READY, JET SET, GO THE HOTTEST WINTER RESORT —3 HOURS AWAY GRETTA 2.0 GIRL MEETS WORLD. GIRL RULES WORLD. GIRL GETS FAMILY. AND STILL RULES.
HOW TO GET AS GOOD AS YOU GIVE
THE DEATH OF FINE DINING? MING TSAI PREDICTS THE FUTURE OF BOSTON'S HIGH-END RESTAURANTS STANDOUT SIRENS FESTIVE DRESSING NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
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CONTENTS & DEPARTMENTS
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
COUP DE GRÂCE // EYE OF THE STORM
Every day, Brazil-born Andreza Andrade oversees the toniest frappe of international style in all Boston at the Four Seasons’ Bristol Lounge.
SOCIETY // THE FRONT ROW
Who wore what, when, and why. And more importantly, how they made the party better for it.
WANDERLUST // one city, two worlds
The three-hour flight from Logan makes winter weekend jaunts to San Juan—the old, the new, and everything in between—irresistible.
CURATED // HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
Our motley crew of local tastemakers and COUP Boston editors reveal the goods they’re dying to get (and okay fine, to give) this holiday season.
TABLE // THE fine dining shakeout
Chef Ming Tsai built his reputation around his elegant restaurant, Blue Ginger. Now he’s declared fancy schmancy eating all but defunct. Has one of fine dining’s biggest executors become its ultimate executioner?
ARMOIRE // haute for the holidays
Somewhere beyond the perfunctory L.B.D. lies a higher plane of holiday party dressing. Make it bold, graphic, slinky, or simply pretty. As long as it’s pretty extraordinary.
ON THE COVER MAGGIE INC.'S KAYLA M., LENSED BY CORY STIERLEY. STYLED BY JOSEPH GORDON CLEVELAND. HAIR BY MICHAEL TYLER TRIFILO, MARIO RUSSO. MAKEUP BY JOANNA PETIT-FRERE. DRESS BY BOSTONBASED DESIGNER TATIANA CUEVA. ALL JEWELRY FROM TWENTIETH CENTURY LTD.
letter from the editor
THE BE ALL, END ALL FINALES GET A BUM RAP. Endings hint at dolor. And goodbyes (even when not just plain awkward) usually go down with at least a smidge of melancholia. And yet, come the year’s end? Not a tear in sight. We light lights, pop bubbly, eat more pâté than should probably be legal, swap extravagant gifts, and zip ourselves into silk and sequins. Now, we at COUP Boston are hardly traditionalists. But conventions as juicy as those above deserve more than a polite curtsy. Thus we’re dedicating the entirety of our Holiday Issue—our final of 2012—to toasting a great number of worthy ends. And in so many ways: by opting for unexpected, standout ensembles for the festivities (“Haute for the Holidays,” page 50); by tallying up a roster of downright magnificent presents (in our holiday gift guide on page 23); and setting Bostonians up for a gloriously sunny midwinter escape that’s a mere three-hour nonstop flight—but feels like a world away— the editor, alexandra hall, from Logan (scope out the new face of Old wouldn't mind taking all her holiday presents now. thanks. San Juan on page 14). In other pages, our socio-zeitgeist compass directed us to take a critical look at another kind of end—the decrease in fine dining restaurants in Boston. Holidays are, of course, the ultimate incubator for eating, drinking, and merriment. But given the new prominence of casual-yet-serious neighborhood restaurants, we chose to reassess the current state of how we eat and drink, and what makes us merry. And there are few better harbingers than the new path of chef Ming Tsai, one of upscale eating’s most significant, longtime
proponents (“The Fine Dining Shakeout,” page 36). One thing we’ll never want to see come to an end: the magnificent first year this magazine has seen. All the standard self-congratulatory puffery aside, we launched in spring of ’12, and the rest of the year saw a mere sliver of the COUP Boston agenda. The next phase will come in ’13, which we’ll start off by no longer publishing just quarterly, but ten issues per year (to sign up for your free digital subscription, click HERE, if you haven’t already). Then we’ll push on by expanding our print distribution (sorry, trees), and most importantly, pushing digital media to new levels. Readers can look forward to embedded original video in every issue, as well as integrated social media linking it all up with the best, most creative events in town. And that’s merely the beginning. So, hey, if closing out 2012 means getting at all that good stuff, then bring it. Like Seneca mused back in midfirst century Rome, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” And yes, I’m well aware Semisonic crooned that line too, the thieves. But let’s just turn a blind eye to that one. Because if there’s one way to make any finale truly grand, it’s to let go of any of the stupid crap (case in point) that happened along the way to closing time. Merry Hanukkah, Happy Christmas, and a Radical New Year. See you again in January—and after that, much more often.
Alexandra Hall Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexandra Hall Editor-in-Chief Joseph Gordon Cleveland Creative Director Austyn Ellese Mayfield Managing Editor Michael Blanding Editor-at-Large MICHAEL TrOTMAN Copy Editor Contributing Writers Katherine Bowers AMANDA HARK, ROBIN HAUCK Jolyon Helterman, bernard leed Erin BYErS Murray Lisa Pierpont Contributing Photographers Joel Benjamin, Daniel Bleckley Conor Doherty, Tim Gilman Tristan Govignon, sabin gratz christopher huang, ERIC LEVIN russ mezikofsky, BOB PACKERT COrY STIErLEY, dan watkins Jessica Weiser Art & Design Interns OLIVIA CArTLAND caitlin coyne SYDNEY KIrSTEN alexa robertiello Editorial Interns MADELEINE DAILEY Shanique Fowlkes BASIA GOrDoN felipe nascimento kelsey prisby CHERYL KAUFMAN Senior Client Manager TO ADVErTISE, CONTACT email@example.com
200 Stuart Street | EmeraldUltraLounge.com
20 PArK PLAZA, SUITE 1105 BOSTON, MA 02116
center stage Andrade surveys The Bristol. Kenneth Jay Lane Necklace, $1,500, at Twentieth Century Ltd. Manolo Blahnik Pumps, $815, at Neiman Marcus. 8
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � COUP DE GRÂCE
eye of the storm
Every day, Brazil-born Andreza Andrade oversees the toniest frappe of international style in all Boston at the Four Seasons’ Bristol Lounge. Meanwhile, she herself exudes but one message: You got served. BY alexandra hall �� PORTRAIT BY CORY STIERLEY
“IT ALL HAPPENED SO QUICKLY,” says Andreza Andrade of her post as general manager of The Bristol (a.k.a. Boston’s living room). “I applied for the job at 4 p.m. one night, got a call one hour later, and was interviewing with four people for five hours the next morning.” She started the job exactly one week later—two and a half years ago—and they haven’t let her out of their sight since. Nor, apparently, will anyone else who frequents the joint. It could be her easygoing nature, her polyglot efficiencies (she’s a conversational font in Spanish, Portuguese, and English), or the fact that the twentysomething came to America one decade ago armed with a degree in psychology… neither of which is exactly a handicap in the hospitality industry. Or, just as easily, it might be her preternatural ethereal looks. (She is, after all, a born Brazilian.) Not that she’d ever admit as much. “I just love clothes, is all. And always have an eye for what looks good on me. My body type is curvy. So that means I can’t wear everything that looks good on a clothes hanger.” Her antidote? Simple: always knowing precisely where to stop. “I don’t wear things that are too short or tight. Right above the knee is the perfect skirt length for me. I just choose my boldness in colors, lace, and florals, and interesting textures,” she says. Meanwhile, along with knowing her limits comes knowing how to play the odds. “I’m only 5’4,” she says. “So I wear only very, very high heels. Never less than four inches. I refuse to wear flats. People ask me, How do you work eight hours on your feet in heels? Easy,” Andrade deadpans. “Platforms.” Tricks like that come in handy after she’s checked in at 9 a.m. for hotel operations meetings, then hit The Bristol floor before the lunch rush to execute the rest of the day: everything from coffees with regulars to seeing to the seamlessness of lunchtime service—donning pieces that veer from Anthropologie finds and scores from her treasured vintage shops (she won’t divulge) to Kate Spade. “I have a rotation of outfits,” she says, admitting to the necessity of being more organized than creative in her morning closet selections. “I cannot bore people,” she says. “They can never say, ‘Oh, I saw her wearing that two weeks ago.’ So I have my outfits on a schedule. Meaning I choose what I love most and then make sure I don’t repeat them anytime soon.” That bit of refreshing honesty does not, however, mean she doesn’t still face—and glare—down her wardrobe every once in a while. “Anything I can see wearing with confidence, anything I can feel good in? I can make it work,” Andrade says. Easier preached than done, as any self-aware clothes lover can attest. But it’s a mission Andrade soaks up inspiration for throughout the workday. “I see so many Europeans come into The Bristol, and no matter what they’re wearing, it’s less about that and about confidence,” she insists. “Those of us calling Boston home, we may not have that same sense all the time like Europeans do, but from what I see, every day we do have it more and more.” Shot on location at the bRISTOL LOUNGE, FOUR SEASONS BOSTON Hair by jill colwell, stacey frasca studio 28 Makeup by stacey frasca, stacey frasca studio 28
SOCIETY � COUP BOSTON � HOLIDAY 2012
THE FRONT ROW
There’s been no shortage of finery about town lately—starting last month when local fashion fiends congregated at The Bond Model Quest (COUP Boston was a partner), where stunner Katia Lopes took first place and scored herself a modeling contract with the hotel. Then it was tuxes and floor-length numbers galore at The Storybook Ball, which filled the MFA, and further decorated its already stunning halls. BY LISA PIErPONT
the bond MODEL QUEST BOND at the langham OCTOBER 7, 2012
DORIS YAFFE (BOTTOM LEFT, AT LEFT)
The humongo glasses say it all: Doris Yaffe does things big. But never black. “I never wear it!” she asserts. Navy? “Only when I go to Paris.” But back to the glasses: “They are Dolce & Gabbana, and I have eight pairs.” Her animal-themed blouse was a gift from Indonesia from her sister-in-law, the crystal-ball drop earrings were snagged at a vintage shop, and the red and yellow Lucite bangles are by Alexis Bittar. “I really don’t buy new clothes anymore. I just add modern accessories,” she explains. And a constant trademark tan. “I always have a tan. Then all I have to do for makeup is outline my eyes with black.” Doris, for anyone unaware, is a Boston fashion icon who launched her career as the director of public relations for designers Alfred Fiandaca and Sara Fredericks, followed by a legendary stint at Saks Fifth Avenue, which was marked by her unprecedented events—such as a Russianthemed fashion show. (“And this was during the cold war,” she recalls. “I always wanted to be a foreign correspondent.”) Luckily for Boston, Doris has remained on our soil, spreading style and no shortfall of confidence: “I make sociological statements before their time,” she asserts.
LESLIE OSBORNE (TOP CENTER, AT RIGHT)
Most people wouldn’t peg the young lass in the bubble-gum-pink baby-doll dress as one of the toughest broads on a professional soccer field. But she is. Leslie Osborne kicks up sheer terror as the captain of the Boston Breakers and as a player for Team USA. “I’m proud and lucky to have represented my country and play professionally.” That said, she loves—and we mean loves— clothes. “Because I am an athlete, you will find me a lot in my workout gear, so when I go out, or am on the sideline broadcasting, I love every excuse to dress up.” Here, she sports a BCBG blazer and a dress from LF (“This color just made me so happy.…”), and an index finger clad in a blown glass ring she picked up in Italy. The Wisconsin native, who became a soccer star at 14 years old, describes her style as preppy and always full of color. “I’m a warm, affectionate, personable, and outgoing person, so all the color I wear probably reflects that.”
ASHLEY BERNON (TOP RIGHT, at left)
It’s about time The Front Row caught up with Ashley Bernon. She’s our hometown cover girl, after all, who splashed across the pages of former Vogue contributor Claiborne Swanson Frank’s book American Beauty as a featured portrait. Not that she ever set out to be a model; it’s just that the veteran best-dressed award winner can’t help but be noticed. To wit: she’s been a top competitive swimmer, opened the most profitable lemonade stand on the set of the film JFK (“Kevin Costner was my first crush—not a bad first crush!”), and graduated on the dean’s list at Babson College. These days, Ashley is a mother of two and full-time volunteer who devotes herself to Goodwill, The Berkshires Hills Music Academy, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and many more. “I volunteer because I love to help.” But what to wear? “I need my clothes to be easy and comfortable yet pretty.” Our lens captured her in a shimmering emerald La Perla bustier (“You guessed it: My husband bought it for me for Christmas.”), black waxed J Brand leggings, and sky-high feather “Mardi Gras-gone-glam” stilettos. (“The shoes are from one of my favorite boutiques in New Orleans, where I grew up.”) Despite her head-turning DNA, Ashley says she focuses on one single goal in life: “To teach my kids how to love unconditionally.”
top left PAM CASSIDY, BETH MILLER top center GRETTA MONAHAN, JOHN ROSS, LESLIE OSBORNE top right ASHLEY BERNON, STACEY FRASCA bottom right HEATHER SEEFELDT, ISABELA FERNANDEZ, SARI BROWN, CONNIE MORAN, KATIA LOPES, EMMA ROBINSON bottom left DORIS YAFFE, COLETTE PHILLIPS photographs by DREA/13 PHOTOGRAPHY
the STORYBOOK BALL benefiting MASS GENERAL Hospital for children AT THE museum of fine arts october 20, 2012 photographs by MATT WEST (TOP LEFT) DR. PETER SLAVIN & LORI SLAVIN; (TOP CENTER) TERRY & TOM HAMILTON; (TOP RIGHT ) KATHERINE O'KEEFFE AND KERRY SWORDS, CO-CHAIRS; (RIGHT MIDDLE) ELENA & TOM MATLACK; (BOTTOM) DR. RONALD KLEINMAN, MARTHA KLEINMAN, SUSAN TREACY, AND DR. JOSEPH VACANTI; (LEFT MIDDLE) BILL & ALLI ACHTMEYER.
two worlds The three-hour flight from Logan makes winter weekend jaunts to San Juanâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the old, the new, and everything in betweenâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;irresistible. BY michael blanding
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � WANDERLUST
SEA WORTHY On the coast of San Juan, La Concha Resort's iconic shell landmark is surrounded by sparkling waters. 15
TOAST OF THE TOWN This page: La Concha's patio melds modern design with natural splendor. Opposite page, above: El Conventoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s butter-yellow facade; below: Exposed mahogany beams above the warm lobby of El Convento. 16
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � WANDERLUST
T STARTED WITH A BANG. Of fireworks, that is. They began mere moments after our arrival at La Concha Beach Resort in the chic San Juan neighborhood of Condado. One minute we were sprawling at the pool, a two-level affair with flowing waterfall and fountains; the next, we were being assaulted by what sounded like ear-splitting cannon fire straight out of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean. When we dropped our drinks and ran to the beach, we were relieved to see not a drunken Jack Sparrow rappelling from a pinnace, but something only slightly less garish: the recession from a beach wedding, with women in pale salmon dresses and men in bright coral shirts dancing down the aisle to blaring pop music and a full fireworks display exploding dangerously near the white-sand expanse. San Juan isn’t known for its restraint, but La Concha is as over-the-top as they come: a nonstop beach party in the guise of a hotel—and a completely different side of a city better known for the romantic cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. It’s a guidebook cliché that [insert city name here] is a blend of old and new, historic and modern. But rarely is the contrast as deliciously distinct as it is in San Juan. In one weekend (the three-hour direct flight makes quick jaunts there irresistible), we experienced two hotels that epitomized the flavor, look, and attitude of these different worlds a mere half-mile apart. CONTinued ON FOLLOWING PAGE >>>
“San Juan isn’t known for its restraint, but La Concha is as over-the-top as they come: a nonstop beach party in the guise of a hotel.”
DETAILS, DETAILS: La Concha Beach Resort 1077 Ashford Ave., San Juan (787) 721-7500 laconcharesort.com Hotel El Convento 100 Cristo St., Old San Juan (787) 723-9020 elconvento.com La Taberna Lupulo 151 Calle San Sebastian, San Juan (787) 721-3772 facebook.com/tabernalupulo JetBlue flies direct from Logan to San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport several times daily. (800) 538-2583 jetblue.com
<<< CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE First, the new: Sure, La Concha’s rooms are sleek and polished, with all-white furniture, cloud-soft beds, and drop-dead views of the ocean from its balconies. But the heart of the hotel is the lobby, which bleeds off into a casino on one side and into the terraced pool area on the other. The lobby is all-white too, with leather banquettes for lounging and a bar in the center. In the afternoon, it’s filled with women in fulllength ball gowns and men in pressed linen shirts. As dusk hits, a DJ sets up shop and begins spinning pounding drum and bass, and the lights dim except for undulating fluorescent colors on the ceiling. In the past few years, the hotel lobbies of the high-rises in Condado and the nearby neighborhood of Isla Verde have become the center of San Juan’s nightlife, with La Concha the center of the center. Women in four-inch stilettos and microskirts begin filling in alongside men with muscles bulging out of their T-shirts (and the odd feckless tourist thrown into the mix). Waitresses in white bring cocktails and $16 sushi rolls to guests, and it’s not long before couples are dancing in the middle of the lobby, or stealing off to find a quiet corner in the dimly lit pool area. It’s worth it to stay up late watching them all, as we did, and then recover the next morning with a couple of lounge chairs on the abutting white-sand beach, one of Puerto Rico’s nicest (which is a little like saying one of Monet’s Water Lilies is one of his prettiest paintings). The next afternoon, we cross the city to a second hotel— El Convento—and find a scene that couldn’t be more different. Coincidentally, another wedding is getting out, this one at the cathedral next door. The bride is dressed demurely in a flowing white gown draped around her feet, while bridesmaids in purple strapless dresses and sensible heels stand by. They stride into the hotel for the reception, crossing black-and-white tile floors past potted palms, antique wooden chairs with backs of tooled leather, and a gigantic faded tapestry depicting Columbus departing for the New World (the explorer first sighted Puerto Rico on his second expedition in 1493). As its name suggests, El Convento is located within a 359-yearold convent building, which seems more museum than hotel. In its own way, El Convento is the heart of Old San Juan as much as La Concha is the heart of new San Juan. Inside, live piano and muted trumpet play while tuxedoed waiters circulate in a giant open-air courtyard ringed with darkened balconies above. Rooms here are just as romantic as the rest of the hotel, all of them individually decorated with exposed mahogany beams and antique Spanish furniture. While it may not have the kind of sublimely excessive nightlife of La Concha, El Convento has its own version: an allyou-can-drink wine and cheese reception every evening at 6, and a 24-hour plunge pool and Jacuzzi located on a balcony overlooking San Juan bay and the old city walls, studded with the city’s trademark sentry boxes. It all overlooks Paseo de la Princesa, a pedestrian street beneath the city walls that bustles with street performers and puertoriqueños of all ages, who pull up chairs at outdoor cafes. Walking past them, we stumble across La Taberna Lupulo, a cheery beer bar that spills out under Christmas lights into the plaza next door. Inside, the high ceilings and dark wood interior seem ageless, but the DJ set up with a laptop in the corner spinning highenergy remixes of Latin jazz and R&B injects a note of modernity… as does the beer list, a multi-page affair full of the best American craft brewers and rows of Belgian varieties. Taking a seat, we lean back and drink in the scene, musing that while sometimes we may prefer Old, and sometimes New, it’s always best when the two blend seamlessly together.
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � WANDERLUST
TRADITION VS. TWIST This page, from top left: The scene in La Concha's sexy lobby by night; El Convento's tranquil terrace; its antiques-filled Spanishinspired lobby; and ultraromantic bedchambers. Opposite page: La Concha offers exquisite views and sleek settings inside and out. 19
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HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � CURATED
holiday gift guide GIVE IT. GET IT. GOT IT? GOOD.
Right, then. Time for a little holiday straight talk. Yes, we know it’s the season of giving. Unbridled altruism. Outpourings of selflessness. And we’re down with all that… mostly. Yet not unequivocally. Because the truth is, giving is never a completely selfless act. Even the most generous people often give things that they love first, and consider the givee’s desires second. And that isn’t as narcissistic as it sounds, either. Why wouldn’t anyone prefer a present that sprang from the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and/or expertise of its giver? Doesn’t that only make receiving the gift that much more serendipitous, not to mention more personal? And so you’ll find the following list an atypical one— filled with discoveries that our motley crew of COUP editors, plus a handful of local tastemakers, wants for themselves as well as for others. Their picks come not from greed, but goodness— partly because we searched high and low to find the things that truly strike our fancy, but also because we know so many people will love every last one. Consider them our gift to you this season. Well, that and the straight talk. Happy getting… and giving.
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � CURATED
2 john ross & don carney
>>> designers and owners of Patch NYC
1. PIG PLATTER BY ASTIER DE VILLATTE “It’s our absolute favorite piece from our new collaboration, created in tandem with the ceramic masters from Astier de Villatte.” $265 at patchnyc.com
2. SEA HORSE FIGURES BY NYMPHENBURG PORCELAIN “Any one of these figures from the Neptune’s Chariot collection would make a beautiful centerpiece on a dark wood dining table. We keep envisioning it surrounded by our collection of vintage candlesticks.” $750 at erbutler.com
3. ROBSJOHN-GIBBINGS KLISMOS CHAIR “We love its combination of clean midcentury modern lines with woven leather cording.” $7,500 at abodeon.com 4. CONVEX EYE BOWL BY JOHN DERIAN “This would be the perfect addition to one of our walls filled with an assortment of eclectic art.” $155 at joannerossman.com 5. VINTAGE SOUTH AMERICAN TEXTILES “We’ve got a soft-spot for colorful textiles, and use them everywhere in our home, from beds and chairs to couches.” $300 at disenobos.com
2 meichi peng
>>> interior designer and accessories designer
1. FRETTE HERITAGE 1860 THROW “A plush cashmere and silk throw adds the kind of luxury and comfort I want in my living room every time I sit down.” $795 at frette.com
2. PENG NO. 9 BACKPACK “I personally train just a few specialized artists to create my handmade bags, which are made of the finest leathers, suede, and linen. So they’re as strong on quality as they are on style.” $1,950 at pengbags.com 3. HERING BERLIN‛S GLAMOUR PLATINUM TEAPOT AND PULS MEDIUM BEAKERS “Taking tea may be a quaint tradition, but this set is through-and-through modern design. It’ll come in handy for warming up family and guests this winter.” $1,032.02 (teapot), $81.38 (mugs) at artedona.com 4. PROMEMORIA WOODEN BOXES “Made from several wood species (sucupira, morado, and ebony) and lined with cream leather interior, these work-of-art boxes are the most all-out luxurious way to stash my favorite goods.” $1,330 at showroomboston.com 5. A WEEK IN ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS “After the craze of the holidays is behind me, I’m dying to leave it all behind for the peace and seclusion of this island, most of which is protected as a nature reserve.” Seven-day Westin Hotel vacation package for two with airfare, $4,000 at tripadvisor.com
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � CURATED
>>> owner of In-jean-ius and Twilight boutiques
1. BOND NO. 9 SCENT OF PEACE “It’s my go-to perfume, and I can always use more. Subtle and sweet, it starts off with energizing grapefruit and black currant notes that soon get balanced by the sheer loveliness of lily of the valley, and the mellowing base notes of cedar and musk.” $180 for 50 ml at bondno9.com
2. BALENCIAGA GIANT VELO BAG “I have had a Balenciaga bag on my lust list for years, and I adore this shade—it’s the perfect pop of color for any outfit.” $1,895 at barneys.com 3. NEW MACBOOK PRO “That’s right, I’m finally jumping on the Apple bandwagon. It started with an iPad a few years ago, and most recently I got my first iPhone. Now it’s time for the true plunge.” $1,199–$2,799 at apple.com 4. TUMI VAPOR CARRY-ON “With this in hand, I can say goodbye to my black carry-on luggage that looks like everyone else’s and turn it up with this cool ‘Energy’ print. A bonus: its polycarbonate shell is tough as nails.” $495 at tumi.com 5. A RESCUE DOG “I think I’m finally mature enough to get a dog of my very own, and this is a way to responsibly adopt pets in need of saving.” $375 at petfinder.com
35 Years of the Best in Beauty Elie&Helena Cohen
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Check our new medspa services at ardanspa.com
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � CURATED
>>> chef-owner of Farmstead Inc.
1. WEFT & WARP KNIFE BAGS “Chef Erik Desjarlais is serving up a new endeavor: He tirelessly hand-stitches the highest caliber of chef ’s tool bags I’ve ever seen.” $90 at weftandwarpseamster.com 2. FARMSTEAD MEAT CLUB “At Farmstead, we hand-cure meats and send them with detailed tasting notes directly to anyone’s doorstep year-round. The program includes six packages filled with three charcuterie selections (like truffle foie gras mousse and goose rillettes) and carefully chosen condiments like apricot-bacon jam and house-cured olives.” $275 for a year membership at farmsteadinc.com
3. FORMATICUM CHEESE PAPER “Wrapping cheese in plastic doesn’t allow it to breathe, so it molds and becomes inedible faster. This paper ensures cheeses will be happy and stored correctly. Bottom line? Love the cheese and the cheese will love you.” $9 at formaticum.com
4. whole beast butchery: the complete visual guide to beef, lamb and pork by ryan farr “Butcher extraordinaire Ryan Farr’s love for meat is contagious, and his skills are of the first-rate, losttradition, dying-craft type. His book covers it all, from a whole carcass breakdown for pros to simple weekend recipes.” $25 at barnesandnoble.com
>>> editor-in-chief, COUP Boston
1. Olive Green Apparel mittens “Soft textures, sweet one-of-a-kind designs, and made by a mother-daughter team from wool salvaged from local thrift stores. That’s warm and fuzzy on three levels.” $55 at olivegreenapparel.com 2. Organic Elements ef 40 C-Biosurge “The season’s biggest showdown (après election, anyway) is my dermis vs. cold, moisture-sapping weather. A daily dash of this serum—pure glycolic acid and vitamin C— sets my skin up to be the victor.” $76 at organicelementsusa.com 3. Clarisonic Aria skin cleansing brush “The original model tackled pores like a dervish; this new one ups that ante with a customizable speed and timer. The effect is a mini facial every single morning.” $199 at clarisonic.com 4. Fiore blood orange olive oil “Its pitch-perfect balance of subtle citrus and deep earthiness has made it one of the secret cooking weapons I run out of constantly. Few things change a salad or marinade so drastically, or deliciously.” $28 at fioreoliveoils.com 5. A donation to Lovin’ Spoonfuls in my name “The next best thing to volunteering at a soup kitchen: redirecting food that goes to waste to people who need a meal. Lovin’ Spoonfuls takes up that charge year-round, and anyone who helps fund them deserves a big holiday hug. Donate at lovinspoonfulsinc.org /donate
HOLIDAY ���� � COUP BOSTON � CURATED
2 joseph gordon cleveland >>> creative director, COUP Boston
1. Petits Richart Collection “A decadent selection of exquisite chocolates, housed in an artisanal wooden vault. So good, they’ll lead you to believe whoever said sharing is caring was an idiot. (And probably a communist.)” $850 at richart-chocolates.com
2. Antique ice slush machine “A conversation starter, for sure, but also a convenient escape from the agony of holiday party small talk.” $650 at mohr-mcpherson.com 3. Yves Saint Laurent shirt “Nothing says, ‘I’m so happy to see you!’ at the family holiday get-together like a shirt printed with razor blades.” $625 at ssense.com 4. Baudelaire primer and mask “For those moments when Uncle Crazy decides to blather on and on about his turn in Vietnam. Cuts sweat and excess oil in a jiffy.” $18 at baudelaire.com.au 5. Casa Elar at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa “An otherworldly escape from the frigid New England winter, with just enough room (nearly 11,000 square feet in a private residence) to escape reality, too.” Price upon request at ojairesort.com
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austyn ellese mayfield >>> managing editor, COUP Boston
1. K Kane 18K gold vermeil necklace “This necklace has my name on it (or my initials at least). Its contemporary take on monogrammed jewelry makes a touch of vanity an attractive quality.” $450 at k-kane.com 2. Moncler S by Sacai cape “North Face? No, thanks. I’ll opt for winter warmth with a touch of Franco-Japanese flair—as in this wool and down coverup.” $1,550 at riccardiboston.com 3. Still River Winery’s Apfel Eis “Sure, cider’s a seasonal staple, but there’s always room for a locally crafted apple ice wine aperitif. Here’s to new traditions.” $25 at stillriverwinery.com
4. Cole Haan Crosby shopper tote “Ice-blue metallic leather and ample carrying space; if Santa were flaunting this bag, he’d be even more jolly when delivering yuletide goodies.” $348 at bloomingdales.com 5. ceramic owl speaker “Whoo knew functional gadgets could be so charming? This little guy will be DJ-ing all my holiday dinner parties.” $49 at westelm.com
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the FINE DINING shakeout For the last 14 years, chef Ming Tsai has built his gastronomic reputation around his celebrated and elegant restaurant, Blue Ginger. Now he’s declared fancy schmancy eating all but defunct. Has one of fine dining’s biggest executors become its ultimate executioner? BY ALEXANDRA HALL �� PORTRAIT BY CORY STIERLEY
SIGNATURE STAPLE Sake- and miso-marinated Alaskan butterfish, a musteat at Blue Ginger.
ing Tsai is schooling the country. No, not our country. And yes, literally schooling. He’s standing in front of a class of students at the Ponta Delgada Hospitality School on Sao Miguel, the largest of the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Concrete walls dotted with buoy-like lights cast an eerie glow and the harbor waters shimmer behind him, lending the impression that he’s on a submarine rather than an island. Stiff-backed men in pinstriped suits—school administrators, mostly—and the WGBH TV crew traveling with Tsai to film the trip scurry and swarm around his demo table. He, however, is more interested in having fun. He’s camping it up for photos in the chef jacket the school gifted him with, cracking jokes about his flimsy grasp on the Portuguese language, and otherwise playing goodwill ambassador—which is foremost, after all, why he’s here: as a chef the U.S. has sent abroad to bridge cultures through food, under Hillary Clinton’s recent American Chef Corps initiative. Then cameras roll. The consummate—and constant— showman, Tsai talks a fluid stream as he begins tea-smoking a gargantuan filet of amberjack fish. He seems to be everywhere at once, striding into the audience to show off how the tea is smoking, rushing back to filet the fish, adding corn to the rice/tea mixture, and browning Azorean butter. “That’s my fat to make a vinaigrette,” he says. “And this yuzu juice will be my acid.” Then in goes some pimenta da terra—an Azorean red pepper mash. Crosspollination of cultures via ingredients and cooking techniques has been Tsai’s mainstay since he opened his tony Wellesley restaurant, Blue Ginger, in 1998. And this dish is to be no exception. But he saves the best morsel for last, and doles it out as an answer to one of the questions from students. “I like the immediate gratification of making people happy,” he says, sipping a glass of wine. “With more casual restaurants, you don’t risk as much as fine dining, and people still walk out with smiles.” Then a pause. “In the States,” he announces, “fine dining is pretty much over.”
IT'S NO SECRET to followers of Boston food trends that the days of formal—and largely even semiformal—hushed dining rooms have been in decline and bowed to neighborhood spots that instead inspire diners to plunk their elbows on the table and settle in for food that, while still elevated and refined, is offered for better value and with infinitely less fanfare. In the last five 38
years, the waves of midpriced, serious-food, comfy-as-can-be gastropubs, taverns, bistros, lounges, cafés, and trattorias that have opened have been seemingly endless—and their tide has all but swept away most of the big-name, big-ticket heavy hitters that previously dominated. When Excelsior closed almost four years ago, in its place rose the notably less precious Bistro du Midi. We’ve now got chef-owners such as Michael Schlow opening decidedly less expensive, lower-key new places like Tico and Happy’s instead of delving further into the white linen arena (as in his flagship, the acclaimed Radius). When Aujourd’hui at The Four Seasons, with its astronomically priced prix-fixe menus, shuttered in 2009, not only were its regular clientele directed downstairs to the higher-energy, less pricey Bristol Lounge, but the last executive chef at its helm, William Kovel, left to open Catalyst, the far funkier spot over in Kendall Square. Then again, several local survivors do exist. Chef Barbara Lynch, even after spawning a cluster of casual neighborhood spots from The Butcher Shop to lunch-counter concepts like Sportello, still fills seats at No. 9 Park and the exquisite Menton, Boston’s biggest entry into fine dining in years—and the city’s sole place to be designated a Relais & Châteaux Property. Meanwhile, two other stalwarts have all but reinvented themselves: L’Espalier relocated from its previous townhouse digs to a sleeker space in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. And the previously unabashedly upscale Clio has been de-formalized and made over with a cooler bar area that rolls more seamlessly into a less-stiff dining room. “People just don’t want stuffy dining anymore,” says Clio chef-owner Ken Oringer. “They want to go where they’re going to relax and have a fun night…. I’ll never open another multimillion-dollar restaurant again.” But in all of these evolutions, one man has been noticeably absent: Ming Tsai. He, alongside many of the above chefs plus others like Jody Adams and Todd English, was chief among the first crew of nationally known media-savvy chefs, who, starting in the ’90s buoyed Boston into the national food spotlight. For Tsai, that meant regular TV spots like his first show, East Meets West on the Food Network, plus current runs like Ming’s Quest on the Fine Living Network and Simply Ming on PBS, and a spate of three cookbooks. And the foundation of it all is Blue Ginger, which has been decorated with awards by everyone from Esquire to James Beard, and while never at the level of formality of Aujourd’hui, it has been one of Boston’s most lauded, ambitious, and at an average of $35 per entrée, pricey restaurants. His menus there and on TV, typically an East-West take on dishes, carved out his space in that pantheon of kitchen wizards. But just when you thought he’d cling to tuna tartare and soy-marinated butterfish as his signature dishes for life, he’s now back—with not only a downtown Boston Asian gastropub he’s named Blue Dragon (opening in the first quarter of 2013), but also with a renewed obsession for pushing the kinds of ingredients he uses on his menus via international globe-trotting (as witnessed by his latest trip to the Azores, and Dublin—the latter of which inspired his gastropub concept). Alongside those departures: a new tech-savvy cookbook and, it seems, a serious cocktail fixation. Coming from Tsai, do these turns signify still further marginalization of fine dining in our city—or even its death
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knell? It’s a worthy question, when one of the genre’s oncebiggest bellwethers turns the corner into mixology-centric casual eating. But to hear Tsai tell it, that depends on where that corner leads. SITTING ON A SOFA IN SAO MIGUEL after a long day, Tsai leans back, clearly spent. For much of the afternoon, he’s been making cozido das furnas, a hearty Azorean stew that gets cooked underground in the geothermal heat of the volcanic island. (And yes, for the record, that’s exactly how he cooked it.) A waiter materializes and sets down a sashimi of guellyjack fish that was just today caught off the island’s west coast, plated on a slice of slate and daubed with green bean purée and mustard seed compote and scattered with red pepper. “We’re going to supply a QR [quick response] code with every recipe,” he enthuses, describing his just-launched book, Simply Ming in Your Kitchen. “So the ingredients will go straight to your shopping list.” That code also takes readers to an online video of the chef preparing each recipe, which they can follow along as they cook. An engineering major at Yale undergrad, he describes his embrace of new media as a “full circle” return to those days. “I love to cook and I love to teach,” he says. “Cookbooks are one of the best ways I can do this…. I am literally and virtually now in people’s kitchens, helping every step of the way. There’s a whole new generation that’s grown up in the digital world. We want to explore new ways to engage with them, and of course, inspire them to start cooking.” The book also includes cocktail recipes (the likes of sake cucumber martinis and passion fruit mai tais)—a first for any of his publications, even since he added a bar/lounge area to Blue Ginger in 2008. Why suddenly bring the bar into the cooking equation? Cocktails, he notes, “are quickly becoming a critical element in a restaurant’s overall appeal. When you think of it,
OUT OF THE BLUE Above: The dining room of Tsai's flagship restaurant, Blue Ginger. Below: Garlicblack pepper lobster with lemongrass fried rice.
“Honestly, I’m a B-list celebrity,” says Tsai. “I know that. And I can’t be everywhere at once, and I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish.” they’re part of the total dining experience. There’s now a real pride and effort with chefs today to craft something special. [They’re] thinking about it as an element of the entire menu— with quality ingredients—to deliver the complete meal from start to finish.” Which inevitably begs the question of providing all the start-to-finish service elements of fine dining. The valet. The 16-page wine lists. The delicate dinner plates. The starched linens and four-servers-per-table production. “Fine dining [is] very much still alive,” Tsai replies at first, in a later conversation. “There are some amazing restaurants—Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Per Se, Daniel Boulud, or Jean-Georges in New York.” And in Boston? “It’s Radius and Clio,” he answers. And yet, as noted above, Clio’s Oringer and Radius’s Schlow have themselves taken different routes of late when opening recent ventures. CONTinued on following page >>> 39
FOOD NETWORKING Tsai’s recent trip to the Azores was part culinary mission, part cultural exchange. .
<<< CONTinued FROM PREVIOUS PAGE Says Oringer, “My new places
are the opposite of what I did when I first opened Clio.” The early years there, he says, were “a show to keep people happy. Now I can do that without superfancy dinners, and we can make money quickly and pay off our investors. Who wants to wait five years to pay off investors? That’s more about ego than great food.” Instead, he sees big value (and crowds) at neighborhood joints like Toro and Coppa. And his forthcoming restaurant in New York hasn’t a whiff of grandeur about it: in fact, it’s another version of Toro. Chefs like Menton’s Barbara Lynch and L’Espalier’s Frank McClelland, meanwhile, still believe strongly in the role fine dining plays. “It’s as important to have great little ethnic joints as it is to have truly outstanding fine dining restaurants for a city to be a world-class destination,” says Lynch. For McClelland’s part, he cites the desires of diners out there looking to toast special occasions. “Certainly new restaurants are trending towards more casual food and informal environments, but those places are easier to open, cost less money to build, and a lot less money to maintain,” he says. “It’s a smart move for the restaurateurs, and the customers are obviously responding positively.” That said, even he is eyeing the less fancy realm for future openings. “The next steps I take will be more casual…. A lot of people love L’Espalier, but you can’t go there every week.” Developments like these are hardly lost on Tsai. Of all the new restaurant openings, he says, “Very few seem to be fine dining concepts…. Lifestyles today are a little more casual, so it’s no surprise these new concepts follow suit.” And of course, there’s always the uncertainty of the economy. “Today, there’s more attention to people's wallets.” And yet, he insists, the public craving for what he referred to earlier in his class as immediate gratification endures. “It’s the Cheers effect,” he says. “People become loyal, they come back. Some of my best friends I’ve met because of Blue Ginger, and I’m sure the same is going to happen with Blue Dragon. People having a great time and great food happens just as easily when they’re spending less money in an informal place.” Notably less expensive, his new spot will “be serious food, but wrapped in a casual, comfortable atmosphere,” with a menu that reroutes his previously broader repertoire of Chinese and Japanese 40
cuisine met with French toward Irish pub sensibilities—Asian sloppy joes and banh mi will be menu definites. And yes, with more emphasis on cocktails. To many cooks, that’s a combination of unexpected, if not strange, bedfellows. But this is the guy whose greatest confidence has always been born from mixing things up. “Honestly, it seems like such a natural pairing,” he says. “I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before.” LEANING FORWARD ON THE SOFA of the Ponta Delgada School, Tsai stops talking and seems to mull the immensity of the order he’s put before himself. Tomorrow at 6 a.m., he’ll fly to another of the Azorean islands for more filming before embarking on a multi-week tour for the cookbook, and then launch right into Blue Dragon’s opening. He thinks a moment, then flashes a grin. “Honestly, I’m a B-list celebrity,” he says. “I know that. And I can’t be everywhere at once, and I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish.” To that end, he falls asleep every night by midnight (“in about 60 seconds”) and has painstakingly orchestrated the day-to-day management of Blue Dragon to his trusted team, led by partner Sean Gildea, chef Tom Woods, and general manager Sarah Livesay. Delegation like that is a personal initiative as much as a professional one. “Every decision I ever made was made at the dinner table. Why did I get hired, fired, who am I dating—all around the dinner table.” And even in the midst of travel, show tapings, and now a restaurant to open, he always aims to be home with family as often as possible. “There’s nothing more romantic than cooking dinner for your wife,” he says, some 2,400 miles from home. “Food always tastes better when you eat with people you love, where you can breathe easy and relax.” It’s a sentiment most diners would echo right now. The fate of fine dining may be uncertain; the winds of public taste have always blown back and forth, and with them, diners’ proclivities. But for now, they’re circling a less extravagant place—and Tsai finds himself happy to morph with them. “Everything has been done,” he says. “Almost every food idea has been put out there. So all I can say to myself is, Hey, a good chef strives to be better. A great chef teaches. I push as hard as I can on both of those. And I go with the flow,” he shrugs, “or I’d go nuts.”
screen siren Style mogul Gretta Monahan, conqueror of both the Boston beauty biz and national TV.
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PARTNER SPOTLIGHT //
QUICK-CHANGE ARTIST With near-constant national TV gigs, a burgeoning beauty and fashion empire under her wing, and a fledgling family life thrown in to boot, Boston native Gretta Monahan is these days wearing as many hats as she is Jimmy Choos. PORTRAITS BY CORY STIERLEY
THE BOUNCY HOUSE IS PLAGUING GRETTA. It’s Wednesday morning; Sunday is her 2-year-old Kai’s birthday. And for everything Monahan has built and accomplished over the years, one thing she’s never done before is throw a toddler fete. (Her pal Rachael Ray threw Kai’s last year—which “makes it that much more intimidating to do this next one,” quips Mom.) So before the media Svengali steps in front of any more cameras, before another plane gets boarded, and before her next fashion event gets executed, there is the problematic matter of fitting a gigantic bouncy house into a SoHo loft party space. “This is proof that you can manage 130 employees and seven stores,” she says, “and still be stressed out about planning a toddler’s birthday party.” Sitting in her kitchen in Jersey City with coffee and an iPad since 6:30 a.m., Monahan is readying her mental forces for the rest of the day before Kai wakes up and starts doing his 2-year-old duty: jumping all over her. By 10, she’ll have taken a restorative walk along the Hudson with him and installed him with the nanny so she can execute Skype meetings and bicoastal conference calls, and then run to downtown Manhattan to film for the Rachael Ray show, on which she’s the resident style guru. “Being a mom is always trial and error,” she says. “I’ve had to figure out the hard way that I just couldn’t get to everything.” EVERYTHING, IN MONAHAN'S CASE, means almost exactly that—far more than even the hardiest Superwomen generally take on. For starters, she’s president and CEO of Gretta Enterprises, the empire of industry-leading luxury salons and spas (Gretta Cole), plus a clothing boutique (Gretta Luxe) that’s a veritable treasure trove of international designers—the cluster of them spanning Boston, the ’burbs, and reaching into Connecticut. As a TV personality and style expert, she’s been a regular on TLC’s Makeover Show, a co-host on the second season of Bravo’s Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, and is in her seventh season as the in-house
“I want to become an institution that stays,” says Monahan. “That’s how I build community.” style expert on The Rachael Ray Show. She pops up constantly on a handful of morning shows, from The Today Show to Kelly & Regis. Oh, and she’s currently working on a how-to stylebook, due out next fall. And now, as a new mom and life partner to Emmynominated actor Ricky Paull Goldin (originally of All My Children fame, he’s since founded the production company Goldline NY/ LA and seen his home design talents land him a new HGTV series that he’s filming in New England), she’s also taken on the role of an Olympic-level juggler. All of the above has taken Monahan on the road—and away from her home in Boston. That left many here who saw her on TV wondering if she was still committed to her Boston businesses. “It was incredibly tough for a while,” she says. “I was living in California, coming back to the East Coast, to New York and Boston every week to stay on top of the salons and stores.” All of which was necessary, of course, while firing up her TV presence, but even more so while firing up her love life. “The biggest thing you have to accept if you fall for someone in the arts is they have to go where the work is—whether that’s West Coast or East.” Thanks to Goldin’s new show, the latter is where the trio has settled now, with a much more workable commute: between LaGuardia and Logan. “Ricky’s filming in Boston today and comes back tonight,” Monahan explains. Tomorrow they’ll switch; he’ll stay with Kai and she’ll go to Boston. “Even when we don’t get to see each other for days at a time, this is still so much better than before. I get to be back home so much more and have my hands in the businesses.” CONTINUED ON FOLLOWING PAGE >>>
working girl clockwise from top left 1. Monahan with her partner, actor Ricky Paull Goldin. 2. Out and about with local designer Daniela Corte. 3. Monahan's son Kai. 4. The couple just before their son’s birth. 5. Monahan and Ricky celebrating Kai's birthday. Photos courtesy of Gretta Monahan.
<<< CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE THAT BUSINESS IS ONE that she takes as seriously as the communities she's built around them. During the economic crisis, for example, she was forced like many entrepreneurs to make some tough decisions. “I don’t know a business on the planet that didn’t have a major shakedown during the economy shift. But you have to be willing to edit, to change, to open, or to move.” The biggest change was her decision to shutter two stores: the Copley Place satellite location of Gretta Luxe, and G Spa City, the highenergy new-concept spa/salon that sat on the first block of Newbury Street. “That Gretta Luxe location felt more like a private atelier than a store, and that’s terrific, but not for the bottom line,” she says. “When the economy crash hit and I saw major national successes like Robert Marc in New York closing, it made more sense to concentrate our resources on renovating and adding new lines to the Wellesley Gretta Luxe.” “It was dramatic in the sense that I’ve never closed a store before. It’s a challenge because people see that happen and their first assumption is that the company’s in trouble. But it was a strategic decision,” she says. Then, at the same time, there was her Connecticut opening— GSpa Resort, her flagship 21,000-square-foot resort spa at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods—that debuted at what she calls the worst time in history, directly during the crash. “It has been the most challenging new business I’ve ever opened. It was my first resort-level spa,” she says. Even so, against all odds of the economy, her hard-core focus and willingness to consolidate resources not only pulled the new operation through, but made it an award-winning, “best of class” operation, and a destination in its own right. “The biggest threat—the biggest stress—of the economy was, How do you take care of your staff? The people who helped me build this business from the ground up are the clients and employees. They’re my family. It's all about protecting and preserving that no matter what. So to be able to come out on the other side and say that we never laid anybody off for the reason of business volume is a huge relief. The people matter most, not how many stores I have in any given year.” Since then, the tide’s turned, and all of her outposts are showing healthy returns. (She’s currently looking at a new location for GSpa City.)
All, that is, except the Chestnut Hill Atrium Gretta Cole location, which she’s lately raised eyebrows with by not closing, even as nearly every other retailer has left the mall during its current transition to a new owner. Her reason for staunchly refusing to shutter it? “We have such a select group of neighborhood clients there who I love, so it just doesn’t make emotional sense to leave them.” Moreover, she has a long-standing relationship with the new owner, who’s rehabbing the building and has earned her faith over the years. “I’ll gamble on someone I trust anytime.” In fact, if there’s one thing she’s learned from the last few tumultuous years, it’s that with loyalty comes staying power. “I know now that I’m a business owner who doesn’t want to deal with my customers in a transient way. I want to become an institution that stays. That’s how I build community.” Community, for Monahan, has become as key as any underlying business strategy. “Those times when everyone needs you and you just can’t answer all of it, and you’re overwhelmed, are traveling and can’t be on-site while you’re trying to make the right decisions.... Well, when I come home and I see my staff settled and happy, and see people whose hair I’ve done for years still there, I know I can rest easy even when I’m away. And all the craziness of my schedule becomes worth it.” AH, YES, THE SCHEDULE: “I have to make decisions faster now,” Monahan reflects. “I don’t have time to obsess anymore. People always said my business would suffer if I became a mom. But I needed to. And I’ve definitely had to change my daily life, but you don’t have to give up everything to have a child.” When she comes home at night, she makes a beeline for Kai. When he goes down to sleep, she and Goldin make dinner. Only after that does her second wave of work begin. “Anyone on my team will do a call with me at 9 p.m. if we need to. It’s not conventional,” she says with a shrug, “but it works.” That schedule, meanwhile, still includes procuring a bouncy house— pronto. “Again, it’s prioritizing,” laughs Monahan. “I said to myself: If we can just manage to get a cake, balloons, a blow-up castle, and wine for my grown-up friends, I’ll consider it a success.”
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Photographs by CORY STIERLEY Art Direction & Styling by JOSEPH GORDON CLEVELAND Hair by MICHAEL TYLER TRIFILO, SALON MARIO RUSSO Makeup by JOANNA PETIT-FRERE Art Director's Assistant ALEXA ROBERTIELLO Models CAROLINE R., MODEL CLUB; KAYLA M., MAGGIE INC. >>> CYNTHIA ROWLEY 164 NEWBURY STREET BOSTON, MA 02116 (617) 587-5240 >>> DANIELA CORTE 211 NEWBURY STREET BOSTON, MA 02116 (617) 608-4778 >>> GALVIN-IZED HEADWEAR 450 HARRISON AVENUE, SUITE 67 BOSTON, MA 02118 (617) 426-4885 >>> LAUREN PASSENTI LPJEWELRYDESIGNS.COM >>> MOXIE 51 CHARLES STREET BOSTON, MA 02114 (617) 557-9991 >>> NEIMAN MARCUS 5 COPLEY PLACE BOSTON, MA 02116 (617) 536-3660 >>> REISS 132 NEWBURY STREET BOSTON, MA 02116 (617) 262-5800 >>> RICCARDI 116 NEWBURY STREET BOSTON, MA 02116 (617) 266-3158 >>> THE TANNERY 711 BOYLSTON STREET BOSTON, MA 02116 (617) 267-5500
>>> TWENTIETH CENTURY LTD. 73 charles STREET BOSTON, MA 02114 (617) 742-1031
211 Newbury St. danielacorte.com
heel, girl Moxie boutique owner Karen Fabbri in her Wellesley retail space.
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PARTNER SPOTLIGHT //
Over the last decade, few people have witnessed (or influenced) the changes in Greater Boston’s taste levels as solidly as Karen Fabbri, owner of the Moxie boutiques on Beacon Hill and in Wellesley. And while she mounted her business on the holy triumvirate of shoes (primarily), bags, and jewelry, she’s now poised to pounce on the realm of clothing. Which, given how the refreshingly honest spitfire has thus far converted so many to her style sphere, ought to leave us all dressing far better. And more importantly, laughing far more often. PHOTOGRAPHS BY CORY STIERLEY
Q: Since opening your first Moxie on Beacon Hill in October of 2001, how have you seen the retail market shift? A: When I opened Moxie on Beacon Hill just after September 11th, I was in a small walk-up space on Charles Street and the focus was primarily shoes, with a peppering of handbags and jewelry. At that time, 90 percent of the shoes I carried were made in Italy and were between $150 and $400. Today, most of the same brands can only offer those prices by being made in Brazil and China (only 10 percent are carried in Italy). Because we and our customers prioritize quality, that’s sometimes meant a switch-up in what we buy, and how we offer it to people. Q: Opening a forward-thinking boutique on Beacon Hill, where people have stereotypically been on the conservative side of style, was a gutsy move, no? A: I remember thinking, when I opened, that my customer would be very preppy and conservative. So I ordered a Pepto-Bismol– pink smoking slipper with a lime green palm tree on it and thought it’d be a hit. (Even though I personally would never be caught dead in it!) So imagine my shock—and secret delight from an aesthetic, though not necessarily economic, viewpoint—when not a soul bought it. It turns out that my customers were much more gutsy than I expected, buying $400 strappy Walter Steiger heels and colorful Cynthia Rowley high wedges. Truly a pleasant surprise, and one that taught me to trust my gut and be less afraid to push my customers. Q: Did it take a lot of work and convincing to build a customer base? A: It was actually easy to develop. Back then, boutique shopping was a special and respected form of shopping. Customers truly appreciated the individual customer service, the attention shopkeepers paid to their merchandise, and the joy of knowing they wouldn't be wearing the same things as everyone else. Sadly, as the economy has gotten worse, the etiquette of boutique shopping has gone out the window. The major department stores have trained consumers to only buy things on sale. And while I understand that consumers are trying to find the best deals, I don’t think they realize that the small businesses they
love walking by are harmed every time they ask us for another discount, or another exception in our return policy, etc. I’m thankful every day that my customers have remained loyal even during the tough times. Not a day goes by when a regular doesn’t stop in to just say hi, get a treat for her dog, or share a piece of personal news. CONTINUED ON FOLLOWING PAGE >>>
<<< CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE Q: You’ve since opened a boutique in Wellesley. What are those regulars looking for? How does that differ from Beacon Hill? A: Our key Wellesley customers aren’t so different from our Beacon Hill core. In fact, many of them once lived on the Hill and we followed them to the ’burbs. She’s a smart, busy mom or professional who’s juggling a million responsibilities and wanting to do it all with style. The biggest difference we’ve seen is that the Wellesley customer isn’t walking by every day (she’s usually driving someone somewhere), so it’s more challenging to cultivate the trust that comes with regular, repeat visitors. Q: What’s the underlying style philosophy you hold on to when orchestrating both stores? A: I firmly believe that fashion should be fun. Every day’s a new opportunity to choose what you want the world to see from you. Fashion is creative, alive, and vibrant. I don’t care if you’re just going to a school pickup; you should feel those ways while doing it. At the stores, I try to keep that idea ever-present. I so love creating a space that’s a feast for the eyes filled with wardrobe possibilities. And the trick is to pick items that are special while still being incredibly wearable. Q: You’ve created your niche so successfully over the years with accessories. Why the foray into clothes at this point? A: I’ve always wanted to add clothing to our regular mix. The size of my Beacon Hill shop doesn’t allow us to do that. Wellesley, however, is a bigger space that clothing fits into naturally. Many of our Wellesley customers had asked if we would expand into clothes, since they loved the idea of going to just one store to put together a complete look. We approached the clothing addition as sort of a pop-up concept. We started small, with only a handful of lines to see if our hunch was correct—that our Wellesley customers who appreciate our design aesthetic would appreciate seeing that come to life in clothing. I’ve been using a quote from Coco Chanel to define why we made this move: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” And you know what? So far, so good. Q: Which lines did you decide to buy and why? A: The most natural jumping-off point was looking at lines we already carry. We love Chan Luu and sell lots of her jewelry and accessories. Her apparel is gorgeous… beaded dresses, gauzy skirts. We love pairing these pieces with a simple T-shirt and pair of cool boots. So special and modern. Rebecca Minkoff is another one of our favorite accessories designers. We sell tons of her bags and are bringing in her shoes for spring. Her readyto-wear pieces are playful and edgy. Her Becky jacket is a wardrobe staple, and as hard as we try, we can’t keep them in stock. We want to present designers that are not available everywhere: Charlie Jade is a West Coast brand popping up now on the East. The vibe is feminine and playful, and the price equals affordable luxury. Yumi Kim and Amanda Uprichard have silk dresses and tops that pop with prints and vibrant colors. Our one denim line is SOLD: We like the fit, the supersoft feel, and the very reasonable price (around $100). And in our highest price region, we have Erin by Erin Fetherston holiday dresses. pieces de resistance Labels like Rebecca Minkoff, Joie, Chan Luu, Badgley Mischka, and Melinda Maria line Moxie's shelves.
Q: So let’s talk about price points. Yours are generally midrange, no? A: We sit at a contemporary price, with shoes and apparel generally at the $150–$350 price range, and most of it falling in the middle. We definitely find that in this economy, people need to be smart about their purchases. With what we offer, they can get an entire outfit (dress, shoes, bag, jewelry) for the amount others might spend on one couture shirt. Q: What makes Moxie—at both locations—unique among other local boutiques? A: Honestly? We laugh! And I’m being serious here. There’s nothing worse than walking into a boutique that takes itself too seriously, where people can’t be bothered to smile or joke. We’re the antithesis to those places. We want everyone to feel welcome whether they make a purchase or not. Let’s face it: Fashion isn’t brain surgery. It’s fun. And when it stops being fun, then we have a problem.
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nice rack When fashion stops being fun, says Fabbri, “we have a problem.”
65 Top Musicians on the ver ge of World Class Attention* *Training Wheels required
Boston is now home to the first and only training orchestra in New England: Symphony NOVA, under the baton of Conductor Lawrence Isaacson. In support of their historic public premiere at Old South Church, UBER, everyone’s private driver, will offer all Symphony NOVA subscribers and supporters UBER credit. Courtesy of UBER, Symphony NOVA patrons will arrive at concerts and venues throughout Boston via professional drivers in sleek, black town cars. For tickets, a concert schedule commencing September 28th and to take advantage of UBER’s Training Wheels offer to support Boston’s first and only training orchestra,
EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org WEB symphonynova.org PHONE 781.381.3300