Some of the world’s most visually stunning and luxurious ski resorts are located in the heart of Europe, thousands of meters above sea level, deep within the Alps. To see what life is like up there, we packed our camera and set off with CÎROC Ultra-Premium Vodka to sample some of these incredible places for the Highsnobiety & CÎROC Guide to the Alps. Next, we touch down in Verbier, Switzerland.
Verbier: one of the most high-end (and high-up) places in the world. Loved by the likes of pop stars seeking some holiday privacy as well as European royals who want to vacay with their own kind, it’s also a place where the working seasonaires from the cities below will share the bar space and dance floors at night with the same internationally rich and famous people they serve on the slopes during the day.
So it’s an interesting place, with a vibe that’s a little more out there than in the comparatively restrained and understated air of Lech, back east in Austria. It’s also geographically special, too. Sitting in the French speaking part of Switzerland in the southwestern canton of Valais, unlike most other ski resorts, it doesn’t lie in a valley but sits atop a high plateau (almost at the same height as the mountains it faces across the valley). And as such, the light quality in Verbier is something else, bathing the town in near-continuous crystal clear sunlight on a cloudless day.
For lunch, we met up at the W Hotel Verbier, whose complex is composed of five grand wooden chalets. These chalets surround a central square that houses a bar and serves as an après-ski hangout in the winter, as many of the ski routes from the looming mountains overhead end their courses outside. In the summer months, W Hotel transforms the space for gatherings, parties, and concerts in the natural amphitheater of the square. But as it’s ski season and the place is covered in snow, we took W Hotel’s Living Room bar and restaurant to meet up with Lo Presti. The three – CÎROC, W Hotel and Lo Presti – have collaborated closely the past few months, with the hotel having its own dedicated and custom designed bottle from Lo Presti and CÎROC – designed as part of the pair’s ‘Fashion on the Bottle’ project.
“It’s a very deep relationship that I have with CÎROC,” says Lo Presti, who formally kicked off his collaboration with CÎROC in Geneva in late 2016 before following them closely with events in Verbier, such as in the town’s famous Polaris Festival. “We first started to collaborate informally many years ago but then it became clear when I saw that CÎROC was going more into the fashion scene, both here in Switzerland and abroad – in fact especially abroad – it became very clear to me that I had to do something with them in Switzerland.”
Lo Presti says the key to any collaboration between any brand is authenticity. CÎROC already has an established place in certain circles of the fashion world, with 2016 seeing them work closely with one of the paragons of fashion photography, Mario Testino, in the celebratory #onarrival campaign. But Lo Presti wanted to go further: “We tried to figure out how we could include fashion but also with more creativity. And I think with our opening ‘Fashion on the Bottle’ project, we did that. It immediately became clear that we were doing something more creative and, I think, authentic.”
Next, we venture up the side of the mountain to Le Chalet d’Adrien – the ritzy hotel overlooking the town and out onto the valley in one of the most stunning terrace views of the entire trip. It’s a view so good in fact, that it was voted the best in the world in the global Villegiature Awards. CÎROC and the hotel have worked together for four years, with Le Chalet d’Adrien representing the calmer, more grounded grown-up hotel in Verbier compared to the off-hand five-star informality of the W. We drink a CÎROC and sherry martini on the terrace.
“To be more reachable and also to develop the fashion industry in Switzerland right now is my main goal,” explains Lo Presti. “That’s my main challenge.” A member of the United Nations’ Fashion 4 Development (F4D) initiative alongside Donna Karan, Naomi Campbell, Diane Kruger, Victoria Beckham and Franca Sozzani, Lo Presti is a member of the project’s ‘League of Gentlemen‘ and was the recipient of its Medal of Honor in recognition for his work. Added to this, Lo Presti has also shown his collections in major fashion shows around the world, including New York Fashion Week. However, the designer is now refocussing his efforts on his home territory, becoming the driving force behind Montreux Moda – the fashion platform for young Swiss designers located in the nearby lakeside retreat of Montreux.
“We’re trying to open doors for others and develop the fashion industry in this country,” says Lo Presti. This is because, as the designer explains, Swiss fashion is dominated by two overriding themes: quality and conservatism. “Swiss fashion is very conservative. A Swiss consumer, if they like something, will buy five pieces of that outfit because they are able to and because they want to have it forever. They want it to last. So quality is incredibly important for them, and a Swiss consumer can pay for that quality.” But with Lo Presti, donning a vintage special edition hooded fur jacket from adidas, ripped biker jeans, and his custom pair of Giuseppe Zanotti sneakers, perhaps things could change.
As the sun sets behind the mountains, we move to one of the town’s newest hangouts, Bottle Brothers à Verbier. The second bar opened by the ‘brothers’ following the hype surrounding their first place in Geneva (the ‘Grand Bottle’), it is perhaps now the best cocktail bar in Verbier. Contained within a wooden-paneled chalet-like exterior that’s typical of the town, inside the bar is, by contrast, a study in sleek, understated modern minimalism. Light walls, eggshell metallic tables and treated pine contrast with glass and the small smatterings of heather gray and dusty blue soft furnishings. The bar tender serves us a special CÎROC cocktail and we watch the sun go down as a driving house beat welcomes the first of the night’s guests.
Part three of Highsnobiety & CÎROC’s Guide to the Alps follows soon… Read our guide to Lech in part one, as well as what happened when we partied with CÎROC in the Austrian alps here. If you’re drinking, then drink responsibly. Visit DRINKiQ.com for all facts and info.
- Photography: Nik Schulte / Highsnobiety