The most venerable star in this week’s issue is Lombard Odier, the global wealth and asset management group founded in Geneva in 1796. One of the oldest private banks in the world, it received Napoleon Bonaparte and his officers as they returned from Italy in 1800 – and it’s still formidable: the group had total client assets of SFr308bn (about £276.6bn) in June 2023. 

Smart looks you can bank on in Geneva
Smart looks you can bank on in Geneva © Tess Ayano

The bank moved to its current premises on Rue de la Corraterie in 1858, and several years ago I had the chance to visit and take part in a panel discussion about the state of luxury. Mostly, I was distracted by the uniform style of the attendees (each of whom wore a dark tie and very sober suiting), and by the building’s ornate craft details. Swiss banker style was a “thing” this season, and where better to show it off than here? As the backdrop for a story about professional women’s fashion, Lombard Odier lends an austere majesty to the frame.

Three generations of the Brandolini d’Adda family at home in Venice
Three generations of the Brandolini d’Adda family at home in Venice © Stefan Giftthaler

Another illustrious centre, Venice, and the Palazzo Giustinian Brandolini, home of the nonagenarian Countess Cristiana Brandolini d’Adda. This indomitable matriarch was born Cristiana Agnelli, the sister of Gianni, and is a scion of the founding family of Fiat SpA. She’s also extremely fabulous; as Maria Shollenbarger observes while on a visit, her home is packed with “Cecil Beaton portraits and Capote Black and White Ball snapshots attesting to her social power”. Today, the palazzo is shared by multiple Brandolinis, including Cristiana’s granddaughter Coco and her three daughters – Nina, 13, Lea, 10, and Cora, six – who sometimes occupy its upper floor. The house, her grandmother and the Venetian surroundings have inspired Coco’s brand d’AddA, a clothing and accessories line. Maria went to see the family as they modelled pieces from the collection, many created from found or vintage pieces or informed by traditional local crafts. Photographed by Stefan Giftthaler, it’s a charming portrait of a multigenerational family. Cristiana and Coco share a unique aesthetic and love of beauty, for which Coco is quick to credit her grandmother’s influence. Replies Cristiana: “She was my first grandchild, and in a way my first girl, given I had had four sons. I perhaps had more time for her because of this.”

The indoor pool at SHA Mexico
The indoor pool at SHA Mexico © Maureen M Evans

If you’ve been to a hotel spa in recent years you’ll no doubt have noticed how times have changed. Where once services may have included an onsite sauna, wheatgrass shots and some dumbbells, the new breed of wellness centres now boast suites designed to boost everything from gut health to brain cognition and longevity. Kathleen Baird-Murray talks to those serving the new wellness tourist – an extremely discerning traveller – driving the emergence of these new-wave spas. It takes far more than a stick of celery to evince that feelgood glow in 2024.  

Loaves on display at Arôme bakery in London
Loaves on display at Arôme bakery in London

On the flip side: pastries. I am among those people prepared to spend up to 30 minutes queueing outside my favourite bakery (Layla in Notting Hill) to pick up my weekly loaf. And while the prices are high, the product is still exceptionally good. The sociological implications of queuing for “artisanal” products pose a conundrum – especially in these times when many millions have no other choice but to queue for hours for basic food. Is the queue a grotesque first-world indulgence, or does it make a broader point about mass manufacture and the desire for better-quality goods? Ajesh Patalay looks at the cult of the bakery, from Melbourne to Dalston. I’m not sure he delivers all the answers – but he still found some excellent croissants in his quest. 


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