Exclusive interview with couturier Ziad Nakad

From his early teens, Lebanese-born designer Ziad Nakad knew that he wanted to work in fashion. Fascinated by eclectic fabrics, sheer embroidery and unconventional beading, Nakad designed gowns for his family and friends to wear. Encouraged by this genuine success, the talented young man decided to explore and embrace the art of dressmaking, and went on to work with many famous fashion designers in Beirut. In 1997, he launched his eponymous label at Beirut Fashion Week, dressing renowned supermodels such as Karen Mulder and Jennifer Driver.

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The essential eyewear brands guide

From Linda Farrow’s ground-breaking 1970s styles, which made eyewear truly fashionable, to today’s modern and bespoke labels, such as Ace & Tate and Cubitts, chic opticals have become essential accessories. Take a look at our guide to the must-have brands and their new collections for this season.

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Top five must-have Spanish brands

The thriving fashion scene in Spain has gifted the world with luxury names such as Loewe and Manolo Blahnik, as well as newer brands carving out a niche of their own such as Bimba & lola. Take a look at our guide to the must-have Spanish fashion brands to have in your life (and in your closet), from ready-to-wear, tailoring to couture.

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City Guide to Marrakech

We travelled to North Africa to experience the richness of what Morocco had to offer, out of all the many places visited, we had to whittle it down to our favourite spots to stay and eat in Marrakech.
To Stay:

Riad farnatchi hotel Marrakech city guide

Riad Farnatchi
For a sense of sophistication within the heart of the media. Riad Farnatchi is the product of award-winning hoteliers James and Jonathan Wix, who spent two years converting the first three riads into a holiday home for friends and family. After some time, James thankfully opened up this beautiful house to the public.

Farnatchi is made up of five smaller riads that have been combined and features walls that date back 400 years, a beautifully converted riad with two stunning terraces with a heated pool, a candlelit dining room inside a stone carved cave-like room, reflecting a traditional Moroccan décor. We enjoyed the sunset on the roof terrace which has a glorious 360 view across the city before retiring to our double-level suite, stocked full of Molton Brown shower products, fresh fruit and Moroccan sweet treats.

The luxurious, elegant and light filled Farnatchi Spa opened in March last year boasting 4 spacious treatment rooms with showers, a traditional hammam and an extensive range of Ila Spa treatments from simple, effective head and shoulder massages to hugely spoiling 2 hour rituals of indulgence.

The much-anticipated opening of the Trou au Mur restaurant in April this year, almost directly opposite Riad Farnatchi, will offer a taste of ‘Forgotten Morocco’. A pioneering endeavour to share some of the interesting dishes and vibrant rich flavours of Morocco’s vanishing past, using traditional recipes passed down through generations. Guests can expect buttery, tender slow roasted mechoui from the wood-fired oven, Berkouse or tripe with white beans and spiced tomato. There will also be a few modern British twists on the menu. The restaurant, combining traditional Moroccan craftsmanship and unique modern furnishings, spans three levels so diners can choose to eat open air on the roof garden.

Riad Farnatchi is also available to be rented exclusively, with private use of the whole riad. With 10  suites, many people have already found that it is the perfect place for a wonderful private house party.

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Riad BE Marrakech
The brainchild of incredibly cool Swiss-Moroccan owners Nicole and Mohammed, Riad BE is located in top spot Bab Doukkala, and is within easy walking distance of the souks and Djemaa el-Fna. Nicole and Mohammed’s fabulous décor is both traditional and bohemian, offering original mosaic tiling with various whimsical pattern and print combinations, surrounding an emerald plunge pool – the jewel of this beautiful riad and one of the most famous backdrops of the Insta-millennial traveller.

The staff is incredibly welcoming and kind, so much so, a very lovely man named Ismail came to find us when we got lost in the labyrinth of the medina! Thoughtful touches to this riad really make it a beautiful home away from home and to top it all, we were the first guests to stay in their new ‘friends and family suite’; a wonderfully decorated room with two opposite facing lofts with four beds, and a lounge with a monochromatic bathroom and shower.

Riad BE houses a quality stock of books, guides and games and serves a constantly replenished jug of cool water and complimentary fresh fruit. The breakfast should be classed as a feast; served on the roof terrace including bountiful fruit salad, home made muesli, Moroccan pancakes with fresh cream cheese and a variety of jams, with an omelette to follow. Dinner is on request and they also host cooking classes so guests can try their hand at traditional Moroccan dishes.

To Eat:

Hotel

Le Foundouk
Traditionally, a ‘foundouk’ is an old merchants’ inn. Most of the foundouks are now used as artisan’s workshops, but this decadent restaurant serves a cosmopolitan vibe, great cocktails, and tasty French-Moroccan fare. A bevy of uniformed waiters and helpful staff serve up traditional Moroccan dishes such as lamb tagine with figs, and chicken tagine with preserved lemons, and French dishes like duck breast with gratin dauphinoise.

A smaller terrace adorned with statues and masks from West Africa rounds out the dining-room options. Our guides from Riad Farnatchi took us down to the restaurant and let us skip the dining queue! VIP service, indeed.

Nomad restaurant Marrakech city guide

Nomad
Tucked away in a discreet corner of Rahba Kedima (the Spice Square) in the heart of the Marrakech souks, chic and trendy Nomad offers dining on the first floor in cosy salons, but in warm weather, most customers will head straight upstairs to find a spot on the two sun terraces. The sun terraces offer unique views across the Spice Square and medina rooftops.

The Nomad menu is distinctly creative and dynamic – appetisers include a delicious Shaved cauliflower and fennel salad with fresh herbs and toasted almonds, and a vegetarian version of the famous Moroccan pastilla, filled with spiced vegetables, goats cheese and caramelised tomato confit.

Nomad Restaurant Marrakech is the creation of Moroccan entrepreneur Kamal Laftimi and his brother Oussama, who previously opened Le Jardin restaurant in the heart of the medina. For the creation of Nomad, they teamed with architect and restaurant designer Sebastien de Gzell, who is responsible for the gorgeous French-Maghrebi look with a hint of Scandinavian style.

WOMEN-ONLY PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUBS

Drawing on the tradition of men-only clubs established in the west-end of London, women have been focusing to even out this sexist tradition with their own, intelligently led private members clubs – from 1888, when the University Club for Ladies opened on New Bond Street at the instigation of Gertrude Jackson, from Girton College, Cambridge. Clubs for women have since become increasingly popular, here’s my pick of the top exclusive clubs for women below…

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The University Women’s Club “A haven in London for educated women”

“The Club was founded in 1886 by a group of women who had studied at university (but at that time were not allowed to graduate) and found that there were no facilities for educated women in London at that time,” says chairman Ann Hallam who is a consultant at a city law firm. “They were amongst the very first women who went to University.” As it’s a pretty exclusive place, women thinking of becoming members must be proposed and seconded by two existing members, those applicants who do not know a member will be invited to see the premises and to meet some of the members informally.

“(The club) has afforded opportunities to meet and make friends in a city where friendship and companionship may be hard to find,” says Hallam. “Particularly for younger members to take advantage of the knowledge which older members are keen to pass on. Our oldest member is over 90.”

Membership options reflect the diversity of the clients with reduced prices for those who are studying, live out of town or are under 30.
Yearly membership is from £114 – 609.

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Grace Belgravia “Health is Wealth”

Grace Belgravia is fully equipped with a spa, hammam, Atelier, restaurant, bar, relaxation areas and a gym complete with trainers who utilise a unique methodology specifically created around the female body, mind and spirit, founded in the concept of ‘prehab’ training.”Grace very much reflects the values of Arianna Huffington’s Third Metric, a piece which states that we must champion wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving in order to balance the quest for wealth and power,” says founder Kate Percival. “There’s been a paradigm shift which means that increasingly women are seeking out other women’s company. Not that they don’t love their husbands and partners, but they often have deeper conversation with women than men. Women have become less competitive with each other, more embracing and there appears to be a sorority that is stronger than it’s ever been.”

Yearly membership: From £1,875 – 7,500

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FOUNDER LISA TSE SPEAKING AT THE SORORITY

The Sorority “What belongs to you will come to you, when you create the capacity to receive it.”

Membership is by invitation only, although by filling out their online pledge, you can encourage them to consider you for membership, just be sure to have a good answer to the question; ‘What do you value most in life?’

“The way women connect with each other is unique,” says founder Lisa Tse. “We have a tendency to overly criticise ourselves and often underplay our successes and achievements. In a collegiate environment of women, we thrive as we are always so supportive of our friends and aim to bring out the best in each other in a way we never do for ourselves.”

“We are also in desperate need of providing role models of real women living real lives who are successful on their own terms. We need to move away from traditional stereotypes of businesswoman and success and embrace the diverse and rich experience of inspiring women with amazing stories to tell.”

Yearly membership is from £1,500.

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The Trouble Club

The Trouble Club “She was looking for Trouble, and she found it”

The naughty younger sister and latest addition to the private members club family, the Trouble Club was founded by Joy Lo Dico, editor of Londoner’s Diary in the Evening Standard. Lo Dico’s team also includes PR guru Zara Shirwan and Frankie McCoy. “There’s something special about letting women – often in the minority in the workplace – be in charge of the room,” said Lo Dico when asked why she started the club. Membership is more straightforward that other clubs and the rates are kept low so that no one feels they are priced out of the conversation. “We are terribly exclusive,” jokes the website. “You’ll need to be woman or a man, and be one of the following: smart/sociable/witty/trouble. Do you qualify?”
Yearly membership is from £10 – £50.

MILAN FASHION WEEK: AW17 TREND REPORT

Milan joined in with the call for unity this season; from Missoni’s pink pussy hats marching down the catwalk, to Dolce & Gabbana’s multi-generational parade, and Gucci’s eclectic styling and celebration of 119 individuals made for a perfectly felt nod to the current state of the world, something which Milan fashion week is rather exclusive of.

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LFW AW17 Trend Report

London Fashion Week followed hot on the heels of NYFW’s political statement shows, with a strong message for self-care. Designers notably used soft swathes of fabric, oversized knitwear and child-like nostalgia for Autumn/Winter ’17 – what better way to protect oneself from these tumultuous times…

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Behind the curtain at Paul Costelloe

American-Irish designer, Paul Costelloe is in my own humble opinion – severely underrated. Not only does the name encompass a family-run design business, with collections that include womenswear, menswear, bags and accessories, homeware, jewellery, eyewear and children’s occasionwear, Costelloe is also a bright leader in the use of hand-crafted, luxurious fabrics combined with cutting edge design, innovation and creativity.

What I like most about his shows is the sense of occasion; from the usually gilded venue to the individual looks of every model – Costelloe turns his ideals for next season into a beautiful spectacle, and the Autumn/Winter ’17 collection did not disappoint. Set in the ballroom of the Waldorf Hilton, models flounced around in Irish tweeds, fine wools and silk jacquards. Sleeves are exaggerated with a nod to the Tudor period, while femininity is celebrated through corseted waists and full skirts.

Plunging necklines and bold slit skirts added a modern update to the otherwise prudish look, and traditional fabrics collaborated nicely with latex and leather. Sheer fabrics, cut-outs and a metallic colour palette also added an element of fun. “Creativity, texture and traditional designs are what I want my brand to always be,” Costelloe says.

Take a look at backstage shots by Alexander Chai below…

Erotic: Passion & Desire at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s plays host to their first saucy auction – Erotic: Passion & Desire where the boundaries between the sensual and the obscene are gloriously blurred. It’s often said the difference between pornography and erotica is simply a matter of lighting: Forensic attention to sexual details or subtle evocation of mood?

“The erotic is a realm where desire and imagination meet. When you look at a great work of erotic art, you sense a world outside its obvious parameters: a complicit triangulation between the creator, the subject (perhaps more than one) who inspired such intimate expression, and the viewer turned voyeur. There’s a disruptive quality to the best erotica, which filters into your dreams and waking fantasies. It doesn’t just seduce its audience – it transports them without permission,” says Rowan Pelling, a Daily Telegraph columnist known for her eight-year editorship of The Erotic Review and her sex column for GQ, who has written the catalogue introduction for the Sotheby’s Erotic sale.

Across the centuries, art has always been intrinsically linked to expressions of passion and sensuality. The Erotic: Passion & Desire sale encompasses representations of love and sex from antiquity to the present day. Featuring over 100 extraordinary works comprising 19th-century furniture, design, fine art, photography and contemporary sculpture, the sale explores themes from the beauty of desire to representations of the male nude to the carnal act itself.

Speaking ahead of the auction, Constantine Frangos, Head of Sale, said: “Art has always existed to tell a human story, and sex has always been a part of that story – whether it is there to compel, to shock or to seduce. Indeed, Eroticism in art has appeared in whatever form art has taken, and our exhibition will take the viewer on a journey through the centuries.

“This sale creates a stage on which we are able to bring together a fascinating array of artworks and objects across many disciplines – charting a history whilst also presenting stunning works by artists as eclectic as Picasso, Man Ray, Ettore Sottsass and Marc Quinn.”

The exhibition is now open at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries ahead of the auction on 16 February 2017. For more information, go to http://www.Sothebys.com