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The Embellished Heel

It’s 30 years since Paul Simon released his iconic album Graceland, which featured the song Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. And while this surreal footwear concept is yet to be fully realized (to our knowledge), this season has seen something similar on the catwalks: the embellished heel. To accommodate dramatic decorations, the styles have been quite substantial (like the block-heel Aquazzura Cleopatra sandals pictured), but this trend is less about the heel shape and more about what’s on them – from Miu Miu’s bejewelled stilettos to Charlotte Olympia’s wedges with metallic cogs and wheels, and Sophia Webster’s rainbow-hued collections with pom-poms and raffia fringes. Dolce & Gabbana have trumped them all, though, with Mary Janes boasting doors on the heel that open to reveal a beaded heart: shoes that even Liberace might have deemed “a little on the flamboyant side”. Generally speaking, though, this trend has been most successful when it has focused on clear gems. Proof, perhaps, that like the heroine of Simon’s song, you can be bling from your head to your feet. aquazzura.com

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The E-bike

For anyone concerned about the environment, electric-assisted bicycles are the future of urban transportation. Combining pedal-power and electric drive, they are emissions-free and require minimal exertion. We’re now seeing a new breed of curvaceous creations such as the Vintage Electric “Tracker”, pictured. Based in California, Vintage Electric began making e-bikes inspired by 1920s racing motorcycles three years ago. “I built the first one in my parents’ garage, started riding it around and everybody wanted one,” founder Andrew Davidge says, “so I decided to give it a shot. My second design, the Cruz, was inspired by California beach cruisers.” Davidge’s creations, with a top speed of 36 mph and a range of 35 miles, have been snapped up by everyone from Silicon Valley CEOs to the Prince of Monaco. And the sector received a further boost in January when Californian legislation came in distinguishing e-bikes from mopeds, so they no longer require a license and insurance. “With an e-bike, you can often get to places quicker than in a car,” says Davidge. “They will radically change how people get from A to B.” vintageelectricbikes.com, fullycharged.com

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The Faberge Egg

This year marks 100 years since Peter Carl Fabergé, goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court, delivered his last Fabergé Imperial Egg. The Russian Revolution brought an abrupt end to the House of Fabergé, with the artist-jeweler and his family forced to flee Russia. Founded in 1842, the House was famed for the series of Imperial Easter Eggs created for the Russian Imperial Family between 1885 and 1917. The first, the Hen Egg, was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III in 1885 as a surprise for his wife. Crafted from gold, it contained a golden hen and a tiny diamond replica of the Imperial Crown, its presentation inaugurating an annual event that continued for 31 years. In 2007 the company was reborn, crafting exquisite jewelry and watches. Of the 50 eggs Fabergé made for the Russian Imperial Court, 43 have survived, and now the company has revived the tradition, launching a series of Fabergé Four Seasons Eggs. The four-inch-high Winter Egg pictured comprises 6,676 diamonds and 44 aquamarines, and opens to reveal a bespoke jeweled surprise. Definitely a gift fit for an empress. faberge.com

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The Succulent

Houseplants were once considered woefully uncool among the young and hip. Anyone with a hectic social life would surely find it impossible to find time for plant-watering, and owning a yucca might hamper one’s ability to jet off to Berlin at the drop of a hat. But now hipsters from Williamsburg to The Mission have embraced the houseplant, with one proviso: it must thrive on neglect. Enter the succulent, a plant that positively demands not to be watered. Succulents come in a dizzying array of shapes and colors, and most evolved with water-storage tissues that allow them to survive in the dry environments with minimal sunlight found in most homes. The most popular are from the Crassulaceae family, like those pictured. And no Williamsburg windowsill is complete without a “terrarium”, a Victorian invention that creates a microclimate for houseplants. New Yorkers can visit Adore Floral to “custom-pair” succulents with stylish vessels, while San Francisco’s Flora Grubb Gardens organizes “potting parties”. The houseplant, it seems, is here to stay. adorenyc.com, floragrubb.com

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The Ski Poster

In January, a 1934 poster advertising alpine resort Gstaad sold at auction for nearly $108,814 – a world record. The sum paid came as a shock even to Christie’s, who had offered a guide price of $15,000. Christie’s holds sales of vintage ski posters twice a year, and the prices have been rising steadily. Originally printed in runs of 1,000 or 2,000, they provide a visual record of the development of resorts from Chamonix to Aspen. London antiquarian bookseller Henry Sotheran Ltd. began specializing in trading vintage ski posters (such as the 1951 poster by Edward Lancaster pictured) ten years ago, and now organizes an exhibition every November. According to Richard Shepherd of Sotheran’s, the posters are growing ever more popular: “They were often thrown away at the end of the season, so few survive in good condition.” The posters typically fetch around $1,000 – and while some buyers are drawn to them for their investment potential, Shepherd puts the posters’ popularity down more to their romantic quality: “They’re a wonderful reminder of a golden age of travel.” sotherans.co.uk

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The Black Noodle

Black food is one of the more unusual trends to hit the blogosphere this year. The seeds of this phenomenon were perhaps planted in 2015 with Burger King Japa’s Kuro Burger, tinted with bamboo charcoal. Since then, culinary mavericks have displayed their own take on the trend, from Melbourne bakery Lune’s squid ink and cumin croissants, to the black ice cream at Morgenstern Finest Ice Cream shop in New York. For most foods, the inky colour is achieved using coconut-shell ash, squid ink or food coloring. In some cases, however, it comes from charcoal powder; there’s even a restaurant in Indonesia, Black Pempek, a “pioneer of black charcoal”, offering several sooty-looking dishes. Of course, enjoying these requires a change of mindset, as our brains have been trained to view black as signifying burnt food. But in the case of one delicacy, the cool factor is matched by health benefits. These black King Soba noodles, pictured, are made from deep purple and black grain rice – rich in minerals and fiber, with a deliciously nutty flavor. Black food… coming soon to a plate near you.

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The Color

As Vogue reported this year: “No matter how many we encounter, there is just something about a sunset that ignites the imagination. And this has got designers thinking, too; from yellow to fiery orange and cinnamon, there isn’t one color this spring but an ombré of glowing sunset hues. ”After decades in the fashion wilderness, it seems orange is suddenly the color du jour. Sunset hues have been turning up in fashion and interiors features with a regularity not seen since the pop art-inspired days of the 1960s. With color specialist Pantone singling out shades of red as key colors for this year and next, expect to see plenty of bold fabrics. Already spotted on the catwalks of Fendi and Hermès, oranges and warm reds look set to reach their peak in 2017. And the teaming of burnt amber with deep blue – the ultimate sunset combination – was a highlight on the Céline runway and has been seen on prints by Victoria Beckham. This vibrant palette is all about projecting a sense of confidence, action and positive non-conformism. Our guess is, we’ll be seeing more of it. After all, who doesn’t love a sunset?

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Speedy Returns

Anyone who remembers how the classic car boom of the late 1980s ended in a dramatic bust might be inclined to steer clear of sinking their life savings into a collection of old automobiles. But perhaps they should think again. A cursory look at the prices being achieved for the most sought-after models shows that the market is currently at an all-time high.

 
A prime example of its buoyancy was seen in February of this year when French house Artcurial set a new record price in Euros for any car sold at auction by hammering down a 1957 Ferrari 335S Spider Scaglietti for €32.1 million (about $35.7 million). Two years ago, the highest price ever achieved for a car in dollars was reached at Bonhams for a 1962 Ferrari GTO: $38.1 million. The message is clear: classic cars are now officially regarded as blue-chip investments, with their value increasing at a higher rate than the stock market, property and even gold. In the 2015 passion investment index by the private wealth managers Coutts, certain classic cars showed an increase of 40 per cent in 2014 and a 400 per cent increase since 2005.
 
Not that the appeal of old cars is purely financial. For most buyers, the real pull lies in the fact that they are rolling works of art that not only look great and evoke a golden era but offer the potential for a huge amount of fun, too. In recent years, the number of events being staged for veteran, vintage and classic automobiles has grown exponentially. Today, instead of just polishing your pride and joy and taking it for an occasional weekend jaunt, you can actually use it for anything from an organized tour with a group of like-minded enthusiasts to a road rally, hill climb or all-out circuit race. In May, for example, the biennial Monaco Historic Grand Prix saw hundreds of vintage and classic cars racing around the legendary circuit in seven different classes catering for everything from 1930s Bugattis to the wildest Formula One cars of the 1970s. So, if you fancy owning a classic, which should you buy? The choice is, of course, myriad, but here are five that are on the wish lists of most lovers of historical cars.

 

Jaguar E-Type

Created by former aircraft designer Malcolm Sayer, Jaguar’s E-Type was the fastest production car on the market when it was unveiled in March 1961. With a top speed of 150mph, a 3.8-liter, 265-horsepower engine and jaw-dropping looks, it was declared by Enzo Ferrari to be “the most beautiful car in the world”. More than 72,000 were built during a 14-year production run. The most popular, however, are the “Series 1” models, with the best open-top “roadsters” currently commanding around $250,000, and fixed-head coupés only half as much. Jaguar recently built a series of six “continuation” cars to finally finish the Lightweight E-Type project which, 51 years ago, resulted in the creation of a series of highly-focused racing versions of the car. Only 12 of the intended 18 cars were ever made, leaving the remaining half-dozen allocated chassis numbers on file. These were used by Jaguar’s Special Operations division to build the “missing” Lightweights, which sold for more than $1.5 million each.

 

Ferrari 250 GTO

Said by many to be the most beautiful car ever created, a mere 39 examples of the legendary 250 GT “Omologato” were produced between 1962 and 1963, originally to contest the FIA GT World Championship series in the three-liter class – the “250” in the title referring to the 250cc capacity of each of the engine’s 12 cylinders. Although designed as a pure racing machine, the GTO is renowned for its ease of use as a road car. The most paid at auction to date is $38.1 million, although one example is rumored to have changed hands in a private deal for closer to $50 million.

 

Porsche 911 Carrera RS

The Carrera 2.7 RS of 1973 was intended purely for racing, but Porsche had to build 500 road-going examples to qualify the car for inclusion in the Group 4 GT category. It proved so popular as a high-performance street machine, however, that production only stopped after 1,508 had rolled off the line. Much of the appeal of the RS lies in the fact that it combines 150mph performance with reliability and surprising economy. The best examples now fetch between $1 million and $1.5 million, but beware: early 911s are notoriously dangerous in the hands of the uninitiated. When cornering, the golden rule is “slow in, fast out”, because if you lift off the throttle on the apex of a bend, there’s a good chance it will spin off the road.

Bentley "Blower"

“The world’s fastest lorries” is how Ettore Bugatti rather rudely described the pre-war Bentleys that dominated the Le Mans 24-Hour races during the late 1920s and early 1930s. The “blown” 4.5-liter Bentley was unveiled at the London motor show in 1929 having been privately developed by “Bentley Boy” Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin as a higher-performance version of the standard four-liter. Just 50 production cars were built, all of which could top 100mph, making them among the world’s first supercars. Examples rarely appear for sale, but those that do command sums in the region of $1.5 million. Four years ago, however, the 1932 single-seater, record-breaking Blower that originally belonged to Birkin fetched a record $7 million at Bonhams.

 

Lamborghini Miura

Made famous in the opening scenes of The Italian Job, in which a bright-red example can be seen driving along an alpine road to the strains of crooner Matt Monro’s On Days Like These before being pushed off a cliff by a Mafia bulldozer, the Miura was the first ever mid-engined, road-going supercar when it was launched in 1966. According to legend, it was designed by Lamborghini engineers in their spare time, as company boss Ferruccio Lamborghini was more interested in grand tourers. Featuring a 12-cylinder, four-liter engine, Miuras are known for their brutal power, weighty gearshift and over-light front end. But on a challenging back road with a good driver behind the wheel, thrills are guaranteed. Add to that a range of wild color options and past owners ranging from Frank Sinatra to the Shah of Iran, and you can see why values have risen from $800,000 five years ago to more than $2 million today.

 

Images: Getty Images, Alamy

 

Jaguar E-Type

 

Ferrari 250 GTO

 

Porsche 911 Carrera RS

 

Bentley "Blower"

 

Lamborghini Miura