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I know nothing about cars, put off learning to drive until I was practically geriatric and could barely identify the difference between a Mini and a Maserati. But even I am not immune to the beauty of a vintage car, especially when that car is among the rarest models ever made. This week’s issue introduces us to the wonder of the Ferrari 330 LMB, an enigmatic machine that competed in the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans and which has an estimated value that reaches into millions of pounds. Not that they ever come up for sale: only four examples were ever made.
Hence, the model unveiled and test-driven by Simon de Burton is a recreation undertaken by Bell Sport & Classic, a workshop that specialises in restoring old Ferraris. The story of this 330 LMB is one of obsession, a tragic accident and hours and hours of workmanship, not to mention the thousands of air miles that were notched up in the quest to find spare parts. And yet I would argue it was worth it: for the restored Ferrari is among the most elegant I’ve ever seen. It also sets the tone for this issue, “an elegant summer”, celebrating all things beautiful and classic in design.
The men’s tuxedo, for example, has been given a glamorous new consideration in a shoot by Robin Galiegue and stylist Andreas Peter Krings. Elegance is rarely considered much of a virtue in a gentleman, and yet, when someone has it, it can be utterly beguiling. When this week’s cover star, Leon Dame, first turned up on a runway, he had a walk – part strut, part prowl, part swagger – and an attitude that no one had seen for years. Unlike the slack-eyed nonchalance one has now come to associate with modelling, Dame’s sense of character and personality was completely out of the ordinary. Along with Moustapha Sy (the other model in our story) he has brought a welcome bit of drama back to fashion, in this instance a Wildean kind of grace.
Elegant also are the answers provided by Tadao Ando, who talks us through his personal taste as the subject of this week’s The Aesthete. Having survived an aggressive form of cancer in 2015, the Japanese architect offers a perspective driven by his tireless work ethic, yet always anchored in his sense of gratitude.
And of all the elegant professions, a florist must surely rank most highly. It’s the stuff of childhood fantasies to spend one’s working days surrounded by fresh flowers. However, the flower business is especially vulnerable to bad practice, various species have been bred out for not being hardy or commercially appealing, and the environmental cost of floristry with its widespread refrigeration and transportation can be dear. Mindful of the impact of mass cultivation, a new generation of florists has taken the growing upon themselves. Clare Coulson talks to five growers about their efforts to re-establish older, more traditional varieties and their attempts to create more local networks so that they don’t need to import flowers from around the world. And the results are gorgeous. Certainly, when I was sent a bouquet of Kitten Grayson’s recent crop of tulips, which she grows on her plot near Bruton, in Somerset, I was astonished by how strong their scent was and by the uniqueness of each flower. I then watched them bloom into a still-life reminiscent of my very own Dutch master before they slowly wilted, every petal dropping, elegant to the last.
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