Open > The story

ANTHONY’S TALES

His photographs are always accompanied by a few explanatory words as there is a story behind each one… « When you have both image and narrative you get the full emotional impact. A photograph allows me to share a sentiment generated by what I’m looking at and what I’m feeling. » So says Anthony Tache, a 22 year old Swiss photographer and film maker who was born in Lausanne but who is primarily a citizen of the World. He loves and respects planet earth, globetrotting and gobbling it up with his eyes. Despite his youth he has already covered quite a bit of it. His mindset dictates that natural and mental boundaries are made to be crossed – if you don’t push beyond them what’s the point? He has wallowed in the beautiful and harmonious world of photography since he was in short shorts…He understood his good fortune in being born a sensitive and appreciative soul. He is interested in other people… Anthony is constantly curious, an interminable creative with a positive outlook on life. « The more I travel, the more I want to discover other countries. Travelling has been the very best teacher » confesses the bright eyed young photographer with the passion driven speech and vigorous hand gestures. Learning, understanding, sharing, contributing… these words drive him on to higher heights. In Iceland he is captivated by the air and then by the asphalt…and he starts to fall in love with the place. With windblown hair, Canon camera in hand and a drone in his bag, he shoots the mist, waterfalls, the wide open spaces, the lushness of nature’s bounty, the mountains hugging the rocky expanses… But over and above that he shares a certain mood, his vision of a land in equilibrium, a place where nature, man and animals have managed to live side by side in perfect harmony. « Over there you can drive for four hours without seeing another living soul, you feel very small, more at peace, more serene. For a photographer or film maker this is paradise, you can stop every 20 minutes and capture an image that is jam-packed with atmosphere. Iceland is a welcome slap in the face ».
Anthony is a Little Prince of photography who has already caught a few sheep…and the adventure has only just begun.

Text: Benny Tache
Photos: Anthony Tache

What a drag…

Symbols of virility, power or wisdom, beards have had their ups and downs over the years.  Just recently though beards seem to have crept their way across the faces of the most well known men on planet earth.  But aren’t we bored to tears by beards by now?

The beard has become a must-have fashion accessory for men wanting a cool, alpha male look. In the Nineties facial fuzz found itself on a back burner, with men preferring a baby smooth "metrosexual" look. Hipsters put the beard back on the map again, using this indication of virility as a kick in the teeth to the ‘booted and suited’ look.  The last real heyday for the beard goes back to the tail end of the Sixties, when side whiskers and moustaches challenged parental order. Young beatniks reinstored the Belle Epoque aesthetic after several decades of modernist, clean shaven efficiency. And once again, the beard came back to challenge the previously whiskerless period. Team beards with tattoos and braces worn with cropped trousers and you will have a good idea of the look adopted by enthusiasts of this modern rebellion… Hipsters flaunt their virility like Canadian lumberjacks oozing testosterone in their check shirts. Their haircuts, brands, attitudes and life styles were rapidly picked up on by marketeers and advertisers. Beards first emerged on catwalks before popping up in pages of magazines, being sported by stars and finally hitting the streets. Going mainstream generally heralded the end of the trend, or, at the very least, the demise of its uniqueness. The bell was tolling for hipsters when YUCCIES (Young Urban Creatives) appeared on the scene. The popularity of beards has been cyclical since Jesus Christ walked the earth…

The biggest Hollywood stars however picked up on this trend. When the movie The Revenant was released, Leonardo DiCaprio sported an overgrown, bushy beard worthy of a caveman. Since then, this environmentally friendly actor has opted for a less palaeolithic look with a stylish goatee that hones the roundness of a slightly fleshy face. A beard has many benefits; it slims the face, hides spots and scars, makes a man look more mature and virile and draws the eye away from a receding hairline. Beards suit all face shapes and there are styles to suit everyone: the 3 day stubble, the chinstrap, the lumberjack, the goatee, the Van Dyke, the soul patch, the sculpted beard, sideburns and mutton chops, the anchor, the balbo, the Nicolas II (a beard that came back with a bang thanks to hipsters), the Napoleon III style moustache-goatee ensemble etc. When actor Jake Gyllenhaal grew a real Canadian lumberjack beard was he trying to toughen up and forget his role in the Secret of Brokeback Mountain? Ashton Kutcher sports a chinstrap and slender moustache that fall short of manning up the features of a still boyish face. Brad Pitt, who is becoming increasingly handsome as the years go by, has also grown a goatee that suits him to a tee. Even super smooth shaven David Beckham, the global metrosexual symbol, tried it out…for a while! Victoria Beckham soon put paid to that. Posh… putting up with stubble rash – not happening!

It is said that one of the reasons for the decline of the beard is down to women suspecting facial fuzz of harbouring bits of food or being a party palace for germs… However, well groomed beards require almost obsessive care routines. Facial fuzz is spruced and tweaked using potions and lotions, ointments, balms, soothing oils, shampoos, conditioners, straighteners and combs… You may not realise but a beautiful, lustrous beard growing in the same direction of hair growth that doesn’t itch or sting takes even more maintenance than long hair on women.  Should a man have to put himself through the mill like this to be handsome? Getting his shaver out every day might be less of a drag!

Text: Valérie Penven
Photos: Benny Tache

 

Tatooed

The inking of your personality on your skin. Your story. Your personal identity. Jessica didn’t really choose her tattoos. They chose her; it just had to be. She adorned herself with designs that anchored her truth in an indelible way on her person: her rationale in life. Every single symbol strategically placed on her body carries a message. Deep meaning that strikes a chord within her being. A significance that she wanted to embrace. This is a lady in search of the nuts and bolts of life, quintessence and meaning. Purity. Harmony overload. Thanks Jessica.

Text: Camille Viennet
Photos: Benny Tache

 

Somaly Mam’s crusade against sex trafficking

 
Cambodia: a country of religious monuments and majestic temples that entices the spiritually-orientated to recharge their batteries. Travellers in search of a complete change of scene are wowed by beaches to die for and the opportunity to go hiking in equatorial forests. However, behind this glitzy and glamorous facade lurks a reality that is far more sombre in nature.

Trips combining religion, beaches and adventure - a very popular trio over the past few years - have lured travellers to explore this former corner of Indochina. However, the country’s citizens lead lives that are a million miles from a fairy tale. Most Cambodians live in dire poverty and have no access to education. This reality is the upshot of past events: in the Seventies the country was in the hands of the Communist Khmer Rouge regime that led to the quasi-destruction of culture and society. The population became impoverished and the country, in development deficit once more in 2016, suffered a major blow. It’s this state of affairs that saw the growth of a human trafficking network or the exploitation of individuals, in whatever form that may take. Women and children have been particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking in this misogynist environment. As these practices were established under a dictatorial regime, the recruitment of children and young girls became fairly commonplace as families saw no other way out of the poverty trap. In other words, the socio-political situation in Cambodia drove children and young girls to prostitution. These girls are aged between 4 and 25 years old. Most of the time they are indoctrinated and comply for monetary reasons or because they feel threatened in some way. In any event they don’t have a choice in the matter. Until one of their kin stepped up and made a difference… Somaly, an activist with a big heart would use what happened in her personal life to fight for change. Sold, beaten, raped, she lived in fear for several years, naked and confined in a room in a brothel with other girls. Unimaginable physical and psychological violence that I find difficult to write down. But then one day a client rescued her from her living hell and whisked her off to Europe. And so her crusade began: she returned to Cambodia fuelled by the desire to free other victims from their misery. She rooted them out one by one, trying to persuade them to go with her. Not an easy task as these girls were mistrustful of people. It wasn’t too long before Somaly needed more space to accommodate them all so she opened a refuge centre. It was at that time in 1996 that she launched the AFESIP organisation (Action for Women in Distressing Situations): a non-profit organisation that provides sanctuary and psychological help to victims of sexual slavery to enable them to be reintegrated in society. A crusade that would gain the backing of a clutch of stars as well as national and international organisations. Of particular note is the Swiss based Solyna foundation, working hand in hand with AFESIP and raising funds, all of which benefit the latter. Bewildered and cagey girls are looked after in a number of centres currently operating in Cambodia. The most difficult thing is to make them feel safe so that they become more trustful of others and have faith in themselves. The reintegration programme also provides a framework to help them to be financially independent when they leave the refuge for optimum rehabilitation. Somaly Mam, the lady with the radiant smile, is all heart. She tends to focus her work in the brothels, trying to persuade the young girls to leave. She also spends time publicising her cause and raising funds. She came along one afternoon, accompanied by Sina (a former victim and now her right hand woman) and talented American actress and firm AFESIP supporter Anna Lynn McCorn, to share her point of view, richness of spirit and love of life with Open magazine. Anna Lynn kicked off the conversation with a beaming smile. She said that in her opinion the future of Cambodia lay in the hands of its young people, who now have the opportunity to become more clued-up and to take action. They have to be aware of this bane on society and what needs to be done to put an end the practice of sex trafficking that has been going on for decades. Somaly went on to explain what she does in the centres. The girls, who are completely lost, need a safe refuge when they are finally coaxed out of forced prostitution: « It’s crucial for them to have a compassionate person around, so they feel the love of family. And I’m there to be their ‘heart’ mum, so to speak. » She continues to say that having been mistreated in a totally corrupt environment, the girls no longer trust anyone. To protect themselves they tend to lie and not divulge any real information. Often they invent stories about their pasts. Somaly is only too familiar with this process, due to her own experience. So she establishes a relationship of trust with the survivors. She believes them. Even when she knows that they are lying, she believes them and loves them. Her only objective is to make them feel safe. She knows that once they have relaxed a bit and they start to trust her, they will then reveal the truth off their own bat to someone in the organisation. And when that happens, Somaly remains as open and non-judgemental as ever, so that the girls find healing and feel comforted in an environment of understanding and trust. She simply says to them «It doesn’t matter. I believe you and I love you ». Just like Somaly, girls that do well afterwards often feel compelled to help other sex trafficking victims to escape. According to Somaly, this is a way of healing psychologically, regaining self-confidence whilst doing something worthwhile, feeling a sense of purpose and reaching out to someone just as someone reached out to them: « You know, helping others is helping oneself ». Somaly Mam is an icon in the struggle for human rights. Occasionally controversial for feeble reasons, she will stop at nothing in her crusade to eradicate sex trafficking in Cambodia and save these girls, her girls. With her big, openhearted personality, she lives to restore joy and trust to souls battered by what they have been forced to do. Goodness personified, a light in the darkness. The question that burns on my tongue is how to put an end to sex slavery once and for all, which is the ultimate objective of the AFESIP and allied organisations. Because as in all business transactions, it’s a question of supply and demand, and these children and young girls are the victims of the demand. It seems important to emphasise the issue of forced prostitution in this situation. According to Chris Wolf, the President of Solyna, it is crucial to work on preventative measures in Western Europe as well as to collaborate directly with the Cambodian government and legal systems. Both approaches are necessary in addition to the care provided by the refuges. The good news is that everyone has the chance to talk about it to others so that people are aware of the problem and can participate in active preventative measures. What’s more, Solyna’s official fund-raising dinner will be taking place on Saturday the 28th May 2016 (???) at Lausanne Palace, attended by Anna Lynn McCord and Somaly Mam. An evening event that will hopefully raise even more cash to free these poor girls from their predicament and take good care of them.

Somaly Mam: a mother figure for every sex trafficking victim. A quick glance heavenwards and that was it, she’d made up her mind. Driven by a firm belief that nothing whatsoever would get in her way. Giving herself totally to her cause, a powerful force of nature who radiates unconditional happiness and joy. And no judgement made when she sees these crushed, forsaken women, simply the words: « It doesn’t matter. I believe you and I love you ».

Text: Camille Viennet
Photos: Benny Tache


 

19 Kleber Avenue

The location for our meeting is 19 Kleber Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe. Or rather her meeting with me. It was definitely her move! Her wishes, her insistence. You could even say she had compelled me to show up. I already knew this venue, this hotel, very well as this was where we had first clapped eyes on each other.

« Such a beautiful stranger in a hotel that is just as lovely… », these thoughts went through my mind as soon as I saw her. Obviously in a rush, somewhat on edge, highly charged even, she nevertheless had that sophisticated craziness about her that fitted in so well with The Peninsula Paris. It is true to say that I absolutely adore this hotel. My eyes lap up the ample surroundings for guests, that fusion too of a far from dusty past and an ever warm contemporary style of interior decor. I remember all too well that I did not clock any frostiness when I approached her to ask her if she would join me for a bite at the Oiseau Blanc restaurant. Despite it being late and it really being not my style to approach a total stranger in this way. She looked at me straight in the eyes and I felt very small. She replied in a voice as clear as a bell « that’s by far the best suggestion in my pathetic excuse for a day! ». I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that but who cares… a few minutes later we were sharing a good bottle of wine and excellent French cuisine. Up on the hotel’s roof terrace with sublime views of Paris spread out below us as we chitchatted away… she was doing most of the talking but it didn’t bug me. I had her right in front of me, just a few centimetres away, with those glorious eyes, that thick glossy mane, those inviting lips with their perfect pearly whites and a body to make a grown man cry. A smart and upbeat woman had accepted my casual invitation. I thought to myself, only at the Peninsula could this happen to me. Originally from Brittany, she now lived in Los Angeles and regularly travelled to Paris… always staying at the Peninsula. She knew this hotel group well, especially their establishment in Beverly Hills. Paris was the first hotel in the chain to open its doors in Europe. She knew all the ins and outs about this hotel with its penchant for art and culture and stayed here frequently. She told me about Kleber terrace in springtime, the bar with the same name in winter, about the spa – her tranquil oasis – and its large, all year round swimming pool. But what she liked most of all was the Chinese restaurant called LiLi with its excellent Cantonese cuisine, as well as its spacious dining room equipped with cutting edge gadgetry and customised interactive digital tablets. The three days and nights that followed were just like scenes from a movie. A dream-like reality, moments shared between us that were out of this world. Laughter, pleasure and complicity brought us closer together at the Peninsula Paris… now already a year ago to the day.

A whole year without a peep from her, her decision of course… until that call out the blue the other day. No hesitation whatsoever from my part of course, I was going to see her again at the Oiseau Blanc restaurant, same table, same views… and she had something important to tell me… in Paris… at the Peninsula.

ppr@peninsula.com
peninsula.com/paris

Text & photos by Benny Tache

 

European Champions

So there you have it. Just over eight minutes or so of play and this EURO 2016 has reached its climax. Such emotion, uncertainty, tension and joy… I have staunchly followed my favourite team from the get-go and just like my Hublot Big Bang Unico Retrograde Chronograph it did not let me down. This real little masterpiece of innovation and watch making tradition told me exactly how many minutes my favourite team had left to nail the European championship. Yet we were far from being the favourites to win this great event in the footballing calendar. Barely any pundits or fans expected us to get to this stage, and particularly not after the first match. This frustrating 3-4 defeat against Italy due to refereeing error 2 minutes before the end of the game was pointed out by the 4th referee and official Hublot timekeeping. This match will remain one of the best of this EURO championship without a doubt. Both teams were spectacularly on the offensive and we were able to enjoy some incredibly fancy footwork and a slew of goals, each shot more impressive than the last. This Azzurri squad did us some damage but nevertheless what a talented lot. In the end, this defeat definitely gave us a leg up. Having nothing left to lose, the team relaxed, the horses were let out of the stable and like a tsunami, nothing could stop our path… not even the tireless Philipp Lahm and Die Mannshaft. But the World Championship was slipping out of our hands. Then we bit the bullet and with the gods on our side we clawed back a historic 5-3 victory. The semi-final was nail bitingly tense with our opponents not limiting to eleven players on the field plus substitutes but as well as practically the whole of a spellbound stadium behind them. Faced by the host country and their euphoric supporters throughout the whole tournament and an ever bigoted media circus we found ourselves the underdogs once more. Now in the lead at the 75th minute, I was focused on every second ticking on my attractive timepiece, a rare watch as only 100 of these were ever made. My eyes were glued to the dial of my incredibly precise and efficient watch. However I hadn’t counted on the stamina and achievements of the centre-forward spearheading my team with 21 goals tucked under his belt during this EURO, if you please! His header from the sixteen metre line is probably the best goal of EURO 2016. And so this dream final was finally a reality. The funniest thing was that for the first time in a month we were the favourites. My trusty Hublot, the official watch of this UEFA EURO 2016, tells me one minute to go and the cup will be ours. A wonderful match with a stream of goals once again. 3-3 at half time against a great Swiss team and a hat trick from the flamboyant Xherdan Shaqiri. Two small countries in the final and two great football teams that have taken the whole world by surprise. And now it’s all over! The referee blows the final whistle on a match that we have won 6-4. The crowd goes wild! It goes mental! Long live sport! Long live football! Long live Hublot! Long live Zlatan!

hublot.com

Text & photo by Benny Tache


Mystified stranger at the Art Gallery


Hello handsome,

Despite feeling a little bit awkward and embarrassed I have still decided to throw caution to the wind and write to you. We met exactly 7 days, 11 hours and 25 minutes ago, the very moment I started to jot down these few lines. Words which I hope will have some impact on you. You certainly made one on me when I met you in the Art Gallery in Zurich. I was supposed to meet a friend who was running late and it was really starting to get on my nerves. Having forgotten to put my watch on, I decided (somewhat awkwardly) to accost the first person I could see to find out the time and… that person was you. You turned round in slow motion, gave me a beaming smile and coolly said « you’re welcome »… My heart melted. What was that all about? Suddenly I felt like a girl again, all of a tither, dizzy from a knock on the head and cupid’s arrow straight through the heart. I loved everything about you, your soft and gentle eyes, your smile, the tone of your voice, your sense of style, perfume, shoes, charisma, hands and your…watch. As your sleeve rode up slightly I spotted your Villeret Quantième Annual GMT in steel. Understated, classical yet modern, I was captivated by its elegance. I was hooked. You were so fine the two of you - a match made in heaven. You told me the time but the words flew right over my head. Like a boxer reeling from a hit, I mumbled something like « your watch is stunning ». You then recounted with some passion that this was the first time Blancpain had fitted the Quantième Annual GMT with a steel case. You slipped it off your wrist and let me touch the black alligator leather strap with its triple-blade folding clasp. I looked admiringly at the transparent sapphire crystal case back that revealed its yellow gold guilloche-work oscillating weight. You asked me if I liked travelling? Far off lands? Far flung cities? I felt like saying that with you the world was our oyster but instead the simple and timid words « yes, it depends… » slipped off my tongue. You continued by regaling me with tales about your latest trip to Buenos Aires and all the crazy goings-on. You told me how much you loved your Blancpain and its GMT- so practical when travelling. When I was listening to you I lost track of time. You had to cut our conversation short as planes wait for no man. You were off to Bangkok I think. You left me your card, a lovely parting smile and I watched you leave until you were a mere speck in the distance. My boyfriend was a distant memory. On the card no name, surname, telephone or address…just an email address! I would like to unravel the mystery that is you, find out more about you…your time will be mine.

Yours,

Text & photo by Benny Tache