Interviews & Special Features

The Sport of Kings: Arnaud Bamberger and Cartier International Polo

It was always going to be the match made in heaven (forgive the pun) – the Sport of Kings sponsored by the historically world famous jewellery designer to the kings (and queens). When the collaboration first came about it didn’t arrive with too much fanfare but the Cartier International Polo event, which takes place every summer at the Guard’s Polo Club in Windsor, has become the biggest event of the international Polo calendar in the world, surpassing even the Mondialito event in the home of polo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2009 it celebrated its 25th anniversary and for the last eighteen of those twenty five years the event has been captained with typical Gallic flair by the Managing Director of Cartier UK (and French Legion of Honour recipient), Arnaud Bamberger.

We arrived in the office of Monsieur Bamberger, above the famous Cartier showroom in London’s Bond Street, to find him at his desk updating his World Cup chart with the results from the previous day’s football matches. It was immediately disarming to see him doing what many a student and office worker must also have been doing that morning and as we talked it became obvious that it was perhaps this touch of the everyman that has made him so successful at helming Cartier through the worst economic crisis in living memory. In retrospect it’s also perhaps fortunate that our interview took place on the day of France’s final group game in the World Cup and not after. As it was he was the welcoming, sophisticated and debonair raconteur you would expect of a man who had worked for thirty five years all over the world for one of the biggest luxury brand names around.

After so many years few people would refer to what they do as just a job or even a career. When you have been at the top of a company like Cartier for this long it’s probably more accurate to describe it as a relationship that seemed almost fated to happen. “I was never a great student”, Arnaud tells us, “I can’t really speak of a huge amount of university studies because it’s not there but I knew I wanted to go into business and I was always drawn to the luxury industry”. Despite this the young Arnaud soon found himself working in the marketing department of a multinational foods company in France. It wasn’t very glamorous but it was a place to pay your dues and his notable success drew all the right kinds of attention. It led to him being headhunted by one of the biggest luxury tobacco brands of the time, Rothman’s, and thus began the lifelong relationship with luxury brands that endures to this very day. “It’s funny because Rothman’s was once owned by the owners of Cartier [The Richemont Group] but at the time there was no
connection”, he says.

That connection began when, while at Rothman’s, Arnaud’s feet began to itch. This coincided with a heavy promotional campaign by Cartier in the French media. “Suddenly I saw the name was everywhere. The company had a young president at the time, Alain Domenique Perrin, and I saw him revolutionising the world of luxury by bringing a touch of it to the people – starting small with the world famous Cartier lighter. When
I saw what this guy was doing I said to myself: this is the type of person I want to work with”. In the end all it took was a simple and direct letter to the Cartier president to make that ambition come true. “I caught his attention”, he says, “and I started as the export director of Cartier straight away. He’s president no longer but he’s still a trusted advisor and the one that restored the brand back to where it should always have been. After working with him for so long he became one of my best friends, almost like an older brother”. Recalling the scene of Arnaud updating his World Cup chart earlier it was obvious that Perrin’s outlook had left a lasting impression on his long time friend…

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An English Exotic: Rising actress and recording artist, Karen David

You might think you would have to go a very long way to meet somebody who was born in the foothills of the Himalayas but who grew up in Canada. You might have to go even further to meet someone who was a combination of Indian, Chinese and even a sliver of Jewish heritage (hence the seemingly incongruous surname). Fortunately, I only had to travel as far as London’s Twickenham Studios to meet Karen David, the actress making a name for herself as one of the UK’s best talents. It was here that she was filming a new TV series for the BBC and as we sat down over lunch for a chat the phrase ‘small but perfectly formed’ came to mind, dressed as she was in a costume that was akin to Halle Berry’s in the X-Men movies. Despite the costume and the heat that day she looked very cool, in both senses of the word, and seemed to be enjoying her life. “Everything that I have wanted to do since I was a little girl I’m now doing. This is actually my day job and I feel blessed to be in this position in my life”.

Her journey seemed to have been set when, as a four year old, she was left in the charge of her older sister who refused to alter her viewing habits to accommodate her younger sibling. The film of choice that day was Xanadu. “That’s when I fell in love with all things Olivia Newton John. I wanted to sing like her and be in movies like her. That’s when I was bitten”. A number of other world renowned celebrities, like Gwen Stefani, seem to have shared this same epiphany in their own early years so she was already in very good company. She was also fortunate to have parents who, despite being from a traditionally academic background, encouraged her to commit to her ambitions and that’s exactly what she did – when she wasn’t trying to blend in.

“When I was growing up I was picked on a lot for being different”, she says, “My mother sent me to Chinese school when I was little but that didn’t work because all the kids thought I was too dark to be half Chinese. Then we moved to Canada where I had to learn French but couldn’t speak any of the languages in my heritage like Cantonese or Hindi. I was looked on as a bit of a freak of nature really but now that I’m older I really appreciate those experiences because it’s helped me not to be typecast as the ‘Asian’ actress”.

It’s certainly true that, whether by conscious design or unconscious projection, her CV certainly reads of an artist who has been given the opportunity to develop a broad range. By the time she was 17 she had moved from Canada to London to study acting and from her first film role in 2002 in the UK film Bollywood Queen, with James McAvoy, to Hollywood roles in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn, all bases were quickly being covered. Later this year she will even be seen playing a Spanish teacher when the BBC’s primetime drama, Waterloo Road, returns to TV this autumn. And, in perhaps her most significant role to date, she has even played a fictional ‘Akkadian’.

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Urban Star: The Tamsin Egerton Interview and Photoshoot

Destined to leave the young girl image behind her, Andre Gayle meets Tamsin Egerton, the talented, supermodel-like English actress who grew up on the silver screen and is now on the cusp of international stardom.

There was a time when it seemed everything you knew about Tamsin Egerton revolved around her being a schoolgirl. She was still at school when she first started acting and the jealousy it engendered from her fellow schoolmates filled out the padding for many a column inch in various newspapers and magazines in her later years. Then, of course, she was catapulted onto the national consciousness playing a vampish schoolgirl in two successful remakes of the classic St Trinian’s movies.

But that was then and this is now. Now there is a palpable sense within the movie industry that Egerton is moving into a new phase in her career. Whereas she may not necessarily have been previously ‘typecast,’ in the strictest sense of the word, the roles that we have come to know her by did not have too much in the way of gravity to them and they were almost always of the light-hearted variety. With the release of the first St Trinian’s movie in 2007 that image of her was reinforced in the minds of casting directors and producers. She played the insubstantial but good hearted sex kitten, Chelsea Parker, one of the many kooky residents of moviedom’s notorious English boarding school for girls, but there was a downside to the publicity it generated for her. “I turned down so many roles in the first six months after that movie was released”, she tells me. “I didn’t like what I was being offered, it was all in the same vain as Chelsea. But, as a consequence, for the subsequent six months I didn’t work at all”.

At 17 it was a pretty bold move. A young working actress holds a ‘big break’ in one hand but swats away significant roles (and the rent money that comes with them) with the other? All in the name of long term career goals as opposed to short term success? Perhaps ‘bold’ doesn’t even sell it. It would actually be a very brave move for any self employed teenager, let alone one negotiating the cut-throat jungle of the movie industry but, as any poker champion will tell you, the more you bet on your own ability, the greater the eventual reward. Heading towards her 21st birthday Egerton is now starting to see the benefits of that early faith. The next year could turn out to be the defining period in her film career, the point at which, on screen, she turns from a girl into a woman – an actress into a potential leading lady…

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Best of British – Under The Spotlight: Clive Christian

Clive ChristianOver the past few decades the Clive Christian name has built a reputation that is synonymous with the ultimate in luxurious interiors and the world’s most opulent perfumes.

As one of the most respected brands in the world of luxury, the name instantly invokes a sense of timeless creative aesthetics that are quintessentially British, making it a natural choice for this new section on celebrating some of the most iconic British brands.

It was over thirty years ago that Clive Christian started his eponymous design business. Widely acknowledged as a revolutionary in kitchen design, he influenced a major shift in the perception of the home environment. Christian made the kitchen the heart of the home, which he further enhanced by daring to incorporate the chandelier in his layouts, something unheard of at the time. Some chose to label him eccentric, but it soon became his statement of individuality and non-conformity to the conventional wisdom in interior design, and one which has since become a signature for every kitchen he creates.

No1Going from strength to strength, 2008 saw the opening of Clive Christian showrooms at the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre in London and, this year, in the Architect & Design Building in Manhattan, New York. Both of these showrooms hold the entire furniture collections and make it possible for any customer with an eye, and a pocket, for ultra luxury furnishings to dress their home from attic to basement in nothing but Clive Christian.

2009 also sees Clive Christian celebrating 10 years since acquiring The Crown Perfumery, one of the oldest and grandest perfumeries in Britain. It’s commitment to excellence and luxury was recognised with the ‘Crown’ in its title by Queen Victoria in 1872 and, given this, it was perhaps inevitable that the Crown Perfumery and Clive Christian would cross paths some 127 years later.

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Best of British Icons Series – Ben Ainslie: The Perfect Storm

Ben AinslieBehind the film star looks and the jovial personality lies a hard as nails world champion the likes of which Britain, nor the world, has rarely ever seen, yet Tim Henman is still more famous than he is.

Exactly what does it take for someone to be classed as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time? Skill? Talent? Determination? All useful attributes, to be sure, but even a combination of all three might not bestow historical status upon you – no matter how much of each you might have at your disposal. No, there is a fourth dimension without which you surely will never achieve greatness. Muhammad Ali had it, as do Michael Jordan, Pete Sampras and Lance Armstrong. Without meaning to cast aspersions, the fourth dimension is a near demented quality in your approach to what you do: a mindset so instinctively singular that if it were applied to any other sphere of life some might truly wonder about your sanity. It’s the philosophy that says, as Tiger Woods puts it, ‘when your opponent is on the floor keep your foot on his neck until it’s over.’

Britain has some great sporting stars and with the advent of lottery funding in the UK we now see the benefits of talent that has been given the opportunity to grow and develop without the debilitating financial considerations of the past. But to have a career straddle almost two decades and still stay at the pinnacle your field, winning everything there is to win in that time? Well, that takes something that lottery funding will never find. That ‘something’ is being Ben Ainslie. As a competitive sailor there literally is no comparison.

Ben AinslieSat in the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge it becomes obvious on first meeting him that he is too personable a character to forcibly articulate the real secret of his success. However, anybody prepared to delve into his competitive history will be able to point to it with little if any trouble. On the field of play – and only on the field of play – this man is cutthroat. It’s as simple as that. The skill and dedication he has to his sport has been underwritten with a ruthlessness that only those who go down in history possess. Put it to him directly and Ainslie will only smile sheepishly and tell you, “when I’m racing, I’m racing to try and win.”

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