Brands do this all the time. Collaborate with a fellow renowned brand or commission a notable person of interest. Nonetheless, if the brief here is not so much novelty but an apt fit for the occasion: Johnnie Walker clearly understood the assignment.
When you see the work of Taiwanese-American artist James Jean, you can’t think of a better mind to conceptualise what the Year of the Dragon could look like as a Blue Label skin. The vibrant, sinewy, yet altogether modern aesthetic wraps around the bottle in a playful, textural imprint.
According to Jean, the natural motifs prevalent in his work takes on the form of flowers and organic tendrils. These floral traits evoke the idea of roots; a connection. These are the bridges between respect for the past and looking ahead to the future with hope.
Plus, the most powerful creature in the Chinese Zodiac and the highest-grade whisky in the JW collection? Insert Epic Handshake meme. If you're familiar with the Blue Label, you'd know that the blend is made from unparalleled—a term not lightly used here—Johnnie Walker reserves of Scotch maturation.
Chiefly because only one in 10,000 make the cut. It's selected from 10 million casks; of which some irreplaceable ones are sourced from long-closed ‘ghost’ distilleries (Cambus, Pittyvaich, Brora, Port Ellen, for the whisky experts among you). A 12-strong blending team infuses these rarities from across all four regions of Scotland, and it’s these very complexities that the visual artist was inspired to interpret.
“There are hidden elements in the picture as well—layers to be discovered, just like the layers in this incredible whisky,” he says, “I want the viewer to peel back the layers and discover more about the image. I want my work to function from far away but reveal more details the more closely you explore the imagery.”
Now where better to witness it up close than in Depth of Blue Room. The brand’s first flagship bar in Southeast Asia sits at the Park Hyatt Bangkok penthouse. It enhances the launch experience with a multi-sensory tasting complete with dedicated cocktails, an immersive room and scented touches. It presented a truly extravagant, thematic dive into what makes Blue Label a big deal.
It’s far from the first time a brand has pulled out all the stops. But such a celebration is certainly a worthy altar for a release as limited edition as this.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label (James Jean edition) is out now.
It’s hard not to be shaken by the current geo-political situation on our doorstep. And while many (if not all of us) are feeling somewhat helpless amid the turmoil, one common hope emerges: Peace.
A symbol recognised worldwide, a circle with an embedded branch, has come to represent this aspiration. Conceived by British graphic artist Gerald Holtom in 1958, it was originally associated with the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Hence its nickname: CND. Holtom’s intention was to convey the image of a stylised figure with outstretched, open palms, symbolising helplessness and resignation in the face of the nuclear threat. The original sketches of this iconic symbol can be found at Bradford University. Holtom, a committed pacifist and conscientious objector during World War II, intentionally refrained from copyrighting his design, making it accessible for all to use.
Earlier this year the US-based design museum, Cooper Hewitt, unveiled its ‘Designing Peace’ exhibition. It explored the unique role that design can play in the pursuit of peace. With more than 30 design proposals, the exhibit showcases how design can respond immediately to urgent humanitarian needs, providing products that aid individuals in rebuilding their lives and restoring their dignity. Creative forces are capable of addressing emergency requirements for secure, healthy and respectful environments. The United Nations, through its Sustainable Development Agenda (Goal 16), lays out a plan for nurturing peaceful coexistence. This exhibition is currently on view at the Museum Craft and Design in San Francisco, USA.
In 2023, Tokyo hosted the World Design Assembly. One of the main themes was the pivotal role of design in driving social change across various dimensions. This includes design for peace, design for social change, innovation, inclusion, and cohesion. It is a thread that has played a prominent role in modern Japanese culture. Since 1983, the Japan Graphic Designers Association presented a project entitled ‘Hiroshima Appeals’ dedicated to creating posters with the purpose of promoting peace. Back in 2015, the Japanese government approved the ‘Basic Design for Peace and Health’ recognising human security as the fundamental principle.
In the aftermath of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Japanese government harnessed the power of design. Through design, they rebuild the nation through innovative products utilising recycled materials to minimise production costs. Another testament to design’s influence on modern society is machizukuri. This is a process of community design that involves both local authorities and residents, allowing the public to play a part in shaping their own futures.
These initiatives illustrate the ability of design practitioners to reinvent their field. To address the economic and societal challenges that Japan, or any modern nation, may encounter in its history. Let’s embrace the Japanese concept of Kyosei or ‘conviviality’. That's where true peace encompasses not only the absence of violence but also the rectification of past injustices, exploitation and oppression.
One watch brand not short on out-there ideas is Hublot.
Despite closing in on its 45th birthday, it is still regarded as the enfant terrible of the luxury watchmaking biz*. With its Big Bang series, it skilfully blends all kinds of weird and wonderful materials including ceramic, cermet, Kevlar, tungsten, magnesium and rubber into shamelessly hench watches beloved of millionaires and sportsmen, and especially millionaire sportsmen.
It’s MP** series is the place to see its nuttiest creations. For example, 2013’s MP-02 Key of Time came with a one-off mechanism that allowed the wearer to adjust the time to four times faster or four times slower than the rate of actual time passing (Why? It was something to do with being able to control time, the true luxury of our age…).
While 2011’s MP-08 Antikythera Sun Moon paid tribute to the ancient Greek hand-powered model of the solar system, sometimes called the oldest-known example of an analogue computer. Looks-wise these creations have veered heavily towards the steampunk, and they tend to be wildly impractical for actually telling the time.
Hublot just unveiled the latest in the series—the MP-10 Tourbillon Weight Energy System Titanium, a timepiece every bit as unwieldy as its name. (It doesn’t have a dial or hands. You wind it using a pair of tiny sliding white gold weights.)
You’ve got to love that the MP series exists. It’s so barmy you wouldn’t be totally surprised if Hublot announced it had all been dreamed up by a computer squirrelling away in a Swiss bunker while the rest of the company got on with selling its (comparatively) normal watches.
We mention this because Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot’s CEO, told Esquire he’d recently given the idea of an AI-generated watch some credence.
“It happened three weeks ago,” he said. “We tried to use it in design. We did some experiments. I must say—amazing results.”
If Hublot was to introduce an AI-designed watch, would it make a virtue of it? Or would it hide behind it?
“I don’t know,” Guadalupe said. “It came up with ideas where it incorporated some complications from other brands, where we can see it was inspired by a [avant-garde independent brand] Grubel Forsey, for example. But really—the results were ‘wow!’ Because if you ask a designer in the company to do that, it will cost you a fortune! And that was for free! And it showed me 10 or 12 products.”
Happily for the human designers, many were only possible in theory.
“Some of them would be impossible to make. One was a kind of a tourbillon / minute repeater with an equation of time [complication]—a Big Bang. They put the screws in a different way. This one was impossible to realise. But it’s really interesting. Because even if it’s impossible, it can give you an idea, you know? It was inspirational. I was really surprised.”
If not Hublot, some brand will surely come up with an AI-designed watch, and soon. On Wednesday, the womenswear designer Norma Kamali announced she was teaching an AI system to replicate her design style—"downloading my brain”, she called it—so that when the day comes for her to retire, she won’t have to worry about a successor—a computer will simply carry on with her ideas.
Obviously this is all fairly terrifying and awful for anyone involved in the creative industries in any way at all. But it does make you wonder if a Hans Wilsdorf ‘designed’ Rolex from beyond the grave would make it any more authentic. Or quite what the ghost-in-the-machine of Omega’s founder Louis Brandt would have made of the 21 plastic MoonSwatches currently stealing the limelight from the brand’s more luxurious creations. Quite possibly he’d be spinning in his grave. Under a full Moon.
*Not least by itself.
**It stands for 'masterpiece'.
How does luxury taste? Perhaps, much like the Black Bowmore DB5 1964. Bowmore’s limited release in collaboration with Aston Martin is a rare single malt whisky that offers an intense marriage of ripe exotic fruits with a heady combination of coffee and tobacco smoke. And even if you intend on saving the spirit for special occasions, the exceptional vessel would look striking as part of any collection.
Black, blue and white dials present classic appeal that won’t look out of place in any setting, it’s true. But let this grey-dial Santos-Dumont open you up to an underrated option. The yellow gold accent on the bezel goes handsomely with the grey dial, lifting the shine reflected by the sunray effect and conferring elegance on the whole watch together. There’s no question this is a stunner.
Imagine the power of a Devialet speaker but poured into a tiny, portable packaging—that’s the second generation of the the brand’s Gemini series. The new upgrade promises a deeper acoustic experience with a new Active Wind Reduction technology that serves to actively block out wind noise. Of course, that’s coupled with active noise cancellation too. And is there a better looking, sophisticated design out there than this? We doubt so.
Not many sneakers by luxury fashion houses have managed to combine their respective house codes into a single design without looking forced or even tacky. Dior Men’s B27 successfully incorporates signature Dior elements—the CD Icon, Oblique motif, and a number of logos—all the while retaining the feel of a contemporary sneaker. This blue-and-white colourway is also a classic combination that makes for an easy staple to pair with just about any outfit.
The tie isn’t dead; you’re just not wearing the right one. This cheeky design by Hermès nods to its equestrian heritage while also adding some levity to a typically formal accessory. Interpret it however you want—reneging against formal dress codes or the idea of a nine-to-five workday—but we all instantly know it is destined to become a beloved conversation starter.
Marrying modern technology with the timeless, unparallelled quality of vinyls, JBL’s Spinner BT turntable ensures that your favourite records sound as crisp as they’re made to be. The device’s Bluetooth capabilities uses aptX HD encoding to ensure a reduction in any audio distortion while the sound is transmitted to any wireless speakers or headphones. In other words, drowning down the noise after a long day is now made even more sonically splendid.
Forget what you think you know about lavender as a scent. Le Labo’s latest Lavande 31 eau de parfum challenges the typically sweet and powdery connotations of lavender by adding bergamot and neroli essential oils to a vertical distillation of lavender flower buds. This reveals lavender at its purest form and the result is a fragrance that’s dirty in nature with a heavy emphasis on musk and amber.
With digital wallets fast becoming mainstream, physical wallets are naturally downsizing. This leather cardholder by Loewe features a Suna Fujita illustrated motif that’s not only beautiful, but expertly applied into the design though a leather intarsia technique. The piece itself is convenient with four card slots and a zip compartment that has room enough for coins to buy more than two coffee takeaways.
It’s really for the nostalgia. The flip phones of the noughties were a vibe; nothing felt quite as satisfying as flipping the phone shut after an infuriating call to make a point. Oppo’s N3 flip phone will afford you that same experience and more. The best thing about the N3 is that even when its folded like a clamshell, the vertical cover screen is functional with a host of features that you won’t necessarily have to flip open the phone for basic functions. And when it’s opened up, it’s a seamless 6.8-inch screen with brilliant colour and clarity.
Functional, supple and incredibly lightweight, Tod’s latest iteration of a multi-compartment backpack is easily one of the best we’ve seen this year. Reminiscent of a camping backpack, the backpack is made from hardwearing fabric with the addition of panels of leather. The silver metal hardware complements the design beautifully, adding sophistication to a rugged silhouette. There are a number of colours for the design but this green variation gets our nod.
Any fan of Prada will be glad to know that the luxury fashion brand has released a more extensive homeware collection in Singapore. An easy early entry into Prada’s lifestyle creations is a scented candle housed within a porcelain vessel. Not only is the scent—lavender, if you’re wondering—subtle and inviting, the vessel is also decorated with Prada’s fairy motif that was part of its Spring/Summer 2008 womenswear collection.
After aluminium and polycarbonate, RIMOWA has revealed a leather-fronted line. But before the brand introduced its revolutionary aluminium series, leather was its material of choice. The new Distinct cabin suitcase is crafted from leather that’s wrapped around a solid structure shaped with the signature grooves of a RIMOWA. The corners are reinforced with aluminium in a tonal navy treatment for a seamless and sophisticated look.
Photography: Jayden Tan
Digital Imaging and Retouching: Nguyen Tien Phuc
Photography Assistant: Aisyah Hisham
The dents and scuffs on an aluminium RIMOWA luggage tell stories. Like unintentional tattoos (unless you’re deliberately exerting force on your RIMOWA, which isn’t something anyone in their right mind does), they are truly individual and unique. They’re natural markings of the physical journeys it has gone through every time you boarded a coach, train, ship or plane.
“We consider scratches and dents that appear as the suitcase’s patina,” expresses RIMOWA. It’s almost unheard of that a luxury brand encourages the wear of its products, especially given how the price tag of luxury pieces conjures up a sense of preciousness. Yet, it’s a testament to the craftsmanship that the German brand applies to its landmark hardwearing luggage designs, including the industry-changing polycarbonate innovations that it pioneered in 2000.
RIMOWA’s journey of materiality is a reflection of the centuries-long evolution of travel itself. Its founding in 1898—then named after founder Paul Morszeck—was centred on luggage made of hardwearing wood cleverly constructed to be stable and lightweight. In 1937, RIMOWA launched its first aluminium trunk, an innovation inspired by the use of duralumin (a hardy and lightweight aluminium-copper alloy) in German aircraft. And with baggage weight restrictions becoming a modern travel concern, its introduction of polycarbonate as an engineered solution was nothing short of revolutionary.
There is almost an obsessive need for the brand to constantly craft out designs to solve industry-specific issues. RIMOWA, in 1976, developed waterproof cases to give photographers venturing out into unpredictable environmental conditions a reliable means to protect their equipment. One of the brand’s most iconic creations, the Pilot Case, was specifically designed with a hinge that allows it to be opened from the top to make its contents easily accessible by pilots in the cockpit. Then there were cases for violins, cases to fit one or 12 bottles of wine, poker attachés, watch cases and a slew of other pieces made for very specific functions—all to make one’s journey more seamless and elevated.
The proof is evident in the scores of individuals who have made RIMOWA part of their journeys. Its recent Seit 1898 touring exhibition showcased a number of well-used RIMOWA cases (owned mostly by noted international creatives), each marked by the numerous memories and experiences shared. Dents, scratches and even scuffed up stickers on the luggage add character to otherwise cold inanimate objects, not to mention stand as testimony to RIMOWA’s durable craftsmanship.
So serious is its commitment to ensuring each RIMOWA luggage builds a lifetime of memories, that the brand began offering a lifetime guarantee earlier this year. Luggage purchased from 25 July 2022 are now automatically protected by the brand for the entirety of its lifespan. Any functional issues that arise throughout a luggage’s life, henceforth, will be covered under this new directive. This means that aside from any cosmetic wear and tear, misuse or abuse, RIMOWA is dedicated to making sure that your luggage functions as originally intended, for as long as possible. Items outside of the brand’s regular luggage catalogue—from eyewear to tech accessories to special edition suitcases—are protected in a similar capacity for two years.
A RE-CRAFTED programme has also been introduced. While it is a sustainability-driven initiative by the brand to extend the life of pre-loved RIMOWA pieces, it can also be considered as an adoption of someone else’s memories. RE-CRAFTED pieces retain most of the original façade (dents and all) and depending on the condition of its other elements, they’re either cleaned and fixed or completely replaced to ensure that the piece is fully functional and just as reliable as a new RIMOWA piece.
There is no definitive answer to what a RE-CRAFTED piece might have gone through—the places it’s travelled, situations it’s caught in, or perhaps the number of times it’s made its way to an unintended destination (it happens). Therein lies the beauty.
What is next for RIMOWA? There’s no crystal ball to read. But if history tells us anything, the brand is probably already cooking up the next evolution of travel—experimenting and perfecting every nuance before officially releasing it to the public. It’s perhaps a seemingly endless journey for RIMOWA with its destination unknown. But then again, as they say: It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.
Let’s talk trends. Hotel trends, specifically. It’s axiomatic that you
can have too much of a good thing. They also say the cart shouldn’t lead the horse. The social media revolution has brought much good but it can also do great harm. And while I enjoy a sexy hotel Instagram shot as much as the next guy, I’m starting to wonder if we are entering the Upside Down; a world where influencers have run wild.
I see more and more of a prevailing trend in design that revolves around the dangerous idea of being Instagram-worthy. A lot of clients believe that this is what drives guests to stay with them. I try to instil in them the notion that this is the antithesis of authentic, lasting design. While going for the easy wow factor might make for Insta-gratification, guests will soon see past the shallow stunts. And in a world of wow and one-upmanship, where does it end? Chasing after the next fleeting fad as the filtered, pouty crowd rushes off to the next photo opportunity.
In parallel, another trend in luxury travel is authentic experiences. Luxury hotel guests often search out the unique and plan their travels around it. This is my wheelhouse. At BLINK Design Group, we subscribe to the philosophy of placemaking as the genesis of authentic, unique design rooted in a sense of place, and inspired and fed by local culture, arts, crafts and traditions.
This is a much deeper point of distinction in an ever-fiercer competition for guests. Sure, cheap wows can get attention. The secret is keeping it. Peeling the onion. Going deeper. Revealing more. True luxury travel is a marathon, not a sprint. Discerning travellers demand more. Is the Insta-crowd doing the TikTok tango trend? You can keep them.
I guess, I’ve always viewed a real sense of place as an inherent part of our design process. I’ve not thought of it as a trend or something fleeting. It really is the genesis of all of our projects. Through the years I think we’ve managed to refine it and it’s driven largely by our desire and love for travel and exploring. Authenticity is key in placemaking but so is the art of distilling that authenticity into a single thread to magnify its significance.
Travel has bounced back in a big way post-pandemic but it’s a double-edged sword. The two big challenges that affect what BLINK does more than ever are time and money. Developers want things done yesterday. Everyone is in a rush to make up for lost time and opportunities. But the supply chain is broken and it can’t be healed overnight.
There are a lot of materials and supplies that are either no longer available or have much longer lead times, which leads to project delays. For us, abortive work is having to reselect finishes and materials. Project deadlines have got shorter and we have become used to meeting online. Calendars are awash with Zoom dates.
Trends are trending to the universal. Love it or hate it, the world we live in is ever-more instantly connected. A client in one part of the world can see what is happening halfway around the world. This has led to a circular design culture in which trends stretch across continents and clients are more often than not in search of the same trends. Of course, the danger is design becomes an ouroboros, hell-bent on devouring itself.
Now, the elephant in the room: Artificial Intelligence. I think we are at the tipping point in terms of hotel design. AI is still nascent yet its potential is both scary and endless. I had always thought the day when AI replaces hotel designers would not be an integral part of our industry during my generation, but I was wrong. We’ve already had a few clients asking for AI-generated mood images. At BLINK, AI is something that we are keen to understand more and embrace as a design tool.
In a very human industry, built by and for people, can artificial intelligence really ever replace the human touch? It’s an interesting question. I am more excited than scared, and I’m rolling up my sleeves to try to understand how to work with AI in order to make hotel designs better. How can we create spaces through the use of AI?
Another trend I find encouraging is the shift to a small, local and nimble perspective. Just a few years ago the hospitality design firm was dominated by large practices with global offices. But times have changed. In almost every corner of the world, there are now a lot of small firms that do wonderful work. I’ve been following a handful of them on (insert ironic chuckle) Instagram. It’s inspiring, to say the least.
Regarding geographical trends, the Middle East is a big story right now. It’s a huge hotspot for growth due to several factors. The region, which has long relied on its wealth from oil, has pivoted into becoming travel-focused. In countries like the UAE, a lot of the interest is driven by man-made attractions such as the recently opened USD1.6B Atlantis The Royal. But its neighbours such as Saudi Arabia are turning to their rich history and natural beauty, which I find more exciting. Places like the Red Sea where they are developing two giga-projects or more historical places like Alula and Dhiryah Gate.
A quieter trend has been the ongoing development of new destinations within proximity to major urban cities like Bangkok and Tokyo, with areas like Khao Yai and Karuizawa being hotspots for new developments that BLINK is keeping a close eye on.
I’ve also recently been fascinated by collaborative efforts between two labels, like the Gucci and adidas collab. It forced me to think [about how] these unions work. Usually, they’re from two opposite directions—luxury versus sports apparel—but together, they create something different.
That could be an emerging trend in hospitality design: smashing polar opposites together to create something new and unexpected. That’s exciting. It would take brands and owners with the courage to step into the unknown but it could just be the future.
Storied French luxury house Hermès has always believed in an artisan-first model, where the make of the hand is central to every facet of its business. Artistry is not only played out in its sought-after creations but also in how they’re showcased.
For the house’s latest window display at the Hermès Liat Towers boutique, South Korean artist Hansol Kim was invited to create his own interpretation of the Hermès 2023 theme “Astonishing Hermès!”. The London-based installation artist’s works continuously explore the relationship between humans, clothing and spaces, often deploying used clothing as their foundations. The creation of “Unique, Universal and Unity” afforded Kim to use leathers and fabrics from Hermès. He was then given complete freedom to turn them into the works that now inhabit the windows.
The materials from Hermès have been turned into eclectic patchworks of fantastical beasts and humanoid forms. Inspired by hybridisation and hyper culture—where information is available at dazzling speeds because of a digitally connected society—the installations are puzzling and well, fittingly astonishing. Each creature is unique and embody a different form and spirit altogether. They are designed in such a way that invites the viewer to decipher their make. Kim used a range of items that cross cultures and time periods, incorporating pieces such as 16th-century knee high boots, traditional Korean socks as well as balloon sleeves. And of course, the creatures are seen with Hermès’ very own objects ranging from ready-to-wear to its creations for the home.
As these creatures seemingly make their way through a singular destination (wherever that may be), they traverse a confounding backdrop where the sea, land and sky merge, and through their own unique ways of mobility—some are fitted with wheels, skis, and even kayak paddles. They may be stationary but Kim invites everyone to dream up their very own narrative of an imaginary world.
Or at the very least, be in complete awe at the installations and the level of craftsmanship that went into each character.
“Unique, Universal and Unity” is on display at Hermès Liat Towers until 28 November 2023.
In Strathisla Distillery's hallowed halls, where time seems to hold its breath, whisky matures into its divine form. Royal Salute, once more, joined forces with the luminary of British fashion, Richard Quinn, for a series that looks pretty enough to wear: the Royal Salute 21 Year Old Richard Quinn Edition II.
For its second consecutive year, Royal Salute expanded its Fashion Collection. Together with Quinn, the limited edition bottles are more than just a whisky; they are testaments to the union of fashion design and expert Scotch whisky blending.
In the historic Strathisla Distillery, where the most precious Royal Salute whiskies are vaunted, Royal Salute Master Blender, Sandy Hyslop, and Quinn embarked on a creative odyssey. Through meticulous testing and artistic development, they birthed a blend that resonates with depth, maturity, and the essence of their growing relationship.
The Royal Salute 21 Year Old Richard Quinn Edition II is a fusion of the finest hand-selected Scotch whiskies. This includes gems from Braeval, Strathisla and Caperdonich. Aged for a minimum of 21 years, this yielded rich fruity notes dancing in harmony with hints of spice and gentle smoky traits.
But this edition isn't only about the palate, it's a visual delight too. Encased in Royal Salute’s iconic flagon, it becomes a canvas for Quinn’s artistic brilliance. Adorned with three striking designs, each is a testament to Quinn’s bold style and love for contrasting patterns. The flagon becomes a work of art in itself. One design features rose petals and white polka dots against a dramatic black backdrop. Another showcases a striking white daisy against a forest-green canvas.
The third is special—it is an exclusive Global Travel Retail that you can find only at airports. This edition bursts forth with vibrant purples, yellows and greens, all set against a pristine white background.
“Crafting outstanding Scotch is an art, a passion and Sandy Hyslop does it with incredible finesse," Quinn said effusively. "Our creative journey at Strathisla Distillery was awe-inspiring. We brought clear visions to the table and seeing these visions collide, merge, and evolve into the finished edition was a thrill. Extending this collaboration was a no-brainer; the idea that our effort will find its way into the hands of craft appreciators worldwide is immensely gratifying.”
The Royal Salute 21 Year Old Richard Quinn Edition II retails for SG$340. They are available at select luxury retailers worldwide; the Floral Edition is only available at the airports.
The Tiffany Lock is quickly becoming Tiffany & Co.’s latest signature, and it’s not difficult to see why. The simplicity of its design echoes its other creations like the Tiffany T and HardWear series, with the ingenuity of a new clasp that functions quite like a padlock. This particular iteration is crafted from white gold and dressed in brilliant diamonds all around to satiate any magpie tendencies.
You may already be familiar with Fendi’s iconic Baguette bag, but how are you with its recently released Baguette pouch? It is made from sheepskin that is constructed to look like a baguette and fitted with a leather strap for crossbody carry. While it is ostensibly conceived for humour, it’s actually quite roomy, so you’ll be able fit in an actual French baguette for a post-workout snack.
A pen isn’t simply a pen when it’s made by Montblanc. It is often a work of art in its own right, owing to craftsmanship developed since 1906. This fountain pen version of the Starwalker SpaceBlue is coated in dark ruthenium and features an intricate line artwork that recalls the Widmanstätten Pattern—the naturally occurring crystalline structure found in iron meteorites.
Prada’s continuous riff on uniformity culminates in a function-first tote bag that’s almost futuristic in concept. The idea may be simple—an included thermos flask is fitted with straps that allow it to sit tight inside—but cleverly distills the essentials of an office professional down to two simple items. And the metallic detailing on the exterior? It's an artful way to incorporate an industrial motif.
Acclaimed fashion designer Haider Ackermann adds his fashion-forward touch to the self-care experience of putting on Augustinus Bader’s moisturising The Rich Cream. The limited edition collaboration sees Ackermann transforming the Nomad vessel into an all-chrome iteration that looks ultra luxurious and modern while allowing the user a moment of narcissistic pleasure.
Bell & Ross’ emblematic Cyber Skull watch gets a full bronze treatment. Set against a black rubber strap, the contrast is stunning, beautifully highlighting the facets on the case and dial. The timepiece is a limited edition run of only 500 pieces, and because the alloy used evolves over time, each watch is destined to be truly unique to its wearer.
Diptyque’s Les Mondes de Diptyque series of refillable candles is a brilliant concept housed within a monolith-like glass sculpture. It’s a departure from the more maximalist designs that we’re used to from the brand—the signature Diptyque typeface appears only on the cap—but the elegant design could very well fit into a wide range of interior aesthetics. And because they’re refillable, you’d get more use out of one too.
Singaporean artist Genevieve Ang makes porcelain sculptures and objects that don’t take on typical, run-of-the-mill shapes. This two-tiered design is a lamp that fits a light bulb right in the middle but hidden from view such that the glow that’s emitted appears to emanate from an organic form. The carefully thought-out design also means that it makes an exquisite piece of art even when it is not lit.
True objets d’art, Cartier’s quartet of Limoges porcelain trinket trays are meant to hold small bits and bobs one would typically have lying around the house. They each are adorned with a Cartier character (including its iconic bellboy) so there’s hardly any fault in leaving them completely bare, topping off a stack of art books or arranged in grid formation as a centrepiece on a coffee table.
We hardly get to say that the sex is in the heel when it comes to men’s footwear, but it may very well be the case with these Saint Laurent patent leather boots. Pay no mind to the height of the heels—they are shaped as chunky blocks for stability and support. Wear them with wide a pair of legged trousers or your favourite suit to—quite literally—elevate the entire look.
Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Michelle Kok
Photography Assistants: Justin Neo and Natalie Dykes
Two years ago, Architectural Digest released its “Open Door” feature with Australian musician and actor Troye Sivan. It was a walkthrough of Sivan’s Melbourne home, which he had purchased in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
The 12-minute clip was typical of the series’ celebrity-driven features—an intimate tour of someone’s home, often peppered with anecdotes about rooms or certain items of furniture. It revealed that Sivan had been quite invested in the decorating process. He rattled off names of some of the artists whose works took pride of place in nooks and on tabletops throughout his home, all while justifying their individual purpose in the space they occupy. It may well be the creative in him that allowed Sivan to exude a sense of grounded reality to the feature—that he actually works and lives in his eclectic Victorian-era home.
“I had been living in the States for about five years, longing to be in Australia, before the pandemic brought me home. As much as I’ve missed touring and seeing people, it’s been cool to be forced to stay still for a time. I wake up every day excited to make something new, in a house that tells the story of my life and the places I’ve loved,” Sivan told Architectural Digest.
That “something new”, we recently learnt, is a new venture wholly separate from Sivan’s music and acting careers.
“I have always wanted to work in this space, but really did think it was more of a niche side passion of mine—maybe something I’d do quietly as I got older,” the 28-year-old tells us. “The Architectural Digest video really emboldened me to believe that maybe people would like some of the same things I do, and to have the confidence to share my design voice.”
Tsu Lange Yor was teased as early as May this year. Eagle-eyed fans noticed Sivan following a @tsulangeyor on Instagram and when Vogue released a video of the star getting ready for the premiere of HBO’s The Idol, the consummate professional slyly name-dropped his then-upcoming brand. “I feel like the thing that, to me, takes you over the edge to where it’s like, ‘Whoa! Who is that?’ is scent. It’s called Luca by Tsu Lange Yor,” Sivan says to the camera before spritzing himself with the fragrance.
If you’re wondering, the name comes from a Yiddish phrase that means “to long years”. Sivan’s Jewish great-grandmother—a holocaust survivor who escaped from Lithuania to Johannesburg, South Africa, where Sivan was born—spoke only Yiddish and “tsu lange yor” is one of the phrases that has stuck through the generations in the family and remains in use till today. The brand is also a family-centric partnership between Sivan and older brother Steele Mellet.
“From the outset, we wanted this project to be a reflection of things that are deeply personal—such as our homes, heritage and self-expression. We don’t think other people can explore those themes for us,” says the duo. Mellet left his job back in April 2022 as an intellectual property lawyer at one of Australia’s leading law firms to devote his full attention to Tsu Lange Yor as co-founder and managing director. It’s the first time that the brothers have partnered up professionally, although Mellet had used his expertise at times to look over Sivan’s contracts.
Officially launched on 18 August via a pop-up in Melbourne’s hip Fitzroy neighbourhood, Tsu Lange Yor is simply separated into two categories: Self and Sanctuary. The former consists of the teased Luca, Pool, and the brand’s signature scent in collaboration with Sydney-based perfumer Craig Andrade, TLY 5755 (“It’s the Hebrew year that I was born in,” says Sivan). They’re all eau de parfum formulations available in either 50ml or 25ml, with the latter cheekily bottled (intentionally or not) as an allusion to Sivan’s biggest musical hit to date, “Rush”.
The three fragrances are inherently different. As Sivan explains, they’re meant to “cover some of my most common moods”. He’s specific on how he should smell like depending on his outfit, mood and the weather. “For example, we have Luca with bergamot, cedarwood and moss that is perfect for a night out. We also have Pool, with tomato leaf, cucumber, lychee, and coriander that’s beautiful for a warm spring or summer day. I think our most dynamic and exciting scent is probably our signature TLY 5755, with Tasmanian mountain pepper, shiso and vanilla—it’s fresh, green, peppery, and then totally warmed up and rounded out by the vanilla. It’s an awesome journey of a fragrance,” he explains. TLY 5755 specifically instructs the wearer to reexamine the scent in intervals—at the two-, 20- and 45-minute marks—after application as the scent gradually evolves.
Sanctuary is an extension of Sivan’s design sensibilities. The first drop features a trio of scented candles and oil blends formulated with TLY 5755, Pool and Sassafras, a woody and smoky profile.
An oil burner and a limited edition dreidel—both designed in collaboration with artist Joel Adler and hand-cast in recycled aluminium alloy—complete the home offerings. The pieces are beautifully sculptural. “The oil burner looks gorgeous, whether lit or unlit. And the ritual alone of dropping the oil in and placing the tealight candle immediately puts me at ease,” expresses Sivan.
There is reason why Tsu Lange Yor debuted with a focused four-scent release. This first drop is merely a foundation to what the brand is hoping to grow into, and at the same time, a showcase of the kind of precision and commitment to quality that it intends to centre the business around.
“Our approach has always been clear: focus on authenticity and quality, ensure every product reflects our values, and eventually that identity will be able to stand independently,” explains Mellet.
The brothers aren’t naive to discount the fact that Sivan’s celebrity status helps amplify Tsu Lange Yor. The initial online drop sold out within the day. The pop-up was buzzing with people wanting to be in on the brand early and, surely, also hoping to catch a glimpse of the star.
Celebrity notwithstanding, both Sivan and Mellet have put in the work needed to ensure that this doesn’t end up being some one-off side project. For starters, Tsu Lange Yor is a completely independent company, with Sivan handling all the creative aspects of the business while Mellet takes a behind-the-scenes role, focusing on all the commercial aspects.
There’s a set of guiding principles that they’ve laid out in order to cement Tsu Lange Yor’s brand positioning. Apart from committing to the highest standards of quality, everything coming out of Tsu Lange Yor has to be art-driven, celebrate young talents and queerness, as well as be a conduit for collaborations with inspiring creatives.
“My ultimate goal is for it to grow beyond Troye and me—to something that reflects and resonates with anyone who is art-focused and creative with their space and with themselves,” expresses Mellet.
It’s community building at its most organic. Sivan enlisted Melbourne-based Flack Studio—the interior design team behind his much-raved home—for the launch pop-up working alongside other local collaborators including Castorina and Halcyon Lake for furnishings as well as plants by Florian Wild, who all succeeded in making the space look and feel like an artfully curated home. And apart from the aforementioned Australian collaborators who worked on the scents and objects for Tsu Lange Yor, the brand also namechecks a host of creatives involved in other aspects of the brand—majority with a footprint in Australia.
From a largely Australian home base, Tsu Lange Yor has already made its way to another. Home to a treasure trove of all things fashion-forward and most importantly, creative, Dover Street Market is the brand’s first retail partner—and only within weeks of launching. Tsu Lange Yor is now stocked both in-store and online at Dover Street Parfums Market over in Paris. There’s a partnership with a gallery in Sydney that’s in the works too but the brand is sticking mostly to its own e-commerce as well as pop-ups for now.
“Slowly and intentionally,” says Sivan when asked about how he’d want people to enjoy a Tsu Lange Yor item. It’s hard to miss the subtext that that’s probably how the brand is intending on making its mark too. And if there is anyone who knows about playing a long game, it’s definitely the man who started out singing at telethons and creating YouTube videos before becoming one of this generation’s most popular pop artists.
It may be too early to foretell the brand’s future, but tsu lange yor.
A two-for-one deal is one of the little treats that can make a mundane day feel a little less so—whatever tax bracket you sit within. For most, that will likely be an extra Dairy Milk bar from your local Tesco. But for those taking home six figures, it's a bit more luxe. Think: a hand-made automative that comes with a unique watch as part of one astronomically large fee. Two mechanical masterpieces for the price of one, what a steal!
It was what caught the attention of petrolheads at this year’s Monterey Car Week, as Rolls-Royce unveiled the La Rose Noire Droptail. It's a coachbuild car—a bespoke service so exclusive the manufacturer's website describes it as “the automotive equivalent of haute couture”—that’s been fitted with pièce unique Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Split-Seconds Chronograph on its dashboard. It's estimated to be worth around $30 million.
As to be expected, this timepiece is as gobsmacking as the car’s price. Press a button on the left-hand side of the dashboard, and the 43mm titanium case will rise for the wearer to slip onto their wrist. AP artisans have hand-sculptured a solution to the bare holder, by way of a watch head fitted with a white-gold coin to put in place of the dashboard clock when it's out and about.
Inside the watch is an open-worked and self-winding calibre 4407, while custom red counters and a red inner bezel matches the car’s La Rose Noire colourway. Just like the original Concept that was launched earlier this year, the model comes with interchangeable straps that can be stored in its own leather pouch for when it’s not in use.
The type of customer who has opted for such an extravagant car modification will be pleased to know that dashboard watches of such intricate detail are generally a rare addition. That was until last week, when Vacheron Constantin announced that they too had designed a ‘one-of-a-kind’ dashboard watch for another custom Rolls-Royce Droptail—this time, in Amethyst.
Of course, just because it’s being made for the same-but-different-colour car doesn’t mean it’s the same-but-different-colour dashboard watch. The Swiss marque has equipped the single-edition Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon with the calibre 1990, a hand-wound in-house complication movement incorporating certain technical features deriving from Reference 57260—the most complicated timepiece in the world, presented by the maison in 2015.
A bi-axil tourbillon nods to the work of 18th century French watchmaker Antide Janvier, who invented a moving sphere with a planetary gear known as an armillary. Visually, it mimics the interlocking circles and armillas (graduated metal discs) of the famous scientific instrument modelling the celestial sphere.
Marking Vacheron Constantin’s first dashboard watch since 1928, their engineers worked hard to build a holder that would fit into the fascia of the car. Unlike the AP, this has been designed to look more like a pocket watch when taken out of its wooden house. Still, its speedometer-esque minutes display reminds you that it belongs within your car instead of your suit trousers.
As two very expensive, very intricately made dashboard watches are released in close succession of each other, it's clearly a good time to be a collector of watches and cars. And if you're not, it's a good time to start—expect more watch and Roller pairings in the future, as this trend is only just beginning. They're a bit like busses for people who don’t have to take busses; you wait ages for one, then two come along at once.
First seen on the Autumn/Winter 2016 menswear runway, the Hermès Bolide Shark makes a return seven years later. This time it’s been shrunk to the size of a bag charm with the shark’s teeth-baring smile appearing as playfully menacing as ever. It could probably fit a few coins and some keys if you need, but amusing design—coupled with Hermès craftsmanship—takes priority over functionality with this one.
Think of the Morning Machine as an automated professional coffee maker. It’s been thoughtfully designed to maximise the extraction and flavour in every brew—no matter the capsules used. The design is sleek with an interactive interface that allows one to customise settings ranging from brewing methods to temperature and amount of water used. Or simply select from a gamut of built-in recipes created by baristas from specialty roasteries the world over, to experience artisanal coffee right in the comfort of your own home.
There’s decadent and then there’s Celine perfumed soap level of decadence. Does anyone actually need soaps infused with Hedi Slimane’s curation of olfactory sensations for Celine? Maybe not, but if you’re already a fan of the scents, the soaps enhance the experience, packaged in a dodecagon shape topped with the Celine Triomphe motif. It’s a throwback to bar soaps and helps to promote a more sensorial routine, whether that’s for washing your hands or body.
We’re getting ready for hat season once again. It’s still somewhat cold down south and getting colder in some parts of the world—a good time to have some sartorial fun with hats. Zegna’s collaboration with Los Angeles-based The Elder Statesman revolves around the former’s traceable Oasi Cashmere material, which only means that everything’s made from carefully sourced cashmere of the highest quality. This bucket hat will keep you warm, no doubt, but will also add panache to any fit.
It’s all about being a first adopter with this one. The mini Shield Sling bag is one of Daniel Lee’s first designs for Burberry, named after the shield seen on the brand’s revived Equestrian Knight Design logo. It’s definitely on the small side but with almost everything now available in a digital wallet on your mobile device, no one needs to carry much around these days. The bell charm is a curious addition and thankfully, is not designed with a ball bearing inside to jingle with every movement.
If it hasn’t been said enough: sunblock is essential. Even if you’re not interested in skincare (it is 2023 though, gents), at least slap on some sunblock on your face. Grail’s Daily SPF has a formulation that feels more like a serum so the skin feels hydrated without experiencing any stickiness associated with most sunblocks. It’s also free from harmful chemicals, leaves no white cast residue and is water-resistant—perfect for everyday sunny conditions.
Gentle Monster may be better known for its futuristic designs but its more classic offerings take on a similar slant while remaining wearable in day-to- day settings. The OBOE 01 for example, features a slight cat-eye shape that differentiates it from other sunglasses of its ilk. It’s also set against a black acetate frame that is multifaceted for an elevated design language.
This seminal work of fiction by George Orwell is a perennial favourite. Not only does it deal with themes that remain relatable to this day—mind-blowing considering that it was originally published in 1949—1984 changed culture by popularising terms the likes of “Big Brother” and “Thought Police”. This anniversary edition features stunning cover artwork by Jon Gray that catches the eye on the shelf as well as on the commute.
The Maison Margiela Tabis are perhaps one of the most contentious pair of shoes out there—you either love them or hate them. This new-in-season lace-up version takes the crazy down a few notches. It’s a familiar derby silhouette—save for the split-toe design, of course—fitted with a chunky cleated sole that grounds the entire look together. Wear a pair with pretty much anything and we guarantee you would at least be given credit for the brave footwear choice.
Packing eight hours of battery life on a single full charge—and at full volume too—Kipsch’s Gig XL portable speaker is one mighty audio companion. It weighs slightly more than 4kg but is easily portable without getting in the way. And because it’s splash-proof, those pool parties are about to go harder than before. Oh and did we mention the speaker also lights up in multiple colour modes to dance to whatever tunes you have on the party playlist.
Photography: Jaya Khidir
Styling: Asri Jasman
Photography Assistant: Chuen Kah Jun