest actor alive? The star of ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘Alfie’, among many others, chills out with LUX amid a plethora of classic cars to speak about beauty, gratitude, the importance of wearing hats – and how to serve the perfect whisky.

Jude Law pictured with classic car for Johnnie Walker Blue Label's short film

Jude Law with the Delahaye 135S classic racing car he drives from Italy to Monaco in the film ‘The Gentleman’s Wager II’

Jude Law looks very much at home leaning on a 1930s racing car. The British actor, who is as comfortable playing Shakespeare on stage as he is in a Hollywood movie, has a nonchalance, a motoring raffishness, that hark back to the era of Steve McQueen and James Dean, to which he adds charm. This son of south London schoolteachers has never lost his head, his roots or his nerve. We spoke to him about his life and career in a break from filming the latest Johnnie Walker Blue Label short film, The Gentleman’s Wager II, which sees him return from his exploits in the first Wager film. This time he takes a fancy to a sky-blue 1930s Delahaye 135S (worth north of £1 million today). To win it from his old friend and rival, played by Giancarlo Giannini, he has to race it from southern Italy to Monaco by noon the following day.

LUX: Have you ever taken part in a real-life wager?
Jude Law: You know what, I don’t think I have. In real life I’m not really a betting person, and I don’t get a massive thrill from it. So in a way I’ve bet vicariously through this adventure with Giancarlo in the last two Johnnie Walker films. I’m probably a bit too cautious in real life if I’m honest. I seem to live out most things in the roles I play as opposed to doing so in my own life.

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LUX: The film is in part about gratitude. Is there anyone in your life you think particularly owes you a debt of gratitude?
JL: Who owes me?! Oh, all my children, I mean huge gratitude, every day… No, well… I suppose with gratitude you don’t keep an account of it. You do it and you move on and don’t necessarily expect anything back. So I can’t think of anyone as I don’t see it as a debt really. But I like to think of myself as generous, in trying to offer people my advice or ideas of favours.

LUX: How important it is that you feel connected to the brand that you’re working with?
JL: It’s really important. One of the things that struck me at the very beginning of my relationship with Johnnie Walker was that they really wanted my input. It wasn’t a case of turn up, do this, and do what you’re told. Secondly, they also have a really healthy overview; the idea of using a campaign like this to also spread a positive message is great, and in the past they’ve been involved in organisations that I’ve championed, like Peace One Day . If you’re going to forge a relationship with a company or with a brand, it’s got to be something that you can hold your head up high and feel a part of. On a personal level, the most important thing is the people you’re working with, and on set they’ve been great, both at the company and the people they employ to make the films. It’s been a really pleasurable experience.

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LUX: What’s your greatest passion?
JL: Well, the obvious one is movies, and that’s been true since I was a boy. I’ve always been obsessed with seeing films and have been fortunate enough to get involved in making them now. I like architecture, too. It’s not something in which I have any expertise, but I know what I like. I’m living and working in Rome at the moment, so I’ve become obsessed with the Baroque architect Francesco Borromini, and I’ve been hunting down all of his little gems around the city. Well, little and not so little, some of them are huge. Travel’s a passion as well.

Classic cars driving through Italy's countryside to celebrate new Johnnie Walker Blue Label short film

A cavalcade of classic cars driving through the Italian countryside to launch the latest Johnnie Walker Blue Label short film

LUX: What does beauty mean to you?
JL: When I was younger it was something that I felt almost apologetic about in a way, because it felt like an indulgence. But I think more and more now that it’s actually an integral part of your day, and funnily enough, it’s been more apparent since I’ve been living in Rome, because it’s such a beautiful city and you get so much from that just on a daily basis. Whether it’s inspiration or just feeling incredibly at peace. So I think it’s a really important part of my life actually. Natural beauty is also something that feeds the soul. I seem to be more moved by surroundings than objects.

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LUX: Where would your ideal road trip be?
JL: I think it would probably be in South America. I went to Bolivia earlier in the year and I would like to go back and explore more of South America as I don’t know it very well. Want to come?

LUX: What is your favourite classic car?
JL: I’m a bit of a Rolls Royce  fan actually. I just like the scale of them. I like sports cars too, but really I would say that my favourite classic car has to be an early-sixties’ Rolls-Royce, preferably in chocolate brown.

LUX: What has been the best thing about being involved in the Johnnie Walker films?
JL: The people certainly – they’ve been really fun and there’s something very organic about a group of people who get on so well while creating something that they believe in. And then there’s the fantasy of driving a car, or spending the day on a boat and the challenge of learning to dance for the first Wager film, and particularly the environment of this one. We were in Monte Carlo a few days before the Grand Prix, so we had the whole of the finishing line to ourselves and driving down that straight in the car, with all the bleachers on either side and the crash barriers, was just a dream and fantastic fun, too.

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LUX: In line with the Johnnie Walker ‘Joy Will Take You Further’ brand campaign which you are involved in, how has joy taken you further?
JL: Some things you say to your children such as, “do things for others”, can become something of a cliché, but the truth is, I think, that when you do things for others, it gives you a warm feeling of personal well-being. A lot of the stuff I’ve done outside work, with charities and with other organisations, has been very uplifting and that’s certainly taken me further as a human. Experiences with friends and family, with whom you have the perfect Sunday or the perfect holiday or a good Christmas or anything like that, elevate your sense of well-being as well. It’s the simple pleasures.

LUX: How would you serve the perfect whiskey?
JL: I’m really straightforward. I like it large and without any ice, and that’s it. I like it a little bit warm, just as it comes synthroid tablets buy online. Only a straw required. It’s such a delicious drink.

Actors Giancarlo Giannini and Jude Law in Italy

The stars of the film, Giancarlo Giannini and Jude Law, at the Villa Mondragone in Frascati, outside Rome

LUX: The Gentleman’s Wager films are very stylish and you’re a very stylish guy. Do you have any style tips or guidelines you would like to share?
JL: I’m quite old fashioned. I like dressing up for events as opposed to just turning up in whatever. I like making a bit of an effort, and I know I get that directly from my father because he was always a jacket-and-tie man. I love hats, too. Someone told me a story once that John F. Kennedy was the first public figure to stop wearing a hat because he thought they made his ears look big, and since then, men have stopped feeling the need to wear hats in public. Prior to that, every man wore a hat. I think there is something gentlemanly about men who wear hats, and that’s why I always wear one. I think being yourself, being comfortable, enjoying yourself with how you live and how you

express yourself in your clothes or whatever it might be, is probably a good way forward.

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LUX: How happy are you with your career so far?
JL: I’m pretty happy. I’m always restless and looking out for new challenges though. I find the longer you work in film, the more you get to work out what it is you want to get out of it. And that can change, obviously, depending on where you are in your life, and how old you are and what stuff you’re being offered. When I turned forty I really felt like it was a new chapter starting because prior to that I leaned more towards playing romantic leads or the sort of hero-type roles that are often written for guys in their twenties and thirties. At forty, suddenly you start to get a little bit more opportunity to play character and that’s something I’ve always been keen to explore. So as long as work keeps coming I’m happy really, because I really love it. I’d like to maybe start trying other stuff as well, maybe a bit of directing. I’ve always been curious about how films are made, I’ve just never really found anything that I felt I could commit that amount of time to. But that might be something I do in the future… if they let me.

LUX: You became Hollywood royalty at a young age. What has that meant to you?
JL: I’ve never thought of myself as Hollywood royalty! It’s interesting because on the one hand, if you find a certain amount of success in films that come out of America, it opens a lot of doors, mainly to choice. It means that you can start to really think about the kind of films you want to make and the kind of people you want to work with, as opposed to just trying to get a job, so it makes the immediate future a little easier. On the other hand, though, there’s the down side, which is that you quickly become aware that you’re in a game and that your worth can rise and fall accordingly. That can get very confusing for a young actor who experiences a high early on. If that success can’t be maintained, the fall can throw you and you can become paranoid. But weathering that is part of the job, of course, and what I’ve realised over the years is that as long as you keep working and as long as you’re doing stuff you’re interested in with people that interest you, then you’re learning and it’s alright and is always pleasurable… well, it should be. So at the moment, I can’t complain. I’ve been blessed with a career that I’ve always dreamed of having.

Interview by Alice Clarke

Reading time: 9 min
Hublot opening celebrations

The nature of luxury is evolving fast. Producers and consumers should wise up to the emerging multi-level landscape and never forget the power of the right kind of celebrity, says our columnist, Jean-Claude Biver 

Luxury is changing, and we are now more and more aware that there are different levels of luxury emerging. At the highest level, there is luxury for the very few, which is (normally) at the top price level, and is the most exclusive and the most unattainable. In this category, you have all the watches that are made just for one customer. You have also the limited editions of two or five pieces of jewellery.

Actor Patrick Dempsey

Jean-Claude Biver with Tag Heuer ambassador, actor Patrick Dempsey at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix

Below this level, you have luxury for very wealthy people. This is not necessarily totally exclusive nor does it necessarily include unique pieces but certainly ones that are very special and not easy to find, and quite expensive.

Then, you have the traditional luxury, which is now the luxury for people of what you could call average wealth.

Read next: LUX tests drives the Rolls Royce Wraith

And finally, there is now so-called affordable luxury, which is attainable by members of the upper middle class. This is the newest and most dynamic category because this is a very dynamic level of society and the one that is evolving the fastest. It has the biggest potential, especially in countries such as China, where they previously didn’t have this social class of affordable-luxury consumers. Previously, there were really just two categories in China: people who were very wealthy, and normal people. Now we see a very strong development in this affordable luxury segment.

At a brand like Tag Heuer , we want to be at the front as the leader in the affordable Swiss luxury watch business . You can call it affordable or accessible, but in terms of luxury goods it’s the equivalent of a young person driving a Mini Cooper, a car that’s not as expensive as a Ferrari or even a Porsche, but it already means something when you are seen driving one.

New Hublot brand ambassador Bar Refaeli

Supermodel Bar Refaeli is announced as newest Brand Ambassador at Hublot Boutique in New York City

And people around the world now are becoming more brand conscious at a younger age than ever before. They are exposed to brands when they are as young as five or ten years old, and brands are becoming more and more important in evoking dreams in young people. With Tag Heuer, as with Hublot, I want to make young people dream when they are 15 or 18 years old. I want to get it into their heads that if they want to realise their dream, then they must please buy my brand.

Read next: How China changed the luxury world 

But young people are now receiving so many messages from everywhere, it’s becoming difficult to communicate this distinctly. They have so many brands talking to them, and we are more aware than ever that we cannot tell them any lies, and getting through to them is becoming ever more difficult.

Related to this is the fact that celebrities are becoming more influential than ever. But we have to distinguish between types. There are celebrities of whom there is a huge awareness, but who have very little influence. Then you have celebrities, for instance the Kardashians, or Kanye West, who are very influential: if Kanye West tells people to wear something, they will wear it. If he designs something, his influence is significant, and young people are going to dream about it. It’s the same with Jay Z’s shoes from Nike or Adidas – they have been an incredible influence. So as a luxury brand, you have to choose carefully between people who are widely known to endorse your product, and those who are influential. The most important part of my work today is reaching the young generation, and that means working with the people who can influence them.

Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, and athlete, Usain Bolt

Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, and Usain Bolt at the opening of Hublot’s 5th Avenue boutique in New York

Even with the help of a celebrity to support you, it still requires far more work to get the message across these days than it did before. As an example, in 1982, if you came up with an innovative watch with a minute repeater, you didn’t have to communicate it, you would just show up at the Baselworld fair, and people would come to you and say “Wow!” You would then have more demand than you could supply because you were the first to create such a watch. Today, if you made the same innovation, you would never sell it if you didn’t have a strong promotional campaign and a credible brand. Without creating a brand awareness, you will not sell your product because it is simply not strong enough to be sold alone.

For centuries, a product was strong enough to be sold just because it existed and it was exceptional. Nowadays, the market is so crowded. You need the promotion around a new product, you need marketing and publicity – and that has dramatically changed for everyone.

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Brand, now, will always be king. In the recent evolution of the smartwatch, there is intense competition between Apple, Samsung, LG, Sony and Motorola, all making essentially the same product for the same market. Yet how can Apple sell so many? Because of the brand. For the product alone, without the brand, you could have the same watch from LG or from Motorola or from Samsung, but for Apple the brand brings everything to the product.

And it’s just the same for Tag Heuer: how can we sell a connected watch that does nothing more than the Apple, for $1,500? Because the brand is doing the business for us, the brand makes it okay to spend that much on it. When the competition hots up, the fight is won by not just the product, but by the brand.

New Hublot ambassador Maxime Buchi

River with the tattoo artist Maxime Buchi, a new ambassador for Hublot

Meanwhile, at the top end, word of mouth will sell products as it always has. The more you belong to the elite, the more you want to be different. The higher you climb, the more you want goods that are just made for you. Like the lady I know who has had seven Lamborghinis to match the outfits made for her in the seven colours that she always wears.

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At that end of the market, people are looking for uniqueness, individualisation: for them it’s not enough to buy a Ferrari, it must be a Ferrari in camouflage paint with denim seats. And with this desire for exclusivity driving it, it’s not surprising that the world of luxury is subject to a perpetual escalation.

Jean-Claude Biver is president of LVMH Watch Brands and chairman of Hublot

Reading time: 6 min
Rolls Royce Wraith model in the sunshine
Test driving a Rolls Royce Wraith

Rolls Royce Wraith

In the third part of our car reviews series, LUX experiences the silent joy of driving a Rolls-Royce Wraith

Give a small child a toy car to play with and, to accompany the motions, they will inevitably make roaring noises to imitate the engine. So what would said small child do when handed a toy Rolls-Royce Wraith ? They would have to make no noise at all, because you drive this car in complete silence. As we wafted out from the centre of Edinburgh towards the hills, there was no noise, from inside or out. A few people outside stopped, pointed and gawped. Perhaps the small child would need to line up some dolls to point at the toy car as it drove past with its plutocratic inhabitants.

It’s worth pausing for a second to consider the type of gawping we are talking about here. The Rolls didn’t attract Lamborghini-style attention, where the whole street stops and smiles, small boys stare transfixed and larger boys (and girls) whip out their camera-phones.

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No, it was more like incredulity. Our Wraith was a huge car, in two-tone silver and black, with only two doors but the road presence of a truck. It demands attention, and the people who stopped to look at this road sculpture did so reactively, instinctively: this is the kind of car you have if you want to feel like senior royalty, or Beyoncé .

Rolls-Royces have traditionally been cars to be driven in. The Wraith is the exception. A coupé, it is aimed at the driver, his regal passenger, and their children, or Hermès bags, on the back seat.

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To this end, it is not only silently fast, like other Rolls-Royces, it is also a little more agile. Shoot along a wide Highland road with sweeping curves, and your lips may even curve into the flickerings of a smile. The car shoots forward, and remains reasonably flat (given its size) around corners; it feels both swift and manageable.

Dark interiors of the Rolls Royce Wraith

Spacious interiors

It swallowed up the distances between towns effortlessly, and there is an assumption that the owner will share the car’s regal hauteur and sense of detachment from the world. There is also plainly an assumption that, for his car-racing needs, the owner will have available in his garage several Ferraris, McLarens and Lamborghinis.

What the Wraith does is tell you, and those whom you pass, that you really are in a different class. You travel in sepulchral silence, surrounded by panels of hand-fitted wood whose burl fits together like the seams of a Birkin bag. You, and the watching crowds, are reassured: you have made it. There is no more opulent manifestation of the automotive dream. You’ll just need the Norland nanny to teach the children that some cars do actually make roaring noises.

LUX rating: 17.5/20


Reading time: 2 min
New product by Fendi

Luxury is entering a new phase of uncharted territory as China matures, but at the heart of the consumer world, increasing income inequality will assume luxury brands still thrive, says our columnist Luca Solca


Luca Solca: head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas

China is no longer a market of very rich early adopters. Now, the most interesting part of the market is middle-class consumers. Discretionary spend per head is smaller than it was 10 or 15 years ago, and these consumers will benefit from price transparency levels which were unimaginable just a few years ago, because of digital luxury becoming mainstream.

The other obvious factor for any luxury brand in China is that gifting has completely gone away ever since the new leadership came on board, and this has demanded a fundamental readjustment by brands. Meanwhile, the early adopters first moved on to products and brands that were perceived to be more exclusive, to differentiate themselves, and then moved on to different product categories altogether. If we look at what the rich Chinese have done in recent years, we can see that they have bought a lot of property abroad, have spent money to send their children to schools overseas and to have very expensive individual holidays and medical checkups abroad.

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For the luxury brands, the best customers are the ones that have lots of money and empty wardrobes; then, as they spend their money on luxury goods and fill their wardrobes, they get to the point where they only buy replacements when needed. There are only so many Italian suits, so many Swiss watches, and so many branded handbags that you need. The rich early adopter Chinese went through that accumulation phase, and now are in a replacement mode, like many rich consumers in the west. In replacement mode, your wardrobes are full and you buy with significantly lower spend per capita in comparison to the past. Five years ago, the rich Chinese spent five to ten times more per capita than corresponding consumers in the US or Japan. As we move forwards and as the accumulation phase is finished, we find that spend per capita tends to converge in all these markets.

Bar at luxury hotel in Knightsbridge

The bar at the Rivea restaurant in the Bulgari hotel, Knightsbridge in London

There is an element of luxury spending now being more on experiences like travel and food. Also, there are different product categories: there are products that are more immediate and easier to buy, like a watch or a handbag, for example, and there are products that are more complex to buy because they require you to develop your own taste, like fashion. With clothing you need to mix and match different pieces, to develop some kind of personal taste. Then there are products that need you to own other significant products already: if you buy certain types of furniture and lighting, you will have a significant home already, so you will have already been down the learning curve. Taking Fendi in China as an example, they communicated that they were a relevant brand in furniture, and they are solidly among the top three brands in China, while in the West, they are nowhere near as relevant.

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And then at that stage, you shift your spend towards experiences which include travel, spending time with family and friends, good food and good wine.

Luxury typically develops via nationality. The 1980s was the decade of the Japanese, when they represented between 40 and 50 per cent of the global luxury market. The 1990s was the decade of the Russians. Twelve years ago, the Chinese were accounting for two or three per cent of the global luxury market, last year they accounted for close to a third. What is happening with China is not so different from what happened in the past, and for luxury brands, the growth formula of adding more stores in China and increasing prices because you have queues in front of your stores is no longer working.

Inside the Dubai's luxury hotel, Armani

The restaurant at the Armani Hotel in Dubai

There is another element at play in the luxury world, and that is the continuing increase in income inequality. If we go back 40 or 50 years or so to the 1960s and 1970s, we find what triggered the very significant development of the luxury industry in the United States was income inequality. This is the industry’s best friend, because you have a group of people in society significantly richer than the rest of the population. If you have the same level of wealth across a nation, luxury goods are not very relevant because there a very significant function these products play is conveying your status. First of all you need the money to seek satisfaction for relatively sophisticated needs: the need for beauty and refinement. But you also find these products attractive because of what they say about you, and who you are.

Read next: Real luxury strives for more, says Vilebrequin CEO Roland Herlory

When we look back in history, income inequality peaked in 1929, it then went down and reached the bottom of a trough in the early 1970s, and then rose and went roughly back to where it was in 1929, by 2008. And as long as we have interest rates at approximately zero worldwide, inequality will continue to increase because asset prices will go up. So while we may have reached the peak of the Chinese wave, I do not see a return to a situation where luxury brands are irrelevant as they were in the 1960s. If you strip out China, luxury growth over the last decade has been around two per cent, and now we have other nationalities in Asia coming on board, and the potential of India. At the moment, though, they are totally irrelevant: Indian luxury spend is worth less than one per cent of global luxury spend.

New product by Fendi

Bag by Fendi from the AW16 women’s collection

There is a debate within luxury about broadening the scope of your brand to get more consumers closer to it: the Bulgari  diversification into hotels is an interesting one, the properties are very good and this is a positive for the brand. But this is not core: such diversification is more of a nice-to-have than really relevant. You can’t address the key issues at the heart of developing a brand via such diversification. Brands are most relevant and most desirable closest to their core, and the further you go from the core, the less relevant and less desirable they become.

Luca Solca is head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas and one of the world’s most respected luxury analysts

Reading time: 5 min
Saut Hermes 2016
Saut Hermes 2016

Sunlight streams through the glass domed roof of the Grand Palais

Hermès, maker of handbags and scarves to the world’s celebrities and super-rich, still celebrates its roots as a saddle-maker in a very different world. Millie Walton goes behind the scenes at the annual Saut Hermès in Paris, with the beau-monde, and geese, for company

Standing at the ringside of the warm-up arena at Saut Hermès, the brand’s annual showjumping event held under the glass-domed roof of the Grand Palais in Paris, is quite unlike any other experience. While the smell of warm horsehair, oiled hooves and leather is immediate, and almost reassuring in the way it says that this is really happening, there’s also something a little otherworldly about it all. There are horses, glamorous spectators, the world’s best riders and, strangely, a flock of trained geese. An unusual mixture in an even more unlikely setting, yet anyone who is familiar with Hermès will know to expect the unexpected. A traditional brand still owned, despite the best efforts of the luxury industry, by members of the extended original family, it’s constantly innovating too. This multibillion-euro behemoth takes a playful approach to luxury; Hermès really wants to welcome you into its magical world.

Hermès may be known for its Birkin bags (for which there is a waiting list, from a few weeks to five years, depending on who you are and how bespoke you want it) and handmade silk scarves, but at its heart it is what it says under its original logo: a sellier, or saddler. The only things made in its atelier above its world flagship store on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris are saddles; the most desirable and expensive saddles made anywhere, in fact. They are a tiny part of the business, but at the heart of the brand.

Hermes saddle

Cavale saddle by Hermés

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“A customer once complained that the stitching had come undone on one of our saddles,” Marion La Rochette, Equestrian Métier Director, recalls. “Everyone in the workshop was so upset about it but when we pulled out the records, we found out the saddle was 100 years old. A 100 years old and only a little bit of stitching had come loose!” She smiles as she tells me the story. It may or may not be apocryphal (I’m sure it’s true), but it’s certainly true that Hermès products really are made to be enjoyed down the generations, not just years, which helps to explain their price tags.

So why the horses, riders and geese? “For a whole century Hermès worked only with equestrian products such as harnesses and saddles,” La Rochette points out. “In 1837, when the company was founded, Paris was full of horses, but now, of course, they’ve disappeared from the city.” Over the years and under the leadership of various family members, Hermès has extended its repertoire to everything from the must-have Birkin bag to picnic hampers, jewellery and clothing to what can only be described as exquisite objets such as lamps and even a special edition Apple Watch with a Hermès strap.

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“With Saut Hermès, we wanted to reopen the doors of the Grand Palais to the horse,” La Rochette continues. The Grand Palais is the landmark Beaux-Arts exhibition hall located in the park next to the Champs-Elysées. “It was built for exhibitions including equestrian events. From 1901 to 1957 there were annual horse shows held here and below us, in the basement, are stables.” The geese are there for fun, along with an interactive Pegasus animation and daily performances by the acclaimed French horse trainer, Bartabas.

Over the weekend at the 7th edition of Saut Hermès, there’s a huge sense of excitement. As well as marking the official launch of the latest Hermès jumping saddle, the Allegro, the main event involves 30 of the world’s best riders tackling a complex, though naturally elegant, Hermès-branded showjumping course. Heels and hooves are aligned. “We get really passionate horse lovers, of course, especially on the Friday,” La Rochette says, “but Parisians come here who would have never normally thought about going to a horse show. Because it’s so accessible and centrally located, they think why not and they love it.” Watching the horses effortlessly vaulting over the jumps with sunlight streaming through the glass, it’s hard to imagine a more majestic or fitting setting for such an impressive display of equestrian athleticism. La Rochette agrees, “It’s very special because you’re sitting so close to the ring, to the horses, that you can feel and hear the thud of the hooves.” A few cleverly placed microphones under poles, I suspect, help enhance the tense atmosphere.

Winning horse rider at Saut Hermes

Moroccan rider, Abdelkebir Ouaddar won the Grand Prix Hermés CSI 5* on Sunday afternoon riding Quickly de Kreisker

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Hermès works very closely with riders too, hand-picking international rising stars in equestrianism (including Simon Delestre, currently ranked number one in the world in showjumping), to represent the brand as partner riders, kitting them out in full Hermès gear and also inviting their input into the actual design process of the saddles. “What makes a good saddle, in my opinion,” comments Swiss rider and Hermès partner rider, Romain Duguet, “is one which brings you as close as possible to the horse so that you can really feel the movement. That’s exactly what makes the Hermès saddles so special.” Each saddle is made bespoke for horse and rider, and put together from beginning to end by a single, skilled craftsman who pulls and stitches the leather to create an extraordinarily beautiful object. La Rochette stresses, however, that beauty in appearance and construction is not the real aim: “Our master saddler’s only objective is to make it as functional as possible and when it’s finished, it’s beautiful. To me, that’s what Hermès is about.”

Winners at Saut Hermes are awarded prizes

Presentation of prizes with (at right) Anne-Sarah Panhard, President of Saut Hermés, and Olivier Fournier of the Hermés executive committee

The inspirations for Hermès reside a mile or so down the road, past the Hôtel Matignon (official residence of the French president), in the private museum above the St-Honoré flagship store. It holds a unique collection made up of wonderful and eccentric objects from founder Emile Hermès’s travels round the world; huge spurs from Argentina, saddles from Tibet, sketches, paintings, books, cots, sculptures and luggage – the list goes on (including rather terrifying giant studded dog collars which were the inspiration for a line of jewellery).

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Back at the Saut Hermès as the showjumping continues, the under 25s are taking to the ring for Les Talents Hermès class, a competition restricted to 20 up-and-coming riders from around the world. Though these youngsters, one just 15 years old, are the future stars of the equestrian world, the course is cleverly constructed to unnerve even the pluckiest of riders and it causes a few problems. One jump away from the fastest time, Ireland’s rider takes a fall and the crowd gasps. After a painful few seconds of total silence, he gets up and remounts to make a second, successful attempt to huge applause. We’re all relieved, almost panting with exhaustion after mentally making every enormous flying leap with horse and rider, regardless of their nationality. Though, naturally, it is an especially gleeful and patriotic moment when the British national anthem is played to a standing ovation as a young pair of English riders gallop round the ring, red rosettes flying, having triumphed in Sunday’s Les Talents class. This is a competition, after all – the applause is notably louder for the French, as you would expect – but it is decidedly less cut-throat and more sophisticated than most sporting events. When the bell rings to start the clock, it all comes down to just the rider and the horse and their partnership.

Junior rider at Saut Hermes

USA rider, Catherine Pasmore (aged 24) on Z Canta, 2nd in the Les Talents (the under-25s class)

Axel Dumas, the company’s CEO (and the sixth-generation scion of the family), is at the ringside, looking relaxed with his children. It would be easy to suggest that this is what any brand with Hermès’s history and status should do, a strategy straight out of business school: establish brand story, create experiences around it, invite media and VIPs, be in evidence.

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Yet Hermès isn’t just a brand. It’s also as far as it can be from being a business school creation – famously it doesn’t even have a marketing department. It is a maker of some of the most beautiful items in the world, a family company whose owners have so much pride in their name and history that they fought, and won, a bitter battle against luxury supremo Bernard Arnault, who wanted his company LVMH to acquire a majority stake in Hermès. To have given in to Arnault would have meant cashing out and acquiring wealth beyond the imaginations even of the most creative souls in the brand’s studios; but that just wasn’t what Hermès is all about. Somehow, geese and saddles at the Grand Palais kind of sums it all up.

Reading time: 8 min
LFW backstage image of Emilia Wickstead models

Emilia Wickstead SS16 Collection, backstage at London Fashion Week

Emilia Wickstead’s designs are attracting the attention of Hollywood royalty (and even the real thing) for their mix of the classic and the modern. LUX discovers what inspires her

Emilia Wickstead is hot, hot, hot. The 31-year-old, London-based fashion designer has become one of the biggest draws of London Fashion Week in the four years since she started showing. Her grown-up, dressy, classical yet contemporary style has attracted the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), Gwyneth Paltrow and Diane Kruger; and the architectural cut and quality of her garments has earned the praise of fashion directors and drawn the attention of the industry’s big guns.
What’s the secret of the New Zealand- born designer’s success? Is it her clever references to the 1950s Modernist design movement (not just Dior and Chanel, but the whole of design), creating pieces which look like they have been inspired by an architect’s pen? Her philosophy, which she describes as “classic with a twist”? Her smiling, outgoing, gregarious yet steely personality? Or her sheer hard work – the mother of two small children is known for her 18-hour days?

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Alexandra Shulman, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, comments: “Emilia has a very strong vision for her label. She has a clear idea of the woman she is designing for and she is also an excellent brand ambassador.”

Wickstead also has influential followers among the people she counts among her customers. Says Narmina Marandi, a friend, supporter and confidante of Wickstead: “Emilia is a rare person in fashion, a brilliant designer with a strong view on how the modern woman should dress up. She’s also fantastic company, with a great sense of humour, charm, and a very powerful philosophy and determination underneath.” These are views you will find echoed among her friends and admirers around the world.

LUX sat down with Wickstead in a room with bare-brick walls, dark varnished wood floors, and four racks of her next season’s collection, in muted yet joyous colours we promised not to identify, to find out more.

LUX: Is fashion is in your genes?
Emilia Wickstead: My mother [Angela Wickstead] started studying fashion when I was born, and then began her business from home when I was a little girl. It was just my mother and I. Designing was instilled in me from a very young age. I didn’t know anything else. Her business went through different moments and growth then. She worked from home and went from designing and selling through word of mouth (similar to how we started our business) on to building her retail model.

LUX: Do you have childhood memories of taking bits of fabric and creating pieces?
EW: Absolutely! There are many memories of being in her workroom all the time – weekends, after school. I would sit in on her fittings, I still laugh about it with some of her existing clients who she still has today. Without even realising, I would just sit, watch and observe, and take in everything: fashion weeks, late nights… It was just the two of us. Her workroom and her store – that was where I had my upbringing. I didn’t go home after school, I went to her work to do my homework and just be there until we went home, which sometimes could be quite late at night.

LUX: What do you think you picked up?
EW: I learned from my mother that it was all about the cut and fit and the quality of fabric. The theory that the quality on the inside should be the same as on the quality of the outside of the garment. Those are things you don’t necessarily learn at university, as there is so much focus on design, experimentation and building your philosophy of who you are as a designer. So I do think I learned from her the majority of what I know in terms of those very important factors, without which you couldn’t have a successful line of business.

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LUX: The architectural cut is something you’re renowned for. Do you think that’s something all designers should pay attention to?
EW: I think that it’s something that’s very ‘old world’. It depends on who they are as a designer, their aesthetic and what their business model is. I always believe that, for me and my business, what I would hope for in years to come is that people will pull out an Emilia Wickstead piece as though it is a Chanel suit. You will still wear that Chanel suit because (a) the quality of the fabric is brilliant and because the quality of the garment is excellent and (b) it is just a beautiful cut. So when I look for inspiration, I will look at anything from old Christian Dior to Christian Lacroix to Chanel and look at the way they have constructed a garment. The design lines are incredible and I do feel that with fast fashion sometimes that’s a little bit lost. There is a little bit of a trend going on at the moment of not focusing necessarily on the fit or the cut of the garment, but when a designer does get it right, I think that’s when it plays a tremendous part in either becoming a brand or becoming a garment that’s going to stay in your wardrobe forever.

LUX: How do you create something that is timeless yet fashion forward?
EW: I’d like to think that we’re creating ‘the new modern’. I’ve always used the reference of old world design, which I find incredibly inspiring. But for me, it’s about modernising that, too. That’s something Raf Simons did when he entered into the world of Dior; he was playing on archive pieces and old-world silhouettes. He was creating clothing for a new modern woman in the way that he was designing clothes. In the same way, I think that by playing on the traditional while keeping myself very fashion forward, my clothing represents someone who’s confident and incredibly feminine. I showed that during London Fashion Week [in February 2016]. I am always pushing the boundaries, but at the same time it’s very important that I’m selling clothing that women want to purchase.

Backstage at London Fashion Week with Emilia Wickstead

Emilia Wickstead’s clients include royals and A-list celebrities

LUX: Is there an age group who buys your clothes?
EW: I think that Emilia Wickstead is for all women. That can be a girl in her twenties and it can be a woman in her nineties. Up until three years ago, I worked in my store every single day and did every single fitting for the major side of the business. What was so wonderful about it was that you just got to understand that the collection was for every woman, which is such a nice touch for a business model to have – to be able to think that yes, it’s youthful because everyone wants to feel fresh, young, and modern, but at the same time it is really for everybody.

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LUX: You mention “business” a lot for a designer…
EW: I’ve always had a business head on my shoulders, which has meant that I haven’t designed a collection and didn’t know who I was going to sell it to or what I was going to do with it. I built a client base; I showed to friends and family and through word of mouth, so I tested the product and market that way. I basically did everything backwards! Given the financial constraints, we couldn’t afford to create units or to sell through wholesale. We couldn’t afford to carry stock and we didn’t take on any investment either to do that. I guess people did genuinely like the clothes and that’s how the business grew. As we started making money, we started taking on stock, and then in the next chapter we started to build wholesale relationships and wholesale accounts. It’s been a very organic and natural process. Now we’re speeding things up. I always knew I wanted to have my own business and always knew that I wanted clothes that sell – to make money out of my business as much as love what I do. That was always very clear in my mind.

LUX: At Central Saint Martins, what were the most valuable things you learned?
EW: The most valuable things I learned were how to think outside of the box. I never picked up a fashion magazine. You would be in a library photocopying and looking through books. I didn’t Google images! It was a very raw education. For inspiration we went to galleries, watched old movies, old fashion shows that were all archived in the Central Saint Martins libraries. It was a really different way of researching compared to today… I Google everything now! What Central Saint Martins pushed you to do was, for example, to look at a window frame and see how that inspires you, see what’s beautiful about it, and to understand what you gain from that, where it leads you and what it does for you. You had to approach things in a different way. It was a creative process being educated there; it was very raw and very wonderful.

LUX: Has your success and endorsements by prominent people taken you by surprise?

EW: Yes, and they still do!

LUX: What do you think made them come about?

EW: From a modesty perspective, I don’t know! You really just count your lucky stars, I guess. Every time you make a collection, you put yourself out there. You do it because you want to change the way people dress, you want to say what people should be wearing for the season, as well as what you believe in and what you’re passionate about. It always catches me by surprise when people are shown [in the media, wearing my designs]. I believe that we have a niche in the market and that we have a point in difference. I am a real believer in what I am doing. I absolutely love it and I love my client base, which has some big supporters in it. It is always a nice surprise to see someone else really believing in your brand and wearing your clothes beautifully.

LUX: How did you find that niche in the market?
EW: I love anything nostalgic and old world, that’s really what gave me the drive to create my own business and to do something different. I loved the idea of playing on how women used to dress in shops, the women who love to dress up, who go somewhere and can sit down in a room and have something made for them, who can have a say in what they’re having made for them, choose the colour and fabric, and who want to be really fashion forward as well. That always inspired me. It was always going to be very important to meet the demands of today’s woman. She wants to buy it off the rails and wants to wear it that night or she wants to go on e-commerce and wants to have it in a few hours. We tap into that like every other designer, but our point of difference is that I wanted to keep a little bit of tradition. We have made-to-measure, which is a full service in which we have a fitter and fittings. That is very old school. But then it was also very important to have a modern version of that for today’s woman. For example, if you come into my store, see a dress and absolutely love it but want it in a different colour, you can order the garment in the preferred colour in your size and have it made in Italy in 20 working days. My business model offers those different services, which is very important. I never wanted it to feel too much like a normal retail experience, more a little bit of a salon when you walk into the store. On Sloane Street [in London’s Knightsbridge], I truly believe we have created just that. We sit alongside Chloé and Valentino and we are not a fuddy-duddy, old-fashioned, made-to- measure house but a modern version of it. What you are measured for is what you see during London Fashion Week and on the catwalk.

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LUX: Is there pressure to constantly produce new collections?
EW: A little bit. We used to design just two collections a year, for the fashion weeks in February and September. But this year, I have designed – I am the only designer, we don’t have a design team – six collections.

Clothing by Emilia Wickstead

Wickstead is known for the architectural cut of her garments

LUX: You started up six years ago. In six years’ time, where do you see the business?
EW: Everywhere! Stand-alone stores, stand-alone salon with made-to-measure areas, like we have on Sloane Street, and more variation within a collection. Since December we’ve had a slightly better infrastructure in our business model, whereby we have made key hires, and that’s been incredibly exciting, because it’s meant that we can build bigger collections. It also gives more scope in terms of accessories; also we worked with Matches and designed cotton dresses for them, which reached out to another group of clients; I had never done cotton dresses before. It was really different but still carried the Emilia Wickstead aesthetic, but it just meant that you could wear them in the south of France or Italy.

LUX: How do you balance being a mother with everything else that you do?
EW: I don’t really balance it very well [laughs]. I don’t think there’s any right answer to that. I think in what I am doing. I absolutely love it and I love my client base, which has some big supporters in it. It is always a nice surprise to see someone else really believing in your brand and wearing your clothes beautifully.

LUX: And finally… your style is dressy and also everyday. How does that work?
EW: What I always try to project is that an Emilia Wickstead piece, like a pair of trousers, shirt or a dress, dresses you up, but it’s a very effortless way of dressing. You put on that piece and you are dressed up, comfortably. It’s meeting the demands if you are a stay-at-home mother but if you want to look a little dressed up, or if you’re a workaholic and work five to seven days a week, it works as well. You can tap into anything in the collection, as there’s something for everybody. For example when we were styling our Spring/Summer fashion show last year the model had little gold hoop earrings, very little makeup, brushed back hair with little bits falling out at the sides and was wearing a piece with flat shoes. It goes to show that there is a way that you can make yourself look absolutely fantastic and feel great in your own skin with what you’re wearing. Emilia Wickstead can do that.

Reading time: 13 min
Knightsbridge luxury property development by Finchatton
Knightsbridge luxury property development by Finchatton

Finchatton’s exclusive residential development on Cheval Place in Knightsbridge (above: the penthouse reception room)

Knightsbridge, Belgravia or Mayfair? That’s the choice that faces most high-rolling new residents or investors in London. The areas border each other (the boundary between Belgravia, Knightsbridge and neighbouring Chelsea is notoriously fluid), and while none is exactly shabby, each has a different vibe and soul.

Mayfair, the most historically significant, houses the best boutiques and brass-plaque fund headquarters, but until recently lagged behind on residential desirability – it’s catching up, though. Belgravia is home to the most significant real estate. Nowhere else in Europe has the abundance of truly palatial, architecturally significant houses in a super-prime historic area as found within the boundaries of Eaton Square.

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But for a blend of prestige, hauteur and vibe, nothing can quite match Knightsbridge, as evidenced by the fact that hotels and boutiques which are technically in Belgravia now claim to be in Knightsbridge. After all, it’s the home of Harrods, Harvey Nichols, the Bulgari hotel, it encompasses the better end of Sloane Street and shares a border with Hyde Park.

“I am always keen to invest in prime real estate where the values are secured by high worldwide demand and rarity of availability” – Javad Marandi

Cheval Place's luxury residential development by Finchatton

While Knightsbridge has never been anything other than exclusive, some trace its current status as the must-buy area for any self-respecting billionaire back to the 2011 launch of the Candy brothers’ Norman Foster-designed One Hyde Park development. Insiders go further back and point to the earlier creation of the Knightsbridge Apartments at 199 Knightsbridge by the Hong Kong-based Cheng family, back in 2002, to bringing world-class apartment amenities (proper hotel-style concierge, pool, gym) to London, once a city of houses rather than apartment towers.

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Now, with the emphasis away from bling, the places to own in Knightsbridge are in less flashy developments. Enter Knights House on Cheval Place, a brand new development that has arrived under the radar. In the heart of Knightsbridge proper, in a quiet street opposite Harrods, the development by Finchatton, “the discerning man’s Candy & Candy”, has sold out rapidly even while we were creating this story. At the time of going to press, only the penthouse remained, a three-bedroom, two-terrace, 210 sq m lateral apartment with the peace of a village.

Says Alex Michelin, MD of Finchatton : “It’s in a lovely part of Knightsbridge village, right by Harrods. It’s incredibly quiet, with no through roads: you hear no traffic or other noise. It has wonderful views over to the park and the dome of the Brompton Oratory.” Michelin says they were fortunate in that the previous building on the site had no historical value, so it could be knocked down and replaced with a new-build low-rise – a real rarity in the area.

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Javad Marandi, a British-Iranian global property investor and one of the project’s financial backers, who himself has a house nearby, says: “London is considered worldwide as one of the safest, most liberal and most desirable places to invest. Knightsbridge, with its close vicinity to Harrods and all the premium shops of Sloane Street, is the most attractive area in London; and Cheval Place is an ultra-luxury development in the heart of Knightsbridge village. I am always keen to invest in prime real estate where the values are secured by high worldwide demand and rarity of availability.”
A fabulous home and a watertight investment; what more could you need? Oh, it’s a two-minute stroll from Zuma, so you can fire the driver.

Reading time: 3 min