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Boodles Announces Use Of Single Mine Origin Gold By The Luxury Channel

Boodles Roulette Bracelet In Yellow Gold

Do you know where your gold comes from? As consumers, we are increasingly concerned about the provenance of the products we buy. However, the vast majority of the gold used in the jewellery industry cannot be traced to a known source and consequently any potentially negative impact of that metal cannot be known. In response to this, British jewellers Boodles has announced that the company now uses Single Mine Origin (SMO) gold in all of its jewellery.

Boodles Roulette Pendant In Yellow Gold and Boodles Woodland Pendant In Yellow Gold

“This is a very important step forward, both for Boodles and for our clients,” explains Jody Wainwright, Boodles Director, adding that the company is “delighted to be one of the pioneers in the jewellery industry, using SMO gold for all of our jewellery designs.”

Yanfolila Gold Mine in Mali

Sourced from the Yanfolila Gold Mine in Mali, SMO-certified gold provides an auditable chain of custody across the entire supply chain. Therefore, from mine to finished product, every gram of gold is documented and audited. SMO gold must adhere to a number of strict Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) policies and be mined in accordance with the World Gold Council’s ‘Responsible Gold Mining Principles.’

The entire process is controlled, starting from production at the mine, through to the smelting and refining processes, to the delivery of the gold to the Boodles workshops. Boodles’ customers will be able to access QR codes to give them a direct link to the source of the metal used in their purchase, as well as giving an insight into the impact that each purchase has helped to create through community and environmental projects.

Boodles has additionally partnered with Betts Metals, another British family business, to supply the SMO gold, thereby working towards traceability throughout the whole supply chain. The partnership means that Boodles customers can wear their jewellery with confidence, knowing that it comes from a responsible mine which actively contributes to the local region, both socially and environmentally.

For more information about Boodles, go to

Born Free – The Bitter Bond

Most lions in South Africa are born and raised in captivity. Keepers charge tourists to hug and take photos with them. Then, when they grow too big for cuddles, they’re sold to trophy hunters and shot in private game reserves. Not only is this inhumane practice legal, but it’s flourishing in South Africa. The Born Free Foundation wants to stop this, and put an end to lion farming for good.

Conservation Innovation By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel takes a look at the latest conservation innovations from around the world….

Brown Hyaena Density Survey In Skeleton Coast National Park

Wilderness Safaris is supporting Emsie Verwey and the Skeleton Coast Brown Hyaena Project, as she begins the first official density survey for brown hyaenas in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park. Wilderness Safaris’ Sustainability Fund has sponsored the funds required to purchase camera traps, memory cards and batteries, in order for this vital conservation survey to begin in one of the world’s harshest wilderness environments. The Skeleton Coast Brown Hyaena Project will help to close the gap on the scarcity of studies conducted on the brown hyaena of north-western Namibia. In order to further assist the research, Wilderness Safaris is also upgrading the Research Centre at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp to include a laboratory with microscopes, to aid visiting researchers and conservation students alike. The aim is for the Research Centre to become a hub of knowledge, contributing not just to local conservation efforts, but to the whole country’s as well.

For more information about Wilderness Safaris, click here.

Coral Propagation Programme At Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa has teamed up with Reefscapers to offer guest-orientated activities, specifically designed to help save the surrounding coral reefs under threat. The hotel is introducing a programme where coral frames are placed around the resort’s house reef, as a result of El Nino, which took place in 2016 and saw unusually warm waters cause widespread coral bleaching. Weekly interactive frame-building activities led by experts will offer hands-on experience in how to ensure marine wildlife can continue to thrive, whilst reducing your own coral reef footprint. The structures are built locally in Baa Atoll Fulhadhoo, providing an alternative business to the 250 inhabitants whose sole previous source of employment was fishing. As part of this initiative, Sheraton Maldives will also appoint a marine biologist to be stationed at the resort and conduct marine life educational workshops and guided snorkelling tours. It is hoped the coral from these frames will eventually grow onto the natural reef substrate and will improve the coral cover to build the marine habitat, increasing the number of species of fish and sea life.

For more information about Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, click here.

Marine Conservation Work And Eco-Initiatives At Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa

Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa has been accredited with Green Globe certification, one of the highest standards for sustainability worldwide. The hotel has implemented a number of eco-initiatives, including bottling their own water from Mount Dauban and a monthly “Sustainable Day” to get guests involved in their eco-programmes, such as: showering with a sand timer to reduce water consumption, joining in with beach clean-ups and participating in meat-free days. These new initiatives complement the positive work that Hilton’s Marine Conservation Society is having on the surrounding reefs and marine-life through its coral restoration project along the island’s north-west coast. Guests can snorkel along a 650-metre coral trail which highlights the beauty of the reef, and there is also the option to adopt a piece of coral from the coral nursery and track its growth.

For more information about Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa, click here.

Local Eco-Initiatives At Victoria Falls

With Victoria Falls at its highest water levels in a decade, serving as a reminder of just how important it is to protect our planet. Leading Zimbabwe hospitality operator, Africa Albida Tourism, is supporting a number of environmental organisations in the local community at Victoria Falls, including: Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (established at their flagship property, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge), Victoria Falls Recycling Plant (currently recycling plastic, paper and – in due course – glass and cans) and Victoria Falls clean-up campaigns. Africa Albida Tourism also prides itself on the eco-initiatives established at its four Victoria Falls hotels. Victoria Falls Safari Lodge was the first hotel in the country to employ an environmental architect and has set up a supplementary feeding site for endangered vultures in the Zambezi National Park. Five-star Victoria Falls Safari Club offers families the chance to try their Ethical Arts Package, with workshops including: a painting trip to a local Elephant Sanctuary; sculpture-making using recycled tin cans; an introduction to animal conservation; and a tour of Victoria Falls.

For more information about Africa Albida Tourism, click here.

Elephant Conservation Efforts At Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Providing a safe and secure habitat for elephants, the main focus of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is to promote human-elephant co-existence, monitoring the movement of herds, as well as ensuring landscape connectivity. Over 30 years of investment and commitment has allowed the team based at the Conservancy to continually record increasingly stable and rising wildlife numbers. In particular, conservation efforts by Lewa to save Africa’s iconic elephants are yielding positive results. Across a five year period, data collected from the Laikipia-Samburu-Marsabit ecosystem – regions surrounding and connecting to Lewa – showed a 12% increase in the elephant populations across the landscape.

For more information about Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, click here.

David Yarrow – A Moment of Reflection By The Luxury Channel

“The Girl On The Hill” by David Yarrow

For over two decades, legendary British photographer David Yarrow has been putting himself in harm’s way to capture some of the world’s most revered and endangered animal species. With his images heightening awareness of endangered species and also raising huge sums for charity and conservation, he is one of the most relevant photographers in the world today. Yarrow offers a balanced retrospective between his spectacular work in the wild and his staged storytelling work that has earned him wide acclaim in the fine art market. Whether it be in the wilds of Alaska or an old saloon bar in Montana, the danger is laced through every photograph – Yarrow has been held at gunpoint in South Sudan, waded through the crocodile-infested Nile, and had to remember the advice of “if you run, you’ll die.” Yarrow uses remote control cameras and enticements to bring polar bears, lions, and tigers to his camera for face-to-face confrontations. Every image is the result of hours of logistical preparation and deep psychological knowledge of his subjects. His love of Africa is evident, and he has donated over $1 million towards conservation.

The current crisis due to COVID-19 has seen Kenya close its borders and all international passenger flights into the country have ceased, resulting in a halt to Africa’s critical tourism industry virtually overnight. The cessation of tourism and global economic fall-out is not only leading to large-scale job losses across Kenya but also wildlife conservancies, such as Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, are experiencing an immediate and massive drop in tourism revenue which supports wildlife conservation and vital community programmes. We asked David to tell us, as an artist used to travelling the world, how he feels about these challenging times and what was foremost on his mind:


“I used to keep a finely tuned diary and knew where I would be every day for the next four or five months. Yet today, I have no plans for the next four or five months. This situation is the same for hundreds of millions of people across the world.

It is a time to stay safe and take stock. As an artist, this is an opportunity to rejuvenate and spend time with the family. When I am away, my opportunity cost is the family and they are the oxygen that gives me creative courage and confidence. Without that supply, I am not well equipped to do what I do.

I hope this will be the last time in my life that I am unable to work for a long period of time and if it is, I must make the most of this period and adapt and find good in a bad situation. And there is indeed so much good to find.

“Africa” by David Yarrow

I am a storyteller who makes pictures rather than necessarily takes them, and this hints at desk-based research and finding prompts from the works of others and indeed the prompts of everyday life. There is no shame in this; after all, Ansel Adams, America’s greatest photographer wrote: ‘You don’t take a photograph with a camera; you bring to the art of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard and the people you have loved.’ What he was instructing us was that photography is about the soul, not the camera, and this is a time for nurturing the soul and forgetting about the camera. Its time will come again.

When I think of the works of others right now, I think of Peter Beard, an iconic artist, who has sadly just passed away. His work in Kenya has always inspired me because he was so much more than a photographer of wildlife. He collaborated as well as anyone on the ground and those partnerships allowed his work to transcend.

Kenya is much in my thoughts, as it has lost its tourist income and with it a huge source of support for organisations such as the Kenya Wildlife Service, who are on the front line in conservation. For those that care about conservation and can afford to go to Kenya, they must please return at the earliest available opportunity.

I don’t know what I am doing for the next four or five months, but what I do know is that the first time I can fly to Kenya, I will. I feel a calling.”

– David Yarrow

For further information about David Yarrow’s work, please visit To find out more about supporting Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, read our article here.

The Legacy of Christian The Lion By Fiona Sanderson

A Lion Called Christian – An Illustrated Legacy (cover image © Derek Cattani)

The Luxury Channel caught up with John Rendall and Derek Cattani to hear the incredible story of Christian the lion, who was bought originally by Rendall and his friend Ace Bourke from Harrods in London in the 1960s for 250 guineas. Christian lived his early life in Chelsea, travelling by Mercedes and eating in the finest restaurants before his eventual release into the wilds of Africa. The film of John and Ace’s reunion in 1971 with Christian the Lion has gone viral with more than 100 million views on You Tube alone. Rendall has continued to keep Christian’s legacy alive and continues to raise awareness of the threat to lions and wildlife. He helped found the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust which today manages Kora National Park in Kenya, and Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, which is recognised as one of the most successful conservation projects in Africa. John is also Patron of Lion Aid. Derek Cattani is an award-winning international photographer, who photographed Christian in his early career, and who went with Rendall and Burke to Africa in 1972, when they returned to find Christian. Here, the two men tell us their remarkable, incredible true story….

“The King of The Jungle Meets The King of The Race Track” – Christian and James Hunt, F1 Champion (image © Derek Cattani)

How did you come to acquire Christian in the first place?

JOHN: Ace and I bought Christian at Harrods when we were living in Chelsea. I’d come from Australia to London because that’s where everyone wanted to be. You know, this was swinging London and everything was happening here – fashion, music and art. One of the things we hadn’t planned to do, however, was buy a lion, but we walked into Harrods and there were these two lion cubs for sale. After some negotiation, we managed to secure the purchase of one of those lions. In those days, Harrods closed at 5:30pm every afternoon, but we were able to go in and play with them after hours. It was then that we realised pretty quickly that two lions would be too much to look after, so we just bought the one lion cub, and we called him Christian. It was shortly after that that Derek came into the picture. He’s an extremely experienced professional photographer who came to a party one night and asked me if he could take pictures of Christian. So, thank heavens we now have this wonderful record of Christian’s life.

DEREK: I was a young freelance Fleet Street photographer and always on the hunt for an interesting picture story. When I heard John and Ace’s story, about buying a lion from Harrods and taking it for walks down the Kings Road, I just knew I had to meet this cub.
He was then a three-month-old cuddly cub with the most amazing eyes and sharp teeth. I realised that I would have to get to know this beautiful little cub if I was to get good photographs so instead of grabbing my camera and shooting away, I just sat on the floor and watched him, and waited. Eventually curiosity overcame him and after a short while, Christian inched his way towards me and then pushed his head onto mine. John explained that this was a sure sign of welcome so over the following weeks, I made regular visits and slowly gained Christian’s trust, and John and Ace’s approval of my patient attitude towards Christian. They saw that I was not just after a snarling one-off picture of him for a newspaper feature, so offered me the job as Christian’s official photographer. He was such a loving animal with such piercing eyes, they could almost look through you. I remember being in the Sophisticat furniture shop [on the Kings Road in Chelsea, where Rendall worked], which was very popular in those days, and John sold this particular table to a lady in Chelsea when Christian ran out, jumped on the table and scratched it all the way down. John was freaking out, saying, “God, what are we going to do?!” So he says to the lady, “I’m terribly sorry, but we can’t deliver this table to you today.” And she said, “why not?” And John said, “Because Christian jumped on it and it’s scratched all the way down the middle!” Despite the scratches, the lady insisted on taking the table and still has it today.

Christian in the Chelsea flat, Kings Road, Chelsea, London (image © Derek Cattani)

What problems did you face day-to-day with Christian?

DEREK: Christian became quite expensive – pieces of meat and big bones which we got from the local butchers’ plus various amounts of high protein mixtures from the pet shop and stuff like that. I said to John, you know, we’ve got to get some money going on here. There was always a quirky thing around Easter time where the newspapers used to try and out-do each other with pictures of pussy cats and rabbits and chickens being hatched. So I said, what about a picture of Christian? I went to my sister’s farm and she got some chicks for me. I rushed back to London where John was waiting for me, and we put Christian up on the table and put the little chicks around him and he didn’t touch one of them. They were all absolutely perfect. Some had actually just hatched as well. I don’t know what the chicks thought of actually seeing a lion for the first time ever, but we were paid very well for the picture. It was published in all but a couple of the national tabloids, but we never pushed Christian to do anything he didn’t naturally want to do.

JOHN: We also did a picture with our friend James Hunt, who at the time was just starting his racing career. We took Christian down to see James and the caption was “The King of The Jungle Meets The King of The Road.” It was a fun thing to do, and a lot of fun with James, and it was a lovely picture to give to the newspapers.

“Easter Surprise” – Christian with Easter chicks, Kings Road, Chelsea, London (image © Derek Cattani)

When did things change for Christian?

JOHN: He was really getting a little bit too big to be living in the shop. When he was smaller, people would come in and say, “Oh, we just want to come and see him!” But when he got to this stage, suddenly people would say “I think I’ll come back tomorrow.” It was at this point when Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers came in, who made Born Free. They came into the shop to buy a table and I said, “Mr. Travers, I think I’ve got something more interesting for you.” They came downstairs to meet Christian and they were quite astounded. You would never know what a tough time they had making Born Free. They were both injured by the lions. They were circus lions and so, behind every shot, there was someone with a whip who could control them. It was a very difficult film to make and they both did an extraordinarily good job to make it look so easy. So they really couldn’t believe that Christian was such an amenable chap. They asked us what we were going to do with him, and at that stage, he was probably going to go to Longleat. They thought about it and contacted George Adamson in Kenya and said “look, we’ve run into a couple of guys. They’ve got this lion that’s a year old, but he’s getting too big for London – what would you suggest?” By extraordinary coincidence, George told them that Boy, who was one of the lions that they used in Born Free, had been injured. So he was happy to rehabilitate Christian, as he needed to build a pride around Boy. He said to Bill, “Well, ask the boys if they would be happy for me to attempt to rehabilitate Christian.” The only thing was that Christian is a fifth-generation domesticated lion, so we had no idea whether he whether he would still have survival instincts. But that’s when the idea first originated in terms of taking him back to Kenya.

DEREK: We didn’t know what Christian’s chances would be in the wild, but we decided we would go for it because after all, George Adamson was the guru of lions. He’d rehabilitated Elsa with great success and we knew he was the top man for the job.

Christian with Ace and John in their Merc out for a drive in the Kings Road, Chelsea, London (image © Derek Cattani)

What happened when Christian went to Kenya?

JOHN: He was 35 pounds when we bought him, but he’d gone up to 145 pounds in a year – that’s how well-fed he was! We had to insure him for a million pounds, in case he did any damage. We arrived from England, and George was there and he just said, “You’re a very hairy lot, aren’t you?!” We took Christian for his first ride in a Land Rover – so no more Mercedes. So that was a bit of a shock for him! And Christian’s first night in Africa was slightly embarrassing – he had his head on a pillow with his paw in my face!

DEREK: Christian was completely happy for me to move him around and put him in the right positions to take pictures. That’s why we got some great photographs. There’s a picture of him first walking in Africa, and of course, he had to toughen his paws up. He’d been running around in Moravian Close in Chelsea on the grass and suddenly, he’s in Africa where the ground is very prickly and tough. So, he had to adapt. At one point, we were looking out over the Tana River, which is a beautiful wide river, but there were crocodiles and hippos swimming around and so he had to be pretty careful. But he was absolutely fascinated by it. Although he wouldn’t let the boys out of his sight. Christian would always be jumping up to make sure that John was there. It was sensational to experience.

JOHN: We had to take him for walks to toughen his feet up. There was a little lion cub called Katania that had been given to George and who was the first lion that Christian had seen since he was in Harrods. She was about the size of Christian when we first got him. In many ways, he was still a baby – he still had his petty spots on him – so it was quite fun. But it was a bit of a shock because Christian always had four meals a day and suddenly he’s out here, he’s eating his meal and this little cub comes and takes it away. What was that all about?! He had never experienced that before.

DEREK: George would take Christian, Katania and Boy, the lion that was used in Born Free, out walking every day. There’s a marvellous story about how Boy would walk first, then the little cub Katania, then Christian and then George behind with a gun, just in case something went astray. So one day they’re walking and see a rhino. Boy takes one look at the rhino and just veers off to the left, well clear of it, and Katania just follows Boy. But Christian’s never seen a rhino and keeps going. George thinks, “Oh my God, Christian, stop, stop, stop!” Rhinos, you know, are very short-sighted, so this one looks up and sees this preposterous cub stalking him. Next thing George saw was a huge amount of dust and Christian flying through the air. He doesn’t know whether it was horned or whether Christian jumped as the rhino charged past, but George was absolutely furious. Then he looked over and there was Boy, and Boy was looking back at Christian, and George said he knew what Boy was saying – it was: “you effing idiot!”

Christian in the Chelsea flat, Kings Road, Chelsea, London (image © Derek Cattani)

What was it like going back to Kenya after a year to see Christian?

JOHN: It was like when you walk into a room where you haven’t seen someone for a year, but you know that they’re pleased to see you there. It was like that, and it was fantastic to see him. We could tell he was fine and that he was pleased to see us from his body language – the only danger was, you know, he’s now over 250 pounds running towards us at 25 miles an hour!

DEREK: The reunion with Christian was fantastic and amazing, I remember that, but there is a really interesting photograph of one of the lionesses he was with. She’d never been touched by humans before and George said it’d be completely impossible for her to create a relationship with other people, as she had been mistreated in the past. So we would need to be persistent, as she never came into camp – she would be outside. But she came down with Christian and somehow, it was as if he could say to her, “listen, this is part of my game.” That is the extraordinary intelligence and power of communication they’ve got. George was so proud.

JOHN: George was building up the pride the whole time. Over the next 18 years, George rehabilitated 23 lions. When we first took Christian out to give to George, Joy Adamson was very cynical about the chances of doing it and she said, “you know, it’s just not going to work – he’s too fat, he’s too old.” In the end, Christian won her over and she couldn’t wait to be photographed with him. A year or so later and he’s now probably 350 pounds and absolutely getting to a point where he’s ready to leave his pride, which is what would happen in the wild. Every so often, he’d come back into camp and George was there, just to reassure him, but it was becoming more and more infrequent. This is exactly what George wanted to see. He would often hear Christian grunting from the bush as if just to say, “I’m over here somewhere.” He was a big boy by then. This is the last photograph we have of him, before he disappeared into the wild. He went upstream, crossing the river to find his own new territory. We know that his genes went on, but he was never seen again. He had a good life, probably up to 14 or 15 years old, as they do live that long. He certainly wasn’t poached because if he’d been poached, he would have been the biggest trophy in the whole area, and someone would have been bragging about it. So we believe that he did survive, and there are lions that turn up occasionally that look like Christian. But unfortunately, we don’t have his DNA.

DEREK: Christian was a good-looking boy, wasn’t he?

JOHN: Yes, although he was not a year-old cub when we rehabilitated him. He was like a two-year-old, because he had never missed a meal so we know his strength and his health was to his advantage. Why didn’t we let him loose in a different area? Well, because that was the only space that George was offered. Kora was a neglected game reserve, which had been underfunded and under-protected, and if it had been worth anything, they wouldn’t have given it to him. But what had happened was by the end, because of George’s work with Christian, the land became upgraded to a national park. So, it’s now called Kora National Park and in George’s biography, Born Again, he says it was all a tribute to a cheeky little lion from London called Christian. So that’s great. You know, I was talking the other night about the Kings Road. I said that you’ve got the history of the Kings Road, and you think of fashion and music and art. But actually, there’s a wildlife element because a former resident of the Kings Road is responsible for a National Park in Africa. It’s a nice little point this, yeah.

Christian Gives John A Welcome Hug

Christian gives John a welcome hug beside the Tana River, Kora Africa (image © Derek Cattani)


Christian The Lion: The Illustrated Legacy by John Rendall and Derek Cattani is published by Bradt Travel Guides, available in paperback for RRP £14.99. Readers of The Luxury Channel are offered a 25% discount. When buying from Bradt Travel Guides, use code: LUXURYCHANNEL25 once you have added the book to your shopping basket.

To purchase official prints of Christian, please visit

For more information and to donate to The George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust, please visit

Lyra In Africa – Educating Girls In Tanzania By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel meets Maria Spink, the founder of Lyra In Africa, to find out what prompted her to found the charity, and the innovative ways in which education serves as the key out of poverty….

What is Lyra In Africa, and what are the aims of the charity?

Lyra is a grassroots organisation working to educate and empower girls and women in rural Tanzania so they can choose the life they want to lead. Lyra’s tool for reaching this vision is first and foremost education and entrepreneurship training opportunities for girls and women. We are a registered charity in the UK and have a sister charity in Tanzania that implements our program. From a current situation where only 3% of students complete A-levels, Lyra’s vision is economically vibrant, sustainable rural communities where girls can complete secondary education and are allowed equal social and economic opportunities.

What motivated you to set up the charity?

I was working with a tree-planting company in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania , where I met some of our local labourers and heard some shocking stories from girls and women. There were two incidences in particular that will stay with me forever. I realised in talking to the women who worked for our company that in order for them to get work, they had to give sexual services to the foremen – I was shocked and reported this, naturally – but nothing changed. The other incident was when a head teacher asked me to support a bright, young girl of 12 years who was about to start secondary school – but her parents did not have enough money to pay for her school fees. I said I would pay when I came back the following week. When I came back, the parents had decided to sell her as a child bride to an old man in the village. I realised for the first time in my life that I could do something useful and bring about real change for these girls and women. That is why I founded Lyra with the help of two very close friends. As a Finnish woman, it really hit me that I had enjoyed free, high quality education all the way through university, followed by a successful career, never having faced similar situations.

Is it habitually always girls who are more maligned than boys when it comes to education in Tanzania, and why?

Boys and girls all face big challenges when it comes to secondary education. In Tanzania on a whole, less than a third of girls that enter lower-secondary school graduate with O-levels and less than 3% graduate from higher secondary with A-levels. In rural schools, we often find even worse statistics. But rural girls face continual risk of sexual abuse and pregnancy. One reason is the long distances to secondary schools, where girls are exposed to widespread sexual harassment whilst walking to school – adults often ask them for sex in exchange for gifts, rides, or money, on their way to school. Officials do not report cases of sexual abuse to police, and many schools lack a confidential mechanism to report abuse. Most schools force girls to undergo pregnancy testing and they expel girls when they find out they are pregnant. Once out, girls struggle to get back into education because of discrimination and stigma against adolescent mothers, financial challenges, and the absence of a re-admission policy for young mothers of compulsory schooling age. Girls also lack access to adequate sanitation facilities, a particular problem for menstrual hygiene, and often stay away from school during their monthly periods.

Our Lyra hostels provide safe accommodation for girls. Completing secondary education has been shown to strongly benefit the girls’ individual health, employment, and earnings throughout their lives. For example, Tanzanian statistics show that women with no education have on average twice as many children as those who attend secondary school. Given a choice, girls with some secondary education will have smaller, healthier and wealthier families later in life than their uneducated peers and will put their own children through school.

There are many reasons why girls in rural Tanzania are failing to access decent secondary education, but to what extent is this cultural, as opposed to purely financial?

I would say that very little of it is cultural. When I speak to parents, they all want to give their children the best possible education. But with large families and with mainly subsistence farming as their only income, it is impossible to send all their children to school. So poverty is definitely a key factor. Girls have value as brides or are often sent to work as “house maids” to large cities – and come back pregnant. One of Lyra’s entrepreneurship groups I visited in November had 19 female members, of which 18 were single mothers under the age of 25 years and all with similar stories of being sent away to work.

In a country like Tanzania, where nearly half of all girls are either pregnant or mothers by the age of 18, how do you go about creating an environment where you can educate them, not just intellectually, but also to stimulate them with the tools to become more affluent?

The girls and women we encounter are hungry to learn more – be it in school or in their work. They are asking for more training, be it agriculture, business or specific skills. Our entrepreneurship training for rural youth – called Imarika Kijana – specifically puts the focus on the girls to find what opportunities they have in their own villages and what their own assets are. Sometimes it is as simple as introducing them to new business ideas – as an example, we brought a basket weaving company into a village where women weave baskets to store their food in. None of them had ever thought basket weaving could bring them more income. Now these women are being trained to weave for a much larger market than their own kitchens.

How important is the incorporation of a digital element into the girls’ education?

We realised early on that giving the girls a safe space to live and study in was important, just to keep them safe and in school. But then we realised that the failure rates were unbelievably high across the schools, with up to 90% at O-level. We conducted some baseline tests and saw that, for example, the children’s level of maths was the same when they entered secondary education as when they ended 4 years later. Lyra’s digital element is therefore intended to address the quality of secondary education. Most of our partner schools lack enough teachers to cover all subjects, with worrying gaps in mathematics and the sciences. Students sometimes go for months without teachers specialised in these subjects, and must often find alternative ways to learn these subjects or fail their exams as a result. Classes are too large with 60 – 70 students on average. In addition, the schools lack adequate classrooms, learning material, laboratories, and libraries. Add to the mix that there is no electricity or Internet and you understand why few teachers want to stay in the rural areas. Our digital learning program is therefore for the use of the whole school, so teachers and students can use tablets and offline servers that contain world class educational material. It runs off solar power that we have installed in the schools. We have also incorporated a software package that contains the Tanzanian curriculum.

Girls who stay in Lyra’s hostels, however, get a better chance of using digital learning as they have access to the program in the evenings and over weekends. Since the start of the digital learning program, the best academically performing girls have been the girls living in our hostels. Another important aspect is the learning involved in terms of how to actually use a tablet in the first place. We hope to open the minds of this generation to 21st century digitalisation. Some of our students were afraid to touch the tablets for several months when we introduced the program in 2017, as they were told that the tablets would suck their blood or give them diseases. Breaking these taboos and giving them a chance to open their minds to the many opportunities that the Internet and a digitised economy bring are really important stepping stones.

What initiatives have you introduced, and what successes have you had with the project so far?

How much time have I got?! On the hostel side, the successes I am most proud about are that so far, more than 2,400 girls have stayed in our hostels with no reported pregnancies. We have now built 10 and will complete two more in 2020. Over 1000 girls stay in Lyra hostels annually. Academically, in two of our 10 hostels, we have seen girls for the first time ever graduate from lower secondary school and have seen significant decreases in the failure rates. We have created our own sustainable, low carbon hostel design that we have received a lot of praise for from the local government, and the villages we work with all love our design.

The coding clubs that we introduced this year have been so popular that we have not got enough staff to take on more members! Just this week, all of our six coding club partner schools were chosen for the finals of the Tanzanian Girls Entrepreneurship Summit. One of our coding clubs won second prize in the final – which is unprecedented and will serve as a huge boost for all rural schools!

Most of all, though, the highlight is always to meet the individual girls and women and hear their stories of how hard they work and strive for their own or their children’s future. I am humbled and privileged to know them and see their lives improve.

What are your future plans for Lyra?

We now know that our inter-connected, holistic 4-part model works. I believe it is cost-efficient and scalable. I would like to scale this across other rural regions of Tanzania.

What can a “sofa supporter” do to help with the work that Lyra undertakes?

Please donate via our website at I work pro bono and we have no full time employees in the UK. All our donations therefore go straight towards implementing our projects in Tanzania. If you want to talk about any of our projects in greater detail, please contact me directly at For £50, we can buy a tablet for our digital program, and for £80, we can buy a bed and a mattress for the girls. If you would like to support a girl who cannot afford to stay in a hostel, £160 pays for one year’s food and accommodation in a Lyra hostel. Please also come visit us in Iringa to see more of what we do!

Mwagusi Safari Camp – A True Wilderness In The Heart of The African Bush By Fiona Sanderson

Tucked away in the far north east corner of the Ruaha National Park, I came across the banks of a sweeping bend on the Mwagusi Sand River in southern Tanzania, which is where I found Mwagusi Safari Camp – hidden amongst the baobabs, volcanic rock and sparkling pink quartz. The Park, with its dramatic landscapes, has an abundance of elephants, well-maintained roads and few visitors, making Mwagusi the perfect camp for those wishing to experience a true wilderness safari. Situated far off the beaten track in Tanzania’s largest national park, the Camp is a rare gem on the safari circuit. One of the very few owner-run camps in the area, I arrived at Mwagusi Safari Camp to find a charming, small, exclusive tented camp of 13 bandas, which snake along the sandy banks of the river.

Mwagusi Safari Camp offered me a unique and comfortable tented safari experience, with a hint of understated elegance. Almost all of the camp is built from natural materials such as grass thatch, timber, drift wood, stones and reeds, allowing it to be in perfect balance and harmony with its surroundings. This well-established camp was first started in 1987, I am told, and it is an expression of the unwavering love and passion of its owner, Chris Fox (pictured below right), for the Tanzanian bush, its wildlife and its people.

“This is the Africa you imagine when you shut your eyes,” Chris tells me as we sit around the campfire one evening. “It’s real, rugged, wild savannah. There are moments of great drama, great beauty. The first rains are very dramatic, and there is always different light, or something different happening – huge lion / buffalo confrontations, for example, where you watch a pride of lions take out a buffalo and at the same time, the buffalo is attacking the lions. You really feel like you’re ‘in’ nature. I don’t think there’s any other place I’ve seen where you can get up in the morning and suddenly there’s an elephant walking past.”

Chris was born and raised in Tanzania, and is passionate about Africa in general and Ruaha National Park in particular. His knowledge of Ruaha extends back to long holidays spent camping in this area before it even became a National Park, and his family helped to ensure that the land was gazetted and fully protected in 1964. When he was a boy, he and his family were often the only visitors. As an eight-year-old, he would go hunting on foot with his father in this secret, unheard-of paradise. Apart from schooldays spent in Devon, he has known the Ruaha all his life and his passion for it shines through in everything he says and does. “As children, we were very lucky,” he smiles. “We could camp wherever we wanted and we could do whatever we wanted – life was completely free. But it was a very different life – sometimes, my brother and I would disappear for the whole day!”

Chris is notorious for his profound knowledge and experience with the wildlife, people and the land of Ruaha. He is best known for his deep understanding of animal behaviour, especially with wild African elephants, and has formed astonishing relationships with these incredibly intelligent creatures. “It’s not something that you could do now, but I could put my hand in her mouth and she would lick my hand,” Chris says of one particular pachyderm.

Mwagusi Safari Camp is renowned for its high-calibre of local guides and their in-depth knowledge of the African bush. Local Tanzanians benefit from an in-house guide training programme aiming to provide top-class guides with excellent wildlife and bush knowledge, who have an ability to read animal behaviour – knowing when to sit patiently and watch a natural sequence of events unfold.

It is thought that Tanzania has lost half of its elephant population to ivory poachers since 2007. I am told that at the Selous Game Reserve, the epic herds for which it was once justly famous have been all but decimated. Perhaps as a result of this, Ruaha now holds the record for the largest concentration of elephants in the country, as well as huge herds of buffalo, tracked by a tenth of the world’s lion population. Such abundance is always encouraging, but with it comes the responsibility of protecting it, a difficult task in an under-utilised park of this size.

“We have good, healthy populations of wildlife right now,” Chris tells me, “but things can turn on a sixpence and so it’s a bit unpredictable. Everything is ebbing and flowing, either influenced by man or nature. Here, elephants are given the ability to roam freely. They will destroy a bit of habitat here and move on somewhere else, and the habitat will regenerate after they’ve flattened it – you know, the trees and bushes – and then the grazing animals will come and feed off what the elephants have left behind. So there is a balance. It’s not a balance in the way that we would like to see things, where we count numbers and expect those numbers to stay the same. You will have the crises and you’ll have the droughts and you’ll have things die off. But the more we try to interfere with it, the more we make a mess and we think we know better. But we don’t know better. I’ve spent a long time around elephants and they are highly intelligent, highly interactive and have incredible memories.”

Part of Tanzania National Parks’ plan is to encourage visitors to Ruaha, which will in turn swell the park’s coffers and help pay for anti-poaching efforts. In the past year, the United Nations has helped fund road upgrades (the network, compact as it is, works brilliantly) and also train rangers whose job, other than to occasionally accompany walking-safari guides, is to patrol the park. “We have Tanzanians who are passionate about conserving wildlife in Tanzania,” Chris tells me. “What we need to do is just preserve the land areas as National Park status. I think in the immediate future, wildlife conservancies will play a role where governments are still a bit immature [about this issue]. There comes a point where we as a human race have to say, we are one planet and we’ve got to fund those places whose governments can’t afford to sustain them. Otherwise, we’ll lose the land and the animals, and we will all pay the price.”

To the relatively few who know and love Ruaha, its appeal as a first-class wildlife sanctuary has never been in doubt. By rights, with its diverse ecosystem, healthy wildlife populations and reputation for excellent guiding, it should be rated right up there with the top game parks in Africa. But so far, its safari camps have been mostly pretty basic, and run on tight budgets with nothing in the pot for improvements. With Mwagusi Safari Camp paving the way for attracting the tourists who will, somewhat ironically, be sustaining the future of the Parks (albeit through their wallets), perhaps hope is not lost just yet.

For further information about Mwagusi Safari Camp, go to To donate to the Southern Tanzania Elephant Programme, go to

Ol Pejeta – The Home of The World’s Last Two Northern White Rhino By Jane Montana

Situated between the foothills of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 364sq km wildlife conservancy whose game-to-area ratio tops the Kenyan park and reserve league. With over 10,000 large mammals roaming its beautiful landscapes, it is the only park where the “Big Five” and chimpanzees can be seen. It is also where the fastest growing population of rhino in Africa can be found. There are southern white rhino, more than 130 endangered black rhino and, housed in a special enclosure, are the two last northern white rhino remaining in the world. These last two females are the only northern white rhinos left, and once they die, the species will become extinct, unless there are significant advancements in developing specific IVF techniques. The northern white rhino is genetically distinct from its southern cousin, with smaller ears that feature longer hair.

Revenue generated from tourism supports Ol Pejeta’s conservation and community outreach work – ensuring a sustainable, tangible future for the wildlife and people that make this place so special. As well developing the funding necessary to pay for the wildlife conservation work, Ol Pejeta provides financial assistance to projects that assist the people living within the neighbouring communities. By the end of 2018, for instance, Ol Pejeta Conservancy had raised and dispersed over US$ 10 million in support of its community development programme.

Ol Pejeta is home to nine tented camps, lodges and homestays, each with a unique experience to offer visitors, and something for every taste and every budget. We chose Porini Rhino Camp for its reputation as a particularly eco-friendly camp and because it was situated at the farthest end of the Conservancy. The tented accommodation is very simple but authentic. The Manager, Paul, who was really delightful, told us that everyone at Porini Rhino Camp takes their light environmental footprint very seriously (the camp is one of only eight in Kenya with an Eco-Tourism Kenya Gold Award). Everything is solar-powered and there are genuinely no permanent structures – it is either removable or biodegradable. This means that the whole camp could be dismantled and within a season, the bush would take over and there would be no sign of anything left.

This pioneering camp appeals to keen wildlife enthusiasts who are environmentally aware and enjoy close cultural contacts with the local community. Porini Rhino Camp isn’t high-end luxury, but it is authentic in a beautiful, quiet corner of the Conservancy with a water hole and viewing platform which is exclusive to its guests. For us, the luxury was the experience. The tents are comfortable, and the furnishings are relatively rustic, but if you want to experience the bush and the animals without the likelihood of seeing other vehicles, and if you care particularly about good contacts with the local community, then you will love staying here. It is beyond beautiful, and very quiet, despite the wildlife all around. We saw jackals, giraffes, rhino and impala, all at home in their natural habitat, completely at ease.

As it was November, there was a chill in the air, so our camp staff boiled our water for some hot showers before a dinner of roast chicken and veg and steamed pudding – simple but delicious. Whisky in hand, we all sat by the fire and listened to the rhinos snorting by the water hole. The staff, all local, were genuinely friendly, and nothing was too much trouble. I got into bed snuggled up with hot water bottles and listened to the sounds of Africa around my tent whilst I drifted to sleep.

To really appreciate the wildlife work that Ol Pejeta is doing here, you really need to experience all the activities for yourself, so the next morning, we were up for an early morning game drive where we saw hyenas and their pups, buffalo wallowing in the mud, Thomson’s gazelles, many warthogs, elephants and giraffes, plus the Kori bustard (one of the world’s heaviest flying birds).

“Sudan” by Karen Laurence-Rowe

Everyone here is still recovering from the loss of Sudan, pictured below, the last northern white male rhino, who died in March 2018 surrounded by the world’s press, at the age of 45 (the equivalent of 95 in human years). He was gently put to sleep, the decision having been taken due to his overall deterioration as a result of age-related complications. The two remaining northern white rhino are his daughter (Najin) and granddaughter (Fatu).

We met Zack, who has been looking after the northern white rhinos for 10 years, and whose childhood dream had always been to work with these majestic creatures, after hearing stories from his father, who worked as a fencer at Ol Pejeta. Najin is 30 years old, while Fatu is 19, and Zack points out how they communicate through smelling and snorting. “I would describe such sadness at losing him,” Zack says of Sudan. “I grieved, as we were losing a loved one, but he was feeling lots of pain. It was very stressful for me and all the team when I knew it was the day.” Zack is very aware of the impact that humans have on the rhino and their environment – both good and bad – and is unforgiving when it comes to poaching. “Please, no more poaching anymore,” Zack pleads. “The more money the poachers acquire, the more money they want, and there’s no end. But it’s just paper. You don’t need to kill animals for it.”

All hope for the survival of the northern white rhino now rests on a pioneering project into IVF techniques being conducted at a leading zoo in Germany and a laboratory in Italy, backed by a group of scientists from all over the world. The Conservancy sent eggs there back in August. In September, Ol Pejeta announced that two northern white rhino embryos had been successfully fertilised. This development marks a turning point in the race to save the northern white rhino from extinction – but by no means does that mean that the species is saved.

The next morning, we went to Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, established with an agreement between Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The aim is to provide lifelong refuge in a semi-natural environment to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. Over the last decade, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary has been compelled to keep accepting chimpanzees rescued from traumatic situations – bringing the total number of chimpanzees in the Sanctuary to 36. Many are confiscated from cramped and unnatural living conditions, and many arrive with horrific injuries sustained from abuse at the hands of humans. Here at Sweetwaters, they get a chance to start over, and it is the only place in Kenya where non-indigenous chimpanzees can be seen.

We met Dr. Stephen Ngulu, pictured above, who is the head vet for all the animals at Ol Pejeta and whose work is diverse and sometimes dangerous. That said, his unrelenting passion for his work is obvious. He tells me that he loves working with wild animals, as they are highly intelligent but wonderfully unpredictable!

With 24-hour veterinary support and a stimulating quarantine enclosure, chimpanzees arriving at the Sanctuary are carefully nursed back to health. Chimps are, as it turns out, among the most challenging animals to treat because they are sensitive to immobilisation and susceptible to lung disease and pneumonia. When they are ready, they are introduced into one of the two large groups at the Sanctuary, who live in vast natural enclosures separated by the Ewaso Nyiro River. The chimps have set feeding times, and return to their indoor enclosures at night – but other than that, they spend their days exploring, climbing, socialising, and learning to be chimpanzees all over again.

Next, we went to meet the anti-poaching team, headed up by Emilio. His main concern is how big the poaching operations have become. “It’s a huge cartel,” he tells me, “and there’s lots of cattle rustling too, which we help with. But we have created a relationship with the community, and whereas before we had nothing, now we might get some intelligence, so we can warn the KWS, who come in.” The relationship is paying off, and the last poaching incident occurred two years ago. That said, Emilio and his team need more – more vehicles, more night vision goggles, more soldiers, more equipment, more dogs – specifically, springers, bloodhounds and Belgian Malinois. One suspects that they may have won the battle, but it is a long, hard road ahead to win the war.

The last word about my trip is from Ol Pejeta’s Managing Director, Richard Vigne. He follows on from Emilio, “It’s sad that it’s come to this,” he says. “The truth is that people are laying waste to the planet – it is the greatest extinction show that our planet has ever witnessed. We have to find harmony for the health of the planet.” Of Ol Pejeta, he says that “we have developed an integrated approach to land use that is a tool for ensuring productivity whilst securing space for conservation. If we can use the land and be productive, the chances are it will be more successful.” Here’s hoping.

Further Information

For further information about Ol Pejeta Conservancy, go to

For further information about Porini Rhino Camp, click here.

If you would like to support Ol Pejeta Conservancy, then you can do so by adopting a northern white rhino – click here for more information.

Ol Pejeta has also launched an appeal in support of the armed rangers – for further information, click here.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy – At The Centre of African Rhino Conservation By Fiona Sanderson

Once upon a time, Lewa was a humble cattle ranch. Today, it is a successful wildlife conservancy at the centre of African rhino conservation with a worldwide reputation as a model for wildlife conservation. The Luxury Channel headed to Kenya to uncover the human story at the heart of this fight to save  wildlife, and to see why Prince William chose Lewa as the place to ask Kate Middleton to marry him….

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is a 65,000 acre ranch and wildlife sanctuary situated within Kenya’s Lewa Downs. Located north of Mount Kenya, dramatic snow-capped peaks dominate the views to the south, while to the north, the terrain drops away with breath-taking views of Samburu and beyond to the Matthews Range. Lewa is one of Africa’s most beautiful game reserves, and is widely considered to be one of East Africa’s premiere conservation organisations with specific expertise in protected area management and community support. It is also, as it just so happens, where Prince William proposed to the Duchess of Cambridge.

Since the 1920s, Lewa has been home to the Craig family, and whilst a distinct passion for wildlife and conservation had been passed down from one generation to the next, it wasn’t until some 60 years later that a real effort to protect the local rhino population was formalised. By the early 1980s, it was uncertain whether any black rhinos would survive in Kenya. Poaching for horn had reduced Kenya’s rhinos from some 20,000 in the mid-1970s to just a few hundred. It was clear that the only way to prevent their complete extinction was to create high security sanctuaries.

In 1983, David and Delia Craig came up with the concept of creating a rhino sanctuary within 5,000 acres of the ranch. Together with conservationist Anna Merz, who provided the funds for the project, they set up a rhino sanctuary at the western end of Lewa Downs, populated initially with black rhinos, but later with white rhinos as well. The focus, always, was on protecting northern Kenya’s last remaining rhinos, particularly those whose survival in the wild was put at little more than a few months at the most.

Within a decade, the sanctuary had expanded to cover the entire ranch, plus the neighbouring Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve and Borana Conservancy. Today, it is a key location for spotting Africa’s “Big Five” – namely rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo. 14% of all Kenya’s rhinos live on the Lewa/Borana landscape, with 14 rhinos born here in 2017 alone.

It’s not just wildlife that benefits from the work of the Conservancy, however. Half of the annual budget is directed to neighbouring communities, positively impacting over 60,000 people. Lewa helps to educate some 10,000 students, brings accessible water and healthcare to over 50,000 people, contributes to the local economy through a women’s micro-credit program serving almost 2,000 women, and also supports sustainable farming programs.

As well as this, Lewa is noted not just for the way in which it uses world-class anti-poaching operations and cutting-edge technology, but also for how it ensures that the local communities are crucially engaged to support the conservation effort. The Conservancy’s renowned dog tracking unit aids the anti-poaching work, with these remarkable animals able to follow the scents which are left at the crime scenes and lead Lewa’s security team directly to the doors of the poachers involved. It’s been an incredibly successful programme – so much so that there have been no poaching incidents for several years at Lewa.

The eastern corner of the Conservancy is the Craig family home, and where tourists have been entertained in luxury for the past 30 years. There is a total of nine different properties to stay in, located across the Lewa/Borana landscape, each with its own offerings – be that adventure, wildlife or culture.

We wanted wildlife and adventure, so we stayed at Lewa Wilderness; “we” being myself and Karen Laurence Rowe, one of the world’s top wildlife artists. Lewa Wilderness offers an array of safari adventures in true style and comfort. The lodge is comprised of just nine exclusive rooms: six cottages tucked into the hillside overlooking Lewa’s Eastern Marania Valley, plus three garden cottages set amidst the beautiful green lawns.

We were up for adventure, and ticking off the Big Five was top of our list. At Lewa Wilderness, game viewing is not just done by vehicle. Activities on offer include guided bush walks, horseback riding, camel riding, and even a scenic flight in an open-cockpit Waco biplane!
Wildlife, including rhinos and elephants, can also be spotted wandering past the dining area, an open-sided room affording some seriously stunning views, where delicious farmhouse meals are served. The ingredients all come directly from Lewa’s organic farm.

Meanwhile, much of the furniture at the lodge is made in a local workshop, which employs and trains a small group of craftspeople to make some truly beautiful pieces, which can be bought by visitors and shipped anywhere in the world. We particularly enjoyed our visit to the spinnery, run by an inspiring group of women who were producing beautiful crafted rugs made from the wool of local sheep, which we later spied being used in the lodge.

From the moment I arrived, I knew that Lewa was special. It has unbelievable soul, and is as much a home as it is a truly unique safari experience, as it is a pioneering wildlife conservancy. Long may its incredible work continue.

Contact Information

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Isiolo 60300

For enquiries, rates and bookings, please e-mail

For more information, go to, or watch the film here.

Please support Lewa Wildlife Conservancy by being part of their Big Give Christmas Challenge. Give a gift through the donation page on their website and these funds will play an essential role in enabling Lewa to protect wildlife and addressing one of the biggest challenges we face – the human/wildlife conflict.

David Yarrow’s Pride Rock By The Luxury Channel

“Pride Rock” by David Yarrow

This Autumn, David Yarrow, the world-renowned fine art photographer, presented “Pride Rock,” a major exhibition showcasing his latest photographic works at the Maddox Gallery in Mayfair, in London. Featuring a bespoke selection of his most iconic photographs, “Pride Rock” highlighted the beauty of the endangered planet and the art of narrative as conveyed by one of the most evocative fine art photographers in the world today.

For more than two decades, the legendary British photographer has been putting himself in harm’s way to capture immersive images of the world’s most revered and endangered species. This latest exhibition of his photographs offered a compelling retrospective of Yarrow’s spectacular work in the wild, as well as his elaborate storytelling portraiture, and gave unprecedented access into his truly stunning archive.

David Yarrow’s Book

Widely heralded as a disruptor in the industry, the exhibition coincided with the release of Yarrow’s first photographic monograph in two years, featuring 150 of his most famous and iconic works during this time, balanced with a first-person narrative weaving through the pages.

“There are no universal rules in photography — only personal ones,” Yarrow revealed. “My central premise is that if photography was a language, then focus would be the most important word in that lexicon. Focus deliberately includes or it deliberately excludes, and it should be emphatically clear what the photographer is trying to say.”

“Africa” by David Yarrow

Recognised as the world’s best-selling fine art photographer of his genre, in recent years Yarrow has found his true comfort zone in capturing the animal and human world in a fresh and creative way, with philanthropy and conservation central to his passion to document. In 2018 alone, charitable donations from the sales of his images exceeded $2 million. Already serving on the advisory board of Tusk as part of his extensive conservation efforts to protect the natural world, in 2019 Yarrow teamed up with Land Rover in support of Tusk to raise awareness of declining lion numbers in Africa, by capturing a set of stunning wildlife images.

For further information about David Yarrow, go to, and for further information about the Maddox Gallery, go to

Blacklane – Cars With Conscience By Elle L

The boom of fast food, fast fashion and fast cars can be bewildering for the eco-conscious of us. The world is in chaos but most are unaware due to the constant churn of PVC ‘‘Barbie’’ dresses available for next day delivery online for the price of a cup of coffee. Most of these clothes end up in landfill. It’s nonsensical. This is just one of the reasons I have turned my head towards being an ambassador to sustainable fashion. More and more talk of ‘‘sustainability’’ is starting to emerge in the headlines, but now is the time for action. Beyond fashion, it’s so important to know what big and small changes we can make in our everyday lives to support a move towards a healthier planet. I’ve been seeking out sustainable solutions so I can live the good life without the cost to the environment.

In the last few months, I’ve had to travel and I am aware of my carbon footprint. My charity work has taken me as far as the natural jungles of the Amazon to the concrete jungles of New York. This is where I stumbled across Blacklane and their eco-conscious car service. It’s a great alternative car concierge app and really a favourite for me, as they have a fleet of Teslas and electronic luxury cars that make necessary trips both comfortable and less impactful to the environment. For rides in traditional chauffeured vehicles like Mercedes-Benz and Audi, Blacklane offsets the carbon emissions of all of its trips. Not just that, they are innovative with the app, which let’s you message your driver and they can track your flight so are already aware of any delays should they occur. The service is second to none and I recommend them as just one way you can choose better when next booking a car around town or to the airport.

For more information, go to

Mission Blue – The Luxury Channel Meets Marine Biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle By The Luxury Channel

For thousands of years, the world’s oceans have served the human imagination as a source of mystery and wonder. Indeed, it is often said that we know more about the furthest reaches of space than we do about the depths of our own blue planet! More than 96% of the biosphere is held within our oceans, and it is no exaggeration to say that human survival depends on their health. Yet from micro-plastics to over-fishing, the health of our oceans is very much at stake – and it is getting progressively worse.

Ahead of World Oceans Day on 8th June, The Luxury Channel spoke to marine scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle at the Royal Geographic Society in London. The President and Chairman of Mission Blue, Dr. Earle’s mission is to protect the blue heart of the planet. She is often referred to as “Her Deepness” or “The Sturgeon General” and is one of the world’s most eminent marine biologists, explorers and lecturers. She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998 and was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I like living,” she tells us. “But we are doing things to our oceans that is going to make that very difficult – for all of us.” Dr. Earle’s frustration is evident. “We’ve changed the ocean,” she laments, “especially since the introduction of plastics. You see it coming back to shore on beaches all over the world.”

Image courtesy of Dustan Woodhouse

It’s not just plastic pollution that’s causing problems. Over-fishing is also adding to the list of human catastrophes that are contributing to the rapidly declining health of the oceans. “We thought [the ocean] could just keep on giving and giving and giving, so we built bigger boats and developed more sophisticated fishing techniques,” Dr. Earle says. But in explaining the devastating consequence of having done that, she does not mince her words. “We are killing our oceans,” she says simply.

“Can there be sustainable extraction of wildlife from the sea?” she muses. “First, we have to protect what we’ve got, and we’ve seen a decline of 90% of the big fish – tunas, sharks, swordfish. We need to give them a break. Everyone can be a part of the solution by thinking of fish as wildlife, and making choices so that fish are alive instead of on our plates!”

Image courtesy of Johnny Chen

Dr. Earle is, however, hopeful that things can change. “We know what we’re doing is wrong,” she says, “and because of that, we have the ability to get it right – but time is running out and we have to act now.”

Dr. Earle has subsequently founded Mission Blue, which she set up to create a global network of marine protection areas, called “Hope Spots.” These specific areas have been identified as being critical to the health of the ocean. The team at Mission Blue, under Dr. Earle’s direction, subsequently work to garner support and safeguard these areas. As of 2018, Mission Blue had created 94 Hope Spots around the world, and Dr. Earle leads expeditions to them. Past expeditions include Cuba, Belize, the Galápagos Islands, Costa Rica and the Central American Dome and the South African Coast.

Gordon Radley, Dr. Sylvia Earle and Fiona Sanderson at the Royal Geographical Society in London

“Every diver, every person who gets in, on, around or under the sea should regard themselves as an ambassador, as a voice for those who have no voice,” Dr. Earle tells us. “Whether you’re a sailor, a surfer and certainly if you’re a diver, use your voice, use your knowledge. Who else is going to do it, if not you and if not now?!”

For more information about Dr. Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue, click here. See our reporter Gordon Radley’s video interview with Dr. Sylvia Earle here.

How Many Elephants – The Luxury Channel Meets Conservationist And Adventurer Holly Budge By The Luxury Channel

Holly Budge is the founder of How Many Elephants, an award-winning campaign raising awareness of the plight of elephants in Africa and funds for anti-poaching projects. A passion for fund-raising adventures has seen Holly gain two world records, including being the first woman to skydive Everest and race semi-wild horses 1000 kms across Mongolia in just nine days….

Your campaign, quite originally, seeks not to shock people with gruesome imagery, but rather to confront them with statistics – what prompted your approach, and why do you think conservation is so important?

How Many Elephants uses design to bridge the gap between scientific information and human connection in the field of conservation. My campaign is giving a voice to the critical African elephant crisis. Few people know the extent of the problem; 96 African elephants are poached each day for their ivory. At this astonishing rate, they will be extinct in the wild in the next ten years. I have turned this disheartening statistic into a powerful art installation that presents a physical commentary on the devastating impact of the elephant ivory trade, to raise awareness and funds to support anti-poaching projects. Part of the originality of this exhibition is in my approach to avoid gruesome and shocking imagery to portray the facts, because to actually see this data visually is very impactful. It is not about scaring people or assigning blame; it’s about raising awareness of the enormity of the poaching crisis.

Tell us about your experience working with the Black Mambas, the all-female front line anti-poaching team in South Africa?

I immersed myself with the Black Mambas to intimately learn what drives and motivates these pioneering women to pursue their multi-faceted roles as protectors, educators and beacons of hope. The Black Mambas’ work takes them away from their young families for weeks at a time, challenging the traditional status quo. Armed only with pepper spray and handcuffs, these women patrol hunting grounds of armed poachers who pose an imminent threat to the elephant species. They also strive to change attitudes towards the role of women in Africa and beyond.

You’re quite the adventurer, but what made you first decide to step outside your comfort zone?

I started life as an adventurer at an early age and spent a lot of my childhood in the outdoors. When I was 21, I did my first skydive whilst backpacking round New Zealand and was blown away by the experience and the fact that people were getting paid to jump out of aeroplanes for a living. My career’s advisor at school definitely hadn’t mentioned that as a possible career path! I decided there and then, that was the job I wanted. Six months later, with lots of training, dedication and hard work, I achieved my rather far-fetched goal and became the third woman to work as a free fall camerawoman in Lake Taupo. On reflection, I refer to this as the ‘‘boldness of youth,’’ as when I set myself this goal, I knew nobody in New Zealand, I knew nothing about skydiving and I knew nothing about filming! But none of that mattered – I knew I could learn all the skills I needed to get the job. This gave me immense confidence and self-belief that I can try and achieve whatever I set my mind too. I love the outdoors and the adventures that go with it. Being an adventurer has allowed me to travel to some of the world’s remotest and most inhospitable places. I have met some hugely inspiring individuals on the way and I really love the unknown element of adventure and travel!

You were the first woman ever to skydive Mount Everest, something I didn’t even realise was possible! What made you decide to take on such a challenge?

As a skydiver, I knew skydiving next to the highest mountain in the world was an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss out on. On October 6th 2008, I became the first woman to skydive Everest by successfully jumping out of a plane at 29,500ft, looking onto the summit of Mount Everest and getting a bird’s eye view of some of the most breath-taking mountain scenery before landing on the world’s highest drop zone at 12,350ft! It was an incredible experience. Jumping next to Everest – in excess of 140 mph – was a very different experience to any other skydive I had ever done and indeed, different to other high altitude jumps, because of the inhospitable terrain and conditions. The first difference, besides the exit altitude of 29,500ft as opposed to the normal 12-15,000ft, was the temperature. I was jumping in -40 degrees. To help with the biting cold, I wore a full-face neoprene face mask and a special insulated jump suit, so none of my skin was exposed. The second difference was jumping with oxygen. I had never jumped with oxygen before so this felt strange! I had oxygen in the plane for the 45 minute ascent from 12,350ft and then I switched to an oxygen bottle for the free fall. The third difference was the size of my parachute. It was three times the size of my normal chute but landed at the same speed due to the 12,350ft elevation of the landing area and the thinner air at that altitude. The last difference was the landing area. On two sides were 1000ft drop-offs to the valleys below. There were very few, if any, alternative places to land in this treacherous terrain, so it was imperative I made it back to the designated landing area. Thankfully, I made it back in one piece!

What challenges have you had to overcome to get to where you are today and how did you address them?

Listening to the naysayers who told me I lacked direction and purpose. Being an entrepreneur is tough; there is often no road map and sometimes this is hard to convey to others. It can be lonely too. I sometimes felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall and not making any progress but a small voice inside kept whispering, ‘‘keep going.’’ I did keep going and then started picking up momentum. Now I regularly receive public recognition for my work and I’ve learnt to be proud of the life I lead; being entrepreneurial, being an alpha female and living an unconventional life, rich in purpose, experience and passion.

What keeps you motivated when things get tough?

I’m going to answer this question looking through the lens of mountaineering. Life in the mountains is not for the faint-hearted! Everyday is a personal challenge and a reward. Keeping warm and in good health are up there but it’s the little things like feeling constantly grubby, putting grubby clothes back on after you do finally wash, valuing wet-wipes like gold, ridiculously bad hair days, broken nails, trying to accurately pee in a bottle in a tent in darkness, eating hairy spam, the list goes on! A positive mindset and an acceptance that nothing is perfect, normal or even comfortable at times is essential; however, the rewards are huge! The views, the fresh air, the intense sunshine are all spectacular but for me, the reward is knowing you can do it, knowing you can live for long periods of time very simply, without materialistic needs or familiar comforts and pushing yourself in ways you wouldn’t have thought possible before. Learning, growing and experiencing new things is my biggest reward.

What advice would you give to other women who want to have more adventure in their lives?

Think big, dream bigger and go climb your Everest, whatever that might be. Put in the time beforehand to get physically and mentally prepared so you know you can give it your best shot. I describe myself as sort of pretty normal, with a down-to-earth approach to life, and I do not consider myself to have a greater physical or mental advantage than most, so that begs the question – if not you, then who? If not now, then when? Act now!

Where is your favourite destination to escape to?

To the Himalayas. I could lose myself there for a lifetime; wandering, climbing, hiking, day-dreaming, sketching, writing and just being. I have spent a lot of time in the Himalayas already, with some big mountains under my belt, including Ama Dablam and Everest. I love the people, the culture and the energy.

Who inspires you and why?

I’m constantly inspired by people who are following their passions, as this takes courage.

For more information about Holly’s How Many Elephants campaign, go to Holly will be speaking at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 6th June 2019, sharing stories from the frontline of conservation – tickets are available here.

Fashioning Our Future By The Luxury Channel

The recent Fabric of Life Series, designed to highlight people and projects working to save species and ecosystems threatened by the fashion industry, was organised in order to provide a better understanding of the threats that the current fashion supply chain presents to people and nature, and to introduce innovative solutions to address these threats. In this piece, Jessica Sweidan, Founding Trustee of Synchronicity Earth, tells us more….

The Future Fabrics Expo, organised by The Sustainable Angle

What was the rationale for focusing on fashion through the Fabric of Life series?

With Fabric of Life, we wanted to create space, alongside experts, to dive deep, and reflect on how our everyday choices are directly related to nature. In a way, fashion is a brilliant metaphor for our current relationship to nature. On the one hand, it shows how rampant consumerism – our desire for more – has had a profoundly negative impact on the natural world: wetlands polluted, ancient forests levelled, major bodies of water dried up through overuse of chemicals for treatment and dyes, wood pulp for fibres like viscose, and our beloved, but very thirsty, cotton. These impacts – unless brought to the fore – remain in the back of our minds.

On the other hand, there is growing awareness about fashion’s negative impacts, and a desire to change. Designers, retailers, mills – everyone along the supply chain – is having to alter their approach. For me, fashion tugs on many aspects of what needs to change across society – across the globe – if we really want to realign ourselves with nature.

What do you think our relationship with fashion tells us more broadly about our connection to the natural world?

I think it shows us that we take much for granted. Where once our footprints were small by virtue of much simpler lifestyles, now industry, travel, technology and wealth have changed all that. We are operating way beyond our means, often without even knowing it. Over-consumption has become normalised, and our values and identities have changed in the process. We’ve lost sight of the origin of things – of where everything we eat, touch, use, and put on our bodies – comes from. Simple connections have been disrupted, but I think there is a movement towards seeking value. Change is afoot – and it fills me with hope.

When people think of fashion, they don’t necessarily think of forests or freshwater. Do you think there is a general lack of understanding of where our clothes from, or do people just not care?

I think very few take the time to think about where our clothes come from. Systemic, ‘‘join-the-dots’’ thinking is, very sadly, not the norm. Whether that is by choice, or the result of a lack of education, I don’t know. I also think that there is a general, convenient belief that responsibility lies in the hands of business or government – which is true, of course, but it negates individual responsibility. We live in a demand culture. Up until recently, supply has always felt endless but over the past two decades, the combination of rising wealth, rising population and the power of what we might call ‘‘fast fashion’’ driven by social media, has created an exponential increase on the demand side. Now, it’s catching up with us – the pressures on the supply side are wreaking environmental havoc. It’s time to join the dots and re-examine our habits.

The language of hidden costs is really interesting. I find that the moment we take the time to consider the details, to expose the hidden costs – say of cotton’s impact on freshwater – we feel empowered because we have learned something. Creating many more opportunities for that kind of empowerment is how our systems will move. That’s how we shift people to care.

Image courtesy of Becca McHaffie

How does the work done by the Fabric of Life series fit in with the core work that Synchronicity Earth does to address high priority but neglected conservation challenges?

Synchronicity Earth funds the gaps – areas that urgently need our attention, but often do not have our attention. This kind of engagement aims to highlight those areas that need our attention, by showing how the things that we are more engaged with – like fashion and food – are directly linked. Our biggest challenge as an organisation focussed on halting the loss of nature, of biodiversity – the fabric of life – is attention. With all the wonder and beauty that makes up the natural world, one wouldn’t think that holding people’s attention, and getting people to care – and act, and give – would be so difficult. But it is. By ‘‘bringing it home’’ and making it relevant, my hope is that we can start to create a groundswell of support for our work. The more support we receive, the better suited we are to support our partners on the ground, across the world, who without organisations like us, might remain in the gaps.

What kind of influence do you think conservation and environmental organisations can have on such a huge industry – on its stakeholders and its shareholders – and how?

I think the point is that NGOs are having a major influence on industry – fashion and otherwise. I don’t believe that industry leaders and their shareholders are so naïve to not know that certain change is inevitable – it’s more like a matter of when they will have to adapt. NGOs help accelerate adaptation; they play a crucial role. Campaigning organisations like Greenpeace do an enormous amount of in-depth research and investigation before calling out a manufacturer or a well-known brand. By the time they are shouting from the streets, businesses are more than well aware of what’s at stake.

NGOs are like the sand in an oyster – the grit. Without organisations like Fashion Revolution, who would be addressing the human rights abuses in garment factories? Or take our partner in the Fabric of Life Series, Canopy – they are actively engaging with the fashion industry to address environmental threats at every stop along the fashion supply chain and achieving great success. I would only add that we need much more support for quality NGOs, which is of course, one of the primary reasons Synchronicity Earth exists.

Did you have a personal highlight from the series?

That’s a tough question. The curator in me was delighted to be able to deliver incredible expertise across the six months. I also always love watching people learn – and seeing the pennies drop. Hearing the gasps, and the shudders when new knowledge lands, almost shifting people, physically. I am also thrilled that we are forging new alliances with businesses like Kering and having deeper conversations with other major brands about their impact on biodiversity.

As the Fabric of Life series evolved, something became very clear to me: to conserve the natural world, we need to operate on two time-frames – the short and the long term. In the longer term, businesses have to clean up supply chains, and individuals have to change their behaviour. There are tangible signs of long-term change and generational consciousness shifts already in our field of vision. However, there is a significant gap for funding and attention in the short term. It is imperative that we protect intact nature and restore vital ecosystems, now. As Sir David Attenborough said recently “what we do in the next 20 years will determine the future for all life on Earth.”

For more information about Synchronicity Earth, visit

Taking The Green Route: The Best Road Trips For Electric Cars By Gideon Parirenyatwa

With the weather turning for the better, many of us are thinking of taking the top down and hitting the open road. A popular bucket list feature, a road trip is a great way to explore without having to worry about public transport – it also means you get to see the world at your own pace. Road trips have always been the best way to travel cross-country while exploring epic views along the way – but with petrol and diesel cars soon becoming a thing of the past, are these trips under threat?

In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of electric vehicles (EVs) being sold due to the UK and a number of sustainable countries around the world setting goals to ban all petrol and diesel cars on the road. So, can EVs save the iconic road trip?

As a result of environmental awareness and developing technologies, the road trip of old is evolving into something more fully charged. has put together a list of the best road trips to take in an EV, so you can explore new destinations while keeping your carbon footprint at a minimum.

The Best Road Trips For EVs

Africa – South Africa is known for its cultural diversity and some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. Taking a road trip from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth offers stunning sights of Jeffreys Bay, Knysna, and Mossel Bay. Spanning 465 miles, it takes around eight hours to complete, and your EV will need around two charges with ten charging locations available along the route.

Asia – Explore Japan from the comfort of your car, along with the incredible views Osaka and Tokyo have to offer. Taking around six hours to complete, enjoy views of a modern metropolis from neon lights to skyscrapers, and natural wonders such as Mount Asama. There are 250 charging locations along the route, and this road trip only requires one charge.

Europe – With over nine different road trips to take in Europe, Porto to Lisbon will be a vibrant and memorable trip – offering the best sights, food and coasts Portugal has to offer. Enjoy 195 miles of driving through one of Europe’s most charismatic cities, stopping in Coimbra and Alhandra along the way, and takes less than three hours to complete. With 189 charging stations along the route, you’ll have plenty of choice for the one charge needed to complete this trip.

North America – No list is complete without the famous American road trip; the iconic route of Chicago to Los Angeles (known as Route 66) stretches over 2,015 miles. It takes around 30 hours to complete, with over 250 charging points along the route, which takes in iconic views of Iowa, Denver, Colorado, Utah and Las Vegas.

The Best EV Cars

The Tesla Model S 100D Dual Motor AWD was found to be the best EV for the highest range, with the Volkswagen e-Up! and Renault Zoe R110 ZE 40 having the shortest charging speeds. Meanwhile, research reveals the Hyundai Ioniq Electric gives one of the best ranges for cost per mile and charging time.

Powering Ahead – EV World Leaders

Who are the world leaders when it comes to electric vehicles? Well, the United States takes the lead with over 17,680 charging locations and 29,252 charging stations. Also, home to the renowned automotive and electric car brand, Tesla, the country has seen a surge in the number of EV sales – in 2016, there were 157,117 plug-in hybrids and electric cars sold in the USA compared to 2018, when there was 361,307 (an increase of 129%).

Whilst across the pond takes the lead on the number of stations, Europe is actually the world leader for EVs, with eight countries featuring in the top ten overall. Germany has over 11,802 charging locations and 28,967 stations, with the United Kingdom following behind with 6,959 charging locations and 10,553 stations.

For further information about taking a road trip, click here.

Dogged Commitment – Wilderness Safaris Partners With Painted Dog Conservation By The Luxury Channel

Further demonstrating its commitment to offering life-journeys with purpose, Wilderness Safaris – Africa’s leading sustainable ecotourism operator, specialising in memorable wildlife experiences in some of the continent’s most remote and pristine areas – has partnered with renowned NGO, Painted Dog Conservation, to help drive the conservation of this endangered species in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools and Hwange National Parks. African wild dogs – sometimes called African hunting dogs – are beautiful, unique, and fascinating social animals. They are also one of the most endangered species in Africa; fewer than 7000 painted dogs are left across the entire continent, making it imperative to manage wild dog conservation.

Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) expanded its work into Mana Pools in 2010, with the objective of gaining insight into the demography, ecology and genetic composition of the painted dog population in the Middle Zambezi. The establishment of a new research base at Nyamepi will enable researchers to process various samples on site on a daily basis, including faecal samples, which will help PDC build a picture of the diet base of the dogs in the valley. “This will greatly improve the efficiency of our data collected at Mana,” said Peter Blinston, PDC Executive Director. “We are grateful for the ongoing support from Wilderness Safaris, and really believe that our partnership will make a positive impact to both conservation and community empowerment – ideals that form a strong part of both of our organisational cultures.”

Wilderness Safaris has been committed to driving sustainable ecotourism in Zimbabwe for some two decades, with Conservation forming a vital component of its “4Cs” sustainability ethos (the others being Commerce, Community and Culture). As the leading wild dog conservation NGO in Zimbabwe, PDC already monitors more than six packs of painted dogs on a daily basis across Hwange, and employs 60 people from the local villages to run its conservation, education and community outreach programmes. Guests of Wilderness Safaris can also get involved with the initiative, as part of a “citizen science” project that gives them the opportunity to actively take part in the research being conducted on the ground.

PDC will be giving Wilderness Safaris the ID files of all the wild dog packs in both Hwange and Mana, so that both guides and guests will be able to assist them by taking photos, dates and times of each sighting. “Log stats of sightings provide critical information for us; better still if they are immediately reported, particularly in the case of injured animals. We are also working on image recognition software which, once complete, will give guests open access to uploading their photos and sighting information online,” Peter added.

Wilderness Safaris will be donating the funds to cover a month of PDC’s operating costs at Nyamepi, and will continue to raise awareness about the plight of the wild dogs, to help drive critical conservation efforts going forward.

Further Information

Wilderness Safaris –

Painted Dog Conservation –

Praveen Moman – The Visionary Conservationist Who Kickstarted Gorilla Tourism By Fiona Sanderson

The Luxury Channel meets Praveen Moman, the founder of Volcanoes Safaris and a pioneer in reviving gorilla and chimpanzee tourism in Rwanda and Uganda for the past 20 years….

Image courtesy of Volcanoes Safaris

A visionary conservationist and named as one of the world’s top twenty-five conservation-philanthropists, Praveen Moman is the founder of Volcanoes Safaris (unique lodges near the great ape parks that are sensitive to local culture and aesthetics), and has helped kickstart gorilla tourism after the Rwanda genocide through the Volcanoes Safaris BLCF Partnership Project. Praveen also aims to create long-term, self-sustaining projects that enrich the livelihoods of local communities, and promotes the conservation of the great apes through his non-profit Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT).

Twenty years ago, Volcanoes Safaris was the first company to set up simple camps in the areas around the gorilla parks in Uganda, first at Mount Gahinga and at Bwindi, and later at Kyambura Gorge. Through a sustained development and investment program, the properties have been gradually improved as the region has opened up, and a major upgrading program throughout 2017 completed their transformation to luxury lodges – each is now a luxurious haven in which to escape following a busy day of gorilla trekking. Today, Volcanoes Safaris is the leading luxury lodge company in Uganda and Rwanda, and it has been at the forefront of reviving gorilla and chimpanzee tourism in the region since 1997.

Image courtesy of Robin François

In 2000, Volcanoes Safaris became the first international safari company to take clients to Rwanda. In 2004, they opened Virunga Lodge, becoming the first international company to build a lodge near the gorilla park after the war. Today, Virunga Lodge is one of Africa’s leading lodges, offering the “luxury gorilla experience.”

The luxury lodges are located at:

• Virunga Lodge – The Luxury Gorilla Experience in Rwanda
• Mount Gahinga – The Batwa Culture & Hiking Lodge in Uganda
• Bwindi – The Jungle Gorilla Lodge in Uganda
• Kyambura Gorge Lodge – The Contemporary Chimpanzee & Wildlife Lodge in Uganda

Over the course of the last twenty years, Volcanoes Safaris has sought to develop lodges that are sensitive to local culture, that connect to the local community, and that seek to use resources responsibly, minimising the environmental impact by using solar power and recycling water wherever possible, and by harvesting rain water whenever they can.

Image courtesy of Volcanoes Safaris

The company also employs over a hundred staff in Rwanda and Uganda, most of whom are based at the lodges. Empowering local staff at all levels of management is a key aspect of the company philosophy and is exceptional among leading lodge companies. Staff from across the region – Rwanda, Uganda, DRC and Burundi – benefit from extensive training programs, meaning that they offer an exceptional level of service to guests at the lodges.

As for founder Praveen, he was born and grew up on safari in Uganda before the expulsion of the Asian community brought his family to Britain when he was a teenager. Having set up Volcanoes Safaris, he now contributes to the rebuilding of the Great Lakes region and divides his time between Africa and London. Praveen’s responsibilities include designing and building Volcanoes’ eco-lodges, the training and empowerment of staff, developing the company’s Eco-tourism Partnership program and taking Volcanoes Safaris forwards as the leading great apes brand in Africa. Praveen regularly lectures in the USA and Europe on the unique great ape eco-tourism model that Volcanoes Safaris has created, and acts as a consultant to governments and non-profit organisations on developing great apes eco-tourism elsewhere in Africa. He shares his thoughts and experiences with us….

Image courtesy of Volcanoes Safaris

Why is visiting gorillas such a unique experience?

It’s a life-changing experience – you can have a dog or a cat but seeing a gorilla is like something of your own past. You arrive in the forest and come across these marooned creatures who are like family, and that’s why it effects people so much. People say it is often the most important moment of their life.

Can you tell us about your work with the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust?

The VSPT was established in 2009, and it is a non-profit organisation that connects Volcanoes’ Rwanda and Uganda luxury lodges to the neighbouring communities and conservation activities. The VSPT aims to create long-term, self-sustaining projects that enrich the livelihoods of local communities, promote the conservation of the great apes, restore natural habitats and work with communities and institutions to reduce human-wildlife conflict. With international attention on conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas, the Mgahinga part of the Virunga volcanoes in Uganda was turned into a national park in 1991 to provide protection to the wildlife from poaching and habitat encroachment. The creation of the park required the Batwa to be removed from their homes in the mountains and be displaced in a modern world unfamiliar to them. The Batwa ended up squatting in nearby farm land. They earned a living through occasional labour or begging. With limited education, adapting to the modern world has been a difficult journey for them. They do not have resources or land and suffer from acute poverty, malnutrition and poor health. A group of about 18 Batwa families from those displaced live in makeshift shelters on a tiny rocky site at Musasa, about 4 kilometres from the entrance of Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes’ Mount Gahinga Lodge, surviving as best as they can. The VSTP has made considerable progress in creating a permanent settlement for the Gahinga community of Batwa pygmies. A site of about ten acres of land was acquired next to the Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, and the construction of homes for these 18 families (105 adults and children) is well underway.

Image courtesy of Black Bean Productions

How large is the habitat that we are talking about?

It’s a tiny area of 700 square kilometres compared to say, the Serengeti Park which is 30,000 square kilometres. We are talking about the heart of Africa where the borders of DRC, Uganda and Rwanda meet. It is also one of the poorest regions – with most people earning less than $2 per day. Population density is also a big issue. Here, it’s about 600 – 700 people per square kilometre compared to the population of the USA, which is 100 people per square kilometre.

Do you believe that supporting local communities is the way forward, and the only way to ensure the long-term survival of the gorilla?

I would argue that we need to change the paradigm of gorilla tourism and conservation, and make them central to the economic mainstream so communities have a stake in the survival of the gorillas and their habitat. Only by putting bread on the table of local people and giving their children a better future will we ensure that gorilla conservation works. Does this not require a radical rethink by those of us who are privileged, so we support conservation and tourism not for ourselves, but in order to support the local communities who ultimately can save the gorillas? Tourism is one element which brings money, but too much tourism causes stress on the gorillas. Dian Fossey didn’t want tourism at all and thought it would be detrimental to the gorillas. In my opinion, if you had no tourism at all, I don’t think the gorillas would survive.

For further information about Volcanoes Safaris and the work that Praveen Moman and his team are doing, visit

Fashion For Conservation – The Campaign To Save The Amazon Rainforest By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel was in conversation with Ava Holmes, one of the Founders of Fashion For Conservation….

Fashion For Conservation was founded by three women determined to make a positive impact on the world through conservation-inspired couture: Nazanine Afshar (Art Director at British Vogue), Dr. Samantha Zwicker (Wildlife Conservationist at Hoja Nueva) and Ava Holmes (Fashion Week Event Producer and TEDx Speaker). By combing their talents and passions to create dynamic fashion campaigns, they hope to educate consumers on animals and ecosystems, while donating funds to wildlife groups.

Their partner is the Whitley Fund For Nature (whose trustee is Sir David Attenborough, and their patron is HRH Princess Royal). At this year’s London Fashion Week AW18, Fashion For Conservation was on a mission to protect the Amazon by engaging influential members of the fashion community to become advocates for grassroots work around the world and to protect threatened habitats on which both wildlife and people depend for food, water and ultimately, life.

A preview event put a media spotlight on the Amazon rainforest, the largest biodiversity hotspot on the planet, home to over 50% of all the world’s biodiversity yet covering only 2% of the earth’s surface. The preview event included keynotes from conservation leaders including United Nations UK Director Steve Fletcher, award-winning actress and Whitley Fund For Nature ambassador Miranda Richardson, and Stacy Flynn, who is Founder and CEO at Evrnu and a Stella McCartney textile partner.

The Rainforest Runway at London Fashion Week featured two designers’ interpretation of the Amazonian rainforest. Jatin Patel, guest designer at Kalikas Armour, opened with his fantastical recycled rainforest inspired collection, “Magestic Mystics”. This was followed by the zero waste collection “Impermanent Flora,” — by Re:ne(w) by René Garza for Magpies & Peacocks non-profit design house — an avant-garde collection made from end-of-bolt textiles and up-cycled clothing.

We ask Ava Holmes, who was Event Producer, how Fashion For Conservation all began. “We officially started the organisation as a trio,” she says. “Samantha lives in the Amazon year-round, Nazanine goes between sets of the top fashion brands in the industry (most recently, she art directed part of the new 100 Years of Vogue series with Anna Wintour) and myself with one foot in fashion industry and the other in the conservation world. This movement for me was a natural combination of the worlds in which I grew up – my father is a wilderness survival trainer and my mother a globe-trotting artist and film producer. For me, Fashion For Conservation is where these two worlds finally merge, which sort of explains a lot of how it all came about, and why a movement like this is so crucial in the state of our world today.”

So, what are the group’s goals for the coming year? “This year, our goal is to raise an additional one million pounds for conservation through fashion. We are doing this by hosting our fourth annual Rainforest Gala in Seattle in June, and co-hosting the Whitley Fund For Nature Gala in London in November. We are always on a mission to reverse fashion’s impact on the planet through engaging creative communities by being the voice for the voiceless,” Ava tells us.

Finally, we ask Ava what people can do to help reverse fashion’s impact on the planet. “The best way is to actually visit a conservation site on the ground to understand and contribute hands-on. We have many recommendations for amazing ethical tour experiences up close and personal in some of the most wild remaining places on the planet. You could also attend a Fashion For Conservation event that aims to engage and inspire the fashion community while raising awareness and funding for various critical conservation initiatives,” she says. “Another way is by using our consumer power for conservation by buying from brands that give back to nature through a portion of their profits and/or source their materials sustainably. To date, we have worked with over 100 brands in creating nature-inspired collections that re-invest a portion of the proceeds back into conservation.”

For further information, go to

Shades of Grey – Saviours of Black And White Rhino By The Luxury Channel

An award-winning conservancy in Kenya has been so successful in conserving black rhinos, it is now looking for further land to expand into. Part of its success? The local people….

Ol Pejeta is Kenya’s conservation success story and its CEO, Richard Vigne, believes its success, in part, is down to local communities. “Conservation must benefit humans. Land must be productive as well as conserving wildlife populations. Without the support of the people around us, we cannot achieve conservation on any kind of scale,” he says.

At 400km2, Ol Pejeta is East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary. It is home to 115 rhinos, or 16% of the national population. Black rhino numbers here have grown 100% over 10 years and are now heading towards maximum numbers that the conservancy can support, so the next challenge is to secure more space.

At Ol Pejeta, ecotourism and wildlife conservation are integrated with a profitable and sustainable cattle ranching business. The conservancy employs more than 900 people and is home to 6,000 Boran cattle.

Any profits made are reinvested into the conservancy and the community. “We want to show that conservation can pay its own way, contributing economically, socially and environmentally for the benefit of all,” says Vigne. Since 2004, over US$7m has been raised and given to community programmes and over 50,000 local people benefit each year from the conservancy. Innovative projects such as ICT classes in schools, mobile dental camps that can travel to remote communities, drip irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting systems, solar power, and sustainable grazing techniques are all part of the reason local people believe in conservation.

The community, in turn, provide eyes and ears. Complex issues like livestock overgrazing, local politics and illegal arms are also easier to address if the community is on board with the conservancy. Nevertheless, poaching and habitat loss remain major threats to rhino numbers. In the last 10 In South Africa, the number of rhinos poached increased by 9,246% from 2007-14. Recent figures released from the South African government show that poaching is still at crisis levels. Over 1,000 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2017, while a decade of illegal wildlife trafficking means that three rhinos are still being poached every day. This is both unsustainable and unacceptable. “The absolute truth is that if we humans do not urgently change the way we interact with Planet Earth and the way in which we consume, we will be left with a home totally bereft of wild things and wild places and we will be much the poorer for it,” warns Vigne.

On 15th March 2018 in London, Ol Pejeta, in partnership with UK charity Helping Rhinos (whose vision is to lead an innovative approach to conservation that will ensure the long-term survival of rhino and other endangered wildlife in their natural habitat) will be discussing seven factors critical to successfully sustaining rhino populations. The event – called Shades of Grey: Seven Saviours of Black and White Rhino – hopes to raise funds for a mobile veterinary unit to be based on Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and will explore the complexities of protecting the iconic rhino in its natural habitat.

Helping Rhinos CEO Simon Jones will introduce the evening and provide an update on the work of the charity and how supporters around the world are making a difference in protecting the rhino, before they keynote speech by Steve Leonard. Steve is a wildlife vet, and is well known from presenting many UK TV programmes, including Operation Wild (BBC1), Nature’s Newborns (ITV1) and Trust Me I’m A Vet (BBC1).

Joining Steve will be Founder of Animals Saving Animals, Daryll Pleasants. Daryll will share his unique tales of training dogs to join the front line anti-poaching teams in locations around the world, including Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, will share the successes and challenges of running East Africa’s most successful black rhino breeding programme and provide an update on the northern white rhinos.

Further Information

Shades of Grey: Seven Saviours of Black and White Rhino will take place at Church House, Westminster, London SW1P 3NZ on Thursday 15th March 2018, from 6:30pm-10:30pm. To attend the event, click here.

How Rui Xu’s Design And Innovation Took The V&A By Storm By Victoria Macmillan Bell

Wildlife, animals and endangered species are garnering more column inches than ever before thanks to the many charities and millions of supporters highlighting their plight and plugging away at reversing the declining numbers across the planet. Fashion houses have long courted furriers, whether it’s the trim of a cuff, the lining of a handbag or boot or a full-blown, floor length fur coat. Remember the PETA supporters storming the catwalks with banners reading the slogan, ‘‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur?’’

Designer Stella McCartney, conscious of her company’s ethical footprint, hasn’t used fur or leather from the beginning and now Marco Bizzarri, CEO of Kering stable mate Gucci, has announced that the brand will remove fur from all its collections from Spring/Summer 2018. Animals are beginning to have a voice at last.

One leading designer from China, now based here in London, is going one stage further however, and actively promoting the plight of endangered animals through performance art.

Rui Xu designs wearable art, garments that are both structured and soft but have a unique and fun quirkiness to them. Her friend, the late Dame Zaha Hadid, was a huge fan and ultimately became her muse. Recently, Rui was invited by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London to create a performance as part of their monthly Friday Late event, this one called Sino Flux, celebrating the contemporary art, design, sounds and states of China in Flux.

She chose to tell the story of the antelope in her native China, an animal whose habitat is fast disappearing through urbanisation and slaughter by man. The antelope is seen as a proud and gentle creature, and their story was so beautifully interpreted by Rui and her team, choreographer Amy Grubb, and musician and dancer Javier Murugarren, along with 10 dancers all wearing extraordinarily beautiful masks, as faces of the antelope family.

In November 2016, The Animal Ball – a first of its kind event created by The Elephant Family to raise funds and awareness for animals facing extinction – invited fashion designers and fashion houses to create costumes and masks for the event to be worn by VIP guests. Rui was one of the designers chosen, who went on to create 14 of these wildly beautiful and delicate antelope masks, seen at the V&A.

So delicate, as the antelopes appeared one by one on the steps of the Raphael Cartoons Gallery, as if they were appearing out of the woods into open land. As a cluster, all gathered together wearing white, the masks rose up high into the air, and what an impact it had. Such stillness.

And then the music came, gentle at first, and the dancers depicting antelope took their first, tentative first steps into the room, the open grassland. But then, lulled into a false sense of security, a reminder of why we were all here watching the performance, piece by piece, the sounds of the city seeped into the musical frame – a car horn, a pneumatic drill, voices, shouting, bangs, thuds, sirens and so it increased.

The animals scattered, frightened and confused, until they retreated back into their collective group by the steps.

Nighttime came and the score changed again, slightly softer, the antelope taking prudent steps back out into the unknown, undercover of the imaginary darkness. This time, they stepped gently amongst the assembled audience, exploring their habitat, inquisitive and occasionally with the softest of touches.

It was beguiling; we held our breath as the movement from the dancers was so beautifully gentle. Nobody dared move.

And then came dawn, rush hour; the musical pace hastened dramatically and we all awoke from this moment of pure capture, of silence, fully immersed in the performance.

Bang. The animals fled in every direction, expressing fear, entrapment and no escape. They were fleeing from man. One of their numbers was down. Fellow guests were visibly moved by the immense change in environment to the point of tears running down cheeks.

No longer their peaceful world, this was now a fight for survival. Man was taking their world and shredding it. They have no voice, no self-defence. It is brutal and unrelenting.

There was a moment at the end of the performance where the story had been told, the dancers were gathered once more, as they had begun, as a group, safety in numbers, their heads looking down. The moment hung, the audience didn’t flinch. The silence was deafening. The performance was over but we were all collectively held in this moment, taken aback by the emotional pull of what we had just seen.

So beautiful, so sad and so utterly swept up by ‘‘Sky In Their Eyes – The Antelope In A Vanishing Landscape.’’

We have to hope that the story hasn’t been told in full, that there is hope and that the likes of Rui Xu and her creative industry partners will help give all endangered species, all animals a voice, through fashion, through art, through performance and through whichever channel helps to engage and spread the word, not the concrete.

About Rui Xu

Rui Xu is a Chinese fashion designer and contemporary artist based in London. She was formerly Director of Fashion at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, having studied at Royal College of Arts, and her works bridge fashion, painting, music and performance. Her solo exhibitions BEAUTY ON FIRE – FOR ZAHA at the Zaha Hadid Gallery (in memory of her friend and muse – the late, great Dame Zaha Hadid) and FROM XUAN TO BLINDNESS at the Royal College of Art, as well as her fashion experiment performance CHANT OF BREATH at the Saatchi Gallery, all received high acclaim in the UK.

Her professional experiences include being Chief Costume Designer for the 60th Miss World Final in 2010, Costume Designer for The Dance Theatre – The Tea Spell from 2012 to 2017; and Bespoke Mask Designer for The Elephant Family Animal Ball in 2016. Rui’s designs are widely collected by leading institutions and individuals including The China Silk Museum, The V&A Museum, Clarence House and the late Dame Zaha Hadid, amongst others. For more information, visit To see the performance of ‘‘Sky In Their Eyes – The Antelope In A Vanishing Landscape,’’ click here.

Travels To My Elephant – Take Two By The Luxury Channel

Travels To My Elephant (image courtesy of QPhotos)

This year sees another iconic adventure with Travels To My Elephant II, a 6-day, 500km journey that sees over 90 racers travel across Rajasthan from Jodphur to Jaipur in a fleet of extraordinary and eccentric vehicles that include Royal Enfield Motorbikes, Major Jeeps and vintage cars selected from the Maharaja of Jaipur’s personal collection, all in order to raise over £1 million in much-needed funds for the plight of the Asian Elephant and to pay homage to Elephant Family founder, the late Mark Shand.

Travels To My Elephant (image courtesy of Christian Lamb)

This exclusive adventure has a limited 20 spaces left and is open to the public to take part. A minimum of £6,000 for entry (with a further £6,000 fundraising target) will bring an unforgettable community of like-minded thrill-seekers together for a 5* experience including food, accommodation and business class return flights for the trip of a lifetime, building unforgettable relationships with business luminaries, people of note and major philanthropists over a week of jam-packed, money-can’t-buy experiences, starting on 30th October.

Travels To My Elephant (image courtesy of Tom Nicholson)

Travelling in teams of two or three, this once-in-a-lifetime expedition offers the very best of India, whilst providing the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships with fellow supporters. A specially created “behind the scenes” itinerary will take in magnificent sites of rural India including: the Mehrangarah Fort, the Jain Temple at Osian, Stepwell Salt Flats and the Bal Salmand Lake Palaces. This authentic experience gives racers the chance to interact with local communities, including a visit to a school in Khimsar and a playful cricket match with locals. Between drives, which can be up to170 km per day, each evening has an original programme designed to surprise and delight the travelling philanthropists, which includes an opulent dinner and Bollywood party, stargazing on the dunes and a banquet held on the lawns of the spectacular Ananta Hotel & Spa.

Travels To My Elephant (image courtesy of Hello)

The trip will culminate with a pink champagne-fuelled party in Jaipur and a private preview of Elephant Parade India – an artistic showcase of 101 brightly painted elephant sculptures installed in Mumbai to highlight the 101 elephant corridors Elephant Family seeks to save with support from both the UK and India. Throughout the trip, luxury and comfort are never compromised, with 5* hotel and lodges including the likes of ITC Rajputana, ITC WelcomHotel and Khismar Fort alongside meticulously planned menus to delight the epicurean foodie each step of the way.

Goldie Hawn at the launch of Travels To My Elephant in 2015

Travels to My Elephant was inspired by and plays homage to the charity’s late, great founder, Mark Shand, and his best-selling book “Travels On My Elephant,” which tells the story of Mark’s 1,000-mile journey across India with his rescued elephant named Tara. Mark rescued Tara in 1988 from a life of begging and misery on the streets of India, and their adventures together inspired him to write the book and create Elephant Family, now the biggest UK funder for the endangered Asian elephants. Today, Elephant Family is dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild, funding pioneering projects across Asia to reconnect forest fragments, re-establish elephant migratory routes and help create safe homes for this iconic yet endangered animal.

Travels To My Elephant (image courtesy of Christian Lamb)

In the immortal words of Mark Shand, a philosophy he stood by was: “Make people smile, and then ask for help!” In his memory and for the good of the Asian elephant, Travels To My Elephant aims to do just that. To register interest, please go to For more information about Elephant Family, please go to To read about the first Travels To My Elephant, click here.

Chile Receives The World’s Largest Donation For Natural Parks By Fiona Sanderson

The Luxury Channel’s Fiona Sanderson talks to conservationist Kris Tompkins….

The non-profit organisation started by former Patagonia executive Kris Tompkins and her late husband, North Face and Esprit founder Douglas Tompkins, is making what it says is the largest-ever land donation by a private entity to a country. Appearing with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet on March 16th, Kris announced that Tompkins Conservation plans to hand over more than 10 million acres to the nation of Chile. The Latin American country will use the land for creating a new natural park roughly the size of Denmark.

“I will remembered as a fighter probably more than anything else,” smiles Kris as she speaks to me about the extraordinary conservation work she and her late husband Doug have achieved. In 1993, the couple behind three of the world’s biggest and best-known clothing brands – North Face and Esprit (Doug) and Patagonia Clothing (Kris) – put their apparel empires behind them in order to up sticks from North to South America, with the sole dream of buying up and restoring the land to prevent it being logged, developed and ultimately destroyed, before donating it back as national parkland. Their shared vision of conservation, along with pooling their collective finances in order to fund their project, has resulted in the establishment of six new national parks, with the plan being to create five more. When the donations are complete, Tompkins Conservation hopes to leverage these donations to protect 13 million acres of land in Chile and Argentina.

Nowadays, Kris and her team have the full support of locals, and indeed at government level too, although that wasn’t always the case. “Compared to 25 years ago, attitudes have changed immensely,” she reveals. “But there’s always an inherent conflict between development and conservation.” The Tompkins’ holdings across South America’s rugged southern tip were so vast that critics accused them of plots to split the country in half, and of building an American nuclear waste site. But when developers planned to create a strong network of dams and hydroelectric power lines in the country, the Tompkins’ project finally won Chilean public favour (although resistance from ranchers and industry persists). The Tompkins’ efforts, reports National Geographic, have protected more land (about 2.4 million acres) than those of any other private individual.

So what drives Kris to continue her fight? “The landscapes here are really extraordinary and unique,” comes her immediate answer. “Doug and I have always been very driven people. Since Doug died [in a kayaking accident in 2015], it’s given me an almost greater fierceness than I had before, so instead of regressing or diminishing my determination, it actually had the reverse effect – which is fortunate as there is so much work to be done.” It shows, but Conservacion Patagonica and Conservation Land Trust, the two organisations the couple founded and which Kris now runs, have been busy since the accident, and the work to restore and give back the land is now nearly complete.

Kris remains resolutely passionate about the reason for undertaking this work. “It’s very clear what’s happening – changes to water systems, climate change, extinction of species – and so you have a moral obligation to do something for the things that you care about, to step into the fray and fight against the things that are killing the earth,” she says. “It’s already happening; we just don’t happen to live at the margins either geographically or socially. It’s not something that’s coming as a vague future – it’s happening now! Once you know something, you can’t turn your back on it. That’s my message. You have a moral responsibility to step up and become a voice for the non-human world, which has no voice of its own.” Clearly, however, this passion is resonating and Tompkins’ message is seemingly beginning to take root at ground level. “The work that Doug and I have done may have influenced others,” she admits. “There are several individuals here in Chile who have taken it upon themselves to create protected areas in their private lands. It’s always difficult to judge what your impact is, but that’s the role of history. You turn the page and keep going. That’s how I see it.”

Despite the positives, however, Kris remains a committed conservationist at heart, and she’s all too aware of the human impact on what she’s ultimately trying to achieve. “Globally, I think we will only start to change if a crisis finally forces us to, which is a real tragedy because it doesn’t have to come to that,” she remarks. “You can do this by electing to change your way of living, changing social goals and societal concepts of success and limits and so on, but it’s not happening – to the contrary, it’s speeding up. So I am not hopeful of being able to protect these wild spaces in the short-term, but I’m more hopeful in the long-term. It has had a tremendous effect on me in terms of the drive to do more and finish what we started.”

As the interview draws to a close, I ask Kris if she could take five pictures of her time together with Doug, what would they be? She smiles, her eyes distant. “Certainly, the first would be flying,” she says, considering. “We flew together almost every day. Walking across damaged grasslands – imagining them, restoring them – laughing, travelling around together, looking at the wildlife and the landscape. I don’t know – there are so many. He made a book for me, which is 250 pages long, a huge book, and it’s just about us. Hundreds of photos of us, and letters. Living in an isolated place and just depending on each other was very good for our marriage – a very powerful experience – and so that’s what I think about when I think about us. It’s a love story for the ages.”

Where To Stay

Visiting Patagonia? The Luxury Channel stayed at The Lodge at Valle Chacabuco in Patagonia Park. Inspired by iconic national park lodges from around the world, The Lodge provides a uniquely Patagonian experience. The central living and dining room are the ideal setting for resting after a day of travelling, hiking, and exploring. Regional wine can be enjoyed in the living room bar with views of looming Mount Tamanguito to the south through expansive paned windows. Nestle into overstuffed sofas, lounge by the fire, or venture to the patio by night to view an endless spread of stars. In character with the rest of The Lodge, each of the six en-suite rooms celebrates attention to detail and the beauty of the surrounding environment. The Lodge’s respect for the land and commitment to the environment is central to the whole guest experience. For inquiries about reservations, please contact The Lodge is open from October 1st until April 30th, but is closed from May to September.

Further Information

Tompkins Conservation –

Conservacion Patagonica –

The Conservation Land Trust –

Elephant Ignite Expedition – A Journey of Courage, Love And Hope By Carla Geyser

Twenty-three months ago, I started planning an expedition that I wanted to do from South Africa to Kenya. I had heard about the current elephant poaching crisis and I knew in my heart that I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing about it. Fast forward to December 2016 and this dream has been accomplished….and wow, what an incredible journey it has been!

When sitting in Hatari Lodge in Tanzania, I looked up on the wall and there was a quote which resonated so close to my heart:

“May the shine of far-away lands be with you like a sun ray in the rain. May your journey be crowned by poetic beauty. Look into each direction, even if it causes you dislike. Only then you understand the weight of problems in this world. Use your mind on all your journeys, be empathetic, show respect. You will be a welcome guest, loved as a soulful person.” – Alfons Pillach

Ours was most definitely a journey of Courage, Hope, and Love. The all-female crew of the Elephant Ignite Expedition arrived safely in Nairobi on the 16th of November to mark the end of our 15 787km, 100-day incredible drive. We started off as a group of empathetic ladies with the aim of raising awareness for the poaching crisis that is destroying Africa’s elephant population at an alarming rate. We ended up as a close-knit family more determined and focused on helping these magnificent animals, supporting the organisations that are doing incredible work to protect them and to educate the communities that live adjacent to them.

We have all heard the devastating statistics; we are still currently losing one elephant every 15 minutes and sadly, the demand for ivory remains high; therefore, elephants continue to be at risk of being wiped out from the landscapes which they have roamed for millions of years. These statistics are shocking and the consequences are terrifying.

Too often, people get trapped up in the idea that there is someone else out there that will save these animals so they become numb to what is happening in the world around them, and before you know it, that animal is extinct. We need people to wake up and realise that we are the only generation left that can save these animals. There is no future group that we can depend on – there is only us. We need to act immediately before it’s too late and before these animals have disappeared. Extinction is forever – and we cannot give up and let this happen.

Our journey was focussed on community upliftment, youth conservation education, public awareness for wildlife crime and poaching; and a fundraising drive to support the courageous organisations that are fighting the battles on the frontline every day. The expedition traveled safely through 10 African countries (South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya) distributing over 20,000 educational booklets to schools and communities whilst visiting 37 organisations that are involved in conserving African wildlife to report on the work they do.

These organisations are a candle of hope in a world of fast-approaching devastation. They say it’s better to light one candle than to just sit back in the darkness and do nothing with the attitude of “what’s the point” or “the world is screwed” or “what difference can I make.” My hope is that this candle will attract more people and that together we can stand stronger, with a louder voice, and before you know it, we have started a movement of change.

The crew all self-funded their participation costs and all proceeds from the fundraising campaigns were directed to the nominated beneficiaries. We will continue to raise funds for the various organisations and to share their stories. It was one of the many highlights to finish in Nairobi National Park and get to meet the “Matriarch” herself, Dame Daphne Sheldrick, and Angela Sheldrick from DSWT. Daphne was one of my inspirations for this expedition and proof that one candle can make a difference.

The earth is crying but the human race has stopped listening. We need to reconnect with nature and be more aware of our daily choices in life. The small choices we make every day can lead to a more loving and conscious world. There truly is so much we can do and there is still a lot that is worth fighting for. I have made the decision to make a difference no matter how small. I hope you will join me. Together we are powerful and we can face the ever-changing challenges that await us and hopefully, pave the way to securing a future for our elephants in the beautiful places they live on this planet.

To all our sponsors – Avis Safari Rental 4×4 / Overland360; Cape Union Mart; The Spar Group LTD; SATIB; Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Complex; Earth Touch; SBK Eyewear; Antalis; IMakeADifference (Dtours2016); Art Printers; Natasha Barnes; Venter Tours and many, many more – I cannot thank you enough for your support and for helping make this happen.

To the accommodation places that housed us, the families and friends we made along the route, and to anyone out there that has followed and supported our journey, I say “Asante Sane.” An expedition of this greatness is only as strong as the people that are involved. Thank-you for stepping up to the plate and for helping make this happen. We hope that the Elephant Ignite Expedition crew has sparked a flicker of hope, courage and love in your hearts and that you will continue to donate and support the work that we do.

To my exceptional crew – Isabel, Bronnie, Yolande, Penny, Shannon, Kennedy, Yvette, Natalie, Nikki, Nicky, Glenda, and Ildiko (and my support crew that helped get the vehicles back), I cannot thank you enough for being a part of my dream. Thank-you for your passion, determination, dedication and mostly for your sense of adventure and for making Elephant Ignite what is was….

For further information, go to

Virunga Lodge Has Opened The Dian Fossey Map Room By The Luxury Channel

To commemorate the work and the 30th anniversary of the death of legendary conservationist Dian Fossey in 1985, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of Karisoke Research Centre by Fossey in 1967, Virunga Lodge in Rwanda has opened the Dian Fossey Map Room. Facing the magical Virunga Volcanoes, the specially commissioned Map Room, designed in conjunction with Studio FH, will be an intimate space to share the legacy of Dian Fossey.

Fossey was a pioneer primatologist who worked in the Virunga Volcanoes in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally in Rwanda from 1967 to 1985. She was killed thirty years ago at the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda. Her work was instrumental in understanding the lives of gorillas, helping understand how to protect them and setting up sensitive tourism to help try and preserve them for the future. She said of the Karisoke Research Centre in her best-selling book Gorillas In The Mist: “Little did I know then, that by setting up two small tents in the wilderness of the Virungas, I had launched the beginnings of what was to become an internationally-renowned research station eventually to be utilized by students and scientists from many countries.”

Fossey’s primary focus was the study of mountain gorillas. However, she soon realised that in order to survive, they would require protection from poachers, snares and human encroachment into the forest. After poachers killed one of her favourite gorillas Digit, Fossey set up the “Digit Fund” to support active conservation of the gorillas. Following her death in 1985, this was renamed as The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which continues to operate out of Musanze, Rwanda.

Construction of the Dian Fossey Map Room began in June 2016 and it was opened in March 2017. All the furniture, basket lights and soft furnishings were made on site with the help of the local villages’ women’s group. The colours were chosen to reflect the gardens surrounding the Map Room and local pottery workshops made wall up-lighters in the traditional Rwandan colours of mottled green to complement the locally-sourced building materials. The room has a feeling of bringing the outside gardens inside to create a serene and relaxed environment.

Praveen Moman, Founder of Volcanoes Safaris, commented: “Virunga Lodge has established itself as the leading luxury lodge for gorilla tracking in Rwanda. It is fitting that we pay tribute to the work of Dian Fossey and the other primatologists who have contributed to their survival.” Tara Stoinski, Ph.D. President and CEO of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, added: “Dian Fossey was critical to ensuring the survival of mountain gorillas for generations to come. We are very grateful that Volcanoes Safaris is continuing to honour her memory through the building of the Dian Fossey Map Room at their beautiful Virunga Lodge.”

Perched high on a ridge, offering breath-taking views of the Virunga volcanoes and twin lakes, Virunga Lodge is the ultimate property for tracking the endangered mountain gorillas. The organic, “bush-chic” design reflects the local building style and has 10 luxury bandas, each with their own terrace overlooking the lush volcanoes. A 6-day Mount Gahinga and Virunga Lodge Safari tour starts from $4,969 per person sharing, in low season, and includes 2 nights at the Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge, Uganda and 3 nights at Virunga Lodge, Rwanda and 1 gorilla permit.

Easily accessible for guests flying into Kigali International Airport in Rwanda, Virunga Lodge is just a three-hour drive or a short helicopter flight. More information on accommodation, safari packages and pricing can be found at

The Ivory Trade By The World Weekly

Earlier this year, Kenya set 5% of the world’s ivory stock ablaze but the world is still a long way from eliminating the trade, as shown in the infographic below:

For further articles about wildlife protection on The World Weekly, click here.

The Animal Ball By The Luxury Channel

The Animal Ball

The Animal Ball, hosted by Elephant Family and supported by Selfridges, saw the world’s greatest fashion houses collaborate to dress beautiful creatures from all corners of British and international society. Dinners were held around the capital in advance of the ball, where animal masks (made by designers including Alice Temperley, Amanda Wakeley, Burberry, Charlotte Tilbury, Georgia Hardinge, Jimmy Choo, Matthew Williamson, Pringle of Scotland, Rui Xu and Swarovski) were given out to the 800-strong guest list, who came together later at a jungle-themed Victoria House to celebrate and protect nature’s greatest animals and masterpieces. The masked guests descended into the ball to sample jungle-themed cocktails and dance into the small hours with performances from special guests.

The Animal Ball Dance Floor

The Animal Ball – held in aid of Elephant Family, The Aspinall Foundation, Space for Giants and Lion Guardians – was marked with a series of dinners across various London venues with hosts including HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, HRH Princess Eugenie, Matthew Williamson, and Charlotte Tilbury, prior to the ball at Victoria House. Dinners were held at several of London’s leading destinations, including Annabel’s, Brown’s Hotel, Chiltern Firehouse, Clarence House, Daphne’s, Farmacy, Maison Assouline, Sexy Fish, South Kensington Club, The Ivy Chelsea Garden, The Four Seasons, The Landmark, The Langham, The Ritz, Oblix at The Shard, and Zuma.

Ruth Powys, Mario Testino and Charlotte Tilbury at The Animal Ball

The Luxury Channel spoke to Elephant Family’s CEO Ruth Powys, about the impact that the Animal Ball will have….

How successful was the Animal Ball and what was your proudest achievement of the evening?

The happiest moment was seeing the 800-strong guest list grooving away in their couture endangered animal-inspired headdresses – it was the most positive and creative way to connect Londoners to what is happening to the world’s wildlife. Each and every headdress paid powerful homage to the natural world that we are losing and emphasised that conservation is about saving beauty, saving what makes our world magical, and that losing it would be like losing our own imaginations. The night aimed to establish itself as a key London event which, given the press and attendance from thought leaders and national treasurers, it definitely accomplished. It also aimed to power the ambitions of some of the most dynamic conservationists at large today – the £1.7 million we grossed certainly achieved that. In reality, many millions are needed, and London needs to have a big conservation event that raises vast funds and awareness year on year. The night was a step towards that greater ambition.

HRH Duchess of Cornwall and guests

Where did the idea of The Animal Ball come from?

It came from googling ‘‘greatest ball in history ever’’ and discovering Truman Capote’s legendary Black & White Dance of 1966. In those days, dinners were held in advance of the ball, and it was all about the great arrival. I thought, what a great idea – everyone seems a little tired of the sit-down dinner and auction format. So we took that idea and ran with it – involving 40 London restaurants that gave dinners free of charge, from Sexy Fish and Park Chinois to The Ritz and of course, Clarence House! Each dinner had conservationists in attendance so that intimate conversations about where funds raised would be invested were possible. We took the mask concept and involved 40 of the world’s leading fashion houses, from Burberry, Matthew Williamson and Swarovski, to create collections of endangered animal masks that were so impressive, we also managed to put on a sold-out show at the V&A Museum.

The Animal Ball masks and elephants

Which designers contributed, which were the ones who stood out and which masks were your personal favourites?

As I mentioned, 40 of the world’s top fashion houses contributed to create this bestiary of beautiful creatures; including Alice Temperley, Chloe and Jimmy Choo. Personal favourites included those by a lesser-known milliner, Leonora Ferguson, who created over 20 ring tailed lemurs – they were all unique and absolutely brilliant. Other favourites included Noor Fares and her unicorns and Swarovski’s amazing snow leopards. Of course, from India, we had the leading bridal designer, Sabyasachi, and his Bengal tiger masks – utterly brilliant and amazing craftsmanship.

Unicorn Mask by Noor Fares and Lemur Mask by Leonora Ferguson

How much did you raise and where will the funds go?

The evening raised an astonishing £1.7 million, which means wildlife-saving projects for lowland gorillas, lions and both species of elephant can now charge forwards. For Elephant Family, an immediate urgency lies in Odisha State in east India which is one of the worst places in the world for human/elephant conflict. Since 2004, elephants have trampled over 87,000 acres of ready-to-harvest crops and damaged more than 8,000 houses in Odisha. It’s a fatal battle that has killed 685 elephants and taken 660 human lives. Elephant Family is committed to easing the conflict in Odisha and we can now plan to invest in corridors in this landscape that link the forest fragments back together, and plant nourishing fodder that elephants love in 20,000km2 of forest, which will help the elephants to live within their habitat.

Guests at The Animal Ball (image courtesy of Ben Pipe)

What is the toughest and/or most harrowing project Elephant Family has been involved with?

Endangered Asian elephants being slaughtered for their skin [see link here].

What would you say is the biggest obstacle that Elephant Family habitually faces?

Lack of funds and a perception that people should come before, or separate to, nature and animals. The amount of times those in our field hear words to the effect of ‘‘but what about the starving children?’’ Environmental causes receive just 3% of global philanthropic giving.

How effective can projects such as this go towards saving wildlife from extinction?

Our vision is to create a future in which elephants and other species that share their habitats live in harmony with people. To date, we have funded over 150 field projects and are currently active in 6 of the 13 elephant range states in Asia: India, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. The projects we fund are working and have already reduced the conflict by as much as 90% in the areas we have so far reached.

Elizabeth Hurley and guests attend a VIP dinner at Sexy Fish to celebrate The Animal Ball
(image courtesy of Dave Benett)

How have the Royal Family supported your project, and which ones in particular?

I cannot tell you how involved they have been – both Mark’s sisters, the Duchess of Cornwall, who is our Joint Royal President, and Annabel Elliot, who is a lifelong Patron, her son and Mark’s nephew Ben, Mark’s daughter Ayesha, and HRH Princess Eugenie of York, who are Elephant Family Patrons. They have all been just supersonic when it comes to supporting and putting their arms around the charity.

Ellie Goulding, HRH Princess Eugenie of York, Anna Friel and Evgeny Lebedev attend a VIP dinner at The Arts Club to celebrate The Animal Ball (image courtesy of Dave Benett)

Mark Shand was obviously a huge driver in terms of what he wanted to do with Elephant Family, but what would you say is your one overriding memory of the work he undertook?

He had an unbelievable talent at galvanising people into caring about conservation when it previously wasn’t on their radar. It was such a gift.

What is your overriding memory of him? What should be his lasting legacy?

I was talking to Ayesha recently about Mark’s legacy, and we both agreed that it’s his determination, energy and optimism. He left his mark on every single person he worked with.

What is your proudest achievement working with Elephant Family?

Covering London in 300 painted elephants in 2010 – it remains London’s biggest outdoor art exhibit on record and put the plight of the overlooked Asian elephant on the map and raised millions for projects in the field.

Annabel & Ben Elliott, Elizabeth Hurley and Quentin & Jemima Jones
(images courtesy of Nick Harvey and Dave Benett)

How can people make a difference to conservation efforts?

You can be pessimistic and depressing about your cause, or you can go in on the positive and the inspiration factor. There’s a saying: ‘‘An ounce of hope is worth a tonne of despair,’’ and it’s so true. We can make a difference by consuming less, we can make a difference by losing our cynicism and backing the causes that are out there, fighting the good fight.

Anna Friel, Olivia Grant, Candice Lake and Elena Perminova attend The Animal Ball (image courtesy of Dave Benett)

What are your projects for the future?

Reconnecting India’s forests back together using 101 elephant corridors. Elephants travel large distances covering a range of landscapes. These journeys allow elephants to meet their basic needs for food and water needed to survive in varied environments. Increasingly, elephants must traverse lands that are heavily populated by highways, railways, mines and farms. Protecting elephant corridors is essential for the conservation of Asian elephants, forests and other species. Answering the call by our field partner, the Wildlife Trust of India, Elephant Family convened with three other major charities to establish the Asian Elephant Alliance. Together, we aim to leverage funding and obtain commitment from India’s most powerful players to protect and secure 101 corridors across the country. In the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in London, a declaration to mobilise £20 million by 2025 has been signed by Elephant Family, the Wildlife Trust of India, International Fund for Animal Welfare, IUCN Netherlands and World Land trust.

Designer Rui Xu at The Animal Ball

Finally, the one question we ask everyone – what is your favourite luxury?

Being immersed in the natural world, in an epic landscape, far far away from any signs of human activity. But the natural world is not a luxury; it is a necessity!

A Chance For Cheetahs By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel interviews Dr. Laurie Marker, founder of Cheetah Conservation Fund….

Dr. Laurie Marker (image courtesy of Jenny Bartlett)

How endangered are cheetahs in the wild?

It is not widely known, but the cheetah is Africa’s most endangered big cat. Since 1900, numbers have fallen by a dramatic 90% and there are now sadly fewer than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild.

Athena (image courtesy of Warren Court)

What are the reasons for this decline?

The cheetah faces many threats, such as habitat loss, human/wildlife conflict and climate change. Cheetah skins and bones are trafficked for traditional Chinese medicines or fashion. However, a little-known threat to the survival of the fastest mammal on earth is the trafficking for the illegal exotic pet trade. The cheetah is the least aggressive of the big cats and its beautiful coat and status as the planet’s fastest land mammal, unfortunately, makes it a desirable pet in some areas of the world, particularly in the Gulf States. Cheetah Conservation Fund has received reports that there could be more than 1000 cheetahs living as pets in the Gulf States, and most of these animals have been taken from the wild, mainly North-East Africa, putting already dangerously low populations in the area under immense pressure. It is estimated that 300 cubs are smuggled from the Horn of Africa every year, and out of every 6 cubs smuggled, 5 will die or disappear. Once they have been taken from the wild, they can never be returned.

Tell me about the Cheetah Conservation Fund project and what you are hoping to achieve?

Earlier this year, we launched the #BornToBeWild campaign, centred around raising awareness of the illegal pet trade, which coincided with the international meeting to combat illegal wildlife trade, CITES Conference of Parties 17. Several decisions to fight the illegal trade were unanimously approved, including a decision to monitor social media platforms where cheetah ‘‘dealers’’ advertise cubs, and the creation of a CITES Cheetah Forum which will be a valuable tool in sharing information and expanding knowledge about the species. We gained huge support from the media including major stories on both BBC and ITV News, as well as many print outlets, which helped to increase the public awareness of the plight of the cheetah and more is planned in 2017. Our work centres on implementing innovative programmes in Namibia and we support other initiatives in cheetah-range countries in Africa. These programmes include our Farmers For Africa initiative which helps to reduce the major impact of human/wildlife conflict. 90% of cheetahs live outside protected areas, meaning they live alongside farming communities and often come into conflict with them. Cheetahs are seen as a threat to farmers’ livelihoods as to them, the loss of even a single animal to a cheetah can be devastating. One successful programme is the Livestock Guarding Dog Programme. We breed Anatolian Shepherd dogs (a breed that for thousands of years has guarded small livestock against wolves and bears in Turkey) and give them to the farmers. The dogs bond with the herd and use their size and loud bark to scare away potential predators. Since this successful programme began in 1994, livestock loss from all predators has reduced by over 90%. So far, with support and money raised around the world, we have provided over 600 guarding dogs to farmers in Namibia but there is a two year waiting list so we are aiming to expand this programme.

Kiri (image courtesy of Eli Walker)

We have also given dogs to cheetah organisations in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania so that they can develop their own breeding programmes. We also run a model farm at our HQ in Namibia where we teach over 3000 farmers each year how to improve their farming techniques, as well as predator-friendly farming practices, so that they can then charge a premium for their products under our eco-label scheme. We also run education workshops for young people and reach over 25,000 schoolchildren a year, inspiring them to protect the cheetah. Another successful project is the Bush Block Programme. We cut back the encroaching thorny bush which is processed into high-heat, low-emission, compacted logs, which is then used as a cooking fuel or for heating homes. The cheetah needs wide, open spaces to roam and hunt, and the thorny bush on their land is a real problem. With more support, we will expand all these programmes throughout Namibia and into other cheetah countries, and our ultimate goal is to reach a time when the cheetah can live peacefully alongside us humans and thrive so that we can guarantee its future survival.

Why is so little known about their situation – compared to elephants, for instance – and why are so few people doing anything about it?

I think so little is known about the threats to the cheetah as it is not one of ‘‘The Big Five.’’ They are shy and elusive creatures. We had the media frenzy surrounding the atrocious killing of Cecil the Lion, we are exposed to the horrific consequences of rhino and elephant poaching regularly in the media, and the struggle of the tiger and the panda have been well documented – all for absolutely the right reasons. But what is happening to the cheetah is happening underground and not in front of a lens. We need more media attention to shine a light on the struggles the cheetah faces and we plan to do more in this area.

Rainbow (image courtesy of Eli Walker)

Why are you so passionate about this species and what have you managed to achieve personally?

I first fell in love with cheetahs back in the 70s. At Oregon’s Wildlife Safari, where I worked for 16 years before moving to Namibia, I raised a cub called Khayam. We formed an incredible bond and she showed me just how amazing cheetahs are. From then on, I knew I wanted to help save cheetahs. In 1977, I travelled to Namibia with Khayam to find out if it was possible to teach captive cheetahs to hunt for themselves. I wanted to find out whether we would one day see a captive cheetah released into the wild. That trip set the stage for a big change in my life. I set out to change the attitudes people held towards cheetahs; as an unwanted nuisance because they hunted livestock. I saw an opportunity to educate, and to help farmers and cheetahs survive alongside each other. Education has subsequently become a founding philosophy of Cheetah Conservation Fund, and is central to all we do. A particular high point for me was when we brought cheetah education to the world through International Cheetah Day, which is the 4th of December. Since it launched six years ago, International Cheetah Day has gone from strength to strength. The 4th of December holds particular significance for me, as it was the birthday of a very special cheetah; Khayam.

Is there still hope for cheetahs in the wild?

Yes, absolutely! Over the past 25 years, we have been working in Namibia to develop a model that enables humans and cheetahs to live and thrive together. Cheetah Conservation Fund is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs and conducts ongoing research through its world class research facility, The Life Technologies Conservation Genetics Laboratory. From here, we collaborate with scientists from around the globe on research that not only benefits the cheetah and its ecosystem, but other big cats and predators too. The Cheetah Conservation Fund model is working; cheetah numbers in Namibia have doubled since the charity was set up in 1990 and the country now proudly calls itself the Cheetah Capital of the World. But to ensure long-term survival, we must parlay our success in Namibia into greater success by extending our reach into other areas, such as the north West of the country where farmers are still shooting cheetahs, and into the remaining cheetah-range countries, including Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and many more. We want there to be a future for cheetahs in the wild, but to secure that future we must exponentially increase our capacity to educate, train and intervene in all territories where cheetahs are found.

What can people do to help?

There are so many ways to help to secure the future of the cheetah on this planet. Spread the word about the plight of the cheetah and the work that Cheetah Conservation Fund do. A wealth of information can be found on our website at You can also join in the conversation about the illegal cheetah pet trade using the hashtag #BornToBeWild and you can help directly through donating. We need to raise £2 million a year in order to achieve our programme expansion goals, and every little helps. You can also help us raise funds by becoming a CCF Ambassador, and we have lots of ideas of how you can raise money for CCF on our Get Involved webpage. Finally, finding small ways to decrease your impact on the environment, even if you live thousands of miles away from Africa, is a huge help. Collectively, small changes go a long way to help protect our fragile planet and all the precious species that exist on it.

For more information about Cheetah Conservation Fund, please contact Dr. Jane Galton –

The Race To Save The Cheetah By The Luxury Channel

Tigerlily (image courtesy of Eli Walker)

Tigerlily (image courtesy of Eli Walker)

The fastest animals on earth are quickly going to become the fastest animals to disappear, unless we can act now to save them, says Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). Famous for their speed and agility, cheetahs are now one of Africa’s most endangered big cats. Their numbers have declined by 90% over the past 100 years, dropping from 100,000 to less than 10,000 today.

Peter and Khajay (image courtesy of Eli Walker)

Peter and Khajay (image courtesy of Eli Walker)

Cheetah Conservation Fund was founded in 1990, and is the first and longest-running organisation dedicated to saving the cheetah. With a unique approach that addresses the needs of both people and wildlife, CCF’s success has led Namibia – the country with the most remaining wild cheetahs and a nation that once viewed this species as worthless vermin – to proudly lay claim to the title “Cheetah Capital of the World.” From humble beginnings as a research outpost, CCF has grown into a major force in conservation, under the guidance of its founder, Dr. Laurie Marker.

Angela and Jonathan Scott, HRH Princess Michael of Kent and Dr. Laurie Marker

Angela and Jonathan Scott, HRH Princess Michael of Kent and Dr. Laurie Marker

The tremendous achievements of Dr. Marker were celebrated at an exclusive fund-raising dinner, held at the Mayfair Hotel. Among the key guests who attended alongside The Luxury Channel were HRH Princess Michael of Kent, the BBC’s Kate Silverton, and John Rendall, author of A Lion Called Christian. We were served Cheetah Cocktails, made with smooth Edgerton Premium Pink Gin. As we sipped our cocktails, we were treated to an original composition by pianist and wildlife photographer Matt Clarke (who later bravely offered himself as an auction prize!).

Cheetah Cocktails made from Edgerton Pink Gin

Cheetah Cocktails made from Edgerton Pink Gin

Working closely with Dr. Marker for more than 25 years are wildlife presenter and photographer duo Jonathan and Angela Scott, whose autobiography The Big Cat Man was launched on the same night. The book charts the couple’s extraordinary lives, from their beginnings in the UK to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve, together with enchanting stories of families of cheetahs and other endangered big cats. Jonathan and Angela both share Dr. Marker’s long-standing commitment to protect the future of the fastest land animal on our planet, and applauded her “crucial efforts to help save this iconic species.”

Angela and Jonathan Scott, and HRH Princess Michael of Kent

Angela and Jonathan Scott, and HRH Princess Michael of Kent

Dr. Marker herself revealed that “we’ve lost 90% of the world’s population of cheetahs in the last 100 years due to human/wildlife conflict, habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. Tragically, there are less than 7,000 remaining so we need to act fast. Addressing these threats now will help ensure that cheetahs are around on our fragile earth for the next 100 years. Without continued help from our loyal supporters, we simply wouldn’t be able to sustain this vital work.”

Kate Silverton with Patrick Mavros and guest

Kate Silverton with Patrick Mavros and guest

The evening was a huge success, raising £25,000 for Cheetah Conservation Fund and helping to increase awareness of the plight of Africa’s most endangered big cat. In total, £2 million a year is needed for the next five years in order to develop more programmes for the cheetah and its habitat but, to quote Dr. Marker, “we can, and we will, make this happen.”

For more information, go to

The Sky In The Eyes By Fiona Sanderson

Rui Xu

The Luxury Channel speaks to couture fashion designer Rui Xu, who designed masks for Elephant Family’s Animal Ball….

Why have you chosen to support the Elephant Family charity and the Asian elephant with your work?

We still have Asian elephants in China in the very south of the Yunnan province, bordering Burma and Laos, and they are a protected species in China. The Asian elephant is very gentle, and has always been the intimate connection between humans and nature. But nowadays, people have not only invaded their homeland, but also exploited them, detested them, and abused them. During the Middle Ages, Chinese ivory products were considered among the best in the world. During that time, the hunting, killing and plundering of elephants was very rare. Nowadays, with the boom in human population, these elephants are on the verge of extinction. When you see so many shoddy ivory products in the market, you think of those poor elephants’ lives, and your heart is filled with infinite compassion. I will feel huge pleasure if my donation can bring real benefits to Asian elephants and other wildlife.

Rui Xu's Masks

Why have you chosen to use the antelope family in your mask designs for the Animal Ball?

The Asian elephant is representative of wild animals that are on the verge of extinction and we are coming together to tell the world that they need our help. These animals have close family bonds and they enjoy social networking, just like human beings. So I choose antelopes – who are very similar in this regard – to be a friend of the elephant family. My family and I saved an antelope once in Qinghai in China. At once, I beheld its beauty and refinery, just like a fairy falling to Earth. I hope the Animal Ball can become the living room of all the wildlife worldwide, to let them tell their own stories and safeguard their interests.

Rui Xu's Mask

What is the inspiration behind your designs?

Animals have souls, as well as dignity, just like human beings. This can be seen from their eyes. Their weaknesses reflect our own human immaturity and fear. Pretty or ugly, smart or stupid, we are all comparative; we cannot judge the beauty of the world by our own standards.

Rui Xu's Mask

As a Chinese national, how important is it to make China aware of the plight of wildlife such as the elephant and rhino?

It is urgently important to make every Chinese citizen be aware that wild animals are helpless and in difficult situations. They have every right to the land as much as we do. China boasts many varieties of wildlife due to its varied landscape and geographical diversity, but they are facing many difficult situations. Those with commercial value are the ones that have suffered the most, followed by those who are not popular because of their appearance, or those who have been demonised by literature, such as the pangolin, the black bear and the Tasmanian devil. They have been persecuted in various ways such as being expelled, forced to give commercial performances, robbed of their organs, slaughtered or harmed for no reason. In China, there are thousands of animals being maltreated every day, due to people’s ruthlessness or ignorance. I hope more wildlife organisations can be established by the government to better inform people of the knowledge of species and ecology, to make citizens more aware that wildlife is created by God to share the earth with us. Humans ultimately do not own the earth. We should make laws to prevent the destruction of wildlife and educate more people to reduce this harm caused by ignorance.

Guests at The Animal Ball, including The Duchess of Cornwall (image courtesy of Clarence House)

Guests at The Animal Ball, including The Duchess of Cornwall (image courtesy of Clarence House)

What are attitudes like in China towards wildlife?

Most Chinese citizens do not have enough knowledge of wildlife, especially teenagers. Wildlife protection organisations are too weak with little power in this commercial world. The government is giving support ideologically while the financial support they provide is quite limited. Animal lovers and scholars have a very weak voice, and public awareness has not been established yet. In China, there are a lack of organisations like Elephant Family that can connect businesses and government, connect responsibility and entertainment, and influence communities. I think that wildlife education should be introduced into the school system. The love from children is the most powerful and can change the world.

Rui Xu's Masks

Do you think people will every stop buying ivory or animal products?

I don’t think we should completely ban the purchase or production of ivory products. I believe in making tusks into fine artwork. But these tusks should come from natural death or regulated hunting, and this work should be completed by strictly certified artists. Inferior quality work sold purely for financial gain should be fundamentally prohibited.

Rui Xu

What is your message to the world?

If I can use only one word, then that would be “love.” If I can use two words, then I will say “love” and “beauty.” No matter how the world changes, I hope people can always feel love and beauty through my designs.

To find out more about the work undertaken by Elephant Family, go to To find out more about Rui Xu, go to To see Rui’s masks for the Animal Ball, click here.

Rui Xu – Making A Stand For Wildlife At The Animal Ball By The Luxury Channel

Rui Xu Animal Mask

Following on from her successful exhibition Beauty On Fire – For Zaha at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery (in memory of her friend and muse – the late, great Dame Zaha Hadid), Chinese fashion designer Rui Xu is firmly cementing her position as a leading designer in the UK. Rui’s most recent project was creating a series of unique animal masks to highlight the plight of wildlife for Elephant Family, whose Royal Presidents are HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. The masks were displayed at the V&A Museum (where Rui’s Xianggui fashion work is already a part of the permanent collection) in the Cupola, a secret dome on top of the building which is not usually open to the public, as a prelude to Elephant Family’s fundraising Animal Ball. The Animal Ball – a key fashion, philanthropic and cultural moment – was attended by London society.

Rui Xu

“We still have Asian elephants in China in the very south of the Yunnan province, but people have not only invaded their homeland, but also exploited them, detested them, and abused them,” Rui says of the reason for her involvement with the Animal Ball. “The elephant is a representative of the wild animals that are on the verge of extinction and so we are coming together to tell the world that they need our help. I hope the Animal Ball can become the living room of all the wildlife worldwide. When I think of those poor elephants’ lives, my heart is filled with infinite compassion. I hope my donation can bring real benefits to Asian elephants and other wildlife.”

Rui Xu Animal Masks

Rui has created one of the masks which was on display at the V&A: Mask No. 21 “The Return of The King – David’s Deer.” The mask is made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene plastic, which can be easily manipulated to create complicated shapes. 3D printing additionally allows for the development of precise details. However, despite the modern-day materials and digital design procedures employed, Rui finds the creative process akin to ancient craftsmen of old carving artworks by hand. This appreciation for understated but authentic artisanship is very much the inspiration behind her whole collection. “Slow down, appreciate the world, touch the heart of animals,” Rui says. “Then human beings will have more happiness and dignity in life.”

For more information about Rui Xu, go to, or see the full range of masks in this film.

Nadja Swarovski – Power And Positive Luxury By Fiona Sanderson

The Luxury Channel interviews Nadja Swarovski about the launch of the new Homeware Collection, the work undertaken by the Swarovski Foundation and her message for young people going into business….

Nadja Swarovski (image courtesy of Nick Knight)

Nadja Swarovski (image courtesy of Nick Knight)

You recently launched a new Swarovski homeware collection at Salone del Mobile – what is unique about it?

The unique thing about our Atelier Swarovski Home collection is that we have encouraged designers to mix crystals with other materials. We are currently using a mixture of marble and rose quartz which is cut in Austria with crystal. I believe the combination of the two materials really celebrates each material perfectly. We also use have a unique wave cut, which was first introduced by Zaha Hadid and is now produced by a master craftsman in our factory. We also have another product which uses long crystal strips which are attached by coloured glue, which is very interesting. Every product we do is really experimentation in terms of product development. The response at Salone del Mobile was amazing. In November, we are going to have a big display pop-up shop in Selfridges and we are launching our collection in Lane Crawford and Holt Renfrew stores. It’s important for us to work with international designers who understand their own markets.

Nadja Swarovski with Atelier Swarovski Home Products at Milan Design Week 2016

Nadja Swarovski with Atelier Swarovski Home Products at Milan Design Week 2016

What do you look for in designers?

The most important thing is to look at their past work and see if they have an appreciation for crystal. If they don’t, it’s hard for them to create something special and magical. You never know what the piece is going to look like until it is finished, but hopefully we can push their boundaries to create something truly unique. This is the first time we have allowed designers to create their own bespoke cut. For new designers, it means going to Austria, meeting with the product developers, getting an introduction into the archive and getting a glimpse of the manufacturing processes so they can see what the limitations are in creating shapes.

Nadja Swarovski (image courtesy of Nick Knight)

Nadja Swarovski (image courtesy of Nick Knight)

Which designers are you working with at the moment?

Aldo Bakker, and also Asif Khan, who is amazing and created the [Coca Cola Beatbox Pavilion] installation at the Olympic Park. John Pawson is working on something. We also have some emerging talent that we’re working with – Raw Edges and Ron Arad.

New Design Museum (image courtesy of Luke Hayes)

New Design Museum (image courtesy of Luke Hayes)

What projects is the Swarovski Foundation involved with?

We are launching the new Swarovski Foundation Centre For Learning in the Design Museum which supports two of the pillars that the Foundation supports – education and the environment. Another pillar for the Foundation is wellbeing, with a focus on topics to do with human rights. We are working with the organisation Women For Women, which supports women in foreign environments. We also have the Swarovski Waterschool, which has been active for 15 years – it started in Austria, now it’s active in China, Africa and India, and we have launched in Brazil and in North America. We are working in the Mississippi basin, where there is a lot of flooding. We support the teachers that are supporting the children with their learning, increasing the awareness of water care, and understanding that different locations have different requirements. So, in Africa for instance, it might be a question of hygiene and sanitation. The Waterschool programme has actually become part of our employee engagement programme – they have become so excited about these issues and have become apostles in their own right. Recently, we had an installation of the work of Eric Valli, who is a French photographer who documented the Yangtze River – in particular, the source of the river and the people that live around it, as everything is so beautiful and pure there, and needs protecting and preserving. As we know, you go down the river and it turns into a sceptic tank, where the dolphins and the fish are dying. Fishing communities are really being affected by it. There is so much education to be done, not only in the Far East and South America but also in our own backyard. We are working with the Nature Conservancy which has really good funding, and they can step in at a very high level and talk to countries. They are trying to prevent a dam being built in Chile and they have just come forth with an engineering project that won’t affect the environment. If only this could have happened in parts of the Yangtze River – so much of that area was destroyed, as well as the historic sites they had there. So it’s all about education and knowledge.

Ranger with children at the Swarovski Waterschool in Austria

Ranger with children at the Swarovski Waterschool in Austria

Should more luxury companies be held more accountable for their Corporate Social Responsibility policies?

Yes, absolutely. Any company that is commercially-minded should be held accountable and they should budget their funds to ensure the supply chain is clean – I can say that as a private company. It requires an investment but at the end of the day, it comes back. How great it is to feel environmentally clean? It’s a choice between making that extra hundred thousand in profits and having a cleaner environment. That’s my personal philosophy and I can’t hold it against anyone but part of “luxury” is sustainability – the time it takes to make the bespoke pieces, the stitching by one person for hours, the care and consideration. It’s not so much the luxury companies but more the fast fashion companies that are to blame for polluting the environment and who have bad working environments. We are proud of what we have done with our own CSR and have it all documented for everyone to read. We are a member of the UN Global Compact which has 10 principles you have to adhere to in order to stay part of the group. Things have changed. CSR is now more formalised than ever, which is good, and all that dovetails into our message, which is about empowering people. It feels good to know that the product we are using to empower people is also taking into consideration the empowerment of our employees who are creating the product. It goes full circle.

A Ugandan girl at the Swarovski Waterschool in Uganda

A Ugandan girl at the Swarovski Waterschool in Uganda

So are consumers now purchasing on the basis of a company’s environmental track record?

Yes they are, absolutely. Take our best seller – we had no idea that our UN bracelet would become so successful, which shows you that the customer likes to choose something that is doing good – not only knowing the story behind the product but also knowing that the product helps raise funds for a good cause. We are hearing more and more that customers are asking about how we produce our products, which is great.

Nadja Swarovski with Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka at a UN event in honour of WEPs, wearing the Atelier Swarovski UN Women bracelet

Nadja Swarovski with Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka at a UN event in honour of WEPs, wearing the Atelier Swarovski UN Women bracelet

Isn’t it harder for young companies to set aside budgets for CSR?

No, because they are starting from scratch, so they can make sure that the suppliers they use are sustainable, which wasn’t a requirement years ago. A lot of it happens not out of malevolence but more out of ignorance. Again, it’s about education and finding out where you can start to make a positive difference.

Nadja Swarovski speaking at the UN Women Global Compact event in honour of WEPs in New York

Nadja Swarovski speaking at the UN Women Global Compact event in honour of WEPs in New York

What are you most proud of in your career?

Several things stand out. The fact that we have created high quality products at a price level that people can afford and the fact that we have been able to support young talent and give them a chance. Sometimes a little support can have a huge impact. Also, the fact that we have never shied away from associating other design names with ours has worked really well. This cross-pollination with designers has worked across all our mediums, whether its architecture, fashion or jewellery, or even geographically. We are just about to work and support African and Middle Eastern fashion designers, many of whom are women. Hopefully, by supporting their creativity, you will have women who are self-confident who will raise sons who will be more respectful to women in the future.

Liya Kebede and Nadja Swarovski at a special lunch in honour of International Women’s Day  at the US Embassy in Paris

Liya Kebede and Nadja Swarovski at a special lunch in honour of International Women’s Day
at the US Embassy in Paris

What is your message to young people going into business?

Find your passion. If you link this to your profession you will have endless energy, which will propel you forward. Your heart and soul needs be involved in what you do. Get educated and become an expert in what you do. Knowledge is power and nobody can take it away from you. Education is freedom – particularly for women.

For more information, visit Take a look at our film From Russia With Style, featuring Swarovski – click here.

Travels To My Elephant By The Luxury Channel

David Alexander and wife Jayne beside their tuk tuk

David Alexander and wife Jayne beside their tuk tuk

This November, David Alexander, CEO of Alexander Associates Group will be racing prominent figures including Owen Wilson, Stephen Fry and TRH Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York across India, in support of Elephant Family.

Travels To My Elephant is a colourful rally raising funds to help save Asia’s forgotten elephants from extinction. The event will see a fleet of 30 tuk tuks race across India to the world’s most famous elephant, Tara, and is supported globally by Elephant Family’s Royal Presidents, TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, as well as a host of international stars.

TRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in a tuk tuk

TRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in a tuk tuk

“Elephant Family was started by my very dear friend, the late Mark Shand, who introduced me to the charity,” says David Alexander. “His focus on ensuring elephants and humans can co-exist in India was infectious – there was no question that I would be involved. But, it was his passion that ignited my own and led me to become a Patron.”

As part of the adventure, 20 tuk tuks designed by artists and creatives including Diane von Furstenberg, Nicky Haslam and Zandra Rhodes have been auctioned in London, ensuring the city streets were awash with colour. David Alexander was joined by his wife Jayne, as they bought one of the tuk tuks in order to raise funds for the charity. The couple will be taking part in the epic race, battling against 28 other teams from around the world.

David said of his involvement, “As a Patron of Elephant Family, I am a huge supporter of the work that they do. The natural world is part of our heritage and so it’s vitally important to protect the planet’s animals and ecosystems for future generations.”

David’s philanthropic role has also been a contributing factor in retaining perspective. “Giving back is incredibly satisfying,” he explains. “I relish being able to use my influence and experience for charities that are close to my heart. Over the years, I have continued to challenge myself – physically and mentally – to contribute and fundraise for good causes.

“Taking part in Travels To My Elephant will be a challenging, but worthwhile, way to raise not just money, but awareness of the plight of the endangered Asian elephant. All the funds raised will be invested where they are needed most – protecting the local people’s habitat, preventing conflict, and reconnecting the forest homes of these iconic animals.”

A tuk tuk outside Flemings Hotel in London

A tuk tuk outside Flemings Hotel in London

The inspiration for the Travels To My Elephant race dates back to 1988, when The Duchess of Cornwall’s brother, the late, great adventurer Mark Shand, rescued a street begging elephant named Tara. Together, they travelled across India and Tara became the star of Mark’s bestselling book Travels On My Elephant. Their journey inspired Mark to dedicate his life to raising awareness of the plight of the endangered Asian elephant.

The Asian elephant has declined in numbers by 90% in the past 100 years. Since launching, Elephant Family has doubled the amount of money going into their conservation and invested it to protect and reconnect Asia’s most important forests for elephants and all the animals who share them. Travels To My Elephant aims to raise £1m to reconnect landscape in Assam, Northeast India.

“Travels To My Elephant is an insane, magical, crazy adventure,” says Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn of the experience. “When I travelled to meet Tara in 1997, it was my very own magical mystery tour and one of the great moments of my life. What a be-fitting way to celebrate a man who did so much for these animals – save me a rickshaw!”

The race itself takes place from the 1st November, taking in the colourful and awe-inspiring scenery across Madhya Pradesh to Tara’s home at Kipling Camp, as teams of two from all corners of the globe take on this unique challenge.

Chasing Ice By Camilla Hellman

Lindblad Cove, on the western Antarctic Peninsula (image courtesy of James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey)

Lindblad Cove, on the western Antarctic Peninsula (image courtesy of James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey)

Chasing Ice – winner of the 2014 News and Documentary Emmy® Award for Outstanding Nature Programming in partnership with National Geographic – is a stunning documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski. Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering photographic evidence of our changing planet.

During his first trip to Iceland in 2007, James Balog (the subject of Chasing Ice), conceived the boldest expedition of his life: The Extreme Ice Survey (EIS). With a band of young adventurers in tow, he began deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers, whilst battling untested technology in sub-zero conditions. The Extreme Ice Survey is a long-term photography project that integrates art and science to give a visual voice to the planet’s changing ecosystems. The hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and captures ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breath-taking rate.

Orne Harbor on the Antarctic Peninsula (image courtesy of James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey)

Orne Harbor on the Antarctic Peninsula (image courtesy of James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey)

Currently, 41 cameras are deployed at 23 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica, South Georgia, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains of the US. These cameras record changes in the glaciers every hour, year-round during daylight. EIS supplements the time-lapse record with episodic photography in the French and Swiss Alps, Canada, Iceland, Antarctica and Bolivia. The total EIS pictorial archive totals over one million frames.

Chasing Ice premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the Excellence in Cinematography Award for US Documentary and received an Academy Award® Nomination for Best Original Song, Before My Time by composer J. Ralph, performed by Scarlett Johansson and Joshua Bell. Since its premiere, the film has won over 40 awards worldwide.

With the theatrical release of the film, Chasing Ice has hit $1.3 million in domestic total box office gross. To learn more, visit, or see

Adam LeWinter surveys Birthday Canyon, Greenland Ice Sheet, Greenland (image courtesy of James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey)

Adam LeWinter surveys Birthday Canyon, Greenland Ice Sheet, Greenland (image courtesy of James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey)

James Balog will be delivering a lecture entilted Human Tectonics: Ice, Fire And Life In The Anthropocene, which will explore the collision between people and nature through his encounters with elemental substances — lava, forests, wildlife, ice, fire. Balog’s first-hand accounts and photographic testimony make for a provocative and riveting multi-media presentation, celebrating the amazing beauty of nature but at the same time, challenging us to create a new relationship with the non-human natural world. The lecture will take place at the Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW on Wednesday 2nd December. See more at here.

Red Alert By K magazine

Red Skin

For half a century, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List has been tracking creatures and their risk of extinction. After attending an event in Paris to mark the anniversary, K magazine reports on the latest efforts to protect endangered species….

The black musselcracker, a large, solitary fish with a bulbous nose and a deep frown, resembles a bad-tempered cartoon animal. But if measures aren’t taken to protect it, future generations might only see it in cartoons. Endemic to South Africa, its population has declined precipitously due to overfishing, and its vulnerable status has earned it the attention of the Red List.

Cymatoceps Nasutus - The Black Musselcracker (image courtesy of Loot Eksteen)

Cymatoceps Nasutus – The Black Musselcracker (image courtesy of Loot Eksteen)

Created in 1964 by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Red List of Threatened Species is 50 years old. The IUCN has marked the milestone with events around the world, including a Biophilia Ball in London, proclaimed the ‘‘biggest wildlife party ever held’’ in the British capital.

Setting out to be a ‘‘barometer of life,’’ the Red List is the most exhaustive source of information on the relative risk of extinction of flora, fauna and fungi worldwide. Creatures on it range from the Javan rhinoceros, of whom there are fewer than 50 alive, to the Triboniophorous graeffei, a fluorescent pink slug that lives on Australia’s Mount Kaputar, an area highly vulnerable to climate change.

Kaputar Pink Slug (image courtesy of Michael Murphy)

Kaputar Pink Slug (image courtesy of Michael Murphy)

The Saint Helena Giant Earwig (from an island of the same name) was officially declared extinct this year. Ecologists believe it couldn’t survive when the stones under which it lived were removed for construction.

The Red List is a valuable tool for planning conservation action, conducting scientific research, distributing financial resources and drawing up environmental accords. Its specialists have evaluated 73,686 species and found that more than 22,000 — nearly a third — are in danger of extinction.

These partners mean business

On 11th December, friends and representatives of the IUCN, as well as some environmentally-minded business leaders, gathered at The Walt Disney Company’s offices in Paris to celebrate the Red List and see Disneynature’s new film, Bears. Companies have used philanthropy to support green initiatives for some time; formal partnerships between business and environmentalists are a more recent phenomenon.

Image from Disneynature 's "Bears" (image courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)

Image from Disneynature ‘s “Bears” (image courtesy of The Walt Disney Company)

An increasing number of environmental groups are welcoming these partnerships, knowing that the corporate world has financial clout and manages much of the world’s land. Corporations are starting to understand that they have a responsibility towards nature — and also that a loss of ecosystems and biodiversity poses major risks to their bottom line.

Jean-Christophe Vié, deputy director of the IUCN’s Species Programme, says, “We expect businesses to play an active role. For the moment, only a fraction of companies are committing themselves to the extent that they should.”

Aside from Disney, the companies that came to the Paris event included the cosmetics brand Klorane, which is working to save the endangered Calendula Maritima plant, and BNP Paribas, a French bank that is exerting pressure on palm oil producers to stop deforestation.

Calendula Maritima (image courtesy of Klorane)

Calendula Maritima (image courtesy of Klorane)

Also present was Dr. Helen Crowley, a zoologist who worked at the Wildlife Conservation Society before becoming Kering’s conservation and ecosystem services specialist. She explained to the audience that from a corporate perspective, being sustainable means finding business opportunities to turn a company’s negative impact on the environment into a positive one.

Fewer crocodile tears

The luxury industry has a unique position in biodiversity conservation, because it uses the skins from endangered species. The fact that reptiles they can be made into shoes or handbags makes them vulnerable. But at the same time, their market value goes a long way towards protecting their species.

Crocodile Skin

Crocodiles saw their numbers drop precipitously after the Second World War, as demand for leather soared, sparking a hunting frenzy. In 1971, when all 23 species of crocodilians were either endangered or threatened, the IUCN formed a Crocodile Specialist Group. It’s been a qualified success: eight species are now abundant enough for well-regulated harvests.

One effective measure has been ranching — collecting crocodile eggs in the wild and raising them on farms. The eggs become a source of income for local populations, encouraging them to protect the animals’ habitat, as habitat destruction is often a greater threat to wildlife than hunting or poaching. “Ranching has allowed us to save quite a few species of crocodiles,” says Vié.

Snakes alive!

Demand for python skin has also skyrocketed over the past decade, so they, too, must be carefully tracked and managed. “Snakes are a difficult species to monitor,” Crowley notes. “You can’t just go into the forest and count them, because they are really cryptic and difficult to find.”

In 2013, Kering and Gucci teamed up with the IUCN’s Boa & Python Specialist Group (BPSG) and the International Trade Centre to create the Python Conservation Partnership (PCP). It is conducting studies around sustainability, transparency, animal welfare and local livelihoods in order to improve the python trade and push for change across the industry.

“To promote trade sustainability directly means to promote python conservation, and this is the main reason we engaged with the industry,” says the BPSG’s chair, Tomas Waller.

Snake Skins

One area of study has been the feasibility of captive breeding, since farms can be used as a front to launder wild-caught snakes. Results of the PCP research have been comforting, Waller says. “We were able to challenge our former ideas and confirm that large-scale production of python skins in captivity is indeed possible and, in fact, is taking place in several south-east Asian countries.” To address compliance concerns, the PCP is studying ways to tell the difference between skins that are farmed or wild, such as testing skin samples for diet.

Yes, in my backyard

The PCP is also looking at how valuable the python trade is for local communities. The extent to which local people can be key players in habitat protection was recently highlighted in Madagascar, one of the first countries to practise wild crocodile egg collection. Its system worked well for years but then flagged, and in 2010, an international moratorium was placed on exports. The ban lasted four years.

Crocodile (image courtesy of Christine Lappai)

Crocodile (image courtesy of Christine Lappai)

In October 2014, Kering and the IUCN’s Crocodile Specialist Group, along with the International Trade Centre, joined forces to help the Government of Madagascar monitor and manage the trade of Madagascar’s Nile crocodiles.

What’s revealing is that during the moratorium, local villagers started destroying crocodile eggs. “Who wants crocodiles in their backyard?” Crowley says. “Nobody does. They tolerate crocodiles — and they won’t turn their habitat into rice fields and destroy their nests when they can get cash for eggs. If you want people to protect something, there has to be value in it for them.”

She’s quick to point out that just because you put an economic value on something, it doesn’t diminish its intrinsic value. On the Red List, the humble musselcracker gets the same billing as a crocodile.

For further information about Kering, visit, and for further information about the IUCN’s Red List, visit

The Last Days of Ivory By The Luxury Channel

Last Days

She cemented her place in Hollywood history with hard-hitting films such as The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, but director Kathryn Bigelow is now fighting a new war, having produced a short and harrowing film called The Last Days, to highlight the plight of elephants. Released to show the monetary as well as the blood trails between elephant poaching and ivory-funded terrorism, the animated film was made in collaboration with concept designer Samuel Michlap and WildAid’s Executive Director Peter Knights.

The fact is, an elephant is killed every fifteen minutes, and over 30,000 elephants are killed through poaching every year. If the situation continues as it is, elephants could be extinct in the wild in as little as eleven years.

The problem runs even deeper, however, since the poaching is done to fund terrorist activities. Both species extinction and global terrorism involve the loss of innocent life and both require urgent action. The message of the film on this point is a powerful one – “either we come together now to make these the last days of ivory-funded terrorism or we witness the last days of elephants in the wild.”

For more information, please visit, or watch the film below:

Born Free By Fiona Sanderson


Meru National Park, in addition to being one of Kenya’s key conservation areas, is also, significantly, the spiritual home of Born Free. It is where Joy and George Adamson lived, raised Elsa the lion cub and successfully, against all the odds, returned her to the wild. It is also where actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers focussed much of their attention when they started the charity Born Free (formerly called Zoo Check). So it was fitting that Land Rover, with whom Born Free has established a long-term relationship, should invite me to the Park to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the charity, and to see some of the remarkable, if harrowing, work that is routinely undertaken in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Image courtesy of Born Free Foundation

Image courtesy of Born Free Foundation

The jewel in the crown of Meru is Elsa’s Kopje, an award-winning lodge set in the heart of the Park. Currently the only fully operational lodge in Meru, guests have virtually the entire Park to themselves. The landscape is arid and dotted with baobab trees, but its thirteen rivers and springs also allow for thriving riverine habitats. The Park is known for its diversity of habitats and species, including rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk and Somail ostrich. The peak of Mughwango Hill looks down over the Park, affording a breath-taking 360 degree view of the surrounding volcanic plains.

Elsa's Kopje

Born Free’s relationship with Land Rover goes back over twenty years, when an official partnership between the two companies was established in 2002, but in reality, the origins of the association date back to 1966, when Land Rovers featured in the Born Free film. The requirement was then as it is now – vehicles with outstanding capacity and all-terrain capability to reach wildlife in the most remote locations.

Land Rover

Despite the majority of Born Free’s operations today being managed by her son Will Travers, at the age of 83, Virginia McKenna remains a very present driving force behind the whole operation. “I feel enormously grateful that we’re still here 30 years on,” she tells me, “and the challenges are possibly even greater now – but so is our determination not to give in.” That determination has resulted in the launch of a new anti-poaching scheme. Increased demand for bush meat is taking its toll on many species through poaching, and in one way or another, lions are affected. Meru is lion country, and the work that Born Free and the Kenya Wildlife Service carry out here is vital for their continued survival and presence here.

Will Travers and Virginia McKenna

The trouble is, Africa’s lion population has been decimated, not just through poaching but also through human conflict and increased (sometimes illegal) agriculture, so the Park has become something of a refuge. There are around 50 lions here, and that’s a number that Born Free are working hard to maintain, and indeed increase.

Snared Lion

“Balance is absolutely essential in life, and nature does it really well by itself,” Virginia says passionately. “Then [man comes] along and turns it upside down. It’s topsy-turvy and it’s chaos.”

But despite this, Virginia recognises the need for human involvement to preserve the life of the lions who live here. It’s a view shared by son Will Travers, who is looking to raise the awareness that will translate into much-needed funds for the charity to continue its work. “Tourism, and by that I mean everything from mass package tourism to luxury end tourism, has a fantastically important role to play in conservation,” he tells me. “Tourism brings in over a billion dollars to the Kenyan economy every year. It’s a very important part of Kenya’s economic strategy.”


Consisting of nine open-plan cottages, one honeymoon suite and Elsa’s Private House, and situated in one of the most spectacular settings in East Africa, Elsa’s Kopje is almost invisible to the naked eye as you approach. Built above the site of George Adamson’s original campsite, each uniquely crafted cottage is the ultimate “room with a view.” An inviting infinity pool overlooks the beautiful Meru plains, and it really is as close as you can get to being in paradise on earth. “A big part of this is about ‘responsible tourism,’” Will tells me and so of course, it’s no surprise to discover a lot of the initiatives promoted here are aimed at benefiting the local community. The School Book Project, for example, allows guests at Elsa’s Kopje to buy books at the camp shop and donate them to school children in person. Interested guests can also visit a traditional village for a fee that is paid directly to the local community.

Elsa's Kopje

Working with local communities, particularly those living on the edges of the park, is vital, Born Free’s Programmes Officer Victor Mutumah tells me. “We hope that communities who live with these wild animals can be spurred on by awareness and incentives made available through our conservation work,” he says. Despite these hard efforts, however, poaching of wild animals is very much evident, as I witnessed when KWS showed us the shocking sight of a recently snared giraffe.

Snared Giraffe

It’s a lucrative business, with an antelope or giraffe bringing in about $300 in local markets. Despite the removal of hundreds of snares, wildlife poaching has become even more sophisticated, Will Travers tells me. “Many parts of Africa are awash with illegal weapons due to local wars and local insurgencies. They are very easy and cheap to get hold of,” he reveals. “KWS and teams like them have a difficult and dangerous job, with their limited resources. We are committed to supporting them and we need to help them fight back with support and technology which will make them even more efficient. Born Free, with the support of Land Rover, has supplied tents, GPS units, binoculars, cameras and cold weather clothing – all sorts of things that will make their task not just better but more accurate. They have limited resources. They cannot be everywhere, so they need to know, where are the poaching hot spots?”

Will Travers

Since 1979, Africa’s elephant populations have tumbled from 1.3 million to no more than 400,000 today and South Africa is currently losing more than three rhino a day to feed the international demand for rhino horn. With African lion numbers estimated to be fewer than 25,000, the issues in Meru are only a very small part of the “war that is being waged against poaching” and the fight to save Africa’s endangered species. Clearly, conservation is a very complex issue and charities such as the Born Free Foundation, Tusk and WildAid are doing their best to raise awareness and gain public support both locally and at international levels. Will admitted to me that one cannot solve these difficult and complex issues alone; you have to solve it together.

Will Travers and Virginia McKenna

There are individuals who are working hard, in some cases dedicating their whole lives, to the preservation of Africa’s magnificent creatures. At the recent Tusk Conservation Awards ceremony in London, HRH The Duke of Cambridge honoured leading conservationists who have dedicated themselves to protecting Africa’s wildlife and its habitat. As well as announcing plans for a new award in 2015 to recognize “the extraordinary bravery and commitment of Wildlife Rangers,” the Prince presented two campaigners with trophies and substantial grants in recognition of their outstanding efforts.

Tusk Award Winner

In a speech at the presentation ceremony, he said: “The people we celebrate tonight, the nominees and all those they represent, work in some of the remotest and harshest environments on the continent. They regularly put their own lives at risk for the sake of conserving some of Africa’s rarest and most treasured species. Their unquestioning, selfless dedication to the cause is humbling, and I pay tribute to all of you. The work of this year’s finalists serves to illustrate some of our greatest conservation challenges: dramatic loss of lion; poaching of elephant and rhino; deforestation and the critical need for community involvement.”

Land Rover

The winner of the Tusk Conservation Award was Herizo Andrianandrasana, an activist from Madagascar who has been the driving force behind getting local people involved in conservation management in his homeland.

Virginia McKenna

“For now, though, people have a choice. They can stand by and do nothing, or get involved and actively make a difference” Will Travers tells me. Clearly, this situation is pretty drastic, so is it a case of too little too late, I ask him. “It’s never too late,” he replies. For the lucky few like myself who can support some of the responsible tourism initiatives in Africa, such as at Elsa’s Kopje, as well as witness the rangers and conservationists like Virginia McKenna, Born Free and KWS and see their work on the ground, I wondered what people could do back home. I put that question to Will, who said, “The first thing for anyone who cares about wildlife is not stay silent; speak up.” Talk to your family and colleagues, become an ambassador, ask them to join you in an endeavor, join a charity, adopt an animal, hold your own event, do a challenge, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, demonstrate your support, and raise a sum of money that the Born Free Foundation will deploy for lion conservation.

Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers in Born Free (image courtesy of Columbia Pictures and Born Free Foundation)

Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers in Born Free (image courtesy of Columbia Pictures and Born Free Foundation)

Paul Udoto from Kenya Wildlife Service agrees that this is the way forward. “I’m very proud of the new generation coming up, who are not letting the efforts of pioneers such as Joy and George Adamson go in vain. The current generation is reviving that spirit,” he says. “We are paying homage to the work that went on there, handing over the baton to the new generation. We must build on the foundation they created; it must not be squandered.” Time will tell, but just maybe, thanks to the efforts of teams like Born Free, Land Rover and the KWS, there might be a glimmer of hope for Africa’s magnificent creatures.


Born Free Foundation –
Kenya Wildlife Service –
Land Rover –

Fashion Statement: Born Free Africa And Liya Kebede By Britt Collins

Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede feels a deep connection to the cause of Born Free Africa, which is seeking to save African children from contracting HIV from their mothers. Billionaire‘s Britt Collins explains….

Liya Kebede

Liya Kebede

When the fashion world gets behind a cause, you can be sure it will be attention-grabbing and glamourous. American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, designer Diane von Furstenberg and a few dozen other industry superstars have kicked off a global initiative to save an entire generation of children in sub-Saharan Africa from contracting HIV from their mothers. And so Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, Vera Wang and 20 other designers have created a unique capsule collection of mother-and-child pieces and accessories using renowned Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu’s eye-catching prints in aid of Born Free Africa.

Ethiopian supermodel-designer-advocate Liya Kebede features in the glossy campaign, shot by Patrick Demarchelier, along with other models and their kids, all wearing the Born Free collection. “It’s humbling to be able to work with incredibly talented designers who, as mothers, recognise what the devastating loss of a child could mean and how easily that loss can be avoided,” she says from the New York home she shares with her husband and children. “The fact that you’re born in some geographic location or another shouldn’t determine whether you live or die.”

Kebede, who already has her own charity and eco-fashion line Lemlem dedicated to maternal health in her native country, feels a deep connection to the cause. “A lot of women in third world countries aren’t aware that they could prevent their child from having HIV,” she says. “Just one pill a day can prevent a mother from transmitting HIV to a baby. In a way, you’re giving these women the rights to life, the right to choose, how they live their lives and to be there for their children.”

Kebede has sold everything from couture and lipstick for Chanel to diamonds for Tiffany and lingerie for Victoria’s Secret. She has also broken molds, becoming the first black face of Estée Lauder and has peered out of enough covers to be ranked by Forbes as one of the world’s highest-paid models. Since 2005, the 36 year old mother of two has been a World Health Organisation Goodwill Ambassador, striving to raise awareness of the health risks new mothers and infants face in the developing world, and was recently named among Time’s 100 Most Influential People, alongside Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Kebede’s rise from a shy, skinny young girl from Addis Ababa to the international catwalks began when then-Gucci creative director Tom Ford, turning out to be something of a fairy godfather, hand-picked the budding model for an Yves Saint Laurent campaign during a Milan catwalk show. The first time they met, 16 years ago, Ford was mesmerised not only by her beauty but her big-heartedness, saying she “projected an aura of goodness and calm.”

Kebede could have easily been swept away by her successes. Even before her career started skyrocketing, she was exploring ways to improve the lives of others. “It’s important to look at the world, to be passionate, to have a dream,” she says in her soft, silky accent. “Growing up in Africa surrounded by poverty made me want to help and shed light on issues that would otherwise go unnoticed. That feeling never left me.”

Having become involved in maternal health issues, she also created designs from her Lemlem label for Born Free. “Right now, HIV and complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the biggest killers of young women in Africa,” she says. “We have the healthcare solutions at hand to make these preventable deaths a thing of the past.”

American philanthropist John Megrue, chairman of private equity firm Apax Partners, founded Born Free Africa. He says, “If you spend time in a paediatric AIDS clinic in Africa and you realise the incredible mortality and the ease with which one can stop that by giving a pregnant mother a pill a day, you come away feeling you have to do something.”

The figures are stark: currently more than 90% of HIV infections in infants result from mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy or birth. Born Free Africa is tackling the epidemic by helping local governments make the pills readily available to any expectant mothers who need it. In 2012, the organisation helped bring down the rate of babies born with the disease to 260,000 per year.

The idea for the project started with a lunch with Megrue, Anna Wintour and Diane Von Furtenburg. Teaming up with the fashion industry seemed a natural collaboration in his mind. “It was the very first industry to be involved in HIV in the early 1980s and raising millions,” he says. “Global health issues can easily fall off the radar, but when you get a group of women who are mothers, who are legendary designers, all throwing their energy in, it really is inspirational. I think it’s magical. The hope is to have a generation born free of HIV.”

To find out how to get involved, visit or purchase items from Article originally published on

Annoushka Ducas – A Portrait of Ethiopia By The Luxury Channel


In 2007, when jewellery designer and mother-of-four Annoushka Ducas MBE first travelled to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, she was touched by stories of families who could no longer support their children. Through no fault of their own, these children would more often than not end up in orphanages, estranged from their families and lost to their mothers. This experience prompted Annoushka to give something back by empowering mothers to be able to provide for their children through the charity Give A Future. “Ethiopia is a rapidly emerging economy but is still plagued by poverty,” she reveals. “In Africa’s political capital, Addis Ababa, Give A Future changes the lives of thousands of women and children.”


Give A Future is a not-for-profit fund launched 10 years ago which invests in children, women and artisans in Addis Ababa. Annoushka specifically supports the micro-finance programme, which provides business training, small loans and practical support, giving women a chance to support themselves and their families. As little as £35 a year can raise these families out of poverty. “These women are truly extraordinary; they are courageous, loving and determined,” Annoushka explains.

Earlier this year, Annoushka returned to Addis Ababa with photographer Amanda Vail to document the lives of some of these women and their children. “I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible and let my photography tell the very powerful story of Give A Future’s work and how it is transforming so many lives in a very practical way,” Amanda reveals. The captivating and emotional images were on show at the Annoushka Boutique in Cadogan Gardens, London, as part of the continuing Art At Annoushka series.

Annoushka Ducas

In conjunction with the photographs, Annoushka has personally selected and designed a one-of-a-kind Ethiopian opal collection. Each of the unique, exquisitely faceted opals has been simply framed in a double halo of warm champagne diamonds and set in elegant black gold to contrast with the light and fire of the opals. Of these pieces, 20% of proceeds will be donated to Give A Future. Shop the collection at Annoushka Boutique, 41 Cadogan Gardens, London SW3 2TB or visit

Why Your Next Sweater Should Be Alpaca, Not Cashmere By Jenni Avins

Alpacas in the Andes (image courtesy of Reuters)

Alpacas in the Andes (image courtesy of Reuters)

Of all the party animals at February’s New York Fashion Week, the alpacas may have been the best-behaved. The lovable, long-lashed camelids mixed with the media at a party where the Peruvian Trade Commission promoted the use of their fibre.

Those alpacas arrived right on time. The widespread ubiquity of cashmere, the wool spun from soft under-hairs of Asian cashmere (or Kashmir) goats, is no longer sustainable. Sure, cashmere has gotten cheaper since making the leap from luxury to mainstream in the 1990s, but the quality has declined with the price.

In much of the world, sweater weather won’t be here for several months. But production for this Autumn’s collections is already underway, and the fashion industry is onto alpaca. Brands such as Louis Vuitton and Versace have already showcased the fibre on runways in Paris and Milan. Numbers on this year’s alpaca sales aren’t yet available, but some designers say their alpaca yarn orders are on waiting lists, as mills in Europe and Asia rush to buy up Peru’s supply.

“We have seen an increase in alpaca consumption,” says Alejandro Salazar, the sales manager for Michell CIA, the world’s largest supplier of alpaca yarns, “especially in the last two years.” His colleagues are currently preparing orders for clients in Europe, Korea, Japan, and the US, and newer customers, including large chains such as Banana Republic and Polo, will have yarns sent directly to factories in China to be knitted into sweaters that will hit stores in September.

Like cashmere, alpaca is a natural fibre that looks and feels luxurious, and it can be equally, if not more, durable. Although it’s cheaper than cashmere, the Incas placed a higher value on the fibre than silver or gold — which isn’t really surprising to anyone who has cosied up in a coat or sweater made from the stuff.

A brushed alpaca topper at Costello Tagliapietra’s AW14 fashion show (image courtesy of Costello Tagliapietra)

A brushed alpaca topper at Costello Tagliapietra’s AW14 fashion show (image courtesy of Costello Tagliapietra)

Alpacas come in range of more than twenty naturally gorgeous colours, from inky black to warm chestnut to snowy white, and their wool is lofty, soft, and warm. Costello Tagliapietra and Edun have taken the fabric to another level, brushing woven alpaca to fur-like effect. Those sweaters and coats look and feel every bit as luxe as any cashmere competitor.

The alpaca boom is not only good news for Peru, which exports some $175 million of alpaca fibre each year, and for those of us who get to wear the clothes; it’s also good for the planet. Simply put, cashmere is environmentally catastrophic. Grasslands in China cannot support the hungry goats required to keep stores stocked with piles of cashmere, and they’re turning into icy deserts.

Prior to the 1990s, cashmere was a rare luxury, but as the fibre has grown cheaper over the last two decades, the demand for ultra-soft, lightweight, candy-coloured cashmere sweaters has sky-rocketed, and goat herds have exploded accordingly. In Mongolia — the second largest provider of the world’s cashmere behind China — the goat population quadrupled from 5 million to 20 million between 1990 and 2009. The majority of those goats reside in the steppe, high plains that are susceptible to extreme cold.

Alpacas come in a range of colours (image courtesy of Reuters)

Alpacas come in a range of colours (image courtesy of Reuters)

Although those low temperatures help goats to grow the soft down we know as cashmere, unusually harsh winters in recent years have decimated the herds. In the winter of 2009-2010, one of Mongolia’s worst in 30 years, the country lost nearly a fifth of its livestock. The World Bank granted $1.5 million for workers to pile goat carcasses into mass graves.

Ninety percent of Mongolia is already at risk of turning into a desert, and many hypothesize that over-grazing is compounding the effects of climate change in a process that is already underway. Between 1994 and 1999, the Gobi Desert increased by an area larger than the Netherlands.

Because goats are hardier than sheep, herders tend to shift their livestock mix towards goats as land becomes more arid. But that adds to the problem by further damaging the ecology; the goats’ sharp hooves destroy topsoil and grasses, and they nibble plants close to their roots, destroying the native grasses. It’s a vicious cycle.

But the environmental footprint of an alpaca is far lighter than a cashmere goat’s — literally. Alpacas live largely in highlands of the Peruvian Andes, for now a less fragile ecosystem, where their soft, padded feet are gentle on the terrain and they graze without destroying root systems. They’re also reputed to be placid and affectionate.

The kind of population boom that cashmere goats have seen seems less likely for alpacas. In spite of fluctuating demand for their fibre, Salazar says the animals’ population in the Andes remains relatively steady. If anything, he worries that the herds will decline as the current generation of alpaca herders and breeders ages, and their children are more interested in finding work in the city than continuing their parents’ work. For this reason, Michell owns and operates a breeding ranch and education centre to help sustain Peru’s alpaca population.

Shepherd Felipa Rojo feeds an alpaca at a range in the Andean community of Upis in the highlands of Cuzco (image courtesy of Reuters)

Shepherd Felipa Rojo feeds an alpaca at a range in the Andean community of Upis in the highlands of Cuzco (image courtesy of Reuters)

Alpacas are also more efficient than goats. An alpaca drinks less water than a goat and can handily grow enough wool for four or five sweaters in a year. It takes four goats the same amount of time to produce sufficient cashmere for a single sweater, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

None of this would matter to clothing connoisseurs if alpaca products themselves didn’t measure up to cashmere. But they do, especially as cashmere’s quality has declined. After Mongolia’s cashmere industry privatised in 1990, breeders began cross-breeding their herds and focusing on quantity over quality. So goats produced more cashmere by weight, but the fibre became shorter and coarser. The result? A sweater that’s less soft, and more likely to pill (and what’s the point of buying a fancy sweater if it’s going to look and feel cheap?)

While an alpaca fibre has an overall larger diameter (read: coarser texture) than a cashmere fibre, after animals are shorn, experts hand-sort the wool by staple length and diameter, ranging from prime, downy-soft baby alpaca (those finest of under-hairs, not actually shorn from baby alpacas) to the more robust guard hairs found on animals’ legs and undersides.

Just as certain parts of a cow produce prime cuts, so do specific sections of an alpaca produce prime fibres — and that’s how alpaca yarns are sold. A sweater made of classified “super baby” alpaca can rival its cashmere counterpart when it comes to softness, and outdo it when it comes to strength.

A sweater costing $150 to $200 — pretty standard for 100% alpaca — may seem expensive, but it can be a good investment. With consumers in the US generating about 14 million tons of textile waste each year (about 385,000 tons of clothing are tossed annually in the UK), it’s better to buy a single great, durable sweater than a pile of highly replaceable ones.

Unlike cheap cashmere, alpaca feels stylish and substantial. Knowing that it’s also relatively sustainable might be the ultimate luxury.

Article courtesy of Quartz.

Womanity – Equality And Women’s Empowerment By The Luxury Channel

The Charity

70% of the poor in the world are women and at least one in every three women, or up to one billion women, have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes.

This is the shocking statistic released by Womanity, a charity founded by Swiss entrepreneur Yann Borgstedt, which reveals that even in the 21st century, women are still viewed as subservient – even as dispensable – to men. It’s a view that Borgstedt is working hard to change. “Men should understand that it is not about control; the more you empower women, the more a society develops itself,” he reveals.

Yann Borgstedt

Womanity works to give women across the world an equal voice to their male counterparts, through social and political empowerment. But, as Borgstedt points out, it’s this concept of equality that is important. “It’s human rights, not women’s rights,” he explains, “because for a society to function well, you have to give the same rights and chances to everyone.” So, why “womanity,” and not humanity as a whole? Borgstedt is pragmatic. “The logic was to focus on one issue,” he says. “If you want to have impact, you cannot do everything. So that’s why I decided to focus on girls and women.”

Current Womanity projects include the promotion of education, employment and women’s rights, which in turn lead to realistic income prospects, whilst protecting the physical and psychological integrity of the women. Two other innovative projects are Radio NISAA FM (the first commercial women’s radio station managed by women in the Middle East) and boosting girls’ education in Afghanistan through the transformation of girls’ schools into model schools. Borgstedt admits there is still more to be done but says, “we’re pushing the boundaries and we are getting better and better at [it].” In turn, it transpires that the women he helps are a constant source of inspiration. “I meet so many great women,” he adds.

Yann Borgstedt In India

But what of Borgstedt himself? “I always say that I come from a very materialistic environment – the environment in which I live and in which I grew up – but there is more than just that. Life is a long, spiritual path. If you’re on that path, you realise that if you were given a lot, you need to give back.” With Womanity making such a difference to the lives of women across the globe, Borgstedt certainly seems to have found that purpose.

Borgstedt is currently getting plans together to go to Brazil. Since 2011, the Womanity Foundation has run its WomenChangeMakers Fellowship here, supporting social entrepreneurs who work for women’s empowerment. He explains that at the moment, the Foundation is working with Alice Freitas, the founder of Rede Asta, based in Rio de Janeiro, assisting women artisans from the local favelas and other poorer areas of Brazil’s society to design, produce, market and sell crafts made from recycled or sustainably grown materials. The aim here is to double the number of artisans who collaborate with Rede Asta and thus provide sustainable revenues for about 1500 women by 2015, while at the same time ensuring that Rede Asta becomes financially self-sufficient and able to continue its expansion throughout Brazil.

The Womanity Gala

With Chopard, Hublot, The Swiss Development Group, UBS, HBK Investments and more….

Mokobe and Yann Borgstedt

Womanity will be holding their annual Gala on 30th January 2014 at Espace Hippomene, in Geneva. The theme is Fire & Ice, and guests can be sure to expect plenty of surprises on the night! This event is a bi-annual fundraiser, where Goodwill Ambassador Rosanna Arquette, alongside Borgstedt and other high profile internationally acclaimed personalities, give their time to help raise funds for the charity.

Hublot Womanity Watch For Men

The auction lots are second to none. Amongst other high profile luxury brands, and support from Chime For Change, Chopard will create a bespoke one-and-only piece of jewellery for the auction, and Hublot a limited edition range of men’s and women’s watches for Womanity.

Womanity Hublot Women's Watch

The live auction also features a custom designed Mini, a new Fiat 500, a Villa in a ski resort, a Yacht on the seas for a week, along with many more, but strictly all money-can’t-buy prizes. There are star performances to boot, and the night never fails to be a mix of glitz and glamour, whilst all are reassuringly focused on the needs of the Foundation’s great cause. Rosanna Arquette, Womanity’s goodwill ambassador said, “during my travels around the world, I often had the opportunity to meet girls and women living in deprived conditions. Each time, I was deeply impressed by their generosity, dedication and determination, even in the face of the greatest of difficulties. These meetings convinced me that the poorest women can be powerful agents of change, if we believe in them and encourage them in their efforts.”

For more information, visit

Style Your Home With Dorya’s Green Furniture By Hannah Norman

Dorya Monroe Dining Table

Furniture-makers Dorya, recognised for their fine wood craftsmanship, is giving the green light to styling your home with green furniture. We’re not just talking colours, you understand, but credentials. Since 1996, Dorya has had a partnership with environmental charity Mother Earth and in the process, created a scheme whereby a tree seedling is planted for every piece of furniture produced. To date, over 36,000 trees have been planted.

Forest replenishment is something that Dorya has whole-heartedly embraced, and in 2006, joined forces with United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign, which aims to save the globe’s rapidly depleting forests. Within the first three years of the Campaign, over seven billion trees had been planted in over 170 countries.

The Green Chair By Dorya

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of solid wood and exotic veneer furniture, Dorya’s commitment to ecological production has also resulted in the foundation of The Green Chair Initiative, a charity set up by the company to ensure the proceeds from every chair sold go to an eco-friendly charity. The chair in question is one of Dorya’s most popular designs – a richly upholstered green velvet armchair (pictured above), with deep button detailing and classic fringe available from Interio (visit or phone +44 (0)1202 717017).

As well as charitable initiatives, eco-responsibility is also adhered to in the Dorya factory. In order to optimize the efficiency of wood usage, an intelligent computer system calculates how much of each piece gets used and subsequently, how much is left, thereby dramatically reducing unnecessary wood waste.

All of this ensures that when it comes to styling your home green (it is this year’s colour, after all!), you’re not just making a style statement, but an ethical one as well.

Chime For Change By Hannah Norman

Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini and CEO Patrizio di Marco (courtesy of Getty Images.  Photo credit - Daniele Venturelli)

Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini and CEO Patrizio di Marco (courtesy of Getty Images. Photo credit – Daniele Venturelli)

At the recent Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Vienna, Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco took to the stage to discuss the concept of the power of philanthropy. It’s something that Gucci is no stranger to, and whilst di Marco was happy to admit that philanthropy “is a marketing goal ultimately,” he was also quick to point out that Gucci is “doing what we are doing because it is the right thing to do.” Such initiatives include completely eliminating their use of all environmentally harmful chemicals and materials in their products by 2020.

“Definitely, the long-term goal, given our continuous and consistent commitment to responsibility, will enhance the brand,” he said, “and as such, the brand will have more meaning of craftsmanship, and consumers will buy more into the brand besides the tangible values.”

As well as their seven year partnership with charity UNICEF, Gucci has also recently embarked on another charitable project, initiated by creative director Frida Giannini. Chime For Change is a humanitarian organization that stands up for women’s rights across the globe, by raising both funds and awareness.

The charity has some pretty big backing. Giannini has teamed up with Hollywood actress Salma Hayek Pinault (her husband François-Henri Pinault is the CEO of Gucci’s parent company Kering), and pop star Beyoncé.

The singer said of her involvement, “I have always felt strongly about equal opportunity for women. Girls have to be taught from early on that they are strong and capable of being anything they want to be. It’s up to us to change the statistics for women around the world.”

Hayek added, “I believe that by working together, we can change the course of history to ensure that girls and women are empowered to realize their potential and thrive.”

Actress Salma Hayek Pinault and Kering CEO Francois Henri Pinault (courtesy of Getty Images.  Photo credit - Chris Jackson)

Actress Salma Hayek Pinault and Kering CEO Francois Henri Pinault (courtesy of Getty Images. Photo credit – Chris Jackson)

A major concert featuring Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Florence + The Machine was held at Twickenham Stadium near London to raise funds and awareness of the issues that Chime For Change is highlighting – the atrocities faced by many girls and women all over the globe. Harrowing figures quoted by the charity include the 800 women who die – every single day – simply giving birth, even though 80% of these deaths are easily preventable.

Chime For Change is ultimately about giving women a voice, and as Giannini commented, “I hope that we can help the voices calling for change to become so loud that they cannot be ignored.”

For more information about Chime For Change, and to sign up to support one of their projects, go to

Loro Piana’s Vicuñas – Gold And Honey In The Andes By Fiona Sanderson and Hannah Norman


Worth its weight in gold, vicuña fleece has long been labeled the gold of the Andes. Close cousins of the humble camel, vicuñas have been brought back from the brink of extinction by luxury fashion brand Loro Piana. The Luxury Channel has previously journeyed to Peru to film the work of the company first hand as they gear up for shearing season. We were recently invited to Rome for their exclusive press conference to hear their latest news – the announcement of their new partnership and shareholding in Argentinean firm Sanin SA, and to hear their exciting plans to bring their customers the very first products made from the wool of the Argentinean vicuña. At the Gran Premio Loro Piana Città di Roma, one of Europe’s finest horse show-jumping competitions and supported by Loro Piana for over 20 years, we were able to talk to one of the current CEOs, Pier Luigi Loro Piana (the other CEO is his brother, Sergio) about his latest project. “We’re always thinking of something new and we are very excited about our new project to protect and produce vicuña fleece in Argentina,” Pier Luigi says, adding, “it doesn’t hurt if you say you don’t pollute or that you use natural fibres. Many consumers appreciate that. When I go sailing, my wind jacket and my clothes are made with Loro Piana fabrics – which are waterproof and windproof – with wool and silk. We always try to push as much as we can the concept of natural fibres.”

Argentinean Vicuna

Loro Piana is one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses, whose passion and dedication to the sourcing of sustainable raw materials – and the communities that are dependant on the resulting income – is world-renowned. As Pier Luigi points out, “if you don’t give [the communities] money, what is going to happen? Nobody will take care of the territories. There is a full line of people who can take advantage of this [raw] material.” Loro Piana’s work takes the company across the globe, from Australasia for wool, to Mongolia for cashmere, and to Burma, for one of their latest initiatives – the lotus flower. “Lotus flowers are the vicuña of the summer,” Pier Luigi explains, before revealing “six thousand flower stems go into one jacket. Why? Because one flower makes one metre of yarn.” But what happens to the lotus once the stems are picked? “Lotus flowers grow continuously,” Pier Luigi reassures us. “It depends how you pick them – if you pick them in a certain way, they continue to grow. If you pull them in the wrong way, you destroy the root. But the people who are collecting the lotus flowers, they know how to do it.”

Lotus Flowers

Of course, Loro Piana’s work also takes them to South America for the fleece of the vicuñas. The company’s interest in vicuñas started back in the 1950s, when founder Franco Loro Piana developed a passion for the plight of these persecuted creatures, but it wasn’t until 1984 that they officially began to invest in a safeguarding programme. Poaching in the area proved problematic, although the company remained committed to continuing their conservation efforts. They were rewarded for their work in 1994, when, at the head of a consortium, they won the competition of merit held by the Sociedad de Criadores de Vicuña (Society of Vicuña Breeders), under the protection of the government. In 2008, the Dr. Franco Loro Piana Reserva was set up, giving Peru’s vicuña populations vast hectares to roam around on. “We have fences, so we limit their freedom to go everywhere,” Pier Luigi explains, “but it’s not really limiting their freedom because they have 2000 hectares to walk!”

Today, the 2000 hectares of the reserve are home to some 2000 vicuñas, and there are currently 180,000 vicuñas living freely across the Andes, thanks also to Loro Piana’s commitment and efforts. “We can now concentrate on the best quality and the best quantity coming out of the Argentinean territory,” Pier Luigi says, the major difference being that unlike the gold of the Peruvian vicuña fleece, Argentinean fleece is more of a honey colour. Argentina now has a controlled shearing procedure in place under the watchful eye of a team of vets, preventing a source of income for criminals keen to exploit the price of fleece.

Vicunas in Argentina

During shearing season in Peru, traditional Chaccu rituals are still performed, dating back to the days of the Incas, allowing the locals to celebrate the legends and traditions of their ancestors.

The result is the rarest and most extraordinary fibre in the world. But, as Pier Luigi explains, “textile technology is quite complicated! From the raw materials to the finished product is a very complicated process and you need a lot of know-how – even producing just the fabric is a nightmare! You have dyeing, spinning, weaving, finishing and then you have many ways of producing over 200 different styles of fabric.” But it’s the finished products that make the whole process worth it. “People are becoming more quality-conscious,” Pier Luigi reasons, when divulging Loro Piana’s dedication to using only the very finest raw materials. “My father was the one who really started to do special fibre blends. He was very interested in quality. But I don’t think it was a strategic decision – it was very much his attitude.”

Argentinean Vicuna Fibre

It’s this attitude that has surely helped Loro Piana to remain at the forefront as one of the most respected and dynamic ethical luxury fashion brands, despite a lack of mass marketing of their products. “My customers are my salesmen,” Pier Luigi says simply. In an intriguing way, he has a very good point. “You can be very proud to see your product in the window, and then you see somebody appreciate it and buy it,” he says. “For a seller, that is a great moment.”

CEOs Pier Luigi and Sergio Loro Piana

CEOs Pier Luigi and Sergio Loro Piana

So, when he’s not busy being CEO of one of the world’s most prestigious fashion brands, what does Pier Luigi do on his days off? “I like skiing, I like nature and I like sailing better than anything!” he enthuses, before telling us excitedly, “I bought a Tesla. I will be one of the first guys in Italy taking delivery of a Tesla.” But why a Tesla? “In Italy, there’s no more room for speed cars,” he says. “I love electrical cars and we have a big station for producing solar energy. We do over a million kilowatts per annum, which is a big quantity, just by the sun. Then I have an electric car, which I drive around the valley making no gas, no C02. It’s like stopping smoking – it gives me such satisfaction. You plug it in overnight, and that’s it period, finished!” It’s refreshing to see that environmental responsibility really is a way of life at Loro Piana.

Karen Laurence-Rowe – Artistic Conservation By Hannah Norman

The painting that artist Karen Laurence-Rowe is putting up for auction

The painting that artist Karen Laurence-Rowe is putting up for auction

For Uganda-born artist Karen Laurence-Rowe, there is nothing better than escaping into the fields and plains surrounding her home in Kenya. Her stunning paintings of the local wildlife, landscapes and people have adorned the walls of many an art lover, and in 2012, Karen’s work culminated with the recognition she deserved, by winning the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of The Year Award.

Despite her career taking an upward trajectory, Karen’s main passion – despite her art – remains the wildlife she loves to paint. A noticeable increase in the number of poachers, however, has meant that the community rangers who work in the region are fighting a hard battle to keep them at bay. Ivory in particular is becoming more sought-after, meaning elephants are being horrifically hunted for their tusks.

Karen has elected to stand by no longer, and has painted a truly breath-taking image of the elephant to put up for auction in May. All monies raised will go to the anti-poaching units of the Northern Rangelands Trust to continue the fight for the animals’ increasingly threatened survival. Karen says of her auction, “There comes a time when you have to put your money where your mouth is! As fast as I can paint the beautiful beasts and vistas of this continent, they are as quickly disappearing to the pressures of poaching. I feel the need to record it in paint – and quickly – before it is lost to us forever.”

The silent auction for Karen’s painting will be held at her first solo UK exhibition, Heat of The Plains, in Edinburgh in May. Bids can also be made at

Loro Piana “Discovers” The Lotus Flower Fibre By The Luxury Channel

Lotus Flowers

As one of the world’s top fashion labels, Loro Piana – one of the largest cashmere manufacturers and biggest single purchaser of the world’s finest wools – has always strived for uncompromising quality in the materials and goods that they sell, whilst supporting local communities and encouraging long-term sustainability. Prepared to go to the ends of the earth to find the finest fibres known to man, The Luxury Channel followed them to Peru in search of the fleece of the Golden Vicuña, a material worth its weight in gold, but Loro Piana’s latest extraordinary venture has seen the announcement of the “discovery” of a natural and antique raw material, never before used in the textile industry of Western countries: the Lotus flower fibre (Nelumbo Nucifera). Extracted from the stems of these sacred flowers which grow naturally on Burma lakes, especially on Lake Inle, this extraordinary raw material has an unmistakeable morphology, similar to perforated tape, light in weight and breathable. It’s one of the finest aquatic fibres ever weaved.

Flowers are picked between May and December and the fibre is then extracted manually from their stalks and must be weaved within the following 24 hours to prevent deterioration. The yarn is obtained by joining the filaments of 3 to 5 of the stalks (which can grow to up to two metres in length), then “rubbing” and spinning it by hand. This is done by the local women, who can obtain just 120 gr of yarn per day. It’s a slow process resulting in a low yield – around 6,500 stalks are needed for little more than four metres of cloth – and the transformation from raw material into useable thread is done entirely by hand.

Lotus Flower Fibre

The resulting fabric has the appearance of antique linen or raw silk, with an irregular weft; it’s soft, exceptionally breathable and crease-resistant. Available only in its natural colour (ecru), it will be offered during the forthcoming months in extremely limited quantities (20/30 cuts) and packed in special Burma lacquered boxes, resulting from the local century-long craftsmanship.

The Lotus flower represents for Loro Piana another opportunity to support a magic, marvellous world threatened with extinction. Through co-operation with the local population, this material can be introduced to and appreciated by enthusiasts of extreme quality and nature. The development of this project will give the native people, the Intha, the possibility to work in their original environments, so this very antique tradition will not be lost. On the contrary, it will become the means to support future generations, thus allowing this art to survive.

Pier Luigi Loro Piana proudly commented: “The Lotus flower gives an extraordinary aquatic fibre which I would define as Summer Vicuna for its exclusivity. The quantity today is really very limited, but we hope our long-term project will allow us to increase it so that locals may improve their quality of life in harmony with the natural environment.”

A Most Eggs-Cellent Campaign: Are You Eating Up The Rainforest? By Hannah Norman

Easter Eggs

Following the repercussions of several food scandals to hit the airwaves, it has become increasingly apparent that no-one really has a clue what goes into their food. The latest product to join the fray is palm oil. Under European law, manufacturers are not actually obliged to list this as an ingredient on product labeling until December 2014 – meaning many consumers could end up buying food containing unethically sourced palm oil without being any the wiser. With several rainforests under threat from destruction as areas are cleared for palm plantations, Rainforest Foundation UK has teamed up with Ethical Consumer magazine to raise awareness of what is quickly becoming a global ethical issue (palm oil is a core ingredient in numerous food products).

Vast areas of Indonesian rainforest have already been cleared, and Africa’s Congo Basin is next on the hit list. Unsustainable palm oil production is not only threatening the future of the world’s rainforests, however, as the effects of destruction are much more far-reaching. Species of wildlife – including the forest elephant and lowland gorilla – will lose their habitats, and the indigenous people who rely entirely on the rainforest for their livelihood will also be ultimately affected.

Ethical Consumer’s co-director, Tim Hunt, revealed, “consumer power has the potential to help save the Congo’s rainforests and its wildlife that is under threat from palm oil production.” As a result, shoppers are being urged to take an ethical stance this Easter, and buy their eggs from companies whom the campaign has identified as being ethically responsible when it comes to palm oil – the top two companies being Divine and Booja Booja.

Whilst it is currently only chocolate that has been looked at, the campaign will also target biscuits and cereals, and full lists of which companies use palm oil and its derivatives in their products – and how environmentally sustainable their usage is – will be disclosed at

The Luxury Channel Meets The Founders of British Ethical Fashion Label Beulah By Antonia Peck

The Beulah Girls

Beulah London was founded in 2011 by Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan – friends in their twenties who met as congregants at the same church in London’s South Kensington. The Beulah London brand has already won a loyal following of high profile devotees, from the Duchess of Cambridge to Sienna Miller and Sarah Jessica-Parker.

It is easy to see why; the Beulah designers encapsulate an aesthetic that combines British timeless elegance with beautifully understated glamour. The stunningly luxuriant seasonal collections and bespoke pieces commissioned for weddings and society events, each one named after a butterfly, is only half of the Beulah picture however. It is the story behind Beulah and the work undertaken helping the victims of sex trafficking in India that has captured the imagination and support of its followers.

Beulah works with a government-guaranteed scheme to provide women in Delhi and Kolkata previously embroiled in the horrors of sex trafficking a sustainable and salaried livelihood. The women are either involved in producing the pieces or are being trained to develop the skills. The connection with India is deeply rooted in the Beulah genes – Natasha’s great-great-grandfather was once a Viceroy of India.

Beulah S/S '13 Dress

What are the origins of the label and its philosophy?

Beulah London traces its origins back to 2009, when the two of us had a life-transforming opportunity to work in an aftercare home in the Delhi slums. Having witnessed the harrowing effects of human trafficking and sex trade, we felt moved to raise awareness of this important issue. With no formal training in fashion, we hit on an idea of launching a luxury fashion label that aimed to help provide an alternative, sustainable livelihood to those that have come out of sex trafficking, through employment. Beulah is symbolic of the philosophy behind the brand. It is a Biblical term which is used to represent the ‘forsaken’ or ‘desolate,’ being ‘unforsaken’ and coming into a place of restoration and freedom.

What would you say epitomises your design aesthetic?

We aim to create timeless pieces that go beyond seasonal trends and which can be kept in one’s wardrobe and passed on generations. Timeless elegance, effortless glamour.

Which other British designers do you find inspirational?

Bruce Oldfield – very classic and elegant; Emelia Wickstead – simple, elegant pieces and incredible sophistication; Anya Hindmarch – she doesn’t do clothes, but we love the very simple but elegant pieces. We would also count Valentino as a hugely inspirational designer for us – sadly, he is Italian though!

You have a very high profile following – what would you say it is about your designs or brand that attracts such support?

We feel incredibly blessed with the following we have received. We hope it is reflective of our designs but also probably the story behind the brand, which is quite different to anything in the market currently.

You have moved into bespoke and wedding attire – Natasha, you are getting married this year (to lawyer, Rupert Finch), will you be designing your own wedding dress?

Yes (A smile but no, our bride-to-be remains tight lipped on further details!)

Beulah S/S '13 Dress

What is the one luxury you can’t do without?

Natasha: My cashmere eyemask.
Lavinia: My shellac nails – it sounds silly, but I have always bitten my nails, especially when I am stressed, so I have been trying to get my nails done to help me stop!

Care to share a favourite place from your little black book?

Natasha: Megan’s Cafe. We used to have an office just off the New Kings Road and would go to Megan’s everyday! Now we’ve moved to Grosvenor Crescent, I do miss it!
Lavinia: The Courtauld Gallery. I studied History of Art for A level and then at University – it’s such a peaceful place with a beautiful collection of paintings. I did my dissertation on Degas, so it’s always nice going back there and seeing his work. I also love Somerset House, so couldn’t be in a better location!

What is luxury?

High quality finishing, perfect and flattering fit, expensive material, somewhat exclusive.

The Beulah London collection is available in Beulah’s Grosvenor Crescent showroom and online now, or select stockists are listed here.

Aethic Sôvée – The world’s first marine-positive sunscreen By Allard Marx

As you slip languorously into the pristine clear tropical waters, spare a thought for sea life and making sure things stay this way. Most sunscreens damage coral and clams. They release molecules that trigger dormant viruses that can decimate coral reefs. It is estimated that 10% of coral reef destruction is attributable to the sunscreens worn by you and me.

Yet your skin needs to be protected from the sun’s damaging rays. Now there is a product that has been extensively tested to provide photo-stable protection for your skin and leave the ocean’s delicate ecosystem intact. Tested by one of the most renowned marine scientists, Aethic Sôvée is now one of the world’s leading sunscreens. The cream has three UVA/UVB sun-filters, three organic moisturisers and Vitamin E. The preservatives are food grade, the bottle is made from corn-plastic and the box uses no glue.

Aethic Sôvée is the world’s first marine-positive sunscreen and is available online.

The Super-Naturals By The Luxury Channel

Abigail James, the ‘Super glow-getter’ and Denise Leicester, the ‘Natural healer’ and founder of Ila Spa.

Abigail James

The Super glow-getter, Abigail James

Abigail James is one of London’s top facial practitioners, renowned for the delicacy of her touch and her ability to make tired skin glow. Abigail works at the amazing new Lomax bespoke fitness, nutrition and well being centre in Chelsea’s Fulham Road. Here you will find a sleek, clean and urbane environment with Abigail at the centre of their Wellbeing Clinic and Spa. There are five treatment rooms at Lomax and all are designed with complete comfort in mind (the fluffiest towels and seriously cosy massage tables). This comfort level, and Abigail’s calming manner helps clients relax into a meditative state – a scenario that encourages the skin and body to heal. Abigail has the prerequisite healthy skin and bright eyes necessary to inspire the trust and admiration of her clientele – a pallor all the more impressive when you realise that she is a devoted mother to three children.

Abigail’s facials are always bespoke. She has a talent for ‘reading’ the skin (for clues to overall health) and works on all the layers of the skin (including the underlying connective tissues and structures). She then lifts and softens facial muscles (improving lymphatic drainage), which has an anti-ageing effect.

Abigail uses natural face therapy methods including steam, extraction, cranio-sacral healing, manual lymphatic drainage, facial reflexology, light therapy along with more advanced scientific technologies to heal and treat the skin.

At the core of her methods is the belief that a natural and organic approach to health and wellbeing is key. Abigail recommends organic and pure beauty brands such as Dr. Alkaitis, Dr. Hauschka, Weleda and Sophyto. These are beautiful products for an extraordinarily good facial.

Lomax Chelsea, 293 Fulham Road, London SW10 9PZ

Denise Leicester

The natural healer, Denise Leicester

The Luxury Channel’s online magazine has raved about Ila Spa products for quite some time now. The Face Oil for Glowing Radiance is so good that it has profound effects on both your emotions and your skin! From petal to product you can be sure that what you are buying is good for you, will make you feel spoilt and will make you glow. What more do you need?

Denise Leicester, the founder of Ila Spa, is dedicated to running both an ethical and sustainable business – creating a beauty collection that is completely free from synthetic chemicals and contains a rare level of organic purity. Achieved by sourcing the finest ingredients directly from local producers who cultivate and harvest the best raw ingredients.

You can enjoy an Ila Spa experience at the following locations worldwide – These spa sites have been chosen for their natural location. According to Denise, for a spa to be good it must be surrounded by nature, the spa-goer must have a good rapport with the therapist and natural products should be used. Denise’s favourite Spa is the Four Seasons Landaa Giravaru in the Maldives.

Top Tip: Argan oil – ancient and mystical oil deeply nurtures; Himalayan salt crystals (that hold the essence of purity from over 250 million years) and Rosa damascena are just some of nature’s most therapeutic nectars.

Check out these Ila Spa Product Links for more information:

How to cope with the Winter Blues By The Luxury Channel

Top tips to stay healthy throughout the long, dark winter months from Nosh Detox.

Geeta Sidhu Robb

Geeta Sidhu Robb is the impressive CEO and founder of Nosh Detox. She is pragmatic, practical and overflowing with really strong positive advice. She has a knack for identifying result-worthy and proven coping mechanisms and nutritional tips to keep people healthy and strong whatever the season. The Luxury Channel met up with Geeta to find out more…

1. When the seasons change, why do some of us feel so tired and sluggish, especially when it gets colder and darker outside?

Many years ago, in the natural environment the lack of man-made light and a decrease in the availability of food would have meant that our bodies would have slowed metabolically. Although we have adapted mentally to these changes we have not adapted physiologically. In the past, we would have spent a lot more time outside and therefore be exposed to the suns rays giving us that crucial exposure to UV, stimulating Vitamin D production. Vitamin D is key to immune health and can help improve mood. People are not only deficient in Vitamin D stores but rarely eat seasonal food products. Eating seasonally ripe foods is also key to obtaining the optimum nutritional content required for energy production and immune support.

2. What are the typical symptoms of those who find it difficult to adjust to change in the seasons?

Typical symptoms include variations and lows in mood, lowered immunity and as a result colds, flus and infections and a drop in energy levels throughout the day and night.

3. What are your top tips for adjusting to new outdoor temperatures and lack of sunlight?

  1. The single most important thing to do is take 1000-3000 iu of Vitamin D a day from now until February.
  2. Make sure you expose bare skin (no make-up) for no less than 15 minutes per day to sunlight but preferably 40-60 minutes per day.
  3. Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables.
  4. Get plenty of exercise in order to boost your endorphins (exercise will also support your immune system).
  5. Consider taking a Vitamin D3 supplement to combat depression and SAD.
  6. Avoid sugar and starch cravings. Too much glucose will inhibit your Vitamin B uptake and lower immunity and ultimately morale!
  7. Introduce a good quality Vitamin B complex either at the end of December or mid-January to support energy production and immune support.

4. What ingredients, supplements or natural therapies boost energy levels?

Increase your vegetable intake and keep it as raw as possible. Garlic and ginger are both naturally anti-viral and anti-bacterial (and again it is best to eat these raw) Rosemary, Oregano, Sage and Thyme could also be introduced to the diet for their anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities.

It is also worth including the following supplements – a good quality multi-vitamin (that contains substantial zinc and B vitamins), Vitamin D3 as previously mentioned and herbal immune supports such as Echinacea and Mile Thistle.

5. Seasonal change can affect mind, body, soul and spirit. How can each be addressed to ward off winter blues?

Exercise! Keeping active stimulates the body and the lymphatic drainage system – as well as encouraging the release of endorphins.

6. As 2012 fast approaches, most of us feel inclined to make new years resolutions. How can we work to achieve and also maintain personal goals?

I see so many successful, purpose driven women and men, struggling to find time and space to live at their full potential in their health, their homes and ultimately their work. I noticed that when they got tired, stressed, or anxious, or went through a phase of working too hard, it was really hard for them to sustain a healthy body and mind. So I created the ‘Intensive 90 Day Masterclass Mentoring Program’ in which clients undergo a:

  • Symptom Profiling Process (identifying issues, areas of resistance, or unhealthy patterns)
  • Body check (to understand where your body needs support and help you achieve optimum health)
  • Stress check (identifying high points of stress)
  • Love check (with a focus on how you feel about yourself)
  • Cheque check (assessing your working environment and its impact)
  • Halo check (to identify your objectives and life purpose)
  • Support and Systems Check (who is there to support you?)

The results have been amazing so far with people learning about new strategies and coping mechanisms. However, applicants have to prove their commitment to the program. They need to really mean those New Year’s Resolutions and then I will help them both achieve and maintain their goals.

The Organic Stylist By Antonia Pearce

Daniel Galvin Junior shows us how he’s made green hair cool….

Daniel Galvin Junior has been passionate about living an organic lifestyle since his late twenties. He has been instrumental in not only the designer haircare market, but in changing the world of beauty for the better and uses organic ingredients in his own label Daniel Galvin Junior haircare.

Daniel Galvin Jr.

Your salon in Belgravia is the talk of town. What makes it so unique?

We opened the new Daniel Galvin Junior Colour salon in Belgravia as it is in one of the most desirable locations for my clientele. They both shop and live here. The Grade II listed building is filled with lots of natural light in an atmosphere that has a bespoke and personal feel. I am a big believer that the days of monster salons and an “in and out” mentality are very impersonal. Our clients enjoy this relaxed and personal service.

The Salon interiors are white, clean and elegant with views of creamy, residential Belgravia. Who was responsible for the interior design?

My wife, Suzanna Galvin, designed the salon – it is her forte. She is responsible for all the aesthetics. We wanted a homely feel, not too contemporary or formal. The nice thing about having this set-up is that the clients will turn around and talk to one another and interact. It is a social environment.

What are your tips for red carpet-ready hair?

Red carpet-ready hair is not about fashion; it is about style. Oscar Wilde famously said that “fashion comes and goes but style lasts forever,” and that is a big part of our business ethos. We like things to be sustainable and to bring out our clients’ natural beauty – so natural and beautiful hair. It is about the lady and how she feels.

How do you choose the right colour for your clients?

I look at the lip and skin tone. The colour you use in the hair should be used as cosmetic. It should make the skin brighter and the lips redder. Hair should be shiny like glass – a crowning glory!

Traditionally colouring has put hair under a great amount of stress. However, your clients’ hair positively glows with health. How do you maintain and promote healthy hair?

If you colour your hair, you should give the hair a detox. I would suggest our salon detox treatment that is filled with vitamins. It’s a completely natural and organic product and takes any pollution and product build-up away from the hair. All of a sudden, colour that may have been suppressed by the environment becomes alive again. It becomes more translucent. Cider vinegar and vitamin C are very good for the hair.

You seem to have thought about all aspects of your clients’ lifestyle. What other treatments do you provide at the Salon?

We have Zoe who offers manicures and pedicures whilst clients get their colour done. I have never met anybody as innovative and creative as Zoe. She works without nail varnish so there is no need for toxins or potent smells. Her nails do not deteriorate the quality of the nails. It’s like what we do with hair. I am all about the integrity of the hair. We also offer a service for some of our ladies where if they have been out to lunch or shopping and do not have time to go home, they can bring their evening dress here and have their hair and a spray tan done. The next day, we courier their bags home.

Tell me about your organic haircare range?

I developed the range about ten years ago. I was living a very organic lifestyle and being healthy, and I noticed how the organic produce in supermarkets continued to grow. It showed me that people are obviously really benefiting from this. I then looked at the shampoos on the shelf and saw the designer hair care, with nice packaging, but the ingredients were impossible to understand. I saw this as an opportunity – an untapped sector for me to do something about.

How did you persuade beauty editors and clients that the future of hair was organic?

We embarked on a huge amount of research with twelve different chemists and I started to find alternative products. For example, for UV protectors, I used wheat and bran which adhere themselves to the cuticle of the hair. Ten years ago we found it very hard to compete against science. However, at the present time, we are not just competing with science, we are beating it! We kept the faith and believed in the dream. Having educated beauty editors, they saw that their hair started feeling better. Organic products are not forcing the hair to do something it does not want to do. Now we have over 64 organic products on the shelf.

Do you also do an organic range for babies?

This was inspired by the birth of my son. We started with a lavender range, which is very calming. It’s a natural antiseptic so it does not strip the natural oils from babies’ skin.

Was it at this point that you formed a relationship with The Prince’s Trust?

HRH Prince of Wales is the visionary of this country. What he has achieved speaks for itself. He was quite ahead of his time. Buckingham Gate approached me eight years ago. They were fans of my organic shampoo range and acknowledged that it had been developed with a lot of integrity. As such, they asked me if I would develop products for the Duchy Originals brand. We went ahead creating shampoos and conditioners. They smell amazing and are filled with organic essential oils such as mandarin, rose, lime, milkthistle and lavender. We then extended this to include hand creams and soaps.

You are now an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust. What does this role entail?

I was invited to become an ambassador of The Prince’s Trust, which is a role I feel very privileged to do. This is a way of giving back. Don’t get me wrong, I was not a saint in my past and had a very chemical-based lifestyle! I enjoy doing charitable work and find it very rewarding. As an ambassador, I looked again at the industry I am in and questioned what we are doing in this industry to help kids from underprivileged or criminal backgrounds. Everyone deserves a second chance and a new beginning. So I took twenty kids and gave them all trial days. It was quite overwhelming really, as they all really wanted the job. However, at the same time I had a duty of care to my existing client list. I was only supposed to choose four out of the twenty applicants but I actually ended up choosing seven. They have all flourished and flown the nest having been mentored for two years.

What is next for your brand?

We are developing exclusive, organic products for the Salon, one of them being the hair spa and the other is in development at the moment. I would like to open another three salons, with this salon being the blue print around the country. Hair colour is my heritage – it is what my reputation was built on – so continuity and consistency is absolutely vital.

What is luxury?

Luxury is the experience of the best service. Luxury to me is how I feel after that experience. Good service in a nice environment. You should feel uplifted and relaxed.

Daniel Galvin Junior Haircare is sold through Ocado, Waitrose and online

A Sense of Olfaction Interviews by Antonia Peck

The Luxury Channel and its ‘Scent Panel’ discuss celebrity-led perfumes, the market today, natural perfume and scent as nourishment.

Azzi Glasser

Azzi Glasser is the current creator of the award winning Agent Provocateur Parfum and perfumed beauty collection, Azzi has also created and collaborated for Alexander McQueen, Jean Patou, Kylie Minogue’s Private Collection for the V+A, award winning Men’s Nicole Farhi and Women’s Signature Parfum, Tann Rokka Fragrance and Home collection, Project D fragrance Collection with Dannii Minogue, Monsoon signature scent, Accessorize signature scent, Lucy in Disguise with Lily Allen, Hugo Boss, Kelly Hoppen Fragranced Home Collection, Liberty fragranced Home collection, and Jasper Conran Man and Woman followed by the award winning Home fragrance range for Jasper Conran to name a few, and retains an ambition to educate the world to smelling well.

What is your take on celebrity trends in the perfume industry at the moment?

The latest trend has seen celebrities launching fragrances under their own fashion brand rather than just their name alone. Fashion + Style trends are led by major celebrities who are constantly in the public eye. The fashion brand Project D launched in 2010 (which is headed up by Danni Minogue) has just introduced a fragrance collection. The concept is based around fragrances that can be worn from day till night and also blended together to create your own individual style.

Meanwhile, ‘Lucy in Disguise’ is the new vintage inspired fashion label founded by Lily Allen and her sister Sarah Owen. They have launched together with their own fashion collection 3 fragranced candles that visually display the stunning design logo of ‘Lucy in Disguise’, which completely stands out in the market place. The beauty of this collection is that they are leading the celebrity trend by not flaunting their name all over the packaging and have created a beautiful stand-alone brand that fits a perfect gap in the marketplace.

How do celebrity led perfumes affect the perfume industry at large?

Celebrity fragrances have now been on the rise for the last 10 years. The growth in this area has been phenomenal. There is a divide between global celebrities such as J-Lo, Britney, Kylie and David Beckham who lead the celebrity market world-wide and are more long-term, in comparison to the local celebrities such as Katie Price, Jade Goody and Colleen Rooney who are short-term. I think there is always room for different concepts such as celebrity fragrances, to reflect consumer tastes and behaviour change. The perfume industry is large enough to absorb this.

What is the correlation between an evocative scent and an evocative personality?

I always think that fragrance should reflect your personality and style. So if you feel womanly and evocative and dress to impress, then a great evocative scent will reflect this and can act as your complete finishing touch. Agent Provocateur’s signature scent is the ultimate winner as it ticks all the right boxes.

Vicki Edgson

Health and nutrition expert
Author ‘Vicki Edgson: for the love of food, the senses and ultimate nutrition!’

How important is the smell of the food we eat?

Smell is a vital and important part of digestion. The first part of digestion occurs with smell and sight. When you start to think about a food that you really love, the process of digestion starts immediately. It is a strong reminder that we need to be conscious about what we eat. Ask will this be nourishing? Half the reason, why people eat mindlessly is that they are eating foods with so little nutritional value that they cannot connect with the food or what it is doing to the body.

When I do my work shops or supper-clubs, I do blind-fold testing so that people will smell something before they actually taste it. If someone smells something that they do not like, there is a high probability that they will not tolerate the food.

There is nothing more comforting and joyful than the smell of a delicious meal…

I am a passionate foodie! I want to imbibe into my clients the sense of nourishment, enjoyment and pleasure. Very often I am confronted with people who have forgotten the pleasure of eating. They have been on so many diets and imposed so many restrictions. One of my key strengths is to motivate people back into the pleasure and art of eating well.

My gastronomy retreat in Mallorca is all about the senses and smell. It is about saying enough with the detoxing, the dieting and everything else. I say to my clients, that if you really want to learn how to eat good food, prepared healthily then come to my retreat and enjoy good wines, great olives and olive oil. I take a fabulous home twice a year. The first one is in February.

What health benefits can be obtained from Asian herbs and spices?

Asian herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years and are often found in our kitchens. For example, Tumeric, that wonderful intensely yellow spice associated with Indian curries, stimulates the immune system and is a potent anti-viral. Likewise, Cumin, another popular Asian spice frequently used in cooking, contains curcuminoids, which act as an anti-inflammatory that can reduce asthmatic systems, arthritic pain and to calm digestion. Another well-known herb – Ashwaganda, has been used as an adaptogen. This helps the body to manage stress, increase libido and balances female hormones. All of which proves, that what we commonly use as spices and herbs in our kitchen to mimic Asian dishes, posses strong ‘medicinal’ properties.

Sylvie Dumontier

International director of E.Coudray, Paris

How would you define the current state of the luxury perfume industry?

I would say that there is kind of a “bottom road”. As a matter of fact, companies have realised that they were producing too many perfumes per year and that this was pushing the distributors and retailers to an edge. Which led to too many stocks, not enough time to sell it, lost customers and repetitive marketing ideas…

The Luxury perfume industry, in my opinion, has a challenge to assure. To continue to give their customer a “dream” which is usually less and less real. A perfume should not be obsolete after 6 months. Even the marketing will not help at a certain point.

The market trends have also completely altered. We definitely see that there is a new wave of consumers searching for “new and exclusive brands”. I believe that exclusive / niche brands are the future of the perfume industry.

Isabelle Gellé, Creative perfumer

Founder ‘Les Parfums d’Isabelle’
Aromachology consultant

What is the difference between a perfume and a fragrance?

I specialize in natural perfumes and use no synthetics. The perfumes are natural but not organic. Organic ingredients would lead to a limited palette for the perfumer. Natural ingredients are different – they are based on essential oils and absolutes. Today, consumers and the public have been focusing on organic with less of a focus on natural products. There is a need to define what natural means. Companies are listing 5% essential oil and 75% synthetics as a natural perfume. Whilst, a nod to ‘fragrance’ on the ingredients means they are not telling you what is in the product.

People have a right to know what they are putting on their skin. Perfume should not contain toxic ingredients.

Fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to list the often dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds used. Big consumers now have to face the issue of the product the consumer wants and business.

Look how quickly fragrances develop today. Traditionally fragrances took time and skill to develop.

Marketing used to be based on touch and taste. If you use natural ingredients

Can you tell The Luxury Channel more about how scent can be used to promote wellbeing?

Tuberose is excellent for depression. I believe that it can heal psychological problems – by breathing in a pure smell. I blend materials like a perfume but these ingredients are to target a problem.

The Egyptians used perfume in this way – they would incense the hair, clothes and body – not for a luxurious objective but to heal, and protect the body from bacteria.

My perfumes are about traveling, discovering nature. Most people do not know what the smell of nature is. My crusade is to re-educate people through my perfume and workshops.

With special thanks to Creezy Courtoy, Chairman, The Perfume Foundation

How Ethical Labels Operate By Barbara Walshe

Building up an ethical fashion brand can be risky business. Barbara Walshe reveals how People Tree had become the biggest and the best known around.

Ethical labels

A surge in ethical fashion labels springing up across the UK over the last five years confirms that consumers are no longer willing to compromise their values when buying clothes.

Yet many of these new brands are niche businesses run by designers with small supply chains, which makes it easier to deliver on their ethical, organic and Fairtrade promise. What happens when they want to grow?

This was a challenge People Tree faced when they started out 18 years ago. Research, persistence and sheer hard work has helped them create an environmental supply chain that has made them one of the biggest and best-known brands in the ethical fashion world.

Alongside working with 50 Fairtrade organisations across 15 countries, they now employ 250 women direct, pay 30 per cent more than other local factories and provide work for a further 3,000 marginalised people ranging from farmers to artisans.

This year, Safia Minney, People Tree chief executive, has pledged to grow their business by 40 per cent year on year, which will bring jobs to poor communities and change lives for the better.

But even for an established ethical brand, this is no easy task. Here are some of the obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

Payment upfront

Unlike the rest retail world, where payment is made after the products are delivered, ethical labels like People Tree must pay their suppliers 50 per cent upfront to buy materials and pay employees so they can afford to live while doing the work. But there are risks attached to this. If the clothes don’t sell, it is People Tree who faces the financial fall out. “It’s like going out there in a Gale Force 8,” says Minney. “It’s very hard and very risky.”

Slow, steady growth

Growing fast and furiously may be the intention of conventional retailers, but for ethical fashion brands, the opposite is the case. In fact, in extreme cases, unsustainable growth can become a matter of life and death. A sudden decrease in sales, for example, can lead to job losses and hence the loss of a whole family’s means of living. Minney says: “We constantly have to look at what we are developing to ensure a particular group of hand weavers, say, have work every six months. It’s very different to how the conventional fashion industry works.”

Finding the right investors

Funding for ethical fashion businesses is still very difficult to find. Even for traditional fashion brands, investment takes years to recoup. With a Fairtrade one, it’s even longer, with a portion of the profits often re-invested back into the marginalised communities. People Tree’s profits have led to schools, hospitals and accommodation being built that benefits their employees and families. Hence, finding the right investors is vital. “They’re people who are very passionate about not only creating good financial return but also seeing an environmental and social return for their investment,” says Minney, who secured another round of investment for People Tree last year. “Unless you are continually investing in product development and technical support and marketing and communications, it becomes very challenging to stabilise orders.”

Collaborating with right people

Designer capsule collections have transformed high street brands like Topshop, New Look and H&M. The same principal can be applied to ethical brands. People Tree’s work with Eley Kishimoto, Karen Nicol and Bora Aksu has raised awareness of ethical clothing and boosted the brand’s style credentials. Celebrity collaborations can be similarly effective when chosen wisely. Harry Potter actress Emma Watson launches her latest collection for People Tree this month, and Minney says: “It has opened up a whole new market to Fairtrade, a market of 16 to 25 year olds who have been buying fast fashion and not really thinking about it.”

To find out more about ethical fashion go to

Safari Parks With Eco-Credentials By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel looks at some of Africa’s environmentally conscious safari parks….

Eco Safari

Going on a safari can be a once in a lifetime opportunity to spot Africa’s Big Five. Originally, going on safari meant hunting animals for sport, but today luckily it means just observing them. It’s not just about the majestic animals; often the stunning nature and landscapes are at the centre of the visitors’ attention.

The Amakhala Safari in the Eastern Cape comes highly recommended, with the slogan: “eco-travel in Africa makes a difference.” They have initiated the Amakhala Conservation Centre, and provide ecological information and research projects that aim to preserve nature’s ecological systems.

Eco Safari

Bateleur Eco Safaris in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve on the edge of Kruger National Park promote harmony with nature. There is no electricity and natural fuels – wood is purchased from community-based projects. Staff are sourced locally. Over 200 indigenous trees have been planted in the camp area and they are committed to field restoration projects. In 2006, the owner Andreas Liebenberg won the conservation award for offering the most eco-sensitive and conservation-oriented safari in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

The Bush Camp takes pride in being the only eco-lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve, near the border of Botswana. The Bush Camp offers an authentic experience, with meals prepared over an open fire. The camp prides itself on conserving the surrounding flora and fauna.

Eco Safari

Today, the Mantis Group involves hotels in Europe and South America, but it started as a collection of lodges and camps in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The Mantis vision can be described as ‘‘conserving a vanishing way of life.’’ Its founder, Adrian Gardiner who grew up in Zimbabwe, has been given various awards, including the Green Leaf Environmental Standard, for bringing the exploited nature of Shamwari back to life in the early 1990s.

All of the Singita Group’s lodges and reserves have been built in line with their concept to ‘‘Touch the Earth Lightly.’’ The three pillars of Singita are sustainability, community and conservation. Singita is owned and overseen by Luke Bailes, who has become an authority on eco-tourism and community outreach projects. “The concept of fewer beds in larger areas ensures less impact on the environment and makes for up-close, intimate experiences for guests,” he says. The company also operates in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

1Love, 1Heart, 1Goal By Laha Lali

This year marks the launch of the new 1Goal campaign to make education for all a legacy of the 2010 World Cup.

Today, 72 million children in the world are denied the chance to go to school. These children could be our next generation of teachers, doctors, sports stars, lawyers, leaders. But without 1Goal and your help, they face a lifelong struggle against poverty: FACT.

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’ once said ex-South African President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela. Rather fitting then that this year marks the launch of the new 1Goal campaign to make Education for All a legacy of the 2010 World Cup.

The FIFA-backed campaign hosts its World Education Summit in the middle of this year’s tournament. Backed by a host of international football stars including Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Zinedine Zidane, and Eusebio its well on its way to becoming one of the most successful charity campaigns in history with over nine million supporters around the world.

“I believe every child has the right to an education and that’s why I’m supporting 1GOAL and asking football fans around the world to join today,” says English footballer and 1GOAL brand Ambassador Rio Ferdinand.

And he doesn’t seem to be the only one campaigning hard to ensure free Education for All. Ferdinand was joined by singer, songwriter, and international recording artist Shakira who was quoted as saying “the World Cup captures the attention and hearts of millions. We must use this moment to raise our voices for 1GOAL and demand that this generation of children have the chance to fulfill their dreams and live up to their full potential through education.” The Grammy Award-winning star said she was honored to be part of this incredible movement.

In 2000, 164 world governments came together to create the Education for All goals. They promised to make sure there was enough money and that the policies were in place to make this dream a reality. Since then, many countries have abolished school fees and government spending on education around the world has seen an increase. But still not all children have access to this fundamental right. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Thanks to 1GOAL since 2000, an estimated 40 million more children are in schools around the globe. Join the cause and find out what you can do to help at

Education beats poverty – and gives people the tools to help themselves: FACT!

Dare 2 Magazine By The Luxury Channel

Living an ‘eco’ life just got a whole lot easier thanks to the launch of Dare 2 Magazine.

Dare 2

Dare 2 magazine is an online resource for everything eco-chic, whether that’s green travel tips and ideas from Quintessentially Travel or features on the latest green fashion and dining. And to make it even easier to stay green, readers can search the Little Green Book, a customised search engine which brings you all of Dare 2’s listings and company information, or The Green Map, which highlights restaurants, stores, companies and designers that meet the green standard. Meanwhile, Dare 2 is committed to bringing green lifestyle into everyone’s homes through in-depth interviews with leading green figures, from politicians to designers and reviews of the latest socially responsible documentaries and features.

Editor in Chief, Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes wants to make being green a lifestyle choice, rather than a trend, and her aim is to integrate it into reader’s lives and show how it can easily slot into the fashion, beauty and foodie things they already enjoy. The word ‘green’ has become a cliché” Shirley remarks, “what we are showing at Dare 2 is that with a few small changes one can live a more responsible and socially conscience life. It doesn’t mean you have to give up the little luxuries…”

It certainly doesn’t, the first issue features ASOS’s new ASOS Africa collection, sourced from African communities, an interview with Rock and Roll beauty queen Jo Wood and plenty of dream-worthy travel destinations – all with a green twist.

As if they had still had to prove that being green doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style, the Dare2 launch event in Chelsea was a super chic affair serving up seasonal cocktails and canapes to an eco-savvy and stylish guest list, including Jo Wood, Sam Branson and chef Tom Aikens who contributes to Dare 2’s food pages.

Check it out – go on, we dare you.

The ‘Hira’ Diamond Collection By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel previews the ‘Hira’ diamond collection by Pippa Small.

Pippa Small

Pippa Small’s inspired gems are full of rich cultural references and anthropological insights. Much loved for her ethical convictions and masterful collaborations with luxury brands such as Nicole Farhi, Chloe and Astley Clarke. Pippa Small’s jewellery is combined with an ethical commitment that goes beyond rhetoric, supporting communities in Bolivia, Panama, Africa and Afganistan.

Her next collection is inspired by ancient Indian Mogul jewellery and the work of Gustav Klimt. Old rose-cut diamonds (sourced from precious antique, Indian jewellery) are set in a mosaic of Klimt style abstractions to create round pendants and bracelets.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the collection rings and pendants are reminiscent of Greek volcanic pebbles that have been studded with diamonds and delicately placed on hand made chains.

In stores from October 2010 .

Child’s Play By The Luxury Channel

Pump Parquet

Child's Play

A novel idea from textile designer and artist Elisabeth Buecher – instead of sitting around playing video games, why not get kids active in order to provide power for those same games – it’s a win, win situation! Pump Parquet puts special, brightly coloured pumps into the floor, when kids use them, they can either inflate toys, or charge things like video games, saving electricity and keeping kids fit. Plus, it looks pretty fun!

Our Children’s Gorilla

“The children’s imagination is our inspiration” say this Stockholm-based toy design company, Our Children’s Gorilla. Dollhouses are fully recyclable and flat-pack fire stations are ripe for customization. The nearest thing to a teddy is Gary, the very cool gorilla made from wooden blocks and rope. Sweden is known for its design eye, and despite being fully functional toys, these also look great: check out the stylish paper mobiles which can be cut out and assembled from a plan, but look just as funky as framed posters. Better still, this is cool with a conscience: Materials are environmentally friendly, and the company is dedicated to employing some staff from rehabilitation programmes.

Showrooms in Stockholm and Auckland, New Zealand. Ship worldwide.


The Traidcraft shop is full of fabulous things for all ages, but the children’s toys and furniture are especially lovely. Everything is fair trade, ensuring that small-scale local manufacturers are given a good price and able to continue their work. Check out the cute Alpaca Bunny Rabbit from Mink in Peru, a non-profit organization working with local communities in some of the country’s poorest areas. Boys will love the hand-painted pirate ship and wooden castle made in Sri Lanka by Gospel House, who aim to provide training and work to boys from the poorest areas of Colombo. One of the nicest things about these particular pieces, is that kids in more developed countries can help out less fortunate kids, simply by buying toys!

Change Your Carbon Output By Sunshine Flint

A new breed of consultants – call them carbon advisors – want to change your carbon output without changing your lifestyle.

Change Your Carbon Output

Going green is hardly a new trend, but why face a hodgepodge of remedies when there’s a one-stop solution for reducing your carbon footprint? Enter the carbon advisors. They’ll eco-renovate houses, create and care for organic gardens, retrofit diesel sports cars to use pure plant oil, and use solar and geo thermal power to heat (or cool in the Middle East) swimming pools. They won’t dramatically change a client’s lifestyle, but will change the effects of said lifestyle.

“People who want to make a significant change come to us,” says Joanna Yarrow, the co-founder of Beyond Green, a company that advises corporations, schools and towns on sustainable development and green design, and Bespoke Green, which caters to individual clients. “We aim to minimise environmental impact, but maximise quality of life.” Yarrow presents clients with a virtual computer model of their home that shows how much energy their house is using and losing. Daniel Morrell, founder of the Carbon Advisory Service (, assesses his clients’ overall carbon footprint, and recommends ways to lower emissions in all areas from energy use to transport to new builds.

Many of his clients are in the film and music industries, and produce thousands of carbon tons a year—a much higher output than the average EU citizen (10 to 12 tons of carbon)—because of their lifestyle, houses, travel and businesses. “The goal is a 30% reduction in emissions,” explains Morrell. After reducing as much as possible, he offers programs for carbon balance with renewable energy and forestry projects. While Morrell doesn’t like the term “offsets”, essentially that is the idea: if your “core” footprint is 3000 tons of CO2, you invest in a project that saves 3000 tons of carbon a year from being generated.

Both Morrell and Yarrow agree that this year has seen a rise for demand in energy efficiency. Yarrow says that clients are starting to understand what is good for them and the environment sometimes isn’t anything you can see. “People realise it’s not just bling like sticking a wind turbine on their roof, but boring stuff like cavity insulation to reduce energy costs,” she says. Currently, Yarrow and Bespoke Green are converting a 17th-century mill in Bath into a yoga retreat and residence. By harnessing the power of the mill race to create hydroelectric power, a modern generator not only keeps the lights on, but also exports energy back to the power grid, making money for the owners.

The wealthiest sector can afford to lead the way, but has the credit crunch affected the demand for low carbon lives? Morell says he has seen no fall in demand for services. “The environment is a priority for our clients,” he says. “Plus our carbon savings result in cost savings and these are always welcome.” Yarrow says she’s seeing the credit crunch play out in the fact that people aren’t moving house but are staying put, and figuring out what they can do to eco-renovate their existing home.

Achieving zero carbon emissions is impossible, but low carbon behaviour must become the norm. This will take both a “bottom up” and “trickle down” approach, as people see figures they admire push demand for low carbon technologies, and the behaviour becomes fashionable. Drive an Alfa Romeo and save the planet—who can argue with that?

Building for the Future? By Alanna Lynott

Do eco-friendly buildings really make a difference, or are they just a nod to fashion?

Building for the future

A sparkling prism of light, Hearst Tower stands like an artistic instillation on Manhattan’s West 57th Street. It was heralded on completion in 2006 as New York’s first ‘green’ high rise office building and was the first to be awarded a Gold LEED rating by the US Green Building Council. Buildings such as this led the way in environmentally friendly building design, but how much further have we to go before we’re really making a difference?

Over the last decade, offices, hotels and homes all over the world have been increasingly designed to conform to ‘green’ standards and these eco-friendly elements are often touted as selling points to customers keen to evade green guilt.

More and more, these buildings vie to outdo each other and showcase new design features and while the industry is moving in the right direction, many of these green features are not sufficiently thought through or do not go far enough. For example, wind-turbines on buildings such as the Bahrain World Trade Centre are innovative, but if eco-friendly designs aren’t implemented across the board, grand gestures can end up being ineffective.

David Hilton, eco expert for Grand Designs Magazine, believes the most important aspect of any building is the fabric itself, and technologies should only be considered once the outer shell is made to the best possible specification. “Insulation and air tightness are therefore paramount,” he says. A building needs as “much insulation as possible” to retain energy and keep heating costs low, and air tightness needs to be just right, so your building doesn’t leak heat while also providing optimum air circulation for occupants.

He also stresses that, from the start, designers need to fully understand the needs and habits of the building’s occupants, whether an office, hotel or home. Logical thinking is required, for example, “there’s no point letting the boiler come on to reheat the hot water after your evening shower, if you have a solar panel that will do the work in the morning.” And when it comes to building materials and fuel, truly green building designs are ones that take into account abundant local resources.

An intelligent and thoughtful design process in place of (or even along side) the grand gestures that architects want to showcase can make all the difference to a building, and ultimately, hopefully, the world.

David Hilton is an eco building advisor at Build Store as well as an eco expert for Grand Designs Magazine.

Yachts Go Eco By Alanna Lynott

Alanna Lynott introduces two of the very latest and most luxurious eco-friendly designs of motor yacht that are set to grace the seas….

With the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show finishing at the end of February and Dubai’s show coming up this month, all hearts are yearning for yachts. Let The Luxury Channel introduce you to two of the very latest and most luxurious eco-friendly designs out there.

Sabdes Axebow

Yachts Go Eco

Australian yacht designers, Sabdes, have been designing eco-friendly superyachts for years. Clients began to clamour for something stylish and exciting but ‘‘green;’’ they wanted something “efficient in fuel and emissions” and “environmentally sensitive.” Excitingly, Sabdes have just revealed the striking 72.5m Axebow motoryacht, designed for Dutch superyacht builder Icon Yachts. It is equipped with an ‘‘Eco-silencer’’ gas cleaning system to eliminate exhaust soot and a HMSA Biological sewage treatment unit. But don’t let this talk of sewage blind you to the luxury elements; it has all the luxury and comfort of a floating home-away-from-home, with a fullbeam master suite, two VIP suites and four guest suites (but don’t worry, if all your guests deserve the VIP treatment, the four guest suites can be turned into two further VIP suites).

For lazy days and romantic nights, the sundeck features a large Jacuzzi, while a sheltered lounge area, barbecue and bar area allow you to relax in style. The Bridge deck features a sauna room and gym, so you can stay in shape while out at sea, and the main deck allows for the glamourous entertainment your guests will expect, with a large outdoor seating area, casual lounges, a main saloon and a dining area.

Kingship Green Voyager 144M

Yachts Go Eco

Kingship is currently building the Green Voyager 144, a unique 45m motor yacht. Designed for the owner who seeks low impact, responsible cruising without skimping on luxury and comfort, Green Voyager is a luxuriously elegant friend of the sea. To achieve this, Kingship’s engineers and designer Axis Designs of Viareggio are aiming to increase efficiency in every area. Its green credentials include heat reflecting glass, high efficiency insulation, ultra efficient props, bio fuels and much, much more. The aim is to reduce the power demand by an average of 20% compared to a conventional yacht of the same size, and it will be offered with three types of propulsion and generating packages (conventional, semi-hybrid and full hybrid).

Due to the many environmental considerations that have shaped the design of this yacht, the Green Voyager will be the first yacht in the world under 50m built to Green Star Plus. And the design considerations don’t stop there. So you can fully experience and connect with the environment you sail through, sliding glass doors and balconies let in the ocean breeze, while the interior, made of sustainable material such as bamboo and exotic natural fabrics, feels like a relaxed tropical beach house. Carrying a RINA Eco-Passport in addition to Green Star Plus notation, Green Voyager will be one of the few vessels able to visit the Special Sea Areas – some of the most sensitive areas on the planet. So, whether floating off the coast of Mauritius, Palau, a coconut-strewn pacific atoll or a Scandinavian archipelago, the Voyager will harmonise visually and environmentally with her surroundings.

Road Runner By Lauren Steventon

Lauren Steventon reports on the launch of the right-hand drive version of the world’s first electric sports car – the Tesla….

Road Runner - Tesla

The thing about electric cars is that they may very well be better for the environment, but they don’t look very pretty – until now! Tesla has done for electric cars what brands like Edun and Melissa shoes have done for eco-fashion – made them pretty.

Tesla was set up by Elon Musk, a man on a mission to save humanity. As well as electric cars, he owns SpaceX, who manufacture space rockets with an emphasis on low cost and high reliability. Musk believes that space exploration is key to the future of the human race, and he’s looking for a way to help us get there. Should that fail, Tesla and Solar City (turning solar power into electricity), where Musk is Chairman of the board, are ways to attempt to combat global warming.

Musk’s aim was to produce electric cars that looked like the most stylish sports cars, and were therefore more desirable to today’s style-conscious driver. He came up with the Roadster.

It’s faster than a Porsche and looks a bit like a Lotus Elise – but with one crucial difference. It runs entirely on electricity. It is twice as energy efficient as leading hybrids, and faster than even regular cars in its price class. Another benefit over your regular sports car is that the Roadster has no spark plugs, pistons, hoses, belts or clutches to replace, and needs no oil changes.

Any potential UK buyers will be pleased to know that Tesla has started production of a right-hand drive version. “The right-hand-drive model is our response to growing demand from high-performance car buyers in the UK who are also interested in their impact on the environment,” said Cristiano Carlutti, Tesla’s Vice President for European Sales and Operations. “Tesla is dramatically expanding its retail footprint in Europe, and we look forward to building our community of owners and fans throughout the continent.”

Tesla claim that the Roadster runs for 200 miles before it needs recharging, but some drivers have found that this isn’t quite the case, depending on conditions. So you might want to check out charging points before you embark on any lengthy drives, which of course is always the Catch 22 of electric cars – there are few cars, and so few charging points, and of course, most people’s electricity is usually produced by power stations, so it’s not going to entirely erase your carbon footprint. However, electric cars are a much more efficient way of using “fuel”, cheaper to “refuel” (about 1.5p per mile), and better for poor old Earth.

Yacht Trends 2010 By Alanna Lynott

Still the ultimate status symbol, yachts today are more luxurious than ever before. Alana Lynott takes a look at some of the latest trends making a splash on the high seas.

Yacht Trends 2010

Swimming pools and cinema screens are now the norm on your average billionaire’s yacht. And it’s no longer a question of whether you have a helipad; it’s more a question of how many you have. So with yachts becoming more elaborate than ever, how do you stay ahead of the pack?

Firstly, security concerns are a priority. Mindful of a recent rise in piracy, yachts are being fitted with increasingly sophisticated security measures including missile defence systems, a hull and windows capable of withstanding a missile attack. In some circumstances, boats are equipped with mini-submarines in the event of an emergency escape.

Pirates aren’t the only people yacht owners are keen to evade. The paparazzi are a notorious pain. Armed with long lenses and lucrative magazine deals, photographers know how easy, and how worthwhile it is to snap a billionaire playboy frolicking on the deck of a yacht with his supermodel girlfriend. Mindful of this, Roman Abramovich’s latest yacht, the £724 million Eclipse, incorporates an anti-paparazzi infrared laser “shield”.

When the Eclipse made its first test voyage in September of last year, the technology was revolutionary and now every yacht owner who values his privacy is clamouring for the same gadget. The yacht, the fourth in Abramovich’s private fleet, is set to “be the largest private yacht of all time,” and has all the luxurious extras you might expect, as well as some you might not: the master suite has a retractable roof so that the Chelsea boss can fall asleep under the stars.

Of course today, whether you’re travelling by air or sea, it’s all about being eco-friendly. With this in mind, more yachts than ever before offer maximum luxury, with minimum carbon footprint. Solar panels, hybrid engines, recycled materials and specially designed hulls that allow high cruising speed with low fuel consumption are all on the menu. So set sail in luxury and with none of the guilt.

Watch our programmes Mega Yachts online now.

Beyond Green By The Luxury Channel

An excerpt from an overview of a recent report by the Future Laboratory in the July 2010 issue of Luxury Briefing.

Beyond Green

Trends reflect the changing nature of consumers themselves. Values, along with value for money, are becoming increasingly important for a new generation of conscience-driven travellers. ‘Ecotourism’ is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, expanding globally between 20% and 34% per year, and sustainable tourism is expected to make up 25% of the world’s travel market by 2012 despite the current downturn, according to research by the International Ecotourism Society. On top of this, nearly one in 10 travellers (9%) only make bookings at hotels with an environmental policy, according to a recent survey by global market research firm Synovate of 6,300 travellers. Malaysian travellers led this green charge (27%), followed by Indonesians (17%) and Brazilians (15%).

Making a resort green is only one of many problems the industry faces, however. World oil reserves are due to hit their peak in 2011, then go into a steep decline, according to the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre. In this world, then, where oil is in scarce supply and therefore becomes an expensive commodity, it is inevitable that travel will change, as will the nature of resorts themselves in light of the fact that we will need to employ more sustainable ways to design and manage them, and more efficient ways to power them.

Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl, authors of Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, predict that changes will occur rapidly over the next 15 years. “We’re not seeing the end of air travel by 2025, which is as far ahead as we’re looking in the book, but we’re seeing greatly diminished air travel, particularly domestic,” says Gilbert, a consultant on transport and energy issues. Against this backdrop, we can imagine the rise and return of more civilised train journeys: rail networks, for example, are enjoying a renewed popularity. In 2008, 9.1m passengers used Eurostar, the high-speed train service that links the UK and mainland Europe, representing a 10% increase on the previous year. An excerpt from an overview of a recent report by the Future Laboratory in the July 2010 issue of Luxury Briefing.

David Helps Goliath Get Green By Lucia van der Post

Big, established brands are strengthening their ethical credentials by buying up smaller, eco-aware companies. Lucia can der Post examines why these acquisitions are on the rise.

David & Goliath

When it comes to innovation it is readily observed that it’s easier to be nippy and creative, if you’re small. It’s also easier to be green and organic. Big companies, by their very nature, get set in their ways. They, too, of course were once small and innovative and grew successful because they had a great new idea. But once they’ve become a big, established brand it’s not easy to change tack without alienating or, at the very least, disorientating the existing customers they already have.

Take a great cosmetics company like Estée Lauder – once it was Estée alone with her lotions and potions, brewing up dreams, but over the years it grew into a multi-billion-dollar corporation, part of the cosmetic establishment, with reliable, well-understood classic products. By its very nature it couldn’t then start doing what Aveda and Jo Malone and Bobbi Brown began to do – which is to offer hipper, cooler, alternative ways of approaching beauty. Estée Lauder understood that perfectly, but it also knew that it needed a stake in the future and started buying up some of these bright new upstarts. Aveda, Jo Malone, Mac and Bobbi Brown are all now part of the great Estée Lauder empire, separately marketed and nurtured, but an intrinsic part of the stable.

It’s not just in the world of cosmetics that big, established companies want to buy into younger companies known for their ethical stance and their counter-culture approach. Green & Black, the organic chocolate brand, for instance, is now owned by Cadbury-Schweppes. Ben & Jerry’s, the ice-cream makers, are part of the Unilever empire, whilst Rachel’s Organic is owned by Dean Foods, the American conglomerate. Until now it has been the innovative producers of food and cosmetics that have been the chief targets of the big multi-nationals hoping to acquire some ethical kudos. But nowadays, as smaller fashion brands with a strongly moral and environmental stance emerge, the evidence is that the big boys are eyeing them up. It’s a sign of the times that as big a player as LVMH has taken a minority stake in Edun, the clothing company started by Ali Hewson and Bono which aims to provide sustainable employment for those living in sub-Saharan Africa. It should be a win-win situation – LVMH basks in a little of the ethical halo surrounding the brand and Edun acquires some vital investment. The key to the success of the venture has to lie in LVMH protecting the qualities that made them value the brand in the first place – that is, Edun’s commitment to fair-trade and employment for some of the world’s poorest people – and in Edun managing to keep faith with its original vision, and yet grow the company in the way that LVMH presumably has in mind.

A Fair To Remember By The Luxury Channel

The 1.618 sustainable luxury fair wowed an eco-luxe crown in Paris last month.

1.618 Paris

For three days in May, the world’s first sustainable luxury fair showcased the latest innovations in ethical luxury, from gold jewellery to a solar-powered speedboat to the latest eco-resorts. It was declared a success, with over 5000 visitors and partners as diverse as the WWF, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Quintessentially, and has caught the interest of big players in the luxury industry. We recently talked to Brando Crespi, a member of the 1.618 selection committee.

Q: What were the criteria for getting into the show?

Global Responsibility By Pooja Agarwal

‘Global responsibility’ and ‘The affluent Indian consumer’ where on the agenda at the International Herald Tribune’s Sustainable Luxury Conference 2010.

Global responsibility

On 24th March 2010, international guests mingled at a party on the lawns of Delhi’s luxurious Imperial Hotel as a preview to a two-day conference helmed by IHT’s fashion editor Suzy Menkes and filled with panel talks with designers, brand representatives, journalists and business owners.

A renewed desire for ‘true luxury’ meant a call for deeper brand experiences.

Suzy Menkes suggested we adopt “Parampara” as the pathway for ‘Sustainable Luxury’, in the new global socio-economic environment. In the parampara system, knowledge is passed down (undiluted) through successive generations. The Sanskrit word literally means uninterrupted series.

Anil Chopra, Advisor – Beauty & fashion of Hindustan Unilever Ltd explained, “Luxury is not just a badge that an Indian would show off, but it has to be India relevant in terms of culture, heritage and values …. Our “Parampara”. The Indian affluent class is seeking best brands best quality and best service but also likes celebrating it’s Indianness. Their purchasing power is immense. By 2013 it will be equivalent to 25th largest economy in today’s world.”

Anna Zegna, Image Director of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group stressed on the importance of Responsible Luxury for whom ethical values have always been a part of the family business.

European fashion gurus – Dries Von Noten and Roberto Cavalli – and Indian designers – Manish Arora and Sabyasachi Mukherjee – shared views on working with India to Bollywood vs. Hollywood and building a global Indian designer brand to understanding the affluent Indian consumer.

Separately, in a video interview, Stella McCartney encouraged to “think more globally, to be more responsible.”

For Cavalli, the popular Italian designer, Luxury means ‘freedom’. “Luxury is not just about money. Every person should be free,” he said. He was all praise for India saying, “All over the world, we get ideas from India. My colours are for India.”

Pia Singh, chairman of DLF Retail Developers Ltd spoke on building a luxury environment in India. Her project, the Emporio Mall in New Delhi is the epicenter of haute brands in an international luxury-shopping space.

Dr. Amin Jaffer, international director of Asian Art at Christies spoke about Indian princes and their long association with western luxury brands. Luggage from Louis Vuittton and Hermès were especially made to order. He also showed images of the Maharaja of Patiala’s extravagant jewellery from Cartier and Boucheron.

De Beers’ Executive Director, Stephen Lussier warned that the changing consumer is demanding product authenticity and wanting credible substantiation of a brand’s promise. Responsible Jewellery is what the industry should work towards, simply, “living up to diamonds”.

Eco Fashion Moves Forward By Lucia van der Post

The days of questionable hemp jumpers are over! Lucia van der Post examines the super stylish trends in ethical fashion and textiles….

Eco Fashion Moves Forward

A marketing director of a major technology brand that I was talking to recently had an interesting story to tell. He’d gone to see the Selfridges’ buyers to see if they would stock his glossy new product. The first question – the very first – they asked him was, “is the wood ethically sourced?” Selfridges is a mainstream store, not known for its addiction to lentils and sandals, but clearly being alert to every product’s eco-credentials and fair trade status is not just morally desirable – it’s now a commercial necessity. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has found that its £200m investment in a 100-point environmental plan has paid off handsomely. According to a survey by the Future Laboratory (a strategic trend forecaster), “for the second season running it [M&S] tops our poll of brands that consumers feel most typify human values such as integrity, trust, compassion and fairness.” Punters, it seems, will pay a (small-ish) premium if they really believe the brand.

The problem for the consumer has been firstly one of trust – so many companies claim to be so wondrously ethical and compassionate that it’s hard to investigate, let alone believe, them all – and secondly one of desirability. No matter how ethically-sourced the fabric, if the tea-towel, the sheet or the frock doesn’t inspire desire then it’s going to be a hard sell.

The good news is that at last ethics, sustainability and desirability are beginning to come together. Take fashion – the days of the dodgy hemp jumper and shapeless dress are over. Safia Minney’s ethical fashion brand People Tree has already won several awards, proved a wow in Topshop, and was probably the first fashion brand to focus entirely on Fairtrade and organic supplies. John Smedley, a wonderfully cool brand that makes refined tops for men and women, has got together with Better Thinking to produce some soft, silky T-shirts for men. Elena Garcia has a wonderfully ethereal and romantic collection of clothing, inspired by the draping of the robes worn by Buddhist monks. Her silk clothing is made from silk processed without using any chemicals, whilst the silk worms and mulberry trees are all farmed without using any pesticides. For her woolen collection, she uses yarns from British Blue Faced Leicester and Shetland sheep grazed on pesticide-free land. She also sometimes uses satin made from bamboo, a fast-growing plant which rapidly replaces itself and which has anti-bacterial properties.

And now even the upper stratosphere of fashion looks to have given eco-fashion a clear stamp of approval. Earlier this month, luxury titan LVMH bought a minority stake in the ethically-sound clothing label Edun, founded by Bono and his wife Ali Hewson along with New York designer Rogan Gregory. Edun focuses on providing work in sub-Saharan Africa and has a charming offering of T-shirts, trousers and dresses along with some chic and sassy fans.

LVMH boss Bernard Arnault said, “We are proud to contribute to the operational development of Edun and to the improvement of living standards of local communities.”

Meanwhile on the home front, there are lots of interesting new developments in interiors – in particular Green Your Decor has some inspirational suggestions and so does Mama Goes Green. Ortolan Organic linens have already developed a large fanbase – it does chic and desirable linens which use entirely organic cotton, and their pillows are filled with Kapok, a sustainable, natural fibre. Lulan goes even further, nurturing age-old craft techniques and skills in Southeast Asia, using silks and organic cottons as well as natural or low impact dyes, and making sure the weavers, spinners, dyers and finishers are all paid fairly for their work.

All these wonderfully organic and ethically-produced fabrics wouldn’t be much good to us if the creations weren’t actually rather lovely, but the big, essential bonus is that all of these products are gorgeous! They have that other magic quality that the educated, sophisticated consumer is looking for – they seem to have been made with love and care, they’re idiosyncratic and have that essential, artisanal touch. Saving the planet has never been so easy or so stylish!

For great selections, check out Eco Store in Chiswick and The Natural Store, or visit Elena Garcia’s website at

Sustaining Luxury By The Luxury Channel

Pier Luigi Loro Piana talks about Vicuña – The Golden Fleece.

Sustaining Luxury

Fashion house Loro Piana uses the vicuña’s rare and fine wool in their clothes and have created a programme to safeguard the species (as seen in our recent programme The Golden Fleece). Here Pier Luigi Loro Piana talks about sustainability and why it’s best for his company.

Q: What makes the vicuña so important to save?

The vicuña has a long lean frame, slim legs, and a small, delicate head with tiny ears. They are called ‘princess of the andes’ and are the smallest member of the alpaca, llama and guanaco family. I truly cherish these clever and gracious animals. They have huge brown eyes with long eyelashes that are simply mesmerizing when you get close enough to look into them.

In the Incan times the fleece of the vicuña was considered the “fibre of the gods”. They produce the finest fibre capable of being spun, and the annual total of raw fibre obtained is less then 5000 kg, as compared with 10 million kg of cashmere and 500 million kg of wool. The fleece obtained from each animal is about 250 grams, which after shearing and de-hairing is reduced to only 120 grams. You need to shear six vicuña for one pullover and 35 vicuña for one coat. That’s why it is so valuable.

Q: How did Loro Piana start their programme in Peru?

A: In the 1980’s, we made the first contact with the Peruvian Government and the communities of Campesinos, and in 1994 Loro Piana, at the head of a consortium, was allowed to re-introduce monitored and legally-sheared fibre in to the world market. In 2008, we acquired a property of more than 2000 hectares in order to create a private reserve for the vicuña in the Lucanas region on the Andean plateau named after Franco Loro Piana, our father. This initiative will help keep the animals in their natural habitat, furthering their observation, study and scientific research. We cooperate with the local communities to guarantee the species’ survival, the quantity and quality of the fibre produced, as well as the socio-economic value for the local people.

It was our father’s mission and something my brother and I wanted to expand. We are very proud of what we achieved so far and I’m sure our father would feel the same way.

Q: When and how did interest in sustainability and local producers start?

A: We want to continue celebrating the excellence and uniqueness of the world’s best raw materials. Ultrafine wool, as well as cashmere and vicuña, are the source of each Loro Piana creation, and we limit production of our clothes. We cherish our close relationships with local breeders, and these partnerships mean we can create the best possible fabrics.

Q: How do you support producers in other countries you source from?

A: We support breeders across Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia in our constant search for the finest in raw materials. For example the Record Bale is awarded to the Australian or New Zealand breeder who produces the finest bale of wool in the solar year, according to the Presidents of the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association and the Director of the New Zealand Stud Merino Breeders Society. The finest wool is reserved for 50 tailor made suits manufactured at the Loro Piana shops and in the world’s best tailor workshops.

Q: What is the benefit for Loro Piana?

A: Any support the brand can lend to farmers across the globe can only serve to strengthen our reputation as the manufacturer of the finest fabrics and garments made in a sustainable fashion. The hope is that with the creation of the new dedicated Loro Piana reserve, for example, the customer will become educated about the vicuña and the successful steps to reinvigorate the breed. We hope that all Loro Piana customers will become more educated about their purchases, and add to their understanding of the ethos behind the brand.

Q: How does this strengthen the brand in the current troubled climate?

A: Marketing an Italian brand such as ours entails getting the message across to other cultures. This helps make people aware of the meticulous quality control that stands behind each single item, and the tradition of excellence, skills and craftsmanship that go into every small detail. There is a story behind each of our products that needs to be told in order for them to understand what Loro Piana is all about.

View the programme online now.

Eco Rich Lists By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel looks at ‘the colour of money’ in 2010.

Eco Rich Lists

As Forbes released its Billionaire Rich List last month it appears even the world’s wealthiest are experiencing a shift in financial fortune. According to the list it is the first time since 2003 that the world has had a net loss in the number of billionaires. And even though Bill Gates lost $18 b he still regained his title as the world’s richest man.

Despite being an interesting insight the lists compiled by financial institutions and various publications should be viewed with reservation.

This aside, there is a list that provides a light at the end of the financial recession’s tunnel for those with an environmental conscience.

According to The Sunday Times Green Rich List eco barons are leading the way. The worlds wealthy are making investments in diverse areas including electric cars, solar power and geothermal energy.

The Green List provides information on 100 tycoons or families worth £200m or over who have made serious investments in green technology, businesses or any worthy environmental causes.

Green investors, including American entrepreneurs Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have all see the benefit of embracing the environment pouring finances into wind power and electric cars.

To find out more about the eco pioneers who made The Sunday Times Green Rich List 2010 visit The Sunday Times website:

Shopping for Green Design By Sunshine Flint

High style meets high demand with green design stores selling chic, eco-only products.

Green Shopping

The latest high status question is “how green is your house”? The latest toy is not a Bose iPod dock, but a little device called The Owl that shows in real time how much energy your house is using. Demand has created a burgeoning green design field, and eco-only stores are opening in design capitals New York, Los Angeles and London.

There’s no lack of designers and entrepreneurs making chic, elegant and also eco-friendly products today, such as Norwegian company Northern Lighting and their energy-saving. but fantastical lighting. Or the surprisingly stylish cardboard furniture from Cartonniste Associes in France. But the desire for responsible design means now is the time for all-green, all-the-time stores such as Kelly LaPlante Organic Interior Designs in Venice, California. LaPlante, an eco-interior designer and author of écologique, a book on green lifestyle and design, recently launched jak, a line of stylish eco-furniture. She sees green not as one style, but as one standard. “A client can have whatever style they want,” she says, but LaPlante makes it sustainable. She sells jak at her store, along with vintage refurbishments and other green items from candle to throws. “There was no store in Los Angeles where you can just walk in and get a pillow or a vase and know it’s green,” she says. She may also soon sell Q Collection, a line of high-end luxury furniture that currently is available mainly on the East Coast.

Green Shopping

Similarly, Vivavi’s pop-up store in Manhattan sells all-green modern furniture and accessories to both trade and to retail. When they started five years ago, they concentrated on regular customers, but started getting calls from designers who didn’t know much about green design, but whose clients were asking for it. “There aren’t a lot of green options out there for a modern aesthetic,” says Aron Kressler, director of sales. “And we sell exceptional design.” Vivavi stocks a wide range of sustainable, non-toxic, but exquisite furniture and accessories from designers like Austria’s Team 7 (whose furniture has won awards), linens from Ortolan, and Lulan, a custom-made silk line of textiles.

Brother and sister duo Nicola and Livia Giuggioli (she is married to Colin Firth who is also one of the store’s co-owners) opened Eco in Chiswick earlier this year as a store and consultancy for all green needs, selling to individual consumers, schools, businesses, property developers and interior designers. Customers can shop from soup to nuts: wallpaper, appliances, solar panels, green roof systems. They stock well-designed and expensive products that most would covet: just run a finger over a silky smooth Hans Wegner chair made from sustainable wood, or check out the deep and rich colours from Eco’s Earthborne clay-based paint. The owners have plans to stock green fashions soon and launch Eco stores in other cities.

No sacrifice of good taste is necessary today; high-end design now comes with everything on the green wishlist from water-based finishes to non-toxic adhesives to sustainable production. Meaning both style and substance are for sale.