AVENUE November | December 2022

Page 1

CLIVE DAVIS

The Man with the Golden Ear


Villani AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 11:03 AM


1– 5 BEDROOM CONDOMINIUM RESIDENCES SUTTON PLACE

430 EAST 58 STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10022 SUTTONTOWER.COM Exclusive Marketing and Sales Agent: Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. The complete terms are in an Offering Plan available from the Sponsor, Sutton 58 Holding Company LLC, 101 Park Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10178 under File No. CD-180379. Property Address: 430 East 58th Street, New York, New York 10022. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Villani AD 0111222.indd 12

10/24/22 11:03 AM


Richard James AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:55 AM


Richard James AD 0111222.indd 12

10/24/22 10:55 AM


Harrys of London AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 9:59 AM


463 PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK, NEW YORK (646) 905-8670 14 MOTCOMB STREET, LONDON SW1X 8LB ALSO AT HARRODS HARRYSOFLONDON.COM

Harrys of London AD 0111222.indd 12

10/24/22 9:59 AM


T. ANTHONY N E W YO R K 1 0 7 E A S T 57 T H S T R E E T AT PA R K AV E N U E , N E W YO R K ( 2 1 2 ) 7 5 0 - 9 7 9 7 W W W.TA N T H O N Y.C O M

T Anthony AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 11:02 AM


T Anthony AD 0111222.indd 12

10/24/22 11:02 AM


CO LO M B I A’ S O F F I C I A L S U B M I S S I O N F O R T H E ACA D E M Y A WA R D S ® “WONDERFULLY SYMPATHETIC, DEEPLY FELT AND TENDERLY FUNNY.”

“A BEAUTIFUL STORY ABOUT FAMILY AND FIGHTING FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN.”

Memories of my father CO H E N M E D I A G R O U P P R E S E N T S

FROM

F E R N A N D O T R U E BA D I R E C TO R O F A CA D E M Y A WA R D ® -W I N N I N G

BELLE ÉPOQUE

BASED UPON THE INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER BY HÉCTOR ABAD FACIOLINCE

OBLIVION: A MEMOIR (EL OLVIDO QUE SEREMOS)

ONLY IN THEATRES • NOVEMBER 16 EXCLUSIVE NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT AT QUAD CINEMA Cohen Media AD 0111222.indd 11

10/27/22 11:04 AM


CONTENTS NOV.–DEC. 2022 VOL.45 NO.6

FEATURES 66

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CLIVE DAVIS

The record-industry legend Clive Davis on life, love, music accolades, and why the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic is so important to him. By Peter Davis

NICK CAVE: SANDRO MILLER, COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK

72

A FAMILY AFFAIR Writer, historian, and Lytton Strachey relation, Nino Strachey shines a new light on the Bloomsbury set. By Heather Hodson

78

ABSOLUTELY TO DINE FOR

How to crack the Palm Beach social dining scene. By Carson Griffith 82

PERFORMANCE ENHANCER Sculptor, multi-media artist, and dancer Nick Cave

11_12_02DEPT_Contents_FINAL.indd 9

ESCAPE ARTISTS

The Miami-based luxury travel concierge Felix Bambrilla on satisfying the wanderlust of the one percent. By Horacio Silva. Plus Avenue’s top travel concierge services to have on speed-dial.

10/27/22 8:39 AM


VERNISSAGE

16

Avenue’s insider preview of all that’s new and noteworthy: the Brooklyn Museum’s homage to the late, great designer Thierry Mugler; the rise of the mindful drinking trend; and the fashionquake of the ’90s and its aftermath. 36 20

WRAP STARS

Ritika Ravi debuts her delicate diamonds and elegant pearls on Madison Avenue. BY PETER DAVIS

Ten Avenue insiders share their go-to gifts this holiday season. 32

MEMORIES OF MANHATTANS A Christmas disquisition on bars and time.

LUSTRE FOR LIFE

38

CULTURE 52

The D&D Building Directory

BY PATRICIA VOLK

65

56

A WOVEN WORLD VIEW

Ugandan art sensation Acaye Kerunen makes her North American debut at Art Basel Miami Beach; plus Salon Art + Design at the Park Avenue Armory.

BY CELIA MCGEE

88

SEASON’S READINGS

Avenue picks books that travel around the world; plus swell stories for the holidays.

CULTURE

REVIEWED BY DANIEL KAREL, CELIA MCGEE, LILY LOPATE, AND CARISSA CHESANEK

CULTURE

NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

Avenue tells the Scrooge-like tale of billionairess Leona Helmsley, New York’s “Queen of Mean.” BY TODD KINGSTON PLUMMER

BY ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

60

PUMP UP THE VOLUMES Coffee-table books for wrapping and reading.

BY ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

BY JOSHUA DAVID STEIN

SCHIAP THAT!

A new show and book celebrate the French couturier, Elsa Schiaparelli.

A MESSENGER FROM THE EDGE Sculptor, dancer, and performance artist Nick Cave takes center stage at the Guggenheim.

TRADE SECRETS

64

90

ON THE AVE.

Soirées from New York to Venice. 96

SOCIAL SKILLS Your holiday season questions answered.

BY ANNELISE PETERSON

IN FULL BLOOMBSURY Left: writer Nino Strachey in London. Top: swimming in St. Barths. COVER: Illustration by Cecilia Carlstedt 10

avenuemagazine.com

ST. BARTHS: MARIE TOUCHELET; NINO STRACHEY: LYDIA GOLDBLATT

BY ARIA DARCELLA AND HORACIO SILVA

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_02DEPT_Contents_FINAL.indd 10

10/27/22 8:39 AM


Ranked by sales volume by

You deserve room to breathe. We know what you need.

Real Trends as published in The Wall Street Journal

3 # 6 # 12 $1 Billion #

PA L M B E A C H

FLORIDA

EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE #THEKOCHEXPERIENCE

N AT I O N W I D E

OVER

SOLD IN 2020 - 2021

SCAN HERE FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Transform your vacation destination into your own slice of paradise. Owning a home in Palm Beach has never been more valuable. Contact The Koch Team to navigate the market with the Island’s proven real estate leaders.

Follow us on Instagram,

@ KochTeam

Totally Reimagined Bermuda Featured Listing (above): 4BR | 5.5BA | $14.995M | WEB# 14985

Paulette Koch Broker A ssociate m 561.34 6.8639 | paulet te.koch@corcoran.com #14 Nationwide by Wall Street Journal / RealTrends 2019

Dana Koch Sales A ssociate m 561.379.7718 | dana.koch@corcoran.com #12 Nationwide by Wall Street Journal / RealTrends 2022

Equal Housing Opportunity. All information furnished regarding property for sale or rent or regarding financing is from sources deemed reliable, but Corcoran makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy thereof. All property information is presented subject to errors, omissions, price changes, changed property conditions, and withdrawal of the property from the market, without notice. All dimensions provided are approximate. To obtain exact dimensions, Corcoran advises you to hire a qualified architect or engineer.

Koch AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:43 AM


BOTTOMS UP A crisp martini awaits at Deux Chats.

A

s we usher in the holiday season, we have much to be thankful for this year, as life in the city we love is finally returning to normal. This issue, we call on Clive “the Golden Ear” Davis at his art-filled Park Avenue abode ahead of the release of I Wanna Dance with Somebody, the highly anticipated Whitney Houston biopic, which the music industry legend was so instrumental in bringing to fruition. We also sit down with Nino Strachey, the English writer whose forthcoming book, Young Bloomsbury, reveals the deep bonds of friendship and non-gender-conforming freedom of that famed London literary set, which we discover included such socially prominent Americans as the Kentucky newspaper executive Henrietta Bingham and Esther Murphy, bisexual heiress to the Boston-based Mark Cross luxury leather goods company. For the snowbirds among us, we look at the white-hot social dining scene in Palm Beach, where scoring a table at the Grill is not for the faint of heart, and hear from Miami concierge maestro Felix Brambilla, who shares his insights into travel now that the world is reopening, inviting us all to once again pursue our spirit of adventure. And finally, for those looking to find that perfect something for those who have everything, Avenue comes to the rescue. Simply thumb through the pages of our annual Holiday Gift Guide, which has been put together with a little help from our friends—among them Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Brooke Shields, and Kevin Kwan. We hope you will find much to enjoy in these pages. Cheers! PETER DAVIS

Editor-in-Chief 12

Like and follow us at @AVENUEinsider Sign up for our weekly newsletter at avenuemagazine.com

DEUX CHATS MARTINI: MELISSA HOM

Toasting the Season

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_03DEPT_EdLetter_FINAL.indd 12

10/27/22 8:47 AM


YOU’VE ARRIVED

Introducing NYC’S OFFICE TOWER FOR LUXURY BRANDS Building designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox The magnificent two-story lobby artwork designed by Gerard Coltat reflects the beauty and spirit of classical design

SELECT AVAILABILITIES

DAVID ROSENBLOOM

KELLI BERKE

BRIAN BORGET

212.841.7924 david.rosenbloom@cushwake.com

212.841.7718 kelli.berke@cushwake.com

347.504.2550 brian.borget@cushwake.com

Cohen Realty AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 9:44 AM


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Peter Davis EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Heather Hodson CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Sophie Elgort (The World According to Clive Davis, page 66) “I found myself starstruck meeting Clive Davis,” says the New York-based photographer and director. “It was an honor photographing a complete legend, an experience I will never forget.” Elgort, for whom photography runs in the family—her father is the lensman Arthur Elgort—has had work published in Vogue, Rolling Stone, Paper, and the Financial Times, while her clients include De Beers and Victoria’s Secret. Her fine art photography is represented by the Staley-Wise Gallery. She lives in Tribeca with her husband and young family.

Courtney Gooch DEPUTY & MANAGING EDITOR

Angela M.H. Schuster PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR

Catherine G. Talese PRODUCTION DIRECTOR

Jessica Lee STYLE EDITOR

Horacio Silva LITERARY EDITOR

Nick Johnson (Spirited Away, page 18, Memories of Manhattans, page 32, Wrap Stars, page 20) is a photographer and visual artist whose work has been featured in the New York Times and Vice, among other publications. A native New Yorker, Johnson is the coauthor and photographer behind The New York Pizza Project, a visual celebration of New York City’s last authentic pizzerias. He lives in Cobble Hill with his Ridgeback, Butter.

Lydia Goldblatt (A Family Affair, page 72) is a British photographer living in London. As well as photographing for the New Yorker and the Sunday Times Magazine, among other publications. Her work is also held in the collections of Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s National Art Library, and the Sir Elton John Collection. “I loved meeting Nino [Strachey],” she says of photographing the Young Bloomsbury author for Avenue. “Her home is filled with incredible objects, and I was struck by the great responsibility she holds as custodian of this legacy. We spoke a lot about family, legacy, strong women, and courage.” 14

Celia McGee DIGITAL FASHION EDITOR

Aria Darcella DEPUTY PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Daniela G. Maldonado COPY CHIEF

Danielle Whalen CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Joshua David Stein, Constance C.R. White, Judd Tully, Todd Kingston Plummer, Mike Albo CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Jai Lennard, Richard Kern, Landon Nordeman, Rainer Hosch, Johnny Miller, Martin Vallin, Nick Mele © 2022 by Cohen Media Publications LLC AVENUE MAGAZINE 750 LEXINGTON AVENUE 16TH FLOOR NEW YORK, NY 10022 EDITORIAL@AVENUEMAGAZINE.COM MEMBER OF ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA

PUBLISHER

Spencer Sharp COHEN MEDIA PUBLICATIONS LLC CHAIRMAN

Charles S. Cohen

SOPHIE ELGORT BY SOPHIE ELGORT; CARSON GRIFFITH BY YUMI MATSUO; NICK JOHNSON COURTESY NICK JOHNSON; LYDIA GOLDBLATT BY MARTIN BARNES

Carson Griffith (Absolutely to Dine For, Page 78) is a journalist, author, and the former entertainment director of Architectural Digest. She has written for more than 30 publications, including Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and Vogue. Carson has had a lifelong love-hate relationship with Florida. “As a child, I hated getting dragged there for extended family vacations, but as an adult, I have learned to love it as an escape from New York’s harsh winters.” During the “season,” you can most likely find her on a boat in Biscayne Bay, rummaging through Kemble Interiors, or attempting to navigate the polo match schedule.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_04_Contributors_V11.indd 14

10/23/22 2:55 AM


AVENUE-2022-DAISY-DEC-XMAS_AVENUE 9/28/2022 10:44 AM Page 1

SANTA’S COMING

LINDA HORN

shop the online store at LindaHorn.com email or call to visit info@LindaHorn.com 212.772.1122

Linda Horn AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:47 AM


ALAN STRUTT

VERNISSAGE

11_12_05VERN_Leaders_FINAL.indd 16

10/27/22 8:58 AM


“HE TOOK THE ART OF FASHION CREATION TO THE NTH DEGREE. IT WAS THEATRE—IT WAS AN UNVEILING.” MATTHEW YOKOBOSKY

Fashion’s Greatest Showman

COURTESY JEAN-PAUL GOUDE

“W

GRAND SCALES Left: Yasmin Le Bon on the runway of the Thierry Mugler couture fall/winter show “La Chimère,” in London, 1997. Top: a Jean-Paul Goude portrait of Thierry Mugler for Vogue Paris, 1998.

hen I first started working in museums 35 years ago, fashion exhibits weren’t big,” says Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum. “[Curators] were trying to make that art/fashion connection…that somehow it was going to increase its allure.” A few decades later, everything has changed. Fashion exhibits have become major attractions, and none more so than the traveling retrospective Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, a multimedia celebration of the genre-defying French fashion designer which arrives at the Brooklyn Museum this month. It’s the fifth institution to stage the show since its debut in Montreal in 2019, and the first to display it since the designer’s death, at the age of 73, in January. “Blockbuster” could not be a more apt phrase to describe it. No one is better suited to a solo exhibition than Thierry Mugler, the wildly theatrical designer, photographer, and artist known for his over-the-top couture creations and fashion extravaganzas of the ’80s and ’90s. “It was just

so much more about fantasy and extreme forms of beauty,” explains Yokobosky of Mugler’s creations. “He was working with people that did amazing beading, feather, and leather work. He even worked with industrial designers to work on the Chimère gown, in which there are 3,000 differently sized scales that were individually cast. He took the art of fashion creation to the nth degree.” His runway shows were equally dazzling, blurring the lines between fashion and entertainment. A trained ballet dancer, Mugler directed his runway models to embody characters—a sharp contrast to what Yokobosky describes as the “military walk” popular today. “Everyone's walking and stomping down the runway so quickly, you're not looking at the fashion anymore,” he says. “[Mugler’s models] came out and presented the dress to the audience. It was theater—it was an unveiling.” Couturissime is a reminder of how audacious the French couturier’s vision was. The show includes more than 130 outfits designed by Mugler from 1973 to 2014, which drew on a multiplicity of sources and influences, from science fiction and surrealism to comic books and cinema, and comprised every kind of material including rubber, resin, and plexiglass. As in past iterations, it features stage costumes and couture, as well as photography (both Mugler’s own and from collaborators like Helmut Newton) and sketches. One gallery is entirely dedicated to George Michael’s 1992 music video for “Too Funky,” which Mugler outfitted and directed, while another is devoted to his first fragrance, Angel, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. And true to his panache for sci-fi, the show opens with a life-size 3D hologram of Mugler’s work for a 1985 stage production of La Tragédie de Macbeth. Though Mugler sold his namesake fashion house in 1997 and walked away from the fashion industry in 2002, he continued to design for productions like Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity and Beyoncé’s I Am... world tour. (The Mugler label has since been revived and is currently helmed by Casey Cadwallader.) But in 2019, Couturissime brought his career rushing back into the public consciousness. The custom dress he created for Kim Kardashian at the 2019 Met Gala, as well as the multiple archival Mugler gowns Cardi B wore to the Grammys that year, went viral, generating days’ worth of headlines. In an era driven by the internet’s insatiable appetite for content, his work provided fodder. There was nobody like Mugler, says his friend and muse, Stella Ellis; the perfectionism and showmanship embodied by the couturier is fading away. “Fashion [has] kind of lost its magic,” she says. Ultimately, Ellis hopes museum patrons will walk away from Couturissime with a better sense of Mugler’s unmatched creativity. “He put so much into his creation…he's not just a dressmaker. He's a couturier, he's a director, he's an artist, he's a photographer. He's a visionary. All of this goes into the clothing. It's everything.” —Aria Darcella NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_05VERN_Leaders_FINAL.indd 17

17

10/27/22 9:00 AM


The company’s expansion, as well as the launch of After, a magazine debuting in December for nondrinkers and those looking to rethink the drink, suggests that many of us are drastically dialing back our alcohol overconsumption since the pandemic, when binge drinking spiked by a staggering 21 percent and sales swelled to the size of an engorged liver. “The majority of us were forced to slow down and be more aware of the state of our bodies and our minds,” says Boisson cofounder Nicholas Bodkins. “There was a spike in drinking alcohol to cope at first, but then for many, it stopped serving them. When we opened in Cobble Hill, which is such a close-knit neighborhood, we con nected with our fellow Brooklynites on a person KEN AUSTIN al level, realizing this shared need for well-being.”

“I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT 2023 WILL BE THE YEAR OF LOW ALCOHOL.”

Spirited Away

n a sign that the mindful drinking trend might have the staying power of a brutal hangover, Boisson, the New York company that launched in 2021 offering slick, de-alcoholized drinks for the fashionably abstinent and sober-curious, is opening yet another store in December at Rockefeller Center. The new location, the company’s fifth in New York, follows three recent openings in Los Angeles and another in San Francisco, as well as a thriving e-commerce platform, serving up its sophisticated craft cocktails, wines, beers, and elixirs from around the world.

18

NICK JOHNSON

I

Bodkins and his partners are hoping that the embrace of wellness and temperance will continue to gain traction in the rest of the country. The signs are good. Not only are top restaurants and hotels calling on Boisson (Eleven Madison Park, The Carlyle hotel, and the new José Andres restaurant at Ritz-Carlton New York, Nomad, are among the venues utilizing its menu-consulting services), but the big liquor conglomerates such as Diageo are pulling up a barstool in the nonalcoholic (“NA”) market, having acquired Seedlip in 2019 and invested in 15 other emerging brands, including Chicago-based nonalcoholic distillers Ritual Zero Proof. Ken Austin, a veteran of the booze biz who now works with the big multinationals to fill key holes in the market with new releases such as Avion

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_05VERN_Leaders_FINAL.indd 18

10/27/22 8:58 AM


tequila, expects the trend to continue. “It's still social and around food,” he says, after pointing out that, so far, he doesn’t have a horse in the NA race, “so I think it’s a no-brainer for restaurants where trained staff can create drinks that most of us couldn’t dream of making ourselves. At-home consumption at mass is going to be more of a stretch. The public education just isn’t there.” Like the big companies, Austin is gambling instead on the lower alcohol market and is launching an as-yet unnamed drink. “I think it’s safe to say that 2023 will be the year of low alcohol. That’s the sweet spot, but you can be sure that if there is any real money to be made from zero alcohol, the big companies will be there.” Being able to make something resembling Boisson’s Phony Negroni at home at a fraction of the price? We’ll drink to that.—HORACIO SILVA

CHRIS MOORE/CATWALKING/GETTY IMAGES

The Other Magic Kingdom

T

he world of high fashion is an endless retro cycle, with designers leading a merry decade-dance of inspiration. One season the world’s leading luxury houses are all seemingly in lockstep, saluting the soignée elegance of the French couture in the postwar optimism of the early ’50s, the next we’re all strutting around in disco-ready Lurex threads of the ’70s.

FASHION MOMENT A model on the runway at the Alexander McQueen fall/ winter show during Paris Fashion Week in 2008.

As designers are forced to trot out more and more collections to increasingly informed customers, even the near past is being revisited. Not surprisingly, there has been a slew of recent books on John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and other creators from the ’90s and early 2000s. But meaty film investigations of this period of great upheaval, and the rise of the luxury conglomerates, have been as skimpy as a ’90s supermodel. Kingdom of Dreams, a new four-part highend fashion series premiering on HBO Max in the new year, is set to change that. Produced by Misfits Entertainment, the team behind the BAFTA-nominated McQueen and the recent Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix, the series uses rare library material, unseen personal and designer archives, dazzling visuals, and probing

interviews to tell the story of the watershed moment in fashion in a contemporary, cinematic way that does justice to the dazzling creations on the runway. As seen in these themed episodes, the period was a last hurrah for the cult of the designer, supermodel, magazine editor, power PR, and department store—a beautiful collision of big budgets and even bigger egos. The rapid rise of designers at the beginning of the era, such as Galliano and McQueen, was bookended by the precipitous falls of these flawed geniuses. It’s an often-ugly story about a world of beauty that sadly cannot be told in today’s fashion magazines, which live and die at the hands of their powerful luxury advertisers. For that alone, Kingdom of Dreams is an important addition to the fashion dialogue.—hs NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_05VERN_Leaders_FINAL.indd 19

19

10/27/22 8:58 AM


BUY CURIOUS

20

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2020

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 20

11/1/22 1:09 PM


NICK JOHNSON

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 21

21

11/1/22 1:09 PM


BUY CURIOUS Artware Editions Judy Chicago coasters. $28 for a set of four; artwareeditions.com

Alexandra Eldridge, Tony Barnstone “The Radiant Tarot” set. $40; barnesandnoble.com

Kevin Kwan For the caustic wit behind the indulgence of Crazy Rich Asians, the most precious thing about the holidays is spending time with his family—even if it does evoke childhood nightmares. “We had this tradition of Santa appearing at the stroke of midnight—and I would be petrified,” he says, recalling the vintage Santa costume usually worn by one of his uncles. “By the time I came along the mask was all decayed, with desiccated fake skin peeling off. I'm sure I had a look of horror on my face.”

Jot original blend. $26 per bottle; jot.co

“[Anna Sanders will] paint a beautiful little still life of someone's favorite bagel. Mine is sausage, egg, and cheese.” Anna Sanders custom bagel painting. Price on request; commission via Instagram at @annaesanders 22

The Woks of Life: Recipes to Know and Love from a Chinese American Family by Bill, Kaitlin, Judy, and Sarah Leung (Clarkson Potter). $35; penguinrandomhouse.com

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 22

11/1/22 1:09 PM


Vintage cookbooks from Kitchen Arts & Letters. Various prices; kitchenartsandletters.com

Le Creuset enameled castiron circle Dutch oven. $445; lecreuset.com

“It might seem a bit thoughtless in the Western world to give an envelope of cash as a holiday gift, but in my culture, it’s rude not to! For Chinese New Year, Christmas, weddings, birthdays, there is usually a red envelope stuffed with cash.”

ILLUSTRATIONS: RUBEN BAGHDASARYAN

Angie Mar The one thing that the Les Trois Chevaux star chef can’t conjure in the kitchen is more time for giftwrapping. "My family has a knack for knowing what’s in the box before it’s even picked up, so we spend hours devising ways to wrap boxes inside of boxes and making everything as unidentifiable as possible,” she says. “It’s absolute excess, but I adore excess."

Byredo Bal d’Afrique limited-edition hand cream. $48 each; byredo.com NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 23

23

11/2/22 10:39 AM


BUY CURIOUS

“I love this ring in blue for an added pop of color!” Bea Bongiasca “Baby Vine Tendril” 9k yellow gold, silver, enamel, and marquise cut rock crystal ring. $675; beabongiasca.com

Schumacher x Marie-Chantal buffalo embroidered pillow. $286; 1stdibs.com

Marie-Chantal baby bedtime gift set. $389; mariechantal.com

Princess MarieChantal of Greece She may have a retinue of attendants, but for this princess the secret to juggling a successful lifestyle concern with multiple social engagements is being organized enough to plan a royal wedding. “As a mother of five children, I try to be very organized and create wish lists for all of them well ahead of time,” she says of her prodigious planning.

Apple AirPods Max. $549; apple.com

“I try to make time to workout and set a healthy lifestyle.” Alo essential set. $175; aloyoga.com

24

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 24

11/1/22 1:09 PM


Mach & Mach shoes. $970; modaoperandi.com

“Designed by my beautiful friend Liz Lange. Perfect to throw over swimsuits for beach days, but elegant and stylish enough to take you to cocktails and dinner.”

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir. $175 for 100ml; charlottetilbury.com

Figue “Lina” top. $395; figue.com

Clo Cohen

T. Anthony boating tote. $650; tanthony.com

Leave it to a luggage expert to know how to wrap a present. Cohen’s go-to gift is a T. Anthony tote bag, filled with an assortment of other glamorous goodies. “After my time working at Gucci and Jimmy Choo, my friends know I’m an accessories girl at heart,” she says of her fashion choice this season, a pair of Mach & Mach heels. “They work with every look, from eveningwear to jeans.”

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 25

25

11/1/22 1:09 PM


BUY CURIOUS

Beginning is Now “The You Shine Bright” sweatshirt. $88; beginningisnow.com

“I absolutely adore the smell and they are really rich in the way they burn.” Rigaud Tournesol candle. $100; candledelirium.com

Brooke Shields If you were in the Hamptons this summer, you most likely saw Shields living it up. But she’s also been hard at work on Beginning is Now, her lifestyle site which launched last year. Fans will be unsurprised that her holiday picks lean towards wellness and helping the world. This season, she’s hoping more people will act like her and support North Shore Animal League America. “They’ve saved the lives of more than 1.1 million animals,” says the committed animal lover.

“It doesn’t hurt to have a little glamour in your life! This whole experience makes you feel like a movie star.” Fashionphile gift card and personal shopping experience. Any amount; fashionphile.com

A donation to North Shore Animal League America. Any amount; animalleague.org

True Botanicals Pure Radiance oil. $110; truebotanicals.com 26

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 26

11/1/22 1:09 PM


Polo Ralph Lauren cable-knit cricket sweater. $398; ralphlauren.com

“Definitely the most luxurious gift to stay warm this holiday season. Great for my favorite clients, but I love to get them for myself too.” Hermès “Tigre Altai” throw blanket. $4,575; hermes.com

Michael Lorber Torn between rival parties? For powerhouse developer Lorber, it means deciding between two major cities. “We usually head down to Palm Beach right before Christmas,” he says. “The parties down there are always so spectacular. I'm not one for large parties, but for more intimate dinners before everyone flies away for NYE.” That said, lunch at Doubles is a long-standing holiday tradition.

“Any silver picture frame, but it must have a picture in it! Giving a picture frame with a picture that you had printed out is so special and they will never throw it away.” Smythson “Soho” agenda. $380; smythson.com

Monica Rich Kosann “Sunburst” sterling silver 4” x 6” frame. $685; monicarichkosann.com NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 27

27

11/1/22 1:16 PM


BUY CURIOUS

Bumblebee Linens set of four monogrammed dinner napkins. $54; bumblebeelinens.com

Murray Moss

Tertium Quid by Murray Moss. $75; artbook.com

The founder of Moss Bureau dishes out aesthetic expertise to friends and clients like others dispense cranberry sauce. “This silver sieve is a perfect addition to the ritual of tea-drinking,” he says of the Ted Muehling tea strainer on his list. “In addition to the hot water, add any number of magnificent teacups/ saucers (Nymphenburg porcelain services are the tops) and a bit of Swiss chocolate, to taste.”

“I have suggested to friends and clients to use these vases in the bathroom, near and around the bath. When one reaches a certain number of them (depending on the size of your room/tub) these light-as-air apparitions begin to feel like giant paper-thin crystal bubbles.” J. & L. Lobmeyr fishbowl flower vase. $300; designstore.theglasshouse.org

Ted Muehling silver tea strainer. $400; tedmuehling.com

28

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 28

11/1/22 1:09 PM


“Since everyone is on Instagram these days, picture books seem like a safe bet. I recommend Yachts: The Impossible Collection, because who doesn't love yachts?” Assouline Yachts: The Impossible Collection. $895; assouline.com

“Last year I scored the prized Dolce & Gabbana panettone [at Amici Market]. Women were fighting over the last ones like a Barney’s sample sale, so buy early and be safe.” Fiasconaro x Dolce & Gabbana panettone. $90; bloomingdales.com

“Those flimsy things Delta gives out are unappealing and uncomfortable. Why not splurge and make up for your athleisure flight attire with an Hermès eye mask?” Hermès “Not Sleepy” travel mask. $800; hermes.com

Michael Reinert The holiday season means crafternoons of all things for Palm Beach scenester and marketing consultant Reinert. “I always hand-sketch my Christmas and holiday cards,” he says of his tradition of adding a personal touch to gifts. “My years of art and fashion design school need an outlet for something.”

Orlebar Brown “Bulldog” swim shorts. $375; orlebarbrown.com NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 29

29

11/1/22 1:09 PM


BUY CURIOUS “I love teaching and mentoring the youth and want to extend a private ballet class with me in NYC (or virtually) for a group of young aspiring dancers.”

Läderach chocolate tabs. $7.50; laderach.com

Private ballet class. Price on request; calvinroyaliii.com

Calvin Royal III

Aesop “Departure” travel kit. $60; aesop.com

This Florida native has pretty simple holiday traditions: they must include good music, and better food. “Growing up, grandma spearheaded the holiday meals and taught us recipes passed down from her grandmother,” Royal explains. Since the pandemic, he and his husband, pianist Jacek Mysinski, have been in New York. But they’ve found ways to make the most of it. “We host Friendsgiving and invite friends to bring recipes from their home countries… It makes me feel closer to home.”

“The Nutcracker is a magical show for the holidays… I want to make sure my mom and my sister will be there for my debut as the Prince!” Tickets to ABT’s The Nutcracker at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Starting at $29; scfta.org

30

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 30

11/1/22 1:09 PM


Hand-beaded shark pendant by RTH. $25; rthshop.com/collections

“Untitled” Skateroom decks by Yoshitomo Nara. $600; theskateroom.com

Peter Davis For Avenue’s Peter Davis, Christmas means flying cross country to spend time with family. “I always have a bicoastal Christmas, first in New York, so I can see my 3-year-old niece Violet’s eyes when she opens her presents, and then I fly to LA to spend a second Christmas with my sister and her kids. It’s great to go from snow to surf in a day.”

Thom Browne “FunMix” stripe tie jacquard mountaineering backpack. $7,390; thombrowne.com/us

“I’m obsessed with Leica; the famous red dot symbolizes the best and most stylish cameras on the planet. Although I’m not a manic Seal fan, his customdesigned Leica with a Japanese kimono fabric cladding is about as cool as it gets.” Leica Q2 “Dawn” by Seal. $5,995; leicacamerausa.com

Rowing Blazers Gyles & George “Banana” sweater. $295; rowingblazers.com

Caddis “Porgy Backstage” reading glasses. $99; caddislife.com NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_06VERN_Gift Guide_V7.indd 31

31

11/2/22 11:03 AM


Memories of Manhattans A Christmas disquisition on bars and time, by Joshua David Stein

32

I

t’s Christmastime, when the ghosts of the past, present, and future come waddling up to you like dread ducklings muttering of mortality. It’s Christmastime, when, from behind panes of glass, trees glimmer and families in ugly sweaters smile in a silent tableau while you watch, forlorn from the sidewalk on the Upper West Side, collar turned up against the cold winds of inflation and loneliness. It’s Christmastime, goddammit. Time to head to a bar. Ever since George Bailey walked into Martini’s Bar—“where we serve hard drinks for men who want to get drunk fast,” in that ur-yuletide flick It’s a Wonderful Life—the bar has been a refuge for the forlorn and brokenhearted on the holidays. But, as George also finds out when he bellies up next to kindly Clarence, it’s also where angels order flaming rum punches and rest their wings too.

New York City, where I call home, has perhaps the most varied and diverse bar scene in the world. There are secret cocktail lounges and preening watering holes. There are dives of profound depth and radiant rooftop bars, towering above the street. Bars can be found that specialize in amaro and agave and bourbon and bitters. There are bars that serve only natural wine (though no bars that serve unnatural wine). There are bars that serve hard drinks for men who want to get drunk fast and bars that serve nonalcoholic drinks for men who want to stay sober. (Women are serviced too.) So, it is into bars I burrow more than restaurant banquettes to seek comfort from the chill wind howling its Christmas carol along the avenue. And it is in bars I find glimpses of past, present, and future. Live in New York long enough and on every street corner lurks a memory: a first kiss on 1st and First, circa 2006; the sound of a man’s head

NICK JOHNSON

VERNISSAGE

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_07VERN_Restaurants_V8.indd 32

10/27/22 9:12 AM


COMETH THE COCKTAIL HOUR, COMETH THE MAN The red leather banquette at the Smyth Tavern provides comfort for the imbiber of cocktails; below: the Smyth Tavern’s mafaldine dish.

GARY HE

It is into bars I burrow more than restaurant banquettes to seek comfort from the chill wind howling its Christmas carol along the avenue.

cracking on the pavement as he fell in front of Staples on 15th and Union Square West; passing the boat basin on the long walk home during the blackout of 2008. But corners remain corners, relatively little changed. Bars and restaurants, though, flicker in and out of existence like a teleporter on the fritz. Today’s bistro is tomorrow’s all-day cafe. Yesterday’s dark and sexy tequila cantina is now a bright and airy juice bar. When, in the winter of 2015, Andrew Carmellini opened Little Park in the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca, I wrote for the New York Observer, for whom I was the restaurant critic, that the restaurant “flourishes precisely because its innovations appear modest and easy to grasp.” (I have no memory of writing that, but it sounds good.) What I do remember was it being a light and airy space, signaling a step toward healthy eating from a chef known more for his filling fare at Lafayette,

Locanda Verde, et al. What I remember are scores of breakfasts accompanied by well-coddled eggs and business lunches over his beetroot risotto. Last week, when I walked into Smyth Tavern, those memories flooded back, both real and unreal. Little Park, beacon of beige, had blinkered out. The new tenant for the corner space, Smyth Tavern, is the brainchild of the restaurateur John McDonald, and as close to Clarence Odbody as Soho has. The light curtains have been replaced by mahogany paneling. Empty space has been filled with large, framed photographs by Peter Schlesinger, Len Prince, and Anne Collier (they are on loan from a private collector). And the bar, hitherto where one simply waited for one’s table, was lively. I settled myself into a deep banquette and ordered a drink, then more drinks. It has become de rigueur these days to have a super fancy Manhattan on the cocktail list

that towers above the other drinks in terms of consideration and price. Smyth Tavern’s variation, at $40, is by far the most expensive drink on the menu—the other cocktails hover around $18—and is, by far, the best. Stiff as a schoolmarm’s spine, the drink weds Maker’s Mark Cask Strength whiskey with an artisanal corn-based whiskey called Abasolo from Mexico and silky Suntory Toki from Japan. It’s rounded out by a sweet vermouth made in the Finger Lakes and an amaro made in Brooklyn. It’s not quite Manhattan, but it’s ambitious and powerful enough to make it here. McDonald, whose other recently opened restaurants include Hancock Street and Bar Tulix, has always paid attention to the food at his bars too. And, as befitting a tavern, this one also offers sustenance. What, I wonder, does it indicate that Carmellini’s light sandwiches of great virtue have NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_07VERN_Restaurants_V8.indd 33

33

10/27/22 9:12 AM


VERNISSAGE

been replaced by hearty fare like deviled eggs, each topped with a quenelle of caviar or—even better—a fried oyster; or a double cheeseburger with bacon jam which wears three onion rings like the hat seller in Esphyr Slobodkina’s Caps for Sale? (I think it means that in times of increased uncertainty, we turn to caloric comfort and fin de siècle decadence as a bulwark against the economic and cultural chaos unfolding just outside the restaurant window.) Whatever the underlying reasoning, I’m all for it, especially because the flavors in every dish burst with an appealing dynamism. Take, for instance, the Branzino St. Tropez, which, generally speaking, isn’t a thing. (It does exist, whole and at $112, at McDonald’s other restaurant, Lure Fishbar on Mercer Street.) But 34

Just like Martini’s Bar in It’s a Wonderful Life, Smyth Tavern serves hard drinks for men who like to get drunk fast.

who cares if it’s made up when the fish, crispy skinned and tender fleshed, arrives perched on a hillock of creamy mashed potatoes under a bracingly acidic lemon and caper sauce? It’s as bright as the room is dark, as cheerful as my thoughts are saturnine. I’m lost in a fog of first kisses and third cocktails. The night before I stopped by Deux Chats, a new Parisian-esque wine bar on Broadway in Brooklyn, near one of my first Williamsburg apartments. Back then, the corner of Deux Chats was just another home in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank was still a bank and the only restaurant on that stretch was Diner, God bless it. For a while, 27 Broadway, where Deux Chats is now,

MELISSA HOM/COURTESY DEUX CHATS

WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS Right: the grand plateau served at the Parisian-esque Deux Chats; below: the Belle Epoque-style bar of the Deux Chats.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_07VERN_Restaurants_V8.indd 34

10/27/22 9:12 AM


emoniously actually. An all-female brass band led a touching Second Line that snaked around the block.) It’s hard to believe that the original neo-speakeasy Milk & Honey, locus of so many late nights and later dates, closed ten years ago. And that Joanna is happily married with two kids and Christina doesn’t live in the city anymore and that I just turned 41 and have arthritis. It seems like yesterday I was lithe and young. But yesterday seems like an eternity ago. I snap out of it. I’m back at Smyth Tavern, present day. Just like Martini’s, Smyth Tavern serves hard drinks for men who like to get drunk fast. And, as I am gradually filled with mafaldine coated with uni-butter and interspersed with lobster knuckle, not to mention a few more Manhattans, I become simultaneously euphoric and overcome with melancholy. How many of the drinkers at the bar remember what was once here so recently? And if they don’t, who does, and does it matter? And surely even this thought itself is not original, nor will it be unthought again for long. For New York City, especially around the holidays when half the city has gone home, is a city of ghosts, a few angels, and many bars.

MELISSA HOM/COURTESY DEUX CHATS

A TWIST IN TIME A perfectly mixed martini at the Deux Chats in Brooklyn.

was Donna, a really good and surprising cocktail bar. That closed in 2021—’rona—and now it’s been reborn by Jon Neidich, the nightlife impresario behind Acme and the piano bar The Nines in NoHo. God, the martinis were strong and so crystal clear when I was there, both the standard (made with manzanilla) and the kinky (made with spicy vodka, Ancho Reyes Verde, vermouth, and Cocchi Americano). And the “petits plats” of tomato carpaccio or chilled mussels were delightful. They embodied a certain spritely hopefulness and well-being. How young our waiter seemed, an elfling of a boy, a former journalist from Portugal, with a charming mustache perched atop his cherubim lips. Youth seems to bathe that place like the sun setting upon the coast: golden. Naturally, my own thoughts turn toward the past too. I’ve made up in restaurants, but I’ve made out only in bars. I’ve dined in the former, but danced in the latter. Memories surface like diamond bubbles from dive bars like the Rock Star Bar, a few blocks north of Deux Chats, where Pies ‘n’ Thighs was run out of a closet in the back to jazz clubs like Wild Birds in Bed-Stuy that unceremoniously closed in September. (Not all that uncer-

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_07VERN_Restaurants_V8.indd 35

35

10/27/22 9:12 AM


VERNISSAGE

Lustre for Life Ritika Ravi debuts her delicate diamonds and elegant pearls on Madison Avenue

A

s a young girl growing up in Chennai—the ancient, v ibrant c ity on India’s southeastern coast—Ritika Ravi’s mind was always in overdrive. “I need constant stimulation and activity,” she tells me one recent afternoon at Via Quadronno in New York. “I was always a different child. When I was two, the thing that would keep me occupied was a big box of crayons. Art and books kept me busy while the other kids wanted to run

36

around and play and be mischievous.” For young girls, a gift of jewelry marked big occasions like birthdays, but Ravi wasn’t interested in the rings or necklaces she saw. Still, Ravi’s mother encouraged her to wear at least one piece of jewelry. “I never found anything that I loved at a jewelry store.” Finally, taking design into her own hands, Ravi created her first custom piece—a white gold eternity band with tiny diamonds—when she was just nine years old. In India, jewelry is a symbol of great importance for young women. “It’s such a big part of our culture,” Ravi, 28, explains, “especially for the

daughter of the house.” But despite her mother’s enviable collection, Ravi rejected wearing any jewelry herself. “I’m extremely picky. I never used to wear any jewelry—no rings, nothing on the neck, nothing at all. My granddad used to see me without any jewelry and get very stressed. He used to complain to my mom saying, ‘Why is this child not wearing anything?’” Ravi’s thwarting of familial expectations continued when she decided to head to England to study fashion design at the London College of Fashion. “Most of my cousins are doctors, engineers, and lawyers. I’m the artist of the family,”

TARUN KOLIYOT/COURTESY IVAR

BY PETER DAVIS

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_08VERN_Ritika Ravi_FINAL.indd 36

10/27/22 3:33 PM


MANASI MAHESH/COURTESY IVAR

“Jewelry is such a big part of our culture, especially for the daughter of the house.”

she says with a smile. Ravi’s parents were open-minded and supported her decision but asked one thing of her. “My parents told me: ‘Do what you like to do, but do it best.’” In London, Ravi found that fashion wasn’t, after all, her true passion. Instead, it lay in jewelry design. “My professors said: ‘Please don’t go into women’s wear, do jewelry.’” She moved back home to Chennai and started work on her first collection, which she named “10.18,” after the month and year she launched her own jewelry brand, IVAR, a play on her father’s name. Ravi began with a pop-up at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort (where she now has a permanent location) followed by more pop-ups in Dubai and Porto Cervo in Sardinia. Ravi was prepping IVAR to go global. During the pandemic, Ravi noticed that she had a huge American clientele that was buying her jewelry online. So, she scoured the Upper East Side and found a prime location on 73rd Street and Madison Avenue for her first American boutique. “I jumped at the chance to open in New York. To make it in New York, you can make it anywhere,” she says with a wink. IVAR now has three collections. The third is “Charu,” the Sanskrit word for beautiful, which she named after her mother, while a fourth is launching on Valentine’s Day. Ravi’s pieces are meant to be worn every day, a modern take on traditional Indian designs, which

THE JEWEL CHIEF IVAR Founder and designer Ritika Ravi and her father, Ravi Appaswamy, in Chennai.

tend to be heavy and ornate. “I try to bridge the these days to so many different cultures. IVAR gap between where I come from and where I am represents that international world we now live in.” right now,” Ravi says of her designs, which are deThe IVAR boutique on the UES has a lush garcidedly delicate and feature 18-karat gold pieces den in the back and Ravi plans to host parties and studded with gems from the “big three”: rubies, charity events, as well as to nurture new talent by sapphires, and emeralds. Each piece is made in featuring young, emerging designers in the space. India, and combines the coveted, impeccable tra- “It’s so important to give back,” she says. “That’s ditional Indian craftsmanship with a contempo- something I’ve grown up with in my family and I rary feel. Ravi’s beautiful designs appeal to a more want that as part of my business model.” modern customer, who wants to collect pieces that After conquering New York, Ravi is now lookcan be worn with anything from a beach sarong ing to the Middle East and Germany for her next to an evening gown, yet are classic enough to be boutiques. Restless since she was a child, she is passed down for generations. “IVAR is accessi- plotting to take her brand all around the world. ble to so many women,” she explains. “I wanted “I don’t know how to chill,” she laughs. “It’s not to make something global. Everyone is traveling something I understand.” NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_08VERN_Ritika Ravi_FINAL.indd 37

37

10/27/22 3:33 PM


D&D Building Directory

VERNISSAGE

BENJAMIN MOORE 421 Benjaminmoore.com

EDELMAN LEATHER 207 Edelmanleather.com

KETTAL 333/Annex 222 Kettal.com

NELLA VETRINA 805 Nellavetrina.com

SCALAMANDRÉ 1002 Scalamandre.com

BESPOKE BY LUIGI GENTILE 1205 Bespokebylg.com

ÉLITIS 611 Elitis.fr

KINGSHAVEN 402 Kingshaven.com

NOBILIS 508 Nobilis.fr

SCHUMACHER 832 Fschumacher.com

FABRICUT / S. HARRIS 915 Fabricut.com

KNOLL 1523 Knoll.com

O’LAMPIA 300 Olampia.com

SCOTT GROUP STUDIO 411 Scottgroupstudio.com

FARROW & BALL 1519 Farrow-ball.com

KNOLL LUXE 1702 Knoll.com/shop-textiles

OCHRE 1109 Ochre.net

SHELLY TILE 819 Instagram.com/shellytilenyc

FORBES & LOMAX 1502 Forbesandlomax.com

KOROSEAL 842 Koroseal.com

OSBORNE & LITTLE 520 Osborneandlittle.com

FORTUNY 1632 Fortuny.com

KRAVET 1202 Kravet.com

PATTERSON FLYNN 632 Pattersonflynn.com

GARRETT LEATHER 1107 Garrettleather.com

LEE JOFA 234 Kravet.com/lee-jofa

PAUL FERRANTE 717 Paulferrante.com

GLOSTER FURNITURE 1601 Gloster.com

LLADRÓ 1805 Lladro.com

PHILLIP JEFFRIES 1115 Phillipjeffries.com

BRUNSCHWIG & FILS 234 Kravet.com/brunschwig-fils CARINI CARPET 1001 Josephcarinicarpets.com CASTEL 715 Castelmaison.com CHARLES H. BECKLEY 1521 Chbeckley.com CHESNEYS 1119 Chesneys.com CHRISTOPHER HYLAND 1710 Christopherhyland.com CHRISTOPHER PEACOCK Annex 5th FL Peacockhome.com CLAREMONT FURNISHING FABRICS CO. 1405 Claremontfurnishing.com CLARENCE HOUSE 205 Clarencehouse.com

A. RUDIN 1201 Arudin.com

COWTAN & TOUT 1022 Cowtan.com

GRACIE 1411 Graciestudio.com HOLLAND & SHERRY 1402 Interiors.hollandandsherry.com HOLLY HUNT NEW YORK 503 & 605 Hollyhunt.com HOULÈS 919 Houles.com

LORO PIANA 820 Loropiana.com/interiors/ LUTRON 319 Lutron.com M. ALEXANDER 313 Malexanderlighting.com

PID FLOORS 323 Pidfloors.com PIERRE FREY 1611 Pierrefrey.com QUADRILLE | OOMPH 1415 Quadrillefabrics.com

MADE GOODS 325 Madegoods.com

RESSOURCE HOUSE OF PAINTS 1507 Ressource-peintures.com

STARK 1102 Starkcarpet.com STUDIO VAN DEN AKKER 1510 Studiovandenakker.com STUDIO ZEN WALLCOVERINGS 1818 Studiozenwallcoverings.com THG PARIS 1206 Thg-paris.com THIBAUT 909 Thibautdesign.com VAUGHAN 1511 Vaughandesigns.com VONDOM 1532 Vondom.com WALTERS 538 Waltersnyc.com

ANCIENT & MODERN 1522 Ancientandmodern.us

DAKOTA JACKSON 501 Dakotajackson.com

I.J. PEISER’S SONS FINE WOOD FLOORS Concourse 1 Ijpeiser.com

MAHARAM 1701 Maharam.com

ROGERS & GOFFIGON LTD. 1718 Rogersandgoffigon.com

ARMANI / CASA 1424 Armani.com

DANI LEATHER 214 Gruppodani.com

INNOVATIONS 1717 Innovationsusa.com

MARC PHILLIPS DECORATIVE RUGS 211 Marcphillipsrugs.com

ROMO 808 Romo.com

ARNITEX 1207 Arnitex.com

DAVID MICHAEL INTERIORS 1700 Davidmichaelinteriors.com

JAB ANSTOETZ 102 Jab.de

MARTIN PATRICK EVAN 507 Martinpatrickevan.com

ROSE TARLOW MELROSE HOUSE 1616 Rosetarlow.com

WIRED CUSTOM LIGHTING 105 Wired-designs.com

MAYA ROMANOFF 922 Mayaromanoff.com

RUG ART INTERNATIONAL 1518 Rugart.nyc

WOLF-GORDON 413 Wolfgordon.com

MCKINNON & HARRIS Annex 111 Mckinnonharris.com

SAINT-LOUIS 816 Saint-louis.com

WORLDS AWAY 414 Worlds-away.com

MICHAEL DAWKINS HOME 707 Michaeldawkins.com

SAMPSON MILLS LTD. 1540 Sampsonmills.com

ZIMMER + ROHDE 813 Zimmer-rohde.com/en

MICHAEL TAYLOR 1640 Michaeltaylordesigns.com

SAVEL 1819 Savelinc.com

ZOFFANY 409 Sandersondesigngroup.com

ARTESANO IRON WORKS 1200 Artesanoironworks.com

DAVID SUTHERLAND 401 Perennialsandsutherland.com

ASSOULINE BOOKS AND GIFTS 101 Assouline.com

DE LE CUONA 914 Delecuona.com

ATELIER PREMIERE 1600 Atelier-premiere.com

DEDAR MILANO 1009 Dedar.com

BAUMANN DEKOR 518 Baumanndekorusa.com

DEDON 720 Dedon.de

38

JEAN DE MERRY 815 Jeandemerry.com JIM THOMPSON 1640 Jimthompsonfabrics.com JOHN BOONE, INC. 711 Johnbooneinc.com JOHN ROSSELLI & ASSOCIATES 1800 Johnrosselli.com

WARP & WEFT 1203 Warpandweft.com WINDOW TECH, INC. 500

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12VERN_D&D Directory_FINAL.indd 38

10/24/22 9:38 AM


HOLLY HUNT New York 979 Third Avenue hollyhunt.com

Holly Hunt AD 0111222.indd 11

212 755 6555

10/24/22 10:33 AM


SOLIS VANILLA RUG STARKCARPET.COM

Stark AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:59 AM


cowtan.com

Colefax and Flowers AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 9:47 AM


The Grand D&D Building Suite 501

Dakota Jackson AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 9:49 AM


« M E R I D A » WA L L C O V E R I N G

Auteur & Éditeur.

W A L L P A P E R , FA B R I C , W A L L C O V E R I N G , L’ A C C E S S O I R E / / N E W Y O R K S H O W R O O M / / 9 7 9 3 R D A V E N U E S U I T E 6 1 1 , N E W Y O R K , N Y 1 0 0 2 2 / / W W W. E L I T I S . F R

Elitis AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 9:57 AM


Marc Phillips AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:50 AM


Dedar AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 9:54 AM


Fabrics, Wallpapers, Carpets, Furniture & Accessories

p ie rre f re y.com

Pierre Frey AD 0111222.indd 11 Untitled-1 1

10/24/22 10:53 AM 17/10/2022 21:14


Patterson Flyn AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:51 AM


John Rosselli AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:41 AM


979 THIRD AVENUE, SUITE 1818, NEW YORK, NY

Studio Zen AD 0111222.indd 11

(646) 918-7289

STUDIOZENWALLCOVERINGS.COM

10/24/22 11:00 AM


979 THIRD AVENUE, CONCOURSE LEVEL, SUITE C1, NEW YORK, NY 10022

IJ Peisers Son AD 0111222.indd 11

(212) 348-7500

IJPEISER.COM

@IJPEISERWOODFLOORS

10/24/22 10:35 AM


The country’s most luxurious selection of marble, granite, limestone, slate, etched stone, waterjet patterns, mosaics, glass and metal tiles can be found at our showroom. We select the finest pieces from around the world and transform them into works of art that will enhance any design.

979 THIRD AVENUE, SUITE 819, NEW YORK, NY 10022

Shelly Tile AD 0111222.indd 11

(212) 832-2255

SHELLYTILE@VERIZON.NET

@SHELLYTILENYC

10/24/22 10:56 AM


GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

52

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

05_06_09CULT_Art_Nick_Cave_FINAL.indd 52

10/23/22 1:49 AM


A Messenger from the Edge NICK CAVE: SANDRO MILLER; SOUNDSUIT, 2015: COLLECTION OF ASHLEY AND PAM NETZKY, COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK. © NICK CAVE

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

PERFORMANCE ART Soundsuit, 2015, one of Nick Cave's signature mixed-media works inspired by the traditional dances of West Africa. Facing page: a portrait of the artist.

Sculptor, dancer, and performance artist Nick Cave takes center stage at the Guggenheim this fall BY ANGELA M.H. SCHUSTER

“N

ick Cave works in that liminal space between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of media— sculpture, installation, video, sound, and performance,” says New York gallerist Jack Shainman, who has represented the cross-disciplinary artist since 2006. Cave is perhaps best known for his iconic “Soundsuits”—extraordinary sculptural garments made of colorful textiles, raffia, and a host of found objects that mask their wearers in such a way that gender and identity are concealed. The inspiration behind their creation, says the Chicago-based artist, who is quick to eschew the word “costume” in discussing the works, is drawn in large part from West African ceremonial dances such as Zaouli, performed by the Guro people of the central Ivory Coast. It is through this neutralization of gender and identity, he contends, that diverse communities can come together through a process of shared experience.

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

05_06_09CULT_Art_Nick_Cave_FINAL.indd 53

53

10/23/22 1:53 AM


Over the course of his career, Cave, who likens himself to more of a messenger than an artist, has worked primarily with found objects and existing materials, literally making something from nothing. “When it comes to building my work, I have always looked to surplus and the excess stuff that we are surrounded by as my source material, reclaiming it to create beautiful things. Growing up, I was told, ‘You are a beautiful young man,’ yet, at the same time, I was told, ‘In spite of your beauty and your inner strength, you will be subjected to racism.’ For me, beauty is what gives my work the strength to overcome darkness, to dominate the darkness, and, in the process, allows me to offer utopian alternatives as a strategy for survival in the face of oppression.” Cave’s uncanny capacity to will into existence a profound sense of somethingness out of nothingness will be on full display when “Nick Cave: Forothermore,” the artist’s first career retrospective, opens at the Guggenheim on November 18. The exhibition’s subtitle, “Forothermore,” the artist explains, is a neologism that reaffirms 54

STRONG ARM Nick Cave's Arm Peace, 2018, executed in cast bronze with vintage tole flowers, above, and Sea Sick, a mixed-media work from 2014, facing page.

“What makes Nick Cave’s work unique for the world is that the artist insists on grappling with the hardest issues in society but in the fulsome beauty of joy and celebration.” —Naomi Beckwith

a lifelong commitment to providing “intellectual and creative space for those who have felt marginalized by dominant society and culture— especially working-class communities and queer people of color.” “What makes Cave’s work unique for the world is that the artist insists on grappling with the hardest issues in society but in the fulsome beauty of joy and celebration,” says Naomi Beckwith, who makes her curatorial debut at the Guggenheim with the show, developed while she was still a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where it opened in May. Installed in the Guggenheim’s tower galleries, the survey is presented in three thematic sections. Titled “What It Was,” “What It Is,” and “What It Shall Be,” the trio of chapters look into the past, present, and future of the artist’s practice, and features sculpture, installation, video, and rarely seen early works, created over the course of more than three decades. “Nick Cave: Forothermore,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, November 18, 2022–April 10, 2023, guggenheim.org

COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK. © NICK CAVE

CULTURE

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

05_06_09CULT_Art_Nick_Cave_FINAL.indd 54

10/23/22 1:49 AM


COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK. © NICK CAVE

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

05_06_09CULT_Art_Nick_Cave_FINAL.indd 55

55

10/23/22 1:49 AM


CULTURE

Ugandan art sensation Acaye Kerunen makes her North American debut at Art Basel Miami Beach this fall

IT'S ONLY NATURAL From left: a portrait of artist Acaye Kerunen and two mixed-media works from 2021 that were inspired by the traditional crafts of her native Uganda— Banange and Bamutenda!. 56

“E

xperiencing Acaye Kerunen’s work for the first time in Venice was an absolute revelation,” says gallerist Tim Poe, of Blum & Poe, which has outposts in Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo. “Her multidimensional view of the world—of collaboration, of community, of sustainability, of beauty, collectively the best that art can bring to the world—has been pure magic.” The Kampala-based Kerunen has virtually taken the art world by storm since April, with the

opening of “Radiance: They Dream in Time,” an exhibition in the inaugural Uganda pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale, which runs through November 27. Curated by Shaheen Merali, the presentation features a suite of what the artist calls “meditations on the intricacies of natural systems,” which draw heavily on ancestral knowledge and the craft traditions of her native Uganda, the works having been forged of natural materials: banana fiber, raffia, reeds, and palm leaves, locally sourced from the wetlands around Nalubaale (Lake Victoria) and the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. The incorporation of such

KERUNEN: © ETHEL AANYU; BANANGE, 2021: ACAYE KERUNEN STUDIO, © ACAYE KERUNEN, COURTESY PACE GALLERY

A Woven World View

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_09CULT_Art_Galleries_FINAL.indd 56

10/28/22 1:49 PM


traditional materials, says Kerunen, “speaks to a resilient culture, the art of cultivation, and the importance of living with a conscious relation to the land, working to regenerate an environment that is being depleted by exploitation, insensitive development, and climate change.” On November 29, the artist will make her North American debut at Art Basel Miami Beach, where Blum & Poe is presenting a solo show of her rich tapestries made of baskets and other woven works. “The breadth and depth of her vertically integrated practice,” Poe observes, “is truly inspirational and electric. I am thrilled to share her vision to the larger world, in collaboration, and honored to be working with our colleagues at Pace and Galerie Kandlhofer, who joined us in bringing the artist into our respective rosters this past September.” —AMHS

Miami Art Week MIAMI BEACH ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH November 29–30 (Preview) December 1–3 1901 Convention Center Drive artbasel.com/miami-beach

BAMUTENDA!, 2021, ACAYE KERUNEN STUDIO, © ACAYE KERUNEN, COURTESY PACE GALLERY

AQUA ART MIAMI November 30–December 4 Aqua Hotel 1530 Collins Avenue aquaartmiami.com DESIGN MIAMI November 29–30 (Preview) November 30–December 4 Convention Center Drive & 19th Street designmiami.com INK MIAMI ART FAIR (IFPDA) November 30–December 4 Suites of Dorchester 1850 Collins Avenue inkartfair.com SATELLITE ART FAIR November 29–December 4 Indian Beach Park 4601 Collins Avenue satellite-show.com SCOPE MIAMI BEACH November 29 (Invitation Only) November 30–December 4 Ocean Drive at 8th Street scope-art.com UNTITLED ART MIAMI BEACH November 28 (VIP Preview) November 29–December 3 Ocean Drive & 12th Street untitledartfairs.com

MIAMI ART MIAMI November 29 (VIP Preview) November 30–December 4 One Herald Plaza www.artmiami.com CONTEXT ART MIAMI November 29 (VIP Preview) November 30–December 4 One Herald Plaza contextartmiami.com MIAMI RIVER ART FAIR November 30 (VIP Preview) December 1 The Penthouse Riverside Wharf 125 SW North River Drive miamiriverartfair.com NADA MIAMI November 30–December 3 Ice Palace Studios 1400 North Miami Avenue newartdealers.org PINTA MIAMI November 29–December 4 225 NE 34th Street miami.pinta.art PRIZM 2022 November 29–December 11 4220 N. Miami Ave prizm.art RED DOT MIAMI November 30 (VIP Preview) December 1–4 Mana Wynwood 2217 NW 5th Avenue redwoodartgroup.com/reddot-miami SPECTRUM MIAMI November 30 (VIP Preview) December 1–4 Mana Wynwood 2217 NW 5th Avenue redwoodartgroup.com/ spectrum-miami

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_09CULT_Art_Galleries_FINAL.indd 57

57

10/28/22 1:49 PM


CULTURE

Eye on Design

“T

his edition of Salon Art + Design will be our most international yet— with galleries from India, Egypt, Lebanon, and China joining our formidable lineup of exhibitors from the Americas, Europe, and Britain,” says fair director Jill Bokor. The highly anticipated event dedicated to all things design steps off November 10 with a roster of more than 50 galleries, including stalwarts Maison Gerard, Galerie Chastel-Maréchal, Friedman Benda, Moderne Gallery, R & Company, and Vallois, and newcomers Armel Soyer, Boccara Art, Galerie Artempo, Galerie Carole Decombe,

58

Galerie Scène Ouverte, Galerie Yves Gastou, Garde, Le Lab, and Mindy Solomon Gallery. When asked about new design trends that will be readily noticeable in this year’s offering, Bokor tells Avenue, “There is a discernable sense of calm and tranquility imparted by the objects being presented.” The current craving for pale tones and clean lines, she explains, “is surely a quest for serenity borne out of the Covid chaos of the past several years and the fact that people are spending far more time in their domestic spaces as they revel in a more flexible business environment. We are also seeing a certain maximalism in terms of the scale of the pieces.”

ABUNDANCE TOTEM, COURTESY KLOVE STUDIO

Salon Art + Design makes a robust return to the Park Avenue Armory this November

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_09CULT_Art_Galleries_FINAL.indd 58

10/28/22 1:49 PM


WAVE, © HELLE DAMKJAER: JEREMY JOSSELIN, COURTESY GALERIE CAROLE DECOMBE; SPAGHETTIFICATION: TESTED BY THROWING AGAINST WALL, © MISHA KAHN: THYS DULLAART, COURTESY FRIEDMAN BENDA AND MISHA KAHN: ARABA FENICE, © TONI ZUCCHERI FOR VENINI

“There is a discernable sense of calm and tranquility imparted by the objects being presented.” —Jill Bokor

SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME Clockwise from above: Wave L, 2022, a sculpture by contemporary Danish artist Helle Damkjaer, will be presented by Galerie Carole Decombe; a mohair textile work, Spaghettification: Tested by Throwing Against Wall, 2020, by Misha Kahn will be at the stand of Friedman Benda; and Araba Fenice, a unique sculpture by Toni Zuccheri for the Venini glassworks in Venice, will be in the Donzella booth. Facing page: a handsomely scaled Totem light designed by Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth of the New Delhibased design firm Klove Studio.

Among this year’s highlights, says Bokor, is a suite of magnificent “totemic lighting” installations by Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth of the New Delhi-based design firm Klove Studio, which will be presented throughout the exhibition hall as the luminous, tribally inspired blown-glass and mixed-media works are simply too massive to fit in an individual booth. Beyond the fair itself, says Bokor, discerning visitors would be wise to take in some of the talks and panel discussions with design visionaries from around the globe, including Tony Freund, the editorial director for 1stDibs. —AMHS The 11th edition of Salon Art + Design runs November 10–14 at the Park Avenue Armory. thesalonny.com. NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_09CULT_Art_Galleries_FINAL.indd 59

59

10/28/22 1:49 PM


CULTURE

Around the world with Truman Capote, Bunny Mellon, Orhan Pamuk, and Cormac McCarthy—twice

NIGHTS OF PLAGUE By Orhan Pamuk (Knopf)

Unless Orhan Pamuk is clairvoyant—which, given his expressive gifts and imaginative powers, seems somehow plausible—the timing of his new, 704-page opus, chronicling a 1901 plague outbreak on the fictional island of Mingheria (“the pearl of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea”), must be chalked up to coincidence. (He began working on this freakishly relevant historical novel in 2016.) In any case, Nights of Plague feels strangely oracular. As the population of Mingheria—split almost perfectly down the middle between Orthodox Greeks and Muslims—is assailed by a sweeping illness that causes agonizing 60

“buboes” to sprout across the bodies of the afflicted, the small nation descends into factionalism and paranoia. The horror not only begins to feel familiar, but like a valuable case study. “Nobody ever wants a quarantine,” says the island’s pharmacist, Nikiforos, in conversation with two recent arrivals. Nobody wants “any evidence that disrupts their usual ways, they will deny any deaths, and even resent the dead.” He is addressing this foreboding, darkly prescient observation to Doctor Nuri, a renowned Ottoman quarantine specialist, and Princess Pakize, the doctor’s new bride and daughter of the deposed sultan, Murad V. The couple have traveled to the island at the directive of Murad V’s brother and successor, the iron-fisted Abdul Hamid II, with a dual mandate: to prevent the pathogen from spreading beyond Mingheria’s borders, and to investigate the grisly assassination of yet another Ottoman doctor. Both objectives are quickly derailed. The plague proves too slippery to contain: every day, the island’s corpse wagon rumbles through the streets, its pile of bodies mounting, while firefighters are dispatched across the island with tanks of Lysol to hose down infected neighborhoods. Revolutionaries find footing in the chaos, and Mingheria’s health crisis is compounded by a political one. Over the course of Pamuk’s decades-long career—the beloved Turkish novelist was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature— certain threads have united his work. His plots are devilishly intricate, airtight, and thorough. His prose is graceful, yet sturdy. Nights of Plague is no different. It is narrated by a modern-day historian, Mîna Mingher, tasked with annotating 113 letters between Princess Pakize and her sister, an arrangement that gives the tale a quasi-academic, yet oddly rich, flavor. She faithfully weaves the princess’s correspondence into a story, all the while lingering luxuriously over images—including various paintings inspired by critical moments in the island’s plague-battle—or digressing into asides about Mingheria’s topography (mountainous) or signature exports (stone and roses). This narrative contrivance also allows a dash of literary criticism

to sneak in. In the best of such moments, Nights of Plague falls into dialogue with itself, its pet subject being the limitation of recorded history. “Only a poet— not a novelist, and certainly not a historian—would be able to describe the despair that began to seep through the city toward the middle of June,” the narrator writes. In other words, facts and timelines may be vital in grasping the scope of a calamity, but they obscure the true engines of history: the personalities of shot-callers, the shifting moods that permeate a population. Luckily, Pamuk, the clairvoyant, is attuned to all. —Daniel Karel

THE PASSENGER, STELLA MARIS By Cormac McCarthy (Knopf)

Guilt and grief walk hand in hand in Cormac McCarthy’s longawaited new novel, The Passenger, and in its companion, Stella Maris, the first published in October, the second in December. The entwined emotions are almost as tightly bound as the two siblings at the frantically, forebodingly beating heart of the story that the two books tell. The brother and sister are Bobby and Alicia Western, and they usher McCarthy back to the top of his game. Like many McCarthy characters, these two do get around geographically. Death and its sorrows hang over them like Spanish moss in the gothic, Faulknerian South that McCarthy occasionally hefts onstage to underscore corrupted innocence and its aftermath. They both embark on road trips in search of truths that elude them. They expose themselves to cold in wilderness states. History is McCarthy’s reason here. The Westerns’ childhoods were spread all over the map by their physicist father’s scorched-earth affiliation with the Manhattan Project. Its

massive, bomb-building compound in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, produced his marriage to a local pageant queen, her extraordinary beauty settling on their genius-IQ daughter like a curse. Alicia’s physical allure is irresistible to many, her brother included. Though, to be fair, he’s obsessed with the entire package, namely an intelligence on the level of the notorious nuclear physicists and world-famous mathematicians whose accomplishments roll off her tongue in Stella Maris, which is her book and the far shorter of the two, while The Passenger is more Bobby’s. McCarthy has made Stella Maris nothing but Alicia conversing: with a psychiatrist fascinated by her brilliance and concerned about her obvious death wish. Needless to say, she talks circles around the very good doctor with scientific conundrums, higher math, moral brainteasers, and music theory (she is also a violin prodigy). McCarthy, who has strong ties to the Santa Fe Institute near his home base in New Mexico and regularly expresses a preference for scientists over fiction writers, suffuses the lovers’ saga with the theoretical and scientific. Then boils it down to love as allconsuming. Alicia is equally, and more destructively, hung up on her brother. Stella Maris is a place—a mental institution in backwoods Wisconsin where she is a repeat patient. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, she is visited throughout by hallucinated buddies she calls her “hort”—as in short for cohort—prominent among them the demanding and lethally critical “The Kid,” as in short for “Thalidomide Kid.” His “flapper” arms are McCarthy at his most grotesque and poignant, shooing Alice away from her brother and precipitously toward a final suicide attempt. As their world turns, these novels have deep, cloudy, clandestinely raging waters to navigate, and not just because Bobby is by his latest profession a salvage diver. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s government-sanctioned deluge in the 1930s buried the area of Tennessee once farmed by their ancestors. Their grandmother, still puttering around in small-town exile, won’t let them forget what she remembers as a bucolic Arcadia that, in McCarthy’s sparingly lyrical

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_11CULT_Book_Reviews_FINAL.indd 60

10/23/22 11:49 PM


descriptions, harks back to Charles Sheeler’s Precisionist paintings of country Americana. “The chairs had come out of the mountains and were made of ash, the spindles and rails turned on a treadle lathe in a world no longer even imaginable. The seats were woven rush much worn and mended back in places with heavy rough twine.” McCarthy picks his titles as carefully as his stunningly arranged words. Stella maris is Latin for “star of the sea,” or, in the symbol-toting Catholicism McCarthy threads throughout both novels, an ancient name for the Virgin Mary as a female protector or guiding spirit at sea. Bobby traces routes across oceans as he evolves from failed academic-in-training to brawn-forhire to international race car driver whose record speeds can never outpace the spell his sister casts on him. In that sense, she’s the passenger, ineluctably a ghost presence by his side. But McCarthy won’t let the larger picture be forgotten. In The Passenger, Bobby is operating out of New Orleans, his latest job as a diver to recover a plane wreck that had been carrying ten people and possibly a mysterious cargo. In archetypal McCarthy fashion—No Country for Old Men, The Crossing—the plane’s black box is missing, and so is the tenth passenger. Violence, another McCarthy staple, has likely been committed. It follows Bobby back onto dryish land, where New Orleans is a moody welter of dive bars and overstuffed famous restaurants. One of Bobby’s best pals soon goes missing, and scary questions pile up, not the least where hoary Cubans command mobster tables in dusky corners, and the 20th-century history McCarthy is writing as a backdrop for his star-crossed love story somersaults into an intricate, alternate reality concerning the JFK assassination. This time McCarthy escorts science onstage for a grim ballistics analysis akin in its complexity to the theoretical physics and advanced mathematics that have been Bobby and Alicia’s playthings, casting one more cloak of darkness over public events that take place in and around their lifetimes. The darkest dark still resides within them, though, and only one of them will survive it. The other will mourn—and take the blame. —Celia McGee

I’LL BUILD A STAIRWAY TO PARADISE: A LIFE OF BUNNY MELLON By Mac Griswold (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

In this impressive portrait of Bunny Mellon, Mac Griswold, who knew the landscape architect and designer personally, makes the argument that Mellon aspired to create an “American pastoral” for the 20th century, rooted in the promise of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss. Although she grew up in a world where horses were thoroughbreds, society was glittering, and marriage was eventually to Paul Mellon, as fellow decorator Bunny Williams put it, she “was no Brooke Astor, entertaining 24 for dinner three nights a week.” Rather, Mellon was a “sculptor, sculpting space… She created an American vision of English country house style.” From Tuxedo Park to Virginia to the White House, Griswold escorts us through Mellon’s life as we meet icons of culture, fashion, and politics: Queen Elizabeth and Jackie Kennedy, Givenchy and Balenciaga, JFK and I.M. Pei, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Diebenkorn, Katharine Graham. Daughter of the president of the Gillette Safety Razor Co. and granddaughter of the inventor of Listerine, Rachel (“Bunny”) Lambert was born into money and groomed for social success. Her appetite for prestige, although ever discreet, only increased with her second marriage, to Mellon, in 1948. At debutante balls, fundraisers, and art openings, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise shows how Mellon became a tastemaker. Her social climbing didn’t always follow an easy path. With only a high school education, she frequently had to play catch-up in the sophisticated circles in which she moved, often cultivating powerful men to achieve her goals. This could also lead her astray: late in life, hoping to try her hand at

politics, she bet on the wrong horse with handsome John Edwards, only to find herself entangled in an unsavory state of affairs. Griswold has mined Bunny Mellon’s personal archives for journal entries, poems, and photographs. These resources reveal how many of her designs were derived from fairy tales. She wanted visitors—to her own gardens and the gardens she designed for others—to feel transported to another world. But there was more to the story: her gardens were an escape. According to Griswold, Paul Mellon’s very public affair with Dorcas Hardin, for one, caused his wife such pain she distracted herself with increasingly bigger and bolder projects—the expansion of the National Gallery of Art, the flourish of the Kennedy’s White House Rose Garden. Then her daughter was fatally hit in a car accident, and she threw herself even deeper into her career. I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise spans the full 103 years of Bunny Mellon’s life. Some may find the pacing too leisurely, and the book is at its best when Mellon’s curious personality comes out in full. A giver of parties and designer of landscapes brimming with “imagination and magic,” she herself tended to the “expressionless and forbidding,” a “society figure with an almost pathological dislike for publicity,” who loved coming home from galas to water the plants at night. —Lily Lopate

DELIBERATE CRUELTY: TRUMAN CAPOTE, THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE, AND THE MURDER OF THE CENTURY by Roseanne Montillo (Simon & Schuster)

Roseanne Montillo is known for historical narrative nonfiction. In her previous four books, Fire on the Track, The Wilderness of Ruin, Atomic Women, and The Lady and Her Monsters, she dove headfirst

into distinctive lives from the past. Likewise, her latest, Deliberate Cruelty, uses straightforward language to get at an enticing plot and colorful characters. Alternating between the lives of self-made New York socialite Ann Woodward and so-called “literary bad boy” Truman Capote, the book explores each separately while linking them as potential rivals for fame, and notoriety. Like the betterknown Capote’s, Woodward’s journey wound its way from a rough childhood and an absent mother to creating a high-profile new life in New York City, a small-town nobody dreaming big enough to propel her first into showgirl success and then, in 1943, marriage to William Woodward Jr., heir to the Hanover National Bank fortune and one of the wealthiest men in America. By shooting him to death at their home in Oyster Bay 12 years later, allegedly by accident but under murky circumstances, she earned herself a different spotlight, in what Life magazine dubbed “The Shooting of the Century.” Sagas like this were catnip for Capote, whose unfinished novel Answered Prayers accused Woodward of murder. Just before it was scheduled for excerpt in Esquire in 1975, Woodward killed herself by cyanide poisoning. The arc of Capote’s own rise to, and fall from, fame was pretty much just as spectacular. Reporting and writing In Cold Blood, he grew close to two killers, only to later watch as they were executed for their crime. Montillo outlines with careful clarity Capote’s steady emotional and mental decline as a result, and his fall from the graces of New York high society. To call Capote’s and Woodward’s lives intertwined, as Montillo does, though, sometimes seems a stretch. If Capote was interested in the Woodward shooting, it was hardly the focal point of Answered Prayers. He had many stories to tell, and no one was off-limits, not even his closest friends. Ann was one of the many caught by his pen. Still, Montillo scores one interesting point, categorizing both her subjects as murderers—Woodward for physically offing her husband, Capote for deep-sixing those he cared about by writing about them the way he did. “Some people kill with swords,” is how Capote put it, “and some people kill with words.” —Carissa Chesanek

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_11CULT_Book_Reviews_FINAL.indd 61

61

10/23/22 11:49 PM


Season’s Readings Gold Rush, White Russians, retro recipes, and swell stories for the holidays.

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

BY CELIA MCGEE

62

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_11CULT_Holiday_Books_FINAL.indd 62

10/28/22 12:31 PM


Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley teams up with Edgar Allan Poe for an enthralling stab at a Gold Rush mystery. When a string of women start turning up dead in pre-Civil War Monterey, two newly minted sleuths–both prostitutes, and each a finely drawn character–turn to Poe’s “train of logic” from his “Murders in the Rue Morgue” for help. There’s a bit of Deadwood to this thrillingly told tale, too, but in the end it’s pure Smiley, and a topdrawer performance. THE MIDCOAST by Adam White (Hogarth)

PHOTO-ILLUSTRATION BY CATHERINE G. TALESE; IRVING BROKAW ICE SKATING IN CENTRAL PARK LAKE, C. 1910: BAIN NEWS SERVICE/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHY DIVISION

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

A DANGEROUS BUSINESS by Jane Smiley (Knopf)

The coast of Maine, a shocking murder, and a winsome debut—in his first novel, the screenwriter and Damariscotta native Adam White sets up an edge-of-your-seat mystery awash in the tricky murk of class, privilege, and merciless corruption. His rugged evocation of wave-tossed seasons and a secrethoarding community perched nervously on the continent’s edge heralds a bracing new talent, and will have you dreaming of lobster boats with surprises in their nets. THE ENGLISH UNDERSTAND WOOL by Helen DeWitt (New Directions)

To read Helen DeWitt is to encounter one of England’s most dazzling fiction writers. In The English Understand Wool, she takes the temperature of publishing itself. Glamour and scandal have landed Marguerite, a half-French 17-year-old born in Morocco, with a seven-figure book contract to write a memoir about her late mother, who schooled her in the finest points of luxury living before disappearing in a blaze of gossip. Marguerite’s editor wants her to go for the sensational, and lay bare to a curious world a rumored trauma she suffered at her mother’s tutoring hands. Her resistance is a psychological tour de force. DIAGHILEV’S EMPIRE: HOW THE BALLETS RUSSES ENTHRALLED THE WORLD by Rupert Christiansen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Rupert Christiansen, the eminent arts correspondent and dance critic for The Spectator, marks the 150th anniversary of Serge Diaghilev’s birth with this stunning history of his Ballets Russes and the trail it blazed through the early 20th century. With appearances

by Matisse, Stravinsky, Picasso, Anna Pavlova, and the fiery Vaslav Nijinsky, the book showcases Diaghilev the impresario and choreographer with an imperious, outsize personality, as he revolutionized the world of dance, changing the role of art, artists, and artmaking, for better and worse, through a pivotal era. WOMEN HOLDING THINGS by Maira Kalman (Harper Design)

In the spring of 2021, when the artist and illustrator Maira Kalman issued the limited-edition booklet Women Holding Things to help support such hunger-combating organizations as No Kid Hungry, it quickly sold out. An absolute charmer (33 paintings, and a red balloon reading “Hold On”), it’s now available in a hardcover version. The bestselling author of The Principles of Uncertainty, has added 67 new paintings, with Gertrude Stein, Edith Sitwell, Sally Hemings, and other real-life people all making an appearance holding things, but also holding on, holding up, and holding forth. THE UNFOLDING by A.M. Homes (Viking)

A.M. Homes’s first novel in a decade is a portrait in politics that returns us to a slice of American life among a group of powerful, distraught Republicans in the unspooling weeks between Barack Obama’s presidential election night in 2008 and his inauguration. Homes’s darkly appraising eye zeroes in not just on professional meltdowns, but personal freak-outs within a disbelieving cadre led by a certain pointedly named Hitchens. Known mostly as “the Big Guy,” he mulls an assortment of dirty tricks while confronting a formerly doting daughter suddenly denouncing her family’s vision of the American dream. Under such circumstances, January 6, 2021, seems just a jaundiced heartbeat away. THE PAPER DOLLS OF ZELDA FITZGERALD by Eleanor Lanahan (Scribner)

Eleanor Lanahan first connected to her grandmother, Zelda Fitzgerald, when, age 10, “I discovered she had painted these vibrant paper dolls…. These secret treasures were like Christmas cookies…slightly tangled, and tantalizing.” Never without her paints and paper, Zelda originally produced them for her daughter,

Scottie, adding to them over her years traversing the Jazz Age’s transatlantic map. Fashionable figures of the French Court and childhood fairytales; prelates and queens; King Arthur and his circle; and all three musketeers became portable amusements often able to keep the clouds of sadness and madness at bay. Cinderella’s pumpkin coach closes the book, with midnight still several dances away. COCKTAILS WITH A CURATOR by Xavier F. Salomon, with Aimee Ng and Giulio Dalvit, foreword by Simon Schama, illustrated by Luis Serrano (Rizzoli)

Raise a glass, and rejoice! The Frick Collection's elegant, effervescent “Cocktails with a Curator” video series, begun during lockdown, is now a book, with essays for each masterpiece—paintings, sculpture, furniture and porcelain—by the series’ erudite and fabulous hosts, Xavier F. Salomon and Aimee Ng. Pour yourself a Jaded Countess to toast Ingres’s Comtesse d’Haussonville, a Pimm’s Cup for Gainsborough’s Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott, or a Bloody Mary for Holbein’s likeness of Sir Thomas More, and enjoy. SHY: THE ALARMINGLY OUTSPOKEN MEMOIRS OF MARY RODGERS by Mary Rodgers and Jesse Green (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Thanks to this candid, dishy, acerbic memoir, Mary Rodgers no longer need worry about her “bologna sandwich” status as the daughter of Broadway’s legendary composer Richard Rodgers and mother of Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel. As Rodgers and her coauthor, New York Times theater critic Jesse Green, make clear, coming into her own wasn’t easy (because there was also a controlling mother). But she listened, she observed, and she wrote—the music to Once Upon a Mattress and the 1972 young adult classic Freaky Friday—later chairing the board of Juilliard and continuing to carry a torch for her dear friend Stephen Sondheim. There isn’t a dull line in the book. WE DESERVE MONUMENTS by Jas Hammonds (Roaring Brook Press)

Jas Hammonds describes herself as “raised in many cities and in-between the pages of many books.” Grown up into a writer, she has ventured into YA fiction

with a debut that sees a fuming 17-year-old Avery Anderson forced out of her senior year in Washington, D.C., and plopped down in a small Southern town to tend to her dying grandmother. Whether she can help reconcile her mother and Mama Letty in the process depends on unburying the past. Her friendship with a pretty next-door neighbor intensifies, and the shadow of an unsolved murder perilously close to home. Hammonds probes vicious racism and the smiles that try to hide it, imprinting every page with suspense. THE DELMONICO WAY: SUBLIME ENTERTAINING AND LEGENDARY RECIPES FROM THE RESTAURANT THAT MADE NEW YORK by Max Tucci (Rizzoli)

Craving some flaming Baked Alaska cupcakes? Some vodka truffles? Pasta primavera á la Sirio Maccioni? Count Camillo’s Negroni: irresistible. From the Gilded Age forward, Delmonico’s restaurant was famous New Yorkers’ watering hole of choice, and the go-to for what was considered cosmopolitan cuisine. Oscar Tucci assumed ownership in 1926, and the place where the power lunch was invented stayed in business for Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Kennedys, Windsors, and multiple mayors until the 1980s. Oscar “Max” Tucci is Oscar’s grandson, and has entrusted to Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich vintage photographs, autographed napkin sketches, menus, Delmonico “money,” party invitations, and sultry print ads as illustrations—the come-on for the restaurant’s Hunt Room bar winking that “you can always take a later train.” LUNCH FROM HOME by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Jing Li (Rise x Penguin Workshop)

A certain 3-year-old of our acquaintance is already tirelessly devoted to this beguiling book by Avenue’s restaurant critic, and well he should be. What’s not to like about a book that sings the praises—and the back stories—of a wealth of delicious, culturallyspecific fare that comes to school in the form of “lunch from home”? Not so fast—class bullies and their narrow-minded insults must first be vanquished. They should know better than to mess with Joshua David Stein’s lunch box heroes.

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_11CULT_Holiday_Books_FINAL.indd 63

63

10/27/22 9:47 AM


Schiap That! A new show in Paris, and the book that goes with it, adores Elsa Schiaparelli from every angle BY PATRICIA VOLK

64

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_11CULT_Coffee_Table_FINAL.indd 64

E

lsa Schiaparelli ( just so you know, it’s SKAP-eh-REL-EE), the Italian-born French couturier (1890–1973), remains fashion’s most formidable innovator. It would be a piece of gateau to fill this review with a list of her inventions: culottes, the wrap dress, drip-dry panties, trompe l’oeil everything, built-in bras, and on and on. As we speak, there is something in your closet born from what Cocteau called her “devil’s laboratory.” See for yourself in Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli (Thames & Hudson), by Marie-Sophie Carron de la Carriere, the companion book to the eponymous blockbuster show currently at the Museé des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. One hundred and twenty designs and accessories are lavishly photographed in full color (oh, for that 1940 mega-pocket jacket on page 165!). As for the surrealism that informed her work, Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau, Leonor Fini, the Giacomettis, Méret Oppenheim, Man Ray, and Marcel Vertès were some of the artist practitioners in her circle. Beginning with her fool-the-eye bow sweaters in 1927, “Schiap,” as she preferred to be called, dominated couture, extending her brand before brands were called brands, into prêt-à-porter, makeup, eyeglasses, soap, textiles, shoes, girdles, lingerie, and a slew of perfumes starting with her lucky letter, “S.” (When the scent Shocking was introduced in 1937, it soon outsold Chanel No. 5). After the Great War, when no one imagined there could ever be another, she read her time just right: people wanted gaiety, amusement, and, above all, beauty enough to astound and help them forget. By her own admission, Schiap was “ugly.” She had dark circles under her eyes, a ruinous underbite, and a face full of moles (which Man Ray retouched in his portraits of her). But who notices a face when you’re wearing a dress that looks like torn flesh? To quote a former editor at Vogue: “A Schiaparelli customer did not have to worry as to whether she was beautiful…She was noticed wherever she went…It was like borrowing someone else’s chic, and along with it, their assurance.” Of the five essays in Shocking!, one that is especially instructive is Dilys Blum on Schiap’s early personal life as a grifter. There is also Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais on her “Dadaist taste for provocation” (note the vulvic hats). Turn the pages, and you will be struck by the breadth of Schiap’s influence. Thierry Mugler, Christian Lacroix, Azzedine Alaïa, and Yves Saint Laurent have all acknowledged their debt. Her 1938 Skeleton Dress, in which trapunto quilting echoes the pelvis and ribcage, has been quoted by Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. Essential reading is Hanya Yanagihara’s interview with the current artistic director of Maison Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry (designer of the dress that Lady Gaga wore for the Biden inauguration). His psychosexually charged work pays homage to the House’s history while nervily upping the emotion. For the Roseberry version of Schiap, head straight for the Schiaparelli boutique at Bergdorf Goodman, and prepare yourself for unmitigated awe.

HORST P. HORST, VOGUE © CONDÉ NAST; CHRISTOPHE DELLIERE, © MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS, BOTH COURTESY THAMES & HUDSON

CULTURE

10/24/22 3:23 PM


Jacques Garcia: A Sicilian Dream: Villa Elena Text by Alain Stella, Photography by Bruno Ehrs (Flammarion) Jacques Garcia is used to putting on a public face, whether with the see-and-be-seen Hôtel Costes or high-profile projects for such clients as the titled d’Ornano family and the Sultan of Brunei. Now he reveals a retreat of his own: the Sicilian baroque Villa Elena, luminously captured by the Swedish photographer Bruno Ehrs. Writer Alain Stella neatly bears in mind Garcia’s passion for the ancient and far-flung, which the centuries have deposited on an island long suspended between East and West, Nordic and Arab, and an inspiration for Garcia wherever his commissions may take him.

St. Barths Freedom By Vassi Chamberlain (Assouline) Just when you thought you knew your St. Barths, along comes Vassi Chamberlain to tell you otherwise. The glamorous English journalist has been traveling there for two decades, bikinis still in tow, and has picked up a lot more than a Jean’s Caesar Salad at La Cabane, or the fact that you can rent a yacht through the Eden Rock. Although she’s partied plenty with the PJ set, she’s refreshingly interested in the island’s history. She reminisces on a fun scale, and isn’t one to turn down invitations—to Sean Combs’s New Year’s Eve party, to dinner with Charles Simonyi and Martha Stewart, and to a Russian oligarch’s yacht doubtless deeply in hiding right now. There are more than 200 illustrations in the 10” x 13” book, its cover lipstickkisses-red.

At The Artisan’s Table Conceived by Jane Schulak and David Stark, Text by Kathleen Hackett, Photography by Aaron Delesie (Vendome Press) Everyone has to eat, right? But not everyone is an artist. Jane Schulak and David Stark, both event planners, party designers, and art lovers, wanted to see what tableware some of their favorite design minds might create under the influence of great historical decorative objects. Roberto Lugo, renowned for his whimsically political teapots and plates, responded to George I on a Staffordshire plate; Tyler Hays produced modern-day versions of blue-and-white Delftware; from Corrie Hogg came a set of “Mrs. Delany’s Plates;” Ingrid Harding did a faux-bois version of Nymphenburg; and a banquet-size tablecloth sprang from fifth-generation Gee’s Bend quilter Loretta Pettway. Many more reinterpretations later, a nice party favor at your next dinner for two, or 20.

Pump Up the Volumes Coffee table tomes for under the tree BY CELIA MCGEE

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_11CULT_Coffee_Table_FINAL.indd 65

65

10/24/22 3:26 PM


11_12_12FEAT_Clive_Davis_FINAL.indd 66

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

OFF THE CHARTS Clive Davis at home in New York, October 2022.

10/27/22 10:24 AM


11_12_12FEAT_Clive_Davis_FINAL.indd 67

10/27/22 10:24 AM

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;


68

Known for his vast tie collection, today Davis sports a blackand-white striped cravat and matching pocket square with his signature tinted glasses. With its dark mahogany bookcases, alligator-embossed leather coffee table, and neutral-toned upholstered furniture, the room has the air of a billionaire’s yacht, the only pops of color being the art on the white walls (a Basquiat, a Fernando Botero, and David Hockney’s bright landscape painting, Hawthorne Blossom, Woldgate No. 4). Along a side hallway can be spied a gallery’s-worth of black-andwhite photographs of Davis with his friends, including Barry Manilow, Michael Keaton, and Houston herself. Davis famously discovered Houston, who had sung in a gospel choir as a child, at a New York City nightclub in the early ’80s. Davis immediately signed the 19-year-old to Arista Records, the label he had founded in 1974, and, under his paternal-like guidance, Houston soared to become one of the biggest-selling artists in music history, with sales topping 200 million records worldwide. “Whitney and I worked together so closely for her entire professional career,” he says. On the afternoon of February 11, 2012, the day she was scheduled to attend Davis’s legendary annual pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, a 48-yearold Houston was discovered dead in the bathtub of suite 434. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office reported the cause of death as drowning with the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.” Toxicology results revealed Xanax, cannabis, Benadryl, and Flexeril, as well as cocaine, in her system. That night’s pre-Grammy event became a last-minute tribute to Houston. “I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years,” a visibly shaken Davis told his guests that evening from the stage. “Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare.”

CALLING THE TUNES Above: Clive Davis and Whitney Houston signing her contract with Arista Records in April 1983. Top left: Davis in his office in New York in the ’80s.

MARTY REICHENTHAL/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK; EBET ROBERTS/REDFERNS/GETTY IMAGES

says Clive Davis one recent morning, his soft voice rising a few octaves with emotion. “Her documentary [Whitney, 2018] was inaccurate. A television bio of her life was inaccurate. So there needs to be an accurate film of her life that does it all right, and without whitewashing her drug addiction.” At 90, the legendary record producer, who has shepherded the careers of such genre-defining artists as Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, and Alicia Keys, is eagerly awaiting the release of I Wanna Dance with Somebody, the highly anticipated biopic of his biggest superstar of all, Whitney Houston. Davis was essential in bringing the project to fruition; finally, he feels, Houston will get the film she deserves. “She was so much bigger than life, such a great influence on other singers. Everybody knew she was a star of their generation, the best singer ever.” Directed by Kasi Lemmons (who helmed Harriet, about the abolitionist Harriet Tubman), and with a script by Anthony McCarten (the writer behind the Freddie Mercury blockbuster, Bohemian Rhapsody), the English actress Naomi Ackie plays Houston while Stanley Tucci takes on the role of Davis himself. Oscar buzz for I Wanna Dance with Somebody has begun before it’s even been seen. “I’m certainly committed to preserving the legacy of Whitney,” Davis tells me. We are sitting in the living room of his Park Avenue duplex, his King Charles Spaniel, Charlie, sleeping nearby. When he is not here, he spends much of his time at the modern art-filled mansion in Pound Ridge he shares with his partner, the real estate agent and interior designer Greg Schriefer. After two marriages—the first one to Helen Cohen and the second to opera singer Janet Adelberg—in 2013, at the age of 80, Davis came out as bisexual on Katie Couric’s show after living quietly with Schriefer for years. “You don’t have to be one thing or another,” he told Couric. “For me, it’s the person.” AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_12FEAT_Clive_Davis_FINAL.indd 68

10/27/22 10:24 AM


FLAK JACKETS Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman wear Richard James camouflage suits in character as Washington fixers for Wag the Dog.

As one of Houston’s closest friends, Davis was vital in making I Wanna Dance with Somebody happen. The pair had a symbiotic relationship: such was Houston’s star power, her impact on Davis’s public persona was considerable. Davis’s son Doug recalls driving home from a Yankees game with his father just after the release of The Bodyguard, starring Houston and Kevin Costner. “My dad liked to ride with the window down. We were coming through Harlem and we pulled up to a red light and there was a car next to us with the window open. Everybody in the car started saying ‘Oh my god, it’s Clive Davis.’ They were all waving at him. That was the moment where I smiled and thought, my dad’s not like other dads.” While most men of his age would be taking it easy, retirement is not on Davis’s current schedule. “I definitely inherited his zest for life, but he does it to the extreme,” says Doug. “I mean, he is out every night. He said to me that the worst part of the pandemic was not being able to go out every night. And, still to this day, he is out every night at the Polo Bar, at Sette Mezzo, at all those places.” His father, says Doug, is in his ele-

ment. “There is nothing he would rather be doing than working within music, working with creatives, moving projects forward. When you are having as much fun as he is being Clive Davis, why would you choose to do anything else?” The Whitney biopic aside, the end of 2022 is going to be nonstop for Davis. He is preparing for his next Grammy party. “We are looking into making a documentary on the rich history of the party and the performances—it’s really about the greatest party of all time.” On November 12, he is to be inducted as a Portrait of a Nation honoree into the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., in recognition of his ability to “create transformative change” in his field (fellow honorees include Anthony S. Fauci and Serena and Venus Williams). Davis proudly shows me the invitation to the gala and mentions the dinner party which will be held the night before for the honorees at Jeff Bezos’s house. Davis will be introduced by Alicia Keys, another mega talent he discovered, while his portrait was painted by David Hockney, a friend of many years. “I’ve been to his LA home several times and he comes to my Grammy party every NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_12FEAT_Clive_Davis_FINAL.indd 69

69

10/27/22 10:25 AM


70

third most powerful label to being at the top of the game. “It changed the record industry at Columbia Records for sure.” he says of hitting the number one spot. “And it certainly changed the rest of my life.” Always making headlines in the industry, Davis left Columbia in 1974 to found Arista Records, where he added Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick to the roster. He later started LaFace Records, and then J Records, and ultimately became the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment, a title he still holds today. Along the way he launched the careers of TLC, Usher, Pink, and Toni Braxton. “Those were some magical moments,” he says. Clearly, Davis is more influential in popular culture than a teenage TikTok star could every dream of. “What makes Clive so relevant at 90 years old is that he’s not 90 years old!,” says Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire. “He has the ears of a 20-year-old...He gave us our big break.” Says Davis, with a smile, “I have to admit, although it sounds a cliché, that I do get a special feeling, like when I saw Whitney, or Chicago, or Earth, Wind & Fire. I don’t study it. I don’t analyze it. I just wait to get that feeling.”

MUSIC MEN Top: Davis and Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone in Los Angeles in 1973; opposite page: Aretha Franklin at the piano with Davis in January 1981.

MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES; ROGER RESSMEYER/CORBIS/VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES

year.” For the portrait, however, Davis traveled to Hockney’s house in Normandy, France, where he sat for three straight days, breaking only for lunch. “I did sit still but we also talked,” he says fondly, adding with a laugh, “David has a perpetual cigarette.” He pulls out his iPhone, which buzzes throughout our chat, to show me a photo of the completed canvas, in which he is depicted sporting a blue suit and an orange tie. Despite the fact that Davis must be one of the most-awarded men in show business—among his accolades are five Grammys and an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—I can’t spot any trophies on display. Davis tells me his awards are housed at his alma mater NYU’s Clive Davis Gallery in Brooklyn. He admits that some accolades resonate more than others. “Certain awards register very strongly,” he explains. “Getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was an ultimate award. This [Portrait of a Nation] award ranks right up there. I’m very touched.” One of the most towering figures of the American music industry of the past seven decades, Davis’s early years had almost nothing to do with music. As a child growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Davis was an avid reader, something he enjoyed more than listening to records. “My family didn’t have the money to pay for the 45s my friends collected. I enjoyed Sinatra and some of the big hits of the day, but there was no indication that it would become a passion in my life.” A musical master who doesn’t play an instrument—the piano in his living room is for friends such as Keys to play when they come over—Davis is known in the industry as the man with the “golden ear.” But as a kid, he was somewhat of a nerd. “I came home with A report cards all the time,” he recalls. One day his mother pulled him aside and gave him, he recalls, “the best advice I’ve ever gotten. She said, ‘I’d like to talk to you about diversifying your day. I want you to go out on the streets of Brooklyn and mix more with your friends.’ It wasn’t that I was in an ivory tower, but she knew that it’s important to develop people skills. You don’t want to be just an intellectual compared to a well-rounded person. Yes, education is fabulous. Reading is wonderful. But people skills have helped me more in my career than anything else.” Davis’s parents both died when he was still a teenager. He moved in, for a time, with his older, married sister who lived in Bayside, Queens. “The death of my parents was the most important event in my life,” he confesses, gazing out the window, the memory still seeming raw. “All of a sudden, I didn’t have my rock. I was economically vulnerable. My work ethic, which was already there, was intensified. Being successful in my career became very important.” He leaned into his studies, and won a scholarship to New York University, where he graduated in 1953 with a degree in political science and won another full scholarship to Harvard Law School. On graduating from Harvard in 1956, he became an in-house lawyer at Columbia Records then, suddenly, after some staff restructuring, was thrown into being the head of Columbia-CBS Group’s recorded music operations. “Overnight I became the head of Columbia Records,” he says, his voice still registering amazement. “That didn’t mean I was musical. I was totally unprepared.” Everything about music changed for Davis when he flew to the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967 and witnessed Janis Joplin, the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, perform. “It was an epiphany,” he declares about watching Joplin. “It changed the rest of my life. I signed Joplin. My instinct is so strong even though I’ve had no background. I had no idea there was a social, cultural, and indeed musical revolution going on.” Davis just knew instinctively that Joplin was the real deal. “I thought, ‘I’m going to be there first.’” After inking Joplin to Columbia, Davis spent the next six years signing other seminal acts like Santana, Chicago, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. With Davis in charge, Columbia vaulted from being the American music industry’s AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_12FEAT_Clive_Davis_FINAL.indd 70

10/27/22 10:25 AM


NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_12FEAT_Clive_Davis_FINAL.indd 71

71

10/27/22 10:25 AM


IN HER FORTHCOMING BOOK, NINO STR ACHEY, A HISTORIAN AND REL ATION OF LY T TON STR ACHEY, SHINES A FRESH LIGHT ON THE BLOOMSBURY SET. SHE TALKS TO HEATHER HODSON ABOUT THE PERSONAL PART

A Family Affair

72

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LYDIA GOLDBLATT

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

05_06_09CULT_Nino_Strachey_FINAL.indd 72

10/23/22 2:29 AM


GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

05_06_09CULT_Nino_Strachey_FINAL.indd 73

10/23/22 2:29 AM


74

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

05_06_09CULT_Nino_Strachey_FINAL.indd 74

10/23/22 2:29 AM


LIVING HISTORY Among the Bloomsbury pharaphernalia in Nino Strachey’s house are Henry Strachey’s book on Raphael, dated 1900, inside which was found the handwritten letter from Pippa Strachey, the sister of Lytton, to Constance Strachey seen here; and a 1897 edition of Mallory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, edited by Sir Edward Strachey, 3rd Baronet. Opposite page: Nino Strachey at home in West London with portraits of 19th-century ancestors Sir Henry Strachey and his brother Richard. Previous page: Nino at her writing desk.

Nino Strachey and I are drinking tea

in the sitting room of her book-filled house in West London. It’s a morning in late summer, and we are discussing the upcoming American publication of her compelling and original book Young Bloomsbury, a literary group portrait that was practically her birthright to write. Slight and pretty, with a light, conspiring wit, the 54-year-old historian and writer shares the house with her husband, Harry Bradbeer, the award-winning television and film director; their 21-year-old, Caspian (“Cas”); and multiple generations of her Strachey forebears. Most certainly there is Lytton Strachey, the belletrist whose provocative Eminent Victorians set staid England on its ear in 1918 and helped launch him as the beating heart of the Bloomsbury set. But Stracheys reach back at least three more centuries, and their presence is all around us here. Nino and I are friends from our time together at Oxford, and in London when five of us shared a house. In light of her new book, her home is introducing me to someone new.

Over the fireplace in the sitting room hangs a painting by Lytton’s first cousin, the art critic Henry Strachey, painted the same year that Eminent Victorians came out. Day Dismissing Night depicts a naked youth banishing the figure of Night in an allegory of the end of the First World War. “Henry was gay like Lytton, and enjoyed painting male subjects,” says Nino, giving me an arch look as we head to the hallway and a portrait of Edward Strachey, the 2nd Baron Strachie, looking dapper in an Edwardian tailcoat and top hat. “Here is Uncle Teddie, known as ‘Venus’ when he was in the Grenadier Guards,” she says of her father's great uncle. Then, past Bradbeer’s two Emmys for Fleabag, the tragicomic girlabout-London series starring Phoebe WallerBridge, and on to a shelf in the sitting room where a 1926 drawing in profile of the 5th Baron Sackville, better known around Bloomsbury as the artist Eddy Sackville-West, by Bright Young Thing Stephen Tennant, has been placed next to a recent portrait of Cas. The resemblance across the generations is striking, the juxtaposition in many ways, like Nino’s writing about the Stracheys in Young Bloomsbury, both an act of conservation and celebration. The last member of the Strachey family to have grown up at the Somerset estate of Sutton Court in South West England, home to the family for over 300 years, Nino moved there when her father inherited the 30-room house with its

round tower and crenellated curtain wall from his great uncle—none other than “Venus” Strachey himself, who died at 90 and never had children. Nino, an only child—her mother is Princess Tamar Bagration-Imeretinsky of Georgia—grew up “surrounded by family history,” and it made a lasting impression on her. “That was probably what led me to become a curator and a historian, and also wanting to take care of things,” she says. “I think that’s also why I value the oral side of history. I was always being told stories in passing about what people had been up to. It’s the throwaway remark that leads you to have a totally different insight.” But the home she remembers as “an absolutely fantastical place to grow up” was also a vast ruin. A leaking bathroom, undiscovered for decades, had turned it into a monument to dry rot, with mushrooms growing out of the centuries-old books in the library and animal life in every corner. A favorite schoolgirl trick was to take friends by a back door up a staircase, “and you’d open the door and there’d be no floor for three floors down. And they’d go ‘ahh,’” she recalls, laughing. “My poor old dad had to deal with that plus 80 percent death duties, so he sold up in 1987.” But her father, Charles Strachey, the 4th Baron O’Hagan and a godson to Queen Elizabeth II, kept all the family portraits and as much else as he could, and has been “passing things on to me,” Nino says, along with his deep fund of knowledge in the form of a family oral history. NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

05_06_09CULT_Nino_Strachey_FINAL.indd 75

75

10/23/22 2:33 AM


“So often Bloomsbury gets talked about in terms of sexual titillation, but sexual contact was just one aspect.” 76

For his daughter, the Stracheys’ history hit peak interest in the Bloomsbury years. It is a literary era analyzed to exhaustion, but her account of how the aging literary group was energized in the 1920s by a young set of unorthodox “Bloomsberries” goes into unchartered territory. “So often Bloomsbury gets talked about in terms of sexual titillation,” she says, “but sexual contact was just one aspect. They might have slept with each other a couple of times early in their lives, but they were loving friends for the whole of the rest of their lives and were supporting a group of young people to be who they wanted to be. That felt much more important to me than obsessing about who put what into whom, when.” The subject matter of Young Bloomsbury couldn’t be more personal. Cas, who is studying for a masters in the history of design, identifies as gender fluid and queer, and Nino has dedicated the book to her child and “all those who push beyond the binary.” “Cas has helped me be current,” she says. “I don’t think I would have looked at things in this way without that personal contact all the way through with people who are thinking in this way now.” For both of them, she attests, “it was a lovely way to celebrate the queer history of our own family.”

Nino wrote her testimonial during Covid lockdown, but the idea had been gestating while she was working as head of research at the National Trust, the venerable heritage nonprofit she joined after graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art. When she was writing her first book, Rooms of Their Own, about the interiors lived in by Eddy Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, and Vita Sackville-West, she discovered that Eddy had moved into a flat in 1924 with Lytton Strachey’s young cousin, the radical politician John Strachey. “I just had no idea that John had been so embedded in the Bloomsbury world,” she says. “When he and Eddy moved out of their flat, they just bundled everything into a box. There was so much personal correspondence showing how their friendship group led this wonderful, open life, and how they were willing to discuss everything with each other.” Nino’s life is full of Bloomsbury treasures tumbling out of books and boxes on a daily basis. “I’ve got all these Strachey books and every single one has something tucked in it,” she says, picking up a book on Raphael that once belonged to Henry Strachey, inside which is a letter from Pippa Strachey, Lytton’s sister and a noted suffragist. “You just never know what you might come across.”

HISTORY AND ART COLLECTION/ALAMY

BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS Left: a painting of Cas, Nino’s 21-year-old, flanked by, on left, a portrait of Nino’s father, Charles Strachey, 4th Baron O’Hagan, by Hardress Waller, and, on right, Stephen Tennant’s ink drawing of Edward Sackville-West. Below: Lytton Strachey with Virginia Woolf in 1923. Opposite page: the Bloomsbury artist Dora Carrington, the sculptor Stephen Tomlin, the sociologist Walter John Herbert, and Lytton Strachey.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

05_06_09CULT_Nino_Strachey_FINAL.indd 76

10/23/22 2:29 AM


THE PICTURE ART COLLECTION/ALAMY

Nino opens Young Bloomsbury in Edwardian London with the formative years of “Old Bloomsbury,” when “some strange sort of alchemy seemed to have happened” as Stephenses and Bells, Stracheys and Grants gathered in each other’s houses to take aim at the taboos of the day. She ends just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, with the young “Bloomsberries” John Strachey and his American wife, the rich, bisexual Esther Murphy, on honeymoon at Villa America, the Cap d’Antibes property of their glamorous in-laws Gerald and Sara Murphy, and a gathering place for Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and their circle. Nino writes of John Strachey, a “bon viveur with aesthetic tendencies,” who made a habit at Oxford, despite his professed socialism, of “sipping crème de menthe while wearing a red brocade dressing gown;” the beguiling Eddy Sackville-West, who would show his diaries to Virginia Woolf so that she could help him work through his relationships; Henrietta Bingham, the bisexual heiress to a Kentucky newspaper fortune; and the mischievous author of Cheerful Weather for the Wedding Julia Strachey, mentored by the painter Dora Carrington and Virginia Woolf, but who nevertheless poked fun at Woolf ’s novels, claiming that they “dribble on and on, like diarrhea.” Young Bloomsbury is a rollicking Roaring Twenties tale, a series of cinematic fades and close-ups sweeping across intimate Tavistock Square gatherings, raucous flapper parties held in public swimming baths, and gossip-filled country weekends. There are trips to Lady Ottoline Morrell’s Oxfordshire Garsington Manor, where flamboyance and androgyny were the order of the day, or Ham Spray in Wiltshire, where Lytton lived in a “polyamorous throuple” with Carrington and Ralph Partridge, an assistant at the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press.

But Young Bloomsbury is far from just cocktail party chatter and country house cavorts. On a more somber note, as Nino writes in her introduction, the early years of the 20th century were “still riven by homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia,” and, in England, homosexuality wasn’t decriminalized until 1967. Alcoholism, drug addiction, psychological breakdown, and life-threatening illness began to make themselves felt, too, and the book brings conversion therapy into focus, cruelly meted out to the gender-fluid Eddy Sackville-West and Stephen Tennant. They found some salvation under the communal care of such Bloomsbury elders as Lytton Strachey, Dora Carrington, and Virginia Woolf. “Their biological families were directing them towards [conversion therapy],” Nino says, “but their chosen family would help them get through it and beyond.” Suddenly, Young Bloomsbury feels about as relevant to our times as any book can be. “We have this act of almost forgetting,” Nino says, “and still there are terrible statistics of young trans people experiencing mental health difficulties, self-harm, suicide. But if you have a group of accepting adults who will nurture you through your life, you can become an amazing artist, writer, be anything you want to be. I wanted to celebrate that.” Writing the book has been a means for connecting the dots, not just for her, but for Cas. “It was really fun for Cas actually, being embedded in that queer heritage,” she says, and pauses. “It feels important to me—it helps everybody feel that they are part of something that’s been there forever.” Young Bloomsbury: The Generation That Reimagined Love, Freedom, and Self-Expression in 1920s England is out on December 6 from Atria Books. NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

REV_05_06_09CULT_Nino_Strachey_FINAL.indd 77

77

10/27/22 12:45 PM


ABSOLUTELY

TO DINE FOR

NOW THAT PALM BEACH IS OFFICIALLY NEW YORK SOCIETY’S ADOPTED ZIP CODE, RESTAURANTS—AND A TOUGH TABLE CODE—REIGN SUPREME. CARSON GRIFFITH GETS THE SCOOP ON HOW TO CRACK THE ISLAND’S SOCIAL DINING SCENE

ILLUSTRATION BY GUILLE MANCHADO

11_12_13FEAT_Palm_Beach_Restaurants_FINAL.indd 78

10/27/22 10:42 AM


Swifty’s THE COLONY HOTEL, 155 HAMMON AVENUE

There were mascara-smeared tears shed along New York’s Lexington Avenue when Swifty’s restaurant closed in 2016. But the famed New York socialite clubhouse lived to see another day, thanks to Sarah and Andrew Wetenhall, who purchased the iconic Colony Hotel in Palm Beach that same year and gave Swifty’s a limited-engagement pop-up at the hotel in 2020. It was such a smash that the pop-up quickly turned permanent. → The Vibe: “Swifty’s reminds me of why I chose to live and work in Palm Beach. It’s a vibe,” says CEO and founder of luxury skincare brand MUTHA and full-time resident, Hope Smith. Since opening, this restaurant in the “Pink Paradise”—as Joey Wölffer, the co-owner of Wölffer Estate Vineyard, describes The Colony Hotel, which turns 75 years old this year—has lured the likes of Venus Williams, Delfina Blaquier, Georgina Bloomberg, Jonathan Adler, Austin Mahone, Kiernan Shipka, and

Nicky Hilton Rothschild to its doors. “There is always such a great crowd and buzzing energy at Swifty’s, making it a perfect spot for date night or a fun evening out with friends,” reports Wölffer. Sunday bingo and Monday trivia nights, which Andrew Wetenhall calls “spirited competitions poolside,” attracts the younger crowd (by Palm Beach standards, at least). Plus: the layout of the hotel is perfect for private events—if you’re on the guest list, that is. → Where to Sit: Malcolm Carfrae, the urbane owner of Carfrae Consulting, says a perch by the pool at The Colony is “Palm Beach glamour personified. Chic, fun, and lots to look at.” These tables also make for the best Instagramable moments, so expect the PTY of PB—Pretty Young Things of Palm Beach—to make a mad dash for them, especially at photo-friendly sunset. If you want something a little more lowkey, tastemaker Celerie Kemble, who assisted in the redesign of The Colony, suggests having a martini and stone crab at the bar, “where you can see a scene and be cozy at the same time.” → What to Order: The Colony’s iteration of Swifty’s has many of the same hallmarks of the original, including a meat loaf that legendarily came from Bill Blass’s mother’s cookbook. All of the seafood, but especially the crab cakes, get rave reviews, and Hope Smith insists you get the “crushed avocado appetizer, which is served with the most amazing d’Espelette tortilla chips that are drizzled with honey. They are addicting and I crave them all the time.” We’re sold. → How to Snag a Reservation: Be on firstname terms with Robert Caravaggi, the former chef and maître d’ respectively of legendary Upper East Side boîte Mortimer’s and the original New York Swifty’s location. He now mans the Palm Beach location as well. → Pro Tip: “Be a lady or gentleman. Introduce yourself to the proprietor or maître d’ and be polite and kind. Those who bluster and are demanding or rude find that restaurants are booked when they call,” says Wetenhall, who dishes out this principled advice for any institution in Palm Beach.

Le Bilboquet 245A WORTH AVENUE

Palm Beach isn’t known for its wild nightlife (you’ll have to drive to Miami for that), but it does have a makeshift glam disco-like scene in the form of Le Bilboquet, the island’s iteration of the fabled UES French bistro of the same name. It’s also fitting that the liveliest joint in town is housed in a building owned by Jane Holzer, a.k.a. “Baby Jane Holzer”—one of Andy Warhol’s muses and a fixture in the New York nightlife world in the ’60s and ’70s. A native of Palm Beach, she moved back to her hometown a handful of years ago, and “Bilbo,” as it is known to the rich and lucky, followed suit in 2021.

11_12_13FEAT_Palm_Beach_Restaurants_FINAL.indd 79

→ The Vibe: “Le Bilboquet is for sure an ‘it’ place,” explains Carfrae. “Such a stunning location and a beautiful, well-heeled crowd.” Perhaps, that is, until the lights dim, and things start to get a little bit unrestrained. “Weekend nights get very lively at Bilboquet after the music goes up at 9 p.m.,” confirms Andrew Wetenhall. “Expect a lot of table-hopping and perhaps more than one espresso martini.” This is perhaps why a table on any given night or time, particularly for the second seating (the restaurant has two seating times each night), is one of, if not the hottest ticket in town. Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder and creative director of fashion brand LoveShackFancy, praises the chummy staff for their “super fun vibes” and the restaurant’s “always great energy.” “The whole island still shuts down at midnight, so you have to have your fun while you still can,” opines Michael Gregson Reinert, Palm Beach man about town. “At the 6:30 p.m. seating, you may see some powdered wigs and Chanel suits, but at the 9:30 p.m. seating, that’s when they turn the music up.” Day or night, it is not surprising to spot fashion designer Alvin Valley in the company of one of his many socialite muses, or Sylvester Stallone’s bevy of beautiful daughters, Sistine, Scarlet, or Sophia. → Where to Sit: Who knew a table could declare: “I’m glamorous”? The tables flanking the entryway at Le Bilboquet “are the most lively and tend to be occupied by the most beautiful people,” explains Wetenhall. But the true VIPs, she claims, “often prefer the tables in the far corners of the courtyard, where they can see all the guests, but are themselves somewhat hidden.” And if you can’t get a table, you can still be part of the party: “It’s even nice to have drinks at the bar!” says Hessel Cohen. → What to Order: The famous Le Poulet Cajun— or cajun chicken with beurre blanc sauce and a side of fries and greens—is the top contender. Hessel Cohen suggests ordering a Chablis or a skinny margarita, while Wetenhall advises ordering The Ivey, which is “a tequila cocktail with fresh citrus created by wellness coach and family friend, Ivey Leidy.” → How to Snag a Reservation: Securing a table is about as hard as scoring a new Birkin bag at Hermès, but Reinert recommends buddying up to “Dobi, Phillippe, or Martin,” referring to director of operations Dobi Trendafilova, the dapper owner-proprietor Philippe Delgrange, and Martin Martinov, the maître d’ of Le Bilboquet, who holds the keys to the rose-drenched castle. Martinov “cuts a dashing figure, greeting guests by name while also enforcing a strict dress code which is an anomaly for Florida. No shorts at dinner!” says Reinert. Pro Tip: The Silicon Valley slobby-chic look won’t get you any points with Martinov, who advocates a luxury-plus dress code, while Delgrange, who always sports a beautifully cut suit, once said his “nemesis” was customers who wear flip-flops. You have been warned.

10/27/22 10:42 AM


La Goulue 288 S COUNTY ROAD

There were whoops of delight when La Goulue, the clubby French bistro on the Upper East Side, opened its Palm Beach iteration in 2020. Situated on the best corner of Palm Beach— Royal Palm and South County—everything is reassuringly the same (as the Parisian restaurateur Jean Denoyer commented at the time, “Looks like La Goulue, tastes like La Goulue”), including the froggy-green matchbooks, the interiors reminiscent of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting, and the delicious Franco-American food. → The Vibe: When La Goulue opened in October two years ago it started pulling in a similar crowd, including Dr. Oz and his wife Lisa, Sharon Bush, snapper Patrick McMullan, restaurateur Danny Meyer, and Sylvester Stallone. And while you may see a flashy name or two, expect them to be on the mature side. The classic French bistro attracts an older crowd than a lot of similarly popular restaurants in the area. → Where to Sit: The most social seats are the ones that are closest to the street (La Goulue has folding doors that accommodate Palm Beach’s nice weather), but for date night, the tables in the back are a popular choice. Younger patrons prefer the bar area. → What to Order: “Since the cheese souffle tastes like air, I assume it’s calorie-free,” jokes Michael Reinert. → How to Snag a Reservation: Make friendly with the maître d’ Mo Ahmed, or skip it altogether and grab a seat at the bar. → Pro Tip: Book ahead for Bastille Day— July 14—if you’re planning on being stateside.

Buccan (Imoto) 350 S COUNTY ROAD

“I love Buccan for dinner; I think that’s a given for all Palm Beachers,” says Hope Smith. Sarah Wetenhall claims the restaurant “really revolutionized dining in Palm Beach” and that “besides being delicious with an innovative and constantly changing menu, Buccan was the first destination on Palm Beach island to offer a more modern, sophisticated, and energized dining environment.” → The Vibe: Buccan has combined the soughtafter exclusivity of Palm Beach with a bustling informal ambience that makes the place constantly packed with foodies and famous faces alike. Don’t be surprised if you spot Maria Sharapova, Michael Jordan, or Jon Bon Jovi on any given night.

80

→ Where to Sit: The only thing better than getting a reservation at Buccan is getting a seat at one of the chef’s tables, which are attached to the kitchen. They are “the place to be,” according to Wettenhall, where “professional athletes, titans of business, and well-known models are known to watch chef Clay Conley in action from these special seats.” Regulars include Tiger Woods and businessman Robert Kraft. → What to Order: The inventive hot dog panini is a crowd-pleaser, which Wetenhall calls “creative comfort food at its best.” Hope Smith orders a “mix from both Buccan and their sushi restaurant Imoto next door,” which is also a favorite of Rebecca Hessel Cohen, who calls Imoto “a bit of NYC in Palm Beach.” → How to Snag a Reservation: Be a friend of owner Piper Quinn—or his father, Democratic lobbyist Tom Quinn. → Pro Tip: The Sandwich Shop, which operates out of the back of the restaurant, is a good way to get a bite of what the place is serving up without a reservation. And for a late-night fix, the bar at Imoto packs the pretty people after 10 p.m.

→ What to Order: “My favorite thing to order is the hot dog which is like no other hot dog I have ever tasted. It comes with shoestring fries and a deviled egg and pairs perfectly with their amazing martinis,” says Ocleppo Hilfiger. Palm Beach Grill is famed for the drink, which Michael Gregson Reinert calls “the best martini in Palm Beach.” The calorie-laden banana cream pie has close to a cult following. → How to Snag a Reservation: If you don’t have a boldface name to drop with the hostess, make sure to plan ahead. Palm Beach Grill takes reservations a month in advance, and it’s not uncommon for regulars to call ahead and secure rolling reservations for the season. → Pro Tip: If you don’t have a rez, try the newer sister restaurant next door, The Honor Bar, which scores high marks and is on a firstcome, first-serve basis: “The Honor Bar is great because it feels a little like the Polo Bar in New York,” says Reinert. “It’s sort of a younger crowd.”

Palm Beach Grill 340 ROYAL POINCIANA WAY

Most regulars will say it’s hard to remember Palm Beach before Palm Beach Grill, but the classic, all-American restaurant and bar has only been around since the end of ’90s. Still, more than two decades since the busy, buzzy eatery opened in the Royal Poinciana Plaza, Palm Beach Grill has become a mainstay of the Palm Beach dining scene. → The Vibe: Expect to see…well, basically everyone. From your plastic surgeon to the latest dilettante, everyone heads to Palm Beach Grill. To circumvent Palm Beach’s strict code against chain restaurants, Hillstone Restaurant Group named the fancied-up Houston’s “Palm Beach Grill,” and the touch of upscale branding has done the trick: between November and April, the place is busier than Grand Central Station during rush hour. “It is especially fun to go with a group for dinner,” exclaims Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, founder of her eponymous luxury lifestyle brand, who you might see dining with friends or her husband, Tommy. Every generation is represented — anonymous octogenarians will be seated next to younger locals such as Palm Beach native Bettina Anderson. → Where to Sit: The leather booths are prime real estate as they are the most comfortable and offer the most privacy. But those looking to mix and mingle prefer the bar area, which is the perfect place to head if you show up sans reservation.

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_13FEAT_Palm_Beach_Restaurants_FINAL.indd 80

10/27/22 10:42 AM


Sant Ambroeus 340 ROYAL POINCIANA WAY

Homesick New Yorkers have been seeking refuge at Sant Ambroeus since it arrived in Palm Beach in 2016. The Milanese eatery, which first launched in the United States 40 years ago, has outposts on the Upper East Side, as well as SoHo, the West Village, and Southampton, but there’s something specialissimo about the colorful Palm Beach location which sits just a few blocks from the beach. → The Vibe: Hope Smith sums it up best, calling the restaurant the “best for people watching.” Tucked in the Royal Poinciana Plaza, it’s the ideal spot to take a break between shopping and even catch a few celebrity faces. Soccer icon David Beckham noshed here with his future in-law, billionaire Nelson Peltz, before the two mega-moguls married off their children, Brooklyn and Nicola. → Where to Sit: The most requested seated area is Sant Ambroeus’s courtyard, the place to see and be seen in. Rebecca Hessel Cohen says her go-to seat is near the fountain, which is located on the restaurant’s patio, an area Ocleppo Hilfiger says “is wonderful for lunch.” For those eating inside, the coral-colored banquettes are considered prime real estate, especially when the weather hits high temperatures. → What to Order: “I am obsessed with the truffle pizza and every pasta dish is amazing,” gushes Ocleppo Hilfiger. Hessel Cohen seconds that. “Everything is delicious,” she says. “The pizza is my favorite and I love the cacio e pepe, of course.” The Palm Beach location also offers all the regular Sant Ambroeus favorites, such as vitello tonnato and cotoletta alla Milanese, as well as the eatery’s famous creamy millefoglie dessert. → How to Snag a Reservation: “Tip your maître d’; it’s amazing what a $50 bill can get you in Palm Beach,” suggests Reinert. NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_13FEAT_Palm_Beach_Restaurants_FINAL.indd 81

81

10/27/22 10:42 AM


e p a c s E BASED T H E M IA M IAV E L L U X U RY T R F E L IX CO N C IE R G E B R A M B IL L A L ABOUT K N OWS A L THE S AT IS F Y IN G ST OF WA N D E R L U E R C E N T. THE ONE P

82

H E TA L K S TO H O R AC I O S I LVA ABOUT DREAM TRIPS A ND THE FRENZY FOR TH E UNIQUE AND TH E S U S TA I NABLE I N A P O S T- P ANDEM I C WO R L D

Artis ts

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_14FEAT_Concierge_FINAL.indd 82

10/24/22 12:59 AM


ST BARTHS: JOHN SULLIVAN; SCOTLAND: JOHN SULLIVAN, BOTH COURTESY FELIX BRAMBILLA

MISTS OF TIME A bagpiper plays at Loch Lomond in Scotland. Opposite page: St. Barths, always a magnet for the rich and glamorous.

F

or more than 20 years, Felix Brambilla, the Miami-based luxury travel concierge, has been catering to the whims of the notoriously hard to please and easy to bore. His “been there, done that” clientele includes the sorts of bon vivants for whom a private tour of the Vatican or the Hermitage is old hat. No request is too great or too small. One wedding ceremony he produced for a financier and his actress wife in Montana was capped off with 100 horses riding at full gallop around the crowd while a Celtic choir sang “Amazing Grace” (perfectly timed for when the couple kissed). But even this facilitator of getaways for the three-comma club and regular super affluent is taken aback by the current frenzy for high-end travel, despite the exorbitant costs and increasing unreliability of commercial travel. “It’s been an orgy,” says Brambilla, speaking on the telephone from his Doha office in late September, of the indulgent wanderlust of the last two years. “Whether traveling domestically or internationally, people have bigger budgets and there is higher occupancy than ever before. It’s like all that money that people couldn’t spend for ages has come up to the surface, and expectations are changing by the minute.” Deluxe villa and luxury ranch rentals, for one, were at capacity this past summer. “People are staying longer on average and extending the season beyond the usual months,” Brambilla tells me. “Availability has been tough, but the good news is that the villa market has gotten a lot more professional and refined, and you can expect hotel-like facilities and services for the prices being asked.”

The pandemic created enduring travel habits, he says, among them the desire to be far from the madding crowd. “A lot of people still want to be off the grid,” he explains, adding that those with the means to do so are also realizing very specific dreams. To that end, he now rents a private town built in the mountains of Colorado, comprising of 82 buildings and five streets in a Western theme, all for sybarites wanting to live out their cowboy fantasies. As you do. “That world moves so quickly now and tastes change,” continues the 59-year-old, French-born Brambilla. “Before, you could come up with novelties for a luxury experience, and it took a while for the news to get out there. These days it’s unbelievable how fast we all hear of the same things, and so we have to dig deeper.” With that in mind, Brambilla and his team at Overseas Leisure Group—the luxury travel company he founded in 2000 which now has a network of local experts and 47 offices across 38 countries—create one-of-a-kind experiences well beyond your average big-ticket blowout. In addition to, say, the requisite six-star digs, Insta-perfect sunsets and snorkeling, a bespoke trip to the San Blas Islands off Panama might feature encounters with members of the Guna Yala tribe, including characters like an elderly master maker of molas (handcrafted blouses) and cross-dressing local legend. A stay in a 15th-century Tuscan villa, with two sprawling gardens and a private lake, is completed by an exotic-mushroom picking experience, in addition to private art tours in nearby Florence, taking in the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia Gallery, the Vasari Corridor, the Boboli Gardens, and Palazzo Pitti. And a 15-person, 10-day feel-good boat trip through the Amazon, visiting remote communities without access NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_14FEAT_Concierge_FINAL.indd 83

83

10/24/22 1:01 AM


to medical care, includes an onboard dentist and ophthalmologist to treat the locals they encounter, in addition to a Michelin-starred chef for the guests. “Beyond even our wildest expectations,” says Michael Sullivan, cofounder and chief growth officer of OneDigital in Atlanta, of the multigenerational family trip to Scotland that Brambilla and his team arranged in September. In addition to a buyout of an 11th-century castle, Sullivan says he was impressed with the level of solicitousness. “He even dialed up perfect weather all week… in Scotland!” Brambilla is not surprised by the premium travellers now place on emotions. “Those shared experiences are what we’ve been deprived of,” he reflects. “Yes, the pictures you bring back from a trip matter, but not as much as the shared moments that make the trip different. That’s what you remember, and we’re focusing a lot on that right now. “Before [the pandemic], a lot of the things that these travellers wanted had no connection to the place or people,” Brambilla continues. “They wanted to fly over and see everything, but not really participate in anything. That’s definitely changing. People want to get their hands dirty.” Brambilla points out that on a trip to the Amazon during a Covid outbreak, the crew’s decision not to take the doctors for fear of infecting the local communities did not go down well with the disappointed clients. (Brambilla donated a six-day trip on the Amazon, including first-class travel and a fully inclusive trip for two people on the luxury boat Rio Negro Queen, to the recent Make-A-Wish Foundation fundraiser in Miami.) 84

Recognizing that not all travelers will want to heal the world or avoid crowds in search of unique experiences worthy of a spread in National Geographic, Brambilla has expanded the company’s suite of VIP services to include overseeing the custom experiences for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicking off this November 20. (He was a partner with the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Austin last month, where he arranged a charity meet-and-greet event with three-time world driving champion Sir Jackie Stewart.) “The notion of togetherness and celebration has been sorely lacking, so obviously big concerts and sporting events fit the bill,” he says. “But even these large-scale events have to offer meaningful shared moments and experiences. The corporate VVIP access of the past won’t cut it.” For the 150 World Cup VVIPS, his company has created two luxury Bedouin camps to while away time between matches in splendor and arranged for daily cruises on tricked-out traditional dhow boats. While it’s his hope that the future of travel continues to focus on meaningful interactions and experiences to fuel a lifetime of recollections, Brambilla is not exactly holding his breath. The countless inquiries he has had recently for yacht charters and marquee reservations at the usual haunts around the world suggests that the more luxury changes, the more it stays the same. “I really hope that the pendulum for luxury travel doesn’t swing back too much to mindless cookie-cutter consumption,” he says. “I don’t care how rich you are, you shouldn’t be spending a lot of money to do the same thing as everybody else.”

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_14FEAT_Concierge_FINAL.indd 84

10/24/22 1:02 AM


“IT’S BEEN AN ORGY . . . IT’S LIKE ALL THAT MONEY THAT PEOPLE COULDN’T SPEND FOR AGES HAS COME UP TO THE SURFACE, AND [TRAVEL] EXPECTATIONS ARE CHANGING BY THE MINUTE.”

ROSEWOOD CASTIGLION DEL BOSCO: DURSTON SAYLOR; ST BARTHS: JOHN SULLIVAN, BOTH COURTESY FELIX BRAMBILLA

FELIX BRAMBILLA

AHOY THERE! Sailing in style in St. Barths. Opposite page: the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is set in one of the oldest and best preserved estates in Tuscany. NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_14FEAT_Concierge_FINAL.indd 85

85

10/24/22 1:02 AM


At Your Service 11_12_14FEAT_Concierge_FINAL.indd 86

WHETHER IT’S A SCUBA DIVE BETWEEN TECTONIC PLATES IN ICELAND OR AN AFRICAN SAFARI SPANNING FOUR COUNTRIES, THE CONCIERGE HAS IT COVERED. AVENUE PICKS FOUR TO HAVE ON SPEED DIAL

ESSENTIALIST In a Nutshell: “There’s a difference between visiting a place and truly getting to know it,” says Joan Roca, who founded Essentialist in 2016 after spending more than a decade as a leading travel expert in the digital booking space. With offices in New York, Palma de Mallorca, and Mexico City, the company now caters to a clientele of several thousand discerning travelers seeking highly curated destination details. Speciality: Drawing upon their global network of more than 120 noted travel writers sourcing ultra-insider and under-the-radar experiences, as well as a dedicated team of personal travel designers, Essentialist has gained a reputation for its agility in meeting client needs—be it booking a private dinner in a Venetian villa, arranging windsurfing holidays in Mauritius and Tahiti, or ensuring the best of experiences in Japan during cherry blossom season. Recent Requests: Since the onset of the global pandemic nearly three years ago, says Roca, his clients have been booking far longer trips—six weeks or more—where they can work remotely, and, in the case of those with families, partake of meaningful educational experiences with their children. “With standard education having been interrupted for many of our

member families during Covid, they are looking to make up lost classroom time, supplementing their children’s academic education with enriching exposure to history, nature, and culture as part of their travel experience.” Another trend, he says, is simply a desire to get back out into the world—big time. “With travel restrictions being lifted and no shortage of pent-up wanderlust, we are also seeing a spike in demand for ultimate dream destination trips that enable travelers to check off multiple bucket-list items.” A $1,800 annual membership covers travel planning for all members of a single household. essentialist.com

AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE Japan, where travel is now opening up; top: this living room can be enjoyed on a private dahabiya charter cruise of the Nile.

10/24/22 1:02 AM


BLACK TOMATO

COURTESY BLACK TOMATO; COURTESY ESSENTIALIST

In a Nutshell: Black Tomato was founded in 2005 by Tom Marchant, James Merrett, and Matt Smith, three friends who sought to reinvent the way we think about travel by making it experiencedriven, rather than simply destination-driven. “Ultimately,” says Marchant, “we wanted to create a travel company that approached travel by addressing how you want to feel and less about specific and linear ways of thinking about destinations. At its core, it has always been about harnessing travel to provide inspiration and answers to life’s big questions through highly curated and deeply personal travel experiences and rich cultural interactions.” Clientele: “Our clients skew slightly younger than more traditional travel companies— titans from finance, but similarly creative leaders from media, the arts, and technology,” Marchant explains, adding that, “the unifying factor is that they all possess an inherent curiosity and desire for experiences and itineraries that no one else has done and will never be replicated—such as scuba diving between tectonic plates in Iceland. Since we began in 2005, many of our clients have grown along with us, engaging our services time and again as they have started their own families. We, in turn, have developed a deep understanding of luxury travel when it comes to bringing multiple generations together to enjoy jaw-dropping travel itineraries.”

Recent Requests: “The planning process for each of our trips is tailored to the individual traveler’s curiosities and passions, ensuring that no two trips are the same and incorporating high attention to detail for each experience,” says Marchant. “A notable example of this is a trip to the remotest Argentinian Patagonia, where the low light pollution and location’s ‘G eclipse point’ was the best place in the world from which to observe the December 2020 solar eclipse. The two-and-a-half-week family adventure, built around an unforgettable, three-minute moment that no one else has ever experienced, included helicopter transfers to the viewing site, luxury glamping in geodesic dome tents, white water rafting, and the guidance of an astronomer. It is worth noting that we quite literally opened up the country of Argentina for these clients during Covid, when the country was totally closed.”

means we say ‘no’ to a lot of client opportunities, and that we provide a high level of service for people who want their travel designed flawlessly.” In other words, money’s no object in the Local Foreigner stratosphere, and the SoHo-based powerhouse includes on its Independent Contractor roster the likes of Nancy Novogrod, former editor-in-chief of Travel & Leisure and highly esteemed for her insider’s insider tips.

On the Horizon: “Excitingly, Black Tomato has been given the exclusive honor of developing private James Bond-inspired luxury travel experiences in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No, starring Sean Connery, which debuted in 1962. The multicountry European itineraries will start in London, home of the notorious 007, and include a host of artfully curated experiences spanning arts and culture, action and adventure. We will be unveiling full details of the itinerary—an immersive adventure with only 60 limited edition bookable private trips available for purchase—in March 2023.”

Recent Requests: “Everyone is traveling with a vengeance now,” says Novogrod, “and the requests for trips are multigenerational, as well as for honeymoons within those families. One honeymoon I’m organizing at the moment is a fantastic trip to Cambodia and Vietnam that includes a journey on the Mekong River on an Aqua Expeditions yacht.” Adds Lavery, “We’re seeing a lot of clients who want to do bucket-list trips, and Egypt is really big now, after years of not having been safe—Nile cruises are booked up many months in advance. Japan is also in high demand because it’s unique in its culture, food, and its way of going about life.”

No membership fee. blacktomato.com

LOCAL FOREIGNER In a Nutshell: “We’re a team of 30—all women with one man,” says Brooke Lavery, who cofounded Local Foreigner in 2012 with Alexandra Hanover, Barkley Hickox, and Alexandra Erdman Ely, “all highly educated, experienced, kind, and hardworking” when it comes to the type of finely curated, luxury travel now synonymous with the brand. “Our exclusivity is important to the high-end clients we specialize in, which

Speciality: Although Local Foreigner is at the ready with access to grand villas in Portugal, surprise visits in Patagonia, and otherwise impossible-to-land hotel reservations, Lavery says that “we’re for a top tier of clients who want their travel comprehensive.” The firm’s secret ticket, she says, “is our technology. Not that the clients notice it, but a lot of work goes into doing what we do, and our internal technology is the most sophisticated in the industry.”

Local Foreigner charges hourly fees ranging from $100 to $350 depending on the team member assigned, and an upfront retainer is taken at the beginning of the tripplanning process. Once the retainer is exhausted by accrued planning hours, billing is on a monthly basis. localforeigner.com

INDAGARE In a Nutshell: “People feel the need to grab the moment,” Melissa Biggs Bradley, CEO and founder of Indagare, tells Avenue. “They want to hit the tried-and-true, and go to

Italy or Greece or Paris, where they know they’re mixing great art with great hotels and great restaurants, rather than something more esoteric like Indonesia.” Another post-pandemic change, according to Biggs Bradley, is that “traveling is ten times more complicated” and having a luxury travel advisor is now “an absolute essential; people need peace of mind.” To that end, she and her trusted team spend over 100 days a year fanning out across the world scouting the justright, one-of-a-kind trips that she knows will provide a reliable wow factor. Speciality: Founded in 2007, Indagare has a deep bench of advisors who plan and facilitate bespoke trips down to the last detail. The company has recently added sustainable, “impact” trips to its repertoire, sending clients to the Galápagos, Antarctica, Bolivia, Mongolia, and Namibia. A portion of the proceeds of these trips is funneled towards the area’s conservation and community needs—all while the travel itself is carbon neutral. A big ticket in this league is the trip planned for next year to witness the largest translocation of endangered wild animals in South Africa to safety in northern Zimbabwe. Recent Requests: The fashion for the retreat “take over” for families and friends to reconnect is very much on people’s bucket list. Destinations include the Fijian island of Laucala, belonging to Dietrich Mateschitz, the cofounder and owner of Red Bull, or the priceless art-filled Playa Vik and Estancia Vik, the Uruguayan properties of Alex and Carrie Vik. Another “unbelievably popular” request, Biggs Bradley says, is for small, curated group trips to places like the glorious, 12-room Casa Maria Luigia, the guesthouse of the super-chef Massimo Bottura, set in the Emilian countryside, the food valley of Italy. Indagare has two membership levels: the “Self Planner” ($395), which gives you access to Indagare’s perks and competitive rates along with VIP amenities, and “The Custom Planner” ($2,850), an all-bellsand-whistles service with VVIP invitations and trips designed by a “dedicated team.” indagare.com

NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_14FEAT_Concierge_FINAL.indd 87

87

10/24/22 1:02 AM


NOTORIOUS NEW YORKERS

On the eve of the holiday season, Todd Kingston Plummer tells the Scrooge-like tale of billionairess Leona Helmsley, New York’s “Queen of Mean”

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Real estate tycoon Leona Helmsley leaving court after being charged for illegally evading millions in taxes. 88

I

t was a scene out of a Hollywood movie. On a raw March day in New York City in 1992, 71-year-old Leona Helmsley was admitted to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, the very hospital to which her family had donated the Helmsley Medical Tower a few years before. Earlier that day, having been convicted of evading $1.7 million in taxes, a federal judge sentenced her to four years in prison plus 750 hours of community service, and ordered her to pay a $7.1 million tax-fraud fine. Hours after hearing the news, the self-made billionaire collapsed. Her heart

was literally giving out. Just months prior, she had confessed to the gossip columnist Cindy Adams in a rare, televised interview that the stress of the lawsuit was taking a toll. “I cry a lot,” said Helmsley. Hers had been a swift rise, advancing from humble beginnings to become one of the wealthiest women in the world. It was an even swifter descent, creating enemies left and right, eventually earning herself the iconic nickname “Queen of Mean.” But ultimately—despite the society gossip, the press frenzy, the lavish displays of ’80s wealth and excess—who was Leona Helmsley?

ALLAN TANNENBAUM/GETTY

Bah, Humbug!

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_19DEPT_Notorious_FINAL.indd 88

10/24/22 8:32 AM


CELL: MARIO RUIZ/GETTY; MUGSHOT: JIMLOP COLLECTION/ALAMY

Born Lena Mindy Rosenthal to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents in Ulster County, New York, in 1920, she changed her name several times as a young woman before landing on Leona Roberts. She changed husbands several times, too, before finding one that suited her. At 18, having relocated to New York City, she married attorney Leo Panzirer, with whom she had one son, Jay. Leona divorced Panzirer, then went on to twice marry and twice divorce a garment industry executive, Joseph Lubin. By 1960, Leona found herself a thrice-divorced single mother—and the only way to go was up. She eventually gravitated towards that quintessential New York career that can make or break fortunes overnight: real estate. Leona specialized in Upper East Side condos in a period of rapid gentrification for the city when new money was pouring in, turning swathes of rental buildings into condominiums. By the end of the ’60s, she was a self-made millionaire in her own right—and was able to catch the eye of Harry Helmsley, who was a veritable real estate legend of the era, managing some of Manhattan’s top commercial properties, including the Empire State Building. In 1972, having divorced his wife of 33 years, the way was cleared for Harry and Leona to marry, becoming one of the wealthiest and most talked-about couples in New York society. Their romance was not without its hitches, however. Leona had encountered her first real spat of drama in 1971, when several of her tenants sued her for forcing them to buy condominiums. As part of the judgment, her real estate license was suspended. But luckily for Leona, her marriage to Harry arrived at just the right time: she joined Harry’s company as an executive and began working on his growing hotel business. In 1981, the defining tragedy of her life occurred, one which would haunt her for decades and which ultimately cemented her legacy as the “Queen of Mean.” Her only son, Jay, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 42. Jay’s widow and child, who lived in a property that Helmsley’s business owned, were evicted soon after his funeral, for reasons that remain unclear. Helmsley also sued her son’s estate for money she alleged was a loan, and a court awarded her almost $150,000 after years of litigation. With no son to live for, and a troubled relationship with his widow and heirs, there was nothing left for Leona to love except her husband, her career—and her money. By the end of the ’80s, Leona Helmsley oversaw about 30 hotels, including the Park Lane Hotel and the Helmsley Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue (today the Lotte New York Palace). She appeared in advertising campaigns for the hotels, posing tongue-in-cheek as a queen, sometimes wearing tiaras. But with this corporate success, a public fascination followed, and so did a miserly reputation. Leona became known for firing staff on the spot if beds were not made properly or lampshades were crooked, and for creating what, by any modern measure, would be called a hostile work environment. Rumors of her tax avoidance began to swirl. A number of contractors and vendors during this

WHAT A MUGSHOT Right: Leona Helmsley photographed by the United States Marshals Service in 1988 at the age of 67. Below: the federal prison cell in which she served approximately 18 months.

SHE FAMOUSLY TOLD A HOUSEKEEPER, “WE DON’T PAY TAXES; ONLY THE LITTLE PEOPLE PAY TAXES.” period claimed that the Helmsleys often paid invoices late, if they paid them at all. Leona allegedly ordered a jeweler to rewrite a bill to save herself four dollars in sales tax, and would often purchase jewelry in New York City and carry the baubles home, only to have empty jewelry boxes shipped to an address in Florida to ostensibly avoid sales tax. During this period she famously told a housekeeper, “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes.” In 1988, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Rudy Giuliani indicted Leona and Harry Helmsley for illegally evading $4 million in taxes, in a scheme that included billing renovations of their personal home in Connecticut to the hotel business, and using furniture purchased through the business for their homes. By the time the trial concluded, and she was sentenced four years later, her legacy as the stingy “Queen of Mean” had been cemented forever. Leona Helmsley served 21 months, 18 of which were spent in federal prison. After her release, she drifted into isolation and obscurity, estranged from most of her family and with very few friends. When Harry died in 1997, he left his entire $5 billion estate to her. As New York does not allow convicted felons to hold liquor licenses, she was forced to give up

control of the Helmsley hotels empire, and she spent her final years largely alone with her dog in a penthouse atop the Park Lane Hotel. There were still the odd incidents here and there—such as in 2002, when a former employee sued Helmsley for firing him solely because he was gay. A jury sided with the former employee, and a judge ruled that Helmsley pay him over $500,000 in damages. Eventually, Leona Helmsley passed away from congestive heart failure at the age of 87 in 2007. Although the “Queen of Mean” lived a melodramatic life of dizzying highs and heart-wrenching lows, the final years of her life were marked by enormous charitable donations which suggest a sort of penance: she donated $5 million to help the families of New York City firefighters and police after September 11th; she left $25 million to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for medical research; and she famously established a $12 million trust fund for the care of her beloved Maltese, Trouble. But even in death, Leona made it clear that crossing her had painful consequences, both emotional and financial. For reasons that still are not widely known today, the billionairess left nothing to two of her four grandchildren, nor anything to her estranged daughter-in-law. Her remaining two grandchildren received cash gifts of $5 million each—and that’s still less than the dog got. NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022 | AVENUE MAGAZINE

11_12_19DEPT_Notorious_FINAL.indd 89

89

10/24/22 8:32 AM


ON THE

Lizzie Asher and Anne Fitzpatrick

MAMBO ITALIANO Bring out the gowns! Save Venice held its 50th anniversary Venice Gala, the Il Ballo d’Oro Anniversary Ball, at the Palazzo Pisani Moretta.

PHOTOS BY BFA

Joy Dinsdale

Ryan Lithgow with Isabella, Staci, and Tony Capuano

11_12_SEEN _FINAL.indd 90

Diana de Olazarra, Adelina Wong Ettelson, and a guest

10/24/22 9:31 AM


Nelson Byrd Woltz

Chiara de Rege, Keita Turner, Courtney McLeod, Michelle Murphy, and Robert Ventolo

DECORATED DECORATORS The Decoration & Design Building honored the biggest and most promising names in New York interiors at its annual Stars of Design and Stars on the Rise awards. The ceremony was held in the D&D’s 14th floor event space, where guests had a chance to drink and mingle amid live music and gorgeous views of Manhattan.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAWLOR MEDIA GROUP

Brian Kraft and Katrina Vonnegut of Vonnegut/Kraft

Laura Haleman

11_12_SEEN _FINAL.indd 91

John Beckmann of Axis Mundi

SPRING 2020 | AVENUE MAGAZINE Kervin Brisseaux

91

10/24/22 9:31 AM


Krista Corl

Lucinda May, Lizzie Bailey, Anne Manice, and Missie Rennie

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK The sun was out and the weather was delightfully warm when the Central Park Conservancy held its 2022 Women’s Committee Fall Luncheon. The event raised over $360,000 to manage and restore Central Park and its programs.

PHOTOS BY BFA

Lillie Howard and Paige Betz

Lara Meiland-Shaw and Gigi Stone Woods

11_12_SEEN _FINAL.indd 92

Yesim Philip, Gillian Miniter, and Muffie Potter Aston

Gillian Hearst

10/24/22 9:31 AM


Angela Clofine and Jenny Price

Patti Fast and Sharon Jacob

Betsy Smith and Kathleen Tait

11_12_SEEN _FINAL.indd 93

Chani Churchill, Kate Lauprete, Mimi Crawford, and Darice Fadeyi

10/24/22 9:31 AM


PHOTOS BY BFA

Annabelle Dexter-Jones

Nicola Bulgari and Katie Holmes

11_12_SEEN _FINAL.indd 94

Linda Fargo and Waris Ahluwalia

10/24/22 9:31 AM


Padma Lakshmi and Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Sarita Choudhury

CHIC TO CHIC New York’s fashion set had a busy fall of cocktail parties. Fanciful gatherings included the launch of Stella McCartney’s brand, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Staud’s store opening celebrations, and Bulgari’s 50th anniversary in America party.

Stella McCartney and Wendi Murdoch

Samuel Hine and Ella Emhoff

11_12_SEEN _FINAL.indd 95

Michael Avedon, Jon Batiste, and Hannah Bronfman

10/24/22 9:31 AM


SOCIAL SKILLS

Dear Annelise, I am hosting a Yuletide dinner party for eight. My friend is bringing a billionaire she has been dating for six months and is desperate to impress. He has a reputation for being extravagant, opinionated, and a foodie. Help! What should I serve, and any tips on who I should seat him next to?

Ask Annelise Avenue’s new agony aunt, Annelise Peterson, solves your social dilemmas in time for the holiday season

Sincerely, Harried Hostess Sounds to me as if your friend is dating a plateful, and now he’s being served at your apartment on a silver platter! It’s not wise to comment on who she dates, unless she asks, and it is also not your duty to impress him. Part of the process of getting to know someone is to interview. Just be yourself and put your best food forward—nothing more. If this opinionated billionaire gives you a hard time about what you serve and where he’s seated, perhaps your friend may find his dollars far from delicious when appetizers arrive with a bad attitude. Being open-minded and inclusive is both stylish and cool—characteristics of a gracious guest that can’t be acquired through a bank account.

Dear Annelise, I have a senior job in fashion and during the holiday season I get sent a lot of free stuff from designers. I have a very specific style and won’t wear most of it. Is it unethical to regift, and if not, what are the rules of regifting to junior staff? Yours, Fifth Avenue Fashionista I believe that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If you feel your junior staffers will like these holiday goodies, why not let them reap the rewards of your picky personality! The only caveat is to make sure they know it’s a regift. Full transparency, giving credit to the design house for their seasonal generosity, doesn’t cost a thing and will spare you any unnecessary embarrassment. Heaven forbid they try to return it or the item gets confiscated off The RealReal!

Best regards, CEO with a Shopping SOS Have you thought to ask your stellar PA her current holiday craving? I find the greatest gift givers are also impeccable listeners. Feeling heard is as close to feeling loved—they’re almost inseparable! Improve your CEO inquiry skills. Let your personal assistant know your desire to acquire a present that truly reflects your gratitude. You may be surprised that the real gift is your expressed appreciation of her hard work and great taste. As I say to my children, toys break—sentiments last a lifetime. 96

GUTTER CREDITS TKTKTKTKTKTKTKTK;

I run a business with a lot of female employees. I always ask my PA to organize their holiday gifts, as she has impeccable taste, but I have to choose her gift myself. Last year the scented candle went down like a lead balloon. Do you have any suggestions?

NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES FOR TIFFANY & CO.

Hi Annelise,

AVENUE MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER—DECEMBER 2022

11_12_16DEPT_Social_Skills_FINAL.indd 96

10/27/22 1:05 PM


LE MERIDIEN DANIA BEACH AT FORT LAUDERDALE AIRPORT ON THE DCOTA CAMPUS 1825 Griffin Road Dania Beach, FL 33004 T +1 954 920 3500 lemeridiendaniabeach.com

Le Meridien AD 0111222.indd 11

N 26° 03’ W 80° 09’ DESTINATION UNLOCKED

10/24/22 10:45 AM


29 East 73rd Street, New York www.ivarjewelry.com +1 (917) 742 9538

IVAR AD 0111222.indd 11

10/24/22 10:37 AM


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.