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CALIBER RM 037
AM ER IC A’S CU P. B R ITISH TIM EKEEPI N G . Bremont has been appointed the Official Timing Partner of the 35th America’s Cup – and of the defending champions, ORACLE TEAM USA. To celebrate, we’ve created four limited edition timepieces. The Bremont ACI and ACII are inspired by the legendary J-Class yachts of the 1930s. While the Bremont Oracle I and Oracle II set new standards in technical innovation, precision and durability. So the question is, which of these fine watches should you choose? Sorry, you’re on your own.
CONTRIBUTORS Prosper Assouline In 1993, Prosper Assouline and his wife Martine decided on a whim to publish a book about Provençal restaurant La Colombe d’Or. Today, Assouline, the company the couple run together, is France’s largest independent publisher, creating beautifully crafted tomes on fashion, art and collectibles. “This summer,” says Prosper, who describes the journeys that have shaped his life on page 96 of Beyond, “my dream would be to spend a week in a boat with my Istanbul partners, Irem and Sina, sailing from Bodrum to Symi in Greece.” Jonathan Adler Having started out as a potter, Jonathan Adler now oversees a complete lifestyle brand, with nearly 30 eponymous stores worldwide selling everything from beds to lighting. For Beyond, the designer and author salutes his favorite men’s outfitter in his hometown, New York. This summer, he’s planning a trip to Capri with his husband Simon Doonan, creative ambassador-at-large of Barneys. “I’m not a religious person,” Jonathan says, “but I’m pretty sure heaven is just like Capri.” Fiona Caulfield The Australian-born author moved to India in 2004 and has since published five handcrafted Love Travel Guides to Indian cities, including Mumbai, about which she writes in Beyond. Her dream holiday destination is her own 1920s fisherman’s cottage in Hardys Bay, near Sydney. “It’s directly on the water so you almost feel like you’re on a boat,” she says. “I’m looking forward to long walks on the beach, where I’m often the only person – in stark contrast to India, which is home to over a billion people.” Dominick Farinacci After graduating from the Juilliard School in 2005, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci was named the very first Global Ambassador to Jazz at Lincoln Center. Based for two years in Doha – on page 41 of Beyond he recommends the city’s best sheesha restaurant – his achievements resulted in an invitation from TED to speak in Washington, D.C. His dream destination this summer? “Vienna, Austria – walking the same streets that Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms walked along between composing their music.” Maya Beus Fashion and lifestyle illustrator Maya Beus featured as one of the world’s up-andcoming talents in Taschen’s Illustration Now! Fashion. On page 65, we reveal highlights from her recent project, “Butler Stories”, which saw her capturing moments from the working life of three St. Regis hotels. A resident of Split in Croatia, Maya dreams of learning to surf in Hawaii: “Just me, the ocean, a sandy beach... and probably wiping out hundreds of times before I finally catch a wave.” William Drew William has been a writer and editor for over 20 years, covering fashion, fitness, finance and food. A former editor of British style magazine Arena, he is now group editor of globally renowned organization, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. In this issue of Beyond, he identifies the trend for gastronomic pilgrimages. “This summer,” he says, “I’d like to take my family on a Californian road trip, sampling wine in the Napa valley, eating extensively around San Francisco and making like we’re in a movie in Las Vegas.”
CONTENTS 14 The Magnificent Seven – The World in Seven Objects –
From emeralds and vintage perfume bottles to a spiral cauliflower that’s got the food world in a spin, we present striking objects from around the world with a tale to tell
30 Step into the Past – The Journey –
Mexico City’s Aztec and Spanish remains are best explored on foot, so Chris Moss embraces the clamor of the great metropolis and takes a walk through centuries of fascinating history
38 Hidden Treasures
56 Empire Lines
Tastemakers share with us their secret haunts, from the New York menswear boutique favored by designer Jonathan Adler to an atmospheric sheesha restaurant in the heart of Doha
The St. Regis Rome’s sumptuous Belle Epoque interior is the perfect backdrop for classically elegant and cutting edge womenswear from the latest designer collections
42 Natalia Vodianova
60 Global Gourmets
Not merely one of the world’s most successful catwalk stars, the Russian supermodel is a force to be reckoned with in the field of charitable fund-raising. Tamsin Blanchard meets the woman they call “Supernova”
The power of social media has taken food envy to the next level: meet the intrepid gastronomes prepared to cross the globe for the ultimate culinary experience, inspired by an on-the-spot review and an Instagram photo
44 Smart Packing
65 Butler Stories
Whether you’re planning a glamorous trip to Dubai, a city break in Kuala Lumpur, a beach adventure in Langkawi or a family holiday in Istanbul, these are the essentials you need to take
Fashion illustrator Maya Beus’s three-month project to capture the essence of St. Regis hotels in Florence, Rome and Istanbul with a series of artworks has yielded stunning results
– A Little Place I Know –
– Fashion –
– Interview –
– The Trend –
– Vacation Style –
– Art –
Cover: Osman shirt, $489, Osman trousers, $690, osmanlondon.com. Above: Carolina Herrera dress, $1,395, carolinaherrera.com; Christian Louboutin shoes, $945, christianlouboutin.com; Harry Winston earrings and bracelet, (price on application), harrywinston.com. Cover photography by Tom Corbett; styling by Shelly Vella; make up and hair by Lisa Valencia at Carol Hayes; model: Josipa at Select
68 The St. Regis Atlas
84 John Lennon in New York
Our international network of hotels and resorts, from Mexico to Mauritius, Bali to Bal Harbour, plus the Aficionado’s Guide to St. Regis, to help you make the most of your stay
In 1971, eager to forge a new identity outside the group that had made him famous, the former Beatle explored the Big Apple’s countercultural scene from his base at The St. Regis New York
70 National Treasures
90 Jazz Age Style
Collectors Edythe and Eli Broad talk to Lisa Grainger about how great art reflects the times, and why their stunning new museum in Los Angeles will always be free to enter
Art deco is back: the graceful, nauticallyinspired lines of the 1920s design movement continue to embody the spirit of luxury, as several St. Regis properties prove
72 The Best of Mumbai
94 Kitchen Confidential
The Hollywood-meets-Bollywood atmosphere of India’s movie capital influences every facet of fashion, design and haute cuisine. Love Mumbai’s Fiona Caulfield selects the most stylish spots
Michelin-starred superchef Michael Mina, of The St. Regis Monarch Beach’s Stonehill Tavern, celebrates California’s local ingredients while sharing his tips on the perfect hamburger
78 Glittering Career
96 Prosper Assouline
To celebrate her show at the Aspen Art Museum, Mickalene Thomas talks to Caroline Roux about her cultural inspirations, from Claude Monet to Oprah Winfrey
The Moroccan-born luxury publisher reveals the most memorable journeys of his life, from a childhood holiday in Seville to opening his first office in New York
– The Back Story –
– The Directory –
– Interiors –
– The Connoisseurs –
– Food –
– Style –
– A Life in Seven Journeys –
– Art –
Above: Mumbai’s Le Mill, a luxury concept store with an Indo-European aesthetic
BAL HARBOUR SHOPS . COLLINS AVENUE . LINCOLN ROAD . INTERMIXONLINE.COM
COMPLIMENTARY PERSONAL STYLING . THE MOST COVETED DESIGNERS . A LUXURY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
The World in Seven Objects
THE WORLD IN SEVEN OBJECTS Photography by Louisa Parry
EXTRAORDINARY, BEAUTIFUL OBJECTS TELL THE STORIES OF THEIR AGE, WHETHER AN EXQUISITE FOUNTAIN PEN CRAFTED IN GERMANY OR A HANDMADE GLOBE FROM LONDON. HERE, FOR YOUR APPRECIATION, WE PRESENT A ‘MAGNIFICENT SEVEN’ FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The World in Seven Objects
The perfume bottle When Coco Chanel was asked why her dressing table was covered with hundreds of perfume bottles, many of them empty, she replied: “Those bottles are my memories of surrender and conquest, my crown jewels of love.” For many women, perfume bottles are objects of desire long after the fragrance has been used up. As Ken Leach, author of Perfume Presentation: 100 Years of Artistry. A Pictorial Guide For The Perfume Bottle Collector, says: “Something about perfume bottles strikes a chord. Through clever design, they invite the eye and the hand, even before the stopper is removed and the scent released.” Surprisingly, commercial perfume bottles as we know them today are a relatively new invention. At the beginning of the 20th century, women would buy fragrance in simple glass containers and decant it into their own bottles (like the 1920s atomizer pictured left). The game-changer was a meeting between Parisian perfumer François Coty and jeweler-turnedglassmaker René Lalique. In 1905 they joined forces and Lalique went on to create hundreds of bottle designs for Coty and other perfume houses. Today, antique perfume bottles, known as “flacons”, have become desirable collectibles – in 2000, a unique prototype Lalique flacon sold for nearly half a million dollars. Celebrity collectors include Barbra Streisand and Sir Elton John, but their devotion pales in comparison with that of Swiss entrepreneur Silvio Denz. Having accumulated the world’s largest Lalique collection, Denz bought the company in 2008 and has resurrected it. For Linda Bee of Gray’s Antiques, who sells flacons from all over the world, “the interesting thing is the way they reflect art movements, from Lalique’s art deco creations to Schiaperelli’s surrealist “Shocking!” (1936), which was modeled on Mae West’s torso. Generally speaking though, people’s interest is more emotional than cultural. I get male customers buying a bottle because it was the perfume their mother wore.” lalique.com; graysantiques.com
The World in Seven Objects
The board game In this hi-tech digital age, some families are returning to the simple pleasures of traditional board games. And it’s worth remembering that games like chess and backgammon are often beautiful artifacts in their own right. Auction houses routinely sell antique chess sets for thousands of dollars (a Man Ray design went for $22,500 last year at Christie’s) while brands like William & Son have carved out a reputation for selling exquisite luxury backgammon sets made from the finest leather or even crocodile skin (right). Investing in a stunning luxury board game is something more and more of us are embracing – a fact not lost on design houses. Ralph Lauren Home, for example, has created a games compendium crafted from the finest materials including leather, walnut, nickel plate and silver leaf; Fornasetti’s Viso Chess, Checkers and Card Game Set includes two sets of playing cards, wooden chess and checkers pieces; while at the more affordable end of the market, New York’s Bello Games offers myriad figurine chess sets, with themes ranging from the American Civil War to Robin Hood. Last year, superstar designer Kelly Wearstler entered the fray with her Dichotomy Chess Set, “an iconic take on a household classic”. Retailing at $17,000, it has burnished gold plated and gunmetal plated bronze pieces. The King and Queen pieces are also adorned with diamonds, and the board is hand-sculpted from Negro Marquina and White Calacatta marble. But the ultimate in statement board games is surely the legendary Ringo Starr Chess Set. Made in 1973 by Asprey, in collaboration with designer Robin Cruikshank, each piece in this sterling silver and gold plated set was meticulously fashioned in the shape of Ringo’s hands, right down to the rings worn by the drummer. williamandson.com
The World in Seven Objects
The fountain pen The author Graham Greene once wrote: “My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ballpoint pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.” For a certain type of person, there is only one type of pen – a proper ink pen. Whether you’re writing a novel or dashing off a note to someone, signing in proper blue ink speaks volumes about how you wish to present yourself – which is why it’s vital to own a quality fountain pen, ideally from the likes of Montblanc, S.T. Dupont, Montegrappa, Graf von Faber-Castell or one of the other makers of the world’s finest writing instruments. Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking that email and ballpoint pens might have killed off the fountain pen by now, but remarkably, sales of these undeniably anachronistic possessions have risen over the past 10-15 years. Parker, which has manufactured fountain pens since 1888, reports a worldwide “resurgence” over the past five years, while Amazon has noted a dramatic rise in ink pen sales since 2010. Interestingly, while the fountain pen was once considered a masculine accoutrement, brands are increasingly designing them with women in mind – like this Bohème Doué Moongarden from Hamburg-based Montblanc, which boasts a handcrafted retractable gold nib and a sinuous lacquered red gold-colored pattern on the barrel, inspired by tree leaves at full moon. So why exactly is the fountain pen holding its own against the march of progress? Perhaps it’s because it represents a nostalgia for an era when people took time to do things right, when handwriting was a mark of culture, and when the personal touch mattered. After all, which would you rather receive – a hastily sent email or a note written in flowing indigo ink? montblanc.com
The World in Seven Objects
The Romanesco For some time now, vegetables have been making their presence felt in gourmet restaurants. New York’s eateries in particular have embraced the creative possibilities of vegetarian cuisine, and not just for the usual healthconscious, save-the-planet reasons – but simply because vegetables taste great. Earlier this year, U.S. Vogue even posed the question: “Are vegetables the new meat?” And yet there is still a nagging sense that however imaginatively prepared, cabbage or kale will never inspire the same excitement as a juicy steak – that vegetables will always be doomed to play a Best Supporting role. Enter the Romanesco, a vegetable so visually arresting, it demands top billing. Somewhere between a broccoli and a cauliflower, its tightly packed lime-green florets are an example of phyllotaxis, a naturally occurring fractal pattern. Indeed, as any self-respecting mathematician will tell you, the spirals on the head of Romanesco roughly follow a Fibonacci sequence: a series of consecutive numbers that add up to the next number. The Romanesco’s appeal isn’t purely visual, mind you. A member of the same family as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, it’s a rich source of Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber, while its delicate flavor is described as “sweet” and “nutty”. Once only to be found in farmers’ markets, Romanesco’s popularity is growing fast, thanks in part to high profile advocates like Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield, author of A Girl and her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden, in which the headline dish is “Pot-roasted Romanesco broccoli”. Anyone considering giving Romanesco a whirl would be well-advised to follow Bloomfield’s advice: “Pop it into a heavy bottomed pot with some fresh rosemary, salted anchovy and tomato, roast until tender and aromatic. Just perfect.” aprilbloomfield.com
The World in Seven Objects
The hamam towel From Ottoman rugs to shimmering silks, Turkey has a centuries-old textiles tradition. But over the past 40 years, many of the skills that were once passed down from generation to generation have begun to vanish, as artisanal weaving has given way to mass production. One visitor to Istanbul was so concerned about the threat to these ancient crafts, she was moved to start a business selling authentic artisanal Turkish textiles. Canadian Jennifer Gaudet, founder of Jennifer’s Hamam – based in Istanbul’s Arasta Bazaar – is passionate about supporting the remaining craftspeople. Her mission has been boosted by the explosion in popularity of the hamam towel or pestemal – a traditional Turkish towel that’s lightweight but highly absorbant, dries five times quicker than regular towels and is easy to pack in your luggage. For Turks, these towels were developed exclusively for use in the hamam or bathhouse. As Gaudet points out, they are thin because they were designed to stay on the body even when soaking wet. “The hamam towel is something very special in Turkish culture,” she says, “because the hamam is something very special. It wasn’t just a bathhouse, it was a communal place where people would meet, where marriages were brokered, meals eaten, music listened to. Visiting the hamam was a daily ritual for Turks. Over the centuries, Turkish women took this functional item – the towel – and transformed it into a thing of beauty.” Istanbul now boasts hundreds of stores selling pestemals, but for other high quality versions, try Abdulla in the Grand Bazaar. And with pastels gracing many a catwalk this season, pestemals like those pictured (from Ailera) are sure to go down a storm. Best of all, when you’re not on holiday, they have a variety of other uses. “People use them as tablecloths, throws, curtains, scarves or shawls,” says Gaudet. “The only limit is the owner’s inspiration and imagination.” jennifershamam.com; ailera.com
The World in Seven Objects
The globe A globe is so much more than a spherical map of the world. Solid, monumental – owning one represents a coming of age. Hence the fact that in 500 years, they’ve gone from cartographic reference tools to décor staples. Demand for globes has rocketed over the past decade, as Paul Norrell, CEO of Seattle-based 1-World Globes & Maps, confirms. “Ten years ago we were one of very few globe specialty retailers online, but even now, with a hundred times the competitors we had back then, we’re seeing strong interest.” 1-World sells nearly 300 different models of globe, the most expensive retailing at $14,450. They also work with custom fabricators who do large-scale commissions costing well in excess of $100,000. Yet for the most part, today’s globes are a far cry from the exquisitely made antique versions, which are prohibitively expensive and often too delicate for everyday display. So we compromise. We buy a mass-produced globe. Perhaps it’s not round. Perhaps it swings awkwardly on the stand. Perhaps the design is politically superannuated and perhaps the “gores” – the triangular shapes that fit onto a sphere – overlap or don’t line up. By contrast, a handmade, hand-painted Bellerby & Co. globe like the exquisite “Livingstone” model pictured, takes a vast amount of expertise to complete, as the company’s founder Peter Bellerby discovered when he decided to make a globe for his father’s 80th birthday. “I thought it would take three, maybe four months” he recalls. “After all, how difficult can it be to make a ball and put a map on it?” Bellerby soon discovered the legion challenges facing anyone set on creating a high quality globe. Indeed, even sourcing or fabricating a genuinely round sphere proved nearly impossible. Six years on, his bespoke globe-making firm in London now has 10 staff, an international reputation and orders arriving from all over the world. So in his expert opinion, what is it about these familiar objects that elicits such passion? “There are so many things a globe evokes,” Bellerby muses, “from childhood geography lessons to a sense of adventure... to wondering why you’re on the planet.” bellerbyandco.com;1worldglobes.com
The World in Seven Objects
The emerald When it comes to haute joaillerie, green is the color. Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, Cate Blanchett and Mila Kunis have all been spotted wearing emeralds on the red carpet; the famous Colombian emerald mine Muzo is creating a precious stone brand in collaboration with designers like Antoine Sandoz, Elie Top, Shaun Leane and Solange Azagury-Partridge; and earlier this year in Hong Kong, Christie’s sold an emerald ring from Afghanistan for $2,276,408 – an auction world record. “Historically emeralds have long been associated with Maharajahs and Empresses,” says Keith Penton, Head of Jewelry for Christie’s, “but throughout the 20th century, Hollywood stars and leading jewelry houses ensured that they remained firmly in the limelight. The necklace of emerald beads commissioned from Cartier in 1938 by Merle Oberon is still one of the most iconic emerald jewels of all time, and Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald parure [a set of matching jewelry comprising earrings, ring, necklace brooch and bracelet] by Bulgari, purchased in the 1960s by Richard Burton and sold by Christie’s in December 2011, is another legendary example.” While Colombian emeralds remain the most sought-after – they were mined in the country by the indigenous peoples for at least a thousand years before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th Century – African stones are coming to the fore, according to Penton: “African emeralds are being used by many of the best jewelry houses in their current designs. I’m sure that in time the best African emeralds will create record prices.” If you’re thinking of investing in emeralds, Penton offers the following advice: “Look for the best clarity and the richest color and avoid opaque or overly pale colored stones with no appearance of life. Above all else, buy something that you love and that you’ll wear. There’s something very sad about jewelry that lives in a bank vault.” christies.com
GODS Words by Chris Moss
FROM AZTEC HEART TO CONTEMPORARY BARRIO, MEXICO CITY REVEALS ITS TURBULENT HISTORY BEST TO THE TRAVELER WILLING TO EXPLORE IT ON FOOT
Diego Rivera’s panoramic mural, ‘Mexico Through the Centuries’, conflates the dramatic history of this great nation into what looks at first glance like an insane group photograph
Previous page: Neil Setchfield/Alamy. This page: Adam Wiseman, Corbis
City of Gods
t’s those beautiful artists’ impressions of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan that make people say so many unjust things about Mexico City. The emerald-hued lakes, the slender causeways, the story of Montezuma, enthroned in his feathery splendor, warmly greeting Hernán Cortés – only to be betrayed by the duplicitous conquistador, cut down in his prime, and the Aztec empire crushed. It’s true that when you fly into Benito Juárez International airport, you can’t help lamenting that such a wonder has been buried beneath millions of tons of concrete, and a sprawl of houses, apartment blocks, shanty towns and suburbs that shatters the human scale while housing 20 million human beings, or more – no one really knows. Nevertheless, Mexico City, or DF (pronounced day-efay, standing for Distrito Federal) as everyone calls it, is not the impenetrable, car-dependent maze of modern myth. Indeed, a pleasant introduction to the center, and one that subverts several stereotypes about the Mexican capital, is to walk it, slowly, calmly, flaneurishly, from Aztec heart to contemporary barrio. I begin where you have to begin: standing at the center of the Zócalo, the vast main square; officially the Plaza de la Constitución, though no one ever calls it that. This is where Mexicans protest and march, celebrate and stroll, kiss and tell. The Spanish included grand plazas in all the major cities they built over pre-Columbian settlements, and one has to suspect that the Zócalo is one of the biggest of these because it had to symbolically bury the majesty of what stood here before. Parades and expos occasionally invade the plaza, but today there are only strolling locals, a statue of Cuauhtémoc, the last native ruler of the city, and a massive Mexican flag, unfurling in the warm morning breeze. A magnificent vestige of the pre-Hispanic city lies at the plaza’s northeastern corner. The Aztec Templo Mayor was Tenochtitlan’s sacred hub, continually expanded over two centuries by the city’s rulers. The archaeological site is no mere pile of stones, but rises, strangely,
magnificently, with serpents greeting you as you turn a corner, and daubs of the red, blue and yellow paint that once glowed under the highland sky. The temple was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, sun god and bringer of war, and Tlaloc, the rain god and source of fertility. Arid death and liquid life. Right next door, the vast Metropolitan Cathedral is the biggest cathedral in the Americas. It’s a squat, hulking edifice, designed to crush any memory of what might have been worshipped here before the arrival of Cortés and his Christian soldiers. A medley of baroque, neoclassical and Spanish churrigueresque (elaborate stucco ornamentation) elements, it too has been built and rebuilt several times over the centuries. Before exiting the Zócalo I duck into the Palacio Nacional to see Diego Rivera’s murals, which decorate the stairwell and the middle story of the central courtyard. The panoramic piece, titled México a través de los Siglos (Mexico Through the Centuries), conflates the dramatic history of this great nation into what looks at first glance like an insane group photograph – with Quetzalcoatl (the plumed serpent) rubbing shoulders with Zapata’s revolutionaries, who are in turn looking down on the dastardly inquisitors, Hidalgo the liberation hero, five-times president Benito Juárez, and many other assorted great and good, plus Rivera’s wife, Frida Kahlo, and Karl Marx, helpfully giving directions to the massed proles. I’m dizzy with names and blinded by colors by the time I get back outside. I grab breakfast at the nearby Café de Tacuba. This handsome institution, all tiled walls and white-aproned waitresses, has been serving good coffee and sublime tamales – chicken-filled corn wraps served with spicy sauce – since 1912. It also lent its name to a well-known Mexican pop group. I continue west along Calle de Tacuba, which lies along the axis of one of the lake-city’s original causeways. It’s an elegant part of the city, with a distinctly European feel, though I occasionally arrive at hectic, aromatic corners where streetfood vendors are whipping up filled tortillas and crispy tacos for the time-poor traders and political aides who work in these parts.
Domed splendor Previous page: one of the city’s distinctive VW taxis, backed by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Opposite: Rivera’s Mexico Through the Centuries adorns the staircase of the Palacio Nacional
Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera, including the celebrated El hombre en el cruce de caminos (Man at the Crossroads), originally commissioned for New York’s Rockefeller Center. The Rockefellers had the original destroyed because of its anti-capitalist themes, but Rivera recreated the work here in 1934. The Alameda Central is one of relatively few green spaces in the Cuauhtémoc quarter. Created by Viceroy Luis de Velasco at the end of the 16th century, and enlivened by paved footpaths, decorative fountains and statues, it occupies what was once an Aztec marketplace. The name comes from álamo, Spanish for poplar tree. These elegant gardens provide a natural border between old, romantic DF and the Paseo de la Reforma, the throbbing heart of modern Mexico’s economy. Skyscrapers loom over every block of the Reforma, including impressive landmarks such as the Torre Mayor, owned by George Soros, Torre HSBC, the Angel of Independence monument and César Pelli’s sleek Torre Libertad, home of The St. Regis Mexico City. I make a slight detour to the Plaza de la República to admire the Monument to the Revolution, a towering neoclassical triumphal arch that
Billionaire investor and philanthropist Carlos Slim has been throwing money at the city center, and many facades look new or very well polished. Edifices that were little more than warehouses or squats have been taken over as office space, work-live accommodation and nightspots. Prone to seismic activity, Mexico City is a mid-rise city, though I occasionally catch glimpses of the lofty, 597ft, 44-story Torre Latinoamericana, a glass and steel quakeproof landmark that was once the tallest building in Latin America. My next stop, in the shadow of the Torre, is the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Built during the 1876-1911 Porfiriato – the modernizing, if sometimes brutal, regime of Porfirio Díaz – and facing the Alameda Central, it’s one of Mexico City’s most beautiful palaces. Begun in 1904 and overseen by Italian architect Adamo Boari, a fan of neoclassical and art nouveau lines, its construction was interrupted by subsidence issues and then the Mexican Revolution. It was completed by Mexican architect Federico Mariscal in the 1930s, with the interior leaning towards the then-fashionable art deco style. The three expansive floors of Mexican and international art merit a day or more, but I limit myself to viewing pieces by Rufino Tamayo, David
High finance The new skyscrapers lining Paseo de la Reforma, the heart of Mexico City’s business district, shot from Chapultepec Castle in the Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the biggest city parks in the world
Adam Wiseman, Corbis
doubles as a mausoleum for several heroes of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, including Francisco “Pancho” Villa. A hop away at Calle Antonio Caso No. 58, is the Cantina La Castellana. Established in 1892, it’s one of a dozen or so traditional cantinas left in the ever-evolving, fad-hungry capital. It has 13 big TV screens, six of them showing a soporific, scoreless Mexican football match, six an overacted soap opera, and one a grisly news bulletin. There’s a cheap buffet, into which the clientele of working class men is diving with gusto, filling soup bowls and piling up plates of potato, meat and beans. I opt for the daily special, which today is the very Mexican chamorro enchilado al horno – oven-baked, chilli-peppered pig’s leg – superb with a well-iced bottle of beer. Buzzing, cozy, laid-back, this cantina, like all the best ones, is timeless. Some of the men are playing dominoes. Several are just having beers and botanas – salty snacks. Mariachis sometimes drop by, usually in the afternoon, not because they think tourists will reward them but because they are appreciated here. La Castellana also has some cultural cred: past visitors included author Renato Leduc, who hung out with Antonin Artaud in
Montparnasse, and songwriter Álvaro Carrillo, who composed more than 300 songs, most of them romantic boleros. Poet Pablo Neruda, Communist activist and essayist José Revueltas and poet Efraín Huerta were also habitués. After lunch – the match still at zero-zero, the dominoes still clacking – I’m back on to Reforma, which is busy with lunchtime traffic. The thoroughfare was commissioned by Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I to seal his authority on the city after overthrowing Benito Juárez in 1864. Designer Ferdinand von Rosenzweig’s intention was to grace the imperial capital with a grand boulevard equal in grandeur to the Ringstrasse in Vienna. It would also serve as direct route to – and an imposing sightline for – the Castillo de Chapultepec, the imperial residence. Reforma these days feels very modern, with police zipping along the wide pavements on Segways, and the mainly modern and functionalist architecture and bank and brokerage HQs attesting to the power of commerce rather than conquering viceroys. After the narrow grid of the old city, it’s good to see some sky, too. I don’t generally do shopping, but I decide to stop briefly at Fonart at Paseo de la Reforma No. 116. Buying
Set in stone A relief sculpture of an Aztec calendar, in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, showcase for 4,000 years of pre-Columbian art and culture
local handicrafts is a minefield for travelers, but these government-run, fixed-price outlets are a joy: superlative textiles and art are on display and browsing is more like a museum visit rather than mere retail. The Altar a la Patria, six white marble columns honoring six teenage cadets who died in the 1846-8 Mexican-American War, marks the entrance to the Bosque de Chapultepec – a name that means Chapultepec Wood but doesn’t quite capture the magnitude of this verdant megaspace. Spreading over some 1,695 acres, it’s one of the biggest city parks in the world. Made especially delightful by its hilly contours, it invites you to breathe deeply, take in a view over DF and enjoy a few minutes of silence – well, subdued traffic hum, anyway. Native carpenter birds and hummingbirds sing and tweet, and the park is a refuge for migratory birds from Canada and the U.S., including the red-tailed hawk and Harris’s hawk. Dozens of tree species provide shade, including the Montezuma bald cypress, Mexico’s national tree. Overlooking all this is the Castillo de Chapultepec, accessed via a winding, gently inclined road. A sacred spot for the Aztecs, the mansion we see now is a reminder of Mexico’s bygone aristocracy. It was begun in 1775 but not completed until after independence, when it served as the national military academy. When Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota arrived in 1864, they gave it a regal refurbishment and it was the presidential pad until 1939 when it was converted into the Museo Nacional de Historia. The displays chronicle the periods from the rise of colonial Nueva España to the Mexican Revolution. Even more impressive than the sumptuously furnished salons, swords and banners are the dramatic interpretations of Mexican history by muralists Juan O’Gorman and David Siqueiros. Huge, overpowering and full of the everyday chaos of humanity, Mexican mural art enfolds and moves the viewer in a way sedate, framed gallery art can’t. I leave the museum feeling uplifted as well as informed. It’s only a 20-minute walk to my final cultural pit stop, one of the world’s greatest museums. This is only my second visit to the Museo Nacional de Antropología but I know what not to do: try to take in 23 rooms and more than 4,000 years of pre-Columbian art and culture in a single sweep. Instead I focus on a couple of eras. The Olmecs – the first major civilization in Mexico, present from the 16th to the fifth centuries BCE – tend to get less attention than the Aztec and Maya but, as the colossal heads, clay dolls, vases and figures on show demonstrate, theirs was a bold and brilliant culture. The museum’s building is an artwork in its own right. The umbrellashaped edifice was designed by three visionary Mexican architects, and when it opened in 1964, the soft, tropical brutalism was considered audacious. The exhibition halls surround a courtyard and a large pond so that as you move between rooms you find yourself suddenly in a serene, airier space. It readies the spirit for the next bout of learning and awe.
My second specialism for the day is the Maya. While I’d seen many of the magnificent sites around Yucatán, it filled in gaps to see the altars and artworks shipped from the peninsula to be exhibited in the capital. Indeed, when it comes to everything in sprawling, multi-faceted Mexico – from food to art to music to commerce – in the end all roads lead to DF. The capital sucks in energy and creativity and concentrates it here. The sun is slipping away and the gardens around the museum are cooling down, breathing out their evening perfumes. I walk slowly towards the north, exiting into Polanco – Mexico City’s most upscale neighborhood. As barrios go, compared with the shabby chic of Condesa and the hip, emerging buzz of Roma, Polanco is sedate and civilized. Which is a relief – because after a longish walk (only about six miles but lots of zigzagging and art-filled corridors along the way), I need some leafy luxury and lounging. Polanco was originally a hacienda (rural estate) and then a suburb until the early 20th century, when mansions began to pop up surrounded by oldgrowth trees and high walls. First retail moved in and then, from the Seventies on, companies fed up with the gritty flavor of the Zona Rosa relocated here. Embassies, restaurants and boutiques followed, and sleek towers were erected to house their well-heeled employees. As a result, Polanco has also become one of the city’s best spots for high-end dining. Before I partake, I need a drink. Jules Basement prides itself on being Mexico City’s first speakeasy. The term means very little nowadays but there’s still something exciting about passing through a big fridge door and some rubber drapes to find yourself in a shimmering space – all black, white and silver: cool in the shivery sense – with cocktail tables inspired by Mexican skull art. A bit industrial, very theatrical, and somehow very Mex-urban, it’s a good spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. I have a mescal-based negroni that wipes out the day’s toils and then a cool artisanal beer. My last stop is a place I first read about in the influential S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants listings. Polanco boasts three top-rated places within a few blocks. Quintonil and Biko are two, but I opt for Pujol, where El Bulli-inspired chef Enrique Olvera specializes in refined versions of native cuisine. He cooks with ant larvae and grasshoppers and, in a nod to local streetfood culture, prepares one dessert with a 20-day-old banana. The tasting menu is a series of taste volleys, from fried pork to delicate sweetbreads to a succulent tamal (closing the circle I’d begun at breakfast) to a range of moles – Mexican sauces, some with chocolate and sweet spices – and a glass of Baja Cal white. The meal is deeply indigenous, and as exquisite on the palate as anything the Old World has to offer. A DF mini-banquet. A megalopolitan treat. A fitting finale to one of the world’s great city walks. Your address: The St. Regis Mexico City
Grand designs Opposite, clockwise from top: Plaza de la Constitución, better known as the Zócalo; a church doorway; children use a subway air vent to float toy parachutes; statue at Palacio de Bellas Artes
Corbis, Gallery Stock
The Spanish put grand plazas in all the cities they built over pre-Columbian settlements, and one suspects the Zócalo is one of the biggest of these because it had to symbolically bury the majesty of what stood here
A Little Place I Know ADDRESS-BOOK SECRETS FROM LUMINARIES OF THE WORLDS OF FASHION, DESIGN AND MUSIC
A stylish menswear boutique in New York by Jonathan Adler Grahame Fowler, 138 W 10th Street, grahamefowler.com
Grahame Fowler is located in Greenwich Village, which happens to be where I live and where I have one of my four New York stores. I may be biased but I think it’s the best neighborhood in the city. When I first moved to New York in the early 1990s, the Village was an alternative universe where any creative dream could become a reality. That spirit still infuses the neighborhood. The store is a petite little thing with curiosities piled up in the single window. It’s tiny, twinkly and alluring, filled top to bottom with everything you need – and everything you didn’t know you needed – to be a smart, stylish dude. Even if you’re not naturally smart or stylish, if you shop here, no one will know. The owner, Grahame Fowler, is as divine as his West Village jewel box of a shop. I hate it when people use the word “curated” for anything other than an art exhibition, but Grahame has done an impeccable job assembling the best bits and bobs from around the world. He’s the nicest guy and has the best taste. With everything piled high, it’s like the chic-est yard sale you’ve ever been to. It’s my go-to shop to stock up on Trickers wingtips. They’re simultaneously chunky yet refined and if you re-sole them they’ll last longer than you will. Whenever I’m there I also look at the vintage Rolexes (but never buy) and I’ve never said no to a cardigan. Your granny had it right when she warned you that you never know when you might catch a chill.
A room at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington by Nick English NASM, Independence Ave, 6th Street SW , airandspace.si.edu
Having grown up in and around aviation, and being a pilot myself, one of my favorite places is the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. I love the juxtaposition of the old and new in there, the earliest inventions and the latest in aviation and aerospace technology. When you first step through the doors, above you is the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, which is thrilling, and then up on the first floor is the backup lunar module, which gives me chills every time I see it. Although the building is enormous – holding more than 60,000 objects, as well as photographs, videos and documents – within it is a small space that’s particularly special. This is the room in which the 1903 Wright Flyer is kept: the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft made by the Wright brothers. Around the pavilion, there are illustrations, artifacts and instruments associated with the Wrights’ pursuit of flight, and in the center of the space is the plane itself. Although it appears to have little in common with today’s aircraft, resembling a bundle of wire and cables, parts of which are covered in cloth, there’s much of it that remains the same in aircraft today. It’s an extraordinary piece of engineering – and one I love so much that we persuaded the Wright Family Foundation to give us some of the original material from it to put into a few of the limited-edition watches we make. I can visit this room time and time again, to see the plane and hear stories about it, told by volunteers. These folks exude the same passion for aviation that drove many of the pioneers of flight. Whenever I leave this museum I feel even more inspired to achieve my goals.
Jonathan Adler is a potter, designer and author Your address: The St. Regis New York
Nick English is co-founder of aviation-themed watchmaker Bremont Your address: The St. Regis Washington, D.C. 38
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A Little Place I Know
An East meets West interiors store in Kuala Lumpur by Evelyn Hii
Illustrations: Emily Robertson
Ambiance, G Village, 35 Jalan Desa Pandan, ambiance.com.my
Ambiance is a fabulous collection of Asian furnishings, paintings and curios that I discovered only recently. Located in a new building, G Village, with stunning views of Kuala Lumpur’s city center, it’s a large, airy space stuffed full of treasures, many of them small enough to put in your suitcase if you’re just visiting KL. The atmosphere in the store is very relaxed; you’re free to browse to your heart’s content, which you really need to do – even on the fourth circuit I always discover special something that I hadn’t spotted before. The owners, Jim Moore and Jason Long, are Scottish and Malaysian respectively, a character mix reflected in the fusion of products they sell. They personally source every item – many of which are one-off discoveries they’ve made on their travels around Asia – and they can always give you a great deal of detail about each piece. Jason’s mother, sister, brother, niece and brother-in-law also work at Ambiance, making it a real family business, in classic Asian style. The whole shop bursts with color in its lamps, furniture, ceramics, fabrics, candles, gems, trinkets. They have two other stores in KL but, like a box of chocolates, I’m saving each to savor separately. Best of all, twice a week Jim and Jason open up their home in Damansara Heights to regular customers for coffee mornings. Ambiance is unique to Kuala Lumpur, a treasure trove of all things Asian. That makes it a very special place for me.
A Lebanese sheesha restaurant in Doha by Dominick Farinacci Lebanese Village Restaurant, Salwa Road, facebook.com/lv.qatar
Evelyn Hii is the owner of No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur’s most famous jazz club Your address: The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur
This sheesha restaurant on the busy Salwa Road is easy to miss; the best way to identify it is by the sign above the door, which is in the colors of the Lebanese flag, decorated with a cedar tree. Inside, the first thing you see is a cloud of delicious-smelling sheesha smoke, and then beyond that, a lovely Lebanese man with slicked-back hair who finds you the perfect table, takes your order (my favorite is Double Apple), then delivers a three-foot-high sheesha. Another man walks around with a cast-iron pot full of glowing charcoal to make sure everyone’s sheesha is perfect. You often hear people shouting “Fahem, fahem”, calling him over to replace their charcoal. Because everyone knows it’s one of the best sheesha places in town, it’s always filled with locals and Gulf residents in national dress, either relaxing on weathered white leather couches or passionately conversing beneath walls lined with photos of Lebanese icons. The menu is illustrated with beautiful photographs of Lebanon, and the dishes are equally appealing, from hummus and spicy potatoes to kibbeh neyah. The latter is something I thought I’d never eat and now adore: raw beef or lamb with spices, to which you add olive oil, a mint leaf and a piece of raw onion before wrapping it in bread. Delicious! Another thing I love here is that everyone is treated like family; having lived in Doha for two years, I have come to realize how hospitable, caring and respectful the Arab community is. For me, coming here with friends, hanging out on the couches with great food and service, all make for the perfect night out. Dominick Farinacci is the former Global Ambassador to Jazz at Lincoln Center Your address: The St. Regis Doha 41
‘Everyone who does charity has a moment when it strikes them’ Interview by Tamsin Blanchard
AS A MOTHER OF FOUR AND ONE OF THE ‘NEW SUPERS’, NATALIA VODIANOVA IS DETERMINED TO USE HER FAME TO HELP OTHERS FROM A HUMBLE BACKGROUND
The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine
atalia Vodianova looks incredible in red. Don’t get me wrong, she also looks incredible in white, black, pink, or even sludgy brown. But it’s in red that she really shines. Perhaps that’s because she wears it whenever she’s hosting one of her Naked Heart fundraising events, which she did in February of this year during London Fashion Week – a red sequined dress made specially by Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein to accommodate the model’s five-and-a-halfmonth pregnancy bump. Vodianova, the 34-year-old Russian supermodel who is based in Paris, but regularly jets between New York, London, and Moscow, does not do things by halves. As well as being one of fashion’s most successful and instantly recognizable stars, she’s a leading figure in the charity world. Her first Love Ball in Moscow’s Tsaritsino Estate, held on Valentine’s Day in 2008, featured a 220-ton ice palace specially constructed for the event, the auction of a Damien Hirst work that fetched $1.2 million, and a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet. She set her sights high – and the rewards matched. The ball raised $6 million. When I first met Vodianova, at her house in the English countryside, it was a few weeks before her now legendary London Love Ball, which included a sit-down dinner for 420 people and an auction conducted by Christie’s that raised $1.7 million. In typical Natalia fashion, she juggled the interview between a snowball fight with her children in the garden, a photo shoot where she slipped straight into cover girl mode, all dreamy eyes and soft lips, and negotiating logistics for the event. She had the air of someone who is very capable, used to taking control of situations – and getting things done. “Looking back, I realize that growing up in Russia gave me tools that other people don’t necessarily have,” is the explanation she gives for her extraordinary drive, “such as the will to push that bit further, to make things happen, to succeed. I try to use these now to help other people.” Nor has her lavish lifestyle left her suffering celebrity amnesia: she is happy to talk frankly about her impoverished childhood and the difficulties of growing up with a disabled sister. Vodianova set up the Naked Heart Foundation as a response to the 2004 Beslan school siege, when at least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children. “I guess everyone who does charity has a moment when it strikes them, and it is unfortunately something horrible most of the time,” she told me. Her response to seeing the siege unfold on her TV screen in Moscow at the time was to cry. But through her tears, she had a vision. She decided she wanted to build a playground so that the children who survived
would at least have some moments when they were lost in play and could forget the horrors of the siege. She went back to New York, and with the help of her friend Diane von Furstenberg, set up a charity auction and raised $350,000. She had to wait five years before she could open the playground in Beslan, but that didn’t stop her opening her first in her home town of Nizhny Novgorod, and then opening playgrounds in more than 30 cities across Russia – many in the remotest, most forgotten towns. Since starting the foundation, she has built 158 playgrounds across 103 Russian cities Born in 1982, Vodianova had a childhood that could not be further from the lives of her own four children (three from her previous marriage to Justin Portman, half-brother of the 10th Viscount Portman, who she met when she was 19, and one with her boyfriend Antoine Arnault, the son of LVMH founder Bernard Arnault). Vodianova’s mother Larisa, who raised her three daughters alone, had a stall selling fruit and vegetables. Natalia looked after her sister Oksana, was born with cerebral palsy, while her mother worked long hours. In her teens, Vodianova was spotted by a French model scout. She moved to Paris in 1999 and was soon swept up in the glamorous new life as an A-list model. In 2004, Steven Meisel shot her for the cover of American Vogue in 2004 alongside Gisele and Daria – the three models of the moment. Calvin Klein booked her for the most lucrative fashion contract of them all (a seven-figure contract she held for an unheard-of eight seasons) and ten years later, she became the face of the brand’s Euphoria fragrance. In 2012, Forbes named her as the world’s third most profitable model, estimated to be bringing in a very handsome $8.6 million in one year. What is most striking about Vodianova is her incredible work ethic and her philanthropic drive. Anyone would forgive a mother of four (soon to be five) if she wanted to take a break from professional life. But Vodianova was back on the catwalk two weeks after giving birth to her first son Lucas. And she is utterly committed to the Naked Heart Foundation. As well as opening playgrounds, she has extended her focus to work with orphanages with the campaign Every Child Deserves a Family, which works with children who are abandoned by their families because of unemployment or disabilities. Small wonder, then, that Vodianova’s nickname is “Supernova” – a tag Diane von Furstenberg would surely endorse: “The more you know Natalia,” she says, “the more you are impressed with her. She’s a remarkable woman – and I don’t say that easily. She’s probably one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. Her beauty is nothing compared with her character.”
IN THE SWIM
RELAXING BY THE POOL AT THE ST. REGIS DUBAI, SOAKING UP THE SUNSHINE, YOUâ€™LL WANT TO STAY COOL IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD
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TURKISH DELIGHT HEADING FOR A FAMILY VACATION IN ISTANBUL? MAKE SURE THE KIDS ARE ALL SET FOR ADVENTURE, EXPLORING THE STREETS OF THIS THRILLING CITY WHERE EUROPE AND ASIA MEET
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CITY LIGHTS THE MALAYSIAN CAPITAL KUALA LUMPUR WAITS TO BE EXPLORED. PACK THE CHICEST OUTFITS AND ACCESSORIES FOR SAMPLING THE HIGH LIFE IN THIS FABULOUS METROPOLIS
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HUNTERS Words by William Drew
WOULD YOU TRAVEL 3,000 MILES TO SAMPLE THE ULTIMATE SUSHI? THEN YOUâ€™RE ONE OF THE GROWING BAND OF HARDCORE FOODIES PREPARED TO CRISS-CROSS THE GLOBE IN PURSUIT OF THE LATEST CULINARY SENSATIONS
he luxury minibus pulls up outside a scruffy door in a back alley somewhere in the vast metropolis that is Shanghai. Ten expensively dressed, if somewhat confused, figures step out and survey their insalubrious surroundings. In terms of age and ethnicity, they are an eclectic bunch that includes American business executives, newly wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs and cultured young Europeans. But they have one thing in common: each has paid a small fortune, and many have traveled here especially for this one evening, to embark on a multi-sensory gastronomic journey. Welcome to the new frontier of food tourism. These experience-hungry global travelers have bagged a coveted seat at Ultraviolet, a restaurant in a mystery Shanghai location that has achieved cult international status over the course of its three-year existence. A black door slides open to reveal a large pod-like capsule which serves as the dining space. Each guest’s name is projected onto their spot-lit place at the single communal table before the 20-plus course tasting menu is presented. Crucially, every plate is coupled with music or sound effects (such as rain lashing on a roof ); films and graphics are projected onto all four surrounding walls; bespoke lighting is directed onto the dishes themselves; presentation and service are frequently dramatic in the extreme. The whole thing is witty and theatrical and, most of all, great fun. Ultraviolet’s diners find it difficult not to smile and laugh throughout much of the globe-trotting four-hour extravaganza, created by French chef Paul Pairet. A dish called “Foie Gras Can’t Quit”, for example, is a crisp fruit-skin “cigarette” filled with an airy and delicious foie gras mousse sitting in an ashtray dotted with black cabbage “ash”. We’ve long been led around the world by our stomachs, of course. The idea that food and wine might play a role in determining our next travel destination is far from new; indeed, France’s tourism industry has been built on it. It’s the new extremes that we will go to, and the real sense of discovery that so many seek, that makes this such a notable phenomenon.
A new generation of foodies is harnessing the power of social media – after all, Instagram’d pictures can induce travel and food envy simultaneously – and racing to notch up far-flung culinary experiences before anyone they know gets there first. It’s an extension of the metropolitan social cachet of eating in a new restaurant within days of its launch, taken to the global level. “Our customers usually secure their reservations here before booking flights and accommodation,” confirms Monica Luo of Ultraviolet. “We recently had five gentlemen come from France as a surprise birthday gift for one of them. They were in Shanghai for only 48 hours, but they certainly had a blast.” Others of a similarly inquisitive nature will seek out the world’s very finest sushi, served at Tokyo’s ultimate specialist restaurants such as Sukiyabashi Jiro or Sushi Saito. Each will seat only 8 to 12 diners at a simple wooden counter, with the venerated sushi master hand-preparing each piece of fish in front of them. Securing a seat (for non-Japanese at least) will involve working your charms on the concierge. Diners are often in and out in just an hour or so, but they are still prepared to go to such lengths for the ultimate nigiri. Litti Kewacha is a Thai entrepreneur who regularly criss-crosses the globe in search of outstanding meals. “People travel for sightseeing, some for art, concerts, sporting events. I travel for food. My trips around the world are driven by a desire to explore the world of gastronomy, and to appreciate and enjoy not just the best food but the greatest minds in gastronomy,” he says. “For me, a meal at Noma [in Copenhagen, Denmark] or El Celler de Can Roca [in Girona, Spain] is like going to an exhibition of masterpieces by one of the world’s leading artists.” This is not a trend, however, that is restricted to a super-wealthy highculture elite. Young creative professionals are replacing the adventurous backpacking of their youth with intrepid and immersive food experiences in destinations as diverse as Bangkok and Bogotá, Mexico City and Osaka. Increasingly, travel companies are getting savvy to this – often supported
Bright ideas Opposite: chef Paul Pairet’s wittily-named Foie Gras Can’t Quit “cigarette” at Ultraviolet restaurant in Shanghai. Above: diners make pilgrimages from all over the globe to experience Ultraviolet’s theatrical gastronomy
by national tourism boards – and arranging itineraries revolving around food. Already over one-third of western travelers’ spend is devoted to eating and drinking, a figure that’s growing steadily – and any nation’s overall appeal is massively enhanced if it’s seen to be an epicurean hotspot. American-born Mason Florence has lived in Bangkok since 2002, and has documented the changing food scene. While the city “oozes food, and the culture of Thai people is deeply rooted in the art of cooking, with locals frequenting late-night street food meccas like Yaowarat and Banglamphu”, these days more adventurous food-hunters are finding their way to lesser-known hot spots: “places like Wang Lang Market and Talat Phlu, both a short ride across the river from central Bangkok”. In recent years the Thai capital has added higher-quality restaurants to its roster. “Bangkok has developed an international reputation for its restaurants, in large part due to their success in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list,” says Florence. “More than ever we’re seeing hardcore foodies flying into town with one sole purpose: to eat. Many of them journey from other parts of Asia, while others come from as far afield as Europe, Australia and the Americas.” As well as restaurants such as Nahm, where Australian-born David Thompson uses his deep knowledge and extensive research of historic Thai recipes to produce super-authentic dishes, the city has produced a new raft of cool, informal bar-restaurants such as Namsaah Bottling Trust, Quince and Opposite Mess Hall, as well as Eat Me, run by New York chef Tim Butler, where the city’s glammed-up crowd sample edgy cocktails alongside razor clams with spicy nduja pork. On the other side of the world, Mexico is rapidly becoming another promised land for fashionable-food devotees. Each of the country’s regions has its own distinct identity and signature dishes, from the Baja peninsula on the west coast to Oaxaca in the south. Mexico City itself boasts enough great restaurants, bars and markets to sate the hungriest and most demanding traveler’s appetite – literal and metaphorical.
The menu here is certainly about much more than tacos and tortillas – think fried insects at Rosetta or the 400-day aged “mole madre” at Pujol, two of the Mexican capital’s most acclaimed eateries. At the same time, it’s also about an extraordinary array of tacos and tortillas, tamales and tequila in bars and cafes, street stalls and markets across this food-loving land. For those without the opportunity or time to explore such exotic culinary landscapes, finding the niche foodster hotspots within New York, London, Paris and San Francisco satisfies a similar urge. At hip Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg, for example, the weekend throng is replete with numerous nationalities and languages (not to mention artful facial hair). It also happens to boast almost 100 seriously good local food purveyors. Tellingly, uber-foodies like Kewacha are now switching from blogging to Instagram as their preferred medium through which to share their culinary escapades. In fact, notching up particularly hard-to-access restaurants is prime social currency among proud gastronauts, as witnessed by the meteoric success of Fäviken in Sweden. Magnus Nilsson’s restaurant set in an old lodge on a 24,000-acre hunting estate is famously situated in the country’s frozen north, just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle. First, you have to make your way to Stockholm, then fly an hour up to Östersund, followed by further hours (depending on the season and weather) up to Järpen. The 12 seats are booked many months in advance, so it’s not really the place to simply show up hoping for a “walk-in” – and don’t be late for dinner or you may be refused entry. Once in for the night (accommodation is also on-site) and lighter by some $700, diners are treated to rare delights such as trout roe in dried pig’s blood and potatoes cooked in decomposed leaves. In short, the more remote the location, the more outlandish and outré the food is likely to be. Next stop, penguin brains in Antarctica? Your address: The St. Regis Bangkok; The St. Regis Mexico City; The St. Regis Osaka; The St. Regis San Francisco; The St. Regis New York
Food for thought Above: for the culinary jet-set, a meal at Noma in Copenhagen, “is like going to an exhibition of masterpieces by one of the world’s leading artists”
This page: Laura Lajh Prijatelj
A taste of our town IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE TO EAT WELL ON YOUR TRAVELS, WHO BETTER TO ASK THAN A LOCAL? HERE, SIX TOP CHEFS FROM ST. REGIS HOTELS AROUND THE GLOBE OFFER THEIR GASTRONOMIC TIPS
Florence By Michele Griglio
Florence is famous for bistecca alla fiorentina, a T-bone grilled over a wood fire, seasoned with salt, black pepper and olive oil, served rare and thickly cut. Vegan and more healthdriven food is also catching on, including papa al pomodoro and shrimps at the Winter Garden. For street food, try a traditional lampredotto (tripe sandwich) from l’Trippaio di San Frediano in the Piazza dei Nerli. A visit to the San Lorenzo market is a must to see the true richness of Florentine produce.
By Nanao Kametani
By David Viviano
The classic dish of Osaka is okonomiyaki, a savory pancake topped with a variety of ingredients. You can eat it all over the city. Other things that are particularly delicious are sharp-toothed eel, winter melon and eggplant. There are stylish eateries springing up all around Ura-Namba, just two stops south of The St. Regis Osaka, where you can try them in delicious, reasonably priced dishes that give a real flavor of both Japanese cuisine and local ingredients.
Aspen has become famous for the world’s favorite comfort food: mac ’n’ cheese, which is the perfect American carb-loaded classic to eat after a day of skiing. We even hold an annual festival where local restaurants compete for the coveted “Golden Noodle”. Having said that, the town offers plenty of other food genres, from Italian to Japanese to Modern American. Spring Café and Peaches are the best places for fresh pressed juice and breakfast pastries.
By Matthew Woolford
Bal Harbour By Scott Thomas Dolbee
The Cubano Sandwich is Bal Harbour’s signature snack, as it was a classic lunch for workers in Cuba’s cigar factories and sugar mills. Versailles on SW 8th St. is known for making the best Cubano in the city. Citywide, local fish such as cobia, tripletail, grouper and wreckfish are replacing salmon and cod as menu mainstays, presented in new ways by chefs using modern techniques with hints of South American and Caribbean flavors. Plus stone-crab season starts in October, which is a seasonal favorite.
Bangkok is famous for pad Thai, of course: try Thip Samai on Maha Chai Road for the classic version. Ekkamai and Thonglor are emerging foodie areas of the city, and the latter is great for food trucks. People are now using more local ingredients – for instance, heirloom tomatoes, which we use a lot, and source from the Klong Toey wet market. Probably the city’s best foodie secret is Langsuan Road, which is full of little undiscovered cafés serving fresh local dishes.
By Olivier Deboise Mendez Mexico City is famous for Taco al Pastor. The best place to try a traditional version is El Tizoncito, and for a modern take, try Pujol. Many of the city’s great chefs are going back to prehispanic techniques of growing their own ingredients in their restaurants, such as La Docena by Tomás Bermúdez, Diego Hernández’s Conchita and Eduardo García’s Havre 77. If I was here for a day I’d have breakfast at Mercado de San Juan, lunch at El Parnita and dinner at Quintonil.
The art of hospitality Words by Damon Syson
FOR HER NEW PROJECT, BUTLER STORIES, FASHION ILLUSTRATOR MAYA BEUS SET OUT TO CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THREE ST. REGIS HOTELS IN A SERIES OF ARTWORKS – WITH STUNNING RESULTS
ver since Claude Monet was made artist-in-residence at London’s Savoy hotel in 1899, painting a series of iconic views of the River Thames from his top-floor room, hotels and art have enjoyed a fruitful relationship. St. Regis in particular has a glorious tradition of working closely with artists, notably in the murals that adorn the walls of each St. Regis hotel bar. This custom dates back to 1932, when Maxfield Parrish’s celebrated Old King Cole was installed at The St. Regis New York, depicting – legend has it – the hotel’s founder, John Jacob Astor IV. Today, all St. Regis hotels and
resorts feature eye-catching works, often by local artists, ranging from Andrew Morrow’s Love and War at The St. Regis San Francisco to Bedri Baykam’s Bosphorus Breeze at The St. Regis Istanbul. Now St. Regis has teamed up with fashion and lifestyle illustrator Maya Beus, whose sketches and watercolors have previously been commissioned by the likes of Vogue and Oscar de la Renta, on a three-month project exploring the role of the butler. For Beus, who is based near Split in Croatia, the project, entitled Butler Stories, involved intense three-day drawing assignments at three St. Regis hotels – Florence, Rome and 65
Roman conquest Previous page: a butler lays the table of the exquisite Royal Suite of The St. Regis Rome beneath a Murano chandelier. Above: The St. Regis Rome’s magnificent Belle Epoque staircase, one of Beus’s favorite spaces. “I never used the elevator while I stayed there,” she says. ‘‘Why would you when you can walk down those incredible stairs?”
‘I sat for a long time watching the waiters, receptionists and butlers at work. It was a kind of theater – the staff move around these amazing spaces almost like dancers’
depicting the hotels’ most impressive spaces, but Beus’s illustrations also offer a glimpse of a more intimate aspect of hotel life: snapshots of the daily routine, such as the serving of afternoon tea, the “sabrage” ritual (opening champagne bottles with a sabre), and “family traditions”, which might involve arranging a surprise treat for a guest’s birthday. The most challenging aspect, Beus reveals, was getting her subjects to relax. “I would watch people working and then try to capture a particular moment. It was vital for them to feel comfortable. In a drawing you can really see when someone’s position is stiff and unnatural.” As the title, Butler Stories, suggests, the project required Beus to shadow St. Regis butlers as they went about their work. “What I realized after talking to them,” she adds, “was that to be a great butler you really have to like people. It’s not enough simply to look elegant – it has to make you happy to make other people happy. That’s a very special quality.” Your address: The St. Regis Florence; The St. Regis Istanbul; The St. Regis Rome
A touch of elegance
Illustrations: Maya Beus
Beus shadowed St. Regis staff as they went about their work, like this butler delivering laundry at The St. Regis Rome
Istanbul – meeting the staff, getting a feel for each property and doing quick-fire sketches that she later transformed into delicate watercolors. “Normally I work from photographs so it was a new experience for me to sit in a hotel lobby or a bar trying to capture a moment and tell a story,” says Beus, who featured among the world’s leading up-andcoming illustrators in Taschen’s publication, Illustration Now! Fashion. “It was great to be able to pick my viewpoint, focus on what I thought was interesting and then sketch an outline. I sat for a long time watching people work – waiters, receptionists, butlers. It was a kind of theater; the staff move around these amazing spaces almost like dancers.” Beus has traveled widely in the course of her work for major fashion houses and luxury brands, but this was her first stay in Istanbul, where she describes being “mesmerized” by the beauty of the architecture of the new St. Regis hotel. “The lobby is one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever seen,” she says. “The main chandelier is like a sculpture – the color changes during the day depending on the light. It’s really magical.” Part of the brief for Butler Stories was to create original artworks
Renaissance classic The home of The St. Regis Florence is a beautiful 15th century palazzo designed by legendary Florentine architect Brunelleschi
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THE ST. REGIS ATLAS The St. Regis story around the globe, from the first hotel opening in Manhattan in 1904 to the latest in Macao
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1. The St. Regis New York 2. The St. Regis Beijing 3. The St. Regis Rome 4. The St. Regis Houston 5. The St. Regis Washington, D.C. 6. The St. Regis Aspen Resort 7. The St. Regis Monarch Beach 8. The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort 9. The St. Regis San Francisco 10. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort 11. The St. Regis Singapore 12. The St. Regis Bali Resort 13. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort 14. The St. Regis Atlanta 15. The St. Regis Mexico City 16. The St. Regis Princeville Resort 17. The St. Regis Deer Valley
18. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico 19. The St. Regis Osaka 20. The St. Regis Lhasa Resort 21. The St. Regis Bangkok 22. The St. Regis Florence 23. The St. Regis Tianjin 24. The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort 25. The St. Regis Shenzhen 26. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi 27. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort 28. The St. Regis Doha 29. The St. Regis Mauritius Resort 30. The St. Regis Abu Dhabi 31. The St. Regis Chengdu 32. The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya 33. The St. Regis Istanbul 34. The St. Regis Mumbai
35. The St. Regis Dubai 36. The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central COMING SOON 37. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur April 2016 38. The St. Regis Langkawi April 2016 39. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort September 2016 40. The St. Regis Changsha September 2016 41. The St. Regis Cairo October 2016 42. The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan January 2017 43. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club March 2017 44. The St. Regis Amman June 2017 45. The St. Regis Lijiang Resort June 2017 46. The St. Regis Zhuhai June 2017 47. The St. Regis Astana September 2017 48. The St. Regis Qingshui Bay Resort (Sanya) December 2017
The Connoisseurs: Eli and Edythe Broad
NATIONAL TREASURES Edythe Broad clearly remembers buying her first artwork. “It was a Picasso print, on a school trip. I saw it, I liked it and I bought it. The excitement was like someone had hit me in the stomach. But then, I’m like that: buying for me is an emotional process. Eli’s the smart one.” More than six decades later, Edythe and her husband Eli, the American property developer and philanthropist, own so many works of art that last summer they opened a $140m museum in the heart of downtown Los Angeles to house them. Today, The Broad, an elegant white space a few doors from the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Hall, houses more than 2,000 artworks amassed by the couple since the 1960s. The first “serious work” they bought, Edythe recalls, was by Van Gogh. “But the more we looked at art, the more we enjoyed contemporary pieces. So, we exchanged it for a Rauschenberg.” Today their contemporary art collection includes works by 200 of the world’s biggest names, including Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky, Jasper Johns, William Kentridge, Barbara Kruger, Charles Ray, Ed Ruscha, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. What’s impressive is not just the number of important works they have but how many by the same artists. Today, they own the largest collections of works by Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein (outside the Lichtenstein Foundation) and Joseph Beuys. This, says the museum’s director/chief curator Joanne Heyler, is because “Eli and Edythe have been collecting for more than 50 years, and have known many of the artists. They’ve been friends with Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman – so they have access to many of their finest works. When Eli first bought Basquiats, he understood that they were more than just graffiti; he’d met the artist when he was living in a basement.” Although initially the couple bought art for their own pleasure, their collection has now been put in trust for the nation. “We feel it’s important for people to have access to works that reflect our times, so they have a greater understanding of what’s happening around them,” says Eli. “Art is a mirror that reflects the world. We want people to be able to look into that mirror and get a better picture of what’s going on – whether it’s Barbara Kruger’s Your Body Is A Battleground or photographs of the Missouri riots.” To ensure that the collection remains current, the Broads buy about one new work a week. “It’s a passion and an addiction we’ve had for 30 years,” Eli admits. “Thankfully, we’re privileged enough to keep doing it. By opening The Broad, our hope is that others can enjoy what we have too.” Unlike many other American institutions, entrance to The Broad is free, and will always be so, thanks to a substantial endowment created by the couple. That, says Eli, “really makes us proud. It’s a great feeling knowing that everyone has access to something that we love.” The Broad, 221 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles (thebroad.org)
Jonathan Becker/Contour by Getty
Words by Lisa Grainger
City of Style
MUMBAI STYLE Words by Fiona Caulfield
AN INTOXICATING MIX OF ELEGANT BOUTIQUES, INNOVATIVE CUISINE AND CUTTING-EDGE DESIGN STORES – INDIA’S BIGGEST AND BOLDEST CITY IS A MAGNET FOR STYLISH TRAVELERS
ince the 15th century, when Vasco da Gama discovered the direct sea route to India, Mumbai has become a vital link between East and West. Today, this former cluster of islands is a vibrant megalopolis of more than 20 million people: India’s largest, richest and fastest city, which adds its own unique cultural spin to all aspects of fashion, design and haute cuisine. While Mumbai is home to Asia’s oldest stock exchange and some of the country’s wealthiest tycoons, it’s Bollywood that provides the city with its glamour. The Indian film industry predates the birth of Hollywood by a decade and
is the world’s most prolific, releasing more than a thousand movies every year, and celebrating with parties that set the style of the city’s fashion scene. Sponsored by Lakmé Cosmetics, Mumbai’s two annual fashion weeks, in March and August, create a buzz and energy unlike anywhere else, mixing local style, color, music and design in a way that make them pulse with unmistakably Indian energy. For anyone tempted to get a taste of the fast-moving and fashionable character of this intoxicating city, a place I’ve called home while writing my Love Travel Guides, here is my pick of Mumbai’s hippest haunts, from Colaba to Kala Ghoda. 72
City of Style
East meets West Previous page: the entrance to Priya Kishoreâ€™s celebrated Bombay Electric fashion boutique. This page, clockwise from top left: a carefully curated edit of international and local designers at Le Mill; Rasa glasses from Good Earth; The Bombay Canteenâ€™s Chicken Chettinad desi tacos; The Table, a favored haunt of socialites and fashionistas
The Best of Mumbai
Mumbai’s fashion weeks in March and August create a buzz and energy unlike anywhere else, mixing local style, color, music and design in a way that make them pulse with unmistakably Indian energy
Bombay Electric Mumbai’s answer to Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London or Barneys in New York, this cutting-edge store, located in a heritage building, is more like a gallery for the New Indian Cool than a boutique. Creative director and founder Priya Kishore curates India’s best fashion and design and mixes in bold jewelry and vintage collectibles with exclusive capsule collections from emerging designers. Look out for established talent such as Manish Arora, Péro and Gaurav Gupta as well as hot local labels like NorBlack NorWhite and Bodice. The in-house brand Gheebutter features wonderfully soft cotton shirts, shorts and pants, and has acquired cult status among the city’s best-dressed men. 1 Reay House, Best Marg, Colaba; +99 22 2287 6276; bombayelectric.in
Le Mill Founders Cecilia Morelli Parikh and Julie Leymarie worked at Bergdorf in Manhattan and L’Oréal, respectively, before joining forces to create this luxury concept store with an Indo-European aesthetic. Located in a splendid Victorian building, it showcases international designers and selected Indian labels, including Shift by Nimish, Bodice, Dhruv Kapoor, Anushka Khanna and NorBlack NorWhite – plus local teas from No. 3 Clive Road, homewares from Bar Palladio Delicatessen and a wall of cashmere scarves from Janavi. 1st Floor, Pheroze Building, C.S.M. Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba; +99 22 2652 2415; lemillindia.com
The Table In the five years since its opening, this restaurant has grown in stature so much that there are whispers of The Table deserving India’s first
Michelin star. Husband and wife team Gauri Devidayal and Jay Yousuf gave up corporate careers to pursue their dream of creating a restaurant, and lured the supremely talented chef Alex Sanchez from San Francisco. He creates innovative dishes based around fresh, seasonal produce, much of it grown on their farm, a short boat trip away. At lunchtime, fashionistas and socialites dominate; the communal table is a great option for singletons, and is particularly lively at cocktail hour. Kalapesi Trust Building, Apollo Bunder Marg, Colaba; +99 22 2282 5000; thetable.in
Kulture Shop This cool studio shop features the creative talents of cutting-edge Indian graphic artists from around the globe. Founders Arjun and Jas Charanjiva and Kunal Anand have a great eye for outstanding graphic art, and their shop is an unerringly cool celebration of urban culture from more than 40 artists, displayed on a wide range of objects from limited-edition prints and T-shirts to mugs and phone cases. 2nd Floor, Hill View 2, 241 Hill Rd, Bandra West; +99 22 2655 0982; kultureshop.in
Kala Ghoda Café The heritage precinct of the Kala Ghoda area in South Mumbai has become one of the city’s coolest areas. Home to the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Jehangir Art Gallery, the narrow lanes behind them has become the epicenter of India’s contemporary art world. Between the galleries are stylish boutiques and hip cafés, including KGC, as it’s affectionately known, which was founded by photographer Farhad Bomanjee, who returned from Europe to create his perfect coffee shop. The few tables are set in an early 20th-century barn with vaulted ceilings and whitewashed walls that 75
are perfect for displaying small art shows. The compact menu features fresh simple food and the best coffee in the city, made from organic, South Indian arabica and robusta coffee varieties grown on sustainable plantations. 10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda Fort; +99 22 2263 3866; kgcafe.in
Sabyasachi Acclaimed Bengali fashion designer Sabyasachi, who is known for his opulent fashion, has created one of the most extraordinary shopping experiences in the country. The stunning 8,500ft showroom has 22 vintage hand-painted chandeliers, 52 antique rugs, 400 old glass ittar (perfume) bottles, antique plates from Kolkata, as well as clocks, antiquarian books, vintage calendar prints and more. The store is a testament to Sabya’s love of the rich aesthetics of India and a visual and sensual feast for those who visit it. The two-level space stocks Indian and Western fashion, ready-to wear saris and menswear, as well as a bridal jewelry collection created by Sabya and jeweler Kishan Das and Co. of Hyderabad, which has been in business since 1870. Ador House, 6K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda; +99 22 2204 4774; sabyasachi.com
Good Earth India’s most acclaimed lifestyle store is a onestop shop for beautiful design and a celebration of India’s craft legacy. Created by Anita Lal, a designer and potter intent on preserving India’s rich design aesthetic, the first Good Earth opened in Mumbai 20 years ago and now has stores across India. This flagship outlet is located in a sensitively converted textile mill, with dramatic interiors and a stylish café. Although the store stocks a wide variety of items for use throughout the home, and clothes
City of Style
Style meets substance Above left: discover “the art of slowness” at fashion boutique Obataimu, which also boasts pop-up food areas. This year, until-mid July, a gelateria will be run by the resident tailors under the guidance of an Italian chef. Above right: freedom-fighter badges from hip graphic design emporium Kulture Shop
made using natural fabrics and embellished by traditional craftsmen, it is particularly famed for its hand-decorated tableware and bed linens. Raghuvanshi Mansion, Raghuvanshi Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel; +99 22 2495 1954; goodearthindia.com
The Bombay Canteen This recent addition to the Mumbai dining scene is located in the historic mill area, which is now also home to tall office blocks. Tucked away in a low-rise building, the restaurant is a recreation of an old Mumbai bungalow, with meticulous detailing such as traditional tiles and stained glass. The menu features seasonal produce and contemporary twists on classic regional Indian dishes, all ready to share, including a trio of desi tacos, which use Indian flat bread, and large-format dishes like tandoori red snapper in a coriander and chili marinade. Specials at the bar include martinis made with gooseberry juice and jaggery (cane sugar) and punches served from handcrafted brass bowls. Unit 1, Process House, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel; +99 22 4966 6666; thebombaycanteen.com
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra Celebrated author and restaurateur Jiggs Kalra and his son Zorawar opened this restaurant in late 2013 to offer their guests a gastronomic adventure through the past, present and future of Indian cuisine. The unique and entertaining dining experience is carefully orchestrated with wonderfully flamboyant service and innovative presentation, embracing elements of molecular gastronomy, regional cooking and dishes inspired by both royal kitchens and Indian street food. The tasting menu is the best way to experience the restaurant, with small signature dishes that can be paired with wines. First International Financial Center, Bandra-Kurla Complex; +91 22 6642 4142; masalalibrary.co.in
Obataimu Obataimu’s creative director Noorie Sadarangani believes in the art of slowness; the boutique’s name translates from the Japanese as “overtime” and the shop celebrates the process of making an object. A school of tailors sits at the heart of the establishment, producing its Shibui line of 76
relaxed, androgynous pieces and its Wabi Sabi line of conceptual, often laboriously handmade, art pieces. Open for just six months annually, the rest of the year it pops up in spaces such as Rue Vertbois in Paris and Selfridges in London. Military Square Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort Sameeya; +99 84 5484 5854; obataimu.com
The Gem Palace The Mumbai outpost of India’s most iconic jewelry chain is run by ninth-generation jeweler Siddharth Kasliwal. Having created jewelry since 1852, and been court jewelers to the Mughal royals, the Kasliwal family still has royal clients as well as loyal fans in both Hollywood and Bollywood. This exquisite boutique is perhaps the most beautiful store in the city; the magical interiors – including a private salon upstairs – were laid out by Dutch designer Marie-Anne Oudejans and hand-painted by artisans from Jaipur. D8, Ground Floor, Dhanraj Mahal, Apollo Bunder, Colaba; +99 22 2288 1852; munnuthegempalace.com Your address: The St. Regis Mumbai
Untitled 15, 2015 Mickalene Thomas (above right) creates explosive large-scale collages in rhinestones, glitter, dry pastel, acrylic and oil paint on wood panel. â€œThe conversation between the patterns is what works, brings life,â€? she says
GRIT AND GLITTER Francois Meyer
Words by Caroline Roux
MICKALENE THOMAS FUSES ART HISTORY AND POP CULTURE IN A SHIMMERING BLAZE OF RHINESTONES AND COLOR TO ASK SEARCHING QUESTIONS ABOUT BEAUTY, RACE AND GENDER
Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2010 Mixed media collage. The famous painting from 1863 by Edouard Manet is reinterpreted by the American artist, using three friends as her modern muses, without the nude figure that made the original so controversial
he Brooklyn-based artist Mickalene Thomas has every right to be frustrated when people only associate her work with hip-hop. “It’s so easy and lazy to do that,” she rails. “Just because it’s all black women and bling!” But this spring, visitors to Aspen’s Art Museum – housed since summer 2014 in an exceptional new building by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban – will be left in no doubt that there’s rather more to it than that. Here’s a diptych Super 8 film of Eartha Kitt spliced with lesser known artists singing Paint Me Black Angels; elsewhere are stunning silk screen acrylic panels of stills from the film The Color Purple. “That book and the film, with Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg, are touchstones for women about breaking the silence around abuse, and how to be strong in spite of being a victim,” says the curator Courtenay Finn. The exhibition is called Mentors, Muses and Celebrities. Mickalene’s work has never been short on content or visual drama. She’s known in the art world for her elaborate paintings – often of Afroed women who recall the heroines of the Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s – depicted in oils and acrylics and then bedazzled with copious quantities of glitter and rhinestones. “Those women, like Pam Grier and Foxy Brown, I’d grown up with them,” says Mickalene. “I loved their directness, their fierceness.” In others, she delves into art history, stealing Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe from 1863 and reworking it with three modern muses, her friends Mnonja, Din and Qusuquzah. “When I use people as subjects, it’s important I know them,” she says. “I never want anyone to feel exploited or used or victimized.” Sometimes, she’s turned to the grids
favored by the British artist David Hockney to create a work, and even included the tiles from Monet’s own house in the background décor in another. In 2011, she completed a three-month residency at Giverny, the property in France where Monet created, and painted, his famous garden between 1890 and 1926. “I’d never understood his sincerity as an artist until I spent time there,” she says. “It made me realize that when you’re sincere, it doesn’t matter what people think – it’ll work itself out.” Now 44, Mickalene sold her first painting in 2004, at a group exhibition in New York – a self-portrait called Rumor Has It, showing the artist stripped down to her underwear in a super-size Afro wig, and stroking her cat She-La. “It was one of my last self-portraits,” she says. “And it felt great to sell it. It meant I could stop doing house-cleaning and I could stop being my own model.” Nowadays Mickalene’s work is significantly sought after (Solange Knowles had her create the cover of her EP True in 2012) and costs rather more than the $8,500 which that early painting fetched. But it continues to be an exploration of black female beauty and sexuality, along with the underlying complexity of women’s lives. “Look at Eartha Kitt,” says Courtenay Finn. “An amazing performer with a strong presence but a difficult life, who went on to speak out against Vietnam.” A woman, then, who combined beauty and politics and was not averse to be covered in sequins – rather like a Mickalene Thomas work of art. Mentors, Muses and Celebrities is at Aspen Art Museum from 10 March to 12 June. Your address: The St. Regis Aspen Resort 80
Portrait of Mnonja with Flower in her Hair 2, 2011 Mickaleneâ€™s friend brings to mind the singer Billie Holiday. The painting was created using rhinestone, acrylic paint and oil enamel on wood, and the background is a collage of found fabrics
Landscape Majestic, 2010 A disparate array of elements from wood grain to waterfalls are brought together to create an evocation of the natural world, as well as a CĂŠzanne landscape, through the use of rhinestone, acrylic and enamel on wood panel
The Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2011 â€œI was thinking about constructed spaces, and how they look like stained glass,â€? Mickalene said of this rhinestone, acrylic paint and oil enamel on wood panel painting in a 2011 interview with the artist Sean Landers
At the time, I was a journalist at London’s Evening Standard newspaper and had been befriended by the Lennons during the break-up of the Beatles over the previous two years. So I was intrigued when, a few weeks after they moved to New York, they invited me to fly across and join them at The St. Regis and then celebrate John’s 31st birthday by attending an exhibition of Yoko’s art at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY. Almost as soon as I got to the hotel, John was enthusing about his new hometown. In a grand suite stacked high with newspapers, magazines, fan mail, posters and film-editing equipment, he raved about how the jaunty abrasiveness of New Yorkers reminded him so much of the people of his Liverpool youth. Like every craze he had, and New York was his latest, he threw himself into it with total enthusiasm. Before then, the only time he had visited the U.S. had been with the Beatles, where the band were held prisoners at the heart of mass hysteria. But now, having “divorced” himself from the group, as he put it, he was getting to know America properly, starting with New York. And he talked about how, just a few days earlier, fellow St. Regis guest Fred Astaire had knocked on the door of his suite to say “hello” and immediately agreed to appear in an experimental film that the Lennons were shooting there. The following day, Jack Palance, also a hotel guest, was happy to be filmed there, too. To John, the openness and acceptance he and Yoko experienced in the U.S. were in stark contrast to the treatment they’d received back in the U.K. in recent months. There, Yoko had been overwhelmingly blamed for the Beatles splitting up, and John had been forced to defend her, while a public exhibition of his erotic lithographs had provoked predictable tabloid outrage and inevitable police charges. (The private gallery owner presenting the exhibition later got off on a technicality.)
hen John Lennon left Britain to begin a new life in America in the summer of 1971, the transatlantic move represented something more than just a change of location. Encouraged by his wife Yoko Ono, it was a decisive step in shedding what remained of his Beatle skin, and, he hoped, towards reinventing himself as a radical chic bohemian. He no longer wanted to be just a rock star. Happily assured of wealth for the rest of his life from the songs he’d already written, his emigration was achieved in some style as he and Yoko moved into two adjacent suites on the seventh floor of the elegant St. Regis Hotel on New York’s East 55th Street. The St. Regis played a significant role in mid-century Manhattan life, attracting a mixture of high society and bohemia that made it the place to be and be seen. From there Lennon would fall in love with New York, as Yoko showed him around what he described as her “old stomping ground” – that is, the city in which she’d begun her career as a conceptual artist. The St. Regis and Manhattan were a complete change from the Lennons’ previous home and surroundings, Tittenhurst Park, a Georgian mansion and 72-acre estate near Ascot, 20 miles southwest of London. There, the nearest neighbors had been a small herd of former seaside donkeys in a field outside the couple’s bedroom window, along with a Hare Krishna troupe, who, until their chanting got on his nerves, Lennon had allowed to decorate a small temple in his extensive gardens. The tranquility of the English countryside might have helped him write and record the Imagine album, which would top the U.S. charts shortly after he and Yoko arrived in New York, but it was too sleepy for the ever-sparky Lennon and his ambitious wife. Brash, boisterous New York, with its cosmopolitan population and aggressive cultural energy, was the place to be.
COME TOGETHER Words by Ray Connolly
NEW YORK AND JOHN LENNON WERE THE PERFECT MATCH. DURING HIS TWO-MONTH RESIDENCY AT THE ST. REGIS, THE EX-BEATLE IMMERSED HIMSELF IN THE POLITICAL AND ARTISTIC POSSIBILITIES OF HIS NEW HOMETOWN
The Back Story
Flying colors Above: Howard Hodgkin in front of his painting Border, 1990-91. Left: Hello, 2004-
Bob Gruen, Getty Images
As he fashioned his new ex-Beatle persona, Americans, and especially New Yorkers, would, he felt, respect “nutty John”, as he would laughingly call himself, more than his own countrymen. “Look at this,” he said to me, picking up a letter. “A university in Tennessee is offering me $60,000 just to talk. Just to talk! I don’t even have to bother singing! It’s unbelievable. Invitations like this come every day.” Indeed, one invitation, the retrospective of Yoko’s work in Syracuse, had already been accepted. And when we flew up there the next day, accompanied by Phil Spector, who had just produced Imagine, and secretary May Pang, who would become John’s lover two years later, it was unabashed lecturers as much as their students who mobbed the ex-Beatle and his wife. This appealed to John’s new image of himself. As he moved around the exhibition, with its water theme, which also contained works by Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg and Willem de Kooning, he let it be known that he wanted to be considered an artist, too. Although, as usual, there was a joke in his artistic contribution – a plastic bag half-filled with water which he titled Napoleon’s Bladder. Two years earlier he had written and recorded the anthem Give Peace A Chance, a song that students across America were now singing at every anti-Vietnam War demonstration. So, later that day, he sat singing it for a group of Syracuse college kids as slices of his birthday cake were passed around. His career as a musician (not to mention his lack of academic qualifications) had meant there had been no college for him after the age of 18, so to be lionized at universities was flattering.
He didn’t want to be one of “four gods on stage” any more, he told me that week. Deep down he wanted to be considered an intellectual, and, always on the side of the underdog, a beacon of protest. With this in mind, the next day we were off in a limo, followed by a caravan of media vehicles, to visit a tiny Native American reservation, the inhabitants of which were taking on the state of New York, which was claiming the right to build a road through their land. Whether the publicity the visit generated did any good or not, I have no idea, but, unbeknownst to John, the regular protests with which he had now become associated were not going unnoticed. The FBI was compiling a file on him as an anti-war activist. Back in New York, the Lennons’ HQ in The St. Regis would have looked to the FBI, had they seen it, like the headquarters of a counterculture movement, as the notorious social activists, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, quickly latched on to the politically naive John. Quite what the front reception desk thought as the Lennons’ new friends passed through the lobby was never recorded. Not that it was all demonstrations. Records were good for protests, too, so John quickly turned the melody of the folk song Stewball into the festive song Happy Xmas (War Is Over) while sitting with his guitar on a sofa in his St. Regis suite. A few weeks later, he and Yoko would record it together with 30 children from the Harlem Community Choir a few blocks away at the Record Plant on West 44th Street. It wasn’t exactly John at his best, but we still hear it played on the radio every Christmas.
Power of two Previous page: John and Yoko on a Westside pier, November 1972. Above: appearing on the Dick Cavett Show. Opposite, clockwise from top left: John in the East Village, 1972; John and Yoko at the memorial for a friend in New York in 1972; Yoko in pensive mood; the couple’s antiwar billboards, 1971; enjoying dinner in 1972
The Back Story
Music was always there. One afternoon when John and I were engaged in a singsong of old rock ’n’ roll hits while riding in the back of his limo, he told me rather regretfully that since his divorce from his first wife Cynthia in 1968, he’d lost track of his boyhood collection of early Elvis records. I fixed that with a quick phone call to RCA Records, who sent a complete collection of Elvis singles over to The St. Regis a couple of days later. Hound Dog would be a regular on John’s jukebox for the rest of his life. Yoko had already begun showing John around Manhattan, introducing him to Max’s Kansas City, the Russian Tea Room and the Museum of Modern Art, and, energized by the sheer verve of the city, he felt, tragically, as it would eventually turn out, that he could move around untroubled by fans. “It was Yoko who sold me on New York,” he would say later, “as she made me walk around the streets and parks and squares to examine every nook and cranny. In fact you could say I fell in love with New York on a street corner.” The street corner he most fancied was that at 1 West 72nd Street, which housed striking gothic millionaires’ apartment building, the Dakota. It offered a spectacular view across Central Park, and, while I was staying at The St. Regis, John put on a suit and tie to go to the Dakota and be interviewed by the reputedly stuffy board of residents there. He was unamused when Yoko’s dress for the interview was a pair of floral hotpants, and he insisted, not altogether politely, that she wear something more sober for the visit. When it came down
to it, John knew very well how to behave like the well-mannered middle-class young man he had been brought up to be. I left New York the following day, carrying a private letter from John to deliver to Paul McCartney in London, an attempt by him to bypass the managers and lawyers who were engaged in the bitter feud between the two former best friends. As it transpired, the legal wrangles, which included McCartney filing a lawsuit against his bandmates, would drag on for years, so my efforts as a go-between clearly didn’t work. John and Yoko moved out of The St. Regis at the end of October 1971 to rent a two-room apartment in Bank Street in New York’s West Village, at which they would become further involved in political demonstrations and protest records, and from where they would also explore their neighborhood by bicycle. John’s new radical-chic persona would survive for only one more year. With the FBI increasingly anxious to have him thrown out of the U.S., and him anxious to stay there, in early May 1973 he and Yoko achieved a long-held ambition when they bought an apartment in the Dakota building. This would be the eccentric millionaire’s last home and the location of his murder in 1980. Reflecting on why he preferred New York to London, to which he never returned, John would tell interviewers: “If I’d lived in ancient times, I’d have lived in Rome. Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself. New York is at my speed.” Your address: The St. Regis New York
On the block Above: the gothic-style Dakota building on New York’s Upper West Side, Lennon’s home until his death in 1980
As he fashioned his new ex-Beatle persona, Americans, and especially New Yorkers, would, he felt, respect “nutty John”, as he would laughingly call himself, more than his own countrymen
Village people Above: John and Yoko stroll arm in arm around their Bank Street neighborhood in Greenwich Village, 1972
GOLDEN YEARS Words by Oliver Bennett
FROM HOTEL INTERIORS TO JEWELRY DESIGN, ART DECO IS BACK IN VOGUE â€“ AND NINETY YEARS ON FROM ITS JAZZ AGE ORIGINS, THIS SLEEK STYLE CONTINUES TO EMBODY THE SPIRIT OF LUXURY
Getty Images, Corbis
ith its curvaceous black façade, The St. Regis Istanbul is a hymn to the style of art deco: a reflection of Istanbul’s golden 1920s, splendid in a palette of black and silvery gray, and standing in a prime location in the city’s most celebrated neighborhood, Nisantasi. But in Turkish architect Emre Arolat’s hands, the hotel, which opened last year, doesn’t represent a backward step. For art deco – the sleek, streamlined style associated with the interwar era – has once again become a popular taste in the luxury domain: part of a new spirit of urban glamour. “We tried for the aura of the 1920s,” Arolat said, “but with the feel of a contemporary building in style-conscious contemporary Istanbul.” Art deco is having a moment: amazing for a decorative style that celebrates its 90th birthday this year. Well, more or less. The term was coined in 1926, following an agenda-setting exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris the year before, and became shorthand for a style that celebrated streamlined luxury. Once again it’s back: both as a historical style and as a muse to new designers. For example, at London’s Pavilion of Art & Design (PAD) fair last autumn, Parisian gallerist Jean-Jacques Dutko showed striking art deco pieces, including new work by sculptor Eric Schmitt, amid other new designers channeling the deco essence. Meanwhile, the energy of the early work sings anew. Coming between the wars, art deco proposed an optimistic new world despite (or possibly because of) the economic woes of the 1920s and ‘30s. Not only pleasingly muscular, those clean lines and strong curves combined with new materials such as concrete, chrome and bakelite to herald the new sense of progress, optimism and mobility, both social and physical. Art deco became well represented in the exciting new world of travel and leisure, plentifully applied in cinemas, restaurants and lidos – not to mention ocean liners and hotels where it made an enduring mark: indeed, other St. Regis hotels channeling the art deco idiom include The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, with sumptuous interiors by Yabu Pushelberg, and The St. Regis Singapore, which has softer deco-accented rooms. As Bevis Hillier, the historian and great post-war popularizer of art deco, put it in the 1960s, art deco was the “last total style”: scalable from pepper pots to skyscrapers. It’s had some ups and downs along the way of course. Following a 1970s flourish, deco disappeared from view. But expert Mark Oliver of Bonhams auction house, which holds four art deco sales a year, has seen the style return in popularity and a new generation embrace its sleek lines. “Interest is really growing and 25- to 55-year-olds seem to be particularly interested,” he says. “They like its stylish glamour and the fact that it’s a more sensual alternative to mid-century modern.” Other influences may have been bought to bear. In 2013, Baz Luhrmann’s cinematic romp The Great Gatsby showed the style to a new generation, just as Ken Russell’s 1920s-themed The Boy Friend had in 1971. But it’s also true that our era shares a sense of opulence with the 1920s
and 1930s, and that a generation of renowned interior designers, including Candy & Candy in the U.K. and Geoffrey Bradfield in the U.S., have reimagined art deco as an imprint of modish new living. Meanwhile, there’s also been an explosion of interest in the architecture of deco and as Mark Oliver notes, a global network of enthusiasts has emerged. “Art deco is associated with Europe and the U.S., but you can also find it in Russia, South America – anywhere that has ever wanted to appear aspirational and stylish,” he says. “Fortunately you’ll now find a great eagerness to restore rather than demolish.” Thus, you’ll find art deco gems in Asmara in Eritrea, Casablanca in Morocco, Melbourne in Australia and Napier in New Zealand, which has a deco festival each year. Of course, many readers will have visited the wonderful art deco strand of South Beach Miami: a necklace of sub-tropical pastel-colored edifices along the oceanfront. It’s incredible to remember that many were run-down in the 1980s and came close to being demolished. What the renewed interest in art deco means is that you’ll have to dig deeper to own classic deco antiques. As Jean-Jacques Dutko says, “Rare pieces with impeccable historic provenance are increasingly hard to find, and many good pieces are now in museums, private collections or foundations.” In the early 1980s, he adds, many collections were sold, following what he calls “the evolution of taste”. Simply, it became unfashionable – and this is when the clever money landed on it. Anyone still interested in collecting art deco should acquaint themselves with the canon: a host of names including Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann for furniture and interiors, Edward McKnight Kauffer and Paul Colin for graphics, Paul Poiret for fashion and René Lalique for glassware and jewelry. In Paris last April, a Christie’s sale of French art deco fetched $34.3 million – including a 1929 ski-chair by Ruhlmann that took $4 million (it had previously sold in 1999 for $380,000). And art deco-style jewelry is also selling well. Chanel’s Café Society high jewelry collection, launched in 2014, is a tribute to the 1920s, while French designer Raphaele Canot’s Skinny Deco range also references classic art deco. From the wearable to the walkable: art deco’s spirit now also imbues modern cities. There is, for example, an element of “starchitect” Zaha Hadid’s thrusting curves that evokes deco lines, while in New York, architect Mark Foster Gage is preparing to build a residential tower block with all manner of art deco-like decoration upon it – channeling the feel of that shimmering gargoyle-clad icon, the Chrysler Building. Meanwhile, in London, the art deco Battersea Power Station site is currently being refurbished as the smartest block in town. And as with The St. Regis Istanbul, something of that glitzy Hollywood excitement comes through, as an art deco building can turn anyone into a star. As Mark Oliver says of deco’s return: “It’s that sense of glamour. Nothing else is quite like it.” Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul; The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort; The St. Regis Singapore
Geometry lesson Previous page: The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, with interiors by Yabu Pushelberg, channels the art deco aesthetic. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: “Stromboli” and “Fuji” pedestal tables by Eric Schmitt, as seen at PAD; art deco architecture was known for its graceful, sweeping staircases; a classic art deco facade; cool elegance at The St. Regis Istanbul
KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL Interview by Lisa Grainger
MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF MICHAEL MINA REVEALS THE DISH HIS MOTHER ALWAYS MAKES FOR HIM, WHY HE COOKS ON AN OPEN FIRE AT HOME, AND HOW TO SERVE THE PERFECT HAMBURGER
Interview Having first started cooking at the age of 15, Egyptian-born chef Michael Mina made a name for himself at Aqua in San Francisco, from where he established – with tennis star Andre Agassi – an empire of 18 restaurants across America. Since being named the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1997, he has won several awards, fronted a TV program and written an eponymous cookbook. His Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach in Southern California is renowned for its seafood, including the celebrated lobster pot pie.
Are there any foods that are overrated? Anything that’s out of season. And beef that’s called “Kobi” or wagyu beef but isn’t. Real wagyu is one of the most amazing products there is, but the term can be used rather loosely.
What’s your favorite dish to cook? Anything cooked outdoors. At home, in northern California, I am blessed to have an outdoor kitchen in the garden with a wood-burning oven. Often, I’ll give guests a basket to pick vegetables from the garden, which we then cook over wood. I love things like fresh vegetables on pizza, or côte de boeuf cooked on the flames. I adore shellfish, too, particularly abalone from the Bay area, which I grill with lemon, egg-batter with brown butter or sauté, niçoise-style, with olives, capers and lemon.
What do you like most about Dana Point? The community, which is made up of arty surfers. They’re very social and love interacting with our staff, which makes the restaurant relaxed and fun.
Are there any particularly fine ingredients in California? So many. Particularly good are sanddabs, which are like little sole. We fry them in a pan with a little oil and butter and serve them with lemon.
If you could revisit any meal in your life, what would it be and why? A dinner at Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo, which was the most perfect meal I’ve ever had. The chef cooks for only four people at a time and everything he did was unbelievable. We had 28 courses, including several kinds of tuna, each of which had a different fat content, and spiny crabs that were cooked, taken out and mixed with their roe, then put back into the crab shell.
What do you eat when you’re home alone? Spaghetti with thinly sliced garlic, cooked nice and slow in olive oil with a hint of red chili and lemon.
What’s the secret to running a restaurant? Having balance; precise but engaging service; and connecting, making friends and building long-term relationships with each other and our clients. Having the right chef and the general manager is essential, too, as they are the mother and father of your new restaurant family.
What’s special about Stonehill Tavern? It’s not only one of the three most beautiful restaurants I have, but it has amazing views across the deck to the ocean. There’s no other view like it. Anything local you’ve been inspired by? Greens that we don’t get anywhere else, exceptional seafood and wonderful tomatoes. My wife makes the most amazing Bloody Mary using them.
What was your favorite food as a child? Hamburgers, which I still love. But they have to be perfect. The bun (ideally potato) has to be toasted right. The meat has to be ground quite coarsely, then flattened just before it’s cooked, so it’s still full of juicy air pockets. Extras should be simple: I like a piece of cheese, ketchup, onion and pickle.
What’s the dish you’re most proud of? A dish I made for my wife on our honeymoon in Hawaii. She wanted caviar, so I found some and served it to her in bed with warm potato cake, smoked salmon and eggs. It’s a dish I now serve in all our restaurants.
What meal most reminds you of home? Kusheries, which my mother has made all my life. It’s a typical Middle Eastern dish, made with rice, lentils and chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce with caramelized onions. It’s not something you can just whip up: the lentils and chickpeas need soaking overnight and the tomato sauce has to cook for a couple of hours. But it’s worth the effort because it’s so delicious.
What’s been the most memorable moment of your career? Winning the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef in the United States. I was so proud, as it was my first award, and because there are so many young talented chefs. Another great moment was my son being accepted into the Culinary Institute of America.
Your address: The St. Regis Monarch Beach
Fresh and wild Above left and center: Stonehill Tavern’s imaginative tasting menu uses the freshest local ingredients. Above right: whole fried jidori chicken for two, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes
A Life in Seven Journeys
THE FOUNDER OF LUXURY PUBLISHING HOUSE ASSOULINE REFLECTS ON THE INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEYS THAT HAVE SHAPED HIS LIFE AND CAREER
my wife Martine there for the first time in 1992, a year after our wedding. She said, “We should do a book about this place.” So we did. We did it just for ourselves, as a hobby – I had an advertising agency at the time, Martine was a lawyer – but it was thanks to that book that we ended up going into publishing and working together.
New York, 2001 My first memory of New York was sitting on a step on a sunny day in SoHo eating a hot dog. It’s kind of a cheesy, touristy thing to do, but for me, that was a real New York moment. That was when I decided to set up an office in New York, and after that I was back and forth from Paris every two weeks until 2008 when Martine and I finally said to each other, “OK, New York is going to be our home.” I didn’t speak English at the time, but in a way that’s not a problem, because lots of people in New York don’t speak English.
St. Paul-de-Vence, 1976 I was 19 when I first discovered La Colombe d’Or [a restaurant in the Provençal town of St. Paul-de-Vence where famous artists would settle their bills with artworks]. It was my first real understanding of what luxury means. It’s not necessarily marble floors and vases of flowers but a simple restaurant with good tomatoes and great olive oil, where you’re surrounded by wonderful art and there’s an amazing view. I took
Capri, 2006 I resisted Capri for a long time. I thought it would be superficial and snobbish. But then 10 years ago I decided to go there with my wife, to see what everyone was talking about. Now I can’t live without going to Capri every year, because it’s the most beautiful place on the planet. The best time to go is in June – you feel like you’re on the
The Louvre, Paris, 1972 When I was a teenager we moved to Paris. At the age of 15 I visited The Louvre for the first time. It made a big impression on me, and after that I went there nearly every week. My favorite place was an amazing room with 13 paintings by Rubens. The walls were a deep red. Today, we have 20 Assouline stores around the world and in all of them the walls are that same red.
Côte d’Azur in the 1950s. There are no cars, and we enjoy being on our own, just strolling around, swimming and eating pasta. That’s true luxury.
6 London, 2013 I never liked London. I had nothing but bad memories of the city. But the first time I saw the building that would later become Assouline’s first “maison”, it was a revelation. This building [196A Piccadilly] had been a bank for nearly 100 years and then an art gallery, so it was completely empty and it had no windows, but for me there was something magical about it. I had always dreamed of combining a café, a cocktail bar, a gallery and a bookstore – and here my dream became a reality.
7 Costa Mesa, California, 2009 Henry Segerstrom was one of the most impressive people I’ve ever known. He was a true visionary – he created a mall in Southern California called South Coast Plaza, which became the most important mall in America. I met him eight years ago – when he was 84 – and he invited me to visit him in Costa Mesa, where he gave me a tour of the mall at night, with a glass of champagne. What impressed me most was that even in his eighties, he still had the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old. He was still dreaming every day. He died two years ago, but I think about him a lot.
Illustration: Tina Berning. Words: Damon Syson
1 Seville, 1962 I was born in Morocco, but my earliest memory of traveling was going to Seville with my parents when I was five. I can still remember the scent of orange blossom. I love Seville because it’s a crazy city. The people are so full of life. They enjoy every day because they have a constant tension between life and death: flamenco is life and the corrida [bull-fighting] is death.
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Beyond, The St. Regis Magazine, is a twice-yearly publication for guests staying at St. Regis Hotels and Resorts – of which there are now mo...
Published on Jun 22, 2016
Beyond, The St. Regis Magazine, is a twice-yearly publication for guests staying at St. Regis Hotels and Resorts – of which there are now mo...