Letter From the Editor, Issue 19

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Katarina Kroslakova discusses how the theme of “Artistry” is reflected in the pages of our new issue.

Article by Katarina Kroslakova

Katarina KroslakovaKatarina Kroslakova. Photography by Pierre Toussaint.

Welcome to our “Artistry” issue, which celebrates those at the vanguard of creativity — the visionaries of art, design, film, literature and gastronomy who help us see the world anew. As I consider the incredible people spotlighted in this issue, I’m struck not only by their immense skill but also by the ingenious — and daring — perspective they bring to their work. We all know that artistry involves great talent, but sometimes the most creative thing you can do is to try something different or unexpected. From the Hollywood veteran trying his hand in a new field to the 12-year-old painter making waves in the world’s leading art spaces, the boldness and unflagging determination of these makers set them apart.

Our guest editor for this issue, the art advisor and curator Viola Raikhel, has done a magnificent job helping us draw together a collection of compelling stories that delve into the creative process and examine what it means to be an artist today.

Our cover star, Pierce Brosnan, perfectly captures the essence of this issue. Although best known for his iconic Bond role, the 70-year-old actor has been a fine artist behind the scenes for decades. He sat down with Raikhel to discuss his creative journey and evolution as a painter (page 66). “I just have to draw,” Brosnan says. “I have to keep moving.”

Pierce Brosnan photographed at his home in Malibu
Pierce Brosnan photographed at his home in Malibu, California, which is filled with his artworks. Brunello Cucinelli shirt, brunellocucinelli.com. Photographs by Greg Gorman. Styled by Mark Holmes.

The actor Josh Brolin welcomed T into his Malibu home (page 42), where he can often be found polishing prose in his dedicated writing hut. The writer Nick Haramis explores the renovated, art-filled space, which Brolin says is decorated in his trademark “nutty kaleidoscope” style.

Not far away, travel writer Craig Tansley takes a cultural expedition through Palm Springs, following in the footsteps of the famous actors and artists who have resided there. “The appeal doesn’t just lie in the accessibility to the homes of the icons of Hollywood’s golden age — anyone with the means can live as they did,” he writes.

Closer to home, there’s a revolution underway in the Australian gin industry. The writer Fred Siggins speaks to inventive distillers who are carving out a hugely successful niche with their wine-and-gin fusions (page 46). And we examine another appetising art form — meticulously decorated fondant-topped cakes — on page 80. “A masterpiece made of fondant makes you think, ‘Let’s just take it back to the classics,’ ” says one Brooklyn- based food designer.

We also profile the leather goods designer responsible for coming up with covetable new handbags at Hermès (page 62). In “The Walls Had Ears” (page 74), we step inside a legendary Milanese palazzo that has hosted the likes of Leonardo da Vinci.

I would like to thank our guest editor for her contributions — and her own creative vision — which have helped to shape this issue. And thanks also to all the artists and creatives who have brought these pages to life. There’s no shortage of inspiration on offer. I hope you enjoy the issue.

Katarina Kroslakova — Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

A version of this article appears in print in our current edition, on sale now at Coles and in newsagents and online via our T Australia Shop.

Letter From the Editor, Issue 18

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Katarina Kroslakova discusses how the theme of “Love” is reflected in the pages of our new issue.

Article by Katarina Kroslakova

Katarina KroslakovaKatarina Kroslakova. Photography by Pierre Toussaint.

Lately, here at T Australia, we’ve been thinking a lot about love. Familial love, non-binary love and polyamorous love; the love we have for our children, pets and friends. Love is the beating heart of humanity — it binds us and gives us the will to keep going. Love has inspired countless movies, songs, books and plays. But what, exactly, is it?

In this, our first ever “Amour” issue, we examine love in all its complicated glory, unpacking what it means to love and be loved in this day and age, when all the old rules have been abandoned.

In our cover story, “True Romance” (page 68), Lance Richardson ponders the real meaning of love, and finds it with help from the Bard. “Everything can be falling apart in life, you can be metaphorically soaked to the bone, shivering and hopeless, but then you see somebody you love and — the sun comes out,” he writes. He also considers the dangers of dating apps, which force us to emphasise our looks and suppress the messy beauty of what makes us human.

Elsewhere, Ute Junker calls attention to romance novels that are changing the cultural narrative, with authors giving voice to overlooked female characters in classics such as “1984”. “Ultimately, the truest love reflected in these books is not the emotional obsession of one human with another, so often fractured or flawed. Rather, it is our ongoing romance with reading that is centre stage — the passion that readers have for their favourite books,” Junker writes (page 20).

No anthology of love would be complete without devoting several pages to Paris, the City of Love. Learn how two interior designers — partners in both work and life — transformed their dated apartment in the First Arrondissement into a striking oak-lined abode for their family (page 33). Meanwhile, writer Helen Hawkes delves into the special bond between humans and dogs that is particularly notable in Paris, where pooches are doted on and even allowed to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants. “Dogs, no matter whether poodles or Rottweilers, are simply, and have always been, pure, slobbery, unconditional love,” she writes (page 19).

The model with a necklace across her face.
The model Maria Baza wears Michael Hill necklace. michaelhill.com.au. Photograph by Jedd Cooney.

In Australia, French cuisine is back in fashion, with a wave of Paris-inspired bistros beloved for their chic decor and varied menus cropping up (page 32). Coinciding with this trend is the reappearance of the French 75 cocktail on drinks menus across Sydney and Melbourne. The classic tipple, which first gained popularity in the heady 1920s, is enjoying a renaissance using elevated ingredients and modern techniques (page 24).

Finally, writer Kate Hennessy takes us on a trip to Turkey, where female travellers are increasingly flocking and in turn driving a demand for female guides and experiences with local women. Dive into the country’s rich history, which includes the love letters between a sultan and his concubine, and learn about the country’s restoration since the earthquake (page 88).

I’m not one to dish out pearls of wisdom, but I do know that love is about being open to new experiences and feelings. In the words of Katharine Hepburn: “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.”

I hope you love this issue as much as we loved creating it.

Katarina Kroslakova — Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

A version of this article appears in print in our current edition, on sale now at Coles and in newsagents and online via our T Australia Shop.

Live A Little

Beloved by marketers yet etymologically macabre, the term “bucket list” can be a useful way of clarifying — and cueing up — the biggest moments in our lives.

Article by Lance Richardson

bucket list_the lourveThe Louvre Museum in Paris is a mainstay of the modern bucket list intended to deliver self-improvement. Photograph by Timea Kadar / Pexels.

Our language is full of weird and wonderful phrases we barely pause to contemplate before using. What does it really mean to “bite the bullet”? Why would a cat ever have your tongue? Isn’t breaking a leg a terrible thing to wish on an actor or dancer? Spilling the beans, or beating around the bush, or turning a blind eye: what on earth are we talking about? Recently, I told my American partner that I was just popping into a shop for a stickybeak. He looked at me as though I were mad as a hatter.

There is one phrase that has become particularly prevalent in the past few years.
It is a phrase, or a term, that seems utterly nonsensical if you really think about it: bucket list. What does a list of things a person might want to see or experience have to do with a bucket? I find myself imagining a kind of milk pail, wishes scrawled on bits of paper and dropped in like prayers.  

“Bucket list” is a surprisingly modern invention. Going down the rabbit hole of the internet suggests it was coined by a screenwriter named Justin Zackham. When I first read this, I thought: No. It cannot be the invention of the man who wrote “The Bucket List”, a middling 2007 buddy comedy starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as terminally ill friends who embark on a road trip to cross off every item on a list of things they want to do before they die, including flying over the North Pole and seeing lions in Tanzania. Apparently — and this comes from the former executive editor of Vocabulary.com, a man who knows his way around etymology — Zackham came up with the title based on his own personal list, “Justin’s List of Things To Do Before I Kick the Bucket”. In other words: bucket list. Voila. 

Of course, this only raises another question. Why would anybody end their life by “kicking the bucket”? The origin of this oddity is a little harder to pin down, though it seems to have been in common usage since at least the 18th century, and maybe as early as the 16th. Some sources connect it, quite vaguely, to the Catholic Church. Others point to pigs and a grisly slaughter process in Norfolk, England, that once saw the animals literally kicking the beam they were hung from, known as a “bucket” (possibly from the Old French buquet, meaning “balance”), in their violent death throes. The horror of this image reminds me of “Ring a Ring o’ Roses”, or “Ring Around the Rosie” as it’s known in the US, the seemingly innocuous childhood rhyme that is actually about the bubonic plague. 

bucket list_cloud
Photograph by Wolf Zimmermann / Unsplash.

Bizarre origins aside, the theory behind a bucket list is easy to understand. A bucket list is supposed to offer a way to take stock of one’s life, asking: What have I done with my time so far? What do I want to do so that I can go out feeling as though I’ve lived to the fullest? A bucket list is like the ultimate New Year’s resolution. It offers a series of concrete goals that, if achieved, will result (one hopes) in a better, happier, more contented version of ourselves. Maybe the ultimate version, almost an enlightened state, fully at peace with our place in the world.

I have to admit that, until relatively recently, I never kept a bucket list. Part of my stubborn resistance was because I secretly believed that I was immortal. I didn’t need any list because I would never kick the bucket, not really. There would be enough time to do everything I could ever imagine. This fantasy, common among young people, typically begins to fade in a person’s early 30s, and by the time you’re pushing 40 (as I now am), enough ailments have accrued to confirm that you are indeed mortal, and that time is very finite indeed.   

But it was really the pandemic that made me change my tune. Suddenly, I couldn’t leave my city. For a while, I couldn’t even leave my apartment. Like many people, I found myself fantasising about all the places I wanted to be instead, all of the things I’d rather be doing than worrying about masks and infection rates. Immobilised by this global crisis, I was forced to re-evaluate my existence. What was important to me? What was I doing with my life? I know a number of people who, faced with this unexpected bout of self-reflection, made dramatic changes, sold their homes, quit their jobs, moved to the country to brew craft beer. I didn’t change much on the outside, but I started to keep a bucket list. 

For example, I want to follow Bashō’s trail in Japan, visiting temples and shrines and Mount Haguro-san as I read his haikus. (“Spring is passing by! / Birds are weeping and the eyes / of fish fill with tears.”) I want to see emperor penguins in Antarctica on the frozen coast of the Weddell Sea. I want to walk with my Nepalese friend to the Kingdom of Lo in Mustang, using nothing but mules and hiking boots to get there. I want to spend a summer living in Paris — long enough to get a rudimentary handle on French. I want to take a SpaceX flight to the edge of Earth’s orbit. I want to win a Pulitzer Prize.   

Those last two goals might sound like absurd pipe dreams, but that, in my mind, is exactly the point of them. I think a bucket list should be a mix of attainable goals and near-impossible aspirations, because I never want to feel like I’ve done everything that is possible in my life. There should always be another dream just out of reach, something propelling me onwards and upwards. 

Years ago, I read a book about a remote monastery in the Himalayas, in a part of Nepal called Dolpo. It is extremely difficult to reach this monastery, and for many decades the area around it was closed off to visitors because of Khampa guerrillas. In 2022, I mounted an expedition and walked with two friends, five mules and four locals more than 300 kilometres to Shey Gompa, in the shadow of the Crystal Mountain. The satisfaction, when I finally got to cross that goal off my bucket list, was almost indescribable. I hope to feel that euphoria again some day. 

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Letter From the Editor, Issue 17

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Katarina Kroslakova discusses how the theme of “Journeys” is reflected in the pages of our new issue.

Article by Katarina Kroslakova

Katarina KroslakovaKatarina Kroslakova. Photography by Pierre Toussaint.

The start of the year is naturally a time for reflection on our destinations in life — the places we’re going, the places we’ve been. So it’s fitting that our first edition of 2024 focuses on the peripatetic theme of “Journeys”. We’ve asked the talented creatives who worked on this issue to undertake all kinds of expeditions — from the sensory to the political to the more typical globetrotting variety. And what we’ve found, amid the dazzling medley of contributions that came back, is that no matter what form they take, our most memorable journeys are often the ones that take us to new, or long-forgotten, parts of ourselves. 

In “Playing Paradox” (page 62), our cover star, the Australian actress Sarah Snook, expounds on this topic. She shares her journey — or should we say journeys — preparing to play no less than 26 roles in Sydney Theatre Company’s West End debut of its adaptation of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. “Playing other people brings you closer to yourself,” she tells the writer Emma Pegrum — so we can assume Snook will know herself intimately after this gruelling production.

Snook might be the quintessential T Australia cover star. So many of my friends and colleagues know her personally (columnist Lance Richardson mentioned to me a personal connection: she’d come to hang on his couch in Sydney’s Erskineville  15 years ago), and now she’s the toast of Hollywood (not to mention streaming television), while maintaining her sense of integrity — and Aussie accent. After trying for months to arrange a shoot with Snook, we finally secured a few precious hours with her in Los Angeles on January 10 — between the Golden Globes, where she won the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Series: Drama, and the Emmys, where she was named Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, both for her unforgettable role in “Succession”. Our team fell in love with Snook and her gorgeous baby girl, who accompanied her to the shoot. (In Snook’s Emmy acceptance speech, she dedicated the award to her little one and noted, in typically self-deprecating style: “It’s very easy to act when you’re pregnant because you’ve got hormones raging.”)

24_01_10_SarahSnook_NYT_T_AUS_Look_03-0366
Sarah Snook wears Stella McCartney sleeves, stellamccartney.com; Wolford dress, wolford.com; and Pandora earrings and rings, au.pandora.net. Photograph by Eric Michael Roy.

Elsewhere this issue, we look at the path to sustainability for Monaco — yes, that Monaco: the Mediterranean playground for the rich and famous — as Tony Davis interviews the principality’s leader, Prince Albert II. It turns out Albert II has a special connection with Australia (see page 72). The writer Luke Benedictus contemplates the innate eroticism of hotel rooms in “Suite Loving” (page 24). We explore Rio de Janeiro’s new wave of pared-back, nature-focused architecture in “Above It All” (page 40) and size up Hong Kong’s booming arts and cultural scene in our travel supplement. And in “A Lick of the Past” (page 56) and “Short and Sweet” (page 32), we examine the nostalgic food trends that are transporting our tastebuds to simpler — but no less delicious — times.

Finally, on the theme of journeys, I have to mention the one we’re on here at T Australia. In 2024, we’re excited to be increasing from six to 10 issues per year. I would like to thank all our supporters, readers, partners and collaborators who have helped to make this happen. Enjoy the issue.

Katarina Kroslakova — Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

A version of this article appears in print in our current edition, on sale now in newsagents and online via our T Australia Shop.

What Does It Mean To Be Great?

After a revelatory encounter with Taylor Swift, T Australia’s columnist proposes a rubric for cultural excellence.

Article by T Australia

Taylor swift greatness_1The performer Taylor Swift embodies a distinct kinds of greatness. Image courtesy of Nenikputri23/ShutterStock.

They come every year, as inevitable as Christmas: the best-of lists. What were the greatest movies of 2023? What were the greatest books? The greatest albums and songs? The greatest video games? Each November and December, a thousand critics publish their professional verdicts in every category, and then a million readers flock to social media to agree or disagree, often vehemently, as though lives were at stake. The ranking of pop songs — is “Padam Padam” better than “Dance the Night”? — suddenly becomes a vicious blood sport. 

All these lists are subjective, of course. This is what makes them fun to read: they offer a glimpse of another person’s (sometimes appalling) taste, against which we can measure our own. But every year I read through the lists and find myself asking some basic questions. What does it even mean to be “great”? What makes something “iconic”, a label that is thrown around so freely these days it seems to have lost all meaning? Once, a person had to represent a culture or era to be deemed an icon, like Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot. Now, all you have to do is go viral on TikTok.

Few of us are cultural critics, film historians or expert musicians, but we all have an instinctive sense of greatness. I may not personally appreciate “The Magic Flute”, but I know from his obvious skill that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one for the ages. There are people who were so freakishly good at what they did — William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy — that they may as well be aliens. There is something almost unearthly about them. Prince is probably another example, along with the Beatles, Virginia Woolf, Akira Kurosawa; figures who will still be discussed and revered in 300 years.  

Below this rarefied canon, however, matters get a little murkier. Part of the problem is time. It takes years, decades even, for the glow of newness to wear off so something can be properly appraised. History is littered with examples of movies and books that were once decorated with awards and which now seem woeful, like a beautiful coach that time revealed to be a pumpkin: “Crash”, or “Gone With the Wind”. On the other hand, there are writers and artists who have never won big — no Oscar or Booker — but who will probably outlast all of us. Gerald Murnane springs to mind, an Australian writer most Australians have probably never heard of, though some consider him a worthy candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

It seems to me that there are several metrics against which we could measure greatness. (Whether these metrics are themselves great, or good, or indeed quite bad, is something I leave up to you to determine.)

Something is great, first of all, if it captures a shared feeling, or sensation, in a way so original that it seems to speak directly to you, putting into words or pictures or sound something you have never been able to articulate yourself. This, indeed, is why the Norwegian author and playwright Jon Fosse was awarded the Nobel in 2023: “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable”, as the jury wrote. In the novel “Septology”, Fosse expresses ideas about God, mortality and human nature in ways so startlingly strange — the book is a single sentence unfurling over 667 pages — that he seems to have reinvented the medium itself. 

Something is also great if it expresses a sensibility that has been honed to a fine point, if it is the product of a perspective that sees things more clearly and precisely than most people are capable of doing. I’m thinking here of Martin Scorsese and “Killers of the Flower Moon”, his new film, about the (true) murders of Osage people in Oklahoma by white Americans covetous of their oil money. Scorsese’s movie is uncomfortable, unflinching — and utterly honest. It challenges the viewer to really stop and consider how deep the rot goes, how complicit the whole society is in the subjugation of Native peoples. It is hard to imagine many $300 million epics that are so damning in their conclusion, which is what makes it great. Scorsese’s artistry is unparalleled.  

Something is great, by another metric, if it shows a level of craft and attention that elicits awe. Beyoncé is great in this way, with her boundless work ethic and flawless execution. So is Taylor Mac, the American artist who recently performed a concert that systematically went through the American songbook, decade by decade, for 24 hours straight. (The audience ate and slept in the theatre.) This kind of greatness is the same kind shared by an Olympic athlete: endurance, determination and expertise. 

And something is great, last of all, if it consistently brings people an inordinate amount of joy. This is how I would measure Kylie Minogue, whose voice is hardly excellent (or even particularly good), though her greatness, I think, is incontestable. Kylie has consistently delivered joy for four decades, which makes her a marvel.

I look back over 2023, in part to write a best-of list of my own, and one thing stands out above everything else. I am a little hesitant to admit it, lest I lose what little street cred I have, but Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” has proved to be a phenomenon for a reason. I am in no way a “Swiftie”, but I went with friends to see the concert in May at Gillette Stadium outside Boston. I was one of 60,000 people in the audience that night. I expected an inoffensive romp through a discography intended for teenage girls, but what I got instead was craft and attention, and extraordinary endurance. What I got was lyrics that seemed, judging by the reception they received, to express some things that many people were feeling. What I got was a sensibility — Taylor’s — that was nothing if not honed to a fine point. And what I got was joy. For three and a half hours, every person in that stadium was on cloud nine, waving lights in the air, showered with sparks. It was, I must grudgingly admit, truly great. 

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eighth edition, Page 30 of T Australia with the headline: “Above All Else”

Letter From the Editor, Issue 16

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Katarina Kroslakova discusses how the theme of “The Greats” is reflected in the pages of our new issue.

Article by Katarina Kroslakova

Katarina KroslakovaKatarina Kroslakova. Photography by Pierre Toussaint.

We’re finishing the year with a bang with our second annual The Greats issue, featuring the best and brightest minds in fields as diverse as fashion, music, acting and directing. It’s always one of my favourite issues to work on, as we nut out as a team what sets someone apart as truly great. Is it raw talent, accolades or longevity? I believe it’s all those things, but it also goes deeper than that: to be considered one of the Greats, a person must have inspired us to think, see and feel differently. In these pages, you’ll meet the individuals who have touched our souls and fomented change through their persistence and willingness to push the envelope. 

Leading the way is our cover star, Queen Latifah (page 64), whose three-decade-long career spanning rap, jazz, acting and directing has not only brought endless joy to viewers and listeners around the world, but also created space for women in creative fields and brought them mainstream recognition.

queen latifah_2
Multi-talented and unafraid to break down barriers, Queen Latifah crowns our list of Greats. Photograph by Rahim Fortune.

There’s also Miuccia Prada (page 70), who transformed her family’s leather goods business into an empire that has changed the way we dress and think about clothing. “It’s about living different parts of your personality,” she says.

Meanwhile, our columnist, Lance Richardson (page 30), identifies a set of metrics to measure greatness, and names Kylie Minogue and Taylor Swift as two worthy additions to the list. Ligaya Mishan interviews Annette Bening (page 80), finding brilliance in the actress’ laughter and her “ability to tap into ever-shifting microclimates of mood”.

Elsewhere, Anthony Ham faces off with lions in the Serengeti (page 94). Victoria Pearson uncovers the perfume brand Santa Maria Novella’s 800-year history (page 28). Julianne Moore (page 106) shares the design ethos behind her Montauk hideaway. And our Christmas gift guide (page 54) showcases the finest jewellery, accessories, beauty products, gadgets and liquor on the market.

This is the last issue for 2023. What a year it has been, marked by both triumphs and tragedies around the globe. I am very grateful for T Australia’s engaged readers; our partners and brands who believe in our vision; the flagship team at The New York Times; our retailers, distributors and the PR community; and the staff, photographers, writers, stylists, agents, creatives and digital teams who pour their passion into every issue. Without this community, T Australia wouldn’t be what it is today (and it surely would be a lot less fun).

The year ahead brings a suite of exciting offerings, including 10 print issues starting in February 2024 — up from six this year. Keep an eye out for events, awards, perks for VIP subscribers and, most importantly, tons of great stories for your reading pleasure.

Katarina Kroslakova — Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

A version of this article appears in print in our current edition, on sale now in newsagents and online via our T Australia Shop.