Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of October 24-28.
Beginning with an introduction to the raw materials of whisky — barley, water and peat — upon entering, guests to the Johnnie Walker House are taken through an “experience” that includes a detailed copper scale model of a Scottish distillery and high-tech, interactive sensory table that teaches visitors the fundamental aromatic and tasting notes of Scotch whisky. Finally, after having been filled in on the basics of whisky appreciation, guests are led to the third-floor lounge for a tasting session led by one of the House’s resident experts.
With whisky still more widely known as a mixer more than a premium spirit in China, and well-heeled Chinese still regularly opting for cognac or rare wines for personal enjoyment or gift-giving, can the Johnnie Walker House change perceptions of whisky and transform whisky culture in China? Jing Daily recently made a trip down to Sinan Mansions to put these questions to Lawrence Law, brand director at Moët Hennessy Diageo, at the Johnnie Walker House.
While some are placing bets that Chinese collectors will follow in the footsteps of Japanese buyers, who spent much of the 1980s scouring the globe for Warhols, Picassos and even Renoirs, not everyone is convinced. As Sotheby’s Asia chairman Patti Wong recently pointed out, Chinese collectors, like all new collectors, remain fixated upon Chinese artists as “all cultures start with their own art.” On the strength of growing demand, new Chinese collectors and even more established “super-collectors” have, in the space of only three years, turned the Chinese contemporary art market on its head, pushing out many of the formerly dominant Western collectors who originally cultivated the segment a decade ago. This surging demand has fueled a “second boom” in the Chinese art world, pushing prices for blue-chip artists to new highs in the years following the dip seen after the global economic crisis.
Currently, as author and art critic Barbara Pollack told the AFP, “Chinese collectors are basically looking at Chinese art,” a reality that pushed five Chinese artists to the list of the world’s top 10 last year, as measured by combined sales at auction.
Running from October 24 to November 2, Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week S/S 2012 launched this week at 751 D-Park in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone. Last night, members of the Jing Daily team attended the event’s opening ceremony, the Mercedes-Benz-sponsored Fashion Night Out. Featuring world-class supermodels like Karolina Kurkova and China’s Liu Wen, the opening ceremony also included the debut of the German label Schumacher’s S/S 2012 collection.
As Mercedes-Benz China president and CEO, Klaus Maier said at the opening ceremony, Mercedes-Benz sees itself as a trendsetter in the world of fashion as well as automobiles, adding that the partnership the automaker is forging with the Chinese fashion industry “will be written in the history of Chinese fashion.”
The high end of China’s wine market may still be the domain of French (particularly Bordeaux and, increasingly, Burgundy) wineries, but as Chinese drinkers become more savvy and gradually less label-focused, New World winemakers and those from lesser-known regions in France and Italy stand to gain. According to the London-based fine wine merchants Bordeaux Index, fine wine prices retreated 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2011, with Chinese demand for the highest of high-end bottles, particularly Chateau Lafite, showing signs of slowing after a nearly three-year-long tear. Chinese wine buyers were instrumental in the recovery at the top end of the market following the dip seen in the wake of the global economic crisis in 2008, with well-heeled drinkers and investors homing in on Lafite and other First Growths.
But now, due partly to the ubiquity, rampant counterfeiting and unsustainably high prices of Lafite and other high-profile wines, as well as interest in wine for drinking rather than hoarding, demand for mid-range wines looks set to hit new highs in China.
As Jing Daily reported this past April, Hong Kong mainstay and Richemont-owned high-end fashion house Shanghai Tang will soon vacate its longtime Hong Kong flagship location, replaced by the American brand Abercrombie & Fitch. Following a fierce bidding war between the two retail powers, Abercrombie & Fitch emerged victorious, though rent for the prime Central location rise 250 percent to HK$7 million (US$900,000) per month. While A&F might be willing to shell out such exorbitant rental costs to cultivate Hong Kong as its eventual launchpad into the Greater China region, Shanghai Tang — which also has eyes on doubling its locations in mainland China — has plenty to keep it busy.
Running through February 20, 2012, Shanghai Tang is testing out a new “pop-up” loft concept upstairs from its first location in the sixth floor of the Pedder Building in Hong Kong.