Issue 1 - King Of Neon - Image 1

King of Neon

Bracey's backyard in East London – christened “God’s Own Junk Yard” – is like Las Vegas’s Neon Boneyard in miniature: a four-decade jumble of industrial metal, discarded advertising signage, architectural salvage and, as he says, random letters that had been earmarked for recycling. His is a family trade – his father made neon signs, and Bracey has been beguiled by the art since he was a boy. The Londoner collects anything to do with old signs, and some of it he lovingly incorporates into new works of his own. “I might drag out an ‘L’ from a Planet Hollywood sign and an ‘O’ from the Trocadero and go on to spell out ‘LOVE’ on a backing board from an old First World War barracks,” he explains, describing the creative process. “I put it all together with old neon and bulbs, and then I fall in love with it. It’s carved from my heart.”


Other pieces he collects for the pure love of this vintage craft,
traveling the world to pick over old junkyards and secondhand shops. “I never throw anything away. I have loads of old signs my dad made for fairgrounds and circuses in the 1950s and 1960s, and then there are vintage American signs I found on road trips on Route 66,” he says.


Discarded neon from circuses, carnivals, end-of-the-pier joints,
London’s theaterland and Chinatown fill four warehouses across the city. Which has made Bracey the go-to guy as collector, artist and dealer when film companies want to recreate period sets for their productions. Batman’s Gotham City was propped with some of Bracey’s prized vintage signs, and Stanley Kubrick borrowed a few pieces and commissioned some new neon for Eyes Wide Shut. Vogue has shot fashion in his yard, and the artist Grayson Perry decorated a party with some neon that originally came from an old clip joint in London’s Soho.


These days, his own neon and colored-bulb artworks are garnering him a reputation internationally, with high-profile collectors such as Lady Gaga, Elton John and Mark Zuckerberg buying his pieces. At an exhibition of his work last winter, he showed one piece made from a weathered old metal stepladder, its surface thick with paint and plaster marks. He’d attached the words “Stairway to Heaven” in cool white scripted neon on its steps. “I’ve had the ladder for years and years,” he says, “I knew it would be useful one day.”

Issue 4 - Box Clever - Image 1 - Ramesh Nair

Box Clever

“I was an army brat and traveled all over the world with my father to places like Burma,” the 48-year-old says. “Wherever we went we’d take at least 25 trunks. To me, that was how people traveled.”
When the designer joined Moynat in 2011 from Hermès, where he’d worked for ten years under Martin Margiela and Jean Paul Gaultier, the LVMH accessories brand offered the perfect link between private passion and professional career: Nair owns more than 200 antique trunks. Moynat, which was launched in 1849 by Pauline Moynat, who sold travel goods, and trunk-making brothers Octavie and François Coulembier, was one of France’s oldest trunk-makers, with a reputation for innovation. “In 1870, it brought out a lightweight trunk using a wicker frame instead of a metallic one,” Nair explains. It was also, he adds, the first to use hardened gutta-percha waterproofing as well as varnished canvas and leather trimming.
What appeals most to Nair, though, is the manner in which trunks were customized. “There were all sorts of styles made,” he explains. “The limousine style was curved to fit on to a car roof; the cabin trunk opened in front and slid under the berth; while automobile trunks attached to the back of the car, before the trunk as we know it today was devised.”
The first trunk Nair ever bought, in Chantilly in France, was “a real fluke”, he admits. Although it was in fantastic condition, its owner was desperate to get rid of it. “Because it was arched, she couldn’t use it as a table and it was just gathering dust in the garage,” he says. “So I got it for only around $270.” A contemporary Moynat trunk, on the other hand, will set you back several thousand dollars.
Other unexpected finds have been a 1907 cabin trunk from Marseilles, with its key still in the lock, and an ugly black trunk found in Rennes. “After stripping and cleaning it, it turned out to be a lovely dark green, which, I then discovered, matched the car that it was originally designed for.”
“I am fascinated by the idea of the customer asking for a certain color and a certain number of locks, and the reason they wanted them,” he continues. “I always wonder what adventure they were going to have.”
His favorite models are those from the Belle Epoque, which he describes as “real couture pieces, because no trunk is similar to another”. But these are becoming increasingly difficult to find. “I have contacts all over Europe – France and England are the best sources. But really lovely ones are becoming a rarity, which makes the ones I already have even more precious.”

California Dreamer - Andy Linsky

California Dreamer

During the week, Andy Linsky can invariably be found behind the wheel of a conventional, modern car as he drives between some of the most prestigious properties in and around Palm Springs, going about his business as one of the region's leading real estate agents. But in his spare time, Linsky is more likely to be spotted wafting along Palm Canyon Drive in a time-warp classic from the large and impressive collection which he keeps fully maintained and ready-to-roll in an 8,000 sq. ft. warehouse near his home.


“I’ve been interested in cars since the age of 4,” says 63-year-old Linsky, “but I didn’t get around to owning a classic automobile until the early 1990s when I bought a 1971 Lincoln Continental. It proved to be a false start. I found I wasn’t ready to deal with the foibles of an old car, so I sold it on.”
Linsky, who is also a passionate collector of contemporary art and wristwatches, revisited classic car ownership in 2000 with the purchase of a 1966 Rolls-Royce with drophead coupé coachwork by Mulliner Park Ward. “I sold that, too, and have regretted it ever since, but then I began buying more cars and, at one point, owned 25. That is now down to 18, two thirds of which are British or European, with the other third being American. I tend to buy those that were around when I first had a driving licence but couldn’t afford to own – although I have managed to buy an almost exact duplicate of my first new car, a 1972 BMW 2002tii in Inca orange.
Linsky purchases mainly from specialist auction houses and, more occasionally, from dealers or private sellers. “I try to buy the very best cars I can find, usually ones which have been restored to exceptionally high standards,” says Linsky, who counts among his stable a 1967 
Rolls-Royce and a 1963 Cadillac that were previously part of the renowned, multi-award-winning Nethercutt Collection in California.
“I think that’s a better way of doing it than buying a car in poor condition and having it rebuilt,” he continues. “It’s also very important not to simply park them up and forget about them. They need to be used. For that reason I employ someone to manage the collection, servicing and maintaining the cars, as well as driving them on a regular basis.”
Like most collectors, however, there are still one or two cars that Linsky longs to own. “I would very much like a Bentley Continental Flying Spur with Mulliner coachwork, and an Aston Martin DB6,” he says. “But these two particular cars have become very expensive. So now, I’m on the lookout for a 1968 Ford Torino GT Fastback in Lime Gold. That was the first car I ever owned, and I’d like to have another, but it’s proving very difficult to find one in that exact same color.”


Spoken like a true perfectionist.