The world’s leading luxury brands suspend business in Russia

The world’s leading luxury brands suspend business in Russia
An Hermes boutique in Moscow. Getty Images
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Updated 05 March 2022

The world’s leading luxury brands suspend business in Russia

The world’s leading luxury brands suspend business in Russia
  • French group Hermes has three stores in Moscow
  • Hermes ‘deeply concerned about situation in Europe’

PARIS: The world’s leading luxury brands said on Friday that they planned to temporarily close stores and pause business operations in Russia.
Birkin bag maker Hermes and Cartier owner Richemont were the first firms to announce such moves, followed by LVMH, Kering and Chanel.
Doing business in Russia has become complex since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which prompted the United States, Britain and the Europe Union to impose sweeping sanctions.

“Given our increasing concerns about the current situation, the growing uncertainty and the complexity to operate, Chanel decided to temporarily pause its business in Russia,” the French luxury fashion house said in a LinkedIn post.

Luxury giant LVMH, which owns such brands as Christian Dior, Givenchy, Kenzo, TAG Heuer and Bulgari among others, will close its 124 boutiques in Russia from Sunday but will continue to pay the salaries for its 3,500 employees in the country, a spokesperson told Reuters.

French multinational Kering, whose brands include brands as Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Boucheron among others, has two shops and 180 employees, which the company will continue to support.

While affluent Russians are keen consumers of luxury goods, analysts say the proportion of luxury sales generated from Russian nationals is small compared to the industry’s main growth engines, China and the United States.

Richemont, which also owns Dunhill, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Piaget, and Van Cleef & Arpels among other brands, has around a dozen directly operated stores, mostly in Moscow. It said in a statement it had suspended commercial activities in Russia on March 3 after stopping Ukraine operations on Feb. 24, the day Russia launched its invasion.

Hermes, which has three stores in Moscow, had planned to open an outlet in St. Petersburg later this year.

Investment bank Jefferies estimates that Russians account for around $9 billion in annual luxury sales, which is around 6% of Chinese spending and 14% of U.S spending on luxury goods.

Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group, which owns high end watches and jewelry labels including Harry Winston, said it would continue its operations in Russia, but was putting exports on hold “because of the overall difficult situation.”
L'Oreal, LVMH and Kering have all pledged financial support to help Ukrainian refugees and Richemont said on Friday it was initiating a “significant donation” to Medecins Sans Frontieres.


Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks

Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks
Updated 38 min 37 sec ago

Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks

Actress Lyna Khoudri reveals release date for film based on Paris attacks

DUBAI: French Algerian actress Lyna Khoudri’s new movie “Novembre” is set to hit cinemas early next month and the star has taken to social media to whip up interest among film fans.

The actress announced this week on her Instagram account that the movie will be out on Oct. 5 and shared pictures of the posters with her 100,000 followers. 

“‘Novembre’ by Cédric Jimenez on Oct. 5 in cinemas. Let’s go (sic),” she wrote. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by lynakhoudri (@lynakhoudri)

Directed by the French auteur Jimenez, the intense film charts the five days after the devastating November 2015 attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people.

The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year in the Out of Competition section.

Speaking at a press conference after the film’s premiere in May, Jimenez said his mission was to show how the anti-terrorist unit experienced five “awful days.”

“The idea was not to turn them into heroes,” he said. “Even though the situation was resolved, there are only losers: the many people who died, the witnesses who are upset forever, the police officers who resigned because it was such a terrible hardship. In this kind of event, there are no winners.”

Khoudri stars as Samia in the film — a charitable young woman who volunteers at a homeless camp. Her flat mate is bankrolling her cousin, one of the terrorists.

She stars alongside actors Jean Dujardin – who plays the leader of the police division — Anaïs Demoustier, Sandrine Kiberlain, Jérémie Renier, Cédric Kahn, Sofian Khammes, Sami Outalbali, Stéphan Bak, Annabelle Lengronne and Raphaël Quenard. 


Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair
Updated 27 September 2022

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair

Sotheby’s to showcase rare finds at Riyadh International Book Fair
  • 1840 Victorian globe showing Makkah, Madinah, among 10 pieces for sale
  • Growing Mideast interest in collectibles, says auction house head

DUBAI: The Riyadh International Book Fair returns from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8 presenting some of the most prominent Arab and international publishing houses and institutions. Considered a major cultural event, this year marks greater international participation, notably from Sotheby’s auction house for the first time, in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The auction house’s highlights include a rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979 — including their welcome at Riyadh’s airport by King Khalid. There is a museum-quality World Globe dating to 1840. The Victorian piece belonged to Oxford University. It shows Makkah, Madinah and the port of Jeddah.

A rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979. (Supplied)

In addition, an Ottoman carpet once belonging to the great traveler Gertrude Bell, gifted to her by King Faisal I of Iraq is on display. There is also a photorealist painting of a falcon by Nicholas Manning, marking, according to the auction house, the first edition of the finest work on falconry that has ever been produced.

Everything displayed will be on sale.

“Creativity is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s future and there are ambitious plans in this sector — both in terms of grassroots initiatives and government support,” Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India told Arab News. “We regularly sell a lot of material that buyers in Saudi are interested in, and there is certainly growing interest in collectibles.”

A rare album of photographs depicting Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh on their royal visit to Saudi Arabia in 1979. (Supplied)

Gibbs noted that over the past five years, the auction house has seen a doubling of the number of buyers and bidders from Saudi Arabia — with a high proportion interacting with Sotheby’s for the first time.

“We feel it is important to build on this by physically travelling to the region and bringing the best of what we can offer to the doorsteps of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Late last year, the auction house was also present at the inaugural Diriyah Biennale. Its participation in the book fair marks increased engagement with Saudi Arabia during a time of great cultural expansion for the Kingdom.

A rare and unusually large 36-inch terrestrial library globe by John Addison and G&J Cary, circa 1840. (Supplied)

“We are traveling with 10 exceptional pieces, carefully curated to appeal to the tastes of collectors in the Middle East, and celebrating the illustrious history of the region,” Richard Fattorini, Sotheby’s senior specialist in books and manuscripts, told Arab News.

“The showstopper will surely be the monumental Victorian globe, which still has its original receipt. Visually and historically, it is the perfect piece to showcase at a book fair. The close links between Great Britain and the Kingdom are also celebrated in a few of the pieces, most notably with the photographs of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit.”


US show ‘Last Light’ is the latest TV series filmed in Abu Dhabi

US show ‘Last Light’ is the latest TV series filmed in Abu Dhabi
Updated 15 min 13 sec ago

US show ‘Last Light’ is the latest TV series filmed in Abu Dhabi

US show ‘Last Light’ is the latest TV series filmed in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: A thriller set during an environmental collapse has joined a growing list of US television shows shot in Abu Dhabi with the support of its film commission.

“Last Light,” a five-episode series streaming on Shahid VP in the Middle East, was filmed in multiple locations in the emirate, with the capital doubling as the program’s fictitious city of Luzrah. 

The Emirates Palace and the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi are featured ‘Last Light,’ as well as the expanse of the Abu Dhabi desert. (Supplied)

The show stars Emmy-nominated Matthew Fox, best known for his role in “Lost,” and Joanne Froggatt of “Downton Abbey,” as well as Amber Rose and Hakeem Jomah. The program also features Paris and London as locations.

The action and drama series is directed by award-winning director Dennie Gordon, who has worked on over 100 hours of network television, including the critically acclaimed American superhero television series ‘Legion’.

“Finding a desert like this, unobstructed dunes as far as the eye can see, is such a privilege,” said Gordon in a statement. 

‘Last Light’ star Matthew Fox shooting a scene in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)

The Emirates Palace and the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi are featured, as well as the expanse of the Abu Dhabi desert.

Scenes were also filmed at the Arkan Cement Factory, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Danah, Mussafah and a military base.

The series, an adaptation of Alex Scarrow’s best-selling novel about a world without oil, is the latest to join the Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s extensive roster of supported foreign productions.

The series received location support and a 30 percent rebate on production costs from the ADFC. It was produced by a crew of 145 people, 90 of whom were locals.


 


Egypt’s 19th century gift to France inspires new children’s book ‘Grace the Giraffe’

Egypt’s 19th century gift to France inspires new children’s book ‘Grace the Giraffe’
Updated 26 September 2022

Egypt’s 19th century gift to France inspires new children’s book ‘Grace the Giraffe’

Egypt’s 19th century gift to France inspires new children’s book ‘Grace the Giraffe’
  • Egypt's Muhammad Ali Pasha gave female giraffe from Nubia to King Charles X
  • Paris-based couple Oliver Gee and Lina Nordin Gee took inspiration from the historical story for their children's tale

DUBAI: In 1827, the people of Paris saw the rarest of sights. The ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, sent an unusual diplomacy gift to King Charles X of France: A female giraffe from Nubia, dubbed “la belle africaine,” that caused a sensation and set trends in French society.

This real-life and little-known story inspired Paris-based couple Oliver Gee and Lina Nordin Gee to create their third and latest children’s book, “Grace the Giraffe,” which will be released in October.

Paris-based couple Oliver Gee and Lina Nordin Gee created their third and latest children’s book, ‘Grace the Giraffe.’ (Supplied)

It captures a light-hearted aspect of this historical event. “A few books have been written about the giraffe, but they’re quite dry,” Oliver, an Australian, and host of The Earful Tower podcast, told Arab News.

“We thought the fun part of the story was just as much this reaction from Parisians,” he continued. “It’s a fashion story of people going crazy, where women had their hair looking like the horns or ears of the giraffe.”

Originally from southern Sudan, the giraffe was transported via the Nile and crossed the Mediterranean, landing in Marseille. “She was in a boat with a hole so her head could stick out, which is amazing,” noted Oliver.

The giraffe endured a long and arduous journey as she was walked from Marseille to Paris for weeks. She grew physically along the way, accompanied by a procession of cows that provided milk. “By the time that she was in Marseille, a giraffe hadn’t been in Europe for 300 years,” said Oliver. “So today, it would be like an alien is here.”

In Paris, the giraffe lived in a zoo for under two decades until her death. “Everybody went to see her,” said Oliver. “Even in the small cities, half the population came to see her go past. It was insane.” She achieved her own kind of celebrity, as the elegant creature appeared on fans and ceramics. Luckily, the giraffe’s body has been preserved over the years and is currently on display at a museum in La Rochelle, France.

“Grace the Giraffe” was written by Oliver and illustrated by his wife, Lina. Told in rhyming couplets with little twists in the narrative, the charming piece of work features colorful spreads of Grace’s boat journey, extraordinary procession, and whirlwind arrival in the French capital.

The news of the book’s publication has been well-received online, sparking interest from readers of all ages. “From a history perspective,” said Oliver, “it’s cool to know that children and adults will be learning about a fascinating story.” 


Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
Tala Bashmi is the chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama. (Supplied)
Updated 26 September 2022

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
  • ‘I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,’ Bashmi previously told Arab News

DUBAI: Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi appeared in Madrid over the weekend to celebrate her ranking among the top 100 chefs in the world.

The culinary star ranked 93rd and is the only Arab on this year’s Best Chef Awards list, as well as one of just 18 women.

The gala dinner was held at the Crystal Gallery of the Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid and saw Spain’s Dabiz Muñoz named the best chef in the world for the second consecutive year.

“I do not feel like the best chef in the world, far from it. But I believe I have the best team in the world,” he said accepting the prize on the stage.

Chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama, Tala Bashmi hit the red carpet at the event.

Bashmi grew up in Bahrain, and began her career at the Gulf Hotel, before heading to Switzerland to train at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and the Michelin-starred Prisma. 

She returned to Bahrain in 2014 and worked her way up through the ranks at the Gulf Hotel to eventually head Fusions by Tala, where she’s determined to reinvent Gulf cuisine. She was recently named Best Female Chef in the Middle East and North Africa by 50 Best.

“I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,” Bashmi told Arab News earlier this year. “I want to compete on a global scale by elevating our cuisine technically, visually, and flavor-wise,” she said.