Architecture People Town Houses

Origin Gallery Dublin + Noelle Campbell-Sharp

Change of Art

Quite simply there’s nothing as mad as a well spent afternoon in Dublin before or during or after The Races. Sometimes one brings the madness; the party will always follow. Several of her famous original racy set including a former Taoiseach and his sweetie lover have long since kicked their proverbial buckets but Noelle Campbell-Sharp is well and truly alive and very much kicking ass. The Charlie Haughey era is now banked, vaulted and sealed history. Today, Noelle captures the essential present face of a hugely successful Dublin art gallery and wildly far flung County Kerry artists’ retreat. Her face is exquisitely framed by sharp green glasses and fiery red hair complete with a yellow flame curl. Aged 77 now, she would still pass for Vivienne Westwood’s hotter more fun sister. Not many people, back in the day blonde, could outshine Jerry Hall. “I remember that was quite a  party!” She’s getting ready for the latest private view in her relocated Origin Gallery. “The key is attracting some of the brightest artists in the world.” Like its forerunner the gallery is behind a Georgian façade in the Irish capital. That’s where the similarity ends. Abruptly. Her new gallery is… drummer boy roll for understatement… calmer. Wedgwood blue ceiling, deep navy carpets, virginal white walls.

As for the original original Origin… oh yes, time to talk about Noelle’s very steamy love affair with Napoleon. Perched above the piano nobile gallery, her just below the nursery floor eaves library was once a full blown homage to the homme. His heraldic birds and heroic bees were sewn into the carpet and painted onto the shutters while spreadeagled eagles boldly crouched on the bookcase columns, spreading their wings ever wider in an ever increasing ever encroaching clockwise span swooping over easy prey… “pray tell us more!”. A double barrelled stripy fabric billowed across the ceiling like the last sails of the French General’s ship. Among the miscellanea on display was an original drawing of the Imperial Arms of France. “What any French museum would give to get their hands on all this!” envied Karl Lagerfeld when he clapped eyes on her loot. A jib door in the trompe l’oeil wall slid through to a very sweet en suite decorated with the naughtiest mural in Dublin if not Ireland. It was enough to make sailors blush, although seemingly not the Napoleonic soldiers engaged in lots of action.

“I’ve totally fallen out with Napoleon. When I was a child I discovered tea chests in an attic brimming with his letters, jewels and toy soldiers. They sparked off my obsession. Actually I still sleep in an attic! I like to surround myself with antiquarian books. I can’t pass them by. William Butler Yeats, Empire Period, Irish folklore … alright maybe I am still just a bit in love…” Noelle is soldiering on with her autobiography. Five chapters completed so far. She counts Karl, Yves Saint Laurent and David Bailey among the many entries in her not so little black book; Robert Maxwell definitely doesn’t appear: he owed her £10 million before he toppled over portside; and with rock band manager, press baroness, socialite, conservationist, arts patron and gallerist filling her résumé, presumably there’s enough material for at least five more chapters?

Noelle’s forever dashing. An ostrich feathered fully plumed hat and sapphire laden museum quality choker necklace was once her fashion du jour. Tomorrow she’s off to Cill Rialaig, the abandoned rural village she transformed into an artists’ retreat with the help of celebrated architect Alfred Cochrane. “It’s on the last road in Ireland. New York is caviar compared to escaping to Kerry!” That doesn’t stop artists coming from far and wide – Argentina, Italy, Russia and so on. “There’s a selection process, but really it’s down to whoever spins the best yarn.” The Emerald Isle’s most recognisable Rolls pulls up on the street outside Origin Gallery. Ms Campbell-Sharp has left the building. Somewhere, across the city, a mad party is about to begin before or during or after The Races.

Architecture Luxury

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Up On Reflection

“For my tastes, when you take the location, the Elbe and the Alster together, it is Germany’s most beautiful city.” Karl Lagerfeld

The late fashion designer, who was born in Hamburg in 1933, mentions its two main rivers but Hamburg is practically an archipelago of urban islands; there’s so much water everywhere, loveliness bathed in constant reflection. The River Elbe flows right to the North Sea while the River Alster bursts into two gorgeous lakes, the Binnen (Inner) and Aussenalster (Outer). Elegant canals shoot out in all directions. There are quite a few attractive geysers too. Hamburg is good for record busting. It has more bridges than Amsterdam, London and Venice combined. Hamburg is the largest port in Germany, the second busiest in Europe and the third largest in the world. Oh, and it has more millionaires per square metre than anywhere else in Germany.

Art Design Luxury People

Galignani Bookshop + Rue de Rivoli Paris

There Will be a Moon in Paris Tonight

Cultured Parisiennes like Maud Rabin always comment how Paris is constantly under construction; the city as cathedral. Perhaps that’s how it can lean towards an old architecture yet expressing l’esprit nouveau. Chaneling Channelling our inner Inès (de La Fressange), chic to chic, air kissing and French embracing, we stride along Boulevard Haussmann to a Gershwinesque cacophony of taxi horns. Tout-Paris, tout suite! Palais Garnier is on our right. “It’s full of ghosts!” whispers Maud. “Paris has two opera houses. The other opera house, Bastille, was built in 1989. Très moderne!” Paying homage to the late great Karl Lagerfeld, we head for his favourite bookshop, Galignani. Danielle Cillien Sabatier, Directrice Générale, will later say, “Thank you so much for this really nice publication.”

Architecture Art Design Fashion Hotels Luxury People

Rare Le Secret Champagne + Expérience Paris

A Revolutionary Idea

Possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France. Rare Champagne, the multiple award winning Champagne, and Mellerio, the oldest jewellery dynasty in the world (founded in the 16th century), have combined their exceptional talents, refined excellence and muse affinity to create a truly prestigious treasure. Rare Le Secret High Jewellery is an exclusive cuvée from the Champagne House of Rare in a bottle decorated by French jewellers Mellerio. Customers are invited to have the decoration of the bottle transformed into a bespoke piece of jewellery by Creative Director Laure-Isabelle Mellerio once its contents have been consumed.

A bottle of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery decorated with a diamond is priced $170,000 or with a ruby, emerald or sapphire, $150,000. Out of 10 bottles worldwide, there are now just three available in Harrods London, one in Takashimaya Tokyo, one in Galleries Lafayette Haussmann Paris and one in the US through the Rare Champagne Ambassador Jonathan Boulangeat and Kyle Kaplan. American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson reckoned, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Even better, a walk about Paris en route to the studio of Mellerio will provide a lesson in luxury.

The story began in 1997 when Régis Camus, Rare Champagne Chef de Cave, had an epiphanic moment. He realized there was something special in the sparkling wines of that year and rather than declaring a vintage, he blended a small quantity of this cuvée behind closed doors, secretly ageing it in magnums. Now, 21 years later, the results are extraordinary. Régis’ personal creation has a rare depth and rich complexity, hitting lively citrus highlights while delivering tranquil notes.

This sophisticated finesse, a zenith of Champagne production, launched the collaboration between tastemakers Rare Champagne and Mellerio. “Marie-Antoinette is a natural link between our maisons,” explains Laure-Isabelle. Their shared royal patronage dates from 1780 when the Queen of France acquired a Mellerio bracelet formed of seven Ancient Roman cameos enriched with garnets. The bracelet is now on display in Mellerio’s showroom. She smiles: “Mellerio brought glamour to the Court!” Records show all the Queens of 19th century Europe bought the House’s jewellery. Ever the sybarite, Her Majesty would enjoy her first taste of Rare Champagne a few years later.

Laure-Isabelle suggests, “The refined world of Rare Champagne instantly guided my hand.” Her design for Rare Le Secret High Jewellery takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s extravagantly silhouetted dresses. It features a single precious jewel of at least one carat embedded in a heart of interwoven gold bands set with 510 diamonds. The gold and platinum threads swirling down the bottle, reminiscent of the flow and structure of haute couture, represent the blend of Chardonnay minerality and Pinot Noir intensity. The 24 carat solid gold muselet cap is a first, even for Champagne! The enigmatic matt black presentation box with its silver mirrored interior resembles the cases of jewellery presented to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, it resembles a Versailles salon in miniature.

A second design has also been created. The classic simplicity of a gold cartouche is reflected in the golden mirrored interior of its majestic case. Inside each bottle is the same blend of Rare Champagne. The Rare Le Secret Goldsmith is a limited edition of 1,000 numbered and engraved magnums. It is priced at $2,000. In New York, this edition is available in Baccarat, Sherry Lehmann and Sotheby’s. Harrods London also stocks Rare Le Secret Goldsmith.

Rare Le Secret is perfect to enjoy right away,” explains Régis, “and will still be at optimum quality until 2021.” It goes well with scallop carpaccio, hot oysters, and truffle risotto. Nose, palate and view are three ways to describe bubbly. So what’s the verdict from the House of Rare? Nose: subtle salty and mineral notes with aromas of liquorice, candied tropical fruit and bergamot are followed by dried fruit and powdery floral notes. Palate: after a lively attack of Menton lemon and citrus fruits, nuances of fresh apricot, vetiver and verbena express a serene minerality. Hints of acacia honey and incense develop an oriental and smoky vinosity and ethereal finish. View: dazzling. Graceful bubbles rise in beautiful ribbons and produce a delicate sparkle.

Régis calls it “the secret within Le Secret”. That is, the transformation of something precious to drink into something precious to wear. A private visit to Maison Mellerio will allow Laure-Isabelle to turn Rare Le Secret High Jewellery’s bottle adornment into a brooch, bracelet or pendent. It’s the ultimate multisensory journey from cellar to atelier. The House of Mellerio is on Rue de la Paix, the most prestigious shopping area in the city’s Second Arrondissement. It’s between the First Arrondissement (Tuileries) and the Ninth (Lafayette). “Mellerio has been at this address for almost two centuries now. We were the first luxury goods company to open on Rue de la Paix. Cartier arrived relatively recently in 1898!” relates Mellerio’s Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle. Five star glitz of The Ritz, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and Le Meurice is mere seconds away along this stretch of the River Seine.

Galignani, the first English bookshop to be established on the European Continent, is nearby. “It’s the Hatchards of Paris,” says Directrice Générale Danielle Cillien Sabtier referring to London’s finest bookshop. “The concept is a space for encounters and cultural exchanges.” The bookshop is on Rue de Rivoli set behind an arched stone colonnade. So Haussmann, so Parisian. In the 19th century, William Thackeray was a regular customer. Last century, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed its reading room. This century, Karl Lagerfeld is a fan. Mr Thackeray called Galignani, “The exile’s best friend.” Is it Rare Champagne-o’clock again? To repeat, possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France.