“Warhol said, ‘Scarlett, would you like to sit for me?’ I called myself that then. I was 16”

A pair of matching Vespas is not the first thing you expect to find at the front door of one of Europe’s leading royal families. But, as the electric gates swing back to let me into the London townhouse of Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, there, by the chic black-lacquered front door, stand two immaculate burgundy scooters: one for him and one for her.


If they were the property of any other young London couple, the bikes wouldn’t be of interest. But Pavlos, the Crown Prince of Greece, has connections to half the royals in Europe, with their golden carriages and bulletproof limousines, and his wife Marie-Chantal, the daughter of the DFS (Duty Free Shops) billionaire Robert Miller, is not unaccustomed to a life of personal chauffeurs and private planes. The fact that they whizz about the British capital on two wheels – posting Instagram photographs of themselves with their children on the back – tells you much of what you need to know about this most independent of royal couples.


As she leads me into the drawing room of their capacious Chelsea home, her petite frame clad in black J Brand jeans and a cream lace shirt, with Pierre Hardy pumps on her feet, it’s clear she’s no average princess. “Sorry about the cat,” she apologizes, removing a muddy-nosed creature from a cream chair and calling one of her five children to retrieve it. “It got stuck in a hole, and I haven’t had time to wash it yet.” The cat, though, is the only thing that’s not immaculate in the room. Cushions are artfully arranged on carefully placed sofas. Tight, round “trees” of single-color flowers adorn coffee tables. Photographs of the couple’s wedding – the biggest gathering of royals in London since the nuptials of Princess Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947 – adorn a polished grand piano. And on three of the walls hang Andy Warhol paintings: one that the artist gave her as a gift on her school graduation, and two which she posed for as a 16-year-old intern at his Factory studio in New York.


Working for Warhol was “one of the best experiences I could ever have had”, she says. “It was so much fun. It was the 1980s and the art world was booming, and he’d have me do everything: mix paint, serve lunch, run errands, go with him to openings and exhibits, and hang out with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I can’t believe my parents let me, to be honest – although I did have a 10pm curfew.”


Sitting for Warhol came about by accident. “He said to me one day, ‘Scarlett, would you like to sit for me?’ I called myself Scarlett then – who knows why. I didn’t like Marie-Chantal. I was 16 and trying to invent myself. Maybe it was after Gone with the Wind – I can’t remember. So I sat for him. My father, thankfully, bought the works, which was a good investment.”


Three decades later, she not only appreciates the name Marie-Chantal, but has created an eponymous business from it: a luxury children’s clothing range that has grown from a small line in a single London store to an internationally recognizable brand sold in more than 30 countries worldwide. When she launched in 2001 in New York, where she has a home, “friends [including loyal followers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt, Jessica Alba and Victoria Beckham] were very sweet and bought it. We did 18 options for girls, 12 for boys.” Today, she sells as many items online internationally as she does in her original store in the British capital.

“I think people crave the nostalgia of an old-fashioned childhood,” she says, praising the Duchess of Cambridge, whose wedding she attended, for helping to revive more traditional childrenswear. “They want gingham and stripes, and pretty dresses for girls, and beautifully cut classics for boys, whether they’re in a big city in Asia or on America’s East Coast. And lovely fabrics that aren’t scratchy and itchy.”


Her own mother, she says, has “immaculate taste” and bought only classical styles for her and her sisters, Alexandra von Fürstenberg (now a furniture designer) and Pia Getty (a filmmaker). “We lived in Hong Kong and she would take us to Europe to do our shopping for the year: toiles from Liberty,and kilts and cashmere from The Scotch House, in London; the remainder from Cacharel and Daniel Hechter in Paris.”


Even today, as a 48-year-old mother of five children, aged between nine and 21, Marie-Chantal still takes inspiration from her mother’s wardrobe – and borrows from it regularly. “She has great jackets and accessories, and some very good Chanel pieces. What’s funny is that Olympia [her 21-year-old daughter, currently studying photography in New York] is now borrowing my clothes. Our taste is multi-generational.”


Other than her mother, from whom she borrowed a navy Chanel couture suit to wear on the evening she met Prince Pavlos, the icons she was inspired by are all from a previous generation. “I know it’s a cliché, but it was women like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jane Birkin, whose style you don’t see so much today. It’s much more diverse and creative now: girls are mixing street style with high fashion, and pieces from Zara or Topshop. They might buy a designer bag, but that’s it, whereas when I was young and living in Paris in the 1980s, you were loyal to one designer. Mine was Karl Lagerfeld, then Valentino, who made my wedding dress [a pearl-encrusted gown that was rumored to have cost $225,000] and who has since become a friend. I love the way they nurture clients. There’s a real friendship there.”


If she had to pick two women now whose style she admires, it would be Inès de la Fressange, Lagerfeld’s muse, “who has such classic elegance, she could wear white jeans and a white shirt and look fabulous”, and Lauren Santo Domingo, “who’s great at being experimental and carrying off new brands”, and who carries Marie-Chantal’s line on her Moda Operandi online boutique. And designers? “Peter Pilotto, Erdem, Emilia Wickstead and Michael Kors.”


As you might expect from someone who regularly appears on lists of the world’s best-dressed women, attending fashion shows and shopping are a key part of her daily life. “The problem is the internet!” she exclaims, rolling her eyes. “I love shopping online and there are so many great places: Matches, Mytheresa, Shopbop for its jeans and T-shirts, Farfetch, Amazon… I can’t remember the last time I went and browsed in a boutique. It just doesn’t happen any more.”


Being much the same size as she was when she married 22 years ago means she can mix classics from the 1980s with new things. She stays trim by going to the gym or cycling. “Plus, I haven’t eaten carbohydrates for years, or sugar. If you add up how much sugar is in a diet, what with fruit and veg, and cookies and desserts, it really adds up, so I stopped completely. I try to stop the kids having sugar, too, but it’s a nightmare. Even juices – you really have to read the labels. It’s all hidden. Everyone should watch Food, Inc. and That Sugar Film. Then they’d cut it out completely.”


Two things she believes in, however, are fresh air and a good beauty regime. “My dermatologist advocates a regime of scrub, wash and moisturize, plus vitamin C and glycolic acid,” she says. “And it works.” As for the fresh air, she gets plenty of that on the family estate in Yorkshire, in the north of England, where they go most weekends. “Growing up in Hong Kong, I dreamed of space. Being able to enjoy that now is wonderful. I’m a mix of urban and country, I think.”


As are her customers – in her four stores, online shop and sales points around the world. Surprisingly, she says, it’s in Asia that classic dressing has had a particular resurgence. “There, the little girl or boy really represents the family status, so it’s important to dress them well,” she says.


Advice to focus her business eastwards has come from a trusted source. Her father grew his DFS and Galleria brands by targeting the Japanese consumer of the 1970s. “Today, it’s the Chinese,” she says, “who love not just luxury but lots of different new brands. It’s growing there like nowhere else.”


But really, she says, wherever they are, people of all ages like to look good. “It’s important to make an effort,” she smiles. “People appreciate it. Like manners.” And with that she gets up to make me tea, like the mannerly princess she is.




House style

Above: Princess Marie-Chantal in the elegant London abode she shares with Prince Pavlos and their family (photo: Julian Broad/Getty Images)



The art of decor

The couple’s home is filled with art, including paintings of herself by Warhol, and of her children (photo: Julian Broad/Getty Images)




Small wonder

Marie-Chantal’s spring/summer 2017 collection for children includes lightweight suits for boys and cool tweed dresses for girls, each beautifully cut




Royal standard

Princess Marie-Chantal photographed in the garden of her London townhouse with three of her five children, wearing clothes from their mother’s eponymous range


Finding El Dorado

From the baking coastal deserts to the fertile terraces of the Sacred Valley, the sun was worshipped by almost all of Peru’s indigenous peoples. And when the Nazca, Salinar, Vicús, Chimú, Moche and Sipán cultures sought a physical expression of this vital power, they turned to their most precious metal: gold.


When I first visited Lima’s state-run Museo de Oro and the private Larco museum of Pre-Columbian art in Cuzco, my jaw dropped at the extraordinarily exquisite representations of animals, ceremonial clothing and bags, sculptured hands, ceremonial cups and Tumis (axes with semi-circular blades) and funerary masks. These masterpieces demonstrate how gold, for the nobility, played a role in every aspect of life and death.


This story was repeated across the Americas, from the Mayas in Mexico to the Muisca people of Colombia. When the conquistadors came knocking, much of the splendor was scattered. Some traveled to Spain and Europe, some went to the Pope. Many of the extant gold artworks and jewelry are now held in museums or kept in private collections.


This is what makes Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas – at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center and then in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art – a unique event. The show will feature more than 300 works rarely or never-before seen in the United States from more than 50 international lenders, including treasures unearthed in recent excavations across the continent.


To understand the history of the Americas, you have to understand gold. The Museo de Oro has pieces dating from as early as 100 AD. In Cuzco, the Incas’ “navel of the world”, Atahualpa was said to possess a portable throne of 15-carat gold that weighed 183 pounds. For many of the pre-Incan cultures, gold and silver were the embodiment of a fundamental dualism of light and dark, male and female, night and day.


For the Incas, whose empire stretched from Ecuador to northern Argentina, gold was not merely beautiful and rare, it symbolized unearthly and uncanny power. Archaeologists believe the Inca road network served for ritual activities. The famous Machu Picchu citadel had multiple and overlapping functions, sacred and profane. The most stirring place at the site, for me, is a stone pillar known as the Intihuatana. The name, possibly given to it by Hiram Bingham, the American explorer who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, means “hitching post of the sun”. The Incas, using the stone as an astronomical clock, held ceremonies on the March and September equinoxes when the sun was directly above the pillar. The Inca knew our closest star provided them with crops, fire, life itself and they believed that gold in some way embodied this cosmic force. Whoever owned gold had harnessed the creative energy of the sun.


Bogotá’s famous Museo de Oro claims to be the largest collection of gold objects in the world. Representations of fishes and sea snails, decorative plates, surreal anthropomorphs and zoomorphs and a dazzling votive raft express the vivid imaginations and demonstrate the artisanal talents of the Muisca culture, which occupied the Andean highlands from as early as the 16th century BC right up to the Spanish conquest.

Europeans were mesmerized by gold, too. If Columbus’s main goal was a fast route to the Indies, this was because he was seeking spices, silks, and precious stones and metals. Hernán Cortés is said to have confessed, “We Spaniards know a sickness of the heart that only gold can cure.”


When Aztec ruler Montezuma made an offering of the precious metal to the invaders, believing them to be divine rather than dastardly, Cortés saw his chance. Much of the hoard was shipped to Europe, to become part of Spain’s imperial treasures, to pay debts, to be melted down, to be shipped on as patronage to the Pope. King Ferdinand of Spain required gold in order to fund further expeditions, to spread the word of God and to secure control over the vast new territories. Some was lost en route, plundered by pirates. In 1975, an octopus fisherman spied something glittering in shallow waters off Punta Gorda, near Veracruz on the Mexican Gulf. He dug into the sand with his free hand. The find, now known as the Fisherman’s Treasure, contained beautiful Aztec bracelets, pendants and ornaments, originally destined for Charles V but sunk en route. Some of these will be on show at Golden Kingdoms.


The search for gold would lead colonists and conquistadors to take terrible risks. Even in the deserts of Patagonia, Spanish explorers would, on hearing fantastical rumors told by natives, set off on epic, futile – often fatal – expeditions across the arid plains. Imaginary places like the City of the Caesars became the talk of coffee shops in Seville and Genoa, London and Paris.


The 20th century was not immune to gold fever. The recent film The Lost City of Z tells of British explorer, Lieutenant Colonel Percy Fawcett, who traveled to Brazil eight times between 1906 and 1925, searching for vestiges of an ancient civilization. Tales of lost Inca gold turn up perennially in newspapers – and, indeed, ancient sites are being discovered all the time (Golden Kingdoms, for instance, will showcase ornaments from Sipán, the richest unlooted tomb in the ancient Americas, found only in 1988).


All these possibilities are captured in the notion of El Dorado – the mythic Golden Man that segued from being a tribal chief associated with the Muisca to become a city, a kingdom and, ultimately, a lost empire. A few years ago, traveling through northern Brazil by bus, I woke to find we’d passed through a place called El Dorado during the night. It seemed fitting: to doze while passing through a place that has occupied so many dreams. Like all those conquistadors before me, I had to make do with the fiery glow of the dawn sun. Anyway, I rationalized, it was bound to have disappointed me. It was a small town, a nowhere place. There had to be dozens of humdrum El Dorados named after that futile, crazed illusion.


Then again, perhaps, buried a few inches beneath the ground, was a rusting chest containing a stash of gold that once lit up the faces of Incas or Amazonians, and lay waiting, shining in the dark, if only I could find it.


Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas is at the Getty Center, Los Angeles (getty.edu) from September 16, 2017, to January 28, 2018, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York metmuseum.org from February 27 to May 28, 2018.

Your address: The St. Regis New York


Above: Aztec serpent labret with articulated tongue



Above: Moche octopus frontlet


Above and below: artifacts from the Golden Kingdoms exhibition


The White Stuff

Under a high, fierce sun, the Tuareg trader’s face is in shadow beneath his black turban. In one hand he carries a femur-like stick, with the other he leads a roped line of 15 laden dromedaries stretching back across the sand dune. “The source of all life,” he says, “is t-èsm-en… salt. It runs in our people’s blood.”

Since the sixth century, the Tuareg have walked the 500-mile Azalai caravan route from Timbuktu through Taoudenni to the salt mines of Taghaza, packing their beasts with “white gold” to return to the Malian market city. Those caravans were once 10,000 camels strong, and such was its value, the salt they carried was traded weight-for-weight for gold.


Until the mid-20th century, sodium chloride was the most sought-after currency in the Saharan interior, the salt route extending from Mauritania to Ethiopia – where salt slabs were used as coins and the mineral is still traded in bricks – and on to Djibouti. But then, salt runs deep in the veins of all humanity. From Africa to Europe, the Middle East and China, those cubic crystals of sodium chloride were the building blocks of ancient civilizations.


Salt is essential for human life, with sodium playing a vital role in the regulation of many bodily functions, maintaining our fluid balance and enabling the transmission of nerve impulses around the body. But it was this ionic compound’s power to purify and preserve food that was a key catalyst for the progression of Neolithic societies. On the back of salt, whether mined or evaporated from sea or brine waters, cities were founded, religious rituals devised, roads built, gold amassed, old wounds healed in ancient baths, and new lands discovered (after all, Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the Americas was funded by Spanish salt fortunes).


But just as sodium chloride bestowed life and wealth, it also took it away. For the sake of salt, wars were fought, cities and empires destroyed. With handfuls of these white crystals, agreements were made in the Middle East, temple sacrifices consecrated by ancient Hebrews, evil spirits warded off by Buddhists, and sumo rings ritually purified in front of the Emperors of Japan.


The chemical and political potency of salt also imbued it with connotations of spiritual power. In ancient Egypt, natron – a naturally occurring salt found in the soda lakes of the Wadi El Natrun or Natron Valley – was used in mummification and added to castor oil to make Egyptian Blue paint, which adorned tombs, aiding the dead’s safe passage to the afterlife.


Above all, salt was the earth’s natural healer. The Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu, a 2700 BC Chinese treatise on pharmacology, was partly devoted to the curative powers of salts. While the Greek physician Hippocrates immersed his patients in seawater to treat arthritis and the Ancient Greeks pioneered thalassotherapy, the Romans turned bathing into a grand, ceremonial affair. Herod the Great built his own winter palace at the oasis of Jericho by the Dead Sea in Israel, and floated on waters where Cleopatra had once bathed.


Utah’s Great Salt Lake has been a magnet for visitors since the 1940s


Rock salt is an integral part of many spa treatments


Margarita time

The Dead Sea – in fact a hyper-saline lake – was developed as a spa destination in the 1960s. Today, its chloride-, bromide- and magnesium-rich salt is used worldwide: at The Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, for instance, where it’s mixed with eucalyptus, menthol and lavender oils to hydrate skin; at The St. Regis Cairo, where saltis mixed with an infusion of tomatoes in the foot ritual and with foaming fruit mousse in Glow scrubs; and at The St. Regis Amman, opening this winter, which will be a perfect base from which to take a salt-bathing trip.


While over-salinity prevented natural life from flourishing in terminal lakes such as the Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake of Utah and the evaporated salt plains of Salar de Uyuni in the Bolivian Altiplano, these barren landscapes were restorative to the human eye. Their calming effect on the mind and womb-like release from gravity have been replicated by modern flotation-tank therapy. At The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in Mexico, a 30 per cent concentration of Epsom salts is used to achieve high water buoyancy in the flotation pod. “The deep state of meditation is very close to that achieved in Mexican shaman purification rituals,” says executive spa director Alejandro Ortiz, “while regular skin exposure to Epsom salts improves the mineral content in the bloodstream; magnesium helps to regulate hundreds of enzymatic systems; and sulphates help to flush toxins out of the body.”


Today, with a renewed interest in artisanal salts for their trace-mineral benefits, salt micro-dosing has become an alchemical art-form, with salts delivered in crystals or slabs, smoked or flavored, absorbed or ingested. Fleur du Sel, harvested by hand in France for food, is highly sought-after, with a price tag to match, and Hawaiian salt much prized for a volcanic baked clay component called Alaea, which is rich in iron oxide, and its activated charcoal ions with detoxifying properties. According to Stephanie Kaluahine Reid, from The St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kauai Island, the making of Pa’akai salt, used in Hawaiian ceremonies, is one the islands’ oldest traditions. “It means ‘to solidify the sea’,” she explains, “and Kauai is the only place in the Hawaiian Islands to make salt according to ancient principles.” (Exfoliating vanilla salt polish and Kauai clay are used in Hanalei Bay Ritual at The St. Regis Princeville Resort’s spa and guava wood-smoked sea-salt gives a local twist to an Aloha Bloody Mary afterwards at the bar.)


The newly touted panacea of Himalayan salt comes in pink and black as well. While the latter, also known as kala namak, has a high sulfur content prized in strong foods, the low-sodium Himalayan Pink contains 84 beneficial minerals, much prized by nutritionists. “Slabs are cut from crystallized sea salt beds millions of years old, deep within the Himalayas,” says David Mulin, director of food and beverage of The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, where the salt is used to line platters of sushi. “The lava is thought to have protected the salt from modern-day pollution, leading to the belief that Himalayan Pink is the purest salt to be found on earth.”


And if you’re looking for colorful ways to ingest trace minerals with your recommended 5mg a day of sodium chloride, here’s another one: sipping a Margarita made by Jorge Carillo, head mixologist at The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, who encrusts the glasses’ rims with salt ground with chicatana flying ants. This protein-rich delicacy of pre-Columbian Oaxaca adds piquancy: a hint of air, a hint of earth and a strong hit of fire-water.


Your address: The St. Regis Amman; The St. Regis Cairo; The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club; The St. Regis Princeville Resort; The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort


(All photos: ©Getty Images)

Salt formations in the southern Dead Sea


Salt is used as a luxurious back scrub in spas around the globe


A Bolivian salt crystal


The luxe weight

In the fickle world of fitness there’s been a move away from unsightly and complicated high-tech products towards those that are simple and rather beautiful: excellent news for anyone who likes their workout space to be as beautiful as their home. Following on from other such handsome fitness items as cast-iron kettle bells, Indian clubs and Persian “Shena” push-up boards comes a range of new designer dumbbells so beautiful, they could be mistaken for domestic sculpture. Pent, for example, makes bespoke dumbbells from European walnut with steel and brass inlay – a finely tooled look that (hopefully) complements your rippling abdomen – as well as a range of barbells, called the Lesna, with removable weights that are as handsome as contemporary artworks. (Rather wonderfully, they can be engraved, so everyone knows they’re yours.) The German company Hock Design has created a limited-edition run of 50 sets of dumbbells made from 18-carat gold and rare grenadilla wood, which could be used as doorstops should your quest for the perfect body fizzle out. And the Swedish company Tingest makes marble dumbbells (pictured) in either black or white, as well as kettlebells, which they launched at the Stockholm furniture fair, that resemble exquisite handbags and could sit as happily in a feminine room as they could in a macho gym. These weights don’t just sit incognito while not in use, but declare themselves proudly. And just perhaps, your body will follow their example. pentfitness.com; hockdesign.com; tingest.com

The antiquity

Antiquities that have long gathered dust in museums are at last coming out of hiding and finding new homes in contemporary spaces around the globe. For those fed up with what they believe is the shallowness of contemporary art, the arrival of ancient sculpture in the domestic interior is a welcome relief. Busts are not just visually beautiful – extraordinary examples of master craftsmanship – but a visual dive into deep history. This beautiful 2nd-century white crystalline marble bust of a woman’s head, for instance, from Kallos Gallery, is a depiction of Ariadne, who became the bride of Bacchus, the god of wine. It would have adorned the home of a wealthy Roman, who appreciated not just luxury materials, but the craftsmanship: the wreath here is made of finely carved pine cones and clusters, each finely modeled and hand-drilled. Heads such as this are also becoming extremely valuable at market. In 2010 a Roman marble portrait bust sold at Sotheby’s New York for $23.8 million – ten times the expected $2 million – and in 2014, an Egyptian limestone statue sold for over $20m at Christie’s: almost five times what they expected. Today, dealers and galleries such as Ariadne Galleries, David Ghezelbash, Phoenix Ancient Art, and Gordian Weber Kunsthandel feed an increasingly hungry group of collectors. The current trend is to mix antiquities with modern pieces, in the style of the Belgian seer of modern collecting, Axel Vervoordt. The trick if you get one? Backlight it, says Vervoordt. “That really brings an ancient head to life.” kallosgallery.com

The turmeric root

Having been viewed for decades as a workaday addition to the curry-maker’s pot, turmeric is enjoying its moment in the sun as the spice du jour. The gloriously colored root, with its earthy taste and ability to turn your T-shirt into a Buddhist monk’s robe, is no longer being seen merely as a flavorful addition to Eastern food, either sliced from a root or sprinkled as a dried powder, but as a nutritious addition to tinctures, smoothies, teas and lattes. It’s even being used in face packs and scrubs, to soften and soothe skin. So what are its much-lauded benefits? Primarily that it helps with inflammation. “It has curcumin in it, which is a Cox-2 inhibitor that is a proven anti-inflammatory,” says Jeanette Hyde, a nutritionist and author of the popular health bible The Gut Makeover. “People who do a lot of sport swear by it.” There’s also tantalizing talk that regular use of turmeric could help with a range of conditions, from age-related memory loss and arthritis to a variety of skin conditions, including eczema. When the actress and model Priyanka Chopra was asked the secret of her glowing skin at this year’s Oscars, she cited a body rub made with turmeric, sandalwood, Greek yogurt and chickpea flour. Hyde, who uses it to make smoothies, gives a note of warning, though. “It’s very staining,” she says. Not something to drink when you’re wearing your white Balenciaga, then.

A Little Place I Know


An Ottoman palace
in Istanbul
by Leon Jakimič

Dolmabahçe Palace, Visnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahce Cd, Istanbul
The palace is set between the ports of Besiktas and Kabatas and overlooks the Bosphorus, in which the old Ottoman fleets used to anchor. You can arrive here either on foot, through the little cobbled streets, or by boat, on the glittering waters. Either way, it’s an impressive building – a testament to the opulent life of the Ottoman sultans and the power of their empire. Outside, it’s embellished with intricate white carvings. Inside, every centimeter is decorated with marble, gold and crystal. Built in the 19th century, it’s full of history. Because of my interest in crystal, I was particularly impressed by the world’s largest Bohemian chandelier, in the Ceremonial Hall, which was sent to Istanbul by Queen Victoria of England. It’s an extraordinary example of what can be made by master craftsmen. Of course it’s not the only beautiful thing: each room is different, whether it’s the harem – which was the Sultan’s private area – the study room, the alabaster baths or the throne room. The building is filled with references to other great nations: it was the intention of the Ottoman emperors to build a palace that would match the success of European emperors, culture and architecture. If you’re visiting, it’s also worth going to the neo-baroque Dolmabahçe Clock Tower, the Dolmabahçe Mosque and the Palace Collections Museum. But allow a few days: there’s so much culture and history, you could spend a lifetime here.

Leon Jakimic is founder of the Czech crystal brand Lasvit (lasvit.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul


A tea shop in Chengdu
by Asa Eriksson-Ahuja

Yao Li Cha Shi, Tiexiangsi Road, Chengdu
This little tea house, located in the more commercial south side of Chengdu, is surrounded by modern structures that accentuate its more traditional architecture and materials. Even the entrance – a wooden porch with a thatched roof – makes you feel like you’re entering an ancient garden house. Step inside and you find an airy, Zen-like room, lit by rice-paper windows. The interiors are all tastefully decorated with potted trees, teapots, hanging calligraphy and fans. The owner wanted to create a space that honored the rich traditions of China’s tea-drinking culture, and he sells only premium-quality Chinese tea, as well as refined teaware and tea-serving garments from Japan. One of the best products sold here is a green tea called Meng-Ding Yan cha, found only in Sichuan province on the slopes of the Meng Mountain. My favorite place to drink it is the Japanese-style space on the third floor, sitting on a tatami mat. Before this shop opened in February 2017, there were only traditional Chinese-style tea houses in Chengdu. The combination of Chinese and Japanese elements in this new one makes it very special.

Asa Eriksson-Ahuja is the co-founder of the tea-humidor brand Lotusier (lotusier.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Chengdu


A compendium of global
treasures in New York
by Pippa Small

De Vera, 1 Crosby Street, New York
This store is in a part of Soho that’s forever changing – you might walk one block and it feels quite grimy, and the next it’s impossibly glamorous. It’s an area that’s always in a state of flux. From the outside, it’s pretty difficult to guess what it sells: it’s dark and unreadable, like a treasure box. Inside, it looks part cathedral, part museum and part eccentric collector’s home. It’s lined with 19th-century museum displays stocked with pieces from around the world. There’s Catholic iconography and kitsch Japanese ceramics, found objects, architectural details, little boxes, curiosity cabinets, jewelry made from old stones, seals, ancient beads, pearls, diamonds, antique pieces remade into modern wonders. It’s an appreciation of the natural world. Everything is curated with a strong point of view and vision, and the line between display, decor and product seems blurred in a deliciously “unshoplike” way. You just wander, brushing past some things and peering intently at others as you discover them. I’ve found all sorts of things I love in there: ancient baroque pearls strung into a bracelet, a huge mirror-like old Moghul diamond ring, and strings of colored gems that looked like a child’s string of plastic beads, but actually turned out to be a collection of rubies, corals and emeralds. I often come here just to look. I don’t have to buy anything to feel happy and enriched.

Pippa Small is an ethical jeweler who works with marginalized people, from Afghan lapis craftsmen to Kalahari Bushmen. She has a New York boutique at ABC Carpet & Home (pippasmall.com)
Your address: The St. Regis New York


A traditional souq in Doha
by Jeremy Morris

Souq Waqif, Doha
There has been a souq in the vibrant Al Souq area of Doha for more than a century. It was originally a place where Bedouins and locals came together to trade, near the water’s edge, but in 2006 it was renovated in traditional Qatari architectural style, with cobbled lanes and whitewashed buildings, mud-rendered walls and exposed timber beams. Inside, it’s a brilliant assault on the senses: a maze of alleyways with market stall-holders selling brightly colored fabrics, spices and exotic birds, Arabic coffee-sellers and uniformed porters carrying shopping. There’s an amazing choice of restaurants and wonderful coffee shops, with the smell of shisha wafting above it all. You can get pretty much anything from the region here: traditional spices and herbs, preserved lemons and Yemeni honey, Iranian bread and dates from Qatar, as well as incense and perfumes, handcrafted goods in leather, gold, clay or wood. The bird souq is particularly lovely: there are exotic birds chirping away next to magnificent hooded falcons. And I love the vivid colors of the textiles – the deep reds, vibrant greens and ocher yellows always give me inspiration when I’m designing with our precious gemstones. Business colleagues introduced the souq to me, and we had a wonderful traditional meal with soccer on the TV screens behind us – memorable and great fun.

Jeremy Morris is the third generation of jewelers at David Morris, which has outlets from Doha and Moscow to Baku (davidmorris.com)
Your address: The St. Regis Doha

Green Shoots

Bali has long attracted free-thinkers: travelers seeking a tropical escape from the usual routine, with a spiritual dimension. When John Hardy arrived in the 1970s, he was struck by the beauty of the island, the lush landscape, the kindness of the people. When I visited the island, it was the unique institution that he and his wife had created there that entranced me: the Green School. This bamboo structure is impressive not just because it’s made from sustainably harvested materials from the surrounding forests, but because of its green ethos and the family behind it. Which is why I am writing this from a balé in the Balinese jungle: I was so inspired by the Green School that I decided to move to the island for three months and enroll my daughter in the school. As she runs around in the sunshine, I can work in the café.


The story behind the Green School offers many lessons, not just about what can be achieved by one family with a vision, or what we should be teaching our children, but about the buildings in which they learn. In the past, bamboo was thought of as something to be used in constructing scaffolding, simple huts or basic fishermen’s shelters. But thanks to John and his wife, Cynthia, who opened the Green School in 2008 – having previously operated a successful jewelry business on the island – the plant has been given a dramatic brand repositioning.


When the forward-thinking Hardys built their ambitious eco-minded school south of Ubud, nothing had been done like it before. It took the combined brainpower of an engineer from New York, an architect from France and many local artisans to produce this three-floored masterpiece from 2,500 pieces of this light-yet-strong wood. Today, in this stilted 200ft-high, corkscrew-shaped construction, shaded by a sculptural helical thatched roof, you’ll find no glass, no metal nails, no air-con. Air flows through it, and natural scenes flood in from all around. It is one of the finest examples of environmentally-friendly design in the world.


The resilience and versatility of the material and the ingenuity of the Balinese people have made this bamboo project an enlightening educational environment in every sense. When it was first built, this kindergarten-through-high school was an attention-grabber because of its innovative, undulating looks. Now it has become a benchmark for environmentally friendly building practices that help not only to foster a collaborative, forward-thinking ecologically-minded community, and contribute to the local economy in a way that empowers Indonesia’s islanders, but that lead by example on an international stage.


Bamboo is now being considered not simply as a green material with which to build homes, but also to create furniture. In 2010, the Hardys’ daughter Elora established Ibuku, a structural and decorative consultancy that has grown into a highly respected collective of architects, engineers, and craftspeople known for their surprisingly sleek creations. A former designer for Donna Karan in New York, Elora has never formally studied architecture. Yet today the craftspeople at Ibuku are regularly commissioned to build magnificent multi-story bamboo mansions, as well as elegant custom-made furniture. Its beautiful handmade objects, such as the teardrop hanging-seat or graceful double bed, are a natural fit with upscale homes. Elora also hosts courses on how to harvest and manage bamboo and invites participants to design and craft their own furniture through old-fashioned carpentry with the help of 3D-printing technology.


 Above: Elora Hardy, founder of Ibuku, has set out to demonstrate that bamboo can be used to make a vast range of products, including beautiful furniture (photo: Tim Street-Porter)


Elora’s design business – creating new bamboo buildings with her local artisans and exporting natural furniture to eco-homes and green schools around the world – is, if you like, a continuation of what her parents started, but expanded across the globe. “With Ibuku’s architects and craftsmen, there’s an entire new dialogue unfolding with people who have never been to Bali before,” she says, explaining how homes in Florida, Japan, Canada, South America might now be furnished with Ibuku’s pieces. “I’m lucky I can be a connector between them all.”


Her younger brother Orin is also involved in putting environmental principles into practice and educating others about permaculture at his Kul Kul Farm, neighboring the Green School, which he runs with his partner Maria. Here they grow organic produce, which feeds the children and is sold through a stall at the bi-weekly farmers’ market, and leads courses to teach families about organic farming methods. He also helps run a small fleet of BioBuses that run on used cooking oil collected from hotels and restaurants, and to supply power for the campus from alternative energy sources — solar panels, a bamboo-sawdust hot water and cooking system, and an ambitious hydro-powered vortex generator.


There’s no better way to get a crash course into John Hardy’s vision of how we all might live better than to take a “trash walk” with him through Sayan in Bali’s jungle-covered highlands. As I spear garbage that has washed up from the river, I hear his plans for tree houses and T-shirts made from organic fabrics, his plans to make our world greener. Sarong-wearing John is not shy when it comes to pointing out how we could all be living greener lives. He believes engineers, designers and architects are foolish to fear using bamboo. “Bamboo is truly sustainable: cut it and more comes up,” he declares. “It’s the fastest-growing renewable building material in the world and it has greater tensile strength than steel. You can grow enough to build a building from nothing in five years. It’s beautiful: there’s no ugly bamboo, just as there’s no beautiful concrete.”


Brutalists might disagree, yet there’s no denying this grand grass’s sustainable credentials. “And there’s enough for everybody,” he adds. “We can promise every child on the planet a beach hut and a city house made from bamboo.” He pauses for a moment before adding, “Do you know the Queen?” It seems he would love the chance to persuade HRH to send her great-grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, to the Green School, to learn about environmental principles. “When Michelle Obama planted gardens at the White House,” he says, “thousands of gardens sprang up all over the world. Great things happen if people lead by example.”


Your address: The St. Regis Bali Resort


(All images courtesy of Ibuku)



Steve McCurry

1. London, 1969


I had never traveled outside America before, but in 1969 I spent a year backpacking through Europe – France, and Spain, and Amsterdam – ending up in a youth hostel in Soho, London, which I thought was the coolest thing in the world. There were people camped out in the lobby, in the recreational area, on the floor. I slept under the pool table. I remember the pubs, which were amazing, and thinking how weird it was buying a soft drink that wasn’t cold. In the US, everything was on ice.


2. Panama, 1972


Hitchhiking was pretty common in those days, and I wanted to learn Spanish, so I caught lifts from Philadelphia to Panama. There wasn’t a real plan; I just wandered, taking it all in and talking Spanish. The country was fascinating: it’s partly on the Caribbean, partly on the Pacific, with lots of Spanish festivals and parades. I took a camera, a Miranda, and took lots of pictures, in black and white, which I still have, loose in boxes.


3. Africa, 1973


This was my first trip to Africa – and a big one. I took a boat with a buddy from New York to Haifa, then to Cyprus. He stayed there and I went to Athens, then Cairo, and took a boat down the Nile to Aswan, went to Sudan, Uganda, Nairobi, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. No one did that in those days, so it was difficult. The Sud swamp was particularly crazy. We were in this old steamer, going on a path through the swamp that narrowed, then opened. If you got stuck you could be there for ever, just you and the mosquitoes.


4. Asia, 1978


This was the trip that launched me into the world of photography. It was meant to be a short trip round India and instead ended up being a two-year journey through India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Thailand, all over Asia… The thing that impressed me most was the immensity of the Subcontinent, from Calcutta to Ladakh, with its extraordinary variety of people and cultures. By then I had a Nikon, which I’ve stuck with since, and was shooting in color.


5. Yemen, 1997


The thing that struck me about Yemen was that here was an Arab country, but with a culture unlike any other. It was so distinct, unlike the Emirates or Saudi Arabia, which are really quite western. Everything about Yemen – the architecture, the food, the way people dressed – was original and individual. I ended up staying three or four months, getting great images.


6. Tibet, 2001


I went twice into Tibet, once flying into Kathmandu and once overland from Chengdu. I’m very interested in Buddhism and Tibet is its epicenter, the heart of the culture. I stayed at lots of monasteries and found the people’s devotion incredible: very profound and moving. You’re also surrounded by the Himalayas, which is the mightiest mountain range in the world, so going there is always quite an experience.


7. Ethiopia, 2012


This was my first trip to the country – with a friend who runs an NGO called OMO Child – and what struck me was that the way all these tribes live traditionally, like they have always done for hundreds of years. I was lucky – my friend has a great rapport with the tribes, so wherever we went they were hospitable and relaxed, with a great sense of humor, and I was able to take photographs all over the region.


Steve McCurry’s photographs for Vacheron Constantin can be viewed at overseas.vacheron-constantin.com

Food Goes Pop

In the fall of 2016, the food world was set ablaze with the news that Noma, the restaurant in Copenhagen that had topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for four years, would be closing at the end of the year. Essays and memorials were penned. Food obsessives booked flights to Copenhagen to pay homage to chef René Redzepi’s particular type of cooking – a genre that can now be described as “new Nordic cuisine” – for the final time. Fans watched over social media as the restaurant plated its final dishes, finished its last service, and ceremoniously took down the sign outside its doors.


But in the spring of 2017, Noma started appearing again in geotags and social-media feeds, in essays and reviews. It wasn’t the Noma that had closed in Copenhagen, but Noma Mexico, a pop-up in Tulum where the staff were adapting its particular brand of local, experimental cooking to their new region. They had swapped their sea buckthorns and elderflowers for jackfruit and guanábana fruit, and for the next three months, they would create a new kind of Noma experience, halfway across the world and in a completely different environment.


This wasn’t Noma’s first pop-up; in 2015, its chefs pulled up stakes and relocated to Tokyo for three months, and in 2016, to Australia. Other high-profile chefs, too, have started popping up across the world. Ludo Lefebvre, now of Trois Mec, Petit Trois and Trois Familia in Los Angeles, hosted the LudoBites pop-ups back in 2010. The famed New York City restaurant Le Cirque went on tour in 2012, popping up in private spaces in Orlando, Chicago, Houston, and more. The St. Regis San Francisco hosted an eight-week pop-up called The Grill in March 2016, before it was eventually made a permanent fixture at the hotel. And events like the Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle put an international machine behind the pop-up concept, flying top chefs from all corners of the globe across the world to host dinners in their counterparts’ kitchens for one night only.


How did we get here? Why do these Michelin-starred chefs leave the comforts of their gleaming kitchens and devoted clientele to pop up somewhere entirely new? Undercover eating and drinking clubs are hardly new; the first ones appeared in London in 1899, in response to a new law that forced pubs and restaurants to close just after midnight. The opening of private clubs allowed restaurateurs to keep plying their patrons with food and drink all night, in the same way that, when Prohibition began in the United States, supper clubs were an under-the-radar way to serve alcohol. These clubs were, by nature, transitory and elusive, gathering people together for fun and consumption in defiance of societal norms.


The modern pop-up restaurant held on to its whiff of counterculture and the underground for years, with chefs popping up in abandoned warehouses, art galleries, even wine cellars. It was only in 2008, when the financial crisis resulted in darkened storefronts, that landlords became more willing to let chefs use their spaces in exchange for buzz and foot traffic. And so the formalized pop-up was born.


There were benefits for everyone. For chefs, doing a pop-up was a lot less expensive than starting a restaurant from scratch. Social media made it easier than ever to speak directly to consumers, and selling tickets in advance generated hype and eliminated the need for an up-front investment in ingredients and labor. And the audience seemed to love it, too. Having already bought into the food-truck trend – sampling high-quality food from the roadside – they had already developed a palate for the hot and the new, for enjoying food outside places with which it had traditionally been associated.


As the restaurant environments became ever more innovative, so too did the cooking. The ability to share quickly, online, around the world has created a milieu that is ripe for the exchange of ideas. Instead of having to go to a restaurant to see a new dish, or technique, or even what’s on the menu, chefs can read about it, share photos, direct-message each other, FaceTime each other. And the diners are right there alongside them, gazing at a certain restaurant’s famed dishes half a world away, writing about everything from the cutlery to the dessert cart on Yelp, reading lists and rankings of the hottest new trends, put out by mainstream publications, food blogs, and everything in between. All of a sudden, a chef in Melbourne has an audience in New York, and a chef friend itching to start a collaboration. A flight across the world and a few dinners in a friend’s kitchen is an opportunity for learning, for growth, and, in many instances, for profit.


This wave of pop-ups has resulted in even more innovation, more exploration, more experimentation in the culinary arena. And in an era when a younger generation of global foodies is actively seeking out new and unique dining experiences, we can be fully confident that it won’t be stopping any time soon.