MODERN YET FAITHFUL TO THE ORIGINAL
The Mulsanne is a prime example of how a traditional car design can be modernized while still remaining true to its original style. However, unlike some other luxury brands, Bentley has shunned all gimmicks and gadgets, choosing instead to focus on the marriage of exclusivity and superior quality with state-of-the-art automotive technology. And perfection takes time: More than 400 hours of craftsmanship go into producing a Bentley, in which every detail – over 120 possible exterior colors just as standard – unerringly reflects the wishes of its future owner.
PERFECTION AND EXCLUSIVITY – 400 to 500 hours of craftsmanship go into producing a Bentley. The same kind of flawless craftsmanship can also be found in Dunhill’s tailored clothing at Bourdon House in Mayfair.
The same principle is pursued by Bourdon House in London’s Mayfair district, where Dunhill is based in the former city residence of the Duke of Westminster. Tradition is very much the order of the day in a place where rare cigars are stored in a walk-in basement humidor, as heirlooms. Next to this is a private screening room with an exclusive Meridian sound system, its acoustics worthy of the Royal Albert Hall. The ground floor houses the exclusive men’s collection made from the finest materials: fountain pens, footwear and luggage – the fruits of hundreds of hours of craftsmanship.
CHILLING OUT AT VERTIGO 42 –
Bentley’s Head Designer is
looking forward to spending
time with his family:
It is also home to the world’s first and possibly only “biometric wallet”, which yields its contents to no one but the owner of the authorized fingerprint. Dirk van Braeckel believes that all of these precious items “share a search for perfection: from the first impression to the very last detail. The end result exudes an aura that is nothing less than breathtaking. That is emotion in its purest form.”
Emotions are also stirred by a visit to the Alexander McQueen Shop. McQueen, once the enfant terrible of the fashion scene, yet one of its most gifted designers, died in January 2010. His unique designs stood out with sheer individuality and nonconformism. Van Braeckel can readily identify with this: “Bentley builds cars like no one else – they are inimitable.” And more so today than ever before. The automotive aesthete firmly believes that joining the Volkswagen Group has truly rejuvenated the time-honored English brand: “Bentley has taken its inherent brand values and transferred them to the future.” Charisma, presence and individuality were perfected with “undying passion and even greater stamina”. Today, Bentley could well be said to be a byword for modern luxury. Or, as Dirk van Braeckel puts it: “Bentley stands for automotive emotions ‘made in England’”.
The doors of the Mulsanne close once again, keeping the hustle and bustle at bay. Once again, the overriding sensation is one of traveling in a classy living room, albeit with a 6¾-litre V8 engine powering its way through the London traffic. Sportiness is another original brand attribute revived by Bentley. “In 2002, we delivered a limousine to the Queen and won Le Mans a year later,” enthuses van Braeckel. “What other brand could manage that in the space of twelve months?”
ENDING THE DAY ON A HIGH NOTE
Not twelve months, but only twelve hours or so after setting off on our tour of London, van Braeckel is chilling out in Vertigo 42. Here, 42 floors above the buzz of activity on the city streets, the designer can finally unwind. His gaze wanders across a city that combines modern flair and tradition like no other. As the glowing colours of London fade into the winter evening, Dirk van Braeckel speaks from the heart: “I think that, in my case, luxury also means being able to spend time with my family. And enjoying a glass of something rather special every now and then.”
His preference is not served with salt and pepper, but comes chilled, sparkling with fine bubbles.