TAG Heuer’s new iteration of the watch. $9,800, tagheuer.com. Still Life by Sharon Radisch.
Edouard Heuer was 16 when he began apprenticing under a local watchmaker in Saint-Imier, the Swiss Alpine village where he spent part of his childhood. Four years later, in 1860, Heuer opened a small workshop on his parents’ farm, where he made silver pocket watches. Within a decade, he’d acquired his first patent — for a crown-operated winding system — and in 1887 he filed another, for an improvement on the design of the oscillating pinion, which allowed his chronographs to start and stop more efficiently. Known for its accuracy and technical precision, the brand gained popularity among athletes and aviators, and was the official timekeeper for three Olympic Games in the 1920s.
In 1958, Jack Heuer, Edouard’s great-grandson, joined the family business. A skier and car-racing enthusiast, he oversaw the creation of the now-iconic 1963 Carrera, which was named after the Carrera Panamericana automobile race across Mexico. For the America’s Cup in 1967, the Heuer company outfitted the Intrepid yacht-racing team, that year’s winners, with regatta wristwatches and stopwatches; the following year, to commemorate the victory, Jack debuted a new chronograph called the Skipper, featuring the same hands and case as the Carrera. The deep blue metallic dial was flanked by twin subcounters, with a mint green minute recorder on the left and a 15-minute countdown regatta timer on the right divided into three segments of green, orange and teal. (The teal was chosen to match the exact colour of the Intrepid’s anti-reflective deck, making it easily visible through sea spray.)
Fifty-five years later, TAG Heuer is reviving the archival Skipper, which had long disappeared from its catalogue. Now, the signature Carrera blue brushed dial features hour and minute hands with pennant-topped tips, a bright orange second hand, rhodium-plated indexes, a date display at 6 o’clock and a navy textile strap. By land or sea, it’s still as timeless as ever.
This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eighth edition, Page 96 of T Australia with the headline: “First of its Kind / Last of its Kind”
Manolo Blahnik’s latest iteration of the shoe, renamed the Ossie, in green suede. Photograoh by Sharon Radisch.
Born in 1942 to a Spanish mother and a Czech father, Manolo Blahnik grew up playing amid the banana trees of La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. When he was young, his mother convinced a local cobbler to teach her how to make her own shoes; Blahnik spent hours watching her craft them by hand out of delicate satins and brocades.
After studying law at the University of Geneva and pursuing theatrical set design in Paris, Blahnik moved to London in 1969, where he began working as a sales assistant at the boutique Feathers. The following year, he opened a shop of his own. In the spring of 1971, in collaboration with the British fashion designer Ossie Clark, he presented his first shoe collection as part of Clark’s Black Magic runway show at the Royal Court Theatre for an audience including the artists Cecil Beaton and David Hockney. His standout creation was a pair of lace-up suede heels crawling with verdant ivy and bright red cherries. “It was inspired by a crown of laurel leaves belonging to Alexander the Great,” says Blahnik, whose high heels would later become popular with Bianca Jagger and the Studio 54 set.
Now, for his spring collection, Blahnik is reviving the house’s archival 1971 sandal, rebranded the Ossie. (Blahnik personally names every style he makes.) The open-toed heel comes in crepe de Chine with cream-coloured leaves and cerulean cherries, and there’s also a parakeet green suede version with leafy detailing wrapping around the ankle. “It reminds me of those fabulously eccentric years in London when nobody was doing anything for money,” says the 80-year-old designer, who lives between Bath and his family’s original home in the Canary Islands. “I don’t care much for flowers, but I do adore leaves and berries, which bring back old memories of playing out in the garden with my grandmother.”
The Breitling Premier B21 Chronograph Tourbillon 42 Léon Breitling. $84,990, breitling.com. Photograph by Sharon Radisch.
In 1884, a 24-year-old Léon Breitling opened a workshop in the Swiss Jura town of Saint-Imier, where he began obtaining patents for chronometric instruments. His pioneering creations — which ranged from a pocket-watch tachymeter for measuring a vehicle’s speed to table clocks with weeklong power reserves — were coveted for their technical precision. Léon’s son, Gaston, later expanded the business, developing an early wrist-worn chronograph that became popular among athletes and aviators. In 1932, Gaston’s 19-year-old son, Willy, took over the company and, in 1943, he launched the brand’s Premier collection, with its distinctive Arabic numerals and polished square buttons.
Now, Breitling has introduced a trio of timepieces inspired by — and named after — its three patriarchs. Among them is the Premier B21 Léon Breitling: set in 18-karat red gold, it features a symmetrical silver dial, a domed sapphire crystal case back and a brown alligator leather strap, with numerals and pushers that nod to the original Premier. (It’s also available in a white-gold and anthracite version called the Gaston; the Willy comes in platinum with a blue dial.) An open tourbillon constantly counters the pull of gravity to ensure the watch’s accuracy. The rare addition was designed in partnership with the Swiss specialty movement maker Manufacture La Joux-Perret — another innovation of which the old family members would certainly approve.
Gucci's latest iteration of its equestrian shoulder bag, in red and blue leather. $5,325, gucci.com.
In the late 1800s, a teenage Guccio Gucci left Florence, Italy, and headed off to London,where he found work as a porter at the Savoy Hotel. Fascinated with the lifestyles of its international guests, he was inspired to inaugurate his own brand of leather travel goods. After apprenticing at the historic Milanese luggage manufacturer Franzi, he opened his first atelier in 1921 on Florence’s Via della Vigna Nuova, where he began making his own exquisite steamer trunks using Tuscan and imported leathers; he also designed walking sticks and umbrellas.
With the rise of automobiles during the 1930s, the demand for oversize cases diminished, so the house expanded into handbags. In 1947, its now-iconic bamboo-handled bag appeared in a shape reminiscent of a saddle. A few years later, the label debuted its signature vermilion-and-green grosgrain striped Web pattern, a nod to the woven straps that run underneath a horse’s body.
Today, Gucci is reprising an equestrian shoulder bag that was first shown in 1981. The original archival version featured a fold-over flap that was also contoured like a saddle with a clasp resembling a metal stirrup, while the new iteration comes in nine different variations (two of which are available in Australia) — from those with intricate floral embroideries and ostrich and lizard details to others accenting vintage mignon motifs with green and red piping. The bag is instantly identifiable by its hardware alone, and yet still as timeless as ever.
This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our twelfth edition, Page 96 of T Australia with the headline: “First of Its Kind / Last of Its Kind”
A double-breasted jacket and cigarette trousers from the brand’s fall 2022 men’s wear collection. Alexander McQueen jacket and pants, alexandermcqueen.com. Still life by Chase Middleton. Set design by Leilin Lopez-Toledo.
In September 1998, the British fashion designer Alexander McQueen presented his spring 1999 women’s wear collection, a rumination on the relationship between man and machine, in a former London bus depot. The Paralympic athlete and double amputee Aimee Mullins appeared in the show wearing a pair of intricately hand-carved ash legs designed by McQueen, who also paraded his signature bumsters and cutaway coats through the dimly lit warehouse. For the finale, the model Shalom Harlow walked out in a papery muslin dress with a billowing underskirt of white tulle and a belted chest harness — and then stood on a revolving wooden turntable, like a music box figurine, between two ominous-looking mechanical robots shipped in from an Italian car factory. They engaged with her in an eerie, menacing dance, and then began shooting paint at her, covering her dress with black-and-neon yellow graffiti. Harlow, who trained as a ballet dancer in her youth, flailed her arms as she spun around. “And when they were finished,” she later recalled, “they sort of receded and I walked, almost staggered, up to the audience and splayed myself in front of them with complete abandon and surrender.” The performance — like “High Moon” (1991), the Rebecca Horn installation that inspired it, of two rotating guns shooting red liquid at each other — was provocative and operatic, exactly the kind of spectacle that made McQueen’s shows so exhilarating to watch.
For the brand’s fall 2022 men’s wear collection, the creative director Sarah Burton nodded to this moment with an ivory double-breasted jacket with peak lapels and pleated cigarette trousers covered in a similar poppy yellow-and-black spray-painted motif. The print was created by photographing a person in motion, capturing a blurred outline that was then engineered to wrap around the body of the suit before being printed on viscose cady fabric. The finished design looks almost like the result of a bomb blast — a fitting revival of an explosive coup de théâtre.
Chanel High Jewelry Pluie de Comètes open ring in 18-karat white gold and diamonds, POA. Still life by Fujio Emura.
In November 1932, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel presented her first and only high jewellery collection, Bijoux de Diamants, in her 18th-century townhouse at 29 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. Among the roughly 50 pieces, which were inspired by the celestial floor mosaics at Aubazine Abbey (she’d lived at the Cistercian monastery’s orphanage as a child), were bracelets that coiled around the wrist like comet tails, a brooch shaped like a shimmering crescent and necklaces with diamonds arrayed to evoke the Big Dipper. “I wanted to cover women with constellations. With stars! Stars of all sizes,” said Chanel, whose bijouterie, like her pioneering clothing designs, was defined by an elegant yet restrained simplicity: Diamonds were cut and faceted using traditional techniques, and each stone’s setting was rendered to appear completely invisible.
Now, 90 years later, the fashion house revisits the couturier’s iconic debut collection with its 1932 High Jewellry line. With interstellar symbols such as the sun and the moon, the 77 pieces celebrate lightness, transformation and the vast beauty of the cosmos. Nearly half the creations feature iterations of the comet seen in Chanel’s archival necklace, among them the bedazzling new Pluie de Comètes open ring. Set in 18-karat white gold and with a radiant trio of five-pointed diamond stars, it encircles the finger like the cascade of a blazing meteor — a fitting reinterpretation of her truly out-of-this-world original.