Richard Mille the man was rare seen this weekend – possibly due to the sheer vastness of the Château de Chantilly’s Renaissance-style estate that provided a stunning backdrop for the brand’s first Concours d’Elégance. In all, more than 500 cars were on show, providing professionals and connoisseurs with an opportunity to stroll through the gardens designed by the landscape gardener Le Nôtre.
This superb setting bathed in the light of a generous Indian summer enabled the Manufacture to take a journey down the memory lane of automobile history. Without betraying its strong attachment to extreme performance, Richard Mille invited devotees of cars dating from the 1930s to 1970s to weave their way serenely among the plaid picnic blankets laid out at the feet of venerable models from Facel Vega, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Jaguar and Maserati. The latter Italian firm indeed took the opportunity to celebrate its centenary.
As if serving as a reminder that Richard Mille as a brand had not thus far taken a retro-vintage turn, a handful of 21st century speed machines were also on show, such as McLaren’s latest 650 HP cars powered by hybrid engines. The future of the automobile industry undoubtedly hinges on its ability to ‘go green’.
Alongside them were ten or so marques taking the opportunity to present their latest concept cars, including the ‘home side’ French manufacturer Citroën, which exhibited several variations of its DS.
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"Might the Richard Mille Concours d’Elégance become a venue conducive to preannouncements for VIP customers?"
All in all, the Richard Mille Concours d’Elégance, beneath the demure appearance of a weekend in the country, discreetly threw a few cats among the pigeons in the run-up to the Paris Motor Show due to open just three weeks later at an hour’s drive from Chantilly. Might the Richard Mille Concours d’Elégance become a venue conducive to preannouncements and other exclusive titbits for VIP customers? That remains to be seen and we’ll just have to wait until the second edition to find out.
For Richard Mille, this first edition certainly had a remarkable impact, attracting an impressively broad audience. Several hundred accredited journalists; the general public in large numbers; the kind of media coverage worthy of a big festival: everything about the weekend conveyed the impression of celebrating the jubilee of an historic society event. This was of course not the case, since the “Chantilly Arts & Elégance Richard Mille” was the first of its kind. The official date has not yet been set for next year, but one can be pretty sure it will be in due course.
So does this mean Richard Mille is indeed taking a retro-mechanical turn? The man behind the brand, who runs as much on instinct as on friendship, would doubtless be quite happy to do so. His daily life is all about performance, and the latter naturally stems from decades of mechanical innovations. Gathering the finest examples of this history in a unique venue for a special day is probably the finest tribute that Richard Mille could possibly pay to the automobile universe that has given him so much, albeit without necessarily committing him to any particular direction for his upcoming creations. Even though one must admit that an RM watch with the curves of a Bugatti Royale, combined with the performance of a supercar, is a tempting proposition…