In January, I had the privilege of visiting the private manufacture of Berluti in Ferrara, Italy. There, I had a taste of what it was like to work in a traditional maison where an eye for perfection had to be matched with the hands that could craft it. The few of us journalists were given our own leather name-card holder to polish. The aim was to apply the famed Berluti patina to the finished product—sounds easy enough. The master polisher gave a short demonstration and then we were off. Ten minutes later, as I fervently rubbed at the leather to remove excess polish and snuck peeks at my neighbours who were admiring their own handiwork, I gave up. There is a good ending to this story though: I eventually received a beautifully burnished leather name-card holder finished by the master himself.
The real lesson I learned was that luxury takes time. This is no truer than at maisons such as Berluti where craftsmen, not just machines, work at perfecting their products with passion. Day after day, they work at the same task, with stained fingers and calloused hands to show for the end result of their dedication. Hopefully, their work is appreciated by the buyers of these exquisite products, which have been made with so much passion and care.
Therefore, it is apt that we give a nod to the people behind the universe of beautiful things this month, as our calendar moves into fashion season. We celebrate the work of craftsmen with The Art of the Atelier (p.128), going into the workshops of fashion powerhouse Chanel, jewellery artisan Cartier, bespoke shoemaker Berluti and tea conglomerate TWG Tea. We also speak to Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of the Housing and Development Board, on the importance of public spaces for people; and turn the spotlight on Art Basel in Hong Kong, with an insightful read on the gallerist-artist relationship between Larry Gagosian and Zeng Fanzhi.
Our cover personalities, mother-daughter duo Nina and Chloe Ng, had great fun perusing the fashion racks at our photo shoot this month. Speaking of fashion, we will be launching some very exciting fashion initiatives both on our website and for our annual fashion extravaganza come April.