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Winter 2007

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



Yachting catalogue

Navigation tests

Used boats


Video Nautica

Article by
Franca Urbani

Photographs by
Martino Motti


Lady Luciana Vittoria tells us about "Mirabella V"
a hi-tech yacht with a homely feel about it

It is Gran Prix day at Montecarlo, huge crowds, roaring engines, impossible to reach "Mirabella V" waiting at the harbour as the stands bar our way, the largest sloop in the world is moored right there in pole position along side the quay just at the entrance of the harbour.

We can see the very high mast just there in front of us but can't reach it. Fortunately, after an hour of attempting to catch her on the mobile always "très occupée", Alison, the charming stewardess calls us to say that Captain Coxe will be coming to pick us up. The photographer and I heave a deep sigh of relief as without a pass there is no way of getting through here. Captain Coxe arrives smiling and debonair and very kindly relieves us from our predicament taking us to the yacht where we're immediately introduced to Lady Luciana Vittoria the owner. She's a sparkling and charming lady who speaks without a trace of accent from her native Naples and who greets us on board as if we were in a large and hospitable house. Lady Vittoria saw personally to the choice of the interior furnishings and tells me that these were the cause of much discussion with her husband who preferred a more spartan look. Her husband however supervised the whole project of the exteriors from the hull to the sporting equipment of the boat. Lady Luciana immediately thought however that "Mirabella V" needed to have a gentle and elegant feel to it to accommodate, or rather envelope, her numerous family, which incidentally numbers 4 sons and as many as 10 nephews, and of course the flow of guests who regularly come on board. Chatting happily away we started visiting the boat.

Lady Vittoria, what concept inspired you when you began thinking about the interiors of "Mirabella V"?

I thought that since "Mirabella V" is the largest and most wonderful sloop in the world, with a 70 metre mast and a concept project which allows it to sail close-hauling away like a real sailing boat, the interior needed to have a very homely feel about it, a soul if you prefer. The interiors of "Mirabella V" are the fruit of an accurate mix: I come from Naples, my husband is American and we live in Palm Beach, "Mirabella V" was built in England. So many cultures entwined together would inevitably influence also the interior design which, is in fact, the direct result of that very mix. It was a hard and laborious job to choose each piece, also because I love to nurse detail using the harmony of colours as a guideline. Imagine, I choose fresh flowers every day, just a few, preferably orchids and roses, which I make up into small arrangements to match nicely with the décor. I generally choose them to blend with the colours of a painting or to enhance a corner which has enjoyed particular care in its finish and design. My real intention in composing the interiors of this boat was to attain harmony in each space and detail. Naturally all this work was firstly for my own satisfaction as a woman and then for those who understand and appreciate my efforts, maybe 5% of those who come aboard. As we know in fact, beauty is for a few.

Are there other requests you made to your husband regarding the design of the interiors?

Yes of course, I asked that there would be a ceiling height of at least 220cm to give the maximum sense of space to the interiors and to be able to hang the larger paintings in those spaces left free over furniture and sofas. The whole boat is a mélange of rich fabrics, wonderful wood, of all sorts of natural and technological materials, deployed in accordance to use in the various areas. Furthermore, everywhere, modern bookcases and containers effectively swap space with carpets, modern paintings, antique prints, antique furniture, statues, books. The comfortable sofas are modern too.

Your husband is a sportsman who loves the sea and sailing, to what extent does he get involved at the helm?

Very much so, he often manoeuvres the boat himself and has built other versions of "Mirabella" before this one in attempting to make his dream come true: to get a large yacht to go like a real sailing boat. Imagine that my husband was President of Avis and Hertz and was moved by sheer passion to build "Mirabella V". Friends introduced us when he came to Naples, we were young and fell in love immediately: a great love that still lasts today.

I would love to see the interiors having the benefit of a personal guided tour.

-Let us begin the visit by going below over to the night quarters and I will show you the Coral Cabin , the owner's cabin that is, where the imposing colour of the linen placed on the partitions and bulkheads is in fact a light shade of coral. I chose all the materials near Naples in a factory which specializes in making fabrics for museums, and where they still work the looms. Then I chose sheets and bed linen in the best shops in Florence and antiques and carpets in London. I like to lay lots of antique carpets with blue designs down or, in any case, those with dark tones of colour so that they may blend with a background of various shades of pink. I really cannot think in terms of reproductions. I like making clear cut choices as well as the contrast in styles, in short, a mixture of the very old with the very modern! As you can see the cabin has a large bed with raw embroidered silk fabric, two antique bedside tables, a low level piece at the foot of the bed out of which the TV comes, an antique tall boy and a beautiful set of two small armchairs, and a chest of drawers complete the furnishings. I created a small corridor as an entrance to the cabin and placed a chest of drawers and a gilded mirror along its sides.

The visit continues going from the corridor into a study which has a corner bookcase housing two niches with paintings. Two armchairs, a nineteenth century desk and a modern piece of furniture running the length of the window and fitted with small lockers which open by applying the slightest pressure, complete the décor. The details of the custom made furniture are striking as even the grain of the wood has been blended to state of the art standards. A seventeenth century print of Naples hangs over the sofa-bed. We enter the bathroom and with an elegant movement of her arm, Lady Vittoria shows us in exclaiming:- "The bathroom is a bathroom, I didn't want anything elaborate in here but simplicity and an intelligent use of coloured resins and technological materials for the coatings". But going into the lobby straight after, she opens a draw as if by magic containing thin wooden railings holding her husband's trousers in just a perfect order. An ingenious touch from a loving wife. She shows us with a smile the latest present for her birthday from her son who owns a perfume factory. The present consisted of creating a new perfume just for his mother which is wonderful and now also makes up the Beauty Care line of "Mirabella V" consisting of: soap, perfume, shampoo, hair conditioner and body lotion. We ask how did her son guess the right perfume for her.- he asked me for my day and for my night perfumes and then chose mine from a line of twenty different possibilities.- Some of the projects used to build "Mirabella V" hang on show along the partitions of the corridor and I ask the lady to tell me about their origin.

"Mirabella V" was designed by Ron Holland, on launching day he presented me with these plans which I loved, so later on, I asked him for more to hang them on the walls of the boat. I also notice the small flower arrangements we had spoken about scattered here and there and so I asked her who actually puts them together.

-I study them tracing an oval the size of a face and I imagine the arrangements within that space, then the stewardess does the manual work marvellously.- Finally we visit other cabins, one is called Turquoise, another Topaz. A large headboard encloses the bed-side tables to make the cabin seem larger. There is then a large antique mirror and in the bathroom's lobby there is a mirror that runs the length of the partition to amplify its width. Small tricks of the trade. Linen on the partitions in the colour that the name of the cabin suggests. The landings to the bathrooms of the various cabins, house built-in wardrobes with sliding doors decorated with pyrogravure depicting the maps of the owners' favourite destinations: Caribs, Capri and St.Tropez. We return to the main saloon and we stop to look and take a few pictures. The table in the dining area stands out over the maple flooring, and it is positioned within a design of inlaid teak and ebony, which almost looks like the edges of an enormous carpet. The wall behind the head of the table hosts a niche with a beautiful bronze statue completed with ribbon-like forms by the sculptor Johnny Raimondi. The corner of the saloon has wonderful colours beginning with those of a large oil painting going on to the fabrics of the sofas and ending with those of the carpet, all linked to one another by harmonious shades of colour. Lady Vittoria explains that she chooses the painting first and then moves on to the fabrics inspired by its colours. I ask her what criteria does she use in choosing modern paintings.

-I like to always use the colours as a guideline, but for the choice itself I very much rely upon the advice of friends like the sculptor Raimondi, I see that you fully appreciate the intricacies of interior design and art!-

The visit ends and we take our leave from the Vittoria's boat but especially so from Lady Luciana. We also say our goodbyes to Alison the stewardess. Before going ashore, the Captain invites us to go up the mast's lift which reaches 50 metres off deck, and a wonderful 360° aerial view of Montecarlo unfolds before our very eyes and the track with its racing cars, and the yachts get smaller and smaller quickly reaching model size. Magnificent!