Icons and Innovators

Overview

Celebrating the most exclusive brands of all time including Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., De Beers, Beretta, Sotheby's, Feadship, Cunard, Four Seasons, Abercrombie & Kent, Louis Vuitton, Brioni, Armani, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, The Glenlivet, Davidoff, and Ducati.

From This Issue

Luxury Landmark

1976 Volume I, Number 1 The Robb Report, a publication devoted to advertisements for new and vintage Rolls-Royces, is launched in Atlanta. Within a few years, articles on cars, airplanes, homes, and collectibles will begin appearing regularly. The first editorial feature will be a commentary in the December 1979 issue called “The Gas Crisis: Some […]

Icons & Innovators: Ferrari: Beautiful Beast

To discover why Ferrari ranks among the top automobile brands in the world, we traveled to Italy and spent time with two men: the son of company founder Enzo Ferrari and the designer, Sergio Pininfarina, who helped make Enzo’s marque famous. Engines have captivated the 60-year-old Piero Ferrari for as long as he can remember. […]

Icons & Innovators: Ferrari: Custom Coachwork

Because the company had won races from its earliest days in 1947, Ferrari became the chassis of choice throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. Designers and coachbuilders showcased their wares and could be certain they would catch the attention of the press and public alike. Custom coachwork Ferraris from that era remain rolling sculptures. Some […]

Icons & Innovators: Patek Philippe: In Perfect Time

Consider for a moment how difficult it is to acquire any object of undisputed quality, tradition, and style in a time when almost everything is a product of badge engineering. If what you seek is unimpeachable, old-fashioned, handmade quality in a possession that will not only last for your lifetime, but also for your children’s, […]

Icons & Innovators: Patek Philippe: The Winning Bid

The world of important auctions and the world of haute horology, or exceptional timepieces, are destined to grow and evolve together. As more and more collectors become familiar with the auction process, growing numbers of rare watches are finding their ways to the auction block. Collectors looking to sell valuable and unique timepieces benefit not […]

Icons & Innovators: Cartier: Fleur Fatale

Perhaps more than any other flower genus, orchids captivate with their countless forms and enticing color spectrum. The origins of orchids date back 120 million years, though humans first encountered them in Asia 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. In medieval Europe, the erotically shaped plants were used to concoct aphrodisiacs as well as fertility potions. […]

Icons & Innovators: Cartier: An Uncompromising Position

Challenging the absence of soul, detail, and uniqueness in mass-produced adornments that flooded the market after the industrial revolution, Cartier returned artistic spirit to its métier by encouraging creative freedom unencumbered by marketing or manufacturing efficiency concerns. Thus the house established a legacy of Art Deco masterpieces unrivaled in both depth and caliber of work. […]

Icons & Innovators: Cartier: Lasting Legacies

Tank: Louis Cartier designed the Tank watch as a tribute to the American tank commanders who supported his native France during World War I. The first timepiece was presented to American Gen. John Joseph Pershing in 1917. A simple square case with bold Roman numerals emblazoned on the dial defined the original Tank. Over the […]

Icons & Innovators: Beretta: Show Guns

When you lift a really fine firearm, it seems to float in your hands; the equilibrium is so perfect that the gun mounts to your shoulder almost of its own accord. I have handled literally thousands of guns in my career, yet I am always amazed when I pick up one of the Beretta Rinascimento […]

Icons Innovators: Beretta

Leaving Their Mark Look closely and you will see a hunter, dressed in skins, working a ramrod down the muzzle of his flintlock. At his feet is a bird dog, and behind him are mountains and trees. This scene, with all its detail, is engraved on the underside of a shotgun trigger guard that is […]

Icons & Innovators: Mercedes-Benz: A Stirling Effort

Sir Stirling Moss buckles the strap on his trademark white open-face helmet, adjusts his goggles, and settles into the tartan cloth seat of his classic Silver Arrow Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR racer. Head back and arms outstretched, the 75-year-old legend eases the shift lever into first, guns the 310 hp straight-8 engine, and powers away to […]

Icons & Innovators: Mercedes-Benz

No car before or since has cleaved the air as effectively as did the 1954 Mercedes 300SL, the Gullwing. Today, more than 50 years later, automakers still are striving to achieve its coefficient of drag. Its door handles alone were works of aerodynamic art—slivers of featherweight aluminum that lay flush to the body and flicked […]

Icons & Innovators: Cunard: Passing Fancy

Passing Fancy The romance and mystique of the Cunard liners—one of the most enduring British institutions—captured me at a young age. As a child, my family enjoyed annual beach holidays on the Isle of Wight, an island off of England’s southern coast, and I recall the excitement I felt when the Queen Elizabeth or the […]

Icons & Innovators: Pebble Beach: Miracle at Pebble Beach

The mere mention of the name Pebble Beach conjures up images and emotions in golfers and nongolfers alike. For some, the dramatic ocean view from the seventh tee comes to mind. Others may envision Tom Watson, silhouetted against the Pacific, as he hits a nearly impossible shot from the deep grass to win the 1982 […]

Icons & Innovators: Pebble Beach

Strokes Of Genius After moving west from his native New England in 1908, Samuel F.B. Morse, a distant cousin of the inventor of the telegraph, went to work for the Pacific Improvement Co. Among the Northern California real estate firm’s holdings at the time was a hotel on the Monterey Peninsula. Built in 1879, after […]

Icons & Innovators: Perini Navi: Enlisting the Navi

Ettore Bugatti continues to be considered one of the world’s great engineering artists. His technical innovations are legendary, but above all, his automobiles were beautiful. Those that remain today continue to command the highest prices of all classic cars. A similar passion for engineering excellence and design flair and style is embodied by the yachts […]

Icons & Innovators: Perini Navi

On A Roll From The Beginning Growing up in the 1960s in Tuscany’s Lucca valley, a center of Italy’s paper industry since the 17th century, Fabio Perini did as previous generations of his family had done and entered the paper-making business. Although demand for the products was skyrocketing at the time, Italy’s paper companies remained […]

Icons & Innovators: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars: Holy Roller

Although he worked on a number of projects for BMW, Mini, MG, and Land Rover during his 15-year tenure with the BMW Group, Marek Djordjevic is best known for designing the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the 100 EX showcar, and the forthcoming 2007 Rolls-Royce convertible, the cars he most recently shaped before leaving the company last fall […]

Icons & Innovators: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars: Three Decades of Distinction

The Phantom does not represent the first time that a Rolls-Royce designer took a risk. Just over 30 years ago, the company introduced the Camargue as its premier owner-driven offering. Remarkably for the conservative manufacturer, the angular Pininfarina-designed coupe bore a stronger resemblance to the Italian carrozzeria’s Ferrari 412 than to its baroque stablemate, the […]

Icons & Innovators: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars: Bavarian Rhapsody

BMW won its well-documented struggle with Volkswagen for ownership of Rolls-Royce—sort of. A legal technicality gave BMW the rights to the coveted Rolls-Royce name, but nothing more. Volkswagen received everything else, including the factory. Thus, not only did the Bavarian automaker need to design a new Rolls-Royce from scratch, it had to find somewhere to […]

Icons & Innovators: Giorgio Armani: Cool Classic

Before Giorgio Armani, the phrase men’s fashion was an oxymoron. Or rather, with all due respect for Regency dandies and fin de siècle fops, it had been one for about a hundred years. Before 1980, the chances of a heterosexual male knowing a fashion designer’s name, much less the name of the man who had […]

Icons & Innovators: Giorgio Armani

The Milanese Maestro In 1977, Giorgio Armani paraded down a Milan fashion runway his version of a business suit: a soft crepe, deconstructed garment with no lining, no padding, and exaggerated dropped shoulders worn with billowy pleated slacks. Instantly, fashion editors and retailers lauded Armani as the architect of something fresh, a new defining silhouette […]

Icons & Innovations: Brioni: Clothes Horse Sense

Umberto Angeloni went to a lot of trouble and great expense to express his views on how important the polo shirt will be to fashion this spring. Last summer, the chief executive of Brioni had 200 of the brand’s best customers shuttled to the Croatian island of Brijuni (formerly the Italian island of Brioni and […]

Icons & Innovations: Brioni: Jacket Required

Brioni’s experimentation with jacket design dates to the 1950s, when it introduced the Ordine Dorico, or columnar look, which became the first of a generation of long, side-vented, narrow-waisted sport coats. The brand’s 17-pocket travel jacket proved to be three decades ahead of its time: Brioni introduced it in 1968, and it has been widely […]

Icons & Innovations: Brioni: The Bespoken Word

Slipping into a custom-made suit is simply the sine qua non of dressing sensations—a thrill that could be compared with sliding behind the wheel of your very own Ferrari. If 100 of the world’s legitimately best-dressed men gathered, the majority surely would sport ensembles that are either partly or completely custom made. Bespoke historically has […]

Icons & Innovations: Tiffany & Co.: The Tiffany Standard

Fine jewelry is fashioned from precious gold, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds—extremely limited natural resources whose origins often are shrouded in mystery and controversy. The mining of valuable minerals and gems can damage the environment, exhaust natural resources, and even incite political chaos in an unstable region that holds a bounty of these materials. Nevertheless, the […]

Icons & Innovations: Tiffany & Co.: Designer Genes

Jean Schlumberger:Hailed as one of the 20th century’s great artisans, the late Jean Schlumberger is eternally linked to Tiffany & Co. While serving as vice president from 1956 until his death in 1987, Schlumberger produced some of his most imaginative designs, including brooches depicting jeweled jellyfish and dolphins, and elaborate gem-studded floral-themed pieces. By re-creating […]

Icons & Innovations: Tiffany & Co.: Architectural Jewels

In April, Tiffany & Co. will unveil a new collection of jewelry and home accessories designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. “Gehry’s revolutionary aesthetic has literally redefined architecture,” says Michael Kowalski, Tiffany’s chairman and CEO. “We fully anticipate that our partnership, combining as it does Mr. Gehry’s genius with Tiffany’s tradition of innovation and utmost […]

Icons & Innovations: Ducati: Staying Power

Customers wanted Ducati motorcycles in 1995. The products were modern, attractive, fairly priced, and backed by a race-winning heritage. Company ledgers should have been dripping black ink, yet there was a better-than-even chance that the Bolognese firm would not survive to see 1996. Ducati began, in the mid-1920s, as a parts manufacturer for radios. This […]

Icons & Innovations: Davidoff: Perfect Ending

When I think of cigars, one of the first things that comes to mind is relaxation. In a life like mine—where you’re running from one meeting or one restaurant to the next, and you’re always on a deadline or adhering to a schedule—when you finally are able to sit down with a good cigar and a […]

Icons & Innovations: Davidoff: Quality Control

Davidoff’s master blender, Hendrik “Henke” Kelner, once complained that the company was so demanding that sometimes it seemed as though it rejected more cigars than it accepted. Such high standards, according to the late Zino Davidoff, forced his namesake brand, which has been owned by Swiss importer Oettinger since 1970, to sever the relationship through […]

Icons & Innovations: California Cult Wines: California Cults

For centuries, France has been the undisputed standard bearer in the world of fine wine. But, in less than a generation, America’s so-called “cult” wines have more or less balanced the critical scale between legendary Bordeaux and relative upstart Napa Valley. A multitude of variables have contributed to this shift, but the two constants in […]

Icons & Innovations: California Cult Wines: Anatomy of a Cult Wine

The first cult wine, presumably, was poured for the first wine cult—that of Bacchus, in Ancient Rome—and the wine (of unknown cépage, but certainly not a Cabernet) was crafted to inspire lunacy among the nymphs, maenads, and goat-hoofed satyrs in attendance. Wine was the vehicle for countless acts of antediluvian impropriety, sufficient to make the […]

Icons & Innovations: Bordeaux First Growths: The Rothschild Reds

As early as the 1300s, attempts were made to classify the vineyards of France according to the quality of their wines, but not until the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris did wine brokers succeed in this effort. The definitive list includes 61 wines from the Médoc region grouped into five crus, the elite of which […]

Icons & Innovations: Thomas Keller: Prince of Yountville

Thomas Keller slogged through the brutal, precarious world of the restaurant industry for 20 years and through four states, both as a chef and a chef-owner, and lost money every step of the way until he purchased and assumed control of the French Laundry in 1994. When the then 39-year-old entered the office of his […]

Icons & Innovators: Thomas Keller: Inn Coming

The kitchen staff at Per Se in New York and the French Laundry in California both rely on a certain kind of tape, light green in color, to mark the food containers. It stands out against the white walls and stainless steel prep tables like the leaves of spring against a snow-covered landscape. Thomas Keller […]

Icons & Innovations: Four Seasons: In Cinq

Parisians have a term—les palais, or the palaces—for their city’s finest hotels. Bestowed upon a select few properties in the first and eighth arrondissements, the designation reflects the residents’ inimitable sense of history and pride and, in perfect French fashion, implies equal parts romance and arrogance. This latter characteristic came to the forefront in mid-1998, […]

Icons & Innovations: Four Seasons: Canada’s Colonial Power

When isadore sharp opened the now-defunct Four Seasons Motor Hotel in downtown Toronto in 1961, he had no intention of creating the world’s premier hospitality brand. “My background was in real estate and construction,” recalls Sharp, the chairman of Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “I was just trying to put a business deal together.” […]

Icons & Innovations: Four Seasons: View From The Top

Bill Fischer, founder and president of Fischer Travel Enterprises in New York, advises some of the world’s most discerning travelers. His approximately 500 clients pay a $10,000 annual retainer (and a one-time membership fee, currently $50,000) for his guidance in selecting destinations and securing services and reservations. “For these clients,” says Fischer, “you can’t make […]

Icons & Innovations: Dassault: Wings of Desire

Design trends, we can argue, speak to their time. In particular, the shapes of our flying machines always have reflected the moods and desires of an age. Thus the latest generation of commercial and corporate flying machines serves up a troubling diagnosis. Seen through the aesthetic of our aircraft, we’re definitely a manic lot: either […]

Icons & Innovations: Feadship: Customer Service

I’ve always felt that boats represent the wishes, desires, and personalities of the people who build them and, even more so, the people who own them. The effort that goes into designing and building a boat is usually a labor of love for everyone involved.   The first Feadship I owned was an 87.4-foot vessel that was […]

Icons & Innovations: Feadship: Big Splash

Big Splash Although the notion of pleasure boating may have originated with the Dutch, who enjoyed cruising in their jachts in the 16th century, the country’s yacht building industry nearly succumbed to the devastation it suffered during World War II, when many of the shipyards were destroyed, and no one was purchasing boats designed for […]

Icons & Innovations: Abercrombie & Kent: Adventure to Go

For the first time in history, people with the means to do so can go anywhere on Earth—and even places beyond Earth. Any number of alpine guides can escort you to the “death zone” at the summit of Mt. Everest. Tour operators and scientific institutions will lead you on dogsledding trips to the North Pole—a […]

Icons & Innovations: Abercrombie & Kent: Around The World With A&K

Abercrombie & Kent’s escorted tours range from a four-day ski excursion in the Canadian Rockies to a weeks-long private jet journey that circumnavigates South America, but nearly all consist of small groups led by expert local guides. Among A&K’s offerings for 2006 are the following trips, most of which occur a few times throughout the […]

Icons & Innovations: Mandarin Oriental Spas: Oriental Wisdom

Four decades is a long tenure in any position, but in the hospitality industry, such a stint is a true anomaly. Still, Kurt Wachtveitl, general manager of the Oriental Bangkok since 1967, has no plans to move on anytime soon. “Thailand—its people, its food, its culture—gets under your skin,” says Wachtveitl, a native of Bavaria. […]

Icons & Innovations: Mandarin Oriental Spas: The Heat Is… On

“Try to come early for the heat experiences!” This line jumps out as I read the e-mail confirmation for my upcoming Gentleman’s Retreat at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental in New York City. Heat experiences? I think: Lady, you have no idea who you’re talking to. Let’s compare my profession with other high-stress jobs: Stockbroker? […]

Icons & Innovations: De Beers: Goodwill Hunting

Jonathan Oppenheimer, the scion of the De Beers diamond dynasty, is used to addressing negative perceptions about his family’s business. The first time he met his wife, he recalls, she said, “You’re the guy who sells diamonds out of a shoe box,” referring to De Beers’ unorthodox method of distributing its vast cache of diamonds […]

Icons & Innovations: De Beers: Feminine Mystique

Last november was a big month for Raphaèle Canot, artistic director at De Beers LV. She launched the Talisman jewelry collection; put the finishing touches on a special collection developed with Los Angeles designer Neil Lane to mark the December opening of the brand’s second U.S. store, in Beverly Hills; and gave birth to her […]

Icons & Innovations: De Beers: Rock Stars

With a flick of a cloth, the last stubborn specks of dust fly off the steely blue facets, the heavy glass doors are lowered into place, the lights click on, and the Hope Diamond warms up for its daily performance. Today, like every day, thousands to tens of thousands of visitors will press into the […]

Icons & Innovations: Abercrombie & Kent: Louis Vuitton

Traveling and making art have much in common: Both require faith that you will get from one point to another, although the real pleasure often comes from connecting the dots along the way. A love of the unknown and trust in yourself are also very useful. These characteristics propelled Louis Vuitton, after he opened his […]

Icons & Innovations: Louis Vuitton: Art House

Paris has a new landmark. On its opening day last October, the newly redesigned Louis Vuitton flagship on the Champs-Elysées drew lines of spectators worthy of the Eiffel Tower. A year after its 150th anniversary, Vuitton celebrates both past and present in a grandly expanded store with a lavishly renovated decor that singularly combines art, […]

Icons & Innovations: Louis Vuitton: Special Deliveries

Special Deliveries Louis Vuitton’s first trip was a personal mission. The then-14-year-old, who descended from a family of millers and carpenters, left his hometown of Anchay, in the remote French Jura mountains near the Swiss border, and set off for Paris to make a new life. He spent two years walking the 250-mile route, stopping […]

Symposium: The Lifestyle Worth Living

One day a few years ago, James Twitchell, professor of English and advertising at the University of Florida, was browsing through a bookstore when he came across a copy of Robb Report’s 1999 “Best of the Best” issue. He had heard of the magazine before but had never seen a copy, so he picked it […]

Icons & Innovations: Ducati: That ’70s Show

My relationship with Ducatis began in 1972, when the Austin, Texas, motorcycle dealership where I was a regular customer left me a cryptic message: “You had better get over here.” I arrived in time to see a member of the sales staff unload a Ducati V-twin in the parking lot. It wore ugly metal-flake salmon […]

Icons & Innovations: Dassault: Aviation’s Building Bloch

Although Marcel Bloch never learned to fly, he had a pilot’s passion for the emerging science of flight. Bloch’s first job after graduating from the École Supérieure d’Aéronautique in 1913 was to design better propellers for several biplanes flying over the battlefields of World War I.   It was the ideal job for Bloch, who […]

Icons & Innovations: Sotheby’s: The Night a Painting Broke the Nine-Figure Barrier

We have no Circus Maximus today, no chariot races. But we do have the art auction, which—far from being the staid and reverent affair of popular imagination—furnishes us with one of the few winner-take-all, life-or-death spectacles to be found in civilized society. Indeed, the bidders at these events are like fashionably dressed gladiators: Some make […]