Helene Guillaume

Helene Guillaume was in town today to speak to students at the International University of Monaco. Based in Portugal and working between the UK and US, the 36-year-old entrepreneur grew up Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan and Peru, although her family settled in Monaco a decade ago.

A competitive rugby player who went on to compete in 100-km ultra runs, Half Ironmans, ice swimming and surfing, Helene had little understanding about her own physiology. “I was training and eating like a man,” she recalls. “I wanted to transform an industry through sports performance and female health.”

The “outdoor addict” combined a passion for sport with her Master’s in Finance and Financial Risk Management, as well as her scientific background as a management consultant optimising internal risk models using AI to Fortune 500 companies (including Fannie Mae) to found WILD.AI in 2017 in San Francisco. The app has a free and paid version available on Apple and Google Play.

Although women make up nearly half of the population, a 2018 paper on “Sex Bias in Neuroscience and Biomedical Research” showed that 80% of the animals used in research are male. “These findings cannot be applied to women who are impacted daily by the 500 menstrual cycles they’ll experience over 40 years,” explains the first-time mom. “More so, a 22-year-old taking the pill has different nutritional needs, physiology and digestion than a 47-year-old perimenopausal woman.”

Using the catchphrase “Unleashing the beast in female athletes,” Helene and her 10 employees want to radically advance female health by building the largest record of female datasets— across all ages, life stages and ethnicities—to help women understand their bodies. “Based on fitness trackers, blood tests and pap smears, women have vast amounts of data but it’s not stored in one place. We understand our cars more than our own bodies.”

Through WILD.AI’s research and algorithms, the app can not only predict that in two days a woman will experience bloating or menstrual pain, but also advise how to alleviate these symptoms. It can indicate that during ovulation, when the body is particularly strong, workouts can be pushed, and even be able to foretell a window of a higher sex drive.

According to Statista, the femtech market in 2021 was worth some $51 billion worldwide and is expected to reach $103 billion by 2030. Helene, a former Hedge Fund quant, says angel investors and advisors have been critical to the startup’s growth, enabling WILD.AI to reach some of the most renowned researchers in female health, such as Dr. Stacy Sims, senescence, and human performance.

Funding early on came from the London-based deep tech incubator Entrepreneur First (which includes board member and Linkedin cofounder, Reid Hoffman, and is backed by Greylock Partners, Founders Fund and McKinsey), as well as The Refiners in San Francisco, started by three French entrepreneurs, including Géraldine Le Meur (LeWeb).

In August 2021, Helene appeared on Dragon’s Den to pitch her startup (WATCH Video below) and today WILD.AI has partnerships with Adidas, Garmin and Oura, which she has worked non-stop to develop. “Running a startup is like getting fired a few times a day,” she shares enthusiastically. “Between investors who pull out or strategic partners who don’t come on board … and being a founder is way less sexy than it sounds.”

Article first published April 27, 2023.

Robb Report Monaco unveils inaugural cover at Yacht Club

WATCH VIDEO: Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur publishers Luiz Costa Macambira and Karl-Henry Edstrom at magazine launch May 22.

Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur officially launched at the Monaco Yacht Club on Monday, May 22.

Bringing the voice of luxury to the Principality is Swede Karl-Henry Edstrom, who ran the Robb Report in his native country from 2017 to 2019 before turning his vision to the French Riviera. (WATCH VIDEO).

Karl teamed up with businessman and veteran publisher Luiz Costa Macambira, a longtime resident and the formidable force behind two Forbes franchises, Monaco and the Netherlands. Luiz cemented his reputation in the Principality in building the Forbes Monaco brand through its print and digital platforms, supported by exclusive UHNW events from 2018 to 2022.

The two Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur publishers are working with seasoned creative director Peter Soderberg to produce four issues in 2023 (six next year) which will be on sale at 450 newsstands, bookshops and airports in Monaco, the French Riviera, the French Alps and in Paris. The May 2023 “Launch Issue” (146 pages; €12) will be followed by “Best of the Best” on July 12.

Robb Report dates back to 1976, when it was a mimeographed antiques newsletter founded by Robert White trying to sell collectibles. Four decades on, it counts 19 international editions worldwide and was described by Forbes as “a bible of bling for America’s most conspicuous consumer.”

In 2016, Penske Media Corporation acquired the Robb Report. The media giant, who owns Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and others, says the “Robb Report is the global voice of real luxury, with its fingers on the pulse of the latest superlative products and experiences that today’s modern consumers seek.”

“Real luxury” perfectly sums up the Robb Report Monaco cocktail Monday evening on the Observatory Deck. Even the €100,000 Hästens bed set up for the launch paled in comparison the 200 UHNW residents and guests who came to support Luiz. (Spoiler alert: expect more titles from Luiz later this year.)

Official launch with Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur team.

Article first published May 22, 2023.

Serena Benedetti Roy

Serena Benedetti Roy grew up in Monaco but created her first company, Kosmob, in China back in 2006. Only 22 at the time, she would spend the next four years developing and manufacturing her moped brand to sell in France.

“I did a student exchange in China when I was 13 and, even though I was young, I could tell the country had an exciting potential for development and it became my dream to work there,” recalls Serena. With a degree in industrial management at the French business school, Grenoble Ecole de Management, the entrepreneur had always been interested in both the technical and operational side of business. “Still today, my favourite professional activity is visiting factories to see how machines work.”

By 2011, the electric vehicle market in France was slowing and the French-Italian and Serena decided to enter the corporate world. She returned to Monaco and worked for ten years at Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) Offshore in Quality Assurance and Project Supply Chain.

It was four years ago at SBM Offshore that the idea for her latest startup, Akimba, came to light out of “personal necessity”. As she puts it, “I realised that I had a lot of nice clothes in my closet but I was reluctant to wear them at the office for two reasons – the embarrassment of perspiration stains and the dry-cleaning costs to get them out.”

Serena searched online for a solution to protect her clothes from sweat stains. “I found no-sweat T-shirts, mostly for men. So, I decided to do something about it.” She came up with The Fresh Bra™, a patent-pending bralette.

At the end of 2020, and expecting her first child, Serena opted for voluntary redundancy during SBM Offshore’s last round of downsizing. “I had a deep feeling this side project could turn into a real business. This product I was creating could improve the quality of life for many women, making them feel more confident in their clothes and allowing them to wear colours they would never dare to before. So, I took a leap of faith.” Akimba was founded in November 2021.

The soon to be 39-year-old (her birthday is August 28th) explains Akimba is inspired from the word akimbo, a standing position with your hands on your hips and your elbows pointing outward to create strength and courage. (Serena demonstrates in above photo.) “Posing like this makes you feel that anything is possible. And that’s the feeling I want to give to women who wear my products.”

But what exactly is “empowering lingerie”? Serena clarifies, “The Fresh Bra™ has been designed for maximum discretion, comfort and femininity. It is the first undergarment of its kind that not only supports the breast but also conceals sweat to keep your outfits looking perfect. All materials are plant-based and include anti-bacterial and fast-drying properties.”

Serena’s research unveiled a global market for active women with sweat issues – this includes everything from undergarments to professional treatments like botox and surgery – estimated at €3.5 billion. “I’m already working on different versions of The Fresh Bra™ and also some shorties to prevent thigh chafing.”

The serialpreneur launched The Fresh Bra™ last month on July 4th and hopes it will become a wardrobe game changer for 20,000 women in France and Europe within three years. “My 10-year vision is to be the first brand that pops into mind when you think of undergarments that are premium products and for empowering women – helping them feel more comfortable in their clothes and more confident in all aspects of their lives.”

Serena is counting on MonacoTech’s startup program to help Akimba reach these goals. “Entrepreneurship is quite lonely. I wanted to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs and decided to apply. MonacoTech has helped me to better structure my vision and the actions to achieve it. They have provided me with a sounding board for major decisions and given me good visibility in the local press.”

Akimba has no hires as of yet as Serena has been working with a freelance fashion designer, a pattern maker and a R&D company to develop the product. The polyglot (she speaks English, French, Italian and Chinese) reveals she took pattern making classes to have better control over product development. “My biggest learning curve has been to understand the ins and outs of the undergarment industry and the technical side of producing a piece of clothing.”

At the moment, the innovative bra is available online only but Serena is looking for retailers in Monaco and France to start selling Akimba products in the fall. She admits, though, that the supply chain is a major risk. “Recently prices of eco-friendly fabrics have surged. There are also not many manufacturers who can deliver high-quality standards for premium products like The Fresh Bra™.”

The Monaco Economic Board member believes that success is not only measured by your business’ bottom line but also by your happiness level. Her ultimate role model is Spanx founder Sara Blakely. “She’s not only a very smart entrepreneur but also a mom of four who has a lot of humour and empowers women in most of her activities.” Locally, Serena follows Marcela Kern @onboardwithmarcela. “I enjoy her energy, and her mix of professional and fun content. Plus, I get to learn a few things about the yachting industry.”

Tech-savvy Serena is also a big podcast enthusiast. So much so that in 2020, she started her own podcasts – Super Women of Monaco – to showcase the remarkable women in the Principality. “I also host the Akimba podcast to share the entrepreneurial journey of women who create brands and companies with the aim of helping other women.”

Article first published August 7, 2023.

Fearless Re.Generation leaders look to the Earth, empathy and community for climate solutions

I have come to the conclusion that Planetary Health is like the unpredictable relative no one wants to invite to a family gathering. You know what I’m talking about, that family member whose presence makes others feel uncomfortable because inevitably there will be drama. Instead, everyone pretends everything is normal, hoping the problem will magically go away. But it only gets worse. Year after year.

And I get it. Planetary Health is a monumentally complex and distressing topic and, on top of that, we are in a race against time. The reality is that the planet is facing a double environmental crisis – the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. We are on track to reach 1.5°C global warming as early as 2034. In parallel, we have seen a 69% decline in the world’s wildlife populations in the past 40 years.

Beyond the headlines, it is not all doom and gloom. There is hope to ensure a sustainable future for people and nature, but it will require a rapid and transformative shift across sectors to drastically reduce emissions and fundamentally change the way we produce, the way we consume, and the way we finance.

This is where Re.Generation comes in (See Videos Below). This latest initiative from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s (PA2F) brought together six brilliant women and four outstanding men from around the world for its first Re.Generation Future Leadership Program, which rounded off two weeks of training on July 13.

Not to be confused with youth leadership for entry level skills, this group of Millennials is recognised already in helping to fight climate change and biodiversity loss in four areas – Startsups and Business, Storytelling, Communities and Finance. They are representatives of a generation who are convinced that another way of using Earth’s resources is possible, convinced that we must protect and regenerate nature.

These Re.Generation cohorts are carrying the weight of your future on their shoulders. They are not afraid to look Planetary Health in the eyes or call out others who fail to do so, offering solutions with a powerful sense of urgency. I know because I had the good fortune of spending the last two weeks watching them in action and listening to their concerns.

I encourage you to watch the videos below to put a face to their names and stories. These individuals are a reflection of how the Prince Albert Foundation is stepping up its drive to accelerate change by engaging Millennials and creatives in innovative ways to help spread the message. And I assure you, this Re.Generation group may have arrived in Monaco as leaders. But they leave as experts.

Startups (WATCH VIDEO)
The world has set very ambitious targets for 2030 to protect 30% of land and sea, and to restore what has been degraded. But 2030 is tomorrow, some 78 months away. What is the role of startups and the business sector in this vision?

Anne-Sophie Roux is a French ocean entrepreneur whose startup Tenaka is focusing on reversing marine degradation by restoring marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves, and, importantly, doing this at scale.

Colombian Federico Perez is the Founder and CEO of Selvitas, a company focusing on nature-based solutions and social equity in Latin America, particularly to tackle deforestation.

Sabrine Chennaoui is the co-founder and CEO of the Tunisian green start up, MONSAPO, which looks to revolutionise chemical products we use every day, and she is an advocate for empowerment of women in the workplace.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation launched this year its Re:Ocean Fund, a private equity fund dedicated to SDG 14 that will support startups focusing on marine pollution, blue food, ecosystem protection and restoration, and equipping ocean stakeholders with robust and transparent data. What role can these kinds of funds play to help scale up innovative solutions?

Ghassan Atallah is Lebanese with a background in mechanical engineering, who moved into the finance and investing space and is doing his MBA at Harvard Business School.

Storytellers (WATCH VIDEO)
How to get the message out, both to policy makers and to the general public, to help instigate the transformative sectoral and societal change that we need to tackle the environmental crisis we are living?

Gunjan Menon is a prize-winning wildlife filmmaker from India, and a Natural Geographic Storytelling Explorer, particularly focused on human-wildlife coexistence.

Valy Phommachak is the founder of Econox Laos, a social enterprise for environmental protection strongly involving local communities. She also founded Econews Laos, the first and only environmental news platform in the country, and is an advocate for youth empowerment.

Imogen Napper – aka the “Plastics Detective” – is a British marine scientist and National Geographic Explorer who is researching plastic pollution and its sources. Her work influences policy change and was used as a basis for new legislation banning certain products.  

Communities (WATCH VIDEO)
To put solutions into place, transparency, inclusivity, and co-construction are crucial, making sure that no one is left behind. Local communities and indigenous peoples are often at the forefront of impacts of climate change and nature degradation.

Victoria Herrmann is a storyteller and geographer from the US works very close with communities on adaptation pathways to climate change, ensuring the empowerment of local communities in safeguarding their cultural heritage.

Pedro Fernandez is an agricultural engineer, who has been working with land managers and farmers in his native Argentina to help them transition to a more sustainable way of ranching.

Jahawi Bertolli is an award-winning Kenyan filmmaker, TV presenter and National Geographic Explorer who focuses on underwater and involves local communities in Africa to delivering the storytelling message.  

A 2021 Pew Research Center report showed that 69% of American adults surveyed say large businesses and corporations are “doing too little to address climate change” while two-thirds say “ordinary Americans are doing too little to help reduce the effects of climate change.”

The research also stated that 71% of Millennials (born 1981–1996) believed that climate should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations compared to 67% for Gen Z (1997–2012), 63% for Gen X (1965–1980) and 57% for Baby Boomers (1946–1964).

Article first published July 16, 2023. Feature image: Re.Generation Program/Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Runa Ray

Sustainable luxury designer Runa Ray reminds me that there is more to the Prince Albert Foundation than meets the eye. (WATCH VIDEO above.)

Sure, since it was created in 2006, the non-profit organisation PA2F has given out more than €100 million in grants and been involved in 750 projects dedicated to planetary health, including Beyond Plastic Med: BeMed, Human Wildlife Initiative, Forrest and Communities and, in our backdoor, the fantastic Pelagos Initiative. And yes, the PA2F Planetary Health Gala attracts some pretty big names: Leo, Sting and Redford.

Yet if you happened to stop by the first edition of the free Green Shift Festival last week on Promenade du Larvotto, you would have witnessed the Foundation’s other star power: partnering with those not–so–celebrity names who work relentlessly at a grassroots level using art to inspire a public shift of consciousness when it comes to environmental issues.

One of those stars is Runa Ray. The bio-couture designer was in Monaco for the Festival June 7-10 encouraging people to write messages of their commitment to the ocean as part of her Ocean Flag initiative, which is an endorsed activity by the United Nations Ocean Decade 2021-2030.

“I have been working with the Foundation mostly as a sustainable fashion designer,” Runa told me at the Green Shift Festival. “And this is using fashion’s waste for a social cause, which connects humanity and speaks about environmental purpose, which can be linked to climate justice and social justice.”

The Bangalore-born artist added, “These messages are going to be sewn and this specific flag will be displayed at COP28 UAE in November. People across the world – orphans in Ukraine who have sent in their commitments, India, the Indo-China border, San Quentin State Prison, and now people from Monaco – have all sent in their messages.”

Photos Facebook Martine Ackermann

According to the UN, “A three trillion-dollar industry, fashion is responsible for 20% of the global wastewater generated through pesticides for land cultivation, dyes and textiles – which often flows back into the ocean.” The UN says that the Ocean Flag “aims to bridge the gap between fashion’s environmental pollution and educating the public on the detriments of climate change on the ocean through the lens of fashion.”

In addition to being involved with the UN’s Ocean Decade, the author of Fashion for Social and Environmental Justice also works with the UN Environment Programme Faith for Earth. “I have used fashion as activism and education to engage youth and future decision makers and educate students in universities on the intersection between climate change and Peace,” she said.

Runa grew up in a city in the south of India, where the most coveted professions after graduation were medicine, engineering and dentistry. “It was important to be educated in the sciences whereas arts took a back seat,” she described. “India was still adapting to the post-colonial era for the need of the above mentioned professions and peer pressure was at its best with students vying for top honours to establish themselves and the names of their families.”

She studied science but found herself at a crossroads: become a doctor or pursue fashion, a new career path introduced by her mother who said “the world had enough doctors and that fashion could use some help.”

Runa was one of the prestigious few who were chosen to be a part of the ministry of textiles India and study fashion. “Fashion was nascent and I, being of the creative bent of mind, decided to enrol myself at the National Institute of Fashion Technology. It was an arduous process of selection wherein only 120 students were chosen for four centres all over India.”

She excelled in what she described “a wonderful journey where I won the best design collection award”. This led to a Master’s at the Ecole Supérieure des Industries du Vêtement in Paris under the Chamber of Commerce. Studying fashion and marketing helped Runa gain industrial experience in factories and couture houses, where she “notably came across fashion’s waste not just from the standpoint of consumer waste but that which existed within the industry from prototypes to printing, dyeing and even packaging.”

She continued, “One should understand that waste starts from the sketch that is created, from paper to prototype and the final product. This is what probably inspired me to take on being an environmentalist. I loved creating wealth from waste and using fashion as activism to educate and advocate for policy change.

“As I further explored the industry, I came in contact with the highly fragmented garment sector from nomadic workers to the denim industry, which employed young boys to scrape at jeans for the faded look using only sand paper and led to occupational lung diseases because of the fibre in the air, to the tanning industry and dyeing industry, which discharged effluents into water ways at night.”

This would further her reason to connect the arts, humanity and science for the benefit of mankind through fashion. “An environmentalist is one who keeps the environment in the center of everything that they do. I am a fashion environmentalist because I keep nature in the epicenter of my designs, to benefit and find ways to reduce carbon footprint within the industry, and any process that could contribute towards it.”

For Runa, it is “extremely important” to go to the source. “As a fashion designer, it is imperative to understand where your clothes come from, to understand the geography, the geo-political causes, the livelihoods of people engaged, the impact of economy on prices and the control of governments on natural and synthetic fibres.”

She literally goes to the source. “For my Himalayan expedition, I travelled to four villages in Ladakh to document the pashmina goats, their rearing, harvesting of their fur and making it into yarn and final conversion into products. Most of the pashmina farming is government owned, where subsidies are given to the herders. The communities are pastoral and semi-pastoral who depend on goats and yak for income.

“The goats are combed in summer months to get the fine pashmina fur, which is then sent to the de-hairing unit where it is cleaned of any debris. The hair is then sorted into variations depending on their length. The hair is further taken to communities in the mountains of which one would make the yarn and they are paid for their efforts. the yarn is collected and taken to the next village which spins the yarn to sweaters and other products. The products are collected and then sold in the wider market.

“With the advent of climate change, most goats are dying and pastoral communities are moving out into urban dwellings to find jobs, which means that by 2050 we would have most of our pashmina farmed and not free-raised as they are currently in the Himalayas.”

Runa, who dressed Grammy award-winning artist Laura Sullivan, will be creating a multi-episode docuseries to be shared with the Prince Albert Foundation to enable wider learning. “It is only right to help amplify the work of the Foundation through fashion and arts, to connect with science and throw light on relevant issues of climate change through storytelling,” she emphasised.

Photos: Facebook Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco

The fashion environmentalist YouTuber was a sustainable hit at Monte-Carlo Fashion Week on May 19 this year when she presented “The strait of couture” in collaboration PA2F. “I used seaweed as the main agent to print the fabric. By using the ancient art of Floating inks which was prevalent in 12th century Japan, I created unique organic prints which negated water wastage and pollution.”

When it comes to fashion and clothes, Runa says the biggest misconception that most people have is that if they donate used clothes to charity, most of the garments find a new life. “This is untrue, because most garments end up in the land fill, as only gently used and slightly worn ones make their way into the secondhand market.

“The one tip I can give consumers is to not follow trends, but stick to classic buys that will last for years, where quality and style will never go out of fashion.”

Runa Ray is currently working on a trip to Sudan to connect with displaced communities and their dying art of weaving, which is impacted by civil war.

Article first published June 18, 2023.

Top Marques Monaco 2023

This year’s Avant-Premier at Top Marques Monaco was legendary. Some 1,500 car enthusiasts attended the VIP preview on Wednesday, June 7 and, according to insiders, “at least half a dozen classic cars and motorbikes sold on the first night”.

Ticket sales for the 18th edition are up by 35% on last year as auto aficionados pour into the Grimaldi Forum to check out six global launches, 100 exhibitors and 150 supercars, classic cars, motorbikes and super boats. There is no shortage of Instagram stories #topmarques starring shiny McLarens, Bugattis and Aston Martins, all vying for attention amongst Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche and Ferrari.

Sure, the usual supercar suspects are pretty to look at but dig a little deeper at Top Marques and you’ll find some awe-inspiring nuggets from Monaco residents. The Ineos Grenadier is an “uncompromising 4×4” inspired by INEOS Chairman, Jim Ratcliffe, and nanoFlowcell founder and CTO Nunzio La Vecchia introduces the world’s first 100% EV that is battery-free and can drive up to 2,000 kilometres before refuelling. 

Nunzio presented the E-roadster QUANTiNO twentyfive (VIDEO ABOVE) to a group from the Monaco Women in Motorsport Commission (Commission des Femmes dans le sport automobile, pictured). Explaining how the car is not charged like conventional electric cars, he had the undivided attention of 30 women, no easy feat. “Our water-treatment system turns saltwater, brackish water or wastewater into carrier liquids for our specially nano-structured molecules – the actual bi-ION charge carriers.”

The electric car alternative, which can be refuelled with electrolytes sourced from 90% salt water, has been in development over eight years with over 500,000 test kilometres.

Nunzio studied quantum mechanics and quantum physics, and worked in R&D in the field of alternative energy technologies before he founded nanoFlowcell AG in 2013 (originally registered as JUNO Technology Products AG). The following year, he introduced the QUANT E, the world’s first electric car powered by his nanoFlowcell drive which had its premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show.

Ever since, the trademarked proprietary energy and n-AI technologies have become uniquely synonymous with the company’s “disruptive innovation power”. NanoFlowcell has registered offices in Kilchberg (Switzerland) and London (UK) and went public in 2021. Nunzio, who has been a Monaco resident for five years, hopes the nanoFlowcell Holdings plc subsidiary which opened in New York in December 2022 will help take the technology beyond the automobile sector, toward the aerospace and transport industries, and smart city development.

As for the QUANTiNO twentyfive, which you can visit at Stand C6 at Top Marques Monaco until Sunday, Nunzio hints the E-roadster could be brought to market by the end of the year … for sale in Monaco.

Top Marques Monaco is open Saturday, June 10 (10am-7pm) and Sunday, June 11 (10am-6pm). Tickets can be purchased online or at the Grimaldi Forum – €45/adult and €25/children 8-16, with free admission for under-8s. This weekend there is a Lego workshop by Bricks 4 Kidz. €2 for every regular ticket sold will be donated to the Monaco non-profit association Monaco Disease Power.

Videographer Martine Ackermann.

Monaco Pride

2023 Monaco Pride at Novotel. Photo: Fight Aids Monaco/Frederic Nebinger

“Diversity, inclusion and equal civil rights.” This was the positive message from the 120 people invited to celebrate Monaco Pride at Novotel on Thursday. Guests included government and National Council representatives, businesses, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and those who support them.

The second edition of Monaco Pride was again sponsored by Barclays Private Bank and Fight Aids Monaco. The private cocktail shined a light on the “indispensable elements for a growing economy and healthy community.”

The event kicked off with Annette Anderson, who delivered a powerful welcome address in French and English. (WATCH VIDEO.) Annette highlighted how in 2022 the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance called on Monaco “to examine and eliminate unjustified differences in rights between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples.” This led to a roundtable talk of recommendations in April between the Commission and representatives of Monaco’s government and community.

Annette also congratulated the ASM Football Club, whose players have worn jerseys with their names in rainbow colours on International Day Against Homophobia on May 17 over the past few years.

The conversation on inclusion continued with speakers Hervé Aeschbach, Coordinator of Fight Aids Association, and Guillaume Rapin, General Manager of Novotel Monaco, who told a touching story of one of the hotel’s gay employees. (WATCH VIDEOS.)

Gerald Mathieu, CEO of Barclays Private Bank Monaco, rounded off the conversation discussing Barclay’s ethos on social impact and encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace. (WATCH VIDEO.)

Barclays has always stated, “We want every one of our colleagues to feel comfortable being themselves at work. It’s central to our culture here at Barclays. We nurture it through activities and initiatives, and building networks for colleagues to connect. Our ongoing relationship with pride globally is just one of the ways in which we show our commitment to the LGBT + community.”

Since 2004, Fight Aids Monaco has been supporting LGBTQIA+ and those living with HIV, acknowledging each person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. The non-profit condemns any kind of inequality, discrimination, or violence against any person and believes that defending this principle “should be everybody’s concern.”

Monaco is listed 44th out of 49 European countries on the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe’s LGBT+ equality ranking. This is up one point from the 2022 list. The ILGA annual report said that Monaco’s historic first Pride event in 2022 was “a sign of positive progress for residents”. The association also wrote: “On 4 July, the Monaco Court granted a gender marker change to a transwoman, who medically transitioned in France. This is the first such court case. Monaco has no legislation in place on LGR.” Homosexual couples in the Principality do not have the right to adopt or have access to IVF and that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not protected by the Constitution.

Since June 27, 2020, Monaco has allowed same-sex couples to sign a cohabitation agreement (contrat de vie commune), but the law considers same-sex couples living together on par with siblings for inheritance taxes and they are not eligible for the same legal protection (healthcare, retirement, succession) available to married couples of the opposite sex.

For Monaco Pride, Barclays Private Bank Monaco gave free t-shirts to attendees and during the month of June, the bank’s façade will be illuminated in the colours of the rainbow in observance of Pride Month.

Barclays Private Bank Monaco in June.

The first edition of Monaco Pride at Stars’n’Bars in June 2022 brought together 80 people, including special guests Princess Stephanie, President of Fight Aids Monaco, and her youngest daughter Camille Gottlieb.

Feature image: Fight Aids Monaco Facebook.

Red Pear Theatre returns to Antibes for one night only

The names Red Pear and Hilary King will no doubt transport some Riviera residents back 20 years.

In spring 1995, Hilary founded the non-profit Red Pear Theatre with her Heinz executive husband, Roy, and directed 150 performances in English in Antibes. “For ten years, the Red Pear performed professional English-language shows in Theatre Antibea once a month – except July and August, when you could have billed it as a weight loss program … just too hot!” Hilary recalls.

Following the Red Pear’s closure in 2005, the couple opened up their Cap d’Antibes villa, La Timonerie, to host fundraising cocktail dînatoires. “There were over 40 performances in my home, where the actors gave their services for free so we could send the ticket money to Cambodia, where we helped build three schools,” explains Hilary, who trained in theatre at Rose Bruford College in London.

When her beloved Roy “the Bear” died in 2010, Hilary continued the occasional soirée to raise money for Cambodia before moving to Avignon in 2015 and then returning to her native London in 2019. She has continued to use her theatrical talents. Last week, she organised a charity cabaret for St Martins in the Fields raising £45,000 towards funding 18 Keys, a sanctuary for homeless women in London.

It was during Covid lockdown that Hilary wrote The Red Pear Theatre Story: When the West End Hits the Côte d’Azur, looking back at the many people and details that made the theatre company such a success.

The book was released in March 2023 (£35 UK; £37 for EU) and the official launch takes place June 15 at Theatre Antibea when Hilary brings the Red Pear back to Antibes for one night only. “I return with nostalgia for the old Red Pear audience and a theatrical fairy tale for anyone who arrived in the area after 2015!”

Starting at 7pm, Hilary will kick off the evening with a few anecdotes from the book before veteran film, TV and stage star Anne Reid takes to the stage for a specially-fashioned cabaret, accompanied by Stefan Bednarczyk, whom Nice-Matin called “Un Roi du Cabaret”.

After their performance, both Red Pear veteran Stefan and Anne – who just completed a sell-out run of Marjorie Prime at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory and is fondly remembered as Celia in TV’s Last Tango in Halifax with Derek Jacobi and for the film The Mother with Daniel Craig – will share some Red Pear memories over a glass of wine with guests. Limited tickets (€35) also include a welcome glass of wine and a copy of The Red Pear Theatre Story with a chance of a book signing.

Hilary acknowledges the support of Theatre Antibea and its artistic director Dominique Czapski. For tickets, call 04 93 34 24 30. And hey, if there’s enough interest in Red Pear fare, perhaps Hilary could persuade Dominique to let her have the theatre again one of these days …

Why Sainte Devote rugby tournament is a win for Monaco

Princess Charlene once said, “Rugby is a sport that has always been close to my heart and the values of discipline, teamwork and respect for others are ones that set an example to the sporting community.”

Nowhere was this more exemplary than Saturday, April 22, at the Sainte Devote Rugby Tournament. Organised by the Monegasque Rugby Federation with the support of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, the annual international under-12 tournament has been held at Stade Louis II since it began in 2011.

The opening ceremony at 10:30 am was exceptional this year. Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella watched on as Scottish pipers (VIDEO above) entered the stadium leading team Impis, meaning Zulu Warriors, the rugby sevens team created at the request of the Princess six years ago.

On April 8, the Impis pulled of an unexpected win in Scotland at the Melrose Sevens, the oldest rugby sevens competition in the world, dating back to 1883. This was the Impis’ first victory and the champions were in Monaco to present the trophy to Princess Charlene at the Sainte Devote tournament. (See VIDEO end of article.)

Impis captain Tyler Bush was Ambassador of the 2023 Sainte Devote Tournament. Tyler, who started playing rugby at age 12 in Jamaica, explains the significance of the Melrose Sevens win for the young team and talks about their impressive visit in Scotland to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNIL). (WATCH VIDEO).

The Princess Charlene Foundation has provided financial support for RNIL’s global drowning prevention projects over the past decade. But support goes beyond RNIL. Since its launch in 2012, the Fondation de Princesse Charlène Monaco has backed over 510 projects, reaching more than a million people in 40 countries, teaching them to swim, to learn essential water safety skills and “to appreciate the values of sport that are so dear to me.” Two of their worldwide programs – “Learn to Swim” and “Water Safety” – are aimed at children who are at risk of drowning. The “Sport & Education” initiative offers sports activities to contribute to children’s wellbeing and development.

Tyler and Impis teammate Conan Osborne, also Jamaican, attended one of the Foundation’s drowning prevention programs yesterday at the Stade Louis II pool. They encouraged the 85 children from seven teams in the Sainte Devote tournament who were taking part in various activities and workshops, from CPR to water polo. The program was supervised by Pierre Frolla and the Académie Monégasque de la Mer, with the support of the Monegasque Red Cross.

There is a super-powered synchronicity between the pool and the pitch, thanks to Princess Charlene, and rugby is fast on its way to becoming Monaco’s national sport. This is also due to the outstanding efforts by the Monegasque Rugby Federation, which was founded in 1996 and has been heavily invested in bringing rugby to all walks of life.

2023 Sainte Devote Tournament

“Having had a national rugby sevens team that won the European Championship tier 3 in 2013, the federation also strives to give opportunities to the upcoming generations,” Nicolas Bonnet, national technical director of the Monegasque Rugby Federation told me previously.

The other outstanding rugby initiative in the Principality is an exchange as part of the Foundation’s Sport and Education program. “One major aspect is the Monaco U16 rugby team going to South Africa as an extension of the South Africa-Monaco Rugby Exchange. The trip is an incredible opportunity for the Monegasque team and allows them to discover South Africa while playing rugby,” Bonnet said.

Credit for the development of rugby in Monaco is due in part to the Federation’s indefatigable president, Gareth Wittstock, who is also Secretary General of the Princess Charlene Fondation and has been actively involved in the success of the binational Impis, made up of four players from Monaco and eight from all nations. The Impis competed in the 2017 Dubai sevens. The team ranked 4th in 2018 before climbing up to 3rd in 2019, when 100,000 spectators devoured rugby over the tournament’s 50th anniversary weekend. In addition to the Impis men’s team, a women’s team was formed in 2021. Princess Charlene herself who chose the name “Umusa,” which means grace in Zulu.

Rugby fever could certainly be felt at the 2023 Sainte Devote Tournament. This year saw a record number of players from 20 teams representing 17 countries: South Africa, England, Andorra, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Spain, France, Georgia, Mauritius, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Monaco, Norway, Senegal and Switzerland.

Also on the agenda Saturday, as with every year, “Tots Rugby” for 2- to 7-year-olds taking their first steps with a rugby ball, and “Rugby for Everyone” educational workshops and competitions adapted to children with disabilities.

This first time I popped by to check out this tournament, which is free to the public, was in 2017. Six years on, I am astonished by the number of supporters in the stands and how this tournament has grown. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, the Princess’ Foundation has a unique ability to shine a light on Monaco’s sense of community and sportsmanship through events, all of which—whether swimming, golf, rugby, the Riviera Water Bike Challenge or Sunday’s Champagne & Oyster Cycling Club 140 km St-Tropez-Monaco charity bike – are 100% eco-friendly requiring only physical energy as fuel.

No matter what the score, everyone at Stade Louis II was a winner today.

WATCH VIDEO: Impis presenting Prince Albert and Princess Charlene with Melrose Sevens trophy.

WATCH VIDEO: Could you sing Monaco’s national anthem?

Article first published April 22, 2023.

Have you checked out Jean-Pierre Yves art exhibit at the Prince’s Car Collection? One of his works will be auctioned with proceeds going to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.

Rugby legend Rives opens art exhibit at Prince’s Car Collection

His long blond hair earned him the nicknamed “casque d’or” (golden helmet). The BBC called him a “cult figure” in France. Jean-Pierre Rives played for France’s rugby team from 1975 to 1984 and was the first captain to lead the team to victory against the All Blacks in New Zealand on July 14, 1979. The flanker was the country’s first truly international rugby star.

Yet despite a record-breaking career in rugby, as a child Jean-Pierre had always been fascinated by colour and form and dreamt of the Beaux-Arts. Born in 1952, in Toulouse, perusing art was not an option for his generation, especially as his grandfather was a cyclist and his father favoured tennis.

When Jean-Pierre retired in 1987, after winning 59 caps for France (34 as captain) and two Grand Slams in 1977 and 1981, he gave away his game jersey and trophies because for him, what mattered most, were the people: “Rugby is the story of a ball with friends around and when there is no more ball, friends remain.”

The soft-spoken artist reflects, “Both rugby and art both are based on emotions.” (Watch Video).

The studios may have come knocking – he appeared in three films: Qui sont mes juges? (1987); Connemara (1990); and Druids in 2001 – but after discovering the work of sculptor Albert Féraud, Jean-Pierre fulfilled his calling.

As a renowned sculptor who has lived in Mendocino, California, and has a home in Grimaud, Jean-Pierre’s art has been shown around the world, in New York, Paris, Moscow, Dubai and Shanghai. In 2007, the “Rives sur Berges” outdoor exhibition installed eight of his sculptures along the Rhone River in Lyon during the Rugby World Cup.

Jean-Pierre’s “Abstraction Géométrique” exhibit opened on Monday, April 3, at the Prince’s Car Collection in Monaco. Jean-Pierre and director Valérie Closier welcomed Prince Albert at 6pm and accompanied him along the main floor where paintings and cars came together in the form of art, including a Formula 3000 and Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

Valérie enthuses, “The work is very colourful, a touch of pop art in the collection, that ties into two customised cars covered with his work. It is the link between cars and art.” (Watch Video.)

This is the first art show at the modernised Prince’s Car Collection in the new La Condamine location and the energy is contagious. Invited guests included Gareth Wittstock, secretary general of the Princess Charlene Foundation. One of Jean-Pierre’s paintings will be auctioned in the Principality later this year with proceeds going to Princess Charlene’s Foundation, which among other activities supports the Monegasque Rugby Federation in organising the Saint Devote Rugby Tournament for youth. This year it takes place on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Also present were Jean-Francois “Jeff” Tordo (former captain of the French national rugby team and founder of the humanitarian association, Pachaamama), Tiffaney Perlino (president of Monaco’s Women in Motor Sport Commission), Brigitte Boccone-Pagès (president of Monaco’s National Council), and Martine Ackermann, founder of Child CARE Monaco and the Monte-Carlo Women’s Vintage Car Rally, this year on September 10).

Valérie hopes to bring in several exhibits every year to create a “living space” that will keep people coming back. (Breaking News: Monaco Fashion Week will have its catwalk to the backdrop of the cars and art in May.)

This is the first time Jean-Pierre Rives, 70, is sharing his “Abstraction Géométrique” with the public. The exhibit runs until the end of May at the Prince’s Car Collection at 54 route de la piscine. Admission is €10 or €5 for under 18. Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.

Prince Albert with artist Jean-Pierre Rives and Valerie Closier,, director of the Prince’s Car Collection.
Valerie Closier, Prince Albert and Jean-Pierre Rives .
Tiffaney Perlino, Valérie Closier, Jean-Pierre Rives, Martine Ackermann, Nancy Heslin and Jean-Jaques Bally. at “Abstraction Géométrique”vernissage.
Jean-Pierre Rives with Jeff Tordo.