The Art of Tasteful Gifting
A modern guide to gifting etiquette during the holiday season.
Gifts are a poetic expression of affection and appreciation. They help define relationships and strengthen intimate bonds, enriching both the giver and the receiver.
The enchantment of receiving a refined gift lies in being transported to a world of pure decadence, a place where desire and mystery come together in an inspiring and audacious union.
But the enchantment of giving a refined gift is far greater. It is the awe-inspiring knowledge of having given the most precious present of all – time, which stands tantalisingly still on each occasion that the precious luxury is used.
Successful gifting is a veritable art form. It speaks of consideration, immaculate manners and indulgence perfected.
But like any social ritual, the risk of impropriety is never far away, and a misjudged present can risk souring a relationship.
In order to master the art of gifting, here are some recommendations to consider:
1. A gift should be certain to please and should therefore reflect the recipient’s personal likes and dislikes, stated William Hanson, a leading British etiquette and protocol expert.
2. Avoid giving a present for the home unless you know the recipient extremely well, as there is a strong chance of misjudging their taste. Flowers are the exception.
3. Chocolates are the most tasteful choice for someone one does not know well, according to Mr Hanson.
4. When presenting a gift to someone from another country, be sure to consider all the cultural codes so as not to offend.
5. Not being ostentatious is the key to tasteful gifting, asserted Mr Hanson. It is not tasteful to give someone a very expensive bottle of champagne if they cannot reciprocate, for example.
6. Keep a list of all the gifts you give each year to avoid repetitions in the future.
7. A gift should be beautifully wrapped, offering a sensorial prelude to the precious indulgence nestled within. An unwrapped gift, or one offered in a gift bag, denotes a marked lack of refinement, said Mr Hanson.
8. Choose the right moment to present your gift so that the recipient has sufficient time to gracefully receive it.
9. When presenting a gift, the most tasteful thing to say is what comes from the heart, stated Mr Hanson.
10. Respond with graciousness when thanked. Do not diminish the gift you have presented.
Gifts, The art of gifting, William Hanson, Holiday season
Rejuvenation at Night
Night time is the skin’s ideal moment for rejuvenation.
Night-time offers the precious gift of sleep, a vital sanctuary from the rigours of life that enables the body and mind to maintain a poetic balance.
But while the body rests, the very cells where beauty is born engage in an extraordinary process of rejuvenation.
“In the skin, many molecular, cellular and physiological processes follow a circadian rhythm, some of them peaking at night,” stated Dr Jacqueline Hill, Director of Strategic Innovation and Science at La Prairie.
Transepidermal water loss — moisture lost through the skin — is higher at night, as are blood flow and skin temperature. On a cellular level, epidermal stem cell proliferation rises, which leads to increased skin renewal. Specific repair mechanisms, such as DNA repair, are also active mainly at night.
“The abundance of replenishment that takes place while the body is at rest makes the night the perfect time for renewal,” asserted Dr Hill. There is also a dramatic decrease of exposure to environmental aggressors, which allows an increased focus on repair as opposed to defence.
While the skin is more prone to becoming dehydrated at night, it is also more apt to absorb treatments applied during this timeframe. A bedtime ritual using sumptuous ingredients to nourish the skin is therefore vital to support nocturnal rejuvenation.
The first step to holding back time is to gently cleanse the skin, as retiring to bed with make-up or traces of dirt and pollution on the skin can lead to clogged pores and inflammation. By purifying the skin, the effects of daily exposure to pollutants are minimised before damage can take place.
Night-time hydration plays a crucial role in keeping skin healthy, radiant and youthful. So after cleansing and toning, products enriched with active ingredients that enhance the skin’s natural moisture levels, and strengthen its barrier, should be applied.
These should include anti-aging treatments that target personal skincare concerns – such as fine lines, excess pigmentation or lack of radiance.
So, when night falls, remember to lavish the skin with enriched ingredients to enhance the magical process of rejuvenation. For it is these starlit hours that are the key to a world of beauty with no temporal limits.
Skin Rejuvenation, Platinum, Skincare, Active Ingredients, Anti-Aging
Swiss Science: A Passion for Knowledge
How a Swiss scientist is unlocking the secrets of the universe.
Deep within one of the world's biggest and most respected centres for scientific research, particle physicist Alison Lister is on a quest to unlock the secrets of the universe.
Her audacious endeavours take place at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva. The legendary Swiss laboratory is home to the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments used to study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles of life.
It was at CERN that the World Wide Web was invented in 1989, and the long-sought Higgs boson subatomic particle was discovered in 2012, hailed as one of the greatest triumphs of science.
“We were all part of the discovery,” asserted Alison. “I think the actual triumph was a combination of the great physicists who thought of the idea of the Higgs mechanism and the cumulative efforts over many years to find it.”
Alison believes that Switzerland’s fortuitous location at the crossroads of Europe, along with its exceptional quality of life, are behind the country’s long and noble tradition of being at the forefront of science and innovation. CERN has always explored the world not only through science but through art — a vision shared with La Prairie.
Arts at CERN, its leading art and science programme, promotes an inspired dialogue between artists and particle physicists, both of whom examine existence and what it is to be human.
“Art has always mattered and always will,” Alison stated. “It’s a way of expressing life, emotions — even science — in ways which transcend words.”
Born in Switzerland to two CERN physicists, Alison works on the 7,000-tonne ATLAS detector which probes the fundamental particles.
The detector is at the awe-inspiring Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, which forms a 27 kilometre-long underground ring.
Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies. The beams are made to collide with each other, or stationary targets, while detectors observe and record the results of these collisions.
“There’s still 95 percent of the universe yet to be discovered,” Alison declared. “Dark matter, for example, is something we know is out there, but until we can produce it in the lab, or detect it somehow on earth, we won’t know what it’s made of. It’s a really amazing time to be alive.”
As a poetic balance to her groundbreaking scientific research, Alison spends much of her down time immersed in the timeless beauty of the magnificent Swiss Alps. While hiking or skiing these natural wonders, she enters a rarified world where time stands still. These quiet moments, encased in pristine Swissness, nurture her soul, giving her the inspiration to continue solving the enigmas of the universe.
CERN, Higgs boson, Large Hadron Collider, Science, Alison Lister
An Artistic Dialogue
A COLLABORATION WITH SWISS ARTIST MANON WERTENBROEK, IN DIALOGUE WITH NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE.
MANON WERTENBROEK X NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE
La Prairie celebrates the lasting influence of Niki de Saint Phalle’s work through a collaboration with Swiss artist Manon Wertenbroek, resulting in the creation of a series of exclusive artworks.
Ms Wertenbroek has created works for La Prairie that pay tribute to indulgence, aesthetics and technological, cutting-edge techniques. All three pieces pay homage to cobalt blue, a colour omnipresent throughout the body of work of Niki de Saint Phalle, another avant-garde female artist with Swiss ties and a key artistic influence for La Prairie.
Engendering a dialogue between the works of these two pioneering artists, an installation featuring Ms Wertenbroek’s three works is presented alongside Niki de Saint Phalle’s iconic Pouf serpent bleu at the 2018 edition of Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland.
THREE EXCLUSIVE WORKS OF ART ON SCIENCE, AESTHETICS AND INDULGENCE
In "Mirrors", Ms Wertenbroek explores the infinite relationship between two reflective surfaces rising to the eye. The reciprocity is further enhanced as a pair of faces and hands that denote an exchange of ideas and knowledge.
In "Blue Portrait", an empty, undrawn face of another confronts us, forcing us to create our own image. A second look reveals that the blue of the figure's hair splits and fragments, appearing on competing planes. As with any social interaction, closer scrutiny leads to an ever-multiplying chain of reflections. The technology used to create this effect speaks to Ms Wertenbroek's adherence to pure, precise elements of design.
In "Window Glimpse", deeply traced lines recall the parallel frames of so many lined-up windows. The organic, hand-drawn forms of flowers soften this hard angularity, recalling the stolen glimpses we have of ourselves as we catch our reflection in a shop window, hoping no one notices the momentary indulgence.
NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE AND LA PRAIRIE
A groundbreaking 20th century Contemporary artist, Niki de Saint Phalle is a key artistic inspiration for La Prairie; her striking use of cobalt blue throughout her work is the inspiration for the rich, translucent cobalt blue vessels of the La Prairie Skin Caviar Collection.
The origin of this inspiration is a story of serendipity. It the early 1980s, the La Prairie creative team shared offices with the fragrance house producing Ms de Saint Phalle’s namesake scent. In observing Ms de Saint Phalle’s work on her fragrance bottles, they had an epiphany: her signature cobalt blue, the colour of opulence, of royalty, of serenity, was precisely the colour needed to express the indulgence of what would become La Prairie’s icon. In collaboration with Ms de Saint Phalle and her fragrance team, they chose this sublime, rich hue for the very first Skin Caviar jar.
Manon Wertenbroek, Niki de Saint Phalle, Art Basel, Art
Infusion of Light
On the occasion of the launch of White Caviar Illuminating Pearl Infusion, La Prairie has selected works by six Swiss artists that interpret the topic of light. Entitled “Infusion of Light”, the digital takeover featuring daily posts will run on the @laprairie Instagram account from Monday March 27, 2017 to Sunday, April 2, 2017 inclusive.
For the duration of the week, the @laprairie account will be transformed into a temporary digital exhibition. Each post will feature one piece of art accompanied by a short description and artist bio, along with a video of the artist speaking about the use of light in his or her work.
The focus on Swiss artists is a conscious choice rooted in La Prairie’s Swiss heritage. The artistic collaboration is in keeping with the Brand’s enhanced relationship with the world of contemporary art.
Jacques-Aurélien Brun, born 1992 in Lausanne. Lives and works in Lausanne.
After Anna, 2015
Christian Herdeg, born 1942 in Zurich. Lives and works in Zurich.
Magic Circle meets Square, 2012
Fluo acryl color, blacklight tubes
152 x 152 x 7 cm
huber.huber, Reto and Markus Huber, born 1975 in Münsterlingen. Live and work in Zurich.
Collage: book clippings, varnish, on cardboard
A4, A3, A2
Zilla Leutenegger, born 1968 in Zurich. Lives and works in Zurich.
Lucellino (small light), 2006.
Video installation with drawing on paper.
19th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, 2014
Ugo Rondinone, born 1964 in Brunnen. Lives and works in New York.
Everyone Gets Lighter, 2004
Sculpture, neon, perspex, translucent foil and aluminum
414 x 950 x 15.2 cm
Manon Wertenbroek, Swiss/Dutch artist, born 1991 in Lausanne, grew up in Switzerland. Lives and works in Paris.
I saw you smile yesterday, 2017
To discover more about the illuminating work of these groundbreaking Swiss artists, please visit the La Prairie Instagram account. Click here
Art, Light, Liquid Light, Christian Herdeg, Jacques-Aurélien Brun, Manon Wertenbroek Post, Zilla Leutenegger, huber.huber, Ugo Rondinone, White Caviar Illuminating Pearl Infusion
Rituals of Extraordinary Performers
In an often frenetic world, rituals offer a sacred moment of calm and quiet. They are about indulgence – luxuriating in a moment for oneself, taking time to enjoy little pleasures – but they are also about taking care of oneself and restoring vital energy and focus.
For many artists, rituals are an essential part of their performance. Whether their habits help calm the mind or give a boost of confidence before taking the stage, performers often observe unique, deeply personal pre-stage routines. La Prairie sat down with two seasoned musicians to discuss the art of ritual and why it plays an important role in their craft.
Photo: courtesy of the artist; © Marco Caselli Nirmal
ETIENNE ABELIN |Basel | etienneabelin.com
A pioneering violinist and conductor, Etienne Abelin is reinvigorating classical music. Born in Bern and currently based in Basel, the Swiss star started playing the violin when he was just four years old and began conducting in 2011. His audacious ensemble project, bachSpace, is an innovative interpretation of classic music – the trio combines works by J.S. Bach with electronic compositions and remixes.
Etienne is electric on stage, putting extraordinary passion into every piece he plays or conducts. “All performances are different, so the mix of emotions is always different,” he says. “The goal is to get physically and mentally ready to be fully there, right from the first moment on stage.”
Etienne’s preparation for the stage happens long before he steps onto it. In addition to reviewing each piece of music mentally and visually in fast tempo, Etienne connects with his body through stretches and then with the other musicians through conversation. He believes it helps him get into an improvisational space.
Evoking this sense of both formula and fluidity is essential to his music. “I try to be as well prepared as I can without getting stuck and overly perfectionist,” he says. “A performance is like a living and breathing animal, it must be spontaneous and perfectionism is detrimental to that.”
Photo: courtesy of the artist
DEANNA BADIZADEGAN | San Francisco | deannabadizadegan.com
Originally from Massachusetts, this San Francisco-based violist started playing at the age of four and has been performing around the world ever since, from castles in Luxembourg to Carnegie Hall in New York. Now 24, Deanna seeks out performance opportunities that emphasise the joy, human connection and creativity that are the hallmarks of great artistry and shared experiences.
“My absolute favourite part of playing music is to be able to connect with people around me – both the other musicians and the audience – in a meaningful way,” she says. “There’s a special feeling that you get when you start playing and sense the whole room is listening.”
Part of that connection is preparation, she says.
Deanna has several rituals she has adopted over the years to get in the right mental space for the stage. “I like to do some deep breathing right before I go on stage, which helps quiet my mind so I can stay focused on the music while I’m performing.” And if there is enough time, she tries to attend a Yoga class. “It puts me in the perfect zone,” she says. The violist says anticipation for a performance builds over a few days and that small rituals help focus her excited energy and anticipation into concentration.
To integrate a ritual into one’s own day-to-day routine, it is best to focus on a particular moment or context in which distractions can be kept to a minimum. Favour rituals that help calm the spirit, provide a sense of pleasure and well-being and give back time.
Rituals, Indulgence, Etienne Abelin, Deanna Badizadegan, Luxury, Performers, Perfection, Art
INSIDE THE AUDACIOUS INTERIOR DESIGN OF LA PRAIRIE’S NEW STORE CONCEPT
LA PRAIRIE’S SUBLIME NEW STORE DESIGN OFFERS A RESPITE FROM EVERYDAY LIFE.
The spaces we inhabit are important; they impact our state-of-mind, our outlook, our attitude. In today’s busy world, calm and welcoming spaces can act as a soothing balm, instilling in us a sense of serenity.
This important insight has been fused into La Prairie’s new store design. With a nod to the luxury skincare brand’s Swiss heritage, the design incorporates the clean, pure aesthetic of Swiss Contemporary Architecture, creating beautiful environments in which to pause, peruse and feel pampered.
These elements have been actualised through the use of precious, natural materials and details which reflect the brand’s Swissness. Fine crystal, sleek steel and delicate paper have been used to craft sculptures placed throughout the stores and offer a clear vision of an uncompromised unity with the natural world.
“When we speak about Swissness, we speak about the expression of the landscape, perfection and precision, a level of luxury, refined manners and kindness,” said Stana Pijunovic, the Chief Architect of La Prairie, who was responsible for overseeing the new designs from concept to execution.
To illustrate the snow and minerality that dusts Switzerland’s mountains, La Prairie has worked with leading craftspeople to create sculptures fashioned from the whitest stone. The varying shapes of the stone pieces – some are circular while others are angular – create a tension between smoothness and roughness. Some pieces are integrated into the wall, others rest on table tops, further highlighting the tension. All are cut with precision – a metaphor for the nature of Swissness: a mix of the raw and the refined.
This three-dimensional artistic interpretation draws on the philosophy behind the school of Land Art, which takes materials from the natural world and reimagines them into pieces of art, using the land itself to form dazzling objects.
Another example of the Land Art inspiration evident in the new boutiques is a chrome and metal sculpture that represents the brilliant light that reflects off Lake Geneva. In addition to these artistic inspirations, the design of the space takes visual cues from the pure, minimal lines of contemporary Swiss architects such as Peter Zumthor.
As an interpretation of La Prairie’s precious ingredients, some of the stores’ sculptures are intended to represent the multi-faceted beauty of platinum or the audaciousness of caviar.
Of course, every care has been taken to create not only a beautiful environment, but also a sublime client experience in the stores. A sense of discretion is achieved through sheets of frosted glass that divide the space into consultation and treatment areas.
The intent behind this careful thought is to provide a sanctuary, hewed from wood, glass and stone: a nature-centric alternative to the harsh lighting and overwhelming bustle of most shop floors.
“Time is the most luxurious thing that we have,” Ms Pijunovic mused.
“Taking a few moments to be immersed in a calm environment can contribute enormously to our wellbeing. After all, we are influenced by the beauty of the space that surrounds us.”
Architecture, Store, Design, Switzerland
Majestic Matterhorn: Behind the Lens
A symbol of eternity and audacious beauty, the Matterhorn is the iconic image of Switzerland — one that represents La Prairie.
Such is the mountain’s breathtaking allure, it has been an inspiration to countless artists for centuries. John Ruskin, the great Victorian art critic and social commentator, declared it “the most noble cliff in Europe”. He not only painted the Matterhorn, he also took the first photograph of it in 1849.
The majestic mountain continues to captivate artists and audiences today.
Nenad Saljic’s haunting black-and-white photographs of the mountain have earned him two National Geographic Awards, and resulted in the honour of being named Professional Landscape Photographer of the Year at the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.
Nenad, who was born in Croatia, became enraptured with mountaineering on a school hiking trip when he was only 12 years old. Seven years later, he climbed Mont Blanc. But it wasn’t until his 40s that Nenad first set eyes on the bewitching Matterhorn Mountain.
“That was love at first sight,” admitted Nenad, who now lives in Zermatt, which boasts arresting views of the mountain. In 2009, he first began photographing the Matterhorn, a project that lasted several years until 2015.
The fulfilling endeavour resulted in several thousand portraits and his book "Matterhorn: Portrait of a Mountain." It features 43 black-and-white duotone photographs accompanied by a timeline of the most significant events in the Matterhorn’s history.
Photo credit: Nenad Saljic
“There are several aspects of the Matterhorn that have attracted me,” Nenad pronounced. “Artistically, it is one of the world’s most magnificent mountains – with its pyramidal shape and solitary position it could be considered an ideal mountain. The Matterhorn even produces its own banner clouds due to the special atmospheric conditions.”
Nenad is also attracted to its rich history. The Matterhorn had long been deemed inaccessible, and it remained unclimbed long after most of the other great Alpine peaks had been reached. Edward Whymper finally conquered the mountain in 1865, marking the end of the golden age of Alpinism.
“The triumph and tragedy of this feat marks the epitome of our human desire to explore and venture beyond our limitations, simultaneously reminding us of how great and how small we are,” asserted Nenad. “The Matterhorn is a product of geological processes that transcend human beings and our concept of time.”
Photo credit: Nenad Saljic
A trained mountaineer and caver, he has never climbed a mountain that has had such a pull on him. “I think there is a Buddhist saying that the best view of a mountain is not from the top, because once you are on the summit you cannot see the mountain itself. This is a nice philosophical excuse, at least,” he stated.
Eternally captivated, Nenad finds that time gradually slows down when he is working, and eventually seems to stop entirely.
Matterhorn, Switzerland, Photography, Artist, Nenad Saljic, Art, Portrait of a Mountain
Three Types of Wrinkles and What Causes them
The formation of wrinkles – the crepe-like crosshatch lines under the eye, crow’s feet, frown lines and creases around the mouth – are a result of various biological, hereditary and behavioural influences. And while some lines add character, others might appear earlier than expected or seem too severe, robbing the face of its vitality.
Not all wrinkles are created equal, however. To choose the wrinkle-fighting products best suited for individual needs and concerns, it is essential to first understand the different types of wrinkles and what causes them. Here, the three most common types and how to combat them – the starting line for a lineless future.
AGE AND GRAVITY
Research shows that cells divide more slowly as you age, causing the inner layer of skin to thin and become prone to damage and folding. Skin also begins to lose its elasticity. This loss of resilience and bounce results in lines and creases, particularly around the eyes, along the fold that runs from the nose to the corners of the mouth and along the jawline and neck. Over time, the downward pull of gravity accentuates these issues, allowing lines to settle in. Products that work to support the skin’s natural renewal process by promoting the production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid can help combat the impact of gravity on the skin.
Skin has a memory. Its cells track each smile, squint and frown, and with these habitual facial movements, expression lines begin to form. When facial muscular movements are repeated systematically, these lines become permanent and deepen with time. One way of guarding against expression lines is to impede facial muscle movement, but that requires dermatological procedures in a specialist’s office. Another effective way is to look for products that contain peptides that help to inhibit the signalling pathways of facial muscles, relaxing the surface of the skin and smoothing out existing expression lines – no appointment required.
For healthier, stronger, smoother skin, it is best to limit sun exposure. It is well documented that solar radiation causes skin damage and photo-aging. In fact, scientific studies show the sun causes more than 80 percent of visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging. Overexposure breaks down the skin’s underlying structure and affects its appearance, especially in sensitive, sun-prone areas like the cheeks and neck. Guarding against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays – the ‘aging rays’ – is fundamental to skin health, as both are responsible for long-term damage, including wrinkles. Scientists have also recently learned that within the solar spectrum, longer wavelengths such as Infrared Radiation (IRA) have been shown to alter the collagen equilibrium, while decreasing the synthesis of collagen itself. Choose products that contain an SPF of 30 or more with UVA, UVB and IRA protection to stop premature aging due to sun damage.
Simon, Harvey (2012). MD, Editor-in-Chief, In-Depth Reports; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Skin wrinkles and blemishes.
Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze S, Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot B (2013). Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2013;6:221-232. doi:10.2147/CCID.S44686.
Keywords: Lines, Wrinkles, Science, Aging, Expressions Lines, Gravity, Skin Care, Line Interception Power Duo, UVA, UVB, IRA, SPF, Sun