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Jan 5, 2006

End of Year Festivities in St. Barth

Cartier St Barts
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For the last three weeks of the year, the island was busy with a hectic schedule of openings and special events. On December 10, Loulou Magras, an unusual island native who is an amateur photographer, presented an exhibition of photos and aquarelles from his recent trip to the Azores, at his gallery Porte 34 (formerly Baghdad Gallery). Also passionate about sailing, Loulou frequently takes off to visit various parts of the world aboard Pluto, a 35’ traditional sloop. Last spring he set sail for the Azores with his wife, Jenny, an acclaimed painter and potter. The couple fell under the charm of these Portuguese islands, where they stayed for three months. During their stay, Loulou took extremely realistic photos with a simple disposable camera, while Jenny created a travel journal in watercolors. The result provides a double optic on the islands: Loulou’s photos capture the light and colors while Jenny provides a personal vision of the places they visited On Friday, December 16, a crowd gathered at Central Barth Gallery (near Ti Zouk Café) for the opening of “In or Out of Africa,” an exposition of new work by Hélène Michel Donadieu. She has created spectacular collages that bring the animals of the African continent to life. The next day was the turn of The House, a furniture and interior decoration store in Gustavia, where owner Mike Polain and his staff welcomed friends and VIPs to the opening of the exhibit “A la rencontre du Buddha.” Mike, and his girlfriend Olivia, presented superb statues and antique icons of Buddha from Burma, Thailand, and China. Collected by the couple during their voyages in Asia, the objects are made of bronze, marble, or wood. December 22 was the date for a special event at the Carré d’Or in Gustavia, where the space was transformed for the inauguration of the new Cartier boutique. The facades of the buildings, including the Calypso, Ralph Lauren, and Roberto Cavalli boutiques, were covered with red fabric, the signature color of Cartier. A tent stretched between the buildings protected the guests from a rain shower, and the ground was covered with a red carpet. The décor included soft lighting, sumptuous candelabras hung in the air, and photos of the most incredible “baubles” by the renowned French jeweler, making it feel as if one were in the middle of a large party space. Christophe Maincourt, regional president for Cartier in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Jean-Marc Gréaux, owner of the store, welcomed more than 450 guests. In keeping with the new concept developed by Cartier for all of its stores, the boutique in the le Carré d’Or has been completely redecorated (walls covered with light wood, additional windows) and enlarged to include the first floor, doubling the size of the jewelry store December 23, back to Porte 34 Gallery for AQUA, a joint exhibit by photographer Philippe Hochart and painter Jean Verecchia, where the work had a water theme, from large photographic images to colorful paintings, all with a touch of blue. On Monday, December 26, Jeffery Dread, artist and founder of the web site, photovibe.com, presented “Hip Rock Hollywood Icon,” an exhibit of his work at Nikki Beach, showing pop-style portraits of such stars as Bono, Mick Jagger, Sophia Loren, Sharon Stone, and Giorgio Armani. On December 27, the American owners of Me-di-um, a new art gallery located above the Dior boutique, organized a cocktail party to mark the opening of this new “temple” of contemporary art. More than 800 people attended a special event at Bulgari on Wednesday, December 28. The goal of this annual party, held at the same time every year, is to introduce the latest collections to clients, as well as entertain friends, with a large mix of people at the Cour Vendôme, where residents and American visitors meet and greet. This year’s theme was flowers, and the entry was flanked by two large fir trees covered with silk flowers in various shades of red, pink, orange, and violet added to the ambiance, with the same kind of artificial flowers inside the boutique creating a large springtime wall mural. The next day, the Chopard boutique organized a very private cocktail party for 20 special guests. One of the last events of the year is the annual New Year’s Eve Regatta, a nautical parade around the island. Organized by Mark, the skipper of Mischievous, a 65’ sloop, in collaboration with the St. Barth Yacht Club and the Port of Gustavia, the parade had over 30 boats of various sizes, from 15’ to 150’ in length. The staggered start times began at 10am and continued until 11:45am, with times assigned based on the size and speed of each boat. The goal of the organizers is that the boats arrive almost all at the same time for a spectacular finish. Leopard of London, a modern 97’ sailboat, was the last to leave the starting line and the first to cross the finish line, making it around the island in 2h 5min. In spite of its speed, Leopard did not beat the record of 1h 32min, set last year by Vision, a 147’ white sloop. In the class for boats of 50’ to 90’ the winner was Carrera, an impressive Wally 77 with a gray hull and black sails, which eventually passed almost all its competitors. The day concluded with a fireworks display over the harbor at midnight as the yachts provided a concert of horns to celebrate the New Year.

Much happiness, love, and prosperity for 2006!

Cécile Lucot


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