Massimo Vitali reaches new heights as HeavenSake fetes its new launch

View of a large crowd of people wearing face masks inside The American Cathedral in Paris. There is large round light display with an oversized bonsai tree hanging in front located at the back of the cathedral
Renowned photographer Massimo Vitali captured the heaving crowd at HeavenSake’s latest cultural gathering in Paris, celebrating its new sake and raising awareness about climate change
(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

Launched last year, Franco-Japanese sake label HeavenSake positions itself as an alternative to champagne. Initiated by Carl Hirschmann with publisher Benjamin Eymere and Etienne Russo, founder of production company Villa Eugénie, the brand heralded its arrival with the suave and fruity Junmai Daiginjo. Now, nearly a year later, it’s debuting a new launch, which sees blend master Régis Camus (of French maison Piper-Heidsieck fame) join forces with sake house Urakasumi to create the next chapter in HeavenSake’s journey: the Junmai Ginjo.
 
But the founders are adamant their brand is not just about serving and drinking sake. Each launch is accompanied by a carefully staged ‘cultural event’, a series of gatherings titled ‘A Better High’. Here, the brand eschews traditional tasting rituals while celebrating multidisciplinary craft and showmanship with artistic performances, gastronomy contemporary music and fashion.

View of a performance featuring Japanese rope bondage - there is a red parasol in the corner, a man in a dark patterned robe sitting on the floor and a woman in a light coloured floral outfit and orange waist tie kneeling with her hands bound by rope above her head

(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

The second event in the series (produced by Russo and team Villa Eugénie, of course) was staged in the American Cathedral of Paris, and included a performance involving over 1,000 party guests. Just before midnight, attendees donned black pollution masks, to raise awareness for the ticking clock on climate change.

The scene was captured by iconic photographer Massimo Vitali – renowned for his large format images of crowds – who was elevated 5m in the air to capture the sheer scale of the scene. Illuminating the space, a dominating, large-scale faux bonsai tree centrepiece was suspended over the altar/DJ booth, paying homage to the brand’s Japanese heritage and addressing the HeavenSake team's environmental concerns.

Closer view of the large round light display with an oversized bonsai tree hanging in front at The American Cathedral in Paris

Installed at the American Cathedral, the set (designed by Etienne Russo and his Villa Eugénie team) included an oversized bonsai tree hanging above the DJ booth

(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

View of HeavenSake’s new Junmai Ginjo drink - The bottle is blue with a design similar to a water drop and there are two tall, filled glasses with ice pictured against a light grey background

HeavenSake’s new Junmai Ginjo, the second product from the brand, was created in collaboration with sake house Urakasumi

(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

Close up view from below of the large round light display with an oversized bonsai tree hanging in front at The American Cathedral in Paris. There is a DJ booth, a DJ and another person beneath the display and the background is lit up red

The 3m tall tree towered over the DJ booth, both paying homage to the brand’s Japanese heritage and addressing global climate change issues

(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

View of a large crowd of people inside The American Cathedral in Paris. The cathedral is lit up an icey blue colour, there is a tall tree display with glass bottles on the branches, hexagon shapes are hanging from the ceiling and a round light display featuring a tree can be seen at the back of the cathedral

The launch event was staged as an immersive experience that combined music by South African DJ Black Coffee and Agoria...

(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

Close up view of a live performance by Japanese drummers Yamato at The American Cathedral in Paris. The drummers are shirtless, wearing long black skirt style pieces and their drums are red, black and white. There is a large round light display behind them that is lit up red and an oversized bonsai tree is hanging in front of it

...and live performance by Japanese drummers Yamato

(Image credit: Massimo Vitali)

INFORMATION

HeavenSake Junmai Ginjo, £45 for 720ml. For more information, visit the HeavenSake website (opens in new tab)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

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