Tag Archives: London

Victoria Beckham Opens First Store in Asia

Hong Kong is now the second location of Victoria Beckham’s brick and mortar store outside of her native home. Amidst the luxury brands, swanky five-star hotels, the store in the heart of the Central district is seen as a way for the designer to tap on the Asian market.

As fans waited eagerly outside Friday morning, Beckham was seen doing the final checks on the store in the Landmark building. Designed by London-based architect, Farshid Moussavi, the store is a collaboration with Asian fashion retail brand Joyce that already carries her collections.

On why she chose Hong Kong as the follow up to her first shop in London’s Mayfair district, the designer said, “I know Asian women really understand luxury, good quality and appreciate when garments are made well — and my clothes are”.

While some are doubtful over the success and future of her store in Hong Kong due to the worst retail sales decline the city has seen in 13 years, others are more optimistic. “I think she’s going to be very popular here,” said hedge fund manager Sally Zhang, 30, after browsing in the store Friday.

“Compared to other shops, which are too fancy, not fit for the office, this one is quite different,” said Echo Xu, also a hedge fund manager. Along with opening her store, Beckham will also be attending the amfAR AIDS research fundraiser in the city along with Uma Thurman on Saturday.

Focus: Television Centre, London

London residential developer, Stanhope Plc is redeveloping the headquarters of BBC Television which was initially constructed in 1960. Parts of the building’s iconic design and façade have been Grade II listed—considered by the Secretary of State (for Culture, Media and Sports) to be of special interest warranting every effort to preserve it—and will be retained by the new development.


Television Centre is located on a 14-acre site in White City, and forms an integral part of the massive White City Opportunity area, with a total investment of nearly £8 billion (US$12.5 billion). The regeneration of White City is a strong partnership between Imperial College London (the world’s 9th highest rated university), Westfield London, The BBC, Stanhope and Berkeley St James.


Upon completion of the Television Centre which is estimated between the end of 2017 and 2018, the development will boast up to 950 new homes—432 of which are being delivered in the next three years—from studios to family homes with a range of new architectural designs and contemporary conversions. Residents will also benefit from a range of luxury amenities including 24-hour concierge, residents’ lounge, screening room, meeting rooms and 28,000sf gym and pool.


Apartments in the inner ring are arranged around the famous Helios statue, and include the listed façade. Internally, the building has some exposed radial structural beams in the ceilings to provide a loft-like feel to the apartments. Apartments to the outer of this building comprise part existing and part new build homes to create apartments overlooking the private residents’ courtyard garden. Prices will range from £650,000 (over US$1 million) for a one-bedroom apartment to in excess of £6 million (US$9.36 million) for a penthouse.

The iconic structure will also incorporate a new Soho House—the globally famous members-only club with a roof terrace and swimming pool—and a boutique hotel with 47 bedrooms.


There will be 500,000sf of new office space aimed at occupiers’ in the creative sector, and will see up to 5,000 people working from this new media business hub. BBC Worldwide opened their new headquarters in April 2015 with 1,200 people already working on site. The world famous television studios are set to continue the BBC’s legacy with programme making and live recordings resuming in 2017.


Buyer Information

Property: Television Centre
Location: London, England
Developer: Stanhope Plc
Highlights: Grade II listed building, 950 new homes from studios to family homes, New architectural designs and contemporary conversions, Luxury amenities including 24-hour concierge, residents’ lounge, screening room and meeting rooms, Helios statue, Exposed radial structural beams in the ceilings to provide loft-like feel in apartments, Private residents’ courtyard garden
Price: Prices range from £650,000 (over US$1 million) for a one-bedroom apartment to in excess of £6 million (US$9.36 million) for a penthouse
Contact: www.stanhopeplc.com

Staff Credits
Text by Domenica Tan

This article originally appeared in PALACE Magazine.

British Library Celebrates William Shakespeare

To mark the anniversary of the bard’s death, the British Library announced it would be displaying the only surviving Shakespeare script that includes his own handwriting. Come April, visitors to the British Library and The British Library website will be able to catch a glimpse of the very human fingerprint of the world-famous playwright. Collectors will no doubt have an eye on acquiring this item but there is no word on its availability for sale.

The 164-line scene comes from the controversial play, “The Book of Sir Thomas More”. No this is not actually one of Shakepeare’s plays; you did not miss out on the discovery of a lost play!

Shakespeare is believed to be one of six hands who contributed to the relatively little-known play that revolves around how More (himself a prominent author and the Chancellor of England under Henry VIII) stopped a 1517 anti-foreigner uprising in London. Originally written by Anthony Munday between 1596 and 1601, Shakespeare’s contribution to the revised script was identified by his handwriting and vocabulary amongst other factors.

Though there is no evidence that the script was ever performed or published, the passionate speech about xenophobia shows that this is no modern phenomenon. Astute readers will recall that Thomas More is also the central character in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.

The manuscript will be available here and will also be on display at the British Library in London from April 15.

Dior: London Show May Unveil New Creative Director

The fashion world waits for no one. So if you thought you could catch a breather after Fashion Week, we have news for you. Fashion house Dior has already set a date for its next show in London and might have something special in store…

Taking place May 31 at Blenheim Palace, the show is making the news for one reason. Word has it that Dior will use the show to not only unveil its 2017 cruise collection but also the debut of Dior’s new Creative Director. Said to be taking over from Raf Simmons after his departure in October of 2015, is Jonathan Saunders.

Like Bouchra Jarrar in the days leading up to her new role at Lanvin, Saunders has closed his own well-known brand. Having left Pollini in December 2015, many are speculating that the event will be a perfect way to showcase not only Saunders but also his influence on LVMH’s luxury fashion brand. Dior’s show in London will take place two days before rival Gucci’s own display on June 2 at Westminster Abbey.

Fashion Week: 9 Models in the Spotlight

We shine the spotlight not on the clothes, beauty or designers; instead we take a look at the models to look out for in the upcoming seasons. Several have already made an impact in the world of fashion as we see their presence at almost every turn. Others are still flying under the radar and we can’t wait to see their talent showcased next season.

Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid

Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid

A favorite of designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Olivier Rousting, Kendall Jenner was a familiar face on the runways of Paris, Milan, London and New York. Other big names that picked the 20-year-old model were Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Chanel and Bottega Veneta. Another member of Taylor Swift’s squad, the other star model of the moment Gigi Hadid walked for fewer designers than Jenner. Selecting her shows carefully, the blue-green eyed blonde model was picked by Chanel, Balmain, and Sonia Rykiel and even closed the Fenty x Puma show.

Edie Campbell

Edie Campbell

Other models that were not far behind Jenner and Hadid in their catwalk appearances were Lexi Boiling and Edie Campbell. The models were seen on the runway, walking for Prada, Marc Jacobs and Fendi amongst others. There is one model who is dubbed to be the most in demand right now and she is none other than Mica Arganaraz. The Argentinian model, with a lean figure, messed-up hair and androgynous looks is another favorite amongst designers such as Hugo Boss, Marc Jacobs, Chanel and Chloé.

Mica Arganaraz

Mica Arganaraz

But the rising star who really got fashion month buzzing was Lineisy Montero. The young Dominican was already tipped as one to watch in 2015 after an exceptional season, and her success looks set to continue into 2016. With around 30 appearances across the four fashion capitals, she’s without a doubt one of the most-booked models of the latest round of autumn/winter collection previews — if not the most-booked model. Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Lacoste, Tory Burch, J.W. Anderson, Topshop Unique, Burberry, Prada, Moschino, Etro, Diesel Black Gold, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Marni, H&M Studio and Loewe — to name but a few — all picked Lineisy Montero to show off their latest collections.

Lineisy Montero

Lineisy Montero

While notable names get our attention during Fashion Week, it is also a time for spotting new faces and observe the steady rise of up-and-coming models such as Alana Arrington, Ruth Bell and Paulina Frankowska. While not every designer books them, these models have indeed made their presence known. While Arrington opened Altuzarra’s show, Bell’s shaved head and masculine looks starred at Jason Wu, Burberry and Moschino. Polish model Frankowska also attracted attention with appearances at Prada, Mulberry, Deisel Black Gold and Marni.

Paulina Frankowska

Paulina Frankowska

Fashion Week: 5 Beauty Trends to Follow

The clothes were not the only things we kept a look out for during Fashion Week. Beauty looks and accessories draw just as much attention, and with good reason. Trends seen on the runway tend to have a major impact for the next season and if the beauty looks we’ve seen at the Fall/Winter 2016 ready-to-wear shows are any indication, drama is key.

We start with the crowning glory: The Hair. We can say goodbye to sleek hair, as designers chose big-attention grabbing hair. While Gucci in Milan featured voluminous hair, models at Rick Owens in Paris donned hair nests that some felt bordered on the conceptual. Other designers who went for the volume with the hair, was Manish Arora as he complemented his designs with crimped, wavy bouffant locks piled high.

Manish Arora at Paris Fashion Week

Manish Arora at Paris Fashion Week

Volume was not the only hair trend seen on the runways. This fall may see us take a break from the straightening irons with many such as Altazurra in New York and Giorgio Armani in Milan championing the curl. Fendi was another label to favor the look, with tight curls. One designer who put a different spin on the look was Vivienne Westwood where she pinned curls to the models’ heads for a subtle historical spin.

Fendi at Milan Fashion Week

Fendi at Milan Fashion Week

An instantly dramatic trend that some followed is that of the bleached brow. Varying levels of camouflaging and lightening were seen on the runways of Milan, London and Paris. While Armani chose to scuff out the brows of his models, Givenchy chose bleached eyebrows that seemed to appear invisible.

Irina Shayk for Givenchy's Fall/Winter 2016 collection at Paris Fashion Week.

Irina Shayk for Givenchy’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection at Paris Fashion Week.

Fashion Week took a trek back in time to revisit urban grunge with the help from the extreme smokey eye. In Paris, Saint Laurent treated guests to a visually captivating beauty look with models sporting thick-winged eyeliner flicked up to the temple. Others such as Tadashi Shoji and Dries van Noten opted for a softer, smudgier interpretation that was still striking.

Saint Laurent from Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

Saint Laurent from Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

The last of the beauty trends was the dark lips. Glam-goth was the name of the game at Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma show in New York as models walked down the ramp with black lipstick. Marc Jacobs followed suit though designers chose to lighten it up in London with deep red tones. In Paris however, Dior and Louis Vuitton sealed the deal with the former choosing a lacquered black lip.Fenty-Rihanna-NYFW-2016


All images are courtesy of AFP and Saint Laurent.

200 Years of Charlotte Bronte Celebrated in London

Should Charlotte Bronte have been alive in 2016, she would have been an impressive 200 years of age. To commemorate the anniversary of the author’s birth, the National Portrait Gallery in London has put up what it calls a small exhibition.

Till August 14, visitors will be able to learn more about the life of the woman behind Jane Eyre. The exhibition is centred around the famous portrait by her brother Branwell Bronte that features the author, her sisters Emily and Anne as well as his own ghostly shadow in the middle. Other items on display, include manuscripts by the author and a pair of her cloth boots.

“We wanted to illustrate her literary career and success but also her home life which perhaps is lesser known to some of our public,” Lucy Wood, an assistant curator at the National Portrait Gallery, told AFP.

Through her private correspondence, her drawings and her journals, the exhibition invites visitors into Bronte’s tragic personal life, marred by the deaths of her two older sisters and her own poor health.

Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell developed rich imaginations since early childhood, helping each other’s spirits with poems, plays and novels.

“We wanted to bring her life to life because we are the museum of biographies, the museum of people and she is one of the most important people in British literature,” Wood said.

“We wanted to capture her life and celebrate that. It’s a celebration really.”

The exhibition runs till August 14 2016.

Restored ‘Flying Scotsman’ Runs the Rails

Some old-timers just never fail to pull through. The Flying Scotsman steam locomotive took off in London February 25 for its first journey after significant restoration by the National Railway Museum. Considered the jewel of Britain’s industrial heritage, this 1923-built train has garnered numerous fans over the years and is widely tipped to be the most famous train in the world. The fans came out in such full force for the famous revival that the train came to a standstill several times on its journey when eager viewers made their way onto the tracks.

The history of the train itself is quite tumultuous. It was retired in 1963 and almost scraped before it changed hands through multiple owners, including British billionaire William McAlpine. On hearing that the Flying Scotsman was set for sale in 2004, the National Railway Museum bought it over, partially thanks to public funds. It was the beginning of a 10-year restoration project that would bring the train back to the public in full capacity again.

“It’s a historic day”, said Paul Kirkman, director of the National Railway Museum. Indeed it was. As the white plume pulled away from King’s Cross Station at 0740 GMT with 300 passengers onboard, there was resounding applause from the crowd of enthusiasts who came to witness its majestic rebirth. And all this for the hefty labor of around 4.2 million Euros worth of restoration work. The BBC reports that some of those 300 passengers paid up to GBP450 for the privilege of making this historic trip.

“This celebratory journey marks a new stage in this steam icon’s long and colorful history, and is a tribute to all the people who have worked so hard to make this happen”.

The Flying Scotsman arrived  at 1320 GMT in York, a historic city some 280 kilometres (175 miles) north of London, before heading to the city’s National Railway Museum where it will stay until the beginning of March. It will then spend months on tourist trips and featuring in exhibitions. For railroad enthusiasts who have followed the train’s close-to-a-century’s long journey in history all the way, this is a blessing after a long effort.

This story was written in-house, with an image supplied by the AFP.

Kane and McQueen Define London Fashion Week

Scotland’s own Christopher Kane transformed the massive Turbine Hall in London’s Tate Modern Museum into his own runway for London Fashion Week. The designer’s collection could be best described as quirky. Several reviewers were far less kind as they felt it was less high fashion and more towards crazy bag lady.

Christopher Kane Fall/Winter '16 at London Fashion Week

Christopher Kane Fall/Winter ’16 at London Fashion Week

With Samantha Cameron, wife of the British Prime Minister in attendance, the designer paid tribute to his late mother by incorporating her penchant for wearing rain bonnets. This apparently explains the discarded plastic carrier bags that sat on the head of several models. The palette stuck to neutral tones, deep reds and greys, save for the lone shocking orange creation. Using corrugated cardboard, the designer crafted camel-colored coats while decaying woolly jumpers are held up with metal pins. The dresses in the collection saw the fabric trail into individual fraying strips.

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter '16 at London Fashion Week

Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter ’16 at London Fashion Week

Another designer to get the attention of the fashion world was Alexander McQueen, under the helm of Sarah Burton. After a more-than decade-long absence from London Fashion Week, the return of one of Britain’s famous sons showcased a mix of ultra feminine and edgy pieces. Continuing the trend from last season of shades of pink with butterflies and flowers, the designs also featured hints of leather in the form of bustiers and jackets. There was a princess like feel with the lace, silk and chiffons that appeared in crystal encrusted full-length gowns.

Contrasting collections aside, the designers certainly showed the fashion world what British style is always on point.

Images here are courtesy of Alexander McQueen and the AFP for Christopher Kane.

Korea Delivers at London Fashion Week

J J.S. Lee and Eudon Choi were among the first brands to display their collection for the Autumn/Winter 2016 season at London Fashion Week. Very modern, very eloquent designs gave a strong start to the whole event and left quite a high bar to follow.

For the female power dresser, J J.S. Lee created bold contrasts mixed in with designs that blend the traditional with the revolutionary. Some of designer Jackie Lee’s past influences were the art movements of Russian Constructivism and strong reds and stark yellows did call to mind the fervor of Russian Agitprop, while most of the hues were overall monochromatic or wild stripes and chequers. There were nods to Asian styles as well, with Mandarinesque collars, skirts pulled up high in the style of the Hanbok, and a red dress cut and formed like a Cheongsam. Trousers were mixed in under some of those skirts with clever layering. Exaggerated pussy-bow blouses, cozy wrap dresses and even leg warmers were all used to inject a fierce sense of direction into the wardrobes of next season’s fashionistas.


Eudon Choi followed up by choosing colors with more reserve. Dark purples, greys, and blacks mixed in with light pastel colors giving a sense to the coolness of fall. Trousers had been slashed up to the shinbone to create a shimmy around the legs as the models walked. Also featured in the designs were asymmetric blazers with ruffled hems; evocative oceanic print; while others had bare shoulders on the side. Maybe a bit too lithe for the cold season, but hooded outerwear with outsized structured lapels did offer a bit of a concession there.


With the start of London Fashion Week more new designers have come into the fray with their own specially tailored and innovative collections. These two picked up their skills in Seoul and later shifted over to London. The fashion world will eagerly await what they bring to the table next.

F/W16: Burberry Brings Forth the English Rose

Kensington Gardens wasn’t just one of the many residences of the royal family February 22. It played host to Burberry as the brand showcased its Womenswear Fall/Winter 2016 collection, titled “A Pathchwork”.Burberry-Womenswear-Feb-LFW-1

With more than 1,000 audience members in attendance, the models walked the runway accompanied by a live performance from Jake Bugg. The award-winning musician played several of his singles as well as the latest “On My One” in the middle of the stage. Meanwhile notable personalities such as Naomi Campbell, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Ellie Goulding and Mario Testino watched the latest collection make its way down the catwalk.Burberry-Womenswear-Feb-LFW-2

The designs were quintessentially British, due to its influence from the country’s artists, musicians and history. The brand chose an eclectic mix of colors, from parade red, sapphire blue, military green, black, mustard, gunmetal and regimental navy amongst others. The colors worked their way into the collection that included but was not limited to, military coats, flared officer trousers, pleated dresses, cape jackets and French coats.Burberry-Womenswear-Feb-LFW-3

The designers also played around with textures and fabrics such as glossy python, jacquards, cashmere, brushed wool mohair, hand-worked fil coupé silk and silkscreen floral lamé. The attention to detail in each item of clothing was evident with the intricate embroidery, handmade appliqués, leather buffing with a stone for a high-shine finish and patch-worked panelling.Burberry-Womenswear-Feb-LFW-4


All images are courtesy of Burberry.

Unique Aston Martin DB10 Sold for $3.4m

Picture yourself sitting in the driver’s seat of the exceedingly rare Aston Martin DB10, humming the theme music of James Bond as you conquer a corner in style. As it happens, the car shared screen time with James Bond as he navigated the adrenaline-filled plot in Spectre. Rare as the DB10 is (only 10 were made), you can only dream of driving it but, for one determined collector, dreams came true. At a thrilling auction at Christie’s in London, the only DB10 made available for public sale fetched a stunning £2,434,500 ($3,476,466). This is almost £1 million above the high end of the estimate, as we reported here. The auction saw the car go under the hammer with 10 other lots, which together made up a curated collection called “James Bond Spectre –The Live Auction”.Aston-Martin-Db-10-1

This piece of automotive history is a celebration of the five-decade relationship that Aston Martin has enjoyed with Bond. The car also hints at what we can expect from the brand in future. Of the 10 cars that were handcrafted at the brand’s Gaydon headquarters, eight were modified for the filming of the movie. The other two were kept in pristine condition, which allowed for Christie’s to put one up for auction.Aston-Martin-DB-10

All proceeds of the sale were donated to the international humanitarian aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières, otherwise known as Doctors without Borders, which provides medical care and support to victims of armed conflict, epidemics and disasters. Aside from the DB10, a further 14 lots are available in the online sale that runs till February 23 to celebrate the release of the 24th Bond film on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD.

London Fashion Week 2016: Who to Follow

London Fashion Week kicks off today and the talk leading up to the show largely focuses on the return of the revered fashion house Alexander McQueen to the lineup. Under the watchful eye of Creative Director Sarah Burton, the label is making a homecoming after 10 years for the Autumn-Winter ’16 collection. Joining McQueen in a comeback to London is leather goods brand Mulberry, now under the direction of new creative director Johnny Coca.

Alexander McQueen and Mulberry join nearly 80 designers in the UK capital to unveil their collections. Other notable names to look out for include Belstaff, Burberry, Christopher Kane and Vivienne Westwood. Meanwhile, newcomers include shoes and accessories brand Charlotte Olympia, which will host its first catwalk show this season, and Belgium brand A.F. Vandevorst. Another highlight will be the Topshop Unique show, which fashion photographer Nick Knight has been lined up to shoot, and which will be unveiled in real time on the brand’s Instagram account (which will be crazy cool).

For the first time in LFW history, around 35 million people across the UK will see content from the proceedings, including runway shows, on 60 outside screens in nine different cities thanks to a collaboration between media company Ocean Outdoor and The British Fashion Council (BFC). The event will also see around 200,000 copies of The Daily, the official LFW broadsheet, distributed around the city.

Meanwhile, the BFC has revealed that its official Mercedes Benz chauffeurs will drive fashionistas around 32,000 miles during the event, 200kg of Lavazza coffee beans will be ground to help keep everyone alert, and that 500 cans of label.m hairspray are predicted to be used backstage.

London Fashion Week runs February 19-23. For more information, click here.


5 Affordable Luxury Destinations Worldwide

The last time we went on a journey with TripAdvisor, we ended up catching a case of the travel bug with their list of romantic destinations. Being caring friends of ours, they have provided us with the perfect remedy to bring us back to earth and make an informed decision. Don’t tell anyone but Trip advisor has let us in on a little secret that could help save a cushy sum, without skimping on the extravagance. Rather than to simply book a holiday (as we were tempted to) when the travel bug bites, try to heed their advice and plan one during the off-peak season. Easier said than done we know but vacation rentals in various places during the off peak season would save you much more than you would think. We decided to explore a few options available and were pleasantly surprised at what we found. All prices listed are per week, accommodation only.

St. Barthelemy

Most affordable time to travel: All of November

The Caribbean island is better known as St. Barts, and as the chosen destination of those living the high life, it comes as a surprise that this would be an affordable option. In the peak season, expect to part with nearly SGD $20,000 but choose to travel in November and you would pay significantly less.

St. Barts

St. Barts

There is no shortage of villas for rent and the Villa Amancaya is one of that provides you both privacy as well as a view of the ocean. With five-bedrooms, it sits on the heights of Anse des Cayes and also comes with it’s own private swimming pool. On the same island is the equally well-appointed Amalie. The two-bedroom rental home is spacious and bright, thanks to the large French doors and windows. All rooms open up onto a balcony that overlooks the pool and view.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Most affordable time to travel: Mid to late May

Bring on the Hula skirts and puka shell necklaces! Another great option is Honolulu, Hawaii. Forget the crowded hotels. The best ways to immerse in the Polynesian culture would be to go snorkelling and scale the extinct volcano, Diamond Head.

Travel Best Beaches

Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Oahu, Honolulu

Normally a vacation rental in scenic Honolulu can set you back close to SG$5,000, but off-peak season in May would only cost around SG$3,000. Given that it is a national monument, having a view of the Diamond Head would be a treat. It is no wonder then that the two penthouse suites we have chosen boast some of the best views of it.  The first is the Kahakai Penthouse, on the Gold Coast of Hawaii. With two-bedrooms, the penthouse also boasts a view of the pristine blue waters. The other is another two-bedroom penthouse suite by Captain Cook Resorts. The floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every room, give you a wonderful view of the surrounding areas. It doesn’t hurt that the penthouse is situated on the 38th floor or that you are provided access to the 6th floor recreation deck.


Most affordable time to travel: Week of July 6th

Remember that a holiday doesn’t always have to be limited to the sun, the sand and the sea. It could involve a stiff upper lip, a visit to the Queen and some English tea. It will certainly be cool(ish) during this time of year but you look to save approximately SGD $2,000 if you travel during the first week of July.

Tower Bridge London

The Tower Bridge in London

There are several lovely accommodations in London that would cater to either families or larger groups who choose to travel together. We fell in love with this 6-bedroom family home in Bristol Gardens. Simply a short walk to Warwick Avenue Station and a 13- to 25-minute drive to Central London. Alternatively, if you are looking for a place that sleeps just four, might we suggest a cosy 2-bedroom apartment in Kensington. It is a stone’s throw away from Kensington Palace and down the road to several museums and the Royal Albert Hall, which in our opinion is a great deal.


Most affordable time to travel: Early November and early December

Their star property is a man-made island that is considered an architectural feat on its own. Boasting infamous seven-star hotels and such, it is certainly tempting to book a room in the world’s tallest hotel. At less than SG$3,000, a vacation rental in Dubai during the off-peak season isn’t such a bad idea, especially if you wish to visit the Gold Souk or Gold and Diamond Park.Dubai1

Our take would be to try a few cosy vacation rentals on the luxurious beachfront that offer you the same view. The first is The Silverene on the Dubai Marina Waterfront. With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the luxury apartment is in close proximity to the Dubai Marina Mall, with a water taxi stop at the doorstep. The other is an apartment at the Al Bateen residences. Located on a high-floor and boasting a clear view of the marina and sea, the four-bedroom five-bathroom accommodation also gives you direct access to a private beach and 24-hour concierge.


Most affordable time to travel: Most of August

For our last-of-five destinations, we selected the land down under. Well known for kangaroos, koala bears, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydeny is one location that has both the ocean view with the sandy beaches as well as the city nightlife in one area. Expect to pay less than SG$2,000 for a vactaion rental in August, according to TripAdvisor.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

You don’t have to live within the Central Business District hence we selected two vacation rentals either within or not far from the city center. Our first choice is the two-bedroom Pyrmont Apartment, a 10-minute drive from Hyde Park. The apartment in a historical building also comes with two bathrooms, and has contemporary furnishings and fixtures. The second is the Sky Pad, a 15-minute walk away from St.Marys Cathedral and Hyde Park. The child-friendly one-bedroom apartment in the Darlinghurst suburb also overlooks the eastern region of Sydney.

First Delacroix Exhibit in 50 Years Opens

Later this week, The National Gallery in London, will present the first major Delacroix exhibition in half a century. Titled “Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art”, his influence on the works of artists such as Van Gogh, Matisse and Kandinsky is undeniable. Running till May 22, the exhibit will examine his influence following his death and showcase his talent.


‘Pietà by Vincent Van Gogh, influenced by Delacroix

Delacroix’s use of bold colors, abstract shapes and liberating techniques broke the traditional rules and practices, paving the way for new styles in painting. His use of vigorous and expressive brushstrokes, his study of optical effect of color combined with his daring compositions and exotic subject inspired Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Symbolists and Fauves.

“To show Delacroix as a leader among his contemporaries and a spur to creativity among artists for 50 years after his death – up to the time of Matisse and Kandinsky – reaffirms his central role in the development of modern art,” said Christopher Riopelle, the National Gallery Curator of Post-1800 paintings.

The exhibition consists of more than 60 works borrowed from 30 museums around the world including Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay (Paris), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam). More than a third of it will be devoted to a survey of works by Delacroix himself. Some of the highlights include “Self Portrait” (around 1837), “The Death of Sardanapalus” (1846) and “Lion Hunt” (1861).

'Apotheosis of Delacroix' by Paul Cézanne, inspired by Delacroix

‘Apotheosis of Delacroix’ by Paul Cézanne, inspired by Delacroix

Another part of the exhibition will comprise works by artists of later generations and will explore Delacroix’s influence on them. Among the masterpieces on display will be Van Gogh’s “Pieta”, Cezanne’s “Apotheosis of Delacroix,” Bazille’s rarely seen Lla Toilette” and Matisse’s study for “Luxe, calme et volupté.”

The exhibition will wrap up with Kandinsky’s “Study for Improvisation V” (1910), as a means to illustrate a direct line of descent from the Romantic master to the origins of abstraction.

The Exhibition has been organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the National Gallery, London. For more information, click here.

Albert Adrià Begins London Residency

“50 Days by Albert Adrià” marks the famed (can you say elBulli) Spanish chef’s maiden project outside of Spain. The Cafè Royale, a landmark in its own right, will be a perfect fit to Adrià’s sterling reputation.

Apart from hosting notable luminaries such as Winston Churchill, Mick Jagger and Bowie, the hotel is also well known for being the second home of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. While Wilde simply dined and polished off bottomless glasses of absinthe in search of inspiration, Adrià is set to leave his own impression of the hotel. The locations of his pop-up are set to be in the hotel restaurant The Domino Room and in the Oscar Wilde Bar.

Guests can choose between the full cocktail and dinner experience which starts at the bar before moving up to the restaurant for dinner, or opt simply for the cocktails. Pre-dinner drinks and dinner is estimated to be a two and a half-hour affair.

Adrià is best known in the food world for serving as brother Ferran’s other half at the experimental Girona restaurant elBulli (sometimes called El Bulli in the press), which famously snagged the title of World’s Best Restaurant five times before shuttering in 2011. Time magazine has also called him one of the most influential chefs in gastronomy.

“50 Days by Albert Adrià” is the latest collaborative project for the Spaniard, one of several chefs at the forefront of a gastronomic movement that elevates dinner into an artistic, musical and theatrical experience.

In a partnership with Cirque du Soleil, the brothers opened what was pitched as an adult theme park at the Ibiza Gran Hotel last summer.

At Heart Ibiza, the hotel’s dining and entertainment complex, dinner became a multi-sensory experience with video and light projections, live performances, virtual reality installations and international DJs.

Meanwhile, Adrià’s London pop-up runs Feb. 12 to April 9 and bookings must be reserved ahead of time.

Tickets are £150 ($217) for the full experience and require a £50 ($72) deposit. A waiting list has been opened.

Tickets for Cocktails by Albert Adrià require a £10 ($14) deposit. 

Christie’s: Post-War and Contemporary auctions

Before the weekend begins, British auction house Christie’s will be selling the works of more than 250 artists. The two-day auction in London will see an international selection of Post-War and Contemporary works including, most notably, those of Francis Bacon, Yves Klein and Lucian Freud.

Beginning on the evening of February 11, the first auction will shine a spotlight on major achievements of British art over the past 50 years. The auction will feature two of Freud’s most personal portraits of his daughters. “Head of Esther” (1982-3) and “Head of lb” (1983-4) have been included in all of Freud’s major retrospectives, including at the National Portrait Gallery in London and Tate Britain London. Both feature warm hues and are done with subtle strokes of impasto. “Head of Esther” is estimated to be worth between £2.5 and £3.5 million ($3,640,000 – $5,096,000), as is “Head of lb”.

Lucian Freud's "Head of Esther"

Lucian Freud’s “Head of Esther”

Francis Bacon’s “Two Figures” (1975) will also be a centerpiece in the evening auction. This is a self-portrait of Bacon, conjoined with the figure of Bacon’s muse and lover, George Dyer. Bacon made the painting in Paris shortly after Dyer’s suicide in 1971. Michael Peppiatt, Bacon’s biographer and curator, will be selling the painting. A close personal friend of the artist, Peppiatt acquired the work directly from Bacon. “Two Figures” is estimated to be worth £5 to £7 million ($7,280,000 – $10,192,000).

Francis Bacon's "Two Figures"

Francis Bacon’s “Two Figures”

The day auction on February 12 celebrates the art of portraiture. Yves Klein’s work will be one of the highlights. His “Untitled Anthropometry (ANT118)” (main picture; circa 1960) presents a blue corporeal form suspended within a pale void. The painting is a large scale example of Klein’s “Anthropométries” series. The artist’s signature International Klein Blue (IKB) pigment traces the human form in these works. “Anthropometry (ANT118)” belongs to a subset of “Anthropométries” in which the human form appears caught in a transcendental act of levitation. The painting is expected to fetch between £8 and £14 million ($11,648,000 – $20,384,000).

For more information on the Post-War and Contemporary evening and day auctions, visit Christie’s official website.

Fashion Utopia Comes to London

Emerging voices and visions in fashion will be front and center at upcoming London Fashion Week this month. Fashion designers from 24 countries will create fashion installations at the city’s Somerset House in an exhibition called “Fashion Utopias” and it is all thanks to a most unlikely inspiration: Sir Thomas More. The building’s west wing will be transformed into a Utopian terrain, designed by Hatty Ellis Coward, where an emerging generation of international designers and curators will present their vision of the future.

Across 14 galleries, 13 of which will represent 13 countries, designers will unveil creations on a theme that honors the 500th anniversary of the publication of More’s inspirational text, Utopia. There will be one group installation, “Next in Line”, which will feature designers from the 11 remaining nations.

It is the fifth annual edition of the British Council and the British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase (IFS) initiative, which explores the link between fashion and contemporary culture.

Indonesia_Dian Pelangi_Dion Muharrom

Nationalities represented in the 2016 exhibition include Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia (above), Lebanon, Korea (top), Nigeria, Portugal, Philippines, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine. Argentina, Bahrain, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates will feature in the Next in Line installation.

Highlights are set to include Guatemala’s installation, where each designer will create miniature versions of their designs as traditional worry dolls, and Indonesia, where each designer will represent an essential element – earth, fire, water and wind. Each designer from Lebanon will create a customized piece for IFS in the unifying shade of blue, while Lagos Fashion and Design Week will curate an installation of Nigerian menswear and womenswear that imagines the creative energy of designers as a cosmic bang.

Fashion Utopias will run February 19 – 23. A winning Country and Designer, as well as a “Curator Award” sponsored by mannequin creator Bonaveri, will be announced on February 21 during London Fashion Week.

Zaha Hadid Awarded Royal Gold Medal

Honored as a Dame Commander of the British Empire for her work four years ago, architect Zaha Hadid has made history by becoming the first individual woman to be awarded Britain’s Royal Gold Medal earlier this week. She is best known for her work on the Guangzhou Opera House and the Aquatics Centre in London. The Iraqi-British architect was selected and approved personally by Queen Elizabeth II and presented the award by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“I am very proud to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal, in particular, to be the first woman to receive the honor in her own right,” Hadid said.

“We now see more established female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress.”

Hadid joins Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Frank Lloyd Wright in receiving the medal, which has been awarded since 1848 to groups or individuals who have had a strong influence “either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture”.

Hadid’s work is recognizable for its sweeping curves, but has sometimes been criticized for extravagance and cost overruns.

Most recently, she was embroiled in a row after Japan ditched her design for a new national stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as expenses spiralled and due to complaints over the design.

Fellow architect Peter Cook, a founder of avant-garde group Archigram which won the award in 2002, praised Hadid as he presented the medal.

“Let’s face it, we might have awarded the medal to a worthy, comfortable character. We didn’t, we awarded it to Zaha: larger than life, bold as brass and certainly on the case,” Cook said.

“Our heroine. How lucky we are to have her in London.”

Hong Kong is Most Visited City in the World

For the sixth year in a row, come rain or high water as they say, Hong Kong is the most visited city on the planet. With 27.8 million international arrivals, the Special Administrative Region tops the Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking for 2014. Yes, 2014 because apparently the data has just been compiled for that year according to the AFP report on it. The numbers reported are based on overall arrivals, not just high net worth individuals and a UBS report on the most expensive cities to visit in 2015 lists London (five-star hotel rates at $400 per night) ahead of Hong Kong ($250 per night). In Asia, Tokyo ($500 per night) and Shanghai ($470 per night) are both ahead of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also cheaper, all-costs included, than either of those cities – $640 versus $1,000 (Tokyo) and $670 (Shanghai); the 2015 UBS report excludes Singapore.

Speaking of which, London ($750 per night, all costs in) surpassed Bangkok and Singapore to take second place on the Euromonitor list. London is the top European city in terms international arrivals followed by Paris ($890 per night, all costs in) in fifth, which is exactly in line with news reports citing London as a city of choice for Chinese travellers. North America’s most visited city and the only one in the top 10 was New York ($1,030 cost per night, all-costs-in, to visit) in eighth. By our count, this makes London, Paris and New York the most popular and most expensive cities to visit. We are not sure if “most expensive” is a tag any city really wants to have though…

Rio de Janeiro showed the highest jump in international arrivals with a 46.6% increase due to the FIFA World Cup and will likely see similar jumps in 2016, thanks to the Olympics. Greece had a record year in 2014: three Greek cities made the Top 100 with Athens seeing double-digit growth.

Kiev did not make the Top 100 for the first time due to geopolitical tension in the region. Saint Petersburg and Moscow saw double digit declines.

The United States and China top the rankings with seven cities each in the ranking.

For more information and the complete list of Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking, you can find it here.