A Sporting Life: Mats Wilander

Mats Wilander Roland Garros 1982

Mats Wilander defeating Guilermo Villas in the 1982 Roland Garros final

 

 A Sporting Life – taking on the challenge to put together sports and style (not exactly natural bedfellows), and making a plea for outdoor sports

 
My friends (lovingly) call me a tennis freak. It’s clay court season and I am not easy to live with right now. My husband has given up making plans for the evenings, because I can not be bothered while I catch up with the day’s matches from Roland Garros (he does like the sport – after all, we are starting to make a habit of playing early in the morning again, toddler in tow – but he’s not into it the way I have been since as long as I can remember). And as if that wasn’t enough, Mats Wilander’s show, Game, Set and Mats is another must every evening.

It’s Mats Wilander I want to talk about today. It’s not necessarily in regard to his career as tennis player, although my father always mentions his name when we talk former tennis players (maybe my dad should write this column, as he obviously knows much more about everyone I want to feature than me). Yes, he was good. He was World No. 1. He won three of the four Grand Slam singles events in 1988. He won seven Grand Slam titles (including three Roland Garros trophies), and although he never won the Wimbledon, Wilander twice won the Australian Open when that tournament was still played on grass. This makes the Swedish player one of only six men (along with Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic) to have won Grand Slam singles titles on grass courts, hard courts, and clay courts. And he won the French Open at his first attempt in 1982 (Nadal would be the only other player who would achieve that). He was 17 years old. During that tournament, at the end of the semifinal against José Luis Clerc, he requested replay of the match ball as he did not want to win the game due to a questionable referee decision. An extraordinary display of fair play, which garnered him the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy. That, my friends, is the style I like to talk about. And that is what great champions are made of.
 
A Sporting Life Mats Wilander

Mats Wilander handing Rafa Nadal the Roland Garros trophy

 

“I would eliminate and prohibit clapping shots for your opponent. Tennis is not about the shot making; it’s about the mental battle. It needs to be more warrior-like to me.” – Mats Wilander, when Tennis magazine asked: “If you could change one thing about the pro game, what would it be?”

 
But there is something else I admire about Mats just as much as his achievements as tennis player. I like the way he has stayed so present in the tennis world after his career as sportsman was over. I like his tennis comments (one of my dream professions would have been to be a sports commentator if my voice had sounded different than it does – to say I had a shock the first time I heard it recorded would be an understatement), his very honest, pertinent and very on-point insight on today’s tennis scene. And I like how gracefully he has aged. Because, quite frankly, it is sad to see how some former tennis players stop giving importance to their appearance and exercising as they advance in age.

Mats Wilander resembles my father as a matter of fact: thin and fit, with a great charisma and quirky smile, who has stayed very active his entire life, although he’s never been a professional sportsman. My dad was very good at school (good at everything, with a special inclination for mathematics, which he also later used in his career), but he also loved sports, maybe more than anything else. So much so that his mathematics professor in university never gave him the highest grade because he didn’t approve of my father being good at sports (he was in the handball team). “You can’t be good at both,” he used to say, I hear. And, as a parent, I believe that is the most disastrous thinking one can have in regards to the education of a child. And that is one of most important lessons I’ve learned from my father. And I believe that raising your child to love sports should always come before school grades and other accomplishments. That is the way to a physically and mentally healthy child and adult. And this is a matter of style, too.
 
Related A Sporting Life entries: Guillermo Vilas / Roger Federer / Rafael Nadal / Jean-Claude Killy / Björn Borg

photos: 1-Panoramic / 2-Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Europe

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A Maker’s Short Story

Handmade brass bracelet 
Mr. Octavian Lazăr is a Romanian who makes art jewellery of brass. “I make everything by hammer. I am not a jeweller, I am an artist,” he says to another customer who has stopped by his stand. I was already with my hand on one bracelet and eyeing two other. I just happened to pass by a fair of crafts, design and locally made goods during the weekend and a glimpse was enough to make me stop and take a better look. We stroke up a conversation. I rarely shop jewellery these days. Heck, I rarely shop these days. I am fed up with the products in the stores – they are just about the same, with different labels. Who buys all that stuff? Why so much waste? Who wants to look like the rest of the world? And, with jewellery, that’s really something I like to take my time with, look for it, find the story behind it, make my own story with it. A note of true style. It was a lucky day. Each piece of Octavian Lazăr’s jewellery is crafted by his own hands, each one is unique, each one a piece of beauty. “How do you clean it?” asks the lady next to me. “You don’t”, he answers categorically, “it acquires a special polish in time, with wear, that’s the beauty of it.”

My interest was first drawn by this cuff that had some engineering stuff engraved on it. “I like to make fun of engineers,” Mr. Lazăr tells me. “I studied engineering, too, but I have been an artist all my life.” I pick another cuff, this time engraved with a beautiful, delicate design of a bird in flight. I already know it will be difficult to choose and, to make things even harder, Mr. Lazăr points to a bunch of brass rectangles carved with different designs. “These are cuffs, too, but they are not curved yet. They can be used as book signs as they are,” he says. “But who reads paper books these days?” he asks after a short pause. The man speaks my language. “I do,” I say. And we keep talking. He loves books, he has so many that he has started to donate some of them. “I don’t have where to keep them anymore and I don’t like to store them away in boxes. They should be read and enjoyed by others.”

In the meanwhile, I keep trying on the items (there are necklaces and rings, too, but I only wear bracelets apart from my watch). And I finally lay my eyes on my soon to be purchase. A knotted bracelet. This is it. It’s raw, it has personality. Mr. Lazăr approves, I put it on, he adjusts it on my wrist. “Can you tell me your name, Sir?” I ask. “Here is my business card,” he says handing me one over, “but the name is a secret,” he continues jokingly. It’s not, it’s on the card. Octavian Lazăr, craftsman in brass. And quite a character, too. I leave with a smile on my face.

photo by me

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One Day That Summer: Steve McQueen and Le Mans

Steve McQueen and Le Mans 
Steve McQueen. A hip personality, a special kind of existential cool, detached and rebellious, his own guy, a tough guy, who loved cars and speed, a self-made man who reached the heights of stardom and then almost lost it all because of Le Mans. A notoriously troubled production, the 1971 racing movie that starred and was produced by Steve McQueen is about the legendary 24-hour endurance motorsport race of the same name, taking place every year in June (and features actual footage captured during the 1970 race held the previous June). A passion project for McQueen, in tribute to a sport that had always been close to his heart.

Pierre Vudrag, the founder and president of Limited Runs, the premier collectors of rare and limited edition photography (have a look at the other McQueen photos available in their archive here), goes behind the scenes of Le Mans and gives us a rare view on one of the handful of undisputed Hollywood stars and on what makes McQueen such a contemporary figure.

Note: To celebrate summer, in the course of the following months I will be collaborating with various photographers and photography collectors to bring you exclusive stories from behind the lens. Whether travel photography or pictures from the movie sets, One Day That Summer is an invitation to discovery, to open your mind and eyes, to live life like you stole it
 
Steve McQueen and Le Mans 
I have noticed there is no photographer credited for the pictures of McQueen available on Limited Runs. Were they all taken on the set of the film? I am asking because I know that many film-makers are very particular about the set photographers they allow to document their work. And I am sure Steve McQueen was no different.
Our photos were taken on the set of Le Mans while McQueen was shooting and racing. There were many photographers on the set, but these, to our knowledge, were never published, or, if published, only at the time and not seen since. We believe that the photographer had acess to McQueen because there are several photos taken of McQueen relaxing with friends in-between filming.
 
Le Mans is now considered a cult film among racing fans, but it debuted to a poor critical reception – and was sometimes described as a vanity movie – which had disastrous effects on McQueen. John McKenna, the co-director of the documentary The Man and Le Mans, said in an interview that McQueen’s vision was to give the audience a naked, raw portrayal of motor racing. But he was forced to compromise. A self-made man, McQueen would confess to William Claxton, his photograher friend, in 1962, after he had made it in Hollywood, recalling his New York City years as a struggling young actor: “Man, I was starving – I did everything and anything to survive.” He made Le Mans in 1971, and he would achieve further success after it, with The Towering Inferno and Papillon. However, that career misstep left a mark on him. Why do you think he needed so badly that film to be a success?
Just like any actor, you’re only as good as your next film. Historically, actors that make bad films sometimes don’t recover as studios start to believe that they are box-office poison. McQueen grew up poor and always had a fear of returning to poverty, so he must have felt even greater pressure to continue to strive for success. Also, you have to believe that McQueen, after having achieved world-wide fame and success and the power to produce and star in any project he wanted, desperately desired success for Le Mans, a film which combined two of his great passions. In a way, the film was ahead of its time. In an age where actors didn’t perform their own stunt and didn’t train for the parts they were playing (today it’s not unusual for actors to train for months in order to achieve a realism to the part they are playing), McQueen and the other actors were actually racing at top speeds—no green screens used for close-up racing shots. McQueen desperately wanted to bring that out in the picture. Unfortunately, as history tells us, the filmmakers forgot about plot and story line.

 

“We selected the seven photos in our collection
for several reasons: they represented McQueen
intensely working on the film, they showed an
unguarded McQueen, aware of the camera
but not playing up for it, and, most of all,
because they are so damn cool.”

 

“Great looking, but not a nice man. He was rude,” photographer Terry O’Neill described McQueen in an interview. William Claxton, however, who published a book with his photographs of McQueen, captured a sensitive side of the actor, a nice-guy personality, that very few were aware of. Could the truth possibly be somewhere in between?
I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. McQueen, just as any other successful person, constantly had people wanting something from him. McQueen has been called a great friend to those he respected. He had no time for people he didn’t care for.
 
Steve McQueen remains one of a handful of Hollywood’s undisputed superstars and style icons. The public is still fascinated with him and his image. Why did you choose these particular photos of him to be part of your collection?
As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time in the collecting world, where people’s interest in McQueen wasn’t as strong as it is now. I believe that McQueen has reached that iconic status in pop-culture where the man may be bigger than his work. Like Marilyn Monroe, who has fans that can’t name one of her films, McQueen has become the epitome of cool and style. He didn’t dress up, but dressed functional, which was unusual at the time but is standard style today. We selected the seven photos in our collection for several reasons: they represented McQueen intensely working on the film, they showed an unguarded McQueen, aware of the camera but not playing up for it, and, most of all, because they are so damn cool.

photos published with the permission of Limited Runs

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Talking Movies in Georgette Magazine

Classiq talking movies 
Today I am talking movies in Georgette Magazine. Selecting just five films of the thousands I have watched and of the hundreds I have loved is a daunting task. That’s why I should probably start by saying that the titles I have chosen here are not the same they would have been two weeks ago, nor what I would pick in a month. The only constant on such a list would probably be Hitchcock’s movies. I also have to add that when Nicole Danielle Warr, the founder and editor of Georgette magazine, approached me for this feature, she specified that she would like me to talk about five favourite classic movies. It is true that it is classic cinema that has sparked my love for movies, but it is also true that, in time, I have come to realise that there are still plenty good and great films being made, some of them holding all the qualities to be considered classics. So I have taken this aspect into consideration as well. Here are my current favourites. Thank you, Nicole, for the opportunity and challenge.

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Roger Moore’s James Bond: The Style, the Charm, the Humour

Roger Moore The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved Me

 
With his trademark single raised eyebrow, a twinkle of humour in his eye, a dry wit and tongue-in-cheek charm and class, Roger Moore was the James Bond who knew how to carry off by being himself. The secret agent who had the tough task to follow Sean Connery in the role, but who knew better than following on Sean Connery’s tough-guy James Bond.

He never considered himself much of an actor, but he made his James Bond character his own. Just like his 007 style – enduring not because he stayed in the realm of classic (although there were plenty of those examples, too, as you can see below), but because he put his own spin on it: debonair, dapper, devil-may-care. Sean Connery’s Bond was feared and admired. But Roger Moore’s Bond was charming and loved. Moore enjoyed his signature part (he simply seemed to be having fun with it) and the audiences enjoyed his wry, sophisticated and well-mannered Bond. In honour of a great character and a great man, here is a look back at some of Roger Moore’s best looks as the longest-serving James Bond.
 
James Bond The Spy Who Loved Me 
When we think of James Bond, we think of the tuxedo. Roger Moore’s 007 always looked especially debonair in black tie. Not only that, but he had a rare breed of Bond girl by his side, one to match Bond’s style with, Barbara Bach, in The Spy Who Loved Me.
 
Roger Moore A View to A Kill 
The dress shirt. Nobody did it better. (A View to A Kill, seen here on the set with Christopher Walken)
 
Roger Moore Live and Let Die 
One of the most important lessons you can learn from Moore as Bond: let that half inch of shirt cuff stand out, even from beneath your coat and even when wearing gloves (Live and Let Die). And speaking of that coat: that’s the way to make an entrance in a film: in a dark blue, double-breasted cashmere coat, made for Roger Moore by his long-standing Mayfair tailor, Cyril Castle. Yes, the man had style.
 
Roger Moore For Your Eyes Only 
Bond may be mostly associated with a black tie dress code or a freshly pressed suit, but he has also successfully proven that you can wear sportswear and still look sharp. In For Your Eyes Only, Moore’s non-tailored look was exactly that.
 
Roger Moore Live and Let Die 
The roll-neck jumper in Live and Let Die. He looks too good in it, so we’ll forgive him the then-fashionable bell bottoms he sported with this polo-neck. Daniel Craig’s Bond paid tribute to this very look on the poster of Spectre.
 
Roger Moore For Your Eyes Only 
But there is nothing wrong in pairing a turtleneck with a windbreaker. Others would look tough in this look. Moore kept his charm and elegance (For Your Eyes Only).
 
Roger Moore A View to A Kill 
He knew his way with the white tuxedo jacket, too, in A View to A Kill.
 
Roger Moore James Bond style 
Roger Moore’s Bond was undoubtedly the most ingrained in the period it was filmed in, but, as I said earlier, that didn’t mean he didn’t know how to do a timeless look. The thin tie is part of it. Here, in The Man with the Golden Gun, he exudes a classic, yet unrestrained elegance. And he seems to keep his cool, too, under the circumstances. He was Bond, after all. He is part of the legacy.

photo credit: MGM / Eon Productions

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