Montblanc pays tribute to literary gem The Little Prince through a special collection of writing instruments.

SINGAPORE (May 21): Cameras are clicking and lights flashing as photographers call out the names of Hugh Jackman and Charlotte Casiraghi. The frenzy stops when a Montblanc staff puts an end to the publicity shoot, as the schedule for the evening’s programme needs to be followed. This writer stands at the edge of the podium and when Jackman walks past, asks if she can have a picture taken with the A-list star. Instead of declining politely, he smiles and says yes.

From left: Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki, Casiraghi and Jackman attending the Montblanc Meisterstück Le Petit Prince event at New York’s One World Trade Center Observatory

His star quality and all-round nice-guy image must have helped in Montblanc’s decision to appoint him as one of its global brand ambassadors in 2016. Jackman, along with fellow ambassador Casiraghi, was in New York last month to celebrate the launch of the new Meisterstück Le Petit Prince collection, a set of writing instruments inspired by the much-loved novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The book tells the bittersweet story of a friendship between a prince from another planet and a pilot lost in the Sahara. Various themes of acceptance, friendship and love emerge as the two encounter characters and symbols along the way such as a fox, a snake and a rose.

The launch event was held at the One World Trade Center Observatory in Lower Manhattan, New York. Elements from the book were displayed at various locations at the cocktail area. We had our pictures taken at the apple tree, tried our hand at digitally drawing the fox and even had a personalised notebook with a picture of the fox drawn by an artist.

Just before dinner, Jackman and Casiraghi treated the media, celebrities and guests to a reading of the conversation between the prince and the fox about the rose, accompanied by a short animated film.

The choice of the observatory at One World Trade Center was no accident. In the book, the prince perched himself at the edge of a rose-coloured cliff and looked at the view below him. One World Trade Center stands at 417m tall and offers breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty, Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge and more.

Moreover, The Little Prince celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and it was in New York that Saint-Exupéry penned and illustrated the book in 1943.

The media learnt more about Saint-Exupéry when we visited the Joseph Cornell: The Saint-Exupéry Dossier exhibition (on from now until June 24) at the Morgan Library & Museum. Joseph Cornell was an American artist who met Saint-

Exupéry when the latter was working on his book. Cornell kept every single item of Saint-Exupéry’s work in progress, from pieces of paper to cocktail napkins. Visitors will get to view Saint-Exupéry’s sketches, including newly discovered drawings, and memorabilia.

A lasting symbol

Montblanc has found a creative way to celebrate the power of gifting, imagination and the importance of sharing ideas and dreams with others through the Montblanc Meisterstück Le Petit Prince collection.

The multi-faceted themes explored in the book resonate with the values espoused by Montblanc and its Meisterstück writing instruments because they have always been a gifting favourite, along with the memories that are passed down through the generations. The writing instruments symbolise the love and lasting bond between the giver and receiver.

Lynn S Serfaty, director of writing culture at Montblanc since 2015, is an expert when it comes to writing instruments. Options had an exclusive interview with her the morning after the launch at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York.

“The writing instrument is the most gifted object at Montblanc. People buy it as a gift. They give it to their children, or children give it to their parents, because it is highly symbolic. It’s like giving you access to the literary world, to education, to intellectual life... the symbol behind it is very powerful,” says Serfaty.

Behind every writing instrument is a team of craftsmen who dedicate their lives to creating amazing works of art. Serfaty is in charge of operations, product development and high-artistry projects. “We are trying to convey this idea that writing is [not just about functionality but also a conduit for the imagination].”

She pauses, then says: “Let me lend you my pen for a minute because you cannot experience what writing means until you try it.” On observing the way I write, she comments that I need a thinner nib. When it comes to the art of writing and writing instruments, nothing escapes her.

On the emotional side of writing, she notes: “When the function is perfect, there is almost no gap between your hand and the pen. Whatever you do with your hand is transmitted directly to the paper. It’s like an extension, so you can draw, write and doodle. You can do whatever you want and you don’t need to think about the tool.”

Serfaty says all Montblanc’s gold nibs are handmade by about 70 craftsmen. They start working at a very young age and are usually goldsmiths or silversmiths. She adds that Montblanc is the only gold nib manufacture in the world. Every part of the writing instrument is made by hand and produced in very small numbers.

The Montblanc Meisterstück Le Petit Prince collection was 3½ years in the making. Serfaty explains that it all started with an idea and it was quickly approved. The collection has received numerous positive feedback through traditional and social media.

Having worked so closely on the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince collection, we ask Serfaty what her favourite theme in the book is. She discloses that it is love. “I love the fact that the little prince learns about love. When he arrives on planet Earth, he doesn’t know what love is and he finds out what it is through his love for the rose, but he doesn’t have a word to describe it.”


THE POWER OF IMAGINATION

The Montblanc Meisterstück Le Petit Prince collection captures the book’s message that transmitting one’s dreams and values to others is what makes one’s life meaningful. The first series features the inspiring and tender characters of the young prince and the fox that enlightens him about the importance of close bonds and human relationships, revealing the core wisdom learned from his own life’s experiences. Subsequent editions will highlight other characters from The Little Prince and the powerful messages they carry.

The cap and barrel of the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Solitaire writing instruments are made of night-blue precious resin, evoking the deep-blue sky of the universe around the prince. The milled cap is decorated with a fox face pattern, with platinum-coated fittings contrasting with the deep blue of the writing instruments.

Before travelling back to his asteroid, the little prince tells the pilot that he need only look at the stars to remember the prince’s laughter. As a reminder of the laughter in the stars, a golden star adorns the clip of the pens in this collection. The little prince is immortalised along with his friend the fox through an engraving on the handcrafted 14K rhodium-plated nib. A sentence from the original novel has been laser-engraved onto the crown of the writing instrument — available as a fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint pen: Créer des liens? ... Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. (To establish ties? ... To me, you will be unique in all the world.)

The Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Doué Classique edition pairs the deep-blue colour of the lacquer barrel with the luminosity of a platinum-coated cap elegantly decorated with engravings of the fox pattern. The shiny surface of the platinum is repeated on the metal cone, cap and pen clip adorned with the yellow star.  The edition is available as a ballpoint pen, rollerball and fountain pen, with an 18K bi-colour nib embellished with the outline of the little prince and the fox.

To extend the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince writing experience, Montblanc has created a special ink and refills in a dark-orange colour reminiscent of the fox’s orange fur. A leather notebook, bound in fine Saffiano leather and depicting a picture of the prince and the fox on its cover, completes the writing experience.

There is also a selection of Meisterstück Le Petit Prince men’s accessories, including a pair of round stainless steel cufflinks with a centre of deep-blue lacquer and fox-face design, a stainless steel and blue lacquer money clip and a contemporary men’s woven leather bracelet with a stainless steel clasp decorated with a yellow star.