Mint Indulge | Editor’s Note
By Sidin Vadukut
When we started Indulge nine issues ago, we drew a whole list of dos and don’ts. One of the most prominent one was that we’d never, ever, ever use the phrase “price on request”.
Now this might seem a little odd. How hard can it be to get these prices? And given the financial gumption required to buy some of these products, does it even matter? Or to use an old luxury retailing apophthegm: “If you have to ask how much it costs, it probably isn’t meant for you.” Which sounds snooty, but also makes some sense. Either you can easily afford a Koenigsegg, or you can’t afford one at all.
By Madhu Menon
Summer’s here and the readers have been bugging, err, asking, me to write a piece on salads. As usual, I’m not happy giving you just a couple of recipes like a food magazine, so get ready to learn about how to say goodbye to limp, watery salads with dressing that pools at the bottom. I’ll give you some themes that you can mix and match to create your own fun variations.
A salad is a fairly broad class of food, with no clear definition even in the dictionary. You can find salads of leafy greens, other vegetables, root vegetables, meats, pasta, and more. While many are served cold, there are also warm salad recipes. Even salad dressings are optional. So let’s just settle on it being a dish served on the side apart from main course and work from there. The most common type of salad that pops into mind is, of course, the green leafy salad, and that’s what this column will focus on. Leaves are the most abundant parts of plants found in nature, so a salad was probably one of the earliest common foods available to man. While lettuce is often found in Western salads, plenty of other greens such as spinach, fenugreek, watercress, arugula, cabbage, etc., can be used as salad bases. (Just search for ‘‘salad greens” on www.foodsubs.com to get ideas.)
A stamp of approval for this alternative asset
By Shashank Khare
Looking for an investment which can potentially triple in seven years? Something which has extremely low price volatility and is uncorrelated to other asset classes? Before you exclaim that it is impossible to achieve all three, allow me to explain. The miraculous asset class which satisfies this holy trinity of investing is postage stamps. Yes, the stamps that you and I collected as children are a serious investment proposition. According to Stanley Gibbons Ltd, a UK-based leading philatelic dealer, the market for stamps has an estimated 60 million collectors spending $20 billion annually. Contrary to what you might think, it is not just about old stamps. An Indian stamp as recently printed as 1992 sold for £11,500 (approx. R8.5 lakh at the time), 11.5 times its estimated value at an auction held in the UK last June.
Before you get excited and start hunting for your old collection, remember that not all stamps are valuable and neither are most childhood collections. Within the large universe of stamps, there is a very small set of investment-grade stamps that have value. Therefore, selection of stamps requires the same rigour as selection of stocks or bonds in a portfolio. This point is aptly demonstrated by Bill Gross, the founder of PIMCO and one of the richest men in the world. He transformed a $2.5 million investment into $9.1 million in seven years by extensively researching and analysing the performance of individual stamps before selecting his portfolio. As a result, he massively outperformed conventional asset markets.(Read more)
Making Whisky your own
By Joel Harrison
It’s fantastic when something fits. I mean really fits. Anyone who has had a pair of shoes handmade for him will know what I’m talking about. Not only the attention to detail that your shoemaker will lavish upon you, from the measuring-up visit through each of the subsequent fitting sessions, but that fantastic feeling each time you slip into your utterly bespoke numbers. You know that no one else in the world has a pair that is the same. No one else can boast the comfort you’re enjoying. No one else is you.
Over time, your wardrobe will develop and reflect your style and personality. A range of clothes will develop—denims for different jollies, suits for certain meetings, shoes to show off. Surrounding your clothes will be accessories, from Hermes belts to Breitling watches, all with the specific role of enhancing your outfit, adding that extra bit of glitz and glamour to your personality.
Have it your way
What is the difference between a watch that only 9,999 other people in the world own, and one that only you do? Or between a premium suit picked off a rack, and one made to your exacting physical specifications? There is a small matter of price. But what else? Why does a select group of luxury consumers, all over the world, seek not just the highest quality, but also minute, sometimes tortuous, levels of personalization?
The answer may lie in the history and DNA of some of today’s most popular brands. Brands such as Louis Vuitton and Vacheron Constantin owe their reputation today not to international networks of boutiques and showrooms, but to founders and craftsmen who, decades ago, made precious objects to order, by hand. This is what luxury really meant: things made only for you, on your terms.
Luggage of legends
For almost 160 years, Louis Vuitton has equipped some of the world’s most refined travellers. From the instantly recognizable monogram to the curious combination of classic craftsmanship and modern utility, LV is perhaps one of the best-known luxury brands in the world. For the most discerning customer, Louis Vuitton offers two levels of customization
Hollister’s had a very humble beginning when the company reconstructed a used Harley to make its first motorcycle in 1986. Two years later, the company opened its first shop in Zimmern, Germany. In 1999, Hollister’s became Germany’s first certified custom bike manufacturer. In the 25 years of its existence,the company has won numerous honours and awards in designing and customizing bikes.
This single-seater Viper has a Tom Pirone motor and a six-speed gearbox. It took more than four months to develop this matt-pearl, white-finish beast.
Cost of indulgence: Prices can vary from €30,000 (for a custom twin) to €100,000 (for unique bikes), excluding duty, depending upon the buyer’s requirements.(Read more)
Car ? Super!
With a dream to launch his own car company and the sole mission to create the perfect supercar, Christian von Koenigsegg, then 22 years old, started his namesake company in 1994.
Koenigsegg moved to its present location and headquarters in Ängelholm, Sweden, in 2003. The building had previously been home to the Swedish Air Force and once housed JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets.
A part of the Tata group, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces is a global chain of luxury hotels and resorts. Apart from providing luxury hospitality, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces also offers various kinds of bespoke services to its patrons. We asked them to tell us about two of their most lavish recent bespoke projects. This is what they had to say
Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur
The Taj Lake Palace, with its fairy tale setting, is a favoured destination for the most special occasions such as anniversaries. And guests have gone to great lengths to ensure their proposals are memorable and unique. One such request was made from an exmilitary man who wanted to propose to his girlfriend on one of the terraces right at sunset with fireworks signalled by a hand gesture. He wanted all of this to be captured from a camera hidden on an adjoining terrace. (Read more)
In 1900, Filippo found a small shoe factory in Italy that remained a family business for the next seven decades. The turnaround came in the 1970s, when Filippo’s grandson, Diego Della Valle, entered the business and took over the responsibility of its development. With the help of his innovative marketing strategies and the company’s handmade manufacturing process, he turned the family-run business to an industrial firm, and today, Tod’s SpA is the holding group, among the leading producers of shoes and luxury leather goods,with brand names such as Tod’s and Hogan.
Cost of indulgence
Prices range from R1.08 lakh onwards and depend on how crazy one wants to get with the leather texture and the numbers of combinations of the leather used. Other details such as monogrammed initials, colours and braids also affect costs.(Read more)
In 1934, brothers Giovanni and Giacomo Canali established an artisan workshop in Triuggio, Brianza, to produce high quality clothing.
In the 1950s, the second generation of the family took over the running of the firm, consolidating its presence in the Italian market and increasing sales volume and product quality. In the mid-1970s, the company rose to the challenge of international markets, and by 1980 was exporting 50% of its production. The company now exports 85% of production.
In the tradition of great suit-makers, Canali provides bespoke services to aficionados of its products.(Read more)
Quintessentially was launched in Soho, London, in 2000 by co-founders Aaron Simpson, Ben Elliot and Paul Drummond as a luxury concierge service provider to its members round the clock. From last-minute restaurant reservations and holiday bookings, to theatre and opera tickets and access to clubs, parties and special events, Quintessentially provides its members unlimited access to an unrivalled package of privileges, preferential rates and bespoke services. Today, it has more than 70 offices globally.
From a religious trip to Mecca with the request of finding the best spot for praying at the Kaaba, to a private banquet on the Great Wall of China, or living the life of indigenous aboriginals in the heart of Australia, to a private tour of the pyramids of Egypt with an after-hours visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Quintessentially has delivered all these demands.(Read more).
The making of a diamond
By Pradip Kumar Saha
How exactly does a £100,000 bottle of whisky look like? More importantly, what makes a bottle of whisky that expensive?
The answer may well be the Johnnie Walker Diamond Jubilee that Diageo launched in February to commemorate the 60th year of accession of Queen Elizabeth II.
Fiery golden liquid inside a diamond-shaped crystal decanter rests on a crystal stand with six radial legs capped by fine silver and a diamond stud.(Read more).
We don’t want to deviate from what we have done
By Sidin Vadukut
Angelo Bonati is chief executive of Officine Panerai, a watch brand famous for its Italian heritage, signature brutal style and clutter-free dials. Indulge spoke to Bonati in Geneva recently, on the sidelines of the SIHH watch fair, about the brand’s future, its Italian DNA and innovation. Edited excerpts:
How is business right now? What are your dealers and retailers telling you?
Right now, it is fantastic. It seems as if there is no crisis around the world. Excellent. Things are as they used to be.
We were worried, you know. Things were not all that well, economically speaking, in Europe or in the US. But business does not seem to reflect (that sentiment). At the end of the day, the market’s absorption is what matters to me. (Read more)
In the middle of the 18th century, Jean-Marc Vacheron decided to open his own watchmaking workshop in Geneva and thus, in 1755, Vacheron Constantin was founded. Fifteen years later, the company created its first complication watch.
Vacheron Constantin was bought by the Richemont Group in 1996.
The company provides an exclusive service to its clients of producing unique timepieces. We asked them to share one of their most exclusive one-off pieces. And they reached into their secret archives to present the Vladimir.(Read more)
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